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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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SEPTEMBER 20,  2014

AND NOW BELGIUM – AT 11:46 A.M. ET:  Another chilling report on thwarted terror attacks.  This comes but a few days after a major terror attack was broken up in Australia, and the Australians increased security around their parliament in light of new warnings.  From AFP: 

The Belgian authorities have prevented several attacks by jihadist fighters returning home from Syria and by sympathizers with the Islamic State extremist group, a report said Saturday.

The daily L’Echo cited unnamed sources as saying the planned attacks could have been similar to the one on the Jewish Museum in central Brussels in May which left four people dead.

The suspect in that case, Frenchman Medhi Nemmouche, spent more than a year fighting with Islamist extremists in Syria and is now being held in Belgium on charges of “murder in a terrorist context”.

Up to 400 Belgian nationals are estimated to have gone to fight in Syria, with about 90 known to have returned home, L’Echo said.

“Our starting point is that among them, one out of nine aim to carry out an attack,” a source said. “That is a conservative estimate, if you also take into account the people who help them.”

The newspaper said its sources did not want to give details of the planned attacks nor of the operations to prevent them, for reasons of security and so as not to alarm the public.

Several arrests have been made, it added.

Officials declined to provide any details but did confirm that several operations had been carried out.

“We are working full time on the problem of the returning fighters,” Belga news agency cited a federal judicial spokesman as saying.

COMMENT:  It's only a matter of time before someone, or some group, gets through.  And, as we saw with the Boston Marathon bombing, it can happen here.

Remember that the purpose of terrorism is to terrorize, to change the psychological condition of a people.  Some disparage terrorism on the ground that an individual attack often kills only a small number of people.  But an attack can terrorize and disrupt an entire city or country.  The bringing down of one airliner can terrorize the entire international air system.  A coordinated series of attacks on commuter buses in the United States on one day will terrorize every bus passenger in America. 

September 20, 2014       Permalink

 

ANOTHER REMINDER OF REALITYAT 10:52 A.M. ET:   The Russians are coming, the Russians are coming.  From Fox: 

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – Two F-22 fighter jets intercepted six Russian military airplanes that neared the western coast of Alaska, military officials said Friday.

Lt. Col. Michael Jazdyk, a spokesman for the North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD, said the U.S. jets intercepted the planes about 55 nautical miles from the Alaskan coast at about 7 p.m. Pacific time Wednesday.

The Russian planes were identified as two IL-78 refueling tankers, two Mig-31 fighter jets and two Bear long-range bombers. They looped south and returned to their base in Russia after the U.S. jets were scrambled.

At about 1:30 a.m. Thursday, two Canadian CF-18 fighter jets intercepted two of the long-range bombers about 40 nautical miles off the Canadian coastline in the Beaufort Sea.

In both cases, the Russian planes entered the Air Defense Identification Zone, which extends about 200 miles from the coastline. They did not enter sovereign airspace of the United States or Canada.

Jazdyk said the fighter jets were scrambled “basically to let those aircraft know that we see them, and in case of a threat, to let them know we are there to protect our sovereign airspace.”

In the past five years, jets under NORAD’s command have intercepted more than 50 Russian bombers approaching North American airspace.

COMMENT:  The Russians are testing us, informing us each day that they're re-emerging from their collapse in the late 1990s.  We have our hands full, with Russia, China, and the Islamist extremist threat.  I wish our hands were full of great leaders.  They are empty.

September 20, 2014        Permalink

 

GOOD GOING – AT 10:31 A.M. ET:  After the most careful analysis, I have detected signs of life in this year's Republican midterm campaign.  In fact, the party seems far better organized and focused than two years ago.  It is responding quickly to events.  In particular, it now realizes, as a result of the stunning emergence of ISIS, that national security has once more come to the fore.  From The Hill:

Republicans are hitting four House Democrats on national security in a series of new ads focused on the terrorist threat in the Middle East and border security.

