Scene above: Constitution Island, where Revolutionary War forts still exist, as photographed from Trophy Point, United States Military Academy, West Point, New York
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OCTOBER 30, 2014
AND AT THE PENTAGON – AT 6:41 A.M. ET: The Department of Defense is warning its employees, following attacks on soldiers in Canada. From Fox:
The Pentagon is warning employees about being potential targets of quick-strike terror attacks -- to the extent of suggesting they change travel routes, remove identifiable logos and avoid large gatherings.
The advisory was issued by the Pentagon Force Protection Agency, which protects the Pentagon and its employees, and says recent threats indicate that terrorists “directed or inspired by Islamic State” consider military and law-enforcement officers legitimate targets, as reported first by The Washington Times.
The advisory was issued Friday and says the threats were uncovered by intelligence and law enforcement sources and that the attackers may use knives, guns or explosives.
“In light of these threats and recent attacks in the United Kingdom, France and Canada, remaining vigilant is paramount,” the two-page advisory warns.
The news of the advisory follows Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson announcing Tuesday that his agency has increased security at federal buildings across the country, citing terror threats and the recent attacks.
Federal Protective Service officers are providing the increased security, which Johnson said is “precautionary,” and not in response to a specific threat.
The Pentagon advisory said the potential attacks could occur with “little or no advanced warning” and that employees’ family members also could be targeted.
COMMENT: While this is happening, advisers to the president are giving off-the-record interviews to the press disparaging the Israeli prime minister and playing down the dangers of Iran's nuclear program. We have a president whose concern for our national security is minimal, at best.
INEVITABLE – AT 6:30 A.M. ET: The big concern among security people now is lone-wolf attacks. From the Washington Examiner:
Rep. Peter King, a senior member of the House Homeland Security Committee, said a “lone wolf” attack in the United States by an Islamic terrorist is inevitable but that authorities increasingly are prepared to deal with the threat.
“I believe it's only a matter of time that we have one,” the New York Republican told MSNBC Wednesday. “I think most people in the intelligence community share that belief.”
But King said it’s his understanding that U.S. intelligence agencies don’t believe any Islamic terrorist group is planning a specific attack aimed at the U.S., at least not yet.
I wouldn't put too much faith in that "belief." No one heard of 9-11 beforehand either. There's an old saying that the only coups you hear about are the ones that actually happen.
The lawmaker said Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson deserves credit for increasing security measures at federal buildings, a move the congressman says should serve as a “wakeup call to local governments" across the country.
King said police in New York City are ready to thwart terrorist attacks but added he was concerned other parts of the country are less prepared.
“There's other areas around the country that don't realize how these attacks can take place and how there's greater likelihood of it now because [the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria] is doing such an intense job of trying to attract the most radical people in our country to adopt this radical Islamist view,” he said.
King said Islamic extremists also have "gone out of their way" to appeal to people with “mental issues,” such as a recent convert to Islam who attacked two New York City police officers last week with an ax. The assailant, Zale Thompson, was shot dead by police.
COMMENT: Appealing to people with mental issues is a common tactic in intelligence work. My own nightmare is not a single lone-wolf attack, but a series of coordinated small attacks, all on the same day. Field Marshal Obama assured us several years ago that the war on terror was over. I'm sure he still thinks so. It's not over. He's over.
THE OTHER HOUSE – AT 6:21 A.M. ET: Oh, has anyone noticed that the whole House of Representatives is up for election on Tuesday? Republicans are expecting a big payday. FromFox:
While the nation’s political attention remains fixed on next week’s Senate races, Republicans are poised to make big gains in the House – though whether they hit their lofty goal of a 245-seat majority will come down to some nail-biting races.
Six days before Election Day, Republicans are liking their odds in both chambers. Polling consistently shows Republican voters are more jazzed about this election, which could translate to higher turnout. But in the House races, the opportunities for GOP pickups are numerous -- and very few Republican seats are in danger of flipping.
Even Republican Rep. Michael Grimm, a Staten Island congressman facing a 20-count indictment, could hold onto his seat.
As on the Senate side, Republicans have used President Obama’s baggage to weigh down the Democrats, forcing them to distance themselves from the president.
