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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JULY 31, 2014
SHORT TAKES ON THE DRIFTING WRECKAGE – AT 11:21 P.M. ET:
DON'T TELL AL – From wattsupwiththat.com, a British climate site: "Numbers released today by NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center show that not only has July been abnormally cool in the USA, but so has 2014 in general. For the last 30 days, there have been 574 record highest temperatures in the USA, and 1,726 record lowest. A ratio of 3 to 1, indicating that July was very cool. But, the year so far has also been cool. So far for the USA year to date, the numbers of record lows outpace the highs two to one. This year, here have been been 12,644 daily record lowest temperatures versus 6,615 record highest temperatures in the USA, a ratio of 1.91 to 1.0. For all types of high and low daily records for the year to date, there were 29,372 cold records versus 16,761 warm records, a ratio of 1.75 to 1.0." Must stop this global cooling!
TOGETHER AGAIN! – From the Boston Globe: "It’s not a huge island, but there’s always room for a lot of big names on Martha’s Vineyard. Two weeks from now, two of the very biggest names in Democratic politics — President Obama and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton — are set to be there at the same time. Clinton, seen as her party’s top 2016 White House prospect, is scheduled to sign copies of 'Hard Choices' at the Bunch of Grapes Bookstore in Vineyard Haven on Aug. 13 as part of her book tour, promoting the account of her time as the nation’s chief diplomat." I'm sure each is delighted by the presence of the other. Maybe Barack will buy the book. Maybe someone will.
SO, SO PROGRESSIVE – From BBC: "The clock on the facade of the building housing the Bolivian congress in La Paz has been reversed. Its hands turn left and the numbers have been inverted to go from one to 12 anti-clockwise. Bolivian Foreign Minister David Choquehuanca dubbed it the 'clock of the south.' He said the change had been made to get Bolivians to treasure their heritage and show them that they could question established norms and think creatively. 'Who says that the clock always has to turn one way? Why do we always have to obey? Why can't we be creative?' he asked at a news conference on Tuesday. 'We don't have to complicate matters, we just have to be conscious that we live in the south, not in the north,' Mr Choquehuanca added." Nobel Prize in physics for this? Why not? Let's be inclusive.
SIGNS OF CHANGE – From http://tvbythenumbers.zap2it.com: "NEW YORK - JULY 31, 2014 – Univision Communications Inc. today announced that the Univision Network ranked as the No. 1 network in primetime for the second consecutive year among both Adults 18-49 and Adults 18-34 during the 2014 July sweep. Univision stations in Los Angeles and New York ranked as the No. 1 and No. 2 most watched stations in the country, respectively, during primetime and total day among key demographics." That is impressive. A sign of demographic change.
WATCH THIS CHAP – AT 10:46 A.M. ET: Normally the appointment of a college president isn't big national news. But this one is because of the personality involved. Why do I think he may have ambitions beyond running some campuses. From WaPo:
Navy Adm. William McRaven, the commander of the Pentagon’s secretive U.S. Special Operations Command, will become the next chancellor of the University of Texas system later this year after retiring from the military, university officials announced Tuesday.
McRaven was chosen as the “sole finalist” for the position following a vote by the university’s board of regents, UT officials said. He is considered an unusual choice given his lack of experience in Texas politics, and is said to have beaten out Richard Fisher, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas.
McRaven, who will retire from the military after 37 years, has served as the commander of SOCOM since August 2011. In that role, he has overseen the expansion of U.S. Special Operations troops across the globe, as the United States pivots from focusing heavily on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to engaging with friendly militaries across the world and building relationships that can be used in times of crisis.
Before taking over SOCOM, McRaven planned the Navy SEAL raid into Pakistan that killed terrorist leader Osama bin Laden on May 2, 2011. At the time, he was the three-star commander of Joint Special Operations Command, a component of SOCOM that oversees the military’s most elite commandos.
COMMENT: McRaven is the man who, as they say in political terms, "got bin Laden." A great label. He gave a commencement address at the University of Texas earlier this year which was one of the best commencement addresses I've ever heard. It went viral immediately. See and hear it here.
