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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SEPTEMBER 14,  2011


TERROR THREAT UNRESOLVED – Federal authorities say that the alleged terror threat against the United States, timed to coincide with 9-11, remains unresolved.  That means we don't know if it's real, or unreal, and we don't know where the alleged plotters are, if in fact there are any.  One thing is certain, though – there are terrorists out there who will try to strike us, and we can't be lucky every time.

POLITICAL CORRECTNESS, THE NEW INSANITY – News reports tell of a newly dedicated memorial plaque in Washington Township, New Jersey, which simply says, "Dedicated September 11, 2011, 10 year anniversary."  What then follows is a list of town officials who presumably supported the plaque.  There is no mention of what is being memorialized, no mention of 3,000 dead, no mention of terrorism, no mention of jihadism, and no names of local victims.  I wonder what kids in 20 years will think when they pass the memorial. 

CALIFORNIA SCREAMIN' – A new Field poll shows that even Californians, normally solid for Dems, are having doubts about Barack Obama.  For the first time since he took office, his approval rating in California has dropped below 50%, to 46%.  That is only two percent more than disapprove of the president's performance.  Since June Mr. Obama has suffered dougle-digit drops among Democrats, nonpartisans, Central Valley residents, men, African Americans, Asian Americans, and voters over 65.

BE PREPARED, IT'S THE BOY SCOUT MARCHING SONG – An "adult" film studio in California's San Fernando Valley has begun construction on a "post-apocalyptic" underground bunker to prepare for a global catastrophe that some believe will take place in 2012.  The bunker will have bars, a performing stage and a production studio.  All this construction just because a few pundits think Barack Obama will be reelected.  I wonder if this is one of those "shovel-ready" projects the president's new jobs plan will finance. 

September 14, 2011       Permalink

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From The Wall Street Journal:   A tiny car company backed by former Vice President Al Gore has just gotten a $529 million U.S. government loan to help build a hybrid sports car in Finland that will sell for about $89,000.  The award this week to California startup Fisker Automotive Inc. follows a $465 million government loan to Tesla Motors Inc., purveyors of a $109,000 British-built electric Roadster. Tesla is a California startup focusing on all-electric vehicles, with a number of celebrity endorsements that is backed by investors that have contributed to Democratic campaigns.  The awards to Fisker and Tesla have prompted concern from companies that have had their bids for loans rejected, and criticism from groups that question why vehicles aimed at the wealthiest customers are getting loans subsidized by taxpayers.

You know, somehow I can't decide between a Fisker and a Tesla.  I think I'll contact Al Gore and ask him which one would do the most to save civilization. 


UTTERLY DISGRACEFUL – AT 10:18 A.M. ET:  Next week the Palestinians, divided by two governments – the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank, and the whack job Hamas crowd in Gaza – will attempt to gain UN recognition for statehood.  This is an end run attempt to get around direct negotiations with Israel.

The "Palestinian cause" has become a big deal among the left-wing trendies, both here and in Europe.  They're kind of the flavor of the month, or year.  But, while the Palestinians deserve to be treated with dignity, their cause is something else again.  It has a very shady history, one tied to the fascism of the 1930s and 1940s.  A new statement by the Palestinian "ambassador" to the US is shocking, and telling, and should be widely circulated before we create another Mideast monster.  From USA Today: 

WASHINGTON – The Palestine Liberation Organization's ambassador to the United States said Tuesday that any future Palestinian state it seeks with help from the United Nations and the United States should be free of Jews.

"After the experience of the last 44 years of military occupation and all the conflict and friction, I think it would be in the best interest of the two people to be separated," Maen Areikat, the PLO ambassador, said during a meeting with reporters sponsored by The Christian Science Monitor. He was responding to a question about the rights of minorities in a Palestine of the future.

Such a state would be the first to officially prohibit Jews or any other faith since Nazi Germany, which sought a country that was judenrein, or cleansed of Jews, said Elliott Abrams, a former U.S. National Security Council official.

Israel has 1.3 million Muslims who are Israeli citizens. Jews have lived in "Judea and Samaria," the biblical name for the West Bank, for thousands of years. Areikat said the PLO seeks a secular state, but that Palestinians need separation to work on their own national identity.

