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MONDAY, JUNE 21, 2010
WHEN EVEN NEWSWEEK NOTICES – AT 7:23 P.M. ET: Related to the item just below: When even the moribund Newsweek notices that our foreign policy has gone hopelessly PC, we know we're starting to get the message out:
The Obama administration is deeply concerned with stopping the next Faisal Shahzad—the man who, but for another lesson or two on bomb making, might have blown up Times Square on May 1. But in an administration also eager to ingratiate itself with the Muslim world, how far are Obama and his advisers willing to go to confront the radical Islamism that drives men like Shahzad?
Hedieh Mirahmadi, a Muslim community organizer based in Washington, D.C., fears that political correctness has got the better of this administration, to the point where it seems to be almost dissecting radical Islamism out of existence. “You can’t start at just violence because the trajectory is so dangerous. You need to start at that radicalism. The ideology,” Mirahmadi says. Other critics agree. The Obama team, says Scott Carpenter of the Washington Institute for Near East Peace Policy, “is doing some interesting things on the public diplomacy side [outreach to the Muslim world], and on the counterterrorism side. But in this big fat middle, radicalization, they’re doing zero.”
COMMENT: While the piece contains the still-required swings at President Bush, the overall tone is something of a breakthrough, as Newsweek symbolizes the trendy New York media.
But one of the most serious problems remains the left wing of the Democratic Party, which calls itself "progressive," but which is really a throwback to the old Henry Wallace faction of the 1940s, a faction that never met a Communist dictatorship it didn't like. Political reports say that the White House is genuinely frightened of losing the left in this year's midterms if it moves closer to the center. It should stop worrying. There are vastly more moderates than leftist "progressives," a good number of whom spend their weekends reading Lenin in the libraries of California colleges.
June 21, 2010 Permalink
MEMO TO THE PRESIDENT, AND TO A GOOD CHUNK OF OUR LAUGHABLE "INTELLIGENTSIA" – AT 7:05 P.M. ET: The guy who wanted to blow up part of Times Square pleaded guilty in federal court today, and admitted his motives:
NEW YORK (AP) -- Calling himself a "Muslim soldier," a defiant Pakistan-born U.S. citizen pleaded guilty Monday to carrying out the failed Times Square car bombing, saying his attack was the answer to "the U.S. terrorizing ... Muslim people."
Wearing a white skull cap, Faisal Shahzad entered the plea in U.S. District Court in Manhattan just days after a federal grand jury indicted him on 10 terrorism and weapons counts, some of which carried mandatory life prison sentences. He pleaded guilty to them all.
"One has to understand where I'm coming from," Shahzad calmly told U.S. District Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum, who challenged him repeatedly with questions such as whether he worried about killing children in Times Square. "I consider myself ... a Muslim soldier."
The 30-year-old described his effort to set off a bomb in an SUV he parked in Times Square on May 1, saying he chose the warm Saturday night because it would be crowded with people who he could injure or kill.
COMMENT: Just a misunderstood intellectual, probably a victim of a malfunctioning ATM.
We call attention to his direct, unvarnished linking of radical Islam to his attempted murder of hundreds. Strange – he's more honest about it than our president.
June 21, 2010 Permalink
JOURNALISM MARCHES ON, RIGHT OFF A CLIFF – AT 9:52 A.M. ET: Well, I guess it's progress when you can get them to admit it. From NewsBusters:
Cut out the middle-woman and install Obama's teleprompter on the Morning Joe set . . .
Give her high marks for candor: on today's show, Mika Brzezinski admitted that she has been "working with the White House" on oil spill talking points. But that still leaves the issue of the journalistic propriety of someone in Brzezinski's position serving as such a blatant shill for the president. H/t tip NB reader Ray R.
Mika could be seen reading from her notes during exchanges with former GE CEO Jack Welch, who was critical of the PBO's handling of the spill. After repeated ribbing from Welch and Joe Scarborough over her use of White House talking points, Mika came clean . . .
