Matt Vespa - While Hagan's Stimulus Drama Intensifies, GOP Claims NC Senate Race Is Tied
Posted: 10/16/2014 3:02:00 PM EST

Sen. Kay Hagan’s family allegedly profiting from stimulus money is the latest salvo from Republicans; a Politico story found that her husband’s company received almost $400,000 from the president’s program. Now, it’s not just Hagan. Politico also cited Thom Tillis’ 2010 vote that allowed a bank where he had a financial stake in to receive energy tax credits. Yet, one could argue that Hagan’s possible ethics violation is worse given that she’s was a U.S. Senator who approved the nearly $1 trillion package aimed at jump-starting the economy.

Now, it seems that her husband, Chip, pocketed the savings from the stimulus cash injection (via Carolina Journal):

JDC Manufacturing, a company co-owned by Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan’s husband Charles “Chip” Hagan, lowered the total cost of a 2010 stimulus-funded energy project but kept all of the savings, sending none back to taxpayers who had funded the stimulus grant.

The company’s original application stated the total project would cost $438,627, and said JDC would contribute “leveraged funds” amounting to $187,983, or 43 percent of the total. As the project reached completion, however, JDC revised the total budget downward by $114,519 and applied all the savings to its share, keeping all the taxpayer funding.

Also, JDC’s decision to hire Solardyne/Green State Power, a separate company co-owned by Chip Hagan and the Hagans’ son Tilden, to install a portion of the stimulus-funded energy project at the JDC building appears to violate a conflict-of-interest provision that was included as part of the original application for the stimulus grant.

JDC stressed “interests,” as well, in its application for the stimulus grant it submitted Aug. 11, 2010. The company included a copy of its conflict of interest policy, which states: “A conflict of interest occurs when an employee/board member has a direct or fiduciary interest in another relationship. Employees are to avoid any conflict of interest, even the appearance of a conflict of interest. The appearance of a conflict of interest can cause embarrassment to the company, jeopardizing the credibility of the company. Any conflict of interest, potential conflict of interest, or the appearance of a conflict of interest should be reported to your supervisor immediately.”

Hagan has already admitted to skipping an Armed Services hearing on ISIS to fundraise last February, which is probably why she left the third debate last week without holding a press conference.

Regardless, we should be shocked if we see this story, which found its way into last week’s debate, used against her in the final weeks of the 2014 campaign. Both sides have filed ethics complaints against each other.

In the meantime, Hagan reiterated her record at a NAACP convention earlier this week, noting that she supported hundreds of millions of dollars in grants to black universities and colleges across the state.

Thom Tillis will be getting a nice $6 million ad blitz thanks to the National Republican Senatorial Committee, which is on top of the $3 million they had already budgeted to spend in this tight race.

Brad Dayspring, communications director for the NRSC, said, “Our internals show that North Carolina is starting to break toward Thom Tillis, and we are prioritizing the North Carolina race, ensuring that Tillis has the resources necessary to defeat Kay Hagan.”

On the ad war front, Sen. Rand Paul did this ad for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, who recently endorsed Tillis. Last Monday, Speaker Tillis traveled the state, drumming up support for his economic policies.

Hagan’s allies in the Environmental Defense Action Fund and the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee slammed Tillis for “protecting polluters” and warned voters about bringing his Raleigh agenda to Washington.

As for the war chests on both sides, Tillis had a $3.4 million third quarter haul, but Hagan still outraised him by bringing in $4.9 million. Nevertheless, according to the New York Times, Tillis’ fundraising efforts should not go unnoticed:

Thom Tillis, the speaker of the North Carolina State House of Representatives, who has struggled to attract big donors since winning his party’s nomination in May, nearly matched the cash intake of Senator Kay Hagan, one of the Democrats’ best fund-raisers. He ended the quarter with more money than Ms. Hagan, who spent an eye-popping $11.6 million during that period but who has also booked more than twice as much advertising time as Mr. Tillis, in dollar terms, for the final five weeks of the campaign.

