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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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APRIL 23,  2014

SHORT TAKES ON THE DRIFTING WRECKAGE – AT 6:09 P.M. ET: 

CULINARY REPORT – From Business Insider:  "On the first day of President Barack Obama's trip to Asia, he and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe dined at a legendary sushi restaurant made famous by a 2011 documentary.   The restaurant, Sukiyabashi Jiro, earned a rare three-star Michelin rating, which means it has 'exceptional cuisine' and is 'worth a special journey.'  It is one of 13 three-star restaurants in Tokyo, and there are only 10 seats. That combination makes it especially hard to secure reservations. In early April the restaurant was already fully booked until the beginning of May.  Chef Jiro Ono, 87, is considered to be one of the top sushi chefs in the world. Ono prepares the sushi himself. His recommended special course — which features a rare, endangered species of bluefin tuna — starts at about $300. It includes more than a dozen courses served in about 20 minutes.  Obama and Abe's dinner lasted about an hour and a half."  I prefer hamburgers and fries.

RAF ON THE CASE – From Sky News:  "Two Russian bombers which flew close to UK airspace have been chased away by an RAF jet fighter.  The aircraft, believed to be Tupolev 95s, were spotted off the coast of northeast Scotland.  They were turned away from Britain when an RAF Typhoon was scrambled from Leuchars airbase, near Dundee.  Crews stationed there are on standby to intercept unidentified aircraft at a moment's notice.  The incident comes amid heightened international tensions over the situation in Ukraine, following the annexation of Crimea by Russia last month."  Nice to see the legendary RAF up there, but, if truth be told, it is today a shell of a force, constantly downsized by the British drift toward a nanny state.  The Royal Navy is in far worse shape.  The force sent by Maggie Thatcher to secure the Falklands in the 1980s was larger than today's entire Royal Navy.

AL GORE WILL BE THRILLED – From Reuters:  "LONDON (Reuters) - Sun seekers who leave northern Europe for warmer climes are marginally less happy than those left behind, a study found.  A sample of more than 300 migrants from Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, the Netherlands, France and Britain who resettled in Mediterranean countries found that they were slightly less satisfied with life than a much larger sample of 56,000 people living in northern countries.  The sun lovers scored 7.3 out of a possible 10 on average on a 'happiness' scale while the stay-at-homes came in at an average of 7.5 percent, according to the study released on Wednesday by Dr David Bartram, a senior lecturer in the Department of Sociology at England's University of Leicester."  Obviously true.  Al Gore always told us that the sun is evil.

WELL, I GUESS YOU NEVER KNOW – From the New York Post:  "The search for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane may return to the possibility that the jet landed somewhere, according to the latest media reports.  The New Strait Times quoted sources close to the investigation as saying that the failure to turn up any debris at the current southern Indian Ocean search site was causing a rethink among investigators.
The sources said they were considering revisiting the scenario that the plane had landed at an unknown location."  There has been so much overreporting, so many false leads, and such an avalanche of speculation, that almost anything becomes believable.  If the plane landed somewhere, how explain the pinging, consistent with an airliner's black box, that was heard only last week in the current search area?  This is one of the great aviation mysteries, and will result in fortunes earned from books and documentaries if it is not solved. 

April 23,  2014     Permalink

 

STARTLING – AT 10:16 A.M. ET:  Sometimes trial testimony can reveal truths that otherwise go unnoticed, either accidentally, because of press behavior, or intentionally.   This, on Al Qaeda in America, is instructive.  From the New York Post:   

An Oregon woman says she thought she was opening up her family’s ranch to local Muslims to teach them how to grow and can veggies — and that her husband was even expecting a tax write-off.

But US-born Muslim convert Eva Hatley testified in Manhattan federal court Tuesday that after the “carloads’’ of fellow Muslims she met through her mosque arrived at the 160-acre ranch in Bly in 1999, the couple watched helplessly as their home was turned into an al Qaeda training camp.

“It wasn’t anything like I envisioned for the property,” insisted Hatley, testifying at the trial of one-eyed, hook-handed hate preacher Abu Hamza al-Masri.