MIKA BRZEZINSKI: Do you want to know why I have a file that I've been working on with the White House—and I'll be very transparent about that? Because of your friend Rudy Giuliani who came here last week spewing out a whole bunch of nothing.
COMMENT: Of course, her daddy was Jimmah Carter's national security adviser, so Mika knows her way around the White House. And considering the Carteresque nature of this presidency, she must feel right at home.
June 21, 2010 Permalink
GATES DROPS THE "D" WORD ON IRAN. ISN'T THAT A SIN IN OBAMALAND? – AT 9:17 A.M. ET: From the Washington Times:
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said Sunday that Iran's government is becoming a military dictatorship, with religious leaders being sidelined and, as a result, new sanctions could pressure Tehran into curbing its illegal nuclear program.
"What we've seen is a change in the nature of the regime in Tehran over the past 18 months or so," Mr. Gates said on "Fox News Sunday."
"You have a much narrower-based government in Tehran now," he said. "Many of the religious figures are being set aside."
The defense secretary said Iranians "appear to be moving more in the direction of a military dictatorship."
Iran's supreme leader, Grand Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, "is leaning on a smaller and smaller group of advisers," he said. "In the meantime, you have an illegitimate election that has divided the country."
"There's no doubt that Iran's military and security forces are playing an active role in running the regime," said a U.S. official familiar with assessments on Iran. "Religious leaders like Khamenei continue to make key decisions and rely on the vast security apparatus to carry them out."
Gates expanded on his comments in this exchange with Chris Wallace:
WALLACE: Can we contain a nuclear Iran?
GATES: I don't think we're prepared to even talk about containing a nuclear Iran. I think we're — we — our view still is we do not accept the idea of Iran having nuclear weapons. And our policies and our efforts are all aimed at preventing that from happening.
WALLACE: When you say that a — we would not accept a nuclear Iran, does that mean that a military strike either by the U.S. or Israel is preferable to a nuclear Iran?
GATES: I — we obviously leave all options on the table. I think we have some time to continue working this problem.
COMMENT: We get the sense that Gates is going through the motions in endorsing sanctions, and realizes they probably won't work. He was wise to avoid discussing "containment" of Iran, as that would imply surrender to Iran's nuclear program and the inevitability of Tehran getting the bomb. But there's a reckoning ahead, possibly around the time of our 2012 election, two years away. That's two more years of progress for Iran.
I've said here before that a successful air strike against Iran just before the 2012 election could put Barack Obama back in the White House. I hate to sound cynical, but...
June 21, 2010 Permalink
EVEN NEW YORKERS GET IT – AT 8:41 A.M. ET: Hard to believe, but even residents of my home state, as well as Californians, are starting to learn that it's a good idea to cut spending to match income. Most real people learn that in junior high. From Michael Barone:
"Government in New York is too big, ineffective and expensive," the candidate's website proclaims. "We must get our state's fiscal house in order by immediately imposing a cap on state spending and freezing salaries of state public employees as part of a one-year emergency financial plan, committing to no increase in personal or corporate income taxes of sales taxes and imposing a local property tax cap."
Some right-wing Republican? No, it's Andrew Cuomo, son of three-term Democratic Gov. Mario Cuomo. Interestingly, he's the only Democrat with a significant polling lead in the governor races in our eight largest states, which together have 48 percent of the nation's population.
And he's running as a fiscal con...well, not quite. Let's say he's running as a Dem who might actually look at the amount of a check before signing it.
State governors can't resort to deficit spending without risky gimmicks, and what's more, as Andrew Cuomo's platform suggests, voters don't want them to.
As a result, Republicans are leading or running even in governor races in seven of the eight largest states. In California, Democrat Jerry Brown -- at 72, seeking the office he first won at 36 -- is below 50 percent against eBay billionaire Meg Whitman. In Texas, Rick Perry leads Democrat Bill White, who had a moderate record as mayor of Houston.
In Florida, all polls have shown Republicans leading the one Democrat in statewide office.
