Which Came First - The Liberals Or The Media?

The Pew Research Center has a survey and analysis out titled "Political Polarization and Media Habits," taking a look at the media diet of Americans, broken down by ideological affiliation. It's an interesting look at the state of political media today, but definitely gives a clear picture that there's a dearth of media that appeals to conservatives.

But first, it's interesting to take a look at which news sources are trusted and distrusted by Americans. Pew put together this handy infographic, which reveals that the Wall Street Journal is the most-trusted news source and, by ratio of trust-to-distrust, Buzzfeed is the least-trusted (also, that nobody knows what ThinkProgress is):

[Addendum: No Townhall? For shame, Pew.]

One of the takeaways, according to the Pew analysts, is that "consistent liberals name an array of main news sources," while "consistent conservatives are tightly clustered around one main news source":


This makes for an easy talking point by those who would like to resurrect the old "epistemic closure" debate: look, conservatives all listen to Fox News! They don't get their news from other sources! But this is incorrect - this is only about main news sources. It turns out that people who reported as being of a "mixed" ideology - neither liberal nor conservative - have the most sheltered news lives:

This largely fits with what we know about political independents: they're either secret partisans or they're just low-information. A Pew survey from 2012 found that independent-aligned voters were consistently less-informed than their Republican or Democrat counterparts.

When we actually take stock of the ideological profiles of different news organizations, this makes sense: liberals have many many more outlets to turn to in order to get their news! The reason we have a "conservative media" at all is that non-ideological liberals were upset at what was perceived to be a consistently ideologically-liberal media. CNN has a reputation for centrism, but it's still perceived to be more center-left than center, judging by its audience. For a long time, conservative news consumers had only Fox News in order to get news. There are slightly more "conservative" news sources now, but if we take a look at the ideological audience profile that Pew put together, "consistently liberal" audiences have more than double the news sources to go to than "consistent conservatives."

A liberal might respond that, well, of course this is the case: liberals care about news, conservatives care about spin, and that "reality has a left-wing bias" (or whatever that phrase is supposed to be). But that's largely a cover-your-ears answer to the problem of media bias and a rejection of the actual problems that plague the news industry. Fox News and other conservative sources might not adhere to the view-from-nowhere standard of old-media journalism, but critics both left and right have pointed out that view-from-nowhere journalism is just a way of denying an existing bias rather than combating it.

Even in the wake of the Fox and new media revolution, it's true that conservatives simply have much less choice in news than liberals. Given that, it's unsurprising that they tend to "cluster" around one giant news source.

Hagan Stimulus Controversy: ‘It’s Worse Than We Thought’

The Hagan stimulus fiasco continues to fester as the North Carolina race enters the final stretch. Sen. Kay Hagan’s family is accused of profiting from stimulus money that was allocated to their respective businesses. Also, there’s the allegation that Hagan’s husband, Chip, pocketed the savings from the stimulus cash injection. Oh, and there are some possible conflict of interest issues as well. As the Carolina Journal reported today, “it’s worse than we thought:”

From a report filed early Saturday by WRAL-TV news, we have confirmation that a cluster of businesses owned by Democratic U.S. Sen. Kay Hagan’s husband and other family members collected even more subsidies from taxpayers than initially reported.

While Carolina Journal’s Don Carrington has highlighted a stimulus grant totaling $250,644 that was paid to JDC Manufacturing, a real estate business co-owned by Hagan’s husband, Chip, and his brothers John and David, WRAL confirmed that JDC received an additional $137,000 in energy tax credits from the project. (Some of the relevant documents are here.) (Politico.com noted the tax credits in its initial report on the story, but those credits aren’t listed in the public documents CJ has reviewed.

WRAL said it had seen various internal company documents and proprietary records, perhaps including verification of the tax credits.) Add a second federal renewable energy grant of $50,000 from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to the ledger, and we learn that Hagan businesses soaked taxpayers for nearly $450,000 to pay for energy upgrades installed at JDC’s 300,000-square-foot building in Reidsville.

It’s worse than we thought.

It’s important to put the story into perspective, because the Hagan camp relentlessly deflects and spins, portraying these taxpayer handouts passed around from one family-owned company to another as nothing improper. And — this is the most laughable contention — that the Hagan family somehow received no benefit from nearly a half-million bucks in taxpayer largess.


But here’s where we stand: Companies owned by family members of Kay Hagan got more than $400,000 in taxpayer funding to finance upgrades at facilities and for businesses they own — not just the $300,000 in stimulus and USDA grants we initially found. The grants used tax dollars to offset the costs of improvements in the physical plant, and provide tax breaks for one of the companies, and reduce the energy bills of another. Kay Hagan’s husband and son created a solar company and allowed it to handle some of the work. And we’re still digging for additional documentation.

Team Hagan has chosen to hire Marc Elias, a high-powered political lawyer and Caitlin Legacki, a crisis-management specialist and former Hagan press secretary, to argue otherwise.

And ask yourself: How can you not benefit from free money?

The Journal is still waiting to review the USDA grants so expect more nuggets to fall off the truck concerning his story.

Right now, Sen. Hagan has to deal with a rather embarrassing incident where her office sent the wrong medical records to a veteran (via ABC 11):

A major mix-up of medical records has two North Carolina veterans speaking out.

Sen. Kay Hagan's office in Greensboro sent out the wrong medical file to the wrong person. It appears to be a basic name mix-up. Both men are Kenneth White, but they have different middle names.

"It makes a big difference," said the Kenneth White who got the wrong records, "with me being Kenneth A. White, as opposed to the young man I got was Kenneth D. White."

Kenneth A. White says four or five months ago he sent a request for VA records to Hagan's Greensboro office and, a few days ago, he got a heavy envelope from Hagan's office in the mail. Inside were hundreds of pages of medical information for Kenneth D. White.

"This wasn't gotten over the internet," Kenneth D. White fumed. "This was sent from the U.S. government. That's all my personal medical records, all my personal information -- sent to another individual. I'm appalled and I'm very upset about that."

Some have wondered, given the timing of the story and the fact that Kenneth D. White contacted ABC11 before Sen. Hagan's office, if this isn't a Republican-driven attempt to deep-six Hagan's campaign.

