|5:19 PM, Oct 24, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
Bill Roggio and Caleb Weiss write, at The Long War Journal, that:
Since the Syrian civil war began in the spring of 2011, the Islamic State, al Qaeda, and other allied jihadist groups have operated more than 30 training camps inside Iraq and Syria. While global jihadist groups have primarily used camps to indoctrinate and train fighters for local insurgencies as part of the effort to establish a global caliphate, in the past al Qaeda has used its camps to support attacks against the West.
US officials clearly view the camps in Iraq and Syria as a direct threat to US national security. US and allied countries have targeted this network of training camps in Iraq and Syria in air and cruise missile strikes.
The enemy assumes a state of war that will last for … who knows? Until they win, according to their view of how history will unfold. Or until we destroy them utterly, as it seems increasingly clear we must. Military planners are now saying that:
U.S. airstrikes and Iraqi ground forces have blunted an Islamic State offensive in Iraq, but it will be months before Iraq can mount a sustained counteroffensive to take terrain back
This, according to "a senior U.S. military official” quoted by Jim Michaels in USA Today.
Meanwhile, the fight for Kobani – which the New York Times says “must be saved” – goes on. The issue there remains in doubt but however it goes, those training camps will still be turning out new fighters while the Iraqis are working to rebuild their army and the fighting in Syria continues.
5:11 PM, Oct 24, 2014 • By MAX EDEN
When the College Board released a revised framework for Advanced Placement U.S. History (APUSH), it ignited controversy. Conservative critics objected that the standards evinced a fixation with identity politics, a bias against free enterprise, and a clear partisan preference. Liberal defenders accused conservatives of being sloppy readers and knee-jerk reactionaries. All the while, the College Board insisted that it conducted the APUSH rewrite in good faith, is open to criticism and substantive revision, and should be given the benefit of the doubt.
Unfortunately, the College Board is unworthy of that benefit.
High school students in Jefferson County, Colorado made national news in September by staging a walkout to protest an alleged attempt by their school board to censor the new APUSH curriculum. In truth, the board censored nothing. At the same meeting where the Jefferson County school board disgruntled the teachers’ union by implementing a performance pay system, they charged a committee to review APUSH. The board indicated that “review criteria” shall include the following: “Materials should promote citizenship … Materials should not encourage or condone civil disorder, social strife or disregard of the law” and asked for comments “in writing as items are reviewed.”
This local dispute is the stuff of democracy in action. But for some reason the College Board took the unprecedented step of issuing a statement in solidarity with the student protestors. It wasn’t just any old statement—it was one reflective of their revised history framework writ large. It was one that operated on the assumption that authority is bad and civil disorder is good, that progressive reformers have every right to affect nationwide change without democratic input, and that local governments have no right to question them.
October baseball notebook.4:15 PM, Oct 24, 2014 • By LEE SMITH
Now with the Royals tying the World Series Wednesday night 1-1, things are really getting hot: Two San Francisco radio stations have removed the song “Royals” from their play lists. The smash hit from the seventeen-year-old Kiwi songbird Lorde was inspired by a 1976 photo of Royals’ hall-of-fame third baseman George Brett. Perhaps it was their meeting in the first month of the season that launched the club’s magical journey—which Bay Area DJs are now trying to derail by putting the kibosh on the club’s improvised anthem.
Closer to home, Giants and Royals front office personnel exchanged unpleasantries and nearly came to blows at a Washington area golf tournament recently. Or, it was just two former George Washington University head baseball coaches happy to entertain alumni and the current GW roster with a lively round of banter on the back nine. Mike Toomey, who coached the GW nine for part of the 1970s, is an assistant general manager with the Royals, and John Castleberry, who led the Colonials in the late 1980s and early 1990s, is northeast scouting supervisor for the Giants. With the series moving to San Francisco, I spoke with Castleberry, who helped build the current Giants club and is now looking to earn his third World Series ring with the organization. I asked him how the 2014 team differs from the two championship clubs.
“Most people don’t realize how young guys like Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner were back then,” says Castleberry. At the time, the Giants’ backstop was 23 and their southpaw ace 21. “They’re reaching the apex of their careers right now.
Even this group doesn’t get enough credit for being a young team. Everyone talks about the Royals being young, but without Hudson and Peavy, the average age on our club is probably 27. Our second baseman, Joe Panik, is 23 year old.”
Castleberry notes that the Giants have 14 homegrown players on their roster, which he sees as a tribute to the organization and general manager Brian Sabean. “We look not just at ability but also make up. Sure, skills put a kid in the spot to be looked at, but then we dig deeper, make home visits and find out about character.”
Contrary to what many fans of Moneyball believe, scouting amateur talent and building a professional baseball organization is about much more than crunching numbers.
