tipsheet
Matt Vespa - So, It Seems Sen. Hagan Chose A NYC Fundraiser Over A Classified Hearing On ISIS
Posted: 9/21/2014 8:15:00 PM EST

new Elon University poll found something interesting regarding the most important issue on the minds of North Carolina’s likely voters [emphasis mine]:

When asked “what is the most important issue in the United States?” many likely voters mentioned something related to international affairs or national defense. Not since 2007 has the Elon Poll found foreign affairs to be a top issue on the minds of North Carolinians. Tillis and Hagan supporters tend to differ on what is the most important issue. Hagan supporters seem to see education as the most important issue, while Tillis supporters were more likely to mention international affairs and national defense.

So far, Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan has been leading her Republican opponent, Thom Tillis, in the polls, but a recent revelation that she skipped a classified hearing on ISIS to attend a New York fundraiser may not sit well with voters (via Washington Free Beacon):

Records indicate that Sen. Kay Hagan (D., N.C.) did not attend a classified hearing that focused on the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS) due to a fundraiser that was held for her in New York City.

The issue of ISIL has been thrust into the spotlight of the race between Hagan and her Republican opponent, Thom Tillis, who accused Hagan of not doing enough to stop the terrorist group during its rise.

On the morning of Feb. 27, Hagan missed an Armed Services committee hearing that began at 9:36 in the morning.

Later that day, the subcommittee held a closed-door hearing on “current and future worldwide threats” at 2:30 p.m. The meeting was a classified continuation of an open hearing on Feb. 11 that Hagan also did not attend.

Attendance records are not made available for closed-door Senate hearings, but Hagan may have had other plans for the night of Feb. 27.

That night there was cocktail reception fundraiser for Hagan in New York City with tickets going for up to $5,200. It was scheduled to begin at 7 p.m.

Hagan’s office did not respond to multiple requests for it to clarify Hagan’s attendance at events on the day.

Yeah, talk about bad optics.

Cortney O'Brien - Texas Clinics Say Goodbye to Planned Parenthood
Posted: 9/21/2014 5:56:00 PM EST

Planned Parenthood continues to lose momentum in the state of Texas. Planned Parenthood Association of Hidalgo County, now named Access Esperanza Clinics, has ended its partnership with Planned Parenthood. Patricio C. Gonzales, CEO of Access Esperanza, explained the significant move:

"Changing our name and affiliation allows our agency to apply for state health programs and make low-cost services more available for thousands of our low-income women, men and teens," said Patricio C. Gonzales, CEO of Access Esperanza, in a letter posted on the group's website, where she added that it was "a difficult but practical solution."

In summary, renouncing its association with Planned Parenthood now gives Access Esperanza the opportunity to receive government funds.

Governor Rick Perry signed Senate Bill 7  in 2011. This law barred Planned Parenthood from receiving government assistance. In light of this legislation, Access Esperanza had to close four of its eight clinics. Statewide, the bill led to the closings of 76 clinics.

Access Esperanza's break with Planned Parenthood is evidence that Senate Bill 7 is working. While supporters claim the majority of Planned Parenthood's services are related to women's health and not reproductive services, the fact remains that the organization performs over 300,000 abortions annually and a near 12 percent of Planned Parenthood's clients get abortions. These statistics leave little to the imagination as to why pro-life legislators are trying to revoke taxpayer funding to the infamous organization. As for Access Esperanza, it has not stated whether or not it performs abortions.

Perhaps Access Esperanza's decision to be independent of Planned Parenthood is proof that the organization is being brought down a peg. Similar changes can and should be copied in other states.

Daniel Doherty - Confirmed: Most Americans Need Remedial Civics Lessons
Posted: 9/21/2014 5:00:00 PM EST

Give yourself a giant pat on the back, guys.

I hope (and trust) if you've already troubled yourself enough to read this far, then unlike two-thirds of your fellow citizens, you can honestly say with a straight face that you paid attention during social studies class.

Wednesday marked national Constitution Day, the 227th anniversary of the signing of the U.S. Constitution. But only 36 percent of Americans can actually name the three branches of government the Constitution created. That’s according to a new survey from the Annenberg Public Policy Center, and it shows a huge percentage of Americans might need to take a civics refresher course.

Only 38 percent of Americans knew the Republican Party controls the U.S. House of Representatives, while 17 percent think Democrats are still in charge. The number of people who knew Republicans were in charge has dropped 17 percent since the last time Annenberg asked, back in 2011, right after Republicans reclaimed control. An identical number, 38 percent, knows Democrats run the Senate, while 20 percent believe Republicans control the upper chamber. Only 27 percent knew it takes a two-thirds majority of the House and Senate to override a presidential veto.

