Thursday, April 30, 2009


I see that Daniel Henninger of the WSJ (or at least his staff) visits the same websites I do. The title of his column today : "100 Days: 'Harry, I Have a Gift'"
Compare to my previous post.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Gift

From a post on the Weekly Standard blog (Rachel Abrams).
Harry Reid said this about a speech he heard Obama give in 2006.
“‘That speech was phenomenal, Barack,’ I told him. And I will never forget his response. Without the barest hint of braggadocio or conceit, and with what I would describe as deep humility, he said quietly: ‘I have a gift, Harry.’”

True, this is Harry Reid, whom Jonah Goldberg has accurately described as being "not the brightest crayon in the box". Still it's indicative of the irrational power Obama has over his admirers that an expression of arrogance can be construed as modesty. I just don't get the cult of charisma and personality. Why are so many people enthralled by such inanities as, "I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick." And "This was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal." And "We're the ones we've been waiting for."
I've been waiting for a lot of things in life. Myself isn't one of them. I've been here as long as I can remember.
Mark Steyn once reprinted a parody of a typical Obama speech, sent to him by a reader, "My friends, we live in the greatest nation in the history of the world. I hope you'll join with me as we try to change it." Steyn relates what followed.

I thought this was so cute, I posted it on the Web at National Review. Whereupon one of those Internetty-type things happened, and three links and a Google search later the line was being attributed not to my correspondent but to Sen. Obama, and a few weeks after that I started getting e-mails from reporters from Florida to Oregon, asking if I could recall at which campaign stop the senator, in fact, uttered these words. And I'd patiently write back and explain that they're John Gross' words, and that not even Barack would be dumb enough to say such a thing in public. Yet last week his demand in his victory speech that we "come together to remake this great nation" came awful close.

Just as George Bush's clumsiness with language made him seem less intelligent than he really was, Obama's stage skills exaggerate his intelligence. Add to that his amicable, relaxed demeanor and his seeming reasonableness and the result is his "gift". Obama is obviously not a psychopathic murderer like Jim Jones but he does have the same mesmerizing effect on susceptible followers. Not all Obama supporters have been hypnotized. There are many who believe in the idea of government as a godlike overseer, protector, and provider for the people. They know what Obama's up to and approve of it. But there are enough Kool-Aid drinkers to give Obama more power than he would normally have. Some of them now profess to be shocked, shocked! over how much he seems to want to spend. Apparently, they weren't aware that Obama had the most liberal voting record in the Senate. More liberal than the self-proclaimed socialist, Bernie Sanders. That he's been able to disguise his radicalism with a veneer of moderation is scary. It shows that Obama has the potential to substitute our country's historical propensity for the vitality of freedom with the anodyne of dependence and "equality". I really don't think that this is what the majority of Americans want.
Obama's personal approval numbers are higher than those of his policies. As his ideology becomes clearer, that may change. An editorial in the Washington Times points out that Obama's Gallup Poll approval stands at 56% which, since 1968, is the second lowest of any President in his first 100 days. Only Bill Clinton's at 55% was lower and he had the twin drags of the don't ask, don't tell, gays in the military issue and the Waco raid debacle. Nixon, Carter, Reagan, and the two Bushes were all higher. True 56% isn't bad and it's at the low end of his current pollster range. Still, if you follow the MSM line, Obama is the greatest, most admired President in history. The numbers tell a different story.
An AP headline the other day declared that Obama's legacy will be defined by the economy. Or not. Nobody has any idea what will happen next week much less the next four (or ugh, eight) years. Whoda thunk even ten days ago that two issues in the news today would be the possibility of a swine flu epidemic and a moronic White House decision to send a 747 flying 9/11 style over lower Manhattan. [All those Congressmen so outraged over the auto executives who had the temerity to use corporate jets to fly into Washington last month and plead for taxpayer handouts should now take similar umbrage at the Obama administration spending nearly $400,000 for a photo op and scaring the daylights out of New Yorkers]. Obama could be at risk for his (mis)handling of the swine flu situation. Hugh Hewitt pointed out that Obama made a (non) decision to leave the Mexican border open and allow tens of thousands of Mexicans to legally enter the U.S. If the flu turns out to be more than just a minor event, Hewitt thinks it can become Obama's Katrina.
There are countless pitfalls and dangers out in the real world just waiting to sidetrack Obama's fantasy of a prosperous, socialist America in gear with a smooth running, perpetually negotiating, peaceful global machine. He will be tested. And with the fact that, as George Will has said, Obama has never run as much as a Dairy Queen, his executive skills may not be up to it. His gift may not be one that keeps on giving.

