Kerry Calls Netanyahu, Promises White House Doesn't Really Think He's Chickensh*t or a Coward

Earlier this week we learned through the reporting of Jeffery Goldberg that multiple White House officials refer to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as "chickensh*t, recalcitrant, myopic, reactionary, obtuse, blustering, pompous, and 'Aspergery.'" At this point the White House has no plans to disclose or find out who made the comments and President Obama has failed to issue a direct apology to Netanyahu for the behavior of his team. Press Secretary Josh Earnest attempted an expected diplomatic clean-up during the daily briefing on Wednesday by saying the comments in Goldberg's story don't represent the view of the administration. Now, it's Secretary of State John Kerry's turn.

Earlier today Kerry called Netanyahu to reiterate Earnest's comments that the name-calling doesn't represent the administration's view of the Israeli prime minister but admitted the comments have an impact on an already damaged relationship between the two countries. From Haartz:

U.S. Secretary of State called Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Friday to express his regret over the remarks made against the Israeli premier this week in The Atlantic.

According to a senior Israeli official, Kerry said the remarks were unacceptable and emphasized they do not represent the position of the U.S. government.

On Thursday, Kerry condemned the jibes, noting that since his tenure as secretary of state began, he has never heard the derogatory term used regarding Netanyahu.
"Such statements are disgraceful, unacceptable and damaging," he said during a press conference in Washington. "I don’t know who the people that said those things are but it made our lives much harder."

Tensions between the U.S. and Israel continue to rise as Iran gets closer to the production of a nuclear weapon, something the Obama administration doesn't seem eager to stop.

Toss-Up: NC Race Tied, But Tillis Has More Room To Grow

Elon had a poll showing Sen. Kay Hagan with a 4-point lead over Republican Thom Tillis, but left-leaning Public Policy Polling did a survey on behalf of the League of Conservation Voters showing the race virtually tied.

The poll, which is D+12, has Hagan leading Tillis by only 1 point 47/46, which is quite remarkable since PPPs last North Carolina poll on October 20 had her up 3 points 47/44. The sample consisted of 657 likely voters.  An official PPP poll on the North Carolina race will be released in the coming days.

As others have reported, the race is a pure toss-up, folks. Roll Call’s Rothenberg reclassified the race as such. Additionally, the Huffington Post’s pollsters recently wrote that Tillis has been slowly eating away at Hagan’s advantage in the polls–and that Tillis may have more room to grow as Election Day near, especially with Undecideds [emphasis mine]:

The HuffPost Pollster tracking model, based on all public polls but calibrated to match the trends from the independent, non-partisan pollsters, gives Hagan an edge of just under one percentage point, as of this writing (44.8 to 43.9 percent) and a probability of victory of barely better than a coin flip.

Thursday's new polls included an internal survey conducted by Tillis pollster Public Opinion Strategies showing a tied race (44 percent each). Campaigns are typically selective about the polling data they share, releasing favorable results and holding back the bad, but Democrats conceded that their data also shows a close race in North Carolina. On Thursday, Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee executive director Guy Cecil said their internal models show North Carolina within "the margin of error." [POS, WashPost]

The recent trends reflect a pattern that Republican strategists and analysts like RealClearPolitics Sean Trende predicted. Since early September, Hagan's share of the vote has remained essentially flat (at roughly 45 percent in the Pollster chart) while the Tillis number has increased from 42 percent in September to 44 percent over the past week, suggesting that Tillis may have further room to grow his support among undecided voters.

Even FiveThiryEight said that Tillis’ prospects of victory have never been better, but also noted that this surge might be “too little, too late,” especially with early voting.

Yet, it’s not a doom-and-gloom picture on that front either (via NYT):

The turnout among black voters is particularly encouraging for Democrats, who need strong black turnout to compete in racially polarized states like Georgia and North Carolina. In those two states, black voters so far represent 30 percent of the voters who did not participate in 2010. By comparison, 24 percent of all those who voted in those states in 2010 were black.

But so far, there have not been enough new Democratic votes to erase the Republicans’ expected turnout advantage. It remains to be seen whether turnout among new voters will continue at these rates. The Upshot’s model, Leo, still gives the Republicans a 68 percent chance of taking the Senate.

On the campaign trail, Tillis has received some good news about the tax reforms he oversaw in Raleigh; North Carolina’s tax climate was ranked at a dismal 44 out of 50 to 16th best due to cutting the top personal income tax rate from 7.75 percent to 5.8 percent and reducing corporate rates from 6.9 percent to a flat rate of 6 percent. Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice also endorsed Tillis earlier today saying, “America faces challenges both at home and abroad. We need leaders in Washington to address these issues head on. Thom Tillis is an effective leader who can work across the aisle to solve problems and make our government more accountable to the people. I encourage you to join me in supporting Thom Tillis on November 4th.”

On the other hand, Kay Hagan is stumbling towards the finish line.

Earlier this week, pro-immigration activists hijacked one of her campaign rallies, slamming her for being “anti-immigrant.” The whole event got quite awkward (especially around the 55 second mark).  If there's one issue that Hagan does not want in the spotlight days before Election Day, it's immigration. Ebola and ISIS have done their part in shifting the race towards Tillis and the Republicans.

Over at Hot Air, Noah noted how Hagan fumbled her response to outside money expenditures in this campaign in her interview with PBS’ Gwen Ifill–with Ifill calling her out on her hypocrisy over the issue.

SEN. KAY HAGAN (D-NC): North Carolina is this purple state, but I feel very good about where we are. I do think that this out of state money is something that I’m very disappointed in. But it is because of the Supreme Court –

GWEN IFILL, PBS: But you’ve benefited from it as well?

HAGAN: You know, I think no matter who gives money it should be disclosed and I think it should be transparent. I’ve got legislation in the Senate that would do just that. Thom Tillis doesn’t support that. We’ve got to let the American public know who is putting this money forward. If you think about it, you’ve got a handful of the wealthiest people in this country that are dictating what 350 million hear and see on TV and that’s wrong. To me, that’s not democracy.

IFILL: But as long as that money is coming from people who support you it’s okay?

HAGAN: You know, I certainly wish that we could have disclosed where people — where no matter who gives money the public knows and follows that. That’s why I support this bill.

Hagan also mentioned how turnout will be essential, especially in these very close races, but are Democrats finished in this area? It’s an off-year election, and while the early voting numbers–as mentioned above–are good, they are unable to have an impact against the projected Republican turnout.

Also, Nate Cohn over at the New York Times has written this past spring about the Democratic turnout problems this year, which is compounded in North Carolina.

All I can say is that 2014 is going to be a fun election night–ten times more than 2012 that’s for sure.

Possible Illegal Democratic Campaign Activity In Kansas

In the tight race between incumbent Republican Pat Roberts and "independent" candidate Greg Orman in Kansas, the Democrats are implicitly pro-Orman. The two-way race between Orman and Roberts has been close ever since Democrats pressured the official Democratic candidate to drop out of the race.

But now, the Kansas Republican Party has filed a complaint with the Federal Election Commission against the Kansas Democratic Party for illegal "in-kind" contributions to the Orman campaign.

Kansas Democrats have hung pro-Orman signs at official Democratic Party offices which, according to the GOP's complaint, is illegal:

Parties have traditionally used the volunteer exemption for activities such as get out the vote, printing and handing out bumper stickers and yard signs, door-to-door canvassing, and volunteer mail programs. But the Kansas Democrats are allowed to undertake these activities only on behalf of their nominees - not independent, non-affiliated candidates such as Greg Orman.

