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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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MARCH 16, 2012
SHORT TAKES ON THE DRIFTING WRECKAGE – AT 11:24 P.M. ET:
MITT LEADS IN ILLINOIS – The Illinois primary is Tuesday. It's a must-win for Mitt Romney, who cannot afford to lose anywhere in the industrial Midwest. A new Fox News poll shows Romney six points ahead of Rick Santorum. It's Romney 37, Santorum 31, Gingrich 14.
CLINTON DISPUTES TIMES ON AID TO EGYPT – Hillary Clinton disputed a New York Times report that the U.S. is resuming military aid to Egypt, despite the anti-democratic and anti-rights trends in the country. The Times report created an uproar. Clinton now says that the decision hasn't been made, but may be made within a week. Congress has imposed restrictions on aid to Egypt, requiring certification that the country is moving toward democratic norms. However, the restrictions contain the usual loophole, allowing Clinton to pass the aid through if she considers it in the national interest.
PUBLIC RADIO DOES THE RIGHT THING – Chicago Public Radio produces a popular program called "This American Life." It has now retracted a recent episode dealing with working conditions in Apple factories in China after discovering that much of the program was fabricated. Chicago Public Radio has done the right thing, and is doing a special program, explaining to listeners how this happened. Another right thing. I'm afraid there's a lot more of this than people think. Much bad journalism, or fakery, is just covered up.
BIDEN CRUSHED – Washington Post reports that bin Laden was planning an assassination attempt against General Petraeus and President Obama. According to the report, he wanted Obama out so Joe Biden would be president. Bin Laden apparently reasoned that Biden was unprepared for the job, and that his succession would create a crisis in the United States. Biden must be going nuts. How would you like to be the man bin Laden wanted to see in the White House because you were so bad? How does Joe explain this to his children? "Mr. bin Laden wanted daddy in the White House because he's such a screwup. Isn't that wonderful?"
March 16, 2012 Permalink
THE BROWN REVIVAL – AT 10:06 A.M. ET: One of the major political stories of the season is the comeback of Republican Senator Scott Brown of Massachusetts. Elected in 2010 to fill out the term of Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Brown was considered the Massachusetts miracle.
But as the 2012 election season got started, and the race for a full Senate term was joined, Brown seemed to stumble. Democratic consumer advocate and Harvard Law professor Elizabeth Warren announced for the Senate, and quickly sucked all the air out of the political room. She jumped ahead of Brown in the polls, and there were signs that the GOP was starting to write the senator off as a one-time wonder.
What a difference a few months makes. Brown is back, now leading Warren in the polls. So what happened? He happened. The candidate got going, in a good lesson for national contenders. From The Politico:
COMMENT: It's far from over, but Brown is proving a shrewd politician who understands the late House Speaker Tip O'Neill's adage that all politics is local. Brown has his ear to the ground in Massachusetts.
As for Warren, who presented herself as a fighter for the little people, the standard liberal line, she wasn't helped by revelations that in fact she's become a very well-heeled lady, bringing in a high six-figure income. She isn't clipping coupons.
Brown understood in 2010 that he had to become a spectacular candidate. That understanding is back. He may just squeeze it out in heavily Democratic Massachusetts.
March 16, 2012 Permalink
WELCOME TO THE CARTER ADMINISTRATION – AT 9:35 A.M. ET: While the Obamans have been celebrating a drop in unemployment claims – although that drop has now largely stagnated – something else has been happening that can mean real trouble for the president in November. The cost of living is going up, up, and, surprise, up, just as it did in the last presidential year of Jimmy Carter. So far the increase is due largely to gasoline prices. But gasoline prices eventually affect everything we buy, because all goods have to be transported...using gasoline. From Bloomberg:
COMMENT: Try as they might to put a good face on it, but the mainstream journalists should be more aware of what's happening all around them. They should visit supermarkets and listen to mothers complain about rapidly rising prices of basic commodities.
The Obamans seem frustrated by the fact that most Americans don't buy their "recovery" line. That's because most Americans don't see a recovery. When we're paying more than four bucks a gallon for gasoline, here in New York, and when we see local kids just out of college finding it almost impossible to get a decent job, it's hard to shout "recovery" from the nearest rooftop.
But remember, it's Bush's fault.
March 16, 2012 Permalink
THE PRICE OF HATRED – AT 8:51 A.M. ET: This is depressing, and more so because it will lead to more thuggery by the left.
No organization has done more to advance awareness of breast cancer than Susan G. Komen for the Cure. Named for a woman who died of breast cancer, and run by her sister, it has probably been the most successful group in history in raising awareness of, and concern for, a fatal disease.
But Komen did something not permitted on the political left several months ago. It tried to cut its funding for Planned Parenthood, which is sacrosanct on the militant feminist left. Komen handled the cut poorly, but its real crime was questioning anything Planned Parenthood does. I've personally believed that another of its "crimes" is that it is Texas-based, not based in the more politically acceptable New York or Los Angeles, and that its head, Nancy Brinker, is a Bush Republican who'd been a U.S. ambassador under George W. Bush. There are lines one doesn't cross on the left, my dear. It doesn't matter how much good you do, it's whether you do it in an ideologically correct manner.
