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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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OCTOBER 1,  2014

QUOTE OF THE DAY – AT 9:54 A.M. ET:  From historian Arthur Herman, on the sickening appeasement of Iran, and the rise of that rogue state.  From the Washington Examiner: 

Anyone wanting to take the moral temperature of the post-American world President Obama wants to create only had to drop by the United Nations last Thursday afternoon.

There he would have seen British prime minister David Cameron sitting down with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to ask — no, beg him to join the misbegotten coalition Obama has assembled against the Islamic State. Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry had already extended the invitation to Iran to join, and Iran had already refused. Now it was Cameron's turn.

He may think this will burnish his image as a master diplomat after convincing the Scots not to demand independence. Instead, he’s only opened one more sordid chapter in the most remarkable story of how Iran, a vicious rogue nation and state sponsor of terrorism — not to mention beacon of anti-Semitism — has become the rising dominant power in the region, and is now being blatantly courted as an ally by the West.

Remarkable is one word for it; obscene might be another. Whatever word you choose, the long-term implications of embracing Iran are nearly all bad for the region and for the United States.

COMMENT:  At the heart of the tragedy is one Barack Hussein Obama Jr. a leftist posing as a pragmatist, with the enthusiastic support of the American media.  A price will be paid.

October 1,  2014     Permalink

 

STATE OF OUR CULTURE – A TV station does a public service by asking young people in Memphis a very direct question, and getting a revealing answer.  From WREG: 

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — With Memphis seeing a rash of youth violence recently, WREG decided to ask young people what can stop it. Their answer…nothing.

Two men, who gave only nicknames, told WREG they thought of the Kroger mob attack as “fun.”

“The Kroger attack… That’s just what kids do, our generation, I mean,” one of the men said.

“Why do you think kids are kind of drawn to that violence?” WREG reporter Katie Rufener asked them.

“It’s fun,” one responded.

WREG showed Mayor A C Wharton part of the interview. He was disgusted by what he called a flippant attitude towards the violent attack.

“There’s absolutely no excuse,” he said. “I don’t care what he says or anybody, and I think 99 percent of Memphians feel that response is totally unacceptable.”

The young men told WREG they see the police as the biggest problem in Memphis. They even called them a “government gang.”

“To be honest the police make you want to do s***. I’m sorry for cussing, but the police make you want to do things, especially when you’re walking by and they bother you for no reason,” the men said. “Then when they’re not around, you feel like you should be rebellious.”

Wharton said that should not be happening.

“There’s a young man by the name of Toney Armstrong,” he said, speaking of the Memphis police director. “Call him up and say, ‘Look, this officer did this to me. This officer did that, disrespected me.’ There’s a way to deal with that.”

“Nobody cares about Jail,” the men said, laughing. “You go in, and you get out. If you don’t get out, you're in with people you know.”

COMMENT:  This is a function of education, culture, and awful local leadership.  It is an excuse machine.  It is destroying any progress in the black community.  It is true that there are black leaders, like Mayor Wharton, who are outraged by it.  But too many black leaders, and their manipulative white allies on the political left, go along with these attitudes because they represent "grievance." 

Black Americans, I believe, have a very substantial chance of going under, of ultimately becoming wards of the state, and permanently.  The tragedy is that too many influential Americans, especially "intellectuals," just don't care. 

October 1, 2014        Permalink

 

ASSAULT ON THE FOUNDING DOCUMENT – AT 9:14 A.M. ET:  The Constitution is the heart of this nation.  It is a brilliant document, profound in its understanding of human nature.  It is not perfect, but allows for an amending process that is intentionally difficult to prevent the temptation to mob action.  But there are always those who want to wreck the Constitution because it doesn't give them the most important satisfaction in life – instant gratification.  From Paul Mirengoff at Powerline: 

Harry Reid is a determined radical, intent on limiting freedom, overturning American traditions, and remaking our institutions in the name of crushing the opposition and empowering the left. His attempt to amend the First Amendment to curb free speech is a natural extension of his obliteration of longstanding Senate rules that promote deliberation and minority input.

But Reid seems almost moderate by left-wing Democrat standards. Take Donna Brazile, vice-chair of the Democratic National Committee for voter registration and participation. For her, eviscerating the First Amendment is small potatoes; she wants to scrap the entire U.S. Constitution.

Brazile tweeted: “We need a new constitution.” This, she stated is “how we save American democracy from charlatans, loudmouths and the 1 percent.”

Brazile is no fire-brand outlier. As noted, she holds an important position in the Democratic Party. More than that, she’s a long-time, high-level Dem insider. In 2000, she managed Al Gore’s campaign. In 2011, she briefly served as interim chair of the DNC.

