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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.

 

 

MARCH 5,  2012

SHORT TAKES ON THE DRIFTING WRECKAGE – AT 8:53 P.M. ET:

NEW ASSAULT ON RUSH – A group of left-wing activists is petitioning the FCC to take Rush Limbaugh off the air.  A group called signon.org, apparently a subdivision of moveon.org, the radical leftist organization, claims that Limbaugh has violated FCC rules.  Limbaugh is under current fire for some unfortunate remarks made about a woman who appeared before a congressional panel.   As we've pointed out here, liberal commentators have made worse remarks, but they are never challenged.   I doubt that this effort will get very far, but pressure on sponsors to leave Rush may have a serious impact.  It is a dream of many on the left, and some on the right, to control free speech.

GOP LOSING HISPANICS – The GOP has made no new inroads among Hispanics, according to a new Fox News Latino poll, and may actually be losing Hispanic support.   The poll shows Obama leading Republican candidates by as much as a six to one margin.  No Republican candidate in a one-to-one matchup got more than 14%.  John McCain, in 2008, got 31% of the Hispanic vote.  This change downward could be catastrophic, and possibly fatal, for the GOP.  Hispanics are the fastest-growing political bloc in the country.

ANOTHER SENATE INDEPENDENT? – Former independent Maine Governor Angus King will soon announce a run for the Senate seat to be vacated by Republican Olympia Snowe.  King has a real chance of being elected, and would have to decide which party to caucus with in organizing the Senate.  Republicans in Maine speculate that he would go with the Dems.  Or, if not elected, he could spoil the chances of either the Democratic or Republican candidate.  Snowe's withdrawal is a major blow to Republicans, as she would have easily been re-elected. 

BARACK AND BIBI MEET – The highly anticipated meeting took place at the White House today.  Everyone was smiling, but tension was evident.  It's clear Bibi doesn't trust Barack, who assured Bibi that he'd have Israel's back on issues of security.  Translators are trying to determine whether "having your back" in Barack talk means supporting you, or stabbing you in the back.  There's a difference, which may be made clearer once the election is over and Obama, if re-elected, doesn't have to worry about those pesky voters out there.

March 5, 2012       Permalink 

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SUPER TUESDAY – AT 9:29 A.M. ET:  It's tomorrow, when ten states vote.  Will it determine the GOP nominee?  The conventional wisdom around the internet is that it will, if Mitt Romney can take the main prize of Ohio.  If he can't, the road becomes more difficult, but the signs still point to Romney.  ABC's Rick Klein explains:

The Republican presidential race is about to slow down.

Super Tuesday’s frenzy of voting across 10 states could lead the race in several different directions. But virtually all of those paths will lead to Mitt Romney winning the nomination.

While no one is mathematically close to clinching the nomination, Romney is already far and away the delegate leader. He’s padded his lead with four straight victories in primaries and caucuses, capped by a win Saturday in Washington State that leaves him with an estimated 184 delegates, to Rick Santorum’s 91, according to ABC News calculations.

Critical Ohio is among the states up for grabs Tuesday, with Santorum slightly ahead in the most recent polls. A loss by Romney will raise new questions about his struggles to unite the Republican Party behind his candidacy, and would embolden Santorum to soldier on and continue to weaken the frontrunner.

But even a staggering Romney loss in Ohio won’t keep him from winning more delegates than his opponents on the biggest day of voting yet.

Romney is continuing a march to the nomination that increasingly looks like it can’t be stopped. The party establishment is starting to rally behind the man they know will almost certainly be their standard-bearer; this weekend brought an automated pro-Romney phone call in Ohio recorded by former first lady Barbara Bush, plus the endorsement of conservative leaders Sen. Tom Coburn and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor.

COMMENT:   Well, we'll see, but I suspect that Klein is correct.  Republicans increasingly see Romney as the only one of the current candidates who can possibly defeat Obama.  Since there's no prize for second place in politics, no silver medal, the ability to win becomes a giant advantage.

