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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 20,  2014

OBAMA FAILING ON EDUCATION – AT 9:48 A.M. ET:  Another poll just out shows the public turning against President Obama on education, an area he emphasized in his election campaigns.  From The Hill: 

Public support for President Obama’s education policies is plunging, according to a new survey.

Only 27 percent of people give Obama an “A” or “B” for his support of public schools, down 9 percent from last year, in a new poll from PDK/Gallup that was released Wednesday.

An equal amount of people — 27 percent — said Obama deserves a failing grade on education.

Fifty-six percent of respondents said they believe their local school board should have the greatest influence in deciding the curriculum. Only 28 percent of Democrats said the federal government should have the greatest control, while 45 percent of Democrats said the local school board should be in charge.

Republicans have criticized the Obama administration’s federal policies, including Race to the Top, saying Education Secretary Arne Duncan is trying to create a “national school board” rather than leaving education to states and localities.

“This administration has used the combination of No Child Left Behind, Race to the Top, and waivers from No Child Left Behind to, in effect, turn itself into a national school board, making decisions that states and local communities ought to make for themselves,” said Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee ranking member Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.).

And, on the public's response to "Common Core":

The Gallup poll found that 81 percent of the pubic had heard of Common Core, with 60 percent opposing it. The most common reason cited for opposition was the belief that the standards limit the flexibility of teachers.

“Parents nationwide, including many in Indiana, are raising concerns the administration is attempting to force states to implement a national curriculum through the Common Core State Standards,” Rep. Todd Rokita (R-Ind.) said. “Reforming our nation’s education system to put power back in the hands of state and local leaders is long overdue.”

COMMENT:  There is a backlash building against "big education," the same kind of backlash we periodically have against "big business."  Indeed, education is a business.

There are now a number of organizations, interest groups, and citizens groups, taking a hard look at education, from pre-school to graduate school.  It's about time.  For too long we have allowed the education establishment and the education-journalism complex to lecture us on how we should run our lives, without many questions asked.

We might begin by asking why universities with multi-billion-dollar endowments should receive federal aid for their trendy courses in group studies and identity politics.  My view is that federal aid should be limited to science and engineering, and perhaps other areas in those small and community colleges that struggle financially and serve underserved populations.

August 20, 2014       Permalink

 

PRESS GETS THUMBS DOWN ON FERGUSON COVERAGE – AT 9:04 A.M. ET:  And for good reason.  Americans are critical of the role of the media in covering the situation in Ferguson.  From the Daily Signal: 

Most Americans say that things would be different in Ferguson, Mo., if the racial roles had been reversed. According to a Rasmussen Poll released today, many believe the media’s coverage of the incident would differ if a black police officer had shot a white teenager.

A majority, 54 percent, agree the media would have reported the death of Michael Brown differently according to the color of his skin. Regardless of race—white, black and other minority adults—most believe the shooting would garner less media attention.

As things stand now, however, only about 1 in 3 Americans approve of the media’s coverage of the incident.

Regardless of media dissatisfaction, 57 percent of blacks believe the police officer involved should be found guilty of murder. The majority of white and other minority Americans do not agree.

Allegations of systemic police racism aren’t widely accepted. Sixty-one percent of Americans say police are not racist as opposed to 14 percent who say they are.

A mere 34 percent believe race relations are at a favorable state in the nation today.

COMMENT:  What the story doesn't point out is the number of murders each week, especially of African-Americans, that get virtually no attention at all.  Americans are aware of that, especially when the Chicago carnage is reported every weekend.  The Missouri case has become politicized.  It's noted that Al Sharpton, a grossly irresponsible racial agitator, will deliver the eulogy at Michael Brown's funeral, which will inflame things even more.  (I would have much preferred a local minister to do it.  There are wonderful black clergymen trying to calm things in Ferguson.) 

Some in the press have already convicted the police officer involved in the shooting.  I think that is the primary reason why the press gets such low marks. 

There is nothing new here.  The press tilts liberal, and, especially on racial matters, the finger is on the scale.

August 20, 2014        Permalink


OUTRAGEOUS – AT 8:29 A.M. ET:  Irresponsible statements by public officials aren't helping to calm Ferguson, Missouri, where protests, some violent, continue over the fatal police shooting of Michael Brown.   Now the Democratic governor weighs in, with little regard for the idea of "a nation of laws."  From Fox:   

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon drew criticism from his own Lt. Governor Tuesday when he said "a vigorous prosecution must now be pursued" in the shooting death of black 18-year-old Michael Brown by white police Officer Darren Wilson in the St. Louis suburb of Ferguson.

