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Matt Vespa - Will North Carolina Become The GOP’s Unicorn For 2014?
Posted: 9/23/2014 8:15:00 PM EST

I hate being doom and gloom; it’s not my nature. But every time an avenue of attack presents itself that could help Republican Thom Tillis, there’s something to cancel out that possible advantage.

Tillis is leading with men, but Sen. Kay Hagan has a 44/33 lead with women; Tillis also has a 40+-point deficit with single women.

In their latest poll of likely voters by Public Policy Polling, which leans left, has Tillis winning white voters 49/35 over Hagan, but the share of white voters Hagan holds is enough for a southern Democrat to win statewide. Sixty-eight percent think the Tar Heel state is heading in the wrong direction, but the number one issue they said the state is handling poorly is education. Hagan and national Democrats have been hitting Tillis on this front. Also, independents in the state break for Hagan 41/33.

In the more right-leaning poll by American Insights has Hagan’s lead by 9-points–and the first recent poll showing her leading with male voters.

Then again, when it comes to the role of government, North Carolina is still conservative:

Our new American Insights data show that North Carolina voters remain fundamentally conservative regarding the role of government, with 51% saying it is doing too much and only 38% wishing government would do more. Meanwhile, nearly two-thirds of voters (64%) say they care more about economic issues than social issues (26%).

The economy is the number one issue with all likely voters in North Carolina. As for social issues, those might not be the issues that will galvanize voters to lean towards Tillis. The Civitas poll showed that 44 percent of North Carolina voters support less restrictions on abortion compared to the 40 percent who do.

On the other hand, American Insights found that “faith driven” voters make up one-third of the North Carolina electorate–and they’re not happy with either Tillis or Hagan:

Our new American Insights data show that Faith Driven Voters – citizens whose faith significantly influences their voting decisions – comprise a full third of the electorate in North Carolina, people who hold sufficient votes to, if motivated, decide the North Carolina elections in either direction. These voters, who see politics through the lens of their faith and believe they have a responsibility to vote, don’t believe either party or candidate for the U.S. Senate represents them well at this point in the race.

This powerful voting bloc appears to be up for grabs; there are more than enough disaffected Faith Driven Voters to swing the North Carolina senate race to the candidate who is best able to genuinely connect with them. Kay Hagan scores low with these voters, but Thom Tillis is also underperforming with them. While Kay Hagan’s rating among FDVs is consistent with that of the Democratic Party, Thom Tillis lags behind the Republican Party by seven points. This leaves each candidate with a unique opportunity down the stretch.”

This is maddening. There are many avenues to carve a winning strategy. Right now, Tillis is pushing back on the ads against him over education, but will he double-down and present a narrative more aligned with economic issues–48 percent think Obamacare will have a negative impact on North Carolina–or will he try to improve his standing with faith-based voters to try and maximize the turnout with the Republican base.

There is a possibility that he can combine the two. Last week, Katie and Guy wrote about the GAO report that showed that federal insurers are ignoring federal rules that prevent the subsidization of abortion through various health care plans.

From his debate performance, Tillis seems to be positioning himself well as the anti-Obama candidate, but we know from 2012 that’s not enough. Democrats learned that as well in 2004 with John Kerry.

A fall groundswell is expected as those who were not paying attention to the election in the summer might become more attentive as we head into the final weeks of the campaign. Additionally, in the coming three weeks, Republicans have reserved a majority of the airtime in North Carolina, which could give Tillis a boost in the final stretch.

More airtime, a new avenue of attack concerning Obamacare, the well of untapped faith based voters, and Jeb Bush–who also endorsed him–flying in to assist on the campaign trail; there’s definitely time for Tillis to turn this around.

Sarah Jean Seman - Rockefellers Now Spurn Oil, That Thing That Made Them Rich
Posted: 9/23/2014 7:00:00 PM EST

The heirs of John D. Rockefeller, the man who became a tycoon after tapping natural resources and founding Standard Oil, are now divesting their family fund of all oil and fossil fuel stocks. The Rockefeller Brothers Fund is a philanthropic organization with a net worth of more than $800 million.

According to the New York Times:

The fund has already eliminated investments involved in coal and tar sands entirely while increasing its investment in alternate energy sources.

Unwinding other investments in a complex portfolio from the broader realm of fossil fuels will take longer. “We’re moving soberly, but with real commitment,” he said.