COMMENT:  Isn't there a term for that?  Isn't that apartheid?  Let's see if the left shows any interest. 

And the "ambassador's" statement is the tip of the proverbial iceberg.  Anti-Christian and anti-Semitic comments come from Palestinian sources all the time.  Christians are called "cross worshippers" and "crusaders," and Jews are called "the sons of apes and pigs."  Real classy stuff.  There has been an out-migration of Christians from Palestinia Muslim areas. 

This ugliness won't affect the vote in the UN General Assembly.  Any Arab cause, including the forced conversion of pigeons to Islam, would get a large majority.  There are 56 Muslim nations, there's a "third world" bloc that goes in lockstep with the Islamic world, there are the red countries, and there are Europeans who simply want contracts in the Mideast.  A little Third Reich hatred won't have much impact.

At the same time, there is increasing worry that some of the "revolutionary" movements in the Mideast, including the ones in Egypt and Libya, may turn out to be revolutionary in the wrong direction.  We'll have a better fix by the end of the year, but we may start pining for Hosni Mubarak.  Maybe a monument in Washington?

September 14, 2011       Permalink 

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OH DEAR, OH DEAR, HOW LOW WILL THIS GO? – No matter what President Obama does, his numbers remain weak.  The latest from the world of political math, via CNN:

Washington (CNN) -- President Barack Obama's disapproval rating has reached a new high of 55% while the number of Americans who think he is a strong leader has dropped to a new low, 48%, according to a CNN/ORC poll released Tuesday.

And a familiar pattern in public opinion on Obama again asserts itself: Americans don't like his track record on major issues while they continue to like him personally. Nearly eight in 10 respondents say Obama is likeable; large majorities believe he is compassionate, hard-working, and has a vision for the country's future. Three-quarters think he fights for his beliefs.

But only 39% approve of how he is handling unemployment, and just 36% approve of the way he is handling the economy, not surprising when more than eight in 10 think the economy is in poor shape.

Opinion on Obama's economic track record is mixed, however. While fewer than one in 10 (9%) think his policies have made the economy better, about four in 10 (39%) credit them with preventing the economy from being even worse than it is today. On the other side, 37% say Obama has made economic conditions worse. Fifteen percent think his policies have had no effect.

Overall, 55% now say they disapprove of how he is handling his job as president. That's one point higher than the 54% disapproval rating he routinely hit in polls taken in July and August. Forty-three percent now say they approve of how Obama is handling his job overall. That is not an all-time low for him; he hit 42% a year ago. Six in 10 say Obama has fallen short of their expectations.

COMMENT:  And so the Dems are pursuing a classic political strategy when a president up for reelection is unpopular.  They're arguing that the alternative to the guy is far worse.  The scare campaign against any Republican candidate is already starting, with the classic argument that the GOP will take away your Social Security.

Rasmussen today is reporting numbers similar to CNN's:

Overall, 45% of voters say they at least somewhat approve of the president's performance. Fifty-four percent (54%) at least somewhat disapprove.

These are poor numbers, but, as we've noted in response to earlier polls, they're not hopeless.  Other presidents have come back from numbers like these to win reelection.  But Obama has demonstrated a unique, almost exciting way to remain unpopular.  I think that people have simply lost confidence in him, and the confidence factor is enormous in politics.  Ronald Reagan remained politically popular because people, even those who had disagreements with him, had a certain confidence in him.  That confidence just doesn't exist with Obama.

September 14, 2011       Permalink

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THE REPUBLICAN HOUR? – AT 9:06 A.M. ET:  Rarely has a party had the opportunity the GOP has nowIf it cannot defeat Barack Obama in next year's election, it would be the equivalent of FDR failing to defeat Herbert Hoover in 1932.

The last time the party had such a chance handed to it on a silver platter was 1980.  It delivered.  Well, Ronald Reagan delivered.  There is no Reagan now.  Or is there?

I must say that, as I watched the debate from Tampa Monday night, I got the feeling that the Republicans have not yet found their candidate.  Romney?  Knowledgeable, but somehow not a guy who inspires.  Perry?  Fine man, but the suit is still a little too empty.  As virtually everyone has said since Monday night, he has a way to go.

