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Scene above:  Constitution Island, where Revolutionary War forts still exist, as photographed from Trophy Point, United States Military Academy, West Point, New York
 

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AUGUST 22,  2014

SHORT TAKES ON THE DRIFTING WRECKAGE – AT 11:46 P.M. ET: 

GREAT MOMENTS IN DIVERSITY – Exciting news.  The Washington Post editorial board has decided not to use the term "Redskins" in future editorials about the local football team.  Okay, fine with me.  I've always felt the name was a bit offensive myself, as does Charles Krauthammer.  What strikes me though is the importance given to these things.  The editorial board, which I've commended in the past, will feel good about itself, but precisely how will this help the Native Americans, or Indians if they prefer, who presumably are being shown respect by this decision?  It won't help it all.  It's another fish thrown by polite society.  It's like changing  "colored" to "Negro" to "black" to "African American."  Nice dressing, no meal.  Changes in society come from some very hard work, and come person by person.  Individuals make progress and bring up a group.  It's not the other way around. 

CAN BROWN MAKE IT? – From RealClearPolitics:  "Scott Brown is back in the ballgame.  The former Massachusetts senator had appeared to be fading in his bid to defeat incumbent Democratic Sen. Jeanne Shaheen in New Hampshire, but a new poll shows that the race is now up for grabs. In the WMUR/UNH survey released Thursday night, Shaheen led Brown by 46 percent to 44 percent, which is within the poll’s margin of error of plus or minus 3.4 percentage points.  These latest numbers show a dramatic swing in Brown’s direction from the previous WMUR/UNH poll, which was conducted a month-and-a-half earlier and showed Shaheen leading Brown by 12 points."  Brown must work as if he's 20 points behind.  Now he's got a real shot.

OH DEAR – From Breitbart:  "HOUSTON, Texas -- A new letter from the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) admits that illegal aliens were being allowed to board planes using Notice to Appear forms they received after entering the U.S. illegally. The revelation directly contradicts a TSA statement last month denying such allegations to various media outlets, including Breitbart News. In July Breitbart Texas Managing Director Brandon Darby broke the news that the TSA was letting illegal aliens board planes using Notice to Appear forms; subsequently, a TSA spokesperson publicly attacked Darby on Twitter, insisting that his report was 'completely wrong.'  The newly-surfaced TSA letter was penned on August 7, according to the Gateway Pundit. It was reportedly sent from the TSA to Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-TX), a member of the Border Security Caucus. The letter confirms that illegal aliens are being allowed to board planes using a Notice to Appear form (also known as I-862), as Darby revealed in July."  The Obama administration – on guard for America...or for someone.

August 22, 2014       Permalink

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LAW?  WHAT LAW?  – AT 9:52 A.M. ET:  This administration seems to think that the laws of the United States are only for the peasantry to follow.  From The Hill: 

The Pentagon broke the law when it transferred five Taliban detainees from Guantánamo Bay in exchange for prisoner of war Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, according to a report from a government watchdog agency.

The Government Accountability Office said the Pentagon violated the 2014 Defense Appropriations Act, which requires the Pentagon to give certain congressional committees 30 days advance notice before any detainee transfer from the Guantánamo Bay detention facility.

The law also prohibits the Pentagon from using appropriated funds to conduct any detainee transfer, unless the Defense secretary gives the 30 days of advance notice.

The Pentagon said it spent $988,400 on the detainee transfer, according to the report.

"As a consequence of using its appropriations in a manner specifically prohibited by law, DOD also violated the Antideficiency Act," the agency found. "DOD should report its Antideficiency Act violation as required by law."

That report, outlining the violation and any measures taken by the Pentagon in response, would then go to Congress and the president, according to a GAO spokeswoman.

The watchdog report is a legal opinion and will not lead to further measures, said the spokeswoman.

The seven-page finding is in response to a request by Republican lawmakers for an opinion, and is fueling fresh criticism of the Obama administration's decision to swap the five senior Taliban commanders for Bergdahl, who had been held by the Taliban since 2009.

Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), one of the nine Republican senators on the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee who requested the report, said it confirmed that Obama knowingly violated the law.

