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 31, 2014
A REPUBLICAN ERA? – QUOTE OF THE DAY – AT 10:41 A.M. ET: One pundit who's optimistic about Tuesday is Michael Barone, one of the best. He's written a fine piece called "Democratic Dogs That Aren't Barking," which I commend to you. He basically says that the Obama era is over, and a Republican time may be coming. He gives us our quote of the day. From the Washington Examiner:
Watching candidates debate this year, I am reminded of Murray Kempton’s observation of John Lindsay in the 1965 New York mayoral race: “He is fresh and everyone else is tired.” In serious Senate races the Republicans tend to be younger, more upbeat and more confident in their views than their Democratic opponents.
The contrast is particularly sharp in Colorado and Iowa, where Republicans Gardner and Joni Ernst have poll leads in states carried twice by the president. Barack Obama, once hailed as the wave of the future, now looks like a reminder of a past that his party would like to forget.
COMMENT: Absolutely dead on. Robert Kennedy used to quote Emerson, that there's a party of hope and a party of memory. At one time it was probably true that the Democratic Party was the party of hope. That was long ago. Today it's a pathetic train wreck of nostalgic old hacks yearning for the 1960s. Our side is the party of hope. We have some great candidates this year, and we have to elect them.
AND IN THE REAL WORLD – AT 10:05 A.M. ET: While we're winding down an election campaign, our enemies are revving up their campaign against the West. From Breitbart:
Spanish intelligence has intercepted messages passed between jihadists online discussing the weaponisation of the deadly Ebola virus for use against the West, while a blackmailer in Prague has threatened to unleash the virus unless the Czech Republic pay him one million bitcoin, a volume of online currency worth over £200 million.
The national secretary of state for security in giving evidence to the Spanish Senate revealed online jihad propagandists had issued an edict to followers to kill Westerners by any means possible. Some of the methods suggested included “deadly chemical products from laboratories”, “poisonous injections” and “Ebola as a poisonous weapon”, reports theLocal.es.
Rumours of Ebola as a weapon have long circulated among the international intelligence community, as speculation arose over the potential successes of the former Soviet Union's extensive biological weapons programme in the last century. It is thought that at least one terrorist organisation, the Japanese Aum Shinrikyo cult has attempted to cultivate the Ebola for attacks. The cult killed thirteen on the Tokyo subway in 1995 with a release of potent nerve agent Sarin gas.
COMMENT: I'd take this seriously. People who will behead innocent journalists will do many other things. There is no moral "off" switch. Chemical weapons, when the right ingredients are available, are relatively easy to make. It can sometimes be done in a bathtub. Biological weapons are more difficult, but the knowledge is out there.
Remember that the basic knowledge about how to build an atomic bomb was actually known to physicists before World War II. It took an engineering project to prove out the ideas and bring them to reality. Fortunately, we got there before the Nazis did.
We have one of the weakest presidents in American history in the White House. We have foreign-policy appointees who behave like children, referring to allied leaders in obscene terms.
I hope we get a change of leadership...before it's too late.
A CAUTIONARY NOTE – AT 9:21 A.M. ET: We are cautiously optimistic about Tuesday, with the emphasis on "cautiously." Most races are still too close to comfort. Voter fraud (see the post below) may turn out to be a real factor. Some pundits suggest that Democrats may be undercounted in the polls. And the Democratic Party is running a racial scare campaign in the South so ugly that even a New York Times writer was repelled by it.
First returns from early voting in North Carolina cause some uneasiness, and tell us why we have to be cautious in our projections. From RealClearPolitics:
Democrats lead Republicans, 48.1 percent-31.6 percent, in North Carolina early voting and absentee ballots returned as of Thursday morning, according to the state Board of Elections.
These results are potentially promising for Democratic Sen. Kay Hagan. In a tight race for re-election against Republican Thom Tillis, she currently holds a narrow lead, 43.6 percent-42.6 percent, according to the RCP polling average. (RCP also puts Libertarian Sean Haugh at 5 percent, but only 0.2 percent of the early votes and absentee ballots were cast by registered members of that party.)
