Thursday, March 20, 2014
Mr Putin is a true leader of his people
Russian politicians and media were last night demanding Vladimir Putin goes further by grabbing back more former Soviet regions and states.
The nationalistic frenzy whipped up by the return of Crimea - in defiance of the West - has led to calls on state-run TV for Moscow to take back oil and gas-rich Kazakhstan and authoritarian Belarus as well as more slices of a battered Ukraine, already filleted by the Kremlin.
Putin was last night riding the crest of an adulatory wave after righting what many Russians see as an historical wrong and reintegrating Crimea and the Black Sea fleet headquarters of Sevastopol back in to Russia after a gap of 60 years.
Senior politicians openly mocked Western sanctions and discounted Putin's assertion that he did not seek more of Ukraine as long as the West stops seeking sway in his backyard.
The Russian strongman defiantly told a joint session of the Russian parliament that he would not accept NATO 'next to our home or on our historic territories'.
Accusing the West of hypocrisy in pushing for self-determination for Kosovo but denying Crimea, he said the peninsula had been 'robbed' from Russia in Soviet times while 'regions of Russia's historic south' were only now Ukrainian because of a Bolshevik blunder.
In an emotional and historic address he said: 'In the hearts and minds of people, Crimea has always been and remains an inseparable part of Russia.'
Putin has succeeded in uniting many of his foes behind him but last night it also appeared he had unleashed a tidal wave in favour of more land grabs.
Senior politician Sergei Mironov hailed 'the great day when the gathering of Russian lands began'.
Sergey Zheleznyak, deputy chairman of lower house, demanded Russian 'support' for other Ukrainian regions. 'We cannot feel calm and happy as long as we realise how our brothers in other regions of Ukraine are suffering,' he said.
When a putz like Obama tells Putin it's illegal for Russia to absorb the Crimea which is mostly Russian, and then demands that Israel evacuate 300,000 Jews from historically Jewish Judea and Samaria to appease terrorists, what other reaction can one have but, HUH?!
Was the Crimean vote "rigged"?
Contrary to the reports of 135 international observers from 23 countries, the Western media in chorus has suggested without a shred of evidence that the elections were rigged and that Crimea was under Russian military occupation.
The observer mission reports which include members of the European Parliament have been casually ignored by the mainstream Western media:
Mateus Piskorkski, the leader of the European observers' mission and Polish MP: "Our observers have not registered any violations of voting rules."
Ewald Stadler, member of the European Parliament, dispelled the "referendum at gunpoint" myth: "I haven't seen anything even resembling pressure. People themselves want to have their say."
Pavel Chernev: Bulgarian member of parliament: "Organization and procedures are 100 percent in line with the European standards," he added.
Serbian observer Milenko Baborats "People freely expressed their will in the most democratic way, wherever we were. During the day we didn't see a single serious violation of legitimacy of the process,"
Srdja Trifkovic, prominent and observer from Serbia: "The presence of troops on the streets is virtually non-existent and the only thing resembling any such thing is the unarmed middle-aged Cossacks who are positioned outside the parliament building in Simferopol. But if you look at the people both at the voting stations and in the streets, like on Yalta's sea front yesterday afternoon, frankly I think you would feel more tense in south Chicago or in New York's Harlem than anywhere round here," he said.
The Democrats' Dishonest Koch Habit
Democrats have escalated their attacks on Charles and David Koch, who donate a significant amount of their accumulated capital to conservative groups. The charge is led by Sen. Harry Reid (D-NV), who now routinely takes to the Senate floor to angrily denounce these two private citizens. “I'm not afraid of the Koch brothers,” he thundered. “None of us should be afraid of the Koch brothers. These two multi-billionaires may spend hundreds of millions of dollars rigging the political process for their own benefit. And they may believe that whoever has the most money gets the most free speech. But I will do whatever it takes to expose their campaign to rig the American political system to benefit the wealthy at the expense of the middle class.”
