Election Models: 2014 Could be Good Year For Senate Republicans

Without glazing over the fact that Republicans could surprise no one and blow this historic opportunity, three separate election models indicate that the GOP’s chances of demoting Harry Reid and reclaiming majority control of the U.S. Senate have improved markedly over the past few days. The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza reports:

The most bullish model for Republicans is Washington Post's Election Lab, which, as of Monday morning, gives the GOP a 76 percent chance of winning the majority. Leo, the New York Times model, pegs it at 67 percent while FiveThirtyEight shows Republicans with a 60 percent probability. A week ago, Election Lab gave Republicans a 65 percent chance of winning the majority, Leo put it a 55 percent and FiveThirtyEight had it just under 55 percent.

All three models give Republicans very strong odds of winning the open seats in Montana, South Dakota and West Virginia as well as beating Sens. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) and Mary Landrieu (D-La.). That would net Republicans five seats, one short of the number they need for the majority.

For the sake of argument, let’s say Republicans pick up all five of those seats. They may not, but let’s say they do. They would therefore need to pick up just one more to effectively end the Obama presidency from a legislative standpoint. After all, any meaningful legislation he'd hope to sign into law would need to pass both chambers of Congress -- and how likely is that to happen if Republicans are in control?

That being said, outside of Montana, South Dakota, West Virginia, Arkansas, and Louisiana, there are several states where Republicans are gaining steam. Republican hopeful Joni Ernst in Iowa has widened the gap in her race significantly while Sens. Mark Begich (D-AK) and Mark Udall (D-CO) are faltering. (Udall’s gaffes and Begich’s scurrilous attack ads have damaged them both). And while Republican hopefuls in North Carolina and New Hampshire are currently behind, those races are tightening too.

Nonetheless, given these three election models have changed so drastically over a 7-day window, perhaps we shouldn't read too much into them. But with campaign season in full swing and Election Day mere weeks away, at least the experts broadly agree the trends are moving in the right direction.

Wow: Clinton Global Initiative Partners with Groups that Promote Thousands of Abortions

In 2012, Mitt Romney’s history at Bain Capital was scrutinized with an 80 percent zoomed in magnifying glass. An article entitled, “Greed and Debt: The True Story of Mitt Romney and Bain Capital” garnered over 160,000 shares on Rolling Stone. Bain trampled on smaller companies in its pursuit of wealth and power, according to the media. Yes, Romney was a merciless businessman. Well, with Hillary Clinton now in the election spotlight, shouldn’t the organizations she’s heavily involved in also be placed under the spotlight?

The Clinton Global Initiative’s annual meeting took place in New York last week. While the media reported CGI’s donations to boost education, HIV treatment, and aid to fighting Ebola, they perhaps didn’t mention the fact that CGI also helps fund organizations that promote thousands of abortions. Pathfinder International and Population Services International are two of the controversial foundations that CGI supports.

On Pathfinder’s website, you’ll read this description about the organization’s efforts, “peer counselors to help decrease unplanned pregnancies, and reduce prevalence of sexually transmitted infections and HIV among university students in Kampala, Uganda.” You have to dig a little deeper, however, to discover the more painful truth: Pathfinder touted 4,000 abortions in 2013, according to its latest report.

As for PSI, its website insists the group works to prevent “unsafe abortions” by marketing abortion drugs, or “contraceptives to avoid unintended pregnancies,” as they like to describe it.

Based on CGI’s mission, the Clintons should be ashamed that their foundation is partners with these groups. CGI claims to bring together world leaders to solve today’s most pressing challenges. By promoting a dangerous procedure like abortion, groups like Pathfinder and PSI are exacerbating, not ending the world’s challenges. Abortion has ended over 1 billion lives worldwide and left many women with emotional trauma and heartache. Perhaps among those lost lives were people who could have sat on CGI’s many panels and come up with answers they’re searching for to address the world’s problems.

Another hypocritical aspect of CGI’s connection to abortion, is the fact that the foundation has pledged to “empower girls and women.” Promoting and indirectly funding abortion does not empower women. Instead, CGI should be encouraging women that, should they find themselves with unplanned pregnancies, they are more than capable of giving birth and being fantastic mothers.

Pathfinder and PSI isn’t where the abortion connection ends, unfortunately. A conservative shopper app named 2nd Vote has been investigating corporate brands that receive financial help from the Clinton Global Initiative. Several of the corporations have a “1” (1 being most liberal on a scale of 1 to 5) rating on pro-life issues. IBM and Microsoft, for instance, give matching gifts to Planned Parenthood.

Some voters may consider Hillary Clinton a moderate. After all, she is pretty hawkish on foreign policy. But, the Clinton Global Initiative’s connection to radical abortion groups proves she is anything but. Let’s see if the media questions her like they interrogated Romney over Bain.

Secret Service Director Testifies: I Take Full Responsibility

Testifying on Capitol Hill Tuesday in front of the House Oversight Committee Secret Service Director Julia Pierson said she takes full responsibility for the fence jumping incident that occurred on September 19 when Omar Gonzales ran 70 yards across the White House lawn and made his way deep into the Green Room. 

"It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly. I take full responsibility; what happened is unacceptable and it will never happen again," Pierson said. "The review began with a physical assessment of the site and personnel interviews. All decisions made that evening are being evaluated, including decisions on tactics and use of force, in light of the totality of the circumstances confronting those officers."

Due to the sensitivity of information surrounding the work of the Secret Service, Pierson informed lawmakers she would answer questions as thoroughly as possible, but would provide additional details in a closed door hearing. 

"As I have informed you and your staff, given that much of what we do to protect the President and the White House involves information that is highly sensitive or classified, I will be limited in what I can say in a public hearing. However, I will share as much information as I responsibly can during the open portion of today’s hearing. I am willing to give more complete responses in a closed session after this session is complete," she said. "With respect to the many questions that have been raised and opinions proffered in the wake of the September 19 the incident, I do not want to get ahead of the investigation that is underway."

In the aftermath of the fence jumping incident last week, Secret Service officials said agents showed "tremendous restraint" in addressing the situation as it played out. 

"How could Mr. Gonzalez scale the fence and why didn’t officers immediately apprehend him? How was he able to sprint 70 yards, almost an entire football field, without being intercepted by guards inside the fence line? Why didn’t security dogs stop him in his tracks?" Chairman Darrell Issa asked. "What about the SWAT team? Why was no guard stationed at the front door of the White House? And why was the door left unlocked?"

Republican Congressman Jason Chaffetz echoed Issa's sentiments.

"Tremendous restraint sends a mixed message...the message should be overwhelming force," Chaffetz said. 

During her opening statement, Pierson committed to doing the following: 

I am committed to the following:

1. A complete and thorough investigation of the facts of this incident , to include necessary personnel actions;
2. A complete and thorough review of all policies, procedures and protocols in place
that govern the security of the White House Complex and our response to this
incident; and
3. A coordinated, informed effort to make any and all adjustments necessary to properly ensure the safety and security of the President and First Family and those who work and visit the White House.

"Whether deficient procedures, insufficient training, personnel shortages, or low morale contributed to the incident, this can never happen again," Issa said. 

In the past four years, the Secret Service has experienced a series of breakdowns. The most recent fence-jumping incident is hardly a first.

NC SEN: CNN Poll Has Hagan Up Three Over Tillis

Is the needle moving in the right direction for Thom Tillis? A recent CNN poll has Democratic incumbent Sen. Kay Hagan up by only 3 points. Amongst likely voters, Hagan and Tillis have favorable ratings that are underwater. Hagan registers at a 46/47 favorable to unfavorable, while Tillis is at 47/40. Not the best, but certainly an improvement from a poll of registered unaffiliated voters conducted by the right-leaning Civitas Institute, which has Tillis at 17/43 favorable to unfavorable; 24 percent didn’t know who Thom Tillis was when asked.

Obama’s approval rating is at 38 percent, but 25 percent of North Carolina likely voters might change their minds before Election Day. As I’ve said previously, there’s wiggle room for Tillis.

Tillis, Hagan’s Republican opponent, has been unable to make significant headway due to the state legislature being in session over the summer; Tillis serves as North Carolina’s House Speaker. The first debate was lackluster at best, with Tillis positioning himself nicely as the anti-Obama candidate. But as conservatives learned in 2012, that’s not enough.