McRaven is only 58. Watch for a political future. He's already a national figure.
DEMS TRYING TO SURVIVE – AT 9:31 A.M. ET: Democratic senators up for re-election are warning President Obama not to go too far with his immigration policies. These senators would like to have a job after November. From Breitbart:
Democrat Senators Kay Hagan of North Carolina and Mark Pryor of Arkansas have both now warned Barack Obama against taking “any steps without the approval of Congress" when it comes to dealing with the current illegal immigration crisis.
“I’m not for government by executive order. He needs to have statutory authority before he acts,” said Pryor. Meanwhile, via Politico, a spokeswoman for Hagan said, “this is a problem that needs to be solved legislatively and not through executive action.”
Additionally, Democrat Senators Landrieu of Louisiana and Begich of Alaska are also urging Obama to act with restraint. “We want him to be careful not to go too far,” said Begich. Politico defines his stance as something of a "red line" for Obama:
"That red line, in Begich’s view, is providing temporary legal status to all 8 million undocumented immigrants who would’ve qualified under a bill passed last year in the Senate. Hispanic lawmakers and immigrant rights groups are demanding that the president do just that."
What the issue effectively does is drive a huge wedge between the progressive Democrat base and swing voters many Democrats will need to survive in a difficult political year. And it isn't only vulnerable Democrats in so-called Red States that are afraid to even go near the topic.
The attempt to create distance with Obama highlights the discomfort among some Democrats. An executive action deferring deportations for millions of undocumented immigrants could be a boon to the national party as it heads into the 2016 presidential election. It isn’t considered such a clear winner in the Republican-leaning states that dominate the 2014 midterm map....
Obama's decision as to what, if any, executive action he might take is set to be announced "just weeks before Election Day" in November. What that decision is could be the pivotal factor in whether or not the Democrats retain control of the Senate for the final two years of Obama's second term.
COMMENT: The ultimate result of all this will probably be a Democratic Party that has fewer and fewer moderates, but will depend on demographic growth in parts of the population to win elections – that, and the fact that its allies control the educational system and much of the media. An ugly picture, but an accurate one.
THE TRUTH COMING OUT – AT 9:08 A.M. ET: Does some of the reporting from Gaza make you wonder? No rockets. No terrorists. No fighters. Why, it's just librarians, virgins and children. There is, of course, a reason for this, and it goes beyond the left-wing simplemindedness of some Western "reporters." This is great, from Breitbart:
I met today with a Spanish journalist who just came back from Gaza. We talked about the situation there. He was very friendly. I asked him how comes we never see on television channels reporting from Gaza any Hamas people, no gunmen, no rocket launcher, no policemen.. We only see civilians on these reports, mostly women and children. He answered me frankly : "it's very simple, we did see Hamas people there launching rockets, they were close to our hotel, but if ever we dare pointing our camera on them they would simply shoot at us and kill us." Wooh, impressive. Then I asked him "would you mind saying that on camera? I can film you explaining this..." For some reason I cannot really understand he refused and almost ran away. I guess my camera is as dangerous as Hamas threats... So just for you to know, the truth will never appear on the images you see on television.
As the Elderofziyon blog reports, this has long been common practice among Islamist militia:
"It is worth reminding people about how reporters in southern Lebanon dealt with Hezbollah intimidation in 2006. CNN's Nic Robertson dutifully accompanied Hezbollah on a planned tour of a bombed out building, repeating Hezbollah's talking points about not seeing any military targets there and not telling viewers that it was staged entirely by Hezbollah.
"Only when he was safely back in the US, and challenged on TV about his report, did he admit the truth, as reported by Newsbusters:
Hezbollah has “very, very sophisticated and slick media operations,” that the terrorist group “had control of the situation. They designated the places that we went to, and we certainly didn't have time to go into the houses or lift up the rubble to see what was underneath,” and he even contradicted Hezbollah’s self-serving spin: “There's no doubt that the [Israeli] bombs there are hitting Hezbollah facilities.”