The result of Komen's attempts to distance itself from PP was an instant firestorm, and sheer hatred directed at the Komen organization. Now we see the result:
COMMENT: I don't know how anyone truly concerned about cancer can willfully damage a group like Komen, but it's been done. But I've seen this viciousness on the left so many times that it really can't surprise me. The vile attacks on women who don't go along with every phrase of leftist doctrine, the crazed attacks on African-American conservatives who question failed social programs in large cities, the indifference to human freedom and women's rights abroad...and it goes on.
We wish Komen well. Maybe some real philanthropists, not the trendies, will step up and close that financial gap.
March 16, 2012 Permalink
BEHOLD THE GENIUS! – AT 8:31 A.M. ET: One of the most annoying characteristics of modern "progressives" is their belief in their own superiority, their own wonderfulness. They not only believe they walk on water, but they remind us that walking doesn't present any environmental hazards.
The president of the United States announces his superior intellectual vision of the future:
COMMENT: We'll hear this again and again during the campaign, and the journalistic echo chamber will repeat it. The belief in the left's intellectual superiority didn't begin with Obama. I recall it as early as the fifties, when Dwight Eisenhower was labeled by "sophisticates" as merely "an Army man," whereas his opponent in 1952 and 1956 was the presumed "intellectual," Adlai Stevenson. In fact, history shows it was the opposite. Eisenhower didn't speak well, but wrote beautifully, and his speeches and statements were filled with substance. He was a scholar of history, and of course had made history, and made it very well. Stevenson spoke beautifully, said almost nothing, rarely read anything of importance, and has been largely forgotten.
We heard the echo chamber again in the early 80s, when Democratic stalwart Clark Clifford referred to Ronald Reagan as "an amiable dunce." He was amiable, but no dunce. In fact, he was a man who read and wrote widely, and had a far firmer grasp of the issues than his opponent in 1980, the painful Jimmy Carter, who presented himself as the smartest guy in the room.
So far the president's energy policy is a disaster. It shows no vision, no intellectual grasp of the possibilities, and limitations, of "green" energy, and has resulted in the financial backing of one bad energy scheme after another.
No, Mr. President, you're not intellectually superior to the Republican Party. You've just been surrounded by people all your life who've told you that you're a real brain, and you've made the mistake of taking them seriously.
March 16, 2012 Permalink
MARCH 15, 2012
SHORT TAKES ON THE DRIFTING WRECKAGE – AT 10:37 P.M. ET:
HYPOCRITES OF THE WORLD UNITE – The New York Times accepted and ran an ad entitled, "It's time to quit the Catholic Church." However, when an enraged conservative responded to the insult by submitting an ad entitled, "It's time to quit Islam," she got a very different response. The Times accepted the ad...but only on condition that it run at a later time to avoid "inflaming" the current tensions with Islam. The conservative activist notes that The Times's attitude revealed the truth – that the paper ran the anti-Catholic ad because it never feared that Catholics would attack the Times's building. Apparently, there were fears about the impact of the other ad.
A NATIONAL SCANDAL – Did you know that there is a swimming-pool crisis? Yes there is, according to Obama's increasingly radical Justice Department. The department is requiring public-access pools to install handicapped-accessible ramps, or face a fine of up to $100,000. Many public pools will probably not be able to meet the estimated $9,000 cost. Many others will face litigation, a boon to the trial bar. There is fear that the very equipment that Justice is demanding is dangerous to children. Senator Lindsey Graham is introducing legislation that would effectively cancel the order.
OBAMA THE HISTORIAN – One of my main complaints about Barack Obama is that he doesn't seem to know too much, especially about history. He's shown it again. He made a statement to a Maryland audience today, claiming that Republican President Rutherford B. Hayes said about the telephone, "It's a great invention, but who would ever want to use one?" In fact, historians can find no record of Hayes ever saying any such thing. Far from it. Hayes was the first president to have a telephone in the White House. We hope the president does better, factually, on Iran.
LUGAR HITTING FLAK – Moderate/conservative Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana is being challenged for his seat in the May 8th Republican primary, with critics saying he's not really a conservative and has abandoned his home state in favor of international concerns. Lugar is the former chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, a post that has been a political graveyard for a number of senators. And now he's received a new blow: a local elections board in Indiana has just ruled that Lugar no longer has residency in Indiana, and can't even vote in the state he represents. Lugar will appeal the ruling, and precedent says he will probably win, but it reminds voters of the belief that he has lost touch with his people.
March 15, 2012 Permalink
UTTERLY DISGRACEFUL – AT 9:48 A.M. ET: There's an old saying in politics: When you find yourself in a hole, stop digging.
Comedian and consummate vulgarian Bill Maher never learned that lesson. Maher is in some trouble because, following the uproar over Rush Limbaugh's unacceptable comments about a woman who'd testified before Congress, conservatives focused on Maher's misogynist comments about Sarah Palin, and wondered why he wasn't being roasted as well.
