Scene above: Constitution Island, where Revolutionary War forts still exist, as photographed from Trophy Point, United States Military Academy, West Point, New York
WE'RE ON TWITTER, GO HEREWE'RE ON FACEBOOK, GO HERE
Please note that you can leave a comment on any of our posts at our Facebook page. Subscribers can also comment at length at our Angel's Corner Forum.
I appeared on Silvio Canto Jr's talk show from Dallas yesterday. It's here.
JULY 28, 2014
GREAT MOMENTS IN NATIONAL DEFENSE – AT 9:48 A.M. ET: We're certainly getting out of Afghanistan in the best possible way. From Fox:
The Pentagon has been unable to locate more than 40 percent of the firearms it has provided to Afghan security forces at a cost of $626 million, according to a report by a government oversight agency made public Monday.
The report by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR) states that the Defense Department's two information systems that track weapons sent to Afghanistan are full of errors. That has sparked fears that at least some of the weapons may be available on the black market, with militants among the potential purchasers.
According to the report and an article in The Washington Times, the Pentagon has sent 747,000 weapons and auxiliary equipment, mostly small arms, to Afghan forces over the past decade. The paper reported that of the 474,823 serial numbers recorded in the tracking database, 203,888 -- approximately 43 percent -- had missing or duplicate information. The Times reported that auditors had discovered that 24,520 serial numbers were repeated at least once in the database, and 50, 304 serial numbers had no shipping or receiving dates recorded for them.
Jeffrey Brown, senior audit manager for SIGAR, told The Times that the agency has "no evidence" that the weapons have made their way to militant hotspots, such as neighboring Pakistan. However, he added, "That wasn’t really in the scope of our audit."
In other words, we didn't look into it, but we're sure nothing is wrong.
In response to the report, Michael J. Dumont, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for Afghanistan, Pakistan and Central Asia, told the paper that the department is moving to consolidate the two tracking systems in the hope that such a move will help eliminate discrepancies. The paper also reported that the Pentagon is considering making future transfers of weapons to Afghan forces contingent on inventory checks performed by Afghan soldiers.
Why don't they just send them via FedEx and demand a signature. Always works.
The report describes the tracking system used by Afghanistan's military as a hybrid of paper documents, records written by hand, and Microsoft Excel spreadsheets.
COMMENT: I can teach them Excel. Reasonable rates. Guaranteed results.
WHERE IS THE FURY? – AT 9:18 A.M. ET: The silence, like the silence during the Holocaust, is deafening. But this time it is the silence that greets the oppression of Christians in the Middle East. From the New York Post:
Does innocent human life matter in the Middle East if it is Christian?
We ask because while Israel’s efforts to defend itself against terrorism from Hamas have provoked worldwide condemnation and demonstrations, the ethnic cleansing of a Christian community that has been in Iraq for more than 1,600 years continues with only a whimper of protest.
The developments are the latest chapter in a larger story that includes the burning of Coptic churches in Egypt, the jailing of a pastor in Iran and the exodus of Palestinian Christians in the face of growing Muslim intolerance.
Now the Islamic State of Iraq has declared a caliphate — and continues the savage work of ridding the region of all those who do not share its brand of Islam.
When its fighters took Iraq’s second largest city, Mosul, back in June, they gave Christians there a choice: convert to Islam, pay a huge tax or die.
Christian homes were marked with an Arabic “N” for “Nazarene,” and the property confiscated.
Crosses have been removed from churches, which have been sacked and desecrated.
The result today is that there are no Christians left in this city.
A year ago, Iraqi Prime Minister Nour al-Maliki asked for drone strikes on ISIS before it reached the cities — but was turned down by the Obama administration, which downplayed the threat from ISIS.
All of which leaves these Christians the world’s most lonely people: with their own nation unable to defend them, America unwilling to help them and a world that would simply like to forget them.
COMMENT: The silence among American religious groups is especially embarrassing. But some of these groups became part of the worldwide left some time ago, despite the beliefs of their parishioners.
I'm not optimistic that there will be any improvement in the condition of Christians in the Mideast. The press is notoriously uninterested. The Barack Obamas of the world probably think the Christians are imperialists, or brought it on themselves. They're not politically correct, and that's the name of the game these days.
