Shaheen: Obamacare is "Absolutely" an Accomplishment For Me

Concord, NH -- To say that Scott Brown was the underdog tonight would be an understatement. From the minute I arrived here that was patently clear: way more Shaheen supporters showed up to show their support for her; she drew much more enthusiastic and sustained applause lines throughout the night; and when she took the stage initially, Chuck Todd had to awkwardly pause and wait for the audience to quiet down.

The general consensus, therefore, is probably that Brown got creamed. I disagree. This wasn’t his first rodeo and perhaps that’s why he seemed relatively relaxed under fire. After all, the audience was openly ridiculing and laughing at his responses for no apparent reason. I watched both Arkansas Senate debates, for example, and the audiences weren’t nearly as partisan or disruptive. One exchange, however, and the one everyone will be talking about, was particularly brutal:

I'll let fact checkers sort through who's telling the truth (although watch this clip if you have time); in the moment, however, Shaheen clearly got the better of Brown on that exchange. The audience ate it up. Nevertheless, Shaheen made some outrageous claims herself. She said she was (ahem) “absolutely” proud of voting for Obamacare and essentially admitted she voted with the president nearly 100 percent of the time:

It is an absolute fact that Shaheen is an Obama rubber stamp. But be that as it may, Shaheen had especially strong responses vis-à-vis women’s issues. Her best line of the night, however, was when she said, “I don’t think New Hampshire is a consolation prize,” digging Brown for weighing runs for political offices in numerous states. She was also relentless when accusing him of outsourcing jobs, subsidizing Big Oil, and supporting 44 filibusters as a United States Senator, thereby undercutting the narrative that Brown (as he likes to claim) was the most bipartisan lawmaker in Washington during his tenure.

Incidentally, I spoke with Team Brown’s campaign manager, Colin Reed, after the debate. He said internal polling shows the race is a “dead heat,” and that Senate races in New Hampshire “tend to break late” – that is, the last few days of the campaign. As a result, he’s feeling pretty good about his candidate’s chances.

We'll see.

Woman Exposes Father With Concealed Carry Permit Using Yard Signs

One can have legitimate disagreements about the Second Amendment, but what this Minnesota woman is doing is bound to make gun rights advocates more than just a little angry (via KAALtv)[emphasis mine]:

A sign posted in a front yard brings an interesting debate. At the center of it, your constitutional rights. In the past few weeks there’s been a number of stories involving guns on school property in Olmsted County. The issue Friday is a gun near school property and the way one woman is voicing her concern.

Matthew Halleck brings his two girls to and from the outskirts of Harriet Bishop Elementary in Rochester every day. "I'm going to protect my children anyway I can,” said Halleck.

For Matthew, that means carrying a concealed gun that he has a permit for, while adhering to all legal boundaries. "It's not crossing the street here, where the crosswalk is, it's making sure it's concealed so the kids can't see it,” he said.

But Matthew is no longer the only one who knows he's carrying a gun. Recently a sign went up in a front yard across the street from the school. It has Matthew’s picture on it and reads, "This man carries a loaded gun around your children every day."

"Since we don't have a way to stop him, we felt it was important to notify the neighborhood and the parents that there is an armed man in their presence,” said Kimberly Edson, a Rochester resident who put the sign up. "The first couple days of school he had it very visible, we saw it and were quite concerned,” she said.

Kimberly called the police the day the picture was taken, but they said Matthew has a legal right to carry off school property. Matthew also contacted authorities concerning the sign, and while they briefly took the sign down, it was eventually determined that Kimberly was also breaking no laws. "He has a 2nd Amendment right to carry the gun, I have my 1st Amendment right to say that I don't like it,” said Edson.

That’s all fine and dandy, but why on Earth does Edson think Halleck is a threat? The vast majority of gun owners are law-abiding citizens; Halleck is just doing what any father would do for his children: protect them. Ms. Edson’s antics have compromised that goal as he’s lost tactical surprise.

On the other hand, would-be criminals might think twice about messing around in Halleck’s neighborhood knowing that he is armed. One this is for sure: Mr. Halleck should probably consider open carrying his firearms thanks to Edson. But, he will need to go the courthouse before he does; Minnesota requires a permit open carry.

Halleck is also considering filing a libel lawsuit.

H.W. Bush to Michelle Nunn: Stop Using My Photo in Your Ad

George H.W. Bush is anything but elated over his recent appearance in an ad produced by Democrat and Georgia Senate candidate Michelle Nunn. Nunn’s goal was to seem more bipartisan by showcasing her time as CEO of Bush’s nonprofit Points of Light foundation, instead her disregard for the president’s wishes has more aptly showcased her disrespect.

"Throughout my career I've been able to work with Republican and Democrats," Nunn claimed after a slow zoom of a picture of her with Bush senior appeared across the screen.

Nunn’s background in the nonprofit sector led her to work for the Bush’s Points of Light foundation in 2007. When she announced her intentions to run for the U.S. Senate, the foundation granted her a leave of absence.

According to Bush’s spokesperson Jim McGrath, the former president explicitly stated he did not want to be involved in Nunn’s Democratic campaign:

Michelle and her team have been clearly, repeatedly and consistently told that President Bush did not want them to use his photo as part of this campaign. Apparently, the Nunn team feels they can repeatedly disregard the former president's wishes, which is very disappointing because it's so disrespectful.

Bush has, on the other hand, come out in support of Nunn’s challenger, Republican David Perdue, who is leading by only a slim margin in recent polls. 

Study Shows Liberals More Likely Than Conservatives to "Unfriend" Someone Over Politics

A new study by the Pew Research Center has found that people who identify as "liberal" in their political beliefs are more likely than conservatives to have unfriended someone (either in the online or real-life sense) over a disagreement in political leanings.

According to the study, while self-described "consistent liberals" were more likely than conservatives to have friends who have differing political opinions, they were also more likely to block those person's posts from social media or to unfriend them altogether.

Consistent liberals were the most likely group to block or unfriend someone because they disagreed with their political postings, with 44 percent saying they had "hidden, blocked, defriended, or stopped following someone" on Facebook due to their political postings. Only roughly one-third (31 percent) of consistent conservatives had done the same -- although this might be attributable to lower levels of ideological diversity in their online ecosystem.