“When you’ve got midterm elections, what is basically at stake here is the president’s job performance,” said Terry Madonna, director of the Franklin & Marshall College Poll. “Whether it is Ike or Nixon, Reagan or Bush, the incumbent party cedes seats.”
So, “what the Democrats are trying to do is make the midterms about their opponents, and the Republicans are making this about Obama.”
If polls numbers are to be believed, the GOP has the more successful strategy.
According to The Washington Post’s Election Lab, Republicans have a 99 percent chance of keeping their majority and likely will pick up eight new seats, bringing their majority up to 242. It wouldn’t be quite the victory the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee envisioned with its “Drive to 245,” campaign – a push to build a 245-seat majority, a level not seen since the Truman administration -- but it would cement what they feel is both a mandate from voters and a bulwark against the president on Capitol Hill.
COMMENT: And let us add that a large majority can also threaten the president of the United States with impeachment, should he continue his wild ways. Impeachment is unlikely to happen, but Obama, in my view, has the capacity to go nuts during the next two years, realizing it's his last chance to fundamentally transform the country.
WISCONSIN DUST-UP – AT 6:10 A.M. ET: One of the races we're really worried about is the gubernatorial contest in Wisconsin, where Republican Scott Walker is running for re-election. One of the best governors in the country, Walker is under a sustained, vastly financed national assault because he dared take on public-service unions in his state.
But now, a last-minute claim against his opponent may shake up the race. From the Wisconsin Reporter:
MADISON, Wis. — In attempting to explain her two-year work hiatus in the early to mid-1990s, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke has said she was just burned out after an intense period of leading European operations for Trek Bicycle Corp., her family’s Waterloo-based global manufacturer.
In fact, Burke apparently was fired by her own family following steep overseas financial losses and plummeting morale among Burke’s European sales staff, multiple former Trek executives and employees told Wisconsin Reporter.
The sales team threatened to quit if Burke was not removed from her position as director of European Operations, according to Gary Ellerman, who served as Trek’s human resources director for 12 years. His account was confirmed by three other former employees.
“She was not performing. She was (in) so far over her head. She didn’t understand the bike business,” said Ellerman, who started with Trek in 1992, at the tail end of Burke’s first stint as a manager at Trek.
COMMENT: Burke has made a point of touting her managerial skills. We must disclose that the source of the above story, Gary Ellerman, is also a bigwig in the Wisconsin Republican Party. However, the Wisconsin Reporter notes that others the paper interviewed told the same story.
We've got to keep Scott Walker. He turned Wisconsin around. Mary Burke will turn it back.
SHORT TAKES ON THE DRIFTING WRECKAGE – AT 10:41 P.M. ET:
IOWA OPTIMISM – From Bloomberg: "Iowa's Senate race remains tight as the campaign heads into its final days, with Republican Joni Ernst at 49 percent and Democrat Bruce Braley at 45 percent, a Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday shows. Just 5 percent of likely voters remain undecided in a race that will help determine control of the Senate." It will depend on turnout. I'd like to put this one away.
SOUTH DAKOTA SOLID – We had a brief scare in South Dakota, when it appeared an independent might upset an expected Republican victory. Scare over. From Bloomberg: "Remember when South Dakota was a purple state on the cusp of flipping to Democratic control? Well, two weeks later, those Democratic dreams have officially died. First, the Democratic candidate, Rick Weiland, complained that his national party sabotaged his chances by running negative ads against Republican Mike Rounds. Then, a Monmouth University poll released Tuesday showed Rounds leading Weiland by 45 percent to 31 percent. Independent Larry Pressler came in at just 19 percent." Looks safe.
