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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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OCTOBER 26, 2011
SHORT TAKES ON THE DRIFTING WRECKAGE – AT 10:57 P.M. ET:
CHELSEA, IN OR OUT – There is great huffing and puffing in New York over reports, that started circulating early this morning, that Chelsea Clinton is looking for a chance to run for Congress. Translated: She's looking for a congressional district she can move into, Kennedy style, and just take over. The story hit a kind of third rail with implications that Congresswoman Nita Lowey of Westchester would conveniently retire next year, clearing the way for Chelsea to call the movers. Lowey stepped aside once before for a Clinton, the Clintonian mother, who moved to New York to run for the Senate the same year Lowey intended to. This afternoon Lowey issued a blunt statement saying she has no intention of retiring. I guess she was only willing to lick boots once. And Chelsea now denies she wants to run for Congress at all. My sense is that the story was accurate, but that the Clintons realized how pushy it sounded, and pulled back.
THE GENIUS SPEAKS – Major league nutbag Louis Farrakhan, head of the Nation of Islam, is denouncing President Obama for the killing of Farrakhan friend Muammar Gaddafi. Farrakhan, who refers to Gaddafi as "a brother," warned that the West would soon face retribution for Dear Leader's demise. Farrakhan now calls Obama "an assassin," and says he witnessed the good Gaddafi did for Libya. Obama will probably gain politically from Farrakhan's attacks. Farrakhan is in the tradition of other collaborators with evil, many of whom made common cause with the Nazis before World War II.
CAIN REFUSES TO FADE – A new Fox poll has Herman Cain leading the Republican field. Cain gets 24%, Romney 20%, and Perry is down to 10%. Once again Romney just can't soar among Republicans. However, other late polls show Romney leading in key early-primary states, which could send him hurtling toward the nomination. Romney leads in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, and Florida. Romney could sew up the nomination by sheer momentum alone, with little attention paid to the enthusiasm factor.
PERRY DEBATE SHY? – The Perry camp is dropping broad hints that the governor may not participate in all the upcoming debates. Indeed, he may not participate in any of them. Perry himself said Tuesday that he regretted participating in the debates thus far. Clearly, he did not do well, and his dropping poll numbers show it. A spokesman for Perry said today that each debate would be looked at individually. A decision not to participate might make Perry more comfortable, but it will probably destroy whatever is left of his campaign. Inevitably, he'd be seen as the quitter, the candidate who ran away. He is not a good debater, but those are the breaks.
October 26, 2011 Permalink
DOES ANYONE CARE? – AT 9:13 A.M. ET: Christiane Amanpour hasn't exactly been ratings gold at ABC News, where she anchors "This Week," a declining Sunday show that used to be anchored by real journalists like David Brinkley. Now is is reported, but denied, that poor Christiane is unhappy and would like to return to CNN, her original home.
That is dreadful news. CNN has made progress since Amanpour's departure. She is no reporter. She's a political propagandist of the left posing as a reporter. She sounds good with that put-on British accent, but she's an intellectual lightweight who is all style and no substance. Does anyone outside the Ivy League really care what she thinks?
CNN's Mideast reporting, a farce under Amanpour, has become better, deeper and more balanced. If she returns, CNN will not gain, it will lose. Here is the story, for what it's worth:
COMMENT: I hope Amanpour stays at ABC, where she's essentially harmless. I can't imagine the more thoughtful people at CNN would be happy about her return. She brings down the class average.
October 26, 2011 Permalink
A FUN THEORY – AT 8:41 A.M. ET: Michael Goodwin, of the New York Post, is one of my favorite columnists. Provocative and somewhat conservative, he at least gets us thinking.
Now he's discussing an idea that isn't new, has actually been shot down by the White House, but which is being circulated again. Is it possible? Or is this just entertainment?
COMMENT: Well, maybe. Biden couldn't do too much damage at State, since the world already knows you can't take anything he says too seriously. Clinton would probably be a help on the ticket, but people usually don't vote for the vice president. True, she'd be in line for an easy nomination for president in 2016...if there's still a country by 2016.
There are serious problems, though. Dumping Biden looks like a political execution, which is what it would be. It might not go down well with an electorate that has already seen Obama throw a number of people under the bus. Also, Biden has broadly hinted that he might run for president in 2016. A demotion would probably kill his chances, and he may well decide to chuck it all, making Obama look ungrateful for his help. He might write a book.
And one wonders whether Hillary is really up for another campaign. She seems tired, she's indicated she wants to retire, and I think she may be serious.
