Nail-biter: Democrats Go All In to Defeat Walker, Polls Show Tied Race


Last time we checked in on the Wisconsin gubernatorial race, Scott Walker appeared to be pulling away from Mary Burke. He led by nearly six points in the respected Marquette Law poll, had cracked 50, and enjoyed a 13-point cushion with independent voters. Then came MU's mid-October survey, in which Walker's lead vanished completely, with the race deadlocked at 47. The swing was driven by some unusual internals, such as men and independents breaking heavily to Burke, and women suddenly flocking to Walker. All three of those data points represented noticeable departures from most polling trends, but the top line number showed an exact tie -- which mirrors the RCP average.  The last three polls of the contest have produced a tie, a Burke lead of one point, and Walker edge of the same margin. With the race a pure toss-up, Democrats are making a major final push for Burke.  Not only are they deploying Bill Clinton to the state, they're also welcoming…President Obama to Wisconsin, whom Burke assiduously avoided on two previous occasions.  In my mind, this means one of two things:

Either (a) Team Burke has decided that the cake is already baked in terms of Obama's unpopularity, so while his appearance won't change many minds either way, it will potentially boost turnout among African-Americans, or (b) they've seen sufficient movement in their internal numbers that suggest Obama's image is on the mend in Badger country.  My gut goes with the former option, as O's job approval rating from Wisconsinites was still underwater by double digits in the recent NYT/YouGov poll.  The Washington Post's Robert Costa hears from Wisconsin Dems that Burke is preparing a final blitz against Walker on the (truly outrageous) John Doe "controversy," as well as the "polarizing" 2011 budget fight.  This is a neat trick the Left pulls, incidentally.  They channel sustained, distilled hatred at a Republican for years on end, engaging in mob thuggery and unprecedented opposition that would have the media reaching for the smelling salts if the roles were reversed, then pronounce their target "polarizing."  And the press nods along (read this surreal Journal-Sentinel editorial that literally imagines an alternate universe to attack Walker).  Here's what's coming in the final week-plus:


Yes, a prolific plagiarist will lecture Scott Walker on "integrity." Another edge Democrats will press is their cash advantage. Walker and his allies are being significantly outspent by the other side:


Part of the reason behind this disparity is that many of Walker's ideological kin have been completely sidelined under penalty of law throughout this entire election cycle, thanks to the partisan 'John Doe' witch hunt, which has been thrown out of court by both a state and federal judge.  The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that it's not the role of federal courts to interfere with a state investigation, however, dealing a blow to muzzled conservative organizations in Wisconsin, and to free speech itself.  The decision is being appealed to the Supreme Court.  In mid-October, one of the same lower court judges finally lifted the indefinite, Democratic prosecutor-imposed ban on issue-based 'coordination' between Walker's campaign and right-leaning groups.  The Left has been happily coordinating away throughout 2014, of course, with labor unions spending big against Walker.  (Reminder: Liberals don't oppose money in politics.  They oppose conservative money in politics).  And while we're on the topic of insidious political collusion, read this.  Quite a coincidence, no?  On the Republican side of the ledger, Weekly Standard writers Stephen Hayes and John McCormack -- both native Wisconsinites with deep ties to the Walker team -- report anxiety in the ranks.  Some Republicans in the state are whispering about whether the Republican Governors Association has neglected Walker's race, with some even suggesting that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has deliberately moved to tank a potential 2016 rival.  But Hayes and McCormack quote an RGA-connected source who says that dog won't hunt:

A GOP source with knowledge of RGA spending threw cold water on this theory. The source claimed that total RGA spending--a "large majority" of which is "focused on TV ads" but also includes things like polling, research, and field operations--has actually been $6 million in Wisconsin and $10 million in Michigan as of Tuesday. But, the source said, the RGA has $4 to $5 million in TV ad time reserved in Wisconsin for the final two weeks of the election, and the RGA will end up spending more in Wisconsin than Michigan by the time the election is over. (The Center for Public Integrity numbers certainly do appear to miss a lot: CPI doesn't show any RGA spending in Florida, but the source says the RGA has spent $17 million to date in the sunshine state). If these numbers are true--and their accuracy will certainly be scrutinized after the election when all FEC reports have been published--then concerns that Christie is undercutting Walker would appear to be unfounded.


The RGA has just announced the injection of an extra $1 million into the race for on-air ads over the final days of the campaign.  Nevertheless, extremely tight polls and internal dissension indicate that Republicans are jittery about Walker's fate.  Conservative Journal-Sentinel columnist Christian Schneider pores over the numbers and concludes that if November's electorate roughly reflects the turnout models of Wisconsin's midterm cycles, Walker will likely pull it out.  We shall see.  I'll leave you with three items.  First, a 2007 email revealing that Mary Burke's successor as Commerce Secretary in the unpopular Doyle administration asserting that Burke brought no "strategic plan" to the table when she was in the post.  (Couldn't she have just "borrowed" one?)  Second, actual proof that Walker's bald spot has become an issue in this campaign. Finally, one of the ads Walker's been running, touting his successful budget and tax reforms:


Given Walker's successful governance and Wisconsin voters' optimistic "right track/wrong track" views, this election shouldn't be close. But it's the tightest gubernatorial race in the country. Turnout, turnout, turnout.

UPDATE - Watch the Milwaukee machine at work. If voter ID laws are "voter suppression," what would this be?



Editor's note: A version of this item is cross-posted at HotAir.com

Satanist Destroys Ten Commandments Monument

A notable act of public vandalism occurred in Oklahoma today, as a crazed Satanist drove his car to a federal building and crashed it into a controversial monument of the Ten Commandments. As the Associated Press reports:

[A] man was detained after he showed up at a federal building in Oklahoma City Friday morning, rambling and making derogatory statements about the president, and admitted destroying the monument, said David Allison, an agent with the U.S. Secret Service in Oklahoma City.

"He claimed he got out of his car, urinated on the monument, and then ran over it and destroyed it," Allison said. "He said Satan told him to do it, and that he was a Satanist."

The man was turned over to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol for questioning, Allison said. A spokesman for the patrol didn't immediately return a phone call seeking information about the man.

The monument in question has been a topic of controversy, as the American Civil Liberties Union has sued to remove it, claiming that its existence is a violation of the separation of church and state.

The ACLU issued a statement saying that it was "outraged" over the vandalism.

Hagan Can't Say If Obama Is A Strong Leader

Vulnerable Democrats in red states trying to distance themselves from Obama are receiving no help from the leader of their party after he basically said they all support his agenda in an interview with Al Sharpton earlier this week.

In North Carolina, MSNBC’s Kasie Hunt asked incumbent Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan whether she felt if Obama was a strong leader. Let’s just say Hagan could not say anything–with a degree of confidence or certainty–that was positive about Obama. Straight up–she avoided answering the question.

“President Obama has a lot on his plate. And it seems like whether it’s the oil spill that took place a number of years ago in the Gulf, to this Ebola crisis now, to ISIS gaining strength, you look at all the combination of things like that.”

When pressed further on Obama exhibiting strong leadership qualities, Hagan deflected by saying we should have done more to respond to Ebola.

And it’s not just MSNBC that’s noticing how Democrats are trying to run away from the president this year; the New York Times reported that only one senate candidate–Rep. Gary Peters–has appeared with the president while stumping for him in Michigan. The support of the Ebola travel ban, which Hagan flip-flopped on, is one area where the Times notes Senate Democratic candidates are trying to create a veneer of independence from the Obama White House, although they did label it a “right wing talking point.”

Lastly, Jason Zengerie of The New Republic also tried to ask Hagan whether she thought Obama was a strong leader–and on what issues does she think he demonstrated those characteristics if he is one. It was another ride on the merry-go-round:

I asked her if she wanted to clarify her thoughts on whether she thought Obama was a strong leader. I thought her answer was worth sharing now.

