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TUESDAY, JUNE 1, 2010
ANOTHER STERLING HOLDER SUCCESS – AT 7:31 P.M. ET: As Eric Holder goes into action against BP, and against Arizona, but refuses to utter the words "Islamic extremism," we learn of another of his major successes. Breathtaking, from the Los Angeles Times:
The Justice Department is not ready to provide a coordinated response to an attack by a weapon of mass destruction, the agency's inspector general said in a report out Tuesday.
In the event of an attack by nuclear, biological, chemical or other mass-casualty weapons, the Justice Department is assigned the responsibility for coordinating federal law enforcement activities and for ensuring public safety and security if the incident overwhelms state and local law enforcement, the report says. The review found that "the department is not prepared to fulfill its role."
"The use of a weapon of mass destruction poses a potential threat to the United States," said DOJ Inspector General Glenn Fine in a statement. "It is critical that the department address the deficiencies identified in our report so that it would be better prepared to respond if such an attack occurs."
This is the latest in a series of reports criticizing the government for inadequate planning for WMD attacks. In January, a bipartisan commission gave the Obama administration and Congress an "F" for its preparation for a biological attack.
But, under affirmative action, they still can graduate.
Look, the Obama crowd just isn't into national defense. This is the most left-wing group ever to populate the federal government and it's in Washington to change the country, not defend the imperialist, capitalist ruling classes.
June 1, 2010 Permalink
IS THIS SERIOUS? – AT 6:53 P.M. ET: Eric Holder goes into action. That's the first piece of bad news. The second piece of bad news is what he's doing. From AP:
NEW ORLEANS – BP's stock plummeted and took much of the market down with it Tuesday as the federal government announced criminal and civil investigations into the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, and BP engineers tried to recover from a failed attempt to stop the gusher with an effort that will initially make the leak worse.
Attorney General Eric Holder, who was visiting the Gulf to survey the fragile coastline and meet with state and federal prosecutors, would not specify the companies or individuals that might be targeted in the probes into the largest oil spill in U.S. history.
"We will closely examine the actions of those involved in the spill. If we find evidence of illegal behavior, we will be extremely forceful in our response," Holder said in New Orleans.
COMMENT: Hey, look Eric, don't you think your priorities are a little mixed up? There's plenty of time for probes and lawsuits. Right now the idea is to plug that leak. Distracting BP, and wrecking it financially, will not help that cause. It will hurt it.
This is pure showmanship. "Look at us, we're suing!" At the same time, President Obama is showing his usual lack of urgency.
The crisis worsens. There's only a chance that the next methods to be tried will work. We have a national emergency. The Obama administration has called out...the lawyers.
June 1, 2010 Permalink
GALLUP HAS BAD NEWS FOR DEMS – AT 6:26 P.M. ET: If Republicans can keep this trend going, they may actually win. From RealClearPolitics:
Gallup's generic polling shows the number of voters saying that they would vote for Republicans rising three points from last week, while the number saying they will vote for Democrats dropped four points. The 49%-43% lead for the Republicans is the largest that the pollster has ever recorded for the party. Moreover, Democratic enthusiasm for voting this fall fell a point, while enthusiasm among Republicans stayed about fifteen points higher. This indicates an even wider lead for Republicans once Gallup imposes a likely voter screen this fall.
There are any number of reasons for this: the public's perception of Obama's response to the oil spill, the shaky stock market performance last week, continued concern about the economy and spending. The bottom line is that, despite what is perceived as an underperformance for the Republicans in PA-12 a couple of weeks ago, there are still plenty of Democrats in trouble for this November.
COMMENT: We have to keep them in trouble. The election is still five months away. Right now the GOP is depending on poor performance by the Democrats to lift them to victory, and President Obama seems to be cooperating on that.
But the GOP, still nominally the minority party, must fight as if it's 15 points behind.
June 1, 2010 Permalink
HISTORIC SPLIT – AT 6:21 P.M. ET: Al and Tipper Gore have announced a separation after 40 years of marriage.
This is positive proof of manmade cooling. The scientific debate is over.
