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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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I appeared on Silvio Canto Jr's talk show from Dallas last night.  It's here.

 

 

SEPTEMBER 5,  2011

SHORT TAKES ON THE DRIFTING WRECKAGE – AT 11:45 P.M. ET:

HE'S LOST HIS MOORINGS AGAIN – Onetime well-known filmmaker Michael Moore has asked for permission to visit Iran to attend a film festival.   Among other motives he gives in going to Iran, Moore says he wants to protest U.S. policy.  Apparently, Barack Obama isn't far enough left for him.  Moore has very little audience left here, but will undoubtedly pack 'em in at the Iranian cinema.  I say, let him go.  And let him stay if he wants to.

OUTRAGE IN BRITAIN – I've always felt there were two Britains, the Britain of Winston Churchill, which we love, and a lesser Britain, a product of the welfare state.  The second is often on ugly display.  There comes now the story of a British soldier who lost both his legs and an arm in Afghanistan.  So what does the nanny state do?  It puts this soldier, his intended wife, and their two children, in a tiny apartment on the sixth floor of a high rise.  The government told the trooper there's a five-year wait for better housing.  But London's Daily Mail reports that large homes go directly to asylum seekers.  Disgraceful.

UPDATE – This morning, in a story about crime, we reported that 31 people had been shot in New York this weekend.  Well, make that 46.  A city made very safe over the years, beginning with the inspired work of Rudy Giuliani, became a shooting gallery this past weekend.  Gunfire erupted today at the annual West Indian Day parade in Brooklyn, right near the area where Mayor Mike Bloomberg was marching.  Oh, and by the way, seven people were murdered this weekend in the president's home city of Chicago.  Notice the interest at the highest levels.

September 5, 2011     Permalink

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A REMEMBRANCE – AT 5:38 P.M. ET:  This week we will mark the 10th anniversary of the 9-11 attacks.  A new structure is going up where the World Trade Center stood, and a memorial is part of that structure.  Reader Joseph J. Gallick refers us to an excellent video describing the memorial.  I urge you all to see it.  It's here:

http://tinyurl.com/3scth9b

I was struck by the fact that the memorial will honor all those killed on 9-11, in New York, at the Pentagon, and in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where United flight 93 crashed.  It will also honor those killed in the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center.  It was that attack that led to modernized security at the Trade Center, which saved many lives on September 11, 2001.

September 5, 2011     Permalink

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SMOOTH ONE BY PERRY – AT 12:24 P.M. ET:  Republican frontrunner, Governor Rick Perry of Texas, cut short his campaign today to return to Texas to deal with the spreading wildfires.  It is a smart move on Perry's part, demonstrating responsibility to the job and placing it above politics.  From the Washington Examiner:

Texas Gov. Rick Perry surprised the organizers of today's Palmetto Freedom Forum by withdrawing from the event just hours before it is scheduled to begin. Put together by Sen. Jim DeMint, who is widely acknowledged as a kingmaker in the Republican race in South Carolina, the event, set for 3 p.m. today, will feature candidates Mitt Romney, Michele Bachmann, Ron Paul, Herman Cain, and Newt Gingrich in an unconventional question-and-answer format with DeMint, Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King, and Princeton University professor Robert George.

According to several sources familiar with events, the chairman of Perry's campaign in South Carolina, former Republican party chief Katon Dawson, called organizers this morning to say that Perry needs to return to Texas to deal with quickly-spreading wildfires. Event organizers offered to move the schedule around -- the candidates were scheduled to speak in alphabetical order at the forum, which would have put Perry second-to-last -- and waited for Perry's response. The first definitive reports they heard on Perry's decision came from the media. In the meantime, Perry was participating in a town hall event in Myrtle Beach, S.C. organized by Rep. Tim Scott. Perry was scheduled to speak personally with DeMint at 11:15 a.m., at which time he would officially withdraw from the forum. Perry has a plane waiting in Myrtle Beach to return him to Texas.

COMMENT:  A Drudge headline earlier today read, "Texas on fire."  Maybe that influenced the decision.

The key question is whether Perry will now show up at the Reagan Library on Wednesday night for the first major, televised debate in which he's scheduled to take part.  The faithful will give Perry this one withdrawal today, to do his job as governor.  But attending the Reagan debate, after he's had a chance to return to Texas for two days, means a plane ride to California, and a quick flight back.  If he skips the Reagan Library, suspicions will rise that he's not ready for prime time. 

September 5, 2011     Permalink

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RUBIO'S HIT – AT 11:32 A.M. ET:  Senator Marco Rubio of Florida gave a remarkable speech recently at the Reagan Library.  African-American journalist Star Parker reflects on it, in a column that has direct relevance to the horror story we reported just below.  From Townhall.com:

Senator Rubio took a bold step beyond looking at our problems just as an accountant.

