So which stories / topics / issues grab your attention here at the end of the week?
DelDOT found vehicles and materials underneath or near some of the bridges it inspected, but found no threats to safety. Meanwhile, the support columns underneath the I-495 Christina River bridge appear to be slowly righting themselves to full vertical alignment.
The University of Delaware and Delaware State University still seem to have big allies in Dover. The Democratic leadership in the state House removed the teeth from legislation sponsored by Representative John Kowalko (D-Newark) that would make the UD and DSU more transparent under Delaware's Sunshine laws. A lawyer representing the Student Press Law Center pronounced it a "Texas Chainsaw Massacre" on the law. The universities argue a measure forcing transparency would harm their ability to compete with private universities. Fine. You wanna' be private? Give up all your public money.
Maybe the state of Delaware doesn't lose the Punkin Chunkin after all. Dover International Speedway looks to be the replacement venue for Bridgeville. A loss for Sussex, a gain for Kent, but not a loss for Delaware assuming association members approve.
Looks like Kevin McCarthy is poised to become the new House Majority Leader. By many accounts, McCarthy is warmer and friendlier than Eric Cantor, and more relaxed with reporters. Also an incredibly hard worker who sometimes sleeps in his office.
Another side of McCarthy, from POLITICO:
"He hangs out with billionaire Elon Musk, rides bikes with actor Kevin Spacey and counts Arnold Schwarzenegger and Condoleezza Rice as buddies.
He visits Silicon Valley almost every month, and flies from Washington to his district in Bakersfield, Calif., virtually every weekend to see his family, even if he stays for just 12 hours. When schmoozing with celebrities, the one-time deli owner often snaps a selfie on his iPhone -- he'll show his collection to anyone who wants to see it. He gushes about the painting of Abraham Lincoln in his office or the modernized version of 'Washington Crossing the Delaware' displayed in his conference room.
But don't let the affability and toothy smile fool you. Kevin Owen McCarthy lives and breathes the House of Representatives..."
It's rather stunning how Iraq has replaced Ukraine and Syria as the top international story.
From The WASHINGTON POST: COLLAPSE of IRAQI ARMY a FAILURE for NATION's PREMIER and for U.S. MILITARY
"The Iraqi army's collapse this week marked a stark failure for the U.S. military that trained it and for Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government, which has struggled to address leadership and morale problems that now threaten the force's ability to defend the country.
Although they far outnumbered the insurgents and had greater firepower, Maliki's troops have fled by the thousands in the country's north, allowing the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) to take the city of Mosul and start an ominous march toward Baghdad.
Former U.S. military officials who oversaw the building of the Iraqi military placed much of the blame for that dereliction on Maliki, who has purged the Iraqi army of some of its most capable leaders..."
And from The NEW YORK TIMES: The IRAQI ARMY was CRUMBLING LONG BEFORE ITS COLLAPSE, U.S. OFFICIALS SAY
WASHINGTON -- "The stunning collapse of Iraq's army in a string of cities across the north reflects poor leadership, declining troop morale, broken equipment and a sharp decline in training since the last American advisers left the country in 2011, American military and intelligence officials said Thursday.
Four of Iraq's 14 army divisions virtually abandoned their posts, stripped off their uniforms, and fled when confronted in cities such as Mosul and Tikrit by militant groups, principally fighters aligned with the radical Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, or ISIS, the officials said..."
Here we go again. For all the Billions of dollars spent on U.S. intelligence and counter-espionage, did the U.S. intelligence community blow it? Whether forecasting the fall of the Soviet Union, or just this year, the Russian "invasion" of the Crimea, did U.S. spooks "miss" the rise of the Islamic State of Iran and Syria?
From FOREIGN POLICY: JIHADIST GAINS in IRAQ BLINDSIDE AMERICAN SPIES. FIRST CRIMEA, NOW IRAQ. WHY DOES AMERICA's $50 BILLION INTELLIGENCE COMMUNITY KEEP GETTING TAKEN by SURPRISE?