Further, I'm not sure Hillary wants the scrutiny. The Clinton family closet has skeletons. Bill has been acting increasingly erratic and sometimes angry. He's made a wad of money since leaving the White House. Fox News will want to know where he's made it, and what influence that may have on American policy. Read that "Mideast money."
I'm guessing that Obama will go with Biden and take his chances, unless Biden takes some broad hints and decides that he's yearning to practice law again. Stand by.
October 26, 2011 Permalink
BACHMANN TOASTED – AT 8:20 A.M. ET: It may well be time for Michele Bachmann to make a graceful withdrawal from the presidential race, as Tim Pawlenty did, and not beat the bush any longer. From the Washington Examiner:
COMMENT: I got into deep trouble with an original reader and subscriber because I wanted to be fair to Michele Bachmann at the start of the campaign, and he despised her. So, I lost a reader and subscriber, but I'm glad we were fair, and came to our conclusions through facts and observation.
I think Bachmann has made a contribution, and, with proper growth, can be an important factor in the party's future.
But it is now time to go, and overstaying your welcome in a presidential race simply annoys people, antagonizes the leading candidates, and continues to make the debates unwieldy. It's also time for Jon Huntsman and Rick Santorum to reconsider. Newt Gingrich is a former speaker who is playing an important intellectual role. Ron Paul, whose nutbag foreign-policy views have now been exposed, will not get out because he believes there are hidden regiments, led by black helicopters, who will rescue him.
It's now a Romney, Cain, Perry race. And Rick Perry must gain back some traction in the next two weeks or he, too, will be looking at the exits. A party must narrow its field at some point, so the public can start concentrating on the heavy hitters.
October 26, 2011 Permalink
PLANNED DESTRUCTION – AT 7:38 A.M. ET: If there is one Republican the liberal establishment would like to take out, it's Senator Marco Rubio of Florida. A rising star, attractive and eloquent, he's seen as a future presidential candidate, and someone who can bring Hispanic voters to the Republican Party.
One part of Rubio's appeal is his family's story, immigrants who came to the United States to start a new life.
But last week a reporter for the Washington Post with a history of sucking up to Castro, wrote a hit piece accusing Rubio of fudging his family's history, giving the impression that Rubio's parents fled Castro, when in fact they came to America three years before Castro took power. The story also questioned Rubio's use of the word "exiles" to describe his mother and father.
Rubio responded furiously, conceding that he got the year of his parents' exodus to America wrong, but claiming that his parents were exiles nonetheless because they could not return to Cuba, that their country had been taken from them.
There's no question but that Rubio should have had every fact right in his official Senate biography. Every political figure knows that the bio is the first thing "oppo" (opposition) research looks at. But the detail is small. Rubio's parents came here, struggled (his mother worked as a cleaning woman in Las Vegas for a time), and raised a great family. His mother apparently went back to Cuba for a short time to care for an ailing relative, but returned to the U.S. Some details are murky, but the basic facts are there.
What is also there, however, is the new narrative of the left, which will be used by some left-wing Hispanics who want to punish Rubio for straying from the party line, that Rubio is a liar, not a true member of the "community," and someone who can't be trusted. The Politico today has another story on Rubio that examines the claims and counterclaims, and comes up with little or nothing. The point is made that Rubio's parents didn't become U.S. citizens until 1975, but it's also noted that this was common. (It was common in the immigrant experience generally for immigrants to put off citizenship applications.) We're told that the Rubios originally filed for permanent residence in the U.S., suggesting that they could not therefore be exiles. But we're then told that this filing was routine.
Really, a mountain has been made out of a molehill. The term "exile" has always been used to describe those who not only have been expelled from their countries, but those who left voluntarily but can no longer return, even if they don't particularly want to. I know Iranians, for example, who came here voluntarily, but cannot go back to their native country. They're often called exiles.
Will this hurt Rubio? I tend to doubt it. His story is compelling enough, and most Americans have some kind of immigrant background and know that details can become hazy. I only learned late in life, for example, that my maternal grandfather, for whom I'm named, came to this country, not through New York, the traditional portal, but through San Francisco, after working on a tramp steamer to get here. Would it have made me a liar to think and say that he came through Ellis Island because I assumed it to be true? Oh, and my maternal grandmother, whom I'd always associated with the renowned Ellis Island, actually came through Castle Garden in lower New York because a fire had put Ellis Island out of commission for a time. Have I lied about it because I didn't know every detail?
I think Rubio will get through this just fine. In fact, there might be a backlash against attempts to nail him on his family history. Looks awfully petty, especially as that history is dramatic enough.
Of course, we might feel some gratitude toward the liberal press for at least asking questions. Now about Barack Hussein Obama Jr...
