WE'RE ON TWITTER, GO HERE WE'RE ON FACEBOOK, GO HERE
Please note that you can leave a comment on any of our posts at our Facebook page. Subscribers can also comment at length at our Angel's Corner Forum.
OUR DAILY SNIPPETS ARE HERE.
SUBSCRIPTION DRIVE – HELP NEEDED!
We are more than halfway through our subscription drive. Subscriptions are our lifeblood. If you like what you are reading, and would like us to continue and even expand our work, please consider subscribing. I think we provide a unique service, tailored to the tastes of a particular audience. And I hope we do it with a touch of lightness. We appreciate the number of readers who've told us they make Urgent Agenda their first read every day. And we appreciate the fact that our retention rate for subscribers is well over 90%, which sends a message.
You can subscribe by going to the column on the right, just opposite these words.
By subscribing you keep Urgent Agenda alive. You also get The Angel's Corner, our twice-a-week e-mailed publication. At The Angel's Corner you can join our Forum, which has become the most popular feature at Urgent Agenda. Write on anything you wish. Did you know that some Angel's Corner pieces are used in college classrooms? Others are published around the internet.
And, at The Angel's Corner, we give the very coveted Pompous Fool award, bestowed, after intensive review, on those who meet the very highest standards of absurdity and leftist immaturity. Be the first to find out who has been so blessed. But please, don't send candy or cakes to try to get us to name your favorite. We have morals here.
If you ever want to drop your subscription, the unused portion will be refunded with only a few insults and strange phone calls. But we cannot guarantee that you'll still have friends.
Subscribe today. A credit card will do it. Or, we can send you a mail address, if you prefer.
SUNDAY, JUNE 13, 2010
SOME TEA PARTIERS MAKE A DUBIOUS POLITICAL MOVE – AT 8:29 P.M. ET: New York State tea partiers are doing what we'd feared:
Organizers of the "tea party" movement are poised to mount a statewide petition drive in hopes of creating a new line on the November election ballot.
The goal is to give "disaffected, aggravated, frustrated voters" an alternative to choosing from among the "lesser of two evils," Rus Thompson, leader of the local tea party, said today in referring primarily to the major party nominees for governor, Democrat Andrew M. Cuomo and Republican Rick Lazio.
Thompson was outside Binghamton in Broome County today to promote Buffalo developer Carl P. Paladino's bid for governor and discuss efforts to create a new ballot line. Thompson, a Grand Island resident, said decisions by the Independence and Conservative parties to "rebuff" Paladino's candidacy are spurring the drive to create a new line in November.
COMMENT: Freely translated: Amateurs at work. Look, occasionally third-party or independendent candidates do win, but it's rare. Tea partiers would be wisest to work within the Republican Party, rather than running their own candidates and guaranteeing a Democratic win. We've had rumblings about independent candidates from a number of states.
I'd point out that it was Ross Perot's third-party presidential candidacy in 1992 that allowed Bill Clinton to be elected president.
Now some tea partiers are feeling their oats, and believing that they can indeed "control" things. They can't. By being a powerful faction within the GOP they will have far more real influence than if they start branching out on their own. The business of parties is to win elections. I'd rather have a candidate who's 70% right, and has a good chance of being elected, than one who's 95% right and has no chance.
This is a year for unity. Unity is always forced, as it requires knocking some heads. But it's amazing how well it works. No one is being asked to give up precious ideals, and there may indeed be a legitimate time to walk. That time is not now.
June 13, 2010 Permalink
WONDER WHAT THE QUEEN IS THINKING – AT 7:43 P.M. ET: Let me start off by saying that female police officers do an incredible job and have enhanced the abilities of police forces everywhere, especially in detective work. But I think this is a bit ridiculous:
MEMBERS of Scotland Yard's elite bodyguard unit are being armed with smaller, lighter "baby" guns as part of a drive to attract more female officers.
The move is aimed at recruiting bodyguards with smaller hands. However, critics fear it could hamper the close protection officers who guard the Queen, the Prime Minister and other VIPs if they have to fend off an attack.
