tipsheet
Katie Pavlich - Eric Holder Regrets Not Using Better Language to Target Fox News' James Rosen
Posted: 10/30/2014 7:35:00 AM EST

Attorney General Eric Holder officially submitted his resignation to President Obama last month after six years at the Department of Justice. Although a replacement for Holder will not be nominated until after the 2014 midterm elections, the attorney general is opening up about his worst decision during his tenure.  I can't imagine it was easy for him to choose only one. 

Speaking yesterday at a forum held in Washington D.C., Holder said he should have taken a "closer look at the language" used in subpoena naming Fox News' James Rosen as a criminal co-conspirator. 

Asked what decision he wishes he could do over, Holder said: "I think about the subpoena to the Fox reporter, Rosen."

Holder was referring to a 2010 search warrant application seeking Rosen's emails. The Justice Department at the time was investigating who leaked information contained in a series of reports by Rosen in 2009 about North Korea's nuclear weapons program.

In the course of seeking Rosen's emails, an FBI agent submitted an affidavit claiming there was evidence that Rosen broke the law, "at the very least, either as an aider, abettor and/or co-conspirator." The affidavit went so far as to invoke the Espionage Act -- pertaining to the unauthorized gathering and transmitting of defense information.

On Wednesday, Holder said that application could have been done "differently" and "better."

"I think that I could have been a little more careful looking at the language that was contained in the filing that we made with the court -- that he was labeled as a co-conspirator," Holder said, while claiming they did that "as a result of the statute."

Holder doesn't seem to actually regret targeting Rosen, but instead regrets the kind of language that was used in his case. Notice how he doesn't mention anything about the importance of non-interference from government in the work of journalists. In his statement Holder justifies the action and says it was necessary under a statute, while at the same attempts to portray that the way things happened "could have been done differently." 

As a reminder, the Department of Justice didn't simply monitor the phone calls and emails of Rosen, but monitored the phone lines running to his parent's house and tracked his movements.

When the Justice Department began investigating possible leaks of classified information about North Korea in 2009, investigators did more than obtain telephone records of a working journalist suspected of receiving the secret material.

They used security badge access records to track the reporter’s comings and goings from the State Department, according to a newly obtained court affidavit. They traced the timing of his calls with a State Department security adviser suspected of sharing the classified report. They obtained a search warrant for the reporter’s personal e-mails.
Katie Pavlich - U.S. Special Operations Vets Launch Crowdfunding Campaign to Help Kurds Fight Against ISIS 'Genocidal Caliphate'
Posted: 10/30/2014 7:00:00 AM EST

A group of former U.S. Special Operations Veterans have launched a crowdfunding campaign, Operation Limitless Compassion, to help the Kurds fight off ISIS terrorists in Iraq. Castle International, a world-wide air ambulance company founded and operated by former special operations volunteers, is leading the way to provide pro-U.S. Kurdish fighters with desperately needed humanitarian aid, medical training, medical supplies, and combat training. Recon teams from Castle International have already deployed to northern Iraq to offer direct assistance to Kurdish fighters and more will head to the region in November. Castle International has launched two crowdfunding sites to gather donations, GoFundMe and YouCaring.com, with a goal of raising $100,000 for the operation.

"Castle International LLC Special Projects Group (SPG) is spearheading a volunteer humanitarian effort to assist the peoples of Kurdistan. The volunteer group is made up of former British and American Special Operations Veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan who are passionate about serving oppressed people around the world. The current level of assistance to the Kurdish peoples from the west is woefully inadequate. Assistance that is currently provided only serves to stem the tide of ISIS's gains that they have achieved during their steam roller advance across Syria and Iraq to reestablish a genocidal Caliphate," Castle International COO and former Army Ranger Jesse Johnson, who has served in Iraq and Afghanistan, said in a statement. "The volunteers of SPG feel like they can no longer sit idly by while the enemies of free societies try to eradicate us. The situation is simply unacceptable to anyone who calls themselves a supporter of human rights and freedom. Utilizing our unique medical and Special Operations backgrounds we can take action to create positive results that protect our way of life."

