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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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APRIL 1,  2012

SHORT TAKES ON THE DRIFTING WRECKAGE – AT 11:34 P.M. ET:

CAIRO JUSTICE – The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt swore it wouldn't enter a candidate in the presidential race.  It's now gone back on its word.  Problem is, the guy they picked has a criminal record.  Hey, it's the new Egypt.  No problem at all.  The government simply erased his convictions from the record, so now he's free to run.  Welcome to the Arab spring.  Aren't you filled with confidence?

HIGH NOON, OR AT LEAST 7 A.M. – Katie Couric, who is sometimes in journalism, will guest host "Good Morning America" on ABC this week.  And on Tuesday the guest host for NBC's "Today Show" will be...Sarah Palin.  We do divinely hope that Ms. Palin soundly defeats Ms. Couric in the ratings.  It's a rematch of sorts, considering Couric's grossly slanted "interview" with Palin during the 2008 election campaign, in which a pompous Couric asked Palin what newspapers she read.  I don't recall that being asked of Barack Obama.  I'll be eager to see if Couric makes a sarcastic remark about Palin on Tuesday.  I wouldn't be shocked.

"WAR ON WOMEN" LINE HAD ITS IMPACT – The Democratic Party line claiming that Republicans are engaged in a "war on women" has had its impact.  Late polling data shows a major shift of women under 50 to Obama in swing states.  Fortunately, the Romney people are on top of the issue and are planning a counter-campaign.  Of course, it's absurd to think that Republicans are engaged in a war on women, but it's apparently believed by many.  Question:  Will this lead Romney to pick a woman as his running mate?  If he does, he knows she'll be Palinized by the media immediately.  The Democratic Party is based on race, gender and ethnicity.  Expect more lines like "a war on women" in the future.  "A war on blacks," already used by Jesse Jackson in the Trayvon Martin case, may well be next.

April 1, 2012        Permalink

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A SUPREME QUESTION – AT 11:23 A.M. ET:  One of the intriguing questions surrounding the Supreme Court's consideration of Obamacare is the role of Associate Justice Elena Kagan.  Her comments during the proceedings thus far clearly indicated that she is in the tank for the law.

Indeed, Kagan, as solicitor general, obviously defended Obamacare.  So why hasn't she recused herself, which would be the proper thing to do.

Reader Linda Gordon writes the following:

Could some of your legal readers explain how, if Elena Kagan, as Obama's Solicitor General, actually worked on the defense of Obamacare, she can get away with not recusing herself from the case? (This is the woman who tacitly deceived the Court with her undisclosed input on partial-birth abortion.) Her presence there looks like a travesty.

Very well put.  We hope we get a response from some of the legally trained Urgent Agenda readers.  We doubt if the mainstream media will ask the same question.

There is a certain part of the American political class that doesn't believe it needs to play by the same rules as everyone else.  They believe themselves to be better than the rest of us, more moral, more enlightened, and of course they went to the right schools. 

I recall how some of that class traipsed around Vietnam with press credentials in the 60s, waving their Ivy League degrees, announcing that they had found The Truth.  Some of them got quite comfortable by writing about their insights.  They were never able to explain how a country that won every battle lost the war.  But, hey, who are we to question their genius?

But, as Linda Gordon applies, Elena Kagan should be questioned.

April 1, 2012        Permalink

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A NIGHT IN THE PRESIDENT'S HOME TOWN – AT 11:02 A.M. ET:  From the Chicago Tribune:

At least nine people were shot between 11:10 p.m. Saturday and 5 a.m. Sunday, according to Chicago police, including four outside a West Side club about 3 a.m.

Three men and a woman were among a group of people standing outside The Supper Club on the 2700 block of West Madison Street in the East Garfield Park neighborhood when a man who was denied entry came back with a gun and started shooting, police said.

The 32-year-old woman was shot in the abdomen and is in serious condition, police said. The three men -- a 21-year-old shot in the hand and groin, an 18-year-old shot in the buttocks, and an 18-year-old shot in the thigh -- are all in stable condition, police said.