He suggested that we cannot separate our budget from our culture. The culture of government has displaced the culture of personal responsibility.

I have been making the point for years regarding what the welfare state culture has done in our black communities. How it has created a permanent underclass, defined by family breakdown, sexual promiscuity, disease, and crime.

American culture has changed profoundly over these years that Americans have come to increasingly believe that government social engineering can solve life’s problems and challenges.

A snapshot of today’s American family shows how much things have changed, even compared to 1981 when President Reagan took office.

Since 1980, the percentage of babies in America born to unwed mothers has doubled, from 20 percent to 40 percent.

Fifty two percent of Americans over the age of 18 are married today, compared to 72 percent in 1960.

Among blacks, 44% of the population over 18 has never been married, compared to 17% in 1960.

Sixty four percent of American children today live in a home with two married parents, compared with 75 percent in 1980 and 87 percent in 1960.

And, according to the Pew Research Center, 44 percent of those between ages of 18 to 29 “agree marriage is becoming obsolete.”

We used to be a nation, as Senator Rubio pointed out, where parents raised and cared for children, then those children cared for their aging parents. Where neighbors cared for neighbors.

We might note that the welfare state idea is not an American invention but an import from Europe. We also might note that about 20 percent of Europeans attend church regularly, half that of Americans.

Europe is characterized today by low birth rates – so low that they are not replacing themselves – and high unemployment rates. The unemployment rate in France has hovered between 8 and 11 percent over the last 25 years.

We must wonder if even we can take on our fiscal problems, if traditional American family life can be restored, and if we believe it even matters.

It is to Senator Rubio’s considerable credit that he has stood up to argue that we must look at the picture of our nation in its entirety. That we cannot separate our budget matters and our attitude toward government from our overall culture and our personal behavior.

COMMENT:  Well said, and another reason why Marco Rubio should be advanced rapidly in the Republican Party.  He may be young, but he has wisdom beyond his years.  Barack Obama was also young when he ran for president, but he has the wisdom of a 20-year-old.

September 5, 2011       Permalink

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ONE WEEKEND – AT 10:57 A.M. ET:  One of the great accomplishments within the United States in recent decades has been the successful assault on crime in some of our large cities, inspired by the work of Rudy Giuliani and his police officials in New York.

The murder rate in New York in the years since Rudy took office in the early 90s is down 80%.  New York has become a remarkably safe city, and a successful one.  This has driven the left crazy, as the success came without groveling to every ethnic leader or pandering to the "socio-economic problems of inner-city peoples."  (I hope I have the lingo right.) 

But now we're having setbacks.  This has been one of the bloodiest weekends in recent New York history.  From the New York Post:

In one of the bloodiest weekends in recent city history, 31 people were brutally shot in roughly 48 hours this weekend -- including three kids at a house party-turned-shooting gallery in The Bronx.

25 people had been shot as of Sunday night, but by early Monday morning, six more people were shot in three separate incidents in Brooklyn.

Four people were shot at 12:45 a.m. at what appeared to be a barbecue on East 54th Street. One of the victims, 18-year-old Tyrief Gary, has died. The other three are in stable condition.

A man and a woman were each shot in the chest at 4:24 a.m. and 6 a.m., the first at Linden Boulevard and Nostrand Ave and the second at 57 Empire Boulevard. Both victims were taken to Kings County hospital where they're in critical condition.

Police sources believe the three shootings this morning are connected to the pre-dawn festivities leading up to today's West Indian Day parade. The traditional celebration, known as J'ouvert, has been the scene of numerous shootings in the past, although cops have had it under control in recent years.

New York's self-indulgent mayor, who's become more liberal with every passing hour, is not Rudy Giuliani.  He has the usual prescription to end the violence.

Calling the chilling violence "just unconscionable," Mayor Bloomberg demanded that the feds step up their efforts to get illegal weapons off the streets.

"We just cannot continue to have these guns in the hands of kids who don't understand the value of human life," he said.

No kidding, Bloomie.  But we know exactly where you're going – the next step will be to blame the gun manufacturers.  The fact is that the same gun manufacturers supply legal weapons to states with high gun ownership, like Vermont and New Hampshire, where the murder rate is tiny. 

Two dozen of the victims were shot in 13 incidents between 6 a.m. Saturday and 6 a.m. yesterday, authorities said.

More than half of those were wounded -- one fatally -- within a five-hour stretch, from 3 to 8 a.m. yesterday.
The 25th victim was shot at 9 a.m. yesterday.

