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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ELECTION - 32 days from today





BULLETIN:  CNN CLEANSES – AT 7:31 P.M. ET:  CNN anchor Rick Sanchez has been fired by the network after making some openly anti-Semitic comments in a radio interview.   From The Politico:

Rick Sanchez lost his job at CNN on Friday, just 24 hours after giving a satellite radio interview in which he called Jon Stewart a “bigot” and suggested that Jews run CNN and other media companies.

“Rick Sanchez is no longer with the company,” CNN said in a statement. “We thank Rick for his years of service, and we wish him well.“

Sanchez is the second CNN journalist to be fired for bias in recent weeks, the first being Arab reporter Octavia Nasr. This is speculation, but these dismissals may mark attempts by CNN to clean up its act, something made easier by the departure of the odious Christiane Amanpour, who was one of the problems there for years.  Amanpour is now sinking at ABC News.

I think charges of racism, anti-Semitism or other forms of bigotry have to be made very carefully, and only after real evidence is presented.  I've looked at Sanchez's comments, in context, and they are clearly bigoted, and meant to be.  I have no idea what the man was thinking. 

I've also watched Sanchez on occasion, as I sweep the news outlets during the day while researching Urgent Agenda.  I always found him a lightweight, sloppy and uninformed.  He also went out of his way to praise anti-Israel guests, telling one it was a "delight" to have him on, and now I think we know where those sentiments come from.

CNN is under new leadership.  Showing Sanchez the door may be a good sign that it's a serious management that knows the network has problems, and is willing to address them.

October 1, 2010      Permalink

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WHERE? – AT 7:08 P.M. ET:   We've been reporting this week on the apparently serious terror threat to Europe.  Now, the most unlikely nation is signaling that it, too, takes this seriously.  From The New York Times:

STOCKHOLM (AP) — Sweden has raised its terror threat alert from low to elevated because of "a shift in activities" among Swedish-based groups that could be plotting attacks against the Scandinavian country, security officials said Friday.

The Swedish Security Service, SAPO, declined to say whether the threat involved Islamic terrorists or if it was linked to a terror plot announced this week by Western intelligence officials to wage Mumbai-style shooting sprees or other attacks in Britain, France and Germany.

COMMENT:  Sweden? SWEDEN?  I didn't even know they were awake.  I spent months on a research project trying to find a use for Sweden...and failed. 

Actually, Sweden is moving right – something we'll discuss in another post – and is starting to take life more seriously.  The country's third largest city, Malmo, has a serious problem with non-integrated Muslim immigrants.  Translated:  If they try to do anything about conditions there, they may be hit with a terror threat, or an actual attack.

Sweden was neutral in World War II, although it traded with the Nazis, and refused to join NATO during the Cold War, although it benefited from NATO's defense.  And yet its diplomats have regularly strutted around the world lecturing everyone on human rights.  Samantha Power, one of Obama's leftist henchwomen in the White House, held the Anna Lindh professorship at Harvard, named for a Swedish foreign minister who was one of the worst of the pompous lecturers.  Lindh was murdered by a knife-wielding assassin in a department store, and it was noted at the time that, despite the number of people in the store, no one stopped the murderer from escaping. 

Maybe, with this new approach to terror, Sweden is showing a maturity and sense of realism not demonstrated earlier.

October 1, 2010      Permalink

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A CONSPIRACY SO VAST – AT 9:48 A.M. ET:  With polls showing him suddenly vulnerable, Massachusetts ultra-liberal Congressman Barney Frank is looking around for the usual suspects, and is finding them.  From The Wall Street Journal:

Despite reports from local Massachusetts media, Rep. Barney Frank, Massachusetts Democrat, remains confident he will win his re-election in November against his Republican opponent Sean Bielat. Former President Bill Clinton appeared with Mr. Frank recently at a political rally in Taunton last week, and Mr. Bielat claimed, according to reports, that Mr. Clinton was brought in to help buoy Mr. Frank.

