President Obama will hold a news conference at 3 p.m. Friday, one day before he leaves Washington for a nine-day vacation on Martha’s Vineyard, Mass.

It has not been a productive summer for Obama, who has seen Republicans in Congress successfully thwart every major legislative item of his second term (gun control, amnesty, and tax hikes). Instead, the news has been dominated by scandals here at home (IRS persecution of conservative groups and domestic spying) and failure abroad (continued death in Syria, a coup in Egypt, a failed reset with Russia, and a resurgent al Qaeda).

Considering that background, here are five questions to look for in today’s press conference:

1. Mr. President, over four years ago, in March 2009, then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton proudly presented Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov with a ‘reset’ button meant to symbolize your administration’s efforts to makeover U.S. relations with Russia. How is that reset going? Are U.S. relations with Russia better or worse today than they were then?

2. Mr. President, throughout your re-election campaign you personally and repeatedly promised the American people that, thanks to your leadership, al Qaeda was “decimated” and “on the path to defeat.” In light of the successful terrorist attack on Benghazi on the anniversary of 9/11, as well as the recent and on going closures of 19 diplomatic facilities in the Middle East, Northern Africa and Central Asia, are you still willing to tell the American people that al Qaeda has been “decimated”?

3. Mr. President, according to the most recent Kaiser Family Foundation Health Tracking Poll, your signature domestic accomplishment, the Affordable Care Act, has only gotten more unpopular since your re-election. The inspector general of your own Department of Health and Human Services has said your administration will not be able to adequately protect Americans’ privacy when the health exchanges come on-line this October. You have already delayed the employer mandate for a year, and over 20 House Democrats voted with every House Republican to extend that delay to the individual mandate. If your goal is to best protect and promote the health and well-being of all Americans, why not delay the implementation of the ACA for another year so that your administration is better able administer the program without violating Americans’ privacy and encouraging fraud?

4. Mr. President, just days after you were first inaugurated, you promised that your Home Affordable Mortgage Program would help “between 7 and 9 million Americans” refinance their mortgages and stay in their homes. Over four years later, the Special Inspector General for the Troubled Asset Relief Program reports that just 1.6 million Americans have been helped by the program and even then the re-default rate among that group is as high as 46 percent. Do you consider this program a success, and if not, why are you insisting on continued federal dominance of the mortgage industry?

5. Mr. President, the American economy is currently suffering through the weakest economic recovery since the Great Depression. Taxes, including payroll taxes on working Americans, are rising faster under your administration than they have under any president since FDR. Do you still believe that the answer to our long-term fiscal deficits are still yet more tax hikes?

From The Washington Examiner
Editorial: Consumers still not charged up about electric vehicles
Mark Flatten: Few in Congress seem to care about veterans preference fraud
Sean Higgins: AFL-CIO to accept non-union members
Joseph Lawler: The economics of ‘Elysium’
Sean Lengell: GOP may partner with conservative radio on 2016 debates
Susan Crabtree: No end in sight to US embassy closures
Susan Ferrechio: McConnell re-election campaign manager ‘holding his nose,’ according to secret call
Conn Carroll: What is libertarian populism?
Ashe Schow: US-born and immigrant Hispanics tilt Democratic
Joel Gehrke: White House tours cancelled, but lobbyists still get in

In Other News
Time, How Obama’s Putin Snub Is Playing Out in Russia: The news that Obama has decided not to meet with his Russian counterpart before, after or during the G20 summit in St. Petersburg next month — is clearly not something the official spin doctors wanted to advertise.
Mediaite, Alec Baldwin Set To Host New MSNBC Primetime Show: Mediaite has learned from a senior source in the cable news industry with knowledge of MSNBC’s programming that actor Alec Baldwin is getting his own weekly show in MSNBC’s primetime lineup.
Fox News Poll, Majority calls implementation of ObamaCare ‘a joke’: A Fox News national poll released Thursday also asks voters about how they think Obamacare is being carried out: 31 percent say “it’s going fine,” yet a 57-percent majority feels “it’s a joke.
McClatchy Newspapers, Retailers anxious about back-to-school figures: Parents are counting down the days until the new school year starts. Retailers are counting the days left in the back-to-school shopping season, getting anxious about the start of the new school year.

Lefty PLaybook
Think Progress celebrates their success in preserving subsidies for clean energy.
The Carville and Greenberg Memo claim seniors are turning on the GOP.
Joan McCarter on what vulnerable Democrats should say about Obamacare.

Righty Playbook
Megan McArdle says we are all going to pension hell.
Mark Krikorian on the amnesty lobby’s administrative amnesty Plan B.
Charles Krauthammer on how Obama turned the War on Terror into a War on Words.
Terrence Jeffrey reports that under Obamacare, a $1 Pay Hike Could Costs a Middle-Class Family $9,355 Hike in Premiums