Hatley, a two-time witness-protection-program flunky who prefers going by her Muslim name, Ayat Hakimah, said other Muslims from London would soon arrive on al-Masri’s orders.

Hatley’s then-husband, Ivan Rule, was temporarily out of town “shepherding” while his longtime ranch was being overrun with terrorists-in-training, she said.

According to al-Masri’s lawyer last week, the camp was similar to being in the “Cub Scouts,’’ with the men riding horses, tending to little lambs and telling campfire stories.

But Hatley said one of the arrivals, militant Oussama Kassir, boasted about previously running training camps in Afghanistan and being a “hit man” for Osama bin Laden.

She said Kassir told her that al-Masri was his “leader” and that al-Masri sent him and others to the Bly ranch to create a “training camp” where men would learn to shoot guns, throw knives and do calisthenics along open, spacious fields abutting a ravine and desolate dirt roads.

“He said he was there to train men for jihad,” she said. “He said that Abu Hamza sent him. He intended to train them to fight.”

COMMENT:  Nothing to see here, nothing to see.  The war on terror is over.  Our president, come to save us, has told us that.

In fact, Al Qaeda is probably more active than ever, and depending on useful idiots like Eva Hatley, to ease the way.

I'd love to know what other training facilities are being used, right under our noses, by our enemies.

And I'd love to write a sitcom based on Eva Hatley and her husband. 

April 23, 2014       Permalink

 

QUOTE OF THE DAY – AT 9:46 A.M. ET:  From Investor's Business Daily, after noting a Fox News poll reporting that 61% of Americans believe Obama lies some or most of the time on matters of national importance:

Last week, White House press secretary Jay Carney, interviewed at George Washington University, remarked that during 2012 "probably the toughest interview" Obama was subjected to was the one conducted by funnyman Jon Stewart.

"Probably the most substantive, challenging interview Barack Obama had in the election year was with the anchor of 'The Daily Show,' " Carney said.

Not "serious" TV interviewers such as Steve Kroft of "60 Minutes," whose questions of Obama in the heat of the 2012 campaign included:

"Where do you go to kind of sort things out on your own? And when do you find time to just be alone with your own thoughts?"

Not "Good Morning America's" Robin Roberts, who in May of that election year, while using her interview to provide a nationally televised forum for Obama's big switch on same-sex marriage — another broken promise — threw this hardball:

"Mother's Day. Sasha and Malia. Do you have plans for Mrs. Obama?"

It is disgraceful enough for the most prominent journalists to refuse to ask real questions of the most powerful politician in the country because they share his left-wing ideology.

But when a large majority of the public recognizes a president as a habitual liar, it is outrageous and entirely un-American for the most powerful within the nation's press to let him get away with his lies, and betray what they claim to stand for.

COMMENT:  Right on the head.  It is the press that is sustaining this deceitful and incompetent administration.  Obama's approval rating has fallen, but it would fall much further if the media asked the tough questions it refuses to ask.

And it will get worse, not better.  Republicans are floating on air right now, believing they have this year's midterm elections in the bag.  They don't.  New polling shows many vulnerable Democrats actually doing quite well.  I think gaining control of the Senate for our side will be a painful slog, with no guarantees, not a cakewalk.  Remember the growing number of Americans who are receiving government help.  They're not going to rush to the polls to elect Republicans.  And the press will be beating the bushes for anything negative to say about Republican candidates. 

It's a battle ahead.  Fight as if we're 20 points behind.

April 23, 2014        Permalink

 

THE USUAL, FROM MOSCOW – 9:15 A.M. ET:  The Russian foreign minister, who is considered highly skilled and a real pro, announces the party line.  Strange, it sounds like the old party line.  From BBC: 

Russia will respond if its interests in Ukraine are attacked, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has said, drawing a parallel with the 2008 Georgian war.

Ah yes, we are prepared to defend the Motherland.

Speaking to Russian state TV channel RT, Mr Lavrov also accused the US of "running the show" in Ukraine.