Democrats have viewed the Constitution as an anachronistic barrier to their agenda since the days of Woodrow Wilson who, before entering politics, consistently argued as much. These days, though, their contempt for our founding document is becoming increasingly manifest.

Why? For two reasons. First, the more radical the Democratic agenda, the greater the need to push back against the Constitution. Today’s agenda is more radical than it has ever been in my lifetime.

Second, because public regard for the Constitution probably isn’t what it once was, thanks to the way American History is taught, Democrats can be more open about how they view the founding document.

COMMENT:  We built a great nation under that Constitution, and maintained, even enlarged, our freedoms in most areas.  The system of checks and balances sometimes makes progress frustrating, but it forces us to do things more carefully, with greater deliberation. 

Some are outraged that the Senate is not purely democratic – each state, regardless of size, has two senators.  But the Senate is designed as a deliberative body, with six-year terms for senators.  I'll put our system up against anyone else's.  Perfect, no.  Brilliant, yes.

October 1, 2014        Permalink

 

HOW IS THE AIR CAMPAIGN GOING? – AT 8:55 A.M. ET:  There seems to be little real interest in the progress of our air campaign in Iraq and Syria.  You just don't hear it discussed by everyday Americans.  It's ongoing, but problems are emerging.  From Fox: 

U.S. airstrikes against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria are proceeding despite intelligence gaps that inhibit the Pentagon's ability to determine their effectiveness, according to a published report.

The Associated Press, citing current and former U.S. officials, reported Wednesday that the Defense Department is relying on satellites, drones and surveillance flights to pinpoint targets for airstrikes, as well as assess the damage afterward and determine whether civilians were killed. Officials say that system stands in sharp contrast to the networks of bases, spies and ground-based technology the U.S. had in place during the height of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The U.S. military says airstrikes have been discriminating and effective in disrupting an Al Qaeda cell called the Khorasan Group and in halting the momentum of Islamic State militants. But independent analysts say the Islamic State group, also known as ISIS, remains on the offensive in Iraq and Syria, where it still controls large sections. And according to witnesses, U.S. airstrikes have at times hit empty buildings that were long ago vacated by ISIS fighters.

The group has begun adapting to U.S. airstrikes by seeking to conceal itself, move at night and blend in with civilians, Pentagon officials say.

"They're a smart adversary," said Air Force Maj. Gen. Jeffrey L. Harrigian, briefing reporters at the Pentagon this week.

Human rights groups also claim coalition airstrikes in both countries have killed as many as two dozen civilians. U.S. officials say they can't rule out civilian deaths but haven't confirmed any.

"We do take extreme caution and care in the conduct of these missions," Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon's press secretary, told reporters Tuesday. "But there's risk in any military operation. There's a special kind of risk when you do air operations."

In terms of tracking the movements of militants, U.S. intelligence coverage of Syria and Iraq is not as good as it was in Pakistan and Yemen at the height of covert CIA drone campaigns there, officials say.

COMMENT:  An air campaign is not enough.  To stop a ground force, which is what ISIS is, you need another ground force.  We haven't got one, at least we haven't got one in the combat areas, and the American people seem dead set against American troops being used.  Our Arab "allies" are either reluctant or incompetent.  We may be heading for a disaster, but Obama will blame it on someone else.

October 1,  2014     Permalink

 

 

 

SEPTEMBER 30,  2014

SHORT TAKES ON THE DRIFTING WRECKAGE – AT 11:45 P.M. ET:

CHILLING – From Fox:  "The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed on Tuesday that a patient being treated at a Dallas hospital has tested positive for Ebola, the first case diagnosed in the United States.  The patient left Liberia on September 19 and arrived in the United States on September 20, CDC director, Dr. Tom Frieden told reporters at a press conference Tuesday. It’s the first patient to be diagnosed with this particular strain of Ebola outside of Africa. '[The patient] had no symptoms when departing Liberia or entering this country. But four or five days later on the 24th of September, he began to develop symptoms,' said Frieden.  The patient, who was in the U.S. visiting family in Texas, initially sought care on September 26, but was sent home and was not admitted until two days later. He was placed in isolation at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas, where he remains critically ill, according to Frieden."  Obama will probably say that 1) it was caused by global warming and 2) that he hadn't been told anything about Ebola.

