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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APRIL 19, 2014
MINIMAL RESPONSE – AT 10:52 A.M. ET: The U.S. is finally making some physical response to the Ukraine crisis, but it is minimal, and should not disturb Comrade Putin too much. From The New York Times:
WASHINGTON — The United States plans to carry out small ground-force exercises in Poland and Estonia in an attempt to reassure NATO’s Eastern European members worried about Russia’s military operations in and near Ukraine, Western officials said Friday.
The moves are part of a broader effort by NATO to strengthen the alliance’s air, sea and land presence in Eastern Europe in response to Russia’s new assertiveness in the region.
It is not yet clear what additional troop deployments the United States and other NATO nations might undertake in Eastern Europe after the exercises and to what extent the moves would ease anxieties there.
The land-force exercises the Obama administration is planning are extremely modest.
The exercise in Poland, which is expected to be announced next week, would involve a United States Army company and would last about two weeks, officials said. A company consists of about 150 soldiers.
COMMENT: Well, at least it's something. My great concern is that Putin will pull back for a time, under Lenin's doctrine of two steps forward, one step back, then, when we doze off, apply new pressure to Ukraine and eventually control most of that country. He could then start trying to bring Baltic and East European states back under the Soviet thumb.
DISGRACE – AT 10:31 A.M. ET: From what I've observed, left-wing radicalism is actually increasing on our college campuses. There is increasing suppression of free speech, increasing influence by those who reject basic democratic tenets, and increasing intolerance toward dissent, especially dissent from the right.
Yale is one of our so-called "elite" universities. But in recent years it has been the scene of a number of cave-ins to political correctness, which is a polite term for McCarthyism of the left. And the beat goes on. From the Yale Daily News:
After spending the year as a provisional member of Dwight Hall, Choose Life at Yale (CLAY) — Yale’s pro-life student organization — was denied full membership status in Dwight Hall’s Social Justice Network for the upcoming school year.
The approximately 90-member Dwight Hall Cabinet, which comprises member group leaders and executive committee members, gathered Wednesday night to vote on CLAY’s status within Dwight Hall. After deliberation, they denied the organization membership, blocking further access to Dwight Hall’s resources, including funds, cars and printing services.
“We are all obviously disappointed and frustrated with this decision, especially after having gone through this year-long provisional process,” said Christian Hernandez ’15, the president of CLAY’s Spring 2014 board.
Each full member organization of Dwight Hall is allowed one vote during cabinet meetings, according to Shea Jennings ’16, Dwight Hall’s public relations coordinator. Representatives from each organization up for a vote, including CLAY, gave a brief presentation before the cabinet voted, she added.
Jennings said that the body does not debate immediately before a vote, as Dwight Hall assumes each representative comes bearing the carefully considered views of his or her member group. Still, in the weeks leading up to the vote, she added that discussion among member groups about CLAY far exceeded that of any other organization seeking full member status this year.
“Generally what happens is in most member groups the decision is made without as much discussion,” Jennings said. “Because this was a more political decision, there was more discussion.”
The vote was not unanimous and had an unusually high proportion of abstentions, said Dwight Hall co-coordinator Sterling Johnson ’15. Multiple members of Dwight Hall’s executive committee declined to specify the exact number or breakdown of votes cast.
Still, members of CLAY present at the meeting said that members of the executive committee seemed “biased” against their organization’s pro-life stance. Courtney McEachon ’15, CLAY’s president last spring, pointed to co-coordinator Teresa Logue’s ’15 decision to wear a “Yale feminists” T-shirt to the cabinet meeting.
“It was an affront because the person wearing the t-shirt was leading the meeting,” she said. “It seemed like a shameless plug against CLAY.”
COMMENT: Although surveys show increasing support for pro-life positions among young people, many colleges and universities try to suppress pro-life advocacy. No matter how you feel about abortion, this is a disgrace. A university is a place for debate, for the weighing of issues. The very universities that claim a commitment to so-called "diversity" are often the first to suppress the speech of those who refuse to take trendy or "correct" positions.
In too many colleges and universities, students are not being trained to live in a democratic, free society. They are being trained to live in a controlled society, which is exactly what some of their professors dream of.
One of the great lies of history is that intellectuals love freedom. Some do and some definitely don't. The ones who don't are currently dominant.