One quick comment about Arlen Specter's party switch. The conventional wisdom (with Bill Kristol dissenting) is that this is really bad for Republicans. A reassuring thought is the old sports saying, "You're never as good as you look when you're winning and you're never as bad as you look when you're losing". (The 1962 Mets were an exception to this rule).

Monday, April 27, 2009

Lifesaving Interrogations, Cont'd.

Just a few more columns to cite about those interrogation memos.

One is written by William McSwain, executive editor of the Church Report which analyzed interrogation methods for the government in 2005. As others have done, McSwain puts those methods into the context of the threat the country faced.
He also has this to say about their severity.

The aggressive techniques in the CIA memos are also undeniably safe, having been adopted from Survival, Evasion, Resistance, Escape (SERE) training used with our own troops.

I have personally been waterboarded, put into stress positions, sleep deprived, slapped in the face. While none of this was enjoyable, I am none the worse for wear.

While such techniques are used in U.S. military training, some apparently consider them too brutal, too abusive, too inhumane -- in short, too much like "torture" -- to be used on fanatics like KSM who are bent on the mass murder of innocent American civilians. And if legal advisers such as Steven G. Bradbury, Jay S. Bybee and John Yoo are to be prosecuted for having sanctioned their use under careful controls, who's next? Every commander who ever implemented a SERE course?

There are those now wringing their hands over the "mistreatment" of Khalid Sheik Mohammed, who in his own words "...was responsible for the 9/11 operation from A to Z," and who beheaded WSJ reporter Daniel Pearl. Here's some wit and wisdom from KSM, courtesy of NRO's Deroy Murdock.

Your intelligence apparatus, with all its abilities, human and logistical, had failed to discover our military attack plans before the blessed 11 September operation. They were unable to foil our attack . . .

Our prophet was victorious because of fear. At a month distant, the enemy did not hear from him. So, our religion is a religion of fear and terror to the enemies of God: the Jews, Christians, and pagans. With God’s wiling [sic], we are terrorists to the bone. So, many thanks to God.

The Arab poet, Abu-Ubaydah Al-Hadrami, has stated: “We will terrorize you, as long as we live with swords, fire, and airplanes.” . . .

We will make all of our materials available, to defend and deter, and egress you and the filthy Jews from our countries. . . .

We ask to be near to God, we fight you and destroy you and terrorize you. The Jihad in god’s cause is a great duty in our religion…Your end is very near and your fall will be just as the fall of the towers on the blessed 9/11 day. . . .

So we ask from God to accept our contributions to the great attack, the great attack on America, and to place our nineteen martyred brethren among the highest peaks in paradise.

By all means, grant this likable fellow the Constitutional rights that American citizens enjoy. Ignore his unlawful combatant status and afford him Geneva Convention protections too.

A very detailed post appears on the NRO blog site explaining just some of the lifesaving intelligence mined from the enhanced interrogation program.

Finally, there's Victor Davis Hanson's excellent piece on NRO. He warns of the potential damage that could result from Obama's unprecedented openess to a legal assault on a previous administration.

Dwight Eisenhower did not open hearings to pave the way for indictment of federal officials of the Roosevelt administration or California lawyers working for Gov. Earl Warren, who in concert planned and carried out the forced internment of American citizens into camps. Much less did he bring Truman & Co. up on charges of using nuclear weapons to incinerate Japanese civilians.

Warren Harding and Calvin Coolidge did not seek indictment of Woodrow Wilson’s Justice Department, which did everything from strengthening segregation to jailing war critics and helping foster the odious vigilantes of the American Protective League. No subsequent administration tried to arrest Lincoln’s Cabinet members for signing off on the suspension of habeas corpus after Fort Sumter — unconstitutional decrees that eventually would mean some 15,000 Americans were held without charges for indeterminate length.

