Greg Hengler - Africa: A Forest Fire Throwing Out Sparks
Posted: 10/17/2014 11:55:00 AM EST

On this week's Townhall Weekend Journal:

Bill Bennett talks Ebola with Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. Michael Medved talks with Gordon Chang—author of “Nuclear Showdown: North Korea Takes on the World.” Hugh Hewitt with Erik Stanley of Alliance Defending Freedom talks about the Houston pastors getting subpoenaed by the City Council for any "questionable" speech regarding homosexuality or restrictive gender categories. Bennett and Washington Examiner’s Byron York on the November elections. Hewitt and Senator Lindsay Graham on the KS Senate race and Ebola. Mike Gallagher with Chris Wallace from Fox News discuss the downfall of Democrat Senate candidate, Allison Lundergan-Grimes.

Daniel Doherty - Good News: Obama Appoints Ebola Czar
Posted: 10/17/2014 11:05:00 AM EST

Katie noted earlier today that the president has been toying with the idea of appointing an “Ebola Czar” to deal with this crisis – presumably because the CDC Director and others have failed to do so. Now he has.

According to CNN, the president has tapped Ron Klain for the job, a White House insider who was the point person on the stimulus act and has a reputation in Washington for managerial competence:

President Barack Obama will appoint Ron Klain his "Ebola czar," knowledgeable sources tell CNN.

The president on Thursday signaled his openness to the idea to have one individual coordinating the entire federal response to any threat of an outbreak in the United States.

The news comes on the heels that another agency, the World Organization of Health (WHO), has openly admitted it utterly failed to contain the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

So far, only two people have contracted the virus in the United States.

Guy Benson - Rove: GOP Chances of Winning the Senate Are Improving
Posted: 10/17/2014 10:27:00 AM EST

Republican Svengali Karl RoveWall Street Journalcolumn this week is devoted to assessing the party's electoral standing heading into next month's midterm elections.  He's voiced concerns about the GOP weaknesses and vulnerabilities in recent weeks, noting that netting at least six Senate seats in a single cycle is never an easy task -- even in an auspicious national environment.  With less than three weeks to go, Rove sees a stronger Republican hand:

In this year’s 11 most-competitive Senate contests, Democrats must run far ahead of the president’s job approval to escape defeat. According to the Wednesday Huffington Post’s Pollster aggregate summaries, Mr. Obama’s job approval is 35% or less in Alaska, Arkansas, South Dakota and West Virginia; 40% or less in Colorado, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana and New Hampshire; and 45% or less in North Carolina and Michigan...Money and ad buys matter, but what matters more is whether the quality of the candidates’ messages will attract undecided voters in the final weeks. Here, too, both sides are making different bets. Republicans are counting on undecided voters breaking against the party in power. Democrats are counting on undecideds to stay home or to split evenly, with as many turned off by individual Republican candidates as are down on the president.

This doesn’t appear to be happening. In the Real Clear Politics average of polls, Republican challengers lead in eight of the 11 most-contested races, with nine improving their numbers or margins since Sept. 1. Republicans also lead and have improved their numbers or margins in all three vulnerable GOP seats: Kansas, Kentucky and Georgia. Democrats ran an impressive get-out-the-vote effort in 2012 and say their ground game will produce victory this year. Republicans also are spending heavily and deploying new technology and data...Surprises are possible in the remaining 19 days before the election. But there are a dwindling numbers of cards in the deck, and Republicans appear to have the better hand.

National Journal reports that officials at the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) are projecting a GOP takeover of the Senate next year, but are tamping down expectations of a major red wave:

National Republicans believe they will retake the Senate on Nov. 4. But don't call it a "wave." Asked by reporters at a pen-and-pad briefing Thursday how confident he was that his party would gain control of the chamber, National Republican Senatorial Committee executive director Rob Collins said: "We are going to win the Senate. I feel very good about that." Still, Collins said he would not characterize 2014 as a "wave" election, though he noted that momentum has shifted toward GOP candidates in a handful of red- and purple-state races. "In some ways this hasn't been the wave that everyone's been looking to cover," he said. "And I know that can be frustrating. … But I will say this: If you look at September, you saw Arkansas consistently move and then kind of solidify at 4-5 points. We've seen Alaska move, Iowa move, and Colorado move, Kansas move back toward us, and now we're seeing North Carolina move this weekend." He did acknowledge, though, that races in Georgia and South Dakota—where Democrats have put in late-stage, seven-figure investments—have tightened.

