- Multiple new polls show tea party activists see the border crisis as the most important issue of the 2014 midterm elections and the movement once known for its insistence upon less spending and smaller government is ready to make border security a critical issue heading into November.
Surveys from Gallup, The Polling Company and the Tea Party Patriots show immigration as the top issue for voters in 2014. Democrats historically have an edge in the debate due to their insistence that the vast majority of those in the country illegally are good people trying to make a better life for their families and they are deserving of a chance. However, the recent flood of illegal border crossings have changed some opinions, including those of congressional Republicans.
GOP leaders from the Republican National Committee to House Speaker John Boehner to 2012 Republican Vice Presidential nominee Paul Ryan consistently pushed for comprehensive immigration reform in the wake of President Obama's re-election. Their plans were scuttled by GOP House members earlier this year. By July, while the border crisis raged, a majority of Republicans seemed very hesitant to move in that direction.
Tea Party Patriots President Jenny Beth Martin says she things Republicans officially got the message.
"What we saw happen at the end of July in the House of Representatives showed that the House of Representatives were finally listening to the people and doing what the people want. People do not want amnesty granted to people who have broken the law and come to our country illegally," said Martin.
According to Martin, grassroots tea party activists see immigration as a bedrock issue this year both on grounds of economic fairness and the rule of law.
"While the economy is slightly improving, there are more people who are underemployed than have been in many, many years in this country. The thought of bringing even more people into the country to compete for jobs that Americans that are still having trouble finding is very concerning," said Martin.
"You watch what has happened at the border and the way people are coming across the border, ignoring the rule of law and being unfair to those who have actually obeyed the law to immigrate to the country on a legal path to citizenship. Americans are concerned about that. We understand America is a nation of laws, not a nation of men," said Martin.
She says that legal path is the not only the key to observing the rule of law but a winning political argument against the Democratic case for compassion towards illegal immigrants.
"There is a legal path to citizenship already. There are people who come to this country because they truly do want a better life for themselves and for their family. They want to pursue the American dream. They respect our country and they respect the rules and laws that are in place already," said Martin.
"It's not fair or just or right to those people who are obeying the rules to allow somebody else who has disrespected the rule of law special privileges and allow them to cut in line in front of those who have been waiting patiently," she said.
Martin also expects a fierce backlash from American of all political stripes if President Obama makes good on his promise to address illegal immigration through executive action, which some believe could mean authorizing work permits for up to five million people in the U.S. illegally. Martin says Americans expect Washington to follow the Constitution.
"Americans want to the president to work with Congress. They don't want the president acting without working with Congress. We have a system in place where we have elections for members of Congress and we have elections for the president. Those elections have consequences. Sometimes that means you can't get your way," said Martin.
Martin is upbeat on the midterm elections, despite numerous fierce battles between tea party candidates and the national Republican Party. The Mississippi GOP primary, in which incumbent Thad Cochran edged challenger Chris McDaniel in a particularly nasty runoff, is emblematic of a frayed relationship between the GOP and grassroots activists. Still, Martin says both sides agree the immediate goal for both groups is winning in November.
"There is certainly a major divide and it's going to take some time to resolve that. In the next 60-70 days, as we're looking toward the November election, I think that tea party activists and people within the Republican leadership can agree that the one thing we need to focus on is how can we stop the president's agenda from continuing in the United States Senate. And how can we get the Senate functioning again so that they're voting on bills that the House has passed," she said.
"The way to do that is to change the majority in the United States Senate," said Martin.
- Retired Israeli Brigadier Gen. Elihu Ben-Onn says Israelis welcome a long-term cease-fire with Hamas even though the major objectives were not achieved and that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is paying the political price for failing to achieve a quick, clear-cut victory.
In addition, Ben-Onn says the United States is seen as a diminished player in Middle Eastern affairs. The Obama administration repeatedly spoke up for Israel's right to defend itself but also regularly expressed outrage over the civilian deaths in Gaza.
"We really appreciate the Americans for their support for the state of Israel, but it is clear that President Obama is not as strong as other presidents were before. So there's a feeling that's in the Middle East now that the United States is not such a strong figure as it used to be in the past. I hope the United States will be able to rebuke this image," said Ben-Onn.