...

Various reports have indicated that the Kansas Democrats are supporting Greg Orman in numerous and unreported ways, apparently in violation of Federal law.

Read the full letter below:

McConnell Up By Five in Latest Poll

A new poll out of Kentucky is showing incumbent Sen. Mitch McConnell (R) with a solid lead as Election Day draws near. McConnell's lead has expanded from polls earlier this week, and he now leads by five points over Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes.

The latest poll of 597 likely voters in Kentucky was conducted by SurveyUSA between Oct. 25 and Oct. 29 on behalf of the Herald-Leader and WKYT-TV in Lexington and The Courier-Journal and WHAS-TV in Louisville. It has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.1 percentage points.

McConnell leads Grimes 48 percent to 43 percent in Kentucky's U.S. Senate race, with Libertarian candidate David Patterson pulling 3 percent.

In a Bluegrass Poll released early last week, McConnell was clinging to a one-point lead, with 44 percent backing him and 43 percent choosing Grimes.

McConnell is leading among both men and women, and although the GOP base has been critical of him throughout the election cycle, 86 percent of Republicans polled said they plan on voting for him. This is certainly a good thing. On the other side of the aisle, Grimes base may be turning on her--only 71 percent of Democrats claim that they will vote for Grimes, and an astounding 23 percent of Kentucky Democrats intend on voting for McConnell.

Grimes came under fire when her supporters said that she was lying about her support of the coal industry, and when she refused to confirm whether or not she voted for Obama. The DSCC briefly pulled money and ads from Kentucky, but eventually returned.

Our poll tracker has shown McConnell with a slight, but consistent, lead for most of the race:

Watch Someone in The Government Take Over Sharyl Attkisson's Computer

Earlier this week investigative reporter Sharyl Attkisson released new information to the New York Post, which is further detailed in her forthcoming book Stonewalled: My Fight for Truth Against the Forces of Obstruction, Intimidation, and Harassment in Obama’s Washington, about the hacking of her personal and work computers last year. After an analysis by a close source familiar with hacking systems and spyware Attkisson, who has worked extensively on stories like Benghazi and Operation Fast and Furious, alleged that someone in the federal government had entered her computer, deleted information and even planted classified documents in hopes of potentially prosecuting her or a source during a leak investigation.

In her new memoir, Sharyl Attkisson says a source who arranged to have her laptop checked for spyware in 2013 was “shocked” and “flabbergasted” at what the analysis revealed.

“This is outrageous. Worse than anything Nixon ever did. I wouldn’t have believed something like this could happen in the United States of America,” Attkisson quotes the source saying.

Attkisson says the source, who’s “connected to government three-letter agencies,” told her the computer was hacked into by “a sophisticated entity that used commercial, nonattributable spyware that’s proprietary to a government agency: either the CIA, FBI, the Defense Intelligence Agency or the National Security Agency.

The breach was accomplished through an “otherwise innocuous e-mail” that Attkisson says she got in February 2012, then twice “redone” and “refreshed” through a satellite hookup and a Wi-Fi connection at a Ritz-Carlton hotel.

The spyware included programs that Attkisson says monitored her every keystroke and gave the snoops access to all her e-mails and the passwords to her financial accounts.

“The intruders discovered my Skype account handle, stole the password, activated the audio, and made heavy use of it, presumably as a listening tool,” she wrote in “Stonewalled: My Fight for Truth Against the Forces of Obstruction, Intimidation, and Harassment in Obama’s Washington.”

Now, there's video showing what Attkisson described. While working at home on a story about Benghazi, Attkisson's computer appears to have been taken over and entire paragraphs of information were deleted.

Attkisson's book comes out on November 4, 2014.

Landrieu: Let's Face It, I'm Struggling Because Louisianans are Sexist and Racist


Mary Landrieu is losing. This reality makes her angry. And she's channeling her fury by leveling slanderous attacks against the very people from whom she's seeking votes. This is what your Senator thinks of you, Louisiana:



I’ll be very, very honest with you. The South has not always been the friendliest place for African-Americans. It’s been a difficult time for the president to present himself in a very positive light as a leader. It's not always been a good place for women to be able to present ourselves. It's more of a conservative place, so we've had to work a little bit harder..."

Louisianans are so sexist that they've elected...Mary Landrieu to the Senate.  Three times. They're so racist that Bobby Jindal is their governor.  As a refresher, this is what Bobby Jindal, an Indian-American son of immigrants, looks like:




The man won re-election by a 48-point margin in 2011, carrying every single parish in the state.  He hasn't taken too kindly to Landrieu's smears, either:


Even the mainstream media can't avert its eyes from this self-inflicted wound, calling her comments a "PR nightmare" and "divisive:"


I debated Landrieu's remark on Fox News this morning, and despite getting out-talked and out-interrupted, I think I managed to make my point:


Notice that he had absolutely no response to my facts on Gov. Jindal and Sen. Scott. A few more points that I was unable to squeeze in: Obviously, a (blessedly small) group of people primarily oppose Obama because of his skin color; a minor subset of the electorate primarily supports him for the same reason. And of course both parties have checkered racial histories, both in the South and elsewhere. But racism and sexism aren't the sinister root causes of Obama and Landrieu's political problems. Conservative voters oppose Obama's statist agenda, and they oppose Landrieu for propping up said agenda 97 percent of the time.

In short, Louisiana isn't the problem, Senator. You are. And maybe you'd be more hesitant to badmouth the people of Louisiana if you actually lived in the state you ostensibly "represent." 

AR Polls: Is This Cotton's Race to Lose?

Take your pick. Regardless of which poll you read, both Arkansas surveys suggest Rep. Tom Cotton will soon be getting a promotion.

First starters, let’s begin with the Arkansas Poll, which shows the Republican in the race maintaining a whopping 13 point advantage over the incumbent, 49 percent to 36 percent:

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

From the internals:

(1) Among “very likely voters,” the D/R/I sample breakdown is 31/33/33. That's to say, the sample isn't overly skewed in favor of Republicans. And yet Sen. Pryor and President Obama’s approval/disapproval ratings are almost comically bad, sitting at 33/54 and 27/68, respectively.

(2) Thirty-four percent of respondents said “the economy” is the most important issue facing Arkansans. The second and third issues, respectively, were “politicians/politics” (21 percent) and "healthcare" (16 percent).

(3) Twenty-five percent of respondents say they are “worse” off financially than they were one year ago today. However, 22 percent said they were “better” off, and 52 percent said “about the same.”

In other words, the vast majority of respondents are doing okay, but they really aren't all that impressed with Sen. Pryor and President Obama. I would point out, however, that the sample size was rather small. Only 568 “very likely voters” participated in the survey. By contrast, Rasmussen Reports' newest poll interviewed some 967 Likely Voters.

That’s a much bigger (and better) sample, and thus perhaps one reason why their findings indicate the race is much tighter:

The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Arkansas Voters shows Cotton with 51% of the vote to Pryor’s 44%. Four percent (4%) like some other candidate in the race, and two percent (2%) remain undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Either way you slice it, though, that’s still a seven point differential; it makes you wonder if this poll wasn’t an outlier after all.

Obama's America Isn't Showing Up for 2014

America is divided. But not just into red states and blue states. 

America also also divided by time. In presidential election years the American electorate is younger, poorer, more diverse, and less educated. In midterm election years the American electorate is older, richer, whiter, and better educated.

President Obama has dominated in presidential-election-America, winning in 2008 53 percent to 46 percent, and again in 2012 51 percent to 47 percent.

