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Flawed Ebola protocols left U.S. nurses vulnerable, health official says

Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the original Centers for Disease Control and Prevention instructions for dealing with the virus were taken from the World Health Organization's protocol for Africa, where conditions are much different from those in U.S. hospitals. (Associated Press)

Flawed Ebola protocols left U.S. nurses vulnerable, health official says

- The Washington Times

An Obama administration health official said Sunday that U.S. protocols on Ebola failed because they originally were intended for African field hospitals, while the White House came under another round of attacks for its refusal to restrict travel from nations suffering epidemic outbreaks.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said the original Centers for Disease Control and Prevention instructions for dealing with the virus were taken from the World Health Organization’s protocol for Africa, where conditions are much different from those in U.S. hospitals.

 
The Ugly Truth About Cory Booker, New Jersey’s Golden Boy

 

The Ugly Truth About Cory Booker, New Jersey’s Golden Boy

Corruption scandals. Skyrocketing crime. Abandoned allies. There are reasons why New Jersey is lukewarm about its own Sen. Cory Booker—even while the rest of the country swoons.

Booker is friends with Oprah and Spike Lee. He saves the helpless from burning buildings and puppies from untimely deaths. He shovels residents out of their driveways when it snows and tackles muggers with the graceful force of a former All-American tight end (which he is, of course). And for the past year, Booker has been in Washington, posting selfies with his fellow federal lawmakers and vowing to reform the criminal-justice system. For all anyone knows, Booker is out on the turnpike right now stopping two semi-trucks from colliding with each other through the sheer power of his charisma.

What’s more, Booker has once again found himself challenged by a Republican candidate who seems like he does not even want to win—a gold standard-obsessed former Reagan speechwriter named Jeff Bell, who has not lived in the Garden State for thirty years, is rumored to be running his campaign operation out of a hotel lobby, and whose idea of an attractive platform is to attack unmarried women for skewing left-wing because they are dependent on food stamps.

..................................

The alleged FBI and U.S. Attorney investigations into the Newark Watershed may have something to do with that. Months after he first entered the Senate, the New Jersey comptroller alleged that under Booker’s watch—or, more likely, because he was not watching—corruption ran rampant at a publicly funded water-treatment and reservoir-management agency, where Booker’s former law partner served as counsel. And speaking of his former law career: Despite having resigned from his law firm once entering the mayor’s office, Booker received annual payments until 2011, during which time the firm was profiting handsomely off of Brick City. That would be the Brick City that Booker professed to love the place with the fire of a thousand suns, but did little to fundamentally change. Murder, violent crime, unemployment, and taxes all rose dramatically under his stewardship.

So even though it seems plausible that Bell is a Democratic plant sent to further weaken the Democratic Party in New Jersey, Booker—celebrity, super hero, motivational tweeter—is barely polling above 50 percent.

 
Denmark’s radical plan to deal with radicals: Roll out the welcome mat

Denmark’s radical plan to deal with radicals: Roll out the welcome mat

Anthony Faiola and Souad Mekhennet

Some progressives praise officials for providing counseling and jobs to militants returning home from fighting in Iraq and Syria.

 
There’s Only One Way to Beat ISIS

There’s Only One Way to Beat ISIS

By Leslie H. Gelb

The Obama administration has pulled together a coalition as ineffectual as it is unwilling. It's time to join up with the forces, however unsavory, that can do the job.

Earlier this week, outside Washington, the Obama team hosted senior military leaders from nations pledged to help fight the so-called Islamic State, in a mission the Pentagon is now calling “Operation Inherent Resolve.” Representatives from 21 of the 60-odd countries appeared. Everyone, of course, was too polite to inquire about the embarrassing number of absentees. Nor did they comment on how little these partners have contributed to the war effort thus far, or on the fact that no new serious help has been promised.  Least surprising of all was the absence of the only two nations that could help fight the jihadis now and in a tangible form.

In the short term the only way to check ISIS, as the self-declared caliphate is widely known, is for the United States to work with Bashar Assad’s Syria, and with Iran. It is a tricky and perilous path, but there are no realistic alternatives.

In short, here’s why: First, air power alone can’t stop, let alone, defeat ISIS. Even those who now demand an escalation of the overly restrained U.S. air campaign don’t argue that it is a solution.  Second, neither Iraq nor American-backed Syrian rebels can field viable ground forces, at least for some time. Just look at their performance to date and see if the U.S. can afford to pretend otherwise.

