The White House was recently accused of changing press pool reports and pressuring journalists to modify their stories. And now, another journalist has been told what to do by an Obama aide.
Meg Kissinger, a reporter at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for 35 years, was covering Michelle Obama's campaign visit for Wisconsin gubernatorial Democratic candidate, Mary Burke. She was told by aides for the first lady that she could not talk to people in the crowd.
Take a look at Kissinger's Twitter and Facebook posts:
The Obama staff's continued shady behavior with the press has got to stop. What a random crowd member at a campaign event might say to reporters should be the least of their worries (or so you would think). The uncontrollable nature of interviewing people in the audience must have been unsettling for the Obama aides. It seems to me like they were on edge because they couldn't manipulate or stage the person being interview. What a shame.
As we rapidly approach the one year anniversary of Obamacare's implementation and the horrendous launch of HealthCare.gov, a new report from the Brookings Institution shows that Democrat candidates for Congress aren't exactly embracing the law—in fact, most are avoiding it entirely.Brookings Institution
We coded candidates as supporting the Affordable Care Act if they lauded the bill or its effects. We coded candidates advocating to repeal or fully replace the Affordable Care Act (also known as “Obamacare”) as opposing it. Candidates with “Complicated Positions” included those that forwarded moderated positions (i.e. the Act needs to be fixed or simply delayed), as well as those with positions outside the scope of the question (e.g. advocating for single-payer health care). Finally, if the candidate did not mention President Obama’s health reforms they were coded as “No Information.”
I think it's significantly interesting that approximately 79 percent of Republican candidates for Congress are discussing the law, as opposed to only roughly 63 percent of Democrats discussing President Obama's flagship piece of legislation. While it's fairly obvious that many Republicans are opposed to Obamacare, I think it's more telling that a sizable chunk of Democrats are not even willing to discuss their feelings about it to avoid frightening voters. With public opinion polls showing that more than half of Americans are opposed to Obamacare, can you really blame them?
Yesterday, Gov. Rick Snyder launched his town hall tour in Kalamazoo, which will be focused on touting the accomplishments his administration has made in Michigan. It will also be a forum for voters to discuss issues that matter to them most and what Gov. Snyder will do if re-elected this November.
Recently, Snyder released this ad featuring Linda Thaler, a retired teacher, who says that Snyder increased funding for education programs and “shored up” pensions for teachers. As an educator for 31 years, Thaler says she’s confident in Snyder’s record on education. But Democrats might have some fun cutting into it since Thaler is Snyder’s vacation home neighbor at Gun Lake.
Nevertheless, besides education, poor infrastructure will probably come up during this tour –and in the debates–as Michigan voters may not be willing for pay for a new gas tax; a tax Schauer hasn’t really ruled out on the campaign trail, according to the Detroit Free Press:
When Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer took questions during a recent visit to a union hall in suburban Detroit, meat cutter Jim Mesich brought up a long source of frustration for Michigan drivers: crummy roads.
Why not, he asked Schauer, repeal a business tax cut and put all the money toward improving roads? Better that, he said, than asking "common guys" to pay more at the pump.
Schauer criticized Republican Gov. Rick Snyder for being unable to persuade the GOP-led Legislature to pass a road-funding fix and said Snyder's "trying to raise taxes on you" through proposed higher gasoline and vehicle registration taxes. But Schauer was less specific in detailing how he as governor would raise the minimum $1.2 billion more a year that Snyder said is needed to avoid drastic deterioration of roads and bridges.
Schauer, who voted for Michigan's last state gas tax hike as a freshman lawmaker in 1997, may be leaving the door open to another one. He criticized the idea when unveiling his jobs plan in July, but when asked this month by The Associated Press if he was ruling out gas tax or license plate fee increases, he said: "I'm just saying we have to do this fairly."
Both gubernatorial candidates agree something must be done.
In the meantime, Michelle Obama and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie plan to visit The Great Lake State this fall to stump for their party’s candidates; Christie was there last Friday as part of his month-long tour across the country campaigning for GOP gubernatorial candidates. Christie, along with Snyder, met with a group of entrepreneurs in a local coffee house that drew some protestors. "I love campaigning for candidates who have protestors. That means they're doing something," Christie said. He later attended a fundraiser for Snyder later that afternoon. As for Michelle Obama’s visit to help out Mark Schauer and Senate candidate Gary Peters, that’s to be determined.