But Republicans have fared better in midterm-America, winning 52 percent of all House votes cast in 2010 compared to 45 percent for the Democrats.

So which electorate is going to show up in 2014?

According to months of polling from NBC News, The Wall Street Journal, and Annenberg Foundation, the 2014 electorate will be even older, whiter, and wealthier than it was in 2010.

When Obama first won the White House in 2008, the electorate was 74 percent white, 13 percent African-American, and 9 percent Hispanic, according to exit polls from that year. That same year, 18 percent of the electorate was aged 18-29 ,37 percent made less than $50,000, and only 45 percent had graduated college.

But in 2010, the percentage of the electorate that was white rose to 77 percent, only 12 percent were aged 18-29, just 36 percent made less than $50,000, and 51 percent were college graduates. The African-America vote also shrank to 11 percent and the Hispanic vote ticked town to 8 percent.

In 2012, however, Obama's America came back to the polls. The white vote shrank to 72 percent, the black voted jumped back up to 13 percent, the Hispanic vote rose to 10 percent, 41 percent of voters had incomes below $50,000, and just 47 percent were college graduates.

Now, according to 6,346 interviews with likely voters taken between September 2nd and October 29th, the 2014 electorate will be 78 percent white, just 11 percent of voters will be aged 18-29, and just 32 percent of voters will make less than $50,000. Meanwhile, the survey shows the African-American vote ticking down to 10 percent, and the Hispanic vote falling to 7 percent.

If the Democrats predicated their 2014 hopes on turning out Obama's 2012 electorate, this poll suggests that they failed miserably.

Support For New Gun Control Laws Plummets, Especially Among Women

Since the 2012 Newtown school shooting, major anti-gun groups like Everytown for Gun Safety and Moms Demand Action (both funded by former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg) have been pushing for more legal requirements during gun sales, better known as "universal background checks." But a new survey from Gallup shows those efforts haven't paid off and that the majority of the country does not support an increase in gun control laws. The survey also shows support for new legislation has plummeted since 2012. 

Less than half of Americans, 47%, say they favor stricter laws covering the sale of firearms, similar to views found last year. But this percentage is significantly below the 58% recorded in 2012 after the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut, spurred a nationwide debate about the possibility of more stringent gun control laws. Thirty-eight percent of Americans say these laws should be kept as they are now, and 14% say they should be made less strict. 

A Gallup notes, these numbers aren't the lowest they've ever been. In 2011, support for new gun control measures were at an all-time low of just 43 percent.

The 47% who favor stricter laws is just above the historical low of 43% measured in 2011.

Ten years ago, three in five Americans (60%) said they favored stricter laws regulating the sale of firearms, but support fell to 44% in 2009 and remained at that level in polls conducted in the next two years. Days after the Newtown shooting, support for stricter gun sale laws swelled. Since 2012, however, Americans have retreated from those stronger attitudes about the need for more gun control, and the percentage of Americans who say the laws should be less strict -- although still low -- has edged up.

One of the biggest drops in support for more gun control comes from women, who coincidentally are the fastest growing demographic of gun owners in America. In 2012 69 percent of women supported measures like universal background checks. In 2014, it's just 55 percent. Since 2005, personal gun ownership among women has increased by nearly 80 percent.

So what does this mean? A few things. The first is that these numbers show fear mongering, smears and false accusations against the gun industry and gun shop owners individually aren't working. These numbers also prove that pro-gun activists have been successful in not only showing Americans that "universal background checks" don't work to stop crime, but are a threat to Second Amendment Rights down the road. They've also been successful at pointing out the real agenda coming from anti-gun groups funded by Bloomberg, which aren't interested in gun safety, but instead in government control. After all, back in June former executive director and face of Bloomberg's Everytown For Gun Safety (a group that used to be called Mayors Against Illegal Guns) Mark Glaze admitted that the proposals for universal background checks wouldn't stop mass shootings in the future, even though the proposals were introduced in the aftermath of mass shootings in order to take advantage of emotions during a time of crisis. And finally, the 11 percent drop in support for new gun control measures proves that people aren't buying the bogus accusations hurled at the National Rifle Association, which has been running ads on national television in order to promote law abiding citizens practicing their Second Amendment rights. 


Because the numbers from Gallup still show the vast majority of Democrats and liberals still want more gun control, the battle to protect the Second Amendment rights of Americans continues.

Corporations DO Create Jobs, Don't They?

On this week's Townhall Weekend Journal

Bill Bennett and Bill Kristol on the potential loss of the Senate to the Republicans. Hugh Hewitt and CNN's Jake Tapper on the election. Prager and Ann Coulter discuss Christian's and their reluctance to engage in the voting process--they also discuss how some conservatives make the purest Republican the enemy of the most potentially-electable Republican. Bennett spoke with Mitch McConnell. Arkansas Republican Tom Cotton is just days away from taking a key Senate seat from the Democrats--he spoke to Hugh Hewitt. Michael Medved took a look at a Hillary's attack on business. Michael Medved looks at the silly attempt to divide America by gender. Bill Bennett and Byron York on the gender gap. Dennis Prager on feminist's latest attempt to push their message...with a video of 9-year-old F-bomb-dropping girls.

Poll: Dead Heat in Illinois Governor's Race

With Election Day just around the corner, the race between Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn and Republican challenger Bruce Rauner is a dead heat, according to a new Early & Often poll.

The survey, conducted Wednesday in live telephone interviews by McKeon & Associates, shows Quinn and Rauner each with 45 percent of the vote in southern Illinois — a segment of the state that’s traditionally more loyal to Republicans.

Statewide, the head-to-head numbers gave Quinn the edge with 45 percent, Rauner with 42 percent of the vote and Libertarian candidate Chad Grimm with 4 percent. Rauner held a strong lead in suburban Cook County and the collar counties as well as a 9-point lead in central Illinois.

The survey also showed Rauner with strong numbers in Chicago, garnering 20 percent, and among African-Americans, winning the support of 15 percent of black voters statewide.

“There is no doubt that this is a close race, but the idea that Bruce Rauner and Pat Quinn are tied Downstate is more far-fetched than the idea of a Pat Quinn tax cut,” Rauner campaign spokesman Mike Schrimpf told the Chicago Sun-Times.

Perhaps, but it’s important to remember that the billionaire has maintained that he has no “social agenda,” and has made assurances on the campaign trail that he’d protect abortion rights and would punt the same-sex marriage issue back to voters. Rather, his focus would be on jobs, taxes, fighting corruption, and schools, he’s said.

“There’s this kind of hypocrisy of being a liberal in Chicago and picking up some votes there and trying to sell as a conservative Downstate. It doesn’t work. And that’s his problem,” pollster Mike McKeon told the Sun-Times. “At the end of the day, he has to run close to [2010 GOP nominee Bill] Brady’s numbers to win Downstate … He was strong down there, he stuck to his conservative stuff and that was that. Either you’re pro-life or you’re pro-choice. There’s no dancing.”

More interesting is the split for the candidates among women, with Quinn pulling in 38 percent of the female vote, while 55 percent backed Rauner, the poll found. McKeon tied this to women being more interested in jobs and the economy rather than minimum wage and social issues.

We’ll find out soon enough who will come out on top in this extremely close race.