In Pennsylvania, Republican Tom Corbett seems likely to regain the governorship for his party in a state where party control has shifted every eight years since 1950.
In Illinois, would-be tax-raiser Pat Quinn, elevated to the governorship when Rod Blagojevich resigned, trails a little-known downstate Republican legislator.
In Ohio, Democrat Ted Strickland, popular for his first two-and-a-half years, is only even with John Kasich, former chairman of the U.S. House Budget Committee.
Perhaps most surprisingly, in the nation's No. 1 unemployment state, Michigan, voters are leaning toward replacing tax-raising Democrat Jennifer Granholm with one of the four Republicans running in the August primary over either of the two Democrats.
And voters will respond well to budget cuts made wisely:
You might wonder whether spending cuts will prove as unpopular as big spending programs. That's unclear -- but there's an interesting test case in the nation's 16th largest state, Indiana.
In 2008, even while Indiana voters went 50 percent to 49 percent for Barack Obama, they re-elected spending-cutting Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels by a 58 percent to 40 percent margin. Daniels carried young voters 51 percent to 42 percent and college-educated voters 62 percent to 34 percent. He ran ahead of Ronald Reagan's 1984 showing in Indiana's most affluent county while winning 25 percent from blacks and 37 percent from Latinos. Among all these groups, he ran ahead of John McCain by double digits.
His performance is evidence that the polls showing voters in our biggest states favoring smaller government may not just be a passing fancy. Congress may vote more money for the public employee unions. But in New York, Andrew Cuomo seems to have gotten the message.
COMMENT: And I would hope that voters will be able to resist the ultimate weapon, the last-ditch defense of those who let spending go out-of-control: "We're doing it for the kids." They don't tell us that it's the kids who'll get the bill.
Which reminds me: I think the next big domestic target is going to be education at all levels, but especially at the college level, starting with the parental question, "Just what is my kid getting for $42,000 a year?" For years education has been treated as a sacred cow. Now we're learning that the cow isn't sacred, just fat, with much more discipline in order.
June 21, 2010 Permalink
AL QAEDA SPEAKS – AT 8:25 A.M. ET: Adam Gadahn, the Tokyo Rose of Al Qaeda, has made a statement on behalf of Al Qaeda, and it should be taken seriously. We have been lulled to sleep by the fact that 9-11 occurred almost nine years ago, but it's a false sleep:
CAIRO – Al-Qaida's U.S.-born spokesman warned President Barack Obama Sunday that the militant group may launch new attacks that would kill more Americans than previous ones.
In a taunting, 24 minute message that dwelled on Obama's setbacks, including the loss of Massachusetts Senate seat to the Republicans, Adam Gadahn set out al-Qaida's conditions for peace with the U.S., including cutting support for Israel and withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.
Gadahn said that if you compared the number of dead Muslims "with the relatively small number of Americans we have killed so far, it becomes crystal-clear that we haven't even begun to even the score," he said, dressed in a white robe and turban.
"That's why next time, we might not show the restraint and self-control we have shown up until now," he said. Even if al-Qaida was defeated, "hundreds of millions of Muslims" would still fight the U.S., he added.
Al-Qaida offered the same conditions for an end to hostilities to then President George W. Bush in 2007, including the release of all Muslim prisoners and cutting off aid to Middle East governments.
Gadahn's statement was notable for its mocking tone, in which he described Obama as "a devious, evasive and serpentine American president with a Muslim name," and seemed to delight in his setbacks.
COMMENT: The mocking tone can be attributed, at least in part, to Obama's weak image. It is appalling to see an American president laughed at. We haven't had the experience since Jimmah Carter melted away before our eyes.
I would never underestimate threats like this. Al Qaeda does not have to pull off another 9-11 to make its presence felt. The terror attack in Mumbai, India, which centered on the takeover of a major hotel, had an enormous impact, and was relatively simple.
June 21, 2010 Permalink
RAHM TO GO? – AT 7:58 A.M. ET: There is buzz on the internet this morning that Rahm Emanuel, tough-talking but practical White House chief of staff, will soon be gone, a victim, in a way, of the adolescent character of the Obama administration.
