What the GOP Gets Wrong About ISIS

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Mike Blake/Reuters

Seen from the ground in Syria, the positions staked out by Republican politicians are crazy. And that’s because they have no real alternative to Obama’s policies.

By Patrick Hilsman

As we come to the end of a year of terror—actually, of horror—and we enter a year of terrible campaigning by some horrible candidates for the presidency of the United States, one might wish the Republican frontrunners would step back from the path of religious zealotry, racist paranoia, and torture envy. But … no.

As the debates in mid-December and the sparring since have showed us, they are detached from many realities, but especially the reality on the ground in Syria, which I have been covering firsthand with frequent trips there since 2012.

So, now, back in the United States, I watch in consternation the nauseating spin about Radical Islam, carpet bombing, waterboarding, surveillance of everyone, blaming refugees. The Republican “strategies” for dealing with the so-called Islamic State sound like a laundry list of the monumental failures from the 9/11 decade.

Was it “political correctness” that knocked down the twin towers and kidnapped and tortured my friends? No, it was something much more sinister, and something much more sophisticated than these candidates seem to realize, or to be.

There is a reason, of course, for them to deflect questions about military tactics against ISIS. There are no easy answers, and even the difficult options are severely limited. No realistic proposal for tackling the jihadi group will play well with primary voters and all of the candidates know it. Presumably, this is why the Republican candidates have taken the discussion into the realm of paranoid fantasy and insinuation, where they seem much more comfortable.

Read more at The Daily Beast

Nate Silver: Trump Has About 5% Chance Of Winning

Statistician and writer Nate Silver joins Anderson Cooper to share his evaluation of the Trump campaign.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN: You might have noticed, we talked a bit about polls around here, so does Donald Trump, so do all kinds of candidates whether they’re gaining or boasting or slipping and complaining. For better or worse, polling drives the conversation right now and a new conversation started comes out pretty much daily.

Our next guest made his reputation by picking the right polling data and using it much more — well to make much more accurate predictions, extremely accurate predictions. Nate Silver, FiveThirtyEight.com joins us tonight to talk about what the numbers can and can’t say right now about the state of the race.

So it’s really fascinating because you put the chance of Donald Trump or Ben Carson actually getting the GOP nomination and put it around 5 percent.

NATE SILVER, FIVETHIRTYEIGHT: Maybe about 5 percent each, somewhere around there.

Read more at RealClearPolitics