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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MARCH 11, 2014
SERIOUS NUMBERS – AT 10:18 A.M. ET: Wayne Allyn Root is one of the most creative political commentators around, although I certainly don't agree with all his political stands. He is a member of the same Columbia class (1983) that allegedly produced Barack Obama, and Root has been relentless in trying to find the truth about Obama's time at that school. It's especially hard, since no one remembers him. Now Root examines the president's current poll numbers and finds them disastrous. From Fox:
Have you seen Obama’s poll numbers? They are among the lowest in history. As of today, Obama’s approval rating is at 38%. That’s just barely above Richard Nixon.
Keep in mind Obama has the support of about 35% to 40% of the American population that will NEVER abandon him, no matter what he does, no matter how bad the jobs numbers look, no matter how low the economy goes, no matter how much scandal and corruption is exposed, no matter how strong the facts are against him.
Nothing will ever change their minds. These are the “low information voters” of the Democratic Party.
So just think about that for a moment. Let those numbers sink in. If 35% to 40% of the population would support a Democrat for president if he ran from a prison cell … if 35% to 40% would support Obama no matter what he does, no matter how far America sinks under his leadership, how could Obama’s approval rating be at only 38%?
That means that among the rest of America, outside of loyal, lifelong, Kool-Aid drinking Democrats, Obama's ratings are nil. Among non-partisan voters, he is the lowest-rated president in history. No numbers like this have ever been recorded, if you filter out the crazies.
Obama's approval among “the Heartland of America” (non-partisan middle class Americans) is lower than Nixon.
Lower than George W. Bush.
Lower than Lyndon Johnson at the height of the Vietnam war.
Lower than Jimmy Carter at the height of the Iranian hostage crisis, with the added burden of an economy in misery and malaise.
I’m betting that outside of lifelong Democrats, Obama's ratings are in the unimaginable range of single digits.
Among the white middle class, I’m betting Obama’s ratings are in the single digits. Or lower.
COMMENT: Read the whole thing. It's absolutely juicy. Okay, it's a bit more entertaining than scholarly, but it is juicy.
KEEPING UP WITH THE CHANGES – AT 9:41 A.M. ET: We inform you that the great medical vision of Dr. Barack Hussein Obama, Jr. has once again been revised. Only superior intellects could do this. From Fox:
The Obama administration says it's pulling the plug on proposed changes to the Medicare prescription program that ran into strong opposition on Capitol Hill.
Among other changes, the regulation proposed to remove three classes of drugs from a special protected list that guarantees seniors access to a wide selection of critical medications.
The three classes of drugs facing removal were antidepressants, antipsychotics and drugs that suppress the immune system to prevent rejection of a transplanted organ.
Oh, who needs those? You wanna live forever?
The administration hoped to save a total of $729 million by 2019 with the change. But patient groups including the National Kidney Foundation and the National Alliance on Mental Illness pushed back hard.
Medicare administrator Marilyn Tavenner said Monday in a letter to Congress that the administration will not move forward with the changes.
COMMENT: What strikes us is the cynicism and coldness. The Obamans told us they wanted to improve the health-care system, save lives, improve the national health. But these Medicare proposals were outrageous, denying vital drugs to senior citizens.
Oh no, there are no death committees in Obamacare. Sarah Palin is crazy.
THE SAME OLD CLINTONIAN STORY – AT 9:14 A.M. ET: Where the word "scandal" appears, the word before it is often "Clinton." As we wonder whether Hillary will actually run in 2016, we are reminded that stories may surface that could seriously damage her candidacy. From the Washington Times:
Despite Hillary Rodham Clinton’s promise that she had scrubbed illegal cash contributions from her 2008 presidential campaign, prosecutors revealed Monday that the mastermind of Washington Mayor Vincent C. Gray’s “shadow campaign” also funneled hundreds of thousands of dollars to aid Mrs. Clinton’s bid for the White House.
Jeffrey E. Thompson’s scheme included diverting more than $608,000 in illicit funds to a New York marketing executive, Troy White, who organized “street teams” to raise Mrs. Clinton’s visibility in urban areas during her Democratic primary battle against Barack Obama. Mr. White pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor in the case.
Prosecutors said that from February to May 2008, Thompson used two firms to disburse $608,750 in “excessive and unreported contributions to pay for campaign services in coordination with and in support of a federal political candidate for president of the United States and the federal and the candidate’s authorized committee.” That candidate was Mrs. Clinton.
Mr. Obama, too, received thousands of dollars in campaign contributions from Thompson and his employees, although those donations apparently were legal.
U.S. Attorney Ron Machen said there was no indication that Mrs. Clinton was aware of the specific activities to aid her campaign.
