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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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OCTOBER 16-17,  2023

A VISITOR FROM THE WEST:  Forget the dates above.  It's now 4:44 a.m., Wednesday the 18th.  President Biden has just landed in Tel Aviv, Israel.  Obviously, he is flying into a serious wartime situation.  We have nothing further on the president's visit. 

However, other things are happening.  As I've mentioned often, one of our goals at Urgent Agenda is to find things for our readers that they may have overlooked in a dramatic period, but which are important.   The Mideast war situation is sucking most of the air out of the room, but the state of our economy is the subject of new and critical warnings.  This is important.  From Fox: 

With the tenuous and fragile geopolitical backdrop of today, the US would want to be able to leverage a strong financial foundation. Whether a solid balance sheet that could accommodate an increase in military and related spending if needed or a Strategic Petroleum Reserve that was full and ready for an actual emergency, the US should be fortified and have all options available.

Unfortunately, that is not the case today. The IMF has come out explicitly and reinforced what its analysis has shown implicitly for quite some time: the current financial position of the US is unsustainable. This shouldn’t be a surprise, as this has been echoed by analysis from the Treasury, the CBO (Congressional Budget Office) and just about anyone not detached from reality.

This unsustainability creates not only an economic security issue for the US, but a national security issue as well.

After exploding the already massive size of government another 40+% over the past four years, public debt to GDP is again at levels exceeding 120%. For context, the IMF and others have noted in the past that a sovereign balance sheet becomes unwieldy at around 70-80% debt to GDP.  

If the US were an emerging market, such a balance sheet would likely cause a currency crisis. Having the world’s reserve currency, as well as the relative state of other countries (a phenomenon often referred to as the US being the "cleanest shirt in the laundry") has kept that from happening and allowed those managing the country’s finances to continue to act recklessly. 

The ongoing conflicts around the globe are undoubtedly related to the perceived all-around weakness of the US on the international stage. The president projects weakness in his persona and actions, the latter ranging from releasing oil from our strategic reserves not for emergency purposes but for a political stunt in an effort to artificially, temporarily suppress prices, to loosening sanctions on Iran and providing them access just last month to another $6 billion in cash.

Not to mention that we have a completely porous southern border under the Biden administration that has let in millions of people, with no idea from where they have come or their intentions for being here.

The countries around the world who seek to further weaken the US’s stronghold economically and otherwise have been working to hasten and exploit this existing weakness. It is no coincidence that around the same time in August that, as the Wall Street Journal reported, "Officers of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps had worked with Hamas" to plot the details of the attack on Israel, the BRICS alliance (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, although heavily dominated policy-wise by China) had formally extended an invitation to Iran (as well as the Saudis, the UAE and other countries) to join them.  

COMMENT:  We are also bogged down by a political system dominated by identity politics and wokeness.  Wokeness never won a war.  Or a peace.

Ordinarily, we would look to the next presidential election to straighten things out.  But, if it's Biden versus Trump, maybe we should temper our expectations.

October 18,  2023     Permalink 

 

BULLETIN: AFTERNOON:  Congressman Jim Jordan failed to get the required 217 votes from the House today in his bid to become speaker.  He declares that there will be another vote.  It took former Speaker Kevin McCarthy 15 ballots to be elected, and Republicans don't want that spectacle to repeat.

IT WILL BE CLOSE:  A vote on the House floor to elect a new speaker is expected today, Tuesday.  Jim Jordan of Ohio is the frontrunner, but must get 217 on the floor to actually be elected speaker.  There are no guarantees here.

If Jordan goes down in flames, it will indicate that the GOP in the House is deadlocked, and should be sent back to kindergarten class.  The big-deal election of 2024 is a bit more than a year away.  Will there be a real GOP running, or a bunch of immature players?  I'm not sure.

And remember that a budget must be passed within weeks to prevent the government from shutting down.  If there is a shutdown, and conditions in the country start to nosedive, Republicans will be blamed, and for good reason.

TODAY IN THE MIDEAST WAR:  President Biden flies to Israel tomorrow, Wednesday.  He will then apparently fly off to America's other "allies" in the region, including the people's republic of Saudi Arabia.  No one actually knows precisely whey the president is making the trip, but apparently he got a good rate.

