Hosted by Michael Graham.5:25 PM, Oct 31, 2014 • By TWS PODCAST
The WEEKLY STANDARD podcast with senior writer John McCormack on why three is the magic poll number for the GOP's hopes in retaking the Senate.
This podcast can be downloaded here. Subscribe to THE WEEKLY STANDARD's iTunes podcast feed here.
2:56 PM, Oct 31, 2014 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
During a speech in Rhode Island today, President Obama called for more taxpayer-spending on pre-school in order to "make sure that women are full and equal participants in our economy" and said the following:
Sometimes, someone, usually mom, leaves the workplace to stay home with the kids, which then leaves her earning a lower wage for the rest of her life as a result. And that’s not a choice we want Americans to make.
Watch the video here:
Via Breitbart News.
Update: Over at The Federalist, Mollie Hemingway criticizes the president's remarks.
2:28 PM, Oct 31, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
News on the economy had been promising these last few days, especially the GDP increase in the last quarter. Today comes a not-so-good report on consumer spending. As Victoria Stilwell reports at Bloomberg:
Consumer spending in the U.S. unexpectedly dropped in September as incomes (PITLCHNG) rose at the slowest pace of the year, indicating the economy will have difficulty sustaining a pickup in growth into the end of the year. Expenditures decreased 0.2 percent last month, weaker than any economist projected in a Bloomberg survey, after rising 0.5 percent in August, Commerce Department figures showed today in Washington. Incomes increased 0.2 percent, the smallest gain since December.
The hard-eyed take on this, from Zero Hedge is:
Goodbye GDP hopes: Consumer Spending tumbled 0.2% against expectations of growing 0.1%, dropping at the fastest pace since October 2009. This is the biggest miss since Jan 2014 - in the middle of the PolarVortex. Did it snow in September, and whatever happened to that spending spree that lower gas prices were supposed to lead to? And whatever happened to that surge in consumer confidence - guess broke Americans can't monetize being "confident" about their rising wages just yet…
Question: How does an apprehensive consumer vote?
1:51 PM, Oct 31, 2014 • By MARIA SANTOS
Barbara Comstock, the Republican House candidate for Virginia’s diverse Tenth congressional district in the suburbs and exurbs of Washington, lost the first thing she ever ran for: a spot on her high school cheerleading team. “After that, I was like ‘I’m never doing anything again,’” she jokes.
Comstock, 55, says she spends a lot of time reflecting on her political career as a woman in a man’s world. She cites Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s feminist manifesto, Lean In, at least four times within 20 minutes.
She finds that men in politics are often “self-appointed”—they’ve planned their rise to power since they were 14. In contrast, she was shocked when her former boss, Rep. Frank Wolf, asked her to run for delegate in Virginia’s state house in 2008.
Now it’s six years later, and she’s in a tight and closely watched race to replace Wolf as he retires after 34 years in office. Politicians on both sides have been eyeing 75-year-old Wolf’s seat in the important swing district for years.
Her girlfriends told her she was crazy to run for delegate back then. She ended up announcing her candidacy by mistake. The house speaker misunderstood their conversation while she was still considering her options, and told a large crowd at a Republican fundraiser that she was running.
“Everybody clapped,” Comstock says. “And I said, ‘Okay, that’s sounds okay—nobody laughed.’”
Gender has been a focal issue in this campaign. Comstock and her Democratic opponent, Fairfax County Supervisor John Foust, are doing bitter battle for the support of the district’s educated, career-focused female population.
In August, Foust said that Comstock had never had a “real job.” Although he claims he was referring to her jobs in partisan politics, Comstock’s campaign attacked this as a sexist remark. “It was offensive and demeaning,” Comstock says. “I think it was meant that way. “
Meanwhile Foust zeroed in on Comstock’s record on abortion, trying to cast her as an extremist for once voting to require ultrasounds before receiving an abortion. She is “obsessed with restricting women’s reproductive rights,” he said at a recent debate.
But lately Comstock tends to stray away from social issues, saying there are “good people of good faith on both sides.” She focuses on jobs, the economy, tax cuts for families and small businesses, and her record of legislation targeting human trafficking.
In addition to working as a close aide to Wolf, Comstock also worked for the Republican National Committee doing opposition research, joined the Justice Department as a spokesperson after losing a friend in 9/11, and worked as a lobbyist for Carnival Cruise Lines.
At the RNC, Comstock helped dig up dirt on Al Gore and the Clintons. Former Clinton adviser Paul Begala now claims she has an “almost sick, sort of stalker-like obsession with President Clinton.”
