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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

DWS: Dems Will Hold the Senate

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Greg Orman: Talking About Abortion "Prevents Us From Talking About Other Important Issues"

In this week's Kansas Senate debate between Greg Orman and incumbent Sen. Pat Roberts, the moderator asked the two about ultrasound laws. Independent candidate Greg Orman (there is no Democrat running in the race) discussed abortion by saying he doesn't want to discuss it:

Orman: I think we spend a whole lot of time in this country talking about this issue and we have spent a lot of time over the last couple of decades talking about it. And I think it prevents us from talking about other important issues... I'm pro-choice.

Roberts responded quite emphatically, saying that he couldn't quite believe Orman wants to "get past" the rights of the unborn:

Roberts: I am pro-life. I think you said we have to get past the issue, if I am correct. Get past the rights of the unborn? Get past the guarantee of life for those at the end of life? I don’t think we can say that with any degree of conscience... it is not settled, not by a long shot. That’s why I am proud to receive the endorsement from the National Right to Life, and the Kansans for Life. They support me and I’ll tell you one thing, I do not think we ought to get past this issue.

Report: Obama Planning to Bring Ebola-infected Foreigners to US for Treatment

Despite mounting pressure from lawmakers and the public, President Obama on Saturday said that he would not cave on the issue of imposing travel bans on West African nations.

“We can’t just cut ourselves off from West Africa,” he said in his weekly radio address. “Trying to seal off an entire region of the world—if that were even possible, could actually make the situation worse.”

If that were true, then why has nearly every African nation—plus a number of other countries (and airlines) around the world—imposed a ban or significant restrictions on the Ebola-stricken countries in West Africa? It’s simple: quarantines work. As Ann Coulter noted in her column this week, “It’s becoming increasingly clear that this is just another platform for Obama to demonstrate that we are citizens of the world.”

Indeed. Our commander in chief has even sent thousands of U.S. troops with only four hours of training to West Africa to combat the virus. The safety and security of Americans has clearly taken a backseat to the wellbeing of those overseas.

And if all this weren’t enough, a conservative watchdog group is out with a shocking new report that claims the administration is looking to bring Ebola-infected foreigners to the U.S. for treatment. Yes, you read that correctly.

Judicial Watch has learned that the Obama administration is actively formulating plans to admit Ebola-infected non-U.S. citizens into the United States for treatment. Specifically, the goal of the administration is to bring Ebola patients into the United States for treatment within the first days of diagnosis.

It is unclear who would bear the high costs of transporting and treating non-citizen Ebola patients. The plans include special waivers of laws and regulations that ban the admission of non-citizens with a communicable disease as dangerous as Ebola.

One source tells us that the Obama administration is keeping this plan secret from Congress. The source is concerned that the proposal is illegal; endangers the public health and welfare; and should require the approval of Congress.

If this plan comes to fruition, the public outcry will be deafening. The fact that the cost of this would undoubtedly fall on the backs of taxpayers is one thing, the negligence it would show for the American people is quite another.

I’ll leave you with Thomas Sowell’s take on what Obama’s actions toward the latest crisis suggest about our president:

At a minimum, it suggests that he takes his conception of himself as a citizen of the world more seriously than he takes his role as President of the United States. At worst, he may consider Americans' interests expendable in the grand scheme of things internationally. If so, this would explain a lot of his foreign policy disasters around the world, which seem inexplicable otherwise.

Those critics who have been citing Barack Obama's foreign policy fiascoes and disasters as evidence that he is incompetent may be overlooking the possibility that he has different priorities than the protection of the American people and America's interests as a nation.

This is a monstrous possibility. But no one familiar with the history of the twentieth century should consider monstrous possibilities as things to dismiss automatically. Nor should anyone who has followed Barack Obama's behavior over his lifetime, and the values that behavior reveals. […]

No one knows at this point how big the Ebola danger may turn out to be. But what we do know is that official reassurances about this and other dangers have become worthless.

Comforting, isn't it?

AR Senate Poll: After Debates, Cotton Still Marginally Ahead

The two television debates are behind us. And while I believe there were no winners, a question still remains. Did the candidates’ performances have any discernible impact on the race itself?

It's probably too early to tell; after all, given when the poll was conducted, it's likely some voters replied to the survey before the debates even started. Even so, since the candidates squared off, the needle hasn’t moved very much; Tom Cotton is still the nominal frontrunner (although his lead is much smaller than it was in the Fox News poll released last week):

Republican Congressman Tom Cotton still holds a slight lead over incumbent Democrat Mark Pryor in Arkansas’ U.S. Senate race.

The latest Rasmussen Reports telephone survey of Likely Arkansas Voters shows Cotton with 47% of the vote to Pryor’s 44%. Four percent (4%) like some other candidate in the race, and five percent (5%) remain undecided. (To see survey question wording, click here.)

Nevertheless, Democrats are very much in it to win it and therefore busting out their secret weapon once again: Bill Clinton. “The man from Hope” will return to his native land this weekend to campaign for Pryor for three straight days; the former president will hold a series of rallies and events to bolster the prospects of his protege. Perhaps this will give Pryor the boost he needs.