A Democrat ad also recently demonized the brothers, accusing them of having an agenda to “protect tax cuts for companies that ship our jobs overseas.” That was too much even for The Washington Post's “fact checker,” Glenn Kessler, who gave the charge a full Four Pinocchios. Specifically, Kessler says, “The ad not only mischaracterizes an ordinary tax deduction as a special 'tax cut' but then it falsely asserts that 'protecting' this tax break is part of the Koch agenda. It turns out this claim is based on a tenuous link to an organization that never even took a position on the legislation in question.” The truth didn't stop Reid from repeating the same “tax breaks” lie.
This attack campaign is a clear sign that Democrats are very worried about November, and they're lashing out at anyone who's bankrolling the opposition. Americans for Prosperity, a political group founded with the Kochs' support, has spent $30 million already hanging ObamaCare around Democrats' necks. The attacks also reek of hypocrisy coming from a party well funded by leftist billionaires George Soros and Tom Steyer. And yet the effort is odd all the same because most people don't even know who the Kochs are, much less how they earned their money or how they use it. That means shutting them out of the political process is not very high on the list of the average American's concerns.
Reid wants to make this a class war, slamming the Kochs for having the “most money” and, therefore, the “most speech.” He aims to silence this speech because it endangers his control of the Senate, and the best way to do that is to follow Saul Alinsky's Rules for Radicals, Rule 12: “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.” The Kochs are the target, and polarizing them is intended to mobilize a demoralized leftist base.
But we'll let Democrats in on a little secret. The Founders wrote the First Amendment's bit about “free speech” in order to prevent the government from trying to dictate what or whose or how much speech is acceptable. If Harry Reid & Co. have the better argument on substance, let's hear it. Until then, the Kochs should be free to speak away – like everyone else.
A Startlingly Simple Theory About the Missing Malaysia Airlines Jet
There has been a lot of speculation about Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. Terrorism, hijacking, meteors. I cannot believe the analysis on CNN; it’s almost disturbing. I tend to look for a simpler explanation, and I find it with the 13,000-foot runway at Pulau Langkawi.
We know the story of MH370: A loaded Boeing 777 departs at midnight from Kuala Lampur, headed to Beijing. A hot night. A heavy aircraft. About an hour out, across the gulf toward Vietnam, the plane goes dark, meaning the transponder and secondary radar tracking go off. Two days later we hear reports that Malaysian military radar (which is a primary radar, meaning the plane is tracked by reflection rather than by transponder interrogation response) has tracked the plane on a southwesterly course back across the Malay Peninsula into the Strait of Malacca.
The left turn is the key here. Zaharie Ahmad Shah1 was a very experienced senior captain with 18,000 hours of flight time. We old pilots were drilled to know what is the closest airport of safe harbor while in cruise. Airports behind us, airports abeam us, and airports ahead of us. They’re always in our head. Always. If something happens, you don’t want to be thinking about what are you going to do–you already know what you are going to do. When I saw that left turn with a direct heading, I instinctively knew he was heading for an airport. He was taking a direct route to Palau Langkawi, a 13,000-foot airstrip with an approach over water and no obstacles. The captain did not turn back to Kuala Lampur because he knew he had 8,000-foot ridges to cross. He knew the terrain was friendlier toward Langkawi, which also was closer.
Take a look at this airport on Google Earth. The pilot did all the right things. He was confronted by some major event onboard that made him make an immediate turn to the closest, safest airport.
For me, the loss of transponders and communications makes perfect sense in a fire. And there most likely was an electrical fire. In the case of a fire, the first response is to pull the main busses and restore circuits one by one until you have isolated the bad one. If they pulled the busses, the plane would go silent. It probably was a serious event and the flight crew was occupied with controlling the plane and trying to fight the fire. Aviate, navigate, and lastly, communicate is the mantra in such situations.