The early vote tally does not necessarily reflect Hagan’s chances on Nov. 4. In 2012, 2.7 million North Carolinians cast their ballots before Election Day, with Democratic ballots leading Republican ballots by 16 percentage points. Despite this advantage, Mitt Romney won the state, 50.4 percent-48.4 percent.
A total of 731,252 North Carolinians have voted so far -- 11 percent of the state’s 6.6 million registered voters. Despite a shortened early-voting period, more ballots have been cast ahead of Election Day this year than was the case at the same point in the 2010 cycle. With less than three days remaining before the end of in-person early voting, a total of 689,682 North Carolinians have voted in person -- a 15 percent increase from the total at the same point in time four years ago. The increase comes primarily from Democrats and Independents, who have cast ballots in greater numbers in this cycle than they did in 2010.
Early in-person voting will continue through Saturday and absentee ballots will be counted if they are returned by Election Day.
COMMENT: It's that Democratic ground game again. The party has specialized in getting out the vote, the only poll that actually counts. That ground game has been especially effective in places like North Carolina, which has both a large African-American vote and a large academic/research establishment.
We still must run as if we're 20 points behind. And our troops must vote on Tuesday.
UNBELIEVABLE – AT 8:52 A.M. ET: Were you aware of this? This should be a major election story, and it isn't. From Fox. What would we do without Fox?
Colorado's new election system is being panned by critics as a "ridiculous experiment" that could lead to more voter fraud -- in a year of very tight races with nothing less than control of the Senate on the line.
This election year, every eligible Colorado voter is getting his or her ballot in the mail. It's a system used by only two other states -- Oregon and Washington.
"We are only the third state in the United States trying this ridiculous experiment," said Marilyn Marks, an anti-voter fraud advocate with the Rocky Mountain Foundation. What's more, she warns, "We have added to it a toxic mix by adding same-day registration."
One of the most worrisome aspects of the new system, for some, is that once ballots are filled in, they are not required to be mailed back. The ballots can be taken to drop-off locations to avoid paying postage. And the law allows for what is known as "ballot harvesting." One individual can collect the ballots of up to 10 people to drop off.
"I'm as worried about undo influence as I am about straight up fraud," Marks said. "There are ballot harvesting groups going door-to-door, asking people to hand over their ballots. You can imagine some more vulnerable members of the community, particularly the elderly, who may feel under pressure."
"Colorado has no effective way of determining whether an individual has collected more than 10 ballots," cautioned El Paso County Clerk Wayne Williams, who also is a candidate for secretary of state. Williams complained that the state has no requirement that "your vote will count if you give it to a ballot harvester who then never turns that ballot in."
Adding to the potential confusion, every registered voter will get a ballot. "The new law requires ballots to be sent to people who may not have voted in decades," Williams said. "In El Paso County, we've had voters report to us that they've received ballots from a voter registration drive for a person who has never lived at that address."
Election officials offer reassurances that all ballot signatures will be verified against voter registration records. Yet Colorado's new same-day voter registration law does not require a photo ID.
"You have to provide a driver's license number, specific to Colorado, a state ID number or your last four of your social," Denver Elections Director Amber McReynolds said.
COMMENT: The system is designed to promote fraud. Some people feel that voter fraud is perfectly okay as long as the right side wins. Our outgoing attorney general, Eric Holder, has said that voter fraud is really not a problem, but he is dead wrong. It has always been a problem, especially in big cities and among low-information groups.
Cory Gardner, the Republican candidate for the Senate, has been leading by a few points in the polls against incumbent Democratic Senator Mark Udall. If Udall suddenly pulls out a victory, ask questions. Sadly, they'll probably never be answered.
It is incredible that this wobbly new system has gotten so little press. If Republicans tried to introduce it, you'd be seeing the headlines.
SHORT TAKES ON THE DRIFTING WRECKAGE – AT 11:51 P.M. ET:
McCONNELL PULLS AHEAD – In the bitterly fought Senate election in Kentucky, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, appears to be strengthening his lead against Dem challenger Alison Grimes. From The Hill: "Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) may be pulling ahead from Alison Lundergan Grimes as the toughest race of his political career nears, a new poll suggests. The latest and final Bluegrass Poll finds that McConnell holds a five-point lead over Grimes. And his support is growing: In last week’s poll from the same organization, he was up by only one point." The election is five days away. In addition to focusing on polls, we should be focusing on the possibility of voter fraud.