Steven Rockefeller, a son of Nelson A. Rockefeller and a trustee of the fund, said that he foresees financial problems ahead for companies that have stockpiled more reserves than they can burn without contributing significantly to climate damage. “We see this as having both a moral and economic dimension,” he said.

The announcement Monday strategically preceded the United Nations climate change summit meeting held Tuesday in New York City.

So the real question is: would their great-great-granddaddy roll over in his grave? Wayne Rockefeller, a descendant on the board of trustees, says ‘no.’ In fact, she believes John D. Rockefeller would have done the same thing were he alive today:

“This is part of a natural progression for us,” said Wayne, who marched Sunday with her three children in the pre-summit demonstration in New York.

Wayne said she felt certain that her famous ancestor would approve. In their lifetimes, both the Standard Oil founder and his son, the philanthropist John D. Rockefeller Jr., were ardent supporters of conservation causes, purchasing huge swaths of ranch land and donating them to the federal government to create some of America’s first wilderness preserves for future generations to enjoy.

If the elder Rockefeller were alive today, she said, he would be “investing in alternative energy sources and renewables right now.”

Daniel Doherty - Poll: Cotton: 43; Pryor: 38
Posted: 9/23/2014 6:30:00 PM EST

A new, left-leaning poll conducted on behalf of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee shows Republican Senate hopeful Tom Cotton (R-AR) trailing incumbent Sen. Mark Pryor (D-AR) by three percentage points.

But is he?

For what it’s worth, a new (also left-leaning) Public Policy Polling (PPP) survey has thrown cold water on that notion.

PPP’s latest offering (which has a D+8 sample, by the way) shows Cotton edging his opponent by five percentage points (43/38).

Cotton, one might say, is ahead for two reasons: (1) He’s attracting large swaths of independent voters (53%) compared to his opponent (20%); and (2) his opponent’s approval ratings are dreadful (36/51), as are the president's (31/62). That latter figure is almost certainly weighing Pryor down.

“Arkansas is leaning toward supporting the GOP ticket right now,” PPP’s president Dean Debnam said in a statement. “The silver lining for Democrats is that they’re only down by 5 or 6 points in the key races, leaving some room for a comeback.”

Stay tuned tomorrow for Quinnipiac University’s soon-to-be-released findings. If anything, that poll should give us a better understanding -- and more insight -- into who's actually the front-runner.

Leah Barkoukis - Hypocrites: Speakers Fly More Than 1 Million Miles to Attend Climate Change Summit
Posted: 9/23/2014 5:31:00 PM EST

Environmentalists gathered in New York City on Tuesday for the UN Climate Summit 2014, which, according to its website, “will serve as a public platform for leaders at the highest level … to catalyze ambitious action on the ground to reduce emissions and strengthen climate resilience and mobilize political will for an ambitious global agreement by 2015 that limits the world to a less than 2-degree Celsius rise in global temperature.”

And to attend this important meeting, speakers from across the world flew a total of 1,036,537 miles. That’s awfully hypocritical considering environmentalists believe air travel to be the “most serious environmental sin,” don’t you think?

CNS News reports:

The UN Climate Summit 2014 is a glaring example of hypocrisy. Just the speakersalone, not the attendees or notable guests for the summit, traveled a grand total of 1,036,537 miles from locations as distant as China, India and Peru. That's enough miles to circle the equator41.6 times.

According to the UN itself, in the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, "more than95 percentof our total carbon footprint resulted from air travel."

Filmmaker and journalist Phelim McAleer pointed this very hypocrisy out at the UN Climate Change Conference in 2009.

If you’d like to check out more of McAleer’s short films on environmental hypocrisy, click here.

Christine Rousselle - Obama Saluted Marine With a Coffee Cup
Posted: 9/23/2014 4:32:00 PM EST

Our Commander-in-Chief saluted a member of the Marine Corps today while clutching a coffee cup:

Per the U.S. Military Protocol Saluting, a salute should be performed as follows:

Execution of the Hand Salute is performed as follows: "the right hand is raised smartly until the tip of the forefinger touches the lower part of the headdress or forehead above and slightly to the right of the right eye, thumb and fingers extended and joined, palm to the left, upper arm horizontal, forearm inclined at 45 degrees, hand and wrist straight; at the same time turn head toward the person saluted. To complete the salute, drop the arm to its normal position by the side in one motion, at the same time turning the head and eyes to the front".