Tillis is tapping into the fledgling neo-populist wave (that will probably mature by 2016) by discussing his working-class upbringing; he mentioned it in last week’s Republican Address. He lived in a trailer park with his parents and five siblings; worked various minimum wage jobs; and didn’t get his college degree until he was 36. He eventually became a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers and an executive at IBM. Economic struggle, perseverance, hard work, and success in the end; these are the things voters are becoming more attuned as they listen to candidates from both parties make their case.

This narrative of overcoming struggle and hardship is one of the reasons why South Dakota Rep. Kristi Noem, who dropped out of college to manage the family farm upon the death of her father, was able to defeat Democratic incumbent Rep. Stephanie Herseth Sandlin in 2010.

It’s this formula that could help Republicans make headway with women voters. While men are set in their ways–and now reliably Republican–women are willing to listen to both sides. If Tillis overcame financial difficulties, what policies from Republicans can help them? This could be a better way to conduct outreach than showing women voters why Republicans aren’t “anti-woman.”

At the same time, Tillis has been hammered on education. National Democrats and the Hagan campaign have attacked him incessantly on a $500 million cut to education, which left-leaning Politifact labeled as a “half-truth.”

The Washington Post looked at the numbers (via WaPo):

As we have said before, the jet and yacht claim is taken out of context. A major tax law negotiated under Tillis’s watch in 2013 eliminated a number of loopholes to help finance a tax cut, including a $20,000 cap on deducting property taxes and home mortgage interest that was aimed at the owners of large homes and estates. But lawmakers, under pressure from the state’s boat building industry, did not eliminate a $1,500 cap on the sales tax for boats and planes.

In other words, Tillis did not give a special tax break to jets and yachts at the expense of school children; it was already in the tax code.

As for the $500 million figure, close observers will note that every single ad attributes this figure to the same source — an editorial in Charlotte Observer that ran in 2013. “The Senate and House budget plan … cuts education spending by almost $500 million in the next two years, including a decrease in net spending for K-12 public schools,” the editorial said.

That’s right, this is a two-year number — and the second year is adjusted as circumstances warrant. Moreover, the $500 million figure is comparing the figures over two years against a “continuation budget” — what would be needed to maintain the same level of spending based on inflation, population growth and other factors. In Washington parlance, this is known as “the baseline.” It’s an important concept, but it is simply an illustration; it not does not reflect actual budget numbers.

[V]oters should be wary of raw numbers without proper context. This is not a real budget number but one based off a baseline. The ads all feature children, but this is a number for all education funding, not just K-12. Moreover, funding was increased — and teachers got a pay raise — in this summer’s budget, but the ads still cite the old 2013 baseline figure.

Additionally, there’s the development that Sen. Hagan’s husband may have profited from Obama’s stimulus program (via Politico):

JDC Manufacturing, a company co-owned by the Democratic senator’s husband, Chip, received nearly $390,000 in federal grants for energy projects and tax credits created by the 2009 stimulus law, according to public records and information provided by the company.

Financial disclosure statements show that the Hagans’ income from JDC Manufacturing increased from less than $201 in 2008 to nearly $134,000 in 2013. Company representatives said higher rental income account for the uptick, not the stimulus-funded projects that were completed during that span.

In statement to POLITICO, the Hagan campaign said the senator did not help her husband win the federal funding and disputed any suggestion they have profited off the law.

Once she learned of her husband’s dealings, Hagan never involved herself in his efforts to obtain the stimulus grants, her campaign said. She consulted with veteran Democratic attorney Marc Elias over the matter, according to spokeswoman Sadie Weiner.

“Kay is not involved in her husband’s business and had no part in helping JDC apply for or receive these grants,” Weiner said. “Her only involvement was when she made sure that a respected ethics attorney was consulted to ensure that it was appropriate, and the attorney found that it was.”

Senate rules give senators significant leeway in voting for legislation that could benefit them financially, as long as a wider class of investors is affected. They must recuse themselves only if a narrowly targeted bill would specifically benefit a limited class of people that includes the senators themselves. Spouses of senators may enter into contracts with the government so long as improper influence is not exerted by the lawmaker.

Legal experts said there’s nothing improper about Hagan’s actions if the senator, as she says, removed herself from the process of securing the stimulus money. But some argue it spotlights a serious weakness in the ethics rules.

Politico added that Tillis also voted for a federal renewable energy tax credit program, which benefitted a bank where he had financial interests. Of course, Sen. Hagan’s ethical questions are greater given that she voted for this massive spending bill–all $767 billion dollars–at the federal level. Moreover, to say her family did not profit from this cash injection looks frivolous, which could hurt her authenticity amongst North Carolina voters in the last days of the 2014 cycle.

Then, there’s ISIS. With ISIS becoming more of a concern, Democrats are right to be concerned that the issue could hurt them by Election Day; we could be seeing the return of the “security moms.” Tillis recently released an ad hitting Hagan for reportedly skipping out on classified ISIS hearings to attend a fundraiser in New York City last February.

The past few days have been better for Tillis. The “sins of Raleigh” strategy Hagan has employed could implode, Sen. Lindsay Graham is coming to campaign for him, and some ad money from Karl Rove’s Crossroads group is coming into North Carolina.

One thing both sides need to watch out for is Libertarian Brian Haugh, who is drawing an impressive 7 percent of the vote. He could be a spoiler. As Noah Rothman wrote for Hot Air, it would be impressive if he does garner that much of the vote, but noted that third-party supporters often pull the lever for the challenger–even if they don’t like him/her–since they can’t stand the incumbent:

Libertarian Senate candidate Sean Haugh. In that survey, 7 percent of likely voters said they would back Haugh, a condition which could make him the “spoiler” of this race. More worrying for Republicans is the fact that Haugh draws more votes among self-identified Democrats (4 percent) than Republicans (3 percent), suggesting that Haugh’s support would not collapse even if a few GOP voters “come home” in November.

It would, however, be surprising to see a major third party candidate draw 7 percent in November. In statewide races with an incumbent on the ballot, respondents are often more inclined to tell pollsters that they support a third party candidate than they are to vote for them. A famous recent example of this phenomenon took place in New Jersey in 2009 where independent gubernatorial candidate Chris Daggett routinely polled in the double digits before the election. Real Clear Politics showed Daggett had an average of 10.4 percent support across the many polls of that race. At the ballot box, however, he received just 5.8 percent of the vote.

The majority of Daggett’s support went to Chris Christie for one simple reason: As a general rule, voters who are keen to back a third party candidate dislike the challenger but they despise the incumbent. When the curtain closes, they reluctantly pull the lever for the candidate that has the realistic chance of unseating the unpopular incumbent.

Also, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is hearing arguments over the state’s new voter laws, which some say suppresses the vote. Could this be something that motivates the liberal base come November? It remains to be seen; it does seem like lofty speculation for those who believe that it will drive Democratic turnout. 

Though the needle has barely moved, it seems to be moving in Tillis' direction–one point at a time.

Video: Journalist Grills WH Spokesman on Obama's ISIS Blame Game


ABC News correspondent Jonathan Karl -- who has distinguished himself as one of the few consistently tenacious members of the White House press corps -- engaged in a lengthy exchange with Obama spokesman Josh Earnest yesterday over the president's craven ISIS spin. Karl wanted to know why Obama is blaming the intelligence services for failing to predict events and trends that they had, in fact, been warning about for some time. Did pertinent information never make it into the president's daily briefings?  Reporting from McClatchy and Fox News indicates that it had.  So had Obama failed to notice what was happening, even as members of his administration were offering alarming public testimony on the ascendance of ISIS?  Earnest's answers made three major points -- (a) "everybody" was surprised by the swiftness of ISIS' advance, (b) one of the biggest shortcomings was missing the extent to which Iraqi security forces were incapable of handling ISIS, and (c) he can't comment on private discussions between the president and intelligence officials:


Earnest also scolds Karl for pointing out that Obama called ISIS a "jayvee" team around the same time that the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency made chillingly accurate predictions about ISIS' trajectory. "We've been through this," Earnest complains, asserting that the president wasn't referring to ISIS. Well, every major fact-checker has "been through this" dispute, unanimously ruling against the White House's tale.  Karl followed up on this back-and-forth with a blog post highlighting three instances in which the administration was warned about ISIS by its own officials, dating back to last year.  Here's one of them:


On Nov. 14, 2013, State Department official Brett McGurk testified before a House Foreign Affairs subcommittee extensively about the growing threat of ISIL/ISIS. “We face a real problem,” McGurk said. “There is no question that ISIL is growing roots in Syria and in Iraq.” McGurk was quite specific about the extent of the threat. He cited the group’s alarming campaign of suicide bombings, its growing financial resources and its expanding safe haven in Syria. “We have seen upwards of 40 suicide bombers per month targeting playgrounds, mosques, and markets, in addition to government sites from Basra to Baghdad to Erbil,” he said. He was also specific about the inability of the Iraqi government to deal with it. “AQ/ISIL has benefited from a permissive operating environment due to inherent weaknesses of Iraqi security forces, poor operational tactics, and popular grievances, which remain unaddressed, among the population in Anbar and Nineva provinces.”