October 26, 2011 Permalink
OCTOBER 25, 2011
SHORT TAKES ON THE DRIFTING WRECKAGE – AT 11:06 P.M. ET:
OH DEAR, SUCH EMBARRASSMENT – Fawning letters from Prince Charles and Tony Blair to now-biologically challenged Muammar Gaddafi have been discovered in Libya. The letters from Charles don't surprise me, as Britain's dysfunctional royal family has a nasty history of treating with dictators. Hitler was a particular favorite of some of the royals. The letters from Blair are disturbing because he's generally a good guy with common sense. But there were commercial deals involved. A very sordid affair, and a lesson in how the real world works.
A FORD IN YOUR FUTURE? – Ford Motor Company, which proudly, and correctly, points out that it took no government bailouts, has taken a major hit in the new Consumer Reports review of auto reliability. Last year Ford ranked 10th, and competed well with Japanese auto makers. Now it has slipped to 20th, the biggest drop of any car manufacturer. The reason appears to be problems with new or redesigned models, confirming the conventional wisdom that discourages purchases of new or redesigned lines in the first year. Chrysler has become the most reliable domestic brand. Government Motors ranks poorly. Take the survey for what it's worth. I'd rather depend on word of mouth.
MAJOR BLACK DEFECTION FROM DEMS? – There are stories circulating that Artur Davis, former distinguished black congressman from Alabama, and a rising star, may defect to the Republican Party. Davis has rubbed members of the black establishment the wrong way by raising doubts about traditional Congressional Black Caucus attitudes on voter i.d. laws. He was immediately attacked by the head of the CBC, Emanuel Cleaver. Davis responded by hinting that he no longer felt welcome in his party. Davis, while a member of Congress, was the only black member to vote against Obamacare. He has "retired" from politics, but his recent statements may indicate some future interest. He would go far as a Republican. But his unorthodox views would limit him in the Democratic Party.
LIBYA WORRIES – A new report says that abandoned weapons are still strewn all over Libya. These include "manpads," shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles, and tank and artillery rounds, which can easily be converted into roadside bombs or terror devices. There have already been reports of the manpads showing up in Gaza. While there are some international efforts underway to secure weapons in Libya, it is impossible to secure them all. Twenty manpads all used on the same day, near airports around the world, could create a 9-11 size catastrophe, and paralyze the international air transport system.
October 25, 2011 Permalink
PERRY FUMBLES ON TAX PLAN – AT 8:33 P.M. ET: What is it with Rick Perry? He unveiled a tax plan yesterday. Initially, as readers know, I expressed some enthusiasm. But a more careful study today revealed the major hole in the plan – it does indeed benefit mostly "the rich."
And the problem is that Perry admitted it in a disastrous TV interview in which he said he didn't care if it mostly benefited the affluent. He gave one of those "it will stimulate them to invest" answers. Ouch. The quotes from this interview will not help Governor Perry get out of the polling basement.
Look, I love free enterprise. More people have advanced under capitalism than under any other system in history. But it has its flaws, and one of them, discussed as much by thoughtful conservatives as by the libs, is that there is a growing, alarming income gap in America. We are getting into third-world status, like the old Latin American kleptocracies. And, as Republican House Leader Eric Cantor pointed out, we have a lack of income mobility.
The "rich" are already rich. If they wanted to invest, they'd invest right now. They don't need further tax breaks. The "rich" were investing when the top marginal rate was much higher. Perry implied during his interview that there is a shortage of capital. No there isn't. Many American companies are flush with cash. One of our problems is that they won't spend it. They have a lack of confidence in the Obama administration's economic policies, and they see themselves burdened by new regulations every day. The regulation problem, generated by hard leftists among the Obamans, is a national economic scandal.
In the last week even major liberal figures from Massachusetts, that "progressive" state, have started a revolt against new regulations in the fishing industry, one of the most important industries they have.
Perry's plan has some good features, including some flexibility that helps people in the lower brackets. But his admission that it disproportionately helps those at the top, and his classroom theory that this will "help" investment, just won't fly with an increasingly angry public. (I went to a talk yesterday by Frank Luntz, the public-opinion analyst, who talked about how angry this country is.)
Perry's mouth has gotten him into enough trouble already. He continues to sink in the polls. I admire him for being a fighter, and fighting back at a time of political adversity. But I'm afraid he may lack the national political savvy to make it.
October 25, 2011 Permalink
SNIPPET OF THE DAY – AT 10:54 A.M. ET:
Do you think we can now talk about Asian materialism? Well, maybe. But don't try it at a cocktail party on the west side of Manhattan.
