Iowa's Senate race is as tight as ever, according to a new Des Moines Register survey, with Republican Joni Ernst holding a slim one-point edge (47/46) over Democrat Bruce Braley. Ernst led in this polling series by six points last month, albeit with far more undecided voters. With three weeks to go, the contest is a dead heat. Ernst and Braley met in a televised debate on Saturday night, at which the Democrat tried to draw a bizarre connection between one of Ernst's GOP primary television ads and a terrible shooting in California:
"She was asked about her ad that she ran in the primary, where she was shooting a pistol into the camera, and saying 'let me take aim at Obamacare.' It came out right before the tragic shooting in Santa Barbara. She was asked if she regretted [the ad], and she called it an unfortunate accident. And I don't think it was an accident to the victims and their families."
This is, to put it charitably, revolting and demagogic garbage. Ernst's ad was uploaded to YouTube on May 4, and it's just about the least menacing thing you'll ever see. The Santa Barbara spree occurred weeks later, halfway across the country, and was perpetrated by a mentally unsound 22-year-old consumed by deadly misogyny. Braley's ghoulish effort to connect the two was as clumsy as it was nonsensical. A lighthearted political ad featuring an Iowa candidate shooting at the range had absolutely nothing to do with a deranged person's murder spree in California. Of course the timing was an unfortunate, unrelated accident. "Bruce Bailey" evidently disagrees, or he's at least willing to recklessly imply some sort of correlation here, in order to scurrilously link his opponent to bloodshed. Truly vile stuff. At another point in the evening, Braley was challenged on his views on guns. He asserted that he's never met anti-gun billionaire Michael Bloomberg. Republicans immediately began circulating one of Braley's own press releases touting his appearance at a 'No Labels' conference, where he was "joined by" Bloomberg:
The nation is not becoming libertarian, but the pendulum is swinging back toward liberty. HotAir.com's Noah Rothman reports for Townhall Magazine.
In August, New York Times reporter Robert Draper asked if America’s “libertarian moment” had finally arrived. Citing voters’ increasing trepidation about overseas interventionism and the apparent popularity of a laissez faire approach to divisive cultural issues, Draper observed that just such a “moment” was upon us.
The aestas horribilis of 2014 did advance the ball for libertarianism, but the complex American civic psyche often frustrates political taxonomists. It was more a form of conservatarianism—a synthesis of center-right philosophical approaches to unique sets of challenges—that was ascendant.
In late August, the shooting of an unarmed black teenager by a white police officer set the city of Ferguson, Missouri on fire. The suspicious circumstances of the teen’s death prompted familiar protests to erupt in the state and around the country. Unlike the response to racially charged incidents in the recent past, however, the civil unrest that followed this shooting was characterized by rioting, attacks on police, and the wonton destruction of property.
The response from the police was authoritative, but it was also indiscriminate. Peaceful demonstrators, rioters, and members of the press alike all felt the heavy hand of a militarized police force. The political reaction was astonishing; Right and Left, liberal and conservative, Americans of disparate racial and social backgrounds were alarmed. They did not recognize responders in Ferguson as the servants of a self-governed people.
Libertarian-leaning conservatives had long warned of a disturbing trend in which American police forces had adopted a pseudo-military posture. Suddenly, on the streets of Ferguson, the theoretical threat to American civil liberties materialized.
Openly libertarian leaders like Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI) and Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) expressed their revulsion over the warlike response of the police to protests without regard to their level of unruliness. Tea party favorite Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), while also expressing his appreciation for the dangerous work in which law enforcement professionals engage, condemned the unexplained detention of reporters covering the unrest in Ferguson.
Liberal commentators who feared that civil rights had taken a backseat amid efforts to impose order welcomed their sentiments. Few on the Left dared to oppose the emerging consensus between Left and Right, and those who did were not rewarded. Utterly missing the moment, civil rights leader and Democratic icon Rep. John Lewis (D-GA) determined that the proper response to the unrest in Ferguson was to ask the president to “declare martial law” and “federalize the Missouri National Guard.” Perhaps hoping not to offend, Lewis’ ideological comrades largely ignored his comments.
“There’s a big difference between our military and local law enforcement and we don’t want those lines blurred,” President Obama finally conceded as violence between police and protesters continued to escalate. “That would be contrary to our traditions.”
