Matt Vespa - Obama Targets Americans At The Pump
Posted: 1/24/2015 6:00:00 PM EST

Last week, the Obama administration announced it was proposing new rules for methane regulations. The Environmental Protection Agency will unveil the new regulations this summer.

The Obama administration’s goal is for methane emissions to be cut 40 to 45 percent by 2025. Yet, it was unclear how such an objective could be achieved, given that methane escaping from pipelines wouldn’t be subject to regulation, according to Politico. As Erik Telford of the Franklin Center wrote, this regulatory onslaught will only hurt Americans and small businesses; not to mention that the energy industry has taken steps to reduce emissions:

According to the EPA, methane accounts for about 9 percent of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions from human activities, making it the second most prevalent greenhouse gas emitted in the United States. It’s also the primary component in natural gas, which has helped lower energy prices substantially in the U.S. and around the world.

In fact, the boom in natural gas production is a key factor driving down prices at the pump and giving Americans a much needed respite after an extended recession. And experts have predicted that prices will drop even lower--anticipating an average of $2 a gallon by spring of 2015. However, those forecasts may not be accurate if the administration has its way.

The energy industry has reduced methane emissions by at least 16 percent since 1990, despite impressive increases of natural gas production--rising 37 percent during the same period. Furthermore, despite the natural gas industry being the target of the administration’s latest attack, more than 71 percent of methane emission are produced by other sources.

As energy costs increase for small businesses and prices start rising at the pump, it should be very clear to everyday Americans that Obama’s incursion on the energy industry is really an attack on them.

Tom Pyle of the Institute For Energy Research also commented on the pending new rules concerning methane emissions:

“EPA’s proposed methane regulation is redundant, costly, and unnecessary. Energy producers are already reducing methane emissions because methane is a valuable commodity. It would be like issuing regulations forcing ice cream makers to spill less ice cream.

“The Obama administration’s latest attack on American energy reaffirms that their agenda is not about the climate at all—it’s about driving up the cost of producing and using natural gas, oil, and coal in America. The proof is in the EPA’s own research on methane, which shows that this rule will have no discernible impact on the climate. Like most of the regulations coming out of this ideologically driven EPA, the environmental benefits of this new methane rule are virtually non-existent, but the economic costs for American families are very real.

“In 2012 President Obama dismissed and mocked the notion that we could drill our way to lower oil and gasoline prices. He was wrong. Thanks to increases in oil production on private and state lands, Americans are feeling some relief from high energy prices. Today, this administration has issued yet another crushing regulation aimed at driving energy prices right back up again.”

Cortney O'Brien - VA State Bar Kicks Bob McDonnell When He’s Down
Posted: 1/24/2015 3:00:00 PM EST

Former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell (R-VA) has already suffered the embarrassment of an arrest, a heated court battle, and a two-year sentence in prison as a result of an unethical relationship he and his wife had with a businessman who worked for a drug supplement company. Now, the embattled governor must humble himself once again. On Friday, the Virginia State Bar announced it was suspending McDonnell’s law license. More from The Virginian Pilot:

The Virginia State Bar announced today it has suspended former Gov. Bob McDonnell’s law license effective Jan. 29.

The bar’s Disciplinary Board decided the suspension as a result of McDonnell's conviction on 11 federal corruption charges, according to a public notice. His license was already administratively suspended because McDonnell hasn't paid his dues since mid-October, it said.

The former governor hasn’t practiced law since 2009 and it’s not clear if he would have in the near future, but the suspension is just another stain on his already tarnished reputation.

McDonnell’s fall from grace began when it was revealed that he and his wife had accepted thousands of dollars in gifts and bribes from Jonnie R. Williams Sr., the CEO of Star Scientific, in return for promoting his company’s dietary supplement. In September, McDonnell was convicted on 11 counts of corruption. His wife Maureen is facing eight counts for her sentencing on February 20.

When the judge announced McDonnell’s verdict, he did so reluctantly, saying "It breaks my heart, but I have a duty I can't avoid." After all, the former governor served the Old Dominion well during his time in office and was once even considered a contender for the 2016 presidential race. 