“We have bulked up our buy in western North Carolina, where we were being outspent the most, and we are also putting resources toward low-propensity Republicans,” said Daniel Keylin, a Tillis spokesman. “Polling shows Thom has a lead with high-interest voters, and we are working to get some more low-propensity conservative Democrats in the pool.”

Earlier today, Robin Collins, Executive Director of the NRSC, asserted that Tillis has erased Hagan’s slight lead in the polls less than a month away from Election Day. Yes, there was a lot of lackluster news coming out of North Carolina on the Republican side, but things seem to be looking up for the Tillis campaign.

Katie Pavlich - Obama's Next Executive Order: Sending The National Guard to Fight Ebola in Africa
Posted: 10/16/2014 2:35:00 PM EST

President Obama will sign an executive order as soon as today deploying National Guard troops to Ebola stricken countries in West Africa according to a report from NBC News.

President Barack Obama is expected to issue an executive order Thursday paving the way for the deployment of National Guard forces to Liberia to help contain the Ebola outbreak there, sources told NBC News.

The sources said that eight engineers and logistical specialists from the Guard, both active-duty and reservists, would probably be included in the first deployment. They are expected to help build 17 Ebola treatment centers, with 100 beds apiece. The sources said that no decision had been made.

Fox News' Ed Henry confirmed this afternoon that a draft of the order is circulating through the White House and Pentagon.

A month ago President Obama announced the deployment of thousands of U.S. soldiers to Ebola stricken regions in Africa. The original number of soldiers deployed for the task was 3,000 but the Pentagon has upped that number to 4,000 this week. 

At this point it is unclear what National Guard troops will be tasked with doing or how they will be protected from contracting the disease once they arrive. Earlier this month we learned U.S. military soldiers and medical personnel will be handling Ebola infected blood samples.

The U.S. military mission to combat Ebola in West Africa is facing questions about the serious health risks American troops will encounter in heading to the epicenter of the deadly outbreak.

According to officials, a small group of trained military medical technicians on the ground will not be required to make direct contact with patients infected with the Ebola virus. However, they will have to handle infected blood samples, which Pentagon officials acknowledged Tuesday could be just as dangerous, if not more.

More information on this news will be available this afternoon.

Daniel Doherty - Womp Womp: "One-Fifth" of Dems in Massachusettts Are Undecided
Posted: 10/16/2014 2:35:00 PM EST

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Martha Coakley might not lose on Election Day, but here are a few questions keeping Bay State Democrats up at night:

Why is Coakley failing to bring out the base? Is there something about her candidacy that Democrats don’t like or trust? Why, for that matter, are so many Democratic partisans in the state wallowing in uncertainty and indecision? As WMUR’s Paul McMorrow recently explained, Coakley has a slight problem on her hands:

Six weeks of WBUR tracking polls in the race for governor show Coakley struggling to rally the Democratic base to her side. The most recent WBUR poll showed Coakley garnering support from just 62 percent of Democrats (not including leaners). Coakley’s standing among registered Democrats has barely moved since the end of August, when she was polling at 63 percent among Democrats in a matchup against Baker.

It’s not that Baker has made significant inroads among Democrats: In August, he was winning 11 percent of the Democratic vote, and in last week’s poll, he was capturing 15 percent. (Baker took 14 percent of the Democratic vote against Patrick in 2010.) But since the end of the summer, one-fifth of Democratic voters have been sitting on the fence, undecided between Coakley and Baker. The longer they stay away from home, the tougher Coakley’s path to victory gets.

Democratic voters have been unusually cool to their party’s nominee this year. At this point in the Warren-Brown Senate race, a WBUR poll had Warren up among Democrats, 72 to 21, with just 7 percent of Democrats undecided. A Suffolk University survey in late September 2012 showed Warren capturing 81 percent of the Democratic vote, with 6 percent undecided. Compared to those two data points, Coakley’s inability to consolidate the Democratic vote looms large. Her current deficit among independents is in line with the figures Patrick and Warren posted against Baker and Brown. But Coakley can’t afford to concede scores of unenrolled voters to Baker if she can’t make up the difference with a lopsided victory among Democrats.