“We have a very good analytical department that does numbers,” says Castleberry. “But it doesn’t stop there. Our guys get to know these kids. Panik had good numbers as well as make-up. The make-up of people like Panik, Bumgarner, and Posey is off the charts.”
According to Castleberry, Posey is the anchor of this team. “He’s not a rah-rah kind of guy,” says Castleberry. “But he has this talent—people just gravitate to him. And now he’s maturing even more, as are guys like Brandon Belt.”
3:51 PM, Oct 24, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
A pair of polls on the Georgia Senate race continue to show a close race between Republican David Perdue and Democrat Michelle Nunn.
The first, from CNN, gives Nunn a 3-point lead at 47 percent to Perdue's 44 percent. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution's poll, meanwhile, finds Perdue with a lead of 2 points, 44 percent to 42 percent.
The AJC poll ends a steady streak of Nunn leading or being tied in the polls since the beginning of the month. Nunn has a 1-point lead in the Real Clear Politics average of polls, a reversal of positions of the candidates from a month ago. The Democrat has cut into Perdue's support by casting the Republican as an out-of-touch businessman:
Yet Perdue finds himself in worse shape than Deal. His poll numbers have stalled in the mid-40s, and Nunn has led or tied him in the last five polls. That may be due to sustained ad campaigns from Nunn and the Democrats focusing on Perdue’s work for Pillowtex, a troubled North Carolina-based textile company. Perdue joined Pillowtex as CEO in 2002, earning more than $2 million in salary and bonuses while trying to manage the company out of decline. He left after 10 months, and Pillowtex went under shortly thereafter, laying off nearly 5,000 employees.
The Pillowtex story reared its ugly head with a report in early October about a 2005 sworn deposition in which Perdue says he “spent most of my career” doing outsourcing. A reporter asked Perdue to defend the outsourcing. “Defend it?” he said, on camera. “I’m proud of it.” The clip has featured in Nunn ads flooding the Atlanta media market. Suddenly, Perdue’s biggest asset—his business career—has become a liability.
And it’s one the Perdue campaign is trying desperately to avoid. Before my brief phone interview with Perdue, a campaign staffer called twice to confirm that I wouldn’t ask about the “outsourcing” comment. When I did, Perdue dismissed it as “right out of the Democratic playbook.”
“They’ve tried it since Day One,” he said. “It’s not sticking.”
The polls suggest otherwise. Only the most loyal Perdue Republicans still talk about winning outright on Election Day. More likely is that neither Perdue nor Nunn will win 50 percent of the vote (there’s a Libertarian party candidate running as well), and the race will proceed to a January 6 runoff. Republicans like their chances in the runoff, even with a flawed candidate. Georgia swing voters may not be in love with Republicans anymore, but they’re not enamored with Democrats, either.
3:16 PM, Oct 24, 2014 • By ELI LEHRER
As any visitor to New York City discovers, the Big Apple isn’t the best place to get a hotel room. Rates top $300 per night, the highest in the country, and supply is quite limited.
At year-end in 2013, New York, with a population 8.3 million had fewer hotel rooms than either Chicago, with a population of just 2.7 million, or than much smaller tourist hot-spots like Las Vegas, Orlando, and Washington. Booming and gentrifying Brooklyn, with roughly the same population as Chicago, has a grand total of two full-service, major-brand hotels.
The limited supply and high demand benefits incumbent hotel owners, who get to enjoy high prices. But the room shortage clearly harms the local economy as a whole, by limiting the number of tourists and business travelers who can visit. To their credit, city officials recently eased hotel permitting processes and more than 12,000 new rooms are now under constructions. But unsurprisingly, the city also has seen a boom in Internet-based room-sharing services.
Bureaucrats at the state level aren't crazy about the idea of new consumer choice. Dusting off old laws intended to deal with brothels and slumlords, busybody state Attorney General Eric Schneiderman is now wielding them against individuals who rent rooms out through websites like Airbnb and Roomarama. His office recently issued a report that estimates more than two-thirds of Airbnb accommodations are illegal. Even if there are antiquated laws that technically prohibit these types of rentals, many of them are simply nonsensical. For example, one state law targeted toward slumlords could be interpreted to ban nearly all bed and breakfast accommodations.
Indeed, by-the-night room rentals seem like one of the last areas where the government has much business interfering with people’s housing choices. Unlike home purchases or even apartment rentals, by-the-night accommodations are temporary: if any harm is done, it is easy to evict the malefactors. So long as there’s no obvious danger (say, cramming 20 people into a one-bedroom apartment) it’s better and easier to remedy any problems after the fact. Even when they have laws similar to those in New York—and such laws are legion—officials in other state governments have mostly left well enough alone, letting the room-sharing market develop on its own.