On Tuesday, Israel and the Palestinians agreed to a long-term cease-fire brokered by Egypt. Israel's stated goal heading into the 50-day conflict was to deny Hamas the ability to threaten Israeli citizens with rockets. As the ink dries on the cease-fire, Hamas still has rockets capable of hitting Israel.
Ben-Onn says the Israel people are relieved to see a possible end to the fighting at least for a time. However, he says there is also a clear understanding of the results of the operation.
"It is clear that after 50 days, we haven't reached the goal we planned about," he said.
That performance is unacceptable to the Israeli people and Prime Minister Netanyahu is already paying a political price for it. In the early days of the conflict, Netanyahu's approval rating stood at 82 percent. Fifty days later, a new survey from Channel 2 in Israel shows the him with just 38 percent approving of him and 50 percent actively disapproving.
Ben-Onn is not surprised.
"Fifty days, that's the reason, that's the answer. The Israelis have a history and legacy that when you have an enemy like Hamas, we can stop the hostility and fire within a couple of days," said Ben-Onn, referring to very quick military victories in the 1967 Six Day War and the 1973 Yom Kippur War.
"They believe the government and the prime minister can deliver the goods in one week or two weeks, but after 40 days or 50 days and Hamas can still target Israeli cities and villages, not only near the border but far away near Tel Aviv. It is clear that the popularity of the prime minister will go down because the people are used to having a very clear and clean victory. In this case, that's not the situation," said Ben-Onn.
Instead of forcibly disarming Hamas, Ben-Onn says there are now a series of questions left unanswered about the future of Gaza and what lies ahead for Israel and Hamas. When it comes to Gaza, he says there are several possibilities moving forward.
"What will be the future with these people? Can Israel leave after one week or two weeks or six months? Will Egypt go back and take responsibility in the Gaza Strip as it used to be until 1967. This question, I must tell you, is still unsolved," said Ben-Onn, noting Hamas has big decisions to make as well.
"Does the Hamas regime understand that after such a war that they will never try again to attack Israel, and that now, after a big and hard lesson that the Israel Defense Forces taught them, with so many casualties and so much damage that they will not dare to shoot again? Or will they try to do it once more?" asked Ben-Onn.
The general admits the region could return to the cycle of rocket launches that triggered Operation Protective Edge, but he says there is a possibility of some peace and quiet on the border for awhile and he points to the aftermath of Israel's 2006 war against Hezbollah in Lebanon as proof.
"We have more than eight years of cease-fire and a balance of deterrence between us and Hezbollah on the Lebanon border. They don't dare to shoot . I believe that's what will happen now with Hamas. When they understand they are short of ammunition, short on supplies, short on cash money and the people are not happy with this regime, they will not start firing again," said Ben-Onn.
- British intelligence has reportedly identified the terrorist responsible for beheading American James Foley, prompting fears of homegrown Islamic State sympathizers striking in the west and American experts insisting it's time for politicians and the media to stop sanitizing the threat we face and where it comes from.
Reports suggest that hundreds of people holding American passports may be fighting alongside the Islamic State, or ISIS, in Iraq and Syria. The number of Europeans assisting the terrorist army could be well into the thousands.
American Freedom Defense Initiative President Pamela Geller says, if anything, the real numbers are probably worse.
"I think the numbers are probably low, because they haven't taken the threat terribly seriously for the past ten years. They've been discounting and completely avoiding or omitting the motive," said Geller, who is not shocked that some Muslims in western nations are attracted to ISIS.
"It's not surprising at all that Muslims in the west would express support for the Islamic State. The idea of a caliphate transcends national allegiance and goes beyond anything current. It goes back to the beginning of Islamic history," said Geller.
According to Geller, Muslim immigrants come in with a very different attitude than most who yearn to live in the west.
"Many Muslims come to the west with a ready made model of society, of government that they believe is superior to what is currently in place," she said, noting most immigrants throughout history come not to change the west but to embrace it.
