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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 19,  2012

SHORT TAKES ON THE DRIFTING WRECKAGE – AT 10:27 P.M. ET:

TROUBLE AHEAD – There are a number of reports that Russian anti-terror troops are either on the ground in Syria or on a ship that's docked in a Syrian harbor.  The presence of Russian troops would be a vast escalation of a conflict that has been seen as largely internal.  The United States would have to respond in some way, but the risks could be considerable.  Our policy would clearly be influenced by the president's political position at home.

OBAMA'S KIND OF TOWN – At least 10 Chicagoans were murdered in shootings over the weekend.  Included was a six-year-old girl.  The dead were among at least 49 people wounded by gunfire from 5 p.m. Friday to 6 a.m. Monday.  The usual practice among Chicago politicians, after a weekend like this, is to blame gun manufacturers and demand more gun control.  We can't wait to see how gang bangers and other similar sorts respond to new gun control measures.  We'll watch as they turn in their weapons to be in compliance with the law.

GOVERNMENT MEDICINE IN BRITAIN – We've reported a number of horror stories from Britain's National Health Service, and we have another.  It seems that patients' lives are being put at risk, according to the Sun, by placing them in the hands of doctors who can barely speak or understand English.  A loophole in the law allows any doctor to practice if he or she has lived in a European Union country for a specified period.  The country does not have to be English-speaking.  A language test in Britain would be considered discrimination.    

GIFFORDS LEGACY CONTINUES – Ron Barber, an aide to Gabrielle Giffords, and who was also shot in the incident in which Giffords was severely wounded, will run for her seat in November.  Giffords decided to leave Congress to continue her recovery.  Barber will run in a redrawn district that is slightly more Democratic than the district from which Giffords was elected.  He is favored to win.

March 19, 2012        Permalink

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OUR FRIENDS THE RUSSIANS – AT 9:45 A.M. ET:  Now let's not get out of line here.  Remember, we have a "reset" with Russia, thanks to Obama, and we can count the ways it has helped us.  Okay, I stopped counting. 

We now learn, in the midst of the Syrian tragedy, that Russia, which has consistently ignored Obama's imagined "reset," is supplying the weapons that are making the Syrian massacres possible.  Consider:

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) on Monday published a report finding that Russian arms imports to Syria contributed to a 580 percent increase in the volume of Syrian arms imports from 2007-2011 as compared to 2002-2006.

Russia supplied 78% of Syria’s arms imports in 2007–11. During 2011, Russia continued deliveries of Buk-M2E SAM systems and Bastion-P coastal defense missile systems to Syria, as well as securing an order for 36 Yak-130 trainer/combat aircraft.

COMMENT:  Maybe it's time for the president to unleash one of the most powerful weapons in his administration's arsenal – a "pretty please" directed at Vladimir Putin.  That'll show him.

The fact is that the Russians have paid no price for their behavior in the Mideast, or anywhere else, for that matter.  Their role in Syria is reckless, and can be a major ingredient in the region truly blowing up.

There are three powers that have grown in strength on Obama's watch:   The Russians; the Chinese; and radical Islam.

What a successful foreign policy.

March 19, 2012       Permalink

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CHOKE – AT 9:15 A.M. ET:  There's hypocrisy in politics, and then there's blatant hypocrisy.  Does President Obama really think we're all so stupid?  That we don't see through him?  Get this stunt:

With gasoline prices marching north, President Obama next week will take a break from worshipping the sun and putting his finger to the wind when he actually highlights energy projects that provide lots of energy.

The White House is desperate to repair the damage being done to Obama’s campaign by the price at the pump, and aides have suddenly begun portraying him as a great apostle of oil and gas drilling.

In what may go down as one of the worst political blunders of his presidency, Obama late last year bowed to environmentalists’ pressure and rejected the Keystone pipeline’s route through part of Nebraska, delaying by at least a year a major new source of oil just as gasoline prices started going through the roof.

Wednesday, he’ll be in Carlsbad, New Mexico to inspect oil and gas production fields located on federal lands.

Obama will be in Oklahoma Thursday – yes, Oklahoma – to “discuss his Administration’s commitment to improving and supporting the infrastructure that helps us leverage our domestic resources,” the White House said.

Seasickness pills will be handed out, covered by Obamacare.

I assume these are code words for the infrastructure to get fossil fuels out of the ground, since he sure ain’t going to Oklahoma for votes. He’s more likely to strike oil.

COMMENT:  Obama to Oklahoma.  That's like Jane Fonda visiting West Point.  I can just see our fearless president putting on the white protective helmet and doing a photo op in front of an oil rig.  He'll probably be dreaming of a windmill, or barrels of algae.  Or speeding along in his Chevy Volt, excited by the prospect of an electric outlet up ahead.  What an adventure.