OUTRAGE – AT 10:16 A.M. ET: We elect leaders to lead. At least that's what I thought. The Keystone pipeline, with its obvious benefits for the U.S. and Canada, should clearly be given Washington's approval. It's a no-brainer. But I'm afraid the no-brains are in charge, and they're well financed. From Fox:
The Obama administration once again has punted on a final decision for the Keystone XL pipeline, announcing ahead of the holiday weekend it is extending a key review period indefinitely -- a move that could push off a determination until after the midterm elections.
They made the announcement on Good Friday, to minimize press coverage.
Republicans, as well as red-state Democrats who want the proposed Canada-to-Texas pipeline approved, slammed the administration for the delay. Democrats even threatened to find ways to go around the president to get the project approved.
The working people in the Democratic Party want the pipeline because it will provide thousands of jobs. But the elites look down on this crowd, and, with their millions and billions, finance environmental extremism.
"It's absolutely ridiculous that this well over five year long process is continuing for an undetermined amount of time," Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., said in a statement.
Republican Nebraska Rep. Lee Terry called the decision "shameful," noting that another spring construction season will come and go without the project.
The administration had been in the middle of a 90-day review period for federal agencies assessing an environmental study from the State Department.
But the State Department said Friday it is giving agencies "additional time" to weigh in, in part because of ongoing litigation before the Nebraska Supreme Court which could affect the pipeline's route. If the route changes, officials made clear the State Department reserves the right to conduct another environmental impact study to include more public comments, which could delay the process more.
Further, the department said officials need to go over the "unprecedented number" of new public comments -- roughly 2.5 million of them -- received during a separate comment period that ended in early March.
COMMENT: It is utterly disgraceful, and a slap in the face to our closest ally, Canada, where the pipeline would begin, bringing Canadian crude to refineries on our Gulf coast. Of course, Obama doesn't care much about Canada.
The pipeline is popular, and, as the Canadian ambassador to the U.S. said this week, represents far less environmental risk than carrying oil by train or tanker truck.
I'm guessing that Keystone will never be built under this administration, so great is the power of the left wing of the Democratic Party. How low we have sunk, but polls show that maybe, just maybe, the people are catching on.
SHORT TAKES ON THE DRIFTING WRECKAGE – AT 11:29 P.M. ET:
UKRAINE UPDATE – From The New York Times: "KIEV, Ukraine — An American-backed deal to settle the crisis in eastern Ukraine fell flat on Friday as pro-Russian militants vowed to stay in occupied government buildings, dashing hopes of a swift end to an insurgency that the authorities in Kiev portray as a Kremlin-orchestrated effort to put Ukraine’s industrial heartland under Russian control." One word from Comrade Vladimir and those pro-Russian militants would be gone. I guess Vladimir doesn't want to utter the word.
DOUBLE STANDARD? – From Fox: "Roughly 25 Muslim drivers dispatched to Cleveland Hopkins International Airport are refusing to drive cabs adorned with advertising for the region’s upcoming Gay Games, citing religious reasons. Two of the three companies operating at Ohio's largest airport were informed by the drivers — one-third of the airport’s total fleet — last week that they will no longer participate in the airport’s dedicated taxicab program. The companies, Ace and Yellow Taxi Cab, were told by the drivers that their decision was based on religious reasons, airport spokeswoman Jacqueline Mayo told FoxNews.com." Hmm. I wonder what will happen, now that Christian institutions are being ordered by courts and the Obama administration to provide health services to employees that violate the institutions' religious teachings. Will Muslims be given an exemption? Why did I think they will?
ALMOST HILARIOUS – Media Matters is a profoundly left-wing organization that goes after media that won't follow the leftist party line. Of course, that doesn't mean they have to like their own workers. From Fox: "Media Matters for America is apparently resisting an effort by Service Employees International Union Local 500 to unionize its staff. Last week, the union filed a representation petition with the National Labor Relations Board, indicating that the nonprofit media watchdog organization rejected an effort by the union to organize MMFA's staff through a Card Check election." Monumental hypocrisy, but nothing new.
WHAT DIFFERENCE DOES IT MAKE? – Apparently Ms. Hillary doesn't check things out too well, like the security around our embassies and consulates...and book titles. From National Journal: "Hillary Clinton's upcoming memoir, which is expected to look back at her time as secretary of State, now has a name: Hard Choices. Which is an okay title! She no doubt had to make some tough decisions while at State, and has at least one big decision to make coming up in the next year or so. But the former Cabinet member and possible future presidential candidate may have been better served by a different title—like, say, Tough Decisions. Because Hard Choices has already been used. By another former secretary of State. In 1983, Cyrus Vance, who served as secretary of State in the Carter administration from 1977 to 1980, released his memoir about his own years in office: Hard Choices: Critical Years in America's Foreign Policy."