"United States intelligence agencies were caught by surprise when fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) seized two major Iraqi cities this week and sent Iraqi defense forces fleeing, current and former U.S. officials said Thursday. With U.S. troops long gone from the country, Washington didn't have the spies on the ground or the surveillance gear in the skies necessary to predict when and where the jihadist group would strike..."
The pressure builds on President Obama (although not necessarily from the public) to use air strikes, drones, or other means to reverse the gains of ISIS.
From NATIONAL JOURNAL: IRAQ INSURGENCY TURNS UP HEAT in WHITE HOUSE WAR ROOM... MILITARY OPTIONS BEING MULLED as CRITICS ASSAIL OBAMA for FAILING to SEE the CRISIS COMIN
"Pressure on the White House to intervene in the crisis in Iraq intensified Thursday as President Obama's national security team was considering military options to counter the surging threat posed by an army of Sunni extremists marching toward Baghdad.
Former members of both the Obama and Bush administrations warned that unless the United States acted quickly and aggressively, the gains of an eight-year conflict in the region could be wiped away in an eyeblink..."
I interviewed a Middle-East expert Thursday who talked about the what-ifs. What if there had been no Arab Spring? In that case, it's doubtful the Syrian civil war would have erupted. Without a Syrian civil war, maybe no comparable Iraqi insurgency?
Or let's go even further back. Let's imagine George W. Bush decides against intervening in Iraq. Saddam Hussein remains in power. No comparable Iraqi insurgency?
Posted at 7:47am on June 13, 2014 by Allan Loudell
I'm still not hearing anything about suing the company that put the dirt on that piling of the 495 bridge. Even though the Feds apparently will pay most of the 20 million dollars the repairs will cost [those are still our tax dollars], that company and its owner should not walk away scott-free. Frankly, the fine should be major, and if it bankrupts that company, this is a time for the "too bad so sad" comment. They could have gotten people killed by their stupidity. They also cost the taxpayers millions of dollars. No slap on the hand, a real big-time fine, about 20 million dollars ought to do.
Punkin Chunkin, Dover Raceway is pretty large, but doesn't the chunkers punkins go further than what would be the inside of the raceway?
The other question, as I've never been to a Punkin Chunkin event before, I would have assumed the ticket price would be fairly inexpensive, will moving the event to the Dover venue change that and if so by how much? Could the higher ticket price chase away their loyal fans and actually kill the event?
Or could this move legitimize punkin chunkin as a new stadium sport where punkin-chunkin leagues could form around the country with a "Super Chunkin Bowl" be the climax where the best of the best chunk their punkins for the much coveted "Chunker of the Year" Trophy.
Hey, 50 years ago who'd have thought those good ole boys racing cars on dirt tracks in the land of cotton would someday make millions driving cars in a sport called NASCAR.
A serious concern, if the above did happen, what would that do to the price of pumpkins for Halloween and more importantly, the price pumpkins for Thanksgiving Pumpkin pie? This crazy new sport of punkin chunkin could be a serious threat to those of us who enjoy pumpkin pie and should be stopped before it catches on across the nation.
Mike from Delaware
Fri, Jun 13, 2014 10:20am
Interesting article about the political divide in the U.S.
"Today, 92 percent of Republicans are to the right of the median Democrat on core issues and beliefs, while 94 percent of Democrats are to the left of the median Republican.
By contrast, 20 years ago, 64 percent of Republicans were to the right of the median Democrat on a set of political values, while 70 percent of Democrats found themselves to the left of the median Republican.
The study found that the majority do not have uniformly conservative or liberal views. “Most do not see either party as a threat to the nation,” the report says. “More believe their representatives in government should meet halfway to resolve contentious disputes rather than hold out for more of what they want.”
The blow-up of Iraq this week disturbs and frightens me. It also reminds me of the fear I have had for the Obama Administration almost since Day 1. There is a problem deep within the Administration that needed attention from the beginning.
There was an incident within the first few weeks that showed a lack of attention. When important heads of state/government meet for the first time, they exchange gifts. When the British prime minister arrived at the White House with a carefully planned gift for Mr. Obama, our Head of State was caught by surprised. He had no idea he needed a return gift. They practically went to the White House gift shop to purchase something. Was this Mr. Obama’s fault? Of course not. That is why the State Department has an Office of Protocol. That office, under Mrs. Clinton, let the White House down. When Mr. Obama made the return visit to England, he had a gift for the Queen! He had learned his lesson.