President Obama would not a want a putative President Palin to begin hearings on who ordered the targeted executions of two suspected Somali pirates, taken out in the middle of protracted negotiations. He would not wish a President Sanford one day to indict those Obama officials who approved the assassination-by-Predator-missile of suspected terrorists and their families in Pakistan — without habeas corpus, Miranda rights, or avenues of appeal. He would not enjoy a future President Giuliani’s bringing indictments of Obama officials over the NSA’s exceeding its allotted e-mail intercepts, or the CIA’s conducting overseas renditions of suspected terrorists without providing them the benefits of U.S. law.

Hanson notes the hypocrisy of the whole business.

Sharks smell blood. Now enters one Austrian professor, Manfred Nowak, the “U.N. special rapporteur” for torture who hails from a country that routinely sells Iran everything from sniper rifles to nuclear technology. Professor Nowak informs the world that the Bush officials must be punished. He is eager to please the Obamians, but not so eager to displease the Chinese, Russians, Libyans, Iranians, Saudis, and most of the rest of the world, where torture is as commonplace as its investigation is futile — if not dangerous.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Bush Tortured; Cheney Lied

Or should it be the other way around? Anyway, they didn't. I just wanted to see if I could generate some more hits to this site.

Bill Kristol's bashing of the interrogation memos' release on the Fox News panel last week is followed up by a column in the Weekly Standard. He really gives it to Obama and the rest of the phony moralists in his party.

In a similar vein and even more critical is former CIA head Porter Goss' op-ed in the Washington Post yesterday. He makes it clear that members of Congress knew exactly what was going on with the enhanced interrogation program. They not only didn't raise any objections, but offered encouragement.

This point has been made by others but it's worth repeating. Four former CIA heads, who served under both Democratic and Republican Presidents, and the present one, Obama's own choice, Leon Panetta, advised him against releasing the interrogation memos. Yet he did and if that wasn't a purely political decision, then there's no such thing.

Anyone up for some more evidence of Barney Frank's responsibility for the economic meltdown? Here it is.
Read this obtuse statement of his made June 27, 2005.

I think we have an excessive degree of concern right now about home ownership and its role in the economy. Obviously, speculation is never a good thing. But those who argue that housing prices are now at the point of a bubble seem to me to missing a very important point. Unlike previous examples we have had, where substantial excessive inflation of prices later caused some problems, we are talking here about an entity — home ownership, homes — where there is not the degree of leverage we have seen elsewhere. This is not the dot-com situation; we have problems with people having invested in business plans for which there was no reality. People building fiber-optic cable for which there was no need. Homes that are occupied may see an ebb and flow in the price at a certain percentage level, but you’re not going to see the collapse that you see when people talk about a bubble. And so, those of us on our committee in particular, will continue to push for home ownership.

"...there is not the degree of leverage we have seen elsewhere." Well that was certainly true. Leveraging never was anywhere near as high as what it was during the housing bubble. That statement ranks right up there with some other gems Frank made supporting subsidized housing.

“These two entities — Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, are not facing any kind of financial crisis.” (they are) “fundamentally sound financially and withstand some of the disaster scenarios.

"I believe there has been more alarm raised about potential unsafety and unsoundness than, in fact, exists."

"I do think I do not want the same kind of focus on safety and soundness that we have in OCC [Office of the Comptroller of the Currency] and OTS [Office of Thrift Supervision]. I want to roll the dice a little bit more in this situation towards subsidized housing."

Problem was, Frank was rolling the dice using taxpayers money.

It's a revolting spectacle watching Frank presiding over the House Financial Services Committee, passing judgement on those he decides are culpable for the mess we're in. It's not reassuring for the prospects of a meaningful recovery that he's still chairman of that committee.

Fred Barnes had the best take on Obama's first hundred days comparing it to a man jumping off the roof of a skyscraper and halfway down saying, "So far, so good."

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Bowing to Dictators

James Rubin, former assistant secretary of state under Bill Clinton, has an op-ed piece in today's WSJ defending Obama's "new" approach to foreign policy.
He writes,
Despite the results of November's election, Mr. Obama's critics are judging him on the basis of the old Bush calculus. Whether it is Venezuela or Cuba, they assess Mr. Obama's actions based on whether or not they immediately contribute to the downfall of a regime. If not, then they go off in high dudgeon.