June 1, 2010 Permalink
THEY'LL STAND BY THEIR STORY, YOU CAN BE SURE OF THAT – AT 10:07 A.M. ET: Bush-bashing is an employment requirement in much of the press. Sometimes, though, things go a bit awry. From The American Thinker:
The ABC News report on the rainout of President Obama's planned Memorial Day speech in Illinois noted that Obama had been criticized for not staying in Washington to go to Arlington National Cemetery. But ABC provided a ready excuse, subtitling its report "Obama Not First to Skip Arlington on Memorial Day" and asserting that George W. Bush "did not attend in 2001 or 2002."
ABC was flat-out wrong about 2001, and highly misleading about 2002.
Memorial Day 2001. On May 28, 2001, George W. Bush not only went to Arlington National Cemetery and gave a remarkably eloquent speech after laying a wreath there; he had multiple Memorial Day events before and after.
How does a news organization get something like that wrong?
Memorial Day 2002. On May 27, 2002, Bush did not go to Arlington National Cemetery because he was in Europe, attending week-long meetings with foreign leaders.
On that Memorial Day, he attended a Memorial Day Service at a church in Sainte Mere-Eglise, France, where he offered some remarks. Then he commemorated Memorial Day at the Normandy American Cemetery, where 9,000 Americans are buried, and spoke eloquently again:
"We have gathered on this quiet corner of France as the sun rises on Memorial Day in the United States of America. This is a day our country has set apart to remember what was gained in our wars, and all that was lost.
"Our wars have won for us every hour we live in freedom. Our wars have taken from us the men and women we honor today, and every hour of the lifetimes they had hoped to live."
It is simply incredible that a major news organization will go on the air with those errors. Now let's see if anything is done.
June 1, 2010 Permalink
WHAT? YOU MEAN MANY AMERICANS DON'T AGREE WITH THE ELITES? WHO ARE THESE ILLITERATE PEOPLE? – AT 9:15 A.M. ET: From The Wall Street Journal:
During the health-care summit earlier this year, Vice President Joe Biden was roundly mocked for saying, "I don't know what the American people think." He was, however, showing a refreshing modesty. Especially when compared with those who believe the American people don't know what they think—or cannot possibly mean what they say when they tell us what they do think.
Gallup provoked some of this reaction when it released new data early last month on American attitudes toward abortion. Asked to rate various behaviors and social policies (e.g., embryonic stem-cell research, adultery, the death penalty) as either "morally wrong" or "morally acceptable," 50% called abortion wrong, as against only 38% who said it was acceptable. Even more contentious was the finding, for the second year in a row, that slightly more Americans consider themselves "pro-life" than "pro-choice" (47% to 45%).
What's Nancy Pelosi to do?
And yet, it is also true that most Americans want abortion kept legal, at least under certain circumstances.
The alleged contradiction between the moral and legal is often cited as evidence that Americans are fundamentally confused on abortion. But maybe Americans are not quite as confused as some think. Surely it does not violate logic for Americans to regard abortion as an evil, while also regarding it, in certain circumstances, as a necessary evil, or the lesser of two evils.
Ah, those Americans. You mean those flyover people can actually think matters through? What will this do to all those Ivy League degrees?
Some object to the term pro-life on the grounds that it gives the anti-abortion movement an unfair advantage. Accordingly, a number of news organizations no longer use pro-life or pro-choice, the latest being National Public Radio. The thought here is that the word pro-life is fooling people.
National Public Radio would worry that Americans have doubts about abortion. That's their thing.
Now, if this were 1973, that might be an argument. But isn't it just a wee condescending to suggest, after more than a generation of contentious moral and political debate, that the American people really haven't figured out what pro-life and pro-choice mean?
Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Overall, Gallup's findings about Americans and abortion reflect less a political prescription than a sensibility. Apart from talk radio or the religious media, however, it's a sensibility almost entirely lacking in our news and entertainment world. So the next time you watch the pro-life community dismissed as a fringe element, ask yourself: Who's really out of touch with the American people here?
COMMENT: Great piece, well worth reading. And I love the last paragraph. Having been in the news and entertainment worlds, I can attest to the accuracy of what's being said. Never before have those planets been as far removed from the American people as they are today.
June 1, 2010 Permalink
MIDEAST UPDATE – AT 8:53 A.M. ET: The usual ritual dance is underway at the UN and in the capitals of the European Union, condemning Israel before any facts are known. The U.S. reaction has actually been reasonably decent. From The Politico:
A delicate diplomatic maneuver by President Barack Obama to smooth frayed relations with Israel without alienating America’s Arab allies may have been blown out of the water Monday morning by Israel’s botched attempt to enforce the Gaza blockade – and by the lack of condemnation from Washington that followed it.