"It's a disadvantage because the smaller guns have less firepower and are less accurate," said a police firearms expert.
Supporters deny the Yard is putting political correctness before security by trying to recruit women.
They say the change is part of a legitimate attempt by the Metropolitan police chiefs to reflect the community better.
Others believe the move underlines the explosion of a "diversity agenda" that began in the 1990s and was led by a new breed of police chiefs who thought the traditional force was too male-dominated.
COMMENT: Did anyone ask the queen about this? Criminals today have easy access to body armor, and those tiny guns are just not effective. I see women at a local gun range, and they're handling the same weapons that men handle, without complaint. I think this is a made-up problem.
June 13, 2010 Permalink
IS OBAMA TOO GOOD FOR THE PRESIDENCY? – AT 11:30 A.M. ET: Or is it just the impression he gives? Mark Steyn puts forward the notion that, for the first time in our history, we have a president who feels that the office is beneath him:
Many Americans are beginning to pick up the strange vibe that for Barack Obama governing America is "an interesting sociological experiment" too.
He would doubtless agree that the United States is "the place on earth that, if I needed one, I would call home." But he doesn't, not really: It is hard to imagine Obama wandering along to watch a Memorial Day or Fourth of July parade until the job required him to.
That's not to say he's un-American or anti-American, but merely that he's beyond all that. Way beyond. He's the first president to give off the pronounced whiff that he's condescending to the job — that it's really too small for him and he's just killing time until something more commensurate with his stature comes along.
Pope might require a conversion. Secretary-General of the UN might be nice, and he's sufficiently non-American to get the job.
No doubt my observations about Obama's remoteness from the rhythms of American life will be seen by his dwindling band of beleaguered cheerleaders as just another racist right-wing attempt to whip up the backwoods knuckle-dragging swamp-dwellers of America by playing on their fears of "the other" — the sophisticated worldly cosmopolitan for whom France is more than a reliable punch line.
But in fact my complaint is exactly the opposite: Obama's postmodern detachment is feeble and parochial. It's true that he hadn't seen much of America until he ran for president, but he hadn't seen much of anywhere else, either. Like most multiculturalists, he's passed his entire adulthood in a very narrow unicultural environment where your ideological worldview doesn't depend on anything so tedious as actually viewing the world.
Wonderfully said. I've always been uncomfortable about the class of self-proclaimed intellectuals, especially the "multiculturalists." There's usually nothing very intellectual or multi about them.
The U.N., Greenpeace, Amnesty International, Bono: These are the colors a progressive worldly Westerner nails to his mast. You don't need to go anywhere, or do anything: You just need to pick up the general groove, which you can do very easily at almost any college campus.
This Barack Obama did brilliantly. A man who speaks fewer languages than the famously moronic George W. Bush, he has nevertheless grasped the essential lingo of the European transnationalist: Continental leaders strike attitudes rather than effect action — which is frankly beneath them.
s someone once said, "We are the ones we've been waiting for." When you've spent that long waiting in line for yourself, it's bound to be a disappointment.
COMMENT: I suppose Steyn will be charged with hate speech, but it goes with the territory these days. Great article. Read the whole thing.
June 13, 2010 Permalink
MAJOR IDEOLOGICAL BULLETIN – OBAMA CLAIMS HE ISN'T ANTI-BRIT – AT 11:04 A.M. ET: The headline from The Times of London says it all: BARACK OBAMA: I'M NOT ANTI-BRITISH.
Did you ever think we'd have an American president who'd find it necessary to say that? What great advances we have seen in our foreign policy:
BARACK OBAMA yesterday told David Cameron that his aggressive stance towards BP over the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster was not motivated by anti-British prejudice.
The US president, whose grandfather was allegedly tortured by the British in colonial Kenya, has pointedly referred to the oil giant as “British Petroleum”, although it changed its name nine years ago. British politicians claimed he was exploiting BP’s origins to deflect attention from his failure to manage the crisis.
