TALK & OPINIONS BY SILVIO CANTO JR.

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Archive for August 2014

SUNDAY: The week in review with Bill Katz, editor of Urgent Agenda

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August 31, 2014 at 7:00 pm

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President Obama’s ‘malaise’ moment

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In the summer of 1979, a frustrated President Carter made that famous “malaise” speech that probably sank his presidency:

“On the evening of July 15, 1979, millions of Americans tuned in to hear Jimmy Carter give themost important speech of his presidency. After sharing some of the criticism he had heard at Camp David — including an unattributed quote from the young governor of Arkansas, Bill Clinton — Carter put his own spin on Caddell’s argument. “The solution of our energy crisis can also help us to conquer the crisis of the spirit in our country,” the president said, asking Americans to join him in adapting to a new age of limits.   

But he also admonished them, “In a nation that was proud of hard work, strong families, close-knit communities and our faith in God, too many of us now tend to worship self-indulgence and consumption. Human identity is no longer defined by what one does but by what one owns.” Hendrik Hertzberg, who worked on the speech, admits that it “was more like a sermon than a political speech.

It had the themes of confession, redemption, and sacrifice. He was bringing the American people into this spiritual process that he had been through, and presenting them with an opportunity for redemption as well as redeeming himself.”

Though he never used the word — Caddell had in his memo — it became known as Carter’s “malaise” speech.”

Fair or unfair, the speech and the word he didn’t use defined President Carter.  He spoke of a “new age of limits” and that just exposed him to attacks from then Governor Reagan, the ultimate optimist about the US.  The US is not a country of “limits.”  It does not seem to like leaders who tell them to “downsize” their dreams.

Last week, President Obama looked weary and almost irritated that reality had intruded on his vacation.  I’m not sure who told him to face the press prior to the holiday weekend because he had nothing new to say.  He admitted that we didn’t have a strategy to fight ISIS in Syria, a stunning statement given that his Secretary of Defense had warned about the dangers days before.

The Washington Post, a newspaper that endorsed him twice, reminded President Obama that he keeps talking about what the US can not do rather than what we can do:

“Throughout his presidency, he has excelled at explaining what the United States cannot do and cannot afford, and his remarks Thursday were no exception. “Ukraine is not a member of NATO,” he said. “We don’t have those treaty obligations with Ukraine.” If Iraq doesn’t form an acceptable government, it’s “unrealistic” to think the United States can defeat the Islamic State.  

Allies are vital; the United States overstretched in the Bush years; it can’t solve every problem. All true. But it’s also true that none of the basic challenges to world order can be met without U.S. leadership: not Russia’s aggression, not the Islamic State’s expansion, not Iran’s nuclear ambition nor China’s territorial bullying. Each demands a different policy response, with military action and deterrence only two tools in a basket that inclu”des diplomatic and economic measures.

It’s time Mr. Obama started emphasizing what the United States can do instead of what it cannot.”

Just as Mr. Carter doomed himself when he talked of “limits,” Mr. Obama is dooming himself by acting like the US is not longer relevant or has no role to play.

Yes, the public is opposed to sending troops here, there, and everywhere.  But they want the US to project power and to behave like the superpower that it is

Mr. Obama has a couple of “hellish years” ahead of him, especially if the US has to confront ISIS in Iraq and Syria.   Nevertheless, I think that pundits will look back at this week and say that it was the beginning of the end.  

It was this week that confirmed what a growing number of Americans have been saying around the table:  Mr. Obama is in over his head!

P. S. You can hear CANTO TALK here & follow me on Twitter @ scantojr.

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August 31, 2014 at 7:00 am

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SATURDAY: “No strategy Obama” with Jim Yardley.

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August 30, 2014 at 11:00 am

We remember Ingrid Bergman, 1915-1982

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ingrid

 

The beautiful and talented Ingrid Bergman was born on August 29, 1915 and died on the same day in 1982:

“Bergman……….acting at Stockholm’s Royal Dramatic Theatre and became a film star in Sweden before making her first Hollywood movie, David O. Selznick’s Intermezzo: A Love Story (1939).

In 1942, Bergman co-starred in Casablanca with Humphrey Bogart, who uttered the famous line to her: “Here’s looking at you, kid.”

She received a Best Actress Academy Award nomination for 1943’s For Whom the Bell Tolls, which was followed by a win in the same category for 1944’s Gaslight.

She was nominated for the Best Actress Oscar again for 1945’s The Bells of St. Mary’s and 1948’s Joan of Arc. Bergman worked with director Alfred Hitchcock on Spellbound (1945), Notorious (1946) and Under Capricorn (1949).”  

Her movies were great!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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August 30, 2014 at 7:00 am

Posted in Hollywood, Hollywood movies

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FRIDAY: Let’s meet Nilda Cepero, Cuban American poet, author & singer

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August 29, 2014 at 8:30 pm

Whatever Obama’s Syria strategy, he will need congressional permission

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President Obama’s presidency sunk to a new low today. 

When was the last time that you heard a president say that he didn’t have a strategy?  I mean that he doesn’t have a strategy to deal with a threat to our national security brewing for months?

President Obama tried to put a pretty bow on the package but it did not work. It’s a bit too late in the game to say that “I don’t have a strategy yet!

My guess is that President Obama’s lack of a strategy is rooted in two problems:

1) It will be very difficult for Democrats to support President Obama’s war in Iraq.  It could turn the Democrats of 2016 into the Democrats of 1968 who fought like cats and dogs at the Chicago convention; and,

2) President Obama will have to go to Congress for a resolution and funds, It won’t be easy as Mark Landler wrote today

When President Obamasummoned his closest advisers to the Oval Office a year ago this week to tell them he was holding off on a missile strike against Syria, one of his arguments was that if he acted without Congress, he might not get congressional backing for military intervention the next time he needed it.

“He can’t make these decisions divorced from the American public and from Congress,” a senior aide said at the time. “Who knows what we’re going to face in the next three and a half years in the Middle East?”

Now, Mr. Obama knows what he is facing — rampaging Sunni militants who beheaded an American and have declared an Islamic caliphate across a swath of Iraq and Syria. But as the president considers airstrikes in Syria against the group, known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, seeking a congressional imprimatur remains a politically tricky undertaking.

Yes, it will be tricky to go to Congress. It should always be difficult to ask Congress to approve a war. It’s very serious to send young men to war.

At the same time, other presidents have gone to Congress and passed resolutions, such as Bush 41 & Bush 43. They got them because they made their case to the public for months.

President Obama has not made the case for war and Thursday’s press conference won’t help one bit.  

P. S. You can hear CANTO TALK here & follow me on Twitter @ scantojr.

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August 29, 2014 at 8:00 am

Posted in Iraq, US military, US politics

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THURSDAY: WORLD WAR I, part 4, WITH BARRY JACOBSEN, military historian.

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August 28, 2014 at 10:30 pm

Posted in US History, US politics

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