“You know, I think that when issues come up for a vote, I stand for North Carolina, whether it’s a Democratic idea or a Republican idea, and I certainly oppose the president in issues where I think that it’s not right for our state,” Hagan said, going on to note her opposition to various trade deals and defense cuts, as well as her support for the Keystone Pipeline. “On the other hand, Speaker Tillis cannot name one issue, one issue, where he would oppose the president—not the president—where he would oppose his party.”

I asked Hagan what, in particular, she thought Obama had been strong on. “I go back to some of the issues that have affected our country,” she said. “I think on two issues in particular, just recently, he’s been slow to act on Ebola and on ISIS. When the BP spill took place in the Gulf, we were beginning to be slow, but then he put the resources to bear and the science to bear to help solve that very disastrous problem.”

So Hagan, who arguably rode Obama’s coattails into the Senate back in 2008, thinks that the one area where Obama’s shown strong leadership was on the Gulf oil spill four years ago—but, even there, he wasn’t particularly strong.

This is just another sign of how Obama’s falling approval numbers has become an anvil on Democrats this election cycle. And when you virtually vote with President Obama the entire time you are serving in the U.S. Senate, that could become a problem as well.

Bombshell: Valerie Jarrett Helped Manage Fallout Over Eric Holder's Changing Fast and Furious Testimony to Congress

For years the White House has argued it had nothing to do with Operation Fast and Furious while it was active and certainly wasn't involved the fallout and cover-up that followed after Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was killed in 2010 by Mexican bandits carrying guns from the lethal program. 

Now years later, a Vaughn Index describing Fast and Furious documents being held from the American people and Congress under President Obama's assertion of executive privilege shows White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett played a key role in Attorney General Eric Holder's changing testimony to Congress. 

More from Judicial Watch

Practically lost in the 1,000-plus pages of records is an index that shows Jarrett was brought in to manage the fact that Holder lied to Congress after the story about the disastrous gun-running operation broke in the media.

The files received by JW include three electronic mails between Holder and Jarrett and one from former U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke to Jarrett. The e-mails with Holder are all from October 4, 2011, a significant date because, on the evening of October 3rd, Sharyl Attkisson (then at CBS news) released documents showing that Holder had been sent a briefing paper on Operation Fast and Furious on June 5, 2010. The paper was from the director of the National Drug Intelligence Center, Michael Walther.

This directly contradicted Holder’s May 3, 2011 testimony to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, during which he stated that he, “probably heard about Fast and Furious for the first time over the last few weeks.” The October 4, 2011 date may also be significant because it came shortly after the August 30, 2011 resignation of U.S. Attorney for Arizona Dennis Burke and reassignment of acting ATF director Kenneth Melson to the position of “senior forensics advisor” at DOJ.

The description of one of the e-mails, written from Jarrett to Holder, reads, “re: personnel issues.” Another, also from Jarrett, reads, “outlining and discussing preferred course of action for future responses in light of recent development in congressional investigation.” Unfortunately, the index is vague and that’s all the information we have about them. Nevertheless, given the timing and subject of these e-mails, it seems clear that Jarrett quickly became a key player in the Fast and Furious cover-up in the immediate aftermath of the revelation that Holder had lied to Congress.

Despite evidence showing Attorney General Eric Holder lied about when he became aware of Operation Fast and Furious and about the extent of his involvement with the initiation of the program, he has maintained that the testimony he gave under oath to Congress was "truthful and accurate." As a reminder of the timeline of Holder's inconsistent testimony:

In a late Friday afternoon dump, Attorney General Eric Holder has sent a letter to the House Overight Committee addressing Operation Fast and Furious and the allegations that he lied to Congress on May 3 when he said he had only known about Fast and Furious for "a couple of weeks." Memos released this week show Holder was briefed and sent direct memos on the program at least five times in July and August 2010, nearly a year before Holder admitted under oath.

In the letter Holder sent to Congress, which is mentioned above, he said the following

"Much has been made in that past few days about my congressional testimony earlier this year regarding Fast and Furious. My testimony was truthful and accurate and I have been consistent on this point throughout. I have no recollection of knowing about Fast and Furious or hearing its name prior to the public controversy about it. Prior to early 2011, I certainly never knew about the tactics employed in the operation and it is my understanding that the former United States Attorney for the District of Arizona and the former Acting Director and Deputy Director of ATF have told Congress that they, themselves were unaware of the tactics employed."

Jarrett is President Obama's closest advisor at the White House. 

First Lady Gives Shout-out To Mark Udall for Obama Accomplishments

Michelle Obama traveled to Colorado Thursday to rally support for incumbent Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) and things got awkward.

Keep in mind: Udall is the very same man who tried to distance himself from Obama only a few short weeks ago by claiming he is the senator the White House feared the most. So much for disassociation.

Not only did Michelle Obama show she wanted Udall back in the Senate (a desire which hardly seems fear-driven), she boasted about Udall’s role in creating Obama’s ‘hope’ and ‘change:’



The chance of this helping Udall in his race against Republican Rep. Cory Gardner is slim. Two-thirds of likely voters claim their opinion of the president will be a deciding factor in how they vote on Nov. 4, according to a recent Denver Post poll, and 56 percent of Coloradans disapprove of Obama’s work.

But for all her love and support, Michelle Obama revealed that she perhaps didn’t really know which candidate she was there to support:



FLOTUS was not the only one to forget her notes, however. Remember that famous quote by Martin Luther King, Jr. about judging people by “the content of their character, not the color of their skin?” Unfortunately, Mark Udall didn’t. While introducing the First Lady, Udall made this uncomfortable slip:

“In 2008 and 2012, we showed that Dr. Martin Luther King had it right which is that in America, at our best, we judge people by the content of their color -- "

Yikes! Imagine if a Republican candidate had made that gaffe; the media would have a field day. It didn’t take long for the response of the crowd to alert Udall of his mistake.

According to a Quinnipiac University poll released Friday, Gardner is up at 46 percent while Udall sits at 41 percent.


White House: Ask DOJ About What's in The Fast and Furious Documents Covered By Obama's Executive Privilege

During the daily briefing at the White House Friday afternoon, Press Secretary Josh Earnest dodged questions related to Attorney General Eric Holder's role in Operation Fast and Furious after a Vaughn Index or list of documents being held under President Obama's assertion of executive privilege, was released yesterday by Judicial Watch. An initial review of the Vaughn Index shows 20 emails between Holder and his wife Sharon Malone and his mother were covered in the documents currently protected under Obama's executive privilege claim.

When asked by Fox News' Ed Henry about why those communications were covered and what was discussed, Earnest deferred all questions to the Department of Justice.

"Did the Attorney General talk about this sensitive gun running operation with his wife and is mother and that's why he [President Obama] had to invoke executive privilege?" Henry asked. 

"Well Ed I'd refer you to the Department of Justice about this," Earnest said. 

"It wasn't justice privilege it was executive privilege. It was invoked by the president not the attorney general right?" Henry followed up.

"I can tell you that it's the Department of Justice that can discuss those emails with you. What is clear is that this lawsuit that has been filed by Judicial Watch actually has nothing to do with the actual Fast and Furious operation, it has to do with emails and documents related to the operation," Earnest said. "This is something that has been thoroughly investigated." 

Earnest went on to argue the Department of Justice has turned over an adequate amount of information and documentation about the lethal operation to Congress. He also said the White House has showed legitimate cooperation with the investigation into this matter.

Sen. Begich: “The President’s Not Relevant”

Perhaps to avoid the brutal Grimes gaffe, Democrat Alaska Sen. Mark Begich conceded that he did in fact vote for President Obama in the last two presidential elections. Yet, the senator quickly followed up that answer by arguing his support of Obama has nothing to do with his current campaign:

"I did, but that's irrelevant," Begich, the Democratic incumbent from Alaska, told the Washington Examiner. "The president's not relevant. He's gone in two years."

He then listed a slew of topics upon which he disagreed with Obama, such as funding rebels in Syria and pushing gun control.

