|11:39 AM, Oct 23, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
House Committee on Homeland Security chair, Rep. Michael McCaul of Texas, released this statement on the attack yesterday in Ottawa, Canada:
“The attack in Ottawa is yet another reminder that homegrown terrorism is a real threat not only to our country but to our allies as well. Whether these individuals train in Syria or Iraq and then return home, or are inspired and recruited over the internet while in their basements, their danger to society is the same. The United States must wage a robust effort here at home to combat violent Islamist extremism by working with local communities to intervene when we see signs of it, fighting against online Islamist propaganda, and providing ways to stop individuals lured into the ‘jihadi cool’ subculture before they act. My prayers go out to the family of Cpl. Nathan Cirillo, and to our friends in Canada who were affected by yesterday’s shooting.”
11:34 AM, Oct 23, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
After the latest terror attack in Israel, the State Department issued the following statement urging all sides -- which would include Israel, the victims here -- to remain calm:
The United States condemns in the strongest possible terms today’s terrorist attack in Jerusalem. We express our deepest condolences to the family of the baby, reportedly an American citizen, who was killed in this despicable attack, and extend our prayers for a full recovery to those injured. We urge all sides to maintain calm and avoid escalating tensions in the wake of this incident.
The Jerusalem Post reports that the terror attack took one life, a 3-month-old baby girl, who is an American citizen:
Three-month-old Chaya Zissel Braun, the baby girl killed today in Jerusalem during a vehicular terrorist attack, was an American citizen, a US official confirmed to The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday night.
The girl was thrown from her stroller as a car swerved into the Ammunition Hill light rail station, injuring seven others.
It's believed the terrorist has links to Hamas:
The suspected perpetrator has alleged ties to Hamas, Israeli officials say.
"This is a natural response to the crimes of the occupation and invasion of our land by the Jews," Hamas spokesman Hossam Badran said in response to the attack.
10:52 AM, Oct 23, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
Headline over a long, detailed Kimberly Kindy and Sari Horwitz pice in the Washington Post:
Evidence supports officer’s account of shooting in Ferguson
Ms. Kindy and Ms. Horowitz write that the fatal shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri that led to several days of what we call, these days, “unrest”– and promises of more to come if “justice were not done – occurred pretty much as the police officer (and several fearful eyewitnesses) had described it. That:
… police officer Darren Wilson and Michael Brown fought for control of the officer’s gun, and Wilson fatally shot the unarmed teenager after he moved toward the officer as they faced off in the street, according to interviews, news accounts and the full report of the St. Louis County autopsy of Brown’s body.
So Rev. Al Sharpton and others will, of course, now call for prayers and calm.
A study finds gov't bureaucracy isn't good at listening to the public.9:10 AM, Oct 23, 2014 • By KEVIN R. KOSAR
The American public often rails about bureaucracy. It is not difficult to fathom why. Who amongst us has not fumed while standing in a long line at an understaffed post office? And how many of us have thrown up our hands in frustration at the complexity of income tax instructions and outsourced the work to an accountant?
The public tends to explain bureaucratic behaviors by attributing ill motives to the bureaucrats. Civil servants, they allege, are arrogant and lazy. Scholars, such as the late James Q. Wilson, have provided us with social scientific evidence of what many individual suspect: bureaucracies, especially government ones, tend to be slow to perform tasks, resist change, and frequently creep beyond their missions.
But, the blame should not be attributed to bad bureaucrats. Rather, research indicates that most of the problems spring from the very nature of government bureaucracy.
Agencies cannot run like businesses because they cannot do what private sector entities do: choose their lines of business and organize themselves accordingly. Instead, bureaucracies’ work is assigned through legislation, usually enacted over decades. The result is a progressive layering of policy duties, which often conflict with one another. And elected officials also tend to impose operational constraints on bureaucracies. For example, instead of allowing agencies to hire whomever they think is best for the job and pay them accordingly, elected officials force bureaucracies to follow byzantine hiring practices and dictate the permissible compensation packages. Thus it is that bureaucracies, as Wilson observed, tend “to be driven by the constraints” on them rather than “the tasks of the organization.”