White House officials won’t publicly discuss the limited effectiveness of their air campaign because it’s the only action the U.S. and its partners can now agree to take. Privately, however, they understand well that missiles, drones and bombs can help Kurdish forces near Kurdistan, damage some jihadi-controlled oil refineries, and keep the militants from massing forces and armor. But that’s about it.

The White House, however, does not grapple with the essentiality of good ground forces now. Instead, it resorts to its usual wishful thinking. The Iraqi army, the Obama team says, wouldn’t fight for Prime Minister Nuri al Maliki, but it will fight for a more responsive government. The solution was to depose Maliki, the sectarian Shiite prime minster, and to replace him with a more flexible Shiite who might accommodate the unhappy Sunnis and Kurds.

 
Fleeing the Leaky Ship Obama

Illustration on the political abandonment of the failing Obama administration by Alexander Hunter/The Washington Times

Fleeing the Leaky Ship Obama

Democrats rush for the lifeboats

Call it a sign of the times. Like when Ben Affleck was so conflicted recently about the Islamist threat that he raised doubts about whether he had actually watched “Argo,” the blockbuster he produced and starred in about how the CIA used trickery to rescue Americans from Tehran. Just like another Hollywood starlet, so embarrassingly tongue-tied in the presence of President Obama, the Great Enunciator, that she promptly inspired legions of blondes telling Gwyneth Paltrow jokes.

In more sensible climes elsewhere, new developments are trending, harbingers of disaster as unmistakable as Blood Moons or haunted houses. In ever-increasing numbers, prominent Democrats, from eminent statesmen to inside experts, are abandoning the Good Ship Obama, some more quietly than others. Former President Jimmy Carter was the best-known example, criticizing Mr. Obama last week in an extensive Fort Worth Star-Telegram interview for his inconstant foreign policy and especially for vacillating on the Islamic State. “We waited too long. We let the Islamic State build up its money, capability and strength and weapons while it was still in Syria.” Apparently, Mr. Carter didn’t watch “Argo,” either, relying instead on his own recollections to highlight the pitfalls of delay and vacillation.

Watching the donkeys scramble is reminiscent of that moment on the Titanic when the first-class passengers suddenly abandoned all pretext of savoir faire, fleeing pell-mell from their well-appointed lounges and salons to the lifeboat decks, pausing just long enough to snatch lifebelts from ever-obliging stewards.

Other members of the Democratic establishment voting with their feet include both Mr. Obama’s former secretaries of defense. Robert Gates actually led the parade back in January, getting in first licks with a memoir that scathingly dissed Mr. Obama’s leadership and a White House staff where the only fixed belief was in pre-emptive American surrender. The always-affable Leon Panetta last week published a memoir of his own, “Worthy Fights.” Its main criticisms: failure to leave a residual force in Iraq and poor presidential leadership — the result of “the logic of a law professor rather than the passion of a leader.”

 
Obama's standing with women hurts Senate Dems

Obama's standing with women hurts Senate Dems

By MANU RAJU

Barack Obama is pictured. | AP Photo

Female voters powered President Barack Obama’s victory over Mitt Romney in 2012, as Democrats leaned heavily on social issues to rally single women and suburban moms to the polls.

But with two weeks until Election Day, the president’s diminished standing with women is quickly becoming one of the biggest liabilities facing Democrats as they struggle to hang onto the Senate majority.

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

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

Already Democrats are taking a beating from men, who back Republicans over Democrats by double digits in most of the key Senate races. But to overcome that deficit, Democrats need to win over female voters by a wider margin in battleground states like Colorado, Iowa, Alaska, North Carolina and New Hampshire. That task that will be the primary focus of Democratic campaigns as they prepare an intensive voter-turnout operation.

First, they must overcome the Obama factor. After defeating Mitt Romney by 11 points among women in 2012, the president has seen his approval rating drop sharply with females, particularly in the battleground states.

In Alaska, for instance, Obama lost soundly in 2008 and 2012. But he’s only gone downhill from there, especially among female voters, only 29 percent of whom give him high marks. Obama’s unpopularity could be having a spillover effect on Sen. Mark Begich (D-Alaska), who is fighting for his political life against Republican Dan Sullivan. In one recent CNN/ORC poll of likely voters, Begich was losing women to Sullivan by 7 points.

 
Voting Advice from PsychologyToday.com

Voting Smart

By Marty Nemko, Ph.D.