After yesterday’s 30-minute telephone conversation, No 10 issued a carefully worded statement to defuse the growing transatlantic tensions. It stated: “President Obama said to the prime minister that BP was a multinational global company and that frustrations about the oil spill had nothing to do with national identity. The prime minister stressed the economic importance of BP to the UK, US and other countries. The president made it clear that he had no interest in undermining BP’s value.”
The softening of the row comes as BP prepares to offer new concessions to the US government, including a plan to set aside billions of dollars in a ring-fenced “clean-up fund”.
COMMENT: You know, Mr. President, building up good will has its uses. If you already had shown some good will toward our most important ally, these doubts about you wouldn't arise. But you 1) gratuitiously returned to Britain a bust of Winston Churchill that had rested in the Oval Office, 2) treated the British prime minister with contempt, even giving him a cheap set of DVDs that don't play in British machines; 3) have shown a coldness toward Britain unprecedented in our time, and at least since the administration of FDR.
So why should anyone be shocked that the Brits don't see a halo around Obama any longer?
June 13, 2010 Permalink
WE'RE SO HONORED – AT 10:50 A.M. ET: We are about to be addressed by dear leader. Please dress appropriately for the occasion. From Fox:
President Obama will address the nation Tuesday night to talk about the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The 8 p.m. ET speech will take place from the White House shortly after the president returns from a trip to the Gulf.
The speech will be delivered shortly after the president's return from a two-day trip to the Gulf region. He is expected to address efforts to contain the spill, the timeline for capturing the oil, the long-term recovery and restoration of the Gulf region and regulatory reform efforts at the Mineral Management Service.
"This is an ongoing crisis, much like an epidemic," David Axelrod told NBC television's "Meet the Press."
The 10-15 minute speech will also provide more details about a BP escrow fund the president wants established for fishers and trawlers whose livelihoods have been shot as a result of the spill. The administration wants a third-party reclamation process rather than BP managing distribution of funds.
COMMENT: How many days has it been since this crisis began? I don't think Obama will have much to tell us. Beware of attempts to use this crisis as "an opportunity," and sneak in legislation that can easily cost much more than it produces.
June 13, 2010 Permalink
CONSUMER CONFIDENCE SHAKEN – AT 10:36 A.M. ET: Rasmussen reports that the confidence of the American consumer has seen better days:
The Rasmussen Consumer Index, which measures the economic confidence of consumers on a daily basis, fell four points on Sunday wiping out a modest bounce from the previous three days. At 78.5, the Consumer Index is down six points since the disappointing jobs report was issued last week and confidence is now at its lowest level in two months...
...Just 32% of Adults now believe their own personal finances are in good or excellent shape while 25% rate their personal finances as poor. Those figures are essentially unchanged from the beginning of the year. The number who rate their own finances as good or excellent is down eleven points from the night in September 2008 when Lehman Brothers collapsed to begin the financial industry meltdown.
COMMENT: Where is this recovery? Where is the stimulation from the stimulus package? Without an improvement in the employment picture, no solid recovery is possible, and employment is in the doldrums.
Everyone, of course, knows that BUSH (!!) is the cause of all this. And Cheney, too. And Cheney's kids.
June 13, 2010 Permalink
SATURDAY, JUNE 12, 2010
QUOTE OF THE DAY – AT 6:19 P.M. ET: From superlative Canadian columnist Margaret Wente of the Toronto Globe & Mail, based on her interview with Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Somali-born dissenter from Islam, who is under constant death threats because she has spoken out against Muslim oppression:
Why are so many liberal intellectuals, social democrats and feminists so silent on the more noxious features of Islam – the fierce intolerance toward unbelievers, the repression of individual freedom, the routine abuse of children, the misogyny, the forced subservience of women? “It’s the seduction of totalitarianism,” she says. In her view, Western defenders of Islam are the intellectual heirs of those highly intelligent men and women who used to heap praise on Comrade Stalin. “It’s a blind spot that left-wing intellectuals have always had.”
COMMENT: Ali is correct, and that blind spot can destroy us. Most civilizations are not destroyed by foreign enemies. They commit suicide. Our suicide can come if we continue to permit the influence of the decadent left to infect our universities, our media, and our culture.