[...]

Liberals were also more likely to drop a friend in real life over politics. Nearly a quarter, or 24 percent, of consistent liberals told Pew that have stopped talking to or being friends with someone over politics, compared to 16 percent of consistent conservatives.

A possible explanation for this could be that conservatives are less likely to block someone over political postings if their friends are people with whom they mostly agree with.

Growing up in Maine, I had plenty of liberal classmates and friends, heck, it was always a surprise if a classmate wasn't a liberal. These people were some of my dearest friends growing up, and as we grew older it was quite upsetting to see that some of them purposefully shut me out of their lives when I got more heavily involved in politics. Underneath political views we're all still people before everything else. I wish more people—on both sides of the aisle—would realize that.

PHOTOS: On the Ground in NH

Concord, NH -- Well, my friends, I made it. I am currently sitting inside the media room at the Capitol Center for the Arts waiting for the debate to start. Outside, hundreds of Granite Staters have gathered and I had a few minutes to snap a few photos before picking up my media credentials.

As the photo below shows, most of those gathered are Shaheen supporters.

Computer Hope

But I did see some Brown signs.

Computer Hope

And this.

Computer Hope

Below is where everyone will walk in. In the background, you can see an American flag with President Obama's face upside down.

Computer Hope

This is the media room.

Computer Hope

And for fun, I snapped this on my ride up to New Hampshire. I went right.

Computer Hope

Apologies for the so-so quality but I wanted to you guys a sense of what it's like up here in New Hampshire. When I arrived, roughly three and a half hours before the debate started, there were already hundreds of people holding signs outside the venue. Though I overheard one spectator say she's stopped watching television altogether "because of the ads," people here are clearly engaged and ready for the debate. I was somewhat surprised, however,that there weren't more Brown supporters on scene. But it's still early.

As a reminder, the debate will start at 8:00 PM EST. Stay tuned.

The Horror of Affirmative Consent at Stanford

In light of my earlier posts on California's new Affirmative Consent law, a Stanford student forwarded me the below Stanford Daily write-up of the school's recent Full Moon on the Quad (FMOTQ) event.

Now mind you, as someone who grew up going to California Golden Bear football games, I view everything that Stanford students do on The Farm as per se morally reprehensible, but it does appear that thanks to the new Affirmative Consent focus, this year's FMOTQ was a lot less rowdy than years passed:

The event concluded without a single transport [link added for context], a rarity in recent FMOTQ history, and without any reports of sexual assault.
...
This year’s planning committee placed emphasis on Title IX issues because of the University’s new affirmative consent policy, which stems from the recently passed California Senate Bill 967. SB-967 threatens to withhold federal funding from California colleges and universities that do not have adequate sexual misconduct policies, including an affirmative consent standard.
...
Jordyn Irwin ’16, a Peer Health Educator (PHE) in Rinconada House, attended FMOTQ with one eye on how students, particularly freshmen, were handling affirmative consent. She said she did not hear of any problems regarding sexual misconduct that night, nor did she witness much conduct at all.

“It seemed like not as many people were kissing as I remembered it being like my freshman year, and I was thinking about how that very well could be a product of all of the talk about affirmative consent,” she said. “I think mostly because when it becomes on people’s radars, they start to realize how awkward it seems to kiss a total stranger.”

Freshmen, with only secondhand accounts of past events to compare this year to, still noticed fewer people kissing than was hyped. Harry Elliott ’18 attended his first Full Moon this year and was surprised by the relatively low level of kissing, a tradition that goes hand in hand with the annual event.

“I was expecting a glorified makeout session, essentially just people wildly kissing each other,” he said. “No more than half of the people there were seriously engaged in making out.”

In year’s past, a countdown to midnight more or less commenced the kissing, while this year’s event, running only from 10:45 p.m. to 12:15 a.m., omitted the countdown and began and ended earlier, limiting the window for kissing but also, as Irwin noticed, for pre-gaming.
...
“The fact that nobody got transported this year is just sheer luck,” Kannappan said. “There’s not much we can do in terms of planning the event to stop people from pre-gaming. I do think something that helped this year was making the event time run shorter than it has in the past.”

So, to recap, the Affirmative Consent policy, coupled with a shorter run time for the event, led to less drinking, fewer drunken hook ups, and, for the first time in years, no one going to the hospital. 

What is so bad about this policy again?

Showdown in NH: Are You Ready For Tonight?

Concord, NH – Greetings from the Granite State! Happily, I arrived in chilly New England late Monday night, and by the time you read this, I will be well on my way to the NECN/Concord Monitor/UNH New Hampshire Senate debate at the Capitol Center for the Arts. Tonight, Republican Senate hopeful Scott Brown will verbally cross swords with incumbent Sen. Jean Shaheen (D-NH).

Since we last wrote about this race, there have been two headline-driving developments: First, Scott Brown finds himself in a bit of hot water after saying in a radio interview last week that the federal government's worry-inducing response to the Ebola threat would not have happened under President Romney. Democrats, of course, haven’t taken too kindly to this suggestion. Second, and more importantly, a new Suffolk/Boston Herald poll shows the race still firmly within the margin of error: Jeanne Shaheen: 49; Scott Brown: 46.

Four points of interest:

(1) Obamacare is still—and will continue to be—unpopular through Election Day. A whopping 55 percent of respondents said the president’s signature domestic achievement is “generally bad” for the state of New Hampshire. And since Sen. Shaheen voted for the law, I expect this issue to come up in a big way during tonight’s debate. Brown has been an outspoken opponent of the Affordable Care Act since 2009, and indeed, it was one of several reasons why he was able to rise to prominence.

(2) President Obama is not popular in New Hampshire. This is one theme that has been consistent in every poll conducted recently in the Granite State. Fifty-six percent of respondents disapprove of the way President Obama has run the country, although only 11 percent regret voting for him. On the other hand, Sen. Shaheen's disapproval rating is only 46 percent (as is her approval rating).

Can her better numbers, then, save her in an election year when “every single one” of the president’s policies is "on the ballot"?

