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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 22,  2012

SHORT TAKES ON THE DRIFTING WRECKAGE – AT 10:56 P.M. ET:

RICK'S BLUNDER – The political world is buzzing about Rick Santorum's remark that it would be better to have Obama re-elected than to have Romney.  A number of pundits are saying that the comment probably finishes Santorum as a serious candidate.  It will undoubtedly be quoted by the Obama camp.  It's ironic, because Santorum endorsed Romney four years ago.  Rick is beginning to take on the characteristics of an angry, desperate candidate, and that's political death.

AFTER ALL THE VIOLENCE – Several  sources report that the revolution to eliminate rule by the Assad family in Syria has started to falter.  The opposition groups are running out of weapons and ammunition.  The foreign help they thought they'd get has failed to materialize.  If Assad wins, and he is winning now, it will be a major victory for Iran, which is one of Syria's main backers.  Also victorious will be Russia and China, which have also backed Assad.  The U.S.?  The president is backing U.N. efforts to end the violence.  Mr. Obama seems resigned to defeat.

JEB PLAYS HIS CARDS – A day after endorsing Mitt Romney, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush said that he thinks Romney should select Marco Rubio as his running mate.  My gut tells me that this is a trial balloon for Senator Rubio.  It's unlikely that Bush would have made the comment without Romney's approval.  Rubio is already a Republican favorite, and the choice may already have been made.  Rubio will soon be out with his autobiography, pretty much a sign that he has big things in mind.

HUH? – The New York Times, in still another attempt to help the Obama campaign on its news pages, claims that the United States is moving toward energy independence.  We are importing less oil, extracting more at home, and using less gasoline.  Of course, we're using less gasoline because we can't afford it, hardly a compliment to the Obamans.  And we're extracting more on private lands in spite of the Obama administration's obstruction of drilling in public areas.  And the fact is that we still import more than 45% of our petroleum.  Nice try, Times.  But there are too many asterisks.

March 22, 2012       Permalink 

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OH, NOT AGAIN – AT 9:21 A.M. ET:  When do we start calling the Republican Party the kamikaze party?  Maybe now. 

In 2010 the GOP had a good shot at taking the United States Senate.  But Republicans, in too many states, put up goofball candidates who won more ridicule than votes.  Apparently, some Republicans haven't learned the lesson.  Your candidate counts as much as your cause.

Connecticut will elect a new senator this year to replace retiring (and great) Senator Joe Lieberman, who ran and won as an independent last time after his own party denied him re-nomination.  Joe's crime, amidst the chic and wealthy liberals of Connecticut, was being too supportive of national defense. 

Connecticut is a moderate state and Republicans can be elected there.  But the candidate has to be superior.  The GOP has a choice between two people, one who has little chance of being elected, the other who stands a very good chance.  And guess who's leading among Republicans for the party's nomination?  From The Politico: 

A majority of Republican voters prefer former World Wrestling Entertainment executive Linda McMahon to former Rep. Christopher Shays in the Connecticut senatorial primary, according to a new survey.

Fifty-one percent of GOP primary voters support McMahon, while 42 percent back Shays, reports a Quinnipiac University poll Thursday.

Rep. Christopher Murphy (D-Conn.), who leads the Democratic primary for the retiring Joe Lieberman’s Senate seat with 37 percent support, leads McMahon 52 percent to 37 percent in a hypothetical matchup. Shays fares better, with 40 percent to Murphy’s 41 percent in a head-to-head matchup.

COMMENT:  And that's the point, dammit!  Shays has a good shot at being elected, whereas McMahon, now the party favorite, is already 15 points behind.  She ran once.  The public knows her.  It's unlikely her position in the polls will change much.

Shays is nine points behind McMahon in the race for the nomination, which will be settled on April 24th.  There is still a month for Shays to catch up.  He needs, and deserves, some major endorsements.  He was a fine congressman. 