In other words, if Democrats abandon her at the polls, she’s probably going to lose. This is why she cannot allow Democrats to sit at home and wait for Elizabeth Warren to run for president before they vote again. Worse, Rasmussen Reports’ hot-off-the-press survey released today (unlike WBUR’s offering yesterday) shows her already losing:

A new Rasmussen Reports statewide telephone survey of Likely Massachusetts Voters finds Republican Charlie Baker picking up 48% of the vote to Democratic Attorney General Martha Coakley’ 46%. Two percent (2%) prefer some other candidate, while five percent (5%) are undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Needless to say, Coakley has a lot riding on this race. Will she be remembered as the "Bill Buckner of politics,” or as a pioneering, glass-ceiling-shattering state governor?

We’ll know soon enough.

Sarah Jean Seman - Chilling Reenactment Brings Horrors of ISIS Sex Trade to London
Posted: 10/16/2014 2:10:00 PM EST

Add ‘sex trafficking’ to the growing list of horrific practices carried out by ISIS. The jihadist group has been attacking Christians, Yezidi, Shaback, and Kurdish families, killing the men and using or selling the women and children as sex slaves. At least 7,000 people are believed to be held captive.

ISIS defended the practice Sunday in its online English-language magazine the Dabiq:

One should remember that enslaving the families of the kuffar -- the infidels -- and taking their women as concubines is a firmly established aspect of the Shariah, or Islamic law.

The horrors of ISIS’ daily practices seem so removed and archaic, that Kurdish activists decided to bring a reality check to the people of London by reenacting a scene one might commonly see in the so-called “Islamic State.”

IJReview spoke with Karam Kruda, who used the megaphone in the video, to find out why they took this demonstration to the streets:

We wanted them to see how ISIS is bringing back practices from centuries ago. In reality, the barbaric nature of their actions and why it so desperately needs to be kept from spreading.

When women are sold like poultry in a bazaar it is inhumane and tear-jerking. Many of the girls managed to call their families on mobile phones whilst in the brothels and said please, please bomb us. When you hear about instances like that, you just want the world to feel it

According to a recent report by the United Nations women and children who refuse to convert to Islam are being given to ISIS fighters to use or are being trafficked as slaves in the markets in Mosul and to Raqqa in Syria 

Conn Carroll - How Should Conservatives Respond to the Campus Hook Up Culture?
Posted: 10/16/2014 1:41:00 PM EST

"Is California's new "Affirmative Consent" law really that bad?"

That was my initial reaction to California's new law requiring all colleges that receive state funds to adopt an "affirmative consent" standard for all student disciplinary cases involving sexual assault charges.

After reading a slew of conservative concerns about the policy over the past week, I'm still not worked about it. 

For starters, I still haven't read about a single actual case that makes me sympathize with the accused. Heather Mac Donald's John Doe comes the closest here, but that case doesn't even involve affirmative consent (the college found that the victim was drunk and therefore unable to give any consent, affirmative or otherwise). More importantly, I am just unable to shed any tears for those who runs afoul of campus authorities over their drunken hook up shenanigans. Colleges should have every right to punish boorish behavior, and John Doe's definitely was.

Ross Douthat advances a subtler critique, worrying that while the law will do nothing to encourage better male behavior it will somehow "lock in" a "kind of toxic misogyny" that conservatives should be more concerned about. 

As I admitted earlier, I am highly skeptical of the law's ability to change how males on college campuses behave, but unlike Douthat, I believe that door swings both ways. To the extent their is a "twisted macho transgressiveness that exists in permanent symbiosis" with politically correct attempts to manage it, I doubt this law will change much of anything, much less "lock in" any particular culture.

So how should conservatives respond to the campus hook up culture? I think Douthat already identified the ideal conservative policy response in his earlier post on the liberal case for affirmative consent laws: lower the drinking age from 21 to 18. Douthat writes:

The key problem in college sexual culture right now isn’t drinking per se; it’s blackout drinking, which follows from binge drinking, which is more likely to happen when a drinking culture is driven underground.