Either way, Cotton's in fine shape. He’s picked up a nice endorsement, leading in the polls (see above), and crushing his opponent in the fundraising game.

But will this be enough to unseat a vulnerable Obama rubber stamp? For what it’s worth, the Cook Political Report still maintains the race is a "Toss Up.”

But it might not be for long.

Are ISIS Fighters Learning to Fly Jets?

Not only is our current strategy against ISIS not working, according to a new report, they too may be taking the fight to the skies. Syrian Observatory for Human Rights is reporting that former Iraqi pilots who’ve joined the terror group are now training members to fly in captured Syrian fighter jets. 

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights group says some ex-Iraqi air force pilots are training members of ISIS to fly three warplanes—believed to be MiG-21 and MiG-23 jets-- captured from air bases in Syria.

The rights group reported the planes flying over the Jarrah air base in the eastern countryside of the Syrian town of Aleppo this week.

Rami Abdurrahman, director of the Observatory, said the planes have been flying at a low altitude, apparently to avoid being detected by Syrian military radar in the area.

"People saw the flights, they went up many times from the airport and they are flying in the skies outside the airport and coming back," the BBC reported Abdurrahman said.

The report, which could not be independently verified, comes as the U.S. and its allies are bombing Islamic State group bases in Syria and Iraq, where the extremists have seized large swaths of territory.

The Pentagon on Friday said it was “not aware” of any flight operations by the terror group.

"We continue to keep a close eye on (ISIS) activity in Syria and Iraq and will continue to conduct strikes against their equipment, facilities, fighters and centers of gravity, wherever they may be," U.S. Central Command spokesman Col Patrick Ryder told reporters.

"We don't have any operational reporting of (ISIS) flying jets in support of ISIS activity on the ground and so I cannot confirm that. And to the degree that pilots may have defected and joined the ranks of ISIS, I don't have any information on that either," Gen. Lloyd Austin, head of the U.S. military's Central Command, said on Friday.

As Tillis Attends State Fair, A Reminder That Elections Break Late In North Carolina

This post has been updated.

The latest polls coming out of North Carolina have the race tied, or with Hagan leading her Republican challenger–Thom Tillis–by 1-point. For most of the summer, Hagan had a small 4-point lead over Tillis. With ISIS, Ebola, and international issues taking a more prominent role in the 2014 midterms, Tillis seems to have erased his deficit with Hagan–and he appears to be not letting up as the campaign approaches its final hours.

Yesterday, at the North Carolina State Fair, Tillis greeted attendees with enthusiasm. His approachability is one characteristic North Carolinian voters will find appealing. I know I’ve been saying this ad nauseum, but there’s a neo-populist wave, spawned from the ashes of the 2010 Tea Party movement, that’s forming across the country. These voters want a candidate they can relate to, who has experience personal struggle, and who overcame it. Tillis fits in well with this narrative.

At the same time, there seems to be a bit of campaign fatigue; this usually happens around this time as voters, especially those living in states where the race is close are bombarded with phone calls, endless streams of volunteers invading their neighborhoods, and the pervasive use of political attack ads.

A middle-aged mother by the John Deere homemade ice cream shack told me that it’s really a coin toss for her when Election Day comes; she thinks the campaigns on both sides are too negative, which is why she hasn’t been paying too close attention to either Hagan or Tillis. Another woman on the shuttle ride to the fairgrounds told me that she doesn’t like either of the candidates–and also said the overall Senate campaign had become too negative. 

Her husband declined to give his opinion on the race, opting to say that he’s only here for a corn dog.

Then again, another woman admitted that she hasn’t followed the race closely either, but will be supporting Thom Tillis on Nov. 4; hey, it’s called the base for a reason.

Overall, the Republican presence was strong at the fair. That much is clear.  Supporters for Tillis were highly visible, wearing campaign stickers across their shirts with pride; there's no voter fatigue with these troops.  The volunteers at the NC GOP booth were worried about running out of stickers before the fair ends next week.

When asked what they thought caused Hagan to lose her lead in the polls, an older gentleman wearing a Tillis sticker, along with his wife, said that the people were coming back to reality on Kay Hagan. Another man, who was with his family, said that he was a Tillis fan because he saw him as a better leader. He did voice his dissatisfaction over the negative ads being used on both sides.

Sorry guys, yes, these ads are annoying, but they work.   

Jordan Shaw, Tillis’ spokesperson and campaign manager, said that the one of the reasons why Tillis has been able to erase Hagan’s slim lead was due to Americans’ realization that this race is also about the safety and security of country. “Voters are seeing a record of failure to keep this country safe and secure on behalf on Hagan and Obama,” Shaw said.

I’m sure folks in the Tillis campaign breathed a sigh of relief given that national Democrats and Kay Hagan have slammed Tillis incessantly for his alleged $500 million in education cuts, but expect the “sins of Raleigh” approach to continue as long as the state legislature remains unpopular.