I'm judging Obama on the Chamberlain calculus, not Bush's. Coddling dictators never works. It doesn't matter if it's handing Hitler the Sudetenland or giving Chavez the priceless (for him) respect and recognition of the world's greatest nation. Even if agreements are reached with tyrants they're either ignored or violated (Hitler, Ho Chi Minh, Saddam Hussein, Kim Jong Il, to cite a few). You would think that Mr. Rubin would have learned this lesson. He was present for the last three of the seven years that the Clinton administration embraced and supported Yasser Arafat. That worked out well.

Rubin again,
Mr. Obama's new diplomacy is well-suited to an era of democratic government and instant communication. By refusing to snub Hugo Chávez, Mr. Obama makes it harder for dictators and anti-American activists to demonize the U.S. Of course, national security is not a popularity contest. But since governments around the world are increasingly democratic, they must respond to the attitudes of their people.

Obama isn't just not snubbing these guys - he's being downright obsequious. Nicaraguan leader Danny Ortega gave a 52 minute anti-American rant and Obama didn't even acknowledge the insult, much less challenge it. Ortega's country is a democracy (for now anyway). He can now go back to his people and say that he lectured the President of the United States. Scolded him about the crimes his country has perpetrated over the years. And Ortega can point out that Obama just sat there meekly, taking it all in. Then when given a chance to respond, he made a joke, his silence about the slander, a tacit endorsement. Ortega can use this to shape the attitudes of his people, not just respond to it.
And what of the governments around the world that are not increasingly democratic like Venezuela, Iran, Russia, Cuba or Iran? I'm going out on a limb here and predict that the leaders of those countries will continue to demonize the U.S. (as Fidel Castro and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad already have). And Chavez can show that obscene photo to his people, and the leaders and people of neighboring countries and say, "The President of the United States approves of what I am doing."

Here's Mona Charen on some of what Chavez has been doing.
Chávez is providing support to the narco-terrorist group FARC in neighboring Colombia. FARC has conducted a reign of terror in Colombia and also plays a major role in funneling drugs to the United States. In the decade he has been in power, Chávez has obstructed all U.S. efforts to fight drug traffickers, banned overflights by Drug Enforcement Agency aircraft, and provided safe haven for FARC leaders. According to U.S. News and World Report, “It is no coincidence that during Chávez’s presidency, Venezuela has turned into a major conduit for the transshipment of cocaine. Despite the FARC’s killing of thousands of civilians and its continued holding of 700 hostages, among them Venezuelans, the oil-rich Chávez government confessed its direct support for and solidarity with the region’s most notorious terrorist group.”

Chávez is mimicking his hero Castro in other ways. In his jails you can find people whose only crime was to oppose the regime. Humberto Quintero was arrested in 2005 for capturing a senior FARC leader. Francisco Usón was sentenced to five and a half years for making public comments about human-rights violations in Venezuela. Opposition television stations have lost their licenses and opposition newpapers have been closed.

Chávez is also leading, directing, and encouraging state-sponsored harassment of Venezuela’s tiny Jewish community. Venezuela has a 200-year history of benevolent treatment of its Jewish minority. Chávez has changed all that and aroused real fear. Synagogues have been attacked, desecrated, and vandalized, their buildings spray-painted with epithets like “Death to Israel. Get out Jews.” Half the Jewish population has fled since Chávez came to power. During the war between Israel and Hamas last year, government media outlets maintained a steady campaign of vituperation against Israel and against the Jews of Venezuela. A government newspaper suggested confiscating the property of Venezuelan Jews who supported Israel and distributing it to Palestinians, denouncing Venezuelan Jews in public, and boycotting Jewish-owned businesses. The cardinal of Venezuela, Jorge Urosa, has been outspoken out on behalf of Venezuela’s Jews, as was the papal nuncio who last year had a hand grenade lobbed onto his property for his trouble.

Charen leaves out how Chavez' socialist economic policies have impoverished his oil rich country.

Rubin again,
...the purpose of this new diplomacy, Mr. Obama emphasized, was not to change regimes around the world but to advance American interests.

By not standing up for his country, by not speaking out against Chavez' tyranny and others like it, Obama is acceding to them. Not only does this not change these regimes, it strengthens them. And that certainly does not advance American interests.

