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SUNDAY, MAY 16, 2010
CHILDREN THEN, CHILDREN NOW – AT 7:58 P.M. ET: Even some liberals, like Paul Begala, have called the sixties generation the worst generation we ever produced. We are, of course, referring only to the generation of the late sixties, and, really, only part of it.
But it was the part that got the publicity. Spoiled rotten by their Greatest Generation parents, who didn't want their kids to experience the hard-knuckled lives they'd lived, the kids of the late sixties, encouraged by adolescent college professors, "activists," and "journalists," tore up the campuses, lowered academic standards, and, while protesting the American action in Vietnam, remained silent over the Cambodian genocide. Now, Boston University wants to do a little kissy-make up:
BOSTON — The telltale clues at this weekend’s festivities, 40 years late, included the tie-dye T-shirt on a woman who also wore a peace symbol necklace and a garland in her hair (“I thought everyone would be dressed like this,” she said).
When the group stood for its class picture, even those in suits and ties made the peace sign. Others raised clenched fists.
And one of them marched in the commencement processional with an antiwar poster slung around his neck.
The accouterment and spirit of their era still radiate from the class of 1970, despite the harsh and abrupt ending to their years at Boston University.
That spring was supposed to bring a flowery conclusion to their four years of academe. But President Richard M. Nixon had invaded Cambodia. National Guardsmen had gunned down students at Kent State, killing four and wounding nine. Young men still faced the draft. And this campus, like many across the country, was in turmoil, with strikes, sit-ins, building takeovers and fire-bombings.
The situation became so incendiary that, for safety’s sake, university officials called off final exams, canceled graduation and sent students packing.
This weekend, on what would have been the 40th anniversary of that ceremony, the university sought to make amends with a proper graduation.
COMMENT: Read the story. It will absolutely revolt you. These little babies from a past era are still babies. There is not a single reflective comment from them, not a single admission that, maybe, some of the things they did were hurtful rather than helpful.
And, of course, it's all about them. Not a word about the Vietnamese we betrayed, with their encouragement. Not a word about the Cambodians. Not a word about the trashing of once-great universities. Not a word of apology for their parents, who'd sacrificed so much and were greeted with profound comments like, "Don't trust anyone over thirty." How brilliant. That's what passed for idealism in the late sixties.
And then there's this:
And the commencement speaker, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr., singled them out.
“I love you all,” he told the crowd. But gesturing to the class of 1970, sitting right in front of him, he said, “But these are my people.”
I'm afraid that's right. And let's remember, the next time Holder refuses to use the term "Islamic extremism," exactly what the man stands for.
May 16, 2010 Permalink
PRE-ORDER YOUR TICKETS, EVERYONE WANTS TO SEE IT! – AT 7:41 P.M.: From the wonderful guys who gave you Al Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" comes more truth. The subject: nuclear weapons. Of course, they know a great deal about this:
A terrifying study of the nuclear threat was launched at the Cannes film festival on Sunday, in a heavyweight campaign documentary showing how terrorists can get hold of atomic weapons.
The Cold War may be long over but "Countdown to Zero" -- from the producers behind Nobel Prize winner Al Gore's climate change polemic "An Inconvenient Truth" -- warns that nuclear bombs are easier to come by than ever.
Through interviews with former world leaders, spies, smugglers and scientists, British film-maker Lucy Walker's work shows how unsecured lumps of uranium in Russia could end up being used by terrorists to destroy cities.
Interviewees include ex-Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, Britain's former prime minister Tony Blair and Pervez Musharraf, the former president of Pakistan. Their conclusion: the world must push for "zero" nuclear weapons.
Huh? Just freeze the frame for a moment. We have a problem with smuggled nukes and parts of nukes. The answer: Hey, get rid of all nukes, worldwide!
You know, that would make a great junior-high-school essay. But adults think differently. A push to get rid of "all" nuclear weapons would have zero effect on terror groups trying to smuggle nuclear materials. Can you imagine Osama bin Laden saying, "We must not seek these weapons. It is against a treaty." Yeah.