And Republicans in Connecticut need a good kick in the pants.  The name of the game is WIN!

March 22, 2012       Permalink

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JOBLESS CLAIMS DROP AGAIN – AT 8:48 A.M. ET:  Claims for unemployment benefits dropped again last week, to their lowest level in four years.   That's good news, possibly, for the White House.  From Bloomberg:

Applications for unemployment benefits dropped last week to the lowest level in four years, reinforcing signs the U.S. labor market is picking up.

Jobless claims decreased by 5,000 to 348,000 in the week ended March 17, the fewest since February 2008, Labor Department figures showed today in Washington. The median forecast of 46 economists in a Bloomberg News survey projected 350,000. The number of people on unemployment benefit rolls and those getting extended payments also fell.

COMMENT:  I hate to bust anyone's balloon, but the reporting by the mainstream media is a bit optimistic.  First, these numbers aren't all that great.  Indeed, the claims figures have dropped only a tiny bit in the last month.  Also, we have to examine the figures more closely.  How many people have dropped out of the labor force or exhausted their benefits, and cannot therefore apply?

Also, the price of gasoline continues to rise, and with it the fear of an economic slowdown and possible inflation.  Unless the gas price declines, Obama can hardly claim a great economy.  People are hurting at the pump, and feeling it every day.

We have a long way to go, and we're not getting there fast enough.

March 22, 2012      Permalink

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THE NEW CAUSE – AT 8:19 A.M. ET:   The Trayvon Martin case is becoming a major story in the United States.  To review, Trayvon Martin was the African-American teenager recently killed by a neighborhood watch captain in Florida. 

The case has become intensely controversial.  Martin was, by all accounts, a good kid.  The watch captain had a history of endless calls to the police about "suspicious" characters in his neighborhood.  There is some evidence that the captain, a man named George Zimmerman, pursued Martin and shot him without just cause.  The police exonerated Zimmerman without a full investigation.  Zimmerman is described as white, but appears to be of mixed heritage.  From CBS News:

SANFORD, Fla. - Fury over the fatal shooting of 17-year-old Trayvon Martin is spreading.

Marchers took to the streets in New York City and Miami Wednesday, demanding the arrest of the shooter, neighborhood watch volunteer George Zimmerman.

And he's not the only one under fire.

In Manhattan, hundreds demonstrated, seeking justice, they said, for Martin.

The "Million Hoodie March" got its name because Martin was wearing a hoodie on Feb. 28, the night Zimmerman shot him.

Martin's parents were at the New York protest, surrounded by supporters.

"Our son was not committing any crime," said Martin's mother, Sybrina Fulton. "Our son is your son. I want you guys to stand up for justice and stand up for what's right." That got a loud "yeah" from the crowd.

Some conservative writers, like Robert VerBruggen at National Review, are joining the call for a full probe, saying this may be a case of vigilantism.

The case could be dragged into the political campaign.  Florida has a "stand your ground" law allowing citizens to use lethal force if they feel their lives are threatened.  It is obviously controversial, although it has apparently worked reasonably well.  The author of the law has distanced himself from the shooter in the Martin case, saying that's not the type of situation his law covers.   The legislator is acting responsibly. 

Those of us who are pro police and pro military realize that we do these institutions no good with blind support, or when we avert our eyes to possibly wrongdoing.   Indeed, we diminish the fine soldier and committed police officer.  The Martin case calls for a full investigation.  If – and only if – the shooting was illegal, punishment must be administered.

At the same time, we have a right to wonder about all the other black youths who are shot in America each week.  The overwhelming majority are shot by other blacks...and yet there are no marches, no protests by so-called "community leaders."  Are they unimportant?  Were their lives not worth something?  The problem with so many of these protests within the African-American community is that they seem to occur only if the alleged perpetrator is of another race.  The impression given is that "outrage" is expressed only when black leaders can exploit the case for their own benefit. 