And yet, this has been a season of surprises.  If Romney should falter badly, or fall far below expectations, we can expect a renewed drumbeat for a man on a white charger to come into the race and save the nation.  The trouble is that the white chargers are sleeping in their stables and don't wish to be bothered, and the man to ride one of them has not been found.

March 5, 2012       Permalink

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NATIONAL DEFENSE ALERT – AT 8:56 A.M. ET:  Many Americans aren't aware of the serious threats to national defense posed by the recklessness of the congressional budget process.  Because of a gimmicky process, called sequestration, agreed to by Republicans by the way, the very foundation of our defense over the next ten years is under siege.  Sequestration mandates certain automatic budget cuts, especially to defense, in the absence of a budget deal between Dems and Republicans.  Entitlements, though, are not included.  Robert J. Samuelson of the Washington Post exposes the very real dangers:

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has repeatedly denounced the sequester. In a letter in November to Republican Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, he called the prospective cuts “devastating.” After a decade, they would result in “the smallest ground force since 1940, the smallest number of ships since 1915, and the smallest Air Force in its history.” Testifying Feb. 16 before Congress, he said sequestration “would . . . inflict severe damage on our national defense.”

Even the threatened sequester has bad effects, argue defense analysts Michael O’Hanlon of the Brookings Institution and Mackenzie Eaglen of the American Enterprise Institute. It weakens the president’s ability “to signal Iran, North Korea and China that the United States remains as firmly committed to our interests and allies as ever.”

COMMENT:  What is remarkable is the lack of urgency in the Republican Party about these cuts.  As Lindsey Graham has said, the party of Ronald Reagan is no more.  Reagan understood the importance of maintaining a robust defense force in being, as the best way to achieve peace with honor.  And he achieved both.

Today's Republican Party is dominated by factions who, while pro defense, feel little passion about it.  Their main interest seems to be taxes.  That's a legitimate interest, but Americans aren't going to be killed because of tax policies.  They're going to be killed because of a weak national defense that sends exactly the wrong message to our potential opponents.

March 5, 2012      Permalink 

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HEROISM IN JOURNALISM – AT 8:29 A.M. ET:   Readers Joe Gallick and Silvio Canto Jr. alerted me to this.  We all know of the drama surrounding Rush Limbaugh's terrible blunder on the air last week.  To recall, Rush referred to a woman who testified before a congressional panel about her sex life as a "slut," and later called her a prostitute.

The language was terrible.  Rush periodically goes over the top, but never like this.  He was severely criticized, sponsors began to cancel, and Rush was forced to apologize.  Barack Obama, ever the local politician, called the woman in question to ease her pain.

The critics were correct, but hypocritical.  Liberal columnist Kirsten Powers, demonstrating real heroisim in journalism, pointed out that left-wing commentators engage in slurs against women, but are never criticized for it.  I wonder if Powers will now survive.  Some of her thoughts: 

Did you know there is a war on women?

Yes, it’s true. Chris Matthews, Keith Olbermann, Bill Maher, Matt Taibbi, and Ed Schultz have been waging it for years with their misogynist outbursts. There have been boycotts by people on the left who are outraged that these guys still have jobs. Oh, wait. Sorry, that never happened.

Boycotts are reserved for people on the right like Rush Limbaugh, who finally apologized Saturday for calling a 30-year-old Georgetown Law student, Sandra Fluke, a “slut” after she testified before congress about contraception. Limbaugh’s apology was likely extracted to stop the departure of any more advertisers, who were rightly under pressure from liberal groups outraged by the comments.

And...

But if Limbaugh’s actions demand a boycott—and they do—then what about the army of swine on the left?

During the 2008 election Ed Schultz said on his radio show that Sarah Palin set off a “bimbo alert.” He called Laura Ingraham a “right-wing slut.” (He later apologized.)

And...

Keith Olbermann has said that conservative commentator S.E. Cupp should have been aborted by her parents, apparently because he finds her having opinions offensive. He called Michelle Malkin a “mashed-up bag of meat with lipstick.”