UGLY – Dem Senator Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, becoming desperate, stirred the internet today when she suggested that Obama is unpopular in Louisiana because of racism, and she's unpopular because of sexism. Hey, wasn't she elected to the Senate three times? Wasn't she female those three times? Throughout the South the Democrats are pouring it on in an attempt to bring black voters the polls. Some Dem ads suggest that a Republican victory will mean the return of Jim Crow. One of Landrieu's ads has an apparent lynching as a background. It is ugly, but it will work with some black voters. It may repel other voters.
INCREDIBLE – Comedian Jon Stewart, star of the Daily Show, confirmed today that he had indeed been offered the host's job on NBC's legendary "Meet the Press." Fortunately, Stewart turned it down. Can you believe that NBC was willing to destroy a journalistic institution for some temporary ratings gain? I have DVD's of "Meet the Press" programs from the early 60s, and watching them shows us how much journalism has fallen since. The program was serious and probing. Chuck Todd now has "Meet the Press." We hope he succeeds by aiming for the best possible journalism.
SABATO'S TAKE – Larry Sabato, of the University of Virginia, is predicting GOP control of the Senate, although it may take days or weeks to count the votes: "While many races remain close, it’s just getting harder and harder to envision a plausible path for the Democrats to retain control of the Senate. Ultimately, with just a few days to go before the election, the safe bet would be on Republicans eventually taking control of the upper chamber. We say eventually because there’s a decent chance we won’t know who wins the Senate on Election Night. Louisiana is guaranteed to go to a runoff, and Georgia seems likelier than not to do the same. The Georgia runoff would be Jan. 6, 2015, three days after the 114th Congress is scheduled to open. Vote-counting in some states, like Alaska, will take days, and other races are close enough to trigger a recount." Get your popcorn, and tranquilizers, ready for Tuesday night.
AND AT THE PENTAGON – AT 6:41 A.M. ET: The Department of Defense is warning its employees, following attacks on soldiers in Canada. From Fox:
The Pentagon is warning employees about being potential targets of quick-strike terror attacks -- to the extent of suggesting they change travel routes, remove identifiable logos and avoid large gatherings.
The advisory was issued by the Pentagon Force Protection Agency, which protects the Pentagon and its employees, and says recent threats indicate that terrorists “directed or inspired by Islamic State” consider military and law-enforcement officers legitimate targets, as reported first by The Washington Times.
The advisory was issued Friday and says the threats were uncovered by intelligence and law enforcement sources and that the attackers may use knives, guns or explosives.
“In light of these threats and recent attacks in the United Kingdom, France and Canada, remaining vigilant is paramount,” the two-page advisory warns.
The news of the advisory follows Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson announcing Tuesday that his agency has increased security at federal buildings across the country, citing terror threats and the recent attacks.
Federal Protective Service officers are providing the increased security, which Johnson said is “precautionary,” and not in response to a specific threat.
The Pentagon advisory said the potential attacks could occur with “little or no advanced warning” and that employees’ family members also could be targeted.
COMMENT: While this is happening, advisers to the president are giving off-the-record interviews to the press disparaging the Israeli prime minister and playing down the dangers of Iran's nuclear program. We have a president whose concern for our national security is minimal, at best.
INEVITABLE – AT 6:30 A.M. ET: The big concern among security people now is lone-wolf attacks. From the Washington Examiner:
Rep. Peter King, a senior member of the House Homeland Security Committee, said a “lone wolf” attack in the United States by an Islamic terrorist is inevitable but that authorities increasingly are prepared to deal with the threat.
“I believe it's only a matter of time that we have one,” the New York Republican told MSNBC Wednesday. “I think most people in the intelligence community share that belief.”
But King said it’s his understanding that U.S. intelligence agencies don’t believe any Islamic terrorist group is planning a specific attack aimed at the U.S., at least not yet.
I wouldn't put too much faith in that "belief." No one heard of 9-11 beforehand either. There's an old saying that the only coups you hear about are the ones that actually happen.
The lawmaker said Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson deserves credit for increasing security measures at federal buildings, a move the congressman says should serve as a “wakeup call to local governments" across the country.
