TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 2009
ANOTHER CANDIDATE FOR THE REV. JEREMIAH WRIGHT PATRIOTISM AWARD - AT 10:46 P.M. ET: What is it about this administration? Maybe it would be better if they used an ordinary employment agency to recruit their people. Or Craigslist. Consider this gem, from the Washington Times:
President Obama's diversity czar at the Federal Communications Commission has spoken publicly of getting white media executives to "step down" in favor of minorities, prescribed policies to make liberal talk radio more successful, and described Hugo Chavez's rise to power in Venezuela "an incredible revolution."
Mark Lloyd's provocative comments - most made during a tenure at the liberal Center for American Progress think tank - are giving fodder to critics who say Mr. Obama has appointed too many "czars" to government positions that don't require congressional approval.
In one of his more eye-opening comments, Mr. Lloyd praised Mr. Chavez during a June 2008 conference on media reform, saying the authoritarian Venezuelan president had led "really an incredible revolution - a democratic revolution."
Then there's this:
"There's nothing more difficult than this because we have really truly, good, white people in important positions, and the fact of the matter is that there are a limited number of those positions," he said.
"And unless we are conscious of the need to have more people of color, gays, other people in those positions, we will not change the problem. But we're in a position where you have to say who is going to step down so someone else can have power."
If that doesn't chill you, try this one from Czar Mark:
"At the very least, blind references to freedom of speech or the press serve as a distraction from the critical examination of other communications policies," Mr. Lloyd wrote. "The purpose of free speech is warped to protect global corporations and block rules that would promote democratic governance."
COMMENT: There will, of course, be the usual excuses: "We didn't know he said it," "He's been misinterpreted," "This is all caused by Glenn Beck," "It's an attempt to embarrass the president."
But there's a reality here: Mark Lloyd's views are consistent with those of a number of other worthies who've been hired by the Obama Revolution, either as paid warriors or as advisers. We must finally come to the conclusion that the man at the top has no problem with these extreme positions. Either that, or he's under the control of a section of his party that would prefer not to call the United States home.
September 22, 2009 Permalink
THE WELL-DRESSED WHACK JOB IS AT IT AGAIN - AT 7:49 P.M. ET: Most of you have seen Katrina vanden Heuvel on TV. She's the chic, expensively dressed editor of The Nation, which is often incorrectly described as a "liberal" magazine. It is not. It's a far-left magazine, which is a euphemism for something else. Vanden Heuvel, who hails from a veddy, veddy upper-class background, is herself way out there. Now, as reported in the Washington Examiner, she's trying to poison the minds of youth:
Katrina vanden Heuvel, the editor and publisher of The Nation, has just sent out a fundraising letter making fantastical claims about the 9/12 protest in Washington. Promoting the magazine's "Student Outreach Program," in which she and her colleagues offer teaching guides to help educators counter the influence of Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, vanden Heuvel described the march this way:
Just days ago, Glenn Beck led the astro-turf 9-12-09 "Taxpayer March on DC." Compared to the millions who have marched for civil rights, equal rights, and gay rights, and against the war, Beck's 70,000 would be small stuff -- except for the tens of thousands waving Confederate flags, anti-gay hate signs, and shouting "White Power!"
Vanden Heuvel goes on to say that students need "well-equipped minds" to stand up to the "increasingly dangerous, racist and radical right wing." That's where the Nation's Student Outreach Program comes in -- with its teaching guides, the Nation Student Essay Contest and Student Journalism Conferences. "Won't you give a gift today to keep this essential program going strong?" vanden Heuvel asks.
COMMENT: The idea that this stuff can get into our schools is chilling. Parents have a right to examine what their kids are being taught, and the materials used. Exercise that right.
What strikes me is The Nation's contempt for democracy and freedom of assembly. There are a few bad eggs in every demonstration, but vanden Heuvel's grotesque description of the taxpayer march is extreme even by The Nation's lax standards. Shame.
September 22, 2009 Permalink
WASHINGTON POST COMES THROUGH AGAIN - 7:34 P.M. ET: The Washington Post is a liberal paper, but, as we've said repeatedly, its editorial page is independent, often excellent, and a refreshing contrast to the stale, party-line New York Times. Today the Post slams President Obama on Afghanistan, and deservedly so:
IT WAS ONLY last March 27 that President Obama outlined in a major speech what he called "a comprehensive new strategy for Afghanistan" that, he added, "marks the conclusion of a careful policy review."
...We strongly supported the president's conclusion that those goals were essential to preventing another attack on the United States by al-Qaeda and its extremist allies.
So it was a little startling to hear Mr. Obama suggest in several televised interviews on Sunday that he had second thoughts.
It sure was. And it would be nice to have some consistency.
The president's doubts come at a crucial moment. He has just received a report from the commander he appointed, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, saying the United States and its allies are in danger of losing the war if they do not work more effectively to shore up the Afghan government and army and protect the population from insurgents.
