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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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JUNE 25-26,  2023

SHORT TAKES ON THE DRIFTING WRECKAGE

THE DUD:  From Fox:   NBC News reported on Monday that Vice President Kamala Harris has the dubious distinction of having the lowest net-negative rating of modern vice presidents in the history of their polling.  According to a new NBC News poll, only 32% of registered voters have a positive view of Harris, compared to 49% with a negative view, including 39% with a "very negative view." This leaves Harris with a net -17 rating, which NBC News noted is "the lowest for any vice president in the poll’s history." Harris' -17 net rating lined up against the last four vice presidents during their tenures, with Mike Pence -4 in Oct. 2019, Joe Biden +1 in Dec. 2010, Dick Cheney +23 in May 2003, and Al Gore +15 in March 1995.  This is what happens when a candidate is chosen on the basis of identity, rather than quality.  And that identity mentality continues to be dominant in the Democratic Party.  Kamala Harris is still one heartbeat away from the presidency, and that heartbeat appears weak.

MYSTIQUE OF THE COLLEGE EDUCATION COLLAPSING:  From Campus Reform: According to a new report from EAB, an education consulting firm, high schoolers are increasingly feeling mentally unprepared for college as more students express that a degree may not be worth the cost.  “A growing number of high school students point to concerns over affordability as well as academic and mental health preparedness as primary reasons behind their decision not to enroll in college,” EAB stated. “The report summarizes the results of a new survey of more than 20,000 ‘Gen P’ high school students—those whose college-going behaviors have been influenced by the [COVID-19] pandemic.”  Each year, EAB conducts a survey of approximately 20,000 high schoolers to poll students about their college plans.  EAB’s latest findings revealed that 20 percent of students who decided not to attend college immediately after high school indicated that higher education was not worth the cost — a rise from the pre-pandemic level of 8 percent in 2019.  The report also found that 22 percent of high schoolers who declined to pursue a college education felt that they were “not mentally ready for college.” This was an increase from 14 percent reported in 2019.  EAB also cited the National Student Clearinghouse in noting that undergraduate enrollment is down by 1 million students since the coronavirus outbreak of 2019-2020.  It's time for the nation to take a hard look at our colleges and universities.  Any honest accounting would show that many are glorified high schools, and that others have surrendered to wokeness and other social trends.  There is good education available, but the cost in money and time may outweigh the benefits. 

June 26, 2023       Permalink 

 

THE WEIRD PRESIDENTIAL RACE:  Have you ever seen any presidential race this strange?  As we've written here before, we have an impaired president who may not always know where he is, opposed by the frontrunner of the other party, who is under indictment.  Present that story to any publisher in New York, and your book would be turned down.   Incredibly, Donald Trump has gained still further in the polls.  Clearly, many of his supporters, and some others, believe he's being treated very unfairly.  But he's also getting more doubters.  From Fox: 

Former President Donald Trump continues to lead as the GOP frontrunner after being indicted on federal charges in early June, however, nearly half of GOP voters surveyed are skeptical over whether he should continue to lead the Republican Party, according to a new poll.

A new NBC poll shows a majority of Republican voters would vote for Trump in the Republican primary, with 51% listing him as their number one choice. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis came in second with 22% of the votes and former Vice President Mike Pence coming in third with 7%.

These new numbers come in comparison to how the candidates fared with GOP voters back in April shortly after Trump was indicted in New York in connection to hush-money payments made in 2016. 46% of Republican voters supported Trump then and 31% said they were backing DeSantis.

After pleading not guilty to 37 federal charges related to his handling of classified documents at his Mar-a-Lago estate in June, a combined total of 77% of GOP primary voters stated the federal charges gave them either minor concerns (14%) or no real concerns (63%). 64% of Republican voters also said the various indictments and investigations Trump faces are politically motivated.

These numbers are then compared to 55% of all registered voters who say the charges give them either major concerns (47%) or moderate concerns (8%).

Trump remains the GOP frontrunner, even when poised in a hypothetical match against DeSantis, with 60% of Republican voters backing the former President and DeSantis receiving only 36%.

However, in a hypothetical Trump-Biden battle, President Joe Biden came out on top with a near majority of the vote (49%). Trump received 45% support. However, a total of 68% of those surveyed stated Biden's mental and physical health was a major/moderate concern for them.

On the flip side, when asked if they agree with Trump remaining the party's leader, nearly half of GOP voters said yes, with 21% saying they believed he was a good president but it was time to consider other leaders.

Trump appeared at a Miami federal courthouse in early June in connection with the classified documents case, marking the first time a former president has faced federal criminal charges. The charges include willful retention of national defense information, conspiracy to obstruct justice and false statements.

