The US News section of Guardian Liberty Voice is initiating a new feature called the Daily Update. Every day, the editors at GLV cull through trending news stories to identify the most important, and the most interesting, stories that are being written and talked about around the internet, online and in the real world.
The Daily Update feature is designed to give busy people a snapshot of what is going on in each of the major news categories, including world news, US news, business, technology, entertainment, science, sports, and health. Today, in the US Section of GLV, our editors are watching the following stories:
Tropical storm warning issued for North Carolina
Really? Every year, on June 1, a new hurricane season begins in the northern half of the Western Hemisphere with the early “tropical storm warnings” as warming sea water temperatures create intense, localized low pressure areas over the southern halves of the northern oceans. Water vapor rises into the skies above the warming waters, where the vapor condenses into clouds, releasing stored heat energy into the atmosphere. Air currents from surrounding high pressure areas are drawn into low pressure precursor to the storm, creating convection currents that result in the rotational movement that generates the high winds that make hurricanes so dangerous.
Reports about tropical depressions are depressingly frequent in US news coverage, a regularly recurring scare tactic that works like a charm every time, possibly because hurricanes are actually weather phenomena that you can actually do something about. People board up their houses or take flight to get out of the path of an oncoming hurricane, something that is only possible because hurricanes are actually the slowest moving of all-weather phenomena. The circular winds may be clocked at up to 160 miles an hour, but the hurricanes themselves rarely move slower than 10 miles per hour or faster than 35 mph, and the speed with which they travel is apparently regulated by the latitude the hurricane is centered on.
The question, however, is how the hurricanes know when to begin forming, and the answer is they do not. June 1 is a more or less arbitrary starting date for the annual hurricane season, chosen because that is usually when ocean water temperatures reach the point at which sufficient energy is being captured and released to form a hurricane cell. Before June 1 and after December 31, tropical depressions are labelled as tropical storms rather than hurricanes so, with hurricanes, it really is only a matter of dates. (This tendency of hurricanes to appear only during hurricane season reminds some people of those Deer Crossing signs, which raises the question of how the deer know where to cross, if they cannot read the signs.)
Who is the worst president since WWII?
Well, in this case, the question begs the answer, since an increasing number of poll-watching pundits have decided that Barack Obama, with more than two years left on his contract, has already earned that dubious distinction. According to a new Quinnipiac University poll, Obama was rated the worst president since World War II by 33 percent of the respondents, while his predecessor, George W. Bush, came in at 28 percent. Polls of this nature are really collectors of prejudices rather than compendia of facts. Prejudices are in the eyes of the beholders. If a poll taker hates Obamacare, that poll taker is going to give Obama bad grades, while the family that has been able to get health care insurance coverage because of Obamacare will quite naturally give him a better grade. Polling experts also point out that polls usually give more recent presidents bad grades because they either do not remember the older presidents very well, or were not around to acquire a dislike for them.
Historically, however, presidents go in and out of fashion and the best time to evaluate a president’s performance is probably long after the presidents in question are dead. Take Ulysses S. Grant, for example. Along with George Washington and Dwight David Eisenhower, Grant was one of only three men in US history to serve as both commander-in-chief of the nation’s armed force and president of the United States. During his lifetime, Grant was extolled as the savior of the Union, and vilified for the widespread corruption that plagued his presidency. Yet Grant was only man ever to save the Union three times, once from the Great Rebellion, a second time as the effective military dictator of the United States during the three years that a mentally unstable Andrew Johnson served out Abraham Lincoln’s second term, and a third time during his own two-term presidency, when he reunified the nation through Reconstruction in accordance with Lincoln’s wishes. Nevertheless, until recently and despite these Herculean achievements, Grant was usually relegated to the bottom of the batting order, coming in near the bottom of the list. In recent years, however, a new generation of historians has relocated Grant near the top of the heap. (By the way, no one is buried in Grant’s tomb. It is an above ground masoleum.)
