|2:16 PM, Oct 16, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
There is no one war and the struggle does not respect borders. The AP is reporting that:
Suspected al-Qaida militants on Thursday overran a security base south of the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, killing three policemen before fleeing to nearby mountains, security officials said.
While most of the world has been paying attention to other fights in other nations:
Al-Qaida's branch in Yemen, formally known as the Al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula and considered by Washington to be the terror network's most active offshoot, has been trying to gain a foothold in the al-Adeen area, a rugged and mountainous region south of the Yemeni capital.
War is not new to Yemen which:
... has for years endured attacks by the Sunni militant group on its army, security forces and state facilities.
Recently, the country has also been grappling with a revolt by Shiite rebels known as the Houthis who have in the past weeks overrun Sanaa and two northern provinces.
… the Shiite rebels made another stunning sweep, taking control of the key Red Sea port city of Hodeida and the province of Damar south of the capital.
No news on whether the rebels were jayvee or varsity; affiliates or core.
12:12 PM, Oct 16, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
Lost in the excitement over ISIS, the battle for Khobani, and the possible threat to Baghdad is news of the nation’s longest war, the one in Afghanistan, which the President once called a “war of necessity.”
Now, Senator Carl Levin, who is retiring, believes the that morale on the home front might cancel out what he sees as success on the battlefield. As reported by Travis Tritten in Stars and Stripes, Levin recently warned that
“If the public continues to believe that Afghanistan is a lost cause, it may become a self-fulfilling prophesy.”
The senator added that:
pessimism over the war has surged due to a “constant almost totally negative portrayal of events in the press.” But he said reasons for hope exist on the ground, including a power-sharing agreement brokered last month among the two presidential candidates, Ashraf Ghani and Abdullah Abdullah, following an election dispute.
The fragile transition period following its national election will require years of support from the United States — and Congress — to realize its promise and cement some stability for the country.
Which, given the example of Iraq, is exceedingly problematic.
11:23 AM, Oct 16, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Floyd Abrams writing in the Wall Street Journal:
The Metropolitan Opera in New York on Monday will present John Adams ’s opera “The Death of Klinghoffer. ” The organization’s decision to mount the production has already spurred protests, with more to come.
A too-brief summary: In 1985 Leon Klinghoffer, a 69-year-old disabled man, and his wife, Marilyn, were passengers on an Italian cruise ship, the Achille Lauro. The ship was hijacked by Palestinian terrorists, who shot Klinghoffer in the head and threw him overboard in his wheelchair.
John Adams is a serious artist, recognized as a leading creator of modern operas. “The Death of Klinghoffer,” first produced in 1991, contains a running debate between the killers—who voice a number of undisguisedly anti-Semitic slurs in the course of justifying their conduct—and their victim. Protesters are demanding that the opera be canceled; defenders couch their position, as has the New York Times , in terms of artistic freedom or—as one letter-writer to the Times put it—of helping us “understand the anger, frustration and grievances of other people.” ...
But the controversy over the Adams opera cannot be dealt with by simple reference to the First Amendment or artistic freedom. Those who direct the Metropolitan Opera made a choice when they decided to offer Mr. Adams’s opera, and it is altogether fitting that they be publicly judged by that choice.
Suppose the opera had been about a different murder and the Met offered an intense, two-sided operatic discussion of the desirability of the murder of, say, President Kennedy in a work called “The Death of JFK. ” Or a production about the murder of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in which singers on the “side” of that assassination offer racist views in support of the murder. Or how about one on the death of one of the thousands of victims of the 9/11 attack that contained an extended operatic debate between her killers and herself about whether her death was justified.
Surely we recoil at all of these. They all would be protected by the First Amendment. The First Amendment is basically—and gloriously—content-neutral. It protects not only enduring works of art but also the dregs of human imagination, ranging from films of animals being tortured and killed to the publication of “Mein Kampf.” But it is inconceivable that the Metropolitan Opera would have chosen to offer the public any of the operas I have just hypothesized.
Whole thing here.
10:39 AM, Oct 16, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
First time claims came in on the low side. Unexpectedly so. Which seems, paradoxically, predictable.
At any rate, 264,000 number is the lowest in 14 years, as Bloomberg reports.
There is more good news in the form of a sharp rise in industrial production.
On the other hand … there is the stock market, which opened more than 100 points off in the Dow after a day when it was down, at one point, more than 400. Then, there are the ominous signs of a global slowdown, including the possibility of a recession in Germany.
And, then, the price of oil has dropped into the $80 to $90 a barrel range which means cheap gas for commuters and truckers but skinnier margins for drillers and producers.
