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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 20,  2012

SHORT TAKES ON THE DRIFTING WRECKAGE –  AT 11:09 P.M. ET: 

GOOD FOR BRISTOL – Bristol Palin, who has been on the receiving end of vulgar, misogynist barbs from liberal commentators, is challenging President Obama to call her to show concern, as he did when he called the liberal woman who'd been called tasteless names by Rush Limbaugh.  Bristol's challenge has made news all over, and underlines, in the best way I've seen, the hypocrisy on the left when it comes to attitudes toward women.  I don't think she's expecting the call.

NEW SENSITIVITY – Related to the above, the White House is showing new sensitivity to remarks made on the president's political behalf by some of his supporters.   Actor Robert DeNiro, at a fundraiser, wondered out loud if the country is ready for a white first lady.  The White House has now called DeNiro's remarks "inappropriate," which they certainly were.  Ironically, the attacks on Rush Limbaugh are now backfiring, as the public learns of vulgar behavior on the other side of the political spectrum.

DOCTORS FOR TRUTH – That's the name of a new conservative organization that seeks to place the blame on President Obama for cutbacks in the quality of medical care.  You'll recall last year's Democratic ad depicting Republican Congressman Paul Ryan of Wisconsin pushing an elderly woman in a wheelchair off a cliff.  This new group is running a similar ad, but the person doing the pushing is President Obama.  It'll be fascinating to see how this plays, as no one could accuse the physicians' group running the ad of not being familiar with medical issues.

POLITICAL TIN EAR DEPARTMENT – There is much to-do around the internet over the fact that Malia Obama, the president's older daughter, has taken a bunch of friends with her on a vacation to Mexico, guarded by 25 Secret Service agents.  We don't want to criticize the president's family, and especially not his children, but one would hope for a little more sensitivity to public expense at a time like this.  It simply adds to the image of the first family's extravagance and penchant for vacations.

March 20, 2012        Permalink

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ILLINOIS RESULT – AT 8:54 P.M. ET:  Major news organizations are calling the Illinois primary for Mitt Romney.

There is a possibility that Romney's vote will top 50%, which would be a major win.  On the other hand, turnout was very low, possibly record low, adding to Romney's image as a man who inspires little enthusiasm.

But Romney is building up the votes.  There is chatter about a Romney/Rubio ticket.  By contrast, there is little talk about Newt Gingrich, who I hope is not forgotten.  He's one of the best idea men in the Republican Party, but has the aura of an undisciplined man, which has cost him in this presidential season.

March 20,  2012     Permalink

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BUT WHO ARE WE TO QUESTION OTHER CULTURES? –  This is really a sickening story, and one that reveals the moral hypocrisy of the press, the academy, and our own State Department.  From the Washington Times:

If the pope called for the destruction of all the mosques in Europe, the uproar would be cataclysmic. Pundits would lambaste the church, the White House would rush out a statement of deep concern, and rioters in the Middle East would kill each other in their grief. But when the most influential leader in the Muslim world issues a fatwa to destroy Christian churches, the silence is deafening.

On March 12, Sheik Abdul Aziz bin Abdullah, the grand mufti of Saudi Arabia, declared that it is “necessary to destroy all the churches of the region.” The ruling came in response to a query from a Kuwaiti delegation over proposed legislation to prevent construction of churches in the emirate. The mufti based his decision on a story that on his deathbed, Muhammad declared, “There are not to be two religions in the [Arabian] Peninsula.” This passage has long been used to justify intolerance in the kingdom. Churches have always been banned in Saudi Arabia, and until recently Jews were not even allowed in the country. Those wishing to worship in the manner of their choosing must do so hidden away in private, and even then the morality police have been known to show up unexpectedly and halt proceedings.

And...

The Obama administration ignores these types of provocations at its peril. The White House has placed international outreach to Muslims at the center of its foreign policy in an effort to promote the image of the United States as an Islam-friendly nation. This cannot come at the expense of standing up for the human rights and religious liberties of minority groups in the Middle East. The region is a crucial crossroads. Islamist radicals are leading the rising political tide against the authoritarian, secularist old order. They are testing the waters in their relationship with the outside world, looking for signals of how far they can go in imposing their radical vision of a Shariah-based theocracy. Ignoring provocative statements like the mufti’s sends a signal to these groups that they can engage in the same sort of bigotry and anti-Christian violence with no consequences.

COMMENT:  Sadly, nothing significant is likely to be said, and no important objections raised.  Some 15 of the 19 hijackers of September 11th came from Saudi Arabia, but the country was given a pass then, too.  It's a combination of the Washington Arabists and, yes, powerful oil interests that, together, provide a protection society for the Saudis.

Add to that the fact that Saudi Arabia spreads so much cash around America that it makes the Israel Lobby look like a mom-and-pop store.  Millions are given to universities for endowed professorships in Middle Eastern studies, and those millions buy silence. 

So don't expect much to be made of a statement by a major Muslim leader calling for an end to churches in the Mideast. 

March 20, 2012       Permalink

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A WASHINGTON MYSTERY – AT 8:31 A.M. ET:  You've read the name Marco Rubio here many times.  He's one of the great rising stars of the Republican Party, U.S. senator from Florida, a Cuban-American whose family fled to the United States, and a magnificent speaker.

He's also married to a former Miami Dolphins cheerleader, which makes him perfect. 