From London's Telegraph:
Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff, is expected to leave his job later this year after growing tired of the "idealism" of Barack Obama's inner circle.
Washington insiders say he will quit within six to eight months in frustration at their unwillingness to "bang heads together" to get policy pushed through.
Mr Emanuel, 50, enjoys a good working relationship with Mr Obama but they are understood to have reached an understanding that differences over style mean he will serve only half the full four-year term.
COMMENT: Not a shock. Despite all the yapping about "wanting to spend more time with my family," Emanuel wants a future in politics. Right now he's like an officer on the Titanic wanting a future in shipping.
The ship is going down.
You may be sure that speculation will start before Washington teeth are brushed this morning as to who will be the next chief of staff. No selection would surprise me. There will be a number of unemployed Democrats after November. Obama could choose a RINO like former "Republican" Senator Chuck Hagel, or he could stay with the Chicago toughies.
If the story plays out, Emanuel is wise to be departing early. You don't want to be associated with a disaster. My question: What plans for Hillary Clinton? Well, her daughter is getting married soon, and she could always resign, saying she wants to spend some time with the groom...just to be sure. I can't imagine her wanting to stay with this wreckage beyond the two-year mark.
June 21, 2010 Permalink
SUNDAY, JUNE 20, 2010
BULLETIN: THIS JUST IN: America's enemy named! A major American journalist has just, after extensive reporting, revealed to an eager public just who America's enemy is. Please take notes when you read this, from NewsBuster:
Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist Cynthia Tucker believes Americans are the enemy of the nation moving in a new energy direction because of what she called our addiction to oil.
As the discussion on this weekend's "The Chris Matthews Show" moved to why President Obama hasn't attacked energy policy much like Eisenhower did the space program, Tucker said, "One of the differences between the '50's when Sputnik was launched and now, that was a battle against Communism."
She continued, "It's always much easier to rally Americans against an external threat, an external enemy."
Yeah, only Americans, of course. In fact, it's easier to rally any country against an external enemy.
And sadly continued, "In this case, the enemy is us. Americans are addicted to petroleum. We use way too much oil."
COMMENT: I wonder how this journalistic genius gets to work. I wonder how she lights her office. I wonder what powers the printing presses of her paper, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. I wonder what powers the machinery that processes her food, so her mouth can go.
Precisely how much of her own oil, and her paper's, is Ms. Tucker willing to give up?
Don't bother asking.
June 20, 2010 Permalink
QUOTE OF THE DAY – AT 5:01 P.M. ET: From Antonin Scalia, associate justice of the Supreme Court, to a high-school graduating class containing his granddaughter:
“Movement is not necessarily progress. More important than your obligation to follow your conscience, or at least prior to it, is your obligation to form your conscience correctly. Nobody — remember this — neither Hitler, nor Lenin, nor any despot you could name, ever came forward with a proposal that read, ‘Now, let’s create a really oppressive and evil society.’ Hitler said, ‘Let’s take the means necessary to restore our national pride and civic order.’ And Lenin said, ‘Let’s take the means necessary to assure a fair distribution of the goods of the world.’
“In short, it is your responsibility, men and women of the class of 2010, not just to be zealous in the pursuit of your ideals, but to be sure that your ideals are the right ones. That is perhaps the hardest part of being a good human being: Good intentions are not enough. Being a good person begins with being a wise person. Then, when you follow your conscience, will you be headed in the right direction.”
COMMENT: There is more wisdom in that statement than in all of this year's commencement addresses put together. But I would imagine there was more excitement over Christiane Amanpour's eminently forgettable (as usual) commencement address at Harvard. Harvard would never invite Scalia.
June 20, 2010 Permalink
SO WHAT ELSE IS NEW? – AT 4:51 P.M. ET: Even the Associated Press, part of the Obama Admiration Society, can't deny certain truths about this administration. Consider, for example, The One's response to the oil spill:
WASHINGTON – The panel appointed by President Barack Obama to investigate the Gulf of Mexico oil spill is short on technical expertise but long on talking publicly about "America's addiction to oil." One member has blogged about it regularly.