Americans are thus more familiar with which political parties are in power than with which branches of government comprise our political system. Interesting. I wonder, then, how many of us also know that the "U.S. House of Representatives" and the "U.S. Senate," when taken together, make up the "U.S. Congress"?

In all seriousness, these are the kinds of results one might expect to find when polling, say, eight-year-olds. The fact that this was a national sample of adults is pretty scary.

For a nation with so many smart people in it, it’s amazing how little some of us know.

Matt Vespa - Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers Fundraises For Garcia's NH Congressional Race
Posted: 9/21/2014 4:15:00 PM EST

New Hampshire State Rep. Marilinda Garcia's congressional campaign is expected to get a boost from Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, who is projected to raise at least $500,000 for 10 Republican women running for office this year (via Politico):

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers is flexing her fundraising muscles for nearly 10 GOP female candidates.

McMorris Rodgers, the GOP Conference chairwoman, is expected to raise more than $500,000 for the congressional hopefuls Tuesday at the American Trucking Associations townhouse. Republican Reps. Ann Wagner of Missouri, Diane Black of Tennessee and Renee Ellmers of North Carolina also played key roles in putting together the event, according to a source. House Republican Conference Vice Chairwoman Lynn Jenkins of Kansas, GOP Conference Secretary Virginia Foxx of North Carolina, Ellmers and Rep. Martha Roby (R-Ala.) are listed as hosts on the invitation.

The contributions will go to top candidates, including Barbara Comstock of Virginia, Elise Stefanik of New York, Mimi Walters of California and Marilinda Garcia of New Hampshire. Nan Hayworth of New York, Mia Love of Utah, Martha McSally and Wendy Rogers of Arizona, Mariannette Miller-Meeks of Iowa and Darlene Senger of Illinois will also be recipients of the fundraiser.

In the meantime, State Rep. Garcia is still waiting for her Democratic opponent, incumbent Congresswoman Ann Kuster, to respond to her invitation to a town hall event. If Rep. Kuster agrees, it will be the first town hall event with her constituents since she took office in 2013.

Recently, Rep. Kuster sent out this email, which included a survey asking her supporters what issues matter most to them; something that could have been gauged at a town hall event.

Friend --

Since day one, I've been listening to the needs, concerns and desires of the people who elected me to represent them.

Our campaign is about you, that is why I wanted to take a moment to ask what matters most to you. It doesn’t matter if it’s cutting through the gridlock in Washington, standing up for woman’s rights or even raising the minimum wage, I want to know what issues you care about.

Can you click here to take our one question survey?

Thanks for standing with us,

Annie 

Christine Rousselle - Climate Change Demonstrators Hold Rallies Across the World
Posted: 9/21/2014 3:05:00 PM EST

Thousands of people, including actors and politicians, marched today in cities across the world to encourage world leaders to take greater action on the issue of climate change. The United Nations Climate Summit is set to begin in two days.

From AP:

The march was one of a series of events large and small held around the world — organizers said 40,000 marchers took part in an event in London, while a small gathering in Cairo featured 50-foot art piece representing wind and solar energy — two days before the United Nations Climate Summit. More than 120 world leaders will convene Tuesday for the meeting aimed at galvanizing political will for a new global climate treaty by the end of 2015.

The New York march drew people from all over the country. A contingent from Moore, Oklahoma — where a massive tornado killed 24 last year— took part, as did hundreds of New Yorkers affected by Superstorm Sandy, which the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the British meteorological office said was made more likely by climate change.

While I'm not here to argue about the legitimacy of climate change and will agree that people should be environmentally conscious, some of the people at the march in NYC were a smidge hypocritical.

For instance, Katie noticed this gem:

...and The New York Times included the following quote in their piece about the marches (emphasis added):

Participants from across the country began arriving early on Sunday morningat the staging area near the American Museum of Natural History. Rosemary Snow, 75, stretched her legs after a nearly 14-hour bus drive from Georgia.

“I thought we’d have a lot of younger people on the bus,” said Ms. Snow, who made the trip with her grandson. “There’s a really great mix of people.”

While it's possible that Snow came to New York City on a hybrid-powered (or some other "green" fueled) bus, regardless, a bus isn't the most fuel-efficient vehicle. Is it really that environmentally friendly to go on a 28-hour round-trip bus ride to protest climate change?

I'll leave you with this:

Kevin Glass - Kansas Supreme Court May Swing KS Senate Race
Posted: 9/21/2014 8:23:00 AM EST
The national Democratic Party was celebrating this week after a ruling from the Kansas Supreme Court will allow the Democratic Party to remove its candidate from the race to represent Kansas in the U.S. Senate.