COMMENT:Nice, huh? It was common practice, when reporters were sent to the Soviet Union during the Cold War, for them to do a balancing act – get as much news to the American public as possible without being expelled. So we never got the full story, but got part of it. At least the Soviets didn't normally murder Western reporters, or threaten to do so.
It's different in the Mideast. But intimidation is never discussed publicly. We're not getting the full story because journalists want to get out of Gaza alive.
The Breitbart report above is similar to another one in which an Italian journalist got out of Gaza and tweeted, "Out of Gaza far from Hamas retaliation."
FASCINATING – AT 8:46 A.M. ET: While we watch some CNN reporters go berserk on TV about the fate of the dear, brotherly Palestinians, have you noticed the relative silence of Arab countries? Yes, they make pro forma denunciations of Israel, but they're awfully weak statements. Now The New York Times, of all papers, explains why. This is true international intrigue. From The Times, via a link to The Times of India:
CAIRO: Battling Palestinian militants in Gaza two years ago, Israel found itself pressed from all sides by unfriendly Arab neighbors to end the fighting.
Not this time.
After the military ouster of the Islamist government in Cairo last year, Egypt has led a new coalition of Arab states — including Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Jordan — that has effectively lined up with Israel in its fight against Hamas, the Islamist movement that controls the Gaza Strip. That, in turn, may have contributed to the failure of the antagonists to reach a negotiated ceasefire even after more than three weeks of bloodshed.
"The Arab states' loathing and fear of political Islam is so strong that it outweighs their allergy to Benjamin Netanyahu," the prime minister of Israel, said Aaron David Miller, a scholar at the Wilson Center in Washington and a former Middle East negotiator under several presidents. "I have never seen a situation like it, where you have so many Arab states acquiescing in the death and destruction in Gaza and the pummeling of Hamas. The silence is deafening."
Although Egypt is traditionally the key go-between in any talks with Hamas — deemed a terrorist group by the US and Israel — the government in Cairo this time surprised Hamas by publicly proposing a ceasefire agreement that met most of Israel's demands and none from the Palestinian group. Hamas was tarred as intransigent when it immediately rejected it, and Cairo has continued to insist that its proposal remains the starting point for any further discussions.
But as commentators sympathetic to the Palestinians slammed the proposal as a ruse to embarrass Hamas, Egypt's Arab allies praised it. King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia called President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi of Egypt the next day to commend it, Sissi's office said, in a statement that cast no blame on Israel but referred only to "the bloodshed of innocent civilians who are paying the price for a military confrontation for which they are not responsible."
"There is clearly a convergence of interests of these various regimes with Israel," said Khaled Elgindy, a former adviser to Palestinian negotiators who is now a fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington. In the battle with Hamas, Elgindy said, the Egyptian fight against the forces of political Islam and the Israeli struggle against Palestinian militants were nearly identical. "Whose proxy war is it?" he asked.
COMMENT: Many journalists haven't caught up with this. There is an informal realignment in the Mideast, pitting the moderates, including Israel, against the Islamic extremists, including Hamas.
And what does Obama do? He tries to get a ceasefire by working through Turkey and Qatar, two Hamas allies. Real smart. Our traditional friends in the Mideast are appalled. What's next? Honor killings on the White House lawn?
SHORT TAKES ON THE DRIFTING WRECKAGE – AT 11:48 P.M. ET:
MAJOR DIVERSITY NEWS – From the Washington Times, URGENT: "MSNBC host Ronan Farrow took to his panel Tuesday to discuss what he perceives as a lack of racial diversity among emoji characters. Emoji, originating in Japan, describes the ideograms or smiley faces used in electronic messages, such as texting and social media. 'Do you think there’s a limitation we’re suffering from in terms of the racial diversity of these emojis? Mr. Farrow asked linguist John McWhorter, who is black, Newsbusters reported. 'No, I think that actually what we’re going to see more is a gender skew,' Mr. McWhorter argued. 'Apparently women are more likely to use them and more richly.'" McWhorter is a good guy, with common sense. Farrow plays in a sandbox. This is what it's come to.
CYNICAL – President Obama plays a softer version of the race card. From Breitbart: "In Kansas City today, President Obama complained that Republicans continued to oppose his agenda in Congress.
