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Kissinger: Foreign Nations Worried Not about U.S. Presence But U.S. Absence


“The worry” of many countries throughout the world, says Henry Kissinger, “is not so much about American presence, it’s about American absence.” On CBS’s Face the Nation, the former secretary of state and Nobel Peace Prize laureate observed: “The fundamental public statements of the administration have emphasized more what we should not do than what we can achieve. They have implied that a withdrawal of America from certain regions is actually beneficial to these regions.”

Kissinger noted the obvious consequence: “I think that the fear in the countries that I know — and that’s very many of them — is that the United States is withdrawing.”

Tags: Sunday Shows September 7 2014

Obama: Political Theater ‘Not Something That Comes Naturally to Me’


“I should have anticipated the optics,” President Obama said of his decision, and its ensuing backlash, to go golfing minutes after his remarks following the beheading of American journalist James Foley.

Appearing on Meet the Press, President Obama said vacation or recreation lends itself to “the possibility of a jarring contrast, given the world’s news [because] there’s always going to be some tough news somewhere,”​ quipping that he wouldn’t mind a vacation from the press as a whole at some point.

Nonetheless, his role as the president requires him to engage in political theater, which President Obama said he has struggled with during his time in Washington. “It’s not something that comes naturally to me, but it matters, and I’m mindful of that,” he said.

Tags: Sunday Shows September 7 2014


Noonan: Obama Doesn’t Need ‘Passion.’ He Needs ‘Good, Clear Sense.’


Peggy Noonan is ready for the president to think rather than feel. Said the Wall Street Journal columnist on CBS’s Face the Nation: “Americans are so used to hearing their political figures try to tug at their heartstrings and hit their heart and all that stuff. I think the organ to appeal to in America is the brain.”

She hopes the president will appeal to the cranial regions in his address on Wednesday, in which he says he will outline his strategy for confronting the Islamic State: “I think the president has to sort of say, you know what, let me tell what you is different about ISIS, and why this is a very specific thing in history, and why, because of that, we do have to move forward and do something.”

“My friends keep saying [President Obama] needs passion,” said Noonan. “I keep saying he needs good, clear sense.”

Tags: Sunday Shows September 7 2014

Web Briefing: September 18, 2014

Rubio: ‘If You’re Serious about Defeating ISIS,’ We Have to Strike Syria


Marco Rubio is ready for air strikes in Syria: “I think it’s critical that we do that,” the Florida senator Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer. “If you’re serious about defeating ISIL, you have to go after where they’re headquartered.”

Noting that the terrorist organization is generating revenue from Syrian refineries it has captured, and that its “supplies, [and the group's] command-and-control structure” are primarily located in Syria, Rubio said: “You cannot defeat ISIL unless you hit them in those parts of Syria that they now control, where the Syrian government is not even present.”

Tags: Sunday Shows September 7 2014


Rubio: Obama Guilty of ‘Presidential Malpractice’ on Foreign Policy


President Obama is guilty of “presidential malpractice” when it comes to his policy abroad, says Marco Rubio. “I’m going to say something I don’t say lightly,” the Florida senator told Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer: “I believe this president has committed presidential malpractice in his foreign policy.”

“Exhibit A is what he’s done with the Middle East,” Rubio said.

The president’s belief that the nation’s best interests were served by withdrawing completely from the Middle East have, Rubio said, “led to a series of policy pronouncements and words — whether it’s saying that ISIL was the JV, whether it’s setting red lines that weren’t enforced — all these things have been dramatically counterproductive to our foreign policy, and I think have created some generational and reputational damage to the United States of great significance.”

“Our allies are watching this as well, and they’re concluding that American foreign policy is in the hands of someone who does not know what he’s doing,” Rubio said.

Tags: Sunday Shows September 7 2014

Obama Blames Amnesty Delay on Public’s Failure to Understand ‘Why It’s Necessary’


New Meet the Press host Chuck Todd pushed back against President Obama’s claims that his decision to delay taking executive action on granting legal status to people in the country illegally wasn’t motivated by the upcoming midterms elections. “It looks like politics, it looks like election-year politics,” Todd interjected at one point.