Confirmed: Obamacare is Hurting Democrats


Long gone are the days of Democratic chest-thumping about "running on" Obamacare in 2014. That boast was abruptly replaced with assertions that the issue was receding from the scene and wouldn't really benefit either party.  As it turns out, candidates on one side of the aisle has been talking quite a lot about the healthcare law on the campaign trail and in ads, while the other side has been notably tight-lipped.  And now Politico finally states the obvious:

...Not only did the political benefits that Democrats thought the 2010 law would eventually bring them not materialize, opposition has only grown, according to an analysis of multiple polls taken between 2010 and last month. “There have been backlashes, but never like this,” said Robert Blendon, a professor at the Harvard School of Public Health and co-author of the analysis released Wednesday by the New England Journal of Medicine. That backlash doesn’t appear directed at the mechanics of the law but at its underlying core principle. Only 47 percent of Americans agree that it’s the government’s job to make sure everyone has health coverage, down from 69 percent in 2006, the analysis found. That shift is particularly pronounced among likely voters. Of those who are most likely to show up at the polls on Nov. 4, one in four believe in this principle.

Public opinion polls have consistently shown support for the law underwater by double digits, with roughly twice as many Americans claiming harm from the law than those who say it's helped them. Opposition has been so entrenched that many national polls haven't asked about it in awhile. Still, several fresh data points confirm the trend. In Marquette's Wisconsin poll, Obamacare is upside-down by 20 points (34/54), and Harvard's poll of millennials shows a 57 percent majority of young voters disapproving of the law.  The vast majority of Americans would like to see the law repealed or scaled back with significant changes.  And contra the law's ideological apologists, the bad news keeps piling up:

(1) "New challenges" will face 2015 consumers when open enrollment commences -- after the elections, by design.  As you read this New York Times assessment, keep in mind that government data suggests the "7.3 million" figure appears to be wildly exaggerated, including millions of people who were previously insured. Quote: "The 'back end' of the federal exchange, which the government uses to enroll consumers in health plans and to send subsidy payments to insurers, remains unfinished. "

(2) Access shock, via USA Today: "Now that many people finally have health insurance through the Affordable Care Act exchanges, some are running into a new problem: They can't find a doctor who will take them as patients. Because these exchange plans often have lower reimbursement rates, some doctors are limiting how many new patients they take with these policies, physician groups and other experts say. 'The exchanges have become very much like Medicaid,' says Andrew Kleinman, a plastic surgeon and president of the Medical Society of the State of New York. 'Physicians who are in solo practices have to be careful to not take too many patients reimbursed at lower rates or they're not going to be in business very long.' Kleinman says his members complain rates can be 50% lower than commercial plans." Becoming like Medicaid.  Terrific.

(3) More 'transparency,' Obama style: "With health insurance marketplaces about to open for 2015 enrollment, the Obama administration has told insurance companies that it will delay requirements for them to disclose data on the number of people enrolled, the number of claims denied and the costs to consumers for specific services. For months, insurers have been asking the administration if they had to comply with two sections of the Affordable Care Act that require 'transparency in coverage.' In a bulletin sent to insurers last week, the administration said, “We do not intend to enforce the transparency requirements until we provide further guidance.” Administration officials said the government and insurers needed more time to collect and analyze the data."

(4) Rate shock for Colorado's exchange participants: "Colorado health-insurance consumers relying on tax credits will see their share of premiums rise an average of 77 percent next year if they keep the same plans, according to the state's preliminary analysis. While premiums overall are not expected to increase significantly in 2015, the way tax credits are calculated under the Affordable Care Act is creating challenges for Colorado consumers. According to an analysis done for the Colorado Division of Insurance, the average share of costs for customers receiving tax credits in 2014 was $161.79 a month. In 2015, if they keep the same plans, their average share of costs after tax credits will be $281.01."  And that's in addition to the follow-on waves of cancellation notices in the state.


I'll leave you with this RNC video, parodying these DirecTV commercials:



Sen. Landrieu Wants You to Forget When She Called The Border Fence ‘Dumb’

At Wednesday’s debate at Louisiana State University, Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA) seemed like she was 100 percent behind a border fence:

“I support a strong border and have for many years as chair of the Homeland Security Committee. I’ve increased the number of border agents from 15,000 to 20,000 and joined John McCain, a friend of my opponent here, in passing a comprehensive immigration bill to double it from 20,000 to 40,000. I also support a fence, 700 miles long that can tell the difference between whether a deer crosses or a person so we can allocate our resources effectively. So these attacks that I’m not for a secure border are absolutely false.”

Now, the Republican National Committee is calling her bluff. In June of last year, Landrieu was singing a very different tune:

“I voted for the dumb fence once,” she said at the time. “I’m not going to do it again because I learned my mistake when I went down there to look at it and realized that we could build two dumb fences or three dumb fences, and it’s not working. So I am simply not going to waste the money to do something that I know will not work.”

To emphasize her stunning case of hypocrisy, she even put out a TV ad accusing her opponent of being too soft on border security. Over at Hot Air, Guy surmised that since her campaign did not publicize the ad spot to the media and only aired it in Louisiana, she was trying to put on a different, more conservative face for Louisianans than in Washington. 

Sorry Senator Landrieu, you’re not fooling anyone with that mask - even on Halloween.

Liberals Are Often Wrong, But Rarely Evil

Your daughter asks you to meet her in the kitchen one Sunday afternoon. You arrive. She's dead serious. She asks you to sit down across from her, and she takes your hand.

"You know I love you and respect you, right?" She says. "And I hope you'll always love and respect me." Your brow furrows. A light bead of sweat materializes on your forehead.

"Dad, I went down to the board of elections. I've registered with the Republican party."

Let's say you're a strident liberal. What in the world do you think of your daughter?

There's a saying you might have heard that goes something like this: liberals think conservatives are evil, but conservatives think liberals are just wrong, and it comes to mind when reading this Jonathan Chait piece:

I consider Republicanism a negative factor in a potential in-law. That is not the only ideological objection. I would likewise bring healthy skepticism to a Marxist, anarchist, radical Islamist, monarchist, or advocate of Greater Russia. That goes for advocates of belligerent, hypernationalism of any kind — though, come to think of it, most belligerent hypernationalists you run into in this country happen to be Republicans.

...

It’s okay to judge people’s political values. It’s not like the sports team you root for or even (exactly) like a religion, where you are mostly born into your loyalty. Politics expresses moral values.

Chait is jumping off of a polled-attitudes survey that says that Americans are now more likely to view ideology and partisanship as larger divides when it comes to dating than race. Let's say this: that's unabashedly a good thing. It's the embodiment that we judge each other not by the color of our skin but by the content of our character. But how much should ideology matter in our interpersonal dealings in general?

It's why it's important to pull Chait's son-in-law test one step closer, and why he's wrong that it's unlike one's sports team or religion. Our opinion of our kin's moral character should be as affected as if they told us they were changing religion, or had a different sports team allegiance. Political party is no more a proxy for moral character than religion or sports team. I'd be disappointed if my child grew up a Nats fan (rather than an Astros fan) but it would be so inconsequential to my feelings toward my child that it wouldn't really bear mentioning at all. (Caveat: I do not have children, so, er, grain of salt.)

It'd be the same if my child turned out to be a liberal. Liberals are, by and large, good people. I am related to a few of them! Their ideology is not noteworthy in the least if I were to discuss their moral character. And this would certainly go for anyone they'd choose to marry, as well.

What would be noteworthy? A lot of common sense things: a refusal to treat strangers with kindness and dignity, never working for charity, a selfish attitude that subjugates the feelings of others - it's complicated to define what makes a bad person. Party allegiance is so low on the list of what defines good and bad that it might as well be sports allegiance or religion.