We should listen to the protest over Trayvon Martin.  We should answer the call for a full investigation, and for justice.  Then some good police commissioner should sit down with "leaders" and give them a good tongue-lashing on the value of all human life, not just life that has political value.

March 22, 2012        Permalink

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ENDGAME IN FRANCE – AT 8:01 A.M. ET:  One of the great myths we have here is that Europeans are lax on security.  Sure, many of the NATO nations haven't pulled their weight on national defense, preferring that Uncle Sam foot the bill. 

But when it comes to internal security, some of the European countries – but only some – can teach us a thing or two.  France is the prime example.  They take internal security very seriously, and had soldiers with submachine guns at airports long before our 9-11.

We have a fresh example.  Recently, there has been a series of killings in and around the French southern city of Toulouse.  First, three French paratroopers were gunned down in cold blood.  Then, four members of the city's Jewish community were murdered in a similarly brutal manner.

The president of France and his opposition's leader rushed to the scene of the murders to show solidarity.  The hunt for the killer or killers was handled at the highest level.  There was no political correctness.  Sympathy marches were held in Paris.

Compare please to our president's reaction when 13 people, including uniformed soldiers, were murdered by a terrorist at Fort Hood.  To this day our newly politicized Defense Department will not acknowledge the religious link to the assassin, an Army major with Islamist views.

Of course, the usual suspects came out of the woodwork in this French case as well.   When it was realized that the victims were both French soldiers and Jews, it was assumed that these were right-wing attacks.  There was practically jubilation in the precincts of the left that the Islamists, with whom the left identifies, appeared to be in the clear.

Not so fast.

A quick, effective investigation showed narrowed to a suspect with Al Qaeda ties and a background in Afghanistan.  He murdered the French troops, who were of North African descent, because he opposed French overseas operations.  He murdered the Jews in support of the Palestinians.

French special forces and police pursued the suspect to his home.  There will be no trial.  From Fox:

TOULOUSE, France – The suspect in an radical Islam-linked killing spree in southern France was killed after police raided his apartment to end a 30-hour standoff, the French interior minister said.

Mohamed Merah, holed up in an apartment in the southern city of Toulouse, was found in the apartment's bathroom and exchanged fire with police, the minister said. He apparently jumped from the window and continued firing from the ground until he was killed.

COMMENT:  All praise to the French forces and police.  A job well done, with no attempt to cover up the motives of the killer.

March 22,  2012     Permalink

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MARCH 21,  2012

SHORT TAKES ON THE DRIFTING WRECKAGE – AT 10:38 P.M. ET:

THE REAL WEST SIDE STORY – A New York police official revealed today that, since 2005, the NYPD has interviewed at least 13 people with ties to the Iranian government, seen photographing local landmarks.  The police consider the photographic outings to be pre-operational surveillance.  The report bolsters concerns that Iran, or its affiliates, like Hezbollah, could be targeting New York for a major terrorist attack.

ANOTHER ISLAMIST MOVE IN EGYPT – Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, which previously had denied any interest in running a candidate for the country's presidency, now says it is reconsidering that decision.  Little by little, the Brotherhood is moving to take over the country, removing any possibility that Egypt could become a modern democracy.  Any candidate it entered in the upcoming election would be a heavy favorite to win, as the Brotherhood is the best-organized political force in the country.

DOLE SPEAKS – Former Republican Senate leader and GOP presidential candidate, Bob Dole, is taking up the cry that Rick Santorum must consider getting out of the presidential race and, by extension, help unite the party behind Mitt Romney.  Dole based his comments on his own experience, suggesting that he should have gotten out of the race earlier in 1988, when he ran against then Vice President George H.W. Bush for the Republican nomination.  Dole never stood much of a chance.  He did win the GOP nod in 1996, but lost the election to President Bill Clinton.  What is remarkable is that no one these days is even mentioning Newt Gingrich, who was soaring in the polls late last year. 