“It is extremely troubling that the president chose to ignore this notification requirement despite the previous bipartisan opposition to this ill-conceived swap," she said in a statement.

"It is highly likely that these men will return to the fight against our country after their year in Qatar. That is the assessment of the administration’s own intelligence experts," she said.

COMMENT:  I doubt if the administration will even respond to this report.  I hope the Republicans take it up, hold hearings, and demand accountability.

Even liberal Constitutional lawyers are dismayed by Obama's contempt for the law.

August 22, 2014       Permalink

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REVOLT? – AT 9:28 A.M. ET:   Is there a revolt against Obama brewing at the Pentagon?  It's hard to read these things, but the comments, and tone, of America's top defense officials yesterday in discussing the Islamic State were in such dramatic contrast to Obama's lackluster approach, that I have to believe that something is stirring among the brass.  If so, it's about time.   I don't see how anyone devoted to the defense of the United States can stand this administration much longer.  From Newsmax: 

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel warned Thursday that the well-funded, heavily militarized Islamic State (ISIS) is "beyond anything we've seen."

Speaking to reporters at a Pentagon press briefing Thursday afternoon, Hagel called the group an "imminent threat" to "every interest we have."

"They are as sophisticated and well-funded as any group that we have seen. They're beyond just a terrorist group," Hagel said in the joint press briefing with Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

"This is beyond anything we've seen," he quickly added. "We must prepare for everything."

Read that last line again.  After Obama briefly addressed the beheading of James Foley, he went out and played golf. 

The briefing dealt with the current status of the ongoing U.S. military campaign to aid Iraqi and Kurdish forces against Islamic State militants in Iraq. Hagel also offered more details about the group's brutal murder of American journalist James Foley and the failed attempt by U.S. forces to rescue him and other hostages.

Hagel said a long-term strategy is being pursued against the Islamic State, because the threat has clearly been established. ISIS must also be defeated in Syria as well as Iraq, he stressed. Dempsey said it would be possible to "contain" the Islamic State, but not without going after the group in Syria.

Will someone tell that to Obama?  Maybe one of his basketball buddies can send him an e-mail.

"We continue to explore all options," Hagel said, when asked whether the United States would consider expanding the U.S. mission into Syria.

Airstrikes against the Islamic State have blunted the militants' advances, the two maintained. The United States has conducted nearly 90 airstrikes thus far. But Hagel said he expected ISIS will regroup and launch a new offensive in Iraq soon.

COMMENT:  Of course it will.  And it may wait until after the November election, when Obama no longer has any obligations to his party, and can go entirely his own way.

This is trouble.  I've never heard Chuck Hagel, a man I don't care for, speak this way.  Maybe maturity has struck him.

August 22, 2014        Permalink

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BARACK WHO? – AT 9:05 A.M. ET:  President Obama continues to fade away.  It's pathetic.  From Howard Kurtz at Fox: 

President Obama has few remaining friends—either in his own party or in the media.

That’s the unmistakable conclusion of two pieces this week in the New York Times. Just about everyone, it seems, is down on his single, solitary nature.

I’ve been saying for a year now that the president’s liberal media allies have soured on him. It started with the ObamaCare debacle and continued through his seeming passivity or slow reaction time in the wake of the VA scandal, the Bowe Bergdahl mess, the military collapse in Iraq and so on. At this point they’re basically Waiting for Hillary.

What is striking now is a growing sense, fairly or unfairly, that Obama is not capable of rising to the occasion, that he just doesn’t like politics, that he’s disengaged, that despite his soaring rhetoric in 2008 he has a passion deficit.

Remember when his apologists called him "No-drama Obama"?  It's really No-nothing Obama.

All the criticism about him playing golf and being at Martha’s Vineyard is kind of a code for his supposedly being unplugged from the job.

A Times news story opens with a killer anecdote about the president meeting with Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell, which turned to Democratic complaints that the GOP was bottling up a number of Obama’s ambassadorial nominees.

“Mr. Obama quickly dismissed the matter. ‘You and Mitch work it out,’ Mr. Obama said coolly, cutting off any discussion. Mr. Reid seethed quietly for the rest of the meeting.”

Wow. And the nut graph: “Nearly six years into his term, with his popularity at the lowest of his presidency, Mr. Obama appears remarkably distant from his own party on Capitol Hill, with his long neglect of would-be allies catching up to him.