"Immigrant populations, whether from eastern Europe, whether from Asia, they would come to America for freedom. That was the idea of the shining light on the hill, it's freedom, it's individual rights. This is the uniqueness of America. This us what makes American exceptionalism exceptional. It's individual exceptionalism," said Geller.
One of the biggest problems for western nations is that they've largely allowed Muslims to export their vision for a nation to their adopted homelands, most notably through implementation of Sharia Law.
"The Muslim population, for example, in France is over ten percent. You see outside of Paris...it can be very frightening. The no-go zones, the Sharia zones, where firefighters and police cannot go. They are many times lured by particular criminal activity into these zones, only to be ambushed. We see it in the UK, increasingly, the imposition of Sharia Law. And people think it can't happen here, but it is happening here," said Geller.
Geller says American examples of capitulation to the Muslim agenda include mandatory prayer breaks at major companies like Heinz and Hertz and Muslim cashiers at Target and Walmart being excused from handling non-Halal meats. She says Muslim employees of Disney insist on wearing hijabs but objected when Disney tried to incorporate the head covering into costumes.
"It starts off with demands and then accommodation and more demand and so on and so on. We are at stage two, Europe is stage three. You look somewhere like Sudan. That's stage five of the islamization of a particular country. It's drip, drip, drip, drip. That's how it's happening," said Geller.
"As you can see, the islamization of the workplace, of the public school, of the public square, of the national dialogue, where literally the media is self-enforcing the Sharia. They will not criticize Islam. They will not offend Islam," she said.
So how can western nations prevent their people from becoming victims of home-grown radicals? Geller says it starts with educating the public, starting with an honest critique of a press that won't tell the truth.
"The biggest weapon that the enemy has in their arsenal is the media," said Geller. "The key is educating the public. First, they must understand who and what they're up against. They don't because it's like they're Helen Keller and someone moved the furniture."
"We cannot defeat an enemy that not only do we not understand but we dare not say its name. This is what we have to do first and then we can strategize how you can defeat jihad," she said.
Geller says President Obama is a prime example of trying to deal with a threat while simultaneously obscuring where the threat comes from and the ideology behind its actions.
"He's woefully unprepared to face the threat of the Islamic State. He can't even say it. He said it has nothing to do with religion. Their name is the Islamic State. I don't know if he's clueless. I don't believe he's clueless. I believe he's complicit because we've seen him align with the jihad force in Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, in Libya with Al Qaeda-linked groups, in Gaza with Hamas. You know, Hamas is ISIS in Gaza," said Geller.
Obama deserves much of the blame for the rise of ISIS, according to Geller, who says the president has botched virtually every step of addressing this threat.
"He created the threat of the Islamic State by leaving Iraq precipitously and giving an opportunity to this group. He has denied it has anything to do with Islam, despite its name. He has denied that the Foley killing has anything to do with the U.S., despite the fact that the Islamic State has made explicit threats, that Foley was beaten more than any other of the hostages because he was American, that Foley was literally was hung and crucified on a wall because his brother was a member of the U.S. Army," said Geller.
"This shows that Obama is encased in denial and willful ignorance. This is not a recipe for success or a sign that he's prepared to deal with the threat," she said.
- This week Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen delivered more discouraging news about the prospects for robust economic growth in the near future. The Capitol Steps long for the days when the world swooned over Alan Greenspan, even though he didn't turn out to be much of an oracle either. Our guest is Steps impressionist Mark Eaton.
- Over one-third of Americans are receiving means-tested federal benefits, and Heritage Foundation analyst Rachel Sheffield says the federal government is poised to vastly increase spending over the next decade and actually measures the success of public assistance programs by the number of people using them.
On Tuesday, the U.S. Census Bureau released statistics showing nearly 110 million Americans lived in households receiving benefits from one or more welfare programs at the end of 2012. That amounts to roughly 35.4 percent of the population. The data show the programs with the most beneficiaries include Medicaid (nearly 83 million people), food stamps (more than 51 million)and the Women, Infants and Children program (22.5 million).
Sheffield says while the 2012 numbers do not represent a huge leap from recent reports, they do confirm the sheer size of our public assistance expenditures.