'C’mon and help out a bit,' he said, addressing the GOP. 'Stop bein’ mad all the time. Stop just hatin’ all the time. C’mon, let’s get some work done together.'" I love it when he reverts to that "just folks" accent, pretty much like Hillary when, as first lady of Arkansas, she developed a Southern accent. His reference to hate is outrageous. No one hates him. They disagree with him. But the Dems are using charged language to ignite their base, to warn that the people in the white sheets are just around the corner. Disgraceful.
FAREWELL – From Fox: "ATLANTA – The last surviving member of the crew that dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, hastening the end of World War II and forcing the world into the atomic age, has died in Georgia. Theodore VanKirk, also known as 'Dutch,' died Monday of natural causes at the retirement home where he lived in Stone Mountain, Georgia, his son Tom VanKirk said. He was 93. VanKirk flew nearly 60 bombing missions, but it was a single mission in the Pacific that secured him a place in history. He was 24 years old when he served as navigator on the Enola Gay, the B-29 Superfortress that dropped the first atomic bomb deployed in wartime over the Japanese city of Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945." I have no doubt that he was the subject of abuse all his life from the fashionable leftists. The use of the atomic bomb was painful, but tragically necessary. It ended the war quickly and prevented a further bloodbath.
CORRECTION – Quoting from the Washington Times, Short Takes reported last night that "for the first time in U.S. history, a Middle Eastern-based firm is poised to manage a strategic U.S. port on Florida’s Atlantic coast, rekindling national security concerns inside Congress." Sharp-eyed reader Miriam Goldberg pointed out today that this was an error. In 2006 a controversy arose over a proposal to have Dubai Ports World, based in the United Arab Emirates, manage six American ports, including Miami. The proposal, backed by the Bush administration, was vigorously opposed by many others on national-security grounds. Eventually the proposal lost significance when Dubai Ports World sold its American interests.
FOX ROMPS – AT 9:58 A.M. ET: Can anyone stop Fox News Channel? Like Old Man River, it just keeps rolling along. From Hollywood Reporter:
Perennial ratings victor Fox News Channel celebrates a new milestone this week: It just wrapped its 50th consecutive quarter (and 150th consecutive month) as the most watched cable news network in both total day and primetime. It's a record only matched by ESPN, which has enjoyed a similar dominance in the sports category.
Though FNC, like all cable news networks, saw year-to-year losses in the second quarter, its average 1.6 million viewers and 267,000 adults 25-54 still gives it large margins of victory in primetime — where its biggest competition might be itself. In recent weeks, 9 p.m. anchor Megyn Kelly has out-rated her lead-in, reigning cable news champ Bill O'Reilly, on several occasions.
COMMENT: Fox News is classic capitalism. They found a need, and filled it. In this case, the need was for a news channel that wasn't slanted to the left, did stories others weren't doing, and appealed to the great American middle.
Megyn Kelly is very solid. A trained lawyer, she didn't let good looks stand in her way. Her interviews are informed, neutral, and tough. Fox has placed great faith in her, and that faith seems justified.
ANOTHER KIND OF ELECTRICAL JOLT – AT 9:29 A.M. ET: Remember when candidate Obama said his energy policies would drive up electric rates. Nobody seemed to notice at the time. Well, his dream of higher rates is coming true. Change we can't believe in. From CNS:
(CNSNews.com) - For the first time ever, the average price for a kilowatthour (KWH) of electricity in the United States has broken through the 14-cent mark, climbing to a record 14.3 cents in June, according to data released last week by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Before this June, the highest the average price for a KWH had ever gone was 13.7 cents, the level it hit in June, July, August and September of last year.
The 14.3-cents average price for a KWH recorded this June is about 4.4 percent higher than that previous record.
Typically, the cost of electricity peaks in summer, declines in fall, and hits its lowest point of the year during winter. In each of the first six months of this year, the average price for a KWH hour of electricity has hit a record for that month. In June, it hit the all-time record.
