William Katz  /  Urgent Agenda


HOME


ABOUT


ARCHIVE


DAILY SNIPPETS


SNIPPETS 
  ARCHIVE

________________

AUDIO


AUDIO ARCHIVE      


CURRENT
QUESTION


CONTACT



 

SIZZLING SITES

Power Line
Top of the Ticket
Faster Please (Michael Ledeen)
OpinionJournal.com
Hudson New York

Bookworm Room
Bill Bennett
Red State
Pajamas Media
Michelle Malkin
Weekly Standard  
Real Clear Politics
The Corner

City Journal
Gateway Pundit
American Thinker
Legal Insurrection

Political Mavens
Silvio Canto Jr.
IranPressNews


"The left needs two things to survive. It needs mediocrity, and it needs dependence. It nurtures mediocrity in the public schools and the universities. It nurtures dependence through its empire of government programs. A nation that embraces mediocrity and dependence betrays itself, and can only fade away, wondering all the time what might have been."
     - Urgent Agenda

 

Daily Snippets are here.

We're now on Twitter, where we'll be posting little notes.  You can go to http://twitter.com/urgentagenda

And we're now on Facebook.  You can go to:
http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1467537536&ref=name

 

 

 

FRIDAY,  OCTOBER 2,  2009


THE WISDOM OF ROLAND - AT 7:02 P.M. ET:  Senator Roland Burris, the junior senator from Illinois by way of appointment by a corrupt governor, has revealed the real villain behind the rejection of Chicago for the 2016 Olympics.

In an interview with Fox News, Burris pointed the finger at...

BUSH (!!).

Yes, Burris said, it was George W. Bush who cost Chicago the games because he ruined America's reputation, and Obama just hasn't had a chance to bring it back. 

So now you know.  A well-informed Illinois senator is a precious thing.

October 2, 2009   Permalink


HARRY TRUMAN MUST BE SPINNING IN HIS GRAVE - AT 6:21 P.M. ET:  In recent weeks we saw three terror plots busted in the United States alone.  Cracking the cases was made possible in part because of provisions of the Patriot Act.  And what is the response of the keepers of the flame of modern liberalism?  The Washington Examiner explains:

Some Democratic lawmakers have long wanted to weaken the act, and now, with big majorities in the House and Senate, they have their chance. But the renewal debate just happens to come at a time when recently uncovered domestic terror plots -- most notably the Denver shuttle bus driver and his colleagues caught with bomb-making materials and a list of specific targets in New York City -- are highlighting the very threats the act was designed to counter. Republicans are fighting to keep the law in its current form.

And who is one of the Democrats leading the charge?  Why, it's that sober, serious new senator from Minnesota:

Even roving wiretaps, a widely accepted, common-sense feature of the Patriot Act, have come under question. At a Sept. 23 committee hearing, Sen. Al Franken, the newest member of the committee, challenged the constitutionality of such wiretaps, and in the process left an Obama Justice Department official -- who supports the law -- muttering in frustration.

That official, Assistant Attorney General David Kris, tried to explain to Franken that the law allows, and the courts have held, that investigators can wiretap a suspect based on a specific description of that suspect's activities, even if investigators don't know his name.

Franken, who pointed out that he is not a lawyer, was unimpressed...

...Is the Patriot Act's roving wiretap provision consistent with the Constitution? Franken asked.

"I do think it is," Kris answered, "and I kind of want to defer to that other, third branch of government. The courts, in looking at -- "

"I know what they are," Franken joked, as the audience laughed.

Kris seemed taken aback. "This is surreal," he said under his breath.

No, it's Saturday Night Live, brought to the next level.  But won't you sleep better knowing that Al Franken is protecting you?  Think about it.

October 2, 2009   Permalink


MEDICAL NEWS - AT 5:43 P.M. ET:  From Fox News:

Most babies born in rich countries this century will eventually make it to their 100th birthday, new research says. Danish experts say that since the 20th century, people in developed countries are living about three decades longer than in the past. Surprisingly, the trend shows little sign of slowing down.

COMMENT:  And since people generally grow more conservative as they grow older, this is creating panic in the Democratic Party.  What do we do with these dangerous oldies?

Suddenly the term "cuts in Medicare" looks far more delightful to leftists.  They started our era with the sixties slogan, "Don't trust anyone over 30."  They'll undoubtedly try to end it with, "Don't treat anyone over 80."

October 2, 2009   Permalink


UNBELIEVABLE - AT 4:35 P.M. ET:  Well, they announced it on a Friday afternoon, so I guess they didn't want too much publicity.  But one day after the "historic" meeting with Iran, the State Department's division of appeasement is out with a clarification, which should give the mullahs in Tehran a good laugh, to go with the other laughs they're having at our expense:

WASHINGTON (AFP) – A two-week deadline set by world powers for Iran to open a newly-revealed nuclear site to inspectors is not "written in stone," the US State Department said on Friday.

"I don't think it was a hard deadline. We made clear it was a matter of some urgency," said State Department spokesman Ian Kelly at a press briefing.

After Thursday talks between Iranian officials and representatives of six world powers, US President Barack Obama called on Iran to allow International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors to visit the newly-revealed nuclear site near the Iranian city of Qom within two weeks.

"Since Iran has now agreed to cooperate fully and immediately with the International Atomic Energy Agency, it must grant unfettered access to IAEA inspectors within two weeks," he said.

But Kelly said Friday that the two-week timeline was not a "drop-dead deadline."

"I don't know that it is written in stone necessarily," he said. "We do expect it to happen in the next couple of weeks."

COMMENT:  Are you believing this?  The first thing we do is extend the deadline, just as we've extended every other deadline.  This kind of thing looks pathetic, especially as it dovetails so well with the overall foreign-policy tone of this administration.

Well, President Obama did spend 25 minutes on the plane today, on the ground in Copenhagen, with General McChrystal.  Eliminating the pleasantries, that must mean about 20 minutes devoted to a war in which Americans are dying by the day.  No report on what was said, or when they'll meet again.

October 2, 2009   Permalink


FLYING DOWN TO RIO - AT 4:21 P.M. ET:  That was the name of one of those delightful Golden Age musicals, made in 1933, and famous for featuring the first pairing of Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire.  Well, there'll be a lot of flying down to Rio in 2016, because the city got the Olympics for that year today. 

So, stand by for considerable gloating from Latin American enemies of the United States, who will see this as an American defeat.  The president flew to Copenhagen to pitch for Chicago, and Chicago was the first city eliminated.  You may be certain that Hugo Chavez will have something to say.

Well, he can say anything he wants.  We'll take our defeat and come back stronger next time.  Rio still has to pull off the Olympics, and it's a city floating on crime - with one of the highest homicide rates in the world.  I even heard suggestions in news coverage today that walls be built around certain parts of the city to separate the criminal element from the rest.

It's seven years away.  Obama would have liked Chicago to host the Olympics in 2016, which would be the last year of a two-term presidency.  We'll see about that.

October 2, 2009   Permalink 


BULLETIN:  NO TO CHICAGO - AT 11:54 A.M. ET:  Chicago has been eliminated as host of the 2016 Olympics, the elimination coming in the very first round of voting.  It is a stunning defeat for President Obama, who personally went to Copenhagen with the first lady to make a pitch for their home city.

Frankly, I think we're better off.  I like Chicago.  It's a great city.  I went to the University of Chicago and worked in Illinois politics.  But the city is plagued with problems, and polls showed a decided lack of enthusiasm on the part of its residents for hosting the games.  The cost factor loomed large.  Hustlers come in and advertise huge benefits for a city acting as host, but other cities have lost considerable sums of money. 

I suspect that we the American people would have wound up paying for the 2016 games.  We can watch them on TV from either Rio or Madrid, the two cities left in competition.

The last games in the United States were held in Atlanta in 1996.  Apparently, the international Olympic people were less than thrilled.  Maybe that was a factor in rejecting Chicago.

Some good can come out of this.  Maybe President Obama will finally realize that he can't convince everybody of everything.  He has been rebuffed constantly on the international stage.  Being The One may have great sway with college students.  It doesn't much cut it with the governing crowd.

October 2,  2009   Permalink


SHOW BIZ - AT 10:09 A.M. ET:  From the Washington Times:

President Obama unexpectedly Friday met in Copenhagen with Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, the commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, one day after the general spoke out publicly on his need for more troops.

The president and the general met on board Air Force One for about 25 minutes at the end of Mr. Obama's roughly five-hour visit to Copenhagen, where he made the case earlier Friday to the International Olympic Committee for why Chicago should host the 2016 Summer Olympics.

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters on Air Force One that Gen. McChrystal flew from London to Copenhagen specifically to meet with Mr. Obama.

"The president wanted to take the opportunity to get together with Gen. McChrystal," Mr. Gibbs said.

COMMENT:  So, after being skewered over the fact that he'd spent more time with David Letterman than with his Afghanistan commander, the president spends 25 minutes with the latter, at the tail end of the Olympics bit.  Very impressive.  Now the president can say that he speaks to generals as well as to Letterman.  And let's not forget Oprah. 

Why am I resisting the temptation to laugh?

October 2, 2009   Permalink 


BULLETIN:  WELCOME TO THE RECOVERY - AT 8:52 A.M. ET: 

WASHINGTON (AP) -- The unemployment rate rose to 9.8 percent in September as employers cut far more jobs than expected, evidence that the longest recession since the 1930s is still inflicting widespread pain.

The Labor Department said Friday that the economy lost a net total of 263,000 jobs last month, up from a downwardly revised 201,000 in August. That's above Wall Street economists' expectations of 180,000 job losses, according to a survey by Thomson Reuters.

The unemployment rate rose from 9.7 percent in August, matching expectations.

If laid-off workers who have settled for part-time work or have given up looking for new jobs are included, the unemployment rate rose to 17 percent, the highest in records dating from 1994.

More than a half-million unemployed people gave up looking for work last month. Had they continued searching, the official jobless rate would have been higher.

COMMENT:  This is grim.  You can't have a jobless recovery and call it a recovery. 

Remember that, from 1933 to 1937, in the depths of the Great Depression, we had a stock market rally.  It meant nothing.  Joblessness drags down consumption and spending, which are the elements that drive the real economy.

We are still in trouble.  The stimulus apparently isn't very stimulating.

October 2, 2009   Permalink


CONCERN IN BRITAIN - AT 8:28 A.M. ET:  More and more reports pour in describing concern, even on the sane European left, about Obama's wobbly, vague, inconsistent, and wimpish foreign policy.  Right now the president, in between trips to Copenhagen and golf outings here, is presumably considering his next move in Afghanistan.  The British foreign secretary has some advice for Mr. Obama, and it is blunt:

David Miliband urged President Obama to embrace a renewed “hearts and minds” strategy in Afghanistan as ministers indicated that they would not send more British troops unless the US adopted such an approach.

That is part of the crisis we face.  Other countries are not going to stick their necks out unless we lead.  And this president isn't much of a leader.

The Foreign Secretary did not mention America by name but called on every government in the coalition to back troops, aid workers and diplomats in support of a clear plan. “We came into this together. We see it through — together,” he told the Labour conference in Brighton.

His words reflect a growing concern in the Government over Mr Obama’s apparent reluctance to garner political consent for a troop “surge”, which commanders say is needed to build up the Afghan Army and defeat the Taleban insurgency. General Stanley McChrystal, the top commander in Afghanistan, wants a revamped counter-insurgency — more forces on the ground engaging civilians and persuading the Taleban to switch sides — as opposed to a counter-terrorism strategy focused on al-Qaeda — reducing troop numbers and attacking militants mostly with drone missile strikes.

French President Sarkozy essentially laughed at President Obama last week.  Now the British foreign secretary in a leftist Labour government is laying it on the line.  And, from the other side in British politics, get this:

Last night, David Cameron said that that the first thing he would do if elected prime minister would be to form a war cabinet. He said that it would comprise his Foreign Secretary, Chancellor, Defence Secretary, Home Secretary and the heads of the Armed Forces, MI6 and MI5.

COMMENT:  Britain is serious, France is serious.  British conservatives talk of a war cabinet. 

And Barack Hussein Obama Jr.?  He's in Copenhagen boosting Chicago's affinity for pole vaulting.  Or is it poll vaulting.

October 2, 2009   Permalink


QUOTES OF THE DAY - AT 8:12 A.M. ET:  There happens to be a great deal of fine journalism floating around this morning.  We'll present some of it.

Quote of the day #1 - from John Bolton, at NRO, on the Iran bit:

“In President Obama’s mind, these talks are his proof that his open-hand philosophy is working,” says Bolton. “As I say in my National Review cover story this week, you’re never going to chit-chat Iran out of their nuclear-weapons program. Negotiations work in Iran’s favor.”

It's Obama's mind that's beginning to worry me.

Quote of the day #2, by Noemie Emery, at the Weekly Standard, on that very issue of Obama's mind:

Barack Obama is often described as an inspiring figure, in the vaunted tradition of Reagan and Kennedy, who can arouse in his hearers a sense of great purpose, and set them to dreaming great dreams. He's a fine speaker, but Reagan and Kennedy inspired by their message: the idea that the country is unique among nations, has a singular mission to promote freedom everywhere; in effect, that the country is great. On this point, Obama is dumb. He stresses the country's faults, not its virtues; goes on apology tours, where he asks the forgiveness of nations with much grimmer histories; calls his country arrogant and dismissive of others, who deserve more respect. Cities on hills, beloved of Reagan and Kennedy, are not in his lexicon, and the idea of the "last best hope" of humanity has not crossed his lips. He finds the country exceptional only in its pretense to be so, and has been at pains to let England and Israel, who gave us our values, know that they're also not much. He doesn't seem to be moved by democracy either, as shown by his indifference to those fighting for it in Iran and Honduras, and his indulgence of oppressive regimes.

That certainly says it.  A summing up of Obama's depressing first nine months in office.

October 2, 2009   Permalink


A WORD ABOUT WORDS - AT 7:39 A.M. ET: We get used to diplomatic double-talk here, especially the fraudulent optimism exuded by diplomats whose job is to yap.

But I don't think we should get too used to it.  Consider, for example, this babble, reported by the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, concerning yesterday's talks with Iran:

According to the EU official, the talks yielded three meaningful results. The first was the very fact that the forum took place. The second was the agreement on a follow-up meeting and the third was Iran's statement that it would cooperate fully and immediately with the International Atomic Energy Agency.  

COMMENT:  Meaningful Result #1 - the fact that the forum took place. 

Gee, what a miracle.  We hand the thug Iranian regime the gift of legitimacy by calling the meeting, and we consider it a Meaningful Result that they came.

Meaningful Result #2 - the agreement on a follow-up meeting. 

What a conquest.  What a victory.  We had a talk and agreed to have another talk.  What progress toward dismantling Iran's nuclear program.  This Obama, he's a genius.

Meaningful Result #3 - Iran's statement that it would cooperate fully and immediately with the International Atomic Energy Agency. 

A great breakthrough!  You know, we shouldn't judge these mullahs by their 30-year record, or their shooting of democracy demonstrators in the streets.  Those were understandable misunderstandings of understandable differences that were misunderstood.  Here they are pledging full and immediate cooperation.  And in our hearts we know they mean it.

Yuch. 

The observation, of course, came from an EU official, who probably visits the grave of Neville Chamberlain each year and leaves a rose.

October 2,  2009   Permalink

 

 

 

THURSDAY,  OCTOBER 1,  2009


REMARKABLE DIFFERENCE - AT 9:35 P.M. ET:  If you don't think the wording in polls affects outcome, consider this:  Have you noticed all the attention paid to a recent poll reporting that Americans have lost enthusiasm for our military effort in Afghanistan?  Liberals are using it to reinforce their demand that we withdraw, a demand they seem always to make, no matter what war and what circumstances.

However, please note:

A sizable majority of Americans support the U.S. military action in Afghanistan, and an even larger number think the action there is important to preventing terrorist attacks against the United States, according to a FOX News poll released Thursday.

Six in 10 Americans think the U.S. military action in Afghanistan is "extremely" (25 percent) or "very" (35 percent) important to stopping terrorist attacks against the U.S., and another 27 percent think it is "somewhat" important.

Few Americans -- 9 percent -- think the military action in Afghanistan is not at all important to fighting terrorism at home.

Overall, 64 percent of Americans support the U.S. military action in Afghanistan and 27 percent oppose it. There is a huge partisan gap, as 80 percent of Republicans support the action compared to 49 percent of Democrats. Among independents, 66 percent support it.

What accounts for this dramatically different result?

Previously, when the question was about support for the "U.S. war in Afghanistan," as opposed to the "U.S. military action" the results were notably different: 46 percent were in support and 45 percent opposed (15-16 September 2009).

Ah, what a difference a few words makes.  I wonder if liberals will use this latest result, or pretend it doesn't exist.  What do you think?

October 1, 2009   Permalink


GOP GAINS - AT 7:39 P.M. ET:  Dan Balz of the Washington Post, one of the best political reporters around, analyzes recent poll data pointing to a trend toward Republicans, but there are serious caveats:

Are Republicans at a low ebb or making a comeback?

The question is prompted by the new release from the Gallup organization, which showed that the gap in party identification is now the smallest it has been since 2005. Democrats are still in the lead, but not by the double-digit margins they often enjoyed the past two years.

The report was the second in a month from Gallup to suggest that, eight months into the Obama administration, Democrats are losing favor with at least a portion of the electorate. Republicans are cheering the findings as a sign of a potentially important change in the political landscape. Democratic strategists offer cautionary notes about what is actually happening.

The key change, Balz points out, is not among Democrats and Republicans, but among independents, whom each party needs to be victorious:

As Gallup put it, "There has been no apparent increase in the percentage of Americans who identify as Republicans on the initial party-preference question."

What's behind the narrowing of the gap? The whole shift has come among people who do not initially identify with one of the two major parties. Some are stubbornly independent, but many of these people lean toward one party or another. Over the past few years, more of these leaners have tilted toward the Democrats than toward the Republicans. Not today.

And...

In the first three months of this year, Gallup found that 17 percent of all adults were independents who leaned toward the Democrats, and 11 percent independents who leaned toward the Republicans. Since then, however, Democrats have lost ground with independents and Republicans have gained ground. Gallup's third quarter data showed that 15 percent of adults were Republican-leaning independents, and 13 percent Democratic-leaning independents.

The frustration is that Republicans cannot and do not increase their own numbers.  The party is simply not attractive to most Americans.  It must get rid of its "Dr. No" image, propose imaginative solutions to real problems, and show at least a decent respect for the fact that not everyone in America is a white male.  Those images of Republican leaders at press conferences are devastating.  They may be fine fellows, but they all look alike. 

The party must also develop and promote major figures outside the congressional leadership.  The 2012 presidential campaign will start in 201l, and that's only two years away.  Indeed, Governor Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota announced his PAC just today.  And Sarah's book comes out next month.

Balz concludes:

The Republicans are still in trouble and more evidence is needed to draw real conclusions about the balance of power between the two parties. But if Obama's policies are causing independents, who were critical to Democratic successes in 2006 and 2008, to look more favorably toward the Republican Party, that should be cause for concern at Democratic Party headquarters. 

Republicans, take note.

October 1, 2009   Permalink


WHAT WE ARE UP AGAINST - AT 7:08 P.M. ET:  Apparently, Iran goes to elaborate lengths to conceal its acquisition of parts for its "peaceful" nuclear program.  Well, of course.  The powering of hair dryers and charging of Blackberries requires secrecy, stealth, and a dose of security.

Canada's National Post, which we should really quote more here, tells the story:

Iran has been running a sophisticated procurement operation in Canada to acquire materials for its nuclear and weapons programs, according to a senior Canadian official.

Canadian customs officers have seized everything from centrifuge parts to programmable logic controllers that were being illicitly shipped to Iran through third countries, George Webb said.

"We have anything to do with a nuclear program going to Iran," Mr. Webb, head of the Canada Border Services Agency's Counter Proliferation Section, told the National Post in an exclusive interview.

The latest seizure in Canada occurred just last week, as Iran was in the spotlight for building a secret uranium enrichment facility that some experts say could be used for the production of nuclear weapons.

Customs officers found a shipment of microchips that Department of National Defence analysts have identified as possible navigational chips.

COMMENT:  Navigational chips, as in missile navigational chips.  Of course, we all know that missiles are needed for peaceful nuclear programs.  I mean, you want to deliver the parts quickly, don't you?

This shows the extent of Iran's international acquisition efforts.  Clearly, jokes aside, this is a weapons program.  Peaceful programs don't require any of this stealthiness.

The National Post story is superbly reported.  Try to read it all.

October 1, 2009   Permalink


IRAN TALKS, FIRST DAY - AT 6:39 P.M. ET:  Western nations completed their first day of talks with Iran in Geneva.  The United States was not only present, but American negotiator William J. Burns had a private meeting with the Iranian representative. 

The results?  There is some spin going on suggesting that the first day was "encouraging," although, reading between the lines, the encouragement was more rhetorical than substantive.  President Obama, made a very solid statement after the talks concluded, expressing cautious optimism, but insisting that Iran produce results, and quickly.  We give credit where it's due here, and the president's statement was far superior to the lackluster remarks he made last week revealing the "secret" Iranian nuclear site.  The White House might have been chastised by a new poll showing that the American people want Mr. Obama to be tougher on Iran. 

You might be interested in how three separate news organizations, two liberal, one "fair and balanced," handled the story of today's talks.  From The New York Times:

GENEVA — Iran and the big powers opposed to its nuclear program appeared to make progress Thursday in talks that included the highest-level direct discussions with the United States in many years, with both sides agreeing to hold further negotiations and the Iranians pledging to allow foreign inspectors into a newly disclosed uranium enrichment factory.

The talks, held in Geneva, defused some of the tensions that have escalated rapidly in recent weeks over Iran’s nuclear intentions and represented a victory of sorts for the Iranian government of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose own legitimacy has not been universally recognized since his disputed re-election in June.

President Obama on Thursday afternoon called the landmark talks a “constructive beginning,” but warned Iran that he was prepared to move quickly to sanctions if negotiations over Iran’s nuclear ambitions dragged on.

From The Washington Post:

GENEVA, Oct. 1 -- A senior U.S. diplomat held a rare bilateral meeting Thursday with his Iranian counterpart, and Iran agreed to attend further talks with six major powers on its nuclear program and allow U.N. inspectors to visit a newly disclosed uranium enrichment facility, officials said.

President Obama hailed the breakthrough, saying that the talks in Geneva had been "constructive," and he credited the international community with remaining unified. But Obama warned that the burden now lies with Iran to prove that its intents are peaceful and he demanded "concrete steps" from the regime.

From Fox News.com:

President Obama called Thursday's talks among Iran and six world powers "constructive" but said Tehran must follow up with "constructive action."

"The Iranian government heard a clear and unified message from the international community in Geneva," Obama said at the White House after talks ended earlier in the day in Switzerland. "Iran must demonstrate through concrete steps that it will live up to its responsibilities with respect to its nuclear program."

Obama said Iran must grant international inspectors "unfettered" access to its newly disclosed nuclear facility within two weeks.

COMMENT:  It's interesting that only Fox led with the president's demand, but all three sources had it up high.  Good journalism all around, I think. 

October 1, 2009   Permalink


AFGHAN SCORECARD - AT 10:26 A.M. ET:  Associated Press reports what it claims are the views of top administration officials on Afghanistan. The president has a divided government, flashing a message of uncertainty to ally and enemy alike:

President Barack Obama is confronting a split among his closest advisers on Afghanistan, reflecting divisions in his own party over whether to send in thousands more U.S. troops and complicating his efforts to adopt a war policy he can sell to a public grown weary of the 8-year-old conflict.

The scorecard:

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and special Afghan and Pakistan envoy Richard Holbrooke appeared to be leaning toward supporting a troop increase, the official said.

White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel and Gen. James Jones, Obama's national security adviser, appeared to be less supportive, the official said. Vice President Joe Biden, who attended the meeting, has been reluctant to support a troop increase, favoring a strategy that directly targets al-Qaida fighters who are believed to be hiding in Pakistan.

And...

Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Gen. David Petraeus, the top commander for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, both support McChrystal's strategy, Pentagon press secretary Geoff Morrell said. Defense Secretary Robert Gates is on the fence, the spokesman said.

The secretary of defense is on the fence?  Not encouraging, is it?

COMMENT:  With this kind of division, the pressure on the president increases.  But this is what presidents are for.  Yes, of course, the Constitution does provide for the president to fly to Copenhagen to try to get the Olympics for Chicago.  But it also provides for the president to be commander-in-chief.  This president hasn't looked too comfortable in that latter role, and the decisions facing him should have been made weeks ago.

How he handles Afghanistan and Iran in the months ahead may well define the foreign-policy legacy of this administration.  His approach to both has so far been to delay, and ask for time outs.  That's not the way the Super Bowl is won, and this is the real Super Bowl.

October 1, 2009   Permalink


GE TO SELL NBC UNIVERSAL? - AT 9:05 A.M. ET:  Howard Kurtz is reporting in the Washington Post:

NBC Universal executives declined to deny a report Wednesday night that Comcast, the cable giant, is in talks to buy the television and movie company from General Electric.

Comcast also did not deny the report that bankers for the two sides discussed a possible deal Tuesday in New York.

Such talks often lead nowhere, but rumors have circulated for months that GE might be looking to unload the news and entertainment company. NBC is stuck in fourth place among broadcast networks, and Universal Studios is enduring a rough movie season.

"We have no comment," NBC Executive Vice President Allison Gollust said.

They have no programs either.  This story is important because NBC News is involved.  The news division, under GE's ownership, has deteriorated into a branch of the Obama administration.  GE, as a defense contractor, and now a contractor in energy technology, has an inherent conflict of interest in owning a news operation.  If NBC tilted right, you can be sure that the mainstream media would be all over that conflict.  But the only one who seems to focus on it is Bill O'Reilly at Fox News.

NBC needs new ownership.  The news division needs renewed respectability.  MSNBC needs to be abolished, even if it means missing the wit and wisdom of Chris Matthews, or Mr. Depth, as he's never called.

Could be the media story of the year.  We'll watch it.

October 1, 2009   Permalink 


SARKOZY THE IRON MAN - AT 8:46 A.M. ET:  How often can we call a French leader an "iron man"?  But watching French President Nicolas Sarkozy confront Iran gives us confidence in awarding the title.  Sarkozy has become, spiritually at least, the leader of the West on the Iran question, as the Washington Post points out:

PARIS, Sept. 30 -- Under President Nicolas Sarkozy, France has adopted an increasingly hard-edged approach to Iran, often out ahead of the Obama administration with uncompromising language criticizing Iranian leaders and warning that their nuclear program threatens world peace.

Applause, please.

...French analysts said Sarkozy feels that Europe got nowhere with Iran in several years of what was called "constructive dialogue" and that it is time to move on to stronger measures in tandem with Washington.

"In tandem with?"  Let's hope Washington is on board, and that Mr. Softee, cozy in the White House, understands the stakes.

As a result, French diplomats at a crucial meeting Thursday in Geneva are likely to push for swift, punitive sanctions unless Iran pledges unequivocally to open its entire nuclear program to international inspection to ensure Tehran is not developing atomic weapons. Jean-Pierre Maulny, a specialist in European defense at the Paris-based Institute for International and Strategic Relations, said Germany and Britain are likely to agree because they also feel the constructive dialogue bore no fruit and, to some extent, have been aligned with Paris.

COMMENT:  Late reports say the talks are underway at this hour.  There are two key issues:  What will Iran offer, if anything?  How will the Obama administration react?

Obama has already pulled the rug out from under our East European allies on missile defense.  We wonder what he has in store for Britain, France, and Germany.  He's already insulted Britain several times, Germany went right in Sunday's election, which cannot please The One, and on his recent, D-Day visit to France, he seemed decidedly indifferent to the country. 

Stay tuned.  Presumably, Iran has until December to shape up in the nuclear talks.  But Obama throws deadlines under the bus as quickly as he does his friends.

October 1, 2009   Permalink


GOP CANDIDATE MOVES UP IN VIRGINIA GOV RACE - AT 8:05 P.M. ET:  You'd almost never know it, but America votes next month.  There are two critical governorships up for decision, New Jersey and Virginia, both currently held by Democrats.  In Virginia, the Republican candidate, Bob McDonnell, saw his hefty lead reduced after the Washington Post revealed a thesis McDonnell had written 20 years ago, with some decidedly un-P.C. ideas.

But McDonnell seems to have bounced back, with about a month to go before the election.  From the Politico:

Bob McDonnell, Virginia’s Republican nominee for governor, has increased his lead over Democrat Creigh Deeds to nine percentage points, according to a new Rasmussen Reports poll out Wednesday.

McDonnell leads Deeds 51-42 percent according to the Tuesday poll of 500 likely voters. The new survey shows a significant jump for McDonnell, who led Deeds by only 2 percentage points in the same poll two weeks ago.

Rasmussen is the first major poll in recent weeks to show McDonnell expanding his lead over Deeds.

A Washington Post poll last week showed McDonnell leading by only four percent, as did a InsiderAdvantage/Majority Opinion Research poll last Wednesday. McDonnell led by as much as fifteen percentage points earlier this year in the Post poll.

COMMENT:  The GOP candidate is also leading in New Jersey, but take nothing for granted.  New Jersey is a heavily Democratic state.  Virginia is "purple," and has been trending Dem in recent years.  If Republicans can pick up both governorships, we should permit ourselves a slight, Mona Lisa smile.

October 1, 2009   Permalink


QUOTE OF THE DAY - AT 7:40 A.M. ET:  From Karl Rove, writing in The Wall Street Journal:

The responsibility for the outcome of the war in Afghanistan rests squarely with Mr. Obama. Until now, he seems to have treated the conflict as a distraction from his efforts to nationalize our health-care system. But the war is now front and center. He has been told by Gen. McChrystal that America needs more boots on the ground to win...

...It was easy in 2008 to criticize Mr. Bush's war leadership. But winning a shooting war requires a commander in chief's constant, direct and deep involvement. Mr. Obama could show he understands this if he uses his trip to Denmark this week (where he will serve as pitchman for Chicago to get the 2016 Olympics) to make a surprise visit to Afghanistan.

Refusing to provide all the troops and strategic support that his commanders are requesting will be to concede defeat. We'll soon know whether Mr. Obama has the judgment and the courage to win this war.

COMMENT:   "Judgment and courage."  I haven't seen those words applied to Barack Obama.  They seem so much less exciting than "godlike" or "spiritual."  But judgment and courage are what war requires. 

More than 40 Americans have been killed in Afghanistan since General McChrystal first submitted his request for more troops.  The president is taking his sweet time to reply.  If this had been George Bush, the press would have been all over him, printing the names of the fallen each day.  But it is Obama, so this indecisive president is being spun as wise, deliberative, willing to listen.

Step up, Mr. President.  History won't wait, even if you will.

October 1, 2009   Permalink

 

 

 

 

"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.

 

THE ANGEL'S CORNER

Part I of this week's Angel's Corner was sent late last Wednesday night.

Part II will be sent late tonight.

 

SUBSCRIPTIONS

Subscriptions to URGENT AGENDA are voluntary.  Why subscribe to something you're getting free?  To help guarantee that you'll continue to get it at all, and to get The Angel's Corner, which we now offer to subscribers and donators.  Subscriptions sustain us.  Payments are through PayPal and are secure, but you do not have to sign up for a PayPal account.  Credit cards are fine.


FOR A ONE-YEAR ($48) SUBSCRIPTION, CLICK:

 

FOR A SIX-MONTH ($26)
SUBSCRIPTION, CLICK:


GREAT DEAL:  ONE-YEAR SUBSCRIPTION WITH ANOTHER SUBSCRIPTION SENT TO SOMEONE ELSE ($69) - PERFECT FOR A SON OR DAUGHTER AT SCHOOL.  (TELL US AT service@urgentagenda.com WHERE YOU WANT THE SECOND SUBSCRIPTION SENT.)  CLICK:


IF YOU DON'T WISH A SET SUBSCRIPTION, BUT PREFER TO DONATE ANY OTHER AMOUNT TO SUSTAIN URGENT AGENDA, CLICK:

 

 

THE CURRENT QUESTION

This space will regularly raise questions that relate to the news, but transcend daily headlines.  The idea is to stimulate talk about basic issues. Our last question asked: 

Last week we asked:  (This feature is suspended until further notice.)

You can view the answers here.

NEW CURRENT QUESTION

(This feature is suspended until further notice.)

If you'd like to send us your thoughts, click:

response@urgentagenda.com

(Please stay within two or three paragraphs.  We try to print every reply, if space allows.  Place your name at the end of the message if you wish your name published.  This question will stay up through Sunday.)



SEARCH URGENT AGENDA

Search For:
Match: 
Dated:
From: ,
To: ,
Within: 
Show:   results   summaries
Sort by: 

POWER LINE

It's a privilege for me to post periodic pieces at Power Line. To go to Power Line, click here. To link to my Power Line pieces, go here.

 

CONTACT:  YOU CAN E-MAIL US, AS FOLLOWS:

If you have wonderful things to say about this site, if it makes you a better person, please click:
applause@urgentagenda.com

If you have a general comment on anything you see here, or on anything else that's topical, please click:
comments@urgentagenda.com

If you must say something obnoxious, something that will embarrass you and disgrace your loving family, click:
despicable@urgentagenda.com

If you require subscription service, please click:
service@urgentagenda.com




 

 

 
 
 
 
````` ````````