Nixon made the comment in a videotaped statement in which he said he would not remove St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch from the case despite the demands of some black leaders who believe that McCulloch's deep family ties to law enforcement would affect his impartiality. McCullouch's father, mother, brother, uncle and cousin all worked for the St. Louis Police Department, and his father was killed while responding to a call involving a black suspect.

In his statement, Nixon cited what he called the "well-established process" by which prosecutors can recuse themselves from pending investigations to make way for a special prosecutor. Departing from that process, Nixon said in a statement, "could unnecessarily inject legal uncertainty into this matter and potentially jeopardize the prosecution."

"We have a responsibility," Nixon said, "to come together, and do everything we can to achieve justice for [Brown's] family." Nixon added that McCulloch and U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder had an obligation "to achieve justice in the shooting death of Michael Brown must be carried out thoroughly, promptly, and correctly."

COMMENT:  It is not proper for a governor to urge a "vigorous prosecution" of anyone.  It is proper for him to call for justice.  Nor is it proper for a governor to call on society to "achieve justice for Brown's family."  We don't have private justice in America.  The family of Michael Brown is grieving, that's true.  We can sympathize with their grief.  But the phrase "justice for Brown's family" will be interpreted to mean arresting and convicting the officer who shot him, regardless of the facts.

The officer may well be guilty of something, but that's for a jury to decide, not the governor.  Some of these people should just shut up, instead of trying to satisfy a constituency.

August 20, 2014       Permalink


AT LEAST CAMERON HAS SOME CLASS – AT 8:16 A.M. ET:  The Islamic State thug who executed American journalist James Foley spoke with a distinct British accent, and Britain has reacted.  From London's Daily Mail: 

David Cameron this morning broke off his holiday to return to Downing Street, following the brutal execution of an American journalist by an Islamic State jihadist thought to be British.

The Prime Minister will hold meetings today over the 'shocking and depraved' execution of photographer James Foley.

The dramatic development came after the Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said the Islamic State was waging war on Britain and the West and the organisation had to be dealt with 'on that basis'.
He also said the jihadist filmed executing Mr Foley ‘appears to be British’ and revealed the Government believed the video was 'genuine'.

Mr Hammond said the UK would oppose the Islamic State 'with every breath in our body' and could send British troops to Baghdad to train Iraqi forces to fight the 'evil organisation'.

COMMENT:  Well, at least the words are good.  Compare please with the American president, who went back to his vacation after spending some hours in Washington yesterday.  Events in Ferguson do not stop him from partying.  Neither does the execution of an American journalist.  Nor does the breakdown in the truce between Israel and Gaza.

Who said Barack Obama lacks determination?  When it comes to vacationing, nothing stops the man.

August 20,  2014     Permalink


 

 

AUGUST 19,  2014

SHORT TAKES ON THE DRIFTING WRECKAGE – AT 8:44 P.M. ET: 

GAME CHANGER? – From Gateway Pundit, which is based in St. Louis:  "The Gateway Pundit can now confirm from two local St. Louis sources that police Officer Darren Wilson suffered facial fractures during his confrontation with deceased 18 year-old Michael Brown. Officer Wilson clearly feared for his life during the incident that led to the shooting death of Brown. This was after Michael Brown and his accomplice Dorian Johnson robbed a local Ferguson convenience store."  If the story is confirmed, it casts an entirely new light on the incident.  Shows the importance of waiting for the facts before making judgments.

SICKENING – The Islamic State group, which our aircraft are battling in Iraq, has released a video showing the beheading of American journalist James Wright Foley.  At the end of the video the Islamic State spokesman parades TIME journalist Steven Joel Sotloff before the camera, and indicates that his beheading will be next.  Thus we're given another example of the nature of the enemy.  I wonder if even left-wing journalists will be moved by this horror, or will simply repeat the well-worn line about understanding "other cultures" and "the root causes" of the conflict.