I have long advocated that the Republicans skip a generation and look to its younger leaders.  Yes, yes, I know, they don't have that much experience.  But that's not an argument the Dems can use, since the man in the White House had about two minutes of real experience when he was sworn in.

Consider Marco Rubio, the new, dynamic Republican senator from Florida.  He has made another fine speech.  If you're looking for a new Reagan, here's the guy: 

While some Republicans have taken an anti-interventionist turn lately, Florida senator and rising GOP star Marco Rubio made the case today for a vigorous U.S. foreign policy that promotes freedom and human rights abroad.

Rubio began his speech at the Jesse Helms Center by citing Ronald Reagan and the Founding Fathers. "At the core of our strength are the 'self-evident' truths of the Declaration of Independence," he said. "These are not just our rights as Americans. These are the rights of all human beings."

But by the 1970s--"the era of détente, of defeat and of retreat"--the "idea of placing morality at the center of our dealings with other nations was derided by supposed sophisticates as unrealistic and uninformed," Rubio said. "But then Ronald Reagan took these words to heart and he made them the center of his foreign policy—a foreign policy that even his critics now admit was remarkably successful."

From this broad statement of principle, Rubio made a broad statement of policy. The United States doesn't have "any intention of using force to depose every despotic regime on the planet," he said. "But we must do what we can to champion the cause of freedom—not only with the power of our example but also with our money and our resources, our ingenuity and our diplomacy, and on rare occasion, when there is no good alternative and when our national interest is clearly at stake, our armed might."

Rubio argued that promoting freedom abroad is not merely the morally right thing to do, it will make us safer at home. "Without our commitment to the rights of man enunciated by our forefathers, what are we? Just another big, rich country. But when we champion our ideals, we gain moral authority—and we gain physical security," he said. "You see, we may not always agree with our fellow democracies, but seldom, if ever, do we fight them. The more functioning democracies there are—'functioning' being the important quality—the easier we can breathe."

COMMENT:  That is a statesman.  A young statesman, to be sure.  His gift is that he appeals to our moral core and can articulate his convictions better than anyone around today.

He says he won't run, and so he's now everyone's choice for vice president.  The problem is, he will overshadow anyone who gets the nomination. 

I don't believe people can be "drafted" to run, but I do think they can be persuaded.  I wish the persuasion of Rubio would begin.

September 14, 2011       Permalink

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THERE IS FEVER, THERE IS PAIN – AT 8:32 A.M. ET:  News helicopters report convoys of trucks entering New York's 9th Congressional District, stocked with calming medications to be dispensed to local Democrats as part of Obamacare.

As the whole political world knows by now, the GOP staged a stunning upset in Anthony Weiner's old district yesterday, winning a congressional seat there for the first time since 1920. 

Debbie Wasserman-Schultz, the Obama-appointed Dem national chair, tells us that the New York 9th has always been a problem for Democrats.  Wait.  It's been Democratic for almost a century, and it's a problem?  I've heard spinning, but Ms. Wasserman-Schultz is a jet-powered propeller. 

The convulsion yesterday was clearly a referendum on President Obama, on his economic failures, and on his Mideast policy.  The district is heavy with supporters of Israel.  New York's iconic former Democratic mayor, Ed Koch, supported the Republican victor, Bob Turner, as a protest against Obama's Mideast meandering.

The result should scare the daylights out of the Dems, and the adults among them will get the message.  The problem is, there aren't too many adults left.  The Democratic Party has become hopelessly ideological, interested more in its theories than in results. 

Republicans can clearly capitalize on the discontent expressed yesterday.  Benjamin Franklin famously lectured the early citizens of this nation that they had "a republic, if you can keep it."  To Republicans we say, "You have an election, if you can win it."

September 14, 2011     Permalink

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SEPTEMBER 13,  2011


TROUBLE IN THE NINTH – As we watch returns come in from tonight's exciting special congressional election in New York's 9th C.D., Republican forces are expressing open concern about voter fraud, and have started the legal processes needed to deal with that issue.  Voter fraud would not shock anyone familiar with machine politics.  I'd imagine that a number of people voting in the district today, and dragged to the polls by the Dem machine, have been deceased for years, but their names on the voter rolls live on.  It's the machine's answer to religious concepts of eternal life.