COMMENT:  Obama just doesn't care about anything but Obama.  He obviously doesn't like his own country, and considers himself above all those other mere humans in Washington.

He proudly carries a diploma, with high honors, from the Jimmy Carter School of Leadership and Tavern.

August 22, 2014       Permalink

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NOT PLAYING WELL WITH OTHERS – AT 8:47 A.M. ET:  Hamas goes on a witch-hunt, and imagines that it finds the witches.  From Fox: 

Hamas carried out a deadly purge of suspected informants in Gaza, killing as many as 18 people suspected of providing information to the Israel Defense Forces as fighting flared anew following the collapse of Egyptian-brokered cease-fire talks.

Masked gunmen killed seven suspected informants for Israel near a Gaza City mosque as worshippers were ending midday prayers on Friday, according to a witness and Hamas media. Earlier in the day, Hamas killed 11 men by firing squad in Gaza City's police headquarters, according to the Hamas-run Al Rai website.

Two of those killed were women, according to the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, which called for an immediate halt to what it said were "extra-judicial executions."

Do you think Obama will interrupt his golf to make a statement?  Nah.  Hey, who are we to criticize other cultures?  And all those reporters who tilted toward Hamas in their reporting when the real war raged?  Back home in Ferguson, no doubt, lecturing us on our defects.

Hamas media portrayed the killings as the beginning of a new crackdown, under the rallying cry of "choking the necks of the collaborators." The killings, which took place near the al-Omari Mosque in downtown Gaza, occurred a day after Israel killed three top Hamas military commanders in an airstrike on a house in southern Gaza.

A witness says masked gunmen lined up the seven men in a side street and opened fire on them. He spoke on condition of anonymity, fearing for his own safety.

COMMENT:  As distinguished historical novelist and Urgent Agenda contributor Will Stroock wrote to us, just minutes ago, "When you're eating your young, you're not only losing, but panicking."  Maybe it's time for the people of Gaza to rise up against Hamas, which is their real oppressor.  But the UN is investigating only Israel's role in the conflict.  The families of the executed are no doubt pleased.

August 22,  2014    Permalink

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AUGUST 21,  2014

SHORT TAKES ON THE DRIFTING WRECKAGE – AT 9:56 P.M. ET: 

THEY'RE NUTS – The Democratic Party, once the party of Roosevelt, Truman and Kennedy, is descending rapidly into craziness.  In Montana, the party is replacing the disgraced Senator John Walsh, who admitted to plagiarism, but look who the replacement is.  From the Washington Free Beacon:  "Montana Democrats are banking on a long-shot liberal Senate candidate to replace the disgraced John Walsh, but their choice might be too radical even for the increasingly extreme party. Democrats are hoping that Montana state representative Amanda Curtis will be the next Elizabeth Warren: an outspoken and unapologetic liberal who can fire up the base and raise big bucks from like-minded benefactors.  A self-described 'punktuator' who has been seen sporting a mohawk and studded denim jacket with the iconic anarchist 'A,' Curtis is certainly distinct from most Montana politicians...Curtis appears to have realized that some of the more colorful elements of her online personality could be a liability. On Thursday morning, she deleted or made private photos of her in full punk rock garb after they began circulating on twitter."  But you may be sure that the mainstream media will simply describe her as "liberal."

I'M SO GLAD ART HAS BEEN PRESERVED – From Breitbart:  "Pennsylvania resident Tiffany Bruce checked into a hospital after she discovered that her life-size Obama statue was missing.  The $1,249 statue that she kept outside her house on a bench was a staple in the neighborhood, as the family gave him a Halloween costume and dressed him up as Santa Claus for Halloween.  'I peeked my head out the door, and Obama’s gone, and I kind of went into a panic. I couldn’t breathe, and I had to go to the hospital,' Bruce told KFOR, a local news station.  The statue was found Thursday at the Francis E. Walter Dam, sitting on a bench with a six pack of beer."  I wonder if her hospital stay is covered by Obamacare. 