How to resist the spinmeisters and find the best candidate to vote for.

 
Of Virtue and Vice, and a Vatican Priest

The Vatican cooperated with the Italian judiciary in the case of Msgr. Nunzio Scarano, turning over documents about his financial activities.

Francesco Pecoraro/Associated Press

The Vatican cooperated with the Italian judiciary in the case of Msgr. Nunzio Scarano, turning over documents about his financial activities.  Accused of money laundering, Msgr. Nunzio Scarano said he was holding money for charity. But some see him as a symbol of a financial system gone awry.

On a clear, warm day, a motorcycle zoomed through a quiet, narrow passageway in the old section of Salerno on Italy’s southwestern coast. The rider slowed in front of an elegant house with a baroque stone gate just long enough to shout “Thief! Thief!” before racing off.

The object of derision, Msgr. Nunzio Scarano, was behind the thick walls of his house and did not hear the rider. But the insult would not have surprised him. He has heard quite a few. He’s been called a “consummate delinquent” and a “pleasure-loving prelate.” Even Pope Francis cracked a joke about him, saying that “for sure he did not enter prison because he acted like Blessed Imelda,” before calling events in which the monsignor was involved “a scandal that hurts me.”

Before his arrest in June 2013, the monsignor was a top accountant at the Vatican office that, at that time, managed the Holy See’s real estate and investments. He is currently on trial, accused of money laundering — most notably, of trying to smuggle $26 million from Switzerland to Italy in a private plane, with the help of an Italian secret service agent.

An Italian judge calculated Monsignor Scarano’s wealth at more than $8.2 million, though the Vatican paid the priest just $41,000 a year. Italian authorities seized the 17-room, $1.7 million house in Salerno, where he is now under house arrest, along with many bank accounts; two of them, at the Vatican Bank, were seized by Vatican authorities.

The monsignor’s arrest made front-page news in Italy. “Scandal at the Vatican Bank,” screamed La Repubblica, a Rome-based newspaper. Within a few days, the Vatican Bank’s second and third in command resigned in disgrace. More than a dozen bankers, regulators, prosecutors, lawyers and Vatican insiders were interviewed for this article, and a majority of them consider Monsignor Scarano a small fish in the pond of the Vatican financial system, the accusations against him a mere symptom of much larger problems that Pope Francis is now energetically trying to correct.

Read article

 
Why our government doesn’t look like the people it’s supposed to represent.

Voting by Numbers

Why our government doesn’t look like the people it’s supposed to represent. 

By Jelani Cobb

October is to political prognosticators what February is to florists and April is to accountants; namely, the time when a profession that’s peripheral to our daily concerns momentarily becomes the center of our attention. This season’s forecasting for the midterm elections is largely occupied with the partisan balance of the Senate. (The Times’ Upshot column has it seventy-one per cent likely that the Republicans will gain control. FiveThirtyEight puts the G.O.P.’s odds at sixty-one per cent.) The uncertainty hinges on about ten races that are too close to call, despite the finely calibrated statistical divination of experts. There is, however, one outcome that requires no sophisticated simulations to predict: the Senate will not look like the country. There are currently eighty male senators. Women, who make up fifty-one per cent of the population, hold just twenty per cent of Senate seats. The Senate, notoriously, is not proportional in its representation, but the highest number of seats that women can hope to hold next year will still be fewer than thirty. Currently, three states have two female senators, but thirty-three states are represented by two men.

This kind of imbalance is not limited to the upper chamber of the legislative branch. According to “Who Leads Us,” a report issued earlier this month by the Reflective Democracy Campaign, an offshoot of the Women Donors Network, which works to increase the number of female and minority elected officials, the makeup of American politics is still overwhelmingly dissimilar to the demographics of the country. Discussions of the tensions in Ferguson, Missouri, have focussed on the asymmetry between demographics and political leadership there, but, as the report makes clear, this is an issue of degree, not of kind. Ferguson’s city council doesn’t reflect its electorate, but it does resemble American politics. Whites, who constitute sixty-three per cent of the population, occupy ninety per cent of federal, state, and county-wide elected offices. Men compose forty-nine per cent of the populace but seventy-one per cent of officeholders. New York City is one of the most racially diverse cities in the nation, but whites, who make up thirty-three per cent of the population, hold fifty-one per cent of the seats on the city council. The State Legislature ranks forty-second in gender parity, behind far less liberal states—among them Texas, Alabama, and Mississippi—and forty-fourth in proportionate representation of minorities.