Schneiderman appears to have other ideas, vowing a continued crackdown. It's probably worth noting that, as the Ralph Nader-founded New York Public Interest Research Group points out, Schneiderman's contributions from the hotel industry have soared recently. More than a third of the contributions he's ever received from hospitality businesses have come in the just last two months. Coincidence?
Eli Lehrer is president of the R Street Institute.
GOP governors' group will spend less in Wisconsin than Michigan.
2:05 PM, Oct 24, 2014 • By STEPHEN F. HAYES AND JOHN MCCORMACK
Yesterday, we asked: Does Chris Christie have Scott Walker’s back?
Our answer, based on multiple conversations with Republicans in Washington and Wisconsin, was basically “yes.”
We’re less sure today.
Among the most authoritative sources for our piece was someone we identified, upon mutual agreement, as a “GOP source with knowledge of RGA spending.” The source pushed back hard on any suggestion the RGA wasn’t supporting Walker with sufficient enthusiasm and money. We concluded that concerns about Christie tanking Walker would appear to be “unfounded” if what this source told us was true.
It turns out that it wasn’t.
The RGA had already spent $6 million overall in Wisconsin, the source said, and would spend a total of $10 million or $11 million by Election Day – up to an additional $5 million to shore up Walker in a competitive race. The majority of the money the RGA had spent – and planned to spend – would be on television ads. Those numbers, this source pointed out, compare favorably to RGA spending next door in Michigan ($10 million to date), where Governor Rick Snyder has held a small but consistent lead in public and private polling. “So when all is said and done, we’ll spend more in Wisconsin than Michigan,” the source told us.
That’s not accurate.
After our story ran, Robert Costa of the Washington Post reported that RGA officials told him “their original plan had been to spend about $900,000 on the Wisconsin airwaves in the campaign’s closing days. But after internal deliberations and tightening polls, that amount has been increased to $2 million.”
That’s pretty close to the opposite of what we were told.
Our “GOP source with knowledge of RGA spending” told us: “We have another $4-5 million in TV ad time reserved for these last two weeks.” So if the RGA is committing to just $2 million now – that’s not an increase over their original amount, as RGA officials told the Post, it would appear to be a significant reduction.
What's more, Wisconsin GOP sources dispute the RGA's claim to have spent $6 million to date, putting the figure at closer to $3 million.
We'll have more clarity on this spending after the election, when final FEC reports are published. But even if we accept the RGA's new claim to the Post at face value--that they'll spend "$8 million in total in Wisconsin" by the end of the campaign--the RGA is now conceding that they are spending more on Michigan ($10 million to date) than Wisconsin.
The obvious questions: Is the RGA reducing its planned spending in one of the highest-profile and tightest gubernatorial contests in the country? If so, why? And why would the RGA spend more on Rick Snyder than Scott Walker?
1:29 PM, Oct 24, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Democrat Vincent Sheheen of South Carolina referred to his Republican opponent, sitting governor Nikki Haley, as a "whore" in an apparent slip of the tongue during a recent campaign rally.
"We are going to escort whore out the door," said Sheheen at a Thursday night event in Florence. The Democrat immediately recognizes his mistake and corrects himself. "We're going to escort her out the door," he says, smiling.
Watch the video below:
A spokeswoman for the South Carolina Democratic party denies Sheheen made the slip:
Haley currently leads Sheheen by 15.5 points in the Real Clear Politics average of polls.
1:08 PM, Oct 24, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Senate candidate Greg Orman of Kansas has been accused by Republicans as a Democrat-in-Independent's clothing, which explains why Orman is surrounding himself with Republicans in the final days of his campaign against GOP incumbent Pat Roberts. Here's a report from the Lawrence Journal-World:
During that time, the Roberts campaign and other groups have bombarded the airwaves with ads insisting that Orman is really a liberal Democrat posing as an independent, citing his past campaign contributions to President Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat from Nevada.
But the Orman campaign staged the event to dispel that very criticism by having former state Rep. Eric Carter, a conservative Republican from Overland Park, introduce him.
"We're all worried for our country, and for good reason. We've got challenges on the horizon," Carter said. "The one thing we've seen that has now been measured for decades is that it doesn't appear that the current batch of folks and the current way that we're doing things is going to meet those challenges."
Carter may very well prefer Orman to his own party's nominee, but the two men appear to have more than just a political relationship. According to Orman's personal financial disclosure form, Carter owes Orman a substantial amount of money.
In the form's section for unearned income sources, Orman lists one asset as "Eric Carter - Note," short for a "loan note," and lists the value of the investment as between $15,001 and $50,000. Orman also lists that he receives no income from this, suggesting the loan is either a no-interest or deferred-interest loan.