And thanks to Adam Eckerd, a professor at Virginia Tech University, we know there is an additional reason that bureaucracies get the stink-eye from public: some of them are not good listeners. Eckerd looked at three federal agencies that recently embarked on significant public works. As required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969, the agencies prepared environmental impact statements in consultation with the public. Eckerd analyzed the comments submitted by the public and the agencies’ responses.
The results of the study, published in the latest copy of Public Administration Review, are dispiriting. He found little evidence of “meaningful dialogue” between agencies and the public. The two sides talked past one another, especially on the subject of proposed projects’ risk to the environment. “[P]ublic managers tend to take a more aggregate and technical view that risk is something to manage, while citizens focus on risks specific to themselves, consider the fairness of the distribution of risk, and come from a viewpoint that risk is best avoided.”
7:29 AM, Oct 23, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
While some in Congress have warned that Russian involvement in Ukraine portends a "looming" new cold war, Obama administration officials have for the most part brushed off the comparison. The president himself flatly said in July in response to a reporter's question regarding the Ukrainian situation, "No, it’s not a new Cold War." But in Germany for a remembrance of the fall of the Berlin Wall on Wednesday, Secretary of State John Kerry seemed less sanguine about the current state of relations with Russia. While he did say that "we are very hopeful that we can avoid" a new Cold War, he left the door open to the possibility [emphasis added]:
QUESTION: Thank you very much. I wondered if I could ask: You’re here 25 years after the Berlin Wall came down. How confident are you that you can avoid a new Cold War growing over Ukraine? What are the prospects at the moment for the talks there?
KERRY: ...On the subject of the Cold War, Frank and I talked about that last night and we actually talked about it with the kids this morning right over here by the wall. One of the kids asked us, “Do you think we’re going to be heading towards another Cold War?” And the question itself, frankly, is a question I wish I didn’t have to hear. None of us want another generation growing up with the foreboding sense of a Cold War. None of us want to see another generation see the resources and the efforts of nations diverted from building governments and societies and providing opportunity, and diverted into the mutual action and reaction that comes with a Cold War.
So we are very, very hopeful – and that is why Germany and the United States and others have been engaged in such robust diplomacy – we are very hopeful that we can avoid that. And it’s certainly our primary mission to try to do so.
As mentioned above, when directly asked about a new Cold War back in July, President Obama was unequivocal in his response:
Q Is this a new Cold War, sir?
THE PRESIDENT: No, it’s not a new Cold War. What it is, is a very specific issue related to Russia’s unwillingness to recognize that Ukraine can chart its own path.
Earlier in the conflict as sanctions against Russia were being weighed, the president brought up the subject himself in remarks in a March press conference during a visit to Rome, saying that "we’re not looking at a possible return to the Cold War" with Russia:
5:41 PM, Oct 22, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Speaking earlier today in Illinois, Vice President Joe Biden praised Governor Quinn -- and, more importantly, his mother. "I like guys because of their moms," said Biden.
"You know why I like Governor Quinn so much? His mother says I'm the best looking Irish man she knows," Biden said to laughter. "That's why I like his mom. I like guys because of their moms is the real reason."
Biden also joked that despite campaigning for him last go around, Quinn was still able to win election the first go around.
Dan Malloy declares himself a "porcupine."
4:44 PM, Oct 22, 2014 • By WHITNEY BLAKE
With a grim two-word subject line "dire situation," Connecticut Democrats are sounding the alarm. The email pleads:
"We're running out of time....It's a dire situation — one that could turn ugly....We can stop the Republicans from buying this election. But we must do it together."
Democrats have good reason to panic in the Constitution State. This week's Rasmussen poll gives businessman Tom Foley a 7-point lead over Democratic governor Dan Malloy (50 to 43 percent).
Meanwhile, Quinnipiac's latest poll, released this morning, shows the two in a virtual dead heat, with Malloy at 43 percent and Foley at 42 percent, and unaffiliated candidate Joe Visconti garnering 9 percent. Without Visconti, the two are tied at 45 percent.
But Malloy is certainly not acting like the front-runner; his desperation has become more palpable this week. After Foley released his federal income tax returns, Malloy is now demanding his state returns from multiple states, and chastising the media for not investigating.