Undoing the federal government’s Reagan-era imposition of a higher drinking age is probably too counterintuitive for lawmakers to contemplate. And obviously it wouldn’t eliminate the lure of the keg stand or tame the recklessness of youth. But it would create an opportunity for a healthier approach to alcohol consumption — more social and relaxed, less frantic and performative — to take root in collegiate culture once again.

Just to add some purely anecdotal evidence to Douthat's case, I rushed a fraternity my sophomore year on campus for the explicit purpose of gaining access to alcohol and I disaffiliated from the same fraternity shortly after I turned 21. On a related note, my weekly alcohol consumption actually fell after I was legally allowed to buy a drink.

Perhaps, instead of freaking out about government invading our bedrooms, we could work with liberals to shrink government, lower alcohol abuse, and fight sexual assault. 

Guy Benson - LOL: Prominent Sports Blog Tries to Attack GOP Senate Candidate, Humiliates Itself
Posted: 10/16/2014 12:01:00 PM EST

In what might be the strangest attempted 'opposition research' dump of the election cycle, the sports blog Deadspin published an item Wednesday evening accusing Colorado Republican Senate nominee of lying about having played high school football. The report, which was quickly exposed as absolutely false, didn't even attempt to conceal its authors' political agenda (content warning):

Breaking news: Politician makes shit up! For your consideration: Rep. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) and his football career. After nearly two terms in the U.S. House of Representatives, Gardner is trying to take his game to the next level by running for the Senate seat occupied by Democrat Mark Udall. The battle, pitting Gardner's homo-hatin' and climate-change-denyin' conservatism against Udall's Jesus-free liberal ways, has been too close to call….The Washington Post ran a long story about the campaign this week. Reporter Karen Tumulty opened the piece with a riff that had Gardner talking about his days playing high school football, and how the current opposition's campaign strategy reminds him of that experience….First: So, in high school, Gardner played both ways? No way, says Chuck Pfalmer, a now-retired Yuma High School teacher: "Cory Gardner wasn't on the football team." Everybody around Yuma (pop. 3,524) knows everybody around Yuma. Even when Gardner was a kid, folks around town saw him as somebody who was going to run for political office someday... Gardner, who graduated in 1993, never played in any of the Yuma games Pfalmer saw under the Friday night lights. Not at "fullback" or "middle linebacker" or anywhere else.

The online Left went bonkers with gleeful excitement.  This was the game-changer they needed in the race!  Gardner's been caught in an insignificant but embarrassing lie!  And then came two tweets from the candidate himself, followed by a statement from his campaign spokesman.  Boom:

"Cory Gardner played football from Junior High through Sophomore year in high school."  It gets better.  The Denver Post, whose editorial board attracted attention by endorsing the Republican last week, followed up on Deadspin's embarrassing hatchet job, and shredded it to pieces -- using Deadspin's own top source:

The main source for the story by the online site Deadspin — a former Yuma High School teacher who had Gardner as a student and kept football stats — says the report mischaracterized his comments. Gardner graduated from the Eastern Plains high school in 1993. In fact, says Deadspin source Chuck Pfalmer, Gardner played football his freshman through junior years in high school. "He was not a starter, but he played in those years," said Pfalmer, 77, who retired from the high school in 1997. Pfalmer's recollection contrasts starkly with the Deadspin story's headline: "Is A Colorado Senate Candidate Lying About His Football Career?" "That's a low blow about (Gardner)," Pfalmer told The Denver Post Wednesday afternoon. He had not yet seen Deadspin's story. "I'll tell you this: I'm proud to know him. He's a very intelligent man. I don't have nothing against him. He's one of my best students." The editor of Yuma's local newspaper also disputed the thrust of the Deadspin story. He's cited briefly in the story, though not by name.