(3) The ‘war on women’ charge isn’t sticking. For example, when asked if respondents “trust Brown on women’s issues,” 45 percent responded “yes” whereas only 44 percent said “no.” Which is to say he’s above water on issues that sunk two promising GOP Senate candidates in 2012. If Scott Brown loses, therefore, it won’t necessarily be because voters think he’s trying to ban contraception or outlaw abortions. It will be for other reasons.

(4) For what it’s worth, 29 percent (!) of respondents used to live in Massachusetts whereas 37 percent moved to New Hampshire “from somewhere else.” So most likely voters, we can infer, are from out of state. This suggests that the "carpet bagger" charge (bound to come up in tonight’s debate) won’t be nearly as politically damaging in New Hampshire as maybe other states, where most voters are lifelong residents.

This is a seat that early on most political observers dismissed as safely Democratic. Poll after poll, however, shows the contours of the race have shifted, and although Shaheen is technically ahead, her lead is tenuous. It is therefore difficult to overemphasize the importance of tonight's debate; if a clear winner emerges, momentum could shift. Issues I expect to be discussed tonight are the following: immigration, Obamacare, jobs and the economy, the rise of ISIS, the Ebola threat, and women’s issues.

Finally, stay tuned for my recap after the lights dim and the curtains close. The debate begins at 8:00 PM (EST) sharp, and Meet the Press anchor Chuck Todd will moderate.

Land Slightly Outraises Peters in Third Quarter Fundraising

While Republican Senate candidate Terri Lynn Land has been struggling in the polls over the last several months, she has consistently outraised her opponent, Rep. Gary Peters, since joining the race last June. 

The third quarter fundraising period proved to be no different for the former secretary of state. Her campaign reported more than $2.13 million in contributions, whereas the Peters campaign pulled in just over $2 million.

"Once again Terri has proven that Michigan families and workers support her plan to put Michigan first by balancing the budget, fixing our roads, combating ISIS and securing our borders,” Land campaign spokeswoman Heather Swift said in a statement.

Election Day is just two weeks away—whether Land will be able to use her cash advantage to turn things around remains to be seen. 

Shameful: On Veterans Day, DC Metro Will Cater to Rock Concert Over Arlington Cemetery

No Blue Line trains will be operating on Veterans Day in the nation's capital, reports local news. Instead, to accommodate the thousands of tourists who will descend on the National Mall for a "Concert for Valor" featuring the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Carrie Underwood and Metallica, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority decided to do away with Blue Line service:

Between 400,000 and 800,000 people are expected to be at the National Mall on November 11, authorities said. In order to maximize the capacity and accommodate as many Metro Riders as possible, Metro will change the service patterns to provide more trains on the Yellow, Orange, Silver, Green, and Red Lines.

While altering timetables during holidays is nothing new, particularly alarming about the WMATA's decision, is that the Blue Line is the only route that goes to Arlington National Cemetery, a United States military cemetery that was established during the Civil War.

Classy, WMATA.

They do offer an alternative option, however. Their website ensures that shuttle trains will be operating to and from the cemetery, but these shuttles are even headaches for us locals - I can't imagine what a nightmare they'd be for wide-eyed visitors. Why not save the shuttle for the concert? After all, aren't our veterans more important than rock stars?  

What a shame we need to ask that question.

Garcia, Kuster Nab Major Ad Buys In The Final Weeks Of NH Race

Doom. That’s the subject line for a fundraising email sent by Debbie Wasserman Schultz on behalf of Rep. Annie Kuster. Beware of Kuster’s Republican opponent–and New Hampshire State Representative– Marilinda Garcia because of the tea party, or something.

Kuster has emerged from the bunker embarking on a diner tour and visiting small businesses in her district.

On the other hand, the RightNOW Women PAC, an organization that seeks to help Republican women in elections and help the GOP engage with female voters, endorsed Garcia.

“Showing Marilinda our support is important to us because she is exactly the kind of Republican woman who we know can make a difference in Washington, D.C.,” said RightNOW Women PAC founder Brittany Thune Lindberg in a press release last week.

“Marilinda is an outstanding candidate with the right priorities – namely, fighting burdensome regulations, promoting entrepreneurship, and championing health issues,” said RightNOW Women PAC advisor Marlene Colucci. “We believe she will be a force to be reckoned with in the U.S. House.”

With Election Day two weeks away, Garcia is still on the road hosting her town hall events; she has one tonight at Keene where the topic of discussion will be taxes and regulation. The rise of ISIS and foreign policy becoming more of a core issue during this election cycle was prevalent at her previous town hall event in Hanover where former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton was a guest.

Oh, and let’s not forget the $750,000 ad buy Club For Growth made on Garcia’s behalf, hitting Kuster over failing to pay her property taxes.

At the same time, Garcia has been pushing ads more frequently in the final weeks highlighting issues like immigration, tax reform, and foreign policy.

Immigration is an issue that appears to gain traction with New England voters; Scott Brown surged after hitting Sen. Jeanne Shaheen on it.

While Garcia has hit Kuster for avoiding her in town halls, the two had their first–and probably last–debate last night. We will have more on that later.

Yet, this race isn’t settled. Kuster is going to benefit from an $800,000 ad buy the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is placing in New Hampshire to help her and her Democratic colleague Rep. Carol Shea-Porter. Polls have Kuster slightly ahead, but Garcia has made quite a run in this race. She was trailing Kuster by over ten points last June 49/35. In the latest New England College poll, she’s only trailing Kuster by 3 points; that’s within the margin of error. A Granite State poll had Garcia up 4–with leaners–earlier this month.

Obama: Let's Face It, These Vulnerable Democrats Support Me and My Agenda


In which the President of the United States serves up another damaging soundbyte on a platter for national Republicans.  Several weeks ago, Barack Obama informed the nation that although he may not be on the ballot this fall, his policies most certainly are, in the persons of Democratic candidates.  That remark birthed a flurry of GOP ads warning (accurately) that a vote for Democrats is an endorsement of an unpopular president.  With two weeks remaining until election day, Obama expounded further on his political standing vis-a-vis vulnerable Democrats in an interview with Al Sharpton:


"The bottom line is, though, these are all folks who vote with me. They have supported my agenda in Congress, and they are on the right side [of issues]…these are folks who are strong allies and supporters of me."