One of the reasons the president claims he delayed action was to make sure all the “t’s are crossed and the i’s are dotted,” but also pointed to the recent surge of unaccompanied children on the border complicated the matter. “A lot of Americans started thinking, ‘We’ve got this immigration crisis on our hands,’” Obama explained.

“But if the public’s not behind you, you’re not taking it?” Todd asked. “That sounds a little bit — that the public wouldn’t support what you did?”

“What I’m saying is I’m going to act because it’s the right thing for the country, but it’s going to be more sustainable, more effective if the public understands what the facts are on immigration, what we’ve done on unaccompanied children, and why it’s necessary,” the president said.

Tags: Sunday Shows September 7 2014

The Race to Save Our Century


Jason Jones and John Zmirak release a dramatic movie trailer . . . for their new book, The Race to Save our Century:

I don’t know if I want to read the book or not, but I know I’d like to see the movie.

Rubio: ISIS Poses Immediate Threat to U.S.


Florida senator Marco Rubio believes that the Islamic State poses a direct threat to the United States right now.

On CBS’s Face the Nation, Rubio laid out his reasons: “First and foremost, because they are replete with both European and American fighters — more Europeans than Americans — that have passports that allow them immediate access to the United States. Second, because I think it’s important not to overestimate the amount of intelligence that we have on these groups and about these groups. They have learned a lot about our intelligence-gathering capabilities through a series of disclosures and other sorts of things, and they have become increasingly capable of evading detection. So for us to simply sit back and say we don’t think they pose a threat because we haven’t seen one I think would be shortsighted.”

“The fact of the matter,” said Rubio, “is this group has among their ranks hundreds, if not thousands, of people with a capability of entering the United States quickly and easily, and we should not take that lightly.”

Tags: Sunday Shows September 7 2014

Obama: I Will Ask Congress for Approval on ISIS, But I Don’t Need It


President Obama’s planned address to the nation on Wednesday will not intended not just to give the American public a better understanding of his administration’s strategy for the Islamic State, but will also serve to communicate his plans to Congress. He will later seek congressional approval before moving forward, even if he doesn’t necessarily need it, he said on Meet the Press.

“I’m confident that I’ve got the authorization I need to protect the American people, and I’m always going to do what’s necessary to protect the American people,” he told Chuck Todd. “But I do think it’s important for Congress to understand what the plan is, to have buy-in, to debate it.”

“This speech will allow Congress, I think, to understand very clearly and very specifically what is that we are doing, and what we’re not doing,” the president said, offering general details about the strategy, which involves working with an international coalition and Kurdish forces.

Tags: Sunday Shows September 7 2014

Romney: ‘No Question’ I’d Be Better President than Hillary Clinton


Does Mitt Romney think he would make a better president that Hillary Clinton? “No question about that in my mind,” the 2012 Republican presidential nominee said on Fox News Sunday.

“I look for instance at her record as secretary of state. Look, her record is Barack Obama’s record in foreign policy, and it’s a disaster,” Romney said. Citing the ongoing conflagrations in the Middle East and the Ukraine and the current administration’s inaction, Romney said: “If you can’t speak decisively, you can’t be decisive. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama are two peas in the same pod.”

Romney doesn’t believe Clinton has the necessary talents to handle the nation’s domestic policy either: “You’ve got to get this economy going. You have to have people who understand what it takes to create jobs and to help people come out of poverty, to help the middle class have a better and more prosperous future. You’ve got to have that understanding. You’ve also got to have people who’ve actually run something. The government of the United States is the largest enterprise in the world. You’ve watched a president who just doesn’t understand how to make an administration work, how to interact with Congress, how to get things done. You have to have those things. I don’t think Hillary Clinton has that experience.”