Fortunately, there are those who are fighting back. But conservatives in particular have often been too courteous, too deferential, too afraid of the tag of "McCarthyism" to fight effectively. We have to fight as if our children's lives depended on it, which they do.
June 12, 2010 Permalink
ANOTHER ESTIMATE, YAWN – AT 6:02 P.M. ET: We now have another estimate about the timeline of Iran's nuclear-weapons program. From CBC:
It will take Iran at least a year and perhaps three to produce a nuclear device, U.S. Defence Secretary Robert Gates said Friday.
It will then take more time for Iran to produce a weapon and a system for getting it to a target, Gates said at the meeting of NATO defence ministers in Brussels.
"But clearly, them getting to the threshold of having weapons is what concerns everybody, and not the other things, and in that area I would say there is a range there from [one to three] years," Gates said.
The time range is based on different intelligence estimates.
Iran insists its nuclear program is purely peaceful, aimed at producing nuclear energy and medical isotopes, but the United States and many allies believe Tehran's real goal is to build weapons.
Gates also said he was disappointed that Turkey voted Wednesday against a UN Security Council resolution to toughen sanctions against Iran.
Turkey and Brazil, which also voted against the resolution, had brokered a fuel-swap agreement with Iran that they hoped would address concerns Tehran was enriching uranium for nuclear weapons.
COMMENT: It seems to me that the estimates are generally in line with what we've read, although the Israelis believe Iranian success will come sooner.
What is left out, though, is this: Iran will not need a sophisticated delivery system to use a nuclear weapon. The great nightmare of many planners is that they'll put a rudimentary nuke aboard a freighter and sail it into an American harbor, where it would be set off by a suicide group. Or, they could bring that freighter to within 20 miles of New York or Los Angeles, and fire a 1970s vintage rocket, carrying a nuclear warhead, from its decks.
Or, they could smuggle a nuke into the United States, part by part, across the Mexican border, and do a nuclear Oklahama City. You don't need a circa 2010 missile. All you need is a circa 1945 nuclear device.
June 12, 2010 Permalink
HEY, THEY NOTICED – AT 8:37 A.M. ET: The Politico has noticed some very important changes in the candidate list of the Republican Party. As the lady sings it: "At Last."
For a generation, the Republican Party's demographic problem has been summed up in three adjectives: too old, too white, too male.
That’s why GOP officials are thrilled by the prospect of a South Carolina gubernatorial nominee whose profile boasts another three adjectives—young, Indian-American, female.
Suddenly, the historically monochrome Republican Party is flashing a few glints of color, with thirty-eight-year-old Nikki Haley the most prominent representative of a class that represents something of a breakthrough.
The congressional and gubernatorial primaries held so far this year have put the GOP on the verge of electing an array of diverse new faces to high office, which stands to upend the party’s country club image and perhaps even diminish one of the most enduring punch lines in American politics.
This won't solve the GOP’s deep structural problems in a rapidly-changing country—namely the party’s weakness among young and non-white voters—but the unusual crop of candidates plays against stereotypes of the party in ways that are a vast relief to top Republican strategists.
A bit of dissent there. It may not solve problems with African-American voters, who understandably see themselves as a distinct group. But I have to believe that young voters, who may not be quite as ideological as Democrats think, will take notice. They've become somewhat disillusioned with The One anyway.
There has never been a non-white female governor in the nation’s history—yet the GOP could elect two in November. New Mexico’s Susana Martinez, an Hispanic, won her party’s nomination last month and South Carolina’s Haley, who got just under half the vote in her primary Tuesday and is the heavy favorite in a runoff later this month.
COMMENT: I quoted Bill Bennett yesterday to the effect that "this is not your father's Republican Party." No indeed.
June 12, 2010 Permalink
TROUBLE ON THE RIGHT – AT 8:18 A.M. ET: As readers know, one of my fears is that the Republican Party will mess up the path to victory this November. It's so expert at that, after all. Now, based on what I'm reading in e-mails to Urgent Agenda and in statements on the web, we're seeing some danger signs. From the Washington Times:
A skirmish is breaking out on the right just when key components of the Republican coalition - the fiscal, social and national-defense conservatives - appeared to have a tacit agreement to focus on economic issues going into the 2010 midterm elections.