"This is about one-third of the American population that receives some type of means-tested welfare benefit, which is a huge number. We have a welfare system that continues to increase in cost. There are 80 different federally means-tested welfare programs, so it's a very large welfare system," said Sheffield, who believes the government has a very wrongheaded approach to determining the success of these programs.
"Unfortunately, the federal government tends to measure welfare success by the number of people that are receiving benefits. I think that's really the key issue here, that mentality that a huge welfare system is a successful welfare system," said Sheffield.
"If we look at things like the food stamps program and other programs, they actually try to pull as many people onto the program as possible. They have recruiting procedures. They advertise to get people onto these programs. That certainly shouldn't be the goal. The goal should be to help individuals become sufficient rather than to be on welfare," she said.
The near future suggests things will only get worse for taxpayers. Sheffield says Obama planned welfare spending makes recent expenditures pale in comparison.
"We're headed towards a much larger welfare system. We're projected under President Obama's plan to spend $14 trillion on welfare in the next decade. We've spent $20 trillion over the last five decades on welfare," said Sheffield, who fears the much higher spending will be a major drag on our economy.
"I don't have any hard numbers, but if we're spending $14 trillion on welfare in the next decade and we consider things like Obamacare and other large government programs, that's certainly going to contribute to the opposite of our economic well-being," she said.
Sheffield also accuses the Obama administration of giving Americans less incentive to find work and eventually free themselves from public assistance, namely by unilaterally removing work requirements from the landmark 1996 welfare reform law. She says restoring those work requirements would be a major step towards shrinking America's welfare expenditures and beginning a solution to a culture of dependency.
"First of all, it's about basing the welfare system on the principle of self-sufficiency, reforming policy so that we're encouraging able-bodied adults to work and become self-sufficient. Right now, the vast majority of welfare programs don't include any type of a work requirement. So inserting work requirements into programs like food stamps that encourage able-bodied adults to work or prepare to work, or to look for work as a condition for receiving assistance would be a critical reform," said Sheffield.
According to Sheffield, the food stamps program is a perfect example of the government providing the wrong incentives.
"We've also seen, for example in the food stamps program they're pushing policies that make it easier for people to get on the program and to stay on the program," said Sheffield. "There's a very minor work requirement in food stamps that the Obama administration has allowed states to waive. We've seen this even greater push from the Obama administration to get rid of what few work requirements were there," said Sheffield.
- Black Americans are right to be angry about their economic condition, but the leader of a prominent black conservative group contends the blame belongs with misguided government policies and agitators who distract people from the real problems.
Demonstrators have taken to the streets in Ferguson, Missouri, in the wake of Ferguson Officer Darren Wilson shooting and killing 18-year-old Michael Brown on August 9. The protests focus not only on the specific case and the larger debate over relations between law enforcement and the black community but also over the perceived economic inequality between races. Basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar wrote a piece for time magazine suggesting that any sort of major racial conflict in America would have less to do with race and more about economic disparity and class resentment.
Black conservatives agree that economic conditions are definitely a factor in the frustration we're seeing.
"There is some resentment that exists but I think we're seeing resentment that is being stoked and encouraged. It's mostly based on the economic standing that people find themselves in," said Horace Cooper, co-chairman of the Project 21 National Advisory Board. Project 21 describes itself as the "National Leadership Network of Black Conservatives."
Cooper believes black Americans have suffered great economic hardship in recent years and the people they turn to for leadership do not provide anything but excuses.
"There is no doubt that under the present administration's stewardship it has been harmful for Americans, and black Americans have felt it particularly painfully," said Cooper.
"Unfortunately, rather than have a conversation about the good intentions behind the policies that have hurt so many, there's been an ongoing effort on the part of agitators like Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson to engage in a distraction effort and to say to people who are genuinely unhappy about their situation that it is somehow a broader indictment on America that's important," he said.
Is there concrete data showing black Americans are being dealt a worse economic hand during the Obama years? Cooper says it's really not even debatable.
"Black home ownership is sharply down. Black unemployment is sharply elevated. Black Americans' savings accounts are dramatically lower. There's almost been a 40 percent loss in total equity value among the typical black family compared to what they had during the eight years of the Bush administration," said Cooper, who says Obama has been promoting the wrong solutions to the economic challenges of black Americans and everyone else.
