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July 24, 2014

Extra Bonus Quote of the Day

"I should have one Republican kid who'd grow up to make money."

-- Vice President Joe Biden, quoted by WLWT, when talking about the professional choices made by his children.

Judge Says Executions Should Be By Firing Squad

"Days before an Arizona murderer gasped and snorted for more than 90 minutes and died nearly two hours after his execution began, a conservative federal appeals judge called for replacing lethal injection with firing squads, saying the public must acknowledge that executions are 'brutal, savage events,'" the Los Angeles Times reports.

Write Judge Alex Kozinski: "Using drugs meant for individuals with medical needs to carry out executions is a misguided effort to mask the brutality of executions by making them look serene and beautiful -- like something any one of us might experience in our final moments. But executions are, in fact, brutal, savage events, and nothing the state tries to do can mask that reality. Nor should we. If we as a society want to carry out executions, we should be willing to face the fact that the state is committing a horrendous brutality on our behalf."

Democrats Plan to Play Up GOP Lawsuit

Greg Sargent: "Democratic leaders are planning an aggressive effort to turn the House GOP lawsuit against President Obama into a political positive in the 2014 elections, with ads and other paid media designed to cast the GOP as extreme and committed to destructive governing -- which Dems hope will contrast sharply with their concrete economic policy agenda."

No Signs of a Wave Yet

Larry Sabato's Crystal Ball: "Let's stipulate that a wave can develop late in the season, in September or even October, and if it does in 2014, it will be colored Red and the Senate will surely go Republican. Even without a wave, there's a fair to good chance the GOP will end up with the six net seats they need for control -- and little chance they'll pick up fewer than four seats in any event."

"But 2014 is no 2006. The electorate had turned off to George W. Bush and would never again turn on. The Iraq War and Hurricane Katrina were two principal reasons. The full Democratic wave emerged in the fall, after some GOP congressional scandals, but even at this point in 2006, we were just debating how high the Democratic tide would rise."

"2014 is also no 2010. All of the energy was on the Republican side four years ago, as Obamacare bombed, the Tea Party arose, and the poor economy that helped elect Obama lingered. The building GOP wave was so impressive that the Crystal Ball was able to predict a House switch from Democratic to Republican control by Labor Day even though Democrats held about a 75-seat majority at that time."

Probably a Fatal Blow for Democrats in Montana

First Read sees the plagiarism scandal severely hurting Sen. John Walsh's (D-MT) ability to hold on to his seat for Democrats this fall.

"Yes, politicians can survive plagiarism scandals -- see Vice President Biden and Rand Paul (so far). And Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) survived his own A1 New York Times hit. But you don't do it in the midst of a campaign you're already losing, especially in a red state. By the way, we've said it before, and we'll say it again: Perhaps the biggest events that triggered the GOP's real chances of winning back the Senate were when 1) Max Baucus announced he wasn't seeking re-election, and when 2) Brian Schweitzer didn't run (and turned out not to be the recruit Democrats thought he looked to be on paper). If Montana weren't in play -- and now looking like a slam-dunk pickup opportunity -- the GOP's math would be more difficult."

Bonus Quote of the Day

"It's embarrassing."

-- Sen. John McCain (R-AZ), in an interview with the Huffington Post, on the inability of Congress do even the bare minimum to address VA hospital reform.

No Compromise on Border Crisis

First Read: "If it wasn't apparent a week ago, it certainly is now: The chances are slim that Congress passes anything to deal with humanitarian crisis on the border of unaccompanied minors coming into the United States. For starters, President Obama is clearly boxed in. Republicans are demanding that he get his party to back changes to a 2008 law granting additional rights to Central American minors -- as a part of any deal for emergency funding."

"What's problematic for the White House is that they've been on the record in support of changing the '08 law, but key Democrats aren't going along. And the White House now seems muted now on the issue. In an election year, the White House has been reluctant to take on its own party. On the other side, it's not apparent that Boehner would have the votes to pass any border-relief with only Republican support; after all, we can imagine quite a few Republicans who would oppose any border relief. So Congress is stuck. Again."

Politico: "The border crisis will continue to rage with Congress out of town in the middle of an election season, and the stalemate would provide fresh evidence that Washington's current configuration is ill-equipped to legislate."