"The notion that it’s a sign of panic is just silly. That’s just politics when they don’t have anything else better to say. It’s a tougher race, because once I became chairman of the [banking] committee in 2007, the right-wing media talk show hosts decided to target me," said Rep. Frank, when I asked him about his race during Wednesday votes on Capitol Hill. "They were frankly worried about what we would do, and I also have people who were angry about the financial reform bill."

While House Democrats at large are experiencing a tough re-election cycle, the Massachusetts Democrat who heads up the House Banking Committee believes the factors affecting his race come down to how he is being portrayed in the media.

"I’ve had Hannity, Limbaugh, Beck basically say things about me that weren’t true and if people say things that aren’t true over time and you don’t respond, then it has an impact, so I’m responding."

Mr. Frank's GOP opponent recently released an internal poll showing support for the Congressman is below 50 percent and Mr. Frank ahead by only ten points.

COMMENT:  It's Fox News.  It's always Fox News.  Fox News, you know, also causes global warming and a variety of allergies.  There may be a link with poor personal spending habits. 

Frank will still probably be reelected.  But the way formerly "safe" Democrats handle tension is instructive in itself.  Just the kind of guy you want in the foxhole next to you.

October 1, 2010      Permalink

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From the Daily Caller: 

Federal copy editors are demanding New York City change its 250,900 street signs — such as these for Perry Avenue in The Bronx — from the all-caps style used for more than a century to ones that capitalize only the first letters.  Changing BROADWAY to Broadway will save lives, the Federal Highway Administration contends in its updated Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, citing improved readability.  At $110 per sign, it will also cost the state $27.6 million, city officials said.

If you haven't been convinced that government is nuts, I hope you are now.  Changing signs may be desirable, but a lot of other things in society are desirable as well, and far more important than this.  And the federal government wanrts more power.

October 1, 2010      Permalink

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WE DO HOPE SO – AT 8:15 A.M. ET:  It's hard to be optimistic about Barack Obama.  He has let us down in so many ways, and his foreign policy has been a public embarrassment.  But now Robert Kagan, in the Washington Post, sees hope on the foreign front.  We don't necessarily agree with this analysis, but it's worth examining.  Tell us what you think:

Almost two years into the Obama presidency, there is a discernible shift in the administration's foreign policy.

Prove it, baby, prove it.

This is speculation, of course. But evidence of a shift abounds.

-- Allies are back. Compare Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's recent speech to the Council on Foreign Relations to the one she gave there last summer. Her 2009 speech sounded like an international relations professor's fantasy: She talked about using "smart power" to solve "collective action problems" in a "multi-partner world." While emphasizing relations with Russia, China, Brazil and other "emerging powers," she brushed past the old democratic allies in one lifeless paragraph. This year, the IR lingo is gone; Russia and China were singled out as much for being "authoritarian states" as for their cooperation. And Clinton devoted 10 paragraphs to extolling better relations with "our closest allies, the nations that share our most fundamental values and interests" in Europe, North America and Asia.


-- Democracy is back. A year ago, who would have believed that Obama would devote almost a third of his speech at the United Nations to democracy or use language such as "liberty" and "tyranny"? Apparently, the Bush stink is off the word "democracy." Clinton, too, has elevated democracy to a primary objective. In Krakow in July, she criticized authoritarian states that were "slowly crushing civil society and the human spirit," singling out China, Russia and Egypt.


-- America is back. A year ago, the talk was of the post-American world. Obama seemed to be the post-American president, resigned to doing the best he could with the bad hand he'd been dealt. Today, officials exude more optimism. Clinton talks of "a new American moment" and, in words that might have been called arrogant a few years ago, believes "the world is counting on us" for "global leadership."


Under the circumstances, old democratic allies in Asia and Europe look like a better foundation on which to build U.S. policy. Democracy looks like a better answer to many of the world's problems than authoritarianism. And American leadership looks like a better option than a consortium with authoritarian great powers. Get ready for Phase Two.

COMMENT:  Now, this is quite a broad analysis, and we'll have to wait for some real proof, some actions, rather than words.

Will Obama, facing increasing conservative power in the next Congress, be able to free himself from the left wing of the Democratic Party?  Does he want to?  As he looks to 2012, will he see his political salvation in a move to the center?  Many leaders, once they win election and take office, are confronted with dire intelligence reports and the realities of a hard world.  Has Obama been affected?