COMMENT:  One of the most striking things about this poll, and others, is how poorly Ron DeSantis is doing with Republican primary voters.  This can turn out to be one of the major political stories of the year, should Trump falter and the Republicans need a replacement candidate.  DeSantis is one of the best governors in America and would, in my view, be an excellent president.  He was the heir apparent only months ago, but, for some reason, many voters don't care for him.  We'll be watching this phenomenon in coming weeks to see if his campaign makes changes.  If you have an opinion on DeSantis, please let us know, or send a submission to our Forum at comments@urgentagenda.com

June 26, 2023       Permalink

 

 

 

 

JUNE 23-24,  2023

TRUCE:  In the last week or so, the world watched, with a mixture of fascination and horror, as a private army within Russia, the Wagner group, moved toward Moscow in what many believed was an attempt to overthrow the Russian military leadership and the Russian government of Vladimir Putin, which Wagner's leaders felt betrayed them.  But by yesterday, the crisis appeared to be over. 

Wagner's chief, Yevgeny Prigozhin, is a former chef.  Wagner is kind of the Wendy's Delicious Fighting Force and Grill.  Prigozhin, no doubt with his own neck in mind, has accepted a deal to end the rebellion.  From CBS News: 

The chief of Russia's Wagner mercenary group, Yevgeny Prigozhin, said Saturday that he'd agreed to halt his forces' "movement inside Russia, and to take further steps to de-escalate tensions," in an agreement brokered by Belarusian leader Alexander Lukashenko. 

The Wagner group boss earlier ordered his forces to march toward Moscow after unleashing a long series of videotaped remarks threatening to topple Russia's military leadership, which he blasted as having misled the country and Russian President Vladimir Putin himself about the Ukraine war. 

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov told Russian state media late Saturday night that as part of the deal, Prigozhin will move to Belarus, and a Russian criminal case launched on Friday into his actions will be dropped. Wagner fighters who took part in the march towards Moscow would also not be prosecuted, Peskov said.

Putin worked from the Kremlin all day Saturday, according to Peskov, who added that Russia's invasion of Ukraine would not be impacted by the infighting. 

The Wagner boss's actions drew an accusation of a "rebellion" from Putin earlier in the day, though the Russian leader did not name Prigozhin individually. Prigozhin didn't say whether the Kremlin had responded to his demand to oust Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.  

Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko, a close ally of Putin, held two meetings to negotiate a deal that includes "security guarantees for the Wagner PMC fighters," a news release published by Belarus' state-run news agency said. The Kremlin confirmed the discussions between Putin and Lukashenko had taken place.

Prigozhin said on his official Telegram channel that he had agreed to turn his mercenary forces back, "realizing all the responsibility for the fact that Russian blood will be shed." He said his forces had marched to within 120 miles of Moscow without shedding a "single drop of the blood of our fighters." 

COMMENT:  A private army?  In the 21st century?  What's next, the Sara Lee Submarine Force?  What is so chilling is that Russia has the largest nuclear arsenal in the world, and it might have fallen under the control of rebels.  What's also chilling is that the Russian government now has the image of incompetence and instability.  If Wagner did not succeed in overthrowing it, someone else might.

I'm guessing that this story of Russian weakness is far from over.

June 24, 2023       Permalink

 

CLASS ALWAYS SHOWS; LACK OF CLASS DOES THE SAME:  Barack Obama is back in town.  From RedState: 

Barack Obama never came across an event that he couldn’t politicize; the recent implosion of the submersible Titan on a dive to explore the wreck of the Titanic—which left five people presumed dead—is no exception.

As my colleague Mike Miller reported, the former president appeared on a CNN special titled “Obama & Amanpour” Thursday to blame “right-wing” media for making Americans “fearful of each other.”

But he wasn’t done; he also decided to blame the media for excessive coverage of the sub accident while not devoting equal time to another tragedy, the story of a “migrant boat” that sank off the coast of Greece last week. An unknown number of people are presumed dead, but the count could reach 600.

Obama:

Our democracy is not going to be healthy with the levels of inequality that we’ve seen generated from globalization, automation, the decline in unions. Obscene inequality.

You think about news of the day. Generally, we’re not talking about news of the day, but right now we have 24 hour coverage – and I understand it – of this submarine, this submersible that tragically right now is lost at the bottom of the sea.

He goes on to shame those who reported on or were interested in the Titan but didn’t pay the same attention to the boat story:

At the same time, right here, just off the coast of Greece, we had 700 people dead [unconfirmed and likely a high estimate]. 700 migrants who were apparently being smuggled into here and it’s made news but it’s not dominating in the same way and in some ways it’s indicative of the degree to which peoples’ life chances have grown so disparate.

He’s right that the ship sinking in the Mediterranean is truly awful, but why does he have to bring the poor deceased souls of the Titan into the conversation? Their bodies haven’t even been recovered (and may never be), and he’s already politicizing their deaths.

Furthermore, it’s an unfortunate fact that boats full of people fleeing their countries and sinking into the Mediterranean are an altogether too-common occurrence. However, it’s not a problem that America is in a position to solve—we can’t even control our own borders, much less those of other countries halfway around the world.

COMMENT:  Obama is one of the better-spoken political hacks of our era.  Everything to him is political or racial.  We were captivated by the story of the Titan because it was linked to the Titanic, one of the great stories of the 20th century.  It had nothing to do with "values."  It had nothing to do with indifference toward migrants.  It nothing to do with bigotry.

Barack, go play golf.

June 24, 2023        Permalink

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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