Liberal Hypocrisy Over Mandela Game Hunting

Nothing in recent memory has excited the global animal liberation smellies quite as much as the killing of Cecil the lion last month. His death, at the hands of the American dentist Walter Palmer, is undoubtedly the greatest coup these campaigners have had in years, but does it also show the hypocrisy of the liberal twittocracy?

I have no idea why anyone spends their hard earned money chasing wild animals around with the purpose of killing them, but then again I am as unfit as I am unable to shoot straight. What I do know is there is almost complete consensus in countries like Zimbabwe that hunting is a vital part of conservation.

In fact hunting is seen as so integral to the protection of the natural environment that in April 1991 the South African newspaper The Weekly News ran a front page article about Nelson Mandela going hunting. The headline was “Mandela Goes Green” with a photo of him holding a rifle and one of the game animals he had personally shot.

The byline stated “A hunting trip converts the ANC leader to conservation”, and the article goes on to talk about the ANC leader taking a “two-week holiday at a Lowveld nature reserve hunting”. For the avoidance of doubt the paper explains he spent his time with the KaNgwane Parks Board which is “renowned for its methods - including hunting and culling of overpopulated species”.

Mandela was lorded for being “green” on his trip to Lowveld not in spite of hunting but because of his embrace of the sport. The article makes it clear Mandela recognized the need to make the park sustainable by foreign tourists, including hunters. These hunters pay a fortune for what they do (Palmer handed over $55k), and that is the only thing that pays for park rangers and all the conservation work they do.

Whatever Mandela thought he was never really challenged by the left, they loved him blindly. When Mandela hunts and poses with a rifle next to an animal he has himself shot, it is lauded as a paragon of Green, progressive virtues.

When an American healthcare professional engages in precisely the same activity for the same reason he is turned by the liberal left into a global pariah. The same people who are calling for the murder of Walter Palmer, also see Mandela as some sort of man god who could do nothing wrong.

Where was the campaign to have him prosecuted? You didn't miss it, it didn't happen, because the liberals don't care. They want to attack little guys like Palmer, but care little for criticism of leaders they like.

Mandela was right to hunt, it is part of the economy of Africa and a long-standing tradition. Those who disagree with Palmer ought to condemn everyone who hunts in Africa rather than picking out a few Americans to scapegoat. And if they do not object to Mandela's actions they should not be harassing Palmer.

Today American, United and Delta Airlines all buckled to the global liberal twittocracy and announced they will no longer ship lion, leopard, elephant, rhino or buffalo killed by trophy hunters.

This is yet another example of how Cecil the lion is being used to marginalize the legitimate hunting industry. Perhaps it will be illegal soon, and the media circus that demanded the ban will do nothing to repay African conservationists for the money they lose.

Mandela is seen as a saint by liberals, perhaps they need to accept that saints hunt. Dry your crocodile tears kids, conservation demands hunting!

Oh, by the way, Mandela bagged an impala and a large blesbok roan. The park director, Jeremy Anderson, told The Weekly News that Mandela shot the roan “through the heart” which he assured them was “a perfect hunter's shot." 

Planned Parenthood Affiliate on Undercover Videos: “Medical Procedures are Difficult to Watch”

Planned Parenthood and its nationwide affiliates have really had to stretch to try and defend their organization in the wake of five very damning videos. The Center for Medical Progress has thus far released a handful of clips from their three-year investigation into Planned Parenthood which has exposed several of the organization’s employees negotiating the sale of aborted babies’ organs and, in the latest disturbing video, even whole babies’ bodies.

Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards attempted to justify her organization's immorality by instead pointing an accusatory finger at the “militant wing of the anti-abortion movement” and referring to the videos in question as “highly doctored.” The words escaped her in desperation.

Her "non-profit's" affiliates have similarly failed in their far fetched explanations for what is seen on these tapes. In perhaps the strangest "defense" yet, the Planned Parenthood of the Gulf Coast had this to say:

"The video released today will be difficult for many people to see. Medical procedures and medical research are often difficult to watch. The video shows a Planned Parenthood staff member with an actor posing as a medical researcher handling fetal tissue in a lab. It is standard medical practice to review tissue to ensure the health and safety of patients, and this tissue was being examined and handled under the false pretense of a standard laboratory site visit for people purportedly conducting qualified medical research.”

That’s all they can say? The selling of babies’ body parts is just part of a “medical procedure” that is “difficult to watch?” Such a casually callous response is perhaps more disturbing than the footage itself. If the scenes in these videos are common practices behind Planned Parenthood's doors, a full scale investigation into their clinics should be demanded in every state.

The Gulf Coast branch goes on to assert that the “real agenda” of the CMP is to ban abortion and limit women's access to reproductive health care at Planned Parenthood and that most Americans don’t support their efforts. Yet, the pro-life movement has only grown more vocal in its effort to halt taxpayer funding to the organization, even dedicating a day of national protests to expose its harmful treatment of women.

After the first four videos were released, the Senate still could not garner enough votes to defund the organization. Two Democrats voted in favor of the bill, however, leaving some room for hope that more will join as more footage from the CMP is released.

Soon, Planned Parenthood's meaningless justifications will no longer be tolerated.

‘The 33’ to Portray How Chilean Miners Relied on Faith Before Miraculous Rescue

Five years ago, 33 Chilean miners working in the San Jose mine heard a boom. Then they were trapped 2,300 feet underground. For two months, they rationed food and water and prayed that they’d see once again see the light of day and the families they left above ground. 

They lived to talk about it.

No one is soon to forget the image of those 33 miners being raised one by one in a capsule that propelled them to freedom. Now, five years after the miraculous rescue, Warner Brothers is releasing “The 33” for moviegoers to witness the incredible tale on the big screen.

One of the trapped miners’ greatest sources of strength during those 69 days underground was their faith in God. A new trailer made exclusively for Christian outlets puts the spotlight on this particular part of the miners’ ordeal. Watch below. I got chills.

The most powerful moment in the trailer, I think, is this exchange between two of the trapped miners:

“We can say a prayer together.”

“I don’t know the words.”

“God doesn’t care.”

CNN is airing a special tonight at 9 p.m. on how these miners’ religious convictions propelled them back to the surface. The men kept looking up, even when darkness loomed, resources were scant, and time was running out. Jorge Galleguillos, a trapped miner from Copiapo, Chile, described how they refused to give up:

"You have to have faith," Galleguillos said. "You can never lose your faith. Faith is nourishment ... Faith is life."

Antonio Banderas stars in “The 33” as miner Mario Sepulveda. Sepulveda is remembered as the second man to be lifted to safety and who joyously led his rescue team in a cheer.

“The 33” comes to US theaters Nov. 13.

Trump: Yes, I'd Shut Down the Government to End Planned Parenthood's Subsidies

Donald Trump has watched the Planned Parenthood videos. There are now five of them. And unsurprisingly, he finds them “disgraceful.” But as a newly converted pro-life advocate, he went a step further on Monday than merely denigrating the organization's stomach-churning and unethical profit-making practices. He wants the abortion giant totally defunded and therefore stripped of all taxpayer subsidies, telling interviewer Hugh Hewitt he'd even support bringing the US government to its knees to make it happen:

HH: Alright now let me talk to you about the other big story that happened to you when you were in Great Britain the Planed Parenthood videos. Have you watched them, Donald Trump?

DT: I have. I think it was disgraceful. I have watched them, yes. …

HH: …The only way to get rid of Planned Parenthood money for selling off baby parts is to shut the government down in September. Would you support that?

