A new poll finds that only 38 percent of Americans know which party controls the House of Representatives, and even fewer could correctly identify House Speaker Ted Cruz. The Ebola epidemic has brought more attention to the plight of Obama's stalled Surgeon General nomination, whose symptoms include an obstructed upper chamber. And Bill Gates reviews Thomas Piketty's book on his blog. Spoiler: he thinks it should be kinder to billionaire philanthropists. This is HUFFPOST HILL for Tuesday, October 14th, 2014:
DEMS PULLING OUT OF KENTUCKY - Kyle Trygstad scoop: "The Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee has gone dark in Kentucky, where the party is targeting Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. After a significant investment in support of Kentucky Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes, the DSCC had not reserved time for the final three weeks of the race and, as of today, is no longer on the air. 'The DSCC has now spent more than 2 million in Kentucky and continues to make targeted investments in the ground game while monitoring the race for future investments, but is currently not on the air in the state,' a DSCC official told CQ Roll Call." [Roll Call]
HuffPost Pollster says it's looking like McConnell's gonna win.
GRIMES AGAIN REFUSES TO ADMIT SHE VOTED FOR MITT ROMNEY - Perry Bacon: "Grimes' refusal to answer if she voted for President Barack Obama in 2012 during a taped session with The Courier-Journal on Thursday turned into a viral video seen across the country -- with Republicans, the press and even some Democrats ripping her for the non-response. But in a debate with U.S. Senator and Republican Leader Mitch McConnell Monday here, the Kentucky secretary of state again declined to say if she backed the president of her own party, trying to avoid any association with Obama, who is deeply unpopular in Kentucky." [NBC]
AND GRIMES WEIRDLY SAYS MCCONNELL IS FRIENDLY TO 'ILLEGAL ALIENS' - Elise Foley: "Kentucky Democratic Senate candidate Alison Lundergan Grimes is in hot water with progressives and immigration advocates after her campaign ran an ad calling undocumented immigrants 'illegal aliens' and bizarrely accusing Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) of being soft on immigration. On Tuesday, progressive group MoveOn.org Political Action called for her to take down the ad, calling it 'upsetting.'"
PRIEBUS UNLEASHED - The wrath of Reince, via Kendall Breitman: "Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus is pushing back against charges that Republicans are responsible for budget cuts that have made it harder to contain the Ebola outbreak. 'Obviously, this is just desperation on the part of this idiotic group,' Priebus said on Fox News’ 'Fox & Friends' on Tuesday, referring to the Agenda Project, which released an ad that blames the GOP for slashing funding for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health." [Politico]
Or was the idiotic group he was referring to the NIH, which says it's true.
VOTERS DUMB - The Annenberg Public Policy Center does this poll knowing what the result will be, but still. Only 36 percent of Americans can name the three branches of government, 21 percent think a 5-4 Supreme Court decision gets sent back to Congress, and 44 percent don't know which party controls the House of Representatives. [Annenberg PDF]
Scott Walker is not impressed by the minimum wage.
HEY WHO NEEDS A SURGEON GENERAL ANYWAY? - Just give John McCain the Ebola Czar he's asking for, never mind the vacant chair where the top U.S. spokesman for public health is supposed to sit. Elise Viebeck: "Nearly 70,000 people are calling on the Senate to confirm Obama pick Vivek Murthy as surgeon general while fears about Ebola rise in the United States. Murthy's nomination has been held up for more than six months over objections to his views on guns from conservatives and the the National Rifle Association (NRA). 'With public health capturing Americans' attention due to the spread of the Ebola virus, now is the perfect time to pressure the Senate to stand up to the NRA and confirm Dr. Vivek Murthy as surgeon general,' an online petitionat CREDO Action states." [The Hill]
FLASHBACK: "Murthy called gun violence 'an important public health issue' and urged a ban on military-style assault weapons after the Sandy Hook Elementary shootings in December 2012. That position isn't sitting well with powerful leaders in the gun lobby. 'Simply put, confirmation of Dr. Murthy is a prescription for disaster for America's gun owners,' Chris Cox, executive director of the NRA's legislative arm, wrote to Senate leaders in February." [HuffPost's Jen Bendery]
HUFFPOST HAIRCUTS: Mike McAuliff, Elise Foley.