Now there is a mystery about the publication date of a new book by...Marco Rubio.  It will be published during the election campaign.  You don't think...?  Nah, he doesn't want to be on a national ticket.  Nah.  Stop laughing.

From the Washington Times:

Political handicappers want to know: Did Sen. Marco Rubio bump the publication of “An American Son” up from October to June 19 because he’s actually the vice presidential nominee? A noble, classy memoir from a major publisher would be strategic and timely for Mr. Rubio, not to mention the Republican Party and its big, fat convention in late August. There is another possibility. The Florida Republican may be rushing to print in hopes of vanquishing “The Rise of Marco Rubio,” a book by Manuel Roig-Franzia, a political culture writer in The Washington Post’s Style section, due on bookshelves July 3.

Mr. Roig-Franzia’s take on the young Cuban-American lawmaker is billed by publisher Simon and Schuster as an American odyssey, the definitive biography of “the ‘crown prince’ of the tea party movement and ‘the Michael Jordan of Republican politics.” — not to mention the fact that Mr. Rubio is a “policy wonk married to a former Dolphins cheerleader.”

In his memoir, Mr. Rubio himself emphasizes that “conservatism is not about leaving people behind, conservatism is about allowing people to catch up,” and “the American Dream is still alive for those who pursue it,” says Sentinel Books, a publishing imprint of Penguin Group.

As a boy, Mr. Rubio says, his grandfather was a constant companion who “loved America for being a beacon of liberty to oppressed people around the world,” noting, “My grandfather didn’t know America was exceptional because he read about it in a book. He lived it and saw it with his own eyes.”

COMMENT:   Rubio could give the Republican ticket what it now lacks – inspiration.  He's the kind of guy people get excited about.  In a way, he's a Republican Barack Obama, without the burden of being Barack Obama.  He also could make his party more sensitive to Hispanic issues.  I see him as a major positive, as vice presidential candidate, for anyone at the top of the ticket.

And if the ticket doesn't win, Rubio would be poised for 2016.

However, if the buzz about Rubio increases, look for the usual suspects in the mainstream media to start trashing him, and filing "investigative" stories revealing that he once forgot to dot an "i" on a federal form.  It will begin soon.

March 20, 2012       Permalink 

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OBAMA'S ELECTORAL PROBLEMS – AT 8:12 A.M. ET:  Some in the media are trying to portray Obama's re-election as a done deal, subject only to an expected ratification by the American people in November.

In fact, Obama is plagued with problems, including, especially, a rejection of his policies by huge chunks of the electorate.  A poll for The Hill tells a sorry story of three years of a wobbly presidency:

Half of likely voters expect the Supreme Court to strike down President Obama’s signature healthcare law, and strong majorities see other major policies coming from the White House making life more difficult for themselves and the country, according to this week’s The Hill Poll...

...On economic issues, 62 percent of voters say Obama’s policies will increase the debt, while 25 percent think they will cut it, and by a 48-percent-to-38-percent margin, voters believe those policies will increase joblessness rather than put people back to work.

On energy, 58 percent say Obama’s policies will result in gasoline prices increasing, while just 20 percent expect them to cut prices — and by a 46-percent-to-36-percent margin, voters believe they will cause the United States to become even more dependent on foreign oil.

Voters’ wide-ranging pessimism comes as gasoline prices have risen sharply, which often dampens attitudes among U.S. voters toward those in power, and as opinions remain sharply divided on the president’s healthcare law.

COMMENT:  That is not a vote of confidence.  Remember that things were pretty grim in America during the last year of the Carter administration, yet Carter didn't fade in the polls until the fall, 1980, campaign was well underway.  And he was facing Ronald Reagan.

Pessimism over Obama's policies is not a guarantee that he will be defeated in November, but it sure helps.

March 20, 2012       Permalink

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ILLINOIS TODAY – AT 7:50 A.M. ET:  Illinois votes today.  In a way, this is a stopping action by Mitt Romney.  He must win this Midwest industrial state against Rick Santorum, or be substantially humiliated.  It does appear, from poll results, that he will do just that.  From The Hill:

Mitt Romney is poised for a major win in Illinois’s GOP primary, a crucial state for the candidate as he works to put to bed rumblings about a brokered convention.

A victory there on Tuesday, where 69 delegates are at stake, would move Romney closer to the 1,144 delegates the former Massachusetts governor needs to lock up the Republican nomination ahead of the August convention.

His main rival, Rick Santorum, has downplayed expectations in the state — telling Fox News on Monday that Romney has an “overwhelming advantage.” The former Pennsylvania senator also failed to register a full slate of delegates there.

And...

Romney led Santorum by 15 points in a survey of Illinois released Monday from the Democratic firm Public Policy Polling. But two polls out earlier this month showed him with single-digit leads over the former Pennsylvania senator.

Romney is taking no chances: he’s brought in top surrogates including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.).

A surprise loss could do major damage to his campaign and renew Republican hand-wringing about the field of candidates they’ve put forward to challenge President Obama.

COMMENT:  Santorum is speaking increasingly of a contested convention as his chance to get the Republican nomination, as it is becoming numerically more difficult for him to see victory at the end of the primaries.  But a contested convention would require Romney to stumble seriously, and that doesn't seem to be happening.

March 20,  2012     Permalink

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