Hadn't noticed.   Old Soviet-style stuff.

It was "quite telling" that Kiev had re-launched its "anti-terrorist" operation during a visit by US Vice-President Joe Biden, he said.

Biden probably didn't know where he was. 

Ukraine's government is struggling with an armed revolt in the country's east.

Kiev and the West say Moscow commands gunmen there - a charge denied by Russia.

In recent weeks, pro-Russian militants have seized administrative buildings in at least a dozen towns in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions.

They have installed their own officials, in similar tactics to those used to take over the Ukrainian region of Crimea earlier this year.

COMMENT:  The current Russian regime is extraordinarily adept at maneuvering.  We are less adept.  We have a student government.  They have a real one.

April 23, 2014      Permalink 

 

SERIOUS? – AT 8:58 A.M. ET:  Obama, always dedicated to doing the minimum, has sent U.S. troops to Eastern Europe in what used to be called a show of force.  From Fox:

WASHINGTON – U.S. Army paratroopers are arriving in Poland on Wednesday as part of a wave of U.S. troops heading to shore up America's Eastern European allies in the face of Russian meddling in Ukraine.

Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said an initial contingent of about 600 troops will head to four countries across Eastern Europe for military exercises over the next month.

First, about 150 soldiers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team based in Vicenza, Italy, are arriving in Poland.

Additional Army companies will head to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania and are expected to arrive by Monday for similar land-based exercises in those countries.

The show of strength comes as the United States, European allies and Ukraine try to ease tensions with Russia and pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine. All sides struck a diplomatic agreement last week, but it remains unclear whether pro-Russian demonstrators, who took over a series of government buildings in the wake of Russia's annexation of Crimea, will back down.

Under the current plan, U.S. troops would rotate in and out of the four Eastern European countries for additional exercises on a recurring basis.

"We're looking at trying to keep this rotational presence persistent throughout the rest of this year," Kirby told reporters, adding that over time the exercises could expand to other countries.

The exercises are part of an effort announced last week by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel aimed at reassuring NATO allies of America's commitment to the region's defense.

Kirby said the U.S. will likely plan other exercises and will continue to work through NATO on joint measures that could be scheduled in the future.

COMMENT:  Eisenhower used to say that if you need a regiment, send a division.  We defeated the Soviet attempt to seal off Berlin in 1948 with the massive Berlin Airlift – plane after plane, thousands of men and women.

This looks like a typical Obama token response.  It will be seen as such.  An opponent like Putin must have the sense that we are truly serious, maybe even a little irrational, certainly furious.  A token deployment of troops is like sending a year's supply of boots.

April 23,  2014     Permalink

 

 

 

APRIL 22,  2014

SHORT TAKES ON THE DRIFTING WRECKAGE – AT 11:14 P.M. ET: 

BRILLIANT – From The Daily Caller:  "Chicago public schools are set to introduce a new Afro-centric curriculum, according to a closely-guarded copy obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation.  The curriculum covers kindergarten through tenth grade and is designed to align with Common Core. It includes a web link to TheAfrican.com, a website whose publisher decries 'fake-Jews' and calls the United States a 'Zionist-occupied enemy territory.'  The site also claims that the world will end sometime this year and that President Barack Obama is 'merely another trick of [the beast of the 4th Kingdom].'"  Yup, just what young black kids in Chicago need.  I'm sure this curriculum will do them a lot of good...if they survive this weekend.

HUMILIATING – From London's Daily Mail:  "While America’s wealthiest citizens continue to outpace their global peers, the country’s middle class has lost its long-held distinction of being the most affluent in the world according to new research.  Although economic growth in the United States continues to be as strong as in many other countries - or stronger - only a small percentage of American households are fully benefiting from it, according to the LIS analysis.  Based on surveys conducted over the past 35 years, income across the lower- and middle-income tiers of American society has plateaued over that time, while citizens in other advanced countries have received considerably larger rises."  This is true, and it must be addressed.  A strong middle class is the key to American stability.  And the key to a strong middle class is manufacturing.