Yet, Tillis released this ad hitting Hagan and her family over allegations that they profited off stimulus money that was awarded to her husband’s company; the amount was close to $400,000.

Hagan has hit Tillis over abortion rights and Planned Parenthood. As I’m writing this post, I’ve seen at least several anti-Tillis ads of this nature, including the one linking him to the Koch brothers.

Lastly, the Democratic brand–in general–is floundering. The GOP dominates on issues of national security, but now it seems voters are trusting the Republicans more in handling the economy, the budget, and immigration.

This precipitous decline in the Obama and Democrat brands could be having an impact on Hagan’s numbers. While the GOP’s approval numbers with voters aren’t good either, the senate races that could determine who wins the majority this November happen to be in states where Romney won handily in 2012. And by handily, I mean by 10+ points or more.

Shaw noted that races in North Carolina have historically broken late–and this cycle seems to be no exception.

Wheel in the cots on Election Day; this could be a very long night in North Carolina.

Editor's note: I should have made this clarification in the original post. From the comments section, some folks pointed out that Romney won North Carolina by a slim 2 percent margin. That's true. Still, Tillis can certainly win in North Carolina, but Alaska, Louisiana, Arkansas, South Dakota, West Virginia, and Montana are looking pretty for the GOP. Iowa and Colorado are also looking like Republican pick-ups come Election Day.  Overall, Republicans are in good shape (Georgia is beginning to lean towards the Democrats, but that's for another time) heading into the final stretches of this campaign season.  

Nevertheless, the easiest road to a Republican majority in the Senate (six seats) is through North Carolina.

Biggest Labor Union Throws Support Behind "Independent" Greg Orman

This week the AFL-CIO threw its considerable weight behind Democrat-turned-independent Greg Orman in his bid for U.S. Senate in Kansas. This came on the heels of a debate that was all about defining who Greg Orman really is:

The AFL-CIO will endorse Kansas Senate candidate Greg Orman, a spokesman for the labor union tells National Journal, giving the independent candidate from Kansas a last-minute lift in his race against Republican incumbent Pat Roberts.

The AFL-CIO won't run TV ads for Orman, spokesman Jeff Hauser said, but his campaign will now be incorporated into the union's extensive ground game there. The AFL-CIO had previously endorsed Kansas's Democratic Party's gubernatorial nominee, Paul Davis, who is locked into one of the country's most competitive gubernatorial contests with incumbent Republican Gov. Sam Brownback.

During Wednesday's debate, incumbent Sen. Pat Roberts repeatedly stressed that while Greg Orman may have an (I) next to his name, he also has the support of the major left-wing movement. Billionaire left-wing political activist George Soros has been involved in funding the Orman campaign. Michael Bloomberg and other prominent left-wing billionaires have chipped in to support Orman. Meanwhile, the Chamber of Commerce has come down on Pat Roberts' side.

Orman has maintained a strong lead with self-identified independent voters but Roberts has made it a central part of his campaign to convince those independents that Orman is not a centrist - he's a mainstream Democrat in disguise.

McConnell Pulling Ahead in New Rasmussen Poll

A new poll by Rasmussen shows that 52 percent of likely Kentucky voters intend to vote for incumbent Republican Senator Mitch McConnell in the upcoming election. This marks the first time that McConnell has polled above 50 percent this election cycle. McConnell leads by eight points.

The latest Rasmussen Reports statewide telephone survey of Likely Kentucky Voters finds McConnell with 52% support to Democratic challenger Alison Lundergan Grimes’ 44%. Two percent (2%) prefer another candidate in the race, and three percent (3%) are undecided.

This new polling comes after a series of gaffes committed by Alison Lundergan Grimes in regards to whether or not she actually voted for Barack Obama. The DSCC "went dark" in Kentucky, pulling ads and money, and Grimes was condemned for her ad about illegal immigration.

A series of videos emerged last week showing people close to the Grimes campaign saying that she is lying about her support of the coal industry.

Only one poll has shown Grimes ahead of McConnell in the past month.

Senators Call For Travel Restrictions, Halting of Visas For West Africa Countries

Senators on both sides of the political aisle are calling for travel restrictions on West African countries as government officials in the U.S. fail to quell concerns about the threat free travel poses to the health and safety of Americans. 

Democrat Senators Kay Hagan and Bill Nelson have called for temporary travel restrictions and today, Republican Senators Chuck Grassley, Orrin Hatch, Mike Lee, Jeff Sessions, Ted Cruz, Lindsey Graham and John Cornyn sent a letter directly to President Obama demanding the administration stop issuing visas to people currently living in Ebola stricken countries. 

Here is the text of the letter in it's entirety: 

Dear President Obama:

As members of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which has oversight over immigration and visa policies, we write to express our grave concerns about the seemingly inflexible position you have taken in issuing a travel ban or heightened entry requirements on individuals who may been infected with the Ebola virus.

