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Scene above: Constitution Island, where Revolutionary War forts still exist, as photographed from Trophy Point, United States Military Academy, West Point, New York
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I appeared on Silvio Canto Jr's talk show from Dallas last night. It's here.
NOTE TO READERS: After many requests, and occasional threats of suicide if I did not comply, Urgent Agenda will be published one hour earlier in the morning from today forward, to accommodate our Eastern readers who like to read us while having breakfast. As a former Hollywood writer, I don't believe in breakfast, have rarely had it, and don't permit corn flakes anywhere near me. But, for those who disagree, have your way. Who am I to question the traditions of health nuts?
OCTOBER 3, 2011
SHORT TAKES ON THE DRIFTING WRECKAGE – AT 9:47 P.M. ET:
PERRY DEFENDED – Even Democrats in Texas are coming to Rick Perry's defense, after a brutal hit piece in the Washington Post tried to suggest that he's a racist. It was the same technique the Post used, successfully, to declare Senator George Allen of Virginia a racist, a controversy that probably cost Allen his Senate seat. In Texas, no significant figure has joined in the Post's attack. Indeed Perry's record on minorities is one of the bright spots of his tenure as governor. The left, meanwhile, is naturally silent on the Post's modern McCarthyism.
RON PAUL READY FOR THE MEN IN WHITE SUITS – Ron Paul is suggesting that President Obama could be impeached over the killing of Al Qaeda bigwig Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen last week. Yeah, right. Apparently the impeachment would be voted on by a shadow Congress arriving in Washington in black helicopters and wearing electronic, flashing beanies. The president was on sound ground in ordering an attack on a man making war on the United States. So-called "civil libertarians," who rarely show such angst over the victims of crime, might explain how due process could be delivered to a man who couldn't be captured and who was engaged in ongoing terror.
TRIUMPH AND HEARTBREAK – Three men, two of them American, have been awarded the Nobel Prize in medicine. However, the Swedish body awarding the prize did not know that one of the three, Ralph M. Steinman of Rockefeller University in New York, had died on Friday...without knowing he had become a Nobel laureate. The rules of the prize stipulate that it can only be given to living persons, but the Nobel committee has decided to let this award stand, which is the proper decision.
COOLNESS TOWARD CHRISTIE? – House Majority Leader Eric Cantor of Virginia, one of the most powerful Republicans in the country, had a decidedly cool response to reporters' questions about a possible Chris Christie candidacy for president. He did not join the list of those urging Christie to run, instead simply stating that we'll have to wait and see if the New Jersey governor joins the parade. There has been informed speculation that Christie's record may not pass muster with strong conservatives like Cantor, which may explain Cantor's coolness. Some in the political world say Christie's announcement of his intentions may come as early as Wednesday.
October 3, 2011 Permalink
A CORVETTE IT AIN'T – AT 3:51 P.M. ET: I saw a Chevy Volt last week! I actually did. I almost ran into the car ahead of me while staring at the Volt. My verdict: It's a car, nothing special to look at, and a Chevrolet Corvette it definitely ain't.
So I'm not surprised by this:
COMMENT: The whole idea of the Volt is that it can run on either battery or gasoline power. Now, people buy a car like this, theoretically, to save money. But the car is ridiculously expensive, and any money you save gets eaten up in the cost of the car, unless you travel zillions of miles a month.
Further, battery power is still in its infancy. Recharging takes too long, and there are few recharging stations. Recharging costs are a factor.
A flop so far. We await the next generation of batteries...and with them their environmental disposal problems. Do not put in the regular trash.
October 3, 2011 Permalink
SNIPPET OF THE DAY – AT 9:25 A.M. ET:
Welcome to presidential politics, Gov. You didn't think they were going to hand it to you, did you? I hope you didn't punch out a kid over a game of marbles in the fourth grade, because it'll be in The Washington Post the day after you announce.
TROUBLE IN THE BAY STATE – AT 8:45 A.M. ET: One of the great political moments in recent times was the election of Republican Scott Brown to fill out the term of the late Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts. From one brief shining moment, we thought Massachusetts might be salvageable.
But a new poll brings grim news for Brown, who will be up for election to a full term next year. From The Politico:
COMMENT: Do not underestimate Elizabeth Warren. She may be a bit of a liberal fanatic, but she has real passion, and passion counts in politics. She also comes off as "for the people," whether that's true or not.
Recent news reports say that Wall Street is ready to gang up on Warren, who is a leading advocate of financial reform and consumer protection. If I were Elizabeth Warren, I'd be cheering, and eagerly waiting for the Wall Street assault. Wall Street is one of the most unpopular names in America right now, and to have Wall Street attacking you is a badge of honor in liberal Massachusetts.
Of course, this is early polling, and it's easy to gang up on an incumbent. Scott Brown is still an attractive candidate with great style, even though his Senate record is undistinguished. This will be a horse race. The Democrats are giddy over the prospect of bringing Brown down, and they have a traditionally strong Democratic state behind their effort.