Tags: Sunday Shows September 7 2014

Romney: Obama ‘Out of Touch with Reality’


“I think the president is really out of touch with reality when it comes to what’s happening in the world,” says Mitt Romney. The 2012 GOP presidential nominee listed the regions of the globe in which he sees the president misperceiving the situation.

“He looked at Russia and thought that was a friend we should reset relations with,” Romney said. ”He looked at al-Qaeda and said, they’re on the run. More recently, he looked at ISIS and said, Oh, they’re just the junior varsity. He looks at Iraq and says, Hey, they’re strong and able to care for themselves. Look, he is so out of touch with reality that he hasn’t taken the action necessary to prevent bad things from happening.”

Romney, appearing on Fox News Sunday, summed up the problem pithily: “When America is seen, and when the president is seen, as being weak, bad people do bad things.”

Tags: Sunday Shows September 7 2014

Gutiérrez: Obama ‘Playing It Safe’ on Immigration, Abandoning ‘Our Values and Principles’


Representative Luis Gutiérrez (D., Ill.) warned that President Obama’s decision to delay executive action on immigration until after the November midterms could have the reverse effect that Democrats are hoping for: Latino voters may stay home as a result, rather than get behind vulnerable Democratic candidates in tough races.

Appearing on This Week, he credited the community’s support for helping Democrats keep control of the Senate in 2008, 2010, and 2012, as well as helping the president win the White House.

“It’s clear that playing it safe is what is going on at the White House and among Democratic circles,” said Gutiérrez, one of the most vocal Democrats on the issue of immigration reform, who last month predicted the president would grant legal status to as many as 6 million people in the country illegally. “‘Playing it safe’ means walking away from our values and principles.”

Tags: Sunday Shows September 7 2014

Romney: ‘I’m Not Running. I’m Not Planning on Running.’


“I’m not running. I’m not planning on running,” says Mitt Romney about 2016 presidential speculation. Recent polls have shown that the 2012 GOP nominee would have great appeal among Republican voters should he choose to throw his hat into the ring once more.

But the former Massachusetts governor, appearing on Fox News Sunday, insisted that he will be participating in the campaign only in a supportive role: “I’m going to be supporting our nominee — hopefully a strong individual that’s able to take our message to the American people and get this country back on track for the people who need help, and there are a lot of people who do.”

Tags: Sunday Shows September 7 2014

Feinstein: ISIS ‘Will Try to Attack Our Embassy’ in Baghdad


While President Obama has stepped up efforts to address the growing threat of the Islamic State, Senate Intelligence Committee chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D., Calif.) said the group is still aiming to take over Iraq, and has its eyes set on the country’s capital.

“ISIS is a major threat to this country — in the future and right now — to the entirety of Syria and Iraq, and the expanding caliphate,” she said on State of the Union. “I think where they’re going is to Baghdad — it’s my belief they will try to attack our embassy.”

Feinstein commended President Obama for taking further action, even if it took longer than it should have. “It is overdue, but the president is now there, and I think it’s the right thing for America,” she said.

Tags: Sunday Shows September 7 2014

See the Front o’ Battle Lour


Whatever else this weekend has been in Britain, it has been two days when the country awoke to the possibility that Scotland may be on its way out.

Writing in The Spectator, Alex Massie (a Scot, as it happens):

…You can’t kill the idea. Not now. Not when it’s existed for 300 years and more. It existed even during the great Unionist-Nationalist nineteenth century. It won’t disappear now.

You can’t tell people they shouldn’t think about independence and you can’t tell them that independence isn’t worth achieving because, frankly, they’d just be crap at it. But that doesn’t mean Unionism must lack tunes. It’s just that the No campaign has generally declined to sing them.

Hell, I don’t think [former Labour finance minister] Alistair Darling mentioned Britain or Britishness even once during his second debate with [SNP leader] Alex Salmond. It’s true that putting the red white and blue centre-stage wouldn’t necessarily transform the No campaign. But that misunderstands the point. Britain – and the Union – is the base upon which you build your campaign. Everything else is just tactics. Britain is the grammar; everything that follows is idiom.