Hot Air's Mary Katherine Ham commented on Begich's statements on Fox News this morning, noting it is more proof that Democrats are "contending the president's popularity at every turn:"

Begich joins the list of vulnerable Democrats who are distancing themselves from a president that 9 percent of likely 2014 voters are enthusiastic about. Among them include Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO), who claimed he was the “last person” the White House would want to see walking across the lawn, and Sen. Mark Pryor, who was left tongue tied on the White House’s handling of the Ebola outbreak and tried to escape questions on his support of Obamacare. Most worthy of all is the already mentioned Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Kentucky Democrat running against Mitch McConnell who in addition to refusing to say whether she voted for the president in 2008 or 2012, went so far as to make an ad claiming she’s “No Barack Obama,” while proudly wielding a gun.

Try as they might to campaign independently of the president, all of the above Democrats have a 90 percent or higher matching voting record with Obama.

Begich is also facing criticism for re-airing an insensitive ad that claimed his Republican opponent Dan Sullivan was indirectly responsible for a murder after dealing a “soft” sentence on a sex offender while he served as state attorney general – an accusation to which Politifact gave its harshest rating: “pants on fire.”

Our poll tracker has Sullivan ahead by four percentage points.

Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Against IRS From Targeted Group True the Vote; Tea Party Outraged

A lawsuit brought against the government by True the Vote, an anti-voter fraud group made up of volunteers that was inappropriately targeted by the IRS and Department of Justice, has been thrown out by a federal judge despite acknowledgement of illegal wrongdoing in the case. More from Breitbart on the opinion: 

Judge Walton's opinion stated that because the IRS had finally granted True the Vote their 501(c)(3) status, the case "no longer warrant[ed] the Court’s attention and further use of its resources," and deemed True the Vote's lawsuit to now be moot. However, True the Vote had argued specific costs that the IRS' delay had caused them, including fees for attorneys and CPAs, as well as fundraising losses. A number of other non-profit organizations and other donors had either pledged or donated money to True the Vote with the understanding that the group would have official 501(c)(3) status soon. Some of these groups even had requirements in their organizational documents that they could only give money to other approved 501(c)(3) organizations. According to Churchwell, the IRS' years-long delay acted as a "functional denial of our application" and True the Vote was forced to return some donations, and other pledges were revoked. Churchwell described the total costs to True the Vote caused by the IRS' delay to be nearly $90,000.

So because the IRS eventually granted proper 501(c)(3) status to True the Vote, there's no need to hold IRS officials accountable for inappropriately targeting the group and weaponizing government to do so? No justice or reconciliation for the damage done during the delay of the application? What an absolute shame and horrible precedent to set. Not to mention, IRS abuse will continue if there are no consequences for the illegal behavior and decisions that were made. 

"This is far from over. This is what the beginning of tyranny looks like and we cannot sit by as Americans and watch it happen," True the Vote President Catherine Engelbrecht said during an interview with Fox News Friday afternoon.

Other tea party groups targeting by the IRS are outraged and have issued a series of statements in response to the dismissal. 

Tea Party Patriots' Jenny Beth Martin: 

“Within days of the Citizens United ruling in January 2010, which strengthened free speech rights and the freedom for the people to criticize the government, the Internal Revenue Service – the branch of government most feared by American citizens, and, therefore, best suited to act punitively on behalf of a lawless regime – launched a program that systematically targeted what it believed to be “enemies” of the Obama Administration. That scandal – which went on for several years – was admitted by the IRS and by the person most responsible for the agency's misconduct, Lois Lerner.

Several dozen victims of the targeting sued the IRS and individual IRS agents for violation of their constitutional rights. Yesterday a federal judge sided with the IRS and dismissed the claims of our fellow citizens and patriots. Amazingly, the Court’s ruling acknowledges the illegal activity by the IRS – but nonetheless concluded that because the IRS says it has discontinued its targeting, the case is "moot.”

We are dismayed, disappointed, and disheartened that the IRS would be allowed to get away with not just infringing on the rights of American citizens, but bulldozing them, casting aside any sense of propriety or privacy in its years-long effort to suppress the Obama Administration’s political opposition.

Tea Party Patriots – while not a plaintiff in the lawsuits – was a victim of the IRS targeting, having been subjected to a delay of more than three years in obtaining its tax exempt status, merely because of our name and beliefs.

The Court’s decision not to sanction either the IRS or the individual agents because it and they had taken “remedial measures” is unconscionable.

Under this view of the law, Al Capone need not have been arrested, prosecuted and convicted; he merely need have surrendered and promised to never cheat on his taxes again.

It is wholly unacceptable simply to accept the IRS’s hollow promises as “remedial measures” in the eyes of the law. When the IRS demands to know the content of people’s prayers, among other outrageous misconduct we have now learned the IRS engaged in during its persecution of tea party groups, a line has been crossed. Forgive us for not taking the Obama Administration at its word when it says it won’t happen again, which is what the Court has asked us to believe.

This Administration is out of control, and has shown time and again it has zero respect for the law or the Constitution. Sadly, the Court’s ruling will do nothing to discourage such behavior."
Founder of the Wetumpka Tea Party Beck Gerritson, who gave compelling Congressional testimony last year about how her group was targeted, is outraged. A lawsuit filed against the government from her group was also thrown out yesterday.

“When you look at the allegations in our lawsuit along with evidence uncovered by Congressional committees and Judicial Watch, it is undeniable that the IRS is guilty of wrongdoing.However, Judge Walton basically said that since we finally received our tax status (after almost 2 years of waiting) that we now have no case.That’s like a judge telling a burglary victim, that even though she was robbed 2 years ago; since she does not currently have the thieves in her house, she has no case.This ruling is unbelievable! It’s so much more than just a delay of a tax exempt status; it’s about the IRS, a government agency, being used as a weapon against its citizens, i.e. violating our constitutional rights, invading our privacy, bullying and intimidating us, mishandling and leaking our confidential taxpayer information etc., not to mention the ensuing cover-up; and we cannot fight back…we have no recourse.”

Gerritson continued, “The judge did not base his decision on the merits of the case.In fact, he did not deny wrong doing by the IRS but dismissed the case on procedural grounds. He wrote in a footnote: "The court's opinion should not be interpreted as an assessment of the propriety of the alleged conduct by the defendants."It’s unfathomable that the IRS, one of the most feared government agencies in America, was able to engage in a massive, years-long illegal targeting scheme against everyday American’s and get away with it scot-free. This is a huge blow to Americans’ liberty.If the IRS was allowed to target and harass Americans on such a large scale with no repercussions then what will stop them in the future?”

 “This isn’t over for us. We will not be silent.We commend and support the ACLJ‘s plan to appeal the ruling.We will continue to do everything we can to stand up for citizens’ rights, expose government’s abuse of power and hold them accountable for their actions.”

As a reminder, IRS officials weren't simply interested in delaying or denying 501(c)(3) status to conservative tea party groups. Top officials like Lois Lerner regularly worked with officials at the Department of Justice to target these groups, even going so far as trying to find ways to prosecute members and activists with an end goal of throwing them in jail to send a message. 

De Blasio’s Warning: 'Do Not Hesitate to Call 911 if You Have Symptoms'

It’s no surprise that the first case of Ebola in New York City has put the city on edge. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio held a press conference today to try and allay some of those fears, while offering a warning to those who meet the city’s qualifications for quarantine.

Craig Spencer, a doctor who had recently returned from Guinea, is New York City’s first patient to test positive for Ebola. De Blasio assured the city that the patients’ fiancé is being quarantined and they are “looking at individual contacts.” He then repeated what the city knows so far about the troubling situation:

“We know the patient took the subway, went to bowling alley and a few food establishments before being admitted to Bellevue. We’ve retraced those steps.”

The mayor then emphasized that casual contact cannot lead to acquiring the disease, only direct contact with the patient’s bodily fluids.

De Blasio concluded his statements by telling New Yorkers what they could and should do to prevent a proliferation of the disease. He insisted that if anyone has traveled from the three African countries under question or exhibits certain symptoms, they only have two options:

“If you or a loved one may meet these qualifications in the last 21 days and have a fever, it’s crucial to call 911 immediately or go to the emergency room. These are the only two acceptable actions. Do not wait or hesitate.”

Hopefully New Yorkers heed De Blasio’s warning.