October 3, 2011 Permalink
FAT CHANCE – AT 8:19 A.M. ET: Dick Cheney, an outstanding public servant who saw his reputation destroyed by an eager, liberal press, is now making an appropriate request that should have been made long ago – that President Obama apologize to the Bush administration over comments Obama has made. From the Washington Examiner:
COMMENT: There's not a chance. The base of the Democratic Party would turn even more against Obama at any sign of a well-deserved apology. That base believes that the United States is the problem in the world, and that we were attacked on 9/11 because of "our policies."
I've always been baffled by that argument. Even if true, being attacked for your policies doesn't make your policies wrong. It just means you were attacked because of them. The civil rights people in the early sixties were often attacked physically for their advocacy. Did that make them wrong and the Ku Klux Klan right? The argument is absurd.
Dick Cheney will get his apology from history. From the Obama administration he will get condescension, and from the fanatics on the left he will get constant calls to be tried as a war criminal.
October 3, 2011 Permalink
WHAT'S WITH BILL? – AT 7:38 A.M. ET: We have noted in this space that Bill Clinton has been acting strangely. Either he is off his meds, his wife's restraining hand is not working, or all this is intentional.
His periodic sniping at Obama's economic policies has been noted. His assault on the Israeli government at a delicate time in Mideast peace efforts raised all living eyebrows. His weird, Big Brother-type statement that he hoped skepticism about global warming would be banned from politics was outlandish and anti-intellectual. His hoggish performance at his own library in the last few days, in which he essentially demanded more credit for his presidential wonderfulness, sounded like the lament of a high-school kid who didn't get the "most likely to succeed" award.
The Hill has an analysis of Clinton's behavior that, while not definitive, is worth reading:
COMMENT: Inevitably, there are theories around that Clinton is doing this to advance the political interests of his wife. There are still those who believe that Hillary Clinton, who's been awfully quiet recently, should challenge Obama for the Democratic nomination. That is an absurdity. First, she'd lose, and destroy her future. And, even if she won, she'd lose the black vote in the general election, and lose there.
Or, some theorize, a committee will be formed to visit President Obama and advise him to step aside "for the good of the party," leaving Hillary a clear path to the 2012 nomination. I can't see Obama putting his ego to sleep anytime soon. This man is the perpetual campaigner.
Or, some believe that Clinton is simply paving the way for his wife to run in 2016, and for his own career to continue in some manner, possibly as secretary-general of the UN.
All this will play out. But one thing appears certain: The Clintons will be with us for a long time, whether we like it or not. And there goes the neighborhood.
October 3, 2011 Permalink
UGLY – AT 7:17 A.M. ET: One question we all have is whether the media will behave differently in the 2012 campaign than it did in 2008. I think we're getting the answer.
The outlandish attack on Rick Perry by the Washington Post over the weekend, essentially charging him with a close association with a camping ground that had once had a racially charged name, is the latest in a "get Perry" series of articles in liberal papers. The New York Times has been especially bad.
And, as soon as Chris Christie emerged recently as a man who might reverse his decision and actually run for the presidency, The Times was ready with a devastating piece picturing Christie as a tool of shadowy, well-heeled financial movers and shakers. In other words, a tool of Wall Street. And now some liberal columnists are becoming obsessed with his weight.
African-American candidate Herman Cain has been bludgeoned for saying that blacks have been brainwashed into remaining Democrats. What he said has been said often, and barely needed repeating, but apparently Herman has committed some kind of sin.
Michele Bachmann has been Palinized, essentially treated as a crackpot. She is a loose cannon, but she is not a crackpot. At her best, she is a sharp debater whose thunder has been stolen by Rick Perry.
Bottom line, the press is no better than in 2008, and may be worse. Although many liberal journalists are plainly disappointed by the fact that Barack Obama is not quite the man on horseback they had expected – he left the horse in the barn in Chicago – they will still fight for him because they are invested in him. And they will seek to destroy anyone who runs against him. If they have to play the race card, they will do so gladly. The worst Obama is better than the best Perry or Christie. They are not going to admit that they were wrong in 2008.
Please remember: Journalists rarely admit major mistakes. They will rush to correct someone's middle name if it came out wrong in a story. But they will never admit they got the story wrong. We still live with the legacy of uninformed, behind-the-times, hack reporting of the Vietnam War, when we were authoritatively told by Walter Cronkite and his admirers that the war was unwinnable. In fact, we never lost a battle in Vietnam, and, by the time Cronkite issued his legendarily famous report "from the field in Vietnam," it was evident that the enemy was suffering terribly.
In part, the renewed press bias we're seeing right now is cultural. The Obama people are their people. The Republicans are aliens, American nationalists who must be stopped. This was pounded into their journalistic heads by the very professors who taught them in America's "elite" colleges and universities. After all, the Graduate School of Journalism at Columbia, my own alma mater, recently gave one of its most prestigious awards to Al Jazeera, a corrupt Mideast news organization owned by an Arab dictatorship. Think of the kind of faculty that would give such an award, and think of the human products they turn out.
October 3, 2011 Permalink
OCTOBER 2, 2011
SHORT TAKES ON THE DRIFTING WRECKAGE – AT 11:15 P.M. ET:
NEW NPR HEAD – Gary Knell, who has headed the organization that produces "Sesame Street," has been named new chief of National Public Radio. If this means that Big Bird will be in charge of political programming, with Bert and Ernie handling foreign policy, I'd be delighted, as it would mark a major improvement over what goes out over NPR today.