The ads, from the National Republican Congressional Committee, targets Reps. Dan Maffei (D-N.Y.), Rick Nolan (D-Minn.), Ron Barber (D-Ariz.) and Democrat Staci Appel, running against Republican David Young for Rep. Tom Latham's (R-Iowa) seat.

The ad running against Maffei opens with shots of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) fighters training, as a narrator says Maffei “cut funding for troops fighting terrorists … backed constitutional rights for foreign terrorists” and “voted to bring them to America.” It also says he would “keep police from detaining illegal immigrants who have been suspected of crimes.”

“Dan Maffei, dangerously wrong for our security,” the ad says.

Another ad calls Nolan “dangerously liberal” and says he voted to cut funds “for the fight against Al Qaeda,” against funding the Department of Veterans Affairs and against work requirements for welfare recipients.

The ad running in Iowa’s 3rd District labels Young “tough on terrorists” and says Appel wants “passports for terrorists,” using clips from a candidate roundtable.

COMMENT:  Good, good.  Hit the Dems on national security, then hit them again.  There's is now the party of McGovern, Jimmy Carter and Barack Obama, and polls show that Americans, on national security at least, are turning against it.

September 20,  2014     Permalink

 

 

 

SEPTEMBER 19,  2014

SHORT TAKES ON THE DRIFTING WRECKAGE – AT 11:54 P.M. ET: 

BEDLAM IN NEW YORK – It was a weird site today at the Apple Stores in Manhattan – long lines around the corners, people camped out, waiting for the first sale of the iPhone 6.  A large number of those in line were Asians.  Why?  Because there's a huge market in China for iPhones, and those bought here can be sold there at a huge profit.  I guess Apple is in no position to stop the practice, or is afraid to, fearing a Chinese backlash.  But the sight was choice.

MORE POOR JUDGMENT – John Kerry has established a three-person team to lead the State Department's battle against the Islamic State.  As usual, he can't get it right.  Two of the members are fine, but the third ain't.  She's Anne Patterson, who served as U.S. ambassador to Egypt during the brief time the anti-American Muslim Brotherhood ran the country, in the period after the Arab Spring.  She got rather tight with the Brothers, and is thus reviled by Egypt's current leaders.  Egypt is the most important Arab country.  Couldn't Kerry find someone else?  Anyone else?   Reminds me of the fact that we had high-ranking people in the State Department before World War II who had no problem with Nazi Germany.

DIDN'T WE TRY THIS BEFORE? – From Reuters:  "The failed Scottish vote to pull out from the United Kingdom stirred secessionist hopes for some in the United States, where almost a quarter of people are open to their states leaving the union, a new Reuters/Ipsos poll found.  Some 23.9 percent of Americans polled from Aug. 23 through Sept. 16 said they strongly supported or tended to support the idea of their state breaking away, while 53.3 percent of the 8,952 respondents strongly opposed or tended to oppose the notion.  The urge to sever ties with Washington cuts across party lines and regions, though Republicans and residents of rural Western states are generally warmer to the idea than Democrats and Northeasterners, according to the poll."  No, I really couldn't see an independent People's Republic of Massachusetts, although Elizabeth Warren could then be a czarina.

WAR ON A WOMAN – The irony is that Democratic National Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz has been the most vociferous voice in the Democratic Party arguing that Republicans are engaged in a "war on women."  Now, though, it's her own Democratic men she needs to worry about.  From the Washington Examiner:  "Democratic National Committee Chair Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., is coming under fire from her party — and male Democrats are hanging her out to dry.  Wasserman Schultz has become a liability to the DNC due to a string of gaffes, including one recently in Wisconsin that caused Democrats such a headache that she may no longer be welcome to campaign for the gubernatorial race in the state.  Wasserman Schultz has also drawn ire for focusing on her political ambitions ahead of DNC goals, Politico reported, and for attempting to get the DNC to buy her clothing for multiple events."  I actually like her.  She's done a great job...for our side.  She'll be gone soon, knifed by men, and she can wonder who's really waging a war on women.