For while much about the incident remains unclear, a day of carefully parsed statements from the White House and State Department left at least one irrefutable aftershock: With much of the world expressing fury over the raid, the contrast with Washington’s muted response could not have been more striking.
“The situation is that they’re so isolated right now that it’s not only that we’re the only ones who will stick up for them,” said an American official. “We’re the only ones who believe them – and what they’re saying is true.”
COMMENT: That, of course, is the point. The video of the incident at sea clearly shows "peace activists" attacking an Israeli party seeking to board a "relief" vessel heading for Gaza, part of a larger "humanitarian" convoy.
It wasn't a relief vessel and the convoy had no humanitarian goals. If it really wanted to deliver supplies and food to Gaza, it could have followed protocol and docked at the Israeli port of Ashkelon, where the cargo could have been checked for weapons and contraband, and sent through to Gaza.
But these "peace groups" are anything but. They are organized by radical Islamists and their Western Marxist allies. They are no friends of peace, and are militantly anti-American.
One of the problems here, once again, is the poor quality of much of journalism. Individuals and groups, if they are part of the international left, are permitted to identify themselves as "peace activists" or "human rights activists" without so much as a question from "journalists," who should know better. This is a journalistic failure that became institutionalized during the Vietnam War, when we permitted the term "anti-war movement" to flourish without asking who was behind it, and the true nature of its goals. To this day, those questions remain unasked by the biggest names in news reporting.
June 1, 2010 Permalink
SOMEONE TELL PRESIDENT CALDERON – AT 8:38 A.M. ET: The Mexican president had no hesitation about coming to the U.S. recently and lecturing us. Maybe we should point out a bit of bother in his own backyard. From the Washington Examiner:
A leftist guerrilla movement responsible for many kidnappings and attacks inside Mexico is secretly receiving funding from Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, U.S. and Mexican intelligence officials told The Washington Examiner.
The group, called the Ejercito Popular Revolucionario (EPR), is "a terrorist organization bent on destabilizing Mexico. ... Splinters of the group are also adding to the problem," said a Mexican official who requested anonymity. The group, which announced its existence in 1996, claimed responsibility for the 2007 bombings of the Mexican government's Pemex oil pipelines, along with several other bombing attempts of a bank and Sears department stores in cities throughout Mexico.
"Chavez has been funding groups like these in Mexico and throughout Latin America," said a U.S. official with knowledge of the group and its operations. "These groups are nothing more than terrorist organizations and members have connected to other narco-trafficking organizations in Mexico, creating a very dangerous matrix."
Funding from drug cartels and leftist governments like the one in Caracas has enabled the group to mount a significant threat to Mexico and to become a concern for the United States, officials said.
COMMENT: We wonder whether President Obama, who stood right next to Calderon when the latter lectured Arizona recently, will even bring this up. Or maybe our delightfully multicultural president will tell us how he understands the "legitimate grievances" that led to this new threat.
There appears little to prevent members of these terror groups from infiltrating into the United States across our southern border. They could escalate the threat to this country to something way beyond illegal immigrants working in meatpacking plants.
June 1, 2010 Permalink
HE'LL NEVER GET THE CORNER OFFICE – AT 8:21 A.M. ET: We're always happy to report a victory. From Fox:
WASHINGTON -- Al Qaeda announced Monday that its No. 3 official, Mustafa al-Yazid, had been killed along with members of his family -- perhaps one of the most severe blows to the terror movement since the U.S. campaign against Al Qaeda began. A senior U.S. official told Fox News that al-Yazid died in a U.S. missile strike...
...The statement did not give an exact date for al-Yazid's death, but it was dated by the Islamic calendar month of "Jemadi al-Akhar," which falls in May.
A U.S. official in Washington said word had been "spreading in extremist circles" of his death in Pakistan's tribal areas in the past two weeks and the U.S. government had confirmed the reports.
His death is a major blow to Al Qaeda, which in December "lost both its internal and external operations chiefs," the official said on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the information.
In the early 1980s, al-Yazid served three years in an Egyptian prison for purported links to the group responsible for the 1981 assassination of Egyptian President Anwar Sadat. After his release, al-Yazid turned up in Afghanistan, where, according to Al Qaeda's propaganda wing Al-Sabah, he became a founding member of the terrorist group.