Mary Katharine Ham jokes (?) that these blunt assertions are enough to drive endangered red- and purple-state Democrats to drink.  They've been contorting themselves into verbal pretzels trying to convince highly skeptical electorates that meaningful daylight exists between their 'independent-minded' candidacies and the Obama agenda.  But here's Obama swooping in during the campaign's homestretch to highlight the fact that every last one of them has voted with him, supported his agenda and served as a "strong ally" in Washington, DC.  The only way this clip could have been more valuable to Republicans is if the president had personally named every Democrat in a close race.  ("Kay Hagan is a strong ally and supporter of me!")  MKH also tries to make sense of Obama's stunningly maladroit comments, especially in light of his vaunted political acumen.  Her spitballed conclusion?  Between most of his party spurning his "help" for months, and dozens of Democratic partisans streaming out of his event in Maryland mid-speech, Obama is struggling to process some serious ego bruising.  And he's doing so publicly, in a way that is counter-productive to his longer-term interests.  On the House side, Democrats are engaged in defensive triage, trying to avoid surrendering more seats than they're already projected to lose.  In the Senate battle, National Journal's Josh Kraushaar surveys the late-game landscape and wonders if a true red wave is amassing.  Read the whole thing, as it's packed with interesting tidbits, including why the Georgia race remains so close, and why Iowa Democrats are feeling anxious about Bruce Braley's troubles at the top of the ticket.  RealClearPoliticsTom Bevan summarizes Kraushaar's overall conclusion:


If you click through, you'll see the map to which he refers.  The nine 'toss-ups' include Alaska, Colorado, Georgia, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, New Hampshire and North Carolina.  Arkansas, by the way, has been relocated to the "leans Republican" pile -- joining South Dakota, West Virginia and Montana among the Democrat-held seats likely to flip into GOP hands this fall.  If Republicans managed to sweep the "toss-ups," with all else being equal, they'd net 10 seats.  That's…very bullish.  Though North Carolina has been trending toward Thom Tillis, Kay Hagan is still clinging to a tiny lead in that race. And while Scott Brown is certainly keeping things interesting, he's by no means the favorite in the Granite State.  Plus, none of those other races are 'gimmes' at this stage either, including several contests in which Democrats have at least a realistic shot of hooking a GOP-held seat into their column.  Eliminate North Carolina and New Hampshire from the "sweep," give Democrats, say, Kansas, and underperform in places like Colorado and Iowa, and Republicans could find themselves on the outside looking in when the Senate gavels back into session in early 2015.  But at this point, a serious red tide feels more likely than an implosion, especially with Obama gift-wrapping quotes that confirm the GOP's overriding message as the campaign winds down.  As it stands, the party's realistic Senate performance ranges from a gain of five seats to a gain of nine seats, net.  The likeliest outcome is somewhere in between, of course, and anything higher than five would slap Harry Reid with a demotion. 

Josh Earnest: Democrats Might Not Be Doing Very Well Because Obama Hasn't Fundraised Enough

Democrats are having a rough time just 15 days out from the 2014 midterm elections and have done nearly everything to distance themselves from President Obama, including refusals to admit voting for him. New polling from POLITICO shows 57 percent of Americans disapprove of the way Obama has handled the economy with a whopping 64 percent of voters in battleground states saying things are "out of control."

So why are Democrats behind? Well maybe President Obama just hasn't fundraised enough for them.

"The stakes for this election are high which is why you've seen the President so invested in raising money and trying to lend some organizational expertise to other Democratic candidates. In some cases he's campaigned for them. The President is dedicated to supporting candidate who support a middle class agenda that he has strongly advocated," White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Tuesday. "What I'm saying is that individual candidates across the country are running their own campaigns as they should and I'm confident that they will get all of the credit or blame that they deserve for the outcome of the election. I'm also confident that people will evaluate what the President could have done to be helpful. Did he do all he could to raise as much money for Democratic candidates given all of the challenges that are on his plate? And the President has worked very hard."

With the exception of the Ebola crisis, President Obama has failed to cancel a single fundraiser with "all the challenges on his plate" including: Benghazi, beheadings of Americans, a commercial flight being shot down by Russia, the march of ISIS, etc. 

This year alone Obama has hosted 40 fundraisers and during his tenure at the White House, he's been to 400.

DHS Issues New Travel Restrictions For Ebola Stricken Countries, Ban Still Off the Table

The Department of Homeland Security issued new travel restrictions Tuesday in an effort to screen all people coming into the United States from West Africa for Ebola symptoms. In a statement DHS Secretary Jeh Johnson outlined new restrictions which require all flights originating from West Africa to land at five international airports in the U.S. so passengers can be screened. 

Today, as part of the Department of Homeland Security’s ongoing response to prevent the spread of Ebola to the United States, we are announcing travel restrictions in the form of additional screening and protective measures at our ports of entry for travelers from the three West African Ebola-affected countries. These new measures will go into effect tomorrow.

Last week, with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, DHS implemented enhanced screening measures at five airports around the country – New York’s JFK, Newark, Dulles, Atlanta and Chicago. Passengers flying into one of these airports from flights originating in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea are subject to secondary screening and added protocols, including having their temperature taken, before they can be admitted into the United States. These airports account for about 94 percent of travelers flying to the United States from these countries. At present there are no direct, non-stop commercial flights from Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea to any airport in the United States.

Today, I am announcing that all passengers arriving in the United States whose travel originates in Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea will be required to fly into one of the five airports that have the enhanced screening and additional resources in place. We are working closely with the airlines to implement these restrictions with minimal travel disruption. If not already handled by the airlines, the few impacted travelers should contact the airlines for rebooking, as needed.

We currently have in place measures to identify and screen anyone at all land, sea and air ports of entry into the United States who we have reason to believe has been present in Liberia, Sierra Leone or Guinea in the preceding 21 days.

Yesterday I had a conference call with our CBP officers at the five enhanced screening airports. I was impressed by their professionalism, and their training and preparation for the enhanced screening. I reminded our CBP officers to be vigilant in their efforts, and encouraged them to set a calm example for an American public nervous about Ebola. I thanked these men and women for their service.