Citizenship for Sale

Fortune reports on "the corrupt underbelly of the EB-5 immigration program, which allows wealthy foreigners to obtain U.S. citizenship by sinking $500,000 apiece into a venture that creates American jobs, and has given rise to a rapidly growing industry."

"Because the EB-5 industry is virtually unregulated, it has become a magnet for amateurs, pipe-dreamers, and charlatans, who see it as an easy way to score funding for ventures that banks would never touch. They've been encouraged and enabled by an array of dodgy middlemen, eager to cash in on the gold rush. Meanwhile, perhaps because wealthy foreigners are the main potential victims, U.S. authorities have seemed inattentive to abuses."

Democrats Suffer from Midterm Enthusiasm Gap

A new Pew Research survey finds the Republican Party holds a clear advantage in voter engagement.

Key finding: "Republicans lead on a number of key engagement indicators, though in most cases by smaller margins than four years ago. Currently, 45% of registered voters who plan to support the Republican in their district say they are more enthusiastic about voting than in prior congressional elections; that compares with 37% of Democrats who express greater enthusiasm about voting. However, that gap is narrower than the both the GOP's 13-point enthusiasm advantage at this point in the midterm campaign in 2010 (55% to 42%) and the Democrats' 17-point advantage in 2006 (47% to 30%)."

Brown Keeps Huge Lead in California

A new Public Policy Institute of California poll finds Gov. Jerry Brown (D) leading Neel Kashkari (R) in the race for governor by a wide margin, 52% to 33%.

Astorino Will Confront Chrisite

ABC News: "Expect it to be rocky in Aspen. Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob Astorino is planning on confronting New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie over comments he made earlier in the week about his campaign's viability against New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo."

Astorino told reporters he had not seen Christie yet at the Republican Governor's Association meeting in Aspen, but he plans on seeing him this evening at a group dinner, saying it's "the first time we will all be together."

Walsh Blames PTSD for Plagiarism

Sen. John Walsh (D-MT) said "his failure to attribute conclusions and verbatim passages lifted from other scholars' work in his thesis to earn a master's degree from the U.S. Army War College was an unintentional mistake caused in part by post-traumatic stress disorder," the AP reports.

Said Walsh: "I don't want to blame my mistake on PTSD, but I do want to say it may have been a factor. My head was not in a place very conducive to a classroom and an academic environment."

Meanwhile, a new Gravis Marketing poll conducted before news of the plagiarism scandal found Walsh trailing Steve Daines (R) in the U.S. Senate race, 45% to 41%.

Quote of the Day

"These moves to limit the right to vote are nothing more than pure politics, masquerading as attempts to combat corruption where there is none."

-- Vice President Joe Biden, quoted by The Hill, on voter ID laws and other efforts to restrict voting.

10 Million Gained Health Insurance Coverage

"A new study estimates that more than 10 million adults gained health insurance by midyear as the coverage expansion under President Barack Obama's law took hold in much of the country," the AP reports.

Arizona Botches Execution

"The Wednesday afternoon execution of convicted murderer Joseph Rudolph Wood III took nearly two hours, confirming concerns that had been raised by his attorneys about a controversial drug used by the state of Arizona," the Arizona Republic reports.

"Wood remained alive at Arizona's state prison in Florence long enough for his public defenders to file an emergency motion for a stay of execution with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, after the process began at 1:53 p.m. The motion noted that Wood 'has been gasping and snorting for more than an hour' after being injected with a lethal cocktail of drugs."

National Journal: "But the motion was too late, and Wood was pronounced dead almost exactly two hours after the state administered the first of a two-drug lethal cocktail into his veins."

Schauer Admits to Voting in GOP Primary

Michigan gubernatorial candidate Mark Schauer (D) "voted in the 2012 Republican primary, likely for Rick Santorum in order to embarrass Mitt Romney in his home state," Politico reports.

"Schauer acknowledges casting an absentee Republican ballot, but a spokesman refused to say who he voted for in 2012, calling the way a person votes private."

July 23, 2014

Senator Plagiarized Master's Thesis

An examination of the final paper required for Sen. John Walsh's (D-MT) master's degree from the United States Army War College "indicates the senator appropriated at least a quarter of his thesis on American Middle East policy from other authors' works, with no attribution," the New York Times reports.