Ah, but a partyist might say, party identification is a good proxy for all those things, and in lieu of knowing more about a stranger, it's perfectly fine to render judgment! Republicans, as we all know, tend to be selfish, egotistic, uncharitable, and want people without health insurance to die in the streets. Or something. That's why they're Republicans and not Democrats! Chait's hypothetical Republican son-in-law's GOP affiliation simply means the onus is on the son-in-law to prove that he is none of those things while retaining his GOP identity.

This is the "conservatives are not merely wrong, but evil" attitude. Sure, maybe not all conservatives are evil. But partyists might say it's a fine heuristic.

We could re-hash a lot of Jonathan Haidt's work on the inability for strong partisans to even understand their opposition or Bryan Caplan's ideological Turing Test, but I'll just say that if you think your opposition is evil, you either don't understand them or you're a dirty consequentialist.

Here's how non-partyists might view their opposition: they're people motivated by a desire to do good but with different values or principles that inform their thinking, leading them to arrive at different - and maybe wrong - conclusions. For a consequentialist, though, it doesn't particularly matter what their ideological opposition's motivations are. It matters that they're advocating for policies that would make the world worse. The nexus of someone's values, principles, policy prescriptions and motivations doesn't matter. What matters is that they're on the wrong side, and thus should be treated differently.

This is how "conservatives think the potential downsides of Obamacare outweigh the potential upsides" is turned into "conservatives want to kill people."

To a certain extent, this is all performance art. We want to signal to our in-groups (in Chait's case, the cosmopolitan Left) that we're on their side and that the outgroup (conservatives in general here) should be ashamed of themselves. It might turn out that Chait's Republican son-in-law effectively feels no different treatment from Chait than would a progressive son-in-law and Chait merely quietly judges him from afar. It's a coherent and cohesive stance to take. But if we take seriously that ideological polarization is accelerating in America and that might be a bad thing, the attitude that Chait lays out here - that our partisan opposition should be treated differently as human beings - is going to make it worse.

Jonathan Chait is wrong on the internet. But he's probably not evil.**

*I'd argue this saying is unfair, as there are plenty of conservatives who think liberals are evil in addition to being wrong. My experience is that there are greater numbers of liberals who believe the other side is "evil" - largely because of the prevalence of consequentialism on the left - but there's plenty of bad faith to go around on both sides.

**To maintain some consistency here: I don't know Chait as a person. But his partisan affiliation alone is not something that makes him evil, or even worthy of being treated differently from any other stranger. In the absence of evidence that he's evil, we should all treat him with the dignity afforded any other human.

Here It Comes: First Republican President Debate Set For September 16, 2015

We still have four full days to go before polls close on Tuesday for the 2014 midterm elections, but that isn't keeping 2016 from rolling our way early. 

Although Republicans considering a run for the White House haven't officially announced their candidacy yet, the first Republican presidential primary debate has been set for September 16, 2015 at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library in Simi Valley, California. 

"Our current focus is on taking back the Senate and growing the party this coming Tuesday," RNC spokesman Sean Spicer told The Wichita Eagle about the debate. "By the end of the year the RNC will release a list of sanctioned debates and we look forward to working with networks, venues and groups that have an interest in hosting a debate." 

Former First Lady Nancy Reagan is pleased the first Republican debate of the 2016 election cycle will be held at the library dedicated to her husband.

Hail Mary: Obama to Pull Out War on Women Rhetoric in Last Ditch Effort Before The Midterms

President Obama is set to give a speech this afternoon in Rhode Island and according to the Associated Press, "women's issues" and how Democrat policies can "help" women will be the subject.

President Barack Obama wants women to know what his administration is doing to help them succeed.

Four days before midterm elections in which Obama's fellow Democrats need a big turnout from female voters, Obama is delivering a speech Friday in Rhode Island on growth in the U.S. economy and administration policies directed at women.

Get ready for fear mongering about access to contraception. Will President Obama talk to women about why their health insurance premiums have skyrocketed under Obamacare? A piece of legislation he promised would be good for them? Will he explain why they can't keep their doctors after they were promised they could? Will the President explain to women why it isn't sexist to define them by the pills that they take? Will Obama give reasons for why he pays women less in his White House than men for the same job? 

The war on women rhetoric, which is exactly what Obama's speech will be this afternoon, has fallen flat with many female voters in this election cycle. Overall, President Obama is underwater with women in swing states and with everything going on in the world, contraception being provided through federal government force isn't high on the priority list. 

The president’s diminished standing with women is quickly becoming one of the biggest liabilities facing Democrats as they struggle to hang onto the Senate majority.

In battleground states across the country, Obama is underwater with female voters — especially women unaffiliated with a political party — and it’s making it harder for Democrats to take advantage of the gender gap, according to public polling and Democratic strategists.

Further, an Associated Press poll released last week shows more women want to vote for Republicans, not Democrats on Tuesday.

Women have moved in the GOP's direction since September. In last month's AP-GfK poll, 47 percent of female likely voters said they favored a Democratic-controlled Congress while 40 percent wanted the Republicans to capture control. In the new poll, the two parties are about even among women, 44 percent.

A majority of Democrat candidates have purposely distanced themselves from President Obama this election cycle and there's no doubt that today's speech won't do much to encourage women to vote for more failed, patronizing policies.

Battle for New Hampshire: Why Democrats Are Obsessing Over ‘Sullivan County’; UPDATE: Moderator Apologizes to Brown

Again, the stakes for tonight’s debate were high. According to a brand new WMUR/UNH poll released just before the curtains opened (showing Sen. Jeanne Shaheen statistically ahead), 25 percent of likely voters said they do not yet know who they will vote for. In a race this tight, that’s a huge plurality of voters to still be openly noncommittal. Any misstep, or gaffe, could tip the scales just enough to influence the outcome of the election.

And if you ask Democrats, there was one tonight. More on that later.

For what it’s worth, the rapid response section of the debate was utterly useless. The moderators actually asked the candidates what they thought about the Washington Redskins’ team mascot, and if our popular culture was too “politically correct.” Towards the end of the debate, however, sparks flew during the Obamacare kerfuffle. Brown relentlessly attacked Sen. Shaheen for voting for it. At the same time, he didn’t just explain why the bill was disastrous for New Hampshire; he called her out for never addressing or apologizing for lying to her constituents. This perhaps struck a chord. When she later tried to argue in her rebuttal that she had pledged to repeal the medical device tax, Brown reminded her that that very provision was in the original bill, which she voted for. She also had no real answer when Brown directly confronted her about the fact she votes with the president 99 percent of the time.

On the other hand, Shaheen was quick on her feet all night. Every time Brown accused her of something, she didn’t just deflect, she deflected and attacked his record. She certainly had the upper hand on some exchanges tonight. Also, unlike the last debate, she didn’t have any noticeable missteps or stumbles.

Brown, however, sort of did. For example, many spectators on Twitter were accusing him of not understanding the geography of New Hampshire. The clip below was, quite honestly, an awkward exchange. Brown was asked about Sullivan County in Western New Hampshire, and how he planned, as a US Senator, to improve the quality of life there. As he was responding, the moderator interrupted him:

Oof. In fairness to Brown, the clip cuts him off right before he's given a chance to respond; plus, this was totally a “gotcha” question. It is a well known fact that the "carpet bagger" charge is alive and well in New Hampshire, and therefore for one of the moderators to specifically ask about a random region of the state, and ask Brown to answer first, made it seem as if he was purposefully trying to trip him up. Was he?

Brown handled the question just fine. But I suspect that won't stop Democrats from screaming Scott Brown doesn’t understand New Hampshire’s geography!