We are continually evaluating whether additional restrictions or added screening and precautionary measures are necessary to protect the American people and will act accordingly.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Tuesday screening measures for Ebola symptoms are also being used at seaports where people from West Africa routinely enter the U.S. He also said although the White House supports the new measures being implemented by DHS, a travel ban from West African countries is still not being considered. 

"Our views on the travel ban have not changed," Earnest said. "A travel ban would only serve to put the American people at greater risk."

Again, keep in mind people carrying Ebola don't show symptoms during the incubation period and therefore can easily get around enhanced screening measures at designated international airports. Thomas Eric Duncan, the man who died from Ebola in Dallas, didn't have any symptoms when he returned to the U.S after a trip to Liberia. 

Which Came First - The Liberals Or The Media?

The Pew Research Center has a survey and analysis out titled "Political Polarization and Media Habits," taking a look at the media diet of Americans, broken down by ideological affiliation. It's an interesting look at the state of political media today, but definitely gives a clear picture that there's a dearth of media that appeals to conservatives.

But first, it's interesting to take a look at which news sources are trusted and distrusted by Americans. Pew put together this handy infographic, which reveals that the Wall Street Journal is the most-trusted news source and, by ratio of trust-to-distrust, Buzzfeed is the least-trusted (also, that nobody knows what ThinkProgress is):

[Addendum: No Townhall? For shame, Pew.]

One of the takeaways, according to the Pew analysts, is that "consistent liberals name an array of main news sources," while "consistent conservatives are tightly clustered around one main news source":

.

This makes for an easy talking point by those who would like to resurrect the old "epistemic closure" debate: look, conservatives all listen to Fox News! They don't get their news from other sources! But this is incorrect - this is only about main news sources. It turns out that people who reported as being of a "mixed" ideology - neither liberal nor conservative - have the most sheltered news lives:

This largely fits with what we know about political independents: they're either secret partisans or they're just low-information. A Pew survey from 2012 found that independent-aligned voters were consistently less-informed than their Republican or Democrat counterparts.

When we actually take stock of the ideological profiles of different news organizations, this makes sense: liberals have many many more outlets to turn to in order to get their news! The reason we have a "conservative media" at all is that non-ideological liberals were upset at what was perceived to be a consistently ideologically-liberal media. CNN has a reputation for centrism, but it's still perceived to be more center-left than center, judging by its audience. For a long time, conservative news consumers had only Fox News in order to get news. There are slightly more "conservative" news sources now, but if we take a look at the ideological audience profile that Pew put together, "consistently liberal" audiences have more than double the news sources to go to than "consistent conservatives."

A liberal might respond that, well, of course this is the case: liberals care about news, conservatives care about spin, and that "reality has a left-wing bias" (or whatever that phrase is supposed to be). But that's largely a cover-your-ears answer to the problem of media bias and a rejection of the actual problems that plague the news industry. Fox News and other conservative sources might not adhere to the view-from-nowhere standard of old-media journalism, but critics both left and right have pointed out that view-from-nowhere journalism is just a way of denying an existing bias rather than combating it.

Even in the wake of the Fox and new media revolution, it's true that conservatives simply have much less choice in news than liberals. Given that, it's unsurprising that they tend to "cluster" around one giant news source.

Hagan Stimulus Controversy: ‘It’s Worse Than We Thought’

The Hagan stimulus fiasco continues to fester as the North Carolina race enters the final stretch. Sen. Kay Hagan’s family is accused of profiting from stimulus money that was allocated to their respective businesses. Also, there’s the allegation that Hagan’s husband, Chip, pocketed the savings from the stimulus cash injection. Oh, and there are some possible conflict of interest issues as well. As the Carolina Journal reported today, “it’s worse than we thought:”

From a report filed early Saturday by WRAL-TV news, we have confirmation that a cluster of businesses owned by Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan’s husband and other family members collected even more subsidies from taxpayers than initially reported.

While Carolina Journal’s Don Carrington has highlighted a stimulus grant totaling $250,644 that was paid to JDC Manufacturing, a real estate business co-owned by Hagan’s husband, Chip, and his brothers John and David, WRAL confirmed that JDC received an additional $137,000 in energy tax credits from the project. (Some of the relevant documents are here.) (Politico.com noted the tax credits in its initial report on the story, but those credits aren’t listed in the public documents CJ has reviewed.

WRAL said it had seen various internal company documents and proprietary records, perhaps including verification of the tax credits.) Add a second federal renewable energy grant of $50,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to the ledger, and we learn that Hagan businesses soaked taxpayers for nearly $450,000 to pay for energy upgrades installed at JDC’s 300,000-square-foot building in Reidsville.

It’s worse than we thought.

It’s important to put the story into perspective, because the Hagan camp relentlessly deflects and spins, portraying these taxpayer handouts passed around from one family-owned company to another as nothing improper. And — this is the most laughable contention — that the Hagan family somehow received no benefit from nearly a half-million bucks in taxpayer largess.

Please.

But here’s where we stand: Companies owned by family members of Kay Hagan got more than $400,000 in taxpayer funding to finance upgrades at facilities and for businesses they own — not just the $300,000 in stimulus and USDA grants we initially found. The grants used tax dollars to offset the costs of improvements in the physical plant, and provide tax breaks for one of the companies, and reduce the energy bills of another. Kay Hagan’s husband and son created a solar company and allowed it to handle some of the work. And we’re still digging for additional documentation.

Team Hagan has chosen to hire Marc Elias, a high-powered political lawyer and Caitlin Legacki, a crisis-management specialist and former Hagan press secretary, to argue otherwise.

And ask yourself: How can you not benefit from free money?

The Journal is still waiting to review the USDA grants so expect more nuggets to fall off the truck concerning this story.

Right now, Sen. Hagan has to deal with a rather embarrassing incident where her office sent the wrong medical records to a veteran (via ABC 11):

A major mix-up of medical records has two North Carolina veterans speaking out.

Sen. Kay Hagan's office in Greensboro sent out the wrong medical file to the wrong person. It appears to be a basic name mix-up. Both men are Kenneth White, but they have different middle names.

