Matt Vespa - Hagan Can't Say If Obama Is A Strong Leader
Posted: 10/24/2014 4:45:00 PM EST

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.

Katie Pavlich - Bombshell: Valerie Jarrett Helped Manage Fallout Over Eric Holder's Changing Fast and Furious Testimony to Congress
Posted: 10/24/2014 2:55:00 PM EST

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. 

Sarah Jean Seman - First Lady Gives Shout-out To Mark Udall for Obama Accomplishments
Posted: 10/24/2014 2:45:00 PM EST

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.

Katie Pavlich - White House: Ask DOJ About What's in The Fast and Furious Documents Covered By Obama's Executive Privilege
Posted: 10/24/2014 2:30:00 PM EST

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.

Cortney O'Brien - Sen. Begich: “The President’s Not Relevant”
Posted: 10/24/2014 2:00:00 PM EST

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.

Katie Pavlich - Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Against IRS From Targeted Group True the Vote; Tea Party Outraged
Posted: 10/24/2014 1:30:00 PM EST

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. 

Cortney O'Brien - De Blasio’s Warning: 'Do Not Hesitate to Call 911 if You Have Symptoms'
Posted: 10/24/2014 1:00:00 PM EST

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.

Greg Hengler - Islamic Terror In Canada: Obama Yawns, Sends A Shout-Out
Posted: 10/24/2014 12:57:00 PM EST

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.

Daniel Doherty - Shocking Poll: Republican Charlie Baker Up 9 MA?
Posted: 10/24/2014 11:30:00 AM EST

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.

Katie Pavlich - Enhanced Airport Screenings For Ebola Don't Work
Posted: 10/24/2014 11:15:00 AM EST

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.