As I say, you can’t kill an idea. But you can counter it with another idea. In this instance the other idea has the benefit of complementing the first idea. You could even reckon it the best of both worlds. But you have to believe in it properly, fully, whole-heartedly. Because it you can’t sell it why should anyone else buy it?

Indeed. And it’s hard to imagine a man like Darling, a “progressive,” a convinced believer in multiculturalism, a europhile, being very comfortable with unfurling anything so retro, so atavistic, as the old red, white, and blue.

“Britain is the grammar: everything that follows is idiom,” writes Alex, brilliantly. But this is not a language that an Alistair Darling either feels, understands or approves of.

On the other hand, being labeled retro doesn’t seem to worry some (and I emphasize that “some”) on the independence side.

The Daily Telegraph reports:

An anti-English racist group linked to Scotland’s Yes campaign is behind some of the organised intimidation which drove a prominent No supporter off the streets.

Siol nan Gaidheal, or “Seed of the Gaels,” coordinated abuse and attacks during at least four street-corner meetings held by Jim Murphy, Labour’s former Scottish secretary, immediately before the growing threats forced him to suspend the events. The group describes itself as an “ultra-nationalist organisation” and attacks English people in Scotland as “white settlers” imposing the “Lebensraum of rapacious Anglo-Saxonry” on “colonised” Scots. It says that “Scottish ethnicity” should “form the basis for Scottish citizenship”.

The Telegraph has established that Siol nan Gaidheal has links to the Yes campaign. It provided stewarding and first aid at the last major Yes independence march and rally last year, according to its website…

Mr Ogilvie, a self-confessed racist, is the former leader of the now-defunct “Settler Watch” group which attacked English-owned property in Scotland and made death threats to English residents in the 1990s.

Siol nan Gaidheal was officially expelled from the Scottish National Party in 1982, and described as “proto-fascist” by the party’s then leader, Gordon Wilson.

However, Mr Ogilvie appears to have been involved in the SNP until much later. He was active in its Bannockburn branch in 2005 and was pictured with Alex Salmond, the First Minister, and local SNP election candidates in 2009. Mr Murphy said that his speaking tour, involving impromptu open-air meetings in 100 Scottish towns and cities, had suffered no major difficulties until the victory by Alistair Darling, leader of the Better Together campaign, over Mr Salmond in the first televised debate last month.

After that, many of his meetings were disrupted by abusive mobs, often waving Yes placards, trying to shout him down and intimidate his supporters…..

And from the Daily Mail:

European migrants living in Scotland, including thousands of Germans [The Daily Mail never disappoints], could hold the key to breaking up Britain. Polls suggest the referendum on Scottish independence is on a knife-edge – meaning the views of many of the 120,000 non-Scots EU citizens who live north of the border could play a pivotal role. Poles are the biggest group of foreigners on the electoral roll, and there are about 13,000 German citizens eligible to vote.

Experts believe many of them may choose to back Scottish independence because of Westminster’s perceived hostility to the European Union.

That’s the Daily Mail’s spin: I’m not so convinced that “experts” are right, but the fact that non-citizens of the United Kingdom are given a say in the country’s possible break-up, well . . .

And in deciding what this all could mean, it’s well worth taking a look at this Daily Telegraph column by Jeremy Warner from a few days back. A “convinced unionist,” he’s hoping for a “no” vote, but sees some longer term advantages in a break-up, but as for the short-term:

Huge uncertainties still surround the practicalities of separation, from what happens to the national debt, to establishing ownership of North Sea reserves, rights to EU membership and whether Scotland is allowed to carry on using the pound. Given the entrenched positions already adopted on both sides of the debate, this is going to be a long, difficult and acrimonious divorce, guided as much by spite and vengeance as clear headed analysis, and perhaps leading to the departure of the Prime Minister responsible for triggering it.