And...

But the grand pooh-bah of media misogyny is without a doubt Bill Maher—who also happens to be a favorite of liberals—who has given $1 million to President Obama’s super PAC. Maher has called Palin a “dumb twat” and dropped the C-word in describing the former Alaska governor.

COMMENT:  Nice, huh?  Kirsten Powers is to be praised for having the guts to come out and say this.  But where are the so-called "feminist" groups?  They're pretty much where they are when Muslim women are abused.  They're silent.  For these groups have far less interest in women's rights and dignity than in left-wing politics.   In the politics of the left, women are expendable. 

March 5, 2012       Permalink

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AND NOW FROM THE REAL WORLD – AT 8:03 A.M. ET:  As President Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu meet in what is billed as a critical conference, the UN's latest report on Iran will unquestionably influence the tone of the session:

(Reuters) - Iran has tripled its monthly production of higher-grade enriched uranium and the U.N. nuclear watchdog has "serious concerns" about possible military dimensions to Tehran's atomic activities, the agency's chief said on Monday.

Yukiya Amano, director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, also told the IAEA's 35-nation board of governors about the lack of progress in two rounds of talks between the Vienna-based U.N. agency and Tehran this year.

U.S. President Barack Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were to meet shortly in Washington to discuss Iran, deeply at odds over the timing for possible last-resort military action against Iran's nuclear program.

Even though Obama offered assurances of stiffened U.S. resolve against Iran before the White House meeting, the two allies remained far apart over explicit nuclear "red lines" that Tehran should not be allowed to cross.

COMMENT:  The issue goes far beyond the safety of Israel.  It's the safety of the United States that's also involved.  Nuclear weapons are actually quite small, nothing like the 10,000-pound bomb that we used at Hiroshima.  Two devices placed in the holds of cargo ships and sailed into American ports on the same day, and set off by a small suicide crew, would devastate the United States, its people, and its economy.

And we know that there is deep concern in security circles about the possibility of a weapon of mass destruction being smuggled into the United States from across the Mexican border.  That border is not becoming more secure, it's becoming less secure.  And Iran is establishing important contacts in Latin America.

Obama gave a fine speech before AIPAC yesterday.  But he's given fine speeches before and then not carried through.  Where's all that hope 'n change that we were promised?

Iran is the most serious foreign issue facing this country this year.  We need more than words.  We need a clear policy that doesn't change from day to day.

March 5,  2012    Permalink

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MARCH 4,  2012

SHORT TAKES ON THE DRIFTING WRECKAGE – AT 9:05 P.M. ET:

PUTIN "ELECTED" – Vladmir Putin has claimed victory in Russia's presidential election.  His opponents are crying "fraud."  It doesn't matter how much they cry, Putin is in.  When it comes to elections, Russia is one big Chicago.  This victory was a foregone conclusion.  It's bad news for us, for Putin is instinctively anti-American, and is determined to see Russia regain its status as a world power.

FRENCH TOAST – The French government has just issued a decree saying a woman's marital status shouldn't matter to the bureaucracy.  As a result, "mademoiselle" will be phased out on administrative documents, according to the order.  However, observers pointed out that the same order was handed down in 1967 and 1974, and was ignored.  I, too, believe that a woman's marital status shouldn't matter, but do we have to dump "mademoiselle" as well?  It's such a great old word, so full of charm and style.  And it's a lot more elegant that the sterile "Ms."  I say, keep the word, dump the stereotype.  We will hold a rally at the French Embassy soon.

CANTOR BACKS ROMNEY – House Majority Leader Eric Cantor has endorsed Mitt Romney two days before Super Tuesday.  It's a major endorsement, as Cantor is one of the highest-ranking Republicans in the country.  The sad fact is, though, that it will have minimal effect on Cantor's home state of Virginia, which votes Tuesday.  Because of Virginia's very strict election rules, neither Rick Santorum nor Newt Gingrich will be on the ballot.  Only Romney and Ron Paul will be, rendering the primary almost irrelevant.  But if Romney emerges well on Super Tuesday, he should begin to build momentum.