DT: Well I can tell you this. I would and I was also in support if the Republicans stuck together you could have done it with Obamacare also, but the Republicans decided not to stick together and they left a few people out there like Ted Cruz. You know, they left a lot of the people who really went in and wanted to do the job and you know what? If they had stuck together they would have won that battle. I think you have to in this case also, yes.

Parting question: Would he really support shutting down the government or is he just saying that? Hmmm.

Watch the full clip below:

POLL: Highly Dissatisfied Obamacare Enrollees Find Out Health Insurance Isn't Healthcare

Don't say we didn't warn you. 

According to a new poll conducted by Deloitte, the vast majority of people enrolled in Obamacare are dissatisfied with their insurance coverage and do not believe they will be able to receive care when they need it. Just 30 percent of people enrolled in Obamacare are satisfied with their insurance plan, which is significantly worse than any other available form of healthcare coverage. Even worse, despite being subsidized by the taxpayer Obamacare enrollees still don't feel they are financially stable enough to cover remaining health costs or high deductibles. 

This is just the beginning. Obamacare and healthcare costs overall are

expected to rise exponentially despite promises the healthcare overhaul would make health insurance and care more affordable.

The cost of Obamacare could rise for millions of Americans next year, with one insurer proposing a 50 percent hike in premiums, fueling the controversy about just how “affordable” the Affordable Care Act really is.

The eye-popping 50 percent hike by New Mexico insurer Blue Cross Blue Shield is an outlier, and state officials may not allow it to go through. But health insurance experts are predicting that premiums will rise more significantly in 2016 than in the first two years of Obamacare exchange coverage. In 2015, for example, premiums increased by an average of 5.4 percent, according to PwC’s Health Research Institute.

Finally, remember when the White House argued those who were forced onto the Obamacare system due to the law eliminating their private individual or employer based healthcare plan were better off because those plans were "crappy" or "sub par?" Good times.

NBC/WSJ Poll: Hillary Favorability In Free Fall

Between Quinnipiac's Iran deal survey and the new NBC/WSJ poll, the week is not off to an auspicious start for national Democrats. Hillary Clinton's ratings have been on the wane for weeks, and now she's scraped a new low on personal favorability. You'd better believe Team Biden is paying attention to these numbers:

NBC's write-up notes that Hillary's favorability is now worse than President Obama's has ever been.  As I noted on Twitter as the data was released, Hillary's campaign must be worried not only about the direction of her trajectory, but also about the timing of this slide:

After her post-announcement "listening tour" failed to accomplish much, Hillary re-introduced her candidacy in a splashy New York City speech. Aides told reporters that she'd be much more aggressive and focused as a campaigner -- the time had come to really kick things into the next gear. Since that reboot, her favorables have tanked by double digits. And as we saw in a recent swing state poll, her honesty ratings are in terrible shape (for good reason), as are her empathy/caring marks (also understandable). This swirl of negativity apparently prompted her campaign to roll out a $2 million ad campaign that they'd originally intended to introduce months from now. Facing a polling emergency, they broke the glass and rushed gauzy bio spots to air, once again introducing this household name to the American people.  Other nuggets from the NBC/WSJ poll:

That last data point must be uniquely alarming to a campaign counting on the First! Woman! President! narrative to sweep their gal to victory.  It may well be an outlier, and there's a very long way to go -- but if Hillary's numbers among women aren't much, much stronger next November, she's doomed.  The latest Fox News poll also contains unsettling news for Mrs. Clinton, albeit less dramatic.  Her dominant lead in the Democratic primary has slid to its lowest point yet:

Clinton is still the favorite among self-identified Democratic primary voters. She receives 51 percent while Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders comes in at 22 percent. Yet that is Clinton’s worst showing -- and Sanders’ best. Support for Clinton was 59 percent two weeks ago, 61 percent a month ago -- and has been as high as 63 percent in the months since Sanders entered the race. Vice President Joe Biden, who is said to be considering a run, sits at 13 percent support.

A twelve point erosion among her own party in recent months.  She's still the Democrats' dominant frontrunner, but her arrow is pointed in the wrong direction.

BREAKING: Fifth Video Shows Planned Parenthood Official Willing to Sell Whole Baby Bodies For Intact Parts

A fifth undercover video just released by the Center for Medical Progress shows Director of Research for Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast Melissa Farrell discussing how abortionists "adjust" abortion procedures to keep entire baby bodies [cadavers] intact in order to best provide, and sell, wanted body parts.

"We can get creative about when and where, and under what conditions we can um, interject something that is specific to the tissue procurement needs," Farrell says. "If we alter our process, we are able to obtain intact fetal cadavers, then we can make it part of the budget that any dissections are this, and splitting the specimens in different shipments in this. I mean, that's, it's all just a matter of line items." 

"Take whatever they want," Farrell added about the benefits of selling whole baby bodies, preferably at 22 weeks of age [5 1/2 months]. 

An undercover journalist posing as a representative from a tissue procurement company is shown asking, "Could you adjust the procedure if you knew, okay they need, high volume of this...could you match that in 18-22 week [gestation] neural [brain] specimens..." 

Farrell is seen saying "mhmm" multiple times. She is also seen discussing higher prices for certain specimens outside of the cost of transfer and procurement. 

"When I'm working with our clinical trials and all of our specimen collection, additional specimen collection needs, I'm pretty bullish about getting as much information as I can prior to budgeting," she said. 

Undercover investigators were given a tour of the abortion facility and show freshly procured baby parts that could be sold.

"We've had a really long day and they're all mixed up in a bag," an lab worker is seen saying while laughing out loud.

Yesterday the Senate failed to defund Planned Parenthood when Republican fell short of needed votes, but lawmakers say the fight is far from over.

This post has been updated with additional information.

Police Investigated Over Prime Minister Child Sex Abuse Cover-up

WESTMINSTER, United Kingdom – Wiltshire Police will to be investigated over its handing of allegations of child sex abuse against a former British Prime Minister. The constabulary stand accused of deliberately dropping a case against an alleged child abuser after he claimed to have evidence against Sir Edward Heath.

The case referred to was due to go to court in the 1990s, long before Heath's death in 2005. The Independent Police Complaints Authority (IPCC) will now look at the circumstances surrounding the case to see if Police acted to protect the former Prime Minister. It is believed the case was dropped at an early procedural stage, for reasons that are not yet clear.

In a statement the IPCC said: "It is alleged that a criminal prosecution was not pursued, when a person threatened to expose that Sir Edward Heath may have been involved in offences concerning children. In addition to this allegation, the IPCC will examine whether Wiltshire Police subsequently took any steps to investigate these claims.

"The allegations were referred to the IPCC by Wiltshire Police following allegations made by a retired senior officer."

As a result of the IPCC investigation Wiltshire Police announced yesterday it would be looking at the case again. The National Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children also launched a hotline for alleged victims of Heath to call.

Sir Edward was Prime Minister from 1970 until 1974, he remained Conservative Party leader until he was successfully challenged by Margaret Thatcher. The two went on to loathe each other for the rest of their lives.

Heath was always rumored to be gay as a result of being single his entire life. His love of sailing and the piano were the only elements of his private life he ever talked about in public. He remained single his entire life, choosing to spend time with his mother rather than marrying.

After his death the then-London Assembly member, Brian Coleman, claimed Heath had been warned against “cottaging” to solicit gay sex before becoming Prime Minister. Coleman was unable to offer any evidence for claims but he did say homosexuals “ran” the London Conservative Party.

At the time Coleman told the Daily Telegraph: "The late Ted Heath obtained the highest Office of State after he was supposedly advised to cease his cottaging activities in the 1950s."

This is not the first time the Police have been accused of protecting pedophiles in Westminster. One former Police Officer, Paul Foulston, claimed to have been investigating a murder when he was intercepted by a Special Branch outside a youth prison. The former detective said the officers threatened him, and a standoff ensued.