What is certain, amid all of this, is that there will be “experts” who never saw it coming, explaining what it all means.
Meanwhile, the money moves to safety.
Udall calls Gardner "Senator."9:34 AM, Oct 16, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Republican Cory Gardner leads incumbent Democrat Mark Udall in the fourth straight poll of the U.S. Senate race in Colorado. The new Quinnipiac poll of likely Colorado voters finds Gardner ahead of Udall by 6 points, 47 percent to 41 percent, while 8 percent support an independent candidate. With that independent discounted and in a head-to-head match-up, Gardner leads 49 percent to 44 percent.
That gives the 2-term House member from Yuma a 3-point lead in the Real Clear Politics average of polls against Udall, a first-term senator. Other recent polls from CNN, Fox News, and the Denver Post show Gardner with anywhere between a 2- to 6-point lead, with Udall never registering more than 46 percent support. Udall last led a New York Times/CBS News poll in late September by three points.
In a sign that perhaps even Udall has recognized his opponent may be beating him, the Democrat accidentally addressed Gardner as "Senator" in their televised debate Wednesday night. Watch the video:
Meanwhile, a report on a liberal sports blog that Gardner did not play high school football, as the Republican has claimed, has been debunked by the Denver Post:
As far as October surprises go, this one could have been a doozy: A sports blog questioned whether U.S. Senate hopeful Cory Gardner ever played high school football, as he has claimed, but photographs and interviews with townsfolk debunk the report.
The main source for the story by the online site Deadspin — former Yuma High School teacher Chuck Pfalmer, who had Gardner as a student and kept football stats — says the report mischaracterized his comments. Gardner graduated from the Eastern Plains high school in 1993.
In fact, Pfalmer says, Gardner played football his freshman, sophomore and junior years at the high school.
"He was not a starter, but he played in those years," said Pfalmer, 77, who retired from the school in 1997.
9:02 AM, Oct 16, 2014 • By KEVIN R. KOSAR
Yesterday’s presentation by the U.S. Treasury was a comical spectacle—at least for those of us with sardonic senses of humor. The good news? The deficit for FY2014 (which ended September 30) was 29 percent lower than the deficit was in FY2013. Increased corporate tax receipts drove much of the deficit reduction.
The bad news? The actual deficit was $483 billion, or nearly half-a trillion dollars. Only in Washington, D.C. can such a massive gap between spending and revenues be celebrated.
Despite a government shutdown and sequestration, government outlays did not go down. In fact, the Treasury reported, spending went up by $50 billion, to $3.5 trillion from $3.45 trillion the previous year.
Rather than admit that the federal government still has a spending problem, Secretary Jacob Lew and OMB Director Shaun Donovan oozed spin. “The President's policies and a strengthening U.S. economy have resulted in a reduction of the U.S. budget deficit of approximately two-thirds–the fastest sustained deficit reduction since World War II.”
Of course, as BusinessWeek pointed out, Lew’s baseline was, yes, FY2009 when the federal deficit reached its highest level ever: $1.4 trillion. This is a bit like a baseball player batting .166 in FY2014 and bragging that he raised his average by two-thirds over the past 5 years. To put FY2014’s $483 billion deficit in perspective, the deficit in FY2008 (when the economy was still in the tank) was $455 billion.
8:01 AM, Oct 16, 2014 • By JERYL BIER
In speeches designed to fire up Democrats to vote in midterm elections, President Obama has at times described voters in his party as having a "congenital defect." Wednesday, First Lady Michelle Obama suggested the problem might just be that they're sleepy.
Mrs. Obama spoke at a rally in Philadelphia for the Democratic candidate for governor of Pennsylvania, Tom Wolf. In an effort to boost turnout in November, the first lady told the crowd that she runs across voters "who are like, no, I ain’t going to vote, or I couldn’t wake up." But she stressed that every vote matters:
So this is where -- when I find people who are like, no, I ain’t going to vote, or I couldn’t wake up, or it doesn’t matter, or why -- 20 votes decided who your Governor was in 2010, and it could decide who the Governor is this time.
The first lady wasn't finished with the sleepy-voter theme. Later in her remarks, she expanded on the idea:
You know your 20 people. You know the people in your neighborhood, in your church, in your family who aren’t focused. And you can’t leave anybody behind.
That nephew you know who sleeps -- get him up. Wake him up. (Laughter.) Young people, you all know folks who aren’t paying attention. Your classmates, your dorm mates -- wake them up, get them out.