I believe that, when it comes to "drill, baby, drill," this president is beyond redemption.  If you believe he's suddenly committed to petroleum, then you believe he'll invite George W. Bush to join his administration.

March 19, 2012       Permalink

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HOW PATHETIC – AT 8:46 A.M. ET:  This story is a warning to us.  If we don't correct things, this will be our country in 20 years.  Read carefully.  From London's Daily Mail:

The Navy is as much use as 'a Swiss Navy' and would not be able to recapture the Falkland Islands if Argentina invaded, claims a veteran military chief.

The broadside came from Sandy Woodward, commander of the task force sent to reclaim the islands in the south Atlantic 30 years ago next month.

He said the Navy was in a 'dire' state following defence cuts which has left the service without an aircraft carrier before 2020.

Think of it.  The glorious Royal Navy no longer has an aircraft carrier.

He told the Sunday Telegraph: 'We could not retake the Falklands. If we had been in this state in 1982 the Falklands would be the Malvinas.'

Rear-Admiral Sir John Forster Woodward - who is known as Sandy - compared the British Navy to the Swiss Navy - the country does not have one - and said the role of a navy was to be able to go a long way from home.
He said: 'The best we can do for an expeditionary force is a day trip to France'.

It is not the first time a senior member of the military has attacked defence cuts and raised concerns about the Falklands.

Former First Sea Lord West has called for foreign aid cash to be diverted to defence after also warning Britain could not win a new Falklands War.

COMMENT:  This is what happens when a country becomes a welfare state.  This is what happens when the political left becomes the dominant culture, in politics, in journalism, in universities.  It can happen here.

Even victories by conservatives might not stop the erosion in our own country.  We sometimes don't understand the utter relentlessness by the left, its missionary fervor, and how it shapes the news we receive and the education our kids get.

We are now cutting defense.  We can probably absorb some of the cuts proposed thus far.  But even Leon Panetta has warned of further cuts.  Additional cuts can leave us with the hollow force we allowed to develop after the Vietnam War.

Indeed, we really didn't learn the full lessons of World War II until the North Koreans invaded South Korea five years after Japan and Germany surrendered.  We fought the opening months of the Korean War with pathetically underprepared ground groups, a Navy with poor sealift capacity, and an Air Force with marginally obsolete planes. 

We went through periods of "force reductions" four times in the 20th century.  Each one ended in disaster.  But that's not the history the chic faculties of our leading universities want young people to hear. 

Meanwhile, we can sing "There'll Always be an England," and wonder if it will be so.

March 19, 2012       Permalink

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THAT CONTESTED CONVENTION THING – AT 8:30 A.M. ET:  Much worry and agony has been expressed by Republican pros over the possibility of a contested convention this year in Tampa.  (It is often wrongly called a brokered convention.  "Contested" is the more accurate word unless one can produce a real set of brokers.)

Now, though, some pros are coming to the belief that a contested convention would actually be a good thing.  You can't beat the excitement, or the audience draw.  From The Hill:

The scenario leaves many GOP insiders petrified of the damage the party could suffer. Yet some dissenting voices insist there would be a silver lining to the cloud. They hold out the possibility of a convention of such drama and intrigue that it would energize party activists and mesmerize the broader public.

“It could turn into a free-for-all, and be somewhat unseemly, and no-one wants that,” Keith Appell, a Republican strategist who is not aligned with any candidate, said. “But if it is done in a fairly orderly way, it could be a good thing. It would be exciting, and it would be something of a new experience for most people in terms of conventions.”

A brokered convention takes place when no candidate has secured enough delegates over the course of the primary process to clinch the nomination outright. The ultimate decision is then made on the convention floor, with delegates who are not legally bound to a particular candidate being the target of fierce persuasive tactics.

Republicans have not experienced such a scenario since 1976, when incumbent president Gerald Ford narrowly held off a strong challenge from Ronald Reagan.

And...

Conservatives, especially those most trenchantly opposed to Romney, now have a vested interest in arguing that a brokered convention would be fine — and that the element of uncertainly might actually deliver a boost.

Some respected GOP consultants agree with them.

“Conventions are just hideously boring these days and have become more so, gradually, over the course of my lifetime,” Republican strategist Curt Anderson told The Hill. A brokered convention, he added, “could make for an actual event that would interest people.”