COMMENT: We await expressions of grief by the ACLU.
It's a victory, but one of many that will have to be won in what clearly will be a very long struggle.
June 1, 2010 Permalink
MONDAY, MAY 31, 2010
WHAT WE STAND FOR – AT 7:53 P.M. ET: On the day when we contemplate the sacrifices of American servicemen and women, we also think about the causes that led them into battle. And Jackson Diehl of the Washington Post isn't pleased with the way one of those causes has been shunted aside by the Obama administration:
What sort of international order does Barack Obama seek? Last week he gave a detailed answer: "One that can resolve the challenges of our times -- countering violent extremism and insurgency; stopping the spread of nuclear weapons and securing nuclear materials; combating a changing climate and sustaining global growth; helping countries feed themselves and care for their sick; resolving and preventing conflict, while also healing its wounds."
That's a big agenda. But isn't something missing? Nowhere in that long sentence, in the introduction to his new national security strategy, does Obama suggest that the international "engagement" he proposes should serve to combat tyranny or oppression, or promote democracy. In that sense, it is typical of the first comprehensive account Obama has offered of his administration's goals in the world. In theory -- as in the practice of his first year -- human rights come second.
Ouch. And this is the change we were supposed to believe in. Oh, the youthful idealism!
The White House's left-leaning "realists" -- who seek to limit U.S. foreign engagements, shift resources to domestic programs and jettison the "freedom agenda" of George W. Bush -- seem to have won all of the big arguments.
Yeah, we've noticed. Aren't we proud.
Like the Bush administration before it, the Obama team says America has an interest in the creation of a Palestinian state -- but unlike Bush, Obama doesn't say that that state should be democratic.
After all, democracy is just another "narrative." Isn't that the stuff they teach in graduate schools these days?
It gets worse:
Proponents of an Obama freedom agenda did get one chapter of the report, titled "Values." But its very segregation from the other three "interests" -- "Security," "Prosperity" and "International Order," gives its proposals a fenced-off feel. The policy begins with a couple of big qualifications: The United States will promote its values mainly "by living them at home..."
As the guy from "Saturday Night Live" used to say, "Isn't that special."
Obama has already demonstrated that he does not accept Bush's conclusion that the promotion of democracy and human rights is inseparable from the tasks of defeating al-Qaeda and establishing a workable international order. But nowhere in his 52-page doctrine is there a coherent explanation of why.
COMMENT: That's pretty devastating, in my view. Here is the first African-American president, for whom "freedom" should have special meaning, and it doesn't seem to have much meaning at all.
I wonder why. Is it, perhaps, because this president harbors a certain respect for socialism, or other forms that dabble in totalitarianism? Hmm. Question to be answered.
May 31, 2010 Permalink
IRAN GAINS – SAME OLD STORY – AT 7:25 P.M. ET: While "the world" spends its time condemning Israel's raid on Gaza "peace" ships (the video tells a different story), Iran makes dramatic gains in its nuclear program.
VIENNA (AP) — Iran has amassed more than two tons of enriched uranium, the U.N. atomic agency said Monday in a report that heightened Western concerns about the country developing the ability to produce a nuclear weapon.
Two tons of uranium would be enough for two nuclear warheads, although Iran says it does not want weapons and is only pursuing civilian nuclear energy.
The U.S. and the four other permanent U.N. Security Council members — Russia, China, Britain and France — have tentatively backed a draft fourth set of U.N. sanctions against Iran over its refusal to stop enriching uranium.
Separately, the International Atomic Energy Agency — the U.N. nuclear watchdog — said Syria continues to stonewall agency reports to follow up on U.S. assertions that a facility destroyed three years ago by Israeli warplanes was a secretly built reactor meant to produce plutonium.
"Syria has not cooperated with the agency since June 2008" on most aspects of its investigation, according to the IAEA's Syria report. But it noted that Syria has admitted to small-scale nuclear experiments that it had previously not owned up to.
COMMENT: The "sanctions" that members of the Security Council have agreed on would do little to discourage Iran, in the absence of additional sanctions by individual nations. So far, those have not materialized.
What is lacking, of course, is any sense of urgency. Hillary Clinton makes grand statements about the Iranian program, but they're followed by months of negotiations leading nowhere.