SERVING THE PEOPLE, ONE BANKRUPTCY AT A TIME – From the Boston Herald:  "BOSTON — Many Massachusetts households are going to see their electric bills shoot up 37 percent this winter, a rate increase that some advocates fear will put additional strain on low-income families.  State regulators approved the increase for National Grid household customers that would mean an average of $33 per month more for the typical residential customer and would push a typical monthly bill higher than $150.  Large-business customers will see even higher increases.  National Grid has almost 1.3 million residential and business electric customers in Massachusetts. The new rates take effect in November.  'This is pretty bad, and it's going to really have a bearing on a lot of Massachusetts households' abilities to just make ends meet this winter,' John Howat, senior energy analyst at the National Consumer Law Center in Boston, told The Boston Globe.  The utility blame the rate hikes on the cost of buying electricity from power plants, which has soared because of an increased demand for natural gas used to generate electricity."  Amazing how the average guy always winds up paying more in these "progressive" states. 

NORTHEAST EXODUS – This relates to the post just above.  From the Washington Examiner:  "The Northeast, once the nation’s political engine that produced presidents, House speakers and Senate giants including the late Edward M. Kennedy, is losing clout in Washington as citizens flee the high-tax region, according to experts worried about the trend.  The Census Bureau reports that population growth has shifted to the South and the result is that the 11 states that make up the Northeast are being bled dry of representation in Washington.  Critics blame rising taxes in states such as Massachusetts and Connecticut for limiting population growth in the Northeast to just 15 percent from 1983 to 2013, while the rest of the nation grew more than 41 percent.  The biggest impact comes in the loss of congressional representation.  Deep in a recent report, for example, the American Legislative Exchange Council tabulated how the drop in population relative to the rest of the nation cut the region’s power in Washington. While the states from Pennsylvania to Maine had 141 House members in 1950, they are down to 85 today, a drop of some 40 percent.  California and Texas combined have more House representatives."  I see this in New York all the time.  High taxes, high living costs, low growth, fleeing companies.  A prescription for disaster. 

ANNALS OF GOVERNMENT – From Fox:  "President Obama shared an elevator earlier this month with an armed security contractor who has three felony convictions relating to assault and battery, in the latest report of a serious violation of Secret Service security protocols.  Multiple sources confirmed to Fox News the incident, which took place in an elevator during Obama's Sept. 16 visit to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. The incident was first reported by The Washington Post and the Washington Examiner.  The latest embarrassment for the Secret Service comes after agency Director Julia Pierson told lawmakers at a Tuesday hearing 'she took full responsibility' for a Sept. 19 breach of the White House. Pierson admitted that presidential security fell apart when a knife-wielding intruder jumped a White House fence earlier this month and sprinted untouched across the lawn, entering the first family's residence through an unlocked door and making his way into the East Room reception area."  Remember that the bad guy only has to get lucky once. 

September 30, 2014       Permalink

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ONE ASSESSMENT – AT 10:17 A.M. ET:  The assessments of where the midterm races stand will be coming thick and fast now.  With tomorrow's change of month we're entering the start of the home stretch.  Liberal writer Chris Cillizza, in WaPo, has a particularly interesting take:   

All three major election forecasting models saw an uptick in the likelihood of Republicans winning the six seats they need to retake the Senate majority over the past week, movement largely due to the party's strengthened chances in Alaska, Colorado and Iowa.

The most bullish model for Republicans is Washington Post's Election Lab, which, as of Monday morning, gives the GOP a 76 percent chance of winning the majority. Leo, the New York Times model, pegs it at 67 percent while FiveThirtyEight shows Republicans with a 60 percent probability. A week ago, Election Lab gave Republicans a 65 percent chance of winning the majority, Leo put it a 55 percent and FiveThirtyEight had it just under 55 percent.

All three models give Republicans very strong odds of winning the open seats in Montana, South Dakota and West Virginia as well as beating Sens. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) and Mary Landrieu (D-La.). That would net Republicans five seats, one short of the number they need for the majority.

Of the rest of the competitive seats, Alaska is the biggest mover in all three models from a week ago. At that time, the models disagreed -- Election Lab (81 percent chance) and Leo (62 percent) gave Democrats the edge while FiveThirtyEight had Republicans at a 56 percent probability of winning. Today all three models align; Leo gives former state attorney general Dan Sullivan (R) a 72 percent chance of winning while Election Lab puts it at 71 percent and FiveThirty Eight at 68 percent. A series of polls released over the last week have shown Sullivan moving ahead of Sen. Mark Begich (D).

COMMENT:  Read the rest.  Colorado and Iowa seem to be falling into place for our side.  However, things can still change, and the brass ring can elude us.  Election day is five weeks from today.  It will be an exciting and nerve-wracking five weeks.

September 30, 2014       Permalink

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COMMANDER-IN-CHEAT – AT 9:34 A.M. ET:   Andrew Malcolm nails the Barack Obama approach to the truth.  If we had a better press, Obama would never get away with it.  But we don't have a better press.  From IBD: 

Remember back in the 2012 presidential campaign when Barack Obama said things like:

"Al Qaeda is on the run. We have decimated its core leadership. And Osama bin Laden is dead. But I don't want Americans to think the struggle against terror is over. It's not, by any means. We have a long struggle ahead. By 2014, new terrorist groups may spring up and we'll be back fighting in the Middle East."