OIL INDUSTRY SNAPS BACK AT OBAMA – In his speeches, Obama claims we have only 2% of the world's oil reserves but consume 20%.  Not so, say spokesmen for the oil industry.   They point out that the 2% applies only to proven reserves, but that the actual figure is much, much higher, and that the U.S. is sitting on more oil than Saudi Arabia.  But anti-drilling interests have thus far frustrated efforts to get at those huge reserves. 

March 21, 2012       Permalink

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JEB BUSH GOES FOR ROMNEY – AT 11:08 A.M. ET:   Jeb Bush, the much-respected former governor of Florida, and brother of former President George W. Bush, has endorsed Mitt Romney for president.

The endorsement is important.  Most aren't, but this is.  Bush is influential, probably among the five most influential figures in the GOP today.   His endorsement can start the ball rolling toward a coalescing around Romney, allowing Romney to start concentrating on battling Obama.  From ABC News:

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush endorsed Mitt Romney after Romney’s lopsided win in Illinois Tuesday night. The former Florida Governor – a Republican heavyweight – called on members of the party to coalesce behind Romney.

“Congratulations to Governor Mitt Romney on his win last night and to all the candidates for a hard fought, thoughtful debate and primary season,” said Bush in a statement. “Primary elections have been held in thirty-four states, and now is the time for Republicans to unite behind Governor Romney and take our message of fiscal conservatism and job creation to all voters this fall. I am endorsing Mitt Romney for our Party’s nomination. We face huge challenges, and we need a leader who understands the economy, recognizes more government regulation is not the answer, believes in entrepreneurial capitalism and works to ensure that all Americans have the opportunity to succeed.”

COMMENT:  Romney has also been endorsed by other major leaders, including Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey.  But I don't know if either Santorum or Gingrich will withdraw.  They are ideologically committed.  Others in the party may have to work around them.  

But one can feel the momentum now.

March 21, 2012      Permalink

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WE HAVE A RIGHT TO BE OUTRAGED – AT 9:51 A.M. ET:  We were told that, once Barack Obama took office, everyone around the world would respect us in the morning.  No more petty anti-Americanism.  No more talking down to us.  Barack would wave his hand and it would all go away.

Not so fast.  Anti-Americanism comes in various shapes and sizes, and no one is better at it than some of the pompous European countries that believe that they're just so damned superior and moral, and far holier than us.

Please read this Norwegian government release, from a Norwegian English-language daily:

Norway regrets the death sentence against US citizen Timothy Shaun Stemple, who is due to be executed in the state of Oklahoma on 15 March.

“The death penalty is incompatible with the principles of human dignity and humane treatment. We have urged the Governor of Oklahoma to reverse the death sentence,” said Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre.

Store is a real pill.  He thinks he walks on water.  In reality, he's just an old lefty.

Timothy Shaun Stemple has family in Norway, and they have also become involved in this matter.

Norway raises the issue of the death penalty with the US authorities at regular intervals, both as a matter of principle and in individual cases. Most recently, Prime Minister Stoltenberg raised the question of capital punishment during his meeting with President Obama in October last year. The US authorities are therefore well aware of Norway’s strong opposition to all forms of capital punishment.

Illinois is the US state that most recently abolished the death penalty, which means that a total of 34 states have now done so.

“A growing number of countries are abolishing the death penalty, and I hope that the US will one day join the vast majority of countries that do not use capital punishment,” Mr Støre said.

The Government gives high priority to the campaign against the death penalty, and Norway has taken a leading role in global efforts to combat use of capital punishment.

“We will continue to work actively to combat the death penalty, at the bilateral, regional and multilateral level,” Mr Støre said

Now, once you get past the arrogance, what is missing from that release?  You all know the answer.  Not once, not once, is there any mention of what Timothy Shaun Stemple did to put himself on death row.  Not once.