Concerning engaging voters, Schauer and Snyder are heavily utilizing social media, although experts say they could be doing more. Snyder’s presence is described as “gubernatorial, positive, and slightly nerdy,” while his Schauer is “in attack mode, edgier, engaging, and often negative” (via Detroit Free Press):
"Both are very engaged, but they're using very different methods," said Nick De Leeuw, communications director for the public relations firm Resch Strategies and a Republican political operative. "They couldn't be more different."
"Schauer is far more aggressive than Snyder is in several ways right now, which kind of goes with his whole campaign," said Graham Davis, who is director of digital media at the public relations firm Truscott Rossman in Detroit and formerly handled social media for Democratic Gov. Jennifer Granholm.
De Leeuw, Davis and other social media experts say Snyder and Schauer are both doing a solid but unspectacular job of covering the basics on what is becoming an increasingly important element of election campaigns.
"Both are doing very well playing to their bases," said Kristin Sokul, a senior account manager at the Tanner Friedman public relations firm in Farmington Hills.
Both Snyder and Schauer are active on Facebook and Twitter and have YouTube channels where they post their campaign ads and some media interviews.
On the campaign side, Schauer has the numerical edge on social media with close to 40,000 likes on Facebook and more than 5,000 followers on Twitter, compared with more than 18,000 Facebook likes and fewer than 4,000 Twitter followers for Snyder.
But those numbers don't tell the whole story. Snyder also has Facebook and Twitter accounts he uses as governor, which by law can't be used for campaign purposes but do feature posts about government accomplishments. On his official sites, Snyder is ahead of Schauer with close to 60,000 Facebook likes and close to 38,000 Twitter followers. As governor, he also is active on Instagram and Google Plus, where he's held "Google Plus hang-outs" — online group chat sessions that can include voice and video — and has more than 308,000 followers on his official governor site.
"The official (social media) efforts provide a big boost to the campaign," De Leeuw said. In many ways, "the message is the same."
By the numbers, the Press added that Schauer has spent $150,000 on online advertising, $65,000 on Facebook, and $52,000 on Google. Snyder has spent $125,000 on social media engagement, with $15,000 going to Google and $7,000 on Facebook.
UPDATE 5:50: According to the CDC, the patient being treated came back from Liberia after attending a funeral on September 19. The patient's symptoms started on September 24 and hospitalization began on September 28 in Dallas. Several family members to the patient may have been exposed. Because the patient did not get sick until four days after getting off the airplane, nobody who flew with the patient is at risk. CDC Director Tom Frieden said during a press conference this afternoon, "There is no doubt in my mind that we will stop it here."
"The bottom line here is that I have no doubt that we will control this case of Ebola so that it does not spread widely inside the U.S." he added.
The CDC has had a plan in place for awhile now about how to deal with a case should one show up in the U.S.
"We are well prepared to deal with this crisis," a health official said.
Ebola is not transmitted through the air, but only through direct contact with bodily fluids. It can be killed by soap. CDC goals moving forward include the following:
-To care for the patient.
-To provide the most effective care possible and safety possible to minimize spread of the virus
-Identify all people the patient was in contact with while infectious.
5:00 pm ET: The first case of Ebola in the United States has been confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control. More from CNN:
A patient being treated at a Dallas, Texas, hospital is the first case of Ebola virus diagnosed in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced Wednesday.
Several other Americans were diagnosed in West Africa and then brought to the United States for treatment.
Two weeks ago, President Obama announced he was sending U.S. troops to West Africa to combat the spread of the virus. He has also announced partnerships with multiple countries to combat the deadly disease. Officials have expressed concern about the virus mutating into an airborne illness.
A CDC press conference is scheduled for 5:30 pm ET.
This post has been updated.