These people are like the gun confiscators. Confiscate all the legal firearms, and only the thugs will have them. Internationally, eliminate all the nukes held by civilized nations, and only the uncivilized will have them.
The worthies behind this film are the usual leftist suspects. And get this:
Among the talking heads in the film is Valerie Plame Wilson, a former CIA agent who worked on anti-proliferation and was targeted by the former US government which unmasked her in the fallout from the invasion of Iraq.
All right, don't laugh too hard. You can damage something. I didn't know she was still alive.
May 16, 2010 Permalink
EVERYBODY WANTS TO GET INTO THE ACT – AT 11:49 A.M. ET: It seems that the socialist president of Brazil, and no great friend of America, thinks he's an international statesman. He wants to broker a deal with Iran. We're so excited. From AP:
Brazil's president met with Iranian leaders Sunday to try to broker a compromise in the international standoff over Teheran's nuclear program, even as the US said new sanctions are the only way to force Iran's cooperation.
Luis Inacio Lula da Silva is trying to use Brazil's friendly relations with Iran to show it can be a fair, neutral broker in the escalating dispute. Since evidence of a clandestine Iranian nuclear program first emerged in 2003, negotiations with world powers and visits by UN inspectors have failed to persuade the US and its allies that Iran is not pursuing a weapons capability.
"It's more difficult for someone who has nuclear weapons to ask someone not to develop nuclear weapons," Silva said in an interview with Al-Jazeera TV on Saturday. "It's easier for someone who does not carry nuclear weapons, like myself, to ask for that."
That is complete garbage.
Silva met in Moscow on Friday with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, who said the Brazilian leader's efforts might be "the last chance before the adopting of known decisions in the Security Council."
COMMENT: The Russians are being helpful again.
Silva has no chance at any agreement that would satisfy American conditions. And the United States has no chance of getting serious sanctions through the Security Council. So we're nowhere, which is where we were a year ago. Meanwhile, the centrifuges in Iran are spinning, with the White House spinning even faster.
This will not end well.
May 16, 2010 Permalink
IT SURFACES AGAIN – AT 10:56 A.M. ET: The Petraeus for president thing, that is. There is constant muttering that Petraeus may emerge as the Republicans' new Eisenhower in 2012.
Speculation has run rampant for months that Gen. David Petraeus, who heads the US Army's Central Command and is widely credited with lead authorship of the "people first" counterinsurgency doctrine implemented in Iraq and Afghanistan, is toying with the idea of a run for the White House.
General Petraeus did little to squelch that speculation last week when he spoke at the annual dinner of the American Enterprise Institute (AEI), one of Washington's premier conservative think tanks.
With former Vice President Dick Cheney and members of the Bush-era glitterati known as the neo-cons looking on, Petraeus accepted AEI's annual Irving Kristol Award, named after the giant of neo-conservatism -- a conservative ideology with roots in American liberal thinking that eschews realist foreign policy in favor of an activist and interventionist approach to the world. The highest goal of neo-conservatism is the spread of "American values" including freedom and democracy.
The late Mr. Kristol's son, Bill Kristol, noted in a tribute to the award's three decades of honorees that none has ever gone on to become president. He then added to applause and laughter, "Perhaps this curious and glaring omission will be rectified."
COMMENT: Well, I don't know. I'm a skeptic. Petraeus has regularly said that he isn't interested, the standard line, and we have no way of knowing whether he's being honest or traditional.
But the transition from general to presidential candidate is not an easy one. Petraeus is not Eisenhower. Eisenhower organized victory in Europe during World War II, a vastly larger and more critical conflict than the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Eisenhower wore five stars, a rare honor. And Eisenhower emerged as a presidential candidate at a time when Americans were much closer to their military than they are today. We had a true citizens' army.