VAUDEVILLE – AT 10:02 A.M. ET: Vlady Putin and Eddie Snowden – together again! What excitement! What ratings! What revulsion!
Turns out that Vladimir Putin did one of those call-in TV shows, and who called in? Why, Edward Snowden, that renowned American patriot and privacy expert. From Howard Kurtz at Fox:
What are the odds?
I mean, Vladimir Putin does a call-in show and one guy who happens to get through—to ask a question in English—is Ed Snowden?
That is one amazing coincidence—almost as amazing as those soldiers who mysteriously materialized in Crimea turning out to be Russian.
In a few moments, Snowden became part of a Soviet-style propaganda machine, even though he clearly views himself as a public-spirited crusader.
After Snowden leaked all those NSA documents to the Guardian and the Washington Post, which shared a Pulitzer Prize this week, he fled to Hong Kong and then to Moscow, which was more than happy to tweak President Obama by harboring him.
But Snowden is clearly drawn to the spotlight, and he played a starring role in Putin’s political theater on Thursday.
He gave the Russian leader a chance to beat his chest about how moral he is, compared to the bad old USA.
Keep in mind that Snowden is not just some zealous activist. Some people think he’s a traitor, others think he’s a hero sparking a global debate. But there is no dispute that he is a fugitive from justice.
Nor did he just ask a question. He gave a little speech, saying that White House and other reviews of the NSA surveillance program had concluded “that these programs are ineffective in stopping terrorism. They also found that they unreasonably intrude into the private lives of ordinary citizens.”
Having delivered his anti-NSA spin, Snowden serves up the pitch for Putin to hit: “Does Russia intercept, store, or analyze in any way the communications of millions of individuals? And do you believe that simply increasing the effectiveness of intelligence or law enforcement investigations can justify placing societies, rather than subjects, under surveillance?”
What a coup for Putin.
COMMENT: Read Putin's reply. He's better than Pinocchio. Then take a seasickness pill.
AWFUL – AT 9:28 A.M. ET: While the trendies in America and Europe anguish over "Islamophobia," this is happening in Egypt. From Fox:
Young Christian women are facing a greater risk of being kidnapped by extremists, tortured, and even forced to convert to Islam since the Arab Spring ended in 2011.
This year already has seen a spike in the incidents, according to a report by the non-profit advocacy group International Christian Concern. It has been estimated by the ICC and other watchdog groups in the region that there have been 500 reported cases of young women being attacked by Muslim men since 2011, but unreported cases could send the figure much higher.
The girls are often assaulted, raped, kidnapped, forced to change their faith and sometimes killed, the ICC said.Making matter worse, nothing is being done by local authorities to prevent it in provinces across Egypt, according to officials from both the ICC and the Clarion Project, a US-based non-profit think tank and advocacy group.
“Not only are they turning a blind eye, they are often compliant,” Issac Six, a spokesman for the ICC told FoxNews.com, citing one incident in which a father was assaulted by an officer for asking too many questions about efforts to have his abducted daughter returned.
“It’s pervasive; police at the local level are not stopping the abductions. There needs to be more pressure from the top,” he added. “We have seen cases before where we’ve seen victims returned when the police put pressure on the kidnappers. We know it’s possible, unfortunately, the police are often complacent.”
COMMENT: Please note the deep interest by so-called "women's" groups in the West. They are so busy with left-wing politics that they're afraid to speak out against the horror faced by women in many Muslim societies. And those few who do speak out are denounced as "Islamophobic," especially on our college campuses, where totalitarian movements have often gotten a respectful hearing.
People forget that Nazi officials were feted at Ivy League schools in the 1930s. The same mentality is alive today.
SELLING A BRIDGE IN BROOKLYN – AT 9:14 A.M. ET: The president was out selling Obamacare again yesterday, and making claims that would require a stern warning label on any drug. From Townhall.com:
President Obama addressed the White House press corps today, announcing that with the final numbers in, Obamacare's exchanges have attracted eight million sign-ups -- 35 percent of whom are "under the age of 35," he said. Several elements of his comments were misleading:
At first blush, the 35 percent stat is both significant and impressive. As recently as last month, the share of "young invincibles" signing up for plans was struggling in the 25 percent range, far short of the actuarial target of nearly 40 percent. A leap into the mid-30's, while still shy of the goal, would constitute a major step, and would bode well for the risk pools' sustainability. Alas, the president was lumping children in with this group, wildly inflating the number. Among the actual key demographic (18-34), the accurate number is...28 percent. So despite the big enrollment spike at the deadline, not nearly enough of those people were young adults to move the relevant needle.