But Comstock wants to be seen as a committed bipartisan, not a GOP attack dog. She cites her former boss, Wolf, frequently, and suggests she would follow in his popular, and not especially partisan, footsteps.
12:33 PM, Oct 31, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
If one objective of the bombing campaign in the Mideast was to stop – or, at least, reduce – the flow of fresh recruits to ISIS, then it has failed. As Greg Miller of the Washington Post reports
More than 1,000 foreign fighters are streaming into Syria each month, a rate that has so far been unchanged by airstrikes against the Islamic State and efforts by other countries to stem the flow of departures, according to U.S. intelligence and counterterrorism officials. The magnitude of the ongoing migration suggests that the U.S.-led air campaign has neither deterred significant numbers of militants from traveling to the region nor triggered such outrage that even more are flocking to the fight because of American intervention.
That the bombing has not stimulated an increase in the number of new recruits seems cold comfort.
Also from the Department of Discouraging War News, Fox is reporting that
As many as 20 to 30 former Guantanamo Bay detainees -- some of whom were released within the last three years -- are suspected by intelligence and Defense officials of having joined forces with the Islamic State and other militant groups inside Syria …
11:26 AM, Oct 31, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
In the fight against ISIS in Iraq, Anbar province is decisive and to turn things around there:
The United States needs to expand a limited advise-and-assist mission in Iraq into embattled Anbar province, where some Iraqi forces are isolated and in defensive positions against Islamic State, the top U.S. military officer said on Thursday.
As Reuters reports, General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, made it clear that:
"... the precondition for that is that the government of Iraq is willing to arm the tribes. We have positive indications that they are, but we haven't begun to do it yet.”
The general’s way with pronouns makes that statement a bit confusing. But the arming will be done by the U.S.
It, that is, it is done at all. We armed the Sunni tribes of Anbar once, back when it was Bush’s war. And this led to the success – one might even call it a victory – of the Anbar Awakening.
The prospects this time are not so promising. Especially as Dempsey made it:
… unclear if the advisers would be Americans or come from other participating nations in the U.S.-led coalition.
When it comes to U.S. strategy for dealing with ISIS, nothing clear.
9:21 AM, Oct 31, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Republican Scott Brown took issue with Democratic senator Jeanne Shaheen's characterization of the American military operations in the Middle East as an "occupying force" in the two candidates' final debate Thursday evening. The New Hampshire politicians were debating the use of U.S. troops against ISIS forces in Iraq and Syria.
"I don't think we want tens of thousands of American troops as an occupying force for sixty years, as we've had in Korea," Shaheen said.
"With respect to Senator Shaheen, we are a liberating force," Brown said in his rebuttal. "We are not an occupying force, senator." Watch the video below:
The Real Clear Politics average of polls shows a close race, with Shaheen leading Brown by just under three points.
9:09 AM, Oct 31, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
Bad news for Senator Udall. As reported in The Hill, a big-time, high-profile, hero to Colorado is backing his opponent, Rep. Gardner. It isn’t the money. Another five grand, more or less, won’t swing the election. What is ominous for the Udall operation is the identity of the donor.
He is a winner, who doesn’t seem to know anything else.
That would be John Elway. Who won two Super Bowls as quarterback of the Denver Broncos. And, upon retirement, moved into the front office where he signed Peyton Manning who took them to another and has them on track for a return date, this year in Dallas.
If Elway’s money comes with some of his aura, then it is a done deal.
There is a lot of discouraging news for Republicans in The Hill’s story. All the usual Hollywood types sending money out to all the usual candidates. But there is exquisite consolation for Republicans in Elway’s contribution. Ben Affleck might get to play Batman in the movies.
But John Elway gets to play John Elway in real life.
8:05 AM, Oct 31, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Harry Reid is now "begging" for support. He made the comment in an email to supporters of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee.
The subject for the email from Reid, the Senate majority leader, reads: "I'm begging." Which is no wonder considering his job is at stake -- if Democrats lose the Senate, Reid will no longer hold his current leadership position.
"Daniel -- I’ve been emailing a TON," Reid writes.
But I’m emailing once more because this moment is absolutely critical. I know you're a busy person, but this is an absolute MUST-READ:
Our Final Weekend Get Out The Vote Push is on the chopping block: We’re still $1,389,071 short with 24 hours left.
If we don’t fill that budget gap, we’ll be forced to scale back our plans to mobilize 575,000 voters this weekend. These are voters who could determine the outcome of the whole Senate.