There are two types of fires. An electrical fire might not be as fast and furious, and there may or may not be incapacitating smoke. However there is the possibility, given the timeline, that there was an overheat on one of the front landing gear tires, it blew on takeoff and started slowly burning. Yes, this happens with underinflated tires. Remember: Heavy plane, hot night, sea level, long-run takeoff. There was a well known accident in Nigeria of a DC8 that had a landing gear fire on takeoff. Once going, a tire fire would produce horrific, incapacitating smoke. Yes, pilots have access to oxygen masks, but this is a no-no with fire. Most have access to a smoke hood with a filter, but this will last only a few minutes depending on the smoke level. (I used to carry one in my flight bag, and I still carry one in my briefcase when I fly.)
What I think happened is the flight crew was overcome by smoke and the plane continued on the heading, probably on George (autopilot), until it ran out of fuel or the fire destroyed the control surfaces and it crashed. You will find it along that route–looking elsewhere is pointless.
Facts and Factions
At a time when polls show public opinion turning against the Democrats, some Republicans seem to be turning against each other. Even with the prospect of being able to win control of the Senate in this fall's elections, some Republicans are busy manufacturing ammunition for their own circular firing squad.
A Republican faction's demonization of their own Senate Minority Leader, Mitch McConnell, is a classic example. If you listen to some of those who consider themselves the only true conservatives, you would never guess that Senator McConnell received a lifetime 90 percent ranking by the American Conservative Union -- and in one recent year had a 100 percent ranking.
Ann Coulter -- whose conservative credentials nobody has ever challenged -- points out in her column that Mitch McConnell has not only led the fight for conservative principles repeatedly, but has been to the right of Ted Cruz on immigration issues.
Someone once said that, in a war, truth is the first casualty. That seems to be the case for some in this internal war among Republicans. As the late Daniel Patrick Moynihan said, "You are entitled to your own opinion, but not to your own facts."
Why should those of us who are not Republicans be concerned about any of this?
Fortunately or unfortunately, we have a two-party system in this country. And -- very unfortunately -- we are at a crucial point in the history of America, and perhaps approaching a point of no return.
The unfolding disaster of ObamaCare is only the most visible symptom of a far deeper danger from a lawless administration in Washington that unilaterally changes laws passed by Congress. President Obama has nearly three more years to continue doing irreparable damage to the fundamental basis of American government and Americans' freedom.
Only Republican control of the Senate can rein in the lawless Obama administration, which can otherwise load up the federal courts with lawless judges, who will be dismantling the rule of law and destroying the rights of the people, for decades after Barack Obama himself is long gone from the White House.
Once that happens, even a future Republican majority, led by people with the kind of ideological purity that the Republican dissidents want, cannot undo the damage.
The Senate's power to confirm or not confirm presidential nominees to the federal courts is the only thing that can prevent Barack Obama from leaving that kind of toxic legacy in the federal courts, including the Supreme Court.
Only Republican control of both houses of Congress can repeal, or even seriously revise, ObamaCare. And only Republican control of both houses of Congress plus the White House can begin to reverse the many lawless, reckless and dangerous policies of the Obama administration, at home and overseas.
This year's elections and the 2016 presidential election may be among the most important elections in the history of this country, and can determine what kind of country this will be for years -- and even generations -- to come.
Those Republicans who seem ready to jeopardize their own party's chances of winning these two crucial elections by following a rule-or-ruin fight against fellow Republicans may claim to be following their ideals. But headstrong self-righteousness is not idealism, and it is seldom a way to advance any cause.
Politics, like war, is a question of power. If you don't have power, you can make fiery speeches or even conduct attention-getting filibusters, but that does not fundamentally change anything. And it has accomplished nothing in this case.
No doubt there can be legitimate differences of opinion about tactics and strategy on particular issues. But, if you don't have power, these are just empty clashes over debating points.
Certainly there has been much for which the Republican leadership has deserved to be criticized over the years -- and this column has made such criticisms for decades. But, when the question is whether Mitch McConnell is preferable to Harry Reid as Majority Leader in the Senate, that is not even a close call.
If the rule-or-ruin faction among Republicans ends up giving the Democrats another Senate majority under Harry Reid, not only the Republican Party but the entire nation, and generations yet unborn, will end up paying the price.
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Posted by JR at 1:48 AM