As we've explained repeatedly, the number of so-called "sign-ups" does not accurately reflect the number of people who have actually secured coverage, which requires paying the first month's premium. Delinquent payments are deleted by insurers, and people who selected (but didn't pay for) those plans are not covered. Experts have estimated that roughly 20 percent of "enrollees" fall into this category, a ballpark figure that even Kathleen Sebelius has acknowledged. And the numbers vary from state to state. In California, the nonpayment rate is 15 percent. In Delaware, it's 37 percent. In South Carolina, it's 43 percent. If the one-fifth delinquency estimate is accurate, the number of paid enrollees through Obamacare marketplaces is 6.4 million. That total is higher than I thought it would be, but it's still short of the original goal.
The official percentage of those 6.4 million enrollees who previously lacked coverage -- a crucial number in measuring the law's success -- is unknown...
COMMENT: Read the whole thing. It's well researched. I'd rather depend on a million anecdotes than dry statistics, which are easily manipulated. The anecdotal evidence on Obamacare is terrible, both for patients and physicians. People are losing policies they liked. They are losing doctors. They are losing their choice of hospitals. Just what we asked for.
ALL HILLARY ALL THE TIME – AT 8:31 A.M. ET: It seems to be Hillary everywhere, and it will get worse. She's been speaking to any paying audience that will listen, she's gonna be a grandma, and her book, "Hard Choices," comes out in early June. She's the designated front runner of her party, and queen of all she surveys.
Or is she?
Amidst all the chatter there is some very solid bad news for Hillary Clinton. It started a while back. Her approval numbers are slipping, and they are likely to get worse as soon as she faces competition. From the Washington Free Beacon:
Hillary Clinton may end up deciding she wants to spend the 935 days until election 2016 making corporate speeches and spoiling her grandchild. Recent events have exposed weaknesses in Clinton’s supposedly impregnable armor, gaps through which a Democratic or Republican challenger could damage, perhaps even defeat her. The bad headlines to which she has been subjected are enough to make anyone—anyone who isn’t a Clinton—think twice about running for president.
Look at the polls. This week’s Fox News poll has Clinton’s favorable rating at its lowest point in six years. She is at 49 percent favorable, 45 percent unfavorable—similar to her 47 percent favorable, 46 percent unfavorable rating when she ended her last presidential campaign.
More important than the individual results, however, is the trend. Since leaving office as secretary of state, Clinton’s favorable rating has been on a downward trajectory. And this is before the rigors of a campaign, before a Biden or a Warren or an O’Malley or a Cuomo or a Schweitzer or a Sanders throws a punch or two, before Christie, Bush, Rubio, Walker, Jindal, Paul, Kasich, Ryan, Perry, and Pence go for the Cobra Clutch Bulldog. A shoo-in? So was The Undertaker.
Already Clinton is finding it difficult to articulate a rationale for her presidency, to pronounce a record of achievement on which to base a campaign. In an appearance this month at the Women in the World Summit she had trouble naming her proudest accomplishment as secretary of state. It is a question that her strongest supporters, in her party and in the media, cannot answer. “Hillary Clinton Struggles to Define a Legacy in Progress,” read the headline in the Thursday New York Times. “Mrs. Clinton is striking a delicate balance,” the paper reports, “when discussing a job that would be a critical credential in a presidential race.” The last secretary of State to become president was James Buchanan. He gave us the Civil War.
COMMENT: That puts it very succinctly. Hillary is not a shoo-in. Of course the grandchild will be helpful because it will be plastered on every magazine cover and TV screen in the country. And Hillary will have the press behind her, Barack style. And Republicans may nominate a loser for president.
But she is far from writing her inaugural address.
"What you see is news. What you know is background. What you feel is opinion."
- Lester Markel, late Sunday editor
of The New York Times.
"Political correctness does not legislate tolerance; it only organizes hatred. "
- Jacques Barzun
"Against stupidity the gods themselves struggle in vain."
THE ANGEL'S CORNER
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