|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.
9:01 AM, Oct 22, 2014 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
Entering the final fortnight of the Senate races, something of a pattern has started to develop. Republicans are leading in the Real Clear Politics average of recent polling in all states that were to the right of the national average in the 2012 election (which President Obama won by 4 points), with two exceptions: Kansas, which is tied; and North Carolina, where Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan is clinging to a 2-point lead but has less than 46 percent support. These right-of-center states in which the GOP is leading include six where seats are currently held by Democrats: Arkansas, Alaska, Louisiana, South Dakota, Montana, and West Virginia.
In all states that were at least 3 points to the left of the national average in the 2012 election (so states where Obama won by at least 7 points), Democrats are leading. These include several contested races, such as in Minnesota (4 points to the left of the national average in 2012), Michigan (5 points), New Mexico (10), Oregon (12), Illinois (17), and New Jersey (18).
That leaves three states that were less than 3 points to the left of the national average in the 2012 election — and the president’s Obamacare-induced 42 percent approval rating has put them very much in play this time around. Indeed, Republican candidates are leading in Colorado (1 point to the left of the national average in 2012) and Iowa (2), and Scott Brown is narrowly trailing in New Hampshire (2).
Then there’s Virginia. Versus the country as a whole, Virginia is as down-the-middle as could be: Obama won reelection nationally by 3.9 points; he won in Virginia by 3.9 points. Based on 2012 (and 2008 and 2004), Virginia is to the right of Colorado, Iowa, and New Hampshire — and Republicans are showing they can do quite well in those races. Moreover, as Kim Strassel, Ramesh Ponnuru, and Ross Douthat have all noted in recent days, Virginia GOP Senate candidate Ed Gillespie is running an unusually (for this cycle) ideas-focused, reform-minded campaign. In particular, he’s the only GOP Senate candidate so far who has advanced a genuine alternative to Obamacare. So why have national Republican consultants and donors so overlooked this race?
8:01 AM, Oct 22, 2014 • By JIM SWIFT
Washingtonians and visitors seeking to attend Veterans Day ceremonies or to pay their respects to the fallen at Arlington National Cemetery this year will need to allocate extra time in getting there.
That's because the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority has cancelled all Blue line rail service on the federal holiday, and it's the only line that services the Arlington National Cemetery Metro train station.
The public transportation authority isn't shutting down for mandated safety repairs, which have plagued the agency since a 2009 fatal accident. Rather, service is being cancelled for "a major concert."
The concert, billed as "The Concert for Valor," is being held on the National Mall and is being sponsored by HBO, Chase, and Starbucks. Its being called "a first-of-its-kind concert to honor the courage and sacrifice of America’s veterans" and will be broadcast to HBO's 32 million U.S. subscribers. A press release states that "HBO will offer its affiliates the opportunity to open the signal, allowing nonsubscribers to view the special."
According to WMATA, the concert "could draw up to 800,000 attendees -- larger than July 4 and many Presidential Inaugurations." Musical performers Eminem, Metallica, Bruce Springsteen, Rihanna, Carrie Underwood, and the Zac Brown band are slated to perform. Celebrities like Tom Hanks, John Oliver, Meryl Streep, Jamie Foxx, and Steven Spielberg are also on the docket.
Due to its proximity to the event on the mall, alternate means of transportation to Arlington National Cemetery will be especially more difficult.
In an effort to accommodate those who want to attend the wreath laying at the Tomb of the Unknowns or remember friends or family, WMATA is offering a special shuttle train from Reagan Airport to Arlington Cemetery. But expect to wait a lot longer to get there -- people have a concert to attend.
7:31 AM, Oct 22, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Democratic National Committee chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz wouldn't "predict" a Democratic takover of the House:
"So is there a chance for Democrats to pickup the House of Representatives?" asked the MSNBC host interviewing her.
"You know, I think the best thing that I could predict is that we have an opportunity to pick up seats. Beyond that I wouldn't make any other predictions," said Wasserman Schultz.
The DNC chair was also asked whether voting for Democrats is a vote for President Obama's policies. She had a hard time answered the question:
8:08 PM, Oct 21, 2014 • By DANIEL HALPER
Democratic Senate candidate Kay Hagan skipped tonight's debate in North Carolina. Here's video of the debate opening:
As the Republican research firm America Rising points out, Hagan's chair was left empty:
"Facing new reports of corruption and insider deals, Kay Hagan skipped tonight’s North Carolina Senate debate, leaving an empty chair to represent her campaign. After the last debate, America Rising trackers caught Hagan skipping the post-debate press conference because of her inability to answer questions about missing Armed Services hearings on ISIS," claims America Rising.
"This is not an image or video that conveys strength or confidence from Kay Hagan’s campaign 2 weeks out from Election Day."
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