The four wound up at area hospitals, police said. Three went to John H. Stroger, Jr. Hospital of Cook County and the fourth went to Mount Sinai Hospital, though an ambulance later took him to Stroger.

It wasn’t immediately clear how the four made it to the hospitals – Chicago Fire Department ambulances did not take them.

It's not clear why the shooter was kept out but he fled the scene after opening fire and nobody is in custody, police said.

About an hour later, a man in his 20s was shot in the chest and found dead inside an apartment on the 2600 block of South Tripp Avenue in the Little Village neighborhood, authorities said.

That shooting may be related to an ongoing conflict between two gangs in the area, a conflict that resulted in the death of a six-year-old girl two weeks ago, police said.

COMMENT:  Are the victims human beings?  Was the dead man a human being?  Apparently not, according to the professional agitators demanding "justice" for Trayvon Martin, the young man tragically killed in the now-famous Florida incident.  There are no protesters out in Chicago, no demands for justice, no expressions of outrage.

The reason for the silence is clear:  There's nothing in these Chicago cases for the Sharptons and Jacksons of the world.  Thus the death of Trayvon Martin is turned into theater, into a farce, designed to promote careers and TV time.  Irresponsible demands for the arrest of George Zimmerman, the Florida shooter, sound like something out of "Alice in Wonderland."  First we have the arrest, then we have the investigation. 

The sad fact is that the media has been complicit in this disgrace.  I wonder how much media attention will be paid to the overnight horror in Chicago.  But that horror is repeated almost every night, so who cares, right?

Oh, by the way, I wonder how many "leaders" or "concerned journalists" know the name of the six-year-old girl who was murdered two weeks ago. 

April 1, 2012        Permalink

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OUR HISTORY-MAKING DAY – AT 10:52 A.M. ET:  Readers will be moved to learn that the United States makes history once again.  From Investors.com:

Taxes: As the president complains once again that oil companies are getting unfair tax breaks, the U.S. passes Japan as the leader in business taxes. Workers, investors and entrepreneurs will bear the cost.

On April 1, Japan will cut its corporate tax rate to 36.8% from 39.5%. This includes a 10% surtax that will expire in 2014. As it does, the U.S. will officially have the highest corporate tax rate in the world, with average combined federal and state profit levies of 39.2%. And, no, this is not an April Fools' joke.

The news comes after President Obama once again said oil company profits justified ending $4 billion in "subsidies" and shifting the money to research on clean-energy fuels.

Except there's no money to shift since the $4 billion is simply money the government doesn't take in the first place under incentives available to all manufacturing companies, from Apple to President Obama's favorite company, General Electric.

Just as we are the only industrial country not fully developing its domestic energy resources, we are the only country not slashing its corporate taxes. Great Britain was to cut its corporate tax rate on April 1 to 24% from 26% and will cut the rate again to 23% in 2013.

On Jan. 1 of this year, Canada cut its federal corporate tax rate to 15% from 16.5%.

COMMENT:  The sound you hear is more jobs rushing overseas.  Of course, corporations don't actually pay taxes.  They collect taxes, since every tax they "pay" is passed on to the consumer in the form of higher prices.  Don't you feel excited about participating in the "recovery"?

Just as other countries are developing common sense, we're slipping further and further into failed European socialism.

April 1,  2012     Permalink

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MARCH 31,  2012

SHORT TAKES ON THE DRIFTING WRECKAGE – AT 10:25 P.M. ET:

THE LIE – I'm afraid we'll have to get used to this.  The Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt, which pledged before the world not to run a candidate in the country's post-revolution presidential election, has conveniently reversed itself.  It will put up a candidate, and, thanks to its superior organization, that candidate will probably win.  So, instead of the American president meeting with the pro-American Hosni Mubarak, he will probably now be meeting with someone who favors worldwide Islamism.  What a triumph for us.