The issue is culture.  We still have too many in this society, and especially in liberal cities like New York, who indulge the worst elements, who insist that their "culture" be "respected," instead of teaching these young people the right values. 

Yes, it is certainly true that illegal guns must be swept from the streets.  But the guns aren't firing themselves.

By the way, we not only have had this horrible weekend in New York, we've seen flash mobs in cities around the country, where gangs of "youths" invade stores, stealing anything they wish.  Please notice the silence from the White House and the Justice Department.  But DOJ had plenty of resources to raid a guitar company which may have been using improperly imported wood. 

I hope this weekend won't provide a vision of things to come.  But if it does, the man at the top, in Washington, who held a beer summit at the White House when one of his professorial friends felt insulted, had better start speaking up.

September 5, 2011     Permalink

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SEPTEMBER 4,  2011

SHORT TAKES ON THE DRIFTING WRECKAGE – AT 11:05 P.M. ET:

THE NEWEST MONEY THREAT – The US Postal Service says it may have to shut down completely during the winter unless Congress takes emergency action.  One reason for the crisis:  Labor represents 80% of the USPS's expenses, as compared with 53% at United Parcel Service and 32% at FedEx.  Decades of labor contracts are coming home to roost.  I suspect we'll see drastically reduced service in the future, a probable end to Saturday deliveries, and possibly three-day-a-week deliveries in some areas.  Make sure your e-mail works.

LIBYA – The same old Mideast story.  What is it about these Arabs?  Can't they get anything right?   Superb national-defense reporter Bill Gertz, of the Washington Times, reports that jihadists in Libya have revealed plans to subvert a post-Gaddafi government and set up an Islamist state, according to US intelligence sources.  There are also reports that Libyan rebels are arresting blacks in the capital city of Tripoli and accusing them, many migrant workers, of siding with the Gaddafi regime.  Welcome to the new world of freedom.  It seems that Libya is in danger of slipping into a future even more frightening than the time of Gaddafi.

ANTICIPATION – Political junkies are anticipating this Wednesday's Republican debate at the Reagan Library.  The main event:  the confrontation between Mitt Romney and Rick Perry.  Romney is already giving hints of his approach, a contrast between his business experience and the fact that Perry has spent a good chunk of his adult life in political office.  It is absolutely imperative for Romney, if he hopes to challenge Perry's lead, to go after the Texas governor on Wednesday.  For Romney, Perry must be pictured as an unelectable, extreme-oriented career politician.  For Perry, the reverse is true.  He's got to create his own image, as Ronald Reagan did, reassuring the audience that he's a mature, reasoned governor, not some fringe guy.  As  performer, Perry outdistances Romney.  But we'll withhold judgment until after Wednesday night's rumble.

September 4, 2011       Permalink

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THE REALLY BIG NEWS – AT 9:53 A.M. ET:  Is it war?  No.  Is it the economy?  No.  Is it the GOP race for president?  Of course not.

The big news is that US News and World Report is about to come out with its annual rankings of colleges.  The trauma.  The agony.  The magazine sales figures.

It is, of course, a silly exercise, in part because the truly important questions are never asked.  What is being taught?  What kind of citizens are these colleges producing?  Whatever happened to the traditional academic role as pursuer of truth?  Has propaganda replaced education?  Are young minds being properly prepared for the future?

WaPo has a good report on how the US News rankings are made.  All it tells me is that higher education is big business more than big education, and people are starting to wonder about much of its value:

Bob Morse is a wonk, a number-cruncher who works in a messy office at a struggling publishing company in Georgetown.

He’s also one of the most powerful wonks in the country, wielding the kind of power that elicits enmity and causes angst.

Morse runs U.S. News & World Report’s annual Best Colleges guide, the oldest and best-known publication to rank America’s premier colleges.

The annual release of the rankings, set for Sept. 13 this year, is a marquee event in higher education. Some call it the academic equivalent of the Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue.

Colleges broadcast U.S. News rankings on Web sites and in news releases, tout them in recruiting pamphlets, alumni magazines and “Dear Colleague” letters, and emblazon them on T-shirts and billboards. Institutions build strategic plans around the rankings and reward presidents when a school ascends.

“U.S. News doesn’t advertise the rankings,” Morse said in a recent interview at the publication’s headquarters. “The schools advertise for us.”

Morse, 63, has endured for two decades as chief arbiter of higher education’s elite.

No one can stake a credible claim to academic aristocracy without a berth on the first page of a U.S. News list. He is to colleges what Robert Parker is to wine.

COMMENT:  The usual suspects will wind up near or at the top.  Very worthy schools will be far below, and will struggle to make ends meet and provide some scholarship aid.  That's the sad part. 