HUH? – AT 9:51 A.M. ET: First there was an attempt to blame the gun manufacturers for inner-city violence. And now this. From AFP:
Blame Coca-Cola. They're the ones. It's cultural genocide!
COMMENT: Gee, you don't think culture might be involved here, do you? Nah. Can't say that in polite company.
The murder rate has declined about 80% in New York over the last 20 years, and I don't believe there's been any noticeable decline in soft-drink sales. Good police work and effective prosecution were the medicines needed.
Look, I'd like "inner-city" kids to drink less soda and eat better. And yes, there may be chemicals in some foods that have behavioral implications. But, last time I looked, Asian-American kids were drinking the same Cokes and Pepsis, and weren't forming flash mobs. They've been "invading" math departments.
Unless we deal with the cultural and family tragedies in the inner cities, we'll continue to delude ourselves.
October 25, 2011 Permalink
A TINGLE FOR LINGLE? – AT 8:36 A.M. ET: Almost lost in all the political and foreign news recently is a political announcement in Hawaii that could, conceivably, change the face of the U.S. Senate.
Former Republican Governor Linda Lingle has announced her candidacy for the Senate, attempting to replace retiring Democrat Daniel Akaka. Hawaii is a heavily Democratic state that went overwhelmingly for Obama in 2008. But the right Republican can sometimes win, as Lingle demonstrated in two successful terms as governor. She was reelected in 2006 by the largest margin in Hawaii history.
Republicans have a good shot at taking control of the U.S. Senate, and every Senate election counts. Before Lingle entered the race, the Cook Political Report rated Hawaii as solidly Democratic. Now it has the race as a toss-up. Such is Lingle's popularity.
That popularity has come at a price. Lingle is regularly called a RINO (Republican in name only) by the GOP thought police, who believe all Republican candidates must be exactly the same, no matter where they are running. The Dems have their own police force as well. Lingle deals with the charge, as The Hill reports:
I'd add Chris Christie of New Jersey, who, although loved by conservatives, and correctly so, has taken many middle-of-the-road positions.
COMMENT: Political parties are built on coalitions. The Roosevelt coalition consisted heavily of northern liberals and Southern moderates and conservatives. The Reagan coalition was led by movement conservatives, but included Reagan Democrats.
Linda Lingle has star quality. We'll be following her race. We're out to win this.
October 25, 2011 Permalink
MADNESS – AT 8:14 A.M. ET: It's rare that we get bipartisan agreement on anything in Washington, but it seems to be happening with a completely crazy aspect of American foreign policy – giving aid to booming China. From Fox News:
COMMENT: You'd think someone would've stopped this by now. It calls out for a congressional investigation. I'd imagine there are some interests involved that some influential people might not want exposed.
Blunders like this also raise questions about other waste and abuse throughout the federal bureaucracy. That includes waste and abuse at home, especially the blank checks written to the education establishment. Of course, if you ask about that you're called 1) anti-intellectual, 2) anti-science, 3) a racist, 4) a fascist, 5) and a warmonger.
October 25, 2011 Permalink
THE RACE TODAY – AT 8:02 A.M. ET: Despite some gaffes, Herman Cain continues to hold his own in the GOP race, according to a new survey. They like him. They just like him. From the Politico:
COMMENT: Why Herman? It's because he inspires people. It's clear many GOP voters are prepared to overlook his rather astounding amateurism, and the fact that there really isn't any organization to his campaign. Maybe they find these things attractive and refreshing. The problem with Romney, of course, is that he doesn't elicit emotion. There is no craving for Mitt. But Herman is delightful. Could Herman win the party's nod? I doubt it. Could he go up against Barack Obama in debate? I doubt that, too.
I was with some informed political people yesterday, and the subject of Cain as V.P. choice came up. I'd be skeptical about that, but I could be very wrong. A vice presidential candidate is picked by the guy at the top of the ticket. Traditionally, what you want in the second spot is a potted plant who creates no problems and might help bring in a state or a group. Anyone selecting Cain knows that he's a loose cannon, destined to create some controversy by undisciplined remarks, controversy the presidential candidate will have to fix. Who would want that? I don't know.
Rick Perry's collapse is not surprising, although, as we noted here yesterday, he's shown a lot of fight in the last week and is not conceding defeat in any way. But Perry's poor debate performance, and the angry look on his face during the last debate, have been unhelpful, to put it mildly. Those things are a turnoff to a party looking for victory.
Bottom line: No one in this poll is above 25%. There's still room for surprise.
October 25, 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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