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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.  It's here.

 

 

 

MARCH 26-27,  2023

SHORT TAKES ON THE DRIFTING WRECKAGE:

WILL MICKEY BE CHOPPED?  FROM CNBC:  Disney will begin layoffs this week, the first of three rounds before the beginning of the summer that result in about 7,000 job cuts, according to a memo sent by Chief Executive Bob Iger.  The cuts are part of a broader effort to reduce corporate spending and boost free cash flow. Disney said last month it plans to cut $5.5 billion in costs, including $3 billion in content spending.  "This week, we begin notifying employees whose positions are impacted by the company's workforce reductions," Iger wrote in the memo, which was obtained by CNBC. "Leaders will be communicating the news directly to the first group of impacted employees over the next four days. A second, larger round of notifications will happen in April with several thousand more staff reductions, and we expect to commence the final round of notifications before the beginning of the summer to reach our 7,000-job target."  The layoffs were initially announced in February. The job cuts will be cross-company, hitting Disney's media and distribution division, parks and resorts, and ESPN.  Disney is following the lead of Warner Bros. Discovery and other legacy media companies that are cutting jobs and spending. Disney has said its streaming business, led by Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+, will stop losing money in 2024. Disney shares are up about 8% this year after falling 44% last year.  It might be a good idea for entertainment companies to get back into the entertainment business and rebuild their audience.  I hope they have learned that giving viewers and moviegoers a steady diet of woke propaganda is unhealthy for the bottom line.  It's amazing, but Americans aren't really interested in being told how terrible their country is.  Bring back comedy.  Bring back musicals.  Bring back family stories. 

AH CAMARO, YOU DID GOOD:   A revered automotive name will be going to the great parking lot in the sky, but may be driving back.  From Daily Mail:   The Chevrolet Camaro, for decades the dream car of many teenage American males, is going out of production.  General Motors, which sells the brawny muscle car, said Wednesday it will stop making the current generation early next year.  The future of the car, which is raced on NASCAR and other circuits, is a bit murky. GM says another generation may be in the works.  'While we are not announcing an immediate successor today, rest assured, this is not the end of Camaro's story,' Scott Bell, vice president of Chevrolet, said in a statement.  The current sixth-generation Camaro, introduced in 2016, has done well on the racetrack, but sales have been tailing off. When the current generation Camaro came out in 2016, Chevrolet sold 72,705 of them. But by the end of 2021 that number fell almost 70 percent to 21,893. It rebounded last year to 24,652.  At least the car might have a future, but the story goes on to say that it will almost certainly be an electric vehicle.  Horror!  Who needs a muscle car that runs on silicon cells?  What kind of a nation are we, anyway?  Find a way, Chevy!  I want to hear cylinders!

March 27, 2023       Permalink

 

RON AT HIS BEST:  Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has won the fight to establish school choice in Florida.  This has to be a major step forward in his campaign.  From Fox: 

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis on Monday signed universal school choice into law, resulting in the Sunshine State becoming the 4th state to pass such a law.

Florida House Bill 1 expands available school choice options for all 1.3 million students in Florida by eliminating financial eligibility restrictions and the current enrollment cap.

DeSantis’s office claims the legislation will "further cement Florida’s position as the nation’s leader in school choice."

"Florida already has 1.3 million students who learn full time in a school of their family’s choosing – larger than the entire K-12 student enrollments of 35 other states," DeSantis's office said.

Fox News Digital received a statement from Florida Education Commissioner Manny Diaz, Jr. saying "this is a monumental day in Florida history."

"Thanks to Governor DeSantis and the legislature, we continue to be the undisputed leader in school choice. Florida will always make good on our promise to ensure every single child has access to a world-class education," Diaz Jr. said.

Red-state governors across the country have passed universal school choice legislation, igniting what experts call a "revolution."

Republican governors made significant inroads in pushing universal school choice legislation, which did not exist anywhere in the country a year ago. As of now, six states passed universal school choice, including Utah, Iowa, Arizona, West Virginia, and Arkansas.