On September 16 of this year, you spoke at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, saying,

“Now, here's the hard truth: In West Africa, Ebola is now an epidemic of the likes that we have not seen before. It's spiraling out of control. It is getting worse. It's spreading faster and exponentially. Today, thousands of people in West Africa are infected. That number could rapidly grow to tens of thousands. And if the outbreak is not stopped now, we could be looking at hundreds of thousands of people infected, with profound political and economic and security implications for all of us. So this is an epidemic that is not just a threat to regional security -- it's a potential threat to global security if these countries break down, if their economies break down, if people panic. That has profound effects on all of us, even if we are not directly contracting the disease.”

We couldn’t agree more that an Ebola epidemic is a national security issue, and a threat to global security. And, we couldn’t agree more with the American people that a travel ban must be put in place to protect our homeland and reduce any spread of the virus.
According to officials at the State Department, between March 1, 2014, and September 27, 2014, a total of 6, 398 visas were issued to nationals of the following countries; 3,135 for Liberians, 1,472 for Sierra Leoneans, and 1,791 for Guineans. Meanwhile, according to International SOS, dozens of countries – including many in Africa – have instituted travel and entry restrictions.

We urge you to immediately cease issuing visas to persons of Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea, and to consider expanding this ban to other countries that may not have standards in place to properly screen travelers entering the United States. We also urge you to more strongly use tools at your disposal to receive flight manifests ahead of time to screen and turn away passengers if they have traveled to or are coming from countries with an Ebola outbreak.

At this point, you and your administration must consider all options to prevent the spread of the Ebola virus. Dismissing a travel ban or a moratorium on visa issuances sends a signal that you’re not serious about containing the outbreak and preventing infections of individuals on U.S. soil. We implore you to immediately use your statutory authority under Section 212(f) of the Immigration and Nationality Act to suspend the entry of all aliens or any class of aliens as immigrants or nonimmigrants who are detrimental to the interests of the United States.

Earlier a report from Breitbart revealed the Obama administration started streamlining West African visas in August, despite the deadly and contagious disease raging out of control with a mortality rate of 70 percent.

Up until this point, the White House has refused to put the possibility of a travel ban or restrictions on the table. A Washington Post poll released earlier this week shows 67 percent of Americans support restrictions on entry to the United States.

Gov. Christie Travels to GA, Stumps for Nathan Deal

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie spoke to a crowd of Georgians Thursday, encouraging them to support Nathan Deal (R) in the upcoming gubernatorial election. Incumbent Deal is running against Jason Carter (D), the grandson of Jimmy Carter.

From the front steps of the City Hall in Roswell, Christie told the crowd:

The choice that’s in front of you is whether or not you’re going to go back to policies of the past, policies of higher taxes and greater spending, greater dependence on Washington, D.C., or to a state government with lower taxes, less spending, smaller government and more of the people of Georgia free to pursue their hopes and dreams in an entrepreneurial spirit without government telling them what to do. That’s what Gov. Deal stands for, and he needs you to stand for him Nov. 4.

Christie claimed he spoke on behalf of Republican governors across the country when he voiced his approval. Christie is chairman of the Republican Governors Association, a group that has infused nearly $3 million into the Deal campaign.

Challenger Carter claimed the backing showed Deal’s weak reliance and tie to “Washington politics:”

We feel like given the governor's record, and our vision for the state, and the response that we've had across the state so far, and the governor's desperation in a variety of contexts lately, that we're in a very strong position. And we're not waiting for any cavalry to come. We're going to solve the problems here in Georgia.

Considering that the former 39th president of the United States has been campaigning for Carter...that’s a pretty rich statement.

With only 17 days left until the Election Day, Deal still has a slight lead in the polls.

Have You Met...Marsha Blackburn (R-TN)

Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the October issue of Townhall Magazine. 

Don’t ever step between a grandmother and her grandchild. When Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) brought an ultrasound of her grandson to the Senate floor in July to speak against S. 1696, a bill that would override nearly all federal and state laws limiting abortion, the image spoke much louder than any written testimony.

Blackburn knew the consequences of S. 1696 would be fatal. Third-trimester bans on abortion, limits on abortion after five months of pregnancy, and laws against sex-selection abortion would be lifted as a result of the inappropriately named Women’s Health Protection Act. Thankfully for the representative, she found a friend in technology.

“When you look at science and how science has changed the debate on life, it’s just important to make that a part of the debate and the statement. I talk with women not just in my district, but around the country. When they hear that heartbeat, when they view that ultrasound, and especially with the 3-D ultrasound, they can see what that baby looks like and it is just such an amazing gift that we have the opportunity to have that knowledge—those first glimpses of that child.”

With such a window to the womb, Blackburn insists it’s hard to deny the humanity of the unborn.

“It’s really pretty incredible that science has opened that window and that opportunity to say yes indeed, this is a child. This is a child who is created and loved and vibrant and living and here is that child. So, it’s exciting.”

So, what led her to that profound moment that seemed to silence her fellow members of Congress? Well, her trip to Capitol Hill started on a farm in south Mississippi.