Foulston claimed he was only allowed to enter the prison and speak to the suspect as long as he agreed not to ask about Cyril Smith, a liberal MP at the time. Smith was later exposed as a serial sex offender, who continually escaped justice when cases against him were mysteriously dropped.

The large number of allegations in Westminster have led to some mistakes being made. Lord McAlpine was widely reported to be a child sex offender, until it was discovered his 'victims' had confused him with another person with a similar name.

Q-Poll: Americans Oppose Iran Deal By Nearly 30 Points

Public opinion on a prospective Iran deal was generally positive, if skeptical, while talks were still underway. Since the details of the agreement were unveiled, however, three consecutive national polls have shown most Americans turning against the Obama administration's terrible deal with the terroristic, anti-American regime in Tehran. Initial reviews were slightly negative, with a plurality rejecting the accord in a Pew survey, followed by bare majority opposition in a CNN poll. After several weeks of intense salesmanship by the White House and its allies -- characterizing critics as bad-faith, talking points-driven fear-mongers -- public support for the nuclear agreement has cratered:

American voters oppose 57 - 28 percent, with only lukewarm support from Democrats and overwhelming opposition for Republicans and independent voters, the nuclear pact negotiated with Iran, according to a Quinnipiac University national poll released today. Voters say 58 - 30 percent the nuclear pact will make the world less safe, the independent Quinnipiac University Poll finds. Opposing the Iran deal are Republicans 86 - 3 percent and independent voters 55 - 29 percent, while Democrats support it 52 - 32 percent. There is little gender gap as men oppose the deal 59 - 30 percent and women oppose it 56 - 27 percent.

Americans' approval of President Obama's job performance on foreign policy is deep underwater (39/55), and even worse on Iran specifically (35/56). Obama and his team have been all over the media arguing that the accord they've championed is both a good deal for America, and will make the world a safer place. Voters have accepted neither argument. The president has claimed, dubiously, that "99 percent" of the world supports the deal, to which an overwhelming majority of Americans have effectively responded, "count us out."  By a two-to-one margin, the public says this nuclear agreement will make the world less safe -- which is almost certainly true.  This deal leaves Iran's nuclear infrastructure fully intact, conferring international legitimacy upon the program for the first time.  It does not force Iran to shut down a single nuclear facility, including a previously-secret bunker built inside a mountain, in violation of numerous international embargoes and laws.  Its restrictions automatically begin to expire after just one decade, permitting Iran to continue research and development on advanced centrifuges throughout.  It pours tens of billions into the regime's coffers, allowing them to step up their direct aid to international terrorists. It eases restrictions on Iran's ability to purchase banned weapons, and lifts sanctions on their illicit ballistic missile program.  Its inspections regime is weak; a far cry from the "anytime, anywhere" standard the White House repeatedly described.  And it does not require Iran to improve its malignant conduct vis-a-vis terrorism sponsorship, regional meddling, or human rights.  By Obama's own admission, Iran will emerge from this deal much richer, and on the brink of virtually immediate nuclearized status once the limitations sunset -- even if they don't cheat, which they alwaysalways do.  Feeling safer yet?

The new poll, released yesterday, drops with a thud on Washington, DC, where fence-sitting Democrats are determining whether to cross the White House on a disapproval vote following the August recess.  One important House Democrat cast his lot with Obama on Monday, amidst reports that the influential Sen. Chuck Schumer may be leaning "no."  Ugly, crooked numbers like the ones published my Quinnipiac cannot be  encouraging to undecided Democrats, who no doubt have noticed the utter failure of the administration to sell Americans on its priorities.  A few final notes from the expanded Q-poll:

(1) A majority of Americans continue to oppose Obamacare, with a narrow plurality still encouraging Congress to repeal the unpopular, failing law.

(2) A majority of respondents disapprove of Obama's overall job performance, with fully 73 percent of voters expressing dissatisfaction over the direction of the country.

(3) Congressional Republicans' job approval rating is lower than either Obama's or Congressional Democrats', fueled by the phenomenon of GOP voters being far more critical of their own party than Democrats.  And yet:>

Screen Shot 2015-08-03 at 4.42.11 PM

I'll leave you with John Kerry pretty much conceding that the administration refused to submit this international treaty to Congress as such...because they knew they didn't have the votes. "Physically impossible," via Ed Morrissey:

Fournier: The RedState Gathering is More Important than the GOP Debate

The first GOP presidential debate, hosted by Fox News, takes place this Thursday in Cleveland, Ohio. Pundits have been buzzing that it will be the most exciting debate in primary history. Yet, National Journal’s Ron Fournier believes the real party will be in Atlanta, Georgia this weekend:

For seven years, the RedState Gathering has brought leading conservatives together to voice and promote the values that have made this country flourish. Because of the approaching 2016 election, this year’s conference is especially important to voters who are concerned about the progressive direction the current president has forged.

In March, Fournier applauded RedState Editor-in-Chief Erick Erickson’s chosen theme for the Gathering. Instead of harping on how President Obama’s policies have affected the country, Erickson challenged the candidates to offer their own 2020 vision for America:

Though I am loathe to ever suggest a topic for speakers, I have asked each of the 2016 candidates to focus on one thing: if they become President, their re-election would be in 2020. I’d like them to present their 2020 vision for what the nation should look like after their first four years. We do not need Obama bashing. We need to know what they would do differently and how they would shape the nation. They should be elected not on their ability to bash the opposition, but their ability to sell a vision for the future that resonances with the base and the nation as a whole. We do not, right now, need a 50 point plan. We need to know what they see as the areas that need fixing and how their fixes will reshape the country.

It’s a positive theme that is sure to please voters. The conference is also building anticipation because the candidates will be free from those limited 90-second answers and will have more opportunities to stray from dusty talking points, especially with vibrant question and answer sessions following their speeches.

The RedState Gathering takes place this Friday and Saturday. Stay right here at Townhall for live coverage of the event!

While Hillary Clinton Strongly Supports Death Tax on Middle Class, She Evades It Herself

Democrat Presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has been a long time advocate of the death tax, or what her campaign likes to call "revenue enhancements." But a close look at Hillary's financial statements, which were released last week in an effort to distract away from newly released State Department emails, shows efforts to evade the death tax by locking up money and assets in trusts. More from Americans for Tax Reform

Newly released tax returns from Hillary Clinton, disclosed in a Friday evening news dump last week, suggest she has been using a Death Tax avoidance strategy. Through the creation of a trust account, the Clintons appear to be engaging in legal but hypocritical measures to avoid paying the Death Tax Hillary Clinton has spent a career defending.

Clinton has consistently voted for the Death Tax throughout her time in public office and forcefully condemned attempts to lower it. But when it comes to her own finances, it is a different story. The newly released tax returns buttress earlier reports outlining the ways Clinton uses financial planning strategies that shield her Death Tax liability.

More on her death tax record

-In 2001, Clinton voted no on H.R. 1836, “the Economic Growth and Tax Reconciliation Act,” which contained a series of tax cuts, one of which increased the Death Tax exemption level to $3.5 million.
-In 2005, Clinton voted no on H.R. 8, “the Death Tax Repeal Permanency Act of 2005,” which fully repealed the Death Tax.
-In 2006, Clinton voted no on H.R. 5970, “the Estate Tax and Extension of Tax Relief Act of 2006,” which increased the Death Tax exemption level to $5 million.
-In 2008, Clinton voted no on S.Amdt.4191, legislation to increase the Death Tax exemption level to $5 million.

