10-Year-Old Girl Proves Kids With Guns Does Not Always End In Tragedy

After the tragic incident where a 9-year-old girl accidentally killed her range instructor with an Uzi in Arizona, there were a series of stories debating the presence of kids at gun ranges. As an avid shooter, I see young kids at my range all the time, spending quality time with Dad (sometimes Mom too) learning basic gun safety and how to shoot properly. Kids learning how to shoot is quite common in America–and they don’t always end in tragedy.

Case in point: meet 10-year-old Shyanne Roberts from New Jersey, who is a competitive shooter that practices 15 hours a week. By the way, that’s the minimum amount of time she spends at the range (via CNN):

Shyanne competes alongside junior shooters, who are participants younger than 18, and even adults. Last year, she beat out adult women to place second in the Women's Division of the New Jersey Ruger Rimfire Challenge.

On October 31, she will square off against 200 of the top women shooters at the Brownell's Lady 3-Gun Pro-Am Challenge in Covington, Georgia. Shyanne is the youngest competitive shooter registered at the female-only event, according to the match director. The top shooter has a chance to win $5,000, as well as items from a prize table of guns, ammo and more.

The Franklinville, New Jersey, girl, who now has more than 20 sponsors, started learning gun safety when she was 5. After she could recite the rules and had grasped what guns can do, around age 6, her father started taking her to a gun range. Dan Roberts is a certified firearms instructor and a single dad. He has custody of Shyanne and her younger brother.

When asked how he feels about his daughter using a gun, her father said, "I feel very comfortable because I know she's been extraordinarily well-trained at how to be safe. I could have a fully loaded machine gun, and she would not dream of touching it because the curiosity factor has been eliminated."

Roberts believes early firearm education and training are the keys to reducing gun accidents. He argues that if kids knew about guns at a young age, their curiosity wouldn't get the best of them, leaving tragedy in their trail.

When looking at target shooting across all the styles, there's been a 67% increase in the number of women participating in the past decade. More than 6.4 million women competed in 2012, compared with 3.8 million women in 2003, according to the National Sporting Goods Association's annual sports participation reports.

Roberts says that this isn’t just a hobby for her; she wants to make a career out of it. Best of luck!

Churches Now Forced to Pay for Abortions in California

This puts the contraception mandate to shame.

Thanks to a newly enforced regulation in California, abortion is now a “basic health care service” in the state. The Federalist’s Casey Mattox reported the unfortunate news:

California’s Department of Managed Health Care has ordered all insurance plans in the state to immediately begin covering elective abortion. Not Plan B. Not contraceptives. Elective surgical dismemberment abortion.

Churches inevitably fall under the “all” category. Besides the human rights issue of abortion is the religious freedom issue. Forcing churches to fund the procedure is a direct violation of their First Amendment rights. Unlike the Christian-owned arts and crafts company Hobby Lobby and its fight against the contraception mandate (which the former thankfully won this summer), the situation in California puts actual religious institutions up against a mandate that would force them to fund abortion in an even more direct route.

In a bit of sad irony, churches in California are exempt from having to fund chemical abortions. Mattox touched on the baffling situation:

This leaves California churches in the illogical and impossible position of being free to exclude contraceptives from their health plan for reasons of religious conscience but required to provide their employees with abortion coverage.

The non-profit legal organization Alliance Defending Freedom and the public interest Life Legal Defense Foundation have filed formal complaints against the mandate with the Health and Human Services Office of Civil Rights.

Pat Roberts Brings Out Legacy Republicans In Kansas

With only a few days to go before voters go to the polls and still trailing by a few points, incumbent GOP Sen. Pat Roberts now has former GOP presidential candidates Mitt Romney and Bob Dole coming out to offer support.

Bob Dole and Mitt Romney will headline an event Monday in Overland Park for Roberts, who is deadlocked against independent Greg Orman in the fight of his political career.

Dole and Romney are just the latest in a parade of big-name Republicans to hit the trail in Kansas, a GOP stronghold that now has a central role in close contests for governor and the U.S. Senate. Jeb Bush, Sarah Palin, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul have all hit the trail in Kansas for Roberts.

As USA Today reported, some of the bigger GOP guns like Cruz and Paul have already hit the campaign trail for him. While the Dole/Romney team might seem odd, given that they are failed presidential candidates, Dole is still an incredibly popular figure in Kansas politics, and seen as a centrist Republican at a time when Greg Orman has been decimating Roberts among self-identified independent voters.

Loophole: Suspected Nazis Still Collecting Social Security

There’s Sen. Tom Coburn’s annual “waste book,” which evinces all the ridiculous ways taxpayers are hosed every year, and then there’s this. Thanks, in part, to the Associated Press’ painstaking and thorough investigative reporting, we now know beyond any doubt that suspected former Nazis, living abroad, have been on the government dole for decades:

Former Auschwitz guard Jakob Denzinger lived the American dream. His company in the Rust Belt town of Akron, Ohio, thrived. By the late 1980s, he had acquired the trappings of success: a Cadillac DeVille and a Lincoln Town Car, a lakefront home, investments in oil and real estate.

Then the Nazi hunters showed up. In 1989, as the U.S. government prepared to strip him of his citizenship, Denzinger packed a pair of suitcases and fled to Germany. He later settled in this pleasant town on the Drava River, where he lives comfortably, courtesy of U.S. taxpayers. He collects a Social Security payment of about $1,500 each month, nearly twice the take-home pay of an average Croatian worker.

Denzinger, 90, is among dozens of suspected Nazi war criminals and SS guards who collected millions of dollars in Social Security payments after being forced out of the United States, an Associated Press investigation found.

How on earth could this happen? Easy: in the aftermath of the Second World War, former Nazis simply jettisoned their uniforms, hid who they were, and made for America. Upon arrival, they were happy to apply for citizenship, and once the paperwork went through, enjoy the benefits and generosity of a country they once waged war against. It also seems likely this was no mere oversight, but rather a quid pro quo arrangement between the US government and suspected Nazis to urge them to flee the country as soon as possible. Nevertheless, according to the AP, many of those émigrés were suspected of unspeakable atrocities:

Among those who benefited:

- Armed SS troops who guarded the Nazi network of camps where millions of Jews perished.

- An SS guard who took part in the brutal liquidation of the Warsaw ghetto in Nazi-occupied Poland that killed as many as 13,000 Jews.

- A Nazi collaborator who engineered the arrest and execution of thousands of Jews in Poland.

- A German rocket scientist accused of using slave labor to build the V-2 rocket that pummeled London. He later won NASA's highest honor for helping to put a man on the moon.

This is outrageous. These ex-Nazis should have been thrown off the gravy train as soon as they emigrated. But at least Congress is now trying to rectify the situation. Or will anyway:

Legislation to stop suspected Nazi war criminals from receiving U.S. Social Security benefits will be introduced soon, the latest response to an Associated Press investigation that revealed millions of dollars have been paid to former Nazis who were forced out of the United States. …

The legislation will be offered in mid-November, when Congress returns to session following the midterm elections.

Better late than never.

Exposed: Dem Candidate's Misleading Statements on Spending, Borrowing for AZ Universities

The Democratic candidate in the Arizona gubernatorial race, Fred DuVal, is having a rough final stretch into Election Day. Earlier this week, The Washington Free-Beacon reported he had a house foreclosed. Last week, he announced that he believes it is perfectly acceptable for 14-year-olds to have abortions without parental consent. 