There is something distasteful about the idea of measuring politics in terms of percentages. It carries the whiff of a quota system and suggests that one’s interests can be adequately represented only by a kind of political color coördination. Yet nearly a century after the Nineteenth Amendment was ratified, and forty-nine years after the passage of the Voting Rights Act, it remains true that the groups that travelled the most difficult route to enfranchisement are the most underrepresented at every level of government. This situation is at least mildly confounding. A Gallup poll conducted in July found that sixty-three per cent of respondents believed that we would be better off with more women in elected office. (The partisan divide on the question was noteworthy: seventy-five per cent of Democrats agreed with the sentiment; forty-six per cent of Republicans did.)

The fact that underrepresented groups can vote, and do so in substantial numbers (black women had the highest voter turnout of any segment in the country in 2008 and 2012), begs a question: Why aren’t there more such candidates?
 
Black Vote Seen as Last Hope for Democrats to Hold Senate

Black Vote Seen as Last Hope for Democrats to Hold Senate

The confidential memo from a former pollster for President Obama contained a blunt warning for Democrats. Written this month with an eye toward Election Day, it predicted “crushing Democratic losses across the country” if the party did not do more to get black voters to the polls.

“African-American surge voters came out in force in 2008 and 2012, but they are not well positioned to do so again in 2014,” Cornell Belcher, the pollster, wrote in the memo, dated Oct. 1. “In fact, over half aren’t even sure when the midterm elections are taking place.”

Mr. Belcher’s assessment points to an urgent imperative for Democrats: To keep Republicans from taking control of the Senate, as many are predicting, they need black voters in at least four key states. Yet the one politician guaranteed to generate enthusiasm among African Americans is the same man many Democratic candidates want to avoid: Mr. Obama.

Now, Democrats are deploying other prominent black elected officials and other surrogates, buttressed by sophisticated voter targeting efforts, to stoke black turnout. At the White House, the president is waging an under-the-radar campaign, recording video advertisements, radio interviews and telephone calls specifically targeting his loyal African-American base.

“Anybody who looks at the data realizes that if the black vote, and the brown vote, doesn’t turn out, we can’t win. It’s just that simple,” said Representative Marcia L. Fudge of Ohio, the chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, referring to African-American and Latino voters. “If we don’t turn out, we cannot hold the Senate.”

 
Harvard Liberals Hate New Campus Sex Laws

Harvard Liberals Hate New Campus Sex Laws

New regulations regarding how to handle sexual assault at Harvard have attracted an interesting cast of opponents, and echo the national debate about sex on campus.

The increasingly contentious debate about the proper response to sexual assault on college campuses took a new turn on Oct. 15, when The Boston Globe ran an op-ed signed by twenty-eight current and retired Harvard Law School professors expressing “strong objections” to the school’s new Sexual Harassment Policy and Procedures. The sharply worded statement not only slammed the university administration for forcing the policy on all of Harvard’s schools without adequate discussion but also charged that the new procedures for handling complaints of sexual misconduct “lack the most basic elements of fairness and due process [and] are overwhelmingly stacked against the accused.” It even went so far as to urge Harvard to defy federal guidelines on addressing such complaints and “stand up for principle in the face of funding threats.” This is the latest, and biggest, volley in a mounting revolt against the overreach of government-led initiatives to curb campus rape—coming from unusual suspects.

Thus, the Harvard signatories include not only noted criminal defense attorney Alan Dershowitz, who has long been viewed as right of center in the culture wars, but preeminent African-American law professor and Barack Obama’s mentor Charles Ogletree and several renowned female jurists such as veteran civil rights attorney Nancy Gertner, constitutional scholar Martha Field, and feminist legal theorist Janet Halley. This protest is not easy to dismiss as a right-wing anti-woman backlash.

The Harvard 28 join other liberal and feminist dissenters from the campus anti-rape crusade. Among them is George Washington University law professor John Banzhaf, a public interest attorney who has not only battled the tobacco and food industries but championed women’s rights in major sex discrimination cases, notably the push to force the Citadel military academy to admit women in the late 1980s. (His website boasts that he has been called a “radical feminist.”) In the past several months, Banzhaf has focused much of his attention on what he believes is a massive attack on the rights of students accused of sexual misconduct. The title of one of his press releases speaks for itself: “Illegals at Border Have More Rights Than College Students Accused of Rape.”