This is just another example of Clinton exempting herself from a policy she advocates for the rest of the country, further proving she is out of touch with the reality of government burden on those who need relief the most. Apparently protecting her own wealth is more important than protecting the wealth of Americans she claims to care about. The death tax is especially burdensome on middle class families in the farming and ranching businesses.

Tennessee farmer Brandon Whitt told the House Ways and Means Committee this past March that the estate tax–often called the death tax by opponents–is crippling his and other family farm operations across the country.

In public testimony, Whitt said his father-in-law was forced to sell off a large portion of farm land in 1998 to pay the estate tax when he inherited the operation. What’s left, Whitt said, is a seventh-generation farm with little liquid assets and an inability to expand.

During the Bush administration, the death tax was eliminated. President Obama brought it back during his first term. 

Fox News Poll: Trump Dominating GOP Field Ahead of First Debate

A new Fox News poll released just three days ahead of the first GOP debate in Cleveland shows Donald Trump is not only leading the Republican field, but that he's been gaining ground despite a series of controversial comments. 

Trump receives the backing of 26 percent of self-identified Republican primary voters -- up from 18 percent in mid-July and 11 percent a month ago. That’s not only the highest level of support for Trump, but it’s also the highest any GOP candidate has received since the Fox poll began asking the question in December 2013.

What’s more, the number of GOP primary voters saying they would at least consider backing Trump has more than doubled in the last two months.

Behind Trump and Bush, it’s Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker at 9 percent, retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson at 7 percent, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee at 6 percent each, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul at 5 percent a piece, and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and Ohio Gov. John Kasich get 3 percent each.

That group is followed by businesswoman Carly Fiorina and former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum tied at 2 percent, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry and Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal tied at 1 percent and former New York Gov. George Pataki, South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham and former Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore receive less than 1 percent support.

Trumpmentum indeed.

Trump will be at the debate and Cleveland and then at the Red State Gathering in Atlanta for a speech on Saturday night. 

Since announcing his candidacy last month, Trump hasn't minced words when it comes to how he feels about other Republicans running for president. For now, his bold and brash attitude has taken him to the top of the polls. We'll see if Trump can stay at the top after opponents point out his less-than conservative record on everything from single-payer healthcare advocacy to crony capitalism.

ICYMI: Hillary's Really Not 'Dead Broke'

Yeah, I know this isn’t a shock, but Hillary Clinton isn’t “dead broke.” Those infamous words uttered during her interview with ABC’s Diane Sawyer in June of 2014 seem to plague the campaign, though it’s hardly enough to shift any Clintonites away from her. It nevertheless provides Republicans and Hillary’s Democratic opponents with some nice ammunition to use against her.

In all–and to no one’s surprise–the Clintons are loaded; they’re rolling in it; and they made $141 million between 2007 and 2014 (via CNN):

Hillary and Bill Clinton earned nearly $141 million over the course of eight years and paid $43 million in federal taxes, according to tax returns her campaign released Friday.

In a lengthy statement and on her campaign website, Clinton detailed that she and her husband, former President Bill Clinton, paid more than $43 million in federal taxes from 2007 to 2014, over $13 million in state taxes and donated nearly $15 million to charity over the same period.

The couple earned a total of $140.9 million, with an adjusted gross income of $139.1 million, the returns show.

Clinton said she and her husband paid an effective federal tax rate of 35.7 percent and a combined federal, state, and local effective rate of 45.8 percent last year.

We've come a long way from my days going door-to-door for the Children's Defense Fund and earning $16,450 as a young law professor in Arkansas -- and we owe it to the opportunities America provides," Clinton wrote in the release.

Hey, I like the something out of nothing narrative too. It’s indelibly American, but the donors who stuff her war chests are hardly stalwarts of the proverbial little guy.

That eight-year period, we know that she wasn’t on her way to the poor house; we all knew this. Moreover, then-former President Bill Clinton was making–on average–$24,000 a day within the first few months of leaving officer in 2001. It’s beyond patently false, which is why many Clinton supporters described the remarks as disastrous. Her little tidbit about her meager salary from her Arkansas lawyer days will probably do little to improve her favorability, trust, and competence numbers, which are appalling.

Nevertheless, the weekend document dump also said the former first lady is in excellent health. At the same time, after a year since the “dead broke” comments, it may be the one that might cause Clinton the most grief, as it’s still fresh in most people’s minds, according to the NYT’s Maggie Haberman. Let’s see how this turns out; we still have a long way to go before 2016 is over.

Hillary and Bill's income from speeches for 2013 are also included. It's quite massive as well. 

Jeb Bush’s Campaign Fundraising Haul Leaves Him PACked With The Most Cash

Last Friday, political action committees (PACs) had to file their mid-year reports, and Jeb Bush’s Right to Rise PAC is doing quite well. In all, the Wall Street Journal  reports that the super PACs backing 17 presidential candidates for 2016 raised more than $250 million, nearly doubling the $125 million raised by candidates for their respective campaigns. The publication also noted that out of the $250 million that went to the super PACs, at least 40 of the richest Americans in the country doled out $60 million for the PACs supporting the top-tier candidates. Oh, and Jeb Bush and his campaign apparatus garnered the lion's share of their donations:

The committee backing Jeb Bush was the most aggressive in adapting to the less regulated political environment. Half of the 40 billionaires identified by The Wall Street Journal donated a combined $17.4 million to Right to Rise USA while it was on the way to raising an unprecedented $103 million. That super PAC far surpassed its rivals in a crowded GOP field as well as Mrs. Clinton, the Democratic front-runner.

“Billionaires and millionaires have become the dominant players in financing the 2016 presidential campaigns,” said Fred Wertheimer, president of Democracy 21, a nonpartisan campaign finance watchdog group that has filed complaints against Mr. Bush with the FEC and the Justice Department. The complaints say Mr. Bush avoided campaign donation limits for candidates by starting a super PAC in January and delaying the official announcement of his campaign until mid-June. Right to Rise USA officials say they have complied with election law.

Wealthy benefactors helped close the gap in June when the Bush super PAC was more than $9 million shy of reaching the much-talked-about goal of $100 million before the end of the reporting period, setting off a last-minute scramble for cash. In the last two weeks of the month, Right to Rise saw an infusion of $12.7 million.

The group’s fundraising report showed 23 individuals and companies wrote checks of $1 million or more; another two dozen gave between $500,000 and $1 million.

The Bush campaign also revised the definition of a small donor, reporting 3,300 checks of $25,000 or less. Most campaigns identify a small donor as giving less than $200.

Among the billionaires who wrote million-dollar checks to the Bush-aligned committee: hedge-fund manager Louis Bacon, Home Depot co-founder Bernie Marcus, and Texas oil tycoon Trevor Rees-Jones. His wife, Jan Rees-Jones, also gave $1 million.

The super PAC had asked donors not to give more than $1 million but abandoned that cap on the day Mr. Bush formally entered the primary and could no longer solicit unlimited contributions.

At the same time, Hillary Clinton's PACs received some big cash from the one percent as well, including George Soros (of course):

Priorities USA Action, the primary super PAC backing Democratic frontrunner Hillary Clinton, raised $15.6 million in the first half of the year from 33 donors, a filing with the Federal Election Commission on Friday showed.

The super PAC, run by political strategist Guy Cecil, received eight checks for $1 million, all of which came in during the final week of June; the last day for super PACs to report donations was June 30. Mr. Cecil noted earlier this month that $12.5 million of the super PAC’s haul came in the month of June, following a shakeup that included replacing Buffy Wicks, a veteran field organizer for President Barack Obama, with Mr. Cecil, a who worked for Mrs. Clinton’s 2008 campaign and is seen by donors as closer to the Clinton campaign.