White says he's a long-time Democrat. He's just upset about getting another veteran's medical records in his mailbox.

Mr. White plans to consult a lawyer over this egregious breach in privacy.

Election Day is two weeks away.

Report: Obama Plans Executive Action By Giving 34 Million Work Visas to Illegal Immigrants

For years we've heard President Obama berate Congress for failing to pass his version of comprehensive immigration reform. This Spring Obama promised his far-left, open borders base he would take executive action on the issue by the end of the summer, but has since pushed that promise until after the midterm elections to avoid a Democrat bloodbath at the polls. 

Now, a new report shows President Obama could be planning to issue 34 million work visas to illegal immigrants. More from Watchdog.org

The Obama administration wants 34 million blank work permits and green cards as the White House prepares to issue an executive order on amnesty after the November election.

An online solicitation by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigrations Services seeks vendors that can produce a minimum 4 million cards per year for five years, and 9 million in the early stages.

There many problematic issues to address here. The first is whether Obama is overstepping his authority in this area through the use of executive power. Second, politicians on both sides of the aisle have been saying for years there are roughly 11-12 million illegal immigrants in the country. The 34 million number brings up questions about how many people are really living in the United States unlawfully. Further, 34 million work visas for non-American citizens will only continue to crush and devastate the middle class and low-income American workers, something Democrats claim they want to avoid.

Exit question: If 34 million work visas are issued to illegal immigrants will they then be eligible for taxpayer funded benefits? Most likely.

Sen. Begich Fails to Distance Himself from Obama

Want to lose an election? Vote with President Obama 97 percent of the time.

Senator Mark Begich (D-AK) is in some real trouble in the Last Frontier because he can't escape his voting record. Although the senator has tried to distance himself from the president, who is anything but popular in the state, he has had a hard time convincing Alaskans he is not one of Obama's biggest fans. Several members of the president's administration have traveled to Alaska to campaign for him in the past year:

According to the National Journal, Labor Secretary Thomas Perez visited in July, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz came in mid-August, as well as Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker. The cabinet members frequently attend fundraisers for Begich, attended by Alaska’s wealthiest Democratic donors.

More recently, Begich bragged that he had Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julian Castro's cell number.

Begich has other digits to be worried about, however. His GOP challenger Dan Sullivan is currently four points ahead of him, according to our poll tracker.

It seems Alaskans, like many Americans, are looking for leaders who aren't so chummy with the Commander-in-Chief.

Liberal Journalists Invent Fictional World to Attack Scott Walker

It is not easy being on the editorial staff at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, especially now that they have been forced to admit that Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's Act 10, which they strongly editorialized against, has saved Wisconsin taxpayers more than $3 billion

Also known as the Wisconsin Budget Repair Bill, Act 10 stripped many public sector unions of some collective bargaining privileges and allowed Wisconsin government employees the choice not to have union dues taken directly out of their paycheck.

The liberals who run the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel knew that the Wisconsin Democratic Party would be crippled by giving government workers the choice not to join government unions, and government union membership has fallen sharply since Act 10 became law

But the state budget is now in the black and Wisconsin's best teachers are being rewarded with lucrative job offers. So since the law has been a complete success, how do the liberals at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel attack Walker? By inventing a fictional parallel universe of course. The editorial board writes:

If Walker could travel to that other universe — the one where he negotiates with unions instead of breaking them — here's what he would find: The budget deficit is closed through negotiated employee concessions, cuts to programs and a little fiscal magic. There are no new taxes. There are no angry protests around the state Capitol, no nasty threats aimed at Republican legislators. Democratic senators remain in Madison; they do not not run off to Illinois. They don't have to; they are working with the governor. There are not 15 recall elections, either, and Walker, though disliked by Democrats, is no target. The Democrats know better. ... Imagine: labor peace, a balanced budget, a successful governor, a new kind of Republican who works with his political foes instead of crushing them. It's easy if you try.

Yes, if you ignore reality and pretend that government unions are perfectly willing to just give their members' benefits away, then sure, Walker's Act 10 wasn't necessary.

But back here in the real world, government unions exist only to perpetuate themselves, and for no other reason. They are nothing but a drain on taxpayers, teachers, principals, local governments, and students. Weakening government unions was the wisest and most critical part of Walker's Act 10.

Oh, and by the way, back here in reality, the Wisconsin economy just created 8,400 private sector jobs in September, the highest monthly job gain in over a decade. 

Politico Poll: Seven Percent Believe Obamacare Will Lower Healthcare Costs

Time to inject another set of data points into the "Obamacare is working well in the real world" debate. The president and his loyalists insist that their signature law is working as intended. The general public -- yet again -- disagrees, according to a new poll from Politico:

Screen Shot 2014-10-20 at 12.51.33 PM

A plurality believes the quality of their care will deteriorate under Obamacare (perhaps due to access shockdoctor shortages, and government rationing decisions), while less than one-in-five expect improved care.  On costs, a pitiful seven percent believe the 'Affordable' Care Act will reduce the amount of money they'll personally pay will decrease as a result of the law; a solid majority expect to shell out more for coverage.  Democrats promised substantially reduced rates for "everybody."  Just 17 percent of respondents said they'd like to see Obamacare kept intact, with the remainder split evenly between preferring alterations and full repeal.  It's working.  Incidentally, Politico's survey gives Democrats a three-point Congressional ballot edge, and shows President Obama's approval rating underwater by just six points (47/53).  Democrats would likely minimize their losses if that's how the electorate ends up looking in two weeks.  The Washington Post/ABC poll released late last week, by contrast, gave the GOP a seven-point generic ballot advantage, with Obama's approval upside-down by 18 points among likely voters.  Circling back to Obamacare, the Wall Street Journal reviews the law's "failing cost control" provisions:

A major claim of ObamaCare’s political salesmen is that it will reduce U.S. health spending. The heart of this claim is the Accountable Care Organization, or ACO, but already evidence is accumulating that it isn’t working. That’s the news in the recent Health and Human Services release of the results from the first two years of ACO experience under the Affordable Care Act. The much-delayed data received zero media notice despite a speech from HHS Secretary Sylvia Mathews Burwell citing “evidence that we have bent the cost curve.” The data show the opposite…The Medicare “Pioneer” ACO project originally featured 32 experienced health systems hand-selected by HHS because they had already made progress toward the ACO model. Thirteen—or one-third of the program—have since dropped out as they spent more than the old status quo. In year one, spending increased at 14 sites and only 13 of the 32 qualified for a bonus. In year two, spending increased at six of the remaining 23 and 11 received a bonus. Spending did fall somewhat overall, driven by a few high-performance successes. After netting out the bonuses and penalties, the Pioneer ACOs saved taxpayers a grand total of $17.89 million in 2012 and $43.36 million in 2013. All in, per capita spending was a mere 0.45% lower compared to ordinary fee for service Medicare.