"Mr. Walsh completed the paper, what the War College calls a 'strategy research project,' to earn his degree in 2007, when he was 46. The sources of the material he presents as his own include academic papers, policy journal essays and books that are almost all available online."

How Not to Canvass Door-to-Door

Claremont Courier: "Canvassers working on behalf of the Let Claremont Vote Committee started making the rounds last week, circulating a petition for a separate measure calling for voter approval on the city's water bonds. At around 6:45 p.m. on Wednesday, July 16, two canvassers--an unidentified male and female--arrived to the Claremont home of Pat O'Malley. His wife, Shelley, had just finished giving their baby a bath when she passed by the family's home surveillance monitor and witnessed the couple at their front door. After watching the monitor for a moment, Ms. O'Malley couldn't believe her eyes. The man was groping the woman, right there on the O'Malley's front porch."

Most Americans Say Obamacare Has Helped

A new CNN/ORC poll finds that more than half of Americans say Obamacare "has helped either their families or others across the country, although less than one in five Americans say they have personally benefited from the health care law."

The survey "also indicates that a majority of Americans oppose the Affordable Care Act, but that some of that opposition is from people who don't think the measure goes far enough."

Tight Race for Wisconsin Governor

A new Marquette Law School Poll in Wisconsin finds that the governor's race is still a dead heat, with Gov. Scott Walker (R) barely edging challenger Mary Burke (D), 46% to 45%.

Can Huge War Chests Save Senate Democrats?

Roll Call: "If Senate Democrats lose the majority, it won't be for lack of cash-flush campaigns. Facing a daunting map, Democrats turned in solid -- sometimes eye-popping -- second-quarter fundraising totals for the midterms."

"Even with incumbents such as Sens. Mary L. Landrieu of Louisiana, Mark Pryor of Arkansas and Mark Begich of Alaska already spending significantly on the airwaves, Democrats running for the party's most endangered seats also continued to sit on significant war chests primed for a post-Labor Day advertising assault."

Nikki Haley in Trouble?

A new Palmetto Politics poll in South Carolina finds Gov. Nikki Haley (R) leading Vincent Sheheen (D) by just four points, 46% to 42% in a race that includes independent and libertarian candidates.

In a head-to-head matchup, Haley leads Sheheen, 53% to 40%.

So Many Bad Polls

First Read: "One more point on the Georgia contest: Yes, Perdue's win contradicted the existing polls, but they weren't good polls -- which is why, for instance, you never saw us make note of them. We do try and only highlight pollsters who have good methodology and decent track records. In Georgia during this runoff campaign, that didn't exist. Folks, we're living in a political age where so much of the data is coming from surveys with either questionable methodology (like not reaching those with cell phones) or with partisan manipulation. And so it's a reminder to take them with a grain of salt, especially in a low-turnout runoff."

"And it also means: Be very careful of these aggregation polling sites. They don't always make the data better... there are actually polling firms out there who seem to have been created for the sole goal of influencing or balancing out these aggregation sites. To the folks who run these aggregation sites, realize that when you mix crap with sirloin, it makes the sirloin taste like &$#% too. "

How Much Does Presidential Approval Matter in a Midterm?

Morning Line: "Overall, midterms are not kind to presidents and their parties. And when a president's approval rating is below 50 percent, like President Obama's is now, the president's party loses an average of about three more seats in the Senate than if his approval were above 50 percent. Overall, since World War II, the president's party has lost an average of 3.7 Senate seats in midterm elections. When the president's approval is above 50 percent, the average loss is 2.6 seats. But when the president's approval rating is below 50 percent, his party has seen an average loss of 5.5 seats in midterms -- ironic, considering Republicans need to gain a net of six seats this year to win control of the Senate."

"The wildcard here, though, is the continued unpopularity of the Republican brand. The party's favorability hovers in the 30s, slightly worse than Democrats and the president."

Crist Holds Lead in Florida

A new Quinnipiac poll in Florida finds Charlie Crist (D) leading Gov. Rick Scott (R) in the race for governor, 45% to 40%.

However, when Libertarian candidate Adrian Wyllie is added to the mix, the race is too close to call, with 39% for Crist, 37% for Scott and 9% for Wyllie

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