Meanwhile, a new California law that requires schools to use an “affirmative consent” standard in cases of alleged sexual misconduct has inspired a groundswell of similar state and local initiatives. (Harvard, so far, has rejected such a policy as too vague.) But it has also drawn objections from people like feminist attorney and author Wendy Kaminer, New York columnist Jonathan Chait, and Nation blogger Michelle Goldberg. The liberal backlash against so-called “Yes Means Yes” laws may have gotten an inadvertent boost from an article penned in its defense by Vox co-founder Ezra Klein. Klein appeared to agree that the legislation was likely to result in unfair punishments—though he later claimed this was a misunderstanding—but argued that it was good precisely because it had the potential to strike “fear and confusion” into men, since the problem of rape was so terrible and pervasive that only “ugly” remedies against it could be effective. It’s hard to think of an argument more blatantly illiberal.

 
Paranoid Politics in America Strike Deep

By Lewis Beale

Fifty Years ago, “The Paranoid Style of American Politics” changed how we think about modern conservatism. The American polity has been dealing with it ever since.

Dr. Ben Carson, the Fox News contributor and Tea Party favorite, thinks America will be in such a state of anarchy by 2016 that the Presidential election might actually be cancelled.

Phyllis Schlafly, the long-time right-wing activist, believes President Obama is deliberately introducing Ebola into America, to make it more like Africa.

And Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) claims at least 10 ISIS fighters have been caught at the Mexican border (A charge refuted by the Department of Homeland Security).

“American politics has often been an arena for angry minds,” wrote historian Richard Hofstadter in his groundbreaking essay, “The Paranoid Style In American Politics.” “In recent years we have seen angry minds at work mainly among extreme right-wingers. … It is the use of paranoid modes of expression by more or less normal people that makes the phenomenon significant.”

 
Warren in Minnesota: ‘The game is rigged’

U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) speaks to a crowd during a rally to urge the reelection of Sen. Mark Udall (D-Colo.) on the campus of the University of Colorado, in Boulder. (Brennan Linsley/AP)

Warren in Minnesota: ‘The game is rigged’

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) brought her populist message Saturday to this small college town to rev up the final weeks of Sen. Al Franken's reelection campaign, but also to claim the mantle of the modern liberal movement's political godfather.

Speaking before more than 400 people at Carleton College, Warren repeatedly invoked the spirit of the late Paul Wellstone, the fiery liberal senator who died 12 years ago this month in a plane crash during his reelection campaign. Wellstone remains a revered figure in Minnesota politics, and his brand of populism -- out of step in the Clintonian Democratic Party of the 1990s -- is now mainstream among leading liberal activists. Warren has become the most prominent public face of that movement, and the Wellstone disciples in this town 40 miles south of Minneapolis gave their approval Saturday.

"The game is rigged, and the Republicans rigged it," Warren said to loud cheers.

"She's a rock star," Franken told reporters afterward. 

 
Sweden searches for suspected Russian submarine off Stockholm

Swedish search

Sweden searches for suspected Russian submarine off Stockholm

Peter Walker

Helicopters, minesweepers and 200 service personnel mobilised in search after tipoff about ‘foreign underwater activity’

Swedish ships, helicopters and troops are scouring the waters off Stockholm for what was officially described as “foreign underwater activity”, amid reports that a Russian submarine might have had mechanical problems while on a secret mission in the archipelago.

In scenes reminiscent of the cold war, when neutral Sweden regularly swept the island-strewn Baltic Sea coastline around the capital for Soviet spy submarines, more than 200 service personnel were mobilised along with helicopters, minesweepers and an anti-submarine corvette fitted with stealth-type anti-radar masking.

The operation began late on Friday following what Sweden’s ministry said was a reliable tipoff about “foreign underwater activity” in the archipelago. The officer leading the operation declined to give more details, saying only that there had been no armed contact.

“We still consider the information we received as very trustworthy,” Captain Jonas Wikström told reporters. “I, as head of operations, have therefore decided to increase the number of units in the area.”

The Svenska Dagbladet newspaper said it was believed the intruder was a Russian submarine or mini-submarine that may have been damaged. It said the operation was launched on Friday after a visual sighting of a “human-made object” in the waters. The day before, Swedish intelligence operators intercepted a radio conversation in Russian on a frequency usually reserved for emergencies, the paper said.