The Journal argues that up-front costs have negated savings among the fraction of participants who received performance bonuses, meaning that the overall program is "at best" a wash -- and that's among HHS' hand-picked guinea pigs.  A new report from Senate Budget Committee Republicans estimates that Obamacare will add $131 billion to federal deficits over the coming decade, representing another broken promise.  The study uses the CBO's methodology, but can't be attributed to the nonpartisan entity, which announced earlier this year that it had ceased trying to track the law's fiscal impact due to unpredictable, on-the-fly changes.  Meanwhile, the New York Times profiles an Obamacare consumer who has discovered that her 'ACA'-compliant plan is severely lacking in the 'affordability' department:

Patricia Wanderlich got insurance through the Affordable Care Act this year, and with good reason: She suffered a brain hemorrhage in 2011, spending weeks in a hospital intensive care unit, and has a second, smaller aneurysm that needs monitoring. But her new plan has a $6,000 annual deductible, meaning that Ms. Wanderlich, who works part time at a landscaping company outside Chicago, has to pay for most of her medical services up to that amount. She is skipping this year’s brain scan and hoping for the best. “To spend thousands of dollars just making sure it hasn’t grown?” said Ms. Wanderlich, 61. “I don’t have that money.” About 7.3 million Americans are enrolled in private coverage through the Affordable Care Act marketplaces, and more than 80 percent qualified for federal subsidies to help with the cost of their monthly premiums. But many are still on the hook for deductibles that can top $5,000 for individuals and $10,000 for families — the trade-off, insurers say, for keeping premiums for the marketplace plans relatively low. The result is that some people — no firm data exists on how many — say they hesitate to use their new insurance because of the high out-of-pocket costs.

We repeat: Gaining 'coverage' is not the same thing as receiving care. The Times piece runs through other people experiencing similar sticker shock (quotes: “I mean, $6,000 — do they think I’ve just got that under my mattress?” and "[we received a bill] that could choke a horse"), then circles back to Ms. Wanderlich, and this depressing quote:

When the next open enrollment period begins on Nov. 15, Ms. Wanderlich said, she will probably switch to a plan with a narrower network of doctors and a smaller deductible. It will probably mean losing her specialists, she said, but at this point she is resigned. “A $6,000 deductible — that’s just staggering,” she said. “I never thought I’d say this, but how many minutes until I get Medicare?”

"It's working."  I'll leave you with this sharp analysis from Noah Rothman flaying the MSM meme that Obamacare has receded as an issue in the midterms.  It's receded for one party -- and for good reason.

Kansas GOP Candidates Finally Gaining Ground

Recent polls show Kansas finally coming back to its roots. The deep-red state has been worrying the GOP as trailing Republican incumbents struggle to take a lead. 

Republican Governor Sam Brownback has been down in the polls for the majority of the campaign, but has been up in recent polling. In the latest Remington poll, Brownback is up 48-45. Fox News had Brownback at 46-40 and CNN had the race tied, 49-49. These numbers are in sharp contrast to an average 5 point Brownback trail since August.  

It is a similar story for incumbent Senator Pat Roberts (R-Kan.). Fox News recently had Roberts ahead over Independent Greg Orman, 44-39 percent. Public Policy Polling had Orman ahead, 44-41, a much closer race compared to last month's 46-36 percent lead last month. The latest poll by Remington showed Roberts up 2 percent, 48-46.

Read more from Townhall on the Senate race in Kansas here

Republican superstars such as Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Texas Gov. Rick Perry have been in Kansas to cheer on Senator Roberts. This much needed momentum for the GOP in Kansas is proving successful and just may influence voters enough to have a classic Kansas Republican sweep come November 4th.

DOJ Expert Witness: Blacks Are Less Sophisticated Voters

Opponents of Voter I.D. laws have a slew of emotional reasons why they oppose identification requirements at the polls on the Election Day, but their main argument is that Voter I.D. legislation is racist. But while anti-voter I.D. liberals accuse their opponents of racism, they often engage in bigotry themselves. 

Take for example DOJ expert witness Charles Stewart's recent comments that blacks in North Carolina are less sophisticated and therefore Voter I.D. laws must be abolished. Former DOJ Attorney J. Christian Adams has the story

An expert witness paid with tax dollars by the United States Department of Justice testified that North Carolina election laws impact black voters disproportionately and that blacks are less sophisticated.

Charles Stewart, a political scientist was retained by the Justice Department to testify against voter identification laws and other election integrity measures. His testimony argued that ending same day voter registration and requiring voters to vote in the precinct where they live constitutes racial discrimination.

"Understanding within political science, that people who register to vote the closer and closer one gets to Election Day tend to be less sophisticated voters, tend to be less educated voters, tend to be voters who are less attuned to public affairs. That also tells me from the literature of political science that there are likely to be people who will end up not registering and not voting. People who correspond to those factors tend to be African Americans, and, therefore, that's another vehicle through which African Americans would be disproportionately affected by this law," Stewart said.

As a reminder, 70 percent of registered voters in America, including black voters and Democrats, support Voter Identification laws. 

As Adams points out in a separate piece, opposition to Voter I.D. is another example of the Left's soft bigotry of low expectations.