One indicator this week may be Obama's relatively mild reaction to Israel's refusal to extend the moratorium on building on the occupied West Bank.  Last year we would have expected bluster and table pounding.  This time we got some thoughtful, ongoing diplomacy.

And...most intriguing, please notice the name of Hillary Clinton in Kagan's analysis.  What exactly is her role?  Is she trying to forge an independent policy in preparation for her own run for the presidency?

Politics is never dull. 

Kagan's analysis is fascinating, and there'll be a lot of reaction across the internet.

October 1, 2010     Permalink

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THE ORIGINAL AMATEUR HOUR – AT 7:51 A.M. ET:  I do not like amateurs in politics.  Let me repeat that.  I do not like amateurs in politics.   The name of the game in electoral politics is winning.  There is no other game.  There is no consolation prize.  You don't go home with the prize behind door three just for coming in second.  There is no prize for second place.

And yet, some people don't understand that.  We have a disgraceful situation in Nevada, where Harry Reid, the Senate's unsmiling majority leader, should be easy prey.  He's unpopular, he was way, way behind in the polls only months ago.  Now, thanks to the GOP nominating an unsteady candidate in Sharron Angle, he's about even.  But what many people don't realize is that it's a three-person race.  The third candidate represents, printed right on the ballot, the Tea Party.  And every vote for the Tea Party is a vote that Sharron Angle doesn't get, a vote for Harry Reid. 

What do do?  Well, the logical, intelligent thing for a patriotic Tea Party candidate is to withdraw, possibly guaranteeing a GOP pickup.  But amateurs don't think that way.  From The Wall Street Journal: 

Nevada GOP Senate candidate Sharron Angle encouraged the Tea Party of Nevada candidate to drop out of the race to give her a better chance against Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid.

The meeting did not go well.

“I can’t win without you,” Ms. Angle told the Tea Party candidate, businessman Scott Ashjian, at a private meeting in Las Vegas, according to Mr. Ashjian.

“That isn’t happening,” Mr. Ashjian says he replied.

A knowledgeable figure in Nevada politics described Ashjian as an "ego-maniac whack-job."  He hasn't even campaigned.

Remember that Bill Clinton became president in 1992 because another ego, Ross Perot, took votes from President Bush 41 in a three-way race.  Perot was an appalling, unprepared candidate with a lot of cash. 

Look, people have a right to run for office.  But occasionally it's not a bad idea to put country first.  The Tea Party can reelect Harry Reid, and I'm not so sure that's where they want to be.

This is what happens when the farm team tries to play in the majors.

October 1, 2010     Permalink

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THE COUNTDOWN – AT 7:28 A.M. ET:  The most important midterms in memory will be held one month from tomorrow.  Congress has just adjourned and the criminal class will be back in their districts imparting their wisdom.  Now the fun really begins.

This is where the country stands right now, according to RealClearPolitics:

President Obama's approval rating, averaging the different surveys, stands at 45% approve, 50.6% disapprove.  That is critical because midterms are often a referendum on the president in power, and Mr. Obama is not doing well.

But the generic congressional vote ("Which party would you vote for..?) has tightened.  Republicans stand at 46.5, Dems at 42.5, a spread of four points.  Now, it's been unusual for the GOP to lead at all in recent years, and a four-point lead is solid, but it isn't spectacular.  Generic polls have often predicted the eventual outcome of midterms.  A four-point lead points to GOP gains, but not necessarily spectacular gains.  But the huge enthusiasm on the right can alter that on election day.

Congressional job approval stands at 20.5% approve, 71.3% disapprove, a gap of 50.8 points.  Since Dems are in control of Congress, this number is no great endorsement of their work. 

A month is five lifetimes in politics, so we caution about making blanket predictions.  Beware the October surprise, especially in foreign policy, by this intensely political White House.  Beware the effects of a potential terror attack.  And beware the obscene linkage between the Democratic Party and the mainstream media, a linkage that must be worth a certain number of points in many races.  And beware the fact that the Republicans, in this Republican year, are hurt in some key races by some marginal candidates.