That last bolded quote undermine's Earnest's claim that "everybody" was caught off guard by the Iraqi army's unpreparedness to handle the burgeoning threat.  Allahpundit flags another instance of an administration source sounding the alarm about the Iraqi army's weakness in the face of ISIS...from last October:


Al Qaeda's violent resurgence in Iraq and expansion into Syria now represents a "transnational threat network" that could possibly reach from the Mideast to the United States, according to the White House. The teaming of al Qaeda's Iraqi cell and affiliated Islamic militant groups in Syria into the new Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) has developed into "a major emerging threat to Iraqi stability . . . and to us," a senior administration official told reporters on Wednesday. "It is a fact now that al Qaeda has a presence in Western Iraq" extending into Syria, "that Iraqi forces are unable to target," the official said. That growing presence "that has accelerated in the past six to eight months" has been accompanied by waves of bombings and attacks that threaten to throw Iraq into a full-blown civil war.

Again, those quotes were printed eleven months ago.  This crisis didn't sneak up on anybody, let alone "everybody."  It developed over time and was willfully ignored by a president who seemed primarily concerned with clinging to precious political narratives.  Obama only perked up when the media started noticing developments like, say, Mosul falling to a terrorist army. And he only started dropping bombs when the press reported heavily on religious minorities being starved to death in graphic detail.  And he only expanded the conflict when Americans were outraged by multiple ISIS beheadings of their fellow citizens.  Now that he's playing frantic catch-up, he's duplicitously fingering the intelligence community for missing the boat on ISIS while deploying his lackeys to lie about his embarrassing 'jayvee' miscalculation.  I'll leave you with this, from another honest journalist:

Good News: Obama Skips the Majority of His Intelligence Briefings

According to a new report from the Government Accountability Institute, President Obama skips 60 percent of his intelligence briefings. Breitbart breaks down the data: 

A new Government Accountability Institute (GAI) report reveals that President Barack Obama has attended only 42.1% of his daily intelligence briefings (known officially as the Presidential Daily Brief, or PDB) in the 2,079 days of his presidency through September 29, 2014.

The GAI report also included a breakdown of Obama’s PDB attendance record between terms; he attended 42.4% of his PDBs in his first term and 41.3% in his second.

This information comes shortly after Obama blamed the intelligence community for underestimating ISIS during an interview on 60 Minutes. That assertion prompted a visceral reaction from people inside the intelligence community, who have been warning the President about ISIS for years. A former official told The Daily Beast's Eli Lake over the weekend, "Either the president doesn’t read the intelligence he’s getting or he’s bullshitting." 

Now we know, Obama isn't reading the intelligence and we're seeing the consequences of his failure to be informed or involved. ISIS has beheaded two Americans on camera, controls a huge portion of the Middle East, has billions of dollars in black market funding and is driving around in U.S. military equipment as they conquer more territory.

You can bet Obama would never miss 60 percent of his tee-times.

Head of Secret Service to Face Tough Questions From Lawmakers on White House Security Breach

Secret Service Director Julia Pierson will face tough questions from lawmakers on the House Oversight Committee shortly after new details emerged that the agency wasn't upfront about how severe the latest security breach at the White House really was. 

Yesterday the Washington Post reported fence jumper Omar Gonzalez, who was carrying a knife and had 800-rounds of ammunition in his vehicle, made it all the way into the Green Room of the White House and half-way up the stairs to the quarters of the first family. Initially, the Secret Service said Gonzalez had only made it just inside the North Portico doors.

The man who jumped the White House fence this month and sprinted through the front door made it much farther into the building than previously known, overpowering one Secret Service officer and running through much of the main floor, according to three people familiar with the incident. An alarm box near the front entrance of the White House designed to alert guards to an intruder had been muted at what officers believed was a request of the usher’s office, said a Secret Service official who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The female officer posted inside the front door appeared to be delayed in learning that the intruder, Omar Gonzalez, was about to burst through. Officers are trained that, upon learning of an intruder on the grounds, often through the alarm boxes posted around the property, they must immediately lock the front door.

After barrelling past the guard immediately inside the door, Gonzalez, who was carrying a knife, dashed past the stairway leading a half-flight up to the first family’s living quarters. He then ran into the 80-foot-long East Room, an ornate space often used for receptions or presidential addresses. Gonzalez was tackled by a counter-assault agent at the far southern end of the East Room. The intruder reached the doorway to the Green Room, a parlor overlooking the South Lawn with artwork and antique furniture, according to three people familiar with the incident.

Pierson will surely face a grilling about why the Secret Service jumped to cover-up the incident on top of questions about how the incident could have ever happened in the first place. There will no doubt be follow-up hearings about the incident as well.

Pierson was appointed by President Obama in March 2013 to head the agency after fall-out from the Colombian prostitute scandal. She is the first female director in history for the agency.

"Julia is eminently qualified to lead the agency that not only safeguards Americans at major events and secures our financial system, but also protects our leaders and our first families, including my own,” Obama said in a statement at the time. 

We'll see if President Obama, who is defending the agency, has the same level of confidence in Pierson after testimony today. The hearing starts at 10 a.m. ET. You can watch live here.

By The Way, White House Intruder Nearly Made It...Inside the Green Room

Last week, when we first wrote up this story, the narrative was relatively straightforward: Omar Gonzalez was detained shortly after jumping the White House fence ten days ago. And while it was abundantly clear that there was some sort of egregious breakdown in security and communication -- the guy made it inside, after all -- it was implied that the president and his family were not in any real danger if they had been at home.

Obviously, we now know that’s not true. The Washington Post has the exclusive:

The man who jumped the White House fence this month and sprinted through the front door made it much farther into the building than previously known, overpowering one Secret Service officer and running through much of the main floor, according to three people familiar with the incident. An alarm box near the front entrance of the White House designed to alert guards to an intruder had been muted at what officers believed was a request of the usher’s office, said a Secret Service official who spoke on the condition of anonymity. The female officer posted inside the front door appeared to be delayed in learning that the intruder, Omar Gonzalez, was about to burst through. Officers are trained that, upon learning of an intruder on the grounds, often through the alarm boxes posted around the property, they must immediately lock the front door.

After barrelling past the guard immediately inside the door, Gonzalez, who was carrying a knife, dashed past the stairway leading a half-flight up to the first family’s living quarters. He then ran into the 80-foot-long East Room, an ornate space often used for receptions or presidential addresses. Gonzalez was tackled by a counter-assault agent at the far southern end of the East Room. The intruder reached the doorway to the Green Room, a parlor overlooking the South Lawn with artwork and antique furniture, according to three people familiar with the incident.

In other words, a knife-wielding Gonzalez ran through numerous parts of the White House and almost made it up to where the First Family sleeps. That, of course, is unacceptable and a very different narrative from the one we were first presented with.

Fortunately, no one was injured or killed. But if the Secret Service doesn't systemically and comprehensively review what happened (and take the findings seriously), this might not be the last time an armed intruder gains access to the people's house.

Party Bigwigs Chris Christie, Michelle Obama Go To Mat In WI Gov Race

In what's been a surprisingly tight and back-and-forth race in Wisconsin between incumbent GOP governor Scott Walker and Mary Burke, a few top party advocates have hit the trail for their respective candidates.

Chris Christie and Michelle Obama both have gone to Wisconsin for campaign events, as the Associated Press reports:

In two western Wisconsin appearances, Christie held Walker up as someone with both honesty and integrity. He contrasted that with Burke who is being criticized by Walker and Republicans as a plagiarist for having language and ideas in her jobs plan also used by four other Democratic gubernatorial candidates.

Burke blamed a consultant who worked for all of the campaigns and cut ties with him.

"If you can't trust her honesty and her integrity when she tells you this is her plan, why would you trust her on anything else she tells you about what she'll do for Wisconsin or Scott's record?" Christie said at a local Republican Party headquarters.

Burke addressed the plagiarism allegations only indirectly while criticizing Walker for failing to fulfill his jobs promise from his first campaign.