You don't think the president's "doubts" are based on the opposition of his party's left wing to sending more troops, do you? Nah. He'd never consider that.
The generals believed they had Mr. Obama's commitment to their approach after the policy review last spring. Now the president appears to be distancing himself from his commanders -- including the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, who testified before Congress last week that more forces would be needed.
Yeah. Nothing like undercutting the troops in the field and their commanders. But when your sole interest in the military has been participating in "anti-war" demonstrations, this is what happens.
It's hard to see, however, how Mr. Obama can refute the analysis he offered last March. "If the Afghan government falls to the Taliban or allows al-Qaeda to go unchallenged," he said then, "that country will again be a base for terrorists who want to kill as many of our people as they possibly can."
The Dems called Afghanistan "the good war" merely as a means of condemning George Bush on Iraq. Now the chickens are coming home, in fuel-efficient trucks, to roost.
"To succeed, we and our friends and allies must reverse the Taliban's gains, and promote a more capable and accountable Afghan government," Mr. Obama concluded. As Gen. McChrystal's report makes very clear, keeping faith with that goal will require more troops, more resources and years of patience. Yet to break with it would both dishonor and endanger this country. As the president put it, "the world cannot afford the price that will come due if Afghanistan slides back into chaos."
The ball is in Mr. Obama's court, and he can't play it by making another speech. It's time to decide, Mr. President. That is what governing is all about. You remember governing, don't you?
Great work by the Post.
September 22, 2009 Permalink
THE TERROR PROBE - AT 7:14 P.M. ET: More on the ongoing terror probe in the United States, which is receiving far too little attention, and the plotters' weapon of choice. From The New York Times:
WASHINGTON (AP) -- A quart-sized container of homemade explosives is cheap, deadly and difficult to detect -- and that is exactly why the type of chemical bomb feared to be at the heart of an ongoing terror investigation worries law enforcement so much.
As FBI and New York police counterterrorism agents investigate a Denver man who authorities say received al-Qaida explosives training and recently traveled to New York, law enforcement officials around the nation have been advised to be on the lookout for any signs of bombs built with hydrogen peroxide.
That type of weapon killed 52 people in the London transit system four years ago. During the morning rush hour of July 7, 2005, three men carried backpacks that exploded within 50 seconds of each other on three London Underground trains. A fourth bomb exploded on a bus nearly an hour later.
The same chemical components were allegedly at the heart of a failed plot to blow up commercial passenger jets leaving England for America. That plot was based, according to court evidence, on amounts of chemicals small enough to fit into soda or water bottles.
COMMENT: Remember that we have to be lucky every day. The terrorists have to be lucky only once.
We will continue to follow this.
September 22, 2009 Permalink
AL QAEDA PREDICTS - AT 7:10 P.M. ET: There is now a manhunt underway in the United States for a group of Al Qaeda-trained operatives. Law enforcement is urging caution on mass trainsit systems, stadiums, hotels, and entertainment centers.
At the same time, Al Qaeda is taking propaganda aim at President Obama, whose rhetoric apparently has not moved the terror group to surrender and turn its attention to climate problems. From AP:
CAIRO – Al-Qaida on Tuesday released a new 106-minute long video predicting President Barack Obama's downfall at the hands of the Muslim world.
The Arabic-language video, entitled "The West and the Dark Tunnel," is part of series of messages by the organization marking the eighth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. Bin Laden released a short message of his own on Sept. 14.
Like similar long messages on previous anniversaries, it featured testimony from several leading al-Qaida figures intercut with news footage from the past year.
As in the past, al-Qaida attempted to conflate Obama with his predecessor, George W. Bush, who was widely disliked by Muslims for his invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq.
COMMENT: Another demonstration, as if any were needed, that groups like Al Qaeda don't care who's in the White House, are not influenced by American "policies," but are at war with us permanently.
Does the administration understand that, or does it think that still more international "conferences" will zip up all our problems. So far, the only zip I see is the score for Obama's foreign policy. I'd take Al Qaeda statements seriously.
September 22, 2009
THE LEAK AS AN ART FORM - AT 7:35 A.M. ET: We said yesterday that the leak of General Stanley McChrystal's Afghan troop-request report was a major story, that the leak might signal a revolt by...someone. Today the Politico takes us on the hunt, in Washington's latest who-and-why-dunnit:
...inside the White House and out, the leak touched off another familiar Washington ritual: speculation about the leaker’s identity and motives.
This is a capital parlor game that, for the Obama administration, has some dire implications. Unless the West Wing somehow orchestrated an elaborate head fake — authorizing what looks at first blush like an intolerable breach of Obama’s internal deliberations — the Woodward story suggests deeper problems for a new president than a bad news cycle.
The key question:
So who did it?