COMMENT:  School choice may turn out to be the most powerful domestic issue in next year's presidential campaign.  It is immensely popular, and Republicans own it.  The Democrats are actually against it because the teachers unions oppose it, and they own the Democratic Party.

This is an immense opening for the GOP.  Now it needs to exploit it. 

March 27, 2023       Permalink

 

TAIWAN:  I think I've mentioned it before, but I really can't recall a time when this country was confronted by so many threats simultaneously.  And we're not doing well in countering any of them.  I fear that it will take a costly shock to wake us up, and that shock is likely to come from our most formidable enemy, China.  Taiwan is the target, and we have a tendency to put it out of our minds.  From Fox: 

China has more than just historical claims behind its ambitions to take Taiwan, specifically greater industrial production capabilities available on the island as well as an operational foothold in the area that could break up U.S. influence in the region, according to defense and intelligence experts.

"We're talking about a place that manufactures chips, which make the entire world economy move, and … we are way behind when it comes to manufacturing those chips here in the United States," Ilan Fuchs, adjunct professor at American Public University System, told Fox News Digital. "The current administration is trying to catch up, but it's going to take years and years and years to do."

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) regularly touts its historical claim to Taiwan, looking to re-integrate the country through diplomatic means and, potentially, military action, if necessary. Party officials last summer issued a policy document on Taiwan that outlined a "one country, two systems" approach similar to that of Hong Kong and Macau, which have "special administrative region" status.

But Hong Kong has watched that status mean less and less after the CCP introduced a new security law to punish citizens found guilty of secession, subversion or "terrorism." Critics viewed the law as an effort to restrict opposition within the regions.

Military action, therefore, seems increasingly likely if Beijing seeks to take control of Taiwan. Such action might seem extreme to exert a historical claim over a territory, but experts made it clear that Taiwan offers significant advantages economically and strategically.

"If the Chinese can then turn Taiwan into a base of operations, they have direct access to the deep waters of the Pacific Ocean," said Brent Sadler, senior research fellow in naval warfare and advanced technology at the Center for National Defense. "Most of the East China Sea is pretty shallow."

"That has a problem when you get into submarine and anti-submarine warfare, it's a lot more conducive to submarines in the Pacific," he said. "So, if you're trying to break out of the first island chain, Taiwan is one way of doing that."

Sadler noted that there is belief that if China can "break" Taiwan, it can break "all the U.S. security alliances that are perceived as a threat."

COMMENT:  The Chinese navy is now much larger than the U.S. Navy.  China has nuclear weapons.  An earlier, more primitive Chinese force inflicted severe casualties on the United States during the Korean War.  And China is developing hypersonic missiles that could pose a chilling, possibly fatal threat to American aircraft carriers.

It is not a good picture for us.  If China attacks Taiwan, and we back down, we're finished as an Asian power.  If we fight alongside the Taiwanese, the battle could be bloody, and long, with no guarantee of success.

I don't want Joe Biden to make the decisions. 

March 27,  2023     Permalink

 

 

 

MARCH 24-25,  2023

THE GOP CAMPAIGN GOES TURBULENT:  The GOP race for the Republican presidential nomination is escalating into near-blows, with Donald Trump, a wounded campaigner, taking dead aim at Ron DeSantis, and DeSantis apparently planning on attacking Trump earlier than had been planned.  This could get bloody, which is just what the GOP leadership doesn't want.  From Michael Goodwin at the New York Post: 

It’s not news that Donald Trump is the worst of his own enemies, but he outdid himself with his latest bizarre behavior.

His social media warning early Friday that “death and destruction” could follow if he’s criminally charged in the Stormy Daniels case came as he posted an image of himself holding a baseball bat next to a photo of Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s head. 

“What kind of person,” Trump wrote, “can charge another person, in this case a former president of the United States, who got more votes than any sitting president in history, and leading candidate (by far!) for the Republican Party nomination, with a crime, when it is known by all that NO crime has been committed, & also that potential death & destruction in such a false charge could be catastrophic for our country?” 