TYPICAL ILLINOIS – From CBS:  "CBS) — A top Republican state lawmaker has accused Democrats of using an 'under-handed and sneaky' maneuver to advance plans to set aside $100 million in state funds to bring President Barack Obama’s presidential library and museum to Illinois.  House Republican Leader Jim Durkin (R-Western Springs) said Democrats pulled a fast one by using a procedural maneuver last week when the House Executive Committee approved the money at a hearing in Chicago."  Incredible.  Illinois is essentially bankrupt.  Can't this library be built with private contributions, or isn't that the socialist way?

NEW STYLES IN CRIME – From NECN:  "(NECN) - A so-called 'potato bandit' is on the loose in Providence, R.I.  Police are searching for a would-be robber accused of using a vegetable as a weapon.
The man allegedly tried to rob two stores on Monday using a knife and a potato that apparently looked like a handgun.   The first attempted robbery happened at a gas station where the man demanded money, but the cashier only handed over a fake $20 bill. At the suspect’s next stop, a dry cleaner, he did not get away with any cash either.  The suspect is described as a male with a skinny build, between 5'2" and 5'7" in height."  Potato guns have been shown to be ineffective in most robberies.

April 22, 2014      Permalink

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THE POWER TO TAX IS INDEED THE POWER TO DESTROY – AT 9:18 A.M. ET:  And nobody is better at it than the Obamans.  These are stunning figures, reported by CNS: 

CNSNews.com) - In the budget proposal he presented to Congress last month, President Barack Obama called for what would be the highest level of sustained taxation ever imposed on the American people, according to the analysis published last week by the Congressional Budget Office.

Under Obama’s proposal, taxes would rise from 17.6 percent of Gross Domestic Product in 2014 to 19.2 percent in 2024. During the ten years from 2015 to 2024, federal taxation would average 18.7 percent GDP.

America has never been subjected to a ten-year stretch of taxation at that level.

In the twelve fiscal years preceding the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor (1930 through 1941), federal taxation averaged 5.3 percent of GDP.

In the five fiscal years encompassing U.S. involvement in World War II (1942 through 1946), federal taxation averaged 16.1 percent of GDP.

In the fiscal years since World War II (1947 through 2013), federal taxation has averaged 17.1 percent of GDP.

In the period from fiscal 1992 through 2001, federal taxes averaged 18.3 percent of GDP. But in the last four years of that period (1998 through 2001), the federal budget was in balance.

And...

Under Obama’s budget proposal, according to the CBO, the budget will never balance. But over the next ten years, the federal government would add $7.183 trillion to its debt held by the public.

COMMENT:  The national debt has properly been called a national security problem. It can weaken us, and wreck our economy.  The same is true of excessive taxation, which draws vital funds out of economic growth.

And please note that this record-high taxation is occurring at a time when we're drastically cutting our military budget.  If we face an emergency, taxes would have to go still higher, or we'd have to once again increase the national debt.

April 22, 2014       Permalink

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OUTRAGEOUS – AT 9:05 A.M. ET:  It's coming in under the radar, but the political left is trying to get state legislatures to approve measures that would essentially invalidate the Electoral College, which, last time I looked, is in the Constitution.  From Newsmax:   

Conservatives and leading liberals slammed the campaign to effectively end the Electoral College's role in presidential elections, saying that the National Popular Vote Compact Law circumvents the Constitution, saying it resembled President Barack Obama's abuse of the law through his extensive use of executive orders.

"It is pretty startling," Bill Kristol, founder and editor of The Weekly Standard, told "The Steve Malzberg Show" on Newsmax TV this week. "If they want to make the case for the popular election of presidents and a Constitutional amendment, they should make the case.

"But the left these days doesn't make the case, and they don't go the normal route of changing the law if they don't like the law," Kristol added. "They think of gimmicks and evasions and ways to get around the normal popular debate.

"This is all happening kind of quietly. I'm really struck by the way they’re doing it."

