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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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DECEMBER 7, 2011
SHORT TAKES ON THE DRIFTING WRECKAGE – AT 8:01 P.M. ET:
NEWT ROMPS IN FLORIDA – Florida is the fourth most populous state, and Newt Gingrich is running away with the GOP electorate down there, according to a new TIME/CNN poll. Gingrich gets 48% of the vote, compared with 25% for Romney. No one else even breaks 5%. Florida votes January 31st. And in South Carolina, also voting in January, Newt gets 43%, while Romney is at 20%. The only bright, or less dim, spot for Romney is New Hampshire, where the TIME/CNN poll has him at 35%, with Gingrich at 26%. Romney is clearly in bad shape.
SICKENING – In a further sign of how bad a second Obama administration could be, the now politically correct Defense Department has classified the Fort Hood massacre as a case of "workplace violence." Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine has severely criticized this move, charging it places political correctness ahead of the security of the nation. Major Nidal Hasan, an Army psychiatrist and, it turned out, a jihadist, murdered 13 people, including soldiers, at Ford Hood in 2009, and wounded dozens of others. He allegedly was inspired by radical cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed in a U.S. drone strike this year.
RIGHT THING TO DO – The principal of a North Carolina school who suspended a 9-year-old boy for calling a teacher "cute," charging the kid with sexual harassment for the remark, has resigned under pressure. For once a school system had the backbone to stand up to idiotic trendiness, reprimanded the principal, and apologized to the student and his family. The student's record has been cleared and he will receive extra instruction for the school time he missed. The principal, now properly chastised, has an apparently good record, and perhaps can be hired back in a less powerful position.
WELL, IT'S SOME KIND OF JUSTICE – Most of you probably recall the celebrated case of Mumia Abu-Jamal, convicted Philadelphia cop killer, who, despite overwhelming evidence of his guilt, became a left-wing poster boy for alleged "injustice." He was all the rage on college campuses and, naturally, even in Europe. He was sentenced to death for his crime, but has fought the death penalty for years. Now, the Philadelphia district attorney has agreed, after consultation with the murdered officer's widow, Maureen Faulkner, to drop the death penalty issue and settle for life imprisonment without parole. This brings the legal matter to a close, without any further court challenges. It is probably a wise decision, given the endless court battles and the need within the Faulkner family for closure, but we note that only Officer Faulkner received the death penalty.
December 7, 2011 Permalink
CHINA'S NAVY BOOSTED – AT 10:32 A.M. ET: On a day when we recall the attack by an Asian navy against our fleet, another Asian nation is heard from on the subject of naval power. From AFP:
I wonder about that last line, "...and a US campaign to assert itself as a Pacific power." Aren't we a Pacific power already? I think the reporter meant "a Chinese campaign..."
COMMENT: Ignore all this, ignore all this, and ignore the man behind the curtain. Why, the Chinese are simply peaceful people trying to defend their sacred culture. Nothing to see here, folks, nothing to see. Choke.
December 7, 2011 Permalink
SNIPPET OF THE DAY – AT 10:18 A.M. ET:
The principal will no doubt be the next winner of the Al Gore –we're nuts and mighty proud of it – award, which carries with it the gift of a pair of wonderful mittens. Not available in stores.
McCAIN SEEKS KINGMAKER ROLE – AT 9:34 A.M. ET: Senator John McCain, the GOP 2008 presidential nominee, is seeking to continue his influence by participating in this season's nominating process. From The Hill:
COMMENT: What is troubling here is the constant refrain that people who've worked with Newt Gingrich dread his capturing the Republican nomination. I put a great deal of emphasis on the reputation of a candidate among those who've been closest to him or her. I learned that lesson while working for the revered Senator Paul H. Douglas, during my liberal days, many years ago. A senator's reputation in the Senate was the most precious thing he had, politically. It's what gave a senator clout, or non-clout.
And the fact is that Newt is barely tolerated. His leadership skills are widely said to be entirely lacking, whereas his ego is substantial to overflowing. He is widely said to be undisciplined. As president he would have to run the executive branch, conduct foreign policy in a dangerous era, and work with a Congress that, even within his own party, is hostile to him. Is this the best we can do?
I just hope Republicans aren't blowing the best chance they've had in years.
December 7, 2011 Permalink
HE'S BACK – AT 9:13 A.M. ET: Former Soviet Union boss Mikhail Gorbachev is back in the news, demanding that the recent Russian election be re-run. Gorbachev's reemergence may indicate his view that Vladimir Putin, whose party was blooded in the election, is now vulnerable. From London's Telegraph:
COMMENT: This could be an important moment. Russia, under Putin's guidance, has been rising recently as a renewed challenge to the United States. Despite Barack Obama's direct-from-the-faculty-lounge foreign policy calling for a "reset" in US-Russia relations, the reset has only worked in Russia's favor.
I really doubt that new elections will be held. That would be an admission that the charges of fraud are true. But it's clear that the opposition in Russia is growing. Once again we must ask what the opposition actually stands for, a question we haven't asked much in the Middle East. But at least there don't seem to be any religious zealots involved.
Russia is, obviously, a nuclear power. What happens internally can affect us, and the entire world. Stand by.