“Friends” have already let it be known that Mr Cameron does not regard a yes vote as a resigning issue [Cameron has since confirmed this is true], yet if gambling and losing the union, resulting in profound economic and constitutional upheaval, is not sufficient cause for defenestration, particularly for a Conservative Party leader, it is hard to know what would be. Honour must surely dictate a change of command.

Indeed it would. And in hours, not days. 

Is That a Cell Phone in Your Pocket, or Are You Just Glad to See Me?


Mike, “beefcake” is indeed the mot juste to describe Victor Mature. After watching him and Hedy Lamarr in Samson and Delilah, Groucho Marx told Cecil B. DeMille that he had gotten the lead roles backwards, because “Victor Mature has much bigger knockers than Hedy Lamarr.”

Lamarr was self-conscious about her modest endowment, and in the late 1930s she took her quest for enlargement to the polymathic George Antheil, a modernist composer who, when he wasn’t scoring compositions for aircraft engines, also wrote music for films and dabbled in many other areas, including endocrinology. He suggested hormone treatments, which did not help much, though Lamarr managed to look halfway decent nonetheless.

The two remained friends, and a little while later Lamarr told Antheil about an idea she had. Her first husband, whom she had divorced, was the Austrian arms manufacturer Fritz Mandl, who did extensive business with Nazi Germany (though his father was Jewish, as were Lamarr’s parents). From Mandl and his associates, she had learned about radio-controlled torpedoes, and how the enemy could jam the signals that were used to guide them. Lamarr wondered: What if the guidance signals were sent out in a series of brief bursts, each on a different frequency, and then decoded with a device inside the torpedo? In that case jamming, which requires a steady signal, wouldn’t work.

Antheil immediately grasped the importance of this idea, and after he and Lamarr worked out the details, they took out a U.S. patent, which was initially kept secret for security reasons. The patent can be seen here (Hedwig Kiesler Markey was Lamarr’s legal name at this point; she would eventually rack up half a dozen husbands). While somewhat similar schemes had been proposed or discussed earlier, this was the first patent in the field of what is now called frequency-hopping spread spectrum. The technology is used today in many military, industrial, and consumer communication devices, including mobile phones, and the Lamarr-Antheil patent is often the first one cited in later patents.

So that’s how your cell phone can trace its origins to Hedy Lamarr’s breasts.

Chez Landrieu


So, news came last week that Senator Mary Landrieu lists her parents’ home as her residence in Louisiana. I was just wondering whether she is one of the people Paul Ryan talked about in his 2012 convention speech: kids who are “staring up at fading Obama posters and 
wondering when they can move out and get going with life.”

Into the Gloamin’


The momentum behind a “yes” vote for Scottish independence continues to gather pace.

The Spectator:

Tomorrow’s Sunday Times poll by YouGov puts the Yes campaign ahead at 51 per cent, with No on 49 per cent when undecided voters are excluded (even when they’re included, ‘yes’ are still ahead by two points: 47-45). In the space of four weeks, ‘No’ has blown a 22-point lead.

I think back to long childhood summers spent some way to the north of Inverness. The past may, very literally, about to become another country. 

Writing in the Daily Telegraph (before the latest poll), Charles Moore:

If you look at the list of British prime ministers since 1900, about half of them have been full Scots or of Scottish descent. Non-Scots quite often represented Scotland. The half-American, half-English Winston Churchill sat for a Scottish seat for many years, and so did Herbert Asquith, who came from Yorkshire. The first Labour prime minister, Ramsay Macdonald, who was entirely Scottish, sat for a Welsh seat, as did the equally Scottish Keir Hardie, the first leader of the Labour Party.

This intermingling is an example of what, in other contexts, people now celebrate with the word “diversity”. So complete has it been that it is barely regarded as such. It is British cultural self-confidence. Now we might be about to lose it. . . .

The interesting question is, Why? Never before in the era of universal suffrage would there have been the faintest chance of Scotland voting Yes. What has changed?