This was a libertarian moment, but the summer was not wholly one of victories for those in favor of a smaller government footprint. Overseas, Americans bore witness to the fruits of a policy of benign neglect. Crises on three continents exploded, culminating in the rise of the worst threat to human dignity in generations.
In Europe, a revanchist Russia reacted to the imposition of economic sanctions in response to the invasion and annexation of the Crimean peninsula with an even more brazen campaign to destabilize Ukraine. The mirage of insulation enjoyed in the West was shattered in July when nearly 300 civilians, most of them Western Europeans, were blown out of the sky after pro-Moscow militants fired a sophisticated Russian missile at a pas- senger plane.
In Libya, where the president had celebrated the conclusion of a brief campaign to oust Muammar Gaddafi just three years prior, Islamist militants sacked town after town and encircled the capital.
And in Syria and Iraq, the Islamic State established a caliphate and engaged in a campaign of horrors the likes of which the world has not witnessed since the mid-20th century. There, the United States was made to pay for its inaction in 2013.
A year ago, most Americans regularly told pollsters that they objected to the president’s plan to execute airstrikes in Syria aimed at containing that conflagrating conflict. Obama relented to public pressure then, and the cancer in Syria metastasized. After months of dithering even after it became clear the Syrian civil war had developed into a regional conflict, Obama was forced to act. When the president finally ordered airstrikes in Iraq in order to relieve the pressure on American diplomatic and military personnel and to prevent the extermination of Iraqi minorities, he did so with the support of bipartisan majorities. Americans had once again internalized the bloody lessons of disengagement.
The message of the summer of 2014 is not so much that a libertarian moment had dawned, but that the American political pendulum is finally swinging—as it does with predictable regularity—back toward a conservatism of the late 20th century: Federalism at home; engagement, not adventurism, abroad; deference to the Constitution above all. It may not be a tectonic political shift, but America emerged from this past summer changed. The effects of that change have only begun to be felt. •
Three weeks ago President Obama announced he would be sending thousands of U.S. troops and military personnel to West African countries in an effort to combat Ebola.
The White House said Obama will travel to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta -- where US Ebola victims were treated -- to make the announcement, meant to spur a global effort to tackle the outbreak that has already killed 2,400 people.
It comes as alarm grows that the worst-ever Ebola epidemic which spread through Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea before reaching Nigeria, is out of control. A separate strain of the disease has appeared in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Most of the US effort, which will draw heavily on its military medical corps, will be concentrated in impoverished Liberia -- the worst hit nation -- with plans to build 17 Ebola treatment centres with 100 beds in each.
But as troops get their boots on the ground in countries devastated by the disease, many are asking how the health of U.S. soldiers will be protected. Last week we learned military personnel will be handling Ebola infected blood samples and now some experts say it's inevitable some troops will contract the deadly disease.
ABC News medical expert Richard Besser told This Week Sunday morning that there was a “very real” possibility one of the 3,000 U.S. troops being sent to west Africa to help fight the ebola outbreak could contract the virus.
The Pentagon insists troops deployed to combat Ebola will be safe.
"Let me assure you, by providing predeployment training, adhering to strict medical protocols while deployed, and carrying out carefully planned reintegration measures based on risk and exposure, I am confident that we can ensure our service members' safety and the safety of their families and the American people," Commander of U.S. Africa Command Gen. David Rodriguez said last week. "We will do everything in our power to address and mitigate the potential risk to our service members, civilian employees, contractors, and their families."
Time will tell.
Meanwhile in the United States, new screenings for temperatures have been implemented at some international airports and over the weekend it was confirmed a nurse treating Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan, who died last week, caught the disease despite being in full protective gear.
Although Wendy Davis is known at the moment for attacking her gubernatorial opponent Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott because he's in a wheel chair, she became nationally infamous over her support for late-term abortion. Throughout the past year of watching her campaign we've learned Davis isn't alone in her lack of class. In fact, her supporters share just as much of a deficiency in self-awareness as Davis herself.
Over the weekend actress and writer Lena Dunham, who starred in President Obama's "my first time" video for the 2012 election, posted a photo of herself with a baby saying, "This is Shay. He's voting Wendy Davis." Naturally, Davis responded.
As a reminder, Davis doesn't support any restrictions on abortion and believes Shay could have been killed up until he was born and out of his mother's womb. It's hard to be on #TeamWendy if you aren't given a chance at life in the first place.