OUTRAGEOUS – AT 8:55 A.M. ET: Our first post-American president is doing it again. From USA Today:
President Obama is re-naming an African fellowship program in honor of the late South African freedom fighter Nelson Mandela.
Please note the automatic use of the term "freedom fighter." Not really, as we shall see.
Obama will make the announcement Monday during a town-hall-style meeting with guests who participated in the inaugural — and soon to be re-named — Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, officials said.
Discussing the fellowship program during a visit to South Africa last year, Obama said that "we want to engage leaders and tomorrow's leaders in figuring out how we can best work together."
The meeting is one in a series of upcoming events dedicated to U.S.-African relations, including the first U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit on Aug. 4-6.
The fellowship program to be re-named in Mandela's honor is part of the Young African Leaders Initiative that Obama launched in 2010.
Fellowships are designed to give 500 young leaders from sub-Saharan Africa leadership training at American universities, as well as the chance to meet with government officials, entrepreneurs and civil society members from the United States. Obama announced creation of the fellowship program during the 2013 trip to South Africa.
Obama has often expressed his admiration for Mandela, who died in December at the age of 95. After serving 27 years in prison for anti-apartheid activities, Mandela went on to become the first black president of South Africa, serving from 1994 to 1999.
At a memorial service held in South Africa, Obama said Mandela was someone who believed in the power of actions and ideas, as well as laws and institutions. Mandela also understood "the ties that bind the human spirit," Obama said.
COMMENT: Mandela was no doubt distinguished in the fight against apartheid, but that's pretty much it. He was militantly anti-American, and I'm outraged that any president would name an American program for someone who held anti-American views.
Mandela was also remarkably indifferent to fundamental human rights. He was one of Gaddafi's closest friends in Africa, and was a foe of Israel. In other words, his record is decidedly mixed.
Obama can get away with this because the press reporting on Mandela, and South Africa generally, has been so thin. When Mandela died I did not see a single objective retrospective on his life. It was all adolescent adulation, as if he'd just come out with a hot CD. And South Africa is an appalling hellhole, with some of the worst crime rates and rates of sexual violence in the world. But hey, who wants to know? Right?
NICE GUYS – AT 8:32 A.M. ET: The North Koreans are getting testy again. But only tell the president after his next vacation. From channelnewsasia.com:
SEOUL: A top-ranking North Korean military official has threatened a nuclear strike on the White House and Pentagon after accusing Washington of raising military tensions on the Korean peninsula.
The threat came from Hwang Pyong-So, director of the military's General Political Bureau, during a speech to a large military rally in Pyongyang on Sunday on the anniversary of the armistice that ended the 1950-53 Korean War.
Hwang, who holds the rank of vice marshal in the Korean People's Army, said a recent series of South Korea-US military drills, one of which included the deployment of a nuclear-powered US aircraft carrier, had ramped up tensions.
"If the US imperialists threaten our sovereignty and survival... our troops will fire our nuclear-armed rockets at the White House and the Pentagon - the sources of all evil," Hwang said in his speech broadcast Monday on state television.
It is not the first time that North Korea's rhetoric has included threats of nuclear strikes on the continental United States and US bases in the Pacific.
But most experts believe it is still a long way from developing a viable intercontinental ballistic missile with the required range.
The North has conducted three nuclear tests, but is not thought to have mastered the miniaturisation techniques necessary for mounting a warhead on a missile.
COMMENT: I'm always amused at these stories reassuring us that some enemy nation is "a long way" from developing this or that. Reminds me of the assurances in the late 1940s and early 1950s that the Soviets were "a long way" from becoming a nuclear power. Strange how "a long way" usually translates into a few years.
North Korea will have nuclear-tipped missiles because our diplomacy with that nation failed. Iran will have the same weapons, and North Korean help might be a factor. We learned over the weekend that North Korea is in talks to resupply Hamas.
SHORT TAKES ON THE DRIFTING WRECKAGE – AT 11:52 P.M. ET:
WITH A GRAIN OF SALT – There's a Gallup Poll making the rounds that has sent some on our side into spiritual ecstasy. It holds that Americans today would elect Mitt Romney president over Barack Obama, by 53-44%. That's the good news. Buyer's remorse has set in. But does this mean a Romney revival? Not necessarily. The bad news is that Romney, in 2016, wouldn't be running against Barack Obama. He'd probably be running against Hillary Clinton. And, in the same poll, Clinton defeats Romney, 55-42%. Also, Democrats are now ahead of Republicans among registered voters, in the generic ballot, 48-44%. The gap is probably more narrow among likely voters. But you can see how tough the landscape really is.