We've been mapping out the math for weeks now.  If Republicans hold the three contested seats they currently control (GA, KS, KY, none of which are 'in the bag' yet) and flip open Democrat-held seats in three states (MT, WV, SD, with the latter being by far the closest), they'll need three more to demote Harry Reid.  They have at least an even shot at winning in Alaska, Arkansas and Louisiana at this stage -- with Colorado and Iowa looking promising, as well.  The North Carolina race has moved back into toss-up territory, while Scott Brown is keeping things close enough in New Hampshire to keep his race on the map.  In the Tar Heel State, Republicans are continuing to press Kay Hagan on questions about sweetheart 'stimulus' deals that financially benefited her immediate family, her bizarre 'attaboy' for the CDC on its handling of Ebola, and her decision to skip a key Armed Services hearing to attend a fundraiser for herself in New York City:

Let's run through a few more ads. In Iowa, Joni Ernst offers a folksy take on government spending; in Alaska, Condoleezza Rice issues a strong endorsement of Dan Sullivan; and in Georgia, women speak out against Obama ally Michelle Nunn -- who recently joined Alison Lundergan Grimes in declining to state whether she voted for the president:

I'll leave you with Colorado Democrat Mark Udall naming the biggest non-issue from which Congress and the country should "move on:"

Nothing to see herefolks.
Conn Carroll - Iowa Democrats Fall Further Behind 2012 Ballot Lead
Posted: 10/17/2014 10:25:00 AM EST

Not only is Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA) trailing Republican Senate candidate Joni Ernst in the polls and fundraising, but Iowa Democrats are also tens of thousands of ballots behind their 2012 pace.

Last night Ernst dominated Braley in their latest debate, artfully turning a Braley lecture about Iraq into a sober reminder that Ernst knows a lot more about "boots on the ground" then Braley ever will.

But the better news for Ernst came this morning from the Iowa Secretary of State's office. As The Washington Post's Greg Sargent notes, Democrats have turned in far more ballots this year than they did at this same point in 2010, although still far behind their 2012 pace. At this point in 2010, Democrats had 60,156 ballots turned in, in 2012 they had 147,234, and now they have 79,751.

So that is great news for Democrats right!?! They aren't matching their 2012 totals when Obama won they state 52 percent to 46 percent, but they are turning in far more ballots than on 2010, when Republican Gov. Terry Branstad won 53 percent to 43 percent?


Sargent is completely ignoring the other half of the picture: how many ballots Republicans are turning in.

According to Iowa Secretary of State data compiled by Ace of Spades HQ, at this point in 2010 Democrats had a 18,835 ballot lead, compared to 2012 when they had a 55,162 ballot lead. But this year, Republican ballots have surged far more than Democrats, and Republicans only trail Democrats by 5,219.

So while Democrats might have appeared to improve their ability to turn out Democratic voters, it appears Republicans have improved even more.

Katie Pavlich - President Obama on Appointing an Ebola Czar: A Point Person Might Be Helpful
Posted: 10/17/2014 8:45:00 AM EST

As the crisis with Ebola continues to get worse, President Obama seems to be seriously considering appointing an unaccountable, unelected "Ebola Czar" to handle the situation. 

Speaking from the White House Thursday night, Obama said a "point person" on Ebola might be helpful. 

He said his team of Ebola advisers is doing "an outstanding job." But he said several of them, including Centers for Disease Control director Thomas Frieden and Lisa Monaco, his top counterterrorism adviser, are also confronting other priorities. He noted that Frieden is also dealing with flu season and Monaco and national security adviser Susan Rice, with the Islamic State extremists in the Middle East.

"It may make sense for us to have one person ... so that after this initial surge of activity we can have a more regular process just to make sure we are crossing all the Ts and dotting all the Is," he said.

Isn't CDC Director Tom Frieden supposed to be the "point person" on this whole thing? What about Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell? President Obama says he has full faith in confidence in Frieden and others handling the situation, so why the need for someone else to take over? There is no need to add another bureaucrat to this problem and will only make things worse. 

Meanwhile, Obama is still refusing to use his pen to implement a travel ban to and from Ebola stricken countries in West Africa.

Obama also said he is "not philosophically opposed" to a travel ban from the Ebola-afflicted region of West Africa "if that is the thing that is going to keep the American people safe." But he said such a measure could be counterproductive.

Katie Pavlich - Watch Joni Ernst Thoroughly Embarrass Bruce Braley When He Tries to Lecture Her About Iraq
Posted: 10/17/2014 8:25:00 AM EST

Last night trial attorney Bruce Braley and Iowa State Senator Joni Ernst squared off in a final debate before voters heads to the polls in November and choose their next U.S. Senator from Iowa. 