I’ll leave you with this:

And this:

A new poll provided exclusively to the New Hampshire Journal today shows a continued tight U.S. Senate race in the Granite State, but with Republican Scott Brown ahead of Sen. Jeanne Shaheen by four percentage points.

The poll by the Republican pollster Vox Populi Polling has Brown up 49 to 45 percent, with 6 percent undecided. When “leaners” are excluded, Brown leads, 42 to 36 percent.

UPDATE: From tonight's moderator:

UPDATE: To his great credit, Pindell apologized on-air last night after the debate ended:

Kansas Republicans Take Strong Lead in Early Voting

It was a sad day last night in Kansas when the Kansas City Royals lost the World Series in Game 7. Today, the GOP in "The Sunflower State" have something to celebrate as early voting results show positive turnout from Republicans. 

Of the 153,436 early votes cast so far this election 82,739 or 54% were cast by Republicans. In comparison only 47,468, or 31% were cast by Democrats. The remaining votes were cast by unaffiliated or libertarian voters.

The blood red state of Kansas has the Republican incumbents for governor and U.S. Senate trailing in the polls. Governor Sam Brownback and Senator Pat Roberts have been in the spotlight of one of the most competitive races this season. 

Read more from Townhall on how Kansas has the GOP scrambling here.

Clay Barker, Kansas Republican Party Executive Director said this in an email:

"Early voting is turning out as our voter data models predicted and is consistent with early voting patterns in 2010 and 2012. Republican voters are building a substantial lead over Democrats that is increasing with each passing day. There were no October surprises."

Unlike the Royals, Kansas Republicans think they can pull it off in their own Game 7 this Tuesday. Momentum is building as big names stump for Senator Roberts including Senator Mike Lee (R-AZ) who made a speech at a rally in Topeka, Kansas, and former presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, who was in Overland Park, Kansas, earlier this week. 

Gardner Responds to Ludicrous NARAL Attack Ad

In case you missed it, NARAL aired an attack against Colorado GOP Senate hopeful Cory Gardner this week with the pressing question: ‘why are the condoms always gone?

As ridiculous as it sounds, this futuristic scenario supposedly reveals what life might be like for Coloradans under Gardner’s leadership. Here is an excerpt (listen to the entire ad here):

“Cory Gardner banned birth control, and now, it’s all on us guys. And you can’t find a condom anywhere. And the pill was just the start…”

Not only does Gardner cause a shortage of condoms, according to the ad, he also kills Pell Grants and ignores the threat of climate change. This type of argument is known by critical thinkers as a ‘slippery slope,’ and it is, in fact, a logical fallacy.

In a radio interview yesterday with our own Guy Benson, Gardner explained that the groups promoting these ads aren’t expecting their audience to be critical thinkers:

“These are the same people who, during the healthcare roll-out, tried to portray young people across the United States as interested in nothing more than doing keg stands.

And again, I think it minimizes the intelligence, and the work ethic of people across this country. Young voters, millennials, are people who are interested in far more than what this extreme group would like them to be interested in.”

Gardner is referring, of course, to the demeaning ‘Brosurance’ ads which began circulating in Colorado in 2013.

 photo brosurance_zpse1b02bed.png

Millennials care about more than just drinking, sex, and dodging responsibility.

Perhaps the Democratic party’s misunderstanding of this important fact is what is driving young voters away from their party this election cycle. According to a recent Harvard poll, 51 percent of millennials plan on voting for Republicans

Also, just to set the record straight, Rep. Cory Gardner said the idea of banning birth control is 'simply outrageous.'

Report: Dozens of Former Gitmo Detainees Now Fighting With ISIS


Of course they are. The Guantanamo recidivism problem has been very real for years at this point, with at least one former Gitmo guest reportedly participating in the September 11, 2012 Benghazi attacks.  We also know that of the 'Taliban Five' the Obama White House horse-traded for an alleged deserter, at least one has already made his intentions to rejoin the jihad explicitly clear.  Some of the detainees released over the last two administrations genuinely posed little threat, and had been caught up at the wrong place at the wrong time.  Many others, however, were dangerous Islamist radicals.  It stands to reason, then, that a number of them would inevitably link up with the ISIS death squads.  As you read this, keep in mind that these figures are limited to ISIS' Syrian fighting force alone:

As many as 20 to 30 former Guantanamo Bay detainees -- some of whom were released within the last three years -- are suspected by intelligence and Defense officials of having joined forces with the Islamic State and other militant groups inside Syria, Fox News has learned. The development has cemented fears that the U.S. military would once again encounter militants taken off the battlefield. The intelligence offers a mixed picture, and officials say the figures are not exact. But they are certain at least some of the released detainees are fighting with the Islamic State, or ISIS, on the ground inside Syria. Others are believed to be supporting Al Qaeda or the affiliated al-Nusra Front in Syria. A number of former detainees also have chosen to help these groups from outside the country, financing operations and supporting their propaganda campaigns...Of the 620 detainees released from Guantanamo Bay, 180 have returned or are suspected to have returned to the battlefield.

Those who remain at Gitmo are the worst of the worst, which is likely one of the reasons why Congress has repeatedly blocked funding to close the facility and move the detainees onto US soil -- a move overwhelmingly opposed by the American people.  The Obama administration, naturally, is working on a scheme to bypass Congress and shutter the place anyway:

The White House is drafting options that would allow President Barack Obama to close the detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, by overriding a congressional ban on bringing detainees to the U.S., senior administration officials said. Such a move would be the latest and potentially most dramatic use of executive power by the president in his second term. It would likely provoke a sharp reaction from lawmakers, who have repeatedly barred the transfer of detainees to the U.S...The discussions underscore the president’s determination to follow through on an early campaign promise before he leaves the White House, officials said, despite the formidable domestic and international obstacles in the way. Administration officials say Mr. Obama strongly prefers a legislative solution over going around Congress. At the same time, a senior administration official said Mr. Obama is “unwavering in his commitment” to closing the prison—which currently has 149 inmates detained in connection with the nation’s post-9/11 war on terrorism—and wants to have all potential options available on an issue he sees as part of his legacy.

His preference is to follow the law, you see.  But he'll do whatever it takes to get his way.  Here's Sen. Kelly Ayotte calling on Obama to suspend all Gitmo detainees, in light of the ISIS revelation.  I'm sure he'll get right on that.  Be sure to read Allahpundit's post on this, especially the bit about two Al Qaeda leaders we targeted early in our anti-ISIS air campaign in Syria.  US intelligence now believes both escaped, and may be "actively plotting" attacks.  I'll leave you with a few clips on what ISIS has been up to lately, now that the American public's attention has wandered elsewhere:


Animals.

Citizens, Sheriffs Up Against Billionaires in Fight for Gun Rights in Washington State

In less than one week, voters in Washington state will decide on two competing gun measures: I-594, the Washington Universal Background Checks for Gun Purchases Initiative, and I-591, the Washington Gun Rights Measure.

Via National Journal

[I-594] would mandate background checks as a condition of most gun purchases and transfers in the state (with exceptions for weapon transfers within families and purchases involving antique guns). Its main goal is "closing the gun-show loophole," says Geoff Potter, communications director for the Washington Alliance for Gun Responsibility, the group spearheading the effort. 

Via Townhall columnist Rachel Alexander:

Washington’s Second Amendment Foundation came up with I-591, the Washington Gun Rights Measure, a pro-gun rights initiative on the ballot. [...] I-591 would prohibit the government from confiscating guns or firearms from citizens without due process, protecting against illegal search and seizure, something that happened after Hurricane Katrina. It would also prevent the government from requiring background checks, in order to prevent the creation of a universal gun registry - unless a uniform national standard is required. 

