Today in Liberty: Clinton dismisses Benghazi as a “political slugfest,” Amash leads establishment challenger by 30 points

“Conquest is not in our principles. It is inconsistent with our government.” — Thomas Jefferson

— Hillary Clinton won’t participate in Benghazi “political slugfest”: The former Secretary of State is basically daring the Select Committee on Benghazi to subpoena her as a witness. Clinton dedicated an entire chapter in her forthcoming book, Hard Choices, to the 2012 terrorist attack. “I will not be a part of a political slugfest on the backs of dead Americans. It’s just plain wrong, and it’s unworthy of our great country,” Clinton writes in her new book, according to Politico. “Those who insist on politicizing the tragedy will have to do so without me.” Because answers are so overrated. House Democrats are participating in the select committee at the urging of Clinton allies to insulate her from attacks that could hurt a 2016 presidential bid.

— Obama administration can’t hide from the VA scandal: President Obama has been able to downplay the many scandals that have come out of his administration — save, perhaps, the NSA’s domestic surveillance — by telling the media that Republicans are out to get him. But the VA scandal isn’t one that he’s going to be able to so easily dismiss. “Faced with evidence of the misconduct at VA health facilities and the political radioactivity of a scandal involving injured veterans, Democrats started rushing to get ahead of even Republicans calling for Shinseki to go, leaving the White House struggling to explain what the president was waiting for,” Politico explains. “For a White House used to dismissing scandals as partisan slime-slinging, this is new territory.”

— VA scandal undermines the Left’s dream of government-run healthcare: The Veterans Health Administration was once praised by Leftists, but the “systemic” problems have exposed some ugly truths about government-run healthcare. “The ongoing VA scandal over falsified records, and the deadly long wait times for care that appear to have been the result, seems to suggest otherwise: Veterans are not safe and sound within the fully government-run system, its quality control leaves much to be desired, and its lengthy wait times are not a fictitious prediction but an all-too-grim reality,” Peter Suderman writes at Reason. “And that’s how the system is supposed to work. Add the systematic lies and manipulations that the recent scandal has brought to light, and you have an accurate enough picture of how government health care works in practice.”

— Boehner preferable to Cantor?: In a story covering House conservatives’ reaction to the power play by allies of House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), Jonathan Strong points out that some are quietly suggesting that Boehner may be preferable to House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA), who has been suggested as an alternative. “Interestingly, the criticism Cantor is facing from the right has prompted key conservative lawmakers to seriously consider whether Boehner might be preferable to Cantor, his heir apparent, Republicans said,” says Strong. “Their rationale: Boehner would be a lame-duck with a clear time horizon, while Cantor could consolidate support and serve for any number of years before the right got a chance to put one of their own in the speakership. During the end of Boehner’s reign in the next Congress, potential leaders on the right – Reps. Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) and Jim Jordan (R-OH) are the names most often mentioned – could continue to gain strength to take on Cantor when Boehner departed.”

— Amash leads establishment primary challenger by 30 points: Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) holds a massive lead over his establishment-backed primary challenger, Brian Ellis, according to a poll from FreedomWorks for America. Amash takes 53 percent of the vote to Ellis’ 23 percent. The poll also found that Amash’s favorability rating is 57/24. “Congressman Justin Amash is the gold standard when it comes to individual liberty and constitutional conservatism. He has the support of grassroots activists across the district because of his commitment to truth and transparency,” said Matt Kibbe, president of FreedomWorks for America, in a statement. “Primaries exist to provide citizens with an opportunity to upgrade their representation in Washington, but in the case of Congressman Amash, constituents know that there is almost no room for improvement.” Details of the poll can be found here. The only other poll we’ve seen out of the MI-03, commissioned earlier this year by Club for Growth, had Amash up by 48 points. Amash raised $224,593 in the first quarter of the year and spent $115,463, leaving him with a $841,000 war chest. Ellis, however, raised $322,109 and spent $247,640. He’s loaned himself $400,100 since the beginning of his campaign. He has $413,423 on-hand. Michigan’s primary is set for Tuesday, August 5.

— Speaking of Amash: The libertarian-leaning Michigan Republican recorded his 2,500 consecutive vote last night. Amash’s streak is impressive, but he has a long way to go to catch William Natcher’s (D-KY) 18,401 consecutive vote streak. Amash posts explanations for every vote he casts on his official Facebook page. Congrats, Congressman!

— Chris McDaniel could pull it off in Mississippi: Though his campaign played defense for a couple weeks, a wave of last-minute endorsements could put him over the top in his race against Sen. Thad Cochran (R-MS) on Tuesday when Mississippi Republicans head to the polls. “Jeppie Barbour, whose son Henry Barbour is running the super PAC boosting Cochran’s campaign, endorsed McDaniel,” the Washington Examiner reports. “Sarah Palin released a radio ad on McDaniel’s behalf Tuesday.” Palin is also stumping for the conservative primary challenger today. Rick Santorum, who served with Cochran in the Senate, also endorsed McDaniel. Henry Barbour, by the way, conceded that Cochran “could very well lose” if his base doesn’t turn out to vote.

