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from The Great Debate:

One reason Congress is broken? Negative ads cripple even the winners.

mahurin 4golway

North Carolina is nearing the end of the most expensive U.S. Senate campaign in its history. The volume of negative ads in the race between Democratic Senator Kay Hagan and Republican state Speaker Thom Tillis is unprecedented. These ads matter -- but not in the ways that the candidates and their campaign consultants hope they do.

When the negative barrage of ads is over, the winner will likely emerge with an approval rating well under 50 percent, meaning that whoever wins will likely be sworn in with a majority of North Carolinians already disapproving of her or him. Neither Hagan nor Tillis will have a popular mandate.

The situation will be no better for Congress because a majority of winning candidates take office without the majority support of the citizens they represent. They can no longer legitimately cite the “will of the people” in proposing legislation -- because they are not in a position of strength when it comes to public support. Elected officials now often have little or no honeymoon period – even with the voters who supported them.

U.S. Senator-elect Kay Hagan (D-NC) reacts after defeating incumbent Sen. Elizabeth Dole (R-NC) in GreensboroThe ramifications of this for the body politic are serious. Though winners will be determined on Nov. 4, democracy is already the loser. We can expect to see continued partisan gridlock in Washington and increasing public dissatisfaction with government at all levels. It is a downward cycle that serves to repress voter turnout and fuel angry cynicism about the role of government.

from The Great Debate:

Why Republicans may not win the Senate after all

 Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell speaks at the Faith & Freedom Coalition "Road to Majority" reception in Washington

Establishment Republicans should keep the champagne on ice until after the midterm elections. Too many are already popping corks, pronouncing their strategy of “crushing” the Tea Party during the primaries as a crucial step in their successful takeover of the Senate.

There are increasing signs, however, that the GOP might not take control of the Senate and may only make modest gains in the House of Representatives. In states like North Carolina, for example, the GOP candidate hasn’t shown the ability to wage a major-league campaign. In other key battleground states, the establishment GOP is supporting problematic candidates, like Monica Wehby in Oregon, who can alternatively be described as pro-Obamacare and a plagiarist. The National Republican Senatorial Committee handpicked Wehby over a strong conservative in the primary. She is now running 20 points behind.

from The Great Debate:

How strong Senate candidates can help GOP also flip statehouses

Scott Brown, a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate, speaks during a town hall campaign stop at a VFW post in Hudson

Midterm election models continue to project that Republicans will gain control of the U.S. Senate, as the Washington Post’s Chris Cillizza recently reported. The GOP is running strong candidates, many in red states that Mitt Romney won 2012, but also stronger than first expected in states that went for President Barack Obama that year -- including Colorado, New Hampshire and Oregon, which weren’t previously considered in play.

Having these candidates at the top of the ballot is likely to help other Republicans running in the states. Indeed, in key states it could increase the party’s chances of flipping control of state legislatures from Democratic to Republican.

from Stories I’d like to see:

What we don’t know about Qatar and what we don’t know about key Senate races

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry walks with Qatari Crown Prince Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani in Doha

1. Inside Qatar:  the terrorists’ benefactor and America’s friend

As the war in Gaza continues, we keep hearing that one pipeline for negotiations with Hamas goes through Qatar, the tiny, oil-rich kingdom in the Gulf that has friendly relations with Hamas. In fact, Qatar hosts the leaders of Hamas and provides financial support.

According to the online Times of Israel, “Qatar continues to fund the movement’s terror apparatus abroad, enabling tunnel digging and rocket launching.”

from The Great Debate:

Plagiarism is dumb. Thinking you’ll get away with it is dumber.

My Approved Portraits

You’ve got to hand it to the New York Times for its exposé of the plagiarism committed by Senator John Walsh (D-Mont.) in the paper he submitted for his 2007 master’s degree from the United States Army War College. Walsh, who spent more than three decades in Montana’s National Guard and won a Bronze Star after his 2004-5 tour of duty in Iraq, was appointed to the Senate in early 2014 and is now in a tough race for election to his seat. Montana Democrats have made much of Walsh’s military service. The Times’ accusation of plagiarism seriously threatens that narrative.

In olden days, before we had computer-driven, heat-seeking plagiarism-discovery apps, proving that someone had plagiarized was like establishing that he had written pornography: You presented the text, made your argument and invited readers to know it when they saw it.

from The Great Debate:

One more reason the Democrats may be toast this fall

U.S. President Barack Obama speaks about immigration reform from the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington

Democrats are apprehensive about this year's midterm elections.

They should be.

Every indicator points to Republican gains in Congress. Two reasons are well known: President Barack Obama's unpopularity and the historical record of midterm elections, when the president’s party almost always loses seats.

The third major reason is the two-four-six rule. Those are the different base years for different offices: two years for the House of Representatives, four years for most governors, six years for the Senate. These base years dictate how vulnerable each party is.

from The Great Debate:

Is Michelle running for the Senate?

michelle walking in

First Lady Michelle Obama is everywhere. She’s traveling to China. She’s raising money for Democrats. She’s issuing plaintive tweets seeking the rescue of the kidnapped Nigerian girls.

She’s wading uncharacteristically deep into the Washington political mud pit to defend her school lunch program against Republicans, assailing them last Tuesday for opting to “play politics with our kids’ health.” She struck a similar tone in a New York Times op-ed two days later, accusing Republicans of trying to “override science” and suggesting they join parents and “put our children’s interests first.”

from MacroScope:

Scrambling to flesh out skeleton Fed board

"It's about time" was the general reaction when on Thursday the Senate Banking Committee scheduled a vote on Barack Obama's nominees for the Federal Reserve board. Not that Stanley Fischer, Lael Brainard and Jerome Powell (a sitting governor who needs re-confirmation) have been waiting all that long; it was January that the U.S. president nominated them as central bank governors, and only a month ago that the trio testified to the committee. The urgency and even anxiety had more to do with the fact that only four members currently sit on the Fed's seven-member board and one of those, Jeremy Stein, is retiring in a month. The 100-year old Fed has never had only three governors, and the thought of the policy and administrative headaches that would bring was starting to stress people out. After all, the Fed under freshly-minted chair Janet Yellen is in the midst of its most difficult policy reversal ever.

"Boy it would be more comfortable if there were at least five governors and hopefully more" to help Yellen "think through these very difficult communications challenges," said Donald Kohn, a former Fed vice chair. Former governor Elizabeth Duke, who stepped down in August, said one of the Fed board's strengths is its diversity of members' backgrounds. "With fewer people you don't have as many different points of view on policy," she said in an interview.

from The Great Debate:

Why the Obamacare fight never ends

“I know every American isn't going to agree with this law,” President Barack Obama said about the Affordable Care Act at his April 17 news briefing, “but I think we can agree that it's well past time to move on.”

The Republican response? Same as General Anthony McAuliffe's reply when the German army demanded that U.S. forces surrender at the Battle of the Bulge during World War Two: “Nuts!”

from The Great Debate:

Democrats must give Obama trade promotion authority

President Barack Obama declared in his State of the Union speech, “We need to work together on tools like bipartisan trade promotion authority to protect our workers, protect our environment and open new markets to new goods stamped ‘Made in the USA.’ China and Europe aren’t standing on the sidelines. Neither should we.”

Republicans agree. But the president has not followed through on his call for legislative action. Giving him trade promotion authority would put two large trade deals on a fast track to completion.

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