"Black Americans need jobs, opportunity, investment, education far more than they need free health care, unemployment extensions or the other network of social services that this administration is putting forward," he said.
Cooper says the best way to create jobs is to create inviting conditions to start a business. He says the administration is not doing that and is instead content to misdirect the frustrations of black Americans.
"When people are setting up their shops in places like Ferguson, they are trying to offer services to black, white and brown. They find themselves doing that on an uphill push because of the policies of this administration," said Cooper.
"Rather than acknowledge that, we're hearing talk that the real problem in America today is that black Americans, black men in particular, face the threat of being gunned down by the law enforcement community. That's untrue. The data doesn't show that," said Cooper.
In addition, Cooper rips Obama for removing the most significant work requirements from the landmark welfare reform laws. Cooper says that simply rewards "indolence" and punishes work by telling people you can get what you need without working for it.
He also says the Obama administration is aiming its civil rights agenda in the wrong direction. Rather than put its energy into advancing gay marriage, Cooper says a far greater need is raising well-educated young people of all races.
"If you were to say, 'Where are the real problems facing America today?' there are fare more people who recognize that the educational attainment issue is a greater need than any of the other so-called civil rights that progressives want to talk about," said Cooper.
In addition to making substantial policy changes, Cooper urges black Americans to make some changes on their own. He recommends embracing core principles that led to thriving black communities prior to the late 1960s, starting with respect for the law.
"In 1950, 1955 and 1960, when you look at the data points, here's what you see: black Americans are far less likely to be convicted and incarcerated as felons than the broader community. Today, that number is exactly the opposite," said Cooper, adding that another priority needs to be intact families.
"We also see that in 1950, 1955 and 1960, that the out-of-wedlock birthrate was lower in the black community than it was in the rest of the community. Today, that number is entirely going in the wrong direction. Some two-thirds to 70 percent of all black children are born out of wedlock. You can't continue down that pathway," said Cooper.
He says instead of championing government services as the answer to problems in the black community, the president should be holding up his marriage and family for other black Americans to emulate and proclaim as the ideal way to steer their kids toward a promising future.
"That's not the message that we hear. What we hear is that America itself is unfair to people of color. That's harmful and that's destructive," he said.
The performance of the media in the Ferguson story is also a major irritant for Cooper, who says Americans are missing out on key aspects of the story because of a political agenda.
"We're not actually seeing the real story. The shop owners, black, white and brown, who are being terrorized and who are having their property looted," said Cooper.
"The media has not been helpful in all of this. The media has had a rush to judgment to create the impression that the whole story is all about how America is unfair, how police officers will go out of their way to harm innocent people. Whatever the story ends up being, this is a far more ambiguous case, a far more mixed case then what the media would have us believe," said Cooper.
He suggests an additional casualty of the approach to this story by the media and other players is to obscure just how much racial progress we've seen in the U.S.
"Lots of progress has been made in my lifetime and most Americans, black and white, would agree with that. Yet, that is being pushed aside to stoke the resentment where people see that they're unhappy and it's not clear why they're unhappy, but these agitators help give them a reason to do that," said Cooper
- Retired Navy Captain Chuck Nash says President Obama is wrong to distance the terrorists responsible for the beheading of American James Foley from the Islamic faith they claim is driving their rampage across Iraq and Syria.
He also says the lack of a cohesive strategy against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, will hinder progress against the enemy. Nash also believes our porous borders and the troubling number of westerners affiliated with ISIS make our own people very vulnerable.
On Tuesday, ISIS released a video showing a masked terrorist with a British accent beheading American photojournalist James Foley. Another American reporter, Steven Joel Sotloff, was also shown on the video. ISIS vows to kill him next unless the U.S. changes course.
In a statement condemning the horrific murder, President Obama claimed the ideology of ISIS is separate from any religion.
"ISIL speaks for no religion. Their victims are overwhelmingly Muslim, and no faith teaches people to massacre innocents. No just God would stand for what they did yesterday, and for what they do every single day," said Obama.
