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Poll: Walker Takes Five-Point Lead over Dem Opponent


Wisconsin governor Scott Walker has opened up a five-point lead over Democratic challenger Mary Burke among likely voters, according to a new Marquette University poll. Walker is ahead 50–45, which represents the first time either candidate has gained a lead outside the margin of error among likely voters since March. Walker’s lead narrows to 46–45 among registered voters polled, with 4 percent of registered voters saying they are undecided and another 1 percent saying they will vote for someone else.

Democrats across the country are focused on the Wisconsin governor’s race because they hope to undercut Walker’s collective-bargaining reforms and dash his 2016 aspirations. Earlier this week, First Lady Michelle Obama told Wisconsinites that beating Walker was as important as President Obama’s presidential elections, as NRO reported.

Likely female voters support Burke over Walker 54–40 in the Marquette University poll. But Walker’s lead among men is larger, with more than 60 percent of likely male voters saying they support Walker. 

Affectionately Known …


In today’s Impromptus, I have some notes on the Castro brothers’ relations with Russia, which is to say, with Vladimir Putin. Accompanying my column is a picture taken of Fidel Castro and Putin this past summer. Putin is visiting the old monster at home.

I noticed that the photo credit is “Alex Castro.” I can only assume that is Castro’s son. He has many children — nobody knows how many, but at least ten — including five with one woman, Dalia Soto del Valle. They are all sons, and their names all begin with A. They are Alexis, Alejandro, Antonio, Ángel, and Alex. Castro’s middle name is Alejandro, and that was one of his noms de guerre. Also, he apparently idolizes Alexander the Great.

Anyway, the whole point of this little blogpost is to tell you this: Some Cuban-American democracy activists refer to Castro’s sons with Dalia Soto as “the five A-holes.”


‘The Cult of Neil deGrasse Tyson’


Ramesh noted Tyson’s latest statement on the Bush-quote controversy earlier. My Politico column today is on the flap:
When the indefatigable Davis queried Tyson about the provenance of his suspect material, the impressively factual scientist wrote an evasive, condescending point-by-point reply on Facebook.
Tyson could have said of the Bush quote, “You know, I might have messed that one up, and will check it out. Thanks for raising it.” Instead, he said he had an “explicit memory” of Bush saying it, and of “making a note for possible later reference in my public discourse.” (Most people who do public speaking do public speaking; Tyson does “public discourse.”)
Tyson helpfully informed Davis, “One of our mantras in science is that the absence of evidence is not the same as evidence of absence.”
Really? When it comes to presidential speeches? Just because there’s an absence of evidence that Obama said in a State of the Union address that he wants to nationalize the oil companies, it doesn’t mean he hasn’t said it?

For old time’s sake, here’s our Tyson cover from a couple of months ago:

Web Briefing: October 2, 2014

Cory Booker Is Vulnerable


A new Quinnipiac poll has Cory Booker up by only five points among those who’ve have made up their minds, 39 percent to 34 percent for Jeff Bell’s guerilla unfunded campaign for the U.S. Senate. (Booker leads Bell by eleven points among likely voters overall.) Bell is a full-spectrum conservative but he is focusing his campaign relentlessly on rising prices and stagnant wages for the middle class, blaming the Fed, and offering a gold standard as a solution.

Bill Kristol analyzes the race here.

Full disclosure:  Before he left to run for the Senate, Bell was my colleague at American Principles Project. I think I may have written a small check to his campaign. If not I’m certainly going to do so now.


Poll: Brown Tied with Shaheen in NH


Scott Brown continues to keep pace with Jeanne Shaheen in New Hampshire’s increasingly competitive Senate race, according to a new poll

The latest NH1/New England College survey shows Brown tied with Shaheen, with both at 47 percent support among likely voters. A poll conducted the week before by the same group found Shaheen leading by seven percentage points; Brown’s closing the gap can be credited to his taking a slight lead among independent voters.

September brought mixed findings from the more than a dozen public polls of the Granite State race, with some showing Shaheen or Brown holding sizable leads, while others found them virtually tied or within the margin of error.

Lowry: Polls Show Public’s ‘Astonishing Hawkishness’ on ISIS


Desperate: Senate Dem Adopts Republican Platform Planks


Senator Mark Pryor (D., Ark.), in an attempt to win reelection against Representative Tom Cotton (R., Ark.) in a state that Mitt Romney carried in 2012, released an ad associating himself with traditionally Republican priorities. 