COMMENT: Oh really? She didn't know? Then why would we trust her with the U.S. Treasury?
Deniability is one of the first rules of politics. Shady activities must never be traceable to the candidate, or the president. I have no proof that Hillary Clinton knew about any particular event, but scandal follows the Clintons. I still want to know the sources of Bill Clinton's fabulous income, and whether those sources will influence a possible Hillary presidency. I don't think my question will be answered.
HEY, THEY'RE WAKIN' UP – AT 8:47 A.M. ET: We have actually detected an ability by some in Washington to add two and two, and come up with four. Maybe there's something about the word "Ukraine" that did it. From The Hill:
The Ukraine crisis is intensifying Washington’s debate over lifting tight restrictions on exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG).
Europe’s reluctance to impose sanctions on Russia following its military takeover of Crimea is focusing attention on Europe’s dependency on Russian energy and giving ammo to those demanding fast approval of transatlantic sales of U.S. energy.
“This just gives them one more reason why the U.S. government should do it,” Ed Chow, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies said, adding, “It adds a geo-political and foreign policy dimension to what has been up until now mostly a domestic debate.”
Ambassadors from Hungary, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia wrote to Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) on Saturday asking that Congress fast-track natural gas exports to Central and Eastern Europe.
“The presence of U.S. natural gas would be much welcome in Central and Eastern Europe, and Congressional action to expedite LNG exports to America’s allies would come at a critically important time for the region,” the ambassadors wrote.
That is absolutely stunning. When is the last time you saw allies of the United States asking us to export some of our energy? We have an international asset. Let's use it.
They joined Boehner in criticizing U.S. rules that limit exports of natural gas to countries that lack a free-trade deal with the U.S. That excludes their countries, which are known as the Visegrad Group.
“With the current shale gas revolution in the United States, American companies are seeking to export gas, including to Europe. But the existing bureaucratic hurdles for the approval of the export licenses to non-FTA [free-trade agreement] countries like the Visegrad countries are a major hurdle,” they said.
But energy experts say the real problem for the U.S. isn’t a slow approval process. It’s that the U.S. doesn’t yet have the infrastructure to liquefy the natural gas for shipping overseas.
“The government hurdles are not the major barrier at this point,” said Richard Newell, professor of energy economics at Duke University. “The biggest barrier is the lack of existence of these liquefaction facilities. We already have six applications that have been approved, but only one of them is under construction.”
COMMENT: Gee, I wonder who "approves" the applications. Well, it's the federal government. (Surprised?) And I wonder how much opposition comes from self-appointed "environmentalists."
True, the subject is complicated. We probably couldn't start exporting for about six years. But having the capacity, and the will, would assure allies in Europe who have been treated contemptuously by the Obama administration that we can supply natural gas if the Russians cut them off. Not a bad way to go.
I doubt if the administration will move, though. The left wing of the Democratic Party is hardly enthusiastic about natural gas, and certainly unenthusiastic about annoying dear, brotherly Russia.
SHORT TAKES ON THE DRIFTING WRECKAGE – AT 11:50 P.M. ET:
CAUTION! – Speculation abounds about two Iranians presumably traveling on stolen passports on that Malaysian airliner that went down mysteriously several days ago. There are suggestions that the two may have been hijackers or suicide bombers. However, a source who actually knows how things are done in Iran tells me that this may be way off. The source notes that Iranians who are escaping the country often buy stolen passports to make their way out. There has already been a radio interview with a man who claims to have known the two Iranians on board. He says they were aiming eventually to get to Western Europe to escape the Iranian regime. Can't confirm this, but we urge caution in reading all the speculation
OH PLEASE – The latest brilliant mind to label climate change skeptics as "flat Earthers" is Neil deGrasse Tyson, who runs Hayden Planetarium in New York. He has a new TV series on science, and is billed as everyone's favorite astrophysicist. (The presumption of that tag is unbelievable.) He is attacking the press for giving time to people who deny scientific "truth." Tyson, who is an African American and therefore is seen as a role model for city youth, is also breathtakingly arrogant, but a consummate showman. I don't know what actual research he's done. But he's a big deal among the wine-tasting crowd in Manhattan. So he wants dissenting opinion on scientific thought cut out of journalism. Gee, there goes Einstein. There goes Jonas Salk. There goes Galileo. There goes Elizabeth Kenny, the Australian nurse (Sister Kenny) who proved the medical establishment wrong on the treatment of polio victims. Who needs their opinions when we have Tyson the Great? Dissent is important, and it's often right. I really am outraged by these presumed intellectuals who are, at base, very anti-intellectual.