On Friday, Texas Democrat Wendy Davis' campaign released what has been dubbed "one of the nastiest campaign ads" of this election cycle. Even the liberal site Mother Jones called the ad "offensive and nasty," and MSNBC called the spot a potential career-killer. With prominent figures from both sides of the aisle condemning the ad, one would think (hope?) that the Davis campaign would come to their senses and apologize, but instead, they've been doing the exact opposite.
At first there was evidence that Davis was trying to sound like less of a monster on her Twitter account:
...then this happened:
While unless Davis is surveying members of her own campaign team (or a class of kindergarteners), I'm not quite sure where this "80 percent" figure is coming from. (I mean, when you've lost Mother Jones...)
News broke earlier today that an unidentified nurse that treated now-deceased Ebola patient Thomas Eric Duncan had tested positive for the disease. Her illness was identified via a self-monitoring program and was isolated immediately after she reported a low-grade fever.
CDC Director Thomas Friedan said he was "deeply concerned" about this new infection, and said that there must have been a breach in safety protocol for ebola to have spread. It's possible that the nurse was infected by improperly removing safety equipment.
From The Daily Signal:
“We’re deeply concerned about this new development with a preliminary positive [test for Ebola],” CDC Director Thomas Frieden said. “The fact that we don’t know about a breach in protocol is concerning because, clearly, there was a breach in protocol.”
Since Duncan is believed to already have been infected when he arrived Sept. 20 in the U.S., confirmation of the preliminary diagnosis would make this the first known case of Ebola being contracted or transmitted here.
The hospital worker, who reported a fever Friday night, is listed in stable condition. The worker provided care for Duncan “on multiple occasions after his diagnosis,” wearing protective gear that included a gown, gloves, mask and shield.
While ebola is certainly a scary illness, I wouldn't go full-on panic just yet. The woman's symptoms were caught incredibly early, and she was already a member of a high-risk group for the illness. Moreover, it's important to note that this nurse is the first transmission of the virus in the U.S., and the dozens of healthcare providers that treated patients in Atlanta and Nebraska have so far remained entirely symptom-free. Accidents do happen, and I pray that this woman has a full recovery.
Last week, the First Lady of Oregon, Cylvia Hayes, had a confession to make: she participated in sham marriage with an Ethiopian in order to get a green card. She received $5,000 for her services as well. She found this moment in her life so embarrassing that she did not tell her fiancé, Gov. John Kitzhaber, about the ordeal until the local press did a little digging (via WaPo):
A few years ago, Oregon’s first lady, Cylvia Hayes, shared her rags-to-riches journey — from her dilapidated childhood home in Washington state, to a tent on government land in Oregon, to the governor’s mansion, where she now lives with Gov. John Kitzhaber (D).
But she never mentioned the Ethiopian immigrant she married 17 years ago and divorced in 2002. When stories seeped out this week that she helped him obtain U.S. residency in exchange for $5,000, she said she needed the cash.
“It was a marriage of convenience,” she said in a statement. “He needed help, and I needed financial support.”
Hayes, 47, wiped away tears during a news conference Thursday, explaining that when she married the 18-year-old immigrant in 1997, she was “associating with the wrong people” and attempting to pay for classes at Evergreen State College near Seattle. She said she used the money to buy a laptop and cover school expenses. She was so “ashamed and embarrassed” about the illegal union that she never even told Kitzhaber, her fiance — until the Willamette Week peeked into her past earlier this week.
Hayes was twice divorced and not yet 30 when she married an Ethiopian teenager identified as Abraham B. Abraham, whom she met through a mutual acquaintance in Washington state. He was allegedly trying to stay in America to obtain a college education.
Hayes said the two saw each other only a handful of times and never lived together.
“It was wrong then and it is wrong now and I am here today to accept the consequences, some of which will be life-changing,” she said.
Abraham eventually earned a mathematics degree from Greensboro College in North Carolina. He now lives in the Washington, D.C., area, according to public records. He declined to respond to calls and texts from the Willamette Week, and he refused to speak to a reporter who went to his home.
Hayes committed a federal crime, but the statute of limitations is five years; 2002 was the last year that federal prosecutors could have charged her with the crime.