The plagiarism allegations have continued to haunt Burke even as the polls have vacillated. An exclusive new Townhall/Gravis Marketing poll out today has Scott Walker trailing Mary Burke by five points:

Townhall's PollTracker has the race a dead heat:

Strip Club Controversy in Kansas Gov. Race Could Help Trailing GOP Incumbent

In the past thirteen presidential elections, the state of Kansas has given all of its electoral votes to the Republican nominee. The state's House of Representatives is comprised of a GOP super-majority at 73.6 percent and both U.S. Senators are red. So why is the incumbent GOP governor, Sam Brownback, behind in the polls? 

During Brownback's first term, he supported substantial tax reform that reduced the top income tax rate by 25 percent, lowered the state sales tax, and did away with a tax on small business income. Though many liberal opponents disagreed with his approach, the advocacy group, Americans for Tax Reform praised Governor Brownback and said that the "tax cuts are working."

This August, Standard & Poor downgraded the state's credit rating from an AA+ to AA citing the controversial tax overhaul. The decrease in state income did not help the budget's bottom line leaving uneven income and outcome numbers to blame for the credit downgrade.

Kansas Democrats have anchored their campaign in what they believe is failed tax reform and have cornered Brownback for his small government, low taxes platform. According to a recent Rasmussen Reports poll, Gov. Sam Brownback is down 4 points against Democratic candidate, Paul Davis who has been running a spotless campaign thus far.

And now, finally, Governor Sam Brownback has something to hoot and holler about.

The Kansas City Star reported:

After weeks of giving Republican Gov. Sam Brownback a strong challenge in GOP-leaning Kansas, his Democratic opponent is on the defensive over disclosures that he was inside a strip club during a 1998 meth raid and an officer reported finding him in a dark back room with a nearly naked woman.

Democrat Paul Davis was 26 and single, a young attorney in a firm representing the owner of the club near Coffeyville in southeast Kansas. The owner spent six years in federal prison after the raid, but Davis was not arrested.

Now the deeply conservative voters of Kansas will have to decide: Do moral convictions outweigh controversial tax reform? Are they okay with a gubernatorial candidate caught with a stripper during a meth raid? I think conservatives could go either way on this issue, but one thing is for sure: Governor Brownback's attack ad with a guy getting a lap dance will be easy for voters to understand and possibly turn their stomachs.

Mrs. Abedini: I Believe My Husband Has Been 'Abandoned' by the Obama Administration

For the past two years, Pastor Saeed Abedini has been suffering in one of the world’s cruelest prisons, Iran’s Evin Prison, simply for practicing his Christian faith. Pastor Saeed’s wife, Naghmeh, attended and spoke at this year’s Values Voter Summit in Washington, DC. I asked her about her family’s struggles, the president’s inaction and, most importantly, her and her family's unwavering faith.

Is there a certain Bible verse you’ve gone to for comfort during this trial?

“The one that has spoken to me the most has been 2 Corinthians 12: 8-10, where Paul is talking about a thorn in his side and he wants it removed. I felt with Saeed’s imprisonment, it was painful, was something in our life I wanted removed. And I felt God telling me that His grace is sufficient for me and His strength is made perfect in my weakness. And then the following verse where God says, 'Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities and distress and persecution and need' and all of that. I just have learned to really – even when I feel things are distressed or hard – to really learn to embrace, as Paul said, because it just helps me discover God in a deeper way, it breaks me in a way and takes me to more dependency on Him and prayer and more intimacy. Knowing this is being used for the gospel, it makes it really comforting.”

Pastor Saeed has refused to deny his faith and has even converted some of his fellow prisoners. Can you talk more about that?

“He’s not denied his faith and under intense persecution and torture, especially early on in his imprisonment, and he’s who he is. No matter where he’s at, loving people means sharing about how God has changed his life. So that’s been who he is. It’s not because he’s being confined. He’s just sharing about hope and life that he’s found in Christ – wherever he’s gone.”

Last year, President Obama called Iranian President Rouhani expressing his concerns about Saeed’s imprisonment. A lot of people think that he and his administration could be doing even more. Do you agree with this? (emphasis mine)

“I agree. It’s been frustrating. It took a lot of pressure from the American people for him to say something, make a phone call and then – he did mention Saeed at the prayer breakfast. But, I feel like that decision hasn’t been made to use leverage or to put pressure to bring Saeed home. I don’t know if his statements have been made to just appease me or the American people. Deep down I don’t think there has been a decision made to bring him home because I do believe if that decision had been made, he would be home right now. I believe they’re going to use all the leverage that they have for nuclear talks, and I do believe Saeed has been abandoned and forgotten in this process. Again I’m thankful for those statements, but there has to be action to back that up. It’s been two years too long.”

You’ve also spoken about how your faith in Christ has been strengthened through this trial and it’s given you an opportunity to share your faith. At the UN, you shared it with millions of people. Can your experience encourage other Christians going through trials?

“When you’re going through trials, you reach a point of desperation. And the trails can be here in America. Maybe we have fears of future, how’s my life going to look, what is my future going to look like. Fears of finances, of course a lot of families going through divorce and trauma, different things, relationship issues and I think you allow it to take you into a deeper intimacy with God. A lot of times we believe in Christ, but have we really experienced Him? One of my favorite sections of the Bible is John 15, where it talks about the vine and the branches and for the first time – I’ve been a Christian for over 30 years, I felt like I connected to the vine and when we connect to that source, God brings the fruit. We don’t really have to try too hard, we just rest in Him and are in communion with Him and I think that’s what God is calling the church to do. To just seek Him deeper and walk into a deeper intimacy. And you mentioned, I think God uses your life, anyone, it’s not necessarily how many connections you have or who you know or how much money you have. It’s once you can dig deeper to Him and connect to Him, then He can take you before the United Nations and countries and ambassadors and human rights groups, just all over. I think once you discover Him in a deeper way, you become a testimony for Christians and non-Christians alike. Like knowing Christ and making Him known. You have to know Him first, you really have to know Him. You have to experience Him, taste Him, before you can even present it to anyone else. It has to be so real in your life. Persecution and hardships, really you have to know when you’re going through a hardship. When you’re going through cancer, when you have a loved one who’s dying, when you’re going relationship trauma, whatever, you have to connect. Either you walk away and say, 'my faith is empty,' or you have to discover God and the reality of Him. Once you discover that, nothing can stop you to become a light. People are drawn to you to know about God.”

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Mrs. Abedini says she's received at least 10,000 letters of support from people hoping and praying for her husband's safe return.

If anything, this trial has highlighted the importance of religious freedom. How can we not take that for granted here in the US?

“This is a core value. Of course one of the frustrating parts, is Saeed is an American citizen whose religious freedom is trampled upon and we’ve allowed Iran to do that for the past two years. But this is an important value for our nation. If we don’t speak out, if we’re not vocal about it, if we’re not taking action to defend our religious freedom, it will be taken from us. It’s slowly approaching our borders and I think it’s something that we should defend. There were lives that were paid - people paid a heavy price for freedom here. This is what makes America great. When I was a child, I came to America and discovered Christ. That’s the most beautiful part of America for me. I had the freedom to choose my religion and so it’s something we have to defend. If we don’t fight for it, it’s something we will lose. It’s not a guarantee our children will enjoy the same freedom we’re enjoying – or our children’s children. It’s a value, it’s a core value. It what makes this great nation great – allowing people to live freely, which a lot of countries don’t and it’s something we really have to stand up for.”

You have so many people praying for you and for your husband. What would you like to say to them?

“Thank you. Honestly, it gives me a lot of strength to know I’m not alone. Hebrews 13:3 says, 'Remember those as if you’re in chains with them.' A lot of times where it talks about the body of Christ that’s hurting or in prison or in chains, it just says remember. And when people are praying, or when people tell me they’re praying, or write letters, it just reminds me they’ve not forgotten us. Two years doesn’t mean Saeed’s forgotten or our family’s forgotten. That’s really what you need to hear. I know people going through a lot of suffering, I know that’s the number one comfort. At least that’s what it’s been in my family – to know you’re not alone. People are there with you, you’re not forgotten. They’re standing with you, and that’s the most comforting part of the journey.”

Abedini estimated she’s received at least 10,000 notes in the past two years.

“A lot of people send to (The American Center for Law and Justice), then some send to my church, then directly to me. I literally pick up boxes and boxes from my church every week and initially it was 20, 30, 40, 50 coming in and I would try to answer them and then it just became so overwhelming I pick and choose and answer some of them.”

She is dedicated to answering them because she knows they are sincere.