The simplest theory — and one most administration officials Monday were endorsing — is that a military or civilian Pentagon official who supports McChrystal’s policy put it out in an attempt to pressure Obama to follow McChrystal’s suggestion and increase troop levels in Afghanistan.
There are believers in the reverse leak, in which the leak itself is meant to damage McChrystal’s position by inducing White House anger at the general. There’s the fake leak, in which the White House may have been trying to back itself into a corner. A former government official with ties to the Pentagon said the talk in the building was that a senior military official had given it to the reporter for his book on the Obama White House — not realizing it could end up in print sooner.
“That places the ball clearly in the president’s court,” former Clinton Defense Secretary William Cohen said, noting that Obama had already publicly placed his trust in McChrystal’s judgment.
COMMENT: Who leaked? Only Woodward knows for sure. But you can be certain he'll milk the mystery for all it's worth to boost his upcoming book on the Obama administration.
Deep throat, though, it ain't.
September 22, 2009 Permalink
THE CRUNCH COMETH - AT 7:22 A.M. ET: In a way, this is foreign-policy week. The president is at the UN, talks with Iran - if you want to call them talks - are imminent, our Afghanistan effort is reaching critical mass, and Mr. Obama will try to bring Israelis and Arabs together for at least a photo op.
A crunch is upon us. What we see is the administration's domestic track, already twisted and broken, intersecting with the foreign track, where Mr. Obama cannot count a single success in his eight months in office. The president's poll numbers have declined largely on the basis of domestic confusion and failure. If he starts flopping heavily in the coming weeks of foreign initiatives and decisions, his troubles will only multiply, and his presidency will be in substantial jeopardy.
It is true that a president's first year can be rocky - witness Kennedy and Clinton - but Obama faces special hazards, for his presidency is based largely on rhetoric, not accomplishment or skill at governing. He has little to fall back on, no "second career" so to speak. And he faces a determined opposition in the 2010 midterms, where his side will likely lose votes in Congress. He desperately needs a clean victory, but there doesn't seem to be any playing field where that can be assured.
Bret Stephens, of the Wall Street Journal, looks at Obama's foreign policy, and finds it appalling. Will this be the conventional wisdom two months from now?
Beggar thy neighbor, bankrupt thy country, appease thy foe. As slogans (or counter-slogans) go, it isn't quite in a class with Amnesty, Acid and Abortion. But it pretty much sums up President Obama's global agenda—and that's just for the month of September.
In 1943, Walter Lippmann observed that the disarmament movement had been "tragically successful in disarming the nations that believed in disarmament." That ought to have been the final word on the subject.
Mr. Stephens will not soon be invited to lunch at the White House.
He notes that President Obama will be discussing disarmament at the UN this week, and that the administration wants to play the right "mood music," to get Iran and North Korea in the right frame of mind. Stephens notes:
Mr. Obama would be better served having a chat with Moammar Gadhafi, who will be seated just a few chairs away at the Security Council: The mood music for his disarmament was set by the 4th Infantry Division when it yanked Saddam Hussein from his spider hole in December 2003. Col. Gadhafi gave up his WMD a week later.
I wonder how many "journalists" will remind us of that. Don't start counting.
Meanwhile, Mr. Obama is earning kudos from the Russian government for his decision to pull missile defense from central Europe, even as Poland marked the 70th anniversary of its invasion by the Soviet Union. Moscow is still offering no concessions on sanctioning Iran in the event negotiations fail, but might graciously agree to an arms-control deal that cements its four-to-one advantages in tactical nuclear weapons...
...And all of this in a single month. Just imagine what October will bring.
A year ago Barack Obama was a minor Chicago politician with a silver voice. Today he's...well, there's nothing wrong with a silver voice.
It's time to grow in office. And, of course, we wish Mr. Obama well as he confronts the "international community" at the UN this week.
September 22, 2009 Permalink
A FUNNY THING HAPPENED ON THE WAY TO SANCTIONS FOR IRAN - AT 7:09 A.M. ET: Barack Obama, who comes off as a minor league player in the major leagues, has been hawking his Iran policy, saying that if Iran doesn't come through by...well, who cares about dates...there will be consequences! Big consequences! Like...well...like, sanctions. Yeah, that's it. Sanctions.
And Hillary, the secretary of state who has a desk and a car, and little else, talks even tougher. Tough sanctions! Real tough! There's talk of cutting off Iran's gasoline supply. But now the French foreign minister, who was supposed to be on our side on this, is making it clear that he has doubts. If he has doubts, imagine the stand the Russians and Chinese will take. From The New York Times:
UNITED NATIONS — Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner of France said Monday that he had deep misgivings about blocking shipments of refined fuel to Iran, one of the sanctions being weighed by the Obama administration if the Iranian government does not negotiate on its nuclear program.
“I think this is a bit dangerous,” Mr. Kouchner said in an interview here, where he is attending the United Nations General Assembly. A blockade would harm the Iranian people, he said, “and mainly poor people.”