Here’s her statement on the matter:
Seventeen years ago I made a serious mistake by committing an illegal act when I married a person so that he could retain residency in the United States. It was a marriage of convenience. He needed help and I needed financial support.
We were both living in Washington. I was attending Evergreen State College, and we were introduced by mutual acquaintances. This was a difficult and unstable period in my life. I want to be clear today - I was associating with the wrong people. I was struggling to put myself through college and was offered money in exchange for marrying a young person who had a chance to get a college degree himself if he were able to remain in the United States.
We met only a handful of times. We never lived together. I have not had any contact with him since the divorce finalized in 2002.
It was wrong then and it is wrong now and I am here today to accept the consequences, some of which will be life changing. And I cannot predict what direction this will go.
In the few years after this bad decision I completed my degree, got my feet underneath me and established my home and career in Oregon. I became an active and engaged civic volunteer, community member and I became active politically.
My decision to marry illegally felt very, very distant and far removed from the life I was building. I was ashamed and embarrassed. Therefore I did not share this information even with John once we met and started dating.
This is the most painful part for me. John Kitzhaber deserved to know the history of the person he was forming a relationship with. The fact that I did not disclose this to him meant that he has learned about this in the most public and unpleasant way. This is my greatest sorrow in this difficult situation.
I apologize deeply for my actions and omissions, first and foremost to John, the person I love and respect above all others. I also apologize to my friends, family and colleagues who have trusted and supported me. And to Oregonians, I deeply regret not being right up front about the fact that I had made a serious mistake. I owe you all an apology.
The work that I do on behalf of our environment and trying to make people’s lives better is incredibly important to me -- it’s the focal point of my life. I will continue to do my best in that arena going forward.
But for the time being, there are more important issues. I need to take some personal time to reflect and address this difficult situation and to focus on my relationship with John.
"I was just a mouth piece for a liberal, leftist movement in the church," said Chelsen Vicari, author of the new book, Distortion: How the New Christian Left is Twisting the Gospel and Damaging the Faith.
During Vicari's time in college, she was heavily influenced by something she says is plaguing the Christian church: Liberal indoctrination of core Christian teachings such as the inerrancy of the Bible. The growing liberal evangelical influence in today's churches is something Vicari fell victim to, but through a series of mentors was brought to the realization she was deceived.
In "Distortion," Vacari goes through her experience with liberal Christianity and how the Church can come back to authentic Christian teaching with grace and love in a hostile world.
Townhall had the opportunity to ask Vicari a few questions about "Distortion" and its importance in today's Christian church.
Leftist versions of Christianity are targeting Evangelicals, especially on university campuses, youth groups, and the like. So it is my prayer that through Distortion, other parents, grandparents, and faithful Christians can expose the left’s deceptive tactics in the Church. If the breaks aren’t applied immediately to the Christian Left, then the next generation is on track to abandon the moral foundations and ethical principles that have made America great.
This topic is so incredibly important to me because it’s partly my story. For a short time in college, I started to buy into this leftist Christian identity. Oh my parents will tell you that I grew callous and bitter towards what I thought was their “outdated” and “bigoted” version of Christianity. I specifically remember driving back from a family vacation and fighting with my mom and dad in the car because they refused to reconcile homosexuality with Christian teaching. After all, I was being taught at my campus ministry to affirm and “coexist,” not take seriously Scriptures that would hurt anyone’s feelings. Thankfully, my parents kept speaking about God’s truths in a loving tone to me and I backed away from this liberal political agenda cloaked in Christianity.
2. How can Christians be sensitive to controversial issues such as homosexuality and abortion while remaining strong in their faith?
Just recently Christians heard the news that the United States Supreme Court has deemed same-sex marriage constitutional by not hearing lower court appeals in several states. Many Christians are feeling disappointed, maybe even disillusioned or willing to compromise Christian teaching on marriage. But no matter how disappointed with our government leaders, we should never react harshly. This is a reminder of why it’s vital to pray for our national leaders and also why character counts when it comes to voting.
On the other hand, it’s important to remember that the Supreme Court’s’ ruling is not God’s. As Christians, it’s our responsibility to take a confident and unashamed stance on not just marriage and abortion, but all of God’s commandments including to love our neighbors. However, it doesn’t mean that we are unwelcoming or unloving because we can’t accommodate homosexuality or abortion. We should love our neighbors enough to tell them the truth about what the Bible says.