"Kurdish fighters are known for their élan and willingness to close the distance with the enemy but they lack the basic individual soldier skills to increase their lethality as well as their own survivability. Castle International LLC SPG will provide the foundation of skills that will ensure the defeat of militant Islam and the reestablishment of the Caliphate by empowering the only people in the region who are willing to fight for what they believe in," Johnson further states. "The Castle International LLC SPG mission to Northern Iraq will focus on caring for Kurdish Fighters Wounded in Action (WIA) on the frontlines, training individual fighters in the facets of Tactical Combat Casualty Care (TCCC) to increase their own survivability and lastly create sustainable logistical lines to provide Casualty Evacuation (CASEVAC) to the Kurdish fighters. Castle International LLC SPG will be running the project from donations through two crowd funding sites. Donations will go towards equipment, travel, and logistical support for the mission."

Castle International was recently featured by local Phoenix television news station ABC 15 where Johnson discussed the project. The group has also sent veterans to help with the Ebola crisis in West Africa. 

Soon their skills will also be headed to Iraq as the company volunteers to provide humanitarian aid and training for the Kurdish people.

“Train, equip and advise these guys to go in and them survive against ISIS,” said Castle’s COO Jesse.

Several people are already doing reconnaissance in the region with plans to send an entire team over next month.

“We are those people that can go make that positive impact,” Jesse said. “So instead of sitting on a bar stool and saying ‘I wish someone would do something about it,’ we're going to get it done.”

If you want to donate to Operation Limitless Compassion, you can do so here and here.

Sarah Jean Seman - Brewing in GA: Perdue Leads in Latest Polls
Posted: 10/29/2014 8:30:00 PM EST

The race for the Georgia U.S. Senate seat is one of the closest in the country. Democrat Michelle Nunn and Republican David Perdue are expected to each procure less than 50 percent of the vote, forcing the candidates into a run-off in January. That being said, two of the latest polls reveal a bright forecast for GOP supporters.

According to a SurveyUSA poll, Perdue leads Nunn by three points. This comes as a direct reversal from last week’s results, which showed Nunn up by two. Libertarian candidate Amanda Swafford is skimming just enough votes (3 percent) to keep either mainstream candidate from securing a majority vote.

An additional poll conducted by Monmouth University (which sampled only 436 likely voters) has Perdue leading by a whopping 8 points.

It also claimed Georgian voters would “prefer to see the Republicans (45%) rather than the Democrats (33%) in control of the U.S. Senate, while 21% say party control makes no difference to them.”

Perdue has been accusing Nunn of being a "rubber stamp" for the Obama Administration, something that doesn't sit well with the 56 percent of Georgians who disapprove of the president's work. 

Matt Vespa - Oh Geez: Mary Burke's Family Reportedly Terminated Her For 'Incompetence'
Posted: 10/29/2014 7:30:00 PM EST

Family businesses can be tough. They can be incredibly rewarding, but disagreements have a way of creating very tense–and sometimes awkward–family gatherings. In Wisconsin, Democrat Mary Burke is trying to get enough votes to hand incumbent Republican Gov. Scott Walker a pink slip come Election Day. Burke is trying to run as a moderate, business oriented Democrat that will work in a bipartisan way to get Wisconsin back on track. Politico did an interesting profile on her this past August [emphasis mine]:

The 55-year-old Burke could hardly be more different than Walker. She’s a Harvard-educated multimillionaire who rarely goes to church; he’s a middle-class son of a preacher who is just now trying to complete his college degree. She’s spent her career in the family business and philanthropy; he’s been in government for two decades. She’s spent much of her campaign trying to win over progressives wary of her background in finance; he became a conservative icon after beating back the unions in an epic clash two years ago.

“I knew I probably didn’t fit the typical mold,” Burke said during an interview, as her campaign bus rolled from a hops farm in Mazomanie to a brewery in Potosi. “While I have the business background, I really — how should I say this? — I prefer the work in the public sector.”

Burke is pitching herself as a nonideological antidote to the rancor and polarization of the Walker years. She introduces herself as “a fiscal conservative” and promises to work with the Republican-controlled Legislature. Though she talks around it on the trail, she would not, for instance, work to fully repeal the union-weakening law that has defined Walker’s tenure.

Burke’s bet is twofold: First, that liberals despise Walker enough to mobilize for her in spite of her pro-business profile. Second, that her corporate bona fides will attract a critical mass of moderates worried about Wisconsin’s lagging economy.

There’s only one problem: her own family reportedly fired her for incompetence.