A MAJOR LOSS – It's moments like this that make us lose faith in the possibility of world peace. From Newsmax: "Former NBA star Dennis Rodman is insisting he visited North Korea and its leader, Kim Jong Un, twice to 'do happy things,' not to create any controversy, but he won't go back if that's what people want. Rodman two months ago paid a birthday visit to the North Korean dictator, holding an exhibition basketball game with other NBA stars and singing 'Happy Birthday' to him. But in a recent interview with ESPN's Mark Schwarz, Rodman insisted his motives were pure, and he wishes people 'understood the whole purpose of why I went to North Korea.' He doesn't think his trips make him a bad or immoral person, even if he went after Kim's decision to execute his powerful uncle, Jang Song-taek, and during the country's imprisoning of American Kenneth Bae." It's terrible what they do to peacemakers. I say that any man who can sink a basketball from 30 feet can make peace. We'll regret the loss of this skilled diplomat. I think Sarah Palin did this, don't you?
TOO BAD – From The Politico: "CBS News investigative correspondent Sharyl Attkisson has reached an agreement to resign from CBS News ahead of contract, bringing an end to months of hard-fought negotiations, sources familiar with her departure told POLITICO on Monday. Attkisson, who has been with CBS News for two decades, had grown frustrated with what she saw as the network’s liberal bias, an outsize influence by the network’s corporate partners and a lack of dedication to investigative reporting, several sources said. She increasingly felt that her work was no longer supported and that it was a struggle to get her reporting on air." She's a solid reporter. I hope she winds up with a good job in another news organization.
OBAMA'S MIND – QUOTE OF THE DAY – AT 10:52 A.M. ET: A number of columns recently, some by liberals, have questioned the way Obama views things. The most talked about was a stunning Washington Post editorial asserting that the president lives in a fantasy world. Now Ron Fournier of National Journal says that Obama is blinded by righteousness:
Days before Vladimir Putin's troops invaded Ukraine, National Security Adviser Susan Rice dismissed suggestions that Russia was about to pounce. "It's in nobody's interest," she said. Days later, President Obama declared the invasion to be illegal. "In 2014," he said, "we are well beyond the days when borders can be drawn over the heads of democratic leaders."
Two things strike me about those quotes. First, they were right. From the viewpoint of the United States and its allies, invading Crimea made no sense, legally or strategically. Second, it didn't matter: Putin plays by his own set of rules, and it's dangerously naive not to realize that.
Ukraine is illustrative of a flaw in Obama's worldview that consistently undermines his agenda, both foreign and domestic. He thinks being right is good enough. From fights with Congress over the federal budget and his nominations, to gun control, immigration reform, health care, and Syria, the president displays tunnel-vision conviction, an almost blinding righteousness. I'm right. They're wrong. Why isn't that enough?
With such certitude, Obama finds it hard to see why anybody would oppose him, which makes it almost impossible to earn new allies. He's also slow to realize when some fault lies with him. The result is Obama's legacy of "Right, but …" moments.
COMMENT: Well said. Obama is not a president. He's an observer. He doesn't know how to do things. He might have been happier as an editorial writer on a newspaper. And we'll have him for three more years.
UKRAINE LATEST – AT 10:21 A.M. ET: Former Secretary of State James Baker correctly said a few days ago that Ukraine represented a new Cold War. Former Defense Secretary Bob Gates said that, given Ukraine, we should not be cutting our defenses. I doubt if either man will be listened to in the Obama vacation White House. The Ukraine crisis is not easing. From AFP:
Kiev (AFP) - Ukraine sought urgent Western backing on Monday after Russian President Vladimir Putin insisted that Crimea had the right to join his country even while hinting at a readiness for dialogue.
The self-declared leadership on the predominantly ethnic Russian peninsula of Crimea has proclaimed independence from Kiev and set a March 16 referendum on switching over to Kremlin rule.
The decision has been condemned by Western powers who are also furious at Moscow's seizure of Crimea in a lightning but bloodless operation that began days after the February 22 fall and subsequent escape to Russia of president Viktor Yanukovych.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel -- whose cautious approach to imposing sanctions on Russia has clashed with the more hawkish positions of Eastern European nations and the United States -- bluntly told Putin on Sunday that the Crimean referendum was "illegal."
"The United States is not prepared to recognise any result of the so-called referendum," US ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt told reporters in Kiev on Monday.
The most explosive East-West crisis since the Cold War was stoked further when the Kremlin said Putin told both Merkel and British Prime Minister David Cameron that he fully recognised the actions of Crimea's leaders -- in power since an end of February seizure of the local parliament and government by pro-Kremlin gunmen.
But Merkel's office also said Putin had promised to discuss with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Monday the creation of an "international contact group" on Ukraine that he had resisted before.