Thus far we've been lucky in that the president's campaigning hasn't apparently roused the Democratic base.  That can change.  Our fight must intensify. 

It's at this point that most of the public really starts to engage the election, and that engagement will grow once we get inside the two-week mark.   Nothing is in the bag, but I'd rather be a Republican right now than a Democrat.

October 1, 2010     Permalink

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A LITTLE NUMBERS PROBLEM – AT 9:12 P.M. ET:  Much of the political buzz over the last few days has involved the apparent "surge" of support for Democratic candidates for the Senate and governorship in California.  But the Weekly Standard has examined some California polling, and finds the methodology disturbing.  We might be doing much better than we think:

Yesterday evening, the CNN/Time poll of the California Senate race found Barbara Boxer up nine points among likely voters over Carly Fiorina.

That’s by about the same amount that John Kerry beat George W. Bush in 2004. Yet Kerry defeated Bush among independent voters by a wide margin, 59-36. In the CNN/Time poll, it’s Fiorina who has a lead over Boxer among independents, and a sizeable one at that, 53-39. The poll also finds the two parties very well sorted, Democrats going for Boxer 93-5 and Republicans going for Fiorina 92-4.

So, the only way to find a nine-point lead for Boxer is if the poll has a huge sample of Democrats.

And the same pattern appears in polling for governor, where the race is between Jerry Brown and Meg Whitman:

...Whitman has a big lead among independents. The only way to get a nine-point Democratic lead is to sample a more Democratic electorate than even 2008.

I appreciate the need for leeway in partisan sampling, but it seems quite unlikely that the 2010 midterm electorate will look like this.

We'll be eager to see California polling by Rasmussen and others.  It would be a sweet thing to see Barbara Boxer sent into retirement.  It's uphill for the GOP in the once-golden state, but I have to believe victory is possible.  Watch the California polls over the next two weeks.

September 30, 2010     Permalink


THE KISS OF DEATH – AT 7:52 P.M. ET:  Sometimes it's best for certain people just to shut up.  Nancy Pelosi, for some ungodly reason, has injected herself into the Chicago mayoral race, as The Politico reports:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi threw her endorsement in Chicago's mayoral race to former House colleague Rahm Emanuel on Thursday.

After praising Emanuel at a press conference and saying she had given him encouragement at a White House meeting that day, Pelosi answered “yes” when a reporter asked whether she would endorse the outgoing chief of staff.

President Obama is expected to announce Emanuel's departure – and the promotion of longtime aide Pete Rouse – at a White House ceremony Friday.

Emanuel, who Pelosi said had the “affection” of his former House peers, has polled in Chicago and has begun working to assemble a campaign team.

COMMENT:  So Rahm, who's already down in the polls in the mayoral race, goes back to Chicago with the endorsement of Nancy Pelosi.  Is there a cure for this?  A vaccine?  Rahm is probably in the White House right now, banging his head against the wall.  "Of all the candidates in all the offices of the world, she had to endorse me."

Well, at any rate, they'll still have Washington.  Maybe he can say it's a different Nancy Pelosi.

September 30, 2010     Permalink


ARROGANCE – AT 8:55 A.M. ET:  It is simply incredible to behold the arrogance of the administration and its congressional allies:  The insults toward citizens, the patronizing attitude, the belief that they are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable skills, among which are the ability to know what is good for everyone else.

Victor Davis Hanson examines the swelled-head syndrome, which has become an epidemic in Washington: 

The bookish, twice-unsuccessful Democratic presidential candidate Adlai Stevenson once sighed that if most thinking people supported him, it still wouldn't be enough in America because "I need a majority."

For some reason, Democrats have chosen to follow the disastrous model of Stevenson and not that of feisty man-of-the-people Missourian Harry Truman -- though the former nearly wrecked the party and the latter got elected.

Yeah, and even the "bookish" part doesn't hold up.  We learned after his death that Stevenson actually read very little, whereas Truman borrowed more books from the Library of Congress than any other president.  But Stevenson sounded like an intellectual, which was convincing enough for most intellectual wannabes.