Jimmy Carter was reviled during his tenure as an incompetent, but has since become known as the best ex-president in the nation’s history for his charitable works and his continuing efforts to bring peace to war-torn regions. In order to rank Obama the worst president since World War II, one also has to ignore Harry Truman, who was excoriated for losing eastern Europe in the aftermath of World War II, giving up North Korea to the North Koreans, and firing Douglas MacArthur for wanting to use the nuclear option against the Chinese in North Korea. Kennedy’s major achievements were setting the country on the path to a Moon landing, and the successful conclusion of the Cuban missile crisis, although some historians believe that it was really Nikita Khrushchev who brought the world back from the brink of nuclear annihilation when he realized that Kennedy was losing control of his generals and admirals, regardless of what the movie versions of the event depicts. Johnson created the Great Society, which has been crashing and burning for the past 50 years, and managed to lose control of his American military commanders in Vietnam. Nixon had to resign to avoid impeachment for lying to the country. Ford could not get elected to his own term because he pardoned Nixon. Reagan brought the hostages home from Iran, and brought down the Soviet Union by forcing them to spend themselves into bankruptcy, but he also started the practice of arming Middle Eastern countries only to have those countries turn around and use those arms against the US.
It is hard to say anything bad about Bush Senior, just as it is even harder to say anything good about Bush Junior, who squandered the financial stability that Clinton left behind (along with tawdry images of Monica Lewinsky’s sperm stained party dress) while getting the US embroiled in two unwinnable wars and bringing the nation’s economy to the verge of collapse along with the rest of the world’s economies. Memo to the pundits: before labelling Obama the worst president since World War II, re-examine the competition.
Panel endorses some NSA Internet surveillance
The Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board, appointed by President Obama, has concluded that it is okay for the National Security Agency to collect information from American websites without violating privacy rights. The same board that the collection of domestic telephone records did not pass muster for violating the same privacy rights that the newest decision from the Board has just struck down.
Why the Civil Rights Act couldn’t pass today
On the 50th anniversary of the signing of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, it is abundantly obvious that the same legislation would not be enacted today for the simple reason that the Republican Party owns a commanding 33 vote advantage over the Democrats in the House of Representatives. In 1964, however, the Democratic Party had a lease on the White House, and on both houses of Congress, with 66 Senate seats and 259 House seats which meant, in effect, that Lyndon Johnson could do anything he wanted to do…and he did just that, invoking the conscience of the nation with the Civil Rights Act, and putting the muscle of his Great Society program behind that stand. Not since Lincoln, and never since Johnson, has a president come out so strongly on behalf of both structural and financial equality. Today, no one in Washington has enough of the “vision thing” (to quote a president who had none), the moral fiber nor the intellectual vision to right wrongs and plug leaks in the body politic and, the way things are going, America might never see that like again.
Navy Promotes First Woman to Four Star Rating
Vice Admiral Michelle Howard (USNA, 1982) was elevated to full admiral, becoming the highest ranking woman in the history of the US Navy, smashing a glass ceiling that has held firm for 238 years. Howard, 54, becomes the 58th Vice Chief of Naval Operations, which makes her the second highest ranking officer in the United States Navy. As usual, rumors were floated that Howard’s appointment was political but, in the US military, promotions are based on seniority as well as capabilities, and Admiral Howard has both. (Note: The Vice Chief of Naval Operations is second in command to the Chief of Naval Operations, a post currently held by Admiral Jonathan W. Greenert.)
Missouri Governor Vetoes 72-Hour Abortion Waiting Time Bill
Second term Missouri Governor Jay Nixon, a Democrat in a Republican state has vetoed a bill that would have extended the state’s 24 hour waiting period for women seeking abortions to 72 hours. The bill, which was passed by in a vote that was just shy of the super-majority required to override the Governors veto, did not exempt victims of rape and incest from the waiting period. The bill had made Missouri the third state to impose the three-day waiting period. The Republican sponsors of the bill are confident the override will succeed because several Republican legislators were absent when the original vote was taken, making it a virtual certainty that veto will prove fruitless.
Now, that is not all that’s going on today, not by a long shot, but it is a start. Tune in tomorrow for another edition of US News and get the Daily Update from Guardian Liberty Voice, and watch out for the daily updates from the other section editors.
News Commentary by Alan M. Milner, National News Editor