Oops. Click through to read the former coach quote from an email he says he sent to the Deadspin reporter confirming that Gardner played high school ball, and even recorded several tackles during his career, which Gardner jokes was "unheralded."  Good work, Deadspin.  And bravo, cackling Democrats who pumped this story until it blew up in their faces.  Gardner leads Democratic incumbent Sen. Mark Udall by four points in the latest CNN poll.  I'll leave you with this:

If you don't get the reference, read this post from 2010.  Connecticut liberals elected a man who lied throughout his entire adult life about serving in Vietnam without batting an eye, and it wasn't even close.  And the hyenas who were ready to crucify Cory Gardner over high school football are pleased as punch that Blumenthal is in the Senate.

UPDATE - A new Q-poll puts Gardner ahead by a touchdown.
Katie Pavlich - Washington Post: Attack Ad Blaming Republican Cuts for Lack of Ebola Funding is 'Absurd' and 'Extreme'
Posted: 10/16/2014 12:00:00 PM EST

Earlier this week the far left activist group Agenda Project released an advertisement showing the dead bodies of Ebola victims in Africa and blamed Republican budget cuts for the outbreak. Agenda Project is the same group that produced the 2012 election ad portraying Paul Ryan pushing Grandma off a cliff. In case you missed it: 

The ad is obviously over the top and classless, but it's also very false. The Washington Post fact checker took a look at the ad, its claims and determined it deserves four Pinocchios with a description of "absurd."

This ad is simply a more extreme version of a new Democratic talking point — that GOP budget cuts have harmed the nation’s ability to handle the Ebola outbreak. It mixes statistics — the budget for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) “cut” $585 million (the ad offers no date range) — with disturbing images of the outbreak and various Republican leaders saying variations of the word “cut.”

On many levels, this line of attack is absurd.

Obama’s Republican predecessor oversaw big increases in public-health sector spending, and both Democrats and Republicans in recent years have broadly supported efforts to rein in federal spending. Sequestration resulted from a bipartisan agreement. In some years, Congress has allocated more money for NIH and CDC than the Obama administration requested. Meanwhile, contrary to the suggestion of the DCCC ad, there never was a specific vote on funding to prevent Ebola.

There’s no doubt that spending has been cut, or at least failed to keep pace with inflation, but the fingerprints of both parties are on the knives. This blame game earns Four Pinocchios.

Earlier this week I attempted to debate the founder of Agenda Project, Erica Payne, about the ad on Hannity. Unfortunately, she doesn't have any TV manners nor a good argument to justify the ad.

Daniel Doherty - Good News: Government Revenues Finally Exceed $3 Trillion
Posted: 10/16/2014 11:30:00 AM EST

To use Mark Steyn’s cutting phrase, the “Brokest Nation in History” took in an unprecedented $3 trillion this fiscal year. And yet, during that same period, the federal government also spent hundreds of billions of dollars more than it collected.

CNS News' Ali Meyer broke down the figures:

Inflation-adjusted federal tax revenues not only hit a record high in fiscal 2014, but marked the first time that tax revenues have ever topped $3 trillion, according to the latest Monthly Treasury Statement. In fiscal year 2014, inflation-adjusted federal tax revenues hit a record $3,020,848,000,000, but the federal government still ran a $483,350,000,000 deficit during that time.

Moreover, tax revenues (when adjusted for inflation) are about 115 percent higher today than they were when Jimmy Carter was president:

To get a historical perspective on government tax revenues recorded more than 30 years ago, in 1977, the federal government collected $1,400,661,760,000 in inflation-adjusted revenue in fiscal year 1977. This means that since then, revenues have more than doubled, increasing by 115.7 percent.

President Obama once allegedly said “we don’t have a spending problem.” We can't know with certainty if he said this, but if he did, perhaps he should consult his own Treasury Department's most recent monthly statement.

By their count, the nation is clearly on the path to insolvency.

Conn Carroll - Townhall Magazine's November Issue Preview: Uber Republicans
Posted: 10/16/2014 9:50:00 AM EST

Townhall Magazine's November issue is hitting subscriber mailboxes now! If you want to get the latest original content from Townhall's conservative talent weeks before it goes online, subscribe here now!