Now, John Kerry -- who failed to win the presidency in 2004 and recently tried to avoid state sales taxes on his new $7 million yacht -- is voicing similar frustrations about Americans' inability to fathom what their betters are trying to do for them. He is furious that an unsophisticated electorate might not return congressional Democratic majorities in 2010. Kerry laments that, "We have an electorate that doesn't always pay that much attention to what's going on." Instead it falls for "a simple slogan rather than the facts or the truth or what's happening."

Gee, that's not what the Democrats were saying after the 2008 election.  The country must have dumbed down in the last two years.  Must be Fox News. 

That sense of intellectual superiority was channeled by Barack Obama himself when he later tried to explain why his message was not resonating with less astute rural Pennsylvanians: "And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."


When America votes for a liberal candidate, it is redeemed by the left as intelligent -- and derided as dense when it does not. We were told not to worry that Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner did not pay all his income taxes since we were lucky to have someone so well educated and experienced in high finance.


House Speaker Nancy Pelosi claimed that the tea party movement was merely a synthetic Astroturf movement. Professors and preachers may like such sermonizing, but for politicians it's a lousy way to get elected. Again, compare the relative fates of the patronizing Adlai Stevenson and the plain-speaking Harry Truman.

But current polls suggest that these clueless and unappreciative Americans apparently believe that an elite education does not ensure their officials can balance a budget, pay their own taxes or speak candidly.

What an outrageous "How dare they!" thought.

COMMENT:  I once stood two feet behind Adlai Stevenson while he delivered a speech in my home town on Long Island.  I was one of those volunteer teenagers who showed people to their seats.  Stevenson spoke beautifully, but an hour later you couldn't remember a thing he said.  Kind of like Obama.  Do you remember anything he says?

But we remember what Harry Truman said, and did.  And Dwight Eisenhower, often ridiculed by self-appointed "intellectuals" of the day, put more substance into a speech than any modern president. 

Pride may well goeth before the fall.  The fall this year occurs on November 2nd.

September 30, 2010     Permalink


THOUGHTFUL, AND NEEDED – AT 8:23 A.M. ET:  Secretary of Defense Robert Gates continues to be the most outstanding member of President Obama's cabinet, possibly because he's the only Republican, and therefore retains a level of maturity unavailable to most of the rest.

The secretary is understandably concerned about the growing gap between our military and the civilian population it is protecting.  He states it well:

DURHAM, N.C. — The United States is at risk of developing a cadre of military leaders who are cut off politically, culturally and geographically from the population they are sworn to protect, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates told an audience at Duke University on Wednesday night.

In a speech aimed at addressing what he sees as a growing disconnect between the country as a whole and the relatively few who fight its wars, Mr. Gates said that although veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan were embraced when they came home, “for most Americans the wars remain an abstraction — a distant and unpleasant series of news items that do not affect them personally.”

Even after Sept. 11, 2001, Mr. Gates said, “in the absence of a draft, for a growing number of Americans, service in the military, no matter how laudable, has become something for other people to do.”

That idea is reinforced by an educational system, especially at the college level, that is often indifferent to or even openly hostile to the military.

The defense secretary said that military recruits came increasingly from the South, the mountain West and small towns, and less often from the Northeast, West Coast and big cities. The military’s own basing decisions have reinforced the trend, he said, with a significant percentage of Army posts moved in recent years to just five states: Georgia, Kentucky, North Carolina, Texas and Washington.

I've often said, to the annoyance of some friends, that if this country is to be saved, it will be saved by the South and the Midwest – the heartland.  The heartbreak here in New York is that we used to be a military center, both active duty and military manufacturing.  The Brooklyn Navy Yard, Floyd Bennett NAS, Mitchell Field, Grumman, Republic.  They are history.  Few know a soldier or sailor, airman or marine.

The speech reflected the issues within the military about the merits and costs of an all-volunteer force fighting two wars for nearly a decade, the longest sustained combat in American history. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Mr. Gates said, are the first protracted large-scale conflicts since the American Revolution fought entirely by volunteers, but with a force of 2.4 million of active and reserve members that is less than 1 percent — the smallest proportion ever — of the population it serves.