During the debate Braley, who infamously belittled farmers in the Hawkeye State, lectured Ernst about how to handle Iraq, about the option of putting U.S. ground troops back in the region and on the ongoing threat of ISIS. Ernst responded by reminding Braley she served in Iraq and that her boots were on the very ground ISIS controls today.

"I will remind you, that I have served in Iraq. My boots were on the ground now held by ISIS," Ernst said, adding that she would carefully consider the circumstances before voting to send U.S. men and women into harms way.

According to Real Clear Politics, Ernst is beating Braley by two points.

Daniel Doherty - "You Never Do Say Never”
Posted: 10/16/2014 9:00:00 PM EST

When Ann Romney isn’t making the world a better place, she’s fending off questions about whether or not her husband will run again for president in 2016. Earlier this week, for example, she said her family was “Done. Done. Done.” with electoral politics. Today on CNN, however, she struck a different, softer kind of tone.

Clearly, Ann Romney doesn't want to go through the hellish and exhausting ordeal of another presidential campaign. But does she definitively rule it out? Nope:

“You know, you never do say never…but we’re concerned and we are still going to be involved, but not in that way.”

Inadvertently, as the anchor pointed out, Ann Romney just made a very strong case for why her husband should run. Given all the challenges and crises the nation faces, she implied, who better to lead the nation than a guy who “turns around companies, turned around the Olympics, and was a great governor?” She also said her husband would have been a “great president” -- and no doubt all of his supporters would agree. But if he would have been a great president in 2012, what’s to say he wouldn’t be one in 2016? What's changed?

If you asked me several months ago, I would have said there’s zero chance Mitt Romney is running again. Now I’m not entirely sure. I still think it’s highly unlikely, but if early polls show him besting the presumptive Democratic nominee in Iowa (and Jeb Bush ultimately says no), a guy who once called failed presidential nominees "loser[s] for life” might find himself seriously entertaining the idea.

Leah Barkoukis - Land Campaign Demands Apology From Newspaper for ‘Sexist Comments and Absurd Claims of Blackmail’
Posted: 10/16/2014 8:00:00 PM EST

Senate hopeful Terri Lynn Land’s campaign is refusing to sit down with the Detroit Free Press for an endorsement meeting unless the paper changes an Oct. 4 column with sexist commentary about the former secretary of state. The column, written by Brian Dickerson, said that Land was as accessible “as a music video diva recovering from plastic surgery.” Now, the paper is calling that request a form of blackmail.

"You will never see us acquiesce to this sort of blackmailing in the way to try and condition an endorsement interview on some sort of effort on our part — that’s just not how we do things," Free Press editorial page editor Stephen Henderson told Politico. "I have never seen a campaign condition an endorsement interview on an apology for a column before. I’m beyond puzzled, mystified would be the right word."

Henderson said the Land campaign has "dodged" their request for an endorsement interview for more than a month. After sending an initial invitation in late September and answering some questions from the campaign, the paper sent a second invitation on Oct. 6.

The first they heard from the campaign was on Wednesday, when the blast email said the campaign was calling on the Free Press to "to correct (a) sexist attack on Terri Lynn Land." For Land to be "open to considering a meeting" with the Free Press editorial board, they would first have to correct the "deeply offensive" column.

In the Oct. 4 op-ed, Dickerson, who also sits on the Free Press editorial board, wrote that Land has been accessible "up to this point in her campaign as a music video diva recovering from plastic surgery." He also called a radio interview Land participated in "a maddening exercise in evasion, obfuscation and incomprehensibility."

Henderson said the Land campaign did not reach out to him after Dickerson's column ran, and that he doesn’t think they “have any intention to come in.”

"This is a way to try and make it look as though we‘ve done something to prevent her from coming in here, but in fact, this request has been out there for more than month," Henderson said.

The Land campaign said in the email they have met with the editorial boards of MLive and the Detroit News and are planning to meet with the Lansing State Journal, the Battle Creek Enquirer and others before Election Day.

“Rather than admit they’ve demeaned a woman and apologize, the Detroit Free Press has doubled down,” Land campaign spokeswoman Heather Swift said in a statement. “They should stop gaslighting a woman, and own up to what they did. One more thing: We’re not ducking editorial boards—we’re meeting with every major paper in the state. The Detroit Free Press Editorial Board should stop acting like they are in an episode of Mad Men, and apologize. Of course our campaign has the right to expect a fair and respectful environment from any interview and following the sexist comments and absurd claims of blackmail we do not feel their actions are living up to those standards and we respectfully decline."