Mrs. Obama also told her audience that turnout was a large part of her husband's victories, especially "women and minorities and young people." Republicans, she explained, counted on "folks like us" to stay away from the polls:
And I don’t know if you remember, but people were shocked when Barack won -- they’re still shocked -- (laughter and applause) -- because they were counting on folks like us to stay home. See, but then we proved them wrong. Barack won because OF record numbers of women and minorities and young people who showed up and voted.
See, but then when the midterms came along -- which is where we are now -- too many of our people just tuned out. And that’s what folks on the other side are counting on right now, because when we stay home, they win. So they’re assuming that we won’t care. They’re hoping and praying that we’re not organized and energized. But only we can prove them wrong.
Says travel ban "won't contain the epidemic."7:01 AM, Oct 16, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
North Carolina senator Kay Hagan said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is "giving us great guidance" on how to deal with Ebola virus infections here in the United States. The Democrat, who is up for reelection, praised the CDC and the World Health Organization in a Wednesday press conference in Charlotte.
"The CDC and the World Health Organization is certainly giving us great guidance, but we've got to make sure the implementation is perfect," said the first-term senator. Hagan also declined to endorse the policy of temporarily banning passengers from entering the U.S. if they're traveling from West African countries experiencing the Ebola outbreak.
Watch the video below:
"That's not going to help solve this problem," said Hagan of the proposed ban. "That's not going to contain the epidemic that we see happening in Africa."
Hagan's Republican challenger, Thom Tillis, was among the first Senate candidates to publicly support such a ban, issuing a statement as early as October 2. “Keeping the American people safe must be our nation’s top priority, and the White House should immediately ban travel from from Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea to contain the spread of Ebola," Tillis said in his statement. "It makes absolutely no sense to risk more cases of Ebola in the United States by continuing to allow travel from Ebola-inflicted countries.”
4:44 PM, Oct 15, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
A video tracker for the opposition research firm America Rising asked Democratic Senate candidate Michelle Nunn whether she voted for President Obama in the 2008 and 2012 elections. Nunn, who is in a close race to fill the open Georgia Senate seat, refused to answer the direct question.
"Ms. Nunn, did you vote for President Obama in 2008 and 2012?" the tracker asked.
Nunn appears to smile wryly, but keeps her mouth shut and refuses to answer the question.
“Would you leave her alone," a Nunn supporter tells the tracker.
"Yes, of course, yes, he’s the president…he’s done great things…healthcare," another supporter can be heard telling the tracker.
The tracker asked Nunn the hard-hitting question at an early voting venue, the Adamsville Recreation Center, in Atlanta, Georgia.
Hosted by Michael Graham.3:25 PM, Oct 15, 2014 • By TWS PODCAST
The WEEKLY STANDARD podcast with staff writer Michael Warren on the competitive purple state senate races in Iowa and Colorado, and the competitive races in traditionally red states like Georgia and North Carolina.
This podcast can be downloaded here. Subscribe to THE WEEKLY STANDARD's iTunes podcast feed here.
2:45 PM, Oct 15, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
So where did it all go wrong for Obama. That’s the big question, asked by Amie Parnes of The Hill:
Political observers, from former Obama aides to staffers who served in previous administrations, say something is going to have to change if the president is to achieve anything at all in his last two years in office.
“It is a near metaphysical certainty that in his last two years, he’ll confront the same House he has in the last four years,” said William Galston, a senior fellow of governance studies at the Brookings Institution who served as an adviser to former President Clinton during his White House years.
“So the question is, how are they going to deal with that? If they deal with the same House in the same way, they’ll get the same results.”
She runs through the usual pedestrian explanations – lack of ‘focus,” obstructionist Republicans, etc. But buried in all the usual cant, there is this revealing nugget:
… even former aides to Obama are casting around for explanations as to why his stock of political capital has depleted so rapidly. “I’m still struggling to figure this out,” said one former senior administration official. “I think a lot of it boils down to this mindset that, ‘we all have the answers and we’re smarter than everybody else and we can do this.’ ”
Smarter than everybody else.
2:34 PM, Oct 15, 2014 • By MICHAEL WARREN
Republican Joni Ernst of Iowa leads her Democratic opponent Bruce Braley in their race for the U.S. Senate, according to a new poll from USA Today and Suffolk University. Ernst, a state senator, has 47 percent support while three-term congressman Braley earns 43 percent.
Ernst has now led or tied Braley in 11 of the last 12 polls, and the Real Clear Politics average of polls gives her a 1.6-point lead.
Here's more on the poll from USA Today:
President Obama has a 54% disapproval rating in the state that helped launch his 2008 presidential campaign to victory.
