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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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JANUARY 17,  2021

SHORT TAKES ON THE DRIFTING WRECKAGE – OVERNIGHT: 

THE PHONINESS FLOWS – FROM ALPHANEWS:   Casinos, bars, and restaurants on Native American tribal lands in Minnesota have remained open throughout the COVID-19 emergency, despite restaurants and bars being forced to shut down everywhere else in the state.  Establishments on reservations have advertised buffets and free shuttles, encouraging patrons to visit for in-person meals.  Bars and restaurants were closed from Nov. 20 to Jan. 10 under an executive order issued by Gov. Tim Walz, but casinos were packed with customers who didn’t always wear masks and disregarded social-distancing requirements, according to pictures from earlier this month. Mystic Lake Casino Hotel invited Minnesotans to dine at its steakhouse on Thanksgiving. At the time, Minnesotans were prohibited from holding private gatherings with members of other households.  What a fraud.  I guess it depends on who you know and how many votes you can bring in.

A NEW VENTURE – FROM THE CHICAGO TRIBUNE:   The patriarch of the family that owns the Chicago Cubs is getting back in the newsgathering business.  The Omaha World-Herald reported on Sunday that billionaire businessman and philanthropist Joe Ricketts is hiring staff to launch an online national news source called Straight Arrow News.  “I think there’s a gap in the market — there’s no source for unbiased, fact-based news,” Ricketts told the World-Herald in an emailed response to questions last week. “And I believe there’s a business opportunity there.”  It isn’t the politically conservative Ricketts’s first journalistic endeavor.  He launched DNAinfo, a news website that provided local coverage in Chicago and New York, in 2009. He later bought Gothamist, another New York-based news site, and then merged the two.  But by November 2017, amid staff unionization efforts, the Tribune reported, Ricketts shut down DNAinfo and the Gothamist sites, saying the ad-supported business model was not viable. The staff’s decision to unionize made it harder for the business to be financially successful, a DNAinfo spokesperson said at the time.   We wish him luck.  The more news organizations, the better.  We're not going to change the mediocre ones we have now, so a new venture is always welcome.

January 17, 2021       Permalink


THE BACKLASH BEGINS, AND IT WILL CONTINUE – AT 9:55 P.M. ET:  The ridiculous events of the last two weeks will come with a price tag.  Those Republicans in the House who voted to impeach Trump are feeling the heat, especially as the case against the president was so incomplete and so rushed.  From Fox: 

Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Wash., one of 10 House Republicans who voted to impeach President Trump on charges of "incitement of an insurrection," is facing criticism from her district's conservative base.

"On behalf of our entire membership, the [Clark County Republican Women] Executive Board is unified in condemning your actions to betray a sitting Republican President. And this vote will never be forgotten, as your action is a personal affront to the 70 million plus Americans who voted for our President," Clark County Republican Women wrote in a letter to Herrera Beutler.

Herrera Beutler represents Washington's Clark County, near the Washington-Oregon border.
With 10 Republican votes, Trump's second impeachment was the most bipartisan one in history. By comparison, five Democrats voted to impeach Bill Clinton in 1998. Herrera Beutler was not the only Washington state Republican to vote for impeachment; Rep. Dan Newhouse also did.

In this Thursday, Jan. 7, 2021 photo image taken from video, Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Wash., speaks as the House debates the objection to confirm the Electoral College vote from Pennsylvania, at the U.S. Capitol.

Joel Mattila, chair of Clark County Republicans, said Herrera Beutler's vote sparked "anger in the ranks."

"I can tell you that from old-time party regulars — people that traditionally and typically support Congresswoman Herrera Beutler — all the way down to your average ordinary everyday Republican voter, I can report to you that there is a lot of anger in the ranks because of her impeachment vote," Mattila told The Columbian.

Clark County Republican Women vowed to back a primary challenge to Herrera Beutler over the impeachment vote.

"If you cast this vote to impeach, you will never receive our support or votes again at any time in the future," the group said in the letter to Herrera Beutler. "Additionally, we will do everything in our power as the largest Republican Women's organization in Washington State to recruit and elect a conservative candidate who will represent our values."

COMMENT:  An impeachment of a president seeks to remove the highest elected official in the land.  It is a reversing of the people's will.  The notion that it can be done in one day, with no witnesses, with no examination of the written or legal record, offends common decency and the Constitution itself. 