Furthermore, the protocol adds (emphasis added):

It has been said that a sloppy salute is worse than not saluting at all.

This isn't the first time Obama has run into an awkward situation saluting a Marine. Last year, Obama made headlines when he shook a Marine's hand instead of saluting him.

It's been nearly six years, Mr. President. Figure it out.

Guy Benson - Syria: US Bombs Al Qaeda Group Recruiting ISIS Fighters to Attack Western Targets
Posted: 9/23/2014 3:35:00 PM EST

The US military, along with a coalition of Arab states, expanded its anti-ISIS bombing campaign into Syria last night, reportedly with the tacit endorsement of the Assad regime in Damascus. The New York Times reported yesterday that weeks of bombing inside Iraq has "scarcely budged" ISIS, which still maintains control over roughly one-fourth of Iraq's territory. We'll see if and how the new rounds of warfare-from-the-sky work to "degrade" the radicals.  Though the bulk of the operation is aimed at the Islamic State, American security officials have become increasingly worried about an Al Qaeda cell that's been capitalizing on the chaos and influx of western jihadists into the region. This Islamist terror group, known as Khorasan, was also a target of yesterday's scaled-down 'shock and awe' air campaign (which administration officials are for some reason assuring the media will become less shocking and awe-inspiring in the coming days):

American airstrikes in Syria have taken out members of a shadowy al Qaeda unit known as the Khorasan Group who were planning "imminent" attacks against targets including the U.S., the Pentagon said today. Pentagon spokesperson Rear Admiral John Kirby declined to go into specifics, but told ABC News' George Stephanopolous, "We had very good indications that this group, which is a very dangerous group, was plotting and planning imminent attacks against Western targets to include the U.S. homeland and it was on that basis that we struck targets, Khorasan targets inside Syria." "We believe that the individuals that were plotting and planning it have been eliminated and we’re going to continue... to assess the effectiveness of our strikes going through today," Kirby said. The Khorasan Group -- consisting of about 50 or so hardened fighters of mixed past and current jihadi affiliations -- has been holed up in Aleppo, Syria under the protection of al Qaeda's official wing in the country, Jabhat al-Nusra, developing cutting edge weapons of terror with the help of al Qaeda's Yemen affiliate to strike Western civilian aviation targets, according to a half-dozen officials with knowledge of the group who spoke to ABC News.

The Pentagon confirmed that the Khorasan network sustained "at least eight" airstrikes last night, all of which were carried out by the United States alone.  And we may have decapitated the cell's leader. With thousands of Western passport-holders flooding into Iraq and Syria to fight on behalf of the 'caliphate,' Al Qaeda is working to recruit some of these would-be fighters to carry out deadly attacks in the West, using what ABC News refers to as "cutting edge" tools of terror.  Jihadi women have used social media to help direct Westerners how to successfully travel to the region by posing as tourists entering Turkey.  The British government is moving to prevent its nationals' ingress and egress into Iraq and Syria, debating measures such as passport seizure, detention and aggressive refusal of re-entry.  The American security establishment faces a similar task, though reportedly on a smaller scale.  That being said, for the first time, the Obama administration is admitting that some American ISIS fighters have successfully returned to the homeland from the battlefield.  Disquieting, to say the least (via Time):



The Obama Administration believes some Americans who have fought alongside the militant group Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria (ISIS) have returned to the United States, a senior Administration official said Monday. During a briefing for reporters Monday in the ornate Eisenhower Executive Office Building on the Administration’s efforts to address the issue of so-called foreign terrorist fighters, the official said that the latest assessment from National Counterterrorism Center is that more than 100 Americans have attempted to fight in Iraq and Syria alongside ISIS, the al-Qaeda affiliated al-Nusra Front or other groups. “It includes those who’ve gone, those who’ve tried to go, some who’ve come back and are under active—the FBI is looking at them,” the official said. “These are FBI matters, I refer you to them on specifics.” It marked the first official government confirmation that at least some of the Americans fighting alongside the Islamist extremist group have returned to the U.S.

