Saturday, June 2, 2012

Quick Hits - June 2, 2012

In addition to the battle for the White House which will culminate in the November election, this election season will also see a serious fight for control of the US Senate.  Currently, the Democrats hold the majority in the Senate with 51 members to 47 Republican members.  2 other members are Independents who caucus with the Democrats (Lieberman (CT) and Sanders (VT)). 

The Democrat caucus has a total of 23 seats up for election this November, while the Republicans have just 10 seats being contested.  6 incumbent Democrats and 1 of the Independents have announced that they are retiring at the end of their terms.  Four incumbent Republicans have announced their retirements. 

Of these races, 13 are likely to be toss-ups / close contests for either the incumbent or for candidates from both parties to contest as the incumbent retires.  3 of these states (Maine, Massachusetts, and Nevada) are currently in the Republican caucus.  The rest, Florida, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Ohio, Virginia, and Wisconsin are currently in the Democrat caucus.  The Republicans need to achieve a net gain of 4 seats in order to take the majority in the Senate.

How will these races break out?  Clearly the economic conditions in the US is going to have a major effect - as it will in the Presidential race.  Another is the record of this Congress, and in particular the Senate.  What have they really achieved to make things better for most Americans?  Not passing a budget for over 1,100 days is not going to help.  Was 2010 an outlier - or is the tidal wave of discontent with government going to continue this fall?

One of these close races is in Massachusetts. 

The Mass Democrat Party got lockstep in line behind Elizabeth Warren earlier today at the Party convention in Springfield, Mass.  95% of the delegates voted to select Warren as the Democrat candidate for Scott Brown's Senate seat - and avoid a possible primary fight over the seat.  This can also be seen as a strong vote of support for Warren who remains in trouble over her unsubstantiated claims to be a Native American.

Warren's own actions are paramount towards keeping this issue alive.  Despite the complete lack of evidence and documentation to support her claim, she insists she is - and then dodges the questions of reporters about it...
Warren called McGrory and spoke with him about the controversy, "sometimes expansively and without the slightest hint of apology about her conviction that she has maternal roots from the Cherokee and Delaware tribes."

"I know who I am," Warren told McGrory. "I know my heritage."

Warren denied that she took advantage of her supposed heritage for professional gain and admitted that she is "concerned" about how the controversy has taken center stage in her Senate campaign.

Her claim that her use of Native American status wasn't done to gain advantage while employed at the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard has also been tested as its been looked into by the Boston Herald and Boston Globe.
“At some point after I was hired by them, I ... provided that information to the University of Pennsylvania and Harvard,” Warren said in a statement to the Boston Globe.

But, when the Boston Herald first reported on the fact that Warren was listed as a Native American in a faculty directory, she said that she had no previous knowledge of that fact and had not authorized Harvard to list her as a minority. Warren’s campaign has said she forgot some details of her past employment as a way to explain the discrepancy in her statements.

And, it’s clear from the Globe story that Warren’s hand was forced by the fact that the newspaper had found proof that, in their words, “the university’s law school began reporting a Native American female professor in federal statistics for the 1992-93 school year, the first year Warren worked at Harvard, as a visiting professor.”

While the Warren campaign will insist that she is being consistent — that she has always said that she never told Harvard or Penn about her heritage before being hired or that it benefited her in any way — the optics of this back and forth are just terrible for her.

What's the real implication of all of this? An insight into the character or lack thereof. Victor Davis Hanson hits it with this post at National Review Online...

And it gets to the point of outright fraud when fabricating an identity offers both career advantages to the employee and diversity quota points for the employer. At some point, Warren’s statement is simply untenable and will have to be withdrawn, because if it is not, then we are essentially saying facts are what we choose to say facts are, and we can write or say anything we want and claim it as truth by reason of rumor, or serial insistence, or good intentions. Warren says all this is a distraction from her otherwise sterling academic record, but an academic career is nothing without allegiance to facts and honest scholarship; in fact this weird con is a window into her soul — and the logical and ultimate expression of what the entire diversity/affirmative-action industry has become.