DISGRACE – Observers are astounded at a report that senior administration officials referred to the prime minister of Israel in obscene terms during an interview with Atlantic magazine, and also called him a coward. The White House as been trying to do some limited, lazy damage control, never denying the story. Republicans pounced. From Times of Israel: "Republican US senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham lambasted the Obama administration over comments from an anonymous US official calling Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a 'chickens..t.' 'We know that relations between allies can be strained at times,' the senators said in a statement released Wednesday. 'But there is no excuse for Obama administration officials to insult the prime minister of Israel, our closest ally in the Middle East, the way they did this week.'" The problem, of course, is that the left wingers surrounding Obama don't see Israel as our closest ally in the region. They see Iran as potentially in that role. Valerie Jarrett, Obama's closest adviser, was born in Iran. She's known for leftist views. I'm afraid this is only the start of Obama's post-election foreign policy. The real stunner may come at the end of the month, with a now-anticipated nuclear agreement with Iran that will be a major cave-in on our side. Even if our side wins the Senate, Obama still runs foreign policy. Be afraid.
ANOTHER GREAT MOMENT IN EDUCATION – AT 11:21 A.M. ET: The left continues its march, largely unobstructed, to take over the American education system and turn it into a politically correct nuthouse. From the New York Post:
New York State Attorney General Eric Schneiderman recently announced a “victory”: After pressure from the attorney general, three New York colleges agreed to limit the questions they ask applicants about their criminal history.
The schools are St. John’s University and two smaller Long Island schools — Dowling and Five Towns Colleges. They will no longer ask student applicants whether they have been “arrested or convicted of a felony.”
Dowling and Five Towns agreed to ask only about prior convictions. St. John’s will continue to ask only about arrests whose dispositions are still pending.
It seems absurd. On the one hand, colleges are today under intense government pressure to keep meticulous records of sexual assaults. Yet our attorney general is discouraging them from asking questions that could help identify those who might have a history with these crimes.
Not even Schneiderman contends the colleges had been doing anything illegal. But he intervened after an advocacy group called the Center for Community Alternatives claimed in a report that because “racial disparities infect the entire criminal justice system . . . screening for criminal records cannot be a race-neutral practice.”
Which leaves us with the modern liberal paradigm for our university campuses: Asking college applicants about their criminal history is racist, while asking them actually to check the proper box for race is not.
COMMENT: Logically, "women's" groups should vigorously oppose this outrage, because it makes it impossible to learn if an applicant has a history of sex offenses. But I hear nothing from them. It's the same old story – on the left, race trumps gender.
It's an ugly scene, but not enough Americans are aware of what's going on in the education establishment.
MORE GRIMNESS FOR THE HOPE 'N' CHANGE PARTY – AT 10:14 A.M. ET: The Dems can't catch a break. From the Washington Examiner:
Harvard University on Wednesday provided new proof that the Democrats are going to be broadsided in Tuesday’s national elections as millennial voters, in a shocking shift, now prefer a Republican-controlled Congress and give President Obama his second lowest grade ever.
A new and massive poll of 2,029 18-29-year-olds from Harvard’s Institute of Politics just released found that of those who say they will “definitely be voting,” 51 percent want the GOP in charge, 47 percent favoring Democratic control.
Because the numbers are close, however, Harvard said the kid vote is “up for grabs.”
Still, it is a huge shift from the last IOP midterm poll. In 2010, younger voters kept to their historic trend with 55 percent favoring Democrats, 43 percent Republicans. That is an eight-point change, very good news for the Republicans who had feared that the Obama generation would show up at the polls and in knee-jerk fashion simply pull the Democratic levers.
The shift away from Democrats is likely fed by the millennial dissatisfaction with Obama. The poll from IOP, located at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Mass., found their approval of Obama near the low-water mark, at just 43 percent. It dipped below, to 41 percent, just once.
And, said the poll analysis, “Among 18-29 year-olds saying they will ‘definitely be voting in November,’ the president’s job approval rating is 42 percent, with 56 percent saying they disapprove.”
Some 26 percent said that they “definitely” will vote, about equal to 2010. When everyone is included, the choice is for Democratic control of Congress by a 50-43 percent margin.
But, “by a significant 12-point margin,” said the poll, Republican millennials plan to outvote Democrats.
Even worse for Democrats: Hispanic support has dropped off. While Obama beat Mitt Romney by 51 points among the group in 2012, their approval of Obama now just ekes out disapproval by a 49-46 percent margin. Obama had an 81 approval rating in 2009.
