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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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AUGUST 14, 2011
SHORT TAKES ON THE DRIFTING WRECKAGE – AT 9:14 P.M. ET:
CROSSING THE BARRIER – President Obama crossed a barrier today that he wish he hadn't crossed. His approval rating from Gallup crashed below 40% for the first time, and stands at 39%. Psychologically, that is pretty devastating. Watch for stories that say something like, "He's heading into Bush territory." I'm not shocked by the decline because the president hasn't done anything to deserve better. But we should also be aware that, politically, this man and his organization fight back. Obama is going on a campaign tour this week. It's what he does best, and don't underestimate him.
PATHETIC – The unspeakable individual who committed the recent massacre in Norway has retraced his steps for Norwegian authorities, showing how he murdered 69 children unimpeded by the inconvenience of police intervention. What is pathetic is that no one has been held to account for the fact that these youngsters were completely unprotected, and no one has been held to account for the slow police response. Norway is a country run by left-wing goofballs with the judgment of 12-year-olds. Their elites rush around the world announcing their superiority and their openness. When people speak that way, remember that someone else always pays the price. In this case the price was paid by children. In America we've had elitists shrug off crime as a "socio-economic problem of inner city peoples." The price for that idea was paid by tens of thousands of murder victims, many of them minority youngsters. A price is always paid.
CONVENTIONAL WISDOM? – With Tim Pawlenty withdrawing from the GOP race, conventional wisdom now sees the contest as between Mitt Romney and Rick Perry. But wait a minute. Isn't someone being left out? Like her or not, and I can see both sides, Michele Bachmann has proved herself an effective candidate and a vote getter, at least in certain places. And the woman competes. True, she has a tougher road now, with Perry in the contest and aiming for the same base. But Bachmann, who is smart and a solid debater, must be taken seriously, even if you feel, as many do, that she's punching above her weight. There'll be another debate in October, and I'm intrigued by how she'll do when she has to take on both Romney and Perry. If she doesn't get the nomination, her supporters may demand that she be put on the ticket, which will conjure up the Sarah Palin episode.
DEMAND QUALITY – There are many stories about the frugality of Warren Buffett, including one relating how, while walking with the late Katherine Graham of the Washington Post, he crossed a street to save a quarter, which was amazing to Ms. Graham. But Buffett, at least it's said, always understood the importance of consumers acting responsibly, and encouraging competition. I mention that because there's a marvelous, and very funny story in London's Daily Mail today about women spending vast sums for shoes made by a designer named Jimmy Choo, only to find them showing marked deterioration after only one wearing. I hope you read it. It's a wonderful lesson in the triumph of hype over quality. Thoughtful and discerning consumers help the free enterprise system. (Now watch, I'll get a lot of angry e-mails from readers saying, "People should buy what they want." I agree, but I hate to see hype triumphant.)
August 14, 2011 Permalink
"DON'T CHANGE A HAIR FOR ME, NOT IF YOU CARE FOR ME" – AT 11:14 A.M. ET: Thus wrote Lorenz Hart for the song, "My Funny Valentine," which he crafted with Richard Rodgers. I thought of it when reading this California editorial:
Obscure? What's obscure about it?
COMMENT: Naturally, the trendies refuse to look at the value of the electoral college. Assessing that value begins with the name of the country – the United States of America. Yes, we are one nation, indivisible, but we are a nation of states. The electoral college requires a presidential candidate to acknowledge all of the states in all sections of the country. True, that has its negative as well. Larger states get more attention. But all states count in the process, meaning that no one bloc of voters – ethnic, religious, political, sectional – can control an election.
The system doesn't work perfectly. There have been several elections, including the election of 2000, where the winner of the popular vote hasn't become president. But before we toss out the electoral college, let's have a thoughtful national discussion, rather than under-the-radar discussions in state legislatures.
I fear that if we reject the electoral college the next target will be the U.S. Senate, which isn't very democratic. Each state, regardless of population, has two senators. It was designed that way to avoid tyranny of the majority, and to provide stability. It's worked pretty well.
We amend the Constitution rarely in America, and that hesitation reflects the wisdom of the American people. That wisdom is needed right now.
August 14, 2011 Permalink
ON THIS DAY – AT 11:12 A.M. ET: This is the 66th anniversary of the end of World War II. On this day in 1945 the Japanese surrendered. It wasn't quite the "unconditional surrender" that we had previously demanded, as the terms allowed the emperor to remain, but it was as close to unconditional as we could get.
One of the main factors in the Allied victory in World War II was American production. We built planes and tanks and ships and trucks in quantities no one could match. The Nazi submarines sank our ships, we built more ships. Our planes were shot down, we built more planes. We took Japanese islands in the pacific, and the Seabees built sprawling air bases on them. Much of the fleet that was sunk or damaged at Pearl Harbor was refloated, and fought again.
It's sad to look at what has become of manufacturing in America today. Great names are gone, or have merged to stay afloat. It's Lockheed-Martin now. And Northrop-Grumman. Vought, which built the great Corsairs, is now a division of someone else, as is North American, which built the Mustang.
As I work on Urgent Agenda this morning, I realize that not one piece of electronic equipment around me was made in America. Oh yes, my Honda Accord was made in Ohio, but by a Japanese company.
Economies that succeed are economies that make things. We must find some way to get back to manufacturing in America, to have the finest factories and the best-trained workers. If Honda can make cars in America – cars with great reputations – we can make almost anything else. Our economic competitors are not ten feet tall. We were sure, in the early 80s, that Japan would gobble us up, but Japan is plagued with economic problems today. And China, which looks like the huge, rich giant, is rushing anti-terrorist squads to parts of its country to put down rebellions.
We did it in World War II. We can do it again.
August 14, 2011 Permalink
THE ASSAULT ON RICK PERRY – AT 10:51 A.M. ET: The New York Times was running hit pieces on Rick Perry as soon as the Texas governor used "president" in a sentence. Indeed, the northeast liberal press is in cultural shock over Perry, who reminds the tufu and herbal tea crowd of.....of.....BUSH (!!!). It was Lieutenant Governor Rick Perry who became governor when Governor George W. Bush became president.
This morning the Washington Post raises legitimate security concerns over a Chinese cyber firm that Perry welcomed to Texas. The Perry campaign deflected the concerns by claiming Perry only cut a ribbon at a ceremony. Not much of an answer.
It isn't, of course, only the liberal press that has its guns trained on Perry, to the extent that liberal journalists would own guns. His GOP rivals will now make Perry their number one target, and it could get vicious between Perry and Mitt Romney. And don't count out Michele Bachmann, who is emerging as a serious, vote-winning candidate who holds her own in a debate.
The attack on Perry from within the GOP will try to destroy Perry's record as a job creator in Texas. Critics will point out that many of the jobs are low-paying, that many were automatically created by factors Perry had nothing to do with, like the oil industry and the military, which has a large presence in Texas, and that other social indicators in Texas are poor. Texas lags in graduation rates and in numbers of citizens insured under health plans. Perry has cut education budgets without improving education, the critics will say.
The charges will be serious, and Perry has got to be serious in answering them. This election will be won in swing states like Ohio, and in states that normally tilt somewhat Democratic, like Pennsylvania. Even if Perry gets the nomination, he will go into the general election with some wounds. Yet, he has never lost an election. We have fascinating months of hard-knuckle politics ahead of us.
The Washington Post also has a fair-minded piece today on the Perry style. Consider:
Perry will be in Iowa today, too late for the Iowa debate and straw poll, which will get him some criticism from within the Iowa GOP. We'll see how he handles himself.
August 14, 2011 Permalink
PAWLENTY OUT – AT 10:20 A.M. ET: Major news organizations are reporting that former Governor Tim Pawlenty of Minnesota will quit the Republican race for president today. Pawlenty's campaign failed to gain traction, and Pawlenty's finish in the Iowa straw poll yesterday was disappointing.
This is a function of personality, and it's sad. Of all the GOP candidates, Pawlenty was one of the best qualified, and had been a successful governor, an executive. But he has a personality that comes off as quiet on television, and he never developed the knack for standing out in debates. His was the most criticized performance in the Iowa debate just this past week. He spent an inordinate amount of time trying to destroy his fellow Minnesotan, Michele Bachmann, and it sometimes came off as unseemly.
In a way, it's unfair that a man like Pawlenty is out, but a bag of nuts like Ron Paul continues. I think Pawlenty would probably have done well in a general election, where appeals to the great middle are required. He just never fired up the base of the Republican Party.
August 14, 2011 Permalink
AUGUST 13, 2011
SHORT TAKES ON THE DRIFTING WRECKAGE – AT 11:19 P.M. ET:
BACHMANN WINS – Michele Bachmann has won the Iowa straw poll. Ridiculous Ron Paul came in second, proving only his ability to bring out his claque on command. Now that the poll is over, it will be quickly forgotten. It is only a straw poll, not a true, secret-ballot primary election. Sarah Palin is tooling around Iowa, getting plenty of publicity, and Rick Perry, who announced for president today, visits Iowa tomorrow.
PERRY IS IN – Rick Perry announced for president in South Carolina today, making a perfectly respectable statement before an enthusiastic audience. If he had any dream, however, of stealing thunder from the Iowa straw poll, that dream was frustrated, however, The poll got plenty of publicity. What will now get plenty of publicity is Perry's record as governor of Texas – he is the nation's longest serving governor – which will come under intense scrutiny from a mainstream media determined to derail him. There will be another candidates' debate next month, in which Perry will have to take part. We should know by then whether he's gaining serious traction, or will be a flameout.
BRATTON RESISTED – We reported that the British government is asking advice from Bill Bratton, who's headed police departments in Boston, New York, and Los Angeles, and is given heavy credit for breaking the back of crime in New York City. But now there is resistance in Britain even to listening to what Bratton has to say. The prissies complain that in America, the police use force, contrary to British doctrine, and that Britain must not change. Some of the strongest objections to Bratton are coming from police figures themselves, apparently resentful of the American outsider, and thoroughly indoctrinated in the politically correct doctrines of the British left.
THE INEVITABLE LEFT – Germany is commemorating the sad 50th anniversary of the Berlin Wall. The mayor of Berlin denounced a new trend on the German left – actually defending the wall and trying to explain that the Russians had good reason to build it. I am always stunned by the almost religious nature of the European left, which never bends in its devotion to old Moscow. Ron Paul will probably rush over to praise Russia for building the wall in response to American imperialism.
August 13, 2011 Permalink
JUICY SNIPPET OF THE DAY – AT 10:35 A.M. ET:
Enjoy, enjoy, enjoy!
IT'S COME TO THIS IN BRITAIN – AT 10:18 A.M. ET: Great Britain, stunned this week by riots in a number of its cities, and by an erratic and sometimes ineffective police response, is turning to the United States for help. From Fox:
COMMENT: My old pal, Fabian of Scotland Yard, one of the world's great detectives, must be turning over in his grave. And Sherlock Holmes, nemesis of the Yard? A big smile and a puff on the pipe.
The fact is, Scotland Yard is just a police department, and one that has come under the thumb of political correctness. The Brits need help, and Bratton is the one to supply it. In the face of loud skepticism, Bratton's innovations in New York, joined with the leadership of Mayor Rudy Giuliani, reduced the city's murder rate by 80%, a spectacular accomplishment. The left, of course, disparaged everything that was done, and cried "fascism," as the left does six times a day, but New York emerged a stronger, freer city.
Maybe someday there'll be a TV series, "Bratton of the Yard."
August 13, 2011 Permalink
MONSTERS UNITE – AT 9:59 A.M. ET: It's important that, as we deal with our economic woes and fight our election, that we not take our eye off the foreign policy ball, as we did in the 1930s. There is an extremely important story out today:
Syria, one of the most important Arab countries, continues to murder its own people in the streets. And now Iran, which knows a thing or two about murdering its citizens, is coming to Syria's aid.
COMMENT: There is a growing feeling in analyst circles that the continued bloodshed in Syria can flash into a regional conflagration involving Iran and Saudi Arabia, with the threat of a Syrian-Israeli clash increasing.
At the same time, supreme GOP goofball Ron Paul, whose claque may actually allow him to win or finish strongly in today's Iowa straw poll, said Thursday night that Iran is no concern to us. He also said that we are responsible for the mullahs' hostility, and that he can understand why Iran would want a nuclear weapon. The Weekly Standard commented that Paul would make a good foreign policy adviser to Dennis Kucinich.
August 13, 2011 Permalink
WHERE OBAMA STANDS – AT 9:49 A.M. ET: This will be an intensively political day, with the Iowa straw poll, Rick Perry announcing he's in, and Sarah Palin back on the maybe-campaign trail. So how is Barack Obama doing amidst all this? Not well, as Scott Rasmussen reports:
We note that 44% is actually generous. Gallup had the president at 40% this week.
What's striking is that the major polls now have Obama tracking in the low 40s, rather than the high 40s. Should he start dipping into the 30s, it will be seen as a major political event. However, Obama's ratings have tended to improve in the early fall, so let's not count chickens. In addition, as we've pointed out regularly, the Republican Party isn't all that popular, and no GOP nominee, thus far, stands out as an obvious choice to defeat Obama.
The 2012 presidential election is 15 months away.
August 13, 2011 Permalink
"What you see is news. What you know is background. What you feel is opinion."
"Councils of war breed timidity and defeatism."
"Political correctness does not legislate tolerance; it only organizes hatred. "
THE ANGEL'S CORNER
Part I of The Angel's Corner was sent late Wednesday night.
Part II was sent late last night.
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© 2011 William Katz