Chad Taylor, the Democratic Party nominee, is withdrawing from the race because of pressure from Democrats. Greg Orman, an "independent" candidate who has been a Democrat for his whole life, will for the time being be opposing incumbent Republican Sen. Pat Roberts with no Democrat on the ballot. (A Libertarian Party candidate is also in the running but polling poorly.)

Greg Orman will likely caucus with the Democratic Party in the Senate.

A poll from liberal outfit Public Policy Polling this week placed Orman with a ten-point lead in a head-to-head matchup with Roberts:

Orman leads Roberts 41-34, with Democrat Chad Taylor — who announced plans to end his campaign earlier this month — capturing 6 percent of the vote. Libertarian Randall Batson earned 4 percent support in the poll, which was first provided to the Huffington Post. The automated phone and online survey of 1,328 likely voters was taken between Sept. 11 and Sept. 14. The margin of error is plus-or-minus 2.7 percentage points.

In a head-to-head matchup, Orman’s lead grows to 10 percentage points, according to the poll.

Republican secretary of state Kris Kobach insists that Democrats must nominate a replacement candidate if Taylor is removed from the ballot, but that has not proven to be binding so far.

Leah Barkoukis - Mich. Senate Race: Terri Lynn Land Promises to ‘Turn the Page on Washington’
Posted: 9/20/2014 4:12:00 PM EST

Republican Senate hopeful Terri Lynn Land is out with a new ad campaign, “Turn the Page,” touting her Michigan First plan.

“How will Terri Lynn Land put Michigan first?” the narrator asks, before going on to say she will ask for trade deals, work to secure the borders, and keep tax dollars in Michigan.

The ad spot began running statewide on Friday.

According to the most recent poll, the former secretary of state, who’s up against Democratic Rep. Gary Peters for the seat held by retiring Sen. Carl Levin, is closing in on her opponent's lead.

A September 14 poll conducted by Mitchell Research has Peters up 2 points, 43 percent to 41 percent, which is within the margin of error.

The most recent poll comes amid reports of Peters’ petcoke hypocrisy.

Democratic Michigan Congressman and Senate candidate Gary Peters refused to sell his stock in the substance petroleum coke (petcoke), despite the fact that he has called petcoke “dirtier than the dirtiest fuel” and launched a public campaign to highlight the evils of a petcoke buildup in the area around the Detroit River.

Peters owns $19,000 in stock in the French oil company Total S.A., which produces petcoke, among other things. Peters’ 2014 Republican Senate opponent, Terri Lynn Land, has been hammering Peters on the investment.

“Am I going to sell it? I have no plans of it, no,” Peters said in comments Monday to The Detroit News. “It is an investment in the fourth largest oil company in the world. It has nothing to do with the Detroit situation.”

Peters had previously been ahead of Land by seven to nine points. Real Clear Politics ranks the race as leaning Democratic, but with 44 days until the election and Peters continuing to slip in the polls, the race is still very much in play.

Amanda Muñoz - Obama's ISIS Tap Dance
Posted: 9/20/2014 1:50:00 PM EST

Don’t let a rare act of bipartisanship fool you. Just because Congress came together (miraculously and quickly before, ahem, their midterm elections) in passage of a continuing resolution which also authorizes the training and arming of Syrian troops, doesn’t mean that the American people - or the military for that matter – are fully buying into the president’s plan.

All the hustle and bustle on Capitol Hill this week laid bare the confusion and political calculation behind the White House’s recent push to go after the ISIS (ISIL) terrorist group, which increases its threats against the U.S. and its allies every day. Despite overwhelming support in both the House and Senate, many members of Congress continue to push for additional details from administration officials on just exactly what the U.S. is getting into.

One major point of contention is whether or not President Obama has the legal authority to carry out the airstrikes that are currently taking place. Secretary of State John Kerry hashed this out with both the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and the House Foreign Affairs Committee last week, saying that the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) grants the president the authority he needs to go after “Al Qaeda and associated forces.” He argued that ISIS is a direct offshoot of Al Qaeda, only recently changing its name because of an internal disagreement.

Some members of Congress buy this, others don’t; but most have requested that the President seek a new AUMF – a request that Kerry said was welcomed and encouraged by the President. Although with Congress out of session for the next 45 days, just when that measure might be taken up remains in the air.

Many questions remain concerning the international coalition and the viability of Syrian ground forces. 40 - 50 countries have been reported as partners in the fight, but very little detail has been released on exactly what each nation plans to contribute - particularly from the Arab countries. Both Republicans and Democrats have expressed their hesitancy to ally with Saudi Arabia, who has funded terrorist activity, and have expressed concern over the potential impact this operation will have on empowering enemies such as Iran, Assad, and other regional terrorist organizations.