Meanwhile, Biden has ordered a buildup of American forces in the neighborhood.  We're told that this is a message to Hamas and other bad actors not to try to enlarge the Israel-Hamas conflict.  But there is informed speculation that they could be used to help rescue American hostages held by Hamas.

Stand by for more after dawn.

 

 

 

OCTOBER 14-15,  2023

LATE SUNDAY NIGHT:  We are still waiting for the Israeli Gaza offensive to begin.  News organizations are assuring us that it will happen, but they were saying that four days ago.  It is possible that some talks may be going on that we don't know about.

There's a story spreading that President Biden will fly to Israel early in the week.  No confirmation by the White House.  I suspect the story is true, but that Biden only wants to come if he can make some dramatic announcement.

I'm glad to see growing coverage of the appalling pro-Hamas demonstrations on American college campuses.  Maybe now the nation's journalists will understand how hopelessly and brainlessly left wing many of our most famous colleges have become.  I believe a deep cut in federal aid to the richest schools will jolt them out of their collective comas. 

I'm surprised that, to the best of my knowledge, no one, during the current Mideast crisis, has mentioned that Israel is a nuclear power.   Should the war expand and Israel get badly squeezed, the tactical nuclear option would suddenly be realistic.  And make no mistake about it – if Israel felt its existence threatened, it would use every weapon in its arsenal.  And I'm sure its enemies understand.  And so do its friends. 

WASHINGTON – We are still without a speaker of the House, and Republicans look ridiculous.  Can't anybody play this game? 

Word has it that Republicans are looking for a Tuesday floor vote for speaker, with Jim Jordan the leading GOP candidate.  But he apparently doesn't have anywhere near the needed votes to win.  There is no "Mr. Republican" in the House.

There is talk that Democrats will push their own House leader, Hakeem Jeffries, for the job, despite the GOP majority.  The theory is that some shared leadership deal can be made that will attract enough disillusioned Republicans to put Jeffries in the speaker's chair.

I once again nominate Lassie, a female of color, who could do the job.  As usual, my wisdom is ignored. 

October 15, 2023       Permalink

 

 

GAZA LATEST, AS OF EARLY SUNDAY MORNING, ET:  The New York Times is running with a report that Israel's incursion into Gaza has been delayed for a few days because of bad weather.

I wouldn't be surprised if there were a brief delay, but the reason given sounds a bit ridiculous.  The IDF, after all, has heard of rain and clouds.  A more logical reason for delay would be to give residents of north Gaza further time to escape to the south.  We're monitoring all this.

REPUBLICAN VICTORY:  Even amidst the war news, American political actions move forward.  We do not cancel elections.  Now we have an important off-year gubernatorial election won decisively by a Republican.  From Breitbart: 

Republican Jeff Landry won a landslide election on Saturday to flip the Louisiana governor’s mansion red in one of three main gubernatorial elections this year, shocking political observers with a victory that saves him the trouble of having to face a Democrat in a November runoff.

Landry defeated Democrat Shawn Wilson and the rest of the field in Louisiana’s gubernatorial election, winning about 52 percent of the vote. In Louisiana, governor elections are first open to a full field of all candidates from either party in what is known as a jungle primary—and then the two top vote-getters generally advance to a runoff a month later. But if a candidate gets more than 50 percent of the vote, as Landry did here, they can win outright on jungle primary day.

Many were expecting Landry, the clear and convincing frontrunner who has been the Attorney General of Louisiana for many years after a stint in Congress, to easily advance to the runoff and face Wilson in November. But his overwhelmingly strong performance on Saturday put him above majority support as the Associated Press called the race with him easily north of the 50 percent mark, meaning Landry will be the next governor of Louisiana.

COMMENT:  We hope this represents the pattern for things to come.  In November both Kentucky and Mississippi elect governors.  Kentucky is tough for Republicans because of a popular Democratic governor.  Mississippi should be easier.

Also watch Virginia.  Republicans, who already control the lower house of the legislature, will be trying to flip the upper house, the state Senate.  The legislative race could have national implications because Republican Governor Glenn Youngkin is considered by many to be a potential 2024 presidential candidate.  If his party does well this November, it clearly helps him.

October 15, 2023       Permalink

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 "What you see is news.  What you know is background.  What you feel is opinion."
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      of The New York Times.


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