Why did that incident catch my attention? It was lack of attention to a small, but important, detail. As the years have passed, this apparent lack of attention keeps appearing. But the question certainly arises, is it lack of attention? Could it be a deviate foreign policy intended to hurt America’s interest? Is it incompetent players in the field? The discovery of the correct answer and a reversal is vital.
The revolution in Egypt. The revolt in Syria. The murder of Ambassador Stevens. The crisis in Iran. Ukraine and the crisis with Mr. Putin. The list goes on and on. We are never aware of what is about to happen anywhere in the world. After the crisis begins, we have no idea how to address the situation. We can and did argue that the Ukraine was none of our concern. But Iraq is our concern. We spent a fortune in finances and lives to transform that nation into a democracy. Mr. Biden pointed to Iraq as a highlight of the administration. Then we turned our backs and ignored the nation. Now a movement far worse than the government we overthrew is taking over. A far worse movement than that which attacked us on 9/11 is taking over.
Instead of increasing our nation’s future more secure, we have increased the danger to our country. The bloodshed by our men and women has possibly been a waste. Mr. Obama deserves better from his State Department and the intelligence community. They need to radically improve analyses of the world stage. They need to communicate their findings to the White House. And they need to force Mr. Obama to pay attention.
Mike from Delaware
Fri, Jun 13, 2014 2:36pm
JimH: Good post. Had Bush Jr. waited for Hans Blitz and the U.N. inspectors to finish NOT finding WMD's, we'd have not gone into Iraq to start with. Saddam would still be alive and we wouldn't be discussing this today.
We had no business going into Iraq to start with. We had even less reason to "nation-build".
I heard an interesting discussion on Jim Bohannon's Show where the guest [forget his name] was explaining what would probably happen if we don't go in with at least air strikes. The three factions will battle and Iraq as a state will end, and Iraq will end up being three nations, one for each religious/ethnic group. Funny, I remember when Joe Biden said that's what needs to happen in Iraq, a three-state plan so each faction could live in peace. He got lampooned by the right-wing media.
The one problem also brought up on Bohannon's show is Iran is apparently sending in troops to "help" the Iraq government. The guests speculated whether or not this could lead to Iraq becoming a "province" of Iran, but at the least it certainly solidifies the bond between the two nations.
Another point they made was that Saudi Arabia might get drawn into the fray down the road as there are issues among these various groups and the Saudis
Frankly, I think we should let those folks fight it out amongst themselves. We are outsiders; as I recall, they essentially kicked us out, wanting us to leave. This is a civil war; we'd not want other nations butting into a civil war here.
Those folks view life, democracy, etc., etc., very differently from they way we do; expecting them to become like us is arrogant, and surely doesn't win us many friends, if any, over there. It's not going to happen. So let them sort it out for themselves.
We shouldn't give weapons to any side; that way, we don't end up fighting them and having them use our own weapons against us, either.
I agree with you JimH that Obama and his gang, other than maybe VP Biden, have a clue about foreign affairs.
Fri, Jun 13, 2014 7:58pm
Perhaps you've heard about the steer that was running loose in the streets of Baltimore. The police subsequently shot and killed it.
I was just wondering if they were able to salvage the meat.
Fri, Jun 13, 2014 9:20pm
I found some really great gift ideas that we may all want to chip in and buy for Kavips on his next birthday:
Fri, Jun 13, 2014 10:16pm
JimH: I agree with your assessment of 0bama's inept State Department but really have difficulty not placing any blame on the president...he is the most powerful leader in the world...maybe he should take responsibility as good leaders do.
And, I agree with you that we should help take out ISIS instead of Iran doing the job...what happened to all the drones this president likes so much?
Mr. Loudell: Do you happen to know what happened to Muqtada al-Sadr? He and his militia were once a powerhouse in Iraq and had Iran backing...so what's he up to now?