IMPORTANT SCIENTIFIC BREAKTHROUGH – Now we know.  We've always known that laughter is good for us, and even feels good physically.  Now a team of scientists explains why.  It seems the very act of laughing produces endorphins, known for their feel-good effect.  Maybe that's why so many of us feel good after an Obama speech on the economy.  It's all that laughter we experience reacting to his talking points.

VERY DISTURBING – New census statistics out today show that more Americans are living in poverty than at any time since the 1950s.  The poverty rate has jumped six percent in just one year, to 15.1%.  Every American should be concerned about this.  It represents catastrophic economic failure.  The fact that the rate is increasing so quickly during the Obama administration demonstrates that the Democratic Party has no real answers to the problem.  This country is in serious trouble when one out of six lives below the poverty line.

WARREN RUNNING IN MASSACHUSETTS – Harvard Law Professor Elizabeth Warren, a severe critic of Wall Street, and someone who fancies herself a consumer advocate, will announce her candidacy tomorrow (Wednesday) for the Democratic nomination to run against Senator Scott Brown.  Brown, in a spectacular upset, won a special election to fill out the unexpired term of Ted Kennedy.  Next year's election is for a full term.

September 13, 2011       Permalink

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NEW POLL BOOSTS ROMNEY – AT 10:23 P.M. ET:   As we reported earlier, the general consensus is that Rick Perry had a less-than-stellar night in Tampa last night, and that the attacks on him are beginning to take their toll.  A new Gallup survey tends to confirm that impression.  From Andrew Malcom at the L.A. Times's Top of the Ticket blog:

Rick Perry, the Texas governor who strode on stage so confidently to announce his candidacy 31 days ago, still holds the numerical lead over former Gov. Mitt Romney, who hasn't not been running for years.

What the Gallup organization calls the Positive Intensity Score shows Perry holding strong at 24. However, for the first time since Perry surged to the front of the GOP field, Romney's score has increased significantly.

In a new rating just released Gallup shows that now with a month to compare the two men, Romney's score has surged from 11 just two weeks ago to 16 now.

At the same time the scores for two GOP women have faded. With Perry in the race Michele Bachmann's score has dropped from 13 to 10. And the train appears to be leaving the station for Sarah Palin's hypothetical candiacy; her score plunged from 16 to 10. The 10 for both women are new lows for 2011.

Gallup's Positive Intensity Scores are devised by subtracting the percentage of Republicans with highly unfavorable views of each candidate from the percentage with highly favorable views among those who know the candidate.

Perry's first debate performance at the Reagan Library last week was workmanlike. He held his own standing next to the ever-polite, ever-attentive Romney. no big Perry mistakes.

Monday night's CNN/Tea Party Express debate was a different affair with six of the other seven candidates attacking Perry somehow. Newt Gingrich has reserved virtually all of his ammo for President Obama -- and the media.

COMMENT:  The word from the Romney camp today is that he will stay on the offensive.  While Romney did not score any knockout punches Monday night, he did get in some solid jabs.  Enough of those, and Perry can lose on points. 

At the same time, Perry has a sharp political team and he's known as an astute campaigner.  I suspect they're working on improving Perry's performance right now.  He has much going for him, including an image of strength and a set of passionate beliefs.  Americans, historically, have tended to admire candidates with strong, clear beliefs, even if they didn't always agree with those beliefs. 

We'll be looking for Perry 2.1 pretty soon.

September 13, 2011     Permalink

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From the New York Post:  Columbia University students may get the unique chance this month to dine with madman Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad when he visits New York, according to the school's student newspaper.  In an email sent to members of the Columbia International Relations Council and Association, students are invited to a private dinner Sept. 21 in Midtown with the man whom University President Lee Bollinger introduced as “a petty and cruel dictator” when he spoke on campus in 2007.  Members of the group were notified earlier this summer that they would have a chance to bring 15 students to the dinner, The Columbia Spectator reported Saturday.

The vice president of the Columbia group involved says that students are "really enthusiastic" about dining with the Iranian leader, whose government regularly shoots people in the streets.   But, hey, who are we to judge?  Each country is entitled to its own "culture," isn't it?  I hope the students who dine with the Devil will be clearly identified, so they can be treated appropriately by the saner kids at Columbia.