There’s something even more humbling about being behind bars. After McDonnell serves his time, perhaps he will start to earn back some respect and dignity. Staff - Sarah Palin: I'm "Seriously Interested" in a White House Run
Posted: 1/24/2015 2:30:00 PM EST


Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin told The Washington Post in an interview Friday that she is “seriously interested” in running for the White House in 2016.

“You can absolutely say that I am seriously interested,” Palin said, when asked to clarify her thinking about a possible presidential bid.

Palin, the GOP’s 2008 vice-presidential nominee, said she stood by comments she made Thursday in Las Vegas to ABC News, where she first expressed enthusiasm about potentially competing for the Republican presidential nomination.

“I am. As I said yesterday, I’m really interested in the opportunity to serve at some point,” Palin said Friday, as former Pennsylvania senator Rick Santorum, a potential 2016 rival, looked on.

Exit question: Should Sarah Palin run for president in 2016? Or should she sit this one out and serve the nation in other ways?

Matt Vespa - Walker Watch: Governor Plans To Be In New Hampshire, Nabs Ernst Strategist
Posted: 1/24/2015 12:00:00 PM EST

Yes, I’m sure a lot of you are waiting–or hoping–for Gov. Walker to announce his 2016 candidacy. His answer will probably come around the summer, but he’s scheduled to be a keynote speaker in New Hampshire on March 14 at an in-state Republican Party event (via RCP):

As he continues to gear up for a likely Republican presidential bid, Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker is planning his first trip to New Hampshire of the 2016 campaign season.

On March 14, Walker will be the keynote speaker at an event that is being hosted by the New Hampshire Republican Party in the first-in-the-nation primary state.

"We have enacted bold, successful reforms in Wisconsin and we have a great story to tell," Walker said in a statement announcing his visit. "I look forward to sharing our common sense conservative message with grassroots activists, and I thank the New Hampshire GOP for this exciting opportunity."

According to multiple Republican sources, Walker’s tightknit political team has been conducting interviews recently for high-level positions in what is likely to become an official campaign organization in the coming months.

Additionally, Walker’s political team recently nabbed David Polyansky, a Republican strategist who worked on Sen. Joni Ernst’s successful 2014 Senate election in Iowa. He’ll be responsible for the ground game there (via NRO):

Polyansky’s history in Iowa goes back to Mike Huckabee’s 2008 campaign: He helped orchestrate the former Arkansas governor’s surprise victory in the Iowa caucuses that year, and in then in 2012, while working for former congresswoman Michele Bachmann, he helped her win the state’s straw poll.

Walker is in Iowa this weekend for the Iowa Freedom Summit cosponsored by congressman Steve King and Citizens United. The news was first reported by the Des Moines Register.

Within political circles, Walker seems to be a candidate that could clear the 2016 field, despite Marco Rubio’s “concrete steps” towards a 2016 bid of his own. He has a fundraising network that could be one of the largest in the GOP, executive experience in a purplish state, pushing through an agenda, and will already be warmed up for the campaign season, since his entire first term was pretty much one long election (2010, 2012 recall, 2014 re-election). He’s a solid, pro-life conservative as well. Yet, as John Fund wrote in National Review, right-to-work and gambling could steer the Walker ship towards rocky shoals.

In Madison, both chambers of the state legislature are Republican–and they want a more aggressive right-to-work law that prohibits private sector employees from paying dues to unions. There’s also a $800 million dollar gambling project that awaits his approval or disapproval:

A total of 24 states — including Iowa — are right-to-work. The latest additions to the list were heavily unionized Michigan and Indiana.

Yet Governor Walker has made it clear that he views the push for right-to-work as a distraction from his buttoned-down agenda of business, tax, and education reforms. Wisconsin state-senate majority leader Scott Fitzgerald told WISN-TV last Sunday that “not much will happen” on the issue in the next few months. Fitzgerald said he understood Walker’s desire to avoid large protests like those seen in 2011, when Act 10, a law restricting public-sector unions, passed.