“We had great parents who really believed that you give back more than you take and you leave things in better shape than you found them. And those are a big part of my value system. In that, we were regularly participants in doing things that make the community better. Whether it was being active in our church or school or 4-H club. Making certain that we were always there as part of the political process. We were all in if you will.”

Blackburn moved to Nashville, Tennessee for a job, and after getting married, she and her husband started a young Republicans organization in suburban Nashville.

She was surprised to realize that was just the beginning of her political foray.

“While I was the county party chairman, I wanted to really build a strong and vibrant Republican Party. I enjoyed doing it, being on the backside of things. I was very active, just didn’t think I’d run for office.”

She did more than run. In 2002, she won a seat in Congress for Tennessee’s 7th Congressional District and now she’s leading the charge on a number of policy issues. In addition to her fight for life, for instance, she is helping to manage our broken borders by calling for a reversal of the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals, which delays action against undocumented children.

Blackburn’s passion for fixing our country’s ills stems from the concerned letters she receives from constituents.

“People will write and talk about how fearful they are this country is slipping away from us. We hear a lot too about the state of the economy. We hear a bit about Obamacare and the impact it is having on employers, on insurance providers, on physicians, and hospitals. We hear from people who were forced into Obamacare that now have an insurance card but they don’t have access to the physician. They have access to the card, but not access to the physician.”

As a mother and grandmother, she can relate to her fellow Americans’ woes.

“I think a lot of people are like me, they put their head on the pillow at night, they say their prayers and they pray for this country, and for their children and grandchildren to know the America they have known, and to have the ability to grow up in freedom with a certain expectation of freedom.”

Part of that freedom means time to enjoy some leisure. Blackburn looks forward to cooking for her family every Sunday and boasts a “mean chocolate chip cookie.” She’s also found weeds to pull outside of the nation’s capital.

“I love to garden—and do a lot of it. I just love to go out and dig out the dirt. It’s a good healthy activity. And I enjoy needlepoint and spending time with my grandchildren.”

Based on the ultrasound she brought into Congress, it appears she also likes hanging out with her grandchildren while working. •

Video: Braley Cornered on Obamacare, Late-Term Abortion

Republican Joni Ernst and Democrat Bruce Braley locked horns in their final Iowa Senate debate last night. Katie already posted video of Ernst's terrific rejoinder to Braley's lecturing on Iraq, and Conn is keeping tabs on auspicious-looking early voting trends. Two more clips for you. The first features Ernst pushing back against Braley's revisionism on Obamacare, which he's now claiming is flawed and in need of fixing. The Republican reminded her  opponent -- to whom Nancy Pelosi assigned the task of delivering one of the 'closing arguments' for the law -- that he's boasted in the recent past of having read every last word of the law before he voted for it:

"You said you read every page of this bill. You tabbed it. You highlighted it. So either you didn't understand what was in the bill, or you were misleading Iowans, and I don't know which one is worse."

In another exchange, Braley was pressed on his abortion extremism, at which point he claimed to be a supporter of life and an opponent of late-term abortion.  The Weekly Standard's John McCormack fact-checks those assertions:

Iowa's Democratic senatorial candidate Bruce Braley said during a debate Thursday: "I have always stated, contrary to what Senator Ernst said, that I oppose all late-term abortions that aren't necessary to save the life or health of a mother." But in 2013, Congressman Braley voted against a bill that would have banned abortions later than 20 weeks after conception, with exceptions for the cases of rape, incest, and when a physical health issue endangered the life of the mother. Braley also cosponsored a new bill in 2013--the "Women's Health Protection Act"--that would strike down almost all limits on abortion, including the 1989 Pennsylvania law used to convict the notorious murderer Kermit Gosnell...This bill that Braley supports is so extreme that even Colorado senator Mark Udall has declined to co-sponsor the Senate version of it.

In other words, he misled viewers, probably because he can read the polls on late-term abortion (even if they don't impact his actual votes on the matter).  When you're too extreme for "Mark Uterus," who can't even bring himself to oppose sex-selective abortions, you're far, far, out of the mainstream.  One more note on this race.  Retiring Democrat Tom Harkin has decided to keep his multi-million-dollar war chest to himself for a legacy project, rather than help out Braley's campaign:

Senate Democrats are pleading with donors to give to Rep. Bruce Braley’s campaign as they struggle to pull off a victory in Iowa and save their endangered majority. But there’s one key player holding onto his campaign cash: Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin. Despite direct appeals from Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada and other top Democrats, Harkin has refused to transfer money from his $2.4 million campaign account to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, according to sources and campaign finance records. Instead, the retiring Iowa senator has informed party leaders that he plans to use the campaign funds for a charitable contribution to an entity that bears his name: The Harkin Institute for Public Policy and Citizen Engagement at Drake University in Des Moines, according to sources close to discussions with the senator. The issue has been the subject of multiple tense meetings.