Mike from Delaware
Sat, Jun 14, 2014 8:21am
An interesting interview on the PBS Newshour about Iraq, some excerpts from the transcript of their newscast:
JUDY WOODRUFF: Do you see — Colonel Mansoor, do you see the president’s approach as one that you support, that makes sense to you?
COL. PETER MANSOOR (RET.), U.S. Army: I think it’s right on the mark, what I heard in that clip. You have got to get the politics and the policy right. And once you have an inclusive Iraqi government that doesn’t marginalize and alienate large segments of the population, then we can support them with military force, which we’re very good at doing.
But until it’s a government worth supporting, I don’t think we should support it.
JUDY WOODRUFF: What do you mean?
COL. PETER MANSOOR: Well, if were to conduct airstrikes, for instance, and other actions in the current situation, we would simply be backing the Maliki government and taking sides in what’s shaping up to be a very bloody and brutal civil war.
If — the only way that we should get involved is if Iraq has a government that includes all sects and ethnicities and it’s a government that all Iraqis can sign up to support.
JUDY WOODRUFF: Colonel Macgregor, how do you see this? I mean, we’re hearing essentially support for the president’s approach; there has to be a serious shift before the U.S. would consider anything militarily.
COL. DOUGLAS MACGREGOR (RET.), U.S. Army: Well, I think that’s probably a valid idea, but I wouldn’t hold my breath while I waited for anything like that to emerge in Iraq.
Let’s be frank. We just watched as several battalions of this army that we spent billions of dollars building essentially broke and ran away from thugs in pickup trucks, Sunni Islamist fighters, many of whom have come to Syria, but that doesn’t bode well for the use of American military power to rush in and try to rescue this.
I don’t think it would change much on the ground. The second part, which I think Peter has just implied, we’re dealing with a Shiite, Arab, Islamist dictatorship in Baghdad that is anathema to the entire Sunni world in the Middle East, Arabs and Turks.
The Islamist fighters are working with the Sunni tribes to try and destroy the state. They backed by the Saudi Arabia, the Emirates and the Turks, who want to see this Shiite state go away. How do you resolve that kind of conflict?
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, you’re saying — I hear you saying on several grounds that the U.S. has to be very careful and maybe shouldn’t intervene at all?
COL. DOUGLAS MACGREGOR: I don’t think we should have anything to do with this fight. Both sides are dominated by people who are hostile to us, hostile to Christians, hostile to Jews, hostile to the United States, Israel and Europe."
"JUDY WOODRUFF: Well, I want to — I want to — I do want to stick with the military point, but I also don’t want to lose the political question, and come back to you, Colonel Mansoor, on that.
Do you think Prime Minister Maliki is prepared to make the kinds of changes to reach out to Sunni interests and leadership in the country that the president was — President Obama was outlining?
COL. PETER MANSOOR: No.
Two points here. One, I don’t think Prime Minister Maliki will change the way he’s conducted business over his two terms in office. He’s highly authoritarian, and he’s proven to be highly sectarian and a divisive figure.
And I think we need, diplomatically, to work with all Iraqi parties and let them come to some sort of agreement on who should succeed him, because I really don’t think Iraq can remain a unitary state under his — his leadership.
The other point I would make is, the fall of Baghdad is not imminent. There’s only several thousands of these ISIL fighters. Baghdad swallows up entire brigades of the U.S. Army. It would swallow up any sort of ISIL offensive. And it would be a place where Shiite militias will fight for it, the army would fight for it. And, increasingly, we’re hearing that Iranian Revolutionary Guards are entering the conflict as well.
So Baghdad would swallow up any ISIL offensive. There’s no danger of Baghdad falling quickly.
JUDY WOODRUFF: So, you’re saying that there’s — there’s some time here that the U.S. has before it has to make a decision?
COL. PETER MANSOOR: That’s precisely it. We should make the right decision, not the expedient, quick decision."
You can read entire transcript, listen to the audio, or watch the video of this interview at:
Retired Army Colonel Peter Mansoor was the executive officer to the commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, General David Petraeus, during the surge in 2007 and 2008. He also commanded an Army brigade in Iraq during early days of the war. He’s now an associate professor of military history at the Ohio State University.