September 19, 2014       Permalink

 

THE SPLIT – AT 10:14 A.M. ET:  We've wondered here for some time why no military leaders were splitting with Field Marshal Obama over the field marshal's confused, often discouraging foreign and defense policies.  How could any military leader support the devastating cuts to defense, or the "lead from behind" mentality of the Obama White House?  Now we are seeing signs of an active split, although active-duty officers must be discreet in their comments.  It's the leaks that count.  From WaPo: 

The White House and Pentagon have scurried this week to insist there is no hint of dissent in the ranks, though in some cases their efforts have focused only more attention on the issue.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel tried to reassure the House Armed Services Committee on Thursday that civilian and military leaders at the Pentagon were in “full alignment” and in “complete agreement with every component of the president’s strategy.”

Some lawmakers were skeptical. Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon (R-Calif.), chairman of the Armed Services Committee, suggested that Obama should listen more closely to his commanders. “I think it’s very important that he does follow the advice and counsel that he receives, the professional advice of the military. They are the ones best suited to do that.”

“I realize he’s commander in chief, he has the final say and the final obligation and responsibility,” McKeon added. “I would also request that he not take options off the table.”

COMMENT:  McKeon is right.  Obama has a nasty tendency to telegraph to an enemy what he will and won't do, a recipe for disaster. 

You don't get the impression that Obama has any enthusiasm for what he's doing to fight the Islamic State.  He may well be driven by public anger and the need to appear "tough" right before a midterm election.  I'd love to know what he'll do after the election, and how Hillary Clinton will play it.

September 19, 2014       Permalink

 

OH HOW JUICY! – AT 9:31 A.M. ET:  It's lefties against Hillary.  This could almost, but not quite, make me vote for Hillary Clinton.  From Newsmax: 

Liberal activists are slamming Hillary Clinton in a members-only group on Google, with some calling for Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren to run for the White House in 2016 to teach the former secretary of State and mainstream Democrats a lesson.

"The establishment Dems need to be punished, and the best way for that to happen is for Warren to beat Hillary in the primary on a populist message," Carl Gibson, a progressive activist and writer for Occupy.com, wrote in an email obtained by The Hill.

Warren, 65, who is in her first term, has repeatedly said that she would not seek the presidency in 2016. Clinton, 66, who is seen as the likely Democratic nominee, has said that she will decide early next year on whether to run.

The Hill said it reviewed "hundreds of emails" from a the "Gamechanger Salon," a private, members only forum through which nearly 1,500 progressive activists, journalists, and strategists discuss issues and develop messaging efforts.

The group is run by Billy Wimsatt, founder of the progressive League of Young Voters, according to MediaTrackers.org, which first reported on the Gamechanger Salon earlier this year.

Its members include prominent Democrats, executives of such powerful unions as the SEIU and AFL-CIO, and officials and members of such organizations as Planned Parenthood, the Sierra Club and the Progressive Change Campaign Committee.

The president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, Nancy Keenan, is a member — as well as journalists who work for such liberal news organizations as The Nation magazine and The Huffington Post.

New members to the group have to be sponsored by a current member, both the Hill and MediaTrackers report.

According to the Hill, the emails it reviewed from June 2013 through July show a clear dissatisfaction with Clinton.

"[A] Clinton presidency undos [sic] all our progress and returns the financial interests to even more prominence than they currently have," Melissa Byrne, an activist with the Occupy Wall Street movement, said in a November 2013 email.

COMMENT:  Elizabeth Warren yesterday voted against authorizing military aid to Syrian rebels.  Her stand is popular on the political left.  By contrast, Bill Clinton publicly supported the aid.  Hillary is positioning herself as a center-left Democrat for the general 2016 election.  Problem is, she's got to get the nomination first.  That was the little bump she encountered in 2008.

My hunch is that Obama will knife Clinton in the back.  Why would he want to be succeeded by someone to his political right, and someone who would outshine him?  Warren says she's not running, but it's amazing how people can suddenly catch the political virus just in time for an election.  I expect to see the "wanting" of Elizabeth.  How many people will want her is debatable.  She's actually quite well known, but doesn't poll significantly outside her own state of Massachusetts.