Of course it relates partly to Scotland’s century-long economic decline. It has more, though, to do with the idea of Britain. When that idea was strong, it acted magnetically. As it has faded, it has produced centrifugal pressures. Some countries weld themselves together through a constitution, like the United States, others through ethnicity or religion. Britain did it chiefly through its Parliament. Parliament weakened: so did Britain…

…In 1972, the House of Commons voted to subordinate itself to what was then called the European Economic Community. It handed power up, away from itself and from the people it represented. The effects were cumulative rather than immediate, but by the end of the Eighties, they were apparent in most areas of British life (hence Mrs Thatcher’s anger during her last years in office).

…Under Tony Blair, Labour’s response to this decline was not to restore Parliament, but to empower other institutions to make up for it. His Human Rights Act effectively confirmed that the rule of law – one of Britain’s most famous achievements – must now submit to exterior judicial authority. Hence, in the era of Islamist terrorism, people who hate us and wish to do us harm can live here, unextradited and on benefits. It was not easy to feel proud of being British when Abu Hamza was waving his hook on the streets of north London.

Part of the same process was the de-legitimation of British emblems. I remember suggesting to the organisers of the vast Countryside March in London in 2002 that everyone taking part should be issued with a Union flag. “Oh no,” they said. “We’d love to do that, but we’re advised that the flag has become a symbol of racism.” Racism? That flag interweaves the symbols of four nations!

Into this vacuum of confidence have rushed other forces. . . .

And, yes, there’s a lesson for these United States in this unpicking, this unraveling . . .

Rogan: Obama’s Inability to Articulate an ISIS Strategy ‘Concerns’ Congress


Make sure to check out Tom’s latest on the growing threat of the Islamic State in his recent column, “Jihadists in the Swimming Pool.”

Flashback: Senate Dems Voted for Amnesty They Want Delayed


Senator Jeff Sessions (R., Ala.) accused Senate Democrats of “colluding” with President Obama and interest groups to delay an administrative amnesty that they voted for in July.

“The only thing that is more shocking than Senate Democrats’ support for the president’s planned executive amnesty is the cravenness of asking him to proceed beginning the day after the midterms,” Sessions said Friday. “They don’t care what you want, or what you think — they scorn and mock our good and decent citizens for wishing their laws to be enforced. Never in recent memory has the divide between the everyday citizen, and the political elite, been as wide as it is now.”

Sessions made the statement apropos of a Friday report that Senate Democrats were encouraging Obama to delay the executive actions that he promised would come by the end of summer. On Saturday, White House officials announced that they were deferring to the Democrats, many of whom have difficult reelection campaigns and would not act until after the election.

“Two White House officials said Obama concluded that circumventing Congress through executive actions on immigration during the campaign would politicize the issue and hurt future efforts to pass a broad overhaul,” according to the Associated Press. “They said he fully intends to act before the end of the year.”

Sessions succeeded in forcing a vote that put Senate Democrats on the record in support of Obama’s proposal earlier this summer.

“Only Senator Joe Manchin joined with Republicans to try and prohibit the president’s issuance of work permits to 5-6 million,” his office noted on July 31. “Even the Senate Democrats who claimed to oppose the executive actions (Pryor, Hagan, Begich and Landrieu), voted with Reid, Durbin and Schumer to block Sessions’ motion and thereby support the president’s action.”

North Carolina state-house speaker Thom Tillis, the Republican Senate nominee, faulted his Democratic incumbent opponent, Senator Kay Hagan, for refusing to vote against Obama’s executive action.

“President Obama’s decision to delay executive amnesty for illegal immigrants until after Election Day doesn’t change the fact that Kay Hagan supports amnesty and has repeatedly voted against securing the border,” Tillis said Saturday. “When Senator Hagan had the opportunity to cross party lines and stop executive amnesty, she sided with President Obama instead of the people of North Carolina, yet another example of her saying one thing on the campaign trail but doing another in Washington.”


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