— Why we lose: The Texas Republican Party has barred the Log Cabin Republicans of Texas and the Metroplex Republicans, both groups that support same-sex marriage, because their views are inconsistent with the anti-gay (and yes, folks, it’s anti-gay) state party platform. The Republican Liberty Caucus of Texas has come to the defense of the Log Cabin Republicans. “We recognize that there are many opinions on the nature marriage, but as an organization with a diverse constituency, we do not believe that any one position on marriage should be recognized above all others by our government. The debate on marriage may rage on, but should do so in the arena of private discourse. As a nation we must steer a neutral course which recognizes the freedom and individuality of all citizens,” says Texas RLC Chairman Jeffrey Larson. “We support the end of any governmental role in religious marriage. Government should be limited to registering civil marriages among consenting adults.”

— Pelosi says the administration hasn’t told the whole story on the NSA: It’s hard to tell whether House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) is being critical of the Obama administration here or what, but she says that the whole story surrounding NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden hasn’t been told. “Who was accountable at the NSA for someone having access, with one person having access — not even a high-level person, that you might say, ‘okay, somebody trusted that person’ — how could one person have had that opportunity?” Pelosi asked at her weekly presser. “I think that we have not heard that whole story and I keep asking that question. How did this happen?” Notice that Pelosi isn’t asking why the NSA was spying on innocent Americans. But a government that snooping on its citizens is totes fines as so long as a Democrat is in the White House. Or something.

— Rohrabacher amendment passes: We told you in Thursday’s Today in Liberty that Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) would offer an amendment to the Commerce, Justice and Science (CJS) appropriations bill that would prohibit the Justice Department from interfering with the implementation of state medical marijuana laws. Well, the amendment passed in the wee hours of this morning by a 219 to 189 vote. Separately, an amendment offered by Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) bars the Justice Department from interfering with legal hemp research. That amendment passed 246 to 162.

— House votes to prop up outdated agency: The House voted yesterday to fund the Economic Development Agency, an outdated federal agency that basically exists to funnel money to members districts and favored industries. Because cronyism. Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) offered an amendment to the Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) appropriations bill that would’ve eliminated the $247.5 million for the agency. Unfortunately, the amendment was defeated by a vote of 129 to 247.

— Peter King’s douchbaggery: Rep. Peter King (R-NY), an apologist for the Marxist Irish Republican Army and the NSA, lost his shit over NBC’s interview with Edward Snowden. “Brian Williams did not ask Edward Snowden one question, give the name of one American whose rights have been violated, give one instance where the NSA has violated the statute, has violated the court,” King bloviated on MSNBC. “The fact is that that all of this talk, they cannot give one example of any American’s right being violated.” Sigh. King is one of the most visible members of Congress, constantly appearing on TV to defend the NSA and promote a doctrine of perpetual war as well as trash anyone who disagrees with him. God forbid that Edward Snowden get an hour to tell his side of the story.

— Sriracha took on the man, and won: Irwindale, California realized that a bill aimed at Huy Fong Foods, the maker of the delicious condiment, Sriracha, could cost the city jobs. “Lawmakers in the Los Angeles suburb of Irwindale had considered declaring Huy Fong Foods, maker of the fiery Sriracha sauce, a nuisance after residents near the factory complained that peppery fumes were giving them headaches and irritating their eyes and throats,” Reuters reports. “But at a city council hearing on Wednesday, three council members and Mayor Mark Breceda voted unanimously to dismiss the resolution.” Huy Fong Foods, which employs 70 full-time workers and 200 seasonal workers, “received offers from some two dozen other towns and communities, including several in Texas, to move the factory there.”

— Rand Paul may have to sue Kentucky: If Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) wants to run for reelection and president at the same time, he may have to file a lawsuit unless Republicans take control of the Kentucky legislature. “Earlier this spring, the senator pushed unsuccessfully for the Kentucky legislature to clarify that the law applies only to state office. Democrats control the state house, and they let Senate Bill 205, which would ‘allow a candidate’s name to appear on a voting machine or absentee ballot twice if one or both of the offices sought is a federal office,’ languish until the legislative session came to an end last month,” National Review notes. “The Kentucky legislature doesn’t reconvene until next year, and Paul’s fate may hinge on which party seizes control of the state house in November. That’s one reason he will be campaigning hard for Kentucky house candidates this fall. If Democrats retain control of the house, they are likely to ignore the bill once again.”

— There shall be birthdays: Happy birthday to the Washington Examiner’s Ashe Schow and super activist Joel Davis! Ashe and Joel are great people. Also, Erik Telford of the Franklin Center will celebrate his birthday tomorrow. Give this trio a follow on Twitter at @AsheSchow, @JBaily, and @BlameTelford, and wish them a happy birthday.

Other items we’re reading this morning:

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