Also, other candidates are not going to lay down and play dead if Petraeus goes political. Petraeus, after all, is untested in the political arena. He's not the most inspiring speaker, as I found out when I heard him in a small room recently in New York. He's also gaffe-prone, as we saw when he declared the Times Square bomber a lone wolf, a statement that will come back to haunt him.
Very few generals have made it to the presidency. The last was Eisenhower, and the last before him was Grant. Both led gigantic struggles. In the media age, a general must sound like a president, and military men often have a way of speaking that doesn't quite match the political markets.
On the other hand, Dave Petraeus is a terrific guy, with a quick, innovative mind, who is intensely competitive. The stories of his personal gutsiness are legend: He was once shot through the chest in a training accident, and bounced back immediately, proving by doing pushups that he should be released from an Army hospital early.
So, we'll see. I think it's a long shot, but so was Reagan at one time.
May 16, 2010 Permalink
WHAT A SURPRISE – AT 10:41 A.M. ET: Greece, following in the grand European tradition, is now looking for a scapegoat for the economic collapse that led to the country being bailed out by the EU. It has found the scapegoat. Guess who? Well, they've got a 50-star flag, with 13 stripes...
Greece is considering taking legal action against U.S. investment banks that might have contributed to the country’s debt crisis, Prime Minister George Papandreou said.
“I wouldn’t rule out that this may be a recourse,” Papandreou said, in response to questions about the role of U.S. banks in the crisis, in an interview on CNN’s “Fareed Zakaria GPS.” The program, scheduled for broadcast today, was taped on May 13. Neither Papandreou nor Zakaria mentioned any banks by name.
U.S. stocks fell and the euro slumped on concern that Europe wouldn’t be able to contain the debt crisis stemming from Greece. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index declined 1.9 percent May 14, while the euro fell below $1.24 for the first time since November 2008.
Papandreou said the decision on whether to go after U.S. banks will be made after a Greek parliamentary investigation into the cause of the crisis.
“Greece will look into the past and see how things went,” Papandreou said. “There are similar investigations going on in other countries and in the United States. This is where I think, yes, the financial sector, I hear the words fraud and lack of transparency. So yes, yes, there is great responsibility here.”
COMMENT: I'm no great defender of Wall Street banks, but gimme a break. Greece has perhaps the worst economic management of any EU country. The self-indulgence is breathtaking. There may have been some culpability by Wall Street Banks, but other EU countries deal with the same banks, and they didn't have a blowout.
Blaming the banks is a twofer for a Greek government: 1) blame the U.S., and 2) those people in New York with the funny names. It's an old European tradition, and it didn't die with World War II.
May 16, 2010 Permalink
QUOTE OF THE DAY – AT 10:09 A.M. ET: From Irwin Stelzer, in the Weekly Standard, on the stark differences between Britain's new prime minister, David Cameron, and his deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, whom Cameron was forced to take as part of the first peacetime coalition government in Britain since the 1930s:
To say this is an odd couple is to put it mildly. Cameron is wary of ceding more sovereignty to the European Union’s bureaucracy; Clegg is an enthusiastic Europhile who would have Britain replace the pound with the euro. Cameron wants to limit immigration into an overcrowded Britain that is rapidly losing its national identity; Clegg favors unlimited immigration and legalization of those who arrived illegally. Cameron wants the government to push the development of nuclear power; Clegg opposes it. Cameron wants to strengthen Britain’s military capability and is a supporter of NATO; Clegg would like to replace Britain’s attachment to NATO with greater reliance on a European Defense Force and would abandon Britain’s nuclear deterrent. Cameron wants to crack down on judges who hand out lenient sentences to muggers and other hoodlums; Clegg thinks jails should be places of redemption, not punishment.
COMMENT: A marriage made in Hell. Can it last? I doubt it.
There's already one compromise agreement: The Lib Dems, who contain within their ranks some really bad pieces of left-wing work, have agreed to a limit on immigration from outside the EU – that means Muslim immigration – so Britain has at least a shot at remaining vaguely British.
