Proof Democrats believe the GOP will take the Senate

3821293202_b0d1b98cdd_zMost Democrats are doing their best to pretend like their Senate majority isn’t in complete jeopardy, but there’s one huge sign that they do expect a Republican takeover. One Democratic Senate aide mentioned that, “We will definitely move a lot of nominees during the lame duck one way or the other — possibly more if Republicans take the majority.”

The aide explained that because of the “bleak prospects for confirmation under a Republican majority, there will be a strong incentive to get as many confirmed during the lame duck as possible.”

The Senate is scheduled to return on Nov. 12, just after the midterm elections, and will convene for its next session on Jan. 6. The Senate is also scheduled to pass a funding bill by Dec. 11 to avoid another government shutdown.

In short, the 55 Democrats in the Senate will have to move very quickly if they want to push through Obama’s nominees, including a replacement for Attorney General Eric Holder, before Congress reconvenes in January for its 114th session.

“It would be crazy if Reid did not call them back as soon as possible and go into long hours, night and day, to process as many confirmations as he can,” the American Enterprise Institute’s Norm Ornstein told TPM.

Clearly, the Democrats are preparing for the worst. If they weren’t so certain that they’re going to lose control, there wouldn’t be nearly as much incentive for them to ram through as many nominees as they possibly can during the lame duck session.

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Rand Paul calls for ‘conservative realism’ in foreign policy speech

draftrandpaulfb3Sen. Rand Paul hoped to counter criticism that he’s an isolationist during a Thursday night speech in which he laid out his goals for foreign policy:

“We need a foreign policy that recognizes our limits and preserves our might, a common-sense conservative realism of strength and action,” Paul said in a speech at the Center for the National Interest in New York, according to his prepared remarks.

Paul, considered a likely presidential contender in 2016, has faced attacks from potential Republican primary contenders who call him isolationist.

Paul sought to dispel those criticisms, arguing that there are circumstances where the U.S. should be engaged abroad and use force.

“America should and will fight wars when the consequences — intended and unintended — are worth the sacrifice,” he continued. “The war on terror is not over, and America cannot disengage from the world.”

However, Paul also emphasized his views that the president needs congressional authorization for military action, including in the current operation against militants with the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, and that the U.S. should have a clear end game in a conflict.

“America shouldn’t fight wars where the best outcome is stalemate,” he said. “America shouldn’t fight wars when there is no plan for victory. America shouldn’t fight wars that aren’t authorized by the American people.

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Washington, D.C. making it near impossible to obtain carry permit

FN5701It’s now legal to carry a registered firearm in the District, but authorities are making it pretty close to impossible to obtain a permit:

The District’s newly minted concealed carry laws require gun owners seeking permits to complete 18 hours of firearms training.

One problem: As of Wednesday, the day before a court-ordered deadline for the permitting process to begin, no instructors had been approved to teach the compulsory course.

[...]

The Metropolitan Police Department, working off legislation adopted by D.C. lawmakers last month, released the concealed carry applications on its website at about 7 p.m. Wednesday — hours before the stay of U.S. District Court Judge Frederick J. Scullin Jr.’s order was set to expire.

The regulations firm up the details of the application process, including establishing a $75 cost to apply for a permit.

But it’s unlikely anyone will be walking out of police headquarters with the license anytime soon.

Police officials said a solicitation to firearms instructors was not issued until Monday for the course, which involves 16 hours of classroom safety training and two hours of proficiency training on the gun range.

There’s also a $435 certification fee that could discourage some trainers from applying to teach the course. As George Lyon, a firearms instructor and one of four gun owners involved in the court case that overturned the D.C. ban on carrying guns in public, stated, “This is another example of them making the process as difficult and expensive as possible.”

NYC doctor tests positive for Ebola; traveled all over city before diagnosis

ebola-micro-reutersA fourth case of Ebola has been confirmed in the United States. New York health officials announced Thursday that a New York City doctor who had been treating Ebola patients in West Africa has tested positive for the virus:

Craig Spencer, a 33-year-old doctor and member of Doctors without Borders who had been working in Guinea, returned to New York six days ago. On Thursday, he reported a 103-degree fever and diarrhea. He is being treated in isolation at Bellevue Hospital in New York City, one of eight state hospitals that Gov. Andrew Cuomo has designated to treat Ebola patients.

Spencer did not self-isolate upon returning from Africa. In fact, he pretty much went all over the city:

Dr. Mary T. Bassett, commissioner of the NYC Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, claimed in a press conference last night that the latest Ebola patient had self-isolated since returning from Africa. Later, she admitted that in fact the patient had spent a lot of time in public and with other people:

“We know that he left his apartment and so that he — self-quarantine would have meant he never left his apartment. But he did self-isolate in the sense that … he limited his contact with people and saw friends. He did leave his apartment, so I don’t want to give the impression that he was in his apartment the entire time.”

The same health commissioner went on to later note that the Ebola patient took the subway (the A train, L train, and the 1 train), went to a bowling ally, took an Uber, later went to the High Line, and “may have stopped and gone to a restaurant along the way.” He also went for a 3-mile run around the city.

Additionally, the patient spent time with his fiance [sic] and two friends.

The health commissioner insisted that they’d try their best to retrace his patient’s steps, suggesting they might try to figure out who else might have come in contact.

That doesn’t sound like he “limited his contact with people.”

D.C. federal court throws out cases against IRS

IRS_logoIn a devastating blow to conservative groups seeking vengeance against Barack Obama’s IRS, on Thursday a federal judge dismissed lawsuits brought against the agency by more than 40 conservative groups:

Judge Reggie Walton of the U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia threw out almost all counts brought against the tax-collecting agency in two cases, ruling that both were essentially moot now that the IRS granted the groups their tax-exempt status that had been held up for years.

The decisions have major implications for tea party groups suing the IRS over the issue. It appears they have a tough case to make because the IRS, since the controversy broke in 2013, has approved most tea party groups’ applications, which, according to Walton, keeps the court from hearing their cases.

“After the plaintiff initiated this case, its application to the IRS for tax-exempt status was approved by the IRS. The allegedly unconstitutional governmental conduct, which delayed the processing of the plaintiff’s tax exempt application and brought about this litigation, is no longer impacting the plaintiff,” Walton said in his decision to throw out True the Vote’s lawsuit against the IRS.

His reasoning was similar in the second case, where 41 conservative groups banded together to sue the IRS for similar misconduct: “[T]he allegedly unconstitutional governmental conduct … is no longer impacting the plaintiffs. … Counts … are therefore moot.”

In the only part of the ruling that favored conservative groups, Walton did order the IRS within 14 days answer for two applications that have not yet been approved nor denied: those for Patriots Educating Concerned Americans Now and Liberty Township Tea Party.