COMMENT:  I recall that convention.  It was terribly exciting, and I listened to it on a small, portable radio during a trip to Massachusetts.  The 1980 Republican convention was also exciting.  Reagan was nominated, but the party establishment wanted to saddle him with Gerald Ford as his running mate, calling the ticket a "co-presidency."  It was an absurd idea and was dropped.

We'll see.  I think a real, old-fashioned nominating convention would be, as they said in those days, really neat.  I wonder if current reporters would be up to it.  I'm sure some would be.

March 19,  2012     Permalink

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MARCH 18,  2012

SHORT TAKES ON THE DRIFTING WRECKAGE – AT 11:41 P.M. ET:

A LITTLE LAMB WHO FOUND HIS WAY – CSPAN founder Brian Lamb will step down after 33 years of leading the non-profit TV cable operation.  CSPAN has had a lasting influence on television, with many news hawks and journalists seeing it as an invaluable resource.  It broadcasts congressional debates and committee hearings regularly, as well as extended interviews with authors, newsmakers, and public figures. 

ROMNEY WINS PUERTO RICO – Mitt Romney scored a decisive victory in the Puerto Rico primary today, winning all 20 convention delegates.  Illinois votes on Tuesday and Louisiana next Saturday.  Polls favor Romney in the former, and Santorum in the latter.  Romney is inching toward the nomination, but garners no great love from the electorate in his own party.  Increasingly, pundits speak of an "enthusiasm gap."

THE GOOD BRAWL – A number of Republican commentators seem to be warming to the idea of a contested convention in Tampa, believing it might even help the Republican nominee in the end.  It would certainly boost TV ratings of the convention dramatically.  And remember, the Republican convention of 1980, which nominated Ronald Reagan, was very much a brawl, with the GOP establishment appalled by Reagan's ascent.  We'll have more about this during the week.

March 18, 2012       Permalink

 

THE FIGHTER FIGHTS – AT 12:12 P.M. ET:  What is it with liberals?  So many of them, while claiming to be "progressive" and "cutting edge," really are regressive and want to return to the sixties. Ah, wasn't it a time?

Right here in New York the old phonies are coming out of the woodwork again.  Frustrated that they haven't had a mayor they could truly call their own in 20 years, they're training their sights on one of the greatest police commissioners in modern history, Ray Kelly.  There are stories that he may run for mayor.  That is the liberals' worst nightmare, an effective police commissioner in the mayor's chair.  That is the end of the world.  Why that's...that's...FASCISM!  It's BUSH!!!  Worse than CHENEY!!!!

But Ray Kelly is the kind of guy who fights back.  You'd love him.  He was challenged recently on the NYPD's surveillance of certain Muslim institutions, but he refused to back down, making clear that these institutions had produced a certain number of dangerous characters in the past.  No political correctness.  He even had some Muslims cheering him on.

And Kelly is taking on the old, sclerotic liberal establishment.  Get this, from the New York Post, and watch a role model in action:

Ray Kelly finally reached his limit. The only surprise is that he put up with the cop-bashing as long as he did. 

But Gotham’s police commissioner didn’t just strike back at critics in a fit of frustration. He did something far more important.

He issued a challenge to the entire city political class, now and into the future. If you don’t like our programs, he asked, how would you stop street crime and terrorism?

Actually, he didn’t so much ask those questions to City Council members and, by extension, the candidates for mayor. He taunted them for not having any constructive ideas about the life-and-death matters he faces every day.

What would the council do about the violence that claims so many young black and Hispanic males? What would they do about Islamic terrorists still trying to blow up New York?

Nothing, to judge from the answers Kelly got.

The NYPD has saved thousands of lives through crime and terror prevention. But instead of trying to find ways to do even better, too many members of the media and political chattering classes have turned the NYPD into a pinata.

Read the whole piece by the terrific Michael Goodwin.  Kelly is the kind of man whose future should be embraced by, and nurtured by, our side.  He would be a great mayor, and a great governor.  He gets results, and he fights back.   When a black member of the laughable City Council of New York whined about stop-and-frisk policies, which have produced great results, this is what happened:

“What have you said about how we stop this violence?” he challenged her.

“There needs to be prevention and deeper community-based tactics and strategy,” she offered.

Kelly turned the screws: “Yeah, what is that?”

She babbled some more, ending with, “I think I’ve made my point.”

To which Kelly responded, “I’m not certain what your point is.”

Bravo to him.

COMMENT:  Compare please to the attorney general of the United States.  Follow Ray Kelly.  He's worth following. 

March 18, 2012     Permalink

A VOICE IS BEING LOST – AT 11:05 A.M. ET:  There are periodic reports of the death of American newspapers.  These reports have turned out to be inaccurate, although there've been major casualties.  But now the reports are getting louder, more frequent, and have a disturbing element of evidence behind them.  From the Financial Times:

The headlines about the US newspaper industry have never been so bleak.