Another signal was intercepted on Friday night, but this time the content was encrypted. However, the report said, Swedish intelligence was able to pinpoint the locations of the participants. One was in the waters off Stockholm, while the other could be traced to Kaliningrad, the port that is the home of Russia’s Baltic Sea fleet.

 
GOP schooled on education politics

GOP schooled on education politics

By STEPHANIE SIMON

Students and their teacher are pictured. | AP Photo

Republicans thought this would be the year to make education their winning issue. The plan was simple: Talk up the GOP’s support for school choice — including vouchers to help parents pay for private school — and win the hearts of moms everywhere.

It hasn’t worked out like that.

Instead, in Florida, Kansas, Michigan, Pennsylvania and elsewhere, Republicans are on the defensive about education. It isn’t usually a top-tier concern for voters, but Democrats see issues such as college affordability and K-12 funding as their best chance to motivate the on-again, off-again voters who often sit out midterms.

“The plethora of education messages hitting races at every level is unprecedented,” said Karen White, political director for the National Education Association, which plans to spend as much as $60 million this cycle. “I really do believe it’s the perfect storm around every officeholder in the country.”

 
Poll: Likely Voters Favor GOP-Led Congress

Poll: Likely Voters Favor GOP-Led Congress

By Reid J. Epstein

 Voters likely to cast ballots in the midterm elections favor a Republican-led Congress over a Democratic one, 49% to 44%, a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News/Annenberg survey finds.

Registered voters, a larger group than likely voters, also said they’d prefer the election to produce a Republican-led Congress, a first since the poll began asking five weeks ago. The GOP held a lead of 45% to 43% on the question among registered voters.

The survey is yet more evidence that Democratic voters are tuning out the midterms. Democrats carried a 10-point lead among low-interest voters, who the party is trying to reach and motivate with vigorous turnout operations across the country. Republicans carried a 10-point lead in the new survey among voters who said they were highly interested in the election.

 
WH: Klain’s work handing out stimulus money good experience for Ebola czar

White House: Ron Klain’s work handing out stimulus money good experience for Ebola czar

Byron York

President Obama’s choice of veteran Democratic politico Ron Klain to serve as Ebola czar stunned many Republicans. Their first objection is that Klain has no experience in public health or infectious diseases. But in a larger sense, GOP critics see Klain, a former chief of staff for Vice Presidents Al Gore and Joe Biden, more as a political operative than a potential leader of the fight against Ebola.

What qualifies Klain for the job, the formal title of which is Ebola Response Coordinator? First, the White House makes no claim of any expertise in health matters. Instead, officials point to Klain’s impressive Washington resume — the jobs with Gore and Biden, plus chief of staff for Clinton administration Attorney General Janet Reno and top positions with Senate Democrats.

But those are job titles. What specifically has Klain done in those positions that would prepare him for the Ebola assignment? White House officials cite Klain’s work in Biden’s office, overseeing the dispensing of billions of federal dollars through the American Recovery Act, better known as the stimulus, as evidence that Klain can handle a problem like Ebola.

“He helped oversee implementation of the Recovery Act, a major interagency and intergovernmental project,” wrote White House spokesman Eric Schultz in response to an emailed question. “Under Klain’s watch, that team: 1) Met and exceeded the plan for deploying the stimulus on time, in a complex interagency scenario involving almost every agency of the federal government; 2) Operationalized an unprecedented commitment to transparency — quarterly reports on Recovery.gov, overseen by Independent Recovery Transparency and Accountability Board; and 3) Defied expectations for the very low level of fraud — widely acclaimed at the time.”

 
Obama admin. to allow thousands of Haitians into U.S. without visas

President Obama attends a news conference in the East Room at the White House in Washington, Aug. 9, 2013. (Associated Press) ** FILE **

Obama admin. to allow thousands of Haitians into U.S. without visas

- The Washington Times

The ranking Republican on the Senate Judiciary Committee took the Obama administration to task Friday for its “irresponsible” plan to allow as many as 100,000 Haitians to immigrate to the U.S. without a visa.

Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa said the administration’s Haitian Family Reunification Parole Program — which will allow thousands of Haitians awaiting a U.S. visa to enter the country and legally apply for work permits — is “an irresponsible overreach of the executive branch’s authority.”

 
Dutch Biker Gang Joins Fight Against Islamic State

Dutch Biker Gang Joins Fight Against Islamic State

Members of the Dutch motorcycle gang "No Surrender" have joined Kurdish Peshmerga forces in Iraq to fight against Islamic State.