“This is a choice; we have to study it also,” he said. “But it is not my personal favorite at all.”
The fact that an allied foreign minister could make such a statement shows how little influence Obama really has. No one takes him seriously. Oh yeah, he's a "rock star," as they say. But rock stars are entertainers, not statesmen.
Diplomats hated Bush. He didn't tell them what they wanted to hear. I suspect, privately, they laugh at Obama.
French officials cautioned later that the government had not decided its position on such a measure. It was not clear whether President Nicolas Sarkozy of France shared Mr. Kouchner’s reservations. But if France is to come out against fuel sanctions, analysts said, they will most likely be off the table as an option for increasing the pressure on Iran.
Whatever is left of our Iran policy may depend on France. National decline we're supposed to believe in.
September 22, 2009 Permalink
WELCOME - AT 6:58 A.M. ET: We're happy to welcome an important new website, Planet Iran, guided by our friend, Banafsheh Zand-Bonazzi. It's here. The site will be the authoritative place to go for news about Iran, and especially its democracy movement.
One of Planet Iran's first offerings is a brilliant essay by Claudia Rosett, one of the best UN reporters around. Unlike the drab observers of the so-polite mainstream media, Rosett pulls no punches. Consider her description of the UN itself, from the essay run by Planet Iran:
In practice, the United Nations is a messy, murky despot-infested collective - opaque, girdled in diplomatic immunities, and thus largely unaccountable for its actions. The biggest voting bloc in the General Assembly is the 130-member G-77, which this year picked for its chair - I'm not kidding - the genocidal government of Sudan (whose President Omar al-Bashir is under indictment by the International Criminal Court).
Rosett writes of the fact that President Obama, in an act that demeans the presidency, comes direct from from an appearance on David Letterman this week to chair the UN Security Council on Thursday. Rosett:
The five permanent members are democratic France, Britain, and the United States, plus despotic Russia and China. The current roster of 10 rotating members includes not only Japan and Austria, but Vietnam and Libya. This month it is America's turn to preside; Obama will sit in the same chair occupied in March by an envoy of Moammar Gadhafi's Libya. With heads of state summoned for Thursday's historic occasion, it's likely history will record the spectacle of terror-drenched tyrant-for-life Gadhafi sharing the table.
In this setup, the most law-abiding of the 192 member states tend to get stuck with the results of whatever the Security Council agrees to. The most unscrupulous, which account to no electorates back home, feel free to lie as they please and do whatever they can get away with, which is plenty, because the United Nations leaves individual member states to police their own compliance with U.N. deals. From the oil-for-food scandal to the current sanctions-busting traffic with the likes of Iran and North Korea, it is common practice for some Security Council members to violate, with impunity, the same deals they vote for.
COMMENT: Applause for Planet Iran for bringing us that column. Applause for Claudia for writing it.
No applause for President Obama for honoring the UN, and giving respectability to thugs.
September 22, 2009 Permalink
RENEE! - AT 6:35 A.M. ET: Most of your will remember the wonderful Renee Nielsen, who sent us those vivid, exclusive reports from Mumbai during the terrorist attacks there last year.
Renee is now in Riga, Latvia, and we've urged her to continue sending her observations from abroad. Here is her first. I know you'll like it:
Just Words – The Experiences of a Frustrated Republican Abroad
For the past seven years I've lived outside the US. Thanks to my husband's company, we've been able to achieve our goal to see the world. Since 2002, we have called Denmark, Panama, India and now Latvia, home. All these countries have fascinating histories, and the experiences we’ve had exploring them has been a privilege.
This has been made even more so by the addition of our two young sons and the joy of watching them so easily adapt to their new homes. However, trying to set up your life in an unfamiliar culture does come with some down side. One difficulty I didn’t expect is to suffer, with such frequency, negative opinions from both locals and other expatriates regarding the United States. It is not (always) hostile, a lot just innocent interest on what I think about a particular topic. Many times I’ve found that I’ve been the only American they’ve ever met and--up until this past election--a (gasp) Bush supporting Republican. !Dios mio! How can it be?
I have become somewhat obsessed with reading and studying US history and current events, to make sure I was ready to respond intelligently on the more common misconceptions.
Over the years silly things were easy to dismiss or clarify - "Bush stole the election" - and even not so silly - "the Iraq war was for oil." But the frequency of “typical” critiques on American foreign policy, on which so many foreigners seem to be "experts," has changed and moved into a new direction since Barack Obama has been on the national scene. I’m talking about race.
When Barack Obama won the Democrat nomination for President, we had been living in Mumbai, India, for only a few months. I was the new Republicans Abroad chair, and was struggling to find like-minded people. The Indian news media was also desperately trying to find someone to represent the GOP to interview against the Democrats Abroad representative.