PERRY'S MOMENT? – Republican Governor Rick Perry of Texas presented himself for booking today and had a mug shot taken after an absurd indictment by a grand jury.  The indictment, for misusing his office, is being attacked across the board, left to right, as laughable.  Even The New York Times lashed out against it in an editorial, as did the Washington Post.  Perry will apparently continue with his presidential campaign.  His advisors are reported to believe that the legal harassment he faces may well strengthen him with primary voters.  I agree, but it depends on how he carries himself.  Right now he's on the winning side in terms of common sense. 

GAZA HEATS UP AGAIN – A temporary ceasefire expired tonight, but negotiations toward a permanent cessation of hostilities failed in Cairo.  Even before the temporary truce expired, Hamas started firing rockets into Israel, some into Tel Aviv and Jerusalem.  Israel has responded with air strikes.  The U.S. State Department, which occasionally gets things right, has blamed Hamas for breaking the truce.  This looks like it can escalate quickly unless there is some new diplomatic development.

August 19, 2014       Permalink

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AL GORE, CALL YOUR LOCAL FORECASTER – AT 10:28 A.M. ET:   The climate is changing, but maybe not the way Al and his followers have predicted.  From London's Daily Mail: 

Bitter Arctic winds could plunge parts of Britain into the coldest spell of August weather for almost a century.

Thermometers are set to plummet as a stubborn band of low pressure drags air in from the north - with two weeks of wet, windy and cold weather on the horizon.

There is even a chance of snow and sleet over the mountains of Scotland as it dips to near freezing overnight.

Government figures show the last time it was this cold in August was in 1919 when the mercury rose no higher than 8.9C for four days in Yorkshire and Cumbria.

COMMENT:  And yet, climate "scientists" are actively trying to shut down discussion of their theories about global warming, claiming the science is settled.  And at least two major news organizations, the Los Angeles Times and the BBC, have announced that they will no longer give coverage to global-warming skeptics. 

We have now gone a minimum of 15 years, some say 18 years, without any warming.  At what point will the mainstream media start taking a serious look at the "scientists" they've been worshipping, and realize that this science is far from settled.  It may, in fact, turn out to be horribly defective.

August 19, 2014       Permalink

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WARNING TO AMERICA – AT 9:18 A.M. ET:  While we've been focusing on Ferguson, our overseas enemies have been active.  And Americans are, to some degree, watching.  Polls show a decided tilt against Obama's handling of foreign policy, something that used to gain him public praise.  The public may be on to his weakness and indecisiveness.  From Reuters: 

BAGHDAD (Reuters) - The Islamic State militant group that has seized large parts of Iraq and drawn the first American air strikes since the end of the occupation in 2011 has warned the United States it will attack Americans "in any place" if the raids hit its militants.

The video, which shows a photograph of an American who was beheaded during the U.S. occupation of Iraq and victims of snipers, featured a statement which said in English "we will drown all of you in blood".

U.S. airstrikes in northern Iraq have helped Kurdish fighters take back some territory captured by Islamic State militants, who have threatened to march on Baghdad.

The latest advance by the Islamic State, an al Qaeda offshoot, sent tens of thousands of members of the Yazidi ethnic minority and Christians fleeing for their lives and alarmed the Baghdad government and its Western allies.

Unlike al-Qaeda, Islamic State has so far focused on seizing land in Iraq and Syria for its self-proclaimed caliphate, not spectacular attacks on Western targets.

U.S. President Barack Obama said at a news conference on Monday that the Islamic State posed a threat to Iraq and the entire region.

COMMENT:  This will be a continuing story.  As usual, we have a hard time understanding ideology.  We really can't fathom that people think the way Islamic militants think.  (In World War II the United States Navy had a hard time understanding how Japan could send young pilots to crash their planes into American ships, meaning certain death for the pilots.  It was outside our experience or our ethical codes.)  And there are political prostitutes like Jimmy Carter who assure us that much of the worst that comes out of the radical Islamic world is just "ancient history," a label the disgraceful Carter applied to the Hamas charter.

A number of reports in recent days tell us that experts on radical Islam believe that the Islamic State will eventually target both Europe and the American homeland, and that another 9-11 may be in prospect.  It would not surprise me.

August 19, 2014       Permalink

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IS THIS TRUE? – AT 8:44 A.M. ET:  I don't know.  This story has gone viral around the internet, but we cannot confirm its truth.  We note it because it is becoming an important part of the Ferguson discussion.  From Daily Caller: 

According to a preliminary report from a St. Louis Post-Dispatch reporter, police say that more than a dozen witnesses back Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson’s version of the events that led to the fatal shooting of Michael Brown.