May 31, 2010 Permalink
OIL, SHE SAID – AT 11:26 A.M. ET: The oil spill continues critical, as the Obama administration tries to polish its image. From The New York Times:
HOUSTON — The Obama administration scrambled to respond on Sunday after the failure of the latest effort to kill the gushing oil well in the Gulf of Mexico. But administration officials acknowledged the possibility that tens of thousands of gallons of oil might continue pouring out until August, when two relief wells are scheduled to be completed.
“We are prepared for the worst,” said Carol M. Browner, President Obama’s climate change and energy policy adviser. “We have been prepared from the beginning.”
Even as the White House sought to demonstrate that it was taking a more direct hand in trying to solve the problem, senior officials acknowledged that the new technique BP will use to try to cap the leak — severing the riser pipe and placing a containment dome over the cut riser — could temporarily result in as much as 20 percent more oil flowing into the water during the three days to a week before the new device could be in place.
“This is obviously a difficult situation,” Ms. Browner said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday, “but it’s important for people to understand that from the beginning, the government has been in charge.”
Huh? At first the Obamans said that BP was in charge. And why would they now want to claim to be in charge of a series of failures? I guess they left their thinking caps in the closet.
“We have been directing BP to take important steps,” including the drilling of a second relief well, she added.
COMMENT: Carol Browner is the resident socialist in the Cabinet. She knows from drills like she knows from economics.
May 30, 2010 Permalink
INCIDENT AT SEA – AT 11:10 A.M. ET: At least ten so-called "peace activists" were killed when an Israeli commando team raided a "relief" ship as it approached Gaza. Israel claims, and seems to have the proof, that the "activists" were actually violent extremists, who attacked the Israeli team. But the "humanitarian workers" are having a propaganda field day, as is the left-wing media:
Israel's allies in Europe, as well as the United Nations and Turkey, voiced shock and outrage at the bloody end to a bid by international campaigners to break Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip. Its navy stopped six ships ferrying 700 people and 10,000 tonnes of supplies toward the Islamist-run Palestinian enclave.
The U.N. Security Council was summoned for an emergency session in New York at 1 p.m. EDT. In Washington, however, the United States, Israel's most vital ally, said only that it regretted the loss of life and was looking into the "tragedy."
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was in Canada and expressed full support for the navy operation, cut short a visit to North America that was to have ended Tuesday with a meeting at the White House with U.S. President Barack Obama.
That meeting had seemed intended to soothe U.S.-Israel ties, which have been strained by differences over recently revived peace talks with the Palestinians. But Obama must also balance relations with Israel, which is popular with American voters, and those with an outraged Turkey and other Muslim allies.
COMMENT: There is, of course, no waiting for facts. The standard "shock and outrage" crowd is already at the microphones. Other ships in a Gaza "relief" flotilla were also boarded without incident. There was violence, apparently extreme, only aboard one ship.
The incident will complicate even further our Mideast policy. In fairness we must ask whether mistakes were made on the Israeli side in the planning of the boarding. However, it does appear that a planned ambush took place aboard that one ship, and that Israelis had a right to fight back.
The truth won't matter. The flotilla was sponsored by Turkey, which is rapidly turning into an extremist Islamic state. They'll milk it.
May 31, 2010 Permalink
THE DAY – AT 9:28 A.M. ET: Urgent Agenda readers need no reminder of the meaning of Memorial Day. Sadly, for much of the nation, the "Memorial Day Weekend" has become one more commercial event. The president, perhaps unsurprisingly, is even skipping the traditional wreath laying at Arlington.
But don't despair. There is, in our country, an unending line of patriotic citizens who do remember, and do pass the remembrance on to their children. Some among the self-appointed elites will laugh at them, call them hicks or worse, and regard them as "the flyover people."
We know who they really are. They are the people who keep this nation going, who are the first at recruiting stations in time of war, and who comprehend what "duty, honor, country" is all about.
James Michener once asked why we are lucky enough to have the men and women in our armed forces, whose sacrifice we remember this day. We aren't lucky. The core of our patriotism was built through the generations, not by arms alone, but by ideas – ideas that are as valid and needed today as they were in 1776, or on September 11, 2001.
Those ideas will endure long after this weekend's barbecue pits grow cold.
May 31, 2001 Permalink