New Ebola Czar to Skip Oversight Committee Hearing About Multi-Agency Ebola Response

New political hack Ebola Czar Ron Klain is taking his new job very seriously. In fact, he's so committed to his new position that he won't be attending a House Oversight hearing Friday titled,  "The Ebola Crisis: Coordination of a Multi-Agency Response." Klain was asked to testify along side officials from the Department of Defense and Health and Human Services but declined an invitation from the Committee late Monday night. 

Last week White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest specifically said Klain's job isn't to be an expert on Ebola, but instead to coordinate and manage the federal response to the Ebola crisis.

"What we were looking for is not an Ebola expert, but rather an implementation expert. And that's exactly what Ron Klain is," Earnest said. 

If Klain's job is to coordinate a response to the Ebola crisis, why is he skipping a hearing about coordinating an Ebola response between multiple federal agencies? Apparently he hasn't officially started his new job yet.

“The White House has informed us that he has not yet officially started and will not be able to attend Friday,” the committee aide told Fox News.

On Saturday President Obama held a meeting at the White House about the Ebola response. Ebola Czar Klain wasn't there.

Ouch: Americans Believe Obama Is Worse Than Bush

Somehow, this is still Bush’s fault:

Voters in battleground states think President Obama is worse at “managing the basic functions of the federal government” than his predecessor George W. Bush, according to a POLITICOpollreleased Monday. In other words, voters think Obama is a less effective manager than the man he stills blames for his failures.

Thirty-eight percent of respondents said Bush, the greatest living president, was a more effective manager of government, compared to 35 percent who said Obama was more effective; 26 percent said the two were “about the same.” So in total, 64 percent of respondents think Obama is, at best, no better than George W. Bush at managing the government.

It comes as no surprise, then, that 64 percent of respondents believe things in the U.S. feel “out of control” right now. And 50 percent said the country was “off the wrong track.” The survey comes on the heels of a Fox News poll last week that asked respondents about how they feel things in the world are going. With ISIS, Ebola, a nuclear Iran, and countless other instabilities and threats around the globe, it’s easy to see why 58 percent said things are “going to hell in a handbasket.”

Clearly, Americans are ready for new leadership. We just have to hang in there for another… 822 days.  

Pat Roberts Is Closing On Greg Orman - But Is It Too Late?

A new poll out today from Monmouth University of likely voters in Kansas finds a dead heat between incumbent GOP Sen. Pat Roberts and independent-aligned Greg Orman at 46%-46%. The telephone poll surveyed 429 likely voters in Kansas and has a margin of error of 4.7%.

First, the good news: Pat Roberts has been struggling in this race and many polls have found him trailing Orman, so even a dead heat might mean he's gained some ground - and that his rhetoric that Orman is a progressive masquerading as a centrist might be taking hold. The other candidate/undecided vote looks to be breaking toward Roberts, as only 8% of those polled now say they're not committed to either Roberts or Orman.

The bad news, however, is that Orman still maintains a sizable lead over Roberts with self-identified independent voters - 60%-32%. The self-identified independent vote in Kansas is larger than the Democratic vote in Kansas, so Roberts' poor showing here is not good, especially considering that Romney won the independent vote handily in 2012 and Roberts won the independent vote by 5 points in his last election in 2008.

Townhall's PollTracker average, which takes into account all polling to date, finds Orman has a slight lead of two percentage points over Roberts:

Good News: Tens of Thousands of Federal Workers Are Being Paid to Sit at Home

Just a friendly reminder about the state of our 'not-a-cent-to-spare' federal government, via the Washington Post:

Tens of thousands of federal workers are being kept on paid leave for at least a month — and often for longer stretches that can reach a year or more — while they wait to be punished for misbehavior or cleared and allowed to return to work, government records show. During a three-year period that ended last fall, more than 57,000 employees were sent home for a month or longer. The tab for these workers exceeded $775 million in salary alone. The extensive use of so-called administrative leave continues despite government personnel rules that limit paid leave for employees facing discipline to “rare circumstances” in which the employee is considered a threat. The long-standing rules were written in an effort to curb waste and deal quickly with workers accused of misconduct. And the comptroller general, the top federal official responsible for auditing government finances and practices, has repeatedly ruled that federal workers should not be sidelined for long periods for any reason.

So we're forking over hundreds of millions of dollars to pay the salaries of tens of thousands of workers placed on 'administrative leave,' all thanks to a provision originally designed to be used in very narrow circumstances?  Terrific.  This is bureaucracies doing what they do: Skirting or breaking internal rules, sticking taxpayers with the bill, and hoping that no one makes enough of a stink to upset the apple cart.  The news gets even better:

They found that supervisors used wide discretion in putting employees on leave, including for alleged violations of government rules and laws, whistleblowing, doubts about trustworthiness, and disputes with colleagues or bosses. Some employees remain on paid leave while they challenge demotions and other punishments. While the employees stayed home, they not only collected paychecks but accrued pension earnings, vacation and sick days, and moved up the federal pay scale...The GAO report almost certainly understates the extent and cost of administrative leave because the figures examined by the auditors were incomplete. Not all government agencies keep track of the practice, and those reviewed account for only about three-fifths of the federal workforce.

So these findings were made in the absence of roughly 40 percent of the relevant data.  Please file away "small" examples of federal waste like this for the next time Statists decide to blame the current crisis du jour on a lack of "resources" and "draconian cuts."  They just recently attempted one such gambit on the Ebola outbreak, using claims that were easily debunked with statistics and slapped down by fact-checkers.  As for the outlandish, eagerly-repeated claim from the NIH director that budget cuts have prevented the discovery of an Ebola vaccine, the Institute's lead researcher on the disease doused that assertion with cold water on yesterday's Meet the Press:

"I don't agree with that, I have to tell you quite honestly…you can't say that."

Unreal: Medical Society of NY Tells Doctors to 'Follow Twitter' to Stay Informed on Ebola

In its weekly update for New York State physicians, the Medical Society of the State of New York wanted to ensure that the doctors within their network were well informed on the threat of Ebola. So, MSSNY President Andrew Kleinman, M.D., told them to make sure they were following the society on Twitter.