SYRIAN OPPOSITION TRIES TO UNITE – While our eyes are diverted, the violence in Syria continues, as it has for six months. President Assad isn't budging. Now the Syrian dissidents have formed a group to try to unite their efforts. The Syrian National Council will try to form a common front against the brutal regime. However, as is often the case in the Mideast, we really don't know what the Council stands for, and who has the most power. Christians in Syria actually fear the possible fall of the regime because of the chance that an Islamic government will take over. Going from bad to worse in that region is common.
CAIN TAKES ON CHRISTIE – Herman Cain, who is acting like a major candidate these days after showing gains in the polls, is taking shots at Chris Christie even before Christie enters the race. Cain charges that Christie is too liberal on immigration, assault weapons, gay marriage, and global warming, and that conservatives, once they know Christie's positions, will decline to support him. Cain may well be right. Christie is governor of a predominantly Democratic state and, like Rudy Giuliani in New York, takes moderate positions on many issues, reflecting his constituency. Conservatives may well reject him. On the other hand, Christie is a tough budget cutter and can rhetorically take on Barack Obama. Let's see if Christie even jumps in, which might happen this week.
PERRY UNDER THE GUN – Rick Perry is facing new heat after an "investigative" report by the Washington Post found that a hunting campground the Perry family once leased had been known by a racially charged term. This is modern-day McCarthyism, attempting to link the Texas governor to racism. Sadly, Herman Cain has joined in the attack. Perry appointed an African-American as chief justice of Texas's highest court, hardly the act of a racist. Perry has not done well in debates thus far, but many of the attacks on him appear, to this observer, to be unfair and over the top, including this one.
October 2, 2011 Permalink
ENERGY INDEPENDENCE – AT 10:10 A.M. ET: It's one of those catch phrases of American politics. Americans need to be "energy independent." That means we don't want to depend on Saudi kings and Arab politicians for our oil supplies.
How do we achieve it? Some say "green energy." That's ridiculous. Green energy sources are in their early stages of development, and many ideas will fail. But we know that petroleum works, that it can be extracted in a clean manner, and that it makes the economy run. And we have domestic oil, as an excellent piece in The Wall Street Journal points out. North Dakota, as they say, can become Saudi Arabia:
COMMENT: Read the whole piece. We can indeed be energy independent...if we don't let ideology get in the way. Of course we should develop new types of energy, but, in the meantime, it's important to exploit the advantages we have, and that means petroleum.
October 2, 2011 Permalink
A GROWING MOVEMENT? – AT 9:40 A.M. ET: We've seen some pretty spectacular mass movements this year – from the Arab spring in the Mideast (however it turns out), to riots in Britain. Now we have something starting here, and it is spreading beyond New York, where it has its roots. From Fox:
COMMENT: I wouldn't underestimate this. Many have wondered, in these tough economic times, where the mass demonstrations have been. The usual answer is that the election of Barack Obama filled the left with such enthusiasm that they depended on him. Now that he's not the hero he was a few years ago, and now that the economy is tanking again, the pressure to form "mass movements" may be turned on. When they arrest 700 people in New York, that's a big deal.
Of course, these people are classic left-wing protesters. They know what they're against ("Wall Street"), but have no idea what they're for. And I suspect that, for many of them, it's more a social than a political occasion. Let's protest Wall Street and then have pizza.
But remember the election year of 1968, with mass demonstrations and organized chaos at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago. This can happen again, to both parties, and we can have major street disruptions. Usually, that arouses public outrage and benefits the more conservative party. But with the economy the way it is...I don't know. All bets are off.
We're in a visual age. Major demonstrations against corporate power may just resonate, when they're flashed on TV screens around the country. We'll be following this movement.
October 2, 2011 Permalink
OBAMA'S ACE? – AT 9:14 A.M. ET: There's growing speculation that Obama's ace in the hole in 2012 will be...national security.
As they say, who woulda thunk it? Here's a left-wing guy with a Muslim middle name and some strange associations in Chicago, and yet, on national security – as opposed to overall foreign policy – he seems to be following the Bush example, and expanding on it. Veteran Mideast affairs observer Aaron David Miller, in The Politico, says:
COMMENT: I still don't trust Obama on foreign policy. But on basic national security issues, especially the pursuit of terrorists, he comes away pretty well. That doesn't mean that will continue in a second term, when, if reelected, he won't have the political constraints of a man who needs to run again.
Remember, Obama took office and presided over a new administration that referred to terrorism as "man-made disasters" and to the war on terrorism as "overseas contingency operations." He has evolved, but I don't trust him enough to give him a second term, despite victories against terrorists. He is weak on Iran and North Korea, and his overall foreign policy, administered by the overrated Hillary Clinton, is still hesitant and confused.
But when Obama's reelection ads flash the photos of the major terrorists taken out on Obama's watch, especially Osama bin Laden, it will have an impact.
October 2, 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. "
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© 2011 William Katz