"It makes a big difference," said the Kenneth White who got the wrong records, "with me being Kenneth A. White, as opposed to the young man I got was Kenneth D. White."

Kenneth A. White says four or five months ago he sent a request for VA records to Hagan's Greensboro office and, a few days ago, he got a heavy envelope from Hagan's office in the mail. Inside were hundreds of pages of medical information for Kenneth D. White.

"This wasn't gotten over the internet," Kenneth D. White fumed. "This was sent from the U.S. government. That's all my personal medical records, all my personal information -- sent to another individual. I'm appalled and I'm very upset about that."

Some have wondered, given the timing of the story and the fact that Kenneth D. White contacted ABC11 before Sen. Hagan's office, if this isn't a Republican-driven attempt to deep-six Hagan's campaign.

White says he's a long-time Democrat. He's just upset about getting another veteran's medical records in his mailbox.

Mr. White plans to consult a lawyer over this egregious breach in privacy.

Election Day is two weeks away.

Report: Obama Plans Executive Action By Giving 34 Million Work Visas to Illegal Immigrants

For years we've heard President Obama berate Congress for failing to pass his version of comprehensive immigration reform. This Spring Obama promised his far-left, open borders base he would take executive action on the issue by the end of the summer, but has since pushed that promise until after the midterm elections to avoid a Democrat bloodbath at the polls. 

Now, a new report shows President Obama could be planning to issue 34 million work visas to illegal immigrants. More from Watchdog.org

The Obama administration wants 34 million blank work permits and green cards as the White House prepares to issue an executive order on amnesty after the November election.

An online solicitation by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigrations Services seeks vendors that can produce a minimum 4 million cards per year for five years, and 9 million in the early stages.

There many problematic issues to address here. The first is whether Obama is overstepping his authority in this area through the use of executive power. Second, politicians on both sides of the aisle have been saying for years there are roughly 11-12 million illegal immigrants in the country. The 34 million number brings up questions about how many people are really living in the United States unlawfully. Further, 34 million work visas for non-American citizens will only continue to crush and devastate the middle class and low-income American workers, something Democrats claim they want to avoid.

Exit question: If 34 million work visas are issued to illegal immigrants will they then be eligible for taxpayer funded benefits? Most likely.

Sen. Begich Fails to Distance Himself from Obama

Want to lose an election? Vote with President Obama 97 percent of the time.

Senator Mark Begich (D-AK) is in some real trouble in the Last Frontier because he can't escape his voting record. Although the senator has tried to distance himself from the president, who is anything but popular in the state, he has had a hard time convincing Alaskans he is not one of Obama's biggest fans. Several members of the president's administration have traveled to Alaska to campaign for him in the past year:

According to the National Journal, Labor Secretary Thomas Perez visited in July, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz came in mid-August, as well as Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker. The cabinet members frequently attend fundraisers for Begich, attended by Alaska’s wealthiest Democratic donors.

More recently, Begich bragged that he had Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro's cell number.

Begich has other digits to be worried about, however. His GOP challenger Dan Sullivan is currently four points ahead of him, according to our poll tracker.

It seems Alaskans, like many Americans, are looking for leaders who aren't so chummy with the Commander-in-Chief.

Liberal Journalists Invent Fictional World to Attack Scott Walker

It is not easy being on the editorial staff at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, especially now that they have been forced to admit that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's Act 10, which they strongly editorialized against, has saved Wisconsin taxpayers more than $3 billion

Also known as the Wisconsin Budget Repair Bill, Act 10 stripped many public sector unions of some collective bargaining privileges and allowed Wisconsin government employees the choice not to have union dues taken directly out of their paycheck.

The liberals who run the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel knew that the Wisconsin Democratic Party would be crippled by giving government workers the choice not to join government unions, and government union membership has fallen sharply since Act 10 became law

But the state budget is now in the black and Wisconsin's best teachers are being rewarded with lucrative job offers. So since the law has been a complete success, how do the liberals at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel attack Walker? By inventing a fictional parallel universe of course. The editorial board writes:

If Walker could travel to that other universe — the one where he negotiates with unions instead of breaking them — here's what he would find: The budget deficit is closed through negotiated employee concessions, cuts to programs and a little fiscal magic. There are no new taxes. There are no angry protests around the state Capitol, no nasty threats aimed at Republican legislators. Democratic senators remain in Madison; they do not not run off to Illinois. They don't have to; they are working with the governor. There are not 15 recall elections, either, and Walker, though disliked by Democrats, is no target. The Democrats know better. ... Imagine: labor peace, a balanced budget, a successful governor, a new kind of Republican who works with his political foes instead of crushing them. It's easy if you try.

Yes, if you ignore reality and pretend that government unions are perfectly willing to just give their members' benefits away, then sure, Walker's Act 10 wasn't necessary.

But back here in the real world, government unions exist only to perpetuate themselves, and for no other reason. They are nothing but a drain on taxpayers, teachers, principals, local governments, and students. Weakening government unions was the wisest and most critical part of Walker's Act 10.

Oh, and by the way, back here in reality, the Wisconsin economy just created 8,400 private sector jobs in September, the highest monthly job gain in over a decade. 

Politico Poll: Seven Percent Believe Obamacare Will Lower Healthcare Costs


Time to inject another set of data points into the "Obamacare is working well in the real world" debate. The president and his loyalists insist that their signature law is working as intended. The general public -- yet again -- disagrees, according to a new poll from Politico:

Screen Shot 2014-10-20 at 12.51.33 PM

A plurality believes the quality of their care will deteriorate under Obamacare (perhaps due to access shockdoctor shortages, and government rationing decisions), while less than one-in-five expect improved care.  On costs, a pitiful seven percent believe the 'Affordable' Care Act will reduce the amount of money they'll personally pay will decrease as a result of the law; a solid majority expect to shell out more for coverage.  Democrats promised substantially reduced rates for "everybody."  Just 17 percent of respondents said they'd like to see Obamacare kept intact, with the remainder split evenly between preferring alterations and full repeal.  It's working.  Incidentally, Politico's survey gives Democrats a three-point Congressional ballot edge, and shows President Obama's approval rating underwater by just six points (47/53).  Democrats would likely minimize their losses if that's how the electorate ends up looking in two weeks.  The Washington Post/ABC poll released late last week, by contrast, gave the GOP a seven-point generic ballot advantage, with Obama's approval upside-down by 18 points among likely voters.  Circling back to Obamacare, the Wall Street Journal reviews the law's "failing cost control" provisions:

A major claim of ObamaCare’s political salesmen is that it will reduce U.S. health spending. The heart of this claim is the Accountable Care Organization, or ACO, but already evidence is accumulating that it isn’t working. That’s the news in the recent Health and Human Services release of the results from the first two years of ACO experience under the Affordable Care Act. The much-delayed data received zero media notice despite a speech from HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell citing “evidence that we have bent the cost curve.” The data show the opposite…The Medicare “Pioneer” ACO project originally featured 32 experienced health systems hand-selected by HHS because they had already made progress toward the ACO model. Thirteen—or one-third of the program—have since dropped out as they spent more than the old status quo. In year one, spending increased at 14 sites and only 13 of the 32 qualified for a bonus. In year two, spending increased at six of the remaining 23 and 11 received a bonus. Spending did fall somewhat overall, driven by a few high-performance successes. After netting out the bonuses and penalties, the Pioneer ACOs saved taxpayers a grand total of $17.89 million in 2012 and $43.36 million in 2013. All in, per capita spending was a mere 0.45% lower compared to ordinary fee for service Medicare.

The Journal argues that up-front costs have negated savings among the fraction of participants who received performance bonuses, meaning that the overall program is "at best" a wash -- and that's among HHS' hand-picked guinea pigs.  A new report from Senate Budget Committee Republicans estimates that Obamacare will add $131 billion to federal deficits over the coming decade, representing another broken promise.  The study uses the CBO's methodology, but can't be attributed to the nonpartisan entity, which announced earlier this year that it had ceased trying to track the law's fiscal impact due to unpredictable, on-the-fly changes.  Meanwhile, the New York Times profiles an Obamacare consumer who has discovered that her 'ACA'-compliant plan is severely lacking in the 'affordability' department:

Patricia Wanderlich got insurance through the Affordable Care Act this year, and with good reason: She suffered a brain hemorrhage in 2011, spending weeks in a hospital intensive care unit, and has a second, smaller aneurysm that needs monitoring. But her new plan has a $6,000 annual deductible, meaning that Ms. Wanderlich, who works part time at a landscaping company outside Chicago, has to pay for most of her medical services up to that amount. She is skipping this year’s brain scan and hoping for the best. “To spend thousands of dollars just making sure it hasn’t grown?” said Ms. Wanderlich, 61. “I don’t have that money.” About 7.3 million Americans are enrolled in private coverage through the Affordable Care Act marketplaces, and more than 80 percent qualified for federal subsidies to help with the cost of their monthly premiums. But many are still on the hook for deductibles that can top $5,000 for individuals and $10,000 for families — the trade-off, insurers say, for keeping premiums for the marketplace plans relatively low. The result is that some people — no firm data exists on how many — say they hesitate to use their new insurance because of the high out-of-pocket costs.

We repeat: Gaining 'coverage' is not the same thing as receiving care. The Times piece runs through other people experiencing similar sticker shock (quotes: “I mean, $6,000 — do they think I’ve just got that under my mattress?” and "[we received a bill] that could choke a horse"), then circles back to Ms. Wanderlich, and this depressing quote:

When the next open enrollment period begins on Nov. 15, Ms. Wanderlich said, she will probably switch to a plan with a narrower network of doctors and a smaller deductible. It will probably mean losing her specialists, she said, but at this point she is resigned. “A $6,000 deductible — that’s just staggering,” she said. “I never thought I’d say this, but how many minutes until I get Medicare?”

"It's working."  I'll leave you with this sharp analysis from Noah Rothman flaying the MSM meme that Obamacare has receded as an issue in the midterms.  It's receded for one party -- and for good reason.

Kansas GOP Candidates Finally Gaining Ground

Recent polls show Kansas finally coming back to its roots. The deep-red state has been worrying the GOP as trailing Republican incumbents struggle to take a lead. 

Republican Governor Sam Brownback has been down in the polls for the majority of the campaign, but has been up in recent polling. In the latest Remington poll, Brownback is up 48-45. Fox News had Brownback at 46-40 and CNN had the race tied, 49-49. These numbers are in sharp contrast to an average 5 point Brownback trail since August.  

It is a similar story for incumbent Senator Pat Roberts (R-Kan.). Fox News recently had Roberts ahead over Independent Greg Orman, 44-39 percent. Public Policy Polling had Orman ahead, 44-41, a much closer race compared to last month's 46-36 percent lead last month. The latest poll by Remington showed Roberts up 2 percent, 48-46.

Read more from Townhall on the Senate race in Kansas here

Republican superstars such as Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Texas Gov. Rick Perry have been in Kansas to cheer on Senator Roberts. This much needed momentum for the GOP in Kansas is proving successful and just may influence voters enough to have a classic Kansas Republican sweep come November 4th.

DOJ Expert Witness: Blacks Are Less Sophisticated Voters

Opponents of Voter I.D. laws have a slew of emotional reasons why they oppose identification requirements at the polls on the Election Day, but their main argument is that Voter I.D. legislation is racist. But while anti-voter I.D. liberals accuse their opponents of racism, they often engage in bigotry themselves. 

Take for example DOJ expert witness Charles Stewart's recent comments that blacks in North Carolina are less sophisticated and therefore Voter I.D. laws must be abolished. Former DOJ Attorney J. Christian Adams has the story

An expert witness paid with tax dollars by the United States Department of Justice testified that North Carolina election laws impact black voters disproportionately and that blacks are less sophisticated.

Charles Stewart, a political scientist was retained by the Justice Department to testify against voter identification laws and other election integrity measures. His testimony argued that ending same day voter registration and requiring voters to vote in the precinct where they live constitutes racial discrimination.

"Understanding within political science, that people who register to vote the closer and closer one gets to Election Day tend to be less sophisticated voters, tend to be less educated voters, tend to be voters who are less attuned to public affairs. That also tells me from the literature of political science that there are likely to be people who will end up not registering and not voting. People who correspond to those factors tend to be African Americans, and, therefore, that's another vehicle through which African Americans would be disproportionately affected by this law," Stewart said.