AND MORE GRIMNESS – It may or may not be completely true, but the Syrian government is now pronouncing the year-long revolt against it essentially over.  More than 9,000 Syrians have been murdered, and the Assad government remains in power.  This comes after former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan got Syria to agree to a peace plan, but only after removing the provision calling for a change of government.  In other words, Annan caved.  If the Syrian declaration of victory turns out to be correct, and we caution that it's only a claim, it will be an enormous victory for Iran, which is Syria's main ally in the region.  Does Obama care?

ROMNEY MOVES TO CLOSE THE DEAL – The Wisconsin primary is Tuesday, and political pundits are speculating that an expected win by Mitt Romney will all but seal the deal.  Terry Branstad, the respected Republican governor of Iowa, is the latest Republican heavyweight to say that if Romney romps on Tuesday, it's time for the party to unite around him.  Gingrich has already been marginalized, a status indicated by the fact that news organizations are withdrawing reporters previously assigned to cover him.  The heat will be on Santorum to withdraw gracefully or be seen as a spoiler, essentially ruining his future within the party.

March 31,  2012     Permalink

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THE DIGNITY OF REAL SCIENCE – AT 11:12 A.M. ET:   I love this story because it shows that there are scientists who put themselves on the line for the truth, and are willing to take the consequences for any errors.  Compare please with the Church of the Global Warming, which seems at times to be based more on political science than real science.  From Fox News:

The Italian professor who challenged Einstein’s famous theory of relativity, leading an experiment that appeared to show tiny particles moving faster than the speed of light, has resigned from his post.

Antonio Ereditato stepped down as coordinator of the OPERA experiment at Italy’s national institute of physics on Friday, Reuters reported.

The INFN -- the National Institute of Nuclear Physics -- had no comment beyond saying it "took note" of his decision. It was not immediately possible to reach Ereditato for a comment, Reuters said.

Einstein theorized that the speed of light in a vacuum -- approximately 186,280 miles per second, or about 700 million miles per hour -- is an absolute speed limit, and used the value in his famous formula, E = mc2.

The theory that some tiny bits of matter were whizzing along faster than Einstein thought possible was announced in Sept. 2011, when physicists with the CERN lab in Switzerland said they observed neutrinos completing a 454-mile racecourse faster than a beam of light would.

When announcing their follow-up finding in November, scientists at INFN said that their tests were intended to exclude one potential effect that may have affected the original measurement.

"A measurement so delicate and carrying a profound implication on physics requires an extraordinary level of scrutiny," said Fernando Ferroni, president of the INFN.

Apparently, yet more scrutiny was required.

Scientists at the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) near Geneva confirmed in mid-March that colleagues from their rival team were a little hasty with their announcement.

"The evidence is beginning to point toward the OPERA [rival team] result being an artifact of the measurement," CERN research director Sergio Bertolucci said March 16."

COMMENT:  How many times have you heard the term "settled science" applied to global warming, or, as the publicity people now like to call it, climate change?  Imagine if the proprietors of the first experiment in this story, which seemed to show that Einstein was wrong, had declared it "settled science"?  We'd have gone off in a catastrophic direction.

Science proceeds carefully.  Mistakes are made along the way.  Assumptions collapse.  No true scientist talks about a "consensus," only proof and observation.   And no true scientist depends on Al Gore for a mouthpiece.

Lesson learned.

March 31, 2012        Permalink

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THE BETRAYAL – AT 10:43 A.M. ET:  My friend James Taranto, of The Wall Street Journal, has a terrific interview with Cardinal Dolan of New York, the president of the U.S. Conference of Bishops.

Dolan recounts, using very diplomatic language, his dealings with President Obama on the issue of coercing religious institutions to provide health-care coverage that may violate their teachings.  Dolan, who is a good guy, doesn't say it directly, but Taranto does:  Obama comes off as imperious and deceitful:

"I said, 'I've heard you say, first of all, that you have immense regard for the work of the Catholic Church in the United States in health care, education and charity. . . . I have heard you say that you are not going to let the administration do anything to impede that work and . . . that you take the protection of the rights of conscience with the utmost seriousness. . . . Does that accurately sum up our conversation?' [Mr. Obama] said, 'You bet it does.'"