I’m begging for your help to close the gap IMMEDIATELY. If we fall short before the last end-of-month deadline tomorrow, our chance to keep the Senate gets a whole lot smaller.
Will you pitch in to the Final Weekend GOTV Push before the final deadline in 24 hours? We’ll triple-match your gift.
The election is next week.
Daniel Halper is author of Clinton, Inc.: The Audacious Rebuilding of a Political Machine.
7:17 AM, Oct 31, 2014 • By WILLIAM KRISTOL
Two new polls show Republican Ed Gillespie closing in on Democratic incumbent Mark Warner in the Virginia Senate race. Christopher Newport University, which had Warner up 12 points earlier in the month in its survey, now has Warner's lead down to 7.
More provocatively, The Daily Caller reports on a new poll from Vox Populi that has Gillespie down only 4 points. Vox Populi is a relatively new as well as Republican-oriented polling firm, and one might be inclined to discount this result. On the other hand, a quick glance at the Vox Populi poll's other numbers doesn't raise warning flags: The sample is 34 percent Democratic, 31 percent Republican, 35 percent independent, which seems about right; and Obama's approval/disapproval is 44/56, which is consistent with other polling.
Maybe these surveys simply mean that Gillespie will lose by less of a margin than many expected, by mid-single digits. On the other hand, if Warner's ballot test is really, say, half-way between the two polls at around 47-48, then Gillespie really has a chance to keep on gaining and pull off one heck of an upset on November 4.
'It's fun.'9:01 PM, Oct 30, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
President Obama hasn't spent that much time on the campaign trail this election season. But that's not because he doesn't like it -- indeed, he does.
Speaking at an event in Maine for the Democratic candidate for governor, Mike Michaud, he talked longingly of his time on the trail. "I'm not on the ballot this time and this is the last election cycle in which I'm involved as President. And I know the hardest -- look, it makes you a little wistful. You kind of," said Obama to laughter, "because I do like campaigning. It’s fun. And I know as I reflect back on the thing that I love so much about campaigning is that it reminds me about the American people. Because you get to meet everybody, of all walks of life. You get to meet young moms who are just valiantly working on behalf of making sure their kids have a better life. You get to meet business owners who take pride in making something here in America and providing their workers a decent wage, and showing what’s possible for some young worker who comes in and can move up the ranks. You have a chance to meet veterans who just render extraordinary service to our country and then come back and suddenly are critical parts of their community and -- giving back as first responders or Little League coaches."
Obama cotinued: "You just meet people from all walks of life and it makes you so optimistic about the American people, how decent they are, how good they are, how hardworking they are, how resilient they are. And sometimes it seems as if our political process doesn’t reflect that, and it’s not what we see on television, it’s not what we read in the newspapers. And that’s part of what makes it so hard to change the status quo."
No, the reason Obama hasn't been campaigning so much these days is because he's not wanted by many of the candidates on the ballot.
6:03 PM, Oct 30, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Louisiana Democrat Mary Landrieu told NBC's Chuck Todd that she has had to work harder for her reelection to the U.S. Senate because the South has "not always been the friendliest place for African Americans."
"I'll be very, very honest with you, and the South has not always been the friendliest place for African Americans. It's been a difficult time for the president to present himself in a very positive light as a leader," Landrieu said. Barack Obama lost Louisiana in both 2008 and 2012. Watch the video below:
She also added, "It's not always been a good place for women to present ourselves. It's more of a conservative place." Landrieu, a woman, has been elected three times to the U.S. Senate, the first time in 1996.
5:53 PM, Oct 30, 2014 • By JAY COST
Chuck Todd of NBC News is traveling the country, talking to voters, and generally filing interesting reports. But in his report on Arkansas, he repeats a familiar, and false, trope:
Cotton looks poised to win in the state, but if you're trying to figure out why he hasn't put this race away yet, one thing that can't be ignored is his vote against the farm bill. It came up in our talk with Arkansas farmers here -- who were less Pryor Democrats than Clinton Republicans. If it were a disqualifying issue for Cotton, he'd be losing, but it is certainly something that's resonated in a negative way. This is a conservative state, but it's not one that's anti-federal government the way some other Southern states are (or at least are stereotyped to be.) These folks want to be a partner with government.
Two major points about the Farm Bill that Todd ignores.