King said police in New York City are ready to thwart terrorist attacks but added he was concerned other parts of the country are less prepared.
“There's other areas around the country that don't realize how these attacks can take place and how there's greater likelihood of it now because [the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria] is doing such an intense job of trying to attract the most radical people in our country to adopt this radical Islamist view,” he said.
King said Islamic extremists also have "gone out of their way" to appeal to people with “mental issues,” such as a recent convert to Islam who attacked two New York City police officers last week with an ax. The assailant, Zale Thompson, was shot dead by police.
COMMENT: Appealing to people with mental issues is a common tactic in intelligence work. My own nightmare is not a single lone-wolf attack, but a series of coordinated small attacks, all on the same day. Field Marshal Obama assured us several years ago that the war on terror was over. I'm sure he still thinks so. It's not over. He's over.
THE OTHER HOUSE – AT 6:21 A.M. ET: Oh, has anyone noticed that the whole House of Representatives is up for election on Tuesday? Republicans are expecting a big payday. FromFox:
While the nation’s political attention remains fixed on next week’s Senate races, Republicans are poised to make big gains in the House – though whether they hit their lofty goal of a 245-seat majority will come down to some nail-biting races.
Six days before Election Day, Republicans are liking their odds in both chambers. Polling consistently shows Republican voters are more jazzed about this election, which could translate to higher turnout. But in the House races, the opportunities for GOP pickups are numerous -- and very few Republican seats are in danger of flipping.
Even Republican Rep. Michael Grimm, a Staten Island congressman facing a 20-count indictment, could hold onto his seat.
As on the Senate side, Republicans have used President Obama’s baggage to weigh down the Democrats, forcing them to distance themselves from the president.
“When you’ve got midterm elections, what is basically at stake here is the president’s job performance,” said Terry Madonna, director of the Franklin & Marshall College Poll. “Whether it is Ike or Nixon, Reagan or Bush, the incumbent party cedes seats.”
So, “what the Democrats are trying to do is make the midterms about their opponents, and the Republicans are making this about Obama.”
If polls numbers are to be believed, the GOP has the more successful strategy.
According to The Washington Post’s Election Lab, Republicans have a 99 percent chance of keeping their majority and likely will pick up eight new seats, bringing their majority up to 242. It wouldn’t be quite the victory the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee envisioned with its “Drive to 245,” campaign – a push to build a 245-seat majority, a level not seen since the Truman administration -- but it would cement what they feel is both a mandate from voters and a bulwark against the president on Capitol Hill.
COMMENT: And let us add that a large majority can also threaten the president of the United States with impeachment, should he continue his wild ways. Impeachment is unlikely to happen, but Obama, in my view, has the capacity to go nuts during the next two years, realizing it's his last chance to fundamentally transform the country.
WISCONSIN DUST-UP – AT 6:10 A.M. ET: One of the races we're really worried about is the gubernatorial contest in Wisconsin, where Republican Scott Walker is running for re-election. One of the best governors in the country, Walker is under a sustained, vastly financed national assault because he dared take on public-service unions in his state.
But now, a last-minute claim against his opponent may shake up the race. From the Wisconsin Reporter:
MADISON, Wis. — In attempting to explain her two-year work hiatus in the early to mid-1990s, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke has said she was just burned out after an intense period of leading European operations for Trek Bicycle Corp., her family’s Waterloo-based global manufacturer.
In fact, Burke apparently was fired by her own family following steep overseas financial losses and plummeting morale among Burke’s European sales staff, multiple former Trek executives and employees told Wisconsin Reporter.
The sales team threatened to quit if Burke was not removed from her position as director of European Operations, according to Gary Ellerman, who served as Trek’s human resources director for 12 years. His account was confirmed by three other former employees.
“She was not performing. She was (in) so far over her head. She didn’t understand the bike business,” said Ellerman, who started with Trek in 1992, at the tail end of Burke’s first stint as a manager at Trek.
COMMENT: Burke has made a point of touting her managerial skills. We must disclose that the source of the above story, Gary Ellerman, is also a bigwig in the Wisconsin Republican Party. However, the Wisconsin Reporter notes that others the paper interviewed told the same story.
We've got to keep Scott Walker. He turned Wisconsin around. Mary Burke will turn it back.
"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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