Islamic Terror In Canada: Obama Yawns, Sends A Shout-Out

On this week's Townhall Weekend Journal:

Bill Bennett and election expert, Sean Trende of Real Clear Politics break down the races. Michael Medved on Tavis Smiley's remarkably transparent comment regarding the black vote. Hugh Hewitt with U.S. Federal Prosecutor Andrew McCarthy, then with Victor Davis Hanson, and then with Mark Steyn--they discuss Islamic terror arriving in Ottawa, Canada. Bill Bennett and Pete Wehner, Sr. Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center discuss how "in the dumps" the economy is. Dennis Prager on Idaho legislators subpoenaed 5 Christian pastors to hand over their sermons to see how "tolerant" they were with homosexuality.

Shocking Poll: Republican Charlie Baker Up 9 Points...in MA?

That’s not a typo. A new Boston Globe poll has Republican Charlie Baker up nine percentage points over his Democratic opponent Martha Coakley. Even if this poll is an outlier (which seems at least plausible given the race has been very close for weeks), Baker is probably still the front-runner. The Republican is earning 45 percent of the vote; his opponent is capturing just 36 percent.

This is honestly surprising. You don’t need me to tell you that Massachusetts is as liberal a state as they come, as evidenced by the last presidential election. Now, however, the Republican in the race has opened up (almost) a double-digit lead.

Why? The Boston Globe has some insight:

The poll depicts an electorate highly susceptible to the recent barrage of political advertising on television. Two weeks ago, Coakley, the state’s attorney general, led Baker by 5 points in the same poll. According to estimates from Kantar Media/CMAG, a firm that tracks political television commercials, $2.2 million in ads paid for by gubernatorial candidates and allied groups — more than 1,700 individual spots — aired on broadcast television from Oct. 12 through Oct. 19.

This also might have something to do with it:

In the governor’s race, Baker has picked up momentum with an across-the-board improvement on questions where voters were asked which candidate would do a better job handling certain broad policy areas. For instance, in mid-September, the poll gave him a 15-point lead over Coakley on creating jobs. In this week’s poll, he is ahead by 24 points.

Unenrolled voters make up roughly half of the state’s electorate. So since since Baker is now dominating independents (57/20), and only losing women by a few percentage points, he’s put himself in a position to win. Democrats still back their party’s candidate by an overwhelming margin (73/13), but Baker’s lead among male voters (55/30) and indies (see above), could make the difference. There are also rumblings that voters want to take the state in a new direction. Fifty-two percent of respondents say Baker “will manage the state effectively”; only 27 percent said Coakley would.

His messaging to voters, therefore, seems to be moving the needle.

Enhanced Airport Screenings For Ebola Don't Work

Late last week the Department of Homeland Security announced that not only would temperatures of all passengers returning to the United States on flights from West Africa be taken at airports, but that passengers from the region could only land at five major international airports in the U.S.

The latest case of Ebola in New York City proves that these enhanced airport screenings don't work. Doctor Craig Spencer returned from the country of Guinea in West Africa on October 17 after treating patients with Ebola. He was screened at JFK international airport upon entrance and didn't have a fever or other symptoms. The CDC cleared him. Six days later, Spencer was rushed to the hospital because he does in fact have Ebola and had been carrying the disease. Just hours before coming down with a 103 degree fever, Spencer took an Uber ride to a bowling alley and rode the subway. He has been riding the New York City subway system since he was cleared at the airport. 

Screening procedures federal government officials have implemented at airports to make it look like they're doing something to protect the health of Americans, don't work to keep Ebola out of the country. It's only a matter of time before someone else from West Africa who isn't a doctor comes to the United States carrying the disease, but gets into the country due to being non-symptomatic at the time of entry. This is exactly how Thomas Eric Duncan, the man who recently died of Ebola in Dallas, brought the disease to the U.S.

Meanwhile, the White House still refuses to put a travel ban on the table as an option.

Video: DWS Struggles to Name One Competitive Senate Race Obama Has Campaigned In


Painfully awkward political theater, even by Debbie's standards.  Here she is trying to trumpet the fact that President Obama is campaigning in competitive races around the country (he's so far stumped for two statewide candidates by my count, each in deep blue states, and neither running for Senate), even though he's largely been "benched" by the party she chairs.  When pressed to name the Senate races in which O's been a player, Debbie does her thing:


Grimace-worthy, unresponsive rambling.  Also known as a typical day at the office for DWS -- who commands exactly zero respect from the White House, as this eye-opening Politico piece made excruciatingly clear.  Here's what she can't say: "Most of our candidates in competitive races don't want Obama around because his approval rating is underwater in all but six states."  But that's the reality.  In New Hampshire last night, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen tried to pretend the president's absence on her behalf was due to 'scheduling conflicts' or whatever, when in fact, he's simply honoring her polite behind the scenes request to stay the hell away.  It's not that she opposes his agenda -- far from it -- but she can read the polls as well as anyone else.  Another DWS point that deserves ridicule is her little tangent about how historically well-positioned Democrats are for a second term Congressional election.  We might hold our losses to single digits in the House, guys!  This is "good news," she explains, because the president's party typically loses a few dozen seats in these scenarios.  But this tendentious analysis ignores the minor detail that the GOP won 63 House seats in 2010 in an anti-Obama backlash election, and retained most of their gains in 2012.  Republicans near their historic ceiling in the lower chamber, yet they're still poised to gain seats.  Great success, intones Debbie.  Part of me will miss her when she's gone.  Which she will be.  See, again: The Politico story linked above, and please don't stop reading until you get to the part when she denies that the DWS in her DWS PAC doesn't stand for her initials.  A perfectly Schultzian, comically implausible, lie.  As for holding the Senate, I broke things down last night over at HotAir, using the Georgia race as a spring board:

Is Obama right that a Nunn victory would guarantee Reid’s Democratic majority hangs on to power? Not necessarily. It’s undeniably true that if the Democrats flip a red state into the blue column (the top prospects being GA, KS, and KY, the latter two of which Obama lost by more than 20 points), their power protection lift gets significantly lighter. But if — if — Republicans carry every seat in which their nominees currently lead in the polls (AR, AK, CO, IA, LA, MT, SD, WV), they could *technically* withstand losses in two of those three aforementioned races and still emerge with a 51-49 edge. I stressed ‘technically’ because let’s be honest: If Democrats pick off a pair of GOP-held seats in McCain/Romney turf this fall, the likelihood of Team Red sweeping the other eight races feels remote.

Remember, the only contests Republicans appear to have secured at this juncture are in West Virginia and Montana, plus (probably) South Dakota and Arkansas. Begich and Landrieu are definitely down, but they aren’t quite out; and while things are looking up in both Colorado and Iowa, those are still states carried twice by Obama where Democratic nominees are within striking distance. (On the other side of that coin, the same standard also applies to Thom Tillis and Scott Brown in North Carolina and New Hampshire, respectively). The point is that Republicans have multiple paths to get to (+6), so a Nunn victory wouldn’t single-handedly derail the GOP Majority Express. But it’d make those paths a lot narrower, and would likely indicate that 2014 did not turn out to be the big wave year Republicans were hoping for.

And in case you were curious, no, Michelle Nunn won't condemn this repulsive flier her party is passing around to manipulate and scare black voters.  I'll leave you with this clip; try to stick around through the mindless talking points until the very end, and Wolf's follow-up:



Two Weeks Out: Ads, Cash, and Clinton Descend Upon North Carolina

We crossed the two-week mark and ads, cash, and the Clintons are descending upon North Carolina. With the race virtually tied and early voting beginning today, groups from both sides are spending and releasing ads to make their final case.

On the Hagan side, the League of Conservation Voters are hitting Tillis over his environmental stances, even using the dreaded Koch brothers as their boogeyman. The two ads are part of a $400,000 ad buy.

One ad that was played pervasively when I went down to North Carolina hit Tillis over abortion and Planned Parenthood; Hagan needs to continue to do this to keep women voters on her side. Nationally, women are beginning to break for the GOP.