Among the top donors to the super PAC were billionaires financier Donald Sussman, global investor George Soros and media magnate Haim Saban. Mr. Soros gave $1 million to Priorities and another $1 million to American Bridge 21st Century, a second super PAC backing Mrs. Clinton. That super PAC has not yet filed its disclosure with the FEC, but said earlier this month it had raised $7.7 million. That brings the total super PAC haul for Mrs. Clinton to $24 million.

The PACs for New Jersey Gov. Chris ChristieMike Huckabee, and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker also got some help from the one percent.

Obviously, there will be some people who will be unnerved by this influx of money into politics since Citizens United. Yet, we should all be reminded that a) the rich have First Amendment rights too (as do corporations) b) Americans spend more on yogurt than they do trying to invest in politicians that they entrust with keeping their best interests protected in Washington (or so they say on the campaign trail).

Before the 2010 elections, George Will wrote:

Total spending, by all parties, campaigns and issue-advocacy groups, concerning every office from county clerks to U.S. senators, may reach a record $4.2 billion in this two-year cycle. That is about what Americans spend in one year on yogurt but less than they spend on candy in two Halloween seasons. Procter & Gamble spent $8.6 billion on advertising in its most recent fiscal year.

So, let’s not get crazy about campaign finance just yet. This was as expected, especially with Bush’s campaign haul. The war chests are filling up, some more than others. Yet, at the end of the day, the debate that we should be having is not the wealthy buying elections, but whether a confederation of super PACs or a national party’s committee is more efficient at winning elections. Which is king: soft or hard money?

Surely, the seasoned campaign operatives know the answer to this question. 

Last Note: Hillary's Foundation donors (shocker!) also give big bucks to her campaign:

The Clinton Foundation saw a significant increase in donations this year from fundraisers who also have volunteered to steer at least $100,000 each to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign, a review of a list of the donors made public Thursday shows.

At least 14 of the fundraisers, called Hillblazers, donated to the foundation in the first half of 2015 and have cumulatively given between $22 million and $55 million since the organization started in 1999, according to a comparison of the foundation and campaign disclosures. At the end of 2014, those 14 fundraisers had given between $16 million and $38 million. Eight of these donors stepped up their foundation donations enough to be pushed into a higher bracket in the first six months.

The uptick came as the Clintons sought to fund a $250 million endowment for the foundation before she entered the Democratic primary. If she wins the presidency, Mrs. Clinton and potentially her husband would have to suspend fundraising while she is in office. Mrs. Clinton already has quit doing so during the campaign.

Defund Planned Parenthood Bill Defeated in Senate

Despite the grisly revelations of the past few weeks, which caught Planned Parenthood employees negotiating the sale of fetal body parts as if they were goods and services, the Senate today voted to keep Planned Parenthood funding "intact" (here's some context behind that word.)

The Democrats who voted against the measure are of course recycling an old argument:

Yet, as Katie explained this morning, the defund bill would not just halt funding for Planned Parenthood - it would redirect the money to other community clinics that offer important health services and don't provide abortions.

Today's outcome was expected. Sixty votes is a challenging threshold, especially with only 54 Republican senators. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) received justified criticism from the pro-life movement when he rejected the opportunity to include the legislation on last week's highway funding bill as an amendment, which had a better chance of passing.

Despite the failed bill, there's no doubt that the outrage against Planned Parenthood is growing and the vote was an important symbol in the fight to expose the abortion giant's agenda. Americans are becoming increasingly aware that Planned Parenthood is not exactly the "women's health" organization it claims to be and their representatives' strange and unconvincing defenses are only further damaging their reputation. 

Update: As least one brave Democrat voted to defund Planned Parenthood.

Update II: The pro-life group Susan B. Anthony List has released a statement following the vote, noting the positive pro-life trend in the Senate, despite the legislation's abrupt halt.

“When the Senate last voted to defund Planned Parenthood, only 42 voted for it. Since that 2011 effort, things have only gotten worse for the nation’s largest abortion provider. The Center for Medical Progress has released less than half of its damning evidence of brutality and callousness at Planned Parenthood and, as more videos are made public, outrage will surely grow,” said SBA List President Marjorie Dannenfelser.

Update III: The final tally was 53-46.

Updated IV: Make that two brave Democrats. Sen. Joe Donnelly of Indiana also voted pro-life.

Monmouth Poll: 52 Percent View Trump Favorably

Donald Trump is, of course, the GOP frontrunner. This explains why, like other polls before it, a brand new Monmouth University survey shows him in first place, ahead of Gov. Jeb Bush (R-FL), Scott Walker (R-WI), and everyone else. (Only these two candidates, by the way, registered double-digit support with Trump in the race). And while many of us expect The Donald’s reign of relevance to end or implode eventually, there’s no denying the fact he's sittin' pretty heading into Thursday night’s primetime debate:

Republicans worried about Trump’s rise -- and sustained popularity -- often cite the fact that it’s early in the primary season, and therefore his days in contention are numbered. That is to say, while poll after poll clearly shows him winning handily, his favorability ratings are too low for him to be taken seriously over the long run. And yet, this poll completely flips that explanation on its head. It appears Republican primary voters are, in fact, warming up to him:

The Monmouth University Poll also found that GOP voter opinion of Donald Trump continues to improve. It now stands at 52% favorable to 35% unfavorable. It was 40% favorable to 41% unfavorable three weeks ago. Before he announced in June, it stood at a significantly negative 20% favorable to 55% unfavorable.

Impressive. A 12-point boost in popularity over such a short period of time is no small feat -- and a major departure from what previous polls have found. Two weeks ago, for instance, a Suffolk University/USA Today survey discovered that 61 percent of respondents viewed Donald Trump unfavorably. So, unless this poll is an outlier, slowly but surely Republicans are beginning to view Mr. Trump less harshly than they once did. Simply stated, they appear to be coming 'round.

Good News: Boehner Probably Won’t Golf With Obama Again

Speaker of the House John Boehner probably won’t ever golf with President Obama in the foreseeable future because some folks get “bent out of shape” about it, according to the Hill. Last week, Speaker Boehner did an interview on the Golf Channel where he detailed his golfing outings with the president. Both Boehner and Obama like the sport to relieve stress.

Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said he is unlikely to hit the golf links any time soon with President Obama because people get “bent out of shape."

“The President has suggested, ‘Hey, do you think it is too much trouble to play golf again?’ ” he said in excerpts of an interview on the Golf Channel airing Monday.

“I have to look at him and say, ‘Yes, because everybody gets bent out of shape worried about what we are up to, when all we are really going to do is just play golf.’ ”

The avid golfer dished on his 2011 round of golf with Obama, when the two defeated Vice President Joe Biden and Gov. John Kasich (R-Ohio), who is now running for the GOP presidential nomination.

Obama invited the speaker to golf with himself and the vice president, giving Boehner the choice to pick a fourth. When he brought along Kasich, Obama decided to split up the Ohioans.

“The President and I whipped up on them pretty good and they paid up,” he said.

“As soon as we got in the cart I said, Mr. President, just remember something, this is just golf.”

At the same time, the president has been criticized for the amount of time he’s been on the fairway, especially after he made his way back onto the course once he delivered his remarks condemning ISIS for murdering American journalist James Foley while vacationing in Martha’s Vineyard last summer.

Aurora Shooting Trial Allows Death Penalty as Possible Punishment

The jury in James Holmes’ trial took a step toward giving him the death penalty today, determining that none of the factors in Holmes’ personal life outweighed the evil of his crimes. Two weeks ago, the jury convicted him on all 24 counts of first-degree murder, as well as 141 other counts.

This moves the sentencing trial into its third stage, during which time family members will be able to speak directly to Holmes and tell them how the attack has affected their lives. At the end of that stage, each of the jury members will decide whether to give Holmes the death penalty. They must vote unanimously in order to give him the death penalty.