“I feel like people took the time to write, they’re pouring out their heart, they’re sharing verses. I feel like I could dedicate a day or two and answer as much as I can. There’s literally days that I feel so discouraged, that I just open my messages or open my letters and start reading them and it’s like water to a thirsty soul. Literally every letter I read, it gives me hope.”

At the Values Voter gala Saturday night, Meriam Ibrahim was honored for her courage in escaping Sudan after being sentenced to death for her Christian faith. During her special remarks, Ibrahim spoke directly to her "sister" Mrs. Abedini, encouraging her to keep the faith that her husband would escape religious persecution as well. Earlier in the evening, when it was her turn to speak, Abedini shared a video of her children pleading for their father’s return. Attendees were attempting to dry their eyes even before the video finished playing.

Maybe a plea straight from the Abedini children will convict the president to help bring their father home. Keep writing and keep pressuring the Obama administration to take action.

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, remarked at Saturday's gala that perhaps this time next year, they would be celebrating Saeed's return.

Access Shock: California's Shrinking Obamacare Coverage Networks


The Obamacare program in America's largest state may be called "Covered California," but simply holding an insurance card in one's wallet does not guarantee one access to needed health appointments. Obtaining "coverage" is distinct from receiving actual care.  The Los Angeles Times reports that the state's Obamacare provider networks will remain narrow in 2015, with some contacting further:

Finding a doctor who takes Obamacare coverage could be just as frustrating for Californians in 2015 as the health-law expansion enters its second year. The state's largest health insurers are sticking with their often-criticized narrow networks of doctors, and in some cases they are cutting the number of physicians even more, according to a Times analysis of company data. And the state's insurance exchange, Covered California, still has no comprehensive directory to help consumers match doctors with health plans. This comes as insurers prepare to enroll hundreds of thousands of new patients this fall and get 1.2 million Californians to renew their policies under the Affordable Care Act. Even as California's enrollment grows, many patients continue to complain about being offered fewer choices of doctors and having no easy way to find the ones that are available.

One major insurer is hiking rates and dramatically curtailing access, explaining that costs would have shot up even more if they'd simply maintained their previous network:


Health Net has proposed the most dramatic change for 2015, the data show. It's dumping the PPO network that Edwards and others purchased and switching to a plan with 54% fewer doctors and no out-of-network coverage, state data show. Yet premiums for that stripped-down policy are going up as much as 9% compared with pricing for the PPO. State regulators have questioned the company's moves. Health Net said its cutbacks were necessary to avoid even steeper rate hikes and it's confident the smaller network will be sufficient. Its separate HMO network is unchanged for 2015 after about 4,000 doctors were added this year. The insurer is following the lead of its two rivals Anthem and Blue Shield, which opened last year with sharply limited networks.

"Covered" California.  Adding to the frustration, beneficiaries still can't access a reliable provider directory, as the state pulled down its initial version following complaints of rampant inaccuracies.  The resulting confusion has caused real financial consequences for consumers:


There's no timetable for a state provider directory after the exchange scrapped an initial version that was riddled with errors. Instead, Covered California refers people to insurance company websites that vary in usefulness...Some consumers have been saddled with huge medical bills after insurers refused to pay for care deemed out of network...Mary Edwards, a 63-year-old librarian in Mar Vista, was excited about a Health Net PPO she picked out last fall because it offered a wide selection of doctors at a reasonable price. But it turned out that several physicians listed on her plan didn't accept the insurance or weren't taking new patients. "This is part of the Affordable Care Act that doesn't quite work yet," Edwards said. "This game of who's in and who's out is tiresome."

Perhaps California officials should redouble their efforts to get this critical information into the hands of existing consumers before spending tens of millions of taxpayer dollars in an expensive effort to attract new ones.  According to the Wall Street Journal, “to get new enrollees, the California exchange...in September launched ads featuring residents talking about how coverage under the health law has benefited them, part of a $46 million statewide advertising campaign.”  Meanwhile, "there's no timetable" for an accurate state provider directory.  But remember, friends, the law is "working well" in the real world because the alleged experts say so.

David Limbaugh: 'Give The Bible A Chance...See What You Find In Your Own Discovery'

Last week, Townhall had the opportunity to ask David Limbaugh a few questions about his new book Jesus on Trial, which has become a New York Times bestseller. Despite being the most religious country in the industrialized world, America has a deep anticlerical bias in politics and culture. Is there a war on faith being waged here? If so, does this book serves as one of many tools aimed to fight this trend?

Mr. Limbaugh, an attorney and nationally syndicated columnist (you can find his works here too!), noted that he was a skeptic before becoming a believer twenty years ago. He believed in God, but wasn’t sold that Christ was divine.

He also said he wasn’t putting “Jesus on trial,” but noted that this book documents his own spiritual journey. Moreover, he hopes that it will invite skeptics to give the Bible a second look, look at the evidence, and “give it a chance.” Most importantly, he stresses that readers should use their own intellect on this spiritual journey. Forget what others have told you about how the Bible is a myth; use your own logic to come to your own conclusions about the most influential book in human history.

Far too often, we hear about the close-mindedness of atheists. Limbaugh stressed that this book doesn’t ridicule, mock, or aim to be judgmental. It invites skeptics to open their hearts and minds to these stories. Moreover, Limbaugh said his book also includes Christian doctrine in various chapters to give new Christians a “jump-start” in theology.

1. Why put Jesus on trial? What caused you to write a book affirming the Gospel?

The truth is I didn’t put him on trial. I put – I examined Christianity’s truth claims and of course, I did that twenty years ago or more–and I’ve been studying it on and off; this book is a chronicling of my own spiritual journey. The publisher wanted to call it Jesus on Trial; I wanted to call it Beyond A Reasonable Doubt. I thought people might be misled by the title, but when the subtitle reads “A Lawyer Affirms The Truth Of The Gospel,” it’s clear that I’m not really challenging him. But, ultimately, I’m examining the validity of Christianity’s truth claims, not putting him on trial.

2. How long were you a skeptic? Was there any event that pushed you towards becoming more open to the Christian faith?

Well, this book is a chronicling of my own spiritual journey and then I examine the reasons–the evidence that support Christianity’s truth claims. So, I became a believer by studying all this stuff and overcoming my doubts. But that occurred twenty years ago. Of course, I’ve continued to study theology and apologetics in the Bible since, which has reaffirmed my belief in my faith, but I became a believer some–twenty years ago at least.

I always believed in God, but I wasn’t convinced that the God in the Bible was “The” God, or that Christ was divine. After studying the Bible; studying theology; studying Christian apologetics–finally the thing that put me over the tipping point was exposure to the Messianic Prophecies. How Micah 5:2 prophesized the town that Jesus would be born in–Bethlehem–and Isaiah 53 and Psalms 22 talk about Christ’s crucifixion in minute detail; that his side will be pierced, that no bones would be broken. That he would be punished along with the transgressors (i.e. the thieves); that he would not lift a finger to defend himself; that he would die for our sins. All of these pointed to me unmistakably towards a supernatural writing of the Bible.

It was a bunch of things, but if there was one culminating event many, many seeds were planted over the years in my spiritual journey, but that’s the one final one that I think–if any–took me over the top.

3. Do you think there is a war on faith in America and how can we push back against it?

Christianity has been under attack by the popular culture–and by the Left for a long time. I wrote a book about it ten years ago. And it continues to be under attack and all throughout the world with the rise of radical Islam–and the rise of new atheism and secularism; Christianity is a primary target–Christians and Christianity throughout the world. I think we Christians need to stand up for what we believe and we need to speak and we need actively engage in the culture and try to fight for our own values. But one of our values is religious liberty; we don’t believe in coercion. We don’t believe in forcing people to convert to our faith. We believe in people coming to the faith by their own volition. And, so, we evangelize, but we don’t do any coercion at all. So, I don’t want us to get involved in the culture so we can compete in a coercive way.

...

I don’t want to force people; I don’t think any Christian does.

4. What do you hope readers get out of reading your book? Do you seek to persuade non-believers and skeptics towards being more open to a higher order?

Not a higher order; that’s nebulous spirituality. I want to open the minds of skeptics. I want to invite skeptics to take a second look at the Bible, and theology, and Christian apologetics. Examine the evidence and weigh it. Don’t abandon your rational faculties–use them. Christianity supports using your reason and rationality it is not contrary to faith. And I think if they give the Bible a chance and give the evidence a chance; they just might find that the God of the Bible is true and they might then decide to place their trust in Jesus Christ. But I also wrote it not just for the skeptic, but also for the believer because studying these things reaffirms our faith–and also for the new Christian, who I think needs a jump-start in theology. I’ve included a lot of Christian doctrine and theology here in a few other chapters to help give new Christians a jump-start as to what the faith really stands for.