Post-Dispatch reporter Christine Byers sent a tweet late Monday teasing her findings:

"Police sources tell me more than a dozen witnesses have corroborated cop's version of events in shooting."

Wilson’s claims match a woman who called herself “Josie” who called into Dana Loesch’s radio show on Friday. CNN confirmed with police officials that Josie’s and Wilson’s versions match.

According to Josie, Wilson, a six-year police veteran, claims Brown assaulted and then “bum rushed” him during their encounter on August 9.

The assault followed after Wilson drove upon Brown and a friend walking in the street. Wilson told the two to move to the sidewalk. After driving forward, Wilson reportedly received a dispatch call about a strong-arm robbery at a convenience store.

Brown allegedly stole cigars from the store and shoved a store clerk. According to Josie, Wilson says he saw the cigars and then confronted Brown and his friend.

Wilson reversed his car back toward Brown and his friend, Dorian Johnson.

Josie said that Wilson tried to exit his cruiser but that Brown pushed the door back on him and came after him. She said that after Brown assaulted Wilson, Brown bolted, and, as “protocol” dictates, the officer pursued and ordered Brown to “freeze.”

Wilson claims Brown turned around and taunted before “bum rushing” him, according to Josie.

Wilson fired at Brown, who fell to the ground two or three feet in front of Wilson.

If “more than a dozen” witnesses back Wilson’s claim, that would outnumber the four witnesses who say that Wilson shot Brown as he was surrendering.

COMMENT:  Police brutality exists.  Police misconduct exists.  Improper police use of weapons exists.  Bad police departments exist.  At the same time, we've had a number of cases where charges of police misconduct have been made, but the facts turned out to speak otherwise.

An autopsy performed on Mr. Brown was not definitive, except that it proved to a high standard that he was not shot in the back, as some "witnesses" alleged. 

A full, professional, unbiased investigation is required.  Presumably, that is underway, but I wonder about the result.   Is it a fair probe, or will there be a coverup of police impropriety?  Is it a fair probe, or will there be an impulse to rig the findings to throw a cop to the mercies of community "activists?" 

August 19, 2014       Permalink

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FERGUSON – QUOTES OF THE DAY – AT 8:21 A.M. ET:  Howard Kurtz, media analyst for Fox News, gets it right in looking at media coverage of Ferguson.  From Breitbart:

Former CNN anchor and Fox News Channel’s “MediaBuzz” host Howie Kurtz criticized some outlets for creating “almost a lynch mob mentality” in Ferguson, MO in the wake of the shooting death of Michael Brown.

“Some liberal outlets [are] creating almost a lynch mob mentality around this, the Huffington Post today, screaming banner headline ‘Arrest Him.’ Now, the Huffington Post, nor you or I, knows exactly what happened” he said. And “when you cross that line into becoming an advocate and to demanding that somebody be prosecuted before the facts are in, while the investigation is going on, you’re grandstanding, you’re trying to keep the story alive and I really think it’s troubling.”

Kurtz also criticized CNN for showing the house of accused officer Darren Wilson, stating, “It defies my understanding how you could put his life or the life of his family in danger by even briefly showing the house or naming the street.”

CNN is spiraling downward again, becoming the leftist network it always was, while claiming to be "the first name in news." 

And the great African-American commentator and professor, Tom Sowell, also weighs in on the problematical role of the press in the Ferguson story.  From National Review: 

I don’t know why we are spending our hard-earned money paying taxes to support a criminal-justice system, when issues of guilt and innocence are being determined on television — and even punishment is being meted out by CNN’s showing the home and address of the policeman accused in the Ferguson, Mo., shooting.

COMMENT:  We will look today to see if CNN apologizes for its journalistic outrage.  I suspect we'll be waiting a long time. 

I should say, in fairness, that I have seen some other positions presented on CNN, but clearly the bias is front and center.   I must say that I have seen far more thoughtful coverage from journalistic outlets generally regarded as "conservative" or "moderate."  Indeed, they have often highlighted issues of police tactics.

Too many in the media are voluntarily giving up their franchise, their reason for being.  Reporting the news without fear or favor is what Americans have a right to expect.  "Making a difference" or "speaking truth to power" should normally be reserved for the editorial pages.

August 19,  2014      Permalink

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"What you see is news.  What you know is background.  What you feel is opinion."
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