And retired Army Colonel Douglas Macgregor led Army forces when the U.S. invaded Iraq in 1991. He’s the author of a number of books about the military. And he has his own consulting company.
Mike from Delaware
Sat, Jun 14, 2014 8:52am
Allan: I heard an ole familiar voice this morning anchoring the 8am newscast, Frank Gerace. So he's back at WDEL. Frank and I worked together many years ago at WNNN-FM/WJIC-AM Salem NJ and later at WNRK. He has a distinctive voice.
Sat, Jun 14, 2014 2:47pm
Hey Allan, you notice U.D.'s allies in Dover are Democrats, right?
Mike from Delaware
Sat, Jun 14, 2014 6:49pm
Here is a cartoon, you all might enjoy. It makes some great points about ISM's. It shows what great things Capitalism has done for our nation.
I find the final 2 lines of the cartoon quite interesting.
"Working together to produce an ever greater abundance of material and spiritual values for all. That is the secret of American prosperity."
Note this cartoon was made in 1948. Note, in this cartoon unions are not bashed, but seen as part of making sure wages are fair for workers, and as management also makes its money as well. A balance.
It seems to me that today we are badly out of balance as the TEA folks want to go too far in protecting management [the upper 2%] while hosing the working person. Liberals on the other hand want massive giveaways to the lazy who don't want to work. Funny how neither was tolerated back in 1948, as the nation was heavy into the New Deal Era of FDR, as Harry Truman was President at that time. This also continued during the Eisenhower years, so this isn't a partisan thing.
View the cartoon for yourself, and offer your insights. You may get other messages from it that I didn't catch.
Yeah Mike, you sent us this same cartoon about a month ago. I'm sure nobody at the TEA party would have a problem with it. I sure don't. But we're not the problem. The problem is that "Dr. Utopia" has been forcing communism on America since January 20th, 2009. That's not our fault.
Mike from Delaware
Sat, Jun 14, 2014 11:29pm
Mrpizza: no comments a month ago so I tried a different approach. Yes TEA folks would agree with probably all of the cartoon EXCEPT the pro union part. Extreme liberals would agree with parts, but not believe the iron hand of Big Government.
What I wanted you & EarlGrey to see is that there was a balance back in 1948, prime New Deal Era, where both workers & the wealthy we're getting a real piece of the American pie. The TEA folks hate FDR & call him a Socialist which he wasn't. That's why I showed this a second time, because what our nation had in 1948 worked & worked well for all. Today that's not the case with Obama & hasn't been the case since the 1980's.
I'd be a real TEA supporter if you all wanted to bring back the America of 1948 minus the discrimination of minorities & women.
Sun, Jun 15, 2014 5:39am
I'd be for anyone who'd bring back 1948 American prosperity. It won't be Republicans. They believe in everything being the opposite, and did, even at that time... Which is why they never got votes unless they were actually what are called RINO's today... One won the 2nd World War; the other got kicked around enough to become tricky... lol.
As for Pizza's comment about UD's allies being Democrats... well, if your allies were Republicans it certainly wouldn't help you ... with anything....
There are more dogcatchers in this state, and they do so much more for society, than those few loser Republicans still in the General Assembly in Dover...
They are the most worthless bunch of men and women ever collected in one group within this state....
Question: would you rather have a penny or a Republican? I hope you said penny. It is worth more.
Now, about Iraq.
Odd that it pushed everything else off the page, as Allan mentions... Shows that we have an unhealthy fetish for the Mid-East... Unlike the Washington Post headline mis-states... This has nothing to do with the U.S. military... It is not a failure of the U.S. military and all who say so, are illogical. The U.S. military against great odds, won the second war under Petreus, after easily winning the first war of conquest with the invasion... No one can or should fault the U.S. military for anything in this war... The Washington Post is taking the exact same stance as it did in the 70's when it blamed the vets returning from Vietnam for causing Vietnam to fall.. That was wrong then. It is equally wrong now!... In fact, due to the bad press, it took 35 years for me to discover that the U.S. won every single military engagement in which it took an active part... That is an unheard of 100% success rate....and all who served in Vietnam or supported it from Guam, should be very proud.