So, it’s written for pretty much everyone. It's primarily targeted though at the non-believer with the idea that if he really looks at this and give it a second look; it’s not hectoring. It’s not judgmental. It doesn’t ridicule. It doesn’t mock; it invites skeptics respectfully to take a look at the Bible. Read it with an open mind and an open heart; it promises the power of conversion. Give it a chance to fulfill that promise. Give the Bible a chance. Don’t believe what other people have said that it’s myth; give it a chance for yourself with an open mind and an open heart and see what you find in your own discovery using your intellect.

Check out Jesus On Trial: A Lawyer Affirms The Truth Of The Gospel  here.

Netanyahu: "Hamas is ISIS; ISIS is Hamas"

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu took to the podium today at the United Nations to confront Israel’s enemies directly and expose their fanatical ideology.

“I come here from Jerusalem on behalf of my people, the people of Israel,” he began. “I’ve come here to speak about the dangers we face, and the opportunities we seek. I’ve come here to expose the brazen lies spoken from this podium against my country and the brave soldiers who defend it. “

“Militant Islam is on the march,” he declared. “To protect the security and peace of the world, we must remove this cancer before it’s too late.”

He explicitly said that Hamas and militant Islam are “branches from the same poisonous tree,” and that the “same global ambition” that actuates Hamas -- namely, world domination -- runs through all terrorist organizations ... including ISIS.

“Hamas is ISIS; ISIS is Hamas,” he boldly declared. “They all share a fanatical ideology where there is no freedom and tolerance.”

And yet he acknowledged that this concept would be difficult for some ideologues to comprehend.

“Militant Islam’s ambition to dominate the world seems mad,” he admitted. “But so too did the global ambitions of another fanatical ideology.”

“The Nazis believed in a master race,” he said. “The radical Islamists believe in a master faith.”

As expected, he left no stone unturned and therefore publicly eviscerated the Republic of Iran, condemning their faux concerns about the rise of global terrorism.

“To say that Iran doesn’t practice terrorism is like saying that Derek Jeter didn’t play short stop for the New York Yankees,” he said. “So don’t be fooled by Iran’s manipulative charm offense. It’s designed for one purpose and one purpose only: to lift the challenges and lift the obstacles to Iran’s path to the bomb.”

“Once Iran produces atomic bombs, all the charms, and all the smiles, will suddenly disappear,” he continued. “And it’s then that the ayatollahs will show their true face and unleash their aggressive fanaticism on the entire world.”

Thus, he implored the international community to take this threat seriously and work with Israel to prevent Iran from attaining nuclear weapons.

He also addressed the recently-concluded, 50-day war between Israel and Hamas.

He defended his country’s right to defend itself while also confronting the lies spread about Israel’s war practices. Moreover, he blasted the UN Human Rights Council for investigating Israel for war crimes, when Hamas routinely fired rockets from UN schools, executed political dissidents, and used children as human shields.

“No other country and no other army have gone to greater lengths to avoid casualties against the civilian populations of their enemy,” he intoned. “Israel’s soldiers do not deserve condemnation, but admiration from decent peoples everywhere.”

And yet, despite Israel’s attempts to save innocents, the rise of anti-Semitism in supposedly civilized countries worldwide is unmistakable, he said.

“We hear mobs today calling for the gassing of Jews, we hear some national leaders compare Israel to the Nazis,” he averred. “This is not a function of Israel’s policies; it’s a function of diseased minds.”

He therefore labeled this age-old and ugly hatred by its rightful name: anti-Semitism.

“In the past outrageous lies against the Jews [led to] the wholesale slaughter [of my people],” he added. “But no more. Today, the Jewish people have the power to defend ourselves, and we will defend ourselves on the battlefield [and] in the court of public opinion.”

“Israel will continue to stand proud and unbowed,” he said.

New Press Herald Poll Shows Potential GOP Pickup in Maine's 2nd District

While Maine's gubernatorial race remains neck and neck, some interesting polls are coming out for the 2nd Congressional District house race. The race, which was named by The Hill as a "sleeper race to watch," could be an unexpected pickup for Republicans come November.

In a Portland Press Herald poll released yesterday, results showed that the Republican candidate Bruce Poliquin has a 10-point lead over Democrat Emily Cain and independent candidate Blaine Richardson. Poliquin was the former treasurer of the state, while Cain currently serves in the state Senate.

The seat was formerly held by Democrat Mike Michaud, who is currently running for governor, and the seat has been held by Democrats for nearly 20 years. Maine's 2nd District has consistently supported Democrats in national elections as well.

Poliquin has a 10-point lead over Cain, while independent Blaine Richardson is a distant third, according to a Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram poll conducted by the University of New Hampshire Survey Center.

Among likely voters, Poliquin garnered 40 percent support, Cain had 30 percent and Richardson had 3 percent. All three candidates received additional support when interviewers asked voters whom they were leaning toward, but the margins between the candidates did not change.

While the polling sample is admittedly quite small, this is certainly encouraging news for the Maine GOP.

The congressional survey, part of a larger statewide poll, has a 6.2 percent margin of error because of the smaller sample size. The survey of 220 likely voters on landlines and cellphones was conducted from Sept. 18 to Sept. 25.

Military Poll: Most Troops Oppose Ground Troops in Iraq

In virtually every foreign policy speech or interview the president gives, he reiterates this simple message: His administration will not re-deploy combat troops to Iraq.

Instead, he emphasizes the importance of building an international coalition of nations to take the fight to ISIS. This will provide coordinated and targeted air strikes against enemy targets, he argues, as well as much-needed cover and assistance to our allies on the ground.

Perhaps not surprisingly, many active duty troops support this strategy:

As the tide of war rises again in the Middle East, the military’s rank and file are mostly opposed to expanding the new mission in Iraq and Syria to include sending a large number of U.S. ground troops into combat, according to a Military Times survey of active-duty members. On the surface, troops appear to support President Obama’s repeated vows not to let the U.S. military get “dragged into another ground war” in Iraq. Yet at the same time, the views of many service members are shaped by a deep ambivalence about this commander in chief and questions about his ability to lead the nation through a major war, according to the survey and interviews.

The reader survey asked more than 2,200 active-duty troops this question: “In your opinion, do you think the U.S. military should send a substantial number of combat troops to Iraq to support the Iraqi security forces?” Slightly more than 70 percent responded: “No.” “It’s their country, it’s their business. I don’t think major ‘boots on the ground’ is the right answer,” said one Army infantry officer and prior-enlisted soldier who deployed to Iraq three times. He responded to the survey and an interview request but, like several other service members in this story, asked not to be named because he is not authorized to discuss high-level military policy.

Furthermore, according to the Military Times, there are additional reasons why our military personnel broadly oppose on-the-ground intervention.

First, the ineffectiveness and weakness of the Iraqi government is a top concern. Would the sacrifice be worth it, for example, if the Iraqi government still can’t stand on its own hind legs? Second, the administration’s willingness to dedicate itself to Iraq until the job is finished remains uncertain. Understandably, many troops are asking the following question: Since we pulled out of Iraq prematurely last time, would we not do so again if and when the war falls out of favor? Third, combat fatigue is a feeling that runs deep through the military. “We’re burned out,” one soldier told the Times.

But perhaps this is the biggest concern of all:

Troops intuitively understand that final decisions ultimately land on Obama’s desk. And support for Obama within the military — never especially high — has dropped significantly since he took office, according to the Military Times survey. In 2009, 35 percent of service members approved of the way Obama was “handling of his job as commander in chief.” This year, that figure dropped below 15 percent.

That lack of support for Obama may underpin some service members’ views on Iraq today, Feaver said. “It’s very hard to mobilize the military to follow an uncertain trumpet,” he said in an interview after reviewing the results of the Military Times poll. “If they have doubts about the commander in chief, they are going to have doubts about a major military operation.

American troops, therefore, are losing faith in our commander-in-chief. And even if they're not, as some have suggested, garnering an abysmal 15 percent approval rating from our men and women in uniform is hardly a ringing endorsement.

Be that as it may, the military’s strong preference for staying out of Iraq stands in sharp contrast to the NBC poll Matt wrote up on Sunday. All told, 72 percent of respondents say, sooner or later, US ground troops will occupy Iraqi soil.

The president, for his part, says the possibility of re-deploying our military to the region is completely off-the-table. But if the public keeps applying the pressure, who knows what might happen.

