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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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JANUARY 3,  2023

UPDATE AT 5:55 P.M. ET:  The House has now completed a third ballot, and no winner in the race for speaker has emerged.  The House has now adjourned.  This is an unprecedented situation, with no one knowing exactly what will happen next.  Kevin McCarthy shows no sign of giving up, and the dissident Republicans who have caused this crisis have no serious candidate of their own.

UPDATE AT 3 P.M. ET:  The House completed one full ballot in the race for speaker, with no one receiving the 218 votes needed to win.  The chamber is now in the second ballot, and, again, it doesn't look as if anyone will emerge victorious.  We are in uncharted territory, and it's impossible to say what will happen next.  The image of the Republican Party is sinking, as it is showing itself hopelessly split.

 

 

Today the Republicans in the House will decide whether they're serious about governing, and confronting the Biden administration, or whether they require professional babysitting.

I understand the sitters will be waiting in the wings, with warmed formula bottles and bibs, just in case. 

Today the House elects a new speaker, the person third in line for the presidency.  Republicans had expected that they'd have a much larger majority as a result of the midterm election, but things didn't quite work out.  They have a five-seat majority, give or take a few, depending on who shows up to vote.  That means the election for speaker could be disrupted by a few revolutionaries.  That seems to be happening.

Kevin McCarthy, Republican from California, wants to be speaker of the House.  It is his dream.  He has a majority of House Republicans behind him, but a small group of hardliners refuses to support him.   McCarthy may fall just short of the majority needed for election. 

That wasn't in the script.  And it could cause a political explosion.

Republicans must show they are ready to begin the 2024 election campaign...right now.  All business, as little division as possible.  A full agenda reflecting the same appeal that Glenn Youngkin showed when he flipped Virginia red, and that Ron DeSantis shows every day as governor of Florida.  If the GOP stalls on choosing a speaker, and subjects us to vote after vote, the image of the party will fade with great speed.  The members will look like jerks.   They will speak to TV reporters who will make them look even jerkier.  Not ready for prime time.  And if the party members get more and more frustrated, we could see some real ugliness.

It can happen.  The Republicans lack the one thing that can be useful in a moment like this – a strong, respected leader who can knock heads and make it clear who the boss is and what he wants, and who he wants in the speaker's chair.  Theoretically, the last presidential candidate is acting head of a party, the elder statesman.  But Donald Trump is...uh...different.  Too divisive for that role.  And Eisenhower is long gone.

This can be an interesting day.  Stand by.  

January 3, 2023       Permalink  

 

     

 

JANUARY 1-2,  2023

NO WAY TO START A NEW YEAR:  In New York City, two police officers assigned to manage the New Year's Eve crowds in Times Square were slashed by a lone attacker.  The assailant is reportedly a committed Islamic jihadist, already known to law enforcement, which sends an understandable chill through us.  Are the terrorists back?  From Daily Mail: 

Trevor Bickford appeared to be a typical, all-American teenager before he allegedly became a radicalized Muslim and slashed two cops with a machete in Times Square.

The alleged Islamic extremist, 19, once made the school honor roll, won awards for his artwork and was a member of the championship football team in his hometown of Wells, Maine.

But after his father died of a drug overdose in 2018, it's believed Bickford's life descended into turmoil.

By the time Bickford made his way to New York City on Amtrak alone for the alleged attacks this weekend, the teen was already reportedly on the FBI's radar.

He was on the Bureau's terrorism 'Guardian Watchlist,' and had told his aunt he was planning to travel to Afghanistan to fight, sources told The New York Post.

On Saturday night, Bickford allegedly attacked two NYPD police officers on Eighth Avenue between 51st and 52nd Street, right outside Times Square where thousands of revelers were ringing in the new year.

Another officer shot at Bickford, striking him in the shoulder. He remains hospitalized at the Bellevue and charges are pending. 

Bickford does not have criminal record according to a preliminary investigation, but police sources say the Bureau in Boston have an open case on him.

Authorities have told NBC they were looking into whether the suspect had previously posted what they called jihadist writings online and and then traveled to New York City to target police.