Yes, I'm going to continue hammering on this issue because the Commander-in-Chief cannot be allowed to skate by with baseless deflections of blame as a means of papering over his own grave errors in judgment. The president accuses a detached "they" of misjudging the frightening rise of ISIS, which was a direct result of America's premature and total withdrawal from Iraq. The chief White House spokesman insists that if the president underestimated the threat, it was because "everybody" had done the same. But that's not true. The Washington Free Beacon has produced a montage of relevant public warnings and assessments from high-ranking officials, spanning two administrations and seven years:
By late last year, classified American intelligence reports painted an increasingly ominous picture of a growing threat from Sunni extremists in Syria, according to senior intelligence and military officials. Just as worrisome, they said, were reports of deteriorating readiness and morale among troops next door in Iraq. But the reports, they said, generated little attention in a White House consumed with multiple brush fires and reluctant to be drawn back into Iraq. “Some of us were pushing the reporting, but the White House just didn’t pay attention to it,” said a senior American intelligence official. “They were preoccupied with other crises,” the official added. “This just wasn’t a big priority.” ... In interviews in recent weeks, administration officials privately agreed that they had not focused enough on the Islamic State’s territorial ambitions but said they were hamstrung in responding by an Iraqi government that was fanning the sectarian divide that helped give rise to the Sunni extremists in the first place...The Islamic State was born out of the ashes of Al Qaeda in Iraq, which was crippled by the time Mr. Obama withdrew American forces from Iraq at the end of 2011.
Certainly, the Brown campaign has insinuated as much. The Boston Herald has the scoop:
Democratic incumbent Jeanne Shaheen and GOP challenger Scott Brown yesterday engaged in long-distance warfare in their U.S. Senate battle as Shaheen launched a new attack on Brown but refused to do it face-to-face. Brown, the former Massachusetts senator, appeared at Franklin Pierce University for what was originally slated as a Senate faceoff, one of several election debates co-sponsored by the Marlin Fitzwater Center for Communication, but he ended up being alone on stage because Shaheen had declined to show up.
“I am disappointed,” Brown said in a talk to first-time voters. Shaheen also is refusing to appear on stage with Brown in another planned debate next month sponsored by the Manchester and Nashua Chambers of Commerce, debate organizers reportedly confirmed yesterday.
In fairness, Team Shaheen maintains they declined the invitation to debate yesterday -- and next month -- because they have already acquiesced to three separate, state-televised debates before voters cast their ballots. So it's not as if the New Hampshire Democrat is totally running scared and hiding from the public. Voters, for their part, will ultimately decide whether she is or not.
On the other hand, her refusal to host open (i.e., non-"telephone") town hall-style meetings -- or agree to more debates, as the Brown camp has proposed -- is telling. Perhaps voting with the president 98 percent of the time, supporting amnesty, and distinguishing herself as the deciding vote for Obamacare are facts that can be better hidden by shunning the limelight.
By no means, however, is Shaheen the only Senate Democrat avoiding public debates. Other vulnerable incumbents have boldly followed suit, one of whom experienced some rather ugly and embarrassing headlines in his hometown newspaper for doing so.
Still, maybe Senate Democrats believe infuriating their constituents is a price worth paying to avoid tough questions. But even if it is, such strategies rarely go unnoticed.
The Lost Boys of Sudan are not your typical leading men. But, their painful yet powerful story is the focus of a new film creating some buzz in Hollywood. “The Good Lie” follows the lives of three Sudanese refugees who escape their home country during the brutal Second Civil War to come to America. The film stars newcomers Arnold Oceng, Ger Duany and Emmanuel Jal, who are actual Sudanese actors. Duany was once a Lost Boy before becoming a model and Jal is a hip-hop artist who was a child soldier in Sudan. Reese Witherspoon also stars as the employment agency counselor who helps the refugees acclimate to their new life in America.
As you can tell, the story is pretty unique to Hollywood, which often cranks out sappy romantic comedies and action-packed thrillers. But, it was the Lost Boys’ inspiring and personally touching story that encouraged producer Molly Smith to sign on to the project. She spoke to Townhall about her emotional decision.
Faith plays a role in this film and that’s not something we typically see in the theater. That seemed to be a trend this year, with films like “Heaven is for Real” and the “Son of God” movie. Do you think this is an indication that there is more of a demand for faith-based films?
“Absolutely. I think it’s a direct answer to that and I think it’s really that these audiences are craving entertainment. This film and story of the Lost Boys is an incredible story of faith and has all of the values I feel will appeal to faith-based audiences.”