March 4,  2012     Permalink 

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ANOTHER RATIONAL GOVERNMENT – At a time when our own chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has declared Iran a "rational actor" in international politics, drawing howls of laughter, another rational, thoughtful regime is at work, doing its thing.  From Business Insider:   

On a grey afternoon in Seoul, in the shadow of the mountains that surround the city, North Korean defectors stood behind a police cordon and struggled to raise their voices above the sound of late-afternoon traffic.

The defectors and their supporters have been gathering daily in front of the Chinese embassy in the South Korean capital in order to draw attention to a group of North Koreans currently being held in China.

And...

While all defectors sent back from China are believed to face harsh punishment upon their return to North Korea, the group now in China is particularly at risk: the North Korean government has said that anyone caught defecting during the period of mourning for Kim Jong Il’s death would have three generations of family members executed.

International pressure on China not to repatriate the North Koreans is building, and defectors in South Korea are becoming increasingly involved.

COMMENT:  Imagine that:  Three generations of family members executed.  And yet we herald agreements with the North Korean government as if these are regular Joes. 

Please notice the deep interest of "human rights activists" around the world.  If the U.S. wants to send back an illegal alien who's broken the law, we see an uproar.  Execution of three generations of family?  Hey, who are we to criticize other cultures?

North Korea is a nuclear power.  Iran will soon be one.  Feel safer?

March 4, 2012       Permalink

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THIS DATE – AT 10:39 A.M. ET:  We associate this date with the presidency.  From George Washington's second inauguration in 1793 through FDR's first inaugural in 1933, the inauguration of presidents occurred on March 4th.  There were exceptions, of course, when a president died in office, and the new president was inaugurated immediately.  And Woodrow Wilson's second inaugural, in 1917, was held on a Monday because March 4th fell on a Sunday.

The January 20th inauguration date was set in 1937, with Roosevelt's second inaugural, and has remained so since.  It was felt that the interregnum, the period between election and inauguration, had previously been too long.  In parliamentary systems, of course, a prime minister can be changed overnight.  We are, appropriately I think, a little less eager.

I note these things because one of the marvels of the United States is its stability.  While some Europeans still like to think of America as the Wild West, we actually change our institutions slowly and carefully.  And when a new president is elected, he or she must wait a while to take over.  The orderly process of selecting a Cabinet and other high officials proceeds without insanity.

And we do it without six-guns blazing.  Don't tell European intellectuals.

March 4, 2012      Permalink

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IRAN ELECTION – AT 10:20 A.M. ET:  I know that all of you are eager to hear the results of the election in Iran, to learn whether your favorite mullah was elected.  Here they are:

(Reuters) - Clerical Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei has tightened his grip on Iran's faction-ridden politics after loyalists won over 75 percent of seats in parliamentary elections at the expense of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, a near-complete count showed.

The widespread defeat of Ahmadinejad supporters - including his sister, Parvin Ahmadinejad - is expected to reduce the president to a lame duck after he sowed divisions by challenging the utmost authority of Khamenei in the governing hierarchy.

The outcome of Friday's vote, essentially a contest between conservative hardline factions, with reformist leaders under house arrest, will have no big impact on Iranian foreign policy, notably its nuclear stand-off with the West. But it will boost Khamenei's influence in next year's presidential election.

COMMENT:  I think that pretty much says it.  Iran is a country where candidates can only run with government approval.  So there really is no true choice at all. 

If anything, Khamenei is even more hardline than Ahmadinejad.  No one with a sane, modern point of view was permitted to run.  It's sad, because millions of Iranians are modern and pro-Western.  However, thanks to the bumbling Jimmy Carter, under whose presidency the Shah was replaced by clerics, we have an Iran problem of substantial magnitude.  Carter, of course, was given the Nobel Peace Prize.  Iranian dissidents were not.

March 4,  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

 

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