Nash says while the vast majority of ISIS victims are Muslims, the president is blurring some very important lines.
"They are radical Islamists and you cannot separate Islam from what's being done here. There are no Christians, Buddhists, Shintos anywhere in the ISIS organization. Let's call it for what it is. These are radical Islamists. They have formed together to go step up from terrorism to a full-blown army to achieve what they have wanted to do since Osama bin Laden started this third jihad, and that was (t0) establish a caliphate," said Nash.
While the actions of ISIS shock the conscience of observers, Nash says they also provide an important wake-up call.
"We're too comfortable in this country. We've got large two oceans that have protected us. We've got a sieve on our southern border. There is a lot going on in the world and we were just faced with the brutality of it. We have to realize there are just some bad people on this earth," said Nash, noting that a lack of border security and reports that at least 1,000 westerners are part of ISIS put our security at great risk.
"I think we're in big trouble," said Nash. "Now you're going to have people coming back who have experience who are not afraid to fight, are not afraid to die. They think they're the true believers. Those people are traveling on American, British and other European passports, where they can very easily slip in under the radar," said Nash.
"We're going to see the blonde-haired, blue-eyed Muslim terrorist. We're going to see that person. Hopefully, we see that person before they complete their mission," he said.
Nash does not believe the beheading of an American will result in much change in the U.S. policy toward ISIS. Nash says the existing approach needs a massive overhaul, beginning with a comprehensive strategy.
"The strategy has three major components. You have a diplomatic, you have a military and you have an economic (strategy). Horizontally through all that you have an intelligence component, which informs the decision-makers in the three main pillars," said Nash.
Right now, says Nash, the U.S. is simply "plinking" individual targets are not working on a long-term plan. In addition to choking off as much money as possible, he says there should be diplomatic pressure to get Turkey into the fight in northern Iraq to assist the Kurds in the east. He says those forces plus a regrouped Iraqi army in the south should have a great impact without involving U.S. ground forces.
"We could totally envelop them and put pressure on all three fronts. They would splinter and at that point you roll them up," said Nash. "Without that full picture, we're just flying sorties and dropping bombs. Motion should not be confused with progress."
- Former Republican presidential candidate Gary Bauer says conservatives are tired of being marginalized and taken for granted within the GOP and the party needs to prepare for more Election Day disappointments if they don't produce candidates the base can enthusiastically support.
Bauer sought the Republican presidential nomination in 2000. He previously served as chief domestic policy adviser to President Ronald Reagan and is now president of American Values and chairman of the Campaign for Working Families PAC.
In a Sunday Washington Post story highlighting the agitation of social conservatives toward GOP leaders, Bauer described the difference between the two groups as a "chasm". He says that divide is felt by far more than the values voters.
"The chasm is not only between the Republican Party establishment and social conservatives but the party establishment and conservatives generally," said Bauer.
"I'm talking almost daily with economic conservatives, conservatives that believe in a strong national defense, those that are pro-life and pro-family. There's a general feeling that the party just isn't fighting hard enough against liberalism here in Washington and seems too uncertain with the message and with the themes that the party says it care about," said Bauer.
According to Bauer, conservatives are not only looking for proud defenders of the unborn and traditional marriage but Republicans committed to smaller government, less regulation and other kitchen table issues. He says far too many in the GOP are far more interested in racing to the middle than standing firmly on conservative principles.
"On all these issues, all too often, party officials who have been around for awhile tend to muddle the differences between them and the Democratic Party," he said.
Three of the past four presidential elections show the nation to be very divided politically. Bauer says Republicans cannot afford to take any votes for granted. He says the party needs conservatives to win.
"Whichever side can turn out its core supporters is likely to win not only the elections this November for control of the Senate and the House of Representatives, but they're likely to go on and win the presidency in 2016. If the Republican Party cannot get it's most loyal, committed voters, the voters that take most seriously the planks in the Republican platform, they're going to underperform this November and underperform in 2016," said Bauer.
In his comments to the Washington Post, Bauer made it clear that conservatives have no intention of being ignored long-term.