And now, documents obtained from the Arizona Board of Regents show that the six years Fred DuVal was on the Arizona Board of Regents (2007-2012), things didn't go the way he claims.

In three different instances, DuVal said that the increase in Arizona college tuition was because of higher enrollment and budget cuts. The Arizona Board of Regent's records on budget and spending tell a different story.

DuVal claimed during a 12 News Debate that "record levels of new enrollment" and budget cuts were the sole reasons for tuition increases.  

These tuition increases for Arizona public universities were no small amount. 

Arizona State University's residential tuition rates doubled, a 107 percent increase from $4,700 to $9,700. Northern Arizona University and the University of Arizona also saw over 100 percent increases during DuVal's time on the board.

In one of his YouTube videos and in an interview with The Arizona Republic, DuVal blamed current Arizona governor, Jan Brewer, and the state legislature for cutting $400 million from universities forcing the cost onto students.

Yes, DuVal was correct when he said enrollment was higher. The total number of students at Arizona universities rose 16.6 percent over his six years. But higher enrollment can't be blamed for such drastic increases...Liberal spending played the lead role

When DuVal joined the ABOR, the state appropriated $860 million in general funds for the universities. Collective spending during the six years DuVal was on the board was up $300.8 million. Five of the six years DuVal oversaw spending for Arizona's universities, spending was higher than the first year he was appointed to the Board of Regents.  

Items in yellow represent the fiscal years that DuVal oversaw:

And when money is spent recklessly, borrowing is usually reckless as well. 

There was a 286 percent increase in borrowing during DuVal's time on the board.

During DuVal's time, the state issued $1.463 billion in bonds. Compared to the previous six years prior to DuVal, the ABOR only requested and had approved $409.5 million in bonds.

Education has been one of the defining issues facing Arizonans this election season and this new information on Fred DuVal and his time on the ABOR could swing voters.

Nail-biter: Democrats Go All In to Defeat Walker, Polls Show Tied Race

Last time we checked in on the Wisconsin gubernatorial race, Scott Walker appeared to be pulling away from Mary Burke. He led by nearly six points in the respected Marquette Law poll, had cracked 50, and enjoyed a 13-point cushion with independent voters. Then came MU's mid-October survey, in which Walker's lead vanished completely, with the race deadlocked at 47. The swing was driven by some unusual internals, such as men and independents breaking heavily to Burke, and women suddenly flocking to Walker. All three of those data points represented noticeable departures from most polling trends, but the top line number showed an exact tie -- which mirrors the RCP average.  The last three polls of the contest have produced a tie, a Burke lead of one point, and Walker edge of the same margin. With the race a pure toss-up, Democrats are making a major final push for Burke.  Not only are they deploying Bill Clinton to the state, they're also welcoming…President Obama to Wisconsin, whom Burke assiduously avoided on two previous occasions.  In my mind, this means one of two things:

Either (a) Team Burke has decided that the cake is already baked in terms of Obama's unpopularity, so while his appearance won't change many minds either way, it will potentially boost turnout among African-Americans, or (b) they've seen sufficient movement in their internal numbers that suggest Obama's image is on the mend in Badger country.  My gut goes with the former option, as O's job approval rating from Wisconsinites was still underwater by double digits in the recent NYT/YouGov poll.  The Washington Post's Robert Costa hears from Wisconsin Dems that Burke is preparing a final blitz against Walker on the (truly outrageous) John Doe "controversy," as well as the "polarizing" 2011 budget fight.  This is a neat trick the Left pulls, incidentally.  They channel sustained, distilled hatred at a Republican for years on end, engaging in mob thuggery and unprecedented opposition that would have the media reaching for the smelling salts if the roles were reversed, then pronounce their target "polarizing."  And the press nods along (read this surreal Journal-Sentinel editorial that literally imagines an alternate universe to attack Walker).  Here's what's coming in the final week-plus:

Yes, a prolific plagiarist will lecture Scott Walker on "integrity." Another edge Democrats will press is their cash advantage. Walker and his allies are being significantly outspent by the other side:

Part of the reason behind this disparity is that many of Walker's ideological kin have been completely sidelined under penalty of law throughout this entire election cycle, thanks to the partisan 'John Doe' witch hunt, which has been thrown out of court by both a state and federal judge.  The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals recently ruled that it's not the role of federal courts to interfere with a state investigation, however, dealing a blow to muzzled conservative organizations in Wisconsin, and to free speech itself.  The decision is being appealed to the Supreme Court.  In mid-October, one of the same lower court judges finally lifted the indefinite, Democratic prosecutor-imposed ban on issue-based 'coordination' between Walker's campaign and right-leaning groups.  The Left has been happily coordinating away throughout 2014, of course, with labor unions spending big against Walker.  (Reminder: Liberals don't oppose money in politics.  They oppose conservative money in politics).  And while we're on the topic of insidious political collusion, read this.  Quite a coincidence, no?  On the Republican side of the ledger, Weekly Standard writers Stephen Hayes and John McCormack -- both native Wisconsinites with deep ties to the Walker team -- report anxiety in the ranks.  Some Republicans in the state are whispering about whether the Republican Governors Association has neglected Walker's race, with some even suggesting that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has deliberately moved to tank a potential 2016 rival.  But Hayes and McCormack quote an RGA-connected source who says that dog won't hunt:

A GOP source with knowledge of RGA spending threw cold water on this theory. The source claimed that total RGA spending--a "large majority" of which is "focused on TV ads" but also includes things like polling, research, and field operations--has actually been $6 million in Wisconsin and $10 million in Michigan as of Tuesday. But, the source said, the RGA has $4 to $5 million in TV ad time reserved in Wisconsin for the final two weeks of the election, and the RGA will end up spending more in Wisconsin than Michigan by the time the election is over. (The Center for Public Integrity numbers certainly do appear to miss a lot: CPI doesn't show any RGA spending in Florida, but the source says the RGA has spent $17 million to date in the sunshine state). If these numbers are true--and their accuracy will certainly be scrutinized after the election when all FEC reports have been published--then concerns that Christie is undercutting Walker would appear to be unfounded.

The RGA has just announced the injection of an extra $1 million into the race for on-air ads over the final days of the campaign.  Nevertheless, extremely tight polls and internal dissension indicate that Republicans are jittery about Walker's fate.  Conservative Journal-Sentinel columnist Christian Schneider pores over the numbers and concludes that if November's electorate roughly reflects the turnout models of Wisconsin's midterm cycles, Walker will likely pull it out.  We shall see.  I'll leave you with three items.  First, a 2007 email revealing that Mary Burke's successor as Commerce Secretary in the unpopular Doyle administration asserting that Burke brought no "strategic plan" to the table when she was in the post.  (Couldn't she have just "borrowed" one?)  Second, actual proof that Walker's bald spot has become an issue in this campaign. Finally, one of the ads Walker's been running, touting his successful budget and tax reforms:

Given Walker's successful governance and Wisconsin voters' optimistic "right track/wrong track" views, this election shouldn't be close. But it's the tightest gubernatorial race in the country. Turnout, turnout, turnout.

UPDATE - Watch the Milwaukee machine at work. If voter ID laws are "voter suppression," what would this be?