Hopefully the FBI is keeping closer tabs on these returning violent extremists than the military did with those missing Afghan soldiers, who've finally been found.  American officials believe Khorasan poses a more immediate threat to the United States than ISIS.  The White House has come under increasing criticism for its ISIS posture, including from two of President Obama's former Secretaries of Defense.  Skeptics say an air campaign will not be sufficient to dislodge and defeat ISIS (see the NYT link above), while high-ranking administration and military officials have offered contradictory statements on the possibility of deploying American ground troops -- which Obama has ruled out, discarding military recommendations.  In his speech to the nation earlier this month, the president said US actions would build on his preferred 'light footprint' intervention and counterterrorism model, citing Yemen as a success story.  Let's check in on Yemen, shall we?

In a stunning sweep of the Yemeni capital, the country's Shiite rebels seized homes, offices and military bases of their Sunni foes on Monday, forcing many into hiding and triggering an exodus of civilians from the city after a week of fighting that left 340 people dead. It was the latest development in the Hawthi blitz, which has plunged volatile Yemen into more turmoil, pitting the Shiite rebels against the Sunni-dominated military and their Islamist tribal allies.

Full speed ahead to a failed state -- not unlike the disaster playing out in another nation that benefited from Obama's vision of armed conflict.  I'll leave you with this:


Smart power.
Daniel Doherty - Republicans Amend Party Platform in NH; Now They Support "Personhood"
Posted: 9/23/2014 3:15:00 PM EST

Granite State Republicans have officially taken a more hard-lined stance on the issue of abortion.

The Washington Examiner reports:

The New Hampshire Republican Party amended its platform this weekend with stricter abortion provisions, including support for "personhood," which defines life as beginning at conception. Personhood has become a hot-button issue in Senate races across the country this year, such as Colorado, where Democrats have successfully attacked Rep. Cory Gardner for having supported such a measure in the past.

Now, the issue could spread to New Hampshire, following the state party's decision at its convention. The platform now states: "Support the pre-born child's fundamental right to life and personhood under the Fourteenth Amendment, and implement all Constitutional and legal protections."

It added: "Support a Life at Conception Act guaranteeing the protections of Life and Personhood to the pre-born under the Fourteenth Amendment of the US Constitution." The platform previously used the term "unborn" rather than "pre-born," and did not refer to personhood.

So how, exactly, will this affect Republican hopeful Scott Brown, the nominee for U.S. Senate in the Granite State, who is pro-choice?

Well, a veteran GOP campaign operative in New Hampshire told the Examiner the following: "I know very few Republicans that support every plank of the platform.” Nor, of course, can they be expected to. Still, if Democrats turn this relatively insignificant news story into a campaign issue, Brown could suffer the consequences.

For instance, read this press release from the Shaheen campaign about the state GOP’s platform change:

“The message from Scott Brown and his Republican Party is disturbing, alarming and clear: they believe they should make the decisions about birth control and health care for women in New Hampshire and around the country. They are dangerously wrong, and by signing on with Tea Party extremists, they’re showing just how irresponsibly out of touch they are with the needs and rights of women.”

This is a lie. The truth is that Brown actually disagrees with his party on the issue of abortion. But of course, that won’t stop Shaheen & Co. from lumping him in with the so-called “Tea Party extremists” for political gain. This relatively minor development, then, has the potential to become a much bigger issue if and when Democrats resurrect and revive their “war on women” rhetoric. Which they will.

Thus, it is up to Brown himself to deftly neutralize these specious attacks. If he does not, I suspect he will suffer the same electoral fate in New Hampshire that Ken Cuccinelli experienced in Virginia.

Conn Carroll - Don't Limit Tax Relief to Families
Posted: 9/23/2014 2:50:00 PM EST

Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Mike Lee (R-UT) have a fine op-ed up at The Wall Street Journal today outlining the "pro-family, pro-growth tax reform" they plan to pursue November. Rubio and Lee write:

The current tax code taxes too much, taxes unfairly, and conspires with our outmoded welfare system to trap poor families in poverty, rather than facilitate their climb into the middle class. Our reforms seek to simplify the structure and lower rates. How? By consolidating the many existing income tax brackets into two simple brackets—15% and 35%—and eliminating or reforming deductions, especially those that disproportionately benefit the privileged few at everyone else's expense.

In addition, our plan would eliminate the well-known marriage penalty, which imposes higher taxes on married couples than if they had filed individually. It would also take aim at another pernicious distortion—the parent tax penalty—that is more prevalent, if less understood, even by its victims.