A final note. Rubin says we shouldn't use our success in the Cold War as a model for how to manage all tyrannies and he brings up Iraq.
(critics) say the president's politeness to Hugo Chávez, for example, should be judged by the standards of the Cold War. They point to the fact that dissidents in Eastern Europe were heartened when President Ronald Reagan called the Soviet Union an "evil empire." But that truth doesn't always translate to other parts of the world. If Iraq has taught us anything, it is that not all countries respond the same way when a dictator falls.

Actually, the people of Iraq were more accepting of their liberation than those of Russia. Witness the huge election turnouts. Russia, on the other hand, has reverted back to an authoritarian regime, mostly due to incompetence and corruption during the Yeltsin years. (Fortunately, the rest of Eastern Europe hasn't followed suit). The problem with Iraq wasn't that its people rejected freedom. It was that there was an unstable security situation created by a roughly 10,000 person strong (out of 25 million) insurgency. Rubin seems to be saying that some people just aren't cut out for liberty. He sounds a lot like Jackie Chan. That attitude is arrogant, condescending and wrong - as George Bush was constantly telling us.

It's No Joke

This was sent to me by a friend.

A little boy wanted $100.00 very badly and prayed for weeks, but nothing happened.
Then he decided to write God a letter requesting the $100.00.
When the postal authorities received the letter to God , USA , they decided to send it to the President. The President was so amused that he instructed his secretary to send the little boy a $ 5.00 bill. The President thought this would appear to be a lot of money to a little boy.
The little boy was delighted with the $5.00 bill and sat down to write a thank-you note to God, which read:
Dear God: Thank you very much for sending the money. However, I noticed that for some reason you sent it through Washington, D.C. and those assholes took $95.00 in taxes.

Friday, April 24, 2009

Punished for Saving Lives

This from David Limbaugh

Before 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed was waterboarded, his only answer to interrogators inquiring about future attacks on the United States was, "Soon, you will know." Indeed, soon they did know because they waterboarded him and extracted information leading to the capture of key al-Qaida operatives and the closing down of an East Asian terrorist cell that was planning to attack Los Angeles -- the "second wave" plot.

So much for the ineffectiveness of coercive interrogation. I'd like to hear someone propose an alternative to these methods and it had better be soon since Obama has outlawed what we know works. The people who devised these techniques, the officials who advised their utilization and the agents who applied them should be honored and rewarded. Their actions saved thousands of innocent lives. Instead they're threatened with prosecution.
And despite what Peggy Noonan and others claim, the application of harsh methods to protect us do not "coarsen" us. We weren't permanently coarsened by actions we took to win World War 2. Actions that can certainly be called barbaric when viewed from outside the context of the conflict, e.g. dropping the atom bomb on Hiroshima or firebombing Hamburg and Tokyo. With determined enemies poised to inflict death and destruction on us, stopping them with the very limited use of waterboarding is hardly an extreme or cruel measure.
Another thing Noonan does is invoke John McCain to buttress her argument. If McCain says waterboarding is torture, she says, then it must be so. McCain suffered true torture at the hands of the North Vietnamese and for no other purpose than infliction of pain. The purpose of waterboarding is to obtain lifesaving intelligence. And it does. It's unfortunate that McCain doesn't make this distinction.
In the end though, it doesn't matter what you call it. Say it's torture if you like. If it saves lives, do it.
Here's a concurring opinion.

Look, if the president needed an option, there’s all sorts of things they can do. Let’s take the best case, OK. You picked up someone you know is the No. 2 aide to Osama bin Laden. And you know they have an operation planned for the United States or some European capital in the next three days. And you know this guy knows it. Right, that’s the clearest example. And you think you can only get it out of this guy by shooting him full of some drugs or water-boarding him or otherwise working him over.


"Every one of us can imagine the following scenario: We get lucky; we get the No. 3 guy in al-Qaida, and we know there's a big bomb going off in America in three days and this guy knows where it is. We have the right and the responsibility to beat it out of him."

Both by Bill Clinton

Finally, the following illustrates how the MSM tries to portray the interrogations in the worst possible light. By Cliff May in NRO.