 
On the Trail, Clinton Tests Messages

[image]

On the Trail, Clinton Tests Messages

By Peter Nicholas

In stumping for Democratic candidates, former secretary of state tries out messages that would likely surface in her own potential campaign for the White House.

Appearing in liberal Philadelphia, Hillary Clinton told a campaign crowd that corporations have too much clout. In conservative Kentucky, she lauded her husband’s record in office while avoiding any mention of the locally unpopular current White House resident, President Barack Obama .

Mrs. Clinton is back on the campaign trail after a six-year hiatus, aiming to rouse Democratic voters who don’t typically show up for midterm elections. In the course of trying to help her party’s candidates, she is also testing themes that would likely surface in her own potential run for office and giving clues to the political profile she might adopt in a presidential campaign.

Lately, Mrs. Clinton has spiced her campaign-trail speeches with targeted criticism of business—notable given that some liberals are suspicious of the Clinton family for accepting hundreds of millions of dollars in corporate donations and speaking fees. Those concerns could prompt a primary challenge from the political left.

Campaigning in Philadelphia last week with Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Wolf, Mrs. Clinton said corporations “seem to have all of the rights but none of the responsibilities of people.”

Appearing in Michigan with Democratic candidates on Thursday, Mrs. Clinton said America “was built not by rich corporations, but laborers.”

In the same campaign trip, Mrs. Clinton also allied herself with more centrist parts of her party—a political space her husband sought to occupy as a presidential candidate. Appearing Wednesday in Kentucky, Mrs. Clinton stood nearby as Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes pronounced the state “Clinton country.’’

 
Seth Moulton underplays military service

Seth Moulton, Democratic candidate for US Congress.

Seth Moulton underplays military service

By Walter V. Robinson - Boston Globe

The American political graveyard has more than a few monuments to politicians and public officials who embellished details of their military service, in some cases laying claim to medals for heroism or other military honors they never received.

And then, uniquely, there is Seth W. Moulton, the Democratic nominee for Congress in the Sixth Congressional District, a former Marine who saw fierce combat for months and months in Iraq. But Moulton chose not to publicly disclose that he was twice decorated for heroism until pressed by the Globe.

In 2003 and 2004, during weeks-long battles with Iraqi insurgents, then-Lieutenant Moulton “fearlessly exposed himself to enemy fire” while leading his platoon during pitched battles for control of Nasiriyah and Najaf south of Baghdad, according to citations for the medals that the Globe requested from the campaign.

The Globe learned of the awards — the Bronze Star medal for valor and the Navy and Marine Corps Commendation medal for valor — after reviewing an official summary of Moulton’s five years of service, in which they were noted in military argot.

In an interview, Moulton said he considers it unseemly to discuss his own awards for valor. “There is a healthy disrespect among veterans who served on the front lines for people who walk around telling war stories,’’ he said. What’s more, Moulton said he is uncomfortable calling attention to his own awards out of respect to “many others who did heroic things and received no awards at all.’’

 
The Nightmarish Politics of Ebola, Part 2

An ambulance carrying Amber Joy Vinson, the second health-care worker to be diagnosed with Ebola in Texas, arrives at Emory University Hospital on October 15th.

The Nightmarish Politics of Ebola, Part 2

By John Cassidy

 In a country with a population of more than three hundred million, just two people who haven’t travelled to West Africa have contracted Ebola, and they both treated Duncan when he was dying in an isolation ward. It is well established that most victims of the disease only become contagious when they develop noticeable symptoms, such as vomiting and diarrhea. So far as we know, the people who were with Duncan in a Dallas apartment after he arrived from Liberia and started to get sick appear to be fine. When President Obama said on Wednesday, “It is not like the flu. It is not airborne.… The likelihood of widespread Ebola outbreaks in this country are very, very low,” he was only restating what virtually every health expert has been saying for months.

At this stage, though, such reassurances are wearing a bit thin. To many ordinary Americans, two Dallas nurses going down with Ebola is a serious outbreak of the disease, and they fear that it won’t remain confined to Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital. Even granted that the current dangers of Ebola have been greatly overblown, this isn’t a wholly irrational posture. After all, in the early stages of any outbreak of an infectious disease, the chances of getting sick are vanishingly small.

It’s all very well for the Centers for Disease Control to call for calm. But with the news that Vinson contacted the C.D.C. before setting out for Dallas, public confidence in the agency and its leader, Tom Frieden, has taken another hit.
 