The judge read through each count of first-degree murder today, reading the question: "Does the jury unanimously find beyond a reasonable doubt that the mitigating factors that exist do not outweigh the aggravating factors proven by the prosecution in phase one of the sentencing hearing?"

Each question preceded the same answer: "Yes."

NYT: Damn These Republicans For Dishonoring Their Commander-in-Chief on the Iran Deal

The tiresome, partisan New York Times editorial board is terribly unhappy with Republicans, which means it's a day ending in 'y.'  This time, they're upset over vigorous, substantive opposition to the Obama administration's nuclear deal with Iran, which they cast as borderline treasonous:

The exaggerations and half-truths that some Republicans are using to derail President Obama‘s important and necessary nuclear deal with Iran are beyond ugly. Invoking the Holocaust, Mike Huckabee, a contender for the Republican presidential nomination, has accused Mr. Obama of marching Israelis “to the door of the oven.” Tom Cotton, a senator from Arkansas, has compared Secretary of State John Kerry, who helped negotiate the deal, to Pontius Pilate. What should be a thoughtful debate has been turned into a vicious battle against Mr. Obama, involving not just the Republicans but Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. The unseemly spectacle of lawmakers siding with a foreign leader against their own commander in chief has widened an already dangerous breach between two old allies. Policy considerations aside, what is most striking about the demagoguery is how ahistorical, if not downright hypocritical, it is. Negotiating with adversaries to advance a more stable world has long been a necessity, and Republican presidents have been among its most eager practitioners.

Because the Times' editors and Democratic lawmakers were famously loyal to the previous Commander-in-Chief, right?  Benjamin Netanyahu believes the accord profoundly endangers his country's safety; many Republicans agree, and have also concluded that the deal imperils the United States.  President Obama likes to tout other foreign leaders' support for the agreement, even pressing British Prime Minister David Cameron to lobby the Senate on its behalf.  Is this an "unseemly spectacle," too?  An American politician siding with foreign leaders over his own Congress?  It's a nonsense argument, designed to re-imagine principled opposition on a crucial issue as illegitimate and unpatriotic nihilism.  End of Discussion.  It's also amusing that the Times editorial explicitly sets aside "policy considerations," which are the entire basis for most opponents' critiques, in order to showcase the brilliant insight that past Republican presidents have engaged in diplomacy with US adversaries.  They present this as a "gotcha."  It's nothing of the sort.  Republicans aren't opposed to fruitful and productive negotiations that advance American interests and make the world safer and more stable.  They're opposed to lopsided agreements that give away the store to fanatical terrorist regimes while actively destabilizing the world.  The editorial also ignores the substantial cohort of Democrats who are assailing the accord as weak and unacceptable.  The Times would like its readers to believe that opposition to the deal is just another partisan project from wild-eyed know-nothing Republicans.  In fact, it's serious, informed and bipartisan.

The Times concludes that the "preponderance of responsible opinion" supports the agreement as "the best way to ensure that Iran does not get a nuclear weapon."  This assertion ignores the bipartisan group of foreign policy heavyweights -- including multiple former Obama administration officials -- who've laid out 'red line' Western demands that must never be conceded to Iran.  The White House crossed every one of them.  It ignores nuclear experts who've spoken out against inspections loopholes, and who've debunked Obama's central defense of the deal.  And it ignores the overriding point, effectively admitted by the president himself, that at best, this agreement delays Iran's nuclearization by a number of years.  It does not prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons; it virtually guarantees it, while bestowing the West's blessing on Iran's rogue program, breathing life into the regime's economy, funding their international terrorism, and easing restrictions on other illicit endeavors.  The administration has given Iran almost everything it could have dreamed of, secured precious little in return, and moved its own goalposts dramatically.  Republicans are treacherous for noticing, it seems.  One wonders what the Times editors think of Iran's cheating, Obama's previous false assurances --  or this:

Amano's trip comes amid Iranian accusations that Washington is violating the deal by suggesting that that the enhanced IAEA surveillance would bring the benefit of making any potential attack on Tehran's atomic program more potent. Reza Najafi, the IAEA's chief Iranian delegate, quoted White House spokesman Josh Earnest as saying that would result in more pinpointed U.S. or Israeli military action against Iran — if needed — "because we'd been spending the intervening number of years gathering significantly more detail about Iran's nuclear program."

When in doubt, blame the Israelis. The Times editors can't be pleased with these numbers, which we'll explore in further detail later:

"Traitors" everywhere.

Uh-Oh: Obama to Unleash 'Biggest Step Ever' to Combat Climate Change

President Barack Obama on Monday will be revealing new regulations to cut down on so-called "carbon pollution," calling it the “biggest, most important step we’ve ever taken.”

Obama will be specifically targeting power plants, forcing them cut carbon dioxide emissions by 32%. Discovery highlights some quotes from Obama's statement:

“Power plants are the single biggest source of harmful carbon pollution that contributes to climate change,” added Obama, who made the battle against climate change a core promise of his 2008 election campaign.

“But until now there have been no federal limits to the amount of that pollution that those plants can dump into the air.”

He added that without imposing limits, “existing power plants can still dump unlimited amounts of harmful carbon pollution into the air weekly.

“For the sake of our kids, for the health and safety of all Americans, that’s about to change.”

This is a good example of how the left tries to distort the language. "Carbon pollution" is really just carbon dioxide, which is what we exhale on a daily basis and what plants need as energy in order to undergo photosynthesis. It's not "pollution." But to a low-information voter, the term "carbon pollution" makes it sound like a harmful chemical, when it's not.

Here's the kicker: Obama claims that these new regulations will lower energy bills and will create renewable energy jobs. Because Solyndra and the numerous other green-energy companies worked out well, right?

And data shows that energy bills will in fact rise from these new regulations. The economic consulting firm NERA estimates that the regulations will cost $366 billion and energy bills will rise by double-digits in 43 states. In addition, the North America Electric Reliability Corporation estimates that the regulations will result in coal plants closing before any new ones can be built.

This is troubling given that over 40% of worldwide energy is produced from coal. If coal plants are closing well before new ones can be built, then the only logical conclusion is inevitable blackouts and brownouts. 

Back in 2008, Obama told the SF Chronicle that electricity rates would "necessarily skyrocket":

And they are going to skyrocket- unnecessarily, as this is all over the phony issue of climate change.

The Obama administration will argue that there will be savings coming from renewable energy jobs. But the AP points out that this likely won't happen:

Although the administration predicts the plan will actually lower the average U.S. energy bill by almost $85 in 2030, companies that produce and distribute electricity aren't buying it. The savings come from increased use of wind, power and hydro plants, which operate at a cost of close to zero after they're installed. But acquiring and constructing renewable power sources is still very costly, making it less cost effective in many circumstances.

Obama's EPA has been targeting coal for years, and the coal workers are suffering:

America’s coal miners are so desperate, beaten down by the lowest prices in eight years, increasing competition and mounting environmental regulations, that they’re battling each other for scraps. Alpha Natural Resources Inc., once the second-largest U.S. coal producer, filed for bankruptcy Monday.

The dominant energy source since the Industrial Revolution, coal has seen its role reduced. Details emerging ahead of the release of President Barack Obama’s Clean Power Plan on Monday show pressure to curb its use will only intensify over the next 15 years, escalating the industry’s fight for survival.