As a reminder, 70 percent of registered voters in America, including black voters and Democrats, support Voter Identification laws. 

As Adams points out in a separate piece, opposition to Voter I.D. is another example of the Left's soft bigotry of low expectations.

New Ebola Czar to Skip Oversight Committee Hearing About Multi-Agency Ebola Response

New political hack Ebola Czar Ron Klain is taking his new job very seriously. In fact, he's so committed to his new position that he won't be attending a House Oversight hearing Friday titled,  "The Ebola Crisis: Coordination of a Multi-Agency Response." Klain was asked to testify along side officials from the Department of Defense and Health and Human Services but declined an invitation from the Committee late Monday night. 

Last week White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest specifically said Klain's job isn't to be an expert on Ebola, but instead to coordinate and manage the federal response to the Ebola crisis.

"What we were looking for is not an Ebola expert, but rather an implementation expert. And that's exactly what Ron Klain is," Earnest said. 

If Klain's job is to coordinate a response to the Ebola crisis, why is he skipping a hearing about coordinating an Ebola response between multiple federal agencies? Apparently he hasn't officially started his new job yet.

“The White House has informed us that he has not yet officially started and will not be able to attend Friday,” the committee aide told Fox News.

On Saturday President Obama held a meeting at the White House about the Ebola response. Ebola Czar Klain wasn't there.

Ouch: Americans Believe Obama Is Worse Than Bush

Somehow, this is still Bush’s fault:

Voters in battleground states think President Obama is worse at “managing the basic functions of the federal government” than his predecessor George W. Bush, according to a POLITICOpollreleased Monday. In other words, voters think Obama is a less effective manager than the man he stills blames for his failures.

Thirty-eight percent of respondents said Bush, the greatest living president, was a more effective manager of government, compared to 35 percent who said Obama was more effective; 26 percent said the two were “about the same.” So in total, 64 percent of respondents think Obama is, at best, no better than George W. Bush at managing the government.

It comes as no surprise, then, that 64 percent of respondents believe things in the U.S. feel “out of control” right now. And 50 percent said the country was “off the wrong track.” The survey comes on the heels of a Fox News poll last week that asked respondents about how they feel things in the world are going. With ISIS, Ebola, a nuclear Iran, and countless other instabilities and threats around the globe, it’s easy to see why 58 percent said things are “going to hell in a handbasket.”

Clearly, Americans are ready for new leadership. We just have to hang in there for another… 822 days.  

Pat Roberts Is Closing On Greg Orman - But Is It Too Late?

A new poll out today from Monmouth University of likely voters in Kansas finds a dead heat between incumbent GOP Sen. Pat Roberts and independent-aligned Greg Orman at 46%-46%. The telephone poll surveyed 429 likely voters in Kansas and has a margin of error of 4.7%.

First, the good news: Pat Roberts has been struggling in this race and many polls have found him trailing Orman, so even a dead heat might mean he's gained some ground - and that his rhetoric that Orman is a progressive masquerading as a centrist might be taking hold. The other candidate/undecided vote looks to be breaking toward Roberts, as only 8% of those polled now say they're not committed to either Roberts or Orman.

The bad news, however, is that Orman still maintains a sizable lead over Roberts with self-identified independent voters - 60%-32%. The self-identified independent vote in Kansas is larger than the Democratic vote in Kansas, so Roberts' poor showing here is not good, especially considering that Romney won the independent vote handily in 2012 and Roberts won the independent vote by 5 points in his last election in 2008.

Townhall's PollTracker average, which takes into account all polling to date, finds Orman has a slight lead of two percentage points over Roberts:

Good News: Tens of Thousands of Federal Workers Are Being Paid to Sit at Home


Just a friendly reminder about the state of our 'not-a-cent-to-spare' federal government, via the Washington Post:

Tens of thousands of federal workers are being kept on paid leave for at least a month — and often for longer stretches that can reach a year or more — while they wait to be punished for misbehavior or cleared and allowed to return to work, government records show. During a three-year period that ended last fall, more than 57,000 employees were sent home for a month or longer. The tab for these workers exceeded $775 million in salary alone. The extensive use of so-called administrative leave continues despite government personnel rules that limit paid leave for employees facing discipline to “rare circumstances” in which the employee is considered a threat. The long-standing rules were written in an effort to curb waste and deal quickly with workers accused of misconduct. And the comptroller general, the top federal official responsible for auditing government finances and practices, has repeatedly ruled that federal workers should not be sidelined for long periods for any reason.

So we're forking over hundreds of millions of dollars to pay the salaries of tens of thousands of workers placed on 'administrative leave,' all thanks to a provision originally designed to be used in very narrow circumstances?  Terrific.  This is bureaucracies doing what they do: Skirting or breaking internal rules, sticking taxpayers with the bill, and hoping that no one makes enough of a stink to upset the apple cart.  The news gets even better:

They found that supervisors used wide discretion in putting employees on leave, including for alleged violations of government rules and laws, whistleblowing, doubts about trustworthiness, and disputes with colleagues or bosses. Some employees remain on paid leave while they challenge demotions and other punishments. While the employees stayed home, they not only collected paychecks but accrued pension earnings, vacation and sick days, and moved up the federal pay scale...The GAO report almost certainly understates the extent and cost of administrative leave because the figures examined by the auditors were incomplete. Not all government agencies keep track of the practice, and those reviewed account for only about three-fifths of the federal workforce.

So these findings were made in the absence of roughly 40 percent of the relevant data.  Please file away "small" examples of federal waste like this for the next time Statists decide to blame the current crisis du jour on a lack of "resources" and "draconian cuts."  They just recently attempted one such gambit on the Ebola outbreak, using claims that were easily debunked with statistics and slapped down by fact-checkers.  As for the outlandish, eagerly-repeated claim from the NIH director that budget cuts have prevented the discovery of an Ebola vaccine, the Institute's lead researcher on the disease doused that assertion with cold water on yesterday's Meet the Press:



"I don't agree with that, I have to tell you quite honestly…you can't say that."