THE ULTIMATE CULTURAL INSULT – From CNBC:  "Russia said on Thursday it was investigating dozens of McDonald's restaurants, in what many businessmen said was retaliation for Western sanctions over Ukraine they fear could spread to other symbols of Western capitalism.  Russia's food safety watchdog said it was looking at possible breaches of sanitary rules at McDonald's, but many in the business community said it was a reflection of the deterioration in relations between Russia and the West over Ukraine, where pro-Russian separatists in the east of the country are fighting against government forces."  I once wrote that the next world war would be fought over Big Macs, but no one would listen.

HYPOCRITES ON PARADE – WASHINGTON – From Buzzfeed:  "President Obama’s innovative, take-no-prisoners campaigns crafted an elite force of operatives, skilled in the political arts. Now that they’re done helping Obama, however, it appears they have a new goal: weakening and defeating organized labor.  On Tuesday, Obama’s former top White House adviser and 2008 campaign manager David Plouffe signed on with Uber, the company known for its slick app and on-demand cars — and efforts to break taxi-union holds on urban transportation.  Plouffe joins former top Obama campaign and White House communications strategist Robert Gibbs and Obama’s national press secretary for the 2012 campaign Ben LaBolt, who are using their talents in a campaign against the power of teacher’s unions."  Some of their new causes may actually worthy, but weren't they on the other side not long ago?  I don't know how some people can look themselves in the mirror.

August 21, 2014       Permalink

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THE SERIOUS BRITS – AT 9:46 A.M. ET:  We've said here many times that there's a "Great" Britain and a "Not-so-great Britain."  When Britain is great, as in 1940, it shines.  From London's Daily Mail: 

The British fanatic who beheaded an American journalist will be identified and the SAS will be sent to Syria to 'bring him to justice', a former MI6 chief said today.

Richard Barrett, who was head of counter-terrorism for the security services at the time of 9/11, said he is convinced the murderer - now considered the world's most wanted man - will be arrested and taken back to Britain for trial 'sooner or later'.

The suspect was last night named as 'John' one of a gang of British jihadis known as ‘The Beatles’ who are guarding western hostages for ISIS.

Mr Barratt told the Today Programme: 'They will be able to identify him, although there are four or five hundred people who have gone from all over the United Kingdom many of them have made their presence there known, and I think the community will be able recognise this person and I am sure many in the community will be keen to do so.

'I mean the intelligence community certainly but also the community from which this man comes, he will have had many acquaintances and friends in the United Kingdom and those people will wish to see him brought to justice.'

He agreed that once he is identified the course of action would likely be to send special forces to grab him.

COMMENT:  As we learned yesterday, the United States did attempt a rescue mission for hostages held in Syria, but the attempt failed because of inaccurate intelligence.  Maybe the Brits can pull it off.

August 21, 2014       Permalink

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QUEEN HILLARY VISITS HER IOWA SUBJECTS – AT 9:21 A.M. ET:   Ms. $200,000-a-speech is making an early move toward the nomination.  From The Hill: 

Hillary Clinton is seeking redemption in the state that threw her 2008 presidential bid into turmoil.

Clinton will be the star guest at retiring Sen. Tom Harkin’s (D) final steak fry in Iowa on September 14. It’s an early trip for the former senator and secretary of state, who will be accompanied by former President Clinton.

Harkin’s annual event is a must-visit for Iowa Democrats.

It’s also a chance for presidential hopefuls to introduce themselves, up-close and personal, to the people who will cast the first votes in the 2016 contest.

For Clinton, it’s indicative of her seriousness about 2016, and a signal that she believes the Hawkeye State does, indeed, matter.

The trip “is a pretty clear sign to Iowa Democrats, and I think to the political community in the country, that she’s running,” said David Yepsen, who covered many presidential elections during a 34-year career with the Des Moines Register and who is now the director of the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute at Southern Illinois University.

Clinton came in third in Iowa in January 2008 to not only then-Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, but to Sen. John Edwards (N.C.) as well.

The result was a rebuff for Clinton that squashed the sense she was the inevitable Democratic nominee and shifted momentum to Obama.

The loss came after Clinton’s team flirted with abandoning the Hawkeye State. In an internal May 2007 memo that embarrassed Clinton’s campaign when it became public, her deputy campaign manager Mike Henry advocated pulling the plug on Iowa.