Still, he has also warned Walker that “we can’t tiptoe through this session without addressing this.”

Another issue where Governor Walker will have to tread carefully in Iowa is the expansion of state-approved gambling. Walker will have to decide by February 19 whether to approve a proposed $800 million Menominee Indian tribal casino in Kenosha. “Influential social conservatives in Iowa are warning Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker that approving a proposed Kenosha casino next month could hurt his presidential bid” was the lead paragraph of a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article this month. Newly elected Iowa U.S. senator Joni Ernst joined 600 other Republicans in sending Walker a petition urging him adopt a “No Expanding Gaming” policy. Bob Vander Plaats, a prominent social conservative in Iowa who led the successful defeat in 2010 of three Supreme Court justices who had approved same-sex marriage, has also written a letter to Walker highlighting the “increased societal problems of divorce, bankruptcy, debt, depression, and suicide” that gambling can produce. In 2012, Vander Plaats’s last-minute endorsement of Rick Santorum helped propel the former Pennsylvania senator to a photo-finish victory over Mitt Romney in Iowa.

Iowa political activists tell me that Walker is taking real risks of leaks in his Iowa coalition if he either approves expanded gambling or chokes on approving right-to-work — especially in a state such as Iowa that has had such a law on its books for more than 60 years.

Hey, there are risks with any national campaign. We’ll just have to see how this plays out. It still doesn’t diminish the fact that Republicans have a conservative governor from a purple state that can make a conservative agenda law, raise money, and appeals to both wings of the GOP. He has a political network ready–all we have to do is wait for Walker. Staff - Livestream: Iowa Freedom Summit
Posted: 1/24/2015 10:08:00 AM EST
The Iowa Freedom Summit is being livestreamed. Watch it below:

Daniel Doherty - Change: Only Romney Edges Rubio in New Poll
Posted: 1/24/2015 9:00:00 AM EST

The establishment is taking over.

Just kidding. But this poll is interesting:

A new Zogby Analytics of likely Republican primary voters shows that the 2012 nominee is in the lead for 2016, but only three points ahead of former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and current Florida Senator Marco Rubio.The poll of 223 likely primary voters was conducted online January 16-18 and has a margin of sampling error of +/-6.6 percentage points.

Romney is on top with support from 16% of the voters, followed by Bush and Rubio with 13% each. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is next with 11%, followed by former Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee with 9%, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker at 6%, Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindahl with 4%, and Kentucky Senator Rand Paul, former Texas Governor Rick Perry, and Texas Senator Ted Cruz all at 3%. Other names included South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, Ohio Senator Rob Portman, New Mexico Governor Susanna Martinez, and former Pennsylvania Rick Santorum --- all receiving less than 1%.

For months, Rubio has been scraping the bottom of the barrel in 2016 polls. As far as I can tell, this is the first poll showing him exceeding double-digit support in months. But there is something far more interesting about this poll than just the top-line numbers. Rubio, for his part, is earning 13 percent overall largely -- and almost entirely -- because women support him.

“Rubio is receiving 22% support among women to only 4% of men and does equally well (16% each) among both self-identified Republicans and conservatives,” the pollsters write. By contrast, Romney and Bush are only earning 13 percent and 10 percent among women, respectively. That’s a huge advantage. For a party that has struggled to make inroads with this key demographic, Rubio is showing early signs of promise.

Another point to emphasize (and the Zogby pollsters did as well) is that, besides maintaining support-levels far above his rivals among female voters, Rubio’s broadly appealing. He doesn’t strictly fit the mold of a "tea party" candidate (think his advocacy for and defense of comprehensive immigration reform) but nor is he an "establishment" type, either. In 2010, he ran as a staunch conservative and was even featured on the cover of National Review magazine early in the campaign. So his support among both tea party and more moderate respondents -- in this particular survey, at least -- typifies his growing appeal and unique ability to transcend party labels. This realization may have also been one factor which led him to essentially take the plunge already.