September 4, 2011       Permalink 

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THE THREAT FROM WITHIN – AT 9:41 A.M. ET:  Americans have been taught to recoil against any talk of a security threat from within, unless that threat comes from the right.  After all, we don't want to go back to McCarthyism, do we?  (How many times have you heard that?)

But this week we'll be marking the 10th anniversary of the 9-11 attacks, and new evidence is surfacing that the attackers of that day had a domestic network behind them that is still probably in place.  From Fox:

Declassified documents, exclusive interviews and phone and banking records present an overwhelming case that the 9/11 hijackers relied heavily on a domestic support network to facilitate the plot.

Former Sen. Bob Graham, D-Fla., who led the first congressional investigation into the 9/11 attacks in 2002, was asked by the Fox News Specials Unit if he believes the hijackers' support network remains in place today because it was never fully identified or disrupted after the attacks.

"I have no reason to believe it's not," Graham told Fox News.

The findings of an 18-month investigation by Fox's Specials Unit, called the "Secrets of 9/11," to be broadcast Saturday at 10 p.m. ET, shows that some members of the suspected Al Qaeda support network entered the U.S. nearly a decade before the attacks and that others are still living here in plain sight.

The House Homeland Security Committee shares these suspicions. A letter, first obtained by Fox News, states that the committee, chaired by Rep. Peter King, R-N.Y., has launched a congressional investigation into the New Mexico-born cleric Anwar al-Awlaki and his likely role as a 9/11 facilitator.

COMMENT:  But beware.  The investigators will undoubtedly be subjected to the charge of "Islamophobia," which is the new, replacement word for McCarthyism.  The left adjusts its vocabulary, but peddles the same old stuff:  Anyone asking questions must be a bigot. 

We still don't know the full story of 9/11.  And we still don't know the extent of the threat from within.  We do know that, every time there's a major investigation, powerful forces come forward to try to stop it. 

Islamophobia, you know.

September 4, 2011       Permalink

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OBAMA'S WEAKNESS – AT 9:30 A.M. ET:  This is one of the slowest news days of the year, so, unless the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor again to get it right this time, don't expect dramatic developments.  On the other hand, if a politician has to concede publicly that he's a secret predator, this would be the day to annouce it.  Who's listening?

But Michael Barone does have a fascinating retrospective on this last week's dust-up between Obama and Congress on the issue of when the president would deliver his jobs speech.  You'll recall that Obama simply announced a date and time, which, strangely, happened to coincide exactly with a major televised Republican debate.  Not good.  Barone comments:

I think it illustrates several of the weaknesses of this presidency.

One is a lack of regard for the Constitution. Congress is a separate branch of government, set up by Article I of the Constitution, which is not about the Executive Branch as Joe Biden said in the 2008 vice presidential debate. (Media outfits that dispatched dozens of investigative reporters to Alaska were apparently incapable of discovering this obvious error.)

Before last week, presidents and congressional leaders always agreed privately on scheduling presidential addresses to joint sessions before any public announcement was made. But it appears that no such agreement was made here, just a brusque announcement that had to be retracted.

Another weakness on display was contempt for public opinion. White House press secretary Jay Carney said it was just "coincidental" that the president wanted to speak at the same time as the Reagan Library debate. It was just "one debate that's one of many on one channel."

But those with memories that go back beyond last week may recall that in May 2009 Obama scrambled to find a venue for a speech at exactly the same time as former Vice President Cheney was scheduled to speak at the American Enterprise Institute on detainee questioning issues. Cheney coolly watched Obama on television and then delivered his own speech.

Hamhandedly trying to bigfoot the opposition is a habit with this president, not a coincidence.

A third Obama weakness is his propensity to charge his political opponents with playing politics when he is doing exactly that himself. In previewing this latest jobs-and-the-economy speech, Carney said that Obama will make the case "that politics is broken, and that politics is getting in the way of the very necessary things we need to do."

This from the president who has brushed aside one bipartisan initiative after another, from the health care initiative of Sens. Ron Wyden and Bob Bennett to the recommendations of his own fiscal commission headed by Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson.

COMMENT:  Well said and exactly right.  The president is basically a small-time Chicago politician with a golden voice.  He needed ten more years of seasoning before he should have even considered running for president.  What we have in the White House is a perpetual candidate with no particular policies.  Those policies that have succeeded were largely inherited from the Bush-Cheney administration.

But he's a superb campaigner, which is one reason I worry about the election that gets closer and closer.

September 4, 2011       Permalink

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"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.

 

"Political correctness does not legislate tolerance; it only organizes hatred. "
        - Jacques Barzun

 

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