“I approve this message because I am working to make Washington smarter and smaller,” Pryor says at the end of a 30-second spot criticizing an Environmental Protection Agency regulation regarding farm dust and telling voters that “Mark supported tax cuts for small business.”

It looks like Pryor’s effort to convince voters he’s a Democrat in name only. Cotton’s camp pointed out Pryor voted for Obamacare and defended the vote in another recent ad. And for all that this new ad touts his opposition to the EPA rule, Pryor voted with Reid to prevent Republicans from being able to offer an amendment against the regulation.

“This is typical Mark Pryor: Talk one way in Arkansas and vote the liberal line in Washington, D.C.,” Cotton spokesman David Ray said in response to the ad. “For the last six years Senator Pryor has sat idly by and rubber stamped President Obama’s liberal agenda. The only things Arkansans have to thank Senator Pryor for are more taxes, more debt, and more expensive health insurance.”

Cotton leads the race 45 to 42, according to the Real Clear Politics average. The most recent Rasmussen poll has him up 47 to 40, while the Democratic-leaning pollster Public Policy Polling has Cotton leading 45 to 39. USA Today, on the other hand, shows Pryor leading by two points.

McCarthy: Obama Trying to ‘Miniaturize’ Terror Threat by Splintering al-Qaida into Fake Groups


Sabato Rating Shifts Iowa to ‘Lean Republican’ from Toss-Up


Iowa “leans Republican,” according to Larry Sabato’s assessment of the Senate race between Representative Bruce Braley (D., Iowa) and Republican state senator Joni Ernst.

“We have long thought that Ernst’s folksiness could pay off here if Democratic attacks on some of the more conservative parts of her rhetoric and record did not pan out,” Sabato and Kyle Kondik write for the Crystal Ball.“With a month to go, she seems to be staying out of trouble, and the Republican lean of this year’s midterm combined with Braley’s much-derided campaign suggests to us that Ernst really is leading here: We’re moving the Iowa Senate race from Toss-up to Leans Republican. It’s worth noting that Democrats argue the race is a tie, but even if that’s the case, it might be easier for Ernst to get to a plurality than Braley in this kind of environment.”

Ernst’s break for the lead is coming at a good time, as early voting in the state began on September 25.

Time to Break the College Board’s AP Testing Monopoly


The College Board’s decision to create a new, unprecedentedly detailed, and ideologically-slanted framework for its AP U.S. History (APUSH) Exam has touched off a political and cultural firestorm. I and other critics have charged the College Board with building a strong leftward bias into its revised version of American history. (For details, see here, here, here, here, and here.) Controversies have erupted between the College Board and school boards in Texas and now in Jefferson County, Colorado. The issue is spreading nationally.

While resolving the AP U.S. History controversy will be difficult, the solution is straightforward. We need to break the College Board’s monopoly on Advanced Placement testing.

The College Board’s monopoly hasn’t been a problem up to now because instructions for the various AP courses have traditionally remained brief.  Until this year, for example, coverage for the AP U.S. History Exam was detailed in a five-page topical outline. This outline merely listed subjects to be included on the exam, leaving teachers free to present U.S. history from a variety of perspectives.

The new framework is not only more than ten-times longer than the old topical outline, its conceptual structure effectively forces teachers to adopt the College Board’s revisionist tenets. The College Board is also planning to produce detailed frameworks for its other AP tests, including U.S. Government and Politics, European History, and World History. In practice, this will turn the College Board into a national school board. Unless state and local governments knuckle under to the College Board’s curriculum guidelines, their students will be at a substantial disadvantage when applying to college.

The College Board’s AP testing monopoly has survived because of public trust. Implicitly, the College Board has promised to remain non-partisan and non-directive, thereby permitting states, school districts, and teachers with a wide range of educational perspectives to work comfortably within its system. On this presumption, state and federal governments have channeled tens of millions of dollars to the College Board in direct payments and testing fees. In effect, the College Board has become a government-subsidized educational monopoly. Now, however, with the College Board violating public trust by turning itself into a biased and controlling de facto national school board, this government-subsidized educational monopoly must end.

The escalating battle between the College Board and the Jefferson County school board illustrates the impossibility of solving this problem so long as AP testing remains in the hands of a single company. The Jefferson County school board has rightly refused to accept the flawed and overly directive APUSH framework imposed on it by an out-of-state company. The school board has both the right and an obligation to decide on its own curriculum.

Keep reading this post . . .