December 7, 2011 Permalink
70 YEARS – AT 8:01 A.M. ET: Today marks the 70th anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. There are still millions of Americans who were alive at the time. However, those eligible for military service on that "day of infamy" would today be 87, and their ranks are thinning rapidly.
We promised, after the attack, to "remember Pearl Harbor." But President Roosevelt, a master politician, worried that Americans would indeed forget the day, even in the midst of war. It was the White House that asked Hollywood to have a song written commemorating the attack, which is how the patriotic song "Remember Pearl Harbor" came to be written by Don Reid and the bandleader Sammy Kaye ("swing and sway with Sammy Kaye"). The attack also inspired the song, "Praise the Lord and Pass the Ammunition," written by Frank Loesser, who later wrote the music and lyrics for "Guys and Dolls."
Americans can take genuine pride in the fact that we did remember Pearl Harbor. Or, rather, we did remember the lessons of December 7, 1941. It took a while for the lessons to take hold after the euphoria and de-mobilization that followed our victory in World War II, but we learned. We learned the importance of a strong national defense in being, to deter potential aggressors. We learned the importance of understanding ideological enemies and taking them seriously, not averting our eyes from the new Hitlers. We learned the importance of excellent intelligence, and the importance of maintaining a technological edge in our weapons.
The attack on Pearl Harbor was largely a failure. Very few ships were actually sunk. The battleships that went down forever, the Arizona and Oklahoma, were old and of limited value. The three aircraft carriers of the Pacific fleet weren't even in Pearl Harbor during the attack. The Japanese broke off the attack after two waves, forgoing a third wave out of fear that the American carriers were near them and might counterattack. The third wave would have been aimed at oil supplies and the priceless machine shops that make a naval base work. They were untouched. But the attack galvanized a reluctant America and sent us into battle.
Today Americans still retain their fear of a surprise attack. But as Pearl Harbor fades into memory, and the media continues its 1960s-style skepticism of all things military, that fear is, to our peril, fading as well. And yet the fear should today be greater than ever, for a nuclear Pearl Harbor would make the original attack look like a minor exercise. Two well-placed nuclear devices sailed into American harbors and set off by suicide crews could kill more people in 20 seconds than in all the wars in American history put together. And our economy would be wrecked.
That is the threat of a nuclear Iran. Some disparage talk of such a threat. These "experts" say the Iranians would never attempt such a venture, fearing retaliation. They said that about Japan as well. But countries don't always act rationally. Sometimes they act ideologically, emotionally, especially when they think they are acting on behalf of their religious beliefs. We have much to be concerned about, and, yes, to fear. We also have resources to deal with the threat. How we use those resources may well determine how future generations judge us.
December 7, 2011 Permalink
DECEMBER 6, 2011
SHORT TAKES ON THE DRIFTING WRECKAGE – AT 9:41 P.M. ET:
U.S. MILITARY A TERROR TARGET – Congressional investigators led by Rep. Peter King (R-NY) say that homegrown terrorists see military personnel and bases within the U.S. as prime targets. King said there is also evidence that extremists have joined the armed services. He asserts that the Pentagon is deeply worried about them because of what they can do internally – consider the case of Major Hasan, who committed the Fort Hood massacre – and because the military skills they pick up can be used elsewhere. We will wait ten seconds for Rep. King to be called 1) a racist and 2) Islamophobic.
OFF HIS MEDS AGAIN – The second-ranking goofball of the United States, Joe Biden, went completely out of control at a conference in Turkey today, comparing the "Arab spring" to the American revolution. He didn't bother to note that the "spring" has turned to winter, and that radical Islamists have taken control from the idealistic liberal-minded revolutionaries we first saw. Joe has never been annoyed by details. Biden is a personable guy who fancies himself a foreign policy expert. In fact, his actual record on foreign policy was one of the worst in the Senate. He proved to be wrong on almost everything.
ROMNEY PANIC – It's pretty clear from a great deal of reporting that there is a near-panic in the Romney camp, as functionaries see the Republican nomination slipping away from their guy. Romney has now moved to reverse things – promising to be more aggressive and to appear on more TV shows than he has in the past. He is predicting a long, hard-fought campaign. Polls in early states – Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Florida – show Romney ahead only in New Hampshire. His moves today are widely seen as a concession that he knows his play-it-safe approach has failed.
CHANNELING TEDDY – There is something ironic in Barack Obama suddenly choosing to invoke the spirit of Theodore Roosevelt in a speech designed to make "fairness" the main thrust of his campaign for reelection, replacing that old "hope 'n change" stuff. Theodore Roosevelt is John McCain's favorite president. Once again Obama is trying to present himself as a centrist, even willing to idolize, he says, a Republican president. The question is whether the Republicans will be sharp enough to expose this tactic to the public, and hammer home the fact that this president is anything but a centrist. As far as "fairness" is concerned, the president will score some points (legitimately) because there is genuine outrage over the vastly inflated incomes of some Wall Street and corporate types. But a strong economy is the answer. These are issues that Gingrich handles well, Romney not so well. If Newt is the nominee, we look forward eagerly to a Gingrich/Obama debate.