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

Satanist Destroys Ten Commandments Monument

A notable act of public vandalism occurred in Oklahoma today, as a crazed Satanist drove his car to a federal building and crashed it into a controversial monument of the Ten Commandments. As the Associated Press reports:

[A] man was detained after he showed up at a federal building in Oklahoma City Friday morning, rambling and making derogatory statements about the president, and admitted destroying the monument, said David Allison, an agent with the U.S. Secret Service in Oklahoma City.

"He claimed he got out of his car, urinated on the monument, and then ran over it and destroyed it," Allison said. "He said Satan told him to do it, and that he was a Satanist."

The man was turned over to the Oklahoma Highway Patrol for questioning, Allison said. A spokesman for the patrol didn't immediately return a phone call seeking information about the man.

The monument in question has been a topic of controversy, as the American Civil Liberties Union has sued to remove it, claiming that its existence is a violation of the separation of church and state.

The ACLU issued a statement saying that it was "outraged" over the vandalism.

Hagan Can't Say If Obama Is A Strong Leader

Vulnerable Democrats in red states trying to distance themselves from Obama are receiving no help from the leader of their party after he basically said they all support his agenda in an interview with Al Sharpton earlier this week.

In North Carolina, MSNBC’s Kasie Hunt asked incumbent Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan whether she felt if Obama was a strong leader. Let’s just say Hagan could not say anything–with a degree of confidence or certainty–that was positive about Obama. Straight up–she avoided answering the question.

“President Obama has a lot on his plate. And it seems like whether it’s the oil spill that took place a number of years ago in the Gulf, to this Ebola crisis now, to ISIS gaining strength, you look at all the combination of things like that.”

When pressed further on Obama exhibiting strong leadership qualities, Hagan deflected by saying we should have done more to respond to Ebola.

And it’s not just MSNBC that’s noticing how Democrats are trying to run away from the president this year; the New York Times reported that only one senate candidate–Rep. Gary Peters–has appeared with the president while stumping for him in Michigan. The support of the Ebola travel ban, which Hagan flip-flopped on, is one area where the Times notes Senate Democratic candidates are trying to create a veneer of independence from the Obama White House, although they did label it a “right wing talking point.”

Lastly, Jason Zengerie of The New Republic also tried to ask Hagan whether she thought Obama was a strong leader–and on what issues does she think he demonstrated those characteristics if he is one. It was another ride on the merry-go-round:

I asked her if she wanted to clarify her thoughts on whether she thought Obama was a strong leader. I thought her answer was worth sharing now.

“You know, I think that when issues come up for a vote, I stand for North Carolina, whether it’s a Democratic idea or a Republican idea, and I certainly oppose the president in issues where I think that it’s not right for our state,” Hagan said, going on to note her opposition to various trade deals and defense cuts, as well as her support for the Keystone Pipeline. “On the other hand, Speaker Tillis cannot name one issue, one issue, where he would oppose the president—not the president—where he would oppose his party.”

I asked Hagan what, in particular, she thought Obama had been strong on. “I go back to some of the issues that have affected our country,” she said. “I think on two issues in particular, just recently, he’s been slow to act on Ebola and on ISIS. When the BP spill took place in the Gulf, we were beginning to be slow, but then he put the resources to bear and the science to bear to help solve that very disastrous problem.”

So Hagan, who arguably rode Obama’s coattails into the Senate back in 2008, thinks that the one area where Obama’s shown strong leadership was on the Gulf oil spill four years ago—but, even there, he wasn’t particularly strong.

This is just another sign of how Obama’s falling approval numbers has become an anvil on Democrats this election cycle. And when you virtually vote with President Obama the entire time you are serving in the U.S. Senate, that could become a problem as well.

Bombshell: Valerie Jarrett Helped Manage Fallout Over Eric Holder's Changing Fast and Furious Testimony to Congress

For years the White House has argued it had nothing to do with Operation Fast and Furious while it was active and certainly wasn't involved the fallout and cover-up that followed after Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry was killed in 2010 by Mexican bandits carrying guns from the lethal program. 

Now years later, a Vaughn Index describing Fast and Furious documents being held from the American people and Congress under President Obama's assertion of executive privilege shows White House Senior Advisor Valerie Jarrett played a key role in Attorney General Eric Holder's changing testimony to Congress. 

More from Judicial Watch

Practically lost in the 1,000-plus pages of records is an index that shows Jarrett was brought in to manage the fact that Holder lied to Congress after the story about the disastrous gun-running operation broke in the media.

The files received by JW include three electronic mails between Holder and Jarrett and one from former U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke to Jarrett. The e-mails with Holder are all from October 4, 2011, a significant date because, on the evening of October 3rd, Sharyl Attkisson (then at CBS news) released documents showing that Holder had been sent a briefing paper on Operation Fast and Furious on June 5, 2010. The paper was from the director of the National Drug Intelligence Center, Michael Walther.

This directly contradicted Holder’s May 3, 2011 testimony to the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, during which he stated that he, “probably heard about Fast and Furious for the first time over the last few weeks.” The October 4, 2011 date may also be significant because it came shortly after the August 30, 2011 resignation of U.S. Attorney for Arizona Dennis Burke and reassignment of acting ATF director Kenneth Melson to the position of “senior forensics advisor” at DOJ.

The description of one of the e-mails, written from Jarrett to Holder, reads, “re: personnel issues.” Another, also from Jarrett, reads, “outlining and discussing preferred course of action for future responses in light of recent development in congressional investigation.” Unfortunately, the index is vague and that’s all the information we have about them. Nevertheless, given the timing and subject of these e-mails, it seems clear that Jarrett quickly became a key player in the Fast and Furious cover-up in the immediate aftermath of the revelation that Holder had lied to Congress.

Despite evidence showing Attorney General Eric Holder lied about when he became aware of Operation Fast and Furious and about the extent of his involvement with the initiation of the program, he has maintained that the testimony he gave under oath to Congress was "truthful and accurate." As a reminder of the timeline of Holder's inconsistent testimony:

In a late Friday afternoon dump, Attorney General Eric Holder has sent a letter to the House Overight Committee addressing Operation Fast and Furious and the allegations that he lied to Congress on May 3 when he said he had only known about Fast and Furious for "a couple of weeks." Memos released this week show Holder was briefed and sent direct memos on the program at least five times in July and August 2010, nearly a year before Holder admitted under oath.

In the letter Holder sent to Congress, which is mentioned above, he said the following

"Much has been made in that past few days about my congressional testimony earlier this year regarding Fast and Furious. My testimony was truthful and accurate and I have been consistent on this point throughout. I have no recollection of knowing about Fast and Furious or hearing its name prior to the public controversy about it. Prior to early 2011, I certainly never knew about the tactics employed in the operation and it is my understanding that the former United States Attorney for the District of Arizona and the former Acting Director and Deputy Director of ATF have told Congress that they, themselves were unaware of the tactics employed."

Jarrett is President Obama's closest advisor at the White House. 

First Lady Gives Shout-out To Mark Udall for Obama Accomplishments

Michelle Obama traveled to Colorado Thursday to rally support for incumbent Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO) and things got awkward.

Keep in mind: Udall is the very same man who tried to distance himself from Obama only a few short weeks ago by claiming he is the senator the White House feared the most. So much for disassociation.