Only one of the seven commissioners, the dean of Harvard's engineering and applied sciences school, has a prominent engineering background — but it's in optics and physics. Another is an environmental scientist with expertise in coastal areas and the after-effects of oil spills. Both are praised by other scientists.
The five other commissioners are experts in policy and management.
The White House said the commission will focus on the government's "too cozy" relationship with the oil industry. A presidential spokesman said panel members will "consult the best minds and subject matter experts" as they do their work.
The commission has yet to meet, yet some panel members had made their views known.
COMMENT: Same old story. Never let a crisis go to waste.
Let's be blunt: The oil spill is a godsend to Barack Obama and his crowd. It's almost as good as the conveniently timed financial collapse in the middle of the 2008 campaign.
There is now a clear Democratic strategy to tie the Republican Party to big oil as we go into the midterm elections. It may just work. This election is not in the bag.
June 20, 2010 Permalink
LOOKS LIKE A TREND THAT WILL STAY AWHILE – AT 9:55 A.M. ET: Readers know that we've been following the Rasmussen daily tracker carefully this week, to see if the president's sudden drop in favor was a one- or two-day thing, or something more permanent. The evidence tilts toward the latter. Today's report:
The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Sunday shows that 28% of the nation's voters Strongly Approve of the way that Barack Obama is performing his role as president. Forty-four percent (44%) Strongly Disapprove, giving Obama a Presidential Approval Index rating of -16.
That's a four-point improvement since yesterday, but the key number is this:
Overall, 43% of voters say they at least somewhat approve of the president's performance. Fifty-seven percent (57%) disapprove.
Mr. Obama has been below 45% for five straight days. It doesn't look like too many worthies are jumping on his bandwagon.
Yes, he can come back, as did Reagan, but Reagan had a bond with the public that Obama lacks. Even when a good part of the public disagreed with him, they liked him, and had confidence in him. Obama is losing all the good adjectives, and they're very hard to get back. Even Oprah can't help him this time.
June 20, 2010 Permalink
BARACK, MEET FRANKLIN...AND LET HIM SMOKE – AT 9:29 A.M. ET: Historian Arthur Herman recommends that Barack Obama introduce himself to Franklin D. Roosevelt, a president of some note, who actually believed in winning a war.
The White House specifically said the speech was modeled on Franklin Roosevelt’s fireside chats during the Great Depression and World War II. At its climax, Obama even referenced America’s creation of the so-called Arsenal of Democracy as an example of how Americans can seize their destiny and achieve greatness.
He’s right, but Obama may regret picking that example...
...FDR built that arsenal of democracy by working with business, not fighting against it—let alone by keeping a boot on its neck. If Roosevelt had been speaking from the Oval Office last Tuesday, he would have announcing the creation of a presidential panel of oil executives and engineers to help BP solve the oil spill, rather than a scheme to strip BP of its profits.
This is because, in the year and a half before Pearl Harbor, Roosevelt realized that the best way to mobilize a country like ours for a great task is to unleash the productivity and ingenuity of American industrial enterprise. His decision outraged some of his closest advisors and allies. It flew in the face of his own progressive instincts. But it not only helped to win World War II, it pulled the United States out of the Great Depression, and it has provided a useful model of how government needs to partner with the private sector, ever since.
Tell that to the sixties crowd, now running things, with their Ivy League diplomas on the wall. Remember when the Ivy League actually believed in America?
Faced in the summer of 1940 with the inevitability of war in Europe drawing in the United States, Roosevelt also faced a choice. Diehard New Dealers like his wife, Eleanor, and Secretary of the Interior Harold Ickes wanted to use war mobilization to permanently extend the reach and power of federal government. By nationalizing some industries, limiting the profits of others and ordering a halt to civilian production in still others, their goal was to re-engineer the private-enterprise economy into a Washington-controlled economy. Having missed their chance with the National Recovery Administration to pound Big Business into submission, the New Deal Left and their Big Labor allies, weren’t about to let this crisis go to waste.