MSSNY is here to help you. As we communicate regularly with key New York State officials, and closely monitor the worldwide and U.S. efforts regarding efforts to contain the outbreak, please follow us on Twitter and Facebook for the latest scientific and other important information. Continuous updates are being posted to our Twitter and Facebook feeds when important new information arises, which is many times per day.

If you are not on Twitter or Facebook already, you need to follow us! (If you need help setting up an account, please contact ssachs@mssny.org). And please “re-tweet” and “re-post” these important updates to those physicians and other care providers who follow you.

How reassuring to know that the MSSNY is taking necessary precautions to keep their patients safe by telling our respected doctors they must rely on social media. Are you telling me this is the best way the organization is keeping in contact with our physicians -- by assuming they're following their Twitter and Facebook accounts? Scary.

MSSNY isn't the only entity to be less-than-accessible on the threat of Ebola. The Centers for Disease Control has contradicted itself several times when responding to the health crisis. First, the CDC definitively declared the virus cannot spread in the air, yet a few days later in a House subcommittee, CDC director Thomas Frieden seemed much less sure of himself, stating, "Evidence does not suggest it spreads through the air." They also backtracked on comments that Ebola could not be spread through sneezing.

In addition to its inconsistent and misleading messages, the CDC managed to put people in danger when it allowed a nurse who had treated Thomas Eric Duncan, the first person infected with Ebola to die in America, to fly on a plane. They told her it would be okay to travel even after she had complained of a fever. It was another example of their incredibly botched oversight.

The question is, are New York's hospitals prepared for Ebola? While Governor Andrew Cuomo has declared New York is ready for the threat, local radio hosts have insisted doctors and nurses don't know the protocol. WBEN's Tom Bauerle said he's been speaking with hospitals who say they are not at all prepared.

But, as long as they keep refreshing their Twitter page, all is well.

Cringe-worthy Senate Democrat Interview: 'I'm Brain Dead Today'

Come for his answer on Common Core ("yes"), stay for his avert-your-eyes inability to answer lighthearted softball questions about books and music -- via John Ekdahl:

He's got most of the policy stuff nailed: Keep Obamacare? Check. Gun control? Check. Path to citizenship? Check. Opposition to the death penalty? Check. Opposition to the 'personhood' amendment? Check. More regulations on fracking? Check. Was his answer on Common Core an endorsement of the program, or a rejection of it?  Yes. Keep in mind that this is a man running for re-election in a purple state who's still trying to position himself as a moderate and the White House's worst nightmare, or whatever. Setting aside his record of voting 99 percent of the time with the president, would O himself have answered any of those policy questions differently? Maybe he'd have hedged a bit on the death penalty, which would place Udall to Obama's left.  No wonder Udall couldn't name a single Obama proposal he opposes when pressed to do so during a recent debate.

But I'm mystified by the consecutive blown lay-ups on books and tunes.  Udall goes the safe route with with JFK's Profiles in Courage, then…can't call to memory two other books -- any two books he's ever read -- that have influenced him.  Everyone knows what a brain freeze feels like, but "I'd have to really think about which books have influenced me the most" is surely preferable to, "um, the, uh, let me think.  We can play this over, right?  Let me re-tape this."  When the interviewer bails him out by re-lobbing the music question (basically, name any song in the universe, Senator), Udall throws in the towel.  "Uh, I'm brain dead today," he says with a sheepish grin, before finally recovering and spitting out a few answers at the end of the clip.  George Will's Friday column featured the Colorado race, and accused Udall of treating women as "civic illiterates:"

One Democrat whose gallantry toward women is monomaniacal, Sen. Mark Udall (Colo.), is now uncomfortably known here as “Mark Uterus.” He is seeking a second term by running such a relentlessly gynecological campaign that the Denver Post, in endorsing his opponent, Rep. Cory Gardner, denounced the “shocking amount of energy and money” Udall has devoted to saying that Gardner favors banning birth control. Actually, Gardner favors over-the-counter sales of oral contraceptives. In addition to being common sense, Gardner’s proposal is his way of making amends for formerly advocating a state constitutional “personhood” amendment (it is again on the ballot this year and will be decisively rejected for a third time) and for endorsing similar federal legislation that has zero chance of passage. By defining personhood as beginning at conception, these measures might preclude birth control technologies that prevent implantation in the uterus of a fertilized egg. On this slender reed, Udall leans his overheated accusations that Gardner is bent on “trampling on women’s rights,” is on a “crusade” for “eliminating” reproductive freedoms and would “outlaw birth control.”

Gardner, 40, cherubic and ebullient, is a human sunbeam whose unshakable cheerfulness is disconcertingly authentic as he exclaims to the waiter at breakfast, “Thank you for your work this morning!” A fifth-generation Coloradoan who lives in a prairie town in a house once owned by his great-grandparents, Gardner is amused by an anomaly: “Udall looks like the Republican in this race — dour and angry.” When Gardner ran an ad saying Udall is “a real nice guy” but too much a creature of Washington to change it (Udall’s father, an Arizona congressman, ran for president; Udall’s uncle was an Arizona congressman and interior secretary; Udall’s cousin is a senator from New Mexico), Udall, in high synthetic dudgeon, called the ad a reprehensible attack on his family. Which elicited this puckish headline in the Washington Examiner: “Cory Gardner calls Mark Udall ‘nice guy’; Democrats want ad pulled.”

Will praises Gardner for his open-mindedness, adding in a dig at the 'Mark Uterus' campaign: "In order to change your mind, you have to have one. The 'war on women' incantation is mindless — a substitute for thought."  Ouch.  If Democrats want a late game-changer in this contest (and polling suggests they might need one), perhaps they can leak some additional garbage 'scoops' to Gawker-owned sports blogs about Cory Gardner's grade school career.  One of them might eventually stick, or at least serve as a diversionary tactic to draw attention away from this story.  I'll leave you with Gardner's latest ad, starring his grandmother:

Protect "every penny" of Medicare benefits for current and soon-to-be seniors, and reform the troubled program to preserve it for future generations.  That's right, Gardner just took a (good-natured, upbeat) shot across the 'MediScare' bow in the closing weeks of the campaign.