Ky Sisson - Arizona Gubernatorial Candidate: 14-Year-Olds Can Have an Abortion Without Parental Consent
Posted: 10/16/2014 7:00:00 PM EST

Attention parents in Arizona: Fred DuVal is totally okay with your child (14-years-old, for example) to have an abortion unbeknownst to you. Why? DuVal believes "reproductive freedom" should lie solely in the hands of your children, not you. 

DuVal was being interviewed at a private event in a church where he shared his stance on abortions for minors:

Host: "Notarized parental consent? Parental notification?"

DuVal: "[sigh] Uh, consent, no. Because I believe that then gives the choice of reproductive freedom to the parents and not to the expectant mother and I believe the expectant mother has that…"

Host: "And she’s 14…"

DuVal: "Yeah."

Watch how nonchalant he is on the issue:

Arizonans are not happy about his remarks. Arizona Republican Party Chairman Robert Graham said in an email, "Fred DuVal is denying the role parents have in raising and loving their own children...DuVal is a candidate who has an incredible disregard for family life as we know it. Forget everyday political issues like taxes and budgets and tuition costs. Fred DuVal is the worst thing that could happen to families in Arizona."

"Mr. DuVal's position to remove parents from a decision of life and death is completely reckless," said Pastor Jose Gonzales of Harvest Bible Church in Phoenix, Arizona. 

"Regardless of your position on abortion, we cannot possibly leave these types of decisions to developing minds. We are entering an age where parental involvement is increasingly important, but to even suggest that a minor, much less a 14 year-old, can intelligently comprehend the long-term impact of such an action is absurd," said Gonzalez in an email.

A 2011 Gallup poll found that 71 percent of Americans approve of "requiring women under 18 to get parental consent for any abortion." 

With the election less than three weeks away, Republican Doug Ducey leads DuVal in the polls. The latest poll by CBS News has Ducey up 50-39 percent over Duval. 

Matt Vespa - Sen. Kay Hagan: CDC 'Is Certainly Giving Us Great Guidance' On Ebola
Posted: 10/16/2014 6:00:00 PM EST

As Ebola’s arrival in America becomes a more pervasive story, some candidates in the 2014 election are weighing in on the subject. Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan of North Carolina took some time to say that the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is “giving us great guidance, but we've got to make sure the implementation is perfect.”

These remarks come after a second nurse caring for Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian citizen who became the first person diagnosed with Ebola in the United States, had become infected with the virus. The nurse, Amber Vinson, was about to fly to Cleveland from Dallas, but was experiencing a fever. She contacted the CDC about her symptoms. They told her she could fly on a commercial airliner because her fever wasn’t considered “high risk” at the time.

So, it seems the guidance isn’t great–and the implementation is far from perfect.

Earlier this week, over at, investigative reporter Brittany Hughes got a rather interesting answer from CDC director Dr. Tom Frieden about Ebola's virulence. He said that you can't catch Ebola from an infected person sitting on a bus, but if a person is infected, they should not ride public transportation because they could spread the disease or something [emphasis mine]:

Dr. Tom Frieden, director of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), said during a telephone press briefing Wednesday that you cannot get Ebola by sitting next to someone on a bus, but that infected or exposed persons should not ride public transportation because they could transmit the disease to someone else.


During the conference call, asked Frieden: “In a video message to countries in West Africa that are experiencing Ebola outbreaks, President Obama told residents they cannot get the disease by sitting next to someone on a bus. But CDC recommendations state that travelers in West Africa who begin to show possible symptoms, or people who have experienced a high risk of exposure, should avoid public transportation, including buses. And we’ve also seen large amounts of concern regarding potentially infected people traveling on airplanes.

“My first question is, did the CDC vet this video message before it was released and posted on U.S. embassy websites, and is it true that a person runs absolutely no risk of contracting Ebola on public transportation, such as a bus?”

“Yes, CDC vetted the message, and, yes, we believe it’s accurate,” Frieden responded.

“I think there are two different parts of that equation,” he continued. “The first is, if you’re a member of the traveling public and are healthy, should you be worried that you might have gotten it by sitting next to someone? And the answer is no.”

“Second, if you are sick and you may have Ebola, should you get on a bus? And the answer to that is also no. You might become ill, you might have a problem that exposes someone around you,” he said.

Given that our government once said that we could protect ourselves from a chemical or biological attack by buying duct tape, this confusion–or lack of rationale–shouldn't be shocking. 

H/T Weekly Standard