I noticed quickly that the anchors doing the interviews were using the same talking points used by the New York Times and the Washington Post. I was asked if voters would have problems with the cost of Sarah Palin’s wardrobe; I was also asked if she was doing damage to John McCain, especially after her interview with Katie Couric. These things were easy to deflect, if I was only given more than 10 seconds to respond. In September, the racial overtones started, with the polls narrowing between the candidates, and,unfortunately, the Indian media played along, regurgitating the worst in the American media.
One evening just before the election, I watched a segment on NewsX
(broadcast nationally from Delhi) with a panel discussing how, stated as a fact, Barack Obama could never win in the South because of
all the racists who lived there. The anchor just nodded, accepting that
outrageous statement, and the conversation moved on. I, on the other hand, was furiously texting the producer, demanding to get on the air the next day to respond.
He agreed, and that same anchor asked me, “Are Americans racist for not voting for Obama? “ I replied, "How could Republicans voting for the Republican candidate be considered racist?" I also said that the foreign media misrepresents many Americans as racist for not voting for Obama, when in fact they're just voting their personal principles.
It was too much. This coming from a country that at that time, was having problems with Hindus burning churches and raping nuns, the continuous problems of discrimination against the “untouchables” (a.k.a. Dalits), and Muslim complaints about being denied housing due to their religion.
My point was not to criticize India, as I was a guest in that country and it would have been inappropriate to comment publicly on something so volatile as these issues, but I was stunned at the hypocrisy of the twisted, morally superior attitudes toward OUR country, which has done more than many to right our past mistakes.
I "hoped" the foolishness of being called racist would "change" with the Obama victory. How naïve.
Now in Latvia, and unable to watch or read local news, as none is available in English, I’m forced to tune into CNN International and BBC World. You’ll be happy to know that both have picked up on the accusations of supposed racism by the tea-party and 9/12 protesters, and elevated by our favorite ex-president, Jimmy Carter. These lies will be broadcast worldwide into the homes of expats and locals looking for news in English, helping to feed the generally negative opinions of Republicans and conservatives, and, honestly, Americans, worldwide.
"Audacity" is Barack Obama and Democrats complaining about America’s “tarnished” image abroad, when they themselves do so much to destroy it. We do not live in a bubble. Reckless political rhetoric within the US gets picked up (and cherry picked) by the foreign media, which has its own agenda, and then repeated.
Time will tell if these refreshed racial accusations will move into casual conversations with foreign friends and curious strangers. I’ll continue to defend our country and explain how wrong so many of their perceptions are. Thanks to Democrats and their inability to understand the damage they do with their words, it’ll probably be a never-ending process. On a positive note, some of my friends are now questioning what they read, so I’ll consider that “Mission Accomplished," at least for a few.
A clear-eyed view, not filtered through the politically correct media. We look forward to Renee's next report.
September 22, 2009 Permalink
MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 21, 2009
ANOTHER BAD SIGNAL TO SEND - AT 9:26 P.M. ET: As the president gets ready to go the UN and reach out and touch someone, there is news of still one more change in our national defense that could prove worrisome. This is from the Guardian of Britain, a leftist paper, but the story seems credible:
Barack Obama has demanded the Pentagon conduct a radical review of US nuclear weapons doctrine to prepare the way for deep cuts in the country's arsenal, the Guardian can reveal.
Obama has rejected the Pentagon's first draft of the "nuclear posture review" as being too timid, and has called for a range of more far-reaching options consistent with his goal of eventually abolishing nuclear weapons altogether, according to European officials.
Those options include:
• Reconfiguring the US nuclear force to allow for an arsenal measured in hundreds rather than thousands of deployed strategic warheads.
• Redrafting nuclear doctrine to narrow the range of conditions under which the US would use nuclear weapons.
• Exploring ways of guaranteeing the future reliability of nuclear weapons without testing or producing a new generation of warheads.
All these points are cause for concern, but the third is particularly troubling. We are the only nuclear power that has not modernized its arsenal. Our nuclear warheads are from a past generation.
The US nuclear posture review is aimed at clearing the path for a new round of deep US-Russian cuts to follow almost immediately after that treaty is ratified, to set lower limits not just on deployed missiles but also on the thousands of warheads both have in their stockpiles.
The Obama strategy is to create disarmament momentum in the run-up to the non-proliferation treaty review conference next May, in the hope that states without nuclear weapons will not side with Iran, as they did at the last review in 2005, but endorse stronger legal barriers to nuclear proliferation, and forego nuclear weapons programmes themselves.
COMMENT: Look, every sane person worries about nuclear weapons. Ronald Reagan was deeply concerned about the possibility of an accidental nuclear war. But the idea of abolishing all weapons by treaty is absurd. As long as the knowledge to build weapons exists, someone can cheat. Are you really willing to trust the Russians to go down to zero? The Chinese? The Pakistanis? The Iranians?