Editor's Note:  A version of this piece is cross-posted at HotAir.com

Tillis Campaign Smells 'Victory In The Air'

If there’s one thing the Tillis campaign has a lot of, it’s confidence. North Carolina GOP Vice Chairwoman Carolyn Justice was feeling good about Republican prospects of booting Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan on Election Day.

“I smell victory in the air,” she told a group of supporters in a packed room at the Raleigh Victory center last Saturday. Hagan’s Republican challenger, Thom Tillis, also addressed the crowd before starting a victory center tour across the state.

As he began to address his legion of loyal supporters, Tillis reaffirmed that the “campaign is going great.” He recalled how he was in the very same room back in 2010 when the NC GOP was planning to retake the State House of Representatives. Tillis was convinced the party would win 16 seats–and they did. In the legislature, Tillis noted that Republicans kept their promises of cutting taxes, spending, regulations, protecting life and promoting family.

Tillis added that keeping your promises is the easiest way to get elected, while breaking them is the fastest way to find yourself out of politics. He then gave a history of Hagan’s record of failure.

She voted for Obamacare, which gutted health care coverage for millions of Americans; Veterans Affairs is still a mess; and ISIS is on the rise thanks to Hagan being a rubber stamp for the Obama agenda. Sen. McCain, who dropped by North Carolina last week, told Tillis that he believes America has never been so vulnerable in his lifetime.

On Ebola, Hagan was against a travel ban and now she’s for it, which Tillis reacted by saying, “welcome.”

As for the stimulus allegations against Hagan, Tillis said, “that’s not leadership; it’s wrong.”

In all, Tillis is positioning himself to be an independent voice for North Carolinians; a person who will stand up to leaders of both parties who fail to act on reducing spending, cutting regulations, and creating a climate that is conducive to job growth. It takes courage and commitment to do that–and you can’t succeed if you, like Hagan, vote with the president and his party 96 percent of the time. That’s been a huge talking point for Republicans in this race.

As with any candidate, Tillis thanked his supporters for their time helping him in his race; he also mentioned how critical it is to be on the frontlines as the 2014 election cycle enters its final weeks.

With that said, he also mentioned how this race is his to lose. There’s still a lot of time for both sides to drop the ball. North Carolina is turning out to be one of the most, if not the most, expensive Senate races in our history.

When asked by a GOP strategist how does it feel to be the center of attention for a lot of national media outlets, Tillis said it didn’t leave him with any good feelings. It would mean his campaign would be in the crosshairs of the national Democrats and Harry Reid, which you have already seen in their incessant attacks on his education policies.

On the other hand, Tillis encouraged his supporters who have not yet watched any of the debates to do so; you can see that Sen. Hagan can’t be proud of anything she has done in the U.S. Senate.

RNC Chairman Reince Priebus also had a few words, calling North Carolina “ground zero” in the fight for the Senate majority this year. While Priebus thanked Tillis’ supporters, he warned them that freedom was “evaporating” in this country. With Obamacare, premiums are going up, people with coverage are being dropped, and doctors are being lost.

The chairman noted how Hagan was the point of the lance in peddling the “you can keep you doctor” Obamacare lie. Again, as for addressing the allegation that Hagan’s family profited from stimulus cash, Priebus simply said that one should Google “corruption” to get a sense of that story.

Before Priebus left the podium, he said, “If you want jobs, vote Republican."

Wendy Davis Possibly Has Worst Campaign Twitter of All Time

Fresh off from her bizarro-land and near-universally hated advertisement that essentially accused Greg Abbott of hating the disabled (despite, you know, being a person with a disability himself), Wendy Davis' campaign has now thrown another Hail Mary pass in an attempt to remain somewhat relevant in the election by accusing Abbott of being in favor of a ban of interracial marriage.

Abbott's wife, Cecilia, is Hispanic. His first campaign ad featured his in-laws speaking Spanish, and pointed out that his wife would be the first Hispanic First Lady in the state's history if he were to be elected. The "poll tax" Davis' tweet refers to is Texas' voter identification law, which was approved by the Supreme Court yesterday.

Twitter reacted with appropriate (and somewhat amused) shock at the "desperation" of Davis' tweet:

Just another disgusting move from what has already been a disgusting (and poorly-run) campaign.

But fear not. The "best" may be yet to come:

Abbott has a 15-point lead over Davis in the latest poll.

The Hill: Grimes, Pryor 'Are Falling Short'

Two Democrats running for US Senate seats (who are expected to benefit the most from a Clintonworld endorsement) may be on the verge of losing, The Hill suggested in an op-ed published this weekend (via Noah Rothman):

Self-proclaimed Clinton Democrats are struggling this election cycle, and not even their powerful namesakes may be enough to save them.

Both Bill and Hillary Clinton have tried to turn on their charms to help centrist Democrats in Kentucky and Arkansas. But as candidates in both states are slipping, help from the party’s preeminent power couple is falling short. ….

Despite their close ties to the Clintons, their efforts to distance themselves from a deeply unpopular current president may not work.

And why not? One possible reason is because both candidates are struggling to portray themselves as independent-minded candidates. In Arkansas, for example, Sen. Mark Pryor has been routinely accused by the Cotton campaign of rubber stamping the administration’s agenda and casting the deciding vote for Obamacare. He is not, in other words, living up to his own slogan that “Arkansas Comes First.” By contrast, Team Pryor has sought to parlay these attacks by taking selfies with the former US president and emphasizing his record of bipartisanship. But these efforts will perhaps be in vain, as Noah Rothman explained over at Hot Air:

…What is instructive ahead of 2016 are those Democrats who are enthused to turn out in support of liberal candidates this cycle. It’s not pro-Clinton moderates, but Obama-backing progressives who are most likely to head to the polls despite anti-Democratic headwinds.

This is why Clinton's continued support for Pryor may fail to meaningfully tip the scales; after all, the kind of voters the former president's desperately trying to win over for him...may not even vote. Meanwhile, unfortunately for Pryor, recent polling indicates his Republican challenger is in fine shape, edging him in four of the last five polls conducted in the state.

Team Cotton therefore has the momentum, and it remains to be seen what, if anything, the Clintons can do about it.