This awkward internecine fight led a DailyKos contributor and poll watcher to render this assessment of the race:

White House: New Ebola Czar Will Report to Susan Rice

Speaking from the White House Friday afternoon, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said new Ebola Czar Ron Klain will report to former U.N. ambassador and current National Security Advisor Susan Rice. 

"Mr. Klain will ultimately however report to Ms. Monoco [Homeland Security] and to National Security Advisor Susan Rice in this effort," Earnest said.

As a reminder, Susan Rice is the woman who went on five Sunday talk shows to lie about a YouTube video being responsible for the 9/11 attack in Benghazi. She is also the same person who said alleged Army deserter and Taliban sympathizer Bowe Bergdahl served with honor and distinction.

Change: Cook Political Report Adjusts Rankings, Says NH Senate Race a “Toss Up”

Scott Brown is staging a late-game comeback in New Hampshire and the analysts at the Cook Political Report have taken notice.

Even though Scott Brown has been trailing for months in the polls, a couple of new surveys show he’s nipping at Sen. Jeanne Shaheen’s (D-NH) heels. Perhaps in part because he's become more visible in recent weeks, or perhaps because national security issues are starting to take center stage, the analysts believe Brown is now a formidable candidate. From their write-up:

Given that Shaheen’s lead has narrowed to the low- to mid-single digits, the contest is moving to the Toss Up column. It is worth noting, though, that she is closer to the 50-percent mark than the other Democratic incumbents in the Toss Up column, which gives her a bit of an edge in the end.

Shaheen is still probably the nominal front-runner in this contest. But her lead is now, at best, razor-thin.

As a side note, I will be on the ground covering the Shaheen/Brown debate next Tuesday night in Concord, New Hampshire. Meet the Press anchor Chuck Todd will moderate. Hopefully, it will give Brown more exposure (in a positive way) before voters head to the polls.

Completely unrelated, but I’ll leave you with this anyway: a new Boston Globe survey shows the Massachusetts governor’s race is surprisingly tight and only getting tighter:

[Coakley] and Baker are tied at 41 percent in the poll, a change from last week when Coakley led by 5 points. The survey, in addition to tracking the governor’s race, drilled down into voters’ views of the governor’s tenure as he prepares to leave office after two terms.

The results found Patrick, while still popular, has some dents in his political profile.

This could be hurting her, too.

Unreal: With Ebola Crisis Raging, Obama Administration Started Streamlining Visas From West Africa in August

Not only is the Ebola crisis continuing to degrade, but the optics of how the White House has handled the situation are getting worse by the day too. 

A new report published at Breitbart shows the Obama administration started expediting visas from West Africa in August as the Ebola was (and still is) raging out of control with a 70 percent mortality rate. According to the report, the man who died from Ebola in a Texas hospital after visiting Liberia, had his visa approved in the same month visas were being streamlined.

In short, the USCIS has been waiving fees, expediting the immigration process, and allowing extensions of visas for anyone coming from the three designated Ebola-stricken countries, provided that they are in the United States. The Free Republic blog reported that the law firm of Edward W. Neufville, III, LLC, a Washington, D.C. area immigration firm, added a section to their website two days after the USCIS announcement, with more details about how these relief measures would work, including extensions of the time that the foreign national could remain in the United States, additional work permit opportunities, and even forgiveness for failure to appear at required interviews or submit required evidence. According to the Neufville firm, the new USCIS policies mean that "[i]ndividuals from Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea currently in the United States may apply for an extension or change in status due to the Ebola Outbreak, even if their request is filed after the authorized period of admission has expired." Otherwise stated, this means that someone from one of those countries who illegally overstayed their visa can now apply for an extension, or someone who arrived illegally can apply to get legal status.

Thomas Eric Duncan, the Liberian man who died from Ebola earlier this month, had traveled to the United States after his visa was approved in August, the same month that USCIS announced the new relief measures.

Here is a breakdown of what was happening with the Ebola crisis in August courtesy of Haaretz

August 2: A U.S. missionary physician infected with Ebola in Liberia is flown to Atlanta in the United States for treatment.

August 5: A second U.S. missionary infected with Ebola is flown from Liberia to Atlanta for treatment. Aug. 8: WHO declares Ebola "international public health emergency."

August 12: WHO says death toll has topped 1,000, approves use of unproven drugs or vaccines. A Spanish priest with Ebola dies in a Madrid hospital.

August 15: MSF says the epidemic will take about six months to control.

August 20: Security forces in Monrovia fire shots, tear gas to disperse crowd trying to break out of quarantine, killing a teenager.

August 21: The two U.S. missionary aid workers treated in Atlanta are released from the hospital free of the virus.

August 24: Democratic Republic of Congo declares Ebola outbreak, apparently separate from larger epidemic. An infected British medical worker is flown home from Sierra Leone for treatment.

August 28: WHO puts death toll at above 1,550, warns outbreak could infect more than 20,000. Aug. 29: Senegal reports first confirmed Ebola case.