September 19, 2014       Permalink

 

OH, PLEASE, JOHN – AT 9:16 A.M. ET:   John Kerry must be told by his aides that he's working for a real government, not a student government.  He's invited Iran to participate in a conference on Iraq.  Why?  We should be telling the Iranians not to interfere in Iraq.  From the Jerusalem Post: 

NEW YORK -- Iran is welcome to sit in on a discussion at the United Nations on Friday on counter-terrorism efforts in Iraq, to be chaired by US Secretary of State John Kerry, a senior Obama administration official said on Thursday night.

The official said that Islamic State was a topic of conversation on the sidelines of talks between the US and Iranian delegations in New York, which met for two days privately to negotiate over Iran's nuclear program.

"Any member can attend, and so the meeting was mentioned in our discussions today on the margins," the official said. "The world is focused on the mission that the President of the United States has set out, and that is to degrade and ultimately defeat ISIL [Islamic State]. And I think we will all see that in a very powerful way tomorrow at the ministerial, and I believe that Iran thinks that ISIL should not be doing what it is doing either."

The talks will widen over the weekend to include the United Kingdom, France, Russia, China and Germany.

Asked whether they expect to participate, the official said the decision is for Iran to make.

So, too, is it the decision of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani to meet with US President Barack Obama, while the two men are in New York. The official said Obama remains open to a meeting.

COMMENT:  Wrong moves.  Appeasement once again.  A meeting with the president of the United States should be a prize, not something routinely offered.  The Iranian regime has made mischief in Iraq.  It is not our friend.  It is not being forthcoming in nuclear negotiations.  It does not appear to feel any great pressure from the United States.

There have been stories that Obama believes Iran can eventually be an ally of the United States, and emerge as the most important country in the region.  This is the same Obama who openly said that Recep Erdogan of Turkey was his closest friend in the Mideast.  Obama's judgments in the region have been abysmal, which is why we're in such a desperate situation there today, with American forces going back into action in Iraq.  I don't trust either Obama's nor Kerry's judgment on Iran.

September 19, 2014        Permalink

 

WELCOME ABOARD – AT 9:08 A.M. ET:  France is now an active combatant in the fight against the Islamic State.  From Fox: 

PARIS – Joining U.S. forces acting in Iraqi skies, France conducted its first air strike Friday against the militant Islamic State group, destroying a logistics depot that it controlled, the French presidency said.

Rafale fighter jets involved in the mission struck the depot in northeastern Iraq on Friday morning, and the target was "entirely destroyed," President Francois Hollande's office said in a statement.

"Other operations will follow in the coming days," the statement said, without elaborating on the type of material at the depot or its exact location.

With the strike, France becomes the first foreign country to publicly add military muscle to United States airstrikes against the group, which has drawn criticism around the world and in a unanimous U.N. Security Council resolution for its barbarity.

U.S. Central Command said Thursday the U.S. military has conducted 176 airstrikes in Iraq since Aug. 8. On Wednesday, it hit a militant training camp southeast of Mosul and an ammunition stockpile southeast of Baghdad. It has also conducted a number of strikes this week in Iraq's Anbar province, near the strategic Haditha Dam.

The French airstrike took place while U.S. Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was in France for meetings with his counterpart, Gen. Pierre de Villiers. The two men were visiting an American military cemetery in Normandy, on the English Channel, when the French strike took place.

Dempsey, who was told of the attack by de Villiers, praised the French action, saying it hit a target north of Mosul. He did not specify.

"The French were our very first ally and they are there again for us," Dempsey told reporters traveling with him in Normandy. "It just reminds me why these relationships really matter."

COMMENT:  Other allies are sending support teams, but only France has engaged in direct strikes.  The French have also directly intervened in Mali, in Africa. 

Now if we can only get the Democratic Party on board.

September 19,  2014     Permalink

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

 




 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 
 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 


 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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