"Values voters have been treated as the stepchildren of the family, while the party has wanted to get on with so-called more electorally popular ideas," he told the Post. "The Republican base will not tolerate another candidate foisted upon us as a guy who can win."
In his interview with us, Bauer said conservatives were told they had to support John McCain in 2008 and Mitt Romney in 2012 because they were the only candidates who could win. He says the results of those elections demonstrate conservatives have little interest of holding their nose to vote for who they see as the lesser of two evils.
"Several million self-identified conservatives just didn't go vote. If the nominee is not somebody that makes the base of the party's heart beat faster, they just won't show up and that will result again in another election that swings the country further to the left," he said.
Republican strategists accuse conservatives who stay home of biting of their noses to spite their faces. They argue that while conservatives might not have been enamored with Romney, he would be a far better alternative to President Obama on virtually every issue. Bauer says that's not the way it works for many conservatives.
"They are moved by analyses about what they should and shouldn't do. They simply look at the candidates and say, 'OK, who's the candidate that represents what I believe?' If they don't see a candidate that represents what they believe, particularly on the things they care they most about, they're just not moved by the argument that this guy will be a little less worse than that guy," said Bauer.
Bauer also challenges the notion that elections are won by catering to the middle of the electorate and keeping as quiet as possible on hut-button social issues. He says history tells a much different story.
"There are strong and influential voices in the Republican Party promoting the idea that Republicans haven't done well in elections because of issues like the sanctity of life , religious liberty and traditional marriage. I believe the polling evidence is the exact opposite of that," said Bauer, who contends the GOP cannot point to any recent major electoral win by shying away from conservative principles.
"They have no track record. They have no record of success. In fact, the most popular presidential candidate the Republicans have nominated in modern history was Ronald Reagan, who was roundly condemned by the party establishment as being too right wing and too conservative. But he won landslide elections," said Bauer.
Another frequent argument from Republican officials is that public attitudes are changing on key issues like marriage, where the traditional marriage position once held a wide edge. Now polls are largely even over whether same-sex marriage ought to be legalized and millennial voters are overwhelmingly in favor of changing the definition. Bauer believes rather than shrinking from the debate, Republicans need to marshal a passionate defense of traditional marriage.
"Instead of sticking your finger up in the air, trying to figure out which way the wind's blowing and suggesting that you have to abandon an issue because the polling has changed, how about instead making the public policy argument about why marriage should be between a man and a woman and why children need mothers and fathers ?" said Bauer.
He says if Republicans simply went by polls, then they should be in favor of tax increases on the wealthiest Americans and be opposed to any sort of reduction in Social Security payments to help save the system.
With the midterm elections less than 80 days away and jockeying for 2016 already underway, Bauer says recent history can already tell the the outcome depending upon how the Republicans approach the campaign.
"The party needs to nominate in key races, including the presidential race in 2016, solid conservatives that are not ashamed or embarrassed about their views, people that are willing to make the entire case for economic conservatism, values conservatism and a strong national defense. If they don't do that, then I think once again they'll be frustrated by results on Election Day," said Bauer.
Despite his frustrations, Bauer says he maintains Reagan's sunny optimism that the party will come together and move the country in a more conservative direction. And he believes highlighting the divides between various liberal factions will help to depress the Democratic turnout.
"Many of the constituencies in the Democratic Party have conflicting interests. If we're united and we start pointing out the differences on the left, then I think we have a good chance to be successful on Election Day," said Bauer.
- A former Justice Department official says politicizing of the justice system is at an all-time high and he expects federal charges to be filed in the shooting death of Michael Brown regardless of what local prosecutors do.
Hans von Spakovsky served in the civil rights division of the Justice Department during the George W. Bush administration. He is now a senior legal fellow at the Heritage Foundation and co-author of the new book,"Obama's Enforcer: Eric Holder's Justice Department."
He says the Obama administration's track record on deciding which cases to prosecute and Friday's Texas indictment of Gov. Rick Perry are just the latest evidence that ideology is driving the justice system at multiple levels of government.