IF YOU'VE LOST BOTH ISRAEL AND THE PALESTINIAN AUTHORITY – The State Department has taken major offense at some harsh criticism of John Kerry coming out of Israel. Specifically, the Israelis believe that the ceasefire proposal by Kerry, which Jerusalem rejected, could have been written by Hamas. But now the Palestinian Authority is making the same charge. There's no love lost between the PA and Hamas, and the PA resents that Kerry drew up his proposal while consulting with Hamas allies Turkey and Qatar. So Kerry has both the Israelis and the Pals furious at him at the same time. You can't deny the guy's level of accomplishment. He attracts a kind of unanimity.
ARE SNOWDEN'S 15 MINUTES UP? – From The Hill: "The Obama administration is increasingly less inclined to make a deal to allow Edward Snowden to come back to the United States, according to a top National Security Agency official. 'As time goes on, the utility for us of having that conversation becomes less,' NSA No. 2 Rick Ledgett said this weekend at Aspen Security Forum in Colorado, according to Politico. 'It's been over a year since he had access to our networks and our information so the need for us to understand that greater level of detail is lesser and lesser.' The comment could point to increasing difficulty for Snowden and his lawyers try to cut a deal that would allow the former contractor to return home from Russia, where he has sought asylum for the last year." Let him live out his life in the worker's paradise. The vodka is great. Not much else.
IS IT POSSIBLE? – AT 11:52 A.M. ET: It's a long shot, but there is at least some realistic possibility that Republicans can take a Senate seat away from Democrats this year in the very blue state of Oregon. George Will has a fine piece about the outstanding Republican candidate. From the Washington Post:
“Are you kidding?” This is Monica Wehby’s amiable response to people who wonder whether she will be able to bear the pressures of office if she wins her race as a Republican Senate candidate. For 17 of her 52 years she has been a pediatric neurosurgeon, holding in steady hands sharp steel and the fate of children’s brains. She probably can cope with the strains of legislative life.
Today, her task is to persuade Oregonians to act on the cogent exhortation of her campaign’s bumper stickers: “Keep Your Doctor. Change Your Senator.” She is trying to take a Senate seat away from freshman Democrat Jeff Merkley, who was elected in 2008 with 49 percent of the vote when Barack Obama carried the state with 57 percent. This year, Merkley’s task is to run far ahead of what Wehby’s internal polling shows is Obama’s 43 percent job approval among Oregonians, with 54 percent of independents disapproving of the president.
Oregon is one of the 18 states and the District of Columbia that have supported Democratic nominees in at least six consecutive presidential elections. About half the state’s voters live in the Portland metropolitan area, which has become emblematic of urban progressivism (“smart growth,” autophobia). But from 1969 to 1995, both Oregon senators were Republicans, and Wehby’s pollster says Merkley’s two-point lead (41 percent to 39 percent) derives from the incumbent’s perishable seven-point advantage in name recognition. Wehby is up one point among voters who say they “know” both candidates.
COMMENT: We can hope. In most cases that I can recall, the Democrats in blue states pull together at the last minute and come through for the party. And Democratic scare tactics have their effect. Maybe Oregon will break the pattern this year. Will's entire piece is worth reading.
WARNING ON RUSSIA – AT 10:58 A.M. ET: The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has issued a warning on Russia. We hope his boss, who lives in the White House (or in the clouds) takes it seriously. From the Washington Times:
Call it a Cold War reset: The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told participants Thursday at the Aspen Security Forum that Russia is forcing the Pentagon to re-examine readiness plans that have been collecting dust for decades.
“We’re looking inside our own readiness models to look at things that we haven’t had to look at for 20 years, frankly, about basing and lines of communication and sea lanes,” Gen. Martin Dempsey said, ABC News reported Friday.
Russia’s annexation of Crimea and its ongoing military involvement along Ukraine’s eastern border have also forced “conversations with our NATO allies about increasing their capability and readiness,” the general added.