The fault lies with whether we should have gone in the first place.... That is a political decision and must always be held separately from blaming any military for it....
One wouldn't yell at a bricklayer because how the architect designed the house was wrong...
Bashing the military has an ulterior motive. It is being done to incite us to rush into war based on emotion and ignore all rationality... It is an attempt to make the military want to retaliate in order to vindicate their honor and to apply pressure to the executive branch that will push us into war.
The military should feel no shame from this turn of events... Our intelligence department should, however... The above commentators are right that our intelligence department is whacked out.... There are two prime reasons. The first is their rush into depending heavily upon their superiority in technology... All intelligence we get now comes from monitoring our enemies digital communications... We have little, or zero, boots on the ground. Makes it kind of hard to keep track of enemies too impoverished that they don't communicate digitally, doesn't it... The second is more serious. Cheneym when he had is own office in the CIA, was able to purge many of those life-timers who disagreed with his view on invading Iraq... There were a lot of internal battles about which we did not hear. Cheney won in the end by getting those fired who didn't go his way.
They were replaced by college kids from Regent, Liberty, and George Mason universities. Needless to say, they see the world only through the interpretation which was spoonfed them in those schools....
So you can now see.... there is a reason our intelligence gathering is a complete failure.
Mike from Delaware
Sun, Jun 15, 2014 7:27am
Kavips: good analysis.
Sun, Jun 15, 2014 8:08am
MFD: Believe it or not, I'm pro-union. I've belonged to one for 34 years. However, we need "union reform". The unions are just another wing of the political left, which is squarely a conflict of interest. Unions should be politically neutral and not be allowed to contribute to or endorse candidates. I guarantee you if the pastor of my church or any church (except for liberal black churches) stood in the pulpit and told the congregation they need to vote Republican, there's be an IRS investigation beginning Monday morning. But unions, which also are 501-c-3's just like churches, are free to spout whatever left-wing propaganda they wish and spend membership dues money on whatever candidate they wish and anybody who doesn't like it is a bigot and a racist. In addition, unions have many long-standing ties to the mob, which also needs to end.
In conclusion, I'm for unions as a form of insurance to prevent employee abuse by management and as a negotiating body for pay raises, etc. However, their political power must be neutered if we're going to have that so-called "level playing field".
Sun, Jun 15, 2014 3:48pm
Thanks to the American dictator shafting the Keystone XL pipeline, looks like we're headed back to $4 gas thanks to his other blunder of shafting Iraq.
Of course, this is all by design. What Obama really wants is $10 or even $20 a gallon gas, then he can declare martial law.
Mike from Delaware
Sun, Jun 15, 2014 5:56pm
Mrpizza: I agree with your post on unions, well said.
I agree about the XL pipeline, not Iraq. Nation-building hasn't worked since we rebuilt Europe & Japan after WWII.
Mike from Delaware
Sun, Jun 15, 2014 7:56pm
Mrpizza : The reason nation-building hasn't worked since WWII is because, in those cases, the enemy was totally defeated & surrendered. We've not achieved that since, thus a different scenario, a losing scenario.
Sun, Jun 15, 2014 9:28pm
MFD: You're right about Iraq. Whether or not we should have gone in there to begin with will forever be debated in the annals of history. But as proven by the WWII examples, there's no point going in if you're not going to finish the job. Iraq has become another Vietnam, and Islamic extremists, unlike nationalist armies in Europe and Japan, will never surrender. If we wiped 'em all off the map, they'd reappear somewhere else.
Mon, Jun 16, 2014 7:05pm
To Mr. Grey's earlier question about Muqtada al-Sadr:
He more or less "withdrew" from Iraqi politics earlier this year, saying no political group truly represented him. He supposedly dismantled all offices.
With the U.S. leaving Iraq, he seemed to morph from militant leader to peacemaker.
Let's see if the advance of the Sunni Islamists provokes him into assuming his previous position.
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