The Neil DeGrasse Tyson Affair


reaches its sorry end. Sean Davis says Tyson acted like a “dishonest politician” when he made up a quote from George W. Bush; that’s certainly how Tyson is acting now in spinning the incident.

If I am reading Tyson’s latest comment correctly, he believes that when Bush said that God named the stars, Bush meant that we got the names we use for the stars directly from God: that Christians, or at least Christians of Bush’s stripe, believe that God told us the names of the stars and that we then started calling the stars by those names. I think that’s what he’s saying, but I almost can’t believe it because it is so awesomely stupid.

Cry for Argentina


Citizens of Argentina are used to the erratic behavior of their president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, but they still weren’t prepared for her rambling 45-minute address on national television on Tuesday night. The country’s chief executive ranted about American plots to kill her in a conspiracy theory apparently designed to distract attention from her country’s latest default on its debt.

“If something happens to me, don’t look to the Mideast, look North,” Fernández said during the address on Tuesday night, in which she alluded to an alleged plot against her by local bankers and businessmen “with foreign help”.

The local reaction was swift. Opposition leader Elisa Carrio called her “completely out of touch with reality” and the Argentine central bank governor, Juan Carlos Fabrega, promptly resigned after less than a year in office. In her speech Kirchner had accused businessmen of trying to overthrow her government by trying to provoke devaluation of the peso with assistance from within the central bank itself.

Argentina went into default in August after it refused to pay $1.3 billion awarded by a New York judge to “vulture fund” investors who demanded full repayment on bond they held from the country’s previous default in 2001. “I’m not naive, this is not an isolated move by a senile judge in New York,” Fernández told her countrymen on Tuesday. “Because vultures look a lot like the eagles of empires,” referring to the bald eagle, the symbol of the United States.

Sadly, for Argentina’s sake the next presidential elections are over a year away. The question now is increasingly whether or not the country’s economy can wait that long.

Battle of the Clichés


From my most recent NRO article, about today’s rhetoric: “We are now in an era when much of political discourse consists in the shrieking of epithets, as well as the imputation of discreditable motives and (often) of a slavish adherence to extreme or notoriously unsuccessful ideologies. In the rare moments when the war of defamatory sound-bites rises to the invocation of respectable or at least recognizable sources, foreign and national-security matters are generally reduced to bandying about the Munich Conference of 1938 and countering with the conjuration of boots on the ground as if that were an insane or morally reprehensible concept.”

Whether you agree or disagree, your comments are, as always, most welcome.


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Krauthammer’s Take: ‘Crisis of Competence’ at WH Exposes a ‘Presidency Falling Apart’


There “is a sense in the country,” says Charles Krauthammer, “that we have a presidency that is falling apart” — call it a “crisis of competence.” On Special Report, the panelist explained how chaos abroad and at home — much of it caused by the decisions of the current administration — is giving Americans reason to worry.

“Abroad, in the vacuum that we created by Obama’s retreat, more aggressive, more wicked, in fact some of the worst people on earth have filled it in Libya, in Syria, in Iraq. Putin’s on the march in eastern Europe. Everybody senses America is not there. Our allies are very worried about the kind of support they’re going to get. That’s a consequence of [Obama’s] policy.”

And at home? “Domestically, the great idea of expansion of government and new entitlements and all this — this is a crisis of competence. The IRS, the VA, the Secret Service . . . all of these agencies that we had trust in, under this administration are showing how badly government is run.”

“You combine them,” says Krauthammer, “and you get a sense that things are out of control.”

Al Qaeda Calls For Truce With Islamic State So Jihadists Can Unite Against America


At the Long War Journal, Tom Joscelyn and Oren Adaki report that a high-ranking member of al Qaeda’s Arabian Peninsula franchise has called on rival jihadist factions in Iraq and Syria to unite for the greater good of confronting the United States and the West.

The AQAP leader, Sheikh Nasser bin Ali al Ansi, also calls for Sunni jihadist unity against the Shiite Islamic Republic of Iran and its proxies – meaning Syria and Hezbollah, among others.

Tom and Oren relate that, in a just-released video, al Ansi states: 

What the Islamic ummah [worldwide community of Muslims] is witnessing today by way of developments in Iraq and Sham is the enabling of Iranian agents running parallel to a fierce war waged on the mujahideen as well as aerial, land, and sea bombardment on our brothers, the mujahideen in the Islamic State and [the Al Nusrah Front] and the other jihadi factions.… This is the same plan that is being executed in Yemen by enabling Iranian agents and handing over the capital Sana’a to them without any resistance mentioned from the military.