But...the conservatives have agreed to a national referendum on whether to adopt proportional representation for British elections in the future. Proportional representation, as Stelzer points out, is a catastrophic system that gives small parties inordinate influence over government composition and decisions. It is the system that has made countries like Israel and Italy so difficult to govern. I suspect the British people will have enough common sense to turn down the proposal. If they don't, Britain is finished.
This used to be the land of Winston Churchill.
May 16, 2010 Permalink
SATURDAY, MAY 15, 2010
WAIT. ARE WE READING THIS RIGHT? – AT 7:20 P.M. ET: Wait 'til Al Gore hears about this:
The Space and Science Research Center (SSRC), the leading independent research organization in the United States on the subject of the next climate change, issues today the following warning of imminent crop damage expected to produce food and ethanol shortages for the US and Canada:
Over the next 30 months, global temperatures are expected to make another dramatic drop even greater than that seen during the 2007-2008 period. As the Earth’s current El Nino dissipates, the planet will return to the long term temperature decline brought on by the Sun’s historic reduction in output, the on-going “solar hibernation.” In follow-up to the specific global temperature forecast posted in SSRC Press Release 4-2009, the SSRC advises that in order to return to the long term decline slope from the current El Nino induced high temperatures, a significant global cold weather re-direction must occur.
According to SSRC Director John Casey, “The Earth typically makes adjustments in major temperature spikes within two to three years. In this case as we cool down from El Nino, we are dealing with the combined effects of this planetary thermodynamic normalization and the influence of the more powerful underlying global temperature downturn brought on by the solar hibernation. Both forces will present the first opportunity since the period of Sun-caused global warming period ended to witness obvious harmful agricultural impacts of the new cold climate.
COMMENT: We are not scientists at Urgent Agenda. I make no claim to specific scientific expertise. But isn't it time for a major, and neutral, journalistic inquiry into the competing claims about global warming?
The Space and Science Research Center is a new body, and appears to be serious. We'll examine their prediction over the next 30 months. If it's accurate, it throws into serious question the whole "science" of global warming. Maybe we should buy overcoats instead.
May 15, 2010 Permalink
JUST TRAVELIN' GUYS – AT 6:49 P.M. ET: You know, it's reached the point with these American imperialist warmongers and Islamophobes, that five decent guys can't take a rafting trip to Pakistan, which, as we all know, is a favorite vacation ground for Americans, and soon to be a hot honeymoon destination. From AP:
ISLAMABAD -- The prosecution concluded its case Saturday against five Americans on trial in a Pakistani court facing life sentences after being charged with planning terrorist attacks in the South Asian country.
The men - all Muslims in their late teens or early 20s from the Washington suburb of Alexandria, Virginia - have pleaded not guilty to five charges.
The accused were given a last chance to respond to the prosecution before the defense presents its side on June 9, prosecutor Nadeem Akram said.
In a written statement, the men said the charges against them were trumped up and police planted discriminating evidence. "We just wanted to go to Afghanistan to help our Muslim brothers on humanitarian grounds," they said.
Heartbreaking, just heartbreaking. I suspect they just wanted to show the Afghan brothers how to open a Burger King.
The five men were arrested in Pakistan in December after being reported missing by their families. One had left behind a farewell video showing scenes of war and casualties and saying Muslims must be defended.
Pakistani police have publicly made several accusations against the young men, claiming the suspects contacted Pakistani-based jihadi groups. They accused the five of using the social networking site Facebook and video-sharing site YouTube while they were in the U.S. to try to connect with extremist groups in Pakistan.
COMMENT: Just rollicking American kids, and look what we do to them. You just can't visit the old country anymore without Sarah Palin pointing fingers.
But Barack Obama will end all this. Yeah, that's what we're afraid of.