US EMBASSY ATTACKED IN AFGHANISTAN – AT 9:51 A.M. ET:   A bold enemy attack occurs as the president provides timetables for our withdrawal.  From the Washington Post:

KABUL — Suicide bombers and gunmen launched a coordinated attack on the U.S. Embassy and NATO headquarters in Kabul on Tuesday afternoon, witnesses and security officials said, a rare and sophisticated strike in the heart of the fortified capital.

The Taliban sent a text message to reporters claiming responsibility.

Why not?  They know we're leaving.  And we now learn that the administration wants drastically to slash funds for the training of the Afghan military and police, the only forces that can even partly make up for our withdrawal.  We're also told, although Washington won't confirm or deny it, that Obama has okayed the opening of a Taliban mission in a Gulf Arab country, giving the savagery of the Taliban an aura of respectability. 

An Afghan security official said at least eight people have been confirmed killed and 10 wounded. The figure was expected to rise.

No one at the U.S. Embassy was injured, U.S. officials said.

The attack appeared to be the most audacious in Kabul since the fall of the Taliban in late 2001. It comes as U.S. troops are starting to pull out of the country, amid concern that the Afghan government is far from ready to take on more responsibility for security.

The assailants launched the attack from a tall building that is under construction, located in a traffic circle near the bunkered area that includes the sprawling U.S. Embassy compound and the headquarters of the U.S.-led military mission.

COMMENT:  This comes as we learn of plans to reduce the American presence in Iraq to 3,000 troops, which every military authority has said is not enough even to provide for their own self-protection.

There are things that Obama has done right on national security, like maintaining many Bush-Cheney policies.  But I'm getting an uneasy feeling that he's returning to his left-wing roots in foreign policy, to rally the base of the Democratic Party to his cause for 2012.  We are showing weakness, and that always leads to the same catastrophe.

September 13, 2011       Permalink

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SARAH RISING – AT 8:56 A.M. ET:  Something is happening with Sarah Palin.  A new seriousness, a new sense of reflection.  If you saw her on Greta Van Susteren's program last night, after the GOP debate, she was far more impressive than any of the debaters.

She was poignant, almost sad, very mature and reflective.  She'd given a speech in Iowa last week that even a New York Times writer found outstanding.  Newt Gingrich referred to that speech last night and said he wants to circulate it.

That speech, and her performance on Greta's show last night, was the old Sarah, the Sarah we began to love in 2008 before the roof caved in.  The old Sarah was fiercely independent, a truth teller who took on both parties if necessary, a governor with one of the highest approval ratings in the nation.   

Last night Greta returned to one of the themes of her Iowa speech – crony capitalism, the corruption of the free enterprise system by well-connected, slick operators who distort markets, scream freedom, then rush to the government for a bailout if they mess up too badly.  Even conservatives have begun to talk about this more and more.   It strikes a chord with people who believe fairness is still an American virtue.

Will Sarah run?  I don't know, and we didn't get any word on that last night.  A new poll places her third among the GOP candidates in the race for the nomination.  That is strong for someone who isn't yet in the contest.  But I did get a hint last night that Sarah will not run, that she realizes this may not be her time, that she's got to grow again as a serious candidate for the future, that she will continue to be a gadfly.  But I could be very wrong.

The transcript of Sarah's extraordinary Iowa speech is here.  It is well worth reading.  She has such talent, if only she could get all the moving parts to work together again, as they did when she was governor.

September 13, 2011        Permalink

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DEBATE AFTERMATH – THE CLEAR MESSAGE – AT 8:32 A.M. ET:  A clear message is starting to emerge from last night's Republican debate.  It is coming from American commentators, but also from British observers, who, as we've often said here, are among the most astute observers of American politics.

The message is that Rick Perry is the frontrunner, but that the frontrunner needs some serious polishing.  I agree with that message.   Perry didn't particularly hurt himself last night, but he didn't help himself either.  The question about Perry is whether he could go beyond Texas, or was just a local politician with national ambitions.  The question was not satisfactorily answered in last night's debate. 

This, from Toby Harnden of Britain's Telegraph:

Rick Perry is now the Republican frontrunner – but he needs to raise his game

Another fascinating Republican debate. You could tell by the way that all the candidates queued up to attack him that Rick Perry is clearly regarded by the others as the undisputed frontrunner. They've been reading the polls as well as the tea (party) leaves. Towards the end, he looked slightly stunned by the combined (though hardly coordinated) assault. Welcome to the big time, Governor.