Burke’s family co-founded the Trek Bicycle Corporation, with Mary becoming their director for European Operations. Let’s just say it was sort of a disaster. She was called “Attila the Hun” and a “pit bull on crack” (via Watchdog):

It wasn’t a pretty picture. The European operations were in disarray, [Gary] Ellerman[ Trek’s human resources for 21 years] said.

Full disclosure: Ellerman is chairman of the Jefferson County Republican Party. As to the possibility that his accounts are politically colored, Ellerman said, “I was there. This is what went down.”

A former employee with the company told Wisconsin Reporter that John Burke, Mary’s brother and current Trek president, had to let his sister go.

In her campaign against Republican incumbent Gov. Scott Walker, Mary Burke has bragged that European sales climbed to $50 million on her watch. She originally said the increase was closer to $60 million in a 2004 resume to officials in Gov. Jim Doyle’s administration, the Democrat who in 2005 tapped Burke to be his secretary of the now-defunct state Commerce Department.

Ellerman and the other employees tell Wisconsin Reporter that Burke’s sales boasts are lies, that the European division did significantly lower numbers — at least $10 million lower — during her tenure as director. Most of the sales increases, they said, were in Trek’s United Kingdom market, which was well established before Burke arrived, and in the Japan operations, which Burke had nothing to do with. Any growth in sales was well offset by the losses sustained in Germany and other European countries, according to the former executives.

Trek is a privately held company and does not disclose its sales or earnings figures. Mary Burke, too, has refused to provide documentation of the numbers.

When asked to apologize to staff before her departure from the company in 1993, Mary Burke struggled and stammered through the apology much as she appears to do in a video clip of the gubernatorial candidate trying to define the word “plagiarism,” according to one former Trek employee. The Democrat has been dogged throughout her campaign by revelations she lifted large sections of her policy plans from other sources.

Yes, Ellerman is a Republican operative and unnamed sources could lead to disaster when it comes to getting a story straight, but as Guy wrote over at Hot Air, “given how unfairly Walker’s been treated by the local and national media throughout this campaign, I guess Burke is due for some negative press of possibly dubious provenance.”

It is just food for thought.

In other news, Walker is surging, up 7 points over Burke 50/43 in the latest Marquette Law School poll. It was taken out of a sample of 1,164 likely voters. With women voters, the poll found Walker competing nicely with Burke, only trailing by 6 points 49/43. Independent voters are splitting overwhelmingly for Walker 52/37 over Burke–and more Walker supporters say they will vote next week than Burke’s.

Sounds like he’s in good shape.

Cortney O'Brien - VIDEO: Wife of Cuomo’s GOP Opponent Skewers the Governor for Suggesting Her Husband Wants Guns in Classrooms
Posted: 10/29/2014 6:30:00 PM EST

When New York's Democratic Committee, led by Governor Andrew Cuomo (D), released an ad suggesting that his GOP challenger Rob Astorino wanted guns in classrooms, Mrs. Astorino had had enough.

In a new online video, Sheila Astorino skewers Cuomo for the misleading attacks on her husband:

“You’ve really gone too far for this mom and schoolteacher. Telling people my husband wants guns in classrooms. Guns in classrooms? You can’t be serious,” she says. “You used an extra curriculum rifle-safety program in a rural upstate county to make it sound like Rob would threaten the safety of school children. How dare you.”

Powerful stuff from Astorino, who is a schoolteacher herself. She said her children can’t even watch TV anymore without seeing their father attacked by the governor.

In the misleading Cuomo ad in question, it is likely referring Astorino’s support of school marksmanship programs in upstate New York. But, Astorino is adamant about using guns responsibly and he insisted that the Second Amendment is not something that should be threatened by those few who use firearms for the wrong reasons:

"Fishing and hunting has always been a part of our culture in America and very strongly here in New York. And because some bad people do some very bad things with guns doesn't mean we should change our whole society and way of life," said Astorino.

Cuomo may still have a 22-point lead in the polls overall, but a recent survey revealed that Astorino has come within 4 points of the governor in Central New York. This is largely due to Cuomo’s unpopular “SAFE Act” gun control bill, which banned the sale of AR-15s and changed former gun possession misdemeanors into felonies.

Cuomo has also lost some support thanks to his disbanding of the ethics committee the Moreland Commission when it seemed to get too close to his campaign. This is a scandal the New York Times did not shy away from reporting. What’s more, this Monday the New York Postheartily endorsed” Astorino.

Oh yeah, and joking that people under Ebola quarantine should “read his book” certainly won’t win him any votes.