Which is completely in line with the degrowth movement. If you've never heard of the degrowth movement, here's how they describe themselves: (emphasis mine)

Sustainable degrowth is a downscaling of production and consumption that increases human well-being and enhances ecological conditions and equity on the planet. It calls for a future where societies live within their ecological means, with open, localized economies and resources more equally distributed through new forms of democratic institutions. Such societies will no longer have to “grow or die.” Material accumulation will no longer hold a prime position in the population’s cultural imaginary. The primacy of efficiency will be substituted by a focus on sufficiency, and innovation will no longer focus on technology for technology’s sake but will concentrate on new social and technical arrangements that will enable us to live convivially and frugally. Degrowth does not only challenge the centrality of GDP as an overarching policy objective but proposes a framework for transformation to a lower and sustainable level of production and consumption, a shrinking of the economic system to leave more space for human cooperation and ecosystems.

Radio host and constitutional scholar Mark Levin describes Obama's EPA as the "main federal governmental fortress" of the degrowth agenda:

Levin documents these observations, writing, “[I]n 2013, 2014 and 2015, the EPA released (or is planning to release) a series of regulations designed to destroy the coal industry and diminish the oil and gas industries.” One such regulation is the “New Source Performance Rule” (NSPS), which, as Levin explains “mandates that every newly constructed coal-burning power plant in the United States use a costly and unproven technology to reduce its carbon emissions. The cost of implementing this technology is so exorbitant it makes building most new, coal-burning power plants impracticable.”

Another is the “Existing Source Performance Rule” (ESPR) which, as Levin further explains, “sets preposterously high emission standards for power plants, including those that burn coal. The goal of this rule is to force current power plants that use carbon sources such as coal and natural gas to charge increasingly higher rates to consumers for power, eventually driving these energy companies out of business.”

Levin summarizes that these EPA rules would “institute by coercion major parts of the degrowth agenda through deindustrialization, drive up the cost of energy production and use, and ultimately drive down the quality of life and living standards of Americans.”

Which is exactly what these new regulations are going to do, it is simply another way to deindustrialize America.

Oh Yes: Joe Biden Seriously Weighing Presidential Run

The New York Times, fresh off a bitter lambasting from Hillary Clinton's campaign, explored rumors over the weekend that Vice President Joe Biden is considering jumping into the 2016 presidential contest.  The story quotes sources close to the Biden camp and reports that the Vice President's son's dying wish was for his father to take another shot at the White House:

Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. and his associates have begun to actively explore a possible presidential campaign, an entry that would upend the Democratic field and deliver a direct threat to Hillary Rodham Clinton, say several people who have spoken to Mr. Biden or his closest advisers. Mr. Biden’s advisers have started to reach out to Democratic leaders and donors who have not yet committed to Mrs. Clinton or who have grown concerned about what they see as her increasingly visible vulnerabilities as a candidate. The conversations, often fielded by Mr. Biden’s chief of staff, Steve Ricchetti, have taken place in hushed phone calls and over quiet lunches...On Saturday, the New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd reported that Mr. Biden had been holding meetings at his residence, “talking to friends, family and donors about jumping in” to challenge Mrs. Clinton in Iowa and New Hampshire, the first two nominating states….Ms. Dowd reported that as Beau Biden lay dying from brain cancer, he “tried to make his father promise to run, arguing that the White House should not revert to the Clintons and that the country would be better off with Biden values.” Mr. Biden’s other son, Hunter, also encouraged him to run, she wrote. The support Mr. Biden has garnered speaks to growing concerns among Democrats that Mrs. Clinton could lose in Iowa and New Hampshire, as the populist message of one of her opponents, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, draws swelling crowds.

Fox News anchor Bret Baier noted on Twitter that the network's Chief White House Correspondent Ed Henry beat the Times to the story last week:

In any case, Biden's entry into the race would be something of a game-changer, challenging Hillary Clinton's diminished but still dominant position as the Democratic frontrunner.  He has high name recognition as the sitting Vice President and would have access to elements of the powerful fundraising and campaign machine that twice got his ticket elected.  His presence in the race may also keep President Obama sidelined throughout the primaries; Obama might decline to publicly take sides in a battle between his two-time running mate and his former Secretary of State -- who'd be the heavy favorite.  With an endless stream of stories about Mrs. Clinton's ethical (and potentially legal) problems and influence peddling making headlines week after week, some Democrats are growing concerned about her viability in a general election.  Her favorability ratings have taken a dive, along with her marks on honesty and empathy.  Democrats who oppose Mrs. Clinton's candidacy have begun rallying around self-described Socialist Bernie Sanders, whose far-Left ideology and unpolished demeanor and appearance likely render him unelectable.  Biden would offer a more plausible, more mainstream non-Clinton alternative.  But Biden comes with baggage and vulnerabilities of his own: He's seen by many as an avuncular gaffe machine, a reputation that is well earned.  He'd also have zero wiggle room to break with the Obama record, and voters are not enamored with the notion of a third Obama term.  And Biden polls worse than Hillary in head-to-head match-ups with leading GOP contenders:

Screen Shot 2015-08-02 at 4.36.34 PM

Whether Biden could take Hillary out is also an open question; he'd be a major underdog, but polling suggests that his potential support would come disproportionately at her expense.  I'll leave you with Chuck Todd speculating -- or reporting? -- that the 'Biden's getting serious' whispers are actually being spread by Team Hillary, as a means of "trying to smoke [Biden] out."  Hmmm:

Oh, one more set of data points:

The addition of Biden would make the Democrats' field even older and even whiter.

Tongue-Tied Part II: DNC Chair Avoids Saying What Differentiates Democrats From Socialists (Again)

Last week, MSNBC’s Chris Matthews asked Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL): what's the difference between a Democrat and a socialist? He also asked if presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), who caucuses with the Democrats in the Senate, should be allowed to speak in primetime at the Democratic National Convention next year given his self-avowed democratic-socialist views. Daniel aptly noted that the DNC chair was quite “tongue-tied,” and, of course, didn’t answer the question.

It was rehashed on the Sunday morning talk show circuit. NBC’s Chuck Todd threw the same question at Schultz on Meet the Press. She again deployed evasive maneuvers, saying that the real debate/discussion will revolve around the differences between the two parties. Matthews, who was a guest on Sunday’s broadcast, added his two-cents about the difference between a Democrat and socialist.

“Socialists traditionally believe in government control of the economy, and Democrats believe in modifying the economy to help the people at the bottom with a safety net,” he said.

As for why Schultz ducked and dodged on this question again, Matthews said, “Well, politically, she didn’t want to offend the Bernie people…Maybe there is an intellectual problem, but I will give her the benefit of the doubt and say it was really a political problem she faced.”

First, I will second what Mediaite’s editor Andrew Kirell noted about that quote from Matthews: “Ouch!” Second, either way, Schultz still has to answer the question at some point. Does the DNC want a self-avowed socialist speaking at the convention in primetime? Are they comfortable with someone who has views which are far to the left than the general electorate having a sweet speaking spot? We’ll see what comes of this. Maybe this point will be dead, in which case I would still hope for an answer from the DNC chair about the differences between a socialist and a Democrat since she has nothing to lose politically from giving the proper definition. Heck, 52 percent of Democrats view socialism favorably.

Senate To Vote on Defunding Planned Parenthood Today

After a series of recently released undercover videos from the Center for Medical Progress showed Planned Parenthood doctors openly discussing the sale of fetal tissue and pushing baby body parts around in a dish, the Senate is set to vote on defunding the abortion giant today. Planned Parenthood receives more than $500 million in taxpayer funding each year and 60 votes are needed to strip the funding, which is unfortunately a far reach.