We can probably reduce the number of warheads safely, as long as we maintain a modern, strategic deterrent and strategic force. But the president, while playing to the disarmament crowd, might want to play a bit to the national defense community and approve what our military experts have been urging for years - the building of a new, reliable generation of warheads to insure our security. So far he hasn't, and that endangers America and tempts enemies.
Nonsense like "exploring ways of guaranteeing the future reliability of nuclear weapons without testing or producing a new generation of warheads" begs the point. That has probably been done, without success. Why not do what every other nuclear power has done, and modernize our arsenal?
Once again we get the leftist approach to national defense, and I won't sleep easier tonight knowing that.
September 21, 2009 Permalink
DELICIOUS - AT 8:05 P.M. ET: We mention Jimmah Carter here a great deal, but only because we have to. The man is a genuine threat to civilization, although he does well by peanuts.
Here is a message we recently received from an excellent source who, for reasons you will understand, wishes to remain anonymous. Let's just say he had intimate familiarity with the Carter White House. Enjoy:
Sometime during 1980 I was in NYC staying at the Sheraton Center. Carter was making an appearance of some sort there, but I don't remember the occasion.
One of the mess stewards told me that Carter and Rosalynn were having lunch when Chip (the son) showed up with his kids. The kids were totally ignored and left out in a separate room. The stewards pooled some cash and went to a deli for sandwiches for the children as Carter refused to let them in to join them for dinner.
On a visit to London in 1978 or 79 the staff emptied out all the alcohol from the ambassador's residence where the president always stays. Carter sent the military aide back to Air Force One to get a bottle of whisky, but didn't want anyone to know about it. He was a drinker, but tried to hide it. Everyone knew he drank, but it didn't fit the Sunday school teacher persona.
His senior staff set the bar for being jerks. Some of the traveling staff were good people, but they were in the minority. Luckily I was only there for just over a year under the Carter administration.
COMMENT: There's more where this comes from. I guarantee it.
September 21, 2009 Permalink
AN ADMISSION - AT 7:24 P.M. ET: It isn't often that the mainstream liberal press admits a mistake, so we acknowledge an excellent critique by Washington Post ombudsman (or is it ombudsperson, or ombudshuman), as reported by NewsMax:
Washington Post Ombudsman Andrew Alexander acknowledges that his newspaper doesn’t give enough credit to conservative media.
“Fox News, joined by right-leaning talk radio and bloggers, often hypes stories to apocalyptic proportions while casting competitors as too liberal or too lazy to report the truth,” he wrote in the paper Sunday.
“But they're also occasionally pumping legitimate stories. I thought that was the case with ACORN and, before it, the Fox-fueled controversy that led to the resignation of White House environmental adviser Van Jones.”
Alexander points out that “Jones had issued two public apologies before The Post finally wrote about him. … Conservatives had attacked Jones for more than a week before the first Post story appeared Sept. 5. He resigned the next day.”
The Post also was slow on the ACRON scandal, Alexander admits. “The Post wrote about it two days after the first of several explosive hidden-camera videos were aired showing the group's employees giving tax advice to young conservative activists posing as a prostitute and her pimp.
“Three days passed before The Post ran a short Associated Press story about the Senate halting Housing and Urban Development grants to ACORN. … But by that time, the Census Bureau had severed ties with ACORN. State and city investigations had been launched. It wasn't until late in the week that The Post weighed in with two solid pieces.”
COMMENT: The Post has been, in recent years, one of the more thoughtful liberal papers, and its editorial page is fiercely independent. Unlike The New York Times, which follows the liberal line wherever it leads, the Post will sometimes differ. More power to the editors.
Will critiques like this improve things? At the Post, a guarded maybe. Elsewhere? I don't think so. The ideological problems in journalism may well be generational, requiring a new generation of writers who are not stuck in the culture wars of the 1960s. Success is not guaranteed.
September 21, 2009 Permalink
QUOTE OF THE DAY - AT 5:18 A.M. ET: From British columnist Michele Hanson, on why Vera Lynn, singing sweetheart of the British forces in World War II, is topping the charts again at age 92:
“Lovely tunes have been out of favor for some time,” the columnist Michele Hanson wrote in The Guardian. “It’s been all screeching, thumping, rapping, crashing rage and multi-decibels, but not much melody and modulation, so perhaps we need a bit of a change.”
COMMENT: I've been writing about the decline of popular culture at our Angel's Corner. Michele Hanson is right. It's time for a change - back to quality.
The exciting prospect here is that kids will hear those wonderful, beautifully written songs, with real melodies and well-crafted lyrics, and love them. If their minds haven't been toasted already, they will. And maybe enough of them will demand more of the same.
September 21, 2009 Permalink
ANOTHER MISUNDERSTOOD CLERIC, NO DOUBT - AT 5:14 P.M. ET: From AP:
A New York City imam accused of lying to officials investigating a terrorism plot has been ordered held without bail.