While supporters of I-594 have successfully made the initiative sound innocuous enough, the reality is far from it. The 18-page measure is just the “latest and most comprehensive attempt to restrict the rights of law-abiding gun owners in the Evergreen State,” according to the NRA. “Initiative 594 is in reality a universal handgun registration scheme. Under I-594, every time a handgun is transferred, the person receiving the handgun will have their name added to the government database being maintained by the state Department of Licensing.”

It comes as no surprise, then, that the campaign has been bankrolled by a handful of ultra-rich gun control advocates, including Bill Gates, Steve Ballmer, Paul Allen, Nick Hanauer, and, you guessed it, Michael Bloomberg. I-594’s war chest has now surpassed the $10 million mark, compared to I-591’s $1.3 million. To say that the gun rights measure has been outspent would be an understatement.

Not content with the cash advantage, supporters of the gun control measure have resorted to stealing I-591 signs and sarcastically posted on Facebook that “We need more school shootings!!!” just hours after the school shooting in Marysville last week. And now, after sheriffs have backed I-591 and publicly opposed I-594—a serious blow to those behind the effort—I-594 supporters are reportedly pushing emails and robo-calls attacking them, and are urging their supporters to contact them as well.

I-594 won’t make Washington residents safer, it won’t stop criminals or the mentally-ill from obtaining firearms, and it won’t be a good use of the law enforcement community’s time and limited resources. What it will do, however, is erode Second Amendment rights, waste law enforcement resources, and turn law-abiding citizens into criminals. 

The fight over gun rights may be in Washington state this election, but don’t think for a second that if it’s successful a similar measure won’t make its way on your state’s ballot in 2016 and beyond.

Taxpayers Funded Housing For Illegal Unaccompanied Minors Complete With Petting Farm, Guitar Lessons, Organic Vegetables

When a wave of unaccompanied illegal minors came across the U.S. southern border with Mexico over the summer, Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell argued in front of Congress that her Department needed more taxpayer funding to handle the crisis due to a lack of beds and "sufficient resources to add beds" to existing government shelter facilities.  

But according to a federal HHS grant detailed in a letter sent to Burwell from Republican Senator Chuck Grassley Thursday, an enormous amount of taxpayer money was used to house a number of unaccompanied illegal minors at  a California resort that included guitar lessons, a petting farm, sunset views and many other amenities.

"On August 22, 2014, I wrote to your Department regarding concerns related to a Texas-based non-profit; Southwest Key Programs. Southwest Key has been the recipient of $368 million in government grants in the past six years and over $122 million alone from the HHS Office of Refugee Resettlement in 2014," Grassley wrote. "The documents provided in response to my letter raise serious concerns regarding the Department and Southwest Key’s stewardship of taxpayer dollars. For example, on April 23, 2014, Southwest Key proposed to charge the government a “daily rate” of $316 to house unaccompanied alien children in a facility in El Cajon, California. There is no further detail as to whether this request was accepted. However, according to documents, HHS did approve a grant for Southwest Key to fund the El Cajon facility."

According to the information provided by Grassley, it can cost taxpayers up to $1000 per day to house each individual unaccompanied minor at these kinds of facilities. The El Cajon facility used by HHS included the following amenities:

“An organic orchard of orange, lemon, and grapefruit trees. As well as an Organic (sic) garden that supplements our kitchen with a wide variety of organic vegetables throughout the year. We have a small petting farm with ducks, chickens, and miniature ponies. We have also established an Acuaponics system where we are cultivating over 1000 Tilapia.”

Burwell has been asked to answer a series of questions about the use of taxpayer money for these purposes, especially after making claims Health and Human Services is underfunded.

"It is disturbing that HHS is funding such expensive facilities despite claiming to be unable to meet basic needs for UACs," Grassley wrote.

Walker Opponent: I Was Downsized, Not 'Fired,' From My Own Family's Company


In my Hot Air item on Marquette Law School's favorable final poll for Scott Walker yesterday (summarized by Conn here), I touched briefly upon a story alleging that Democrat Mary Burke had been fired from her family's bicycle company in the 1990's.  Matt visited the brewing controversy in a post last evening. Burke has touted her business acumen and 'job creation' experience at Trek as a centerpiece of her gubernatorial campaign.  I expressed some degree of skepticism over the Wisconsin Reporter's scoop, as the top named source in the piece is a Republican county chairman, and other quotes were mined from anonymous sources.  Burke initially denied the allegations outright, calling them "ridiculous" and "completely false."  But upon further review, there seems to be more 'there there' than she's let on:



Uh oh.  That former president and CEO, incidentally, is a separate (named) source from the aforementioned local GOP operative.  Two former executives are now on the record. Here's the latter's account:

In 1993, Tom Albers learned about big problems with Trek Bicycle Corporation’s European division.  Sales numbers were down, and employees were in a near mutiny against the young woman Trek founder Richard Burke had put in charge. Albers, Trek’s Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, served as Burke’s second-in-command and suddenly had to navigate a very difficult situation. The head of Trek’s European division was his boss’ daughter, Mary... “Her performance in Europe was not good,” he says.  “We were losing a lot of money for us at the time.  I don’t remember the amount, but it was considered significant based on where we were [as a company] at that particular point in time.”  “And also, we were encountering personnel/people problems over there.  The people were threatening to leave the company.  Many of them were.” Primarily, Albers contends, because of the managerial style of their supervisor, Mary Burke. “Her way of managing was kind of a ‘her way or the highway’ kind of approach to things,” Albers explains...

“So because of all that—which had gone on for a while, obviously—John Burke went to his father basically saying, ‘We need to make a change over here.’  Obviously, being a family situation, this was extremely sensitive and very difficult to pursue.  So Dick Burke came to me and said, ‘Before anything is done here, would you go over there and give me your thoughts on what the situation is like?’” Albers flew to Trek’s European headquarters and quickly discovered that John Burke wasn’t exaggerating. “I pretty much came back with the same conclusions that John Burke had made; and that was that we had major people problems over there and were in a situation where we could lose a lot of people.  We were losing a lot of money and I couldn’t see where Mary Burke was going to turn this thing around.” Albers reported his findings to Richard Burke, who listened intently and then, Albers says, acted decisively. “The family—and by that I mean Dick and John Burke—finally agreed to bring her back.  And so, to say it bluntly, she was fired.”

And there's your money quote. Albers says he left Trek on good terms, with the "utmost respect" for the Burke family, but that their relationship turned "frosty" after he accepted an offer from a competitor.  He's donated $50 to Scott Walker's campaign, but insists his decision to speak out isn't politically-motivated:

I had made the decision a couple of months ago that I would not come forward on my own with information about Mary Burke,” he explains.  “The only thing that’s brought this to a head is the article [in The Wisconsin Reporter] in which [former Trek executive] Gary Ellerman threw my name out there as someone who had conducted a review of Mary Burke’s performance in Europe...I decided that instead of saying ‘no comment,’ I wasn’t going to lie.  I would tell the truth.” Albers says that Ellerman’s account is truthful, and it has been corroborated in the Wisconsin Reporter by a number of other Trek sources.