The LWJ report further explains:

Al Ansi says the jihadists must unite to face the West. “As for the Crusader coalition that has shown its teeth in Iraq and Sham, in the face of this plan and plot the Muslims must forget their differences, unite their efforts, and join their ranks against their Crusader enemy.”

The jihadists “must form a coalition to strike the leader of invalidity and the head of disbelief,” al Ansi says, referring to the US. No “conditions” must be placed on the fight against the US, and “every faction must strike America and its interests everywhere.”

“For we have come to know the main enemy, and America has for decades supported the occupying Jews in Palestine,” al Ansi says. “And American drones bomb Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Pakistan, and Yemen. And they have killed mujahideen and their leaders as well as many among the Muslim public, and destroyed houses and terrorized children and women.”

Al Ansi refers to the US in the same terms used by Osama bin Laden, Ayman al Zawahiri, and other al Qaeda leaders. “It must be known that America is the head of the snake,” al Ansi says. “She is the one who mobilizes against the mujahideen and their Islamic project … and if the head falls, its tails fall as well.” …

According to al Ansi, all of the jihadist factions should now form a “coalition” to counter the West and move beyond the vicious infighting of the past. 

Rep. Chaffetz Accuses Resigned Secret Service Head of ‘Deception’


Republican congressman Jason Chaffetz accused just-resigned Secret Service director Julia Pierson of outright “deception” over an incident involving President Obama riding in an elevator with an armed man – adding that he believes she may have also been part of a cover-up to keep the breach from reaching the public, or even the president himself.

Although Chaffetz already knew of the elevator breach — before even President Obama – on Tuesday he deliberately questioned Pierson to see whether she would own up to the failure. When she did not, the Utah congressman instantly lost faith in her leadership.

“You can’t have a Secret Service director who’s holding back that type of information, and then telling Congress that she tells him 100 percent of the time,” he said. “That was deception. And when it got to the point that it was clear to me that she was deceiving people, that’s when — yesterday — I came to the conclusion that she had to resign.”

“There was an attempt to cover it up,” Chaffetz later alleged. “Make sure that the president never did hear about it, that the media and the Congress never heard about it. That’s the point where it kind of goes over the edge, and you just think this person is not up for the job.”

White House: Secret Service Didn’t Inform Obama of Gun-in-Elevator Incident


White House press secretary Josh Earnest admitted on Wednesday that President Obama was not told that he unwittingly shared an elevator with an armed felon, learning about the Secret Service snafu only after the press corps began investigating the breach.

During the president’s visit to the Centers for Disease Control earlier this month, a local security officer with multiple felonies acted strangely around Obama while the two shared an elevator. After the individual was pulled aside for questioning, Secret Service officials were horrified to learn that he was carrying a concealed firearm. Whether the president is at home or traveling, the agency is expected to properly vet all armed individuals with access to the president.

The incident went unreported until Tuesday afternoon, when it broke in the press. “Did Director Pierson brief the president on that incident?” CNN’s Jim Acosta asked Earnest.

“Jim, I can tell you that the White House first learned of that incident yesterday afternoon, shortly before it was publicly reported by a news organization,” Earnest replied.

“And that’s a problem, right?” Acosta pressed.

“Well,” Earnest paused. “It would be accurate for you to assume that when incidents like that occur, that there would be a pretty open channel between the United States Secret Service, the Department of Homeland Security, and ultimately the White House.”

Hours Before Pierson Resigned, WH Said It Stood ‘Solidily Behind’ Her


Secret Service director Julia Pierson resigned on Wednesday following the slew of revelations of security breaches on her watch, but the White House was still standing behind her as recently as this morning.

“The president and everybody here at the White House stands solidly behind all the men and women of the Secret Service, including the director of the Secret Service,” press secretary Josh Earnest told CNN.

Following the announcement of her resignation, Pierson told Bloomberg News she made the decision “in the best interest of the Secret Service” because it would “take pressure off of the organization.”

Joni Ernst Claims ‘Momentum’ Against Bruce Braley in Senate Race


Republican Senate candidate Joni Ernst, fresh off her first debate against Representative Bruce Braley (D., Iowa), released this web ad saying she now has the “momentum” in the race and emphasizing her relationship the popular Republican Senator Chuck Grassley. The Des Moines Register released survey results over the weekend that show Ernst leading Braley by six points.



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