Not only did Michelle Obama show she wanted Udall back in the Senate (a desire which hardly seems fear-driven), she boasted about Udall’s role in creating Obama’s ‘hope’ and ‘change:’

The chance of this helping Udall in his race against Republican Rep. Cory Gardner is slim. Two-thirds of likely voters claim their opinion of the president will be a deciding factor in how they vote on Nov. 4, according to a recent Denver Post poll, and 56 percent of Coloradans disapprove of Obama’s work.

But for all her love and support, Michelle Obama revealed that she perhaps didn’t really know which candidate she was there to support:

FLOTUS was not the only one to forget her notes, however. Remember that famous quote by Martin Luther King, Jr. about judging people by “the content of their character, not the color of their skin?” Unfortunately, Mark Udall didn’t. While introducing the First Lady, Udall made this uncomfortable slip:

“In 2008 and 2012, we showed that Dr. Martin Luther King had it right which is that in America, at our best, we judge people by the content of their color -- "

Yikes! Imagine if a Republican candidate had made that gaffe; the media would have a field day. It didn’t take long for the response of the crowd to alert Udall of his mistake.

According to a Quinnipiac University poll released Friday, Gardner is up at 46 percent while Udall sits at 41 percent.

White House: Ask DOJ About What's in The Fast and Furious Documents Covered By Obama's Executive Privilege

During the daily briefing at the White House Friday afternoon, Press Secretary Josh Earnest dodged questions related to Attorney General Eric Holder's role in Operation Fast and Furious after a Vaughn Index or list of documents being held under President Obama's assertion of executive privilege, was released yesterday by Judicial Watch. An initial review of the Vaughn Index shows 20 emails between Holder and his wife Sharon Malone and his mother were covered in the documents currently protected under Obama's executive privilege claim.

When asked by Fox News' Ed Henry about why those communications were covered and what was discussed, Earnest deferred all questions to the Department of Justice.

"Did the Attorney General talk about this sensitive gun running operation with his wife and is mother and that's why he [President Obama] had to invoke executive privilege?" Henry asked. 

"Well Ed I'd refer you to the Department of Justice about this," Earnest said. 

"It wasn't justice privilege it was executive privilege. It was invoked by the president not the attorney general right?" Henry followed up.

"I can tell you that it's the Department of Justice that can discuss those emails with you. What is clear is that this lawsuit that has been filed by Judicial Watch actually has nothing to do with the actual Fast and Furious operation, it has to do with emails and documents related to the operation," Earnest said. "This is something that has been thoroughly investigated." 

Earnest went on to argue the Department of Justice has turned over an adequate amount of information and documentation about the lethal operation to Congress. He also said the White House has showed legitimate cooperation with the investigation into this matter.

Sen. Begich: “The President’s Not Relevant”

Perhaps to avoid the brutal Grimes gaffe, Democrat Alaska Sen. Mark Begich conceded that he did in fact vote for President Obama in the last two presidential elections. Yet, the senator quickly followed up that answer by arguing his support of Obama has nothing to do with his current campaign:

"I did, but that's irrelevant," Begich, the Democratic incumbent from Alaska, told the Washington Examiner. "The president's not relevant. He's gone in two years."

He then listed a slew of topics upon which he disagreed with Obama, such as funding rebels in Syria and pushing gun control.

Hot Air's Mary Katherine Ham commented on Begich's statements on Fox News this morning, noting it is more proof that Democrats are "contending the president's popularity at every turn:"

Begich joins the list of vulnerable Democrats who are distancing themselves from a president that 9 percent of likely 2014 voters are enthusiastic about. Among them include Sen. Mark Udall (D-CO), who claimed he was the “last person” the White House would want to see walking across the lawn, and Sen. Mark Pryor, who was left tongue tied on the White House’s handling of the Ebola outbreak and tried to escape questions on his support of Obamacare. Most worthy of all is the already mentioned Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Kentucky Democrat running against Mitch McConnell who in addition to refusing to say whether she voted for the president in 2008 or 2012, went so far as to make an ad claiming she’s “No Barack Obama,” while proudly wielding a gun.

Try as they might to campaign independently of the president, all of the above Democrats have a 90 percent or higher matching voting record with Obama.

Begich is also facing criticism for re-airing an insensitive ad that claimed his Republican opponent Dan Sullivan was indirectly responsible for a murder after dealing a “soft” sentence on a sex offender while he served as state attorney general – an accusation to which Politifact gave its harshest rating: “pants on fire.”

Our poll tracker has Sullivan ahead by four percentage points.

Judge Dismisses Lawsuit Against IRS From Targeted Group True the Vote; Tea Party Outraged

A lawsuit brought against the government by True the Vote, an anti-voter fraud group made up of volunteers that was inappropriately targeted by the IRS and Department of Justice, has been thrown out by a federal judge despite acknowledgement of illegal wrongdoing in the case. More from Breitbart on the opinion: 

Judge Walton's opinion stated that because the IRS had finally granted True the Vote their 501(c)(3) status, the case "no longer warrant[ed] the Court’s attention and further use of its resources," and deemed True the Vote's lawsuit to now be moot. However, True the Vote had argued specific costs that the IRS' delay had caused them, including fees for attorneys and CPAs, as well as fundraising losses. A number of other non-profit organizations and other donors had either pledged or donated money to True the Vote with the understanding that the group would have official 501(c)(3) status soon. Some of these groups even had requirements in their organizational documents that they could only give money to other approved 501(c)(3) organizations. According to Churchwell, the IRS' years-long delay acted as a "functional denial of our application" and True the Vote was forced to return some donations, and other pledges were revoked. Churchwell described the total costs to True the Vote caused by the IRS' delay to be nearly $90,000.

So because the IRS eventually granted proper 501(c)(3) status to True the Vote, there's no need to hold IRS officials accountable for inappropriately targeting the group and weaponizing government to do so? No justice or reconciliation for the damage done during the delay of the application? What an absolute shame and horrible precedent to set. Not to mention, IRS abuse will continue if there are no consequences for the illegal behavior and decisions that were made. 

"This is far from over. This is what the beginning of tyranny looks like and we cannot sit by as Americans and watch it happen," True the Vote President Catherine Engelbrecht said during an interview with Fox News Friday afternoon.

Other tea party groups targeting by the IRS are outraged and have issued a series of statements in response to the dismissal. 

Tea Party Patriots' Jenny Beth Martin: 

“Within days of the Citizens United ruling in January 2010, which strengthened free speech rights and the freedom for the people to criticize the government, the Internal Revenue Service – the branch of government most feared by American citizens, and, therefore, best suited to act punitively on behalf of a lawless regime – launched a program that systematically targeted what it believed to be “enemies” of the Obama Administration. That scandal – which went on for several years – was admitted by the IRS and by the person most responsible for the agency's misconduct, Lois Lerner.

Several dozen victims of the targeting sued the IRS and individual IRS agents for violation of their constitutional rights. Yesterday a federal judge sided with the IRS and dismissed the claims of our fellow citizens and patriots. Amazingly, the Court’s ruling acknowledges the illegal activity by the IRS – but nonetheless concluded that because the IRS says it has discontinued its targeting, the case is "moot.”

We are dismayed, disappointed, and disheartened that the IRS would be allowed to get away with not just infringing on the rights of American citizens, but bulldozing them, casting aside any sense of propriety or privacy in its years-long effort to suppress the Obama Administration’s political opposition.