With six days to go, however, perhaps Cuomo can afford to make a few gaffes.

Conn Carroll - Walker Takes Firm Lead in Final Marquette Law School Poll
Posted: 10/29/2014 5:30:00 PM EST

If there is a gold standard for polling in Wisconsin it is the Marquette Law School Poll, which showed Gov. Scott Walker winning his recall election by 6 points before Walker ended up winning by 7.

Today, Marquette released their final poll for Walker's re-election campaign and the news is not good for Democrats. Among likely voters Walker is beating Democrat Mary Burke 50 percent to 43 percent.

Among all registered voters, Walker holds a much narrower 46 percent to 45 percent lead, but Burke's supporters simply are not motivated to turn out. "In the current poll, 93 percent of Republicans say that they are certain to vote," a Marquette Law School press release explains, "while 82 percent of Democrats and 75 percent of independents say the same."

Walker also leads among those who have already voted 43 percent to 42 percent. 

The bitter campaign has taken a heavy toll on Burke's favorability in the state. In the last poll, she was still above water among all voters, 36 percent to 35 percent. But now she is firmly underwater among registered voters at 38 percent to 45 percent, and among likely voters she's an abysmal 39 percent to 49 percent.

Walker, meanwhile, has improved his image throughout the election, moving from dead even favorability months age to a 51 percent to 46 percent advantage among likely voters in the most recent poll.

Overall, both registered voters and likely voters believe the state is "on the right track," although likely voters (54 percent) are slightly more likely to believe so than registered voters (52 percent). 

Ky Sisson - Kansas Has The GOP Breaking a Sweat
Posted: 10/29/2014 5:00:00 PM EST

The fight to withhold a Republican Kansas has puzzled political pundits since the campaign started. Republican Senator Pat Roberts has been struggling against Independent Greg Orman, a candidate who doesn't even give an opinion on big issues

The gubernatorial race has also been a long-winded fight for the GOP. Republican Governor Sam Brownback hasn't been able to take the lead against Democrat Paul Davis.

Townhall's Poll Tracker shows the average of several polls taken since July. The continued "close but no cigar" numbers to take an averaged lead has been especially frustrating for Republicans. Tuesday's election is a toss-up. 

Same goes for the Senate race. Poll Tracker shows the difficulty for Senator Roberts since August and how he could not take a lead. This coveted Senate seat could go either way.

The most current polls are from SurveyUSA who have Governor Brownback trailing again, 43-46 percent and Senator Roberts behind, 42-44. percent. Though the GOP candidates have closed their margins in the last month, their momentum might be a little too late. 

Guy Benson - Shark Jumped: NARAL's Hilariously Bad 'Condom Shortage' Attack Ad
Posted: 10/29/2014 4:27:00 PM EST

Sen. Mark "Uterus" Udall of Colorado is in trouble, according to the polls. His party, which has thrived recently in early voting, is struggling down the stretch:


Udall's birth control-obsessed campaign has been savaged as "obnoxious" and "insulting" by the left-leaning Denver Post editorial board, and his relentless negativity have driven down his own favorability ratings, while Republican Cory Gardner's numbers are above water. The Left's acidic attacks and off-the-wall demagoguery have boomeranged. So with the clock winding down, what have Democrats and their allies decided to do in this race?  Triple down on birth control ads.  This radio offering from the abortion zealots at NARAL is quite literally beyond parody.  Don't believe me?  Listen for yourself, sweet pea:


"Cory Gardner banned birth control...you can't find a condom anywhere, and the pill was just the start...sweet pea, Cory denies science!"

Amazing stuff.  I think the idea here is that Cory Gardner's fictional crusade would result in outright bans on so many forms of contraception that there would be a run on condoms. NARAL doesn't quite paint a picture of Gardner banning those, too -- but he'd surely try, right?  If he fails in outlawing condoms, perhaps he'd personally trek from one drug store to the next buying every Trojan in sight with dirty Koch brothers money.  I also enjoyed the super-scientific term "weirding our weather" to attack Gardner's stance on climate change, which is a far cry from the "denialist" caricature.  Back in reality, the Gardner campaign's latest television ad reminds voters that Mark Udall and friends are lying about birth control, which Gardner has repeatedly advocated making available over-the-counter, without a prescription:


Quinnipiac will publish its final poll of the Gardner/Udall race this week. Their fresh numbers in the governor's race show Republican Bob Beauprez leading embattled incumbent John Hickenlooper by five points, which is a noticeably favorable result for the GOP nominee, if not an outlier. Gardner has been running ahead of Beauprez for months, so don't be surprised to see a statistically-significant lead for the challenger when the data is released.
Daniel Doherty - New Ads: In Final Days, Team Cotton Makes The Race All About Obama
Posted: 10/29/2014 3:45:00 PM EST

Team Cotton has a solid new ad out digging Sen. Mark Pryor for his liberal voting record. It attempts to show how ludicrous it is to agree with someone on virtually everything, which is essentially what Sen. Pryor has done since President Obama was swept into office:

“I don’t agree with my husband 90 percent of the time…”

Meanwhile, the new ad below strikes a similar chord, although it claims Pryor votes with President Obama “93 percent of the time”:

"Sen. Pryor voted for the Obama policies almost every time..."

“It’s a pretty good scam isn’t it?” former President Bill Clinton said at a campaign stop earlier this month. “Give me a six-year job for a two-year protest. That’s Mark Pryor’s opponent’s message.”

It sure is, and it might work, too. Mitt Romney carried Arkansas by roughly 24 percentage points back in 2012. Meanwhile, the incumbent president’s approval ratings now hover around the low 30s, according to two recently conducted polls. But unlike New Hampshire and North Carolina, Arkansas is a crimson state. So while Pryor’s voting record isn’t nearly as ideological as Sen. Jeanne Shaheen’s (D-NH) or Kay Hagan’s (D-NC) – he actually agrees with Cotton on several key issues – voters in Arkansas are predisposed to be more receptive to it.

For many voters, regardless of what the percentage actually is, both ads imply Sen. Pryor’s voting record in Washington is contributing to the partisanship and gridlock that is ruining the country. And for that, Cotton argues, voters should unseat him on Election Day.

Matt Vespa - Tearjerker: No One Is Buying Wendy Davis' Book
Posted: 10/29/2014 3:15:00 PM EST

Just because you filibuster a bill against late-term abortion doesn’t make you an icon, nor does it make you a bestseller. Wendy Davis' book, Forgetting to Be Afraid, is performing miserably–and it’s not like it experienced a shortage of news coverage (via Slate):

Wendy Davis’ book is having a tough time of it. Despite enormous levels of media buzz, Nielsen BookScan numbers provided to Slate by a publishing source show only 4,317 copies of the memoir, called Forgetting to Be Afraid, have been sold since its Sept. 9 publication.

Nielsen BookScan doesn’t include all book sales, notably sales at many independent retailers, so the actual number of copies sold is probably higher, although still likely below 6,000. As a point of comparison, Elizabeth Warren’s memoir, A Fighting Chance, sold more than 70,000 copies in its first few months on shelves. And David Limbaugh’s book Jesus on Trial, which was published the day before Davis’, has sold about 65,000 copies, including 6,778 just last week, according to BookScan.

Since filibustering a new round of abortion regulations in the Texas senate last summer, the Democrats’ long-shot Texas gubernatorial candidate has become a near household name and a hero for pro-choice activists. She appeared on the Daily Show Monday night—which probably will give her book sales a little bump—starred in fawning Vogue and New York Times Magazine profiles, and has become an MSNBC favorite.

Her book’s anemic sales aren’t due to any dearth of coverage. Just about every major media outlet—including the New York Times, the Washington Post, USA Today, Huffington Post, and many others—covered the book’s revelation that Davis has had two abortions, both for medical reasons. But that buzz hasn’t translated into sales. The book’s publisher, Penguin imprint Blue Rider Press, didn’t respond to an email about the lackluster numbers.

Right now, the Texas Democrat is losing to her Republican opponent, Greg Abbott, by double-digits in the Lone Star State's gubernatorial contest; she’s also losing women voters by double-digits.  

Then again, Davis’s campaign was already dead on arrival–and this view wasn’t exclusive to conservatives. Over at the New Republic, Nate Cohn, who’s now with the New York Times, wrote last August that she couldn’t win. The Washington Post even said she wasn’t a “top-tier challenger.”

Over at Ace of Spades, the folks there compiled graphs that showed why Davis won’t win in this year’s gubernatorial contest: the Democratic votes aren’t there.

Texas Democrats haven’t been able to win a statewide election since 1994 and that tradition will most likely continue after next week.