The White House has refused to even put travel restrictions on the table as the crisis in West Africa continues. Considering the administration has been encouraging more travel, it's no wonder travel restrictions aren't being considered. CDC Director Tom Frieden said yesterday during testimony on Capitol Hill that his first interest is protecting Americans. If Frieden really meant what he said,the folks over at DHS don't have the same priority and clearly aren't on the same page. 

These revelations prompt a whole new set of questions about how the Obama administration is handling this situation and leads one to question whether the government is really doing anything real to protect Americans from a deadly disease. At a time when officials knew Ebola was killing thousands in Africa, they invited more people potentially exposed to that disease, including Thomas Duncan, to come into the United States. At best, this is negligence. 

Africa: A Forest Fire Throwing Out Sparks

On this week's Townhall Weekend Journal:

Bill Bennett talks Ebola with Michael Osterholm, director of the Center for Infectious Disease Research and Policy at the University of Minnesota. Michael Medved talks with Gordon Chang—author of “Nuclear Showdown: North Korea Takes on the World.” Hugh Hewitt with Erik Stanley of Alliance Defending Freedom talks about the Houston pastors getting subpoenaed by the City Council for any "questionable" speech regarding homosexuality or restrictive gender categories. Bennett and Washington Examiner’s Byron York on the November elections. Hewitt and Senator Lindsay Graham on the KS Senate race and Ebola. Mike Gallagher with Chris Wallace from Fox News discuss the downfall of Democrat Senate candidate, Allison Lundergan-Grimes.

Good News: Obama Appoints Ebola Czar

Katie noted earlier today that the president has been toying with the idea of appointing an “Ebola Czar” to deal with this crisis – presumably because the CDC Director and others have failed to do so. Now he has.

According to CNN, the president has tapped Ron Klain for the job, a White House insider who was the point person on the stimulus act and has a reputation in Washington for managerial competence:

President Barack Obama will appoint Ron Klain his "Ebola czar," knowledgeable sources tell CNN.

The president on Thursday signaled his openness to the idea to have one individual coordinating the entire federal response to any threat of an outbreak in the United States.

The news comes on the heels that another agency, the World Organization of Health (WHO), has openly admitted it utterly failed to contain the Ebola outbreak in West Africa.

So far, only two people have contracted the virus in the United States.

Rove: GOP Chances of Winning the Senate Are Improving

Republican Svengali Karl RoveWall Street Journalcolumn this week is devoted to assessing the party's electoral standing heading into next month's midterm elections.  He's voiced concerns about the GOP weaknesses and vulnerabilities in recent weeks, noting that netting at least six Senate seats in a single cycle is never an easy task -- even in an auspicious national environment.  With less than three weeks to go, Rove sees a stronger Republican hand:

In this year’s 11 most-competitive Senate contests, Democrats must run far ahead of the president’s job approval to escape defeat. According to the Wednesday Huffington Post’s Pollster aggregate summaries, Mr. Obama’s job approval is 35% or less in Alaska, Arkansas, South Dakota and West Virginia; 40% or less in Colorado, Iowa, Louisiana, Montana and New Hampshire; and 45% or less in North Carolina and Michigan...Money and ad buys matter, but what matters more is whether the quality of the candidates’ messages will attract undecided voters in the final weeks. Here, too, both sides are making different bets. Republicans are counting on undecided voters breaking against the party in power. Democrats are counting on undecideds to stay home or to split evenly, with as many turned off by individual Republican candidates as are down on the president.

This doesn’t appear to be happening. In the Real Clear Politics average of polls, Republican challengers lead in eight of the 11 most-contested races, with nine improving their numbers or margins since Sept. 1. Republicans also lead and have improved their numbers or margins in all three vulnerable GOP seats: Kansas, Kentucky and Georgia. Democrats ran an impressive get-out-the-vote effort in 2012 and say their ground game will produce victory this year. Republicans also are spending heavily and deploying new technology and data...Surprises are possible in the remaining 19 days before the election. But there are a dwindling numbers of cards in the deck, and Republicans appear to have the better hand.

National Journal reports that officials at the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC) are projecting a GOP takeover of the Senate next year, but are tamping down expectations of a major red wave:

National Republicans believe they will retake the Senate on Nov. 4. But don't call it a "wave." Asked by reporters at a pen-and-pad briefing Thursday how confident he was that his party would gain control of the chamber, National Republican Senatorial Committee executive director Rob Collins said: "We are going to win the Senate. I feel very good about that." Still, Collins said he would not characterize 2014 as a "wave" election, though he noted that momentum has shifted toward GOP candidates in a handful of red- and purple-state races. "In some ways this hasn't been the wave that everyone's been looking to cover," he said. "And I know that can be frustrating. … But I will say this: If you look at September, you saw Arkansas consistently move and then kind of solidify at 4-5 points. We've seen Alaska move, Iowa move, and Colorado move, Kansas move back toward us, and now we're seeing North Carolina move this weekend." He did acknowledge, though, that races in Georgia and South Dakota—where Democrats have put in late-stage, seven-figure investments—have tightened.