You’ve talked about how your own family adopted a Lost Boy from Sudan when you were younger. Can you talk about how much of a role this personal experience played in your decision to produce the film?
“I was really lucky to know some of the Lost Boys that came over and were resettled in Memphis, Tennessee, where I’m from. My sister actually met three of the guys three months after their arrival, at church and invited them to our holidays that year with my family. One of them in particular, a guy named Joseph Atem, just really became instantly a part of our family. He’s a wonderful guy and worked several jobs, trying to save up to go to school and my parents ended up helping him achieve that. He went to Christian Brothers University in Memphis and he’s now a Ph.D. engineer. He’s just an incredible guy and when I got the script I was really touched to be reading his story and felt kind of like it was fate. It came at the perfect time when my partners and I were in a new indie production company and we felt like we had to make this our first film.”
I’m sure Joseph learned a lot from you and your family, but is there one thing you learned from him?
“His spirit. To have gone through – this is what I’ve learned from so many of the Lost Boys – to have gone through what they’ve gone through and their journey, and the fact that they are here, with a huge smile on their face and inspired, wanting to learn more every day and work harder. It really is his spirit and work ethic that has touched me in a huge way.”
Why should audience goers choose this film over the typical chick flick or something like that?
“It’s rare a film can be entertaining but also educational and inspiring. I think, I hope this film has all of that in one. You leave this film, it’s really kind of an emotional experience this movie and when you see the film you’ll see what I mean. But, the screenwriter really does a really beautiful job of taking you on their journey with them as children and I think it’s unique in that way. And also, she told it in a way that there is a lot of humor in the film too. I think people expect when they hear ‘Lost Boys of Sudan’ something really heavy, but it’s also a really entertaining, fun film as well and so I hope audiences will respond to that.”
The film is rated PG-13, but would you say this is a film for the whole family?
“I do believe it’s a film for the whole family. The only reason it’s PG-13 is some obvious violence in the beginning of their journey. These are children of war. But I do believe it’s absolutely for the whole family and you know we have been screening for children and audiences and they’ve loved the film. It’s educational.”
This film is similar to "The Blind Side" in that it also has an inspiring message. Are these the kinds of films you prefer choosing over other films?
“I like stories that are going to move you in one way or another into an emotional experience and you know I guess I’m drawn and my partners and I are drawn to stories with heart and stories with substance, and this was certainly one of that.”
Any new projects?
“We’ve got a film in production right now called 'Demolition,' with Jake Gyllenhaal and Jean-Marc Vallee, who did 'Dallas Buyers Club' and 'Wild' and we’re shooting that currently in New York. We’ve got a couple things in the works that’s in production now."
Kudos to Smith for continually choosing to produce films that offer audiences more than explosions. ‘The Good Lie’ is packed with substance and heart. It opens October 3 - make sure to set a family date for this one.
For more insight into the presence of faith in Hollywood, read "Lights! Camera! Evangelism!," which was featured in the June issue of Townhall Magazine.
Question: I'd be interested in who each of you plan to vote for Senate.
Parnell: I'm voting for Dan Sullivan for US Senate. [Applause]
Walker: "I've heard that question asked in more creative ways, like what sign would be in our yard? The sign in my yard is going to be the Walker/Mallott for Governor and Lt. Governor sign, so that's what I'm going to say about that."
The crime occurred in 2013. Jerry Active, who is charged with murdering the elderly couple and raping the young girl, had been released from prison after serving four years as part of a plea deal stemming from a 2009 sexual assault. The plea deal for the 2009 incident, arranged by prosecutors who worked under Sullivan, happened because of a clerical error that took place before Sullivan became attorney general. Sullivan was still on active duty in the Marines when the incorrect information was entered into the computer.
He almost certainly did not intend to do so, but National Journal's Brian Resnick has written an article inadvertently making the case for limited government. Under the header, "The Battle for Your Brain: We're partisans by nature, and once we pick a side, we see the world in red and blue," Resnick writes:
America's partisan divide is as old as America's democracy. And it's neither feasible nor desirable to hope for a national consensus on every issue. Even if we all worked from the same set of facts, and even if we all understood those facts perfectly, differences of opinion would—and should—remain. Those opinions are not the problem. The trouble is when we're so blinded by our partisanship that it overrides reason—and research suggests that is happening all the time.