Below is an excerpt from Kevin Glass's November cover story, "Uber Republicans."

One of the hottest issues for the national Republican Party in the fall of a midterm election year is... taxi regulation?

It sounds odd, but it’s true. The Republican National Committee has been trying to make a national issue out of Uber, the pseudo-taxi service smartphone app that has experienced explosive growth and many local regulatory fights.

It hasn’t always been about Uber, specifically, but rather the larger issue of disruptive upstart companies undermining the legitimacy of the existing regulatory state. A growing number of Republicans believe this battle can be used to make serious inroads with a younger demographic, which currently skews heavily Democratic.

The Peer-To-Peer Economy
The phrase that pays with venture capitalists and Silicon Valley investors nowadays is “the peer-to-peer economy.” Much has been written about this emerging business model but it can be boiled down to this: Entrepreneurs are using the Internet to connect people directly to each other to exchange goods and services. Think about how eBay lets users sell directly to each other, or how StubHub connects live event fans to re-sell tickets.

What the peer-to-peer economy does, among other things, is circumvent the government. Re-sold products don’t have to pass safety inspections. Craigslist transactions often pass under the nose of the IRS. But it’s not clear that any of these services are more unsafe than, say, pawnshops or garage sales. Peer-to- peer apps just make these things easier and more available on a wider scale. The Internet makes a yard sale available to the entire country.

Nearly every industry has a “sharing” aspect to it now. EatWith is an app for non-professional chefs to welcome guests into their home. 1000 Tools allows those with home projects to borrow tools from each other rather than renting or buying from a big-box store. TaskRabbit can help you find amateur contractors and other home services. Airbnb lets hosts rent out rooms or their entire homes on a short-term basis to visitors. But the granddaddy of them all—the biggest company and the biggest lightning rod in the industry—is Uber.

Uber is a private car service that competes with traditional taxicabs but with the convenience of a smartphone. You sign up for an account, enter credit card information, and the service will use your phone’s location to find a nearby car. Often, in less than ten minutes, a car will be at your door.

There are a few different levels of service with Uber. The Black Car service is similar to a private limo service—high- end vehicles, privacy, trained drivers. But Uber’s political opponents object most to its UberX service—something closer to ridesharing in which anyone could use their own car to become an Uber driver. ...

You can read the rest of "Uber Republicans" in Townhall Magazine's November issue.   
Katie Pavlich - In The Hot Seat: CDC Director to Testify on Capitol Hill About Botched Ebola Response
Posted: 10/16/2014 8:55:00 AM EST

CDC Director Tom Frieden is under fire over the agency's botched handling of Ebola in the United States after a series of major missteps, including officials giving the green light to a nurse exposed to the disease to fly on a commercial airplane with a fever.

Today Frieden will field tough questions from lawmakers when he testifies in front of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

“The Ebola outbreak is a global public health issue that demands an all-hands-on-deck response. We cannot afford to look back and say we could have done more. The United States has a first-class health care system and we will do everything necessary to treat the sick, contain the threat, and protect the public health," Chairman Fred Upton said in a statement. "As the Ebola outbreak becomes a growing public health concern here in the US, the Energy and Commerce Committee is reviewing all aspects of the federal response. From the decisions of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to airline passenger screening procedures by Customs and Border Patrol, our goal is to ensure every step necessary is being taken to contain and prevent the spread of this disease and protect public health ” said Murphy. “We look forward to hearing directly from CDC Director Frieden about current efforts and whether those are sufficient to stop the spread of this deadly disease and ensure health and safety of all Americans.”

U.S. Food and Drug Administration Assistant Commissioner Dr. Luciana Borio, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority at the Department of Health and Human Services Dr. Robin Robinson, Homeland Security Acting Assistant Commissioner Mr. John P. Wagner and Chief Clinical Officer and Senior Vice President of Texas Health Resources Dr. Daniel Varga will also testify. 

The hearing starts at 12 p.m. ET. You can watch live here.