Some might not think that this is a major issue. Clearly Democrats in Massachusetts apparently don't - but then they had no hesitation in sending Teddy Kennedy back to DC for multiple terms after he drunkenly drove off a bridge and left a young campaign staffer to drown or solicited the Soviet Union's direct assistance to prevent the reelection of Ronald Reagan. They have little problem with the now senior Senator from Massachusetts who lied during his military career to end his tour of duty in Vietnam early and then actively aided and abetted our enemies in the same conflict or to this day evades Massachusetts state taxes on his multimillion dollar yacht.

But independents might be turning on Warren...
The vast majority of voters (72 percent) said the issue would not affect their vote, but 31 percent of self-described independents - a critical voting bloc - said the issue makes them less likely to support Warren in November. The Harvard professor’s popularity has also risen one percentage point, to 48 percent, since the Globe polled in March, but the percentage of detractors has climbed more precipitously, by nine points to 32 percent.

I wonder if this latest disclosure about the actions of the woman who declared herself the spiritual force behind OccupyWallStreet helps?
Elizabeth Warren, who has railed against predatory banks and heartless foreclosures, took part in about a dozen Oklahoma real estate deals that netted her and her family hefty profits through maneuvers such as “flipping” properties, records show.

A Herald review has found that the Democratic U.S. Senate candidate rapidly bought and sold homes herself, loaned money at high interest rates to relatives and purchased foreclosed properties at bargain prices. . . . Herald columnist Howie Carr reported yesterday that Warren and her relatives also profited from two additional Oklahoma City foreclosures — in both cases showing triple-digit percentage gains.

Warren’s campaign issued a statement last night: “Elizabeth and (her husband) Bruce are fortunate to be in a position where they can help their family. They have been able to help relatives buy their homes and her nephew — a contractor — fix up houses.”

However, Warren and her family’s private investments don’t seem to square with her public statements about the latest real estate boom and bust.

Powerline looks at this, as well as the latest one on one interview between Warren and MA media and comes to the conclusion - 'What an odious phony.' I concur.

Earlier this week, QH reported that Florida is at work re-verifying their voting rolls, and purging about 180,000 names of the deceased or those who have failed to provide the state with proof of their US citizenship. Eric Holder's Department of Justice is now ordering Florida to stop removing the dead and other ineligible (ie non-US citizens) from the voting rolls saying that the state's actions are in violation of federal law.

This is the latest of a tsunami of partisan and clueless decisions / orders from the Department of Justice under Attorney General Eric Holder. PJ Media, which earlier this year ran a detailed review into the political partisanship that was taking over the DoJ, highlights the hard left radical DoJ lawyer behind this effort to bully a state from enforcing its own laws...

Meet the radical DoJ lawyer forcing Florida to keep foreigners on the voter rolls - Elise Shore. Ms. Shore came to the Voting Section by way of the “Southern Coalition for Social Justice,” where she worked as a legal consultant focusing on “voting rights, immigrant rights, and other civil rights and social justice issues.” The far left-wing positions of this group are nicely summarized on its website. Ms. Shore also made a $1,000 contribution to Barack Obama’s presidential campaign.

Before joining the Southern Coalition for Social Justice, she worked for more than two years as a Regional Counsel for MALDEF [Mexican American Legal Defense and Education Fund]. There, she was an outspoken critic of Georgia’s voter ID law and well as its proof of citizenship requirements for voter registration (which, incidentally, have been found to be non-discriminatory by a federal court) and described how heartened she was that the Civil Rights Division had objected to the registration law under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act. But her joy must have been fleeting: the Division later capitulated and withdrew its objection after Georgia filed a federal declaratory judgment action. It will be interesting to see if Shore can put her politics to the side in her role as the Voting Section’s point of contact for all redistricting submissions in the state of Florida.