You'd think Maher would have the sense to say, "Yes, I've made some mistakes and I apologize." Oh, no, no. No apology for a TV star. Maher now says his comments on Sarah, using words we would never use here, were within limits because Sarah is a public figure, compared with Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown law student who'd testified before Congress. From The Politico:
COMMENT: Real classy, huh? First, I wasn't aware that Maher was a constitutional lawyer. He is probably wrong on the facts. Sandra Fluke testified voluntarily before a congressional committee, subjecting herself to public scrutiny. (That's what a hearing is about.) Also, it was later pointed out that she's an experienced political activist, who has never shunned public coverage. One can argue, with some legitimacy, that she's a public figure. True, Palin is a more important public figure, but I don't see where that difference would count for much in a constitutional discussion.
Also, is Maher saying that misogyny is permitted when directed at a public figure? Under that logic, racist comments about President Obama would be appropriate. (For subscribers, please see Jacqueline Reckseit's thoughtful note on this point at the current Angel's Corner.) Misogyny and ethnic slurs are never appropriate, no matter the target.
Why doesn't Maher simply say, "I went too far, I apologize"? Class always shows, as does lack of it.
March 15, 2012 Permalink
THE BASIC MATH – AT 9:24 A.M. ET: We all expend a great deal of wind, and print, on the primaries, analyzing the strengths, weaknesses, and foibles of the candidates. In the end, though, it comes down to basic. math.
Dick Morris does a solid job today of examining the race so far, and the race to come, and concludes that Romney's nomination is inevitable. Whether one agrees or disagrees, this is worth reading. From The Hill:
And, probable wins in winner-take-all states:
As Morris points out, it takes 1,144 votes to nominate. In addition to the states above, there will be others holding primaries where delegates are awarded in proportion to the outcome. Morris believes Romney will pick up 160 more votes, giving him 1,298.
Obviously, some blunder or event can change these calculations, but I'm inclined to agree with Morris. Romney will plod toward the nomination.
COMMENT: Then, if Romney does win, the issue will be party unity. Will Gingrich and Santorum join in a unity appeal, or will they walk, essentially refusing to endorse Romney, or giving him a grudging endorsement at best?
I think Santorum might be convinced that it is in his own interest to do the usual unity thing. Newt? I'm not so sure.
As Romney moves closer to the nomination, he must pivot and begin running against Obama, demonstrating clearly to his party that he can take the fight to the prime opponent. If he does wrap up the nomination by June 6th, he will have time to work within the party to firm up his campaign, and to focus on the choice of a running mate who will excite the conservative base.
March 15, 2012 Permalink
WASHINGTON FARCE – AT 9:08 A.M. ET: There is a farce going on in Washington. Well, actually, it's one of many going on in Washington, but it should be singled out. I refer to the visit of British Prime Minister David Cameron, culminating in a state dinner.
What makes it farcical is the attempt by President Obama, whose past demonstrates open hostility to Britain, to now portray himself as "family" with the British people. It's a raw campaign tactic, clearly designed to counter the image, correct, that Obama is hostile to America's friends and a bit too sympathetic with its enemies. Nile Gardiner, one of Britain's best commentators, describes the mess:
COMMENT: Hear, hear! As we've said here before, the Brits are often the sharpest commentators on American politics, and Gardiner hits the nail squarely. You will notice, please, how close Obama has suddenly become to allies he has previously dissed – first Israel, now Britain. You may be sure that, in the dreadful event that Obama is re-elected, that will all change on a dime.
It would be appropriate if some mainstream commentators would note the hypocrisy of this administration. They won't. We know the story, don't we?
March 15, 2012 Permalink
ONE YEAR AGO – AT 8:26 A.M. ET: It was supposed to be part of the "Arab spring" – the revolt of Syrian protesters against the dictatorship running their country. Instead, it has turned into the Arab nightmare. The Washington Post marks a grim anniversary:
COMMENT: The toll will only increase. And notice, please, the utter and sickening silence of "human rights activists" in many Western countries, who have nothing to say. When, during the Bush administration, the U.S. Army itself exposed a minor prison scandal in an American military prison in Iraq, the Western left went crazy. You'd think Hitler had come back to town in a Chevy Malibu.
Obama was quick to push out pro-American ally Hosni Mubarak, who certainly ran an undemocratic regime in Egypt. He was quick to assist the pushing out of Gadaffi in Libya. But what about Assad of Syria, Iran's closest pal in the Arab world? Here the washy becomes very wishy. Assad's hand is actually being strengthened by his own brutality and our ineffective policies.
At the same time, we must praise elements of the media for their excellent reporting on the Syrian tragedy. Anderson Cooper, of CNN, a man we don't normally praise here, has done fine work in keeping the subject before his audience. Some brave journalists, like Marie Colvin, have been killed. She was buried this week on Long Island. The late Anthony Shadid of The New York Times must be mentioned.
But still, not much on the ground has changed. A new policy, Mr. President?
March 15, 2012 Permalink
"What you see is news. What you know is background. What you feel is opinion."
"Councils of war breed timidity and defeatism."
"Political correctness does not legislate tolerance; it only organizes hatred. "
THE ANGEL'S CORNER
Part I of The Angel's Corner was sent Wednesday night.
Part II will be sent over the weekend.
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© 2012 William Katz