Read that paragraph again.  Less than one percent of the population.  Remember that figure the next time some whiner announces that America is "overstretched."  We have 1.4 million men and women in our armed forces, for a nation of 306 million.  In World War II we had about 15 million for a nation of only 130 million.  Overstretched? 

Fine reporting.  Worth reading.  Important issue.  At one time, when I was young, everyone had family members in the armed forces.  We felt a part of national defense.  The so-called "anti-war" movement during Vietnam damaged the military/civilian relationship, and there are, sadly, some people who are content with the damage.  They are disgraceful. 

September 30, 2010       Permalink


A TRULY BIG MAC – AT 8:05 A.M. ET:  A day after thousands of Massachusetts seniors learned they'd be losing part of their health insurance under the "reforms" of Obamacare, one of the most famous names in American business warns that uncertain times may be coming for its own employees because of the same "reforms."  From Fox:

McDonald's Corp. has notified federal regulators its health insurance plan for nearly 30,000 hourly restaurant workers isn't compatible with a new requirement of the U.S. health overhaul, The Wall Street Journal reported Wednesday, raising speculation about the fate of those employees' health coverage.

Trade groups representing restaurants and retailers say low-wage employers might halt their coverage if the government doesn't loosen a requirement for "mini-med" plans, which offer limited benefits to some 1.4 million Americans. The requirement concerns the percentage of premiums that must be spent on benefits.

While many restaurants don't offer health coverage, McDonald's provides mini-med plans for workers at 10,500 U.S. locations, most of them franchised. A single worker can pay $14 a week for a plan that caps annual benefits at $2,000, or about $32 a week to get coverage up to $10,000 a year.

Last week, a senior McDonald's official informed the Department of Health and Human Services that the restaurant chain's insurer won't meet a 2011 requirement to spend at least 80 percent to 85 percent of its premium revenue on medical care, the Wall Street Journal reported.

But McDonald's issued a statement Wednesday denying that it planned to drop coverage for its employees and defending its benefit plans.

COMMENT:  Now just wait.  Weren't we told we could keep our existing plans?  The McDonald's plan is pretty minimal, as you can see, but for some workers, especially young, healthy ones, it may be right.  Now that plan is in jeopardy and dependent on federal regulators for its existence. 

Well, maybe we would have been alerted had we just looked at page 843 of the Obamacare bill.  But, you know, we had to get to work that day.

COMMENT:  There's a lot of disruption coming, and I get the sense, from recent stories, that many people who can least afford it will be paying more and getting less.

September 30, 2010       Permalink 


RUBIO ROMPS IN FLORIDA – AT 7:59 A.M. ET:  Marco Rubio, seen as a rising GOP star and possible future president, has nailed down a solid lead in the three-way race for U.S. Senator from Florida.  The New York Times reports:

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — Republican Marco Rubio commands a double-digit lead among likely voters in Florida's U.S. Senate race, harnessing a split among Democrats over their nominee Kendrick Meek and independent Gov. Charlie Crist, a poll issued Thursday shows.

Rubio, a tea party favorite, was favored in the three-way contest by 46 percent of 1,151 voters surveyed by Quinnipiac University between Sept. 23 and 28. The poll was Quinnipiac's first limited to the likely voters for the Nov. 2 general election and claimed a margin of error of plus or minus 2.9 percentage points.

Crist, who left the GOP in April to run for the Senate without party affiliation, was favored by 33 percent and U.S. Rep. Meek was preferred by 18 percent in the three-way race.

COMMENT:  Rubio, a Cuban-American, becomes an instant star after November 2nd.  The Republicans need major figures who can help prevent the Hispanic-American vote from going automatically to the Democrats.

September 30, 2010     Permalink












"What you see is news.  What you know is background.  What you feel is opinion."
    - Lester Markel, late Sunday editor
      of The New York Times.


"Councils of war breed timidity and defeatism."
    - Lt. Gen. Arthur MacArthur, to his
      son, Douglas.



Part I of this week's Angel's Corner was sent late Wednesday night.

Part II will be sent late tonight.



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