Guy has written an extensive post titled “Rubio’s Gamble.” Go read it. In sum, he argues that the Florida senator’s path to the nomination is hardly clear-cut. But as this poll shows, he seems to have the potential and ability to make a huge splash in 2016.

We'll see if he sinks or swims.

Matt Vespa - Dem Poll: Nearly 70 Percent Support School Choice
Posted: 1/23/2015 8:30:00 PM EST

If there’s one issue that has virtual approval from everyone, it’s school choice. Beck Research, a Democratic polling firm, found that nearly 70 percent of Americans support the concept of school choice, 45 percent strongly support it, and only 27 percent oppose it. These poll results were unveiled at a press conference held by the American Federation for Children at the National Press Club yesterday.

From their press release [emphasis mine]:

“The findings of this poll reflect what we saw in the 2014 midterms and what I am seeing in communities across the country – a demand from parents for more options in deciding how their children are educated,” said Kevin Chavous, AFC’s executive counsel. “Educational choice through opportunity scholarships and charter schools provide these options. As communities from New Orleans to Milwaukee to Miami have learned, educational choice is an immediate solution for parents’ who have children trapped in underperforming schools. Americans know that a zip code should not dictate a child’s future.”

Chavous cited other signs of school choice momentum – the resounding victories of prominent school choice advocates in the 2014 elections and a growing sense that national education unions are losing their influence with voters. Teachers unions spent at least $80 million in 2014 to express opposition to candidates supportive of such education reforms – and lost every race.

Chavous, a Democrat, former DC City Councilman and one-time mayoral candidate, urged his party to recognize the importance of the survey’s results. “As the 2016 primary fights begin, education reform is certain to take center stage – especially as a number of Republican candidates tout their records supporting expanded parental choice. As the civil rights issue of the 21st century – I urge the candidates in my party to recognize the shift in public opinion and embrace parental choice by putting the needs of students first.”

Deborah Beck of Beck Research said, “The poll clearly shows widespread support, among both political parties, for school choice. Any public official – or potential candidate for President -- who ignores these numbers does so at their own peril.”

Five key findings from poll:

  • 69 percent support the concept of school choice, including 45 percent who strongly support it, 27 percent oppose it.
  • 76 percent support public charter schools, with only 20 percent opposing it.
  • 54 percent of those surveyed believe that giving parents more choices of schools will improve the education system.
  • 65 percent believe choice and competition among schools improves education.
  • 62 percent believe we need to make major changes to the ways that public schools are run.

Some Republicans in blue states, like Gov. Chris Christie, have pushed for school choice initiatives–and it has yielded exceptional political dividends. Christie cruised to re-election in 2013, netting 60 percent of the vote, along with winning pretty much winning every demographic in the state. He also doubled his support amongst African-American voters, possibly due to his support for school choice policies.

On the other hand, Christie is way too moderate to win the GOP nomination. While he’s taken on the teachers unions, New Jersey’s economic picture is still awful, making any positive narrative about the state’s fiscal health close to laughable.

Nevertheless, Republicans have found an issue, like the Keystone Pipeline, that is insanely popular with Americans. Democrats seem to be onboard as well, but the left’s relationship with unions could have left-leaning allies looking over their shoulders more, especially during election years (i.e. every year).

Maybe this should be on the docket for this session after the Republican fumble on the bill restricting late-term abortions which was–though well-intentioned–straight up embarrassing.

Kevin Glass - Michael Bloomberg To Buy New York Times?
Posted: 1/23/2015 7:31:00 PM EST
It would be a match made in heaven: amid multiple rounds of layoffs at the New York Times, New York Magazine is reporting that Michael Bloomberg has been idly speculating about buying the Grey Lady:

Near the end of Bloomberg's time as mayor, he told Times chairman and publisher Arthur Sulzberger Jr. that he was interested in buying the Times, according to a source with direct knowledge of the conversation. Sulzberger replied that the paper was not for sale.