Ahmad Afzali smiled and waved at relatives as deputy marshals led him out of federal court Monday in Brooklyn.
They always smile and wave. It's their way of saying, "We didn't get you this time, but wait."
His attorney, Ron Kuby, says he’ll seek bail for the 37-year-old Afzali on Thursday.
Oh, sigh. I thought Ron had outgrown this kind of thing. He is a former law partner of the late Marxist lawyer William Kuntsler. (Amazing how the reds are drawn to Islamic fundamentalists.) He recently has done TV, and a lot of radio for the local ABC station. Apparently, with no air work, he's back on the radical-lawyer beat.
Afzali is an imam at a mosque in Queens. He was arrested Saturday in New York and charged with making false statements to the government.
The former NYPD informant was accused of lying to authorities about tipping off Najibullah Zazi about a terrorism investigation. Permalink
Sounds like a heck of a guy. I'd want him in my neighborhood. Wouldn't you?
COMMENT: This is turning into an extensive investigation, focused in New York and Colorado. Police have reportedly found backpacks and chemicals, consistent with a "Madrid-type" terror plot.
We await - and it surely will come - some liberal pundit's explanation of the "root cause" of this plot - resentment toward America, the Bill of Rights, Ben Franklin and Don Rickles.
September 21, 2009 Permalink
THE REAL ANGER - AT 9:50 A.M. ET: Frank Luntz, whom you've seen with his focus groups on Fox News, strikes back against those who say the anger with Obama is based on racism, a charge made by marginal former President Jimmy Carter. From the New York Daily News:
Obama's popularity hasn't tumbled because he's black. It's tumbled because he has come to represent Washington instead of those who sent him there...
...The real reason why 72% of the people I interviewed say that they're "mad as hell and they're not going to take it anymore" has nothing to do with racism. No, their rage is about a lack of accountability, a lack of respect, and a lack of progress in the nation's capital.
It's not racial hatred you're hearing. It's political and economic outrage.
There's a reason why, according to the book survey, only 33% of Americans think their kids will have a better quality of life than they have. The country is demanding economic progress, yet all it sees is political paralysis and a government mired in sloth, avarice and bureaucratic meddling.
But Carter did unintentionally raise a point that deserves a full and candid discussion. When will it be possible in America to criticize Barack Obama and not be accused of racism? We cannot pat ourselves on the back for electing an African-American leader so enthusiastically and then simultaneously vilify his detractors by blaming their opposition to his policies on racial bias.
Our political leaders in Washington are still that - leaders. Ever more in the era of TMZ and Twitter, we the people seek in our elected representatives role models of conduct and of rhetoric. But more than that, we should jealously protect our American right to disagree, to criticize, and even to condemn.
At least for me, that's what democracy is all about. President Carter says he hears too many white southerners condemning Obama because of his race. Maybe he should get his hearing checked.
COMMENT: Luntz makes good sense. Look, there is some racism out there. But there's also sectionalism, sexism, and all the other isms that you find wrapped up neatly in the standard college orientation lecture. However, what we've seen in recent months isn't racism. It's outrage, as Luntz says. There's a feeling that the change we're getting isn't the change we wanted, and that Obama deceived us by running as a centrist, when in fact he governs from the left.
The only one who can quell the outrage is Barack Obama. So far, he seems willing to live with it in order to push his outsized agenda. He may turn out to be a one-term president, although I doubt if he thinks that's possible.
September 21, 2009 Permalink
ANOTHER OBAMA INTERNATIONAL VICTORY, NOT - AT 8:54 A.M. ET: Oh dear, oh dear, the impossible Ruskies are not following the script.
When President Obama cancelled the missile shield President Bush had promised to Poland and the Czech Republic, it was expected that there would be a "gesture" from Russia, showing appreciation, as Russia had vehemently opposed the shield.
And there was. A Russian official grandly announced that it would not deploy Iskander offensive missiles near Poland, which it had threatened to do, because of the American decision.
Not so fast, Ivan.
Now Russia's highest ranking military officer is hedging. Who's afraid of the big bad Obama? From the Jerusalem Post:
Russia's top general said Monday that plans to deploy missiles in an enclave next to Poland have not been shelved, contradicting a comment made by a government official last week after the United States's announcement that it was scrapping a plan to place missile defense systems in Poland and the Czech Republic.
US President Barack Obama's decision to scrap a land-based missile defense system was received positively by Russia, which is sensitive to US moves it sees as upsetting the post-Cold War balance of power, especially in countries formerly belonging to the Soviet bloc. Moscow even threatened to place Iskander short-range offensive missiles in Poland if the US would have proceeded with its plan.
On Saturday, Russian Deputy Defense Minister Vladimir Popovkin said in an interview that "naturally we will scrap the measures that Russia planned to take" in response to the US shield, specifically mentioning the deployment of Iskanders as one of the measures Russia was planning.