Tea Party Patriots – while not a plaintiff in the lawsuits – was a victim of the IRS targeting, having been subjected to a delay of more than three years in obtaining its tax exempt status, merely because of our name and beliefs.

The Court’s decision not to sanction either the IRS or the individual agents because it and they had taken “remedial measures” is unconscionable.

Under this view of the law, Al Capone need not have been arrested, prosecuted and convicted; he merely need have surrendered and promised to never cheat on his taxes again.

It is wholly unacceptable simply to accept the IRS’s hollow promises as “remedial measures” in the eyes of the law. When the IRS demands to know the content of people’s prayers, among other outrageous misconduct we have now learned the IRS engaged in during its persecution of tea party groups, a line has been crossed. Forgive us for not taking the Obama Administration at its word when it says it won’t happen again, which is what the Court has asked us to believe.

This Administration is out of control, and has shown time and again it has zero respect for the law or the Constitution. Sadly, the Court’s ruling will do nothing to discourage such behavior."
Founder of the Wetumpka Tea Party Beck Gerritson, who gave compelling Congressional testimony last year about how her group was targeted, is outraged. A lawsuit filed against the government from her group was also thrown out yesterday.

“When you look at the allegations in our lawsuit along with evidence uncovered by Congressional committees and Judicial Watch, it is undeniable that the IRS is guilty of wrongdoing.However, Judge Walton basically said that since we finally received our tax status (after almost 2 years of waiting) that we now have no case.That’s like a judge telling a burglary victim, that even though she was robbed 2 years ago; since she does not currently have the thieves in her house, she has no case.This ruling is unbelievable! It’s so much more than just a delay of a tax exempt status; it’s about the IRS, a government agency, being used as a weapon against its citizens, i.e. violating our constitutional rights, invading our privacy, bullying and intimidating us, mishandling and leaking our confidential taxpayer information etc., not to mention the ensuing cover-up; and we cannot fight back…we have no recourse.”

Gerritson continued, “The judge did not base his decision on the merits of the case.In fact, he did not deny wrong doing by the IRS but dismissed the case on procedural grounds. He wrote in a footnote: "The court's opinion should not be interpreted as an assessment of the propriety of the alleged conduct by the defendants."It’s unfathomable that the IRS, one of the most feared government agencies in America, was able to engage in a massive, years-long illegal targeting scheme against everyday American’s and get away with it scot-free. This is a huge blow to Americans’ liberty.If the IRS was allowed to target and harass Americans on such a large scale with no repercussions then what will stop them in the future?”

 “This isn’t over for us. We will not be silent.We commend and support the ACLJ‘s plan to appeal the ruling.We will continue to do everything we can to stand up for citizens’ rights, expose government’s abuse of power and hold them accountable for their actions.”

As a reminder, IRS officials weren't simply interested in delaying or denying 501(c)(3) status to conservative tea party groups. Top officials like Lois Lerner regularly worked with officials at the Department of Justice to target these groups, even going so far as trying to find ways to prosecute members and activists with an end goal of throwing them in jail to send a message. 

De Blasio’s Warning: 'Do Not Hesitate to Call 911 if You Have Symptoms'

It’s no surprise that the first case of Ebola in New York City has put the city on edge. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio held a press conference today to try and allay some of those fears, while offering a warning to those who meet the city’s qualifications for quarantine.

Craig Spencer, a doctor who had recently returned from Guinea, is New York City’s first patient to test positive for Ebola. De Blasio assured the city that the patients’ fiancé is being quarantined and they are “looking at individual contacts.” He then repeated what the city knows so far about the troubling situation:

“We know the patient took the subway, went to bowling alley and a few food establishments before being admitted to Bellevue. We’ve retraced those steps.”

The mayor then emphasized that casual contact cannot lead to acquiring the disease, only direct contact with the patient’s bodily fluids.

De Blasio concluded his statements by telling New Yorkers what they could and should do to prevent a proliferation of the disease. He insisted that if anyone has traveled from the three African countries under question or exhibits certain symptoms, they only have two options:

“If you or a loved one may meet these qualifications in the last 21 days and have a fever, it’s crucial to call 911 immediately or go to the emergency room. These are the only two acceptable actions. Do not wait or hesitate.”

Hopefully New Yorkers heed De Blasio’s warning.

Islamic Terror In Canada: Obama Yawns, Sends A Shout-Out

On this week's Townhall Weekend Journal:

Bill Bennett and election expert, Sean Trende of Real Clear Politics break down the races. Michael Medved on Tavis Smiley's remarkably transparent comment regarding the black vote. Hugh Hewitt with U.S. Federal Prosecutor Andrew McCarthy, then with Victor Davis Hanson, and then with Mark Steyn--they discuss Islamic terror arriving in Ottawa, Canada. Bill Bennett and Pete Wehner, Sr. Fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center discuss how "in the dumps" the economy is. Dennis Prager on Idaho legislators subpoenaed 5 Christian pastors to hand over their sermons to see how "tolerant" they were with homosexuality.

Shocking Poll: Republican Charlie Baker Up 9 Points...in MA?

That’s not a typo. A new Boston Globe poll has Republican Charlie Baker up nine percentage points over his Democratic opponent Martha Coakley. Even if this poll is an outlier (which seems at least plausible given the race has been very close for weeks), Baker is probably still the front-runner. The Republican is earning 45 percent of the vote; his opponent is capturing just 36 percent.

This is honestly surprising. You don’t need me to tell you that Massachusetts is as liberal a state as they come, as evidenced by the last presidential election. Now, however, the Republican in the race has opened up (almost) a double-digit lead.

Why? The Boston Globe has some insight:

The poll depicts an electorate highly susceptible to the recent barrage of political advertising on television. Two weeks ago, Coakley, the state’s attorney general, led Baker by 5 points in the same poll. According to estimates from Kantar Media/CMAG, a firm that tracks political television commercials, $2.2 million in ads paid for by gubernatorial candidates and allied groups — more than 1,700 individual spots — aired on broadcast television from Oct. 12 through Oct. 19.

This also might have something to do with it:

In the governor’s race, Baker has picked up momentum with an across-the-board improvement on questions where voters were asked which candidate would do a better job handling certain broad policy areas. For instance, in mid-September, the poll gave him a 15-point lead over Coakley on creating jobs. In this week’s poll, he is ahead by 24 points.

Unenrolled voters make up roughly half of the state’s electorate. So since since Baker is now dominating independents (57/20), and only losing women by a few percentage points, he’s put himself in a position to win. Democrats still back their party’s candidate by an overwhelming margin (73/13), but Baker’s lead among male voters (55/30) and indies (see above), could make the difference. There are also rumblings that voters want to take the state in a new direction. Fifty-two percent of respondents say Baker “will manage the state effectively”; only 27 percent said Coakley would.

His messaging to voters, therefore, seems to be moving the needle.

Enhanced Airport Screenings For Ebola Don't Work

Late last week the Department of Homeland Security announced that not only would temperatures of all passengers returning to the United States on flights from West Africa be taken at airports, but that passengers from the region could only land at five major international airports in the U.S.

