House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), left, and Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) (Melina Mara/The Washington Post)

Taking to task the National Security Agency-bashers:  There is “a noisy minority in both chambers to handcuff crucial counterterrorism intelligence-collection programs either because they refuse to recognize the need for them or because they are campaigning against these programs for political gain. Members of Congress who want to maintain robust intelligence collection to protect the U.S. homeland therefore must be watchful as the Senate considers the USA Freedom Act and possible Senate amendments similar to what the House passed last night.” And keep a lookout in the 2014 and 2016 elections.

Taking a 2 x 4 to the administration’s foreign policy: “Now, from the ruins of the Obama Administration’s Middle East strategy, the most powerful and dangerous group of religious fanatics in modern history has emerged in the heart of the Middle East. The rise of ISIS is a strategic defeat of the first magnitude for the United States and its allies (as well as countries like Russia and even China). It is a perfect storm of bad policy intersecting with troubled times to create the gravest threat to U.S. and world stability since the end of the Cold War. The mainstream press and the professional chatterboxes of the news shows need to set aside their squeamishness at poring over the details of a major strategic failure by a liberal Democrat. The rise of ISIS/ISIL is a disaster that must be examined and understood.” Read the whole thing.” Read the whole thing.

Taking the temperature in Iowa: “New Jersey Gov. Christopher Christie is inching his way back into the 2016 presidential race in Iowa and now trails former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton 44 – 36 percent, according to a Quinnipiac University poll. . . . Iowa voters disapprove 55 – 34 percent of the Obama Administration’s decision to release five Taliban prisoners in exchange for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl. Disapproval is 59 – 33 percent among men, 51 – 35 percent among women, 83 – 14 percent among Republicans, 56 – 29 percent among independent voters and among all age groups. Democrats approve 60 – 26 percent.”

Taking stock of the House: “With Eric Cantor no longer his heir apparent, John Boehner is now more likely to stay on as Speaker. After last week’s elections, Boehner (R-Ohio) will soon have a new leadership team and is in a stronger position to fend off a possible challenge after the midterm elections. While House Republicans are split on whether there would be another leadership shake-up in the fall, Tea Party members acknowledge they missed their best chance for change in last week’s whip and majority leader elections.” It’s a problem when they can’t look one step ahead.

Taking the measure of a man who sounds so naive, Vladimir Putin surely must conclude he can do whatever he wants. “President Obama asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to use his influence to promote greater peace and stability in eastern Ukraine and to make an effort to work with a new Ukrainian government that Obama said is ‘willing to go the extra mile.'” Has Obama learned anything in 5 1/2 years?

Taking objection to the church’s outrageous decision:  “On Friday the Presbyterian Church (USA) voted at its general convention (310-303) to divest from three companies it says supply Israel with equipment used to oppress Palestinians. Despite the PCUSA’s insistence to the contrary, this is part of a long-term effort to de-legitimize and morally stigmatize Israel. It is evidence not simply of moral confusion but of a disturbing moral inversion. I say that because anyone who has followed this debate knows that the PCUSA have shown a transparent anti-Israeli zeal.” Too bad the Internal Revenue Service only cares about the political activities of right-wing groups; this sounds more like a political operation than a church. Oh, and David Duke praised the PCUSA.

Taking seriously the threat of a terrorist state, John Kerry evidences a degree of abject panic: “Winding up a day of crisis talks with Iraqi leaders, Secretary of State John Kerry said on Monday that the Sunni militants seizing territory in Iraq had become such a threat that the United States might not wait for Iraqi politicians to form a new government before taking military action.”