Germany is pushing the group's creation as a way of avoiding a full-fledged war breaking out on the eastern edge of Europe that would see Ukraine call for Western help against its nuclear-armed neighbour.
COMMENT: My own sense is that Putin is maneuvering to run out the clock – simply have conferences, "dialogue," and all that other stuff, while cementing Russia's hold over Crimea and its influence over Ukraine. Everyone could say they tried hard and avoided war, but we'd still have 1938 all over again.
On the other hand, Putin could blunder, see weakness in Washington, and try for a direct military grab of territory.
This is a tinderbox. An accidental clash, or some bloody demonstration, could throw all calculations into that well-known dustbin of history.
DOESN'T OBAMA HAVE A GULAG FOR VOICES LIKE THIS? – AT 9:10 A.M. ET: Yessirree, Obama and his legions are for the working man. Regular folks. But wait a minute? How has the working man or woman gained from this administration? People are asking questions. The Obamans will not like the answers. From Fox:
A new report from a major U.S. union says ObamaCare will hasten income inequality.
Although it defends the intent behind the Affordable Care Act, the report, entitled “The Irony of ObamaCare: Making inequality worse,” concludes that the law will transfer a billion dollars in wealth to insurance companies, uneven the playing field in the market, force employers to cut back on hours and result in pay decreases, Ralston Reports said.
“The promise of Obamacare was the right one and the hope for extending healthcare coverage to the un-and under-insured a step in the right direction,” the report says. “Yet the unintended consequences will hit the average, hard-working American where it hurts: in the wallet.”
The document was put out by Unite Here, a hospitality industry union representing workers in the U.S. and Canada. The union of nearly 300,000 has been critical of the health law before.
The report says it’s “ironic” that the Obama administration is publicly discussing income inequality though it has yet to make the changes to ObamaCare that Unite Here believes are necessary to avoid exacerbating income disparity.
“Having already made efforts to accommodate businesses, churches and congressional staff, it is ironic that the administration is now highlighting issues of economic inequality without acting to preserve health plans that have been achieving the goals of the ACA for decades,” the report concludes. “Without a smart fix, the ACA will heighten the inequality that the Administration seeks to reduce … We cannot sit idly by as the politicians carve up our health plans while they carve out exceptions for themselves and every special interest feeding at the trough in Washington.”
COMMENT: There was a time when it could be reasonably argued that the Democratic Party was the working person's party. But today it's a party run by elitists who hand down their edicts and believe they know what's best for people they've never met. So it's not shocking that the party's signature "achievement," Obamacare, is actually hurting the very people it is presumably designed to help.
Will Democrats listen? I think some in Congress and in the states will. But the Obamans listen to no one except themselves. They get their tone, their approach, from the man at the top.
THE AIRLINER – AT 8:52 A.M. ET: The conspiracy theories are all over the place. The evidence is not. Incredibly, no sign of the Malaysian airliner has been found. The earlier reports of wreckage sightings have been discredited. From CNN:
(CNN) -- Despite the efforts of 34 planes, 40 ships and search crews from 10 countries, officials have not found any sign of a Malaysia Airlines flight that went missing nearly three days ago.
"Unfortunately, ladies and gentlemen, we have not found anything that appear to be objects from the aircraft, let alone the aircraft," Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, director general of the Malaysian civil aviation department, told reporters Monday.
So the mysteries surrounding Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 -- and the true identities of some of its passengers -- remain unsolved.
Rahman discounted media reports that a plane door had been spotted.
"That report was not verified officially by the Vietnamese authorities," he said.
Another report said the plane's tail had been found. That, too, is untrue, he said.
The only lead investigators had -- an oil slick that a Vietnamese plane spotted 90 miles south of Vietnam's Tho Chu Island in the Gulf of Thailand -- turned out to be a dead end, too.
A sample from the slick showed it was bunker oil, which is typically used to power large cargo ships, and not aircraft oil, Malaysia's state new agency, Bernama, reported Monday. The agency cited the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency's eastern regional enforcement chief, Datuk Nasir Adam.
No emergency signal has been detected by any search vessel or aircraft. And family members of passengers are being told to prepare for the worst.
COMMENT: We now learn that several passengers – the number is variously reported as four or five – checked in for the flight, but never boarded. We already know that several passengers were flying under false passports.
But it's all speculation and theory. One "expert" is trying to compare the incident to the Lockerbie bombing of PanAm 103. But that plane came down on land, and evidence was immediately available.
Unless some conspiracy is unmasked by law enforcement, we may never learn anything until the plane is found. If it is found. Absolutely tragic and intriguing.
"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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