The latest case of Ebola in New York City proves that these enhanced airport screenings don't work. Doctor Craig Spencer returned from the country of Guinea in West Africa on October 17 after treating patients with Ebola. He was screened at JFK international airport upon entrance and didn't have a fever or other symptoms. The CDC cleared him. Six days later, Spencer was rushed to the hospital because he does in fact have Ebola and had been carrying the disease. Just hours before coming down with a 103 degree fever, Spencer took an Uber ride to a bowling alley and rode the subway. He has been riding the New York City subway system since he was cleared at the airport. 

Screening procedures federal government officials have implemented at airports to make it look like they're doing something to protect the health of Americans, don't work to keep Ebola out of the country. It's only a matter of time before someone else from West Africa who isn't a doctor comes to the United States carrying the disease, but gets into the country due to being non-symptomatic at the time of entry. This is exactly how Thomas Eric Duncan, the man who recently died of Ebola in Dallas, brought the disease to the U.S.

Meanwhile, the White House still refuses to put a travel ban on the table as an option.

Video: DWS Struggles to Name One Competitive Senate Race Obama Has Campaigned In

Painfully awkward political theater, even by Debbie's standards.  Here she is trying to trumpet the fact that President Obama is campaigning in competitive races around the country (he's so far stumped for two statewide candidates by my count, each in deep blue states, and neither running for Senate), even though he's largely been "benched" by the party she chairs.  When pressed to name the Senate races in which O's been a player, Debbie does her thing:

Grimace-worthy, unresponsive rambling.  Also known as a typical day at the office for DWS -- who commands exactly zero respect from the White House, as this eye-opening Politico piece made excruciatingly clear.  Here's what she can't say: "Most of our candidates in competitive races don't want Obama around because his approval rating is underwater in all but six states."  But that's the reality.  In New Hampshire last night, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen tried to pretend the president's absence on her behalf was due to 'scheduling conflicts' or whatever, when in fact, he's simply honoring her polite behind the scenes request to stay the hell away.  It's not that she opposes his agenda -- far from it -- but she can read the polls as well as anyone else.  Another DWS point that deserves ridicule is her little tangent about how historically well-positioned Democrats are for a second term Congressional election.  We might hold our losses to single digits in the House, guys!  This is "good news," she explains, because the president's party typically loses a few dozen seats in these scenarios.  But this tendentious analysis ignores the minor detail that the GOP won 63 House seats in 2010 in an anti-Obama backlash election, and retained most of their gains in 2012.  Republicans near their historic ceiling in the lower chamber, yet they're still poised to gain seats.  Great success, intones Debbie.  Part of me will miss her when she's gone.  Which she will be.  See, again: The Politico story linked above, and please don't stop reading until you get to the part when she denies that the DWS in her DWS PAC doesn't stand for her initials.  A perfectly Schultzian, comically implausible, lie.  As for holding the Senate, I broke things down last night over at HotAir, using the Georgia race as a spring board:

Is Obama right that a Nunn victory would guarantee Reid’s Democratic majority hangs on to power? Not necessarily. It’s undeniably true that if the Democrats flip a red state into the blue column (the top prospects being GA, KS, and KY, the latter two of which Obama lost by more than 20 points), their power protection lift gets significantly lighter. But if — if — Republicans carry every seat in which their nominees currently lead in the polls (AR, AK, CO, IA, LA, MT, SD, WV), they could *technically* withstand losses in two of those three aforementioned races and still emerge with a 51-49 edge. I stressed ‘technically’ because let’s be honest: If Democrats pick off a pair of GOP-held seats in McCain/Romney turf this fall, the likelihood of Team Red sweeping the other eight races feels remote.

Remember, the only contests Republicans appear to have secured at this juncture are in West Virginia and Montana, plus (probably) South Dakota and Arkansas. Begich and Landrieu are definitely down, but they aren’t quite out; and while things are looking up in both Colorado and Iowa, those are still states carried twice by Obama where Democratic nominees are within striking distance. (On the other side of that coin, the same standard also applies to Thom Tillis and Scott Brown in North Carolina and New Hampshire, respectively). The point is that Republicans have multiple paths to get to (+6), so a Nunn victory wouldn’t single-handedly derail the GOP Majority Express. But it’d make those paths a lot narrower, and would likely indicate that 2014 did not turn out to be the big wave year Republicans were hoping for.

And in case you were curious, no, Michelle Nunn won't condemn this repulsive flier her party is passing around to manipulate and scare black voters.  I'll leave you with this clip; try to stick around through the mindless talking points until the very end, and Wolf's follow-up:

Two Weeks Out: Ads, Cash, and Clinton Descend Upon North Carolina

We crossed the two-week mark and ads, cash, and the Clintons are descending upon North Carolina. With the race virtually tied and early voting beginning today, groups from both sides are spending and releasing ads to make their final case.

On the Hagan side, the League of Conservation Voters are hitting Tillis over his environmental stances, even using the dreaded Koch brothers as their boogeyman. The two ads are part of a $400,000 ad buy.

One ad that was played pervasively when I went down to North Carolina hit Tillis over abortion and Planned Parenthood; Hagan needs to continue to do this to keep women voters on her side. Nationally, women are beginning to break for the GOP.

Another ad by the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee features a woman who calls Tillis’ record on women “horrifying.” This is part of a massive $9.1 million ad buy the DSCC made last August and runs until all the ballots are counted on Election Day.

On the other side, the Tillis campaign released this ad slamming Hagan over allegations that her family’s business profited after receiving stimulus money; a bill she voted for while in the U.S. Senate. According to the Washington Free Beacon, it contributed to her 37 percent rise in net worth since her 2008 win over then-Sen. Elizabeth Dole.

Additionally, NRA, Freedom Partners Action Fund, and Crossroads GPS all hit Hagan over Second Amendment issues, voting with Obama 95 percent of the time, and the controversy surrounding stimulus cash injections to her family’s business.

Abortion, the environment, gun rights, corruption, and Barack Obama’s policies–all issues meant to consolidate base support, which both sides have done quite well. Hagan is leading by 3 points in the latest D+7 PPP poll, but it noted that Hagan and Tillis are each garnering equal shares of the Democratic and Republican vote in North Carolina.

Meanwhile, a Gravis poll released around the same time of the PPP poll found that Tillis was leading Hagan by 5 points based on a sample of 1,022 likely voters.

That’s probably why Freedom Partners Action Fund, a PAC associated with the Koch brothers, is chipping in $6.5 million for the last two weeks of campaigning in the Iowa, Colorado, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Arkansas, and Alaska Senate races.

Hagan has outraised the Tillis campaign, but he’s been able to haul in a respectable amount of campaign cash to fill his war chest as the 2014 elections come to a close. Overall, Republicans across the country have seen a surge in fundraising in the final weeks of the campaign, with eight GOP candidates outraising her Democratic opponents for the first time.

We shall see how the Clinton factor plays into the North Carolina race as well; the former Secretary of State plans to make a pit stop in the Tar Heel state this weekend. As for Tillis, Gov. Romney is coming down to help him out next week.

Potential Terror in New York City: Man Attacks Police With a Hatchet

Yesterday a man with a hatchet attacked two police officers in New York City, striking one in the head and the other in the arm. He was shot to death shortly after engaging the officers. The officer who was struck in the head suffered a skull fracture, but is in stable condition at a hospital. More from NBC New York

The officers, all recent graduates of the Police Academy assigned to the 103rd Precinct in Jamaica, were asked to pose for a picture by a freelance photographer at the intersection of 162nd Street and Jamaica Avenue shortly before 2 p.m. when the man attacked them from behind, Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said.