The chief of Russia's general staff, Nikolai Makarov, has other ideas:
"They (the Americans) have not given up the anti-missile shield; they have replaced it with a sea-based component," Makarov told reporters on a plane from Moscow to Zurich.
COMMENT: Obama certainly gets results, doesn't he? What is remarkable is the offhand manner in which the United States has been treated since he took office. It is critical for the leader of a great power to be both respected and feared. We get the feeling that Obama doesn't make it in either category. Look at the casual manner with which Russia regards a decision in which the United States has more than a passing interest.
Obama has not produced progress in foreign policy. There may be cheers around the world for his style, but nations will not change their objectives simply because their teenagers wear Obama t-shirts.
The president does the UN this week. Excited?
September 21, 2009 Permalink
A REVOLT BREWING? - AT 8:28 A.M. ET: There have been a number of revolts by military officers in American history - but never, never a coup.
Officers have sometimes revolted against their own service, as Billy Mitchell did in the 1920s, resulting in his court-martial. But more often the revolt is against decisions made at the civilian level. There was the "revolt of the admirals" in the late 1940s, directed at Pentagon officials who wanted to emasculate the Navy and, especially, its carrier forces. And, of course, there was the famous, or infamous, revolt by Douglas MacArthur during the Korean War, in which he became insubordinate, and was shown the barracks door by President Harry S. Truman. The public initially cheered Mac, but eventually sided with Harry.
Now there's this - the strategic leak of a memo, described in this morning's Washington Post by reporter-deity Bob Woodward:
The top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan warns in an urgent, confidential assessment of the war that he needs more forces within the next year and bluntly states that without them, the eight-year conflict "will likely result in failure," according to a copy of the 66-page document obtained by The Washington Post.
"Obtained"? That's a mild word for a major leak. This comes one day after Chief Strategic Thinker Barack Obama announced that he had doubts that more troops would do the job in Afghanistan. This is the military reply, reported by Washington's most famous investigative journalist. Oh, this is juicy.
Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal says emphatically: "Failure to gain the initiative and reverse insurgent momentum in the near-term (next 12 months) -- while Afghan security capacity matures -- risks an outcome where defeating the insurgency is no longer possible."
His assessment was sent to Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates on Aug. 30 and is now being reviewed by President Obama and his national security team.
McChrystal concludes the document's five-page Commander's Summary on a note of muted optimism: "While the situation is serious, success is still achievable."
COMMENT: You may be absolutely sure that White House bigs are livid over this. They may well start to turn the Pentagon upside down trying to find out who leaked the document. I wouldn't be shocked if it were someone at or near the top, and that it's a challenge to Obama himself, to his indecisive leadership.
This story is developing. Read all of Woodward's report.
The president goes to the UN this week. This report will be read there. The eyes are on Obama, and what appears to be a budding confrontation with Gen. McChrystal.
September 21, 2009 Permalink
OBAMA'S STRANGE POLITICAL STEW - AT 8:22 A.M. ET: The White House has intervened in elections in two states. It is probably a coincidence, but both have African-American governors.
In Massachusetts, the president has spoken with his friend, Gov. Deval Patrick, about changing the law so Patrick can appoint an interim senator to replace Ted Kennedy, assuring Obama of a needed Senate vote on the health-care issue.
And here in New York, Obama's emissaries have not-very-gently suggested to Gov. David Paterson, an African-American, that he not run for a full term, citing his profound unpopularity. Paterson succeeded resigned Gov. Eliot Spitzer, who got outed while honoring, with substantial dollars, the world's oldest profession. Paterson can do nothing right.
Now Paterson is showing his defiance.
Gov. David A. Paterson insisted on Sunday that he would continue his campaign for governor, despite urgings from the White House that he step aside for the good of the Democratic Party.
At a parade in Harlem, the governor refused to discuss his conversations with President Obama’s political team, which has made clear to Mr. Paterson in recent days that it has lost confidence in him and does not believe he can be elected next fall.
Paterson is taking a cue from foreign leaders, who realize that Obama is all hat and no cattle. Defy him, and he sends you a birthday card. Oh, Paterson's birthday is May 20th, so there's time.
If Paterson defies Obama, without consequence, it will just reinforce Obama's reputation for weakness.
What's odd is that one state where Obama has refused to intervene is his own home state of Illinois - well, his home state after Kansas, Hawaii, Indonesia, and maybe some other places. When it came time to fill the Senate seat he vacated when he became president, Obama said nothing, allowing the seat to go the renowned Roland Burris, who has not yet been labeled Roland the Great. I guess Obama knew he'd be ignored. It's an axiom in Illinois politics that presidents don't count. County clerks count.
We wait for Obama's next foray into state electoral matters. Maybe he could drop a hint to Barbara Boxer that she could have an exciting future as a school crossing guard. Wonderful benefits. The kids bring cookies.
September 21, 2009 Permalink