January 17,  2021     Permalink

 

 

 

 

JANUARY 16,  2021

SHORT TAKES ON THE DRIFTING WRECKAGE – OVERNIGHT:

HOW SAD – FROM BIZPACREVIEW.COM:  This year, for the first time since its inception in 1989, the Armed Forces Farewell event will reportedly not be held for an outgoing president.  “The Pentagon, in a break with recent tradition, will not host an Armed Forces Farewell tribute to President Donald Trump. … Two senior defense officials confirmed … Thursday that no military farewell is being planned for the commander in chief,” Defense One reported Thursday.  No reason was specified for the break in tradition. It’s also not clear whether the event was canceled by military brass or by the president himself. The latter scenario seems unlikely given his love for the military.  What’s known is that the president plans to hold his own “farewell” event on the morning of President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration. The president has been a supreme supporter of the military, unlike his predecessor, Barack Obama.  It's not right for the relationship to end this way.

THE ASSAULT ON ICE CREAM – FROM THE NEW YORK POST:  China has come up with a new ice cream no one wants to try.  During routine government testing recently, three samples from a northern China ice cream company came back positive for COVID-19.  Officials now believe that 4,836 boxes of the ice cream may have been contaminated — more than half of which had already been distributed for sale when the test results came back, Sky News reported Friday.  Only 2,089 boxes of ice cream could be confiscated in time, the report said.  The ice cream was produced by the Tianjin Daqiaodao Food Company, where the 1,662 employees were tested Thursday, and were quarantining.  Dr. Stephen Griffin, a virologist at the University of Leeds in the UK, told the outlet an infected person most likely contaminated the batches. “Of course, any level of contamination is not acceptable and always a cause for concern, but the chances are that this is the result of an issue with the production plant and potentially down to hygiene at the factory,” he said.  History deals with nations as they deal with their ice cream.  Tbis is an unacceptable insult to ice cream lovers everywhere, and another reason to take the threat of China seriously.

January 16, 2021       Permalink

 

AND IN THE REAL WORLD – AT 5:30 P.M. ET:  Outside the cartoon that is American politics, there's a real world, with serious threats.  And in a few days those threats will be dealt with by a new, and often confused, American president and an administration filled with holdovers from a failed Obama foreign policy.  Aren't we lucky?  From the Jerusalem Post: 

Iran’s move towards producing uranium metal could only be used to produce weapons, the governments of France, Germany and the United Kingdom warned in a statement on Saturday.

“Iran has no credible civilian use for uranium metal,” the group, known as the E3 in the context of the Iran nuclear deal, warned. “The production of uranium metal has potentially grave military implications.”

The E3 statement came after Iran notified the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on Wednesday that they would begin research on producing uranium metal, which Tehran claimed was meant to provide fuel to a research reactor in Tehran.

The IAEA said: “Iran informed the Agency in a letter on 13 January that ‘modification and installation of the relevant equipment for the mentioned R&D activities have been already started.’”

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), as the 2015 Iran deal is known, blocked the production or acquisition of plutonium or uranium metal or their alloys for 15 years. Iran would have been able to begin to research producing fuel based on uranium metal in 2025 if the other partners to the agreement would agree to it.

France, Germany and the UK said they are “deeply concerned” by Iran’s preparation to produce uranium metal.

“We strongly urge Iran to halt this activity, and return to compliance with its JCPOA commitments without further delay if it is serious about preserving the deal,” the E3 said.

Iran’s announcement that it would work to produce uranium metal came over a week after Tehran said it would begin enriching uranium up to 20%, going beyond the JCPOA’s enrichment limitations.

The US left the Iran deal in 2018, moving to a “maximum pressure” sanctions regime. Iran deal supporters point to the fact that the mullahs’ regime began major violations of the JCPOA after the American departure, while the proponents point out that the fact that Iran could jump to violating the deal so drastically – like 20% enrichment – and so easily means that the agreement was not working in the first place.

The US pressure campaign continued on Friday, in the final days of the Trump administration, with the US State Department announcing sanctions on anyone who transfers any of 15 materials used for Iran’s nuclear, military or ballistic missiles program. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said “the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps controls Iran’s construction sector.”

Pompeo also announced sanctions on companies in Iran, China and the United Arab Emirates for working with the Islamic Republic of Iran Shipping Lines, as well some of their executives.

The US will also sanction Iran’s Marine Industries Organization, Aerospace Industries Organization and Iran Aviation Industries Organization for engaging in activities related to conventional arms proliferation.

US President-elect Joe Biden has said he seeks to return to the Iran deal, along with strict Iranian compliance to its terms.

COMMENT:  This will be Biden's first major test in foreign policy, a field in which he has been historically wrong on every major issue.  And he is surrounded by advisers who have been soft on Iran.

However, Biden has every reason to want to separate himself from Obama's failed legacy.  Let's see if he has the spine, and the wisdom. 

January 16, 2021       Permalink

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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