COMMENT: These rates will go much higher. They affect every American, and hit the poor and lower middle class highest. The mainstream media doesn't show much interest. Eventually, though, people will realize that this is money you don't get back. They'll start looking at energy policies that are hurting families. Not that this White House really cares.
THE ONLY POLL THAT COUNTS – AT 9:14 A.M. ET: Related to our post just below. As they say, the only poll that counts is the one on election day. Dems are worried. From The Hill:
Record-low primary election turnout is threatening to magnify Democratic midterm worries.
Both parties have made their “get out the vote” programs a top priority for November, investing millions in building bigger ground operations earlier than ever before.
The challenge is most dire for Democrats, who are defending a fragile six-seat Senate majority that relies on a handful of races in hostile, GOP-leaning territory — and trying to pick up House seats in a difficult year, politically.
Their push this week to raise the alarm — and campaign cash — over the GOP lawsuit against President Obama and to stoke fears of impeachment shows just how worried Democrats ar
A Pew poll out last week showed 45 percent who said they planned to vote Republican reported being more enthusiastic about voting this year than in years prior, while only 37 percent of those who supported a Democratic candidate said the same.
And GOP operatives note that in other states soon facing a vote, like Tennessee next week, early voting is on the rise — an encouraging sign they see as indicative of Republican enthusiasm this fall. An operative engaged in House races pointed in particular to GOP turnout in the special election in Florida’s 13th District, when more than 40 percent of Republicans went to the polls, as evidence of strong enthusiasm from their party.
COMMENT: The Republican Party does seem to be getting into the modern era. There really has been an effort to recruit good candidates and to avoid the embarrassing types who cost the party easily winnable elections in places like Missouri, Indiana and Delaware in recent election years.
And the Republican ground game – getting out the vote – has been improved dramatically. It's that poll on election day that we're aiming for.
WE HOPE SO – AT 8:43 A.M. ET: The New York Times, in a major breach of the party line, actually has some good news for our side. Maybe religion is coming to the old paper. From the Weekly Standard:
If the midterm elections were held today, the Republican party could expect a three-seat majority in the Senate next year, according to the new poll from the New York Times, CBS News, and YouGov. The poll, which surveyed voters across the 34 states with Senate races via an online panel, finds GOP candidates leading in 8 races for seats currently held by Democrats. The Times gives the Republican party a "60 percent chance" at wresting control of the Senate.
Three races are relatively solid for the Republican candidates—Mike Rounds of South Dakota (27 points ahead), Steve Daines of Montana (16 points) and Shelley Moore Capito (8 points). In Arkansas, Republican congressman Tom Cotton has a 4-point lead over Democratic senator Mark Pryor. In Michigan, Louisiana, Iowa, and North Carolina, the Democratic candidates, including two sitting senators, trail the Republicans by only a point. Meanwhile, the Democrat in Colorado, Mark Udall, leads GOP challenger Colorado by just four points, and Republicans appear to be within striking distance of vulnerable Democrats by trailing by 10 points or fewer in New Jersey, Virginia, and New Hampshire.
In Alaska, leading GOP candidate Dan Sullivan trails Democratic senator Mark Begich by more than 10 points, while another GOP candidate, Mead Treadwell, is within 2 points of Begich. But the Times’s Nate Cohn urges caution with the poll’s Alaska results, noting that poor Internet penetration in the state made it much more difficult to get a representative sample, and a few other polls show a closer Sullivan-Begich race.
What else does the Times/CBS News/YouGov panoramic snapshot reveal about the state of the race four months out? Overall, the Democrats’ firewall appears to be eroding. While South Dakota, Montana, and West Virginia have been long gone as far as Democrats were concerned, the objective for the GOP has always been to win at least three of the four reddest states with Democratic incumbents—Arkansas, Louisiana, North Carolina, and Alaska—in order to win an outright majority. Already Republicans are ahead, by a little, in the requisite three, which tracks with other polls of the races in Arkansas, Louisiana, and North Carolina.
COMMENT: Well, okay, that's soothing news. The idea now is not to take it seriously, as President Dewey might have advised. Fight as if we're 30 points behind. The glass isn't only half empty, there's no glass. Fight for every seat, even New Jersey.
"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."
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