Now, please read this:

An Oklahoma man convicted of killing his wife with help from a relative of his mistress to collect insurance money was put to death by injection Thursday.

Timothy Shaun Stemple shook his head no when asked if he had any last words, as members of his family and his wife's sat separately from each other watching the condemned man through glass...

...Trisha Stemple, 30, was beaten with a plastic-covered baseball bat and run over by a pickup truck Oct. 24, 1996, along a Tulsa highway...

...Stemple's accomplice, Terry Hunt, told the AP during a prison interview Sunday that he was disappointed Stemple didn't confess when given the opportunity at the clemency hearing. "I'm not innocent and Shaun is not innocent," said Hunt, who's in prison in Hominy serving a life sentence.

COMMENT:  That is why he was executed.  Whether you accept, or reject, the use of the death penalty, the readers in Norway had a right to know the full story, but the bureaucrats who wrote the Norwegian release never bothered.

Not exactly a noble example of "the people's right to know."

And how can readers intelligently decide when they aren't given the full facts? 

March 21, 2012       Permalink

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I AM TRULY MOVED – AT 8:57 A.M. ET:  Why, it's the little human touches that make government work.  Correct?   I have to admit that this is a little too human for my tastes, although I am moved by the president's consideration:

AFP - British Prime Minister David Cameron on Tuesday revealed he was "tucked up in bed" by US President Barack Obama during the pair's recent trip on Air Force One.

The two leaders were repeatedly seen back-slapping and sharing jokes during Cameron's recent US visit, but now it appears the friendship was sealed when the president offered Cameron the use of his personal quarters.

"It was 4 o'clock UK time so he (Obama) said 'David, why don't you use my bed and put your feet up,' so I duly did," he told members of his constituency in Witney, south England.

"Barack went to the back of the plane and explained to my private secretary and the team 'don't worry, the British Prime Minister is fine I have just tucked him up in bed'. I don't think that has happened before," added Cameron.

Obama went out of his way to hail America's "indispensable" relationship with Britain during last week's visit, even offering to learn the rules of cricket, gifting his guest a top of the range American grill, and laying on a sumptuous state dinner.

COMMENT:  Let us remember, before being dazzled by the presidential beddie-bye, that this was the president who removed a bust of Winston Churchill from the Oval Office and coldly sent it back to Britain.

Maybe he's learned something about diplomacy.  Or maybe he's just good at tucking in.  I'd love to have a photo.

March 21, 2012       Permalink

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THE AFTERMATH – AT 8:39 A.M. ET:   Political obituaries are easy to write, and sometimes have to be withdrawn.  I actually think the press has been pretty responsible in this election cycle in not writing off, too early, the candidates for the GOP nomination.

However, after Mitt Romney's convincing win in Illinois yesterday, the obits for Rick Santorum are starting to appear across the internet.  They're based on the fact that no one sees any realistic road for him to accumulate enough delegates to win the nomination.

Also, Santorum faces his ultimate test – the Pennsylvania primary on April 24th.  Santorum represented Pennsylvania for two terms in the U.S. Senate, but lost in a landslide defeat in his bid for a third.  If he loses his home state on primary day, it will clearly be over for him.  And Pennsylvania votes the same day as Connecticut, Delaware, New York and Rhode Island, states that should go for Romney. 

It is true that some unexpected event can turn the momentum of this race around.  But short of photographs showing Mitt Romney doing strange things with giraffes, it's hard to see that happening.  Romney, with little real enthusiasm behind him, is heading for the nomination, and there are already some early signs that Marco Rubio will be his running mate.

March 21,  2012     Permalink

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ACTUAL HEADLINE OF THE DAY – AT 8:28 A.M. ET:

From the Washington Post: 

ILLINOIS PRIMARY MAKES ME MISS LINCOLN

This columnist must be at least 165 years old, with a spectacular health plan.

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

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"Political correctness does not legislate tolerance; it only organizes hatred. "
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