We've been mapping out the math for weeks now.  If Republicans hold the three contested seats they currently control (GA, KS, KY, none of which are 'in the bag' yet) and flip open Democrat-held seats in three states (MT, WV, SD, with the latter being by far the closest), they'll need three more to demote Harry Reid.  They have at least an even shot at winning in Alaska, Arkansas and Louisiana at this stage -- with Colorado and Iowa looking promising, as well.  The North Carolina race has moved back into toss-up territory, while Scott Brown is keeping things close enough in New Hampshire to keep his race on the map.  In the Tar Heel State, Republicans are continuing to press Kay Hagan on questions about sweetheart 'stimulus' deals that financially benefited her immediate family, her bizarre 'attaboy' for the CDC on its handling of Ebola, and her decision to skip a key Armed Services hearing to attend a fundraiser for herself in New York City:

Let's run through a few more ads. In Iowa, Joni Ernst offers a folksy take on government spending; in Alaska, Condoleezza Rice issues a strong endorsement of Dan Sullivan; and in Georgia, women speak out against Obama ally Michelle Nunn -- who recently joined Alison Lundergan Grimes in declining to state whether she voted for the president:

I'll leave you with Colorado Democrat Mark Udall naming the biggest non-issue from which Congress and the country should "move on:"

Nothing to see herefolks.

Iowa Democrats Fall Further Behind 2012 Ballot Lead

Not only is Rep. Bruce Braley (D-IA) trailing Republican Senate candidate Joni Ernst in the polls and fundraising, but Iowa Democrats are also tens of thousands of ballots behind their 2012 pace.

Last night Ernst dominated Braley in their latest debate, artfully turning a Braley lecture about Iraq into a sober reminder that Ernst knows a lot more about "boots on the ground" then Braley ever will.

But the better news for Ernst came this morning from the Iowa Secretary of State's office. As The Washington Post's Greg Sargent notes, Democrats have turned in far more ballots this year than they did at this same point in 2010, although still far behind their 2012 pace. At this point in 2010, Democrats had 60,156 ballots turned in, in 2012 they had 147,234, and now they have 79,751.

So that is great news for Democrats right!?! They aren't matching their 2012 totals when Obama won they state 52 percent to 46 percent, but they are turning in far more ballots than on 2010, when Republican Gov. Terry Branstad won 53 percent to 43 percent?


Sargent is completely ignoring the other half of the picture: how many ballots Republicans are turning in.

According to Iowa Secretary of State data compiled by Ace of Spades HQ, at this point in 2010 Democrats had a 18,835 ballot lead, compared to 2012 when they had a 55,162 ballot lead. But this year, Republican ballots have surged far more than Democrats, and Republicans only trail Democrats by 5,219.

So while Democrats might have appeared to improve their ability to turn out Democratic voters, it appears Republicans have improved even more.

President Obama on Appointing an Ebola Czar: A Point Person Might Be Helpful

As the crisis with Ebola continues to get worse, President Obama seems to be seriously considering appointing an unaccountable, unelected "Ebola Czar" to handle the situation. 

Speaking from the White House Thursday night, Obama said a "point person" on Ebola might be helpful. 

He said his team of Ebola advisers is doing "an outstanding job." But he said several of them, including Centers for Disease Control director Thomas Frieden and Lisa Monaco, his top counterterrorism adviser, are also confronting other priorities. He noted that Frieden is also dealing with flu season and Monaco and national security adviser Susan Rice, with the Islamic State extremists in the Middle East.

"It may make sense for us to have one person ... so that after this initial surge of activity we can have a more regular process just to make sure we are crossing all the Ts and dotting all the Is," he said.

Isn't CDC Director Tom Frieden supposed to be the "point person" on this whole thing? What about Health and Human Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell? President Obama says he has full faith in confidence in Frieden and others handling the situation, so why the need for someone else to take over? There is no need to add another bureaucrat to this problem and will only make things worse. 

Meanwhile, Obama is still refusing to use his pen to implement a travel ban to and from Ebola stricken countries in West Africa.

Obama also said he is "not philosophically opposed" to a travel ban from the Ebola-afflicted region of West Africa "if that is the thing that is going to keep the American people safe." But he said such a measure could be counterproductive.

Watch Joni Ernst Thoroughly Embarrass Bruce Braley When He Tries to Lecture Her About Iraq

Last night trial attorney Bruce Braley and Iowa State Senator Joni Ernst squared off in a final debate before voters heads to the polls in November and choose their next U.S. Senator from Iowa. 

During the debate Braley, who infamously belittled farmers in the Hawkeye State, lectured Ernst about how to handle Iraq, about the option of putting U.S. ground troops back in the region and on the ongoing threat of ISIS. Ernst responded by reminding Braley she served in Iraq and that her boots were on the very ground ISIS controls today.

"I will remind you, that I have served in Iraq. My boots were on the ground now held by ISIS," Ernst said, adding that she would carefully consider the circumstances before voting to send U.S. men and women into harms way.

According to Real Clear Politics, Ernst is beating Braley by two points.