But, despite having already moved forward with airstrikes and building an international team of (somewhat questionable) allies, the most baffling moments of last week’s PR push for support was that administration officials still prefer to say that the U.S. is in the process of degrading and destroying, rather than engaging in war, and cannot determine the most politically correct way to refer to the enemy at hand. 

The White House has taken great effort to structure talking points that separate ISIS from the Islamic religion, instead of highlighting the very real threat that radical Muslim extremists continue to pose to the American way of life. President Obama told the nation that ISIS “is not Islamic,” and Secretary Kerry made several statements while on the Hill that ISIS is a cult “masquerading” as a religious movement.

Even when directly asked if the U.S. is at war, Secretary Kerry could only stammer a roundabout response that referred to ISIS as “the enemy of Islam” and “the enemy of humanity.” (See Townhall.com Web Editor Sarah Jean Seaman’s footage from Thursday's House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing below.)

Right now, the country needs a strong Commander-in-Chief instead of a political tap dancer. It has long been a plague of this administration – which has resulted in an even more gridlocked and bitterly political culture within Washington - that the American people get nothing but loose rhetoric and false promises.

But, taking into account that it took two American beheadings (and several rounds of golf) for the president to react to this “jayvee” enemy, it does not seem likely that change will occur soon.

The president must be clear-eyed about the reality of the world we live in. The U.S. cannot afford for its leaders to focus more on political correctness than dealing head-on with the sometimes harsh, but definitive, red lines that provide for greater national security.

Pray for this country. We need it.

Sarah Jean Seman - Louisiana School System Says Educating Illegal Immigrant Children Will Cost $4.6 Million
Posted: 9/20/2014 1:00:00 PM EST

The cost of educating illegal immigrant children who are residing in the United States will cost one school district in Louisiana almost $5 million, according to the Louisiana Department of Education. State Superintendent of Education John White crunched the numbers in response to a request from Senator David Vitter (R-LA).

According to White:

The Jefferson Parish School System estimates the total cost associated with educating these students to be $4.6 million. The district will receive an estimated $2.2 million toward this cost through the state funding formula based on the October 1 enrollment count adjustment (533 students x $4,261 per student). The other affected districts are calculating their estimated costs and will report them to the state next week.

In addition to normal cost of sending a child into the public school system, these aliens often need additional aid to address the language barrier. White noted that to serve the 533 illegal immigrants, the district would need to hire several additional English as a Second Language teachers.

The Washington Free Beacon, the media outlet that broke the story, has more:

Louisiana is among the 10 states that have received the most unaccompanied alien children, according to data compiled by the Federation for American Immigration Reform (FAIR). The state will pay $25.8 million to educate 1,250 illegal alien children this school year.

Unaccompanied alien children have been relocated to every state in the nation, stressing local education budgets. Costs of accepting the young illegal immigrants range from $147.7 million in New York with the addition of 4,159 students, to $18,630 in Montana, which will enroll just one child.

Sen. Vitter attributed the sharp increase in illegal immigrant minors to the Obama administration policies, and in particular to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) executive action in 2012.

As I noted in a previous post, communities are required by law to educate illegal immigrants in public schools. So, taxpayers are being forced by law to pay to educate the very individuals who have broken the law. Something about this just seems terribly amiss.

Kevin Glass - Report: GOP Leadership Considering Rules To Punish Party Disloyalty
Posted: 9/19/2014 6:22:00 PM EST

A new congressional delegation will bring a new vote for leadership. With Democrats needing a miracle to gain a few seats, much less actually take the House, Republicans are close to a sure bet to be in control come November. That'll mean elections, and elections means a John Boehner who needs to have the support of his caucus.

There are a lot of members of the GOP caucus who don't very much like John Boehner. He's taken a lot of heat for being insufficiently conservative. To avoid an embarrassing vote, leadership might have some "rules tweaks" in the pipeline, as National Journal reports:

House Republicans are quietly discussing a proposal that could fundamentally alter the way future speakers of the House are chosen, according to multiple GOP sources, with the objective of avoiding a repeat of John Boehner's embarrassing reelection vote in 2013.

The rule tweak began as an informal discussion but has morphed into a concrete proposal that is beginning to circulate in the House. According to people briefed on it, any Republican who votes on the House floor in January against the conference's nominee for House speaker—that is, the candidate chosen by a majority of the House GOP during its closed-door leadership elections in November—would be severely punished. Specifically, sources say, any dissenters would be stripped of all committee assignments for that Congress.

"There's a real concern that there's between 30 and 40 people that would vote against the speaker on the House floor, so they're trying to change the conference rules to make sure that doesn't happen," said a GOP member familiar with the proposal.

The last time, as National Journal notes, there were 12 members who voted against Boehner's speakership on the House floor. The GOP leadership wants to present a more united front this time around.