Another ad by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee features a woman who calls Tillis’ record on women “horrifying.” This is part of a massive $9.1 million ad buy the DSCC made last August and runs until all the ballots are counted on Election Day.

On the other side, the Tillis campaign released this ad slamming Hagan over allegations that her family’s business profited after receiving stimulus money; a bill she voted for while in the U.S. Senate. According to the Washington Free Beacon, it contributed to her 37 percent rise in net worth since her 2008 win over then-Sen. Elizabeth Dole.

Additionally, NRA, Freedom Partners Action Fund, and Crossroads GPS all hit Hagan over Second Amendment issues, voting with Obama 95 percent of the time, and the controversy surrounding stimulus cash injections to her family’s business.

Abortion, the environment, gun rights, corruption, and Barack Obama’s policies–all issues meant to consolidate base support, which both sides have done quite well. Hagan is leading by 3 points in the latest D+7 PPP poll, but it noted that Hagan and Tillis are each garnering equal shares of the Democratic and Republican vote in North Carolina.

Meanwhile, a Gravis poll released around the same time of the PPP poll found that Tillis was leading Hagan by 5 points based on a sample of 1,022 likely voters.

That’s probably why Freedom Partners Action Fund, a PAC associated with the Koch brothers, is chipping in $6.5 million for the last two weeks of campaigning in the Iowa, Colorado, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Arkansas, and Alaska Senate races.

Hagan has outraised the Tillis campaign, but he’s been able to haul in a respectable amount of campaign cash to fill his war chest as the 2014 elections come to a close. Overall, Republicans across the country have seen a surge in fundraising in the final weeks of the campaign, with eight GOP candidates outraising her Democratic opponents for the first time.

We shall see how the Clinton factor plays into the North Carolina race as well; the former Secretary of State plans to make a pit stop in the Tar Heel state this weekend. As for Tillis, Gov. Romney is coming down to help him out next week.

Potential Terror in New York City: Man Attacks Police With a Hatchet

Yesterday a man with a hatchet attacked two police officers in New York City, striking one in the head and the other in the arm. He was shot to death shortly after engaging the officers. The officer who was struck in the head suffered a skull fracture, but is in stable condition at a hospital. More from NBC New York

The officers, all recent graduates of the Police Academy assigned to the 103rd Precinct in Jamaica, were asked to pose for a picture by a freelance photographer at the intersection of 162nd Street and Jamaica Avenue shortly before 2 p.m. when the man attacked them from behind, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said.

The suspect "charged at the officers with a hatchet in his hand," Bratton said. "Unprovoked and not speaking a word, the male then swung at one of the officers with a hatchet, striking his right arm. After striking that officer, the suspect continuing swinging the hatchet, striking a second officer in the head."

The metal hatchet was about 18 inches long.

Law enforcement officials identified the suspect as 32-year-old Zale Thompson.

The attack came just one day after a Canadian soldier was shot to death while on guard at the National War Memorial in Ottawa and shortly after the FBI released a memo to law enforcement warning of attacks on police officers from ISIS sympathizers.

The memo was issued by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as a Joint Intelligence Bulletin and is titled, “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and Its Supporters Encouraging Attacks Against Law Enforcement and Government Personnel.” It is labeled, “UNCLASSIFIED/FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY” and asserts that it may be exempt from the Freedom of Information Act and should not be released tot he public, the media, or anyone else not authorized by the DHS.

The document alerts US law enforcement personnel, including FBI Special Agents, to be aware of their surroundings and to monitor their families’ use of social media to “avoid revealing FBI or law enforcement affiliation.”

Terror in this case is not being ruled out and reviews of Zale's social media pages show discussion and posts favorable to terror.

Islamic State Twitter accounts also appear to be taking credit for the attack.

H/T Bill

Fast and Furious: Family of Slain Border Patrol Agent "Baffled" Obama's Executive Privilege Used to Protect Holder's Wife

Late Wednesday evening the Department of Justice turned over a list, or Vaughn Index, of Operation Fast and Furious documents being held from the American people and Congress under President Obama's assertion of executive privilege. The list was turned over after a long legal battle with government watchdog Judicial Watch. Yesterday in an initial review of the list by Judicial Watch, it was revealed Attorney General Eric Holder was involved in crafting talking points for the cover-up of the operation from within DOJ and that President Obama asserted executive privilege over emails between Holder, his wife and his mother. 

The family of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, who was murdered in the Arizona desert in December 2010 by Mexican bandits carrying guns obtained through Fast and Furious, is baffled that the President would use his executive authority to protect Holder's wife and is disappointed with the continuing lack of transparency from DOJ and the White House.

"We are shocked that some of these Vaughn Index documents show that Attorney General Holder was personally involved in crafting talking points and helping his office in responding to the Congressional inquiry into Operation Fast and Furious from very early on. We are baffled that personal emails from the Attorney General to his wife and mother are part of the information covered by the President's claim of Executive Privilege," Terry family spokesman Ralph Terry said in a statement. 

"Furthermore, we are incredibly saddened that even after the death of Brian Terry and four years after Operation Fast and Furious was put to an end, the weapons of Operation Fast and Furious continue to appear and present a clear danger to the public. The Administration continues to show no remorse for their actions in Operation Fast and Furious. The Department of Justice continues to engage in deceptive measures that are designed to cover up the links between multiple acts of violence and the guns that were allowed to be bought by straw buyers and ultimately delivered to some of the most violent criminals in North America," Terry continued. "As evidenced by the weapon recovered in Phoenix, the Attorney General has once again failed to inform Congress and the American people that the weapons from the botched gun trafficking program put into place by ATF and former U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke continue to injure and maim American citizens. We urge President Obama to cooperate with Congress and to release the thousands of documents outlined in the Vaughn Index. Americans deserve the truth and deserve transparency from their government in this matter."

Terry is referring to a 2013 gang-shootout at a Phoenix apartment complex that left two men injured. An AK-47 recovered at the scene was obtained through Fast and Furious and used to carry out the crime. The connection between the incident and Fast and Furious was not disclosed to Congress by DOJ until after a Judicial Watch freedom of information lawsuit against the City of Phoenix was issued and details about where the guns in the incident came from were reveled. 

The Vaughn Index is more than 1300 pages long and the documents being withheld from Congress and the American people under President Obama's executive privilege total more than 15,000 pages. A federal judge is currently presiding over a lawsuit from the House Oversight Committee that questions whether Obama's assertion of privilege is valid in this case.

Shaheen: Obama's Too "Busy" to Campaign For Me

Concord, NH – Although tonight’s debate was closed to the public – i.e., there was no live television studio audience – one thing was clear from being on the ground in New Hampshire: Unlike two nights ago, Scott Brown fans were there and energized. It may be hard to see, but one Brown supporter (below in the red rain jacket) was wielding a microphone, leading “Go Scott Go” chants hours before the cameras rolled.

Computer Hope

In the background, you can see where the debate is being held (alas, I did not gain access myself), and to the far left (not shown) is where Team Shaheen supporters gathered. My sense is that there were actually more Brown supporters at the venue tonight than Shaheen supporters, but since (again) the debate was closed to the public, it should be noted that most people planned to watch the debate from home. Indeed, one of the security guards told me most of the journalists from the major New Hampshire newspapers weren’t even bothering to show up.

In any case, tonight’s debate was markedly different from two nights ago. Perhaps because there was no studio audience, both candidates seemed more subdued and less inclined to go on the attack. I also think Sen. Shaheen stumbled a bit. For example, the moderator, Wolf Blitzer, asked her if she wanted President Obama to come campaign for her. This is what she said:

She also said she was “proud” of her partisan record.

Still, Blitzer didn’t let Brown off the hook, either. For instance, while he routinely says on the campaign trail his opponent votes with the president “99 percent of the time,” Blitzer confronted him with the unsavory fact that during his last year in Washington, he voted…78 percent of the time with President Obama. This was a clever question that undercut one of the most widely-touted themes of his campaign – namely, that he was once the most bipartisan senator in Washington.

Interestingly, the candidates spent the first 15 minutes of the debate talking about either Ebola or ISIS. This was a bit surprising. They also discussed immigration, border security, the minimum wage, and jobs and the economy. On these issues, I cannot remember anything memorable happening. They both did well.

For what it's worth, the candidates will debate one more time before Granite Staters head to the polls. But I'll leave you with this, which gives some indication of who the winner was:

NEC Poll: Brown: 48; Shaheen: 47

Concord, NH -- I rounded up. Below are the exact percentages among registered likely voters:

The race is a coin flip, although each candidate has something to feel good about. Without leaners, Shaheen is locking up 88 percent of Democrats (Brown is only capturing 80 percent of Republicans) while the president’s approval rating is surprisingly above water (48/47). (The survey below suggests the latter statistic is an outlier. It's also inconsistent with other polls we've seen). Brown, on the other hand, is capturing independents (49/44) and men (50/46). He’s also only losing female voters by four percentage points (45/49).

Meanwhile, CNN/ORC’s freshly-released survey is equally interesting if contradictory. Among likely voters, the top-line number shows Shaheen barely edging Brown (49/47). In this poll, however, the president fares much worse. His job approval rating is upside down (39/57) -- although Sen. Shaheen is viewed slightly more favorably (52/45) than her opponent (48/50). Unlike the survey above, though, she holds a double-digit lead among female voters (54/44).

Bottom line: These polls indicate there is no front-runner. That being said, both polls were conducted before Tuesday night’s television debate. And there are two more. Speaking of which, I'll be attending the second one this evening at the University of New Hampshire. Politico has the details:

Shaheen and Brown will debate tonight on NH1, the new cable news station in the state, at 7 p.m. EDT. The debate, which will be co-moderated by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer and NH1’s Paul Steinhauser, will also air on CNN across the country on tape delay at 11 p.m.

Federal Judge Deals Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn Ethics Blow

Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn was dealt an ethics blow by a federal judge this week, just 12 days before Election Day. 

The judge granted a request to appoint a monitor to oversee hiring practices at the Department of Transportation in Illinois after allegations that the Quinn administration put politics above job qualifications when filling positions. 

The Chicago Tribune reports:

The transportation agency came under fire in April after Chicago attorney Michael Shakman, who has long crusaded against patronage, argued the Quinn administration was filling positions based on political considerations rather than job qualifications.

A subsequent report by the state Executive Inspector General Ricardo Meza outlined how Quinn had failed to rein in patronage abuses at IDOT after replacing ousted ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Meza maintained hundreds of people were hired into so-called "staff assistant" positions without having to go through strict personnel procedures under rules designed to keep politics out of most state hiring.

Quinn fired 58 people hired into staff assistant jobs, but decided to keep another 103. Attorneys for his office have argued a court monitor was not needed because reforms were put into place following the inspector general's report, contending the ethics watchdog acts as an independent watchdog.

Shakman argued the changes amounted to little more than public relations, and questioned the thoroughness of the inspector general report.

Republican challenger Bruce Rauner has been hitting Quinn on ethics issues for months now, so this will certainly help validate those attacks.

"A federal judge in Chicago confirmed what we’ve known all along – Pat Quinn is a phony reformer who can't be trusted to clean up state government," a Rauner campaign email stated. 

It will be interesting to see how much, if at all, this ethics blow will affect Quinn at the ballot box, especially because the race is a toss up right now.

PPP: Hagan Up 3 Over Tillis, Race Still A Toss-Up

A new PPP poll has Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan up 3 points over her Republican challenger Thom Tillis. Wait; didn’t Tillis say that Hagan is going to lose on Nov. 4? Did they not smell “victory in the air?”

Everyone, relax. As Tillis told Townhall, single digits in North Carolina decide races–and his campaign officials said that the Tar Heel state has a history of races breaking late. On Teusday night, there was another Senate debate, with one notable exception: Kay Hagan was absent. So, with two weeks out from Election Day, Thom Tillis had a solid hour to make a final argument with North Carolina voters in a race that’s virtually tied; reasons that MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow mentioned in her rant against Hagan for skipping the debate.

My colleague Guy Benson had this zinger last night.

So, how does the poll breakdown? First, it’s a D+7 poll. Second, it’s not shocking where the bases of support for Hagan and Tillis comes from in this race [emphasis mine]:

Hagan is up 49/37 with women, 85/4 with African Americans, and 61/27 with young voters. Meanwhile Tillis is up 49/42 with men, 55/34 with white voters, and 54/37 with seniors. Tillis is ahead 43/38 with independents but in an unusual finding for North Carolina politics, Hagan is getting the same share of the Democratic vote (81%) that Tillis getting of the Republican vote and if you do that as a Democrat in North Carolina you're generally going to win given the party's voter registration advantage in the state.

There’s also a question of how strong the evangelical vote will turn out this year. They’re one-third of North Carolina’s electorate, but this bloc of voters is difficult to poll. Yet, there are other positive indicators.

Education has been the Achilles heel of the Tillis campaign; a point even his own staff has admitted in private, but they are hoping this line of attack from Hagan and national Democrats has hit a ceiling with voters, according to the Washington Examiner.

As reported here at Townhall, foreign affairs has played a crucial role is shifting the debate away from Hagan’s “sins of Raleigh” strategy, even admitting to skipping an Armed Services hearing to attend a fundraiser last February. There are also questions relating to allegations that her family profited from stimulus cash injections they received for their business; questions that would have inevitably come up if she had attended last night’s debate.

But let’s not forget the Obama factor. Despite red state Democrats trying to run away from him, Obama keeps spoiling that narrative by saying his policies are on the ballot this November–and that they all support his agenda.

Tillis’ campaign manager, Jordan Shaw, sent out this memo as to why Hagan would skip the debate last night:

• On Friday, Sen. Hagan flip-flopped on implementing a travel ban from Ebola-inflicted countries. While Thom was one of the first Senate candidates in the nation to call for a travel ban, Sen. Hagan equivocated on the issue for weeks, even criticizing the idea of a ban at times, all while praising President Obama and the CDC for their “great guidance” in addressing Ebola.

• At the October 7th debate hosted by the N.C. Association of Broadcasters, Hagan couldn’t name a single instance where she regretted supporting President Obama’s policies, which she has done 96 percent of the time. Following the debate, Hagan admitted that she skipped a classified Armed Services Committee hearing on ISIS to attend a cocktail fundraiser in New York City, but has thus far refused to tell journalists why she chose to do so.

• At the October 9th debate hosted by WECT, Hagan struggled to answer questions about her family’s $390,000 stimulus payday, insisting that she consulted a lawyer who deemed taking the taxpayer money was “appropriate” even though Hagan was directly benefitting from legislation she voted for

As Tillis told Townhall, he knew he wouldn’t be leading in the polls during the summer, but he’s seeing a shift in direction towards him with undecided voters who may decide this election. Right now, Hagan and Tillis are garnering equal shares of the Democratic and Republican vote in North Carolina, which means this race will come down to turnout and it could be incredibly close.

Right now, both sides have eyes on early voting–and it’s not looking good for Democrats (via WaPo):

Compared to overall voter registration, Iowa and North Carolina Democrats are doing much worse than earlier in the month, and Republicans in those states much better.

How to read this: A red or blue dot above the diagonal line shows that the Republican (or, for a blue dot, Democratic) vote in the state comprises a larger percentage of the early vote than the total voter pool. A dot below the line indicates that the early vote is under-performing for that demographic. The further above or below the line the dot falls, the better or worse the group is faring. The change since the last time we did this is indicated with a line connected to the small dot at the previous percentage.

Interestingly, unaffiliated/undeclared voters are uniformly underperforming their registration numbers, perhaps in part because campaigns aren't targeting them as aggressively in the early vote process. But that puts the poor performance of Democratic campaigns in sharper relief. If unaffiliated voters are underperforming as a percentage of all of the votes that are in, one would expect the two parties to be overperforming.

But Democrats aren't. The bad news for them is clear: the extent to which the red dots are above the line and the blue dots are below it. In what we expect to be a relatively low-turnout election, Democrats would want (and really need) to leverage their generally superior turnout mechanisms to bank votes early. So far, they're getting beaten at that effort.

The bad news for Republicans is that — as we mentioned two weeks ago — these numbers can and will change quickly.

In all, Republican voters are turning out at higher rates–and that's not good news for Kay Hagan.

Editors note: Upon reviewing the North Carolina Board Of Elections website, in-person early voting began today.  We tried contacting the the board of elections multiple times, but high caller volume prevented us from getting a clarification on the early voting numbers from the Washington Post piece.  It's probably a calculation of the absentee ballots, but we will keep you updated on this matter.  

Poll: Cotton Way Up in AR

By eight percentage points, to be exact, if this poll is to be taken seriously. Last summer, when Talk Business and Politics, along with Hendrix College, conducted and released their last joint survey, Cotton’s lead was small (44/42). Now, however, he’s on much firmer footing (49/41) and “poised” to unseat Democratic incumbent Sen. Mark Pryor on Nov. 4th.

“As early voting begins and candidates begin their homestretch run, Cong. Cotton is poised to knock off Sen. Pryor barring any major disasters,” Talk Business & Politics Editor-in-Chief Roby Brock said in a statement. “I do think this race tightens, however, as Democrats are pushing for a massive get-out-the-vote effort among newly registered and dormant voters. How big that impact will be is anyone’s guess. It’s complicated and nearly impossible to accurately poll that universe."

Nevertheless, Cotton is currently winning male voters (55/37) and female voters (although, according to the pollsters, his lead among the latter demographic “is small”), independents (59/28), and seniors (51/42). For these reasons, he’s opened up an enormous lead.

But can Pryor close it?

“Moving into early voting, our survey says advantage Cotton,” Dr. Jay Barth argued in his analysis after reviewing the findings. “For Pryor to close the gap, a monstrous and effectively targeted turnout operation and the entrance of large numbers of new registrants into the fold are both essential.”

Boosting turnout, in other words, could save him -- or at least make the race more competitive. But as things currently stand, he's in trouble.

BREAKING: Judicial Watch Obtains List of Fast and Furious Documents Held Under Obama's Executive Privilege

Late last night the Department of Justice complied with a court order and turned over a list to government watchdog Judicial Watch , known as a Vaughn Index, of Fast and Furious documents being held from Congress and the American people under President Obama's assertion of executive privilege. Not surprisingly, DOJ failed to fully comply with the requirements of providing a Vaughn Index. 

The Vaughn index explains 15,662 documents. Typically, a Vaughn index must: (1) identify each record withheld; (2) state the statutory exemption claimed; and (3) explain how disclosure would damage the interests protected by the claimed exemption. The Vaughn index arguably fails to provide all of this required information but does provide plenty of interesting information for a public kept in the dark for years about the Fast and Furious scandal.

Regardless, the list of documents shows Obama asserted executive privilege to protect Attorney General Eric Holder's wife and to protect information showing Holder helped to craft talking points during the fallout of the scandal. What a preliminary review of Vaughn Index by Judicial Watch shows: 

Numerous emails that detail Attorney General Holder’s direct involvement in crafting talking points, the timing of public disclosures, and handling Congressional inquiries in the Fast and Furious matter.

President Obama has asserted executive privilege over nearly 20 email communications between Holder and his spouse Sharon Malone. The administration also claims that the records are also subject to withholding under the “deliberative process” exemption. This exemption ordinarily exempts from public disclosure records that could chill internal government deliberations.

Numerous entries detail DOJ’s communications (including those of Eric Holder) concerning the White House about Fast and Furious.

The scandal required the attention of virtually every top official of the DOJ and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF). Communications to and from the United States Ambassador to Mexico about the Fast and Furious matter are also described.

Many of the records are already publicly available such as letters from Congress, press clips, and typical agency communications. Ordinarily, these records would, in whole or part, be subject to disclosure under the Freedom of Information Act. Few of the records seem to even implicate presidential decision-making and advice that might be subject to President Obama’s broad and unprecedented executive privilege claim.

Keep in mind the White House has denied any involvement with Operation Fast and Furious when it was active between 2009 and 2010. The documents described in this list indicate otherwise. Further, former White House National Security Advisor Kevin O'Reilly was in contact with former ATF Special Agent in Charge of the Phoenix Field Division William Newell about the details of the operation. Previous reporting shows at least three White House officials were aware of or involved in the operation despite denials after Congressional inquiries about the scandal. 

The emails Judicial Watch describes as showing Holder being directly involved "in crafting talking points, the timing of public disclosures, and handling Congressional inquiries in the Fast and Furious matter" only further solidify his role in the cover-up of the operation. As for Holder's wife Sharon Malone being involved, this is the first time her name has come up throughout the course of the Fast and Furious scandal. His mother hasn't been mentioned before, either. 

Notably, the document discloses that emails between Attorney General Holder and his wife Sharon Malone – as well as his mother – are being withheld under an extraordinary claim of executive privilege as well as a dubious claim of deliberative process privilege under the Freedom of Information Act. The “First Lady of the Justice Department” is a physician and not a government employee.

“This document provides key information about the cover-up of Fast and Furious by Attorney General Eric Holder and other high-level officials of the Obama administration. Obama’s executive privilege claims over these records are a fraud and an abuse of his office. There is no precedent for President Obama’s Nixonian assertion of executive privilege over these ordinary government agency records. Americans will be astonished that Obama asserted executive privilege over Eric Holder’s emails to his wife about Fast and Furious," Judicial Watch President Tom Fitton said in a statement. “Once again, Judicial Watch has proven itself more effective than Congress and the establishment media in providing basic oversight of this out-of-control Administration. This Fast and Furious document provides dozens of leads for further congressional, media, and even criminal investigations.”

After more than a year of stonewalling and a lawsuit from Judicial Watch, DOJ attorneys asked for an extension until November 3, the day before the midterm elections, to turn of the list explaining more than 15,000 documents. That request was denied.

President Obama asserted executive privilege over thousands of Fast and Furious documents just moments before Holder was held in contempt of Congress by the House Oversight Committee in June 2012. That same month, Republicans and Democrats in the House voted Holder in civil and criminal contempt of Congress. Holder is the first sitting cabinet member in U.S. history to be held in contempt of Congress. After six years at the Department of Justice, Holder submitted his resignation to President Obama in September, but will stay in his position until a new Attorney General is confirmed after the midterm elections.

This post has been updated with additional information. 

CNN Makes a Mockery of the Worst Moment of Bristol Palin’s Life, She Responds

Bristol Palin was pushed to the ground. She was dragged across the grass. She was called a “slut.” She was robbed.

CNN’s Carol Costello thought that was hilarious.

In what was perhaps the worst moment of Bristol’s life, the media treated her as a laughingstock. Outlets couldn’t wait to report on the “Palin family brawl” or the “thrilla in Wasilla” that occurred at a party in Anchorage, Alaska, and turn it into a TMZ segment. Heck, it was probably even on the verge of becoming a Saturday Night Live skit. MSNBC’s Joy Reid referred to it as a “stunt” and said John McCain should apologize for putting Sarah Palin on the ballot in 2008. But, the worst “report” of all, had to be this insensitive segment from CNN’s Costello.

CNN obtained the audio from the unfortunate incident. In the clip, an exhausted and shaken Bristol describes how a stranger pushed her sister Willow, then assaulted her. To make matters worse, Bristol had her five-year-old son Tripp in the car and she was clearly concerned for his safety as well. It is this audio clip that Costella told her viewers to “sit back and enjoy:”

When the Ray Rice scandal broke and that terrifying video surfaced of the football player knocking his fiancé to the ground and dragging her out of an elevator, Costello slammed Fox News for supposedly making light of it. She also made sure to inform her viewers about the very real dangers of domestic assault. Here she is reading off a few statistics, for instance, that 1 in 4 women experience domestic violence and women 20 to 24-years-old are at greatest risk.

Fast forward a month later, Costello is openly mocking Bristol Palin for…being a victim of physical assault. You’d think she’d change her mind about making jokes about the encounter after listening to the troubling clip, but at the end, she merely says, “You can thank me later.”

Shame on Costello and her fellow media outlets for taking a horrible moment in Bristol’s life and turning it into a farce. Bristol and her family were in serious danger. You can hear the terror in Bristol’s voice when she’s speaking to the police.

It is for this reason that Bristol decided to respond to the media on her blog and share the real story: She and her sister Willow were brutally attacked and Bristol only “took a swing” at the attacker to defend herself. In a separate post, she asked how anyone could be so cruel as to call the disturbing police clip (which she refuses to ever listen to) as the "best audio" they've ever heard in their life? Bristol also wasn’t afraid to pinpoint the reason why the media is treating the incident so lightly: they are biased against conservative women.

Thankfully, we have journalists like the Daily Caller's Matt Lewis who are willing to go on TV and shame the media. Kudos to some media for admitting their mistakes as well, like Morning Joe’s Mika Brzezinski, who acknowledged the show had initially reported the story with a humorous tone.

Costello has yet to apologize.

UPDATE: She just did.

Obama: We Need Michelle Nunn to Win So The Democrat Senate Can Advance My Agenda

Over the past few weeks Democrats have expressed great frustration with the White House and President Obama's desperate attempts to tie himself to vulnerable candidates. Democrats have done everything possible to distance themselves from President Obama, whose 60 percent disapproval rating among voters is proving toxic. Candidates don't want Obama campaigning for them and won't even admit to voting for him in 2008 or 2012 when asked by reporters. 

Democrats are running from Obama's agenda just ahead of the midterm elections and the President is chasing them. 

First, during a speech at Northwestern University President Obama said his agenda is absolutely on the ballot for the midterms as Democrats have desperately tried to argue this election isn't about him. Then Obama said on Al Sharpton's radio program that "the bottom line is" vulnerable Democrats support his agenda and have repeatedly voted for it. And most recently, President Obama said during an interview earlier this week on Atlanta's Ryan Cameron Morning Show it is crucial Democrat Senate Candidate Michelle Nunn win her race against Republican David Purdue so "good work" and his agenda can continue in Washington with a Democrat majority and Harry Reid at the helm.

"If Michelle Nunn wins that means Democrats keep control of the Senate and that means that we can keep on doing some good work and so it is critically important to make sure folks vote," Obama said.

If Democrats keeping the Senate depends on keeping President Obama at a distance, then why is Obama continually inserting himself into places where he is not welcome? Over to you, Lou Dobbs.

"How much punishment can a practicing narcissist suffer?" 

President Obama, just leave the Democrats alone!

Report: WH Lied About Releasing Illegal Immigrants Charged With Violent Crimes


Rewind the tape to February of 2013, when the Obama administration was ramping up its machinations to make the federal government run as poorly as possible in order to terrify the public about the looming (microscopic) sequester cuts -- which were, we'll remind you, President Obama's own idea.  The plan was to make the "consequences" of sequestration as unavoidable and unpalatable as possible --  deliberately at the expense of responsible, priorities-oriented governance.  The White House's cynical ploy faltered, as they failed to fool most Americans, and as fact-checkers took them to task for their intentional, endless mendacity.  The sequester went into effect, and the earth did not implode.  But don't say they didn't try.  Team Obama was earnestly committed to hurting as many people as possible as a means of turning voters against the concept of fiscal responsibility. One of their most reckless gambits over the course of their calculated 'parade of horribles' was the mass release of hundreds of illegal immigrants being detained for various reasons.  The federal government couldn't afford to hold them any longer, we were informed at the time, thanks to those "draconian" budget cuts:

Federal immigration officials have released hundreds of detainees from detention centers around the country in recent days in a highly unusual effort to save money as automatic budget cuts loom in Washington, officials said Tuesday. The government has not dropped the deportation cases against the immigrants, however. The detainees have been freed on supervised release while their cases continue in court, officials said. But the decision angered many Republicans, including Representative Robert W. Goodlatte of Virginia, who said the releases were a political gambit by the Obama administration that undermined the continuing negotiations over comprehensive immigration reform and jeopardized public safety...A spokeswoman for Immigration and Customs Enforcement, or ICE, an arm of the Department of Homeland Security, said the detainees selected for release were “noncriminals and other low-risk offenders who do not have serious criminal histories.” Officials said the releases, which began last week and continued on Tuesday, were a response to the possibility of automatic governmentwide budget cuts, known as sequestration, which are scheduled to take effect on Friday.

We're not endangering public safety, the administration insisted.  We're only releasing non-violent illegal immigrant detainees.  And we're doing it because of these tiny budget cuts, Congress.  So take the hint, and cancel the cuts.  (Lord knows there wasn't any federal fat to trim that didn't involve flinging open jail doors).  Well, USA Today has been digging into this episode and has gathered proof that the administration lied.  Surprise:

New records contradict the Obama administration's assurances to Congress and the public that the 2,200 people it freed from immigration jails last year to save money had only minor criminal records. The records, obtained by USA TODAY, show immigration officials released some undocumented immigrants who had faced far more serious criminal charges, including people charged with kidnapping, sexual assault, drug trafficking and homicide. The release sparked a furor in Congress. Republican lawmakers accused the Obama administration of setting dangerous criminals free. In response, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement said it had released "low-risk offenders who do not have serious criminal records," a claim the administration repeated to the public and to members of Congress. The new records, including spreadsheets and hundreds of pages of e-mails, offer the most detailed information yet about the people ICE freed as it prepared for steep, across-the-government spending cuts in February 2013. They show that although two-thirds of the people who were freed had no criminal records, several had been arrested or convicted on charges more severe than the administration had disclosed. ICE spokeswoman Gillian Christensen acknowledged the discrepancy. She said "discretionary releases made by ICE were of low-level offenders. However, the releases involving individuals with more significant criminal histories were, by and large, dictated by special circumstances outside of the agency's control."


Uh huh.  And what, pray tell, were those "special circumstances"?  And who was calling those shots?  The story reminds readers of the extent of the administration's deceit:

In hearings last year, Republican lawmakers pressed then-ICE Director John Morton for specifics on the criminal records of the people the agency had freed. At one, Rep. J. Randy Forbes, R-Va., asked Morton directly, "No one on that list has been charged or convicted with murder, rape or sexual abuse of a minor, were they?" Morton answered, "They were not." He told lawmakers that, to his knowledge, none had faced child pornography charges. White House spokesman Jay Carney similarly described them as "low-risk, non-criminal detainees." A spreadsheet ICE officials prepared listing the detainees includes one person in Texas charged with aggravated kidnapping and sexually assaulting a child, as well as others charged with armed assaults or assaulting police officers. Another immigrant released from Miami had been charged with conspiracy to commit homicide. Two detainees from Boston had been charged with aggravated assault using a weapon. One in Denver had a sexual assault charge. 

To review: The Obama administration opposed its own budget cuts, so they bent over backwards to dream up ways of making those reductions as visible as possible, packing as much sting as possible.  So they cut loose thousands of detained illegal immigrants, while carefully assuring the public that those released were "low risk non-criminals."  That detail was important, they reckoned, because releasing violent criminals of any sort, let alone illegal immigrants, would create a backlash that might complicate their scare tactics.  But they did release violent criminals, and they lied about it.  Then again, simply releasing thousands of illegal immigrants with criminal records is par for the course; you're just not supposed to know about it.  The most transparent administration in history has gone to extraordinary lengths to conceal pertinent immigration statistics from inquiring journalists, opting instead to share the information with allied immigration activists.  Between this revelation, this disgraceful performance, and Harry Reid's breathtaking irresponsibility regarding the unaccompanied minor border crisis, Democrats are showing themselves to be the veritable definition of bad faith actors as it pertains to immigration reform.  That's why many of us who are at least theoretically in favor of a legislative package to addresses our broken system have become jaded.  Democrats and the Obama administration cannot be trusted to enforce the law or tell the truth.  Working with them to "solve" this problem is quixotic, as they clearly have no intention of solving anything.