COMMENT: The key is to turn these sentiments into actual votes. The "youth" vote is historically unreliable. Voter participation is erratic at best.
The good news, though, is that the Democratic base is breaking up, or at least getting wobbly. There are opportunities here. But, as the old political saying goes, you can't beat somebody with nobody. Republicans must find the right somebody for 2016.
DEMS AND HISPANICS – AT 9:26 A.M. ET: Does the Democratic Party have a Hispanic problem? It appears that one may be developing. From WaPo:
This number jumped out at me from the new Washington Post/ABC News poll: It showed that, among Latinos, 50 percent say it doesn't matter who wins the Senate come November. And among those who do think it will matter, twice as many say it would be a good thing (30 percent) if the GOP took over as say it would be a bad thing (15 percent).
This is a demographic, we will remind you, that voted 71-27 for President Obama just two years ago. And only 15 percent are concerned about a GOP-controlled Senate.
While there is a fairly big margin of error (plus/minus 10 points) in this sub-sample, those are still striking numbers -- and they comport nicely with the idea of Hispanics' declining faith in the Democratic Party. And if you can't get voters to believe something will change, it's hard to make a convincing case to get them to vote.
This snapshot poll shows Latinos holding views more similar to political independents then self-identified Democrats. Among Democrats, 50 percent say a GOP Senate would be a bad thing. Even that seems kind of muted -- but not nearly as muted as among Hispanics.
On the economy, Latinos are much more likely to be down on the state of the country -- again, sounding much more like independents than Democrats. Three quarters of Latinos have a negative view on the economy, which (in the abstract, at least) is often voters' top priority. Democrats have a better outlook, with 43 percent viewing the economy positively.
COMMENT: Once again the Democrats have been caught taking a group for granted. They simply assumed that, with enough scare tactics at election time, Hispanics would just fall in as ordered. And I'm afraid the Democratic image of a Hispanic is someone who wears a T-shirt with Che Guevara on it, or someone who thinks illegal immigration is just great. Modern Democrats really don't know the people they claim to represent.
WHERE IT STANDS – AT 8:46 A.M. ET: As we stress, polls are just fun, and sometimes informative. The real poll is now six days away. Where do things apparently stand? From The Hill:
Democrats’ path to holding their Senate majority has narrowed, with Republicans pulling ahead in critical states and on the cusp of upsets in several others.
Even some within the party are starting to say their midterm prognosis isn’t good.
“Democrats are, as we’ve talked about before, going to have a bad Election Day, no matter how you slice it,” former White House press secretary Jay Carney told CNN on Tuesday evening.
With wins in West Virginia, South Dakota and Montana all but certain, the GOP feels increasingly optimistic about its chances of flipping Arkansas, Alaska and Louisiana, and nabbing at least one of the two most competitive swing states, Iowa and Colorado.
Now, the party is eyeing tightening races in New Hampshire and North Carolina —races Republicans promised all along would be competitive in the end — as signs a GOP wave is building, giving it more options in its pursuit of Senate control.
Jim Manley, a Democratic strategist and former aide to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), said while he’s still optimistic in North Carolina, Republicans appear to be surging overall.
“In North Carolina, I think the Republicans see the seat slipping away, but in other parts of the country I think they feel they have momentum on their side and they’re going in for the kill,” he told The Hill.
Manley said he still thinks Democrats will be able to “eke it out” in the final week before the midterms. But he acknowledged that New Hampshire and North Carolina are must-wins for the party — and that their tightening is a concern.
“I’m not sure [Democrats] can” lose either one and still control the Senate, Manley said.
COMMENT: There are three things that can help the Dems right now – Republican overconfidence, an old party disease, resulting in stay-at-homes on election day; the Democratic ground game, dragging people to the polls; and a scare campaign directed particularly at black and Hispanic voters, energizing many of them right before the election.
Many of the races are still very close. We'll probably know the story a week from today. Early returns may come in from New Hampshire, Georgia, and North Carolina. Those are all close, and tough for Republicans. If the GOP wins two of the three, it will be a very good night. But the Republicans can actually lose all three and still, mathematically, control the Senate.
"What you see is news. What you know is background. What you feel is opinion."
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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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