It looks like Ms. Shore wasn’t able to set aside MALDEF-style radicalism, even after she started working for the taxpayers of the United States. Sadly, this private radicalism has metastasized into radical open-borders public policy. Not only does the DOJ stop states from enforcing their laws pertaining to illegal immigration, the DOJ is forcing Florida to keep non-citizens on the voter rolls.

I've often used the terms narcissist, arrogant, nihilistic, haughty, conceited, self-absorbed, and thin skinned to describe Barack Obama. This story demonstrates just how thin skinned he is.

Polish officials requested that Walesa accept the Medal of Freedom on behalf of Jan Karski, a member of the Polish Underground during World War II who was being honored posthumously this week. The request makes sense. Walesa and Karski shared a burning desire to rid Poland of tyrannical subjugation. But President Obama said no.” blogger, Leah Barkoukis, picks it up from there...
But why the rebuff? Administration officials told the Journal it was just that Walesa is too “political.” Considering President Obama recently awarded the Medal to the honorary chair of the Democratic Socialists of America, Dolores Huerta - interpret as you will.

So, rewarding a self described socialist / marxist isn't political? But perhaps this had more to do with it... In 2010, Lech Walesa made a number of very critical remarks towards President Obama's policies and warned that the US was 'slipping towards socialism'. Why else would a revered Polish hero and icon be denied the honor to represent his country and Jan Karski as his country requested?

Beyond President Obama's own 'quirks', there is another one that has become far too commonplace - the willingness to release classified information in order to promote his policies and pat himself on the back. The latest?
The New York Times revealed today in a major news article that the well-known Stuxnet malware attack on the Iranian nuclear program was, in fact, an American operation. Most experts had felt that was the most logical conclusion, but it had never been confirmed. The Times report is based on interviews with anonymous sources “because the effort remains highly classified, and parts of it continue to this day,” reporter David Sanger wrote.

OK, to be fair, perhaps the questions should be about which entity is more careless with US classified information? Barack Obama's Administration or the New York Times.

Still, the President has a very strange way of supporting our traditional allies - as he knifes Britain in the back once again over the Falkland Islands.

Less than a week after blaming 'terrorists' for the massacre in Houla that killed 108, mainly women and children, the Syrian regime has resumed their artillery bombardment on the town.

Many in this country wonder what our policy really is regarding Syria. It seems to be entirely based on what Vladimir Putin wants it to be.
Instead, the White House is betting on Russia. The premise is that Moscow is close enough to the Assad regime that it could pull off a soft coup that would get rid of the Syrian strongman. What should make it attractive to the Russians, the administration contends, is that such a coup would preserve an Alawite minority regime and ensure Russia’s interests in the eastern Mediterranean. The problem here is that Vladimir Putin doesn’t want to get rid of Assad, and even if he did, it’s not at all clear he has the ability to do it.

The administration hopes that it is possible to appeal to the better angels of Moscow’s nature and that Houla compels them to change their position on Assad. Instead, the Russians are sending more arms to the regime. It’s hardly surprising, then, the Russians won’t even admit that Assad is behind the massacre. Russian deputy U.N. ambassador Alexander Pankin “rejected the idea that the evidence clearly showed Damascus was guilty.”

The U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Susan Rice, has served as the administration’s point man in the public campaign meant to shame Russia into doing the right thing, but all the White House has proven is that it knows nothing about the men who rule Moscow. Almost a decade ago, Chechen separatists stormed a theater in the Russian capital, and the Russian security services responded by filling the theater with a chemical compound that killed at least 33 Chechens and close to 200 hostages. If Putin cares so little for his own people, why would he be shamed by using the Syrian opposition to leverage his own prestige?

Feckless doesn't start to describe Obama's foreign policy.

Former Egyptian President Mubarak was sentenced to life in prison for his role in the deaths of demonstrators in the Arab Spring revolt in Eygpt last year. After the sentence was announced, thousands poured into Tahrir Square in Cairo - with the open support of the Muslim Brotherhood - over the lack of a death sentence on Mubarak and that 6 top security officials in the Mubarak regime were acquitted for their role in the attempt to brutally put down the demonstrations.