May 15, 2010 Permalink
VOTING ON TUESDAY – AT 12:47 P.M. ET: There are major primaries on Tuesday, as well as a special election in Pennsylvania's 12th C.D. to replace the still-dead John Murtha. The Politico asks some very good questions about Tuesday's voting, and how it will go down:
SPECIAL REPORT -- UNSOLVED MYSTERIES: With voting four days away, there are still a few big X factors in Tuesday's marquee Senate and House races. Here are our top questions that could determine what kind of day it will be: (1) Can Joe Sestak match the machine on Election Day? Arlen Specter has the support of Pennsylvania's Democratic turnout operation, which could give him an edge not shown in the polls.
We'd rather see Specter win the Dem primary for the Senate. He'll be easier for GOP candidate Pat Toomey to beat in November than Sestak, who has a kind of surface charm.
(2) Who actually votes in Kentucky's Republican primary? It's a closed election in a state where plenty of conservatives are still registered Democrats, fogging the picture a bit.
Polls show that Republicans are about to commit suicide by nominating Rand Paul, nutbag son of super-nutbag Ron Paul, a fringe operator if there every was one. Kentucky's senior senator, Mitch McConnell, is the Senate minority leader, and Rand Paul regularly attacks him. Just what we need.
(3) How close does D.C. Morrison get to 10 percent in Arkansas? The higher the conservative Democrat's vote total, the likelier it is that Blanche Lincoln and Bill Halter head to a runoff.
I suspect this is irrelevant. The GOP, if it plays its cards right, should take over Lincoln's U.S. Senate seat in November.
(4) Who's a more potent symbol in Johnstown, Bill Clinton or Nancy Pelosi? Each party is hoping one of those figures will turn out its base to vote in the PA-12 special.
It would be great if the GOP won Murtha's district, and it has a very good shot.
May 15, 2010 Permalink
BUYER'S REMORSE – AT 11:16 A.M. ET: Reader Tom Wharton refers us to a superb piece, from the excellent American Thinker site, by Robert Weissberg, professor of political science, emeritus, at the University of Illinois.
Weissberg reflects on the buyer's remorse felt toward Barack Obama:
In a nutshell, the American public was lead astray by conflating outward appearances -- "he seems so smart" -- with underlying substance -- "he is so smart." What we saw wasn't what we got.
Having spent four decades in top research universities, I questioned Obama's alleged stellar intellectual abilities from the beginning; he is smart, I said, but not that smart. Let me explain. These forty years of teaching and research has taught me that outward appearances do not necessarily signify exceptional intellectual talent. An "A" should never be given to students who just seem smart and faculty accomplishment is certified only by original research defended before knowledgeable peers. These are tough standards and professors regularly encounter seemingly promising students and job candidates who just can't get beyond clever glibness. Happily for over-matched students, however, tutoring or professorial kindness can push them toward a diploma, and when combined with their fine rhetorical skills, the diploma easily impresses non-expert outsiders.
Very well said.
...being a "brilliant speaker" is only one talent of many, and not necessarily critical. It is also a gift that is one of the easiest to acquire via repeated practice, skilled video editing, relying on Teleprompters plus Hollywood-style props. Accomplishment, however, is more difficult to produce. I fondly recall Casey Stengel, "da Old Professa" who between 1949 and 1960 managed the Yankees to seven world championships plus two American League pennants and was famous for 30 minute press conference often consisting of a single rambling incoherent sentence. But try creating that baseball reputation with a Teleprompter.
Ah, Case, we remember him well. Results, results.
Perhaps the most important lesson about America's buyer's remorse is to recognize the ease of seduction. This is the secret of successful con men: find out what the target craves, and supply it. Obama, or perhaps his advisors, grasped that the American people were tired of George W. Bush's awkward cadences and hungered after a spellbinder bedecked with elite credentials. In a sense, this resembles how Americans rushed to replace Tricky "I am not a crook" Dick Nixon with simple-but-honest Jimmy Carter. As is so often the case in consumer choices, this on-the-rebound emotion-driven embrace of opposites guarantees remorse. Next time, we can hope, the American public will look a little deeper.