Under the National Popular Vote Compact, each state would award its electoral votes to the presidential candidate who wins the national popular vote. The effort has been quietly winding its way through state governments, needing 270 votes to take effect.

Once states with electoral votes totaling the magic 270 – the number a presidential candidate needs to becomes president – pass the law, it immediately takes effect. The new law would mandate that each of the states in the compact must cede their electoral votes to the winner of the national popular vote, even if a particular state were to give a majority to the loser of the popular vote.

And...

Even such liberals as Harvard Law School professor Alan Dershowitz and Democratic strategist Hank Sheinkopf blasted the campaign.

"It's nuts," Sheinkopf told Malzberg. "Here's a case of where they're trying to go around the Constitution, around the law, to do something that's patently illegal and wrong. It's the same way the Obama administration issues executive orders.

COMMENT:  I've noticed an increasing number of liberals speaking out against the behavior of their party and the Obama administration.  It's good to see.  We recall that it was conservatives who brought down Joe McCarthy, and conservatives who participated fully and fairly into the investigations of Richard Nixon.  It's now time for liberals to step up and put country first.

April 22, 2014       Permalink

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ACTUALLY TAKING ACTION – AT 8:49 A.M. ET:   It is invigorating, and shocking, when Republicans actually do something.  It's a moment to remember.  It will be in the history books.

Many among we mere peasants have wondered when the GOP would take real action against Obamacare, and now it's happened.  From WaPo: 

Thirty-eight Republican lawmakers are signaling support for a lawsuit filed by Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) that challenges a rule by the Obama administration allowing the federal government to subsidize health insurance for lawmakers and some congressional staffers.

With the health-care law exceeding enrollment expectations and legislative attempts to undo the law failing to advance beyond the GOP-controlled House, Johnson's lawsuit is one of the few other attempts underway to chip away at the law.

Johnson filed the lawsuit in January against the Office of Personnel Management, arguing that the agency's ruling runs counter to the intent of the Affordable Care Act.

OPM ruled last year that lawmakers and their staff who will have to get their health insurance through the law would continue to receive a government contribution toward premiums this year, but only if they enroll in a specific ACA plan. The policy was issued as House Republican leaders floated a plan, as part of maneuvering last year during a budgetary deadlock, to end that contribution for Congress and certain employees who will be forced out of their current health program.

COMMENT:  Please note that the Washington Post felt compelled to tell us that enrollment in ACA is "exceeding enrollment expectations."  That is rubbish.  We haven't been told how many enrollees actually have paid premiums; nor have we been told how many are simply replacing plans that were killed by Obamacare.  And there is no word on whether these enrollees will keep their plans once premiums skyrocket, something expected, ahem, after the midterm elections in November.

April 22, 2014     Permalink

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A BOLDER HOLDER – AT 8:38 A.M. ET:  Attorney General Eric Holder is emerging as the most radical member of the Obama administration.  He plays the race card, he plays the victim, and he has a soft spot in his heart for the people he should be chasing.  From The Hill:

At the request of the White House, the department later this week will outline expanded criteria to consider when recommending applications for reduced jail sentences to the White House, which will likely result in "thousands of additional applications,” Holder said.

"This new and improved approach will make the criteria for clemency recommendation more expansive," Holder said. "This will allow the Department of Justice and the president to consider requests from a larger field of eligible individuals."

The White House has pushed to consider more clemency applications for people — many of whom are drug offenders — who do not pose a threat to safety, Holder said. The administration has also pushed Congress to address the issue with legislation.

In the meantime, the Justice Department will also assign "potentially dozens" of lawyers to review the new applications in preparation for the larger volume.

President Obama has commuted the sentence of 10 individuals in the last few months for previous drug sentences the administration calls unfair and harsh.

COMMENT:  I have no problem with reviewing serious applications for amnesty.  My problem is with Holder's biases and the biases of those he's appointed.  Holder is a sixties radical.  What happens when one of the prisoners who gets released goes out and murders an innocent person?  Will the obedient press even notice?

April 22, 2014       Permalink

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