In recent weeks, LinkedIn, the networking website, and the Council of Economic Advisers have reported that the press is “America’s fastest-shrinking industry”, measured by jobs lost; the Newspaper Association of America has shown that advertising sales have halved since 2005 and are now at 1984’s level; and the Pew Research Center has found that for every digital ad dollar they earned, they lost $7 in print ads.

As media from television to billboards bounce back from the recession, newsprint is being left behind. Zenith Optimedia this week predicted that internet advertising would pass newspaper advertising next year around the world – but in the US, where internet penetration is high and newspaper audiences are shrinking, digital will overtake newspapers’ and magazines’ combined ad sales this year, eMarketer estimates.

“There’s no doubt we’re going out of business now,” one unnamed executive told Pew’s Project for Excellence in Journalism, which predicted a future of shrinking newsrooms, print deliveries only a few days of the week and more papers closing altogether. A USC Annenberg School study reached the stark conclusion that most printed US dailies would be gone in five years.

Stories like this, and this one is no exception, point to digital subscriptions as the wave of the future.  Many newspapers have gone in that direction – permitting online readers a small quota of free articles a month, after which they have to subscribe.

That may work in some cases, but I wonder how many Americans will pay for local or medium-size newspapers online, especially since online editions tend to be scaled-down versions of the real thing.

And the 24-hour news cycle has hooked millions of people on cable news outlets.  They do not, of course, have the full content of newspapers, but for busy Americans they seem adequate enough. 

Further, online journalists have, in a number of cases (but not all by any means) proved capable of presenting important news in a professional manner.

Also, journalists, and especially journalism schools, whose existence depends on newspapers and magazines hiring their graduates, have been reluctant to discuss some of the more controversial aspects of newspaper decline – the loss of credibility that millions feel, and the sense of disenfranchisement felt by conservatives, the largest bulk of American voters.  This sense of disenfranchisement grew dramatically after the 2008 election campaign.

Can newspapers stage a comeback?  I doubt it.  New technology has proved critical.  But newspapers, like radio, can survive  to some degree by changing, by showing that they're needed, that they provide a service provided nowhere else.  Wrecking your news pages by turning them into editorials for liberal causes is not the way to do it.

March 18, 2012       Permalink

 

NOT EXACTLY "WE THE PEOPLE" – AT 10:50 A.M. ET:  Why do I think we're about to get some more grief from Egypt?  From Bloomberg:

Egypt’s Islamist-dominated parliament voted to include 50 of its lawmakers in a 100-member panel tasked with writing a new constitution, with the remainder coming from other institutions.

The results were read by Mohamed Saad el-Katatni, speaker of the lower house of parliament, according to footage of the session posted on the Cabinet’s Facebook page.

“The proposal that has received the most votes is the one stating that 50 percent of the composition of the constituent assembly comes from within parliament and 50 percent from outside parliament, including all institutions, civil society institutions and public personalities,” el-Katatni said.

The makeup of the committee has been the focus of wrangling over the degree of influence Islamist groups will have shaping the constitution. The Muslim Brotherhood’s party alliance makes up the largest bloc in the recently elected parliament, followed by a Salafi alliance. Salafis are followers of an austere interpretation of Islam.

“You’re going to agree on 100 people, and then get those 100 people to agree on politically-charged issues that have created a lot of polarization in Egypt: the role of the military, oversight over the military budget, the role of religion in public life, the division of power between parliament and the president,” Shadi Hamid, director of research at the Brookings Doha Center in Qatar, said by phone. “That’s a challenge.”

COMMENT:  A challenge?  I'm not so sure it'll be that much of a challenge when the deck is so thoroughly stacked.  We're talking Chicago politics here.  Half the constitution writers come from a parliament filled with Islamists. 

I just can't wait for the outcome.  Can you just imagine how the rights of women will be handled?  

Too many Americans believe that it takes only a free election to create a democracy.  But an election is only a first step.  Hitler, after all, was freely elected.  Democracy is a series of mechanisms and guarantees.  It's a way of life.  It's a way of looking at your neighbor, and the other guy's neighbor.

And a constitution is only a piece of paper.  It's been pointed out many times that the Soviet constitution was a magnificent document.  But its guarantees were never enforced. 

We wish Egypt well.  But the opening year of the "Arab spring" looks more like spring training than the major leagues.

March 18,  2012     Permalink

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"What you see is news.  What you know is background.  What you feel is opinion."
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      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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