"Eric Holder has completely politicized the Justice Department. As we can see, unfortunately, this is happening in other places like the Travis County (Texas) D.A.'s office. That should concern every American. I don't care what their political background is because that is a threat to everyone's liberty and everyone's freedom when that kind of power is used for political purposes," said von Spakovsky, who expects federal charges to come in the Brown case.
"I am fearful that they will try to pursue a federal case even if there's no evidence to justify it, because of the fact that they really see everything, including Eric Holder, through the prism of race even when race is not a factor in a case or an incident," said von Spakovsky.
Von Spakovsky says the Justice Department is right to monitor the case but should only intervene if the local authorities fail to conduct a proper investigation or if there is evidence that the the shooting was part of a direct attempt to deprive Brown of his civil rights. For the most part, he says, DOJ seems to be treading lightly.
"If they go into this and interfere with the local investigation, that's when it becomes a problem. It doesn't look like they're doing that yet as of now," he said.
Holder has already dispatched a Justice Department team to investigate the case and over the weekend ordered a a private federal autopsy of Brown's body on top of the two already done. The latter directive is puzzling to von Spakovsky.
"That one I frankly didn't really understand. That may be an overstep on the part of the feds. There's no evidence of any kind that the local coroner's office cannot do a proper autopsy. I'm not really sure what excuse Holder has for ordering a second one, because the only reason to do that is if you're questioning the validity and the competence of the local. There's no evidence to show that they don't know what they're doing," said von Spakovsky.
Tensions in Ferguson remain at a high level more than a week after the Brown shooting. Gov. Jay Nixon (D-Missouri) has ordered the National Guard to Ferguson to maintain order renewed clashes between protesters and police. Given the atmosphere and the fierce opinions on both sides of this case, is it even possible for officials to reach a conclusion that's acceptable to all sides?
"There is if everyone will calm down and slow down. What needs to happen is a very thorough, very detailed investigation of the facts, which would include looking at all of the audio and video tapes of any kind that are available. Before anyone comes to any conclusions about what happened and whether or not the police officer was acting properly," said von Spakovsky, who says President Obama and Holder have largely been measured and proper in their comments.
"The president and others, like Eric Holder, [have] said there's no excuse for the kind of looting and violence that has occurred. That is absolutely right. That is something the leadership of the country, like Barack Obama, need to be telling to people in Ferguson," he said.
Von Spakovsky says the politicizing of the judicial system is seen on all levels, most recently by the Travis County, Texas, indictment of Gov. Rick Perry (R-Texas). On Friday, a grand jury charged Perry with abuse of power for threatening to veto funding for the Travis County district attorney's office and then making good on the threat.
Perry raised the veto threat after Travis County District Attorney Rosemary Lehmberg was convicted of drunk driving and registering a blood-alcohol content approximately three times the legal limit. He threatened to withhold $7.5 million in state funding for the district attorney's office unless Lehmberg resigned. He vetoed the funding bill after she refused.
Ste Democratic Party officials are demanding Perry's resignation, but many Republicans and even prominent liberals such as David Axelrod and Alan Dershowitz say the case is very thin. Von Spakovsky is even more blunt.
"To call this indictment frivolous would be giving it too much credibility. It comes from an office that has a very unfortunate past history of using and abusing its power for political purposes," he said.
The same office brought campaign fundraising charges against then-U.S. House of Representatives Majority Leader Tom DeLay. The case resulted in one conviction for DeLay, but that verdict was thrown out on appeal. Travis County prosecutors also brought charges against then-U.S. Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison shortly after her election.
"That case was thrown out 30 minutes after the trial started. So this is an office with a very bad reputation," said von Spakovsky, who added there is no way for a Texas governor to abuse their power when it comes to vetoes.
"It is not a legitimate charge. The governor of Texas has unlimited, unbridled power under Section 14 of the Texas constitution to veto a bill for any reason or no reason. What this office is trying to do is take a political conflict and turn it into a legal case and they have no basis for doing so," he said.
According to von Spakovsky, the Holder Justice Department and the Travis County District Attorney's office are just the tip of the iceberg on politicizing justice.
"From everything I've seen, it looks like it's getting worse. These are not the only examples of this. There are others going on around the country," he said.