Malloy also just called himself a porcupine in a local radio interview. "You don't have to love me. I'm a porcupine,” he said. “That's okay. But I make decisions. I'm moving the state forward."
Malloy says he's "gratified" with the state's newly released jobs numbers, which showed a gain of 11,500 jobs in September. At least one economist is questioning the convenient number — the highest monthly gain in 20 years. Still, the 6.4 percent unemployment rate remains above the national 5.9 percent rate.
The race is one of a handful of gubernatorial toss-ups in this cycle. One October surprise may be Obamacare; a new crop of residents has been receiving letters about discontinued plans and much higher premiums for Obamacare-compliant plans.
3:35 PM, Oct 22, 2014 • By LEE SMITH
During his visit to Washington this week, Israeli defense minister Moshe Ya'alon has spent part of his time criticizing Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority, warning about the dangers of a bad nuclear deal with Iran—and highlighting the problems with Turkey.
As Haaretz reports today, Ya’alon has been complaining about the negative role Turkey and its now president and former prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan have played the last several years.
“It’s unbelievable – how can you ignore it?” Ya'alon exclaimed during an interview with journalist Charlie Rose, broadcast on PBS and Bloomberg TV. He maintained his onslaught on Ankara in a Washington meeting with his U.S. counterpart Chuck Hagel, telling his American colleague, according to a statement issued by his office: “Turkey is playing a cynical game. Hamas moved its terror headquarters from Damascus to Istanbul, despite the fact that Turkey is a NATO member.” Ya'alon said that Turkey’s policies often contradict the interests of the United States.
Daniel Pipes made many of the same points in THE WEEKLY STANDARD earlier this month. “Since mid-2011,” Pipes writes, “Erdogan’s government began breaking laws, turned autocratic, and allied with the enemies of the United States.”
Pipes argues that it’s in the American interest to correct Turkey’s course. “The Obama administration can signal that the bullying tactics that have won Erdogan votes at home have won him only animosity in the rest of the world,” Pipes writes. “If Erdogan insists on acting the rogue, then that’s how its former ally [the United States] should treat him.”
We’re not quite at the point where Ankara is a “former” ally, but as Moshe Ya’alon has indicated this week, it would be best for Israel, the United States, and likely Turkey, too, if the White House learned to manage a valuable, but far too volatile, NATO partner more closely.
3:31 PM, Oct 22, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
A new poll of the U.S. Senate race in Colorado by USA Today and Suffolk University finds Republican Cory Gardner with a seven-point lead over first-term Democratic incumbent Mark Udall. The poll found 46 percent of likely Colorado voters say they prefer Gardner, while 39 percent say they prefer Udall. USA Today has also shifted their projection of the race from a toss-up to leaning Republican.
This is the seventh straight poll to show Gardner in the lead, and the Real Clear Politics average of polls gives the Republican a 4.4-point lead.
The USA Today/Suffolk poll also found Gardner leading Udall among both men and women voters and with all age groups except those voters between the ages of 18 and 25. In addition, 53 percent say they disapprove of Udall's job as senator and 54 percent have an unfavorable opinion of him. President Barack Obama fares even worse, with 57 percent saying they disapprove of his job and 56 percent saying they have an unfavorable opinion of him.
Among those who say they have already voted, Gardner is winning 52 percent to Udall's 44 percent.
Hosted by Michael Graham.3:15 PM, Oct 22, 2014 • By TWS PODCAST
The WEEKLY STANDARD podcast with staff writer Michael Warren on the 2014 elections.
This podcast can be downloaded here. Subscribe to THE WEEKLY STANDARD's iTunes podcast feed here.
2:06 PM, Oct 22, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
The Chinese want a modern and formidable blue-water Navy. Hard to be a serious global player without one. Equally difficult, it seems, to create one. Especially the aviation component, where the United State has no equals and, in fact, no other nation even comes close.
China’s navy, as Robert Beckhusen of Real Clear Defense reports, is having its problems with the carrier Liaoning:
… 53,000-ton, 999-foot-long carrier [that] could be dangerous to her crew and prone to engine failures. If so, that makes the vessel as much of a liability as an asset to Beijing.