December 6, 2011 Permalink
TYPICAL, ISN'T IT? – AT 4:12 P.M. ET: President Obama wants a Senate bill imposing tough new sanctions on Iran to be softened. So typical of this administration. Let's not have anything too effective:
COMMENT: If you were the Iranian government, would you shake in your boots at hearing the name "Barack Obama"? No, more likely you'd smile.
December 6, 2011 Permalink
THIS IS DEMOCRACY? – AT 9:54 A.M. ET: It's slowly sinking in, even into the heads of 1960s types like Hillary Clinton, that the "Arab spring" is turning into a disaster.
The Islamic victories in Tunisa, Morocco and now, most important, Egypt, don't exactly bring Thomas Jefferson to mind. We may well have the Arab phenomenon of "one man, one vote, one time." In Egypt the Islamists will have 60% of the new parliament.
At first our vastly overrated secretary of state praised the Egyptian election as an expression of democracy. Apparently, some people have slipped some reality into her briefing notes:
Nice you noticed, Hil.
And Time, not exactly warm toward Israel, concedes that Israeli predictions of what would happen in Egypt have turned out to be true, if understated:
COMMENT: I'm not one of Netanyahu's biggest fans. Politically, he's often been ham-handed, but the guy is intensely pro-American and knows what he's talking about. Contrast please with the gang in Washington, which conducts foreign policy from the precincts of the faculty lounge.
We dread a second Obama administration, and what it will mean for the foreign policy of the United States. After all, look at the first term. Iran and North Korea have grown stronger, Russia grows as a challenge, as does China. And President Obama is off on a 17-day vacation...again.
December 6, 2011 Permalink
THE CONTEST – AT 9:08 A.M. ET: With primary voting scheduled to start in less than a month, the Republican race is not only unsettled, it appears to be stamped UNSATISFACTORY by many, if not most, GOP voters.
Let's face it. It's hard to hear a "wanting" for Mitt or a "yearning" for Newt. Donald Trump is making noises again, as we noted yesterday, but there's no corresponding noise coming from voters. Have you heard any "draft Don" chants recently?
Trump is hinting that he can get into the race as late as May if he is not pleased with the direction it's taking. We cannot wait for his political opinions.
This should be a time of joy and enthusiasm in Republican ranks. We have a farm-team president who was sent to the majors long before he was ready. He is personally liked, but politically poison. He can be defeated, just as Carter, to whom Obama is correctly compared, could be defeated in 1980. But then the Republicans had Reagan.
This site has long argued that the Republicans should skip a generation and go with the young, dynamic bench. Marco Rubio and Paul Ryan would make a great ticket. And it would win. We learned yesterday that Rubio has just signed to do his memoirs, to be published late in 2012. Please notice that, Republicans.
There is an enthusiasm gap in the Republican Party, and it can cost the party an election that is winnable. What is needed is a fresh face – young, dynamic, tough, articulate. What is needed is someone who can talk over the heads of a hostile press, directly to the American people. (Republicans still don't understand what press bias has done to them.)
Yes, of course, we'll support the Republican nominee. Either Mitt or Newt would improve our national government. But I'd like to have more than one hand clapping. This election will not be easy.
December 6, 2011 Permalink
OBSERVATIONS ON A TRIP – AT 8:31 A.M. ET: Just returned last night from visiting family in Virginia, one of those states that will save us if we really get in trouble. Well, at least central and southern Virginia will. Northern Virginia is lost to the D.C. axis.
Some observations: Regular gasoline in central Virginia is about $3.10 a gallon, a little less in some places if you pay cash. In White Plains, New York, where this is being written, it's about $3.85. My friend Silvio Canto Jr. tells me that it's $2.85 in Dallas.
Why the difference? Taxes, for the most part. New York has one of the highest tax rates in the country. It is also the state with the largest out-migration rate. More people leave New York each year than any other state. Taxes, absurd real-estate prices, and mediocre services are having their effect.
Some here will shrug at the deep discrepancy in gas prices, but consider this: Think of a young single mother trying to make it while working as a secretary, a sales clerk, or at some other job. She drives to work. She may use a bit more than a tank of gas a week. Let's say she pays $20 a week more for gas than she would if she lived in Dallas. That's about $80 a month, or $960 a year. She may keep her car ten years. Over that ten years she'll spend $9,600 more for gas than if she'd lived in Dallas. Her car might be worth $2,500 in trade. Add that to the extra cost of gas and you get $12,100. That is most of the cost of a new, small car, like the Hyundai.
That is the cost, over time, of a one-dollar a gallon difference in the price of gas at the pump.
So when the chattering classes shrug off that one-dollar difference, or even argue that gas should cost more to discourage the peasantry from driving and polluting the environment around Aspen, think of that young, single mother.
Oh, by the way, I found that infrastructure and modernity in central Virginia were ahead of New York, and Virginia is a low-tax state. That may be why so many "Virginians" these days have New York accents.
December 6, 2011 Permalink
"What you see is news. What you know is background. What you feel is opinion."
"Councils of war breed timidity and defeatism."
"Political correctness does not legislate tolerance; it only organizes hatred. "
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