The dispute erupted Thursday when prominent social conservative Tony Perkins challenged Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels to retreat from his stance that abortion should be put on the political back burner until the nation overcomes its fiscal woes.
In his newsletter, the president of the Family Research Council complained that Mr. Daniels, widely considered an A-list contender in the 2012 Republican presidential contest, has become "noncommittal about his role as a pro-life leader."
What sparked Mr. Perkins' ire, he said, was a report in the neoconservative Weekly Standard that quoted Mr. Daniels as saying the next president "would have to call a truce on the so-called social issues. ... We're going to just have to agree to get along for a little while."
Mr. Perkins said Mr. Daniels "wouldn't even agree to a modest step like banning taxpayer-funded promotion of abortion overseas - which President Bush did on his first day in office, with 65 percent of the country's support."
COMMENT: This could get serious, and so it's time for some phone calls and maybe face-to-face meetings. I think Reagan got it about right. He maintained the GOP's concerns with social issues, while understanding that social change cannot be handed down from the mountaintop and go into effect instantly.
One of the things that attracted many of us to modern conservatism is its commitment to social morality. At the same time, we cannot become a one-trick pony and start driving people away over one question. I think Mitch Daniels may have overstated his position. I didn't get the feeling, in hearing him speak recently, that he was ditching his social concerns. I did get the feeling that he plans to stress his leadership skills and economic competence.
As I said, some phone calls are in order. If Reagan could get it right, we can get it right again. The key: A party can be a big tent, but not an infinite tent. Truman understood that in 1948 when he wouldn't bow down to either the hard-core segregationists or the crackpot left. Both walked. Truman won. We're a practical people, and an idealistic people at the same time.
June 12, 2010 Permalink
TENSIONS RISING WITH BRITAIN – AT 8:03 A.M. ET: Did you ever think you'd read that headline in your lifetime? But it's true. Our masterful commander-in-chief, head diplomat, and host for neat White House music concerts, has managed to damage our relations with Britain, as with...well, it's a long list. From Fox:
WASHINGTON -- The Gulf oil spill, with a British company the villain, is raising tensions on both sides of the Atlantic.
President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister David Cameron planned to discuss the environmental catastrophe Saturday by telephone, hoping to ease what has become a growing rift between the two countries over the criticism of the well's owner, BP PLC.
As BP struggles unsuccessfully to halt the gushing oil that is bringing environmental chaos to the Gulf Coast, Obama has sharpened his criticism of the British company. He said he would have fired BP's top executive if he were in charge, embraced the idea that the oil giant suspend its quarterly dividend and reproached BP for spending money on a public relations campaign.
And occasionally Obama would refer to "British Petroleum," although the company years ago began using only its initials and, in fact, is a far-reaching international corporation with extensive holdings in the United States, including a Texas refinery and a share of the Alaska oil pipeline.
The sharp rhetoric from Washington, aimed to the address the concerns of angry Americans, especially those in the Gulf Coast region, has produced a backlash in Britain, where BP is viewed as one of the country's corporate pillars. Millions of British retirees depend on BP dividends since pension funds are heavily invested in the oil company, the world's third-largest.
Cameron has tried to find a middle ground. He has said he shares with Americans the "frustration" about not being able to halt the spill and concern about the environmental damage caused by the thousands of barrels of oil gushing from the BP well. But Cameron also views BP "as an economically important company" not only in the United Kingdom but also the United States and other countries, according to his office.
COMMENT: I love it, I love it. Obama, that great intellectual sophisticate, can't even get the name of the company right. I'll bet he loves saying "British Petroleum." A few nasty remarks about Churchill are sure to follow.
And, of course, I'm sure we'll have another dustup with Israel, and maybe one with Poland or the Czech Republic over missile defense.
Ah, this new foreign policy. Let us count the victories. I say, let us count...
June 12, 2010 Permalink