The suspect "charged at the officers with a hatchet in his hand," Bratton said. "Unprovoked and not speaking a word, the male then swung at one of the officers with a hatchet, striking his right arm. After striking that officer, the suspect continuing swinging the hatchet, striking a second officer in the head."

The metal hatchet was about 18 inches long.

Law enforcement officials identified the suspect as 32-year-old Zale Thompson.

The attack came just one day after a Canadian soldier was shot to death while on guard at the National War Memorial in Ottawa and shortly after the FBI released a memo to law enforcement warning of attacks on police officers from ISIS sympathizers.

The memo was issued by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as a Joint Intelligence Bulletin and is titled, “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and Its Supporters Encouraging Attacks Against Law Enforcement and Government Personnel.” It is labeled, “UNCLASSIFIED/FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY” and asserts that it may be exempt from the Freedom of Information Act and should not be released tot he public, the media, or anyone else not authorized by the DHS.

The document alerts US law enforcement personnel, including FBI Special Agents, to be aware of their surroundings and to monitor their families’ use of social media to “avoid revealing FBI or law enforcement affiliation.”

Terror in this case is not being ruled out and reviews of Zale's social media pages show discussion and posts favorable to terror.

Islamic State Twitter accounts also appear to be taking credit for the attack.

H/T Bill

Fast and Furious: Family of Slain Border Patrol Agent "Baffled" Obama's Executive Privilege Used to Protect Holder's Wife

Late Wednesday evening the Department of Justice turned over a list, or Vaughn Index, of Operation Fast and Furious documents being held from the American people and Congress under President Obama's assertion of executive privilege. The list was turned over after a long legal battle with government watchdog Judicial Watch. Yesterday in an initial review of the list by Judicial Watch, it was revealed Attorney General Eric Holder was involved in crafting talking points for the cover-up of the operation from within DOJ and that President Obama asserted executive privilege over emails between Holder, his wife and his mother. 

The family of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry, who was murdered in the Arizona desert in December 2010 by Mexican bandits carrying guns obtained through Fast and Furious, is baffled that the President would use his executive authority to protect Holder's wife and is disappointed with the continuing lack of transparency from DOJ and the White House.

"We are shocked that some of these Vaughn Index documents show that Attorney General Holder was personally involved in crafting talking points and helping his office in responding to the Congressional inquiry into Operation Fast and Furious from very early on. We are baffled that personal emails from the Attorney General to his wife and mother are part of the information covered by the President's claim of Executive Privilege," Terry family spokesman Ralph Terry said in a statement. 

"Furthermore, we are incredibly saddened that even after the death of Brian Terry and four years after Operation Fast and Furious was put to an end, the weapons of Operation Fast and Furious continue to appear and present a clear danger to the public. The Administration continues to show no remorse for their actions in Operation Fast and Furious. The Department of Justice continues to engage in deceptive measures that are designed to cover up the links between multiple acts of violence and the guns that were allowed to be bought by straw buyers and ultimately delivered to some of the most violent criminals in North America," Terry continued. "As evidenced by the weapon recovered in Phoenix, the Attorney General has once again failed to inform Congress and the American people that the weapons from the botched gun trafficking program put into place by ATF and former U.S. Attorney Dennis Burke continue to injure and maim American citizens. We urge President Obama to cooperate with Congress and to release the thousands of documents outlined in the Vaughn Index. Americans deserve the truth and deserve transparency from their government in this matter."

Terry is referring to a 2013 gang-shootout at a Phoenix apartment complex that left two men injured. An AK-47 recovered at the scene was obtained through Fast and Furious and used to carry out the crime. The connection between the incident and Fast and Furious was not disclosed to Congress by DOJ until after a Judicial Watch freedom of information lawsuit against the City of Phoenix was issued and details about where the guns in the incident came from were reveled. 

The Vaughn Index is more than 1300 pages long and the documents being withheld from Congress and the American people under President Obama's executive privilege total more than 15,000 pages. A federal judge is currently presiding over a lawsuit from the House Oversight Committee that questions whether Obama's assertion of privilege is valid in this case.

Shaheen: Obama's Too "Busy" to Campaign For Me

Concord, NH – Although tonight’s debate was closed to the public – i.e., there was no live television studio audience – one thing was clear from being on the ground in New Hampshire: Unlike two nights ago, Scott Brown fans were there and energized. It may be hard to see, but one Brown supporter (below in the red rain jacket) was wielding a microphone, leading “Go Scott Go” chants hours before the cameras rolled.

Computer Hope

In the background, you can see where the debate is being held (alas, I did not gain access myself), and to the far left (not shown) is where Team Shaheen supporters gathered. My sense is that there were actually more Brown supporters at the venue tonight than Shaheen supporters, but since (again) the debate was closed to the public, it should be noted that most people planned to watch the debate from home. Indeed, one of the security guards told me most of the journalists from the major New Hampshire newspapers weren’t even bothering to show up.

In any case, tonight’s debate was markedly different from two nights ago. Perhaps because there was no studio audience, both candidates seemed more subdued and less inclined to go on the attack. I also think Sen. Shaheen stumbled a bit. For example, the moderator, Wolf Blitzer, asked her if she wanted President Obama to come campaign for her. This is what she said:

She also said she was “proud” of her partisan record.

Still, Blitzer didn’t let Brown off the hook, either. For instance, while he routinely says on the campaign trail his opponent votes with the president “99 percent of the time,” Blitzer confronted him with the unsavory fact that during his last year in Washington, he voted…78 percent of the time with President Obama. This was a clever question that undercut one of the most widely-touted themes of his campaign – namely, that he was once the most bipartisan senator in Washington.

Interestingly, the candidates spent the first 15 minutes of the debate talking about either Ebola or ISIS. This was a bit surprising. They also discussed immigration, border security, the minimum wage, and jobs and the economy. On these issues, I cannot remember anything memorable happening. They both did well.

For what it's worth, the candidates will debate one more time before Granite Staters head to the polls. But I'll leave you with this, which gives some indication of who the winner was:

NEC Poll: Brown: 48; Shaheen: 47

Concord, NH -- I rounded up. Below are the exact percentages among registered likely voters:

The race is a coin flip, although each candidate has something to feel good about. Without leaners, Shaheen is locking up 88 percent of Democrats (Brown is only capturing 80 percent of Republicans) while the president’s approval rating is surprisingly above water (48/47). (The survey below suggests the latter statistic is an outlier. It's also inconsistent with other polls we've seen). Brown, on the other hand, is capturing independents (49/44) and men (50/46). He’s also only losing female voters by four percentage points (45/49).

Meanwhile, CNN/ORC’s freshly-released survey is equally interesting if contradictory. Among likely voters, the top-line number shows Shaheen barely edging Brown (49/47). In this poll, however, the president fares much worse. His job approval rating is upside down (39/57) -- although Sen. Shaheen is viewed slightly more favorably (52/45) than her opponent (48/50). Unlike the survey above, though, she holds a double-digit lead among female voters (54/44).