Writing in TIME today, Senators Joni Ernst, Rand Paul and James Lankford laid out their case

Planned Parenthood is the nation’s single largest provider of abortion services. Through a series of videos that have been recently released about Planned Parenthood’s callous harvesting operation, the realities of abortion have become public. Polite company does not want to discuss what really happens to children in an abortion clinic. For those brave enough to watch the videos, they have been horrified by the utter lack of compassion shown for these women and their babies. Even Hillary Clinton rightly acknowledged last week that the images are “disturbing.”

Tiny arms, legs and organs are placed in dishes and picked apart with tweezers. Unborn babies are seen as valuable – not as a new life, but as the source of parts eligible for sale. One employee haggles over prices and another discusses the benefit of selling individual organs rather than whole children because, “Per item works better so we can see how much we can get out of it.”

The videos also depict sterile discussions with Planned Parenthood employees raising questions about whether they may be altering the method of an abortion to increase the chances of keeping baby organs intact to make them more appealing to buyers. Intact, because human organs have value.

As one Planned Parenthood employee said, “You try to intentionally go above and below the thorax, so that, you know, we’ve been very good at getting heart, lung, liver, because we know that, so I’m not gonna crush that part, I’m going to basically crush below, I’m gonna crush above, and I’m gonna see if I can get it all intact.”

If they are human organs outside of the womb, they had to be human inside the womb. It is disingenuous for Planned Parenthood to say in one moment that it is just fetal tissue, but in another moment acknowledge that it is human baby organs to be harvested and sold for medical research. Children in the womb are still children.

The Senate will soon vote on a bill to redirect federal taxpayer money from Planned Parenthood to women’s health care at places like community health centers and hospitals, which have almost fifteen times more facilities nationwide and provide more comprehensive health services. Our focus remains on ensuring that taxpayer dollars are utilized to protect federal funding for health services for women, which may include diagnostic laboratory and radiology services, well-child care, contraceptives, prenatal and postnatal care, immunizations, cervical and breast cancer screenings and more.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell did the same in a local Kentucky newspaper over the weekend. 

As Kentucky’s senior senator, I am grateful to represent a state where so many people value and cherish the dignity of life in all its stages. I’ve heard from many of you who share my outrage over these videos. And many of you are even more outraged that Planned Parenthood actually receives taxpayer funds to do its bidding—more than $500 million annually.

So am I. I have opposed public funding of Planned Parenthood for years and continue to do so. I believe in the sanctity of life, and I don’t think Kentucky taxpayers should have to fund practices they find morally reprehensible.

That’s why, as Senate Majority Leader, I asked a group of Republican senators, including Iowa Sen. Joni Ernst and Kentucky’s own Rand Paul, to draft legislation to protect women’s health services by redirecting Planned Parenthood’s federal funds to other women’s health organizations that we know are focused exclusively on helping women.

It's important to point out that the legislation being voted on today reallocates $500 million Planned Parenthood receives annually to other community health centers, making the claim that Republicans are trying to limit women's access to healthcare completely false.

But will this actually work? Unfortunately, it's not likely. Not only does Majority Leader Mitch McConnell need Republicans to vote for the measure, but Democrats too, who are rarely skeptical of any kind of abortion regulation in the name of "women's health." As Leah pointed out last week, despite the gruesome revelations of Planned Parenthood baby organ practices, a number of Republicans still support the organization. Futher, even if it did pass President Obama has vowed to veto the legislation

It’s truly astonishing how anyone can watch the now four videos that have come out in recent weeks exposing Planned Parenthood’s illegal sale of fetal body parts—not to mention today’s game changer that they harvest the organs of babies born alive—and still put politics before doing what’s right: ending taxpayer funding of the abortion giant.

Unfortunately Republican Sen. Mark Kirk seems to be doing just that. On Wednesday he said he’d oppose a Republican-backed bill to strip taxpayer funding to Planned Parenthood.

“In other states tissue donation programs should be investigated but in Illinois there is no similar program,” Kirk told The Hill in a statement. “I do not plan to cut access to basic health care and contraception for women, the majority of whom have no other resources.”

He’s not the only Republican who opposes such a measure, however. Sen. Susan Collins told reporters on Wednesday that she’s “still looking at the bill.”

The Center for Medical Progress has released four videos at this point exposing Planned Parenthood for selling baby parts at the best prices. The group reportedly has at least nine more videos set to release.

RNC Chairman Warns Third Party Run Would Be a 'Death Wish'

Just when the GOP thought it was in the clear after The Donald told Dana Loesch that he wasn’t considering an independent run, he followed up later by saying he might if the RNC isn’t fair to him. That, of course, would be disastrous, and RNC Chair Reince Priebus discussed what exactly a third-party run would mean for both parties.

On NBC's "Meet the Press," Priebus said that it would “only make sense" that candidates "wouldn't run as a third party." Doing so, he continued, would be a “death wish” for both parties.

The Hill has more:

"If you're going to run for the nomination of our private organization, which is the Republican Party, that it only makes sense that you would, number one, agree that a Republican would be better than a Democrat running on the other side and that you wouldn't run as a third party," he said.

Donald Trump recently told The Hill in an exclusive interview that the chances he will launch a third party White House run will "absolutely" increase if the RNC is unfair to him during the 2016 primary season.

"I think a third party, at least a serious one, on either side of the aisle, would be a death wish to both parties. So I don't think it's unreasonable to say that candidates ought to support on our side, the Republican nominee, if it's not them, and they ought to pledge not to run as a third party," Priebus added.

On whether he has reached out to candidates, Priebus said he hasn't made phone calls to "every candidate."

Priebus said Trump was not hurting the Republican party's image, but added, "Donald Trump speaks for Donald Trump, and no, I don't think it has anything to do with the Republican Party...None of these candidates speak for the party."

Priebus said the GOP would likely have a Republican nominee by March or early April.

#DisarmTheiPhone Newest Campaign to Somehow Make the World Safer

Emojis. Some people <3 them and some people :( them. A group out of New York state, however, is taking things a step further: it's trying to ban the pistol emoji, dubbing it as "a gun we all carry that we can give up."


I honestly thought this was some sort of 4Chan-esque prank a la "Cutting for Bieber" (NSFW/NSFL), but it appears to be legit. Which is sad: people, especially anti-crime activists, should be spending their time coming up with ways that will actually reduce gun violence rather than try to police what is on an iPhone. 

While the campaign is using the hashtag #DisarmTheiPhone, it should be noted that there are numerous other emojis depicting ways a person could potentially kill someone. A quick skim of the emoji catalogue reveals a knife, wrench, bathtub, fist, hammer, bomb, syringe, fire, and pill symbols. It's clear the iPhone is still quite heavily "armed," even if the pistol emoji is removed. (Heck, half of the weapons in the game Clue are available in emoji form. A candle is coming in the next unicode update.)

Furthermore, the statistics in the video are misleading. There were not 33,000 gun homicides in the United States. In 2012, there were 12,765 total homicides in the United States, and of those, about 8,855 were committed with firearms. The "33,000" number cited in the video includes approximately 25,000 suicides committed with a firearm, which, while still sad, should not be categorized alongside homicides. 

Additionally, gun violence is not a "losing battle." Crime rates have been consistently going down and violent crimes are at their lowest level since 1978. Given that emojis were first released in unicode form on the iPhone in 2010, there actually is a (likely entirely spurious) correlation between the availability of the pistol emoji and a reduction in gun crime.

Removing the pistol emoji won't do anything to reduce crime, nor will it "send a message" that Americans want stricter access to guns. Emojis were invented in Japan and were initially only available to Japanese consumers--who have some of the strictest gun laws in the world. The availability of the pistol emoji has not led to a movement to change Japan's gun laws, nor has there been any sort of crime associated with the image.

A quick glance of the "#DisarmTheiPhone" hashtag on twitter reveals that most people see this campaign for what it is: utter nonsense.