COMMENT:  Despite all her shortcomings, and the list grows regularly, Clinton will be a formidable candidate, if she can tame her party's left wing and glide to the nomination.   My own sense is that she can, but that she's not inevitable.  Her history is that she starts strong and then exposes some defects that allow others in the door.  

It will be fascinating to see how Obama reacts to this Iowa trip.  He can't be pleased at the prospect of Hillary Clinton succeeding him in office.  He clearly named her secretary of state to keep her under control.  The Clintons and Obamas are reported to be serious enemies.  Will Obama back Hillary in the end?  Try to get Elizabeth Warren in the race?  Leak embarrassing information?  Have someone ask publicly why Hillary isn't in Ferguson?

Juicy, isn't it?

August 21, 2014       Permalink

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NOTICE THE SILENCE – AT 8:58 A.M. ET:  You'd think from the coverage that Ferguson, Missouri, was the center of the world.   But the fact is that black children are murdered in America every day, without the usual suspects rushing in to express their grief.  I guess there just aren't enough television cameras around to make it worth it.  From ABC: 

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Antonio Smith, 9, was fatally shot in the Greater Grand Crossing neighborhood, his family told Eyewitness News Wednesday night.

The victim's relatives made a plea to the shooter, who remains at large on Wednesday night.

"He was just a child, just a baby, still had a whole life ahead of him. And like, why? Just a child," said Kenya Eggleston, victim's cousin.

Smith was shot multiple times in the chest around 4 p.m. Wednesday in the 1200-block of East 71st Street.

"At first I didn't know if they were really shots or not. I just heard pop, pop, pop, pop, pow. So I just kept doing what I was doing," said Dave West, neighbor.

"It hurts my heart, really, to see the young kids just, just killing each other. And school is getting ready to start," said Robert Blake, neighbor.

Sources say Antonio, a soon-to-be third grader, was found in the backyard of this apartment building, where he wasn't a resident. It's unclear why he was there.

"We don't know what happened. We don't know if he was running from someone. This is a dead end alley. So he had to be running from somebody trying to go up on the tracks and cross over," said Ashiea Smith, whose relatives live in the building, but is unrelated to the victim.

COMMENT:  Any interest, Rev. Sharpton?  Rev. Jackson?  Eric Holder, attorney-general of the United States?  Oh, excuse me, they're all in Ferguson getting their air time.  What about Rev. Wright, Barack Hussein Obama Jr's mentor?  He's in Chicago.  Well, maybe he's busy stirring up some hate. 

CNN, of course, won't regard this boy's death as important at all.  No white cops involved.

And each weekend in the president's home city, the carnage in the black community continues.  And the hypocrisy, along with the blood, flows.

August 21, 2014       Permalink

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GAZA – AT 8:52 A.M. ET:  The new military clash in Gaza, the result of a breakdown in peace talks, is getting more fierce.  Israel has scored a major victory  From Fox: 

Hamas said that an Israel airstrike in Gaza killed three of its senior military leaders early Thursday.

The Palestinian militant group claimed that the men -- identified as Mohammed Abu Shamaleh, Mohammed Barhoum and Raed al-Attar -- were killed along with three other people in a strike on a four-story building near Rafah, a town in the southern part of the coastal territory.

The trio had played a key role in expanding Hamas' military capabilities in recent years, including digging attack tunnels leading to Israel, training of fighters and smuggling of weapons to Gaza, Israel said.

Hamza Khalifa, an area resident said the house was struck without warning. "We only heard multiple F-16 (warplane) missiles, one after the other, six or seven missiles," he said.

Several hours later, a large earth mover was still clearing mounds of debris and wreckage.

It was not immediately clear if their assassination would prompt a change in Hamas strategy in the current round of fighting with Israel or diminish the group's ability to fire rockets at Israel. Hamas' military wing, the Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades, is a secretive organization.

COMMENT:  Israel probably did a favor for the people of Gaza.  Hamas is a violent, racist organization that is opposed by most of the Arab world.  All it has brought to Gaza is grief.  Of course Jimmy Carter, the role model for Barack Obama, considers Hamas a "legitimate" player.  No surprise there.

August 21,  2014     Permalink

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