COMMENT: Exellent article, highly recommended, and the best analysis of Barack Obama's superficial appeal that I've read. Thanks to reader Wharton.
May 15, 2010 Permalink
THE PANTHER CASE – AT 10:51 A.M. ET: Remember the outrageous dismissal, by Eric Holder's Injustice Department, of the slam-dunk case against the Philadelphia Black Panthers for obstructing the right to vote on election day, 2008? The Panthers stood outside polling places and intimidated people.
When Obama came in, the case was suddenly dropped. Many, including many non-conservatives, were appalled. The evidence, on videotape, was clear-cut.
But it's a case that won't die. From The Washington Times:
A member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights told The Washington Times Friday afternoon that he believes “a racist application of the voting rights laws might have been at play” in a controversial decision by the Department of Justice exactly one year ago to dismiss most charges in a voter intimidation case against affiliates of the New Black Panther Party.
The comments came in an interview several hours after a commission hearing featuring numerous testy exchanges between several commissioners and Thomas E. Perez, head of DoJ's civil rights division. Commissioners repeatedly expressed disapproval of what they obviously considered to be evasive, irrelevant or filibuster-like answers from Mr. Perez to their questions about the timing, substance, and procedures of DoJ with regard to the case. Commissioner Gail Heriot particularly showed distress at the decision to entirely drop the case against one of the two Black Panthers on site at the Philadelphia polls on Election Day of 2008, and on the injunction against the other defendant that was so limited it was “almost comical.”
But the biggest and most frequent sparks flew between Mr. Perez and commissioner Todd Gaziano when Mr. Gaziano cited several press reports to the effect that the decision to drop the case grew out of a conscious new attitude at the civil rights division to avoid enforcement of civil rights laws if the offenders, rather than the victims, are minorities. Mr. Perez denied a racial double-standard.
COMMENT: Of course there was, and is, a racial double standard, just as there is in the universities that produced the staff of the Civil Rights Division. When the attorney general of the United States cannot bring himself to utter the words "Islamic extremism," you know there's a double and triple standard at work.
We hope this case is kept alive until those individuals in DOJ responsible for dropping it are named and, if not disciplined, at least shamed. And we will demand to know who gave the order.
May 15, 2010 Permalink
APPALLING – AT 10:33 A.M. ET: Scott Rasmussen nails it in a new poll that shows the gap between the American people and America's political class. The issue is the UN and how we relate to it:
Seventy-one percent (71%) of U.S. voters say the United States is a more positive force for good in the world today than the United Nations, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey.
Thirteen percent (13%) disagree and say the international organization is a more positive force for good. Sixteen percent (16%) more are undecided.
I'd love to meet that 13 percent. Well, I probably have. I go to Manhattan all the time, and used to hang in Hollywood.
But there’s a sharp difference of opinion between Mainstream voters and the Political Class. While 79% of Mainstream voters view America as a more positive force for good in the world today than the UN, just 45% of the Political Class agree.
Well, at least we got 45%. That's some kind of encouragement. But that means 55% are on the other side, which is what you'd expect of the "political class." And get this:
Just 30% of voters see the UN as an ally of the United States while 16% regard the international organization as an enemy of the United States. Half (49%) place it somewhere in between. These figures mark little change from April 2009.
The gap between the Political Class and the nation is particularly large on this question. Eighty percent (80%) of the Political Class see the UN as America’s ally. That view is shared by just 20% of Mainstream Americans.
Huh? Eighty percent of the "political class" see the UN as our ally? It just shows how uninformed that class really is.
But the "political class" rules us, educates us and gives us our news. It is an ideological fifth column, and it can ultimately destroy us. It's done immense damage already.
Hitler once said that if society gave him the minds of youth, he would produce a successful Nazi state. About 40 years ago we gave the new political class the minds of our youth, in schools, colleges, and the entertainment industry. Observe the result.
May 15, 2010 Permalink