How many times have you read and heard in the mainstream media that terrorists were waterboarded more than 180 times?
It turns out that’s not true. What is?
According to two sources, both of them very well-informed and reliable (but preferring to remain anonymous), the 180-plus times refers not to sessions of waterboarding, but to “pours” — that is, to instances of water being poured on the subject.
Under a strict set of rules, every pour of water had to be counted — and the number of pours was limited.

Thursday, April 23, 2009


Two very happy guys at the rabidly anti-U.S. (I really can't say anti-American) Summit of the Americas meeting.

Another day; Another opportunity to vent about the POTUS, courtesy of the WSJ.

Daniel Henninger on Obama's coziness with leftist dictators and its deleterious effect on their oppressed subjects.

In New York this week, I asked a former Eastern European dissident who spent time in prison under the Communists: "If you were sitting in a cell in Cuba, Iran or Syria and saw this photo of a smiling American president shaking hands with a smiling Hugo Chávez, what would you think?"

He said: "I would think that I was losing ground."

Karl Rove on Obama's apology tour. Rove is rapidly showing that he's as valuable a journalist as he was a Presidential advisor. And that's saying a lot. I noticed that there's some book, "The Rise and Fall of Karl Rove" in the bargain bins at Borders. A good place for it.

There is something ungracious in Mr. Obama criticizing his predecessors, including most recently John F. Kennedy. ("I'm grateful that President [Daniel] Ortega did not blame me for things that happened when I was three months old," Mr. Obama said after the Nicaraguan delivered a 52-minute anti-American tirade that touched on the Bay of Pigs.) Mr. Obama acts as if no past president -- except maybe Abraham Lincoln -- possesses his wisdom.

Mr. Obama was asked in Europe if he believes in American exceptionalism. He said he did -- in the same way that "the Brits believe in British exceptionalism and the Greeks in Greek exceptionalism." That's another way of saying, "No."

Mr. Obama makes it seem as though there is moral equivalence between America and its adversaries and assumes that if he confesses America's sins, other nations will confess theirs and change. But he won no confessions (let alone change) from the leaders of Venezuela, Nicaragua or Russia. He apologized for America and our adversaries rejoiced. Fidel Castro isn't easing up on Cuban repression, but he is preparing to take advantage of Mr. Obama's policy shifts.

Mr. Obama is downplaying the threats we face. He takes comfort in thinking that Venezuela has a defense budget that "is probably 1/600th" of America's -- it's actually 1/215th -- but that hasn't kept Mr. Chávez from supporting narcoterrorists waging war on Colombia (a key U.S. ally) or giving petrodollars to anti-American regimes. Venezuela isn't likely to attack the U.S., but it is capable of harming American interests.

Henry Kissinger wrote in his memoir "Years of Renewal": "The great statesmen of the past saw themselves as heroes who took on the burden of their societies' painful journey from the familiar to the as yet unknown. The modern politician is less interested in being a hero than a superstar. Heroes walk alone; stars derive their status from approbation. Heroes are defined by inner values; stars by consensus. When a candidate's views are forged in focus groups and ratified by television anchorpersons, insecurity and superficiality become congenital."

A superstar, not a statesman, today leads our country. That may win short-term applause from foreign audiences, but do little for what should be the chief foreign policy preoccupation of any U.S. president: advancing America's long-term interests.

The WSJ issued a forceful, angry editorial on the divisive and destructive effect investigations of Bush era interrogation methods would have on the country.

Mark down the date. Tuesday, April 21, 2009, is the moment that any chance of a new era of bipartisan respect in Washington ended. By inviting the prosecution of Bush officials for their antiterror legal advice, President Obama has injected a poison into our politics that he and the country will live to regret. least until now, the U.S. political system has avoided the spectacle of a new Administration prosecuting its predecessor for policy disagreements. This is what happens in Argentina, Malaysia or Peru, countries where the law is treated merely as an extension of political power.

If this analogy seems excessive, consider how Mr. Obama has framed the issue. He has absolved CIA operatives of any legal jeopardy, no doubt because his intelligence advisers told him how damaging that would be to CIA morale when Mr. Obama needs the agency to protect the country. But he has pointedly invited investigations against Republican legal advisers who offered their best advice at the request of CIA officials.