So did the debate change things? Strangely, very possibly not. Here are some points to take away:

1. Perry flagged after an hour or so (as he did, to a lesser extent, at the Reagan Library) and seemed at times like he was trying to wing it. He needs to prepare better for these things...

And, from John Podhoretz, at Contentions:

The main problem here, though, is that he seems to think he can wing these debates by referring to what he did in Texas here and what he did in Texas there. That is insufficient not just when it comes to giving voters a chance to judge him by the policy choices he might make; it’s insufficient because it suggests he thinks he can get away without getting specific and demonstrating a command of national and international issues.

If he comforts himself with the thought that GOP voters are so simple-minded or singularly focused on government spending they won’t care about his inability to speak with minimal coherence about the American mission in Afghanistan, for example—his worst answer—he misunderstands his own party...

...Perry’s key challenge as he goes forward over the next six months is not appearing to be an empty suit. In the last hour of tonight’s debate, he seemed to shrink inside his finely tailored one. The suit wasn’t empty, but it wasn’t hanging comfortably on him, and he’d better fill it better. There are a lot more of these debates to go—at least seven, if memory serves. And a lot more press coverage. And a lot more controversy. And he’s not ready for it yet.

COMMENT:  You can see the pattern, and I've seen it in other comments as well.  Even those pundits who like Perry feel he is, so far, inadequate.  When he speaks about Texas, he speaks with authority.  When he must speak about national issues, the details float away.  You get the feeling he doesn't study much.

When evaluating these candidates in debate, we must imagine how they'd do against Obama in a close election.  Obama may be an awful president, but he's a smooth candidate, and he'll have the press with him.  Perry has work to do.  Fortunately, he has the overall demeanor of a president, and he is brimming with strength.  He must now complete the portrait.

September 13, 2011      Permalink

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SPECIAL ELECTION – AT 8:11 A.M. ET:  Eyes are on New York's 9th Congressional District today, where a special election is being held to replace Anthony Weiner, the Gypsy Rose Lee of the internet.  Remember, the votes haven't been cast yet, but there are signs of a political upset.  From RealClearPolitics:

The special election in this state's 9th Congressional District, which comprises parts of Brooklyn and Queens, was supposed to be an easy win for Democrats. After all, prominent New York Democrats like Sen. Chuck Schumer and onetime vice presidential candidate Geraldine Ferraro had held the seat long before Weiner took office in 1999. Democrats enjoy a near 3-to-1 registration advantage here and voters chose Barack Obama over John McCain in 2008 by 11 points.

But since then, voters appear to have soured on the president. A recent Siena Research poll found Obama with negative favorability ratings among voters, a majority of whom feel the country is headed in the wrong direction. That same Siena poll showed Weprin trailing by six points, and the closeness of this race has National Democrats worried: They spent half a million dollars on a broadcast ad buy that has been airing in New York’s expensive media market since Thursday. The Democratic House Majority PAC is running ads, too.


The electorate here has been slowly, and slightly, swinging more conservative in recent years: Democrat Al Gore received 67 received percent support in the 2000 presidential election but John Kerry attracted just 56 percent in 2004; Obama took 55 percent in 2008. Weiner defeated Turner in 2010, but the Republican still managed to take 40 percent of the vote. In this go-around, Turner appears more confident he can win, one volunteer observed. “He is the first Republican I’ve seen to go out and act like he can win; I don’t think I’ve ever seen a Republican candidate outside a Stop n’ Shop,” Michael Mets told RCP, referring to the grocery chain.

COMMENT:  It is an extraordinary political sight.  I still believe the Dem might pull it out, based on registration numbers and the fact that turnout is the key in any special election.  But if the Republican wins, it will send shock waves to Washington.  This is the Schumer seat, the Ferraro seat.  It has great symbolic importance.

We'll watch the vote count tonight.  We may be up late.  Sleep deprivation is sometimes worth it.

September 13, 2011      Permalink

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"What you see is news.  What you know is background.  What you feel is opinion."
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      of The New York Times.


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    - Lt. Gen. Arthur MacArthur, to his
      son, Douglas.


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



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