Today, parents are, in effect, double charged for the federal senior entitlement programs. They of course pay payroll taxes, like everyone else. But unlike adults without children, they also shoulder the financial burden of raising the next generation of taxpayers, who will grow up to fund the Social Security and Medicare benefits of all future seniors.

This hidden, double burden on parents isn't offset anywhere else in the system, and so true conservative tax reform needs to account for it. Children aren't consumer goods—they are investments parents make in their futures, and in the future of America, and therefore deserve to be treated as such in our tax code.

Our proposal would account for this and level the playing field for working parents by augmenting the current child tax credit of $1,000 with an additional $2,500 credit, applicable against income taxes and payroll taxes—i.e., the taxes that most burden lower- and middle-income families. The credit would not phase out, and would be refundable against income tax and employer and employee payroll tax liability.

Eliminating deductions "that disproportionately benefit the privileged few at everyone else's expense" is a worthy goal. 

But why do Rubio and Lee insist on plowing those savings right back into other tax credits that benefit just a few select Americans? Why not take those resources and use them to cut the payroll tax for all working Americans?

Not only is cutting the payroll tax a proven job creator, but such a tax cut would appeal to a far broader group of Americans. In 2012, just 36 percent of voters had a child under age 18 living in their home. Compare that to the 60 percent of Americans who work full time for pay.

And the Republican Party already has a lock on married households with kids. In 2012, Mitt Romney won the married with children vote 54 - 45 percent. Meanwhile, Obama won unmarried Americans 62 - 35 percent. Why are Lee and Rubio so intent on running up the margins among married voters with children? Wouldn't it be better to offer all working Americans the chance to take home more of every paycheck?

A payroll tax cut is also effective against Democratic calls for fighting inequality by raising the minimum wage. When asked to choose between a payroll tax cut and a minimum wage hike, voters preferred the payroll tax cut by double digits.

It just does not make any political or economic sense to confine the benefits of tax cuts to those who currently care for young children.

Katie Pavlich - BREAKING: Judge Rules Dinesh D'Souza Will Not Face Prison Time
Posted: 9/23/2014 1:45:00 PM EST

U.S. District Court Judge Richard Berman has sentenced conservative author and filmmaker Dinesh D'Souza to eight months in a community confinement center and five years probation. D'Souza will not face prison time. What this essentially means:

Community confinement is a condition of probation or supervised release. It involves residence in a halfway house, restitution center, community treatment center, mental health facility, alcohol or drug rehabilitation center, or other community facility. It also includes participation in gainful employment, employment search efforts, vocational training, treatment, community service, educational programs, or similar other facility approved programs during their nonresidential hours. Basically community confinement is imposed as a condition of pre release custody and programming, before serving the last ten percent of the prison sentence. Community confinement is given for a period not exceeding six months.

Federal prosecutors argued D'Souza should have been sentenced to 10-to16 months in prison after pleading guilty in May to one count on federal charges detailed in an indictment accusing him of violating campaign finance laws. 

This post has been updated.

RELATED - Documents: Federal Prosecutors Misled Judge in Pursuit of Prison Time For Dinesh D'Souza

Katie Pavlich - The UN Has Renamed Global Warming/Climate Change Again
Posted: 9/23/2014 1:00:00 PM EST

When "global warming" data was exposed as a fraud a few years ago, big government control freaks changed its name to climate change, enabling the anti-capitalist movement to blame pretty much any natural disaster on the phenomenon and justify limiting the use of fossil fuel energy. Polling shows that not only is global warming/climate change not a major concern for most Americans, but that the use of the different terms doesn't make a difference in peaking a person's interest on the issue.

Now, the UN is changing the name of global warming, climate change again.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, who also marched on Sunday, said people ought to "act every day as though every week should be a climate week".

France has been chosen to host key U.N. climate talks in December 2015, where governments are due to agree a new global deal to tackle climate change. Paris is already working to bring nations together in a united effort, Fabius said.

"If we let emissions grow, catastrophic climate change will accelerate," he said. That would mean more droughts, floods, human misery and international security challenges.

"I don't use the term climate change - I think the more accurate term is climate disruption," he added.

Same propaganda, different name. 

President Obama is at the UN in New York Tuesday to give a speech about climate disruption/change/warming.