Barack Obama: People Not Named 'Barack Obama' Really Blew it on ISIS


Earlier this morning, Katie posted several video snippets from President Obama's 60 Minutes interview, which aired last evening.  Pressed on the failure of America's Iraq policy, Obama agreed that someone had misjudged the situation on the ground -- someone other than himself, of course:

CBS:  How did [ISIS] end up where they are in control of so much territory? Was that a complete surprise to you?

Obama: Well I think, our head of the intelligence community, Jim Clapper, has acknowledged that I think they underestimated what had been taking place in Syria

"They."  Classic, dishonest Obama blame-shift.  We know that the Obama administration has been specifically warned by US intelligence about the rise of ISIS since at least 2012, with presidential briefings on the matter dating back to last year.  Daily Beast national security correspondent Eli Lake asked members of the scapegoated intelligence community about the president's assignment of blame, and they responded with bracing candor:

Reached by The Daily Beast after Obama’s interview aired, one former senior Pentagon official who worked closely on the threat posed by Sunni jihadists in Syria and Iraq was flabbergasted. “Either the president doesn’t read the intelligence he’s getting or he’s bullshitting,” the former official said...senior intelligence officials have been warning about ISIS for months. In prepared testimony before the annual House and Senate intelligence committees’ threat hearings in January and February, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, the recently departed director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said the group would likely make a grab for land before the end of the year. ISIS “probably will attempt to take territory in Iraq and Syria to exhibit its strength in 2014.” Of course, the prediction wasn’t exactly hard to make. By then, Flynn noted, ISIS had taken the cities of Ramadi and Fallujah, and the demonstrated an “ability to concurrently maintain multiple safe havens in Syria.”

Flynn's testimony came around the same period when Obama laughed off ISIS as the equivalent of a terrorist "jayvee" squad.  As for the unnamed former spy's blunt 'either-or' scenario presented above, I'm not sure it's necessarily a dichotomous proposition.  This president has been known to take extremely generous liberties with the truth, and he's been accused of not taking his daily intelligence sessions seriously, having skipped a substantial majority of his in-person briefings during his first term.  Team Obama has countered that the president prefers to read his briefings.  Perhaps Obama doesn't always read the intelligence he's getting, and is therefore BS-ing today, now that his failures stand exposed.  Even the New York Times took note of the Commander-in-Chief's 'the buck stops over there' deflection: "Mr. Obama made no mention of any misjudgment he may have made himself."  Who's surprised?  He's habitually dodged responsibility for catastrophic foreign policy outcomes in the region, from Syria to Libya to Egypt to Iraq (and coming soon: Afghanistan).  On Iraq and ISIS, Obama pretends that he had nothing to do with America's failure to secure a status of forces agreement (SOFA) before abandoning Iraq.  That's just not true, as has been detailed in numerous accounts...and was reflected in the president's own publicly-stated attitudes:


The Obama administration indefensibly neglected Iraq, misleading Americans about realities on the ground, in service of a political narrative.  The world is grappling with the consequences of that recklessness today. And the perils of a power vaccum in Iraq didn't drop from the sky; they've been advanced  for years, including a prescient admonition from President Bush in 2007.  I'll leave you with Democrat Joe Sestak's rejection of Obama's new self-serving premise, to the visible surprise of an MSNBC host (via Noah Rothman):

After Obama Touts Success Against Terrorism in Yemen, State Department Issues Travel Warning

In laying out his strategy to combat ISIS in Iraq and Syria through airstrikes two weeks ago, President Obama cited Somalia and Yemen as examples of where the United States has been successful in fighting terrorism. 

"This strategy of taking out terrorists who threaten us, while supporting partners on the front lines, is one that we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years," Obama said. 

Now just two weeks later, the State Department has issued a travel warning for...Yemen. 

Today, the Department of State ordered a temporary reduction in the number of U.S. Government personnel in Yemen. We are taking this step out of an abundance of caution and in response to recent political developments and the changing, unpredictable security situation in Yemen. The Embassy did not suspend operations and will continue to operate, albeit with reduced staff.

Maintaining the security of our staff is among the highest priorities of the Department. We are continuing to closely monitor developments in Yemen and will calibrate our response as the situation develops.

Consular services have not been affected by this temporary reduction in personnel. U.S. citizens traveling to or residing in Yemen are urged to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (www.travel.state.gov/step) and to review the U.S. Embassy’s website and the State Department’s travel warning issued on September 25, 2014.

U.S. citizens remaining in Yemen despite the Travel Warning in effect should limit nonessential travel within the country, be aware of their surroundings whether in their residences or moving about, and make their own contingency emergency plans, and provide their current contact information and next-of-kin or emergency contact information.

I assume the American people can have full faith in the Obama administration's strategy to successfully fight ISIS moving forward.

Surprise: After Illegal Immigration Wave, Tuberculosis Plagues El Paso Hospital

Earlier this summer when the unaccompanied minor crisis was at its peak (after really starting in October 2013) in Texas and Arizona, Border Patrol agents working inside processing facilities reported cases of Tuberculosis, scabies and other diseases being brought into the United States by unvaccinated illegal aliens. Warnings were issued by local communities about the impact these diseases could potentially have in the public school system where their children are educated. For example, protestors in Murrieta, California turned bus loads of illegal immigrants away, citing concerns about public health. Those protestors and people who warned about the spread of disease were accused of fear mongering and exaggeration. 

Fast forward now to September and thousands of illegal minor children have been shoved into the public education system without meeting normal immunization requirements (because after all, they're entitled to it according to the Department of Education) and into local hospitals for medical care. As a result, cases of Tuberculosis are popping up with five confirmed infections and at least 700 children being put at risk. From NBC:

Five babies have tested positive for tuberculosis infection after an employee at an El Paso hospital exposed hundreds of infants to the disease, according to a statement released by the El Paso Department of Public Health.

And more from the Washington Post:

An employee working at Providence Memorial Hospital in El Paso, Tex., may have exposed more than 700 infants to tuberculosis.

Parents of potentially infected children received a letter from the El Paso Department of Health last week, according to ABC News. They include children born at the hospital between September 2013 and August of this year, when officials discovered that the unnamed female employee had the illness. The employee was originally identified as a nurse at the hospital. The hospital later clarified that she worked as a patient care tech.

Naturally, few in the media are making the connection between the most recent illegal immigration wave and Tuberculosis. According to the National Network for Immunization Information, Tuberculosis kills more people in the world than any other infection. 

Exclusive Poll: Paul Ryan Even with Hillary Clinton in Wisconsin

To see the full results of the Townhall/Gravis Poll, click here.

Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) would start off in a dead heat against Hillary Clinton in Wisconsin if the two decided to run for president a new poll of likely voters conducted for Townhall by Gravis Marketing shows.

Clinton currently edges out Ryan 47 percent to 46 percent with 8 percent undecided. 

Gravis also asked likely voters for their preference in the upcoming Wisconsin gubernatorial election and found Democrat Mary Burke leading Gov. Scott Walker 50 percent to 45 percent. That result is a bit of an outlier compared with other recent polling showing Walker inching ahead in the race. 

The Gravis poll also helps explain why President Obama was so eager to delay his imminent unilateral amnesty for illegal immigrants. An overwhelming 60 percent of likely Wisconsin voters oppose bringing illegal aliens into Wisconsin from the Mexican border.

It is not the same exact question as whether or not Obama should grant amnesty to illegal immigrants currently in the country, but it does show why Democrats are eager to avoid immigration issues this cycle.

Oh My: Another Poll Shows Ernst Up By Six Points in Iowa


Just over a week ago, Conn wrote up a Quinnipiac poll showing conservative Joni Ernst jumping out to a six-point lead over Democrat Bruce Braley in the Iowa Senate race. The race has been close for many weeks, so Ernst's edge in the Q-poll raised eyebrows. Outlier or trend? A new data point came in over the weekend, when the Des Moines Register released its statewide survey of the race. Trend:


The ground under Bruce Braley has shifted. The Democratic U.S. Senate candidate is 6 points behind his GOP rival, Joni Ernst, according to The Des Moines Register's new Iowa Poll of likely voters. Ernst leads 44 percent to 38 percent in a race that has for months been considered deadlocked. She leads nearly 4-1 with rural voters, and is up double digits with independents. "Very interesting, and good news not just for Ernst but also for the GOP's chances of taking the U.S. Senate," said national political prognosticator Larry Sabato of "Sabato's Crystal Ball." Just seven months ago, political analysts considered Braley almost a shoo-in for a seat held for 30 years by liberal Democrat Tom Harkin.