Sensible voters might reasonably ask what kind of person facing charges encourages mayhem.

And what kind of defendant calls the prosecutor “a degenerate psychopath,” as Trump also did? 

The unmistakable echoes of Jan. 6 complete the picture of a man incapable of remorse. 
The rant was perfectly timed — if Trump’s goal was to stomp out growing public unease over how Bragg is stretching a novel legal theory to indict him. 

The outburst also obscured signs Bragg was having either second thoughts or trouble convincing a grand jury Trump committed a crime.

Two scheduled sessions were canceled, with a source telling Fox News the DA was facing “major dissension” on his staff. 

Whatever led to the pause, Trump managed to shove potential good news for himself into the background with his Friday post.

It didn’t help his cause that Bragg got a letter later that day containing a death threat and white powder, underscoring Trump’s recklessness. 

COMMENT:   Goodwin is an excellent, disciplined commentator, and I think he's right. Trump is stepping all over his own case.  We've always known the man is his own worst enemy, and it's part of the reason he lost in 2020.  We can't afford that any longer. 

There are widespread reports that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis will be upping his campaign against Trump in coming days.  The original DeSantis plan was to announce his candidacy shortly after the Florida legislature adjourns in May.  But DeSantis has been taking a verbal beating from Trump, and the governor's numbers have become wobbly.  It is clear he must get fully into the battle before Trump defines him as below presidential caliber.  We who follow politics know DeSantis well as a superb governor who has made Florida into a remarkable success story.  But most Americans don't know him at all.  That must change right now. 

March 25,  2023     Permalink

 

 

ANOTHER DISPLAY OF WEAKNESS:  The theater is now Syria.  In the last few nights there have been missile attacks against American installations.  Casualties fortunately have been few, but the attacks show a lack of fear of an American response.  Some Republicans say that is exactly the point.  From Fox:

Republican lawmakers on Friday lambasted President Biden for his response to the death of an American in Syria, arguing that he's showing weakness and failing to deter America's adversaries.

The criticism came one day after Biden ordered the U.S. military to carry out retaliatory airstrikes in Syria, where Iranian forces had killed a U.S. contractor and wounded six other Americans in a drone strike. The U.S. launches reportedly killed eight Iranians.

Iranian-backed proxy forces then proceeded to carry out their own retaliatory strikes on Friday, launching rockets that targeted a U.S. base in northeast Syria. There are no U.S. casualties and no damage to the base, according to first assessments.

Republicans in Congress said the apparent tit-for-tat between the U.S. and Iran is a sign of weakness on the part of the Biden administration.

"President Biden and his national security team are letting America down," said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. "I fear General Milley and Secretary of Defense Austin are not proving to be up to the task of providing the deterrence America needs to remain safe. However, the ultimate blame for the failing foreign policy and military situation we find ourselves in lies with President Biden."

Biden was referring to Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.

"America has only one path available when attacked – respond swiftly and vigorously with overwhelming, punishing force designed to make enemies wary of engaging with the United States. Being strong is the best deterrence against future attacks," added Graham.

The South Carolina Republican wasn't alone in attacking Biden.

"Indefensible that American life must be lost before Joe Biden acts," wrote Sen. Tom Cotton, R-Ark. "Had he responded in force to dozens of earlier Iranian attacks, this tragedy could have been prevented. [Austin] needs to explain why he isn't doing more to deter Iran."

COMMENT:  I agree with the criticism.  If you look at the whole pattern of international activity in the last year, from Russia, China, Iran, and North Korea, it signals contempt for American power and policy.  That is an inherently dangerous and preventable situation.   If our enemies don't fear us, they may start pushing and going too far.  It is a sure formula for a larger war.  An almost-sure formula for peace is peace through strength.  In the end, far less expensive in casualties and treasure.  It's how we won the Cold War.

March 24, 2023       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.


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

"Against stupidity the gods themselves struggle in vain."
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