The listing is on page 18 of Orman's long disclosure document. Here's a picture of it:
Hosted by Michael Graham.1:00 PM, Oct 24, 2014 • By TWS PODCAST
The WEEKLY STANDARD podcast with editor William Kristol on the 2014 elections and the GOP's chances to retake the Senate.
This podcast can be downloaded here. Subscribe to THE WEEKLY STANDARD's iTunes podcast feed here.
12:46 PM, Oct 24, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
The White House announced that President Obama will meet with Nina Pham, the Texas nurse who just recovered from Ebola, later today:
In the afternoon, the President will meet with Dallas nurse Nina Pham. There will be a stills only pool spray at the top of this meeting in the Oval Office.
1:30PM THE PRESIDENT meets with Nina Pham
Stills Only Pool Spray at the Top (Final Gather 1:15PM – North Doors of the Palm Room)
12:20 PM, Oct 24, 2014 • By MARK HEMINGWAY
This morning, the better half has some thoughts the media coverage of the Ebola epidemic. Her point is that everytime people start to ask reasonable questions about Ebola, the media lecture them not to panic. The truth is that nobody's really panicked about the Ebola epidemic (yet), but by preempting any dialogue about our level of readiness with a patronizing insistence that there's no need to worry, the media leave people even more unsettled than they would have been if we'd just had a frank discussion about the risks to begin with. If you want to see what that frank discussion looks like, see my colleague Jonathan Last's excellent piece on Ebola. As for the media's patronizing responses, the boss -- who just joined Twitter! -- makes a good and succinct point in response to MSNBC's Chris Hayes:
Even if the odds are overwhelmingly against contracting Ebola, it's fairly rational to be worried about a horrific plague that has already infected thousands of people. The way to reassure people is to honestly tell them about what's being done to counter the risks of it spreading further. Insisting that you shouldn't worry about it actually makes things worse. It's an apocalyptic version of the "don't think of an elephant" problem. With Ebola already in the news, telling people over and over there's no need to contemplate bleeding from their eyeballs is going to cause them to do just that.
Further, the smug certitude amplifies fears when the media turn out to be wrong. And, at times, they've been pretty darn wrong in their hasty attempt to avert nonexistent Ebola panic:
12:06 PM, Oct 24, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
With less than two weeks to Election Day, the Democrats are bringing out Gloria Steinem to help rally their troops.
"The outcome of this election will be determined by one factor," Steinem writes to email recipients of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, "Women."
And that scares the Republicans half to death… but not enough to make them actually change their anti-women policies. They still refuse to pass Equal Pay laws. And they’re still perfectly comfortable denying women their basic human right to make decisions about their own bodies.
Instead they’re relying on tired, sexist tropes to appeal to us. Women will only vote if voting is like dating, getting married, or breaking up. At least that’s what Republicans seem to think.
This election is our chance to show them that their relentless sexism will not stand -- in fact, it will cost them their seats in Congress.
That's why I’m emailing you today. I need you to step up right now and make sure that Republicans who rely on sexism will lose on November 4th.
Are you in?
Daniel Halper is author of Clinton, Inc.: The Audacious Rebuilding of a Political Machine.
11:05 AM, Oct 24, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
The news of an Ebola patient in New York has stimulated a predictable response from government officials and the media:
“Don’t Panic,” they say, with their usual air of confidence.
This, of course, is always good advice. It is never a good idea to panic. Most people know that. They also know that the people who are telling them to stay calm, “we have things under control,” generally make a living by scaring people out of their wits. Officials of New York City have made table salt and soda pop sound just slightly less toxic than cyanide and arsenic. And, of course, the media is full of stories about how the world is relentlessly poisoning itself with carbon.
If panic is always the wrong response, it is likewise always prudent to treat what the media and the pols are saying with a large measure of skepticism.
Bill Richardson Hardest Hit
9:49 AM, Oct 24, 2014 • By ETHAN EPSTEIN
Foreigners should always stay out of North Korea. By traveling there, after all, tourists provide financial support to a manifestly evil regime. Moreover, they put themselves at risk – two American tourists are currently being held hostage there. (A third was released from captivity just this week.)
Happily, the North Korean regime appears to agree with my advice. This week, Pyongyang suspended all tourism to the country due to fears about Ebola. The ghoulish misery-mongers who facilitate travel to North Korea were upset by the news. “We are still hopeful we will be able to run the three tours we have scheduled for the remainder of 2014," one Nick Bonner of Koryo Tours told Reuters.
But presumably nobody is more upset at the latest developments than Mr. North Korea himself, former New Mexico governor and U.N. ambassador Bill Richardson, who has traveled there on multiple occasions and who apparently can't get enough of the place. Spare a thought for the portly former diplomat: I'm guessing his Christmas vacation plans have now been ruined.
'May have stopped and gone to a restaurant along the way.'8:34 AM, Oct 24, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
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 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.
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