Bottom line: These polls indicate there is no front-runner. That being said, both polls were conducted before Tuesday night’s television debate. And there are two more. Speaking of which, I'll be attending the second one this evening at the University of New Hampshire. Politico has the details:

Shaheen and Brown will debate tonight on NH1, the new cable news station in the state, at 7 p.m. EDT. The debate, which will be co-moderated by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer and NH1’s Paul Steinhauser, will also air on CNN across the country on tape delay at 11 p.m.

Federal Judge Deals Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn Ethics Blow

Democratic Gov. Pat Quinn was dealt an ethics blow by a federal judge this week, just 12 days before Election Day. 

The judge granted a request to appoint a monitor to oversee hiring practices at the Department of Transportation in Illinois after allegations that the Quinn administration put politics above job qualifications when filling positions. 

The Chicago Tribune reports:

The transportation agency came under fire in April after Chicago attorney Michael Shakman, who has long crusaded against patronage, argued the Quinn administration was filling positions based on political considerations rather than job qualifications.

A subsequent report by the state Executive Inspector General Ricardo Meza outlined how Quinn had failed to rein in patronage abuses at IDOT after replacing ousted ex-Gov. Rod Blagojevich.

Meza maintained hundreds of people were hired into so-called "staff assistant" positions without having to go through strict personnel procedures under rules designed to keep politics out of most state hiring.

Quinn fired 58 people hired into staff assistant jobs, but decided to keep another 103. Attorneys for his office have argued a court monitor was not needed because reforms were put into place following the inspector general's report, contending the ethics watchdog acts as an independent watchdog.

Shakman argued the changes amounted to little more than public relations, and questioned the thoroughness of the inspector general report.

Republican challenger Bruce Rauner has been hitting Quinn on ethics issues for months now, so this will certainly help validate those attacks.

"A federal judge in Chicago confirmed what we’ve known all along – Pat Quinn is a phony reformer who can't be trusted to clean up state government," a Rauner campaign email stated. 

It will be interesting to see how much, if at all, this ethics blow will affect Quinn at the ballot box, especially because the race is a toss up right now.

PPP: Hagan Up 3 Over Tillis, Race Still A Toss-Up

A new PPP poll has Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan up 3 points over her Republican challenger Thom Tillis. Wait; didn’t Tillis say that Hagan is going to lose on Nov. 4? Did they not smell “victory in the air?”

Everyone, relax. As Tillis told Townhall, single digits in North Carolina decide races–and his campaign officials said that the Tar Heel state has a history of races breaking late. On Teusday night, there was another Senate debate, with one notable exception: Kay Hagan was absent. So, with two weeks out from Election Day, Thom Tillis had a solid hour to make a final argument with North Carolina voters in a race that’s virtually tied; reasons that MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow mentioned in her rant against Hagan for skipping the debate.

My colleague Guy Benson had this zinger last night.

So, how does the poll breakdown? First, it’s a D+7 poll. Second, it’s not shocking where the bases of support for Hagan and Tillis comes from in this race [emphasis mine]:

Hagan is up 49/37 with women, 85/4 with African Americans, and 61/27 with young voters. Meanwhile Tillis is up 49/42 with men, 55/34 with white voters, and 54/37 with seniors. Tillis is ahead 43/38 with independents but in an unusual finding for North Carolina politics, Hagan is getting the same share of the Democratic vote (81%) that Tillis getting of the Republican vote and if you do that as a Democrat in North Carolina you're generally going to win given the party's voter registration advantage in the state.

There’s also a question of how strong the evangelical vote will turn out this year. They’re one-third of North Carolina’s electorate, but this bloc of voters is difficult to poll. Yet, there are other positive indicators.

Education has been the Achilles heel of the Tillis campaign; a point even his own staff has admitted in private, but they are hoping this line of attack from Hagan and national Democrats has hit a ceiling with voters, according to the Washington Examiner.

As reported here at Townhall, foreign affairs has played a crucial role is shifting the debate away from Hagan’s “sins of Raleigh” strategy, even admitting to skipping an Armed Services hearing to attend a fundraiser last February. There are also questions relating to allegations that her family profited from stimulus cash injections they received for their business; questions that would have inevitably come up if she had attended last night’s debate.

But let’s not forget the Obama factor. Despite red state Democrats trying to run away from him, Obama keeps spoiling that narrative by saying his policies are on the ballot this November–and that they all support his agenda.

Tillis’ campaign manager, Jordan Shaw, sent out this memo as to why Hagan would skip the debate last night:

• On Friday, Sen. Hagan flip-flopped on implementing a travel ban from Ebola-inflicted countries. While Thom was one of the first Senate candidates in the nation to call for a travel ban, Sen. Hagan equivocated on the issue for weeks, even criticizing the idea of a ban at times, all while praising President Obama and the CDC for their “great guidance” in addressing Ebola.

• At the October 7th debate hosted by the N.C. Association of Broadcasters, Hagan couldn’t name a single instance where she regretted supporting President Obama’s policies, which she has done 96 percent of the time. Following the debate, Hagan admitted that she skipped a classified Armed Services Committee hearing on ISIS to attend a cocktail fundraiser in New York City, but has thus far refused to tell journalists why she chose to do so.

• At the October 9th debate hosted by WECT, Hagan struggled to answer questions about her family’s $390,000 stimulus payday, insisting that she consulted a lawyer who deemed taking the taxpayer money was “appropriate” even though Hagan was directly benefitting from legislation she voted for

As Tillis told Townhall, he knew he wouldn’t be leading in the polls during the summer, but he’s seeing a shift in direction towards him with undecided voters who may decide this election. Right now, Hagan and Tillis are garnering equal shares of the Democratic and Republican vote in North Carolina, which means this race will come down to turnout and it could be incredibly close.

Right now, both sides have eyes on early voting–and it’s not looking good for Democrats (via WaPo):

Compared to overall voter registration, Iowa and North Carolina Democrats are doing much worse than earlier in the month, and Republicans in those states much better.

How to read this: A red or blue dot above the diagonal line shows that the Republican (or, for a blue dot, Democratic) vote in the state comprises a larger percentage of the early vote than the total voter pool. A dot below the line indicates that the early vote is under-performing for that demographic. The further above or below the line the dot falls, the better or worse the group is faring. The change since the last time we did this is indicated with a line connected to the small dot at the previous percentage.

Interestingly, unaffiliated/undeclared voters are uniformly underperforming their registration numbers, perhaps in part because campaigns aren't targeting them as aggressively in the early vote process. But that puts the poor performance of Democratic campaigns in sharper relief. If unaffiliated voters are underperforming as a percentage of all of the votes that are in, one would expect the two parties to be overperforming.

But Democrats aren't. The bad news for them is clear: the extent to which the red dots are above the line and the blue dots are below it. In what we expect to be a relatively low-turnout election, Democrats would want (and really need) to leverage their generally superior turnout mechanisms to bank votes early. So far, they're getting beaten at that effort.

The bad news for Republicans is that — as we mentioned two weeks ago — these numbers can and will change quickly.

In all, Republican voters are turning out at higher rates–and that's not good news for Kay Hagan.

Editors note: Upon reviewing the North Carolina Board Of Elections website, in-person early voting began today.  We tried contacting the the board of elections multiple times, but high caller volume prevented us from getting a clarification on the early voting numbers from the Washington Post piece.  It's probably a calculation of the absentee ballots, but we will keep you updated on this matter.