Neither do we.

That's because, while the Democrat incumbent said the first part over and over to imply he'd lead the nation to victory over Islamic extremists, the second warning part he left out. Not by accident, of course.

Now, as is his habit, Obama is muddying the waters with superfluous words and thoughts to cover his lies, gaffes and distortions. He warns of making generalizations, then makes them. He smoothly dodges and deflects questions, appearing to listeners' ears to answer while changing the subject from his responsibility to someone else's fault.

It's easier for Obama to do because of a less than shark-like D.C. media and because words heard come and go so fast it's difficult for listeners to parse and analyze before the Talker-in-Chief is off gabbing about something else. All of which, of course, he knows full well.

Take this exchange with "60 Minutes'" Steve Kroft: "Is this the most difficult period of your presidency, the biggest challenge of your presidency, this period we're in right now?"

Pause the tape. Now, Obama knows if he agrees, that's the night's top headline: "Worst time of my presidency: Obama." So, he gives Kroft nothing on that subject and pivots to recalling the ancient, reviled Bush era to change the topic away from himself. Resume tape.

"It's a significant period. But if you think about what I walked into when I came into office...."
Can you imagine a headline like this: "Obama says U.S. in a 'significant period'" Of course not.

COMMENT:  Read the whole thing.  All presidents, of course, twist things to some degree.  But Obama is world class.  He is a perpetual candidate, speaking the bromides that will make him more popular, or less unpopular.  The public, to a large degree, seems to have caught on.  Too many journalists have not.

Obama, like Jimmy Carter, is too small for the office. 

September 30, 2014       Permalink

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BAN OR COVER-UP? – AT 9:08 A.M. ET:   We have to look at the fine print here.  From Fox: 

The Justice Department is set to announce broad restrictions on racial and religious profiling in federal investigations, including those involving matters of national security.

The expected ban comes amid heightened concerns of Islamic militant groups executing a terror attack on U.S. soil and was reportedly opposed by national security officials.

A Justice Department official told Fox News on Monday that outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder will announce the policy change in the coming weeks and that it will also put an end to profiling based on ethnicity and sexual orientation.

Holder intended to announce the policy change several months ago, but the White House ordered a last-minute hold so the Department of Homeland Security could review the national security implications, a congressional aide told The Los Angeles Times, which on Saturday first reported the story.

The new policy will add to long-standing bans on racial profiling and extend them for the first time to national-security probes.

The finishing touches are still being put on the policy change, but the final version is expected to scale back the authority federal agencies received in the aftermath of the 9/11 terror attacks, including the monitoring of some religious groups and surveillance on mosques without evidence of suspected criminal activity.

COMMENT:  Profiling is generally wrong, but there might be legitimate exceptions, especially in national-security cases.  Saying that you can only conduct surveillance of, say, a mosque, if you have evidence of criminal activity, begs the question.  There may be legitimate suspicion, which can only be confirmed by careful, legal, supervised surveillance, probably under court warrant. 

We often say that the Constitution isn't a suicide pact.  If this new Justice Department order isn't implemented with common sense, that's exactly what it can become.

September 30, 2014        Permalink

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A GREAT MOMENT – AT 8:46 A.M. ET:  No, Al Gore and his crowd won't think so.  But we think so, and we congratulate the put-upon, unpopular, unfashionable folks who made it possible.  From Financial Times: 

The US is overtaking Saudi Arabia to become the world’s largest producer of liquid petroleum, in a sign of how its booming oil production has reshaped the energy sector.

US production of oil and related liquids such as ethane and propane was neck-and-neck with Saudi Arabia in June and again in August at about 11.5m barrels a day, according to the International Energy Agency, the watchdog backed by rich countries.

With US production continuing to boom, its output is set to exceed Saudi Arabia’s this month or next for the first time since 1991.

COMMENT:  We are becoming an energy-independent country, something that will dramatically affect the independence of our foreign policy, and the strength of our economy.

Of course, so-called "environmentalists" are appalled, but the fact is that petroleum production has become much cleaner over the years, and developments like fracking have allowed parts of the United States to boom, with high-paying jobs.  Yes, eventually "green" energy will grow, but the technology is just not there yet.  We're an oil-based economy and will be so for decades.  We should applaud our new independence.

The big, bad oil companies have been largely responsible for making this day possible.  I have no connection, financial or otherwise, with these firms, and no doubt they sometimes do some abrasive things.  But for a century they've provided America with relatively inexpensive energy, and they deserve a pat on the back for that alone.

September 30,  2014     Permalink

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