Over It: 'Steady Stream' of Democrats Leave Campaign Rally During Obama Speech

In 2008, they were passing out. In 2014, they're walking out.  These tweets come from mainstream media correspondents who watched in puzzlement as "lots" of Maryland voters departed a campaign rally over the weekend while President Obama was still talking.  Change:

Here's how Reuters' Jeff Mason summarized the event:

President Barack Obama made a rare appearance on the campaign trail on Sunday with a rally to support the Democratic candidate for governor in Maryland, but early departures of crowd members while he spoke underscored his continuing unpopularity. With approval levels hovering around record lows, Obama has spent most of his campaign-related efforts this year raising money for struggling Democrats, who risk losing control of the U.S. Senate in the Nov. 4 midterm election. Most candidates from his party have been wary of appearing with him during their election races because of his sagging popularity. Not so Lieutenant Governor Anthony Brown of Maryland, who is running for governor, and Governor Pat Quinn of Illinois, who is running for re-election….A steady stream of people walked out of the auditorium while he spoke, however, and a heckler interrupted his remarks.

First of all, it is rude to 'noticeably and noisily' walk out of any speech, let alone one delivered by the President of the United States.  Really poor form, which should somewhat temper any schadenfreude conservatives may feel over this humiliation.  Keep two things in mind, though: (1) These were Democratic partisans disrespecting the president they continue to support. If an audience of conservatives had treated Obama in a similar manner, their actions would have already spawned dozens of racially-tinged columns and MSNBC segments. (2) Maryland is one of the few states in which Obama's political brand is not radioactive, which is why he was even invited to the Brown event in the first place.  A recent, massive nationwide survey from the New York Times and YouGov found that the president's approval rating is underwater in 43 out of 50 states.  Obama registered his strongest score in Maryland, a jurisdiction packed with government workers, white liberals with postgraduate degrees, and African-Americans.  Yet even a gymnasium full of Democratic base voters in Obama's best state couldn't be bothered to sit through his remarks. Alas, as the Reuters story goes on to say, it doesn't seem as though Anthony Brown is in much danger of losing to Republican Larry Hogan, even as several recent polls show the race closing to a high single-digit margin.  This tells you everything you need to know about the voters of Maryland.  Lt. Governor Anthony Brown was put in charge of implementing Obamacare in the state, failed miserably, and has been shifting blame and claiming dubious credit for "taking action" to fix the problems over which he presided ever since.  Maryland's healthcare exchange crashed and burned so badly that Brown and company were eventually left with no choice but to abandon it completely, wasting more than $100,000,000.00 in taxpayer money.  For his stellar work, the people of Maryland are poised to furnish Brown with a promotion.  

A similar dynamic is playing out in Oregon, home to the mother of all Obamacare debacles.  Not only did Oregon's disastrously failed Obamacare exchange flush away more than $300,000,000.00 without signing up a single person for coverage online, it has been the subject of fraud investigations, including serious allegations that Democratic Gov. John Kitzhaber willfully lied about his knowledge of the meltdown.  Kitzhaber leads his GOP opponent by roughly ten points in the RCP average.  Stunning, costly incompetence and dishonesty don't appear to be fazing voters in these deep blue states, who are essentially saying 'yes, more of that, please.'  Which brings us to Obama's home state of Illinois, where failed Democratic Governor Pat Quinn's approval ratings have languished in the 20's and 30's for much of his term.  He's overseen multiple downgrades to Illinois' worst-in-the-nation credit rating, he's hiked taxes significantly (promising more to come), and he's presided over an exodus of jobs from the state, whose catastrophic public pension obligations continue to spiral. In spite of all of that, Quinn -- the one-time running mate of disgraced felon Gov. Rod Blagojevich -- has stormed back in the polls against Republican Bruce Rauner.  Democratic attack ads have portrayed Rauner as a mean multimillionaire (the Romney script), setting the state for Quinn's comeback.  Though both the centrist Chicago Tribune and liberal Chicago Sun Times have each endorsed Rauner, the incumbent has seized a very small lead in the race, having trailed by double digits for most of the year.  The race now is a pure toss up, which is an extraordinary commentary on Illinois politics.  Obama's now in town to try to help Quinn seal the deal with Chicago voters.  We'll see in a few weeks if empirically failed Democrats are effectively bulletproof in all three of these liberal states.

LOL: LA Newspaper Says Sen. Landrieu Represents the 'Middle Ground' in Congress

She votes with President Obama 97 percent of the time. Yet, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) represents the "middle ground" in Congress, according to The Times-Picayune, a New Orleans-based newspaper.

In its gushing editorial, The Times-Picayune praises Sen. Landrieu's efforts in steering disaster relief to the state after Hurricanes Katrina and Rita rattled its borders, as well as helping to secure the necessary funds to restore Louisiana's coasts following the disastrous BP gulf oil spill in 2010. Her success in these areas is certainly commendable, but the newspaper takes its praise a bit too far when it claims Landrieu is working directly in the political center:

She occupies the middle ground in Congress. She has been an advocate for free trade and a strong military. She pushed the Obama administration to lift its drilling moratorium after the BP spill and is an advocate for the oil and gas industry, which is a mainstay of Louisiana's economy.

Right...Did I mention Landrieu votes with the president 97 percent of the time? This is a fact The Times-Picayune has even reported. Oblivious. In addition to her nearly perfect party line voting record, Landrieu has proven to be radical on issues such as abortion. The Democratic senator has supported taxpayer funding for the procedure and has refused to support restrictions on abortion after five months, when unborn babies can feel pain.

What's more, Landrieu is a proud supporter of Common Core, an educational initiative the federal government has forced on schools across the country, taking decisions out of the hands of teachers and parents.

Landrieu is nowhere near the middle. She's in left field, catching everything our liberal president throws her way.

Our poll tracker currently has Landrieu's GOP opponent Bill Cassidy up by six points:

Capitol Source: Pure Politics? Obama Admin Distances ISIS from Islam

The terrorist group ISIS has nothing to do with the true religion of Islam, according to the repeated claims of the Obama administration. For this week's episode of Capitol Source, we visited Georgetown University professor Dr. John Esposito to dig deeper into the truth of this assertion.