Conservatives fear Roberts going soft

Conservatives fear Roberts going soft

John Roberts is pictured. | AP Photo

Chief Justice John Roberts seems to be going wobbly again.

Conservatives, still smarting from what they view as an ideological betrayal by Roberts two years ago in the Supreme Court’s 5-4 Obamacare decision, have looked on suspiciously in recent weeks as the chief justice twice appeared to side with the court’s liberals and Justice Anthony Kennedy against the court’s conservatives.

When the high court issued orders last week blocking Wisconsin’s voter ID law and stopping enforcement of key parts of Texas’s new restrictions on abortion clinics, Justices Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas and Samuel Alito publicly dissented. Roberts was notably silent.

Taken together, Roberts’s actions seem to be contributing to a kind of buyer’s remorse that could result in even more pressure for ideologically pure nominees.

 
Amid Assurances on Ebola, Obama Is Said to Seethe

Amid Assurances on Ebola, Obama Is Said to Seethe

Beneath the calming reassurance that President Obama has repeatedly offered during the Ebola crisis, there is a deepening frustration, even anger, with how the government has handled key elements of the response.

Those frustrations spilled over when Mr. Obama convened his top aides in the Cabinet room after canceling his schedule on Wednesday. Medical officials were providing information that later turned out to be wrong. Guidance to local health teams was not adequate. It was unclear which Ebola patients belonged in which threat categories.

“It’s not tight,” a visibly angry Mr. Obama said of the response, according to people briefed on the meeting. He told aides they needed to get ahead of events and demanded a more hands-on approach, particularly from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “He was not satisfied with the response,” a senior official said.

The difference between the public and private messages illustrates the dilemma Mr. Obama faces on Ebola — and a range of other national security issues — as he tries to galvanize the response to a public health scare while not adding to the sense of panic fueled by 24-hour cable TV and the nonstop Twitter chatter.

“Part of the challenge is to be assertive, to be in command, and yet not feed a kind of panic that could easily evolve here,” said David Axelrod, a close adviser to the president in his first term. “It’s not enough to doggedly and persistently push for answers in meetings. You have to be seen doggedly and persistently pushing for answers.”

For two turbulent weeks, White House officials have sought to balance those imperatives: insisting the dangers to the American public were being overstated in the news media, while also moving quickly to increase the president’s demonstration of action.

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From 'One Tough Nerd' to Embattled Governor

From 'One Tough Nerd' to Embattled Governor

Molly Ball

Michigan Republican Rick Snyder finds himself in an unexpectedly tough reelection campaign thanks to a backlash against his economic policies.

As his first term draws to a close, Snyder insists he’s still the pragmatic, numbers-focused moderate Republican he campaigned as in his first, unlikely run for office in 2010. But his critics charge the slogan—unveiled in a Super Bowl ad that propelled him through a crowded primary—has proven to be a sham. Rather than steering the state in nonpartisan fashion toward economic stability, Snyder, they charge, has proven instead to be a hardheaded ideologue whose trickle-down policies have not produced results. “He campaigned as a bean counter. He said he was going to focus on jobs,” Snyder’s Democratic opponent, Mark Schauer, told me in an interview. “Our current governor’s policies work for the wealthy, but they’re not working for most Michiganders.”

Despite such complaints, Snyder was initially widely expected to sail to a second term against Schauer, a little-known former congressman. (No Michigan governor has been denied a second term since 1962.) But Schauer and his allies have waged an aggressive campaign, attacking Snyder for cutting school funding (a charge he denies) and taxing seniors’ pensions. The result is what looks to be a tight race. Most recent polling has shown Snyder leading, but there are exceptions, like a YouGov survey earlier this month that had Schauer ahead by 2 points. Overall, Snyder leads by an average of 3.5 points—a far tighter margin than his commanding 18-point victory four years ago.

“He campaigned as a nerd, and he didn’t seem very threatening,” Susan Demas, editor and publisher of the Inside Michigan Politics newsletter, told me. Snyder’s persona isn’t polarizing like Wisconsin’s Scott Walker or Pennsylvania’s Tom Corbett, and he seemed to fit with Michigan’s long tradition of moderate Republican governors such as George Romney, William Milliken, and John Engler. Instead, Demas said, “He’s governed very far to the right. A lot of the moderates, the independents, the conservative Democrats that gave him that big margin in 2010 have been scared off.”

 
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