Ernst has a narrow edge in "favorability": 46% of respondents viewed her favorably compared with 43% for Braley.
While enough voters remain undecided to swing the race in either direction, the poll also gives Republicans a 7.6-point advantage in the generic ballot. That is, when asked whether they would vote for the Republican or the Democratic candidate, 48.6% said Republican, 41% said Democratic. Ernst also has a 48%-32% edge among independents.
Braley and Ernst are vying for Iowa open seat, currently held by retiring Democrat Tom Harkin.
Chris Christie to Maryland as governor's race shows signs of tightening.1:01 PM, Oct 15, 2014 • By STEPHEN F. HAYES
Every election year, it seems, there’s a race that catches the political set in Washington by surprise. It’s possible that we’ve already seen the 2014 version of this with the defeat of House majority leader Eric Cantor, a result few anticipated and fewer still predicted.
Maybe it’s a race that we’re already watching – the Senate contests in Kansas or Georgia – or where the surprise hatched early. Perhaps it’s one of the gubernatorial races in New England – Connecticut or Massachusetts – where polls suggest the race is tight but where a victory by the Republican would still count as a mild surprise. Or Illinois? Maybe even Hawaii? Each of those races is in the “toss-up” column on RealClearPolitics, so while results could surprise nothing would be truly shocking.
The same cannot be said for the gubernatorial contest in Maryland. Most handicappers have it squarely in the “likely Democrat” column and for good reason.
Barack won Maryland in 2012 by 26 points – a one-point improvement on his impressive win there in 2008. Despite the Republican wave of 2010, with the GOP picking up seats in the unlikeliest places, Governor Martin O’Malley won reelection by nearly 14 points. And he defeated Governor Bob Ehrlich, who remained popular in pockets of the state and, at the very least, had strong statewide name identification.
Other more recent signs are even more ominous for Free State Republicans. A New York Times/CBS/YouGov online poll two weeks ago found that Maryland was one of only three states in which Barack Obama has an approval rating above 50 percent. Maryland, at 55 percent, gave Obama better marks than any other state in the union.
And yet there are signs that the governor’s race in Maryland is more competitive than it should be. Voters in the state are being bombarded by harsh ads attacking the Republican, Larry Hogan. Watching the ads, which come from the campaign of Anthony Brown, the Democrat, and the Democratic Governor’s Association, one might think Hogan actually opposes all birth control and favors gun violence. (Questions to the DGA about the veracity of its ads went unanswered.)
Beyond that, heavy hitters from both political parties will be visiting the state in coming days. Barack Obama will be campaigning for Brown in Upper Marlboro on Sunday. And THE WEEKLY STANDARD has learned that New Jersey governor Chris Christie will campaign for Hogan on Tuesday.
Why the attention on a state that should be safe? Perhaps it’s just part of the typical pre-election mindgames the political parties play as they try to trick the opposing party into throwing away good money on bad candidates. Money the DGA spends in Maryland is money they’re not spending in, say, Wisconsin or Florida.
12:13 PM, Oct 15, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
President Obama won't be traveling to New Jersey and Connecticut later today, as he had been planning to do. There he was going to raise money for Democrats up for reelection in November. Instead, Obama is going to be hosting Cabinet members for a meeting on Ebola.
White House aide Dan Pfeiffer tweets: "Later this afternoon,POTUS will convene a meeting at the White House of cabinet agencies coordinating the government’s Ebola response."
The AP also reported the news: "White House: Obama cancels Wednesday trip to NJ, Conn, holding Ebola meeting with Cabinet."
UPDATE: Here's how the White House announced it:
The President’s travel today to New Jersey and Connecticut has been postponed.
Later this afternoon, the President will convene a meeting with cabinet agencies coordinating the government’s Ebola response. There will be a pool spray at the bottom of this meeting in the Cabinet Room.
3:30PM THE PRESIDENT holds a meeting with cabinet agencies coordinating the government’s Ebola response
Pool Spray at the Bottom (Final Gather 4:00PM – Brady Press Briefing Room)
11:46 AM, Oct 15, 2014 • By GEOFFREY NORMAN
As Myles Udland of Business Insider reports:
We just got a slew of bad economic data.
The details are not pretty:
Retail sales in September fell more than expected, producer prices unexpectedly fell, and the New York Fed's Empire manufacturing report came in way below expectations.
And especially troubling since the rest of the world is slowing down and, in some cases – including, ominously, Germany – dancing close to recession. Hopes that the U.S. would be immune (to use the word of the day) are jeopardized by this news.
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