Gen. Dempsey also told ABC News that he feared Russian President Vladimir Putin’s actions could “light a fire that he loses control of” and spark “dangerous” strains of nationalism in Europe.
The general’s comments came on the same day that Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Steve Warren said that Russian troops have been firing artillery at the Ukraine military. The Pentagon fears the shelling could ignite a full-fledged war.
COMMENT: Mitt Romney was laughed at during the 2012 campaign when he said that Russia was emerging, once more, as our number one enemy. No one is laughing anymore. Well, maybe Obama is laughing.
Putin's strutting depends on American weakness. And we're supplying the goods.
Russia is growing stronger militarily as we cut our forces. President Lead from Behind says he wants greater West European engagement in our disputes with Moscow, but Western Europe is going to be very cautious unless it's sure America has its back. If you were Paris or Berlin, would you trust Obama and Washington?
A HUNDRED DAYS TO GO – AT 10:41 A.M. ET: To the election, that is. The Hill has a good wrapup of where we stand:
It's an even bet that Republicans get the Senate,” said Cook Political Report Senate editor Jennifer Duffy.
On the House side, Republicans are a lock to remain in power. The real test is whether they can expand their majority.
The battle for Senate control is on conservative terrain. Seven Democratic-held seats are in states 2012 presidential nominee Mitt Romney carried, while the GOP has no vulnerable blue-state incumbents.
Republicans are heavily favored to pick off seats of retiring Democrats in West Virginia and South Dakota, and appointed Sen. John Walsh’s (D-Mont.) recent plagiarism scandal has likely doomed his already-uphill race.
The best news for Democrats is that their four red-state incumbents are running strong campaigns and can’t be counted out just yet.
Sens. Kay Hagan (D-N.C.) and Mark Begich (D-Alaska) seem to have the edge in their races, Sen. Mark Pryor (D-Ark.) is hanging tough, and Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.) isn’t dead yet.
COMMENT: Read the whole piece. It's a well-reported survey of the playing field at the moment. We've been warning here for months that the GOP will have a very tough time taking the Senate, despite rosy early predictions. I think Jennifer Duffy's assessment that Republicans are an even bet is about right. They should be much further ahead, considering the overall political landscape.
Obama is unpopular, but the Republican Party remains unpopular as well. And Senate races are local. Democrats holding Senate seats in red states have, by definition, learned to maneuver during election years. Some, like Pryor and Landrieu, come from famous political families.
"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
Part I of The Angel's Corner
will be sent Wednesday night.
Part II will be sent over
Subscriptions are voluntary. They guarantee that you'll continue to have Urgent Agenda. But subscribers and donators also receive The Angel's Corner, our twice-a-week e-mailed page.
Payments are secure, through PayPal. Credit cards are fine. You don't need a PayPal account to use your card. PayPal's wording is confusing. Just go to "Pay using your credit or debit card" on the first PayPal page, enter card information and subscribe.
FOR ONE-YEAR SUBSCRIPTIONS, INCLUDING MONTHLY PAYMENT PLANS AND OPTIONS FOR GIFT SUBSCRIPTIONS FOR THOSE YOU'RE STILL TALKING TO, MAKE YOUR CHOICE AND THEN CLICK Subscribe:
FOR A SIX-MONTH ($26)
SUBSCRIPTION, CLICK Subscribe:
IF YOU PREFER TO DONATE AT YOUR OWN LEVEL, CLICK Donate:
WE DO TAKE CREDIT CARDS DIRECTLY. CALL US AT 914 420 1849. LEAVE A MESSAGE IF WE CAN'T ANSWER. WE'LL CALL YOU BACK.
"The left needs two things to survive. It needs mediocrity, and it needs dependence. It nurtures mediocrity in the public schools and the universities. It nurtures dependence through its empire of government programs. A nation that embraces mediocrity and dependence betrays itself, and can only fade away, wondering all the time what might have been."
- Urgent Agenda
If you are a legal copyright holder or a designated agent for such and you believe a post on this website falls outside the boundaries of "Fair Use" and legitimately infringes on yours or your client's copyright, we may be contacted concerning copyright matters at:
4 Martine Avenue
White Plains, NY 10606