But FDR—under the influence of conservative Democrats like Secretary of Commerce Jesse H. Jones and the new Republican members of his administration such as Secretary of War Henry Stimson and William Knudsen, the former GM president who became head of the Office of Production Management in the fall of 1940—chose a different course. In the year before Pearl Harbor, they convinced him that the best way to get the country ready for the coming war was not to fight the profit motive of private companies and corporations, but to unleash it.
Strange – it worked. But Roosevelt had more savvy in his little finger than Obama has in his whole brain, and he took the idea of victory seriously. Obama won't utter the word.
Roosevelt was elected four times. Once will be enough for The One. Or The Former One.
June 20, 2010 Permalink
OH, JUST GIVE US ONE MORE CHANCE – AT 9:17 A.M. ET: Well, at least the Dems are aware of their problems. Seems that some of their major voting blocs from 2008 are, shall we say, a bit less enthusiastic about the Democratic cause this year. Gee, I wonder why? Didn't they get the change they believed in? From The Washington Post:
As political gambles go, it's a big and risky one: $50 million to test the proposition that the Democratic Party's outreach to new voters that helped make Barack Obama president can work in an election where his name is not on the ballot.
The standard rule of midterm elections is that only the most reliable voters show up at the polls, so both parties have traditionally focused on the unglamorous and conventional work that turns out their bases. But this year, the Democrats are doubling down on registering and motivating newer voters -- especially the 15 million heavily minority and young, who made it to the polls for the first time in the last presidential election.
"It's a great experiment to see whether we can bring out voters whose only previous vote was in 2008," said Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee.
The party's overall budget for reaching new voters is more than twice as big as the $17 million it spent during the tumultuous 2006 midterm, which returned control of both houses of Congress to the Democrats.
Much about its "Vote 2010" effort has that way-back feel of two years ago: legions of canvassers going door-to-door, a stream of inspirational videos, an e-mail list of more than 13 million, and ads on Web sites including Latina.com, BlackPlanet.com, YELP.com and DailyCandy.
COMMENT: Yeah, real inspiring. Nothing, of course, about the great issues of the day. This is the sixties mentality in full bloom – it's all about identity politics. Who needs issues? Who needs a governmental program?
The subtext here is "scare." The Democrats will run by scaring people. "They're going to take it away," they'll tell blacks, Latinos, and any other group they've got in their files.
But, however seedy the tactic is, it can work. It's worked before. And I don't see the GOP working on counter-tactics. I hope I'm wrong.
June 20, 2010 Permalink
OH, ABOUT THOSE TERROR TRIALS – AT 8:57 A.M. ET: Remember the plan to try 9/11 terror suspects in a courtroom right in the middle of densely populated Manhattan? Well, they're studying the issue, and studying, and...when is that midterm election again? From The Politico:
Attorney General Eric Holder said the decision over where to hold the trial for alleged 9/11 plotter Khalid Sheikh Mohammad was “weeks away” — three months ago.
Now advocates on both sides of the issue say they expect the Obama administration to punt the decision until after the November midterm elections— when the controversial plan could do less damage to the political fortunes of endangered Democrats and might face less resistance on Capitol Hill.
Yes, it's all about justice. Laugh now.
Holder last week explicitly denied the midterms had anything to do with the timing but would only say discussions are continuing. The White House had no comment.
Politics? In our White House?
Any further stalling could pose a serious political problem for President Barack Obama on the left – where advocates cheered his administration’s plan to break from the Bush administration and give top al-Qaida figures trials in American courtrooms, a sign to the country and the world that U.S.-style justice was enough to try to men accused of the worst crimes in the nation’s history.
Is there a left left? Where would they go in an election between Obama and a Republican? Why is Obama so afraid of that crowd?
The decision is, obviously, being delayed for political reasons. This gang doesn't even have the courage of its acquittals.
June 20, 2010 Permalink