Bloomberg’s overture, previously unreported, might be one reason why talk of a Bloomberg-Times eventuality has flared up among insiders in the wake of the most recent round of Times’ layoffs. Given the fact that both sides vehemently deny that there have been recent conversations (Sulzberger “can’t remember the last time he spoke with Bloomberg,” said a spokesperson), this may very well be wishful — or apprehensive — thinking being played out in the echo chamber of media gossip.

But it does seem that Bloomberg is in fact interested in the Times and that his interest has not waned. "Mike has muttered a lot about the Times to a lot of people," a Bloomberg adviser told me.

The Republican-turned-independent-turned-gun-grabbing-activist would find a natural home at the New York Times. He already shares their progressive cosmopolitan worldview. Their editorial page might as well all be written by Bloomberg.

Christine Rousselle - Indiana Congressman Creates Quiz Mocking "Deflategate" and White House
Posted: 1/23/2015 5:00:00 PM EST

Unless you've been living under several rocks, you've heard by now that the New England Patriots were investigated for under-inflating the footballs used during the first half of their 45-7 victory in the AFC Championship game against the Indianapolis Colts. The whole matter has come to be known as "Deflategate" or "Ballghazi," and has dominated the national news this past week.

In response to all of this, Rep. Todd Young (R-IN), a Colts fan, published a "Who said it?" quiz on his official website comparing the rhetoric used in DeflateGate with the White House's official response to several scandals during the Obama administration.

For a little Friday fun, see if you can pass our "Who Said It: The Obama White House or New England Patriots?" quiz. Below are eight statements that refer to either DeflateGate or one of the Obama administration scandals. Can you guess who said each of the following in response?

Full disclosure: I am a (admittedly casual) New England Patriots fan and I still managed to get one wrong.

While this quiz is quite silly, it's rather troubling that the White House is giving shockingly similar answers to a professional football player and coach on scandals that are far more serious than the amount of air pressure in a football. It's also disgusting to me that network news is spending an absolutely absurd amount of time covering a "scandal" about the amount of air in a football compared to, you know, actual world news.

Guy Benson - Surprise: 'Average' Mom Showcased at SOTU was a Democratic Operative
Posted: 1/23/2015 4:15:00 PM EST

If you watched the president's speech on Tuesday, you're already somewhat familiar with Rebekah Erier, the hard-working Minnesota mother whom Obama referenced on several occasions as a living testament to how his policies are benefitting middle class Americans. Erier was seated next to the First Lady and received quite a lot of camera time.  The idea was to highlight an average, everyday family for the national audience, and to drive home Obama's "middle class economics" messaging.  Unbeknownst to viewers, however, were a few details about Ms. Erier's background that suggest she isn't quite the 'everywoman' she was presented to be:

The woman whose story of economic recovery was showcased by President Barack Obama in his State of the Union address is a former Democratic campaign staffer and has been used by Obama for political events in the past. Rebekah Erler has been presented by the White House as a woman who was discovered by the president after she wrote to him last March about her economic hardships. She was showcased in the speech as proof that middle class Americans are coming forward to say that Obama’s policies are working. Unmentioned in the White House bio of Erler is that she is a former Democratic campaign operative, working as a field organizer for Sen. Patty Murray (D., Wash.). This also wasn’t the first time the White House used the former Democratic campaign staffer as a political prop.

Rebekah is just like you, America!  If you've worked as a partisan campaign operative and have been featured at multiple presidential events, that is!  I discussed this development with Gretchen Carlson on Fox News:

As I noted in the segment, this president has an anecdote problem dating back to the Obamacare debate.  He cynically fabricated details about his own cancer-stricken mother's (!) supposed fight with her health insurance company, and told two emotional stories in his 2009 healthcare speech to Congress key elements of which turned out to be factually wrong upon further inspection.  But hey, "larger truths" are far too important to be bogged down by actual facts.  Incidentally, we also discussed the intriguing meeting between Mitt Romney and Jeb Bush this week.  I wonder if they talked about, say, Marco Rubio at all.