3. Christians have been historically conservative Republicans. You argue this is changing. Why?
I’ve read it estimated that about 6.4 million Evangelicals voted for President Barack Obama during the 2012 presidential election. This was shocking to me, since the president had a heavy pro-abortion track record and shifted his support to same-sex marriage on the campaign trail. But these Evangelical votes likely goes back to the Christian Left’s increasing influence. If you are taught by leaders in the Church that morality and ethics are relative and priority should be placed on political correctness, then that makes it easy for one to consider themselves a follower of Christ and still vote for an anti-life, anti-marriage candidate without conviction. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that voting Republican is Scriptural. Not at all! No matter what side of the political aisle a candidate is on, faithful Christians should consider how their moral character reflects Biblical values before placing a vote.
4. Because Christians are traditionally more conservative and small-government minded, why should they be on the forefront of pro-life and sanctity of marriage movements when that may seem in contraction to keeping government limited?
This question reminds me of the Apostle Peter who said, “we must obey God rather than men.” (Acts 5:29) For Christians, the importance of defending innocent unborn life and traditional marriage extends beyond conservative ideologies. If you say declare yourself a follower of Jesus Christ, then your responsibly is to His teachings. That includes defending the vulnerable and helpless or upholding sexuality in marriage between a man and woman. If Christians say that we don’t want to get involved in these two hot button issues because we are for small government, then we’ve got our priorities seriously out of order.
Chelsen Vicari is Evangelical Program Director at The Institute on Religion and Democracy and contributes to outlets such as The Blaze and The Christian Post.
Weeks after dropping out of the Montana Senate race over allegations of plagiarism, the U.S. Army War College revoked the master’s degree held former Sen. John Walsh; the paper was part of earning that degree. Walsh was accused of not properly cited sources in the term paper, which led to him dropping out the race (via AP):
The U.S. Army War College revoked Democratic Sen. John Walsh's master's degree after an investigation completed Friday concluded that he plagiarized a research paper required to graduate, a college spokeswoman said.
The college assigned an academic review board to the probe in August after The New York Times published a story showing Walsh borrowed heavily from other sources for the paper he wrote in 2007.
Walsh was pursuing a master of strategic studies degree at age 47, a year before he became Montana's adjutant general overseeing the state National Guard.
The board of the Carlisle, Pennsylvania-based college took less than a day to hear the case and make its findings Aug. 22. But the process of appeal and review wasn't completed until Friday.
"The board found that then Colonel John Walsh did commit the offense of plagiarism and thus his Master's Degree and status as graduate of the U.S. Army War College should be revoked," War College spokeswoman Carol Kerr said in a statement.
The review board's report found the plagiarism "egregious." A review of Walsh's paper by the school's director of communicative arts found little, if any, original language or research and that it was "primarily composed of verbatim liftings from other sources" presented as if they were Walsh's own work.
"In short, the paper was plagiarized and ... the plagiarism was intentional," the review board said in its report.
Democrats nominated Montana State House Rep. Amanda Curtis to replace Walsh on the ballot. She’s expected to lose to Rep. Steve Daines in the general next month.
From ALL's statement in August:
Michael Hichborn, ALL’s director of Defend the Faith, stated, “An official declaration of Planned Parenthood as an enemy of the Church will be a real game changer. Such a declaration will prevent Planned Parenthood employees and volunteers from serving in positions of responsibility in our parishes. Simply put, Catholics could no longer hide behind an uninformed conscience in order to assist or promote Planned Parenthood or its agenda and be able to continue calling themselves Catholics in good standing.”
Jim Sedlak, vice president of ALL, added, “Some people have told us this campaign has an impossible goal. But with God, nothing is impossible. In addition to being a massive educational effort, this campaign has a large spiritual dimension.”
ALL's request isn't without precedent In 1949, the Vatican issued a similar document, The Decree Against Communism, which stated that Catholics who associated with or defended communism would be excommunicated, and a papal bull issued in 1738 prohibits Catholics from joining the Freemasonry.
While I agree that no faithful Catholic has any business being involved with America's largest abortion business, I'm not sure if I would support something that results in automatic excommunication. Excommunication effectively ends any chance of that person quitting the abortion business and returning to the Church--which does happen. I sincerely hope that Pope Francis does something similar to his online support of the March for Life and condemns the work of Planned Parenthood and those who support abortion.