Braley still leads Ernst among women (46/33), but the Republican enjoys a whopping 25-point lead with men, in addition to her significant lead among independent voters.   With 12 percent of the Iowa electorate undecided in the poll, Braley certainly has time and space to make up ground, but some of the trends have to be troubling for his campaign.  In the DMR survey, Braley (a sitting Congressman) is struggling in the high 30's and losing his home district to Ernst; the GOP's lines of attack against him are also more potent.  The poll tested each party's top negative messages, finding that Democrats' case against Ernst is less impactful than the criticisms being leveled against Braley.  Voters are especially unimpressed with Braley's record of skipping House Veterans Affairs Committee meetings (66 percent say this is a problem for them), as well as his support for Obamacare (59 percent).  Iowans also aren't pleased with Braley's leaked comments demeaning popular Sen. Chuck Grassley and farmers at an out-of-state fundraisers with trial lawyers, with 55 percent calling it a problem.  Politico has identified Braley's campaign as one of the worst-run of the 2014 cycle.  Braley is losing support from some lifelong Democrats, including one of his neighbors.  The DMR story quotes another:


"I think he has an attitude about the voters and life in general which was indicated by what he said about Chuck Grassley," said Democrat Dianna Fuhrmeister, a poll respondent who grows garden vegetables for a living in rural Iowa City. "He thinks he knows better than us."  Fuhrmeister, who is registered as a Democrat but considers herself an independent, said her mind is made up to vote for Ernst, a state senator and lieutenant colonel in the Iowa National Guard. "She's the veteran. She seems to have common sense," she said.

Ernst is pushing back against Democratic attacks with positive ads starring some of the soldiers she led in Iraq.  Here's one of them:


At last evening's debate, Braley insisted that he has a strong record on "standing up for veterans," yet even left-leaning Politifact rated the criticism that Braley missed nearly 80 percent of Veterans Affairs meetings as mostly true.  Elsewhere in the Senate horserace, Cortney mentioned that Republican Dan Sullivan has opened up a modest lead in Alaska, while a fresh CNN poll shows Mary Landrieu trailing the combined total of her two GOP challengers by six points in Louisiana.  CNN also shows Kay Hagan leading narrowly in North Carolina, 46-43.  The good news for Hagan is that she's still ahead.  The bad news is that she's still frozen in the mid-40's, Republican Thom Tillis is within striking distance -- with stronger favorable ratings than she has. "Tillis has more room to grow than does Hagan," writes Noah Rothman at Hot Air.  Hagan will also have to answer new questions about a Politico scoop that her husband's company benefitted from nearly $400,000 in the 2009 'stimulus,' for which she voted.  She's probably not thrilled with this headline either.  And out in Colorado, a Democratic poll shows Republican Cory Gardner leading Sen. Mark Udall by two points (a recent Q-poll had Gardner ahead by six), which might explain why  Democrats are freaking out over Gardner's latest television ad that literally calls Udall a nice guy:

Obama Sits Down With 60 Minutes, Blames Everyone But Self For Burning World

Last night President Obama sat down for an interview on 60 Minutes where he discussed everything from ISIS to the economy. 

On ISIS: 

President Obama shifted blame for the failure to combat ISIS sooner to the intelligence community, saying agencies tasked with threat assessment dropped the ball. Blaming the broad "intelligence community" is one of President Obama's go-to tactics for evading responsibility on foreign policy disasters. He took no responsibility for the rise of ISIS as a result of his own decisions solely based on the political promises he made to pull all U.S. troops from Iraq and blamed former Prime Minister Nouri-Al Maliki for the failure to uphold the new democracy. Further, President Obama stressed that the current war against ISIS isn't about the United States, but the international community as a whole. 

"This is not America against ISIL. This is America leading the international community to assist a country with whom we have a security partnership," Obama said.

On the economy: 

President Obama argued that the country is much better off economically, but people just don't realize it because wages "aren't going up." 

"We've had the longest run of uninterrupted private sector job growth in our history. We have seen deficits cut by more than half," Obama said, adding the question "Ronald Reagan used to ask the question 'Are you better off than you were four years ago?' In this case, are you better off than you were six and the answer is the country is definitely better off than we were when I came into office." 

"Do you think people feel it?" Steve Kroft asked.

"They don't feel it and the reason they don't feel it is because incomes and wages are not going up. There's solutions to that. If we raise the minimum wage, if we make sure women are getting paid the same as men for doing the same work, if we are rebuilding our infrastructure, if we're doing more to invest in job training so people are able to get the jobs that are out there right now."

Yes, raising the minimum wage will solve all of our problems and by the way, the White House is still paying women less than men. Further, Obama somehow hasn't realized yet that job training programs are worthless if there aren't jobs available to people being trained. Obama's statement about private sector job growth just isn't true. Job growth isn't keeping up with population growth and millions of people have completely dropped out of the labor force. 

Thanks to the Washington Free Beacon for the video.

Mother of Oklahoma Beheading Suspect Releases Video: There Are Two Sides to Every Story

The mother of Oklahoma beheading and stabbing suspect Jah’Keem Yisrael, also known as Alton Nolen, has released a video defending her son. In the video, she says she understands what her son is being "accused" of but hopes that justice and the truth will prevail. She apologized to the families of the victims while repeatedly saying, "That's not my son." 

"There's two sides to every story and we're only hearing one," she said. "I’m praying that justice will prevail, the whole story will come out. The whole story."

Yisrael's sister also made a statement in the video, saying her brother has never been a violent person, that her family in shock and asked that people keep them in their prayers.

Yisrael will be charged with murder and police have said his actions were premeditated.

Meanwhile, police have arrested a second Islamic man who was threatened co-workers with beheadings. More from the Washington Times

A fired Oklahoma City nursing home employee was arrested Friday for allegedly threatening to behead a co-worker — less than 20 miles from where Alton Alexander Nolen is accused of beheading a co-worker the day before.

Jacob Mugambi Muriithi, 30, is being held in the Oklahoma County jail on a terrorism complaint. His bail is set at $1 million, The Oklahoman reported. 

H/T Gateway Pundit

Celebrity Chef Slams ‘Obama Nonsense,’ Laments Decline of Restaurant Industry

As a celebrity chef, cookbook author, and TV personality, Emeril Lagasse is one of the most well known chefs in the country, and with a net worth of about $50 million and a food empire that brings in an estimated $150 million, he’s one of the wealthiest, too. So it was surprising to hear him say at a recent event that he has “nowhere to go, really—other than broke.”

The reason? Predictably, Big Government.

"It's becoming a very challenging industry to become a very successful average restaurateur," continued Lagasse. "I can't charge $300 a person in my restaurant or I would not be in business. Am I using any different ingredients? Not really. Am I using any caliber of service staff? I don't think so. I think our service is as good or better than most places."

"And then you add all the Obama nonsense to what it's become in the last several years. I don't have anything against Mr. Obama. I'm just saying the way that, you know... the government should stay out of things. [...] Pretty soon, they're going to wipe a lot of the middle restaurateurs and restaurant cooks. [...] If it continues, then watch: you're going to have high-end, and you're going to have fast food, and you're going to have chain restaurants."

Lagasse went on to lament that the areas in which he operates restaurants — including New Orleans, Las Vegas, and Bethlehem, Pennsylvania — have been hit particularly hard by the problems in the economy. "Somebody having a $12.99 meatball and pasta dish at my restaurant means a lot to them," he said. "That's like a special occasion."

At the event, which was promoting his upcoming reality series “On the Menu,” Lagasse explained that despite really listening to people and being very connected to America, he doesn’t have the solution. “All I can tell you is the balance of the economic cycle is out of whack,” he said.

Well Done, The Economist

Our “anti-war,” kill-list wielding, Nobel Peace Prize winning president (who won the White House twice, in part, by pledging to end “Bush’s wars”) has dropped bombs in numerous countries since taking the presidential oath of office. He finds himself, therefore, increasingly preoccupied with foreign conflicts.

With that in mind, in a brilliant new cover photo, The Economist perfectly captured this evolution. Rather than ending wars, one might say, Obama has engaged in them -- and indeed, started new ones. In many ways, his presidency can and will be defined by the wars he prosecuted, something many on the Left are all too comfortable with.

Photos like these, however, remind us that Candidate Obama and President Obama are two vastly different people -- and that for all the anti-war rhetoric the Left has listened to and swallowed, this is essentially who the president has become: