tipsheet
Christine Rousselle - Afroman Remixes "Because I Got High" To Support Marijuana Legalization
Posted: 10/19/2014 7:01:00 PM EST

Rapper Afroman released his song "Because I Got High" in 2001. The song's lyrics were a comedic take about how marijuana use had negatively impacted his life (ex: "I was gonna go to class, but then I got high"). Last week, however, Afroman, NORML, and the website Weedmaps released a "positive remix" of the song, this time detailing how marijuana use can actually in fact improve the quality of one's life.

The song touts the benefits of marijuana use for people suffering from glaucoma and anxiety, as well as not having to buy marijuana from "gangbangers shooting craps" if the drug were to be legalized. Afroman also pointed out in the song that alcohol and prescription drugs, which are both legal and commonplace, have many more side effects than marijuana use.

Alaska, Oregon, and the District of Columbia are voting to legalize the recreational use of marijuana this November. Polls show that the measures have solid leads in Oregon and the District of Columbia.

Regardless of what you may think about marijuana, Afroman makes very interesting points when comparing marijuana to prescription pills, Xanax, and alcohol. It makes no sense that children (some as young as three) are regularly given Adderall, an amphetamine, while marijuana remains illegal. The United States needs sensible drug laws.

Sarah Jean Seman - Only 15 Percent of Americans Believe We Are Winning the War Against ISIS
Posted: 10/19/2014 5:00:00 PM EST

A mere 15 percent of Americans believe that the United States and its allies are winning the war against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, according to a recent Rasmussen Reports poll. Almost three times as many Americans (42 percent) consider ISIS to have the upper-hand.

President Obama presented a four-point plan to defeat the terrorist group during a speech on Sept. 10. His plan consisted of: 1). Airstrikes. 2). The addition of 475 servicemen to Iraq. 3). Cutting off funding to ISIS and strengthening U.S. counterintelligence programs. 4). Intensify humanitarian aide to innocent civilians.

U.S. Central Command officials have named the military efforts against ISIS: ‘Operation Inherent Resolve.’ A selection which some defense officials at the Pentagon found uninspiring and ‘kind of bleh,’ according to the Wall Street Journal.

Central Command officials, however, claimed that the name was intended to signify the use of “all available dimensions of national power necessary,” and to show:

“the unwavering resolve and deep commitment of the U.S. and partner nations in the region and around the globe to eliminate the terrorist group ISIL and the threat they pose to Iraq, the region and the wider international community.”

Seventy-eight percent of Americans believe that, in the end, the United States will be forced to send combat troops into Iraq to defeat the jihadist organization.

Leah Barkoukis - DWS: Dems Will Hold the Senate
Posted: 10/19/2014 2:25:00 PM EST

With the midterm elections just weeks away, DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz seemed confident during her appearance on “Fox News Sunday” that Democrats will keep the Senate.

“We are going to hold the Senate,” the Florida lawmaker said. “The president is not on the ballot.”

“Republicans are desperate to put him on the ballot because they’re trying to turn away from their own terrible record,” she added.

She made her prediction amid a majority of polls that give Republicans at least a 60 percent chance of retaking the upper chamber, including a Washington Post forecast that gives the GOP a 93 percent chance.

Republicans need to win a net total of six seats to take the Senate.

Wasserman-Schultz also argued Democrats will keep control of the chamber because Republicans have let down Americas by taking away their health care and opposing minimum-wage increases.

While DWS is correct that Obama is not on the ballot, his policies certainly are—every single one, in fact.

“The one question that voters are going to ask themselves, Chris, is who has my back?” Wasserman Schultz said to host Chris Wallace.

“The President hasn't had anybody's back,” RNC Chairman Reince Priebus countered. “He [hasn’t] even had your back."

Ouch.

Cortney O'Brien - NY Gun Registry Deems Almost 35,000 People Too Mentally Ill To Carry a Gun
Posted: 10/19/2014 12:00:00 PM EST

A new figure out of New York shows that the state has deemed 34,500 people too mentally ill to carry a firearm. While any responsible citizen would argue a dangerous and mentally unstable person should not be wielding a gun, some mental health advocates are arguing the number is far too high:

“That seems extraordinarily high to me,” said Sam Tsemberis, a former director of New York City’s involuntary hospitalization program for homeless and dangerous people, now the chief executive of Pathways to Housing, which provides housing to the mentally ill. “Assumed dangerousness is a far cry from actual dangerousness.”

The Office of Mental Health pointed out that 144,000 people were hospitalized in New York in 2012 for mental illness, trying to justify the gun registry's seemingly high number. Yet, other health professionals argue the majority of those cases are not violent.

Mental health advocates aren't the only ones frustrated with this statistic. This new report gives New York's gun owners another reason to be fed up with the SAFE Act, the gun restricting legislation that Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law shortly after the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012. While the liberal governor may have thought he was keeping New Yorkers "safe," one of the law's aims has seemed to be to convince gun owners they belong in the slammer. The legislation, which banned the sale of AR-15s and upgraded previous misdemeanors into felonies, resulted in over 1,200 felonies last year. Others point out that the law has not managed to stop any mass shootings this year.

Gun control activists would counter by arguing that the law is not overly cautious if it manages to keep a firearm out of the hands of people who do not have full control of their mental state.

What do you think? Is it worth it if one dangerously mentally ill person is kept away from a gun, or is this registry too restrictive of New Yorkers' Second Amendment rights?

Kevin Glass - Greg Orman: Talking About Abortion "Prevents Us From Talking About Other Important Issues"
Posted: 10/19/2014 9:03:00 AM EST
In this week's Kansas Senate debate between Greg Orman and incumbent Sen. Pat Roberts, the moderator asked the two about ultrasound laws. Independent candidate Greg Orman (there is no Democrat running in the race) discussed abortion by saying he doesn't want to discuss it:

Orman: I think we spend a whole lot of time in this country talking about this issue and we have spent a lot of time over the last couple of decades talking about it. And I think it prevents us from talking about other important issues... I'm pro-choice.

Roberts responded quite emphatically, saying that he couldn't quite believe Orman wants to "get past" the rights of the unborn:

Roberts: I am pro-life. I think you said we have to get past the issue, if I am correct. Get past the rights of the unborn? Get past the guarantee of life for those at the end of life? I don’t think we can say that with any degree of conscience... it is not settled, not by a long shot. That’s why I am proud to receive the endorsement from the National Right to Life, and the Kansans for Life. They support me and I’ll tell you one thing, I do not think we ought to get past this issue.

Leah Barkoukis - Report: Obama Planning to Bring Ebola-infected Foreigners to US for Treatment
Posted: 10/18/2014 6:01:00 PM EST

Despite mounting pressure from lawmakers and the public, President Obama on Saturday said that he would not cave on the issue of imposing travel bans on West African nations.

“We can’t just cut ourselves off from West Africa,” he said in his weekly radio address. “Trying to seal off an entire region of the world—if that were even possible, could actually make the situation worse.”

If that were true, then why has nearly every African nation—plus a number of other countries (and airlines) around the world—imposed a ban or significant restrictions on the Ebola-stricken countries in West Africa? It’s simple: quarantines work. As Ann Coulter noted in her column this week, “It’s becoming increasingly clear that this is just another platform for Obama to demonstrate that we are citizens of the world.”

Indeed. Our commander in chief has even sent thousands of U.S. troops with only four hours of training to West Africa to combat the virus. The safety and security of Americans has clearly taken a backseat to the wellbeing of those overseas.

And if all this weren’t enough, a conservative watchdog group is out with a shocking new report that claims the administration is looking to bring Ebola-infected foreigners to the U.S. for treatment. Yes, you read that correctly.

Judicial Watch has learned that the Obama administration is actively formulating plans to admit Ebola-infected non-U.S. citizens into the United States for treatment. Specifically, the goal of the administration is to bring Ebola patients into the United States for treatment within the first days of diagnosis.

It is unclear who would bear the high costs of transporting and treating non-citizen Ebola patients. The plans include special waivers of laws and regulations that ban the admission of non-citizens with a communicable disease as dangerous as Ebola.

One source tells us that the Obama administration is keeping this plan secret from Congress. The source is concerned that the proposal is illegal; endangers the public health and welfare; and should require the approval of Congress.

If this plan comes to fruition, the public outcry will be deafening. The fact that the cost of this would undoubtedly fall on the backs of taxpayers is one thing, the negligence it would show for the American people is quite another.

I’ll leave you with Thomas Sowell’s take on what Obama’s actions toward the latest crisis suggest about our president:

At a minimum, it suggests that he takes his conception of himself as a citizen of the world more seriously than he takes his role as President of the United States. At worst, he may consider Americans' interests expendable in the grand scheme of things internationally. If so, this would explain a lot of his foreign policy disasters around the world, which seem inexplicable otherwise.

Those critics who have been citing Barack Obama's foreign policy fiascoes and disasters as evidence that he is incompetent may be overlooking the possibility that he has different priorities than the protection of the American people and America's interests as a nation.

This is a monstrous possibility. But no one familiar with the history of the twentieth century should consider monstrous possibilities as things to dismiss automatically. Nor should anyone who has followed Barack Obama's behavior over his lifetime, and the values that behavior reveals. […]

No one knows at this point how big the Ebola danger may turn out to be. But what we do know is that official reassurances about this and other dangers have become worthless.

Comforting, isn't it?

Daniel Doherty - AR Senate Poll: After Debates, Cotton Still Marginally Ahead
Posted: 10/18/2014 2:50:00 PM EST

The two television debates are behind us. And while I believe there were no winners, a question still remains. Did the candidates’ performances have any discernible impact on the race itself?

It's probably too early to tell; after all, given when the poll was conducted, it's likely some voters replied to the survey before the debates even started. Even so, since the candidates squared off, the needle hasn’t moved very much; Tom Cotton is still the nominal frontrunner (although his lead is much smaller than it was in the Fox News poll released last week):

Republican Congressman Tom Cotton still holds a slight lead over incumbent Democrat Mark Pryor in Arkansas’ U.S. Senate race.

The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Arkansas Voters shows Cotton with 47% of the vote to Pryor’s 44%. Four percent (4%) like some other candidate in the race, and five percent (5%) remain undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Nevertheless, Democrats are very much in it to win it and therefore busting out their secret weapon once again: Bill Clinton. “The man from Hope” will return to his native land this weekend to campaign for Pryor for three straight days; the former president will hold a series of rallies and events to bolster the prospects of his protege. Perhaps this will give Pryor the boost he needs.

Either way, Cotton's in fine shape. He’s picked up a nice endorsement, leading in the polls (see above), and crushing his opponent in the fundraising game.

But will this be enough to unseat a vulnerable Obama rubber stamp? For what it’s worth, the Cook Political Report still maintains the race is a "Toss Up.”

But it might not be for long.

Leah Barkoukis - Are ISIS Fighters Learning to Fly Jets?
Posted: 10/18/2014 12:01:00 PM EST

Not only is our current strategy against ISIS not working, according to a new report, they too may be taking the fight to the skies. Syrian Observatory for Human Rights is reporting that former Iraqi pilots who’ve joined the terror group are now training members to fly in captured Syrian fighter jets. 

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights group says some ex-Iraqi air force pilots are training members of ISIS to fly three warplanes—believed to be MiG-21 and MiG-23 jets-- captured from air bases in Syria.

The rights group reported the planes flying over the Jarrah air base in the eastern countryside of the Syrian town of Aleppo this week.

Rami Abdurrahman, director of the Observatory, said the planes have been flying at a low altitude, apparently to avoid being detected by Syrian military radar in the area.

"People saw the flights, they went up many times from the airport and they are flying in the skies outside the airport and coming back," the BBC reported Abdurrahman said.

The report, which could not be independently verified, comes as the U.S. and its allies are bombing Islamic State group bases in Syria and Iraq, where the extremists have seized large swaths of territory.

The Pentagon on Friday said it was “not aware” of any flight operations by the terror group.

"We continue to keep a close eye on (ISIS) activity in Syria and Iraq and will continue to conduct strikes against their equipment, facilities, fighters and centers of gravity, wherever they may be," U.S. Central Command spokesman Col Patrick Ryder told reporters.

"We don't have any operational reporting of (ISIS) flying jets in support of ISIS activity on the ground and so I cannot confirm that. And to the degree that pilots may have defected and joined the ranks of ISIS, I don't have any information on that either," Gen. Lloyd Austin, head of the U.S. military's Central Command, said on Friday.

Matt Vespa - As Tillis Attends State Fair, A Reminder That Elections Break Late In North Carolina
Posted: 10/18/2014 9:30:00 AM EST

This post has been updated.

The latest polls coming out of North Carolina have the race tied, or with Hagan leading her Republican challenger–Thom Tillis–by 1-point. For most of the summer, Hagan had a small 4-point lead over Tillis. With ISIS, Ebola, and international issues taking a more prominent role in the 2014 midterms, Tillis seems to have erased his deficit with Hagan–and he appears to be not letting up as the campaign approaches its final hours.

Yesterday, at the North Carolina State Fair, Tillis greeted attendees with enthusiasm. His approachability is one characteristic North Carolinian voters will find appealing. I know I’ve been saying this ad nauseum, but there’s a neo-populist wave–spawned from the ashes of the 2010 Tea Party movement–that’s forming across the country. These voters want a candidate they can relate to, who has experienced personal struggle, and overcame it. Tillis fits this narrative well.

At the same time, there seems to be a bit of campaign fatigue; this usually happens around this time as voters, especially those living in states where the race is close are bombarded with phone calls, endless streams of volunteers invading their neighborhoods, and the pervasive use of political attack ads.

A middle-aged mother by the John Deere homemade ice cream shack told me that it’s really a coin toss for her when Election Day comes; she thinks the campaigns on both sides are too negative, which is why she hasn’t been paying too close attention to either Hagan or Tillis. Another woman on the shuttle ride to the fairgrounds told me that she doesn’t like either of the candidates–and also said the overall Senate campaign had become too negative. 

Her husband declined to give his opinion on the race, opting to say that he’s only here for a corn dog.

Then again, another woman admitted that she hasn’t followed the race closely either, but will be supporting Thom Tillis on Nov. 4; hey, it’s called the base for a reason.

Overall, the Republican presence was strong at the fair. That much is clear.  Supporters for Tillis were highly visible, wearing campaign stickers across their shirts with pride; there's no voter fatigue with these troops.  The volunteers at the NC GOP booth were worried about running out of stickers before the fair ends next week.

When asked what they thought caused Hagan to lose her lead in the polls, an older gentleman wearing a Tillis sticker, along with his wife, said that the people were coming back to reality on Kay Hagan. Another man, who was with his family, said that he was a Tillis fan because he saw him as a better leader. He did voice his dissatisfaction over the negative ads being used on both sides.

Sorry guys, yes, these ads are annoying, but they work.   

Jordan Shaw, Tillis’ spokesperson and campaign manager, said that the one of the reasons why Tillis has been able to erase Hagan’s slim lead was due to Americans’ realization that this race is also about the safety and security of country. “Voters are seeing a record of failure to keep this country safe and secure on behalf on Hagan and Obama,” Shaw said.

I’m sure folks in the Tillis campaign breathed a sigh of relief given that national Democrats and Kay Hagan have slammed Tillis incessantly for his alleged $500 million in education cuts, but expect the “sins of Raleigh” approach to continue as long as the state legislature remains unpopular.

Yet, Tillis released this ad hitting Hagan and her family over allegations that they profited off stimulus money that was awarded to her husband’s company; the amount was close to $400,000.

Hagan has hit Tillis over abortion rights and Planned Parenthood. As I’m writing this post, I’ve seen at least several anti-Tillis ads of this nature, including the one linking him to the Koch brothers.

Lastly, the Democratic brand–in general–is floundering. The GOP dominates on issues of national security, but now it seems voters are trusting the Republicans more in handling the economy, the budget, and immigration.

This precipitous decline in the Obama and Democrat brands could be having an impact on Hagan’s numbers. While the GOP’s approval numbers with voters aren’t good either, the senate races that could determine who wins the majority this November happen to be in states where Romney won handily in 2012. And by handily, I mean by 10+ points or more.

Shaw noted that races in North Carolina have historically broken late–and this cycle seems to be no exception.

Wheel in the cots on Election Day; this could be a very long night in North Carolina.

Editor's note: I should have made this clarification in the original post. From the comments section, some folks pointed out that Romney won North Carolina by a slim 2 percent margin. That's true. Still, Tillis can certainly win in North Carolina, but Alaska, Louisiana, Arkansas, South Dakota, West Virginia, and Montana are looking pretty for the GOP. Iowa and Colorado are also looking like Republican pick-ups come Election Day.  Overall, Republicans are in good shape (Georgia is beginning to lean towards the Democrats, but that's for another time) heading into the final stretches of this campaign season.  


Nevertheless, the easiest road to a Republican majority in the Senate (six seats) is through North Carolina.


Kevin Glass - Biggest Labor Union Throws Support Behind "Independent" Greg Orman
Posted: 10/17/2014 6:15:00 PM EST
This week the AFL-CIO threw its considerable weight behind Democrat-turned-independent Greg Orman in his bid for U.S. Senate in Kansas. This came on the heels of a debate that was all about defining who Greg Orman really is:

The AFL-CIO will endorse Kansas Senate candidate Greg Orman, a spokesman for the labor union tells National Journal, giving the independent candidate from Kansas a last-minute lift in his race against Republican incumbent Pat Roberts.

The AFL-CIO won't run TV ads for Orman, spokesman Jeff Hauser said, but his campaign will now be incorporated into the union's extensive ground game there. The AFL-CIO had previously endorsed Kansas's Democratic Party's gubernatorial nominee, Paul Davis, who is locked into one of the country's most competitive gubernatorial contests with incumbent Republican Gov. Sam Brownback.

During Wednesday's debate, incumbent Sen. Pat Roberts repeatedly stressed that while Greg Orman may have an (I) next to his name, he also has the support of the major left-wing movement. Billionaire left-wing political activist George Soros has been involved in funding the Orman campaign. Michael Bloomberg and other prominent left-wing billionaires have chipped in to support Orman. Meanwhile, the Chamber of Commerce has come down on Pat Roberts' side.

Orman has maintained a strong lead with self-identified independent voters but Roberts has made it a central part of his campaign to convince those independents that Orman is not a centrist - he's a mainstream Democrat in disguise.