The archbishop asked for permission to relay the message to the other bishops. "You don't have my permission, you've got my request," the president replied.

"So you can imagine the chagrin," Archbishop Dolan continues, "when he called me at the end of January to say that the mandates remain in place and that there would be no substantive change, and that the only thing that he could offer me was that we would have until August. . . . I said, 'Mr. President, I appreciate the call. Are you saying now that we have until August to introduce to you continual concerns that might trigger a substantive mitigation in these mandates?' He said, 'No, the mandates remain. We're more or less giving you this time to find out how you're going to be able to comply.' I said, 'Well, sir, we don't need the [extra time]. I can tell you now we're unable to comply.'"

COMMENT:  That's the heart of it, but the entire piece is intriguing, and upsetting.  It raises the most disturbing questions about the president's integrity.

Last week we had the now-famous "open mike" incident, in which Obama is pretty much admitting to Russian President Medvedev that he's saying one thing to the American people during the election campaign, but will pursue more "flexible" policies once re-elected.

There have been serious concerns raised about Obama's honesty since he started running for president...especially when his campaign rhetoric didn't match his background.  What are we to think now?

Are you ready to risk a second term with this man?

Editor's apology:  An earlier version of this post identified Archbishop Dolan as Archbishop Egan, who, of course, was his predecessor in New York.  We apologize for the error.

March 31, 2012       Permalink

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WARNING FROM A GROWN-UP – AT 10:18 A.M. ET:  Ryan Crocker served as our ambassador to Iraq during the tough times, and is now ambassador to Afghanistan.  He is first class.  Now he issues a sharp warning about our fate if we mess up our Afghanistan policy.  From London's Telegraph.  Haven't seen it in an American paper.

Al-Qaeda fighters have returned to Afghanistan and will use the country as a base to launch September 11-style attacks on Western cities, according to the American ambassador to Kabul.

Ryan Crocker told The Daily Telegraph that if the West was to leave Afghanistan too early, al-Qaeda would be able to increase its presence.

With the US preparing to withdraw the majority of its combat forces from Afghanistan next year, Mr Crocker warned: “If we decide we’re tired, they’ll be back."

That is the classic warning against appeasement or blindness.

“Al-Qaeda is still present in Afghanistan. If the West decides that 10 years in Afghanistan is too long then they will be back, and the next time it will not be New York or Washington, it will be another big Western city.”

Mr Crocker, 62, who previously served as ambassador to Iraq, said that while progress had been made, Afghanistan would need Western support for years to come.

Nato officials believe that up to 100 al-Qaeda fighters have returned to the country, based mainly in the Kunar and Nuristan provinces near the border with Pakistan. Hundreds more are based in Pakistan and could return if circumstances were to change.

Following the shootings in Toulouse this month by an al-Qaeda-inspired gunman, British intelligence officials believe the group is planning a wave of attacks against Western targets, including the London Olympics.
Mr Crocker, who took up his post in Kabul last year, said al-Qaeda remained a potent threat despite suffering setbacks. “We have killed all the slow and stupid ones. But that means the ones that are left are totally dedicated,” he said.

“We think we’ve won a campaign before our adversaries have even started to fight. They have patience, and they know that we are short on that.”

COMMENT:  Those are great quotes.  They should hang in the office of every policymaker in Washington, but they won't.  The president's base, and the base of his party, want nothing to do with any of this terrorism stuff.

Obama has effectively sidelined General David Petraeus by making him head of the CIA.  (Anyone hear from him recently?)  Crocker's warning is stark.  I wonder what will happen to him now.  I understand there's an opening on the Battle Monuments Commission.

March 31,  2012     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

 

THE ANGEL'S CORNER

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Part II will be sent over the weekend.

 

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