Egypt goes to the polls in two weeks to select a new President - choosing between the former Prime Minister in the Mubarak regime and a radical Islamist 9/11 truther from the Muslim Brotherhood. I doubt stability in the region will be restored if the Muslim Brotherhood candidate wins - as seems likely. But we'll still send them billions in US aid.

Today, Queen Elizabeth II celebrates her Diamond Jubilee, commemorating her 60th year on the throne of the Great Britain. She is the second longest reigning sovereign of Great Britain, trailing only Queen Victoria. Across Britain, the Diamond Jubilee is being celebrated - but there will not be a Spithead Review of the Royal Navy by the reigning Monarch. Why? The Royal Navy is too small after decades of massive spending cuts....

Royal Navy on review off Portsmouth - Commemorating the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953

One hundred and fifteen years later and Britain is celebrating only the second diamond jubilee in its history. The occasion calls for a naval review, a staple of coronations and other great moments in the life of the nation, but it is not to be. The Royal Navy, the country’s saviour in two world wars, is a sorry shadow of its former self, so depleted by successive rounds of cuts that it can no longer muster a dozen ships for the occasion. So embarrassed are the ministers and civil servants at the Ministry of Defence who have overseen these disastrous reductions that they have quietly drawn a veil over the issue, hoping no one will notice the absence of a major role for the Senior Service in this week’s celebrations.

The fleet had shrunk dramatically by the silver jubilee of 1977 but was the third biggest behind the navies of the United States and Soviet Union. Two aircraft carriers, including Ark Royal, attended, with two cruisers, one assault ship, 17 destroyers, 18 frigates, 14 submarines and a host of minor vessels and auxiliaries. There was no need to flesh out the review with foreign vessels, just 18 attending.

And today? Allowing for inflation, Britain’s GDP is four times greater than in 1953 but the country appears incapable of maintaining a viable fleet. Today it comprises two helicopter carriers, 1 active assault ship, six destroyers, 13 frigates, 42 minor vessels and 13 auxiliaries. Take away escorts on operations or in refit and the Navy would, as Lord West says, struggle to field more than a handful for a review. But one thing our increasingly Ruritanian fleet is not short of is admirals. There are 28 full, vice and rear admirals, one per major combat unit, surely the most over-managed structure in the country.

This is the path that Obama has our military our Navy approaches its smallest size since 1916.

Are we closer to solving the mystery of what happened to Amelia Earhart and her navigator Fred Noonan who disappeared on her 1937 29,000 mile attempt to circle the globe in her twin engined Lockheed Electra? The pair failed to arrive at their destination at Howland Island in the Central Pacific after departing Lae, New Guinea. Evidence is growing that the aircraft, off course and low on fuel, crash-landed on Gardner Island (now known as Nikumaroro Island) about 300 miles from their destination. In addition to some physical evidence uncovered on the island that could be linked to Earhart, there is now evidence that Earhart was able to and attempted to send radio messages from her plane on the island's reef before tides and surf swept it from its precarious position. Did the pair die on the island as castaways? Or did they attempt to make a raft and perish at sea?

This Day in History

1793 - The 'Reign of Terror' was initiated by French revolutionary Maximillian Robespierre to purge those suspected of treason against the new French Republic.  M. Robespierre, a leading Jacobin, had his own date with Madame Guillotine in July 1794.

1865 - In an event that is generally regarded as the end of the American Civil War, Confederate General Edmund Kirby Smith, commander of all Confederate forces west of the Mississippi River, signs the surrender terms offered by Union negotiators.  With this surrender, the last Confederate Army ceased to exist.

1941 - New York Yankee great Lou Gehrig dies of the degenerative disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

1953 - Queen Elizabeth II is formally crowned monarch of Great Britain at Westminster Abbey, London.

1997 - Timothy McVeigh was found guilty of the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma which killed 168.  He was executed for the crime in 2001.

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