Photos posted to Facebook show Bickford at different times of his life, many with his two brothers Devin and Travis. 

There are photos of him playing football with the championship Wells High School Warriors football team, singing in the choir and marching with the color guard.

As recently as 2020, he was among a group of students to win awards for their artwork. Bickford won for his work in jewelry, Seacoastonline reported at the time.

Prior to his death in 2018 - reportedly of a drug overdose - his father Thomas Bickford proudly posted photos of his sons and their achievements.

Family and friends were quick to praise the boys and their bright futures. Bickford's father died at the age of 41, according to his obituary.

COMMENT:  We need to know everything about this kid, and how he became radicalized.  Is he the only one who chose his path?  Hard to believe that. 

And I wonder how many jihadists are coming through our open southern border, and are heading for our big cities?

January 1,  2023     Permalink

 

 

DECEMBER 31,  2022

I LOOKED FOR A GOOD PIECE TO RECOMMEND TO OUR READERS AS A YEAR ENDER, AND SETTLED ON SOMETHING BY MICHAEL GOODWIN OF THE NEW YORK POST, ONE OF THE BEST "TRADITIONAL" JOURNALISTS WRITING TODAY: 

Even to a jaded journalist, the New Year inspires hope that anything is possible. In that spirit, here are my three wishes for 2023.

No. 1 is Joe Biden announcing he won’t seek re-election. It would be the first thing he’s done to fulfill his pledge to unite the nation, with a decision to retire worthy of bipartisan celebration.

Biden is a bumbler, and always was, even before cognitive decline turned his appearances into spectacles. The big achievement of his tenure has been to prove the wisdom of two warnings about him.

Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates famously said Biden “has been wrong on nearly every major foreign policy and national security issue over the past four decades,” while Barack Obama cautioned nobody should “underestimate Joe’s ability to f–k things up.”

Unfortunately, Biden continues to be uniformly wrong and f–ks up nearly everything he touches.

On the home front, he’s been singularly awful, from helping ignite historic inflation to opening the southern border to virtually all comers. He has fanned the flames of racial animosity, done nothing to stop the crime wave and flipped energy policy on its head by chasing a radical green new deal. 

In addition to destroying good-paying jobs in oil and natural gas production, he undercut national security and energy independence. His push for Saudi Arabia and Venezuela to pump more oil while restricting domestic producers illustrates the incoherence. 

On the foreign stage, he consistently projects weakness, starting in Afghanistan, and our adversaries are carving up the world to their liking. The strong possibility the president is compromised because he shared in his family’s lucrative influence-peddling schemes casts a shadow over his policies and diminishes the credibility of the Department of Justice.

Still coming into focus is the extent to which his administration used social-media platforms to restrict free speech and spy on citizens. Thanks to Elon Musk’s revelations at Twitter, we already know this sordid effort was far larger than suspected.

Although the president’s defenders credit him with uniting NATO against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, it is a fact that America increasingly shoulders the bulk of the cost, with Germany and others pulling their usual disappearing act when the donation plate is passed.

The claim of NATO unity is thus meaningless without all members having serious skin in the game, yet Biden doesn’t complain about the shirkers as he loads American taxpayers with more debt.

The prospect of his being in the Oval Office for six more years is inconceivable, and many of his supporters surely would be relieved not to have to defend his cringe-worthy behavior and Walter Mitty-like claims to bravery and brilliance. While there is no clear alternative for the 2024 nomination, the race begins as soon as Biden does the right thing.

An added plus of his departure would be the exit of Vice President Kamala Harris, a featherweight for the ages who makes Dan Quayle look like a genius.

The odds of Biden bowing out: 50-50.

Join the retirement party.

COMMENT:  Read the rest.  It is well worth it, as Goodwin announces his second wish, that former President Trump end his campaign for the presidency, and his third, that America have a press it can trust again.  Whether you agree or disagree, Goodwin presents his arguments in a thoughtful, civilized manner.  Unusual these days.

December 31, 2022       Permalink

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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