… on at least one occasion during recent sea trials, Liaoning appeared to suffer a steam explosion which temporarily knocked out the carrier’s electrical power system. The failure, reported by Chinese media site Sina.com, resulting from a leak in “the machine oven compartment to the water pipes.”
The ship was actually built by the Soviet Union, back when it had dreams of ruling the waves, and the ship’s construction is evidence of its origins. It is a piece of nautical junk, like the :
The 50,000-ton Russian carrier Admiral Kuznetsov [which] goes nowhere without a tug escort in case her engines break down while underway.
Liaoning is more alike to its ex-Soviet cousins than different—confined to home ports and restricted from challenging rivals like India.
The United States Navy scraps better aircraft carriers (e.g. the Enterprise) than any other nation builds or sails.
12:31 PM, Oct 22, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
The war in Afghanistan is nearing an end – the American part, at any rate – but there is no letup in the fighting and dying of Afghan soldiers. Time, quoting from a Wall Street Journal story, reports that:
More than 4,000 Afghan troops died in combat in 2014, a record high since the U.S.-led invasion began in 2001, according to new casualty figures released by the Afghan defense ministry.
In addition to its military effort to subdue the Taliban, the U.S. has been conducting a campaign to reduce the cultivation in Afghanistan of poppies for the production of heroin. That, according to an AP report carried by ABC, hasn’t been going so well, either:
Opium poppy cultivation in Afghanistan grew to an all-time high in 2013 despite America spending more than $7 billion to fight it over the past decade, a U.S. report showed on Tuesday.
Afghanistan, it seems, is no longer the “war of necessity.” And in danger of becoming a lost cause.
11:16 AM, Oct 22, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Here's video that captured the sound of gunfire inside the Canadian Parliament:
The AP reports:
Police and witnesses say a gunman has shot a Canadian soldier standing guard at the National War Memorial in Ottawa.
Witnesses also said the gunman entered Parliament and shots rang out. Royal Canadian Mounted Police warned people in downtown Ottawa to stay away from windows and rooftops.
The shooting, which happened shortly before 10 a.m., comes just two days after two Canadian soldiers were run over - and one of them killed - in Quebec by a man with jihadist sympathies.
10:42 AM, Oct 22, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Andrew Cuomo's book is a dud. The memoir, released last week, has sold 945 hardcover copies in its first week of sales, Amy Chozick of the New York Times reports.
"Andrew Cuomo's memoir sold 945 hardcovers in first week on shelves, according to BookScan. That's right, guys, 945 copies," writes Chozick on Twitter.
A previous article in the New York Times reported that Cuomo had received an over $700,000 advance for the title.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is set to earn more than $700,000 for a memoir that will be published this summer, according to a new ethics filing.
The memoir, “All Things Possible: Setbacks and Success in Politics and in Life,” is scheduled to be published Aug. 5 by Harper, an imprint of HarperCollins.
When Mr. Cuomo’s tax returns were released last month, his office said he had been paid $188,333 last year as a partial advance for his book, with a chunk of that money going toward representation and legal fees. At the time, his aides would not disclose how much he was to be paid in the future, creating a minor literary mystery — at least among the narrow audience interested in the fine print of book contracts or the governor’s personal finances.
The book was delayed until last week, and not published in August as originally planned.
Daniel Halper is author of Clinton, Inc.: The Audacious Rebuilding of a Political Machine.
9:29 AM, Oct 22, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
Healthcare.gov continues to prepare for open enrollment beginning on November 15, hoping to avoid a repeat of the disastrous launch in 2013. Apparently the preparations include extra "scheduled" maintenance. Wednesday morning, the site displayed a message reading, "The system isn’t available right now. We’re performing scheduled maintenance. Learn more." The message was posted on the site some time Tuesday evening:
The notice links to a September 25 blog entry that explains, "We’re doing maintenance and upgrades to improve the site during certain time periods over the next few weekends."
Attempts to log in are met with this screen:
There was no reason given as to why the "scheduled maintenance" was taking place during the week rather than on weekends as planned. An email to the Department of Health and Human Services seeking an explanation has not been returned.
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