First, it does little to help the average Arkansan. The Farm Bill is loaded with payoffs that accrue primarily to the wealthiest farmers in the country. Moreover, even the benefits distributed to rich farms usually do not go to the workers who run the farms, the people who supply those farms with equipment, feed, or seed -- or generally anybody with elastic inputs to contribute to the farm economy. Subsidies increase prices temporarily, but these only only induce new people to enter the market, so existing suppliers just end up facing stiffer competition, which drives prices back down.
So, the farm bill helps one group of people: those who own the land. To be more specific, it helps people who owned the land when the subsidies were increased. They collect windfall profits. Later buyers of the land end up paying more because the subsidies drive up the price they must pay.
Second, it is a massive logroll that has become a less and less good deal for rural America. What do you suppose the average Arkansan thinks of the extraordinary increase in food stamp participation over the last six years? I’ll bet dollars to donuts that these voters do not like it. Well, guess where it comes from? The Farm Bill. Since the 1970s food stamps and farm subsidies have been intertwined in the Farm Bill. They have no logical relationship to one another; they are rather combined for purely political purposes. That is, linking them together creates a logroll that protects parochial interests that could probably not survive a straight up or down vote on the House or Senate floor.
All in all, the Farm Bill is a terrible deal for rural people. The benefits their communities accrue are targeted narrowly, to the most wealthy landowners. Moreover, an enormous amount of their tax dollars are spent on a broken and wasteful food stamp program.
5:23 PM, Oct 30, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
Democrats up for reelection – especially in the much, much watched and analyzed Senate races – are keeping their distance from President Obama. Obviously and understandably. But this isn’t sitting well with the White House.
In a week that is shaping up big for anonymous leakers and sources of all kinds, Karen Tumulty at the Washington Post has found a “senior Democrat who advises the White House, speaking on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter” who says “the current feeling among Obama and his aides is ‘exasperation.’”
And: “He doesn’t think they have any reason to run away from him. He thinks there is a strong message there.”
For his part, the president has said:
“The bottom line is … these are all folks who vote with me; they have supported my agenda in Congress.”
“You can run, but you can’t hide."
Meet the pizza deliveryman who could determine control of the U.S. Senate.4:20 PM, Oct 30, 2014 • By JOHN MCCORMACK
“All these people are saying I’m costing Kay Hagan or Thom Tillis the election,” Sean Haugh told me as he sipped a glass of Duck-Rabbit beer on Tuesday night. “It’s like it’s somehow my fault that they’re terrible candidates.”
Haugh (pronounced "haw"), the Libertarian candidate in North Carolina’s Senate race, has drawn an increasing amount of attention this summer and fall as the quirky pizza deliveryman and craft beer aficionado who could potentially determine control of the U.S. Senate. Since the end of September, Democratic senator Kay Hagan’s lead over Republican Thom Tillis has dwindled in the RealClearPolitics polling average from nearly 5 points to just 1 point. That slim margin makes it ever more plausible that Haugh, who’s now garnering 5 percent in the RCP polling average, could play a decisive role in the North Carolina Senate race, and hence control of the Senate.
Will Haugh’s support fade away and give Tillis the edge on Election Day? Or will he scoop up enough of the remaining undecided voters to seal Hagan’s victory? At this point, it’s anyone’s guess, but on the ground in North Carolina there’s no sign of a surge in support for Haugh.
“This is great,” said one of the Durham County Libertarians when a waitress had to move their regular meeting at a local bar to a back room in order to accommodate a larger-than-usual crowd on Tuesday night. “There are so many people here.” By my count, 13 people were gathered. That included Haugh, his campaign manager, two members of the foreign press (one from Austria and one from Poland), and me. A more heavily-publicized event the night before didn’t do much better: Haugh told me “24 or 25” people ponied up $30 each to spend the evening drinking beer and talking politics with him.
But judging Haugh’s support based on turnout at public events might misunderstand and underestimate the Sean Haugh phenomenon. Haugh has become well known for his virtual campaign, which consists of a series of YouTube videos in which he drinks craft beer and discusses libertarian politics. The typical video gets just 1,000 to 2,000 views, but the shtick has helped him get a lot more attention in the mainstream media, including a profile in the Washington Post and appearances on national cable news networks.
Media attention probably doesn’t explain the Libertarian’s above-average support in the polls either: Haugh was getting 10 percent to 11 percent in the polls before the media began paying attention to him and only a few hundred people had seen his videos. What really seems to be driving support for Haugh is disapproval of national Democrats, like Kay Hagan and Barack Obama, as well as the GOP-controlled North Carolina legislature, where Thom Tillis is the speaker of the House of Representatives.
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