"Your intelligence indicates that there is currently a level of 'chatter' equal to that which preceded the September 11 attacks," wrote Assistant Attorney General Jay Bybee, in his August 1, 2002 memo. "In light of the information you believe [detainee Abu] Zubaydah has and the high level of threat you believe now exists, you wish to move the interrogations into what you have described as an 'increased pressure phase.'"

So the CIA requests a legal review at a moment of heightened danger, the Justice Department obliges with an exceedingly detailed analysis of the law and interrogation practices -- and, seven years later, Mr. Obama says only the legal advisers who are no longer in government should be investigated. The political convenience of this distinction for Mr. Obama betrays its basic injustice. And by the way, everyone agrees that senior officials, including President Bush, approved these interrogations. Is this President going to put his predecessor in the dock too?

Congress will face questions about what the Members knew and when, especially Nancy Pelosi when she was on the House Intelligence Committee in 2002. The Speaker now says she remembers hearing about waterboarding, though not that it would actually be used. Does anyone believe that? Porter Goss, her GOP counterpart at the time, says he knew exactly what he was hearing and that, if anything, Ms. Pelosi worried the CIA wasn't doing enough to stop another attack. By all means, put her under oath.

Michigan Congressman Peter Hoekstra on widening those prospective investigations to include members of Congress who knew about the program and to Obama himself.

It was not necessary to release details of the enhanced interrogation techniques, because members of Congress from both parties have been fully aware of them since the program began in 2002. We believed it was something that had to be done in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks to keep our nation safe. After many long and contentious debates, Congress repeatedly approved and funded this program on a bipartisan basis in both Republican and Democratic Congresses.

Members of Congress calling for an investigation of the enhanced interrogation program should remember that such an investigation can't be a selective review of information, or solely focus on the lawyers who wrote the memos, or the low-level employees who carried out this program. I have asked Mr. Blair to provide me with a list of the dates, locations and names of all members of Congress who attended briefings on enhanced interrogation techniques.

Any investigation must include this information as part of a review of those in Congress and the Bush administration who reviewed and supported this program. To get a complete picture of the enhanced interrogation program, a fair investigation will also require that the Obama administration release the memos requested by former Vice President Dick Cheney on the successes of this program.

An honest and thorough review of the enhanced interrogation program must also assess the likely damage done to U.S. national security by Mr. Obama's decision to release the memos over the objections of Mr. Panetta and four of his predecessors. Such a review should assess what this decision communicated to our enemies, and also whether it will discourage intelligence professionals from offering their frank opinions in sensitive counterterrorist cases for fear that they will be prosecuted by a future administration.

Perhaps we need an investigation not of the enhanced interrogation program, but of what the Obama administration may be doing to endanger the security our nation has enjoyed because of interrogations and other antiterrorism measures implemented since Sept. 12, 2001.

A WSJ reader has written a letter about the remarkable foresight of WSJ editors going back several years. (I had observed this too). Beginning early this decade, in an ongoing series of opinion pieces, the Journal warned that the Fed's loose money policy and the lack of restrictions on Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac would eventually lead to big trouble. The letter writer suggests that the WSJ should print a summary of all of the editorials that warned of these policy errors. In addition, he thinks it should publish the summary in full page ads in other papers. A good idea. The hoped for effect would be an alteration of the public's misconceptions about the source of the economic downturn.

Not a WSJ item, but of interest nonetheless. Obama's subservience to the teacher's unions has managed to enrage even the solidly liberal, dependably Democratic, NPR and Fox News Correspondent Juan Williams. He's angry about Obama's plan to dismantle the modest D.C. voucher system and deny some poor, black kids the opportunity to escape the terrible D.C. public school system. A system that Obama (and most other Washington political elites) shun for their own children.

I was too quick to write some complimentary things about Obama the other day. He's been about as bad a President as I thought he would be. Awful. Just awful. He was advertised as post-partisan, post-racial, post ideological. Three egregious lies. Somehow, we've elected as President of the United States a media "personality". It's no wonder Oprah likes him so much. He is Oprah. Without the business acumen.
It's still early in his term. He could change. I'm not hopeful. Things will probably only get worse. I've only volunteered once in my life for a candidate - McGovern in 1972. I'm ready to volunteer for Obama's opponent in 2012. It doesn't matter who it is. Mitt Romney, Sarah Palin, Ron Paul, Daffy Duck. Sign me up.