DAILY DELANEY DOWNER - "U.S. health officials said on Tuesday they are monitoring 76 people who may have come into contact with Ebola patient Thomas Duncan after he was hospitalized in Dallas.The additional monitoring followed confirmation that a nurse caring for Duncan became infected with the deadly virus." DDD bonus: officials very candidly admit they don't know what protocols the nurse breached. Check out her GoFundMe page. [Reuters]
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ISIS MIGHT HAVE CHEMICAL WEAPONS - So we invaded Iraq to rid it of weapons of mass destruction, the invasion created ISIS and now they have weapons of mass destruction. Obviously, we need to invade again. Akbar Shahid Ahmed: "The Islamic State militant group may possess chemical weapons that it has already used to extend its self-proclaimed caliphate, according to photos taken by Kurdish activists and examined by Israeli researchers. The group, making gains in Iraq and Syria, may have captured chemical agents in Iraq in June and used them in July to kill three Kurdish fighters in the strategically important region of Kobani in northwest Syria, suggests a report released Sunday by the Global Research in International Affairs Center, a branch of the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, Israel." HuffPost
IRS LOL - The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, essentially an IRS watchdog, has a new report criticizing the agency for wasting funds by not destroying records fast enough. "Specifically, TIGTA found that, as of June 2013, the IRS had 238,523 cubic feet of records past due for disposal for which it was obligated to pay ongoing monthly storage costs. As a result, unnecessary costs of more than $700,000 were incurred for those records." In other words, the IRS loses too many Lois Lerner emails and fails to lose too many other documents. Can't win. [Treasury.gov]
PAUL RYAN IS SUDDENLY HUMBLE ABOUT HIS BOOK LEARNING - Phillip Eliot: "The planet has faced climate change forever and humans' pollution might not be to blame for shifts, Republican U.S. Rep. Paul Ryan said Monday during a debate against his Democratic challenger. Ryan, favored to win re-election to his seat representing GOP-leaning southern Wisconsin, faced off against businessman Rob Zerban for an hourlong forum that touched on world events, domestic politics and the economy. One of the sharpest differences came when the moderator asked each candidate if he thought human activity is to blame for changes to the planet's climate. 'I don't know the answer to that question,' Ryan said. 'I don't think science does, either.'" [HuffPost]
The AP is apparently also unsure about the question of climate change. It printed Ryan's silly lie without comment.
INEQUALITY BLINK - Mark Gongloff: "You know inequality is getting bad when it's making a Swiss bank uncomfortable. The ratio of wealth to household income in the U.S., a measure of inequality, is the highest it has been since just before the Great Depression, Credit Suisse noted in a 64-page report on global wealth released on Monday. The bank also warned that this was not good news for the health of the economy: 'This is a worrying signal given that abnormally high wealth income ratios have always signaled recession in the past,' the bank wrote." [HuffPost]
Bill Gates reviews Thomas Piketty's book on his personal blog. The big reveal: He skyped with the French economist, liked the book.
SCOTT BROWN HINTS AT BORDER TRIFECTA - Via Greg Sargent, Scott Brown muses on terrorists crossing the border with Ebola: "[W]e have people coming into our country by legal means bringing in diseases and other potential challenges. Yet we have a border that’s so porous that anyone can walk across it. I think it’s naive to think that people aren’t going to be walking through here who have those types of diseases and/or other types of intent, criminal or terrorist. And yet we do nothing to secure our border." [WashPost]
THE DIFFICULTY OF OPPOSING OBAMACARE - Some policy positions can be a little too nuanced. Philip Klein: "In last night’s debate in a key Senate race, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., and his Democratic opponent, Alison Lundergan Grimes, both obfuscated on questions about President Obama’s healthcare law, underscoring how the politics of the law is changing as it continues to get implemented…. In attempting to navigate this environment, McConnell has staked out a position that’s incoherent — arguing that he wants to wipe out the awful entity 'Obamacare,' while trying to create the impression that it wouldn’t affect anybody’s benefits. 'Kentucky Kynect is a website,' McConnell said during the debate. 'It was paid for by a $200 million some odd grant from the federal government. The website can continue. But my view the best interest of the country would be achieved by pulling out Obamacare root and branch.'" [Washington Examiner]
BECAUSE YOU'VE READ THIS FAR - Enjoy this supercut of Tom Cotton relentlessly saying "Barack Obama" during last night's Arkansas debate.
- The first lady of Oregon admitted she took part in a plan to grow pot. http://politi.co/1w0TCrL
- Do Philadelphia Eagles fans even count as people? http://bit.ly/1vsgMcJ
- Dog wakes from nap. http://huff.to/1z8bKEE
- "It seems that, in doing away with patriarchal authority, we have also, perhaps unwittingly, killed off all the grown-ups." http://nyti.ms/1pbAyAJ
@norbizness: I am deathly afraid of the Ebola virus, voter fraud & the knockout game. Climate change, decaying infrastructure & gun violence not so much.
@sinderbrand: White House transcript:
"MRS. OBAMA: Hey, kids, what’s happening?
@lizzieohreally: Recording at a high school football practice. "Are you from ESPN??!!!!" "No, public radio." "Ohhhh." [audible disappointment]
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