Burke's family disputes all of this as "character assassination," praising her leadership at Trek.  The mainstream media, playing frantic catch-up on a story they evidently didn't bother to investigate for months -- even as Burke routinely cited her Trek experience as a raison d'etre of her campaign -- is finally asking questions.  Burke has shifted from categorical denials to a slightly different explanation: "We decided to restructure and there was no need for my position and two of the people reporting to me could directly report to people in the United States," she told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel.  She wasn't "fired;" she was downsized in a "restructuring."  Hmm.  Two additional nuggets from the Journal-Sentinel story:

She left the company in June 1993, taking a two-year break to snowboard, travel and work for a bicycle trade group. John Burke said he asked his sister to return to Trek in 1995...Mary Burke also served as commerce secretary under Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle from 2005 to 2007. Her [Democratic] predecessor in that role, Cory Nettles, has said that Burke's no-nonsense style upset some in the business community. "She was very, very tough," Nettles said recently. "People take umbrage at that." In a September 2006 email that first surfaced two weeks ago, Nettles expressed a far harsher opinion of Burke. "She's a disaster," Nettles wrote at the time to another political appointee who was still working under Burke at the state Department of Commerce.

Is partisan Democrat Cory Nettles party to the "smear" conspiracy, as well?  If you read through the whole piece, Burke's staunchest defender against all of these charges is, um, her brother.  The Wisconsin GOP has released this video round-up of news coverage surrounding the 'October surprise'-style bombshell:


"We reorganized and eliminated the position that I had."

Multiple former executives at Trek Bicycle now say Burke was forced out of her position by her own family as a consequence of her terrible management, and a fellow member of a Democratic administration referred to her leadership as "a disaster" in a contemporaneous assessment.  And now she wants to be governor.  Even as GOP-aligned pollsters are privately warning that Marquette's Walker +7 projection is more bullish than their internal findings, this can't be the front page coverage Team Burke was hoping to see five days out from the election:



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

For North Carolina Voters, It's A Choice Between The 'Sins Of Raleigh' Or Washington

The latest Elon University poll shows what most have been saying about the U.S. Senate Race in North Carolina; it’s very close. Nonetheless, Elon found that 44.7 percent of voters are breaking for Sen. Kay Hagan, while 40.7 percent are going for Tillis. The sample size consisted of 1084 residents of which 996 were registered to vote. Out of 996, 687 identified themselves as likely voters. There was a D+5 skew in the sample for those who identified their political affiliation.

Additionally, it's the same story with Obama, the state legislature, and North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory; no one really thinks they’re doing a good job. It also suggests that despite millions of dollars being poured into the state, the needle hasn’t moved all that much. Then again, the latest Marist poll shows Tillis has closed his 4-point deficit he had with Hagan in the polls.

Lastly, Roll Call’s Stuart Rothenberg, who labeled this race as leaning towards the Democrats, said this race is a pure toss up:

Voters in the Tar Heel State don’t seem to like Hagan or GOP challenger Thom Tillis, but one of them will win on Nov. 4. Hagan’s lead seems to have all but vanished, and Republicans who a month or two ago were quite pessimistic about the race have grown cautiously optimistic. This race now looks too close to call.

As a result, both sides have prominent national figures heading down to stump for them. Bill Clinton will be in Raleigh tomorrow, while Gov. Rick Perry, Mitt Romney, and Sen. John McCain have campaigned for Tillis.

Both sides have a healthy-and almost equal–amount of support amongst their respective bases. It’s whether who can maximize turnout that will decide the victor next week. Also, which narrative resonated more; the “sins of Raleigh” or the fiasco in Washington (via RCP):

Republicans have even used Hagan’s own words from 2008 against her in 2014. An ad sponsored by the National Republican Senatorial Committee features a clip of Hagan campaigning against Dole: “Voting 92 percent of the time with the president, whether you support him or not, doesn't work here in North Carolina.”

But nearly each time these charges are lobbed at Hagan, she punches back with an attack on Tillis’ record in the state legislature, particularly the recent budget that resulted in cuts to education funding and teacher layoffs.

For his part, Tillis welcomes the legislature vs. Obama/Democrats paradigm. “If the senator is referring to historic tax cuts, historic reductions on unemployment, historic reductions on burdensome regulations, the things that I’ve done as speaker of the House, I agree -- that’s exactly what we’re running on,” he told RCP.

Tillis argued that the state’s education budget has increased since 2011, and pointed to fact-checkers as validation. (Politifact rated Hagan’s claim that he cut $500 million in education half-true.)

In these final days, the emphasis is on the ground game. Democrats credit the president’s campaign organization for having a built the infrastructure to locate and activate volunteers. But the party notes that it has expanded beyond that over the past two years, with 40 offices across the state and a volunteer base of over 10,000 people. Democratic operatives here say they have seen increases in early voting. “It’s an incredibly high-stakes election for North Carolina because there could not be a clearer contrast between the two candidates,” says Ben Ray, a spokesman for the coordinated effort. “Voters are confronted with a values statement.”

Making that values statement is a pricey undertaking. This contest could become the most expensive in Senate race in history, with the two sides spending an estimated $100 million combined. Not surprisingly, voters here are exhausted by wall-to-wall campaign ads, most of them negative.

Americans for Prosperity’s North Carolina chapter has also been aggressive in GOTV efforts. Their deputy state director, Donald Bryson, said that the race will come down to this question: “When you sit down and think about it and try to figure it out, are the good policies that are affecting my life coming out of D.C. or are they coming out of [the] state house in Raleigh?”

Also, immigration groups have fired off shots inside the ship, criticizing Hagan for her stances on immigration; she called on Obama to avoid halting deportations this past summer via executive order and was one of five Democrats who joined Republicans voting to kill the DREAM ACT’s advance in the Senate back in 2010. If immigration becomes an issue in the waning days of the 2014 cycle, it will surely play into Republican hands, as it’s a topic that hasn’t played well with Democrats.

Regardless, this is shaping up to be a very exciting election night.

On a final note, I’ll leave you with this video from James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas showing North Carolina campaign workers doing nothing to stop a non-citizen from voting in next week’s elections. It dovetails off a Washington Post article that discussed the possible impact of non-citizens voting in American elections.

I’m not saying voter fraud will occur, but it’s something to ponder–even if Think Progress doesn’t think it’s that big of a deal.

ARG Poll: Brown: 49; Shaheen: 49

Serious question: Is there a closer Senate contest in the country than the one in New Hampshire?

Bear with me for a second. There have been three separate polls published in recent days. New England College gave Brown the edge (48/47); CNN/Opinion Research did not (49/47); and now, of course, the ARG survey has the race all tied up:

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The race is so close that Brown and Shaheen are essentially splitting the vote among every single demographic: 18 to 44-year olds (50/49), 45-year olds and older (48/48), and independents (47/51). To make matters even more complicated, the gender gap is evenly split (Brown has an 11 point advantage among men, Shaheen an 11 point advantage among women) and both candidates are showing strong support among the party faithful.

Tellingly, however, 51 percent of respondents believe Shaheen will ultimately win; 41 percent disagree and claim Brown will. The safe bet, then, is supposedly on the Democrat.

But this race hasn't broke either way yet -- although it could tonight. After all, tonight is the third and final debate between the candidates this month. And while the moderator is probably the worst choice ever, it is what it is.

Republicans are used to "impartial" moderators. And so is Brown.

UPDATE: Oh my. This just dropped this evening:

A new poll shows that U.S. Sen. Jeanne Shaheen is maintaining a lead over Republican challenger Scott Brown.

The WMUR Granite State Poll shows Shaheen leading Brown 50-42 percent among likely voters. That's a 2-point increase over earlier this month, but the difference is still within the poll's margin of error.