With just a hint of partisan priming, an Arizona State University researcher was able to instantly blind Democrats to a noncontroversial fact, leading them immediately to fail to solve the easiest of math problems. In the 2010 experiment, political scientist Mark Ramirez asked subjects two similar questions. The control group saw this question: "Would you say that compared to 2008, the level of unemployment in this country has gotten better, stayed the same, or gotten worse?" A separate group saw this one: "Would you say that the level of unemployment in this country has gotten better, stayed the same, or gotten worse since Barack Obama was elected President?"The key difference between the two: the first mentions the time period for assessing unemployment, while the second frames the issue around President Obama. When asked the first question, Democrats and Republicans responded similarly, with most saying unemployment had remained about the same. But among subjects who got the second question, opinions shifted along partisan lines: Around 60 percent of Democrats said unemployment had gotten better or somewhat better, and about 75 percent of Republicans said the opposite.
In fact, the unemployment rate increased between Obama's election and Ramirez's study. ... Essentially, once Democrats focused on Obama, most of them largely ignored the facts.
This is not meant to be a hit on Democrats. Resnick does not mention it, but Republicans are almost certainly just as likely to ignore inconvenient facts when primed to think politically too.
But the fact that politics primes humans to let tribalism overcome their rational thinking suggests that maybe politics is not the best way to coordinate human behavior. Maybe the government, particularly the federal government, should not be so active in so many areas of American life. Maybe markets are better, not perfect but better, at incentivizing rationale human thinking.
In fact, Resnick accidentally reports this is just the case. Later in the article he writes:
There's an easier way to help people look past their innate partisanship: Pay them to do it.
A 2013 study out of Princeton found that monetary incentives attenuate the partisan gap in answers to questions about the economy. The researchers designed an experiment similar to Ramirez's unemployment study but with a modification: Some participants were plainly informed, "We will pay you for answering correctly." All it took was $1 or $2 to dramatically improve the chances of a right answer, cutting the partisan gap between Republicans and Democrats in half—half!
Imagine that: When people are offered monetary incentives to recognize the reality around them, they tend to see the world more accurately, and less tribally.
Maybe policy makers should work harder at not politicizing everything and let Americans organize more of what they do voluntarily.
Without glazing over the fact that Republicans could surprise no one and blow this historic opportunity, three separate election models indicate that the GOP’s chances of demoting Harry Reid and reclaiming majority control of the U.S. Senate have improved markedly over the past few days. The Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza reports:
The most bullish model for Republicans is Washington Post's Election Lab, which, as of Monday morning, gives the GOP a 76 percent chance of winning the majority. Leo, the New York Times model, pegs it at 67 percent while FiveThirtyEight shows Republicans with a 60 percent probability. A week ago, Election Lab gave Republicans a 65 percent chance of winning the majority, Leo put it a 55 percent and FiveThirtyEight had it just under 55 percent.
All three models give Republicans very strong odds of winning the open seats in Montana, South Dakota and West Virginia as well as beating Sens. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) and Mary Landrieu (D-La.). That would net Republicans five seats, one short of the number they need for the majority.
For the sake of argument, let’s say Republicans pick up all five of those seats. They may not, but let’s say they do. They would therefore need to pick up just one more to effectively end the Obama presidency from a legislative standpoint. After all, any meaningful legislation he'd hope to sign into law would need to pass both chambers of Congress -- and how likely is that to happen if Republicans are in control?
That being said, outside of Montana, South Dakota, West Virginia, Arkansas, and Louisiana, there are several states where Republicans are gaining steam. Republican hopeful Joni Ernst in Iowa has widened the gap in her race significantly while Sens. Mark Begich (D-AK) and Mark Udall (D-CO) are faltering. (Udall’s gaffes and Begich’s scurrilous attack ads have damaged them both). And while Republican hopefuls in North Carolina and New Hampshire are currently behind, those races are tightening too.
Nonetheless, given these three election models have changed so drastically over a 7-day window, perhaps we shouldn't read too much into them. But with campaign season in full swing and Election Day mere weeks away, at least the experts broadly agree the trends are moving in the right direction.