Be sure to visit Townhall.com on Nov. 3 for a special episode in honor of Veterans Day.

Sen. Hagan: Actually, We Should Have A Travel Ban On Citizens From Ebola-Stricken Countries

Remember when Sen. Kay Hagan said the CDC was “giving us great guidance” on Ebola? There was something that was left out; she said that a travel ban was not the best way to address this issue. “That is not going to help solve this problem,” said Hagan said last week. “That is not going to contain the epidemic that we see happening in Africa.”

Apparently, the incumbent Democratic senator had a change of heart when her office released this statement last Friday [emphasis mine]:

I have said for weeks that travel restrictions should be one part of a broad strategy to prevent Ebola from spreading in the U.S. and fighting it in Africa. I am calling on the Administration to temporarily ban the travel of non-U.S. citizens from the affected countries in West Africa. Although stopping the spread of this virus overseas will require a large, coordinated effort with the international community, a temporary travel ban is a prudent step the President can take to protect the American people, and I believe he should do so immediately."

Afroman Remixes "Because I Got High" To Support Marijuana Legalization

Rapper Afroman released his song "Because I Got High" in 2001. The song's lyrics were a comedic take about how marijuana use had negatively impacted his life (ex: "I was gonna go to class, but then I got high"). Last week, however, Afroman, NORML, and the website Weedmaps released a "positive remix" of the song, this time detailing how marijuana use can actually in fact improve the quality of one's life.

The song touts the benefits of marijuana use for people suffering from glaucoma and anxiety, as well as not having to buy marijuana from "gangbangers shooting craps" if the drug were to be legalized. Afroman also pointed out in the song that alcohol and prescription drugs, which are both legal and commonplace, have many more side effects than marijuana use.

Alaska, Oregon, and the District of Columbia are voting to legalize the recreational use of marijuana this November. Polls show that the measures have solid leads in Oregon and the District of Columbia.

Regardless of what you may think about marijuana, Afroman makes very interesting points when comparing marijuana to prescription pills, Xanax, and alcohol. It makes no sense that children (some as young as three) are regularly given Adderall, an amphetamine, while marijuana remains illegal. The United States needs sensible drug laws.

Only 15 Percent of Americans Believe We Are Winning the War Against ISIS

A mere 15 percent of Americans believe that the United States and its allies are winning the war against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, according to a recent Rasmussen Reports poll. Almost three times as many Americans (42 percent) consider ISIS to have the upper-hand.

President Obama presented a four-point plan to defeat the terrorist group during a speech on Sept. 10. His plan consisted of: 1). Airstrikes. 2). The addition of 475 servicemen to Iraq. 3). Cutting off funding to ISIS and strengthening U.S. counterintelligence programs. 4). Intensify humanitarian aide to innocent civilians.

U.S. Central Command officials have named the military efforts against ISIS: ‘Operation Inherent Resolve.’ A selection which some defense officials at the Pentagon found uninspiring and ‘kind of bleh,’ according to the Wall Street Journal.

Central Command officials, however, claimed that the name was intended to signify the use of “all available dimensions of national power necessary,” and to show:

“the unwavering resolve and deep commitment of the U.S. and partner nations in the region and around the globe to eliminate the terrorist group ISIL and the threat they pose to Iraq, the region and the wider international community.”

Seventy-eight percent of Americans believe that, in the end, the United States will be forced to send combat troops into Iraq to defeat the jihadist organization.

DWS: Dems Will Hold the Senate

With the midterm elections just weeks away, DNC Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz seemed confident during her appearance on “Fox News Sunday” that Democrats will keep the Senate.

“We are going to hold the Senate,” the Florida lawmaker said. “The president is not on the ballot.”

“Republicans are desperate to put him on the ballot because they’re trying to turn away from their own terrible record,” she added.

She made her prediction amid a majority of polls that give Republicans at least a 60 percent chance of retaking the upper chamber, including a Washington Post forecast that gives the GOP a 93 percent chance.

Republicans need to win a net total of six seats to take the Senate.

Wasserman-Schultz also argued Democrats will keep control of the chamber because Republicans have let down Americas by taking away their health care and opposing minimum-wage increases.

While DWS is correct that Obama is not on the ballot, his policies certainly are—every single one, in fact.

“The one question that voters are going to ask themselves, Chris, is who has my back?” Wasserman Schultz said to host Chris Wallace.

“The President hasn't had anybody's back,” RNC Chairman Reince Priebus countered. “He [hasn’t] even had your back."


NY Gun Registry Deems Almost 35,000 People Too Mentally Ill To Carry a Gun

A new figure out of New York shows that the state has deemed 34,500 people too mentally ill to carry a firearm. While any responsible citizen would argue a dangerous and mentally unstable person should not be wielding a gun, some mental health advocates are arguing the number is far too high:

“That seems extraordinarily high to me,” said Sam Tsemberis, a former director of New York City’s involuntary hospitalization program for homeless and dangerous people, now the chief executive of Pathways to Housing, which provides housing to the mentally ill. “Assumed dangerousness is a far cry from actual dangerousness.”

The Office of Mental Health pointed out that 144,000 people were hospitalized in New York in 2012 for mental illness, trying to justify the gun registry's seemingly high number. Yet, other health professionals argue the majority of those cases are not violent.

Mental health advocates aren't the only ones frustrated with this statistic. This new report gives New York's gun owners another reason to be fed up with the SAFE Act, the gun restricting legislation that Governor Andrew Cuomo signed into law shortly after the tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in December 2012. While the liberal governor may have thought he was keeping New Yorkers "safe," one of the law's aims has seemed to be to convince gun owners they belong in the slammer. The legislation, which banned the sale of AR-15s and upgraded previous misdemeanors into felonies, resulted in over 1,200 felonies last year. Others point out that the law has not managed to stop any mass shootings this year.

Gun control activists would counter by arguing that the law is not overly cautious if it manages to keep a firearm out of the hands of people who do not have full control of their mental state.

What do you think? Is it worth it if one dangerously mentally ill person is kept away from a gun, or is this registry too restrictive of New Yorkers' Second Amendment rights?