WSJ editorial




Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Gift Giver

..."high-value information came from interrogations in which those (enhanced interrogation) methods were used and provided a deeper understanding of the al Qaeda organization that was attacking this country."

That statement was made by Dennis Blair, President Obama’s director of national intelligence.

His boss says, so what?

Apparently, With Obama’s need to placate the left and present himself as the un-Bush, the nation’s security becomes a secondary priority. Keeping his base happy is now number one, in a virtual tie with Obama’s seeming pathological need for adulation. Adulation from the left, from our European “allies”, even from freedom denying, war mongering dictators. For this he desecrates the honor of his country and reveals sensitive national security information to its enemies.
Ostensibly, Obama released the “torture” memos to improve our moral standing in the world and among the terrorists. Released them to make it more difficult for al-Queda and related groups to recruit martyrs for jihad. Obama apparently believes the following scenario is taking place in caves along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.
Jihad Recruiter : We need you, my son to give your life for Allah, and help us wipe the Great Satan from the face of the earth.
Potential Recruit : Uh, well, but the Great Satan, he has a new President who has set a different tone and has outlawed coercive interrogations. I think I’ll just go tend the sheep.
Then there’s Obama’s relentless, pathetic obeisance. He apologizes for and castigates our past “arrogance” and “insensitivity”. To the Iranians, to the Russians, to the Muslim world, to Europe. In his effort to make the Europeans feel our equal in the global endeavor to promote peace and prosperity, he manages to diminish and debase the role of the U.S. and inflate Europe’s beyond reason. As Mark Steyn recently put it,

The European Union exists only because for half a century they’ve been under American military protection: Promoted as a counterweight to the U.S. hegemon, the EU in fact exists only because of it.

That’s not the narrative Obama or his adoring legions believe.

During the campaign, Obama and his supporters dismissed and ridiculed claims that Reverend Jeremiah Wright was his mentor. Supposedly, Obama was unmoved by having spent two decades listening to Wright’s hateful, bigoted, anti-American rants. That Obama was merely an acquaintance of terrorist Bill Ayers. That Obama didn’t hold the radical beliefs of revolution advocate Saul Alinsky. Obama’s words and actions tell a different story. His words are gentler, more mannerly, but every time Obama decries our “immoral” past, he’s shouting “God Damn America!” just as loudly as Wright ever did.

Obama’s been handing out gifts – and I’m not referring to the tacky DVD set he passed along to British PM Gordon Brown. His more valuable gifts are the recognition and respect he showers on the detestable and despicable of the world – Putin, Ahmadinejad, Chavez, Castro. He flatters feckless European nations with undeserved deference and offers them confessions of America's past sins. Now he may have rewarded Republicans with two priceless offerings.

Dorothy Rabinowitz argues eloquently (link below) that Obama’s mea culpas will come back to haunt him. She believes that many Americans (I hope this is true) are quietly seething over Obama’s continuing disdain of our country. Republicans should spotlight that disdain.

And let the administration give the GOP and the country the gift of their “investigations” of Bush era antiterrorist policies. Let it all come out. Let everyone see (as Dick Cheney has suggested) exactly what intelligence was obtained, exactly what attacks were prevented. Expose those Democrats, (Nancy Pelosi among them) who knew all along what steps were being taken to safeguard the country. Spotlight the left’s aversion to taking these steps. Here’s Jeff Jacoby in today’s Boston Globe.

Suppose the CIA had been denied permission to use brutal interrogation tactics, and Al Qaeda had consequently gone on to murder thousands of additional victims in California. What kind of conversation would we be having once it became known that the refusal to subject KSM to waterboarding had come at so steep a price? How many of those now blasting the Bush administration for allowing torture would be blasting it instead for not preventing a second bloodbath?

Related articles

Rich Lowry in National Review Online makes the point that far from being a source of shame, the “torture” memos should be regarded with pride.

“They represent a nation of laws struggling to defend itself against a savage, lawless enemy while adhering to its legal commitments and norms. Most societies throughout human history wouldn’t have bothered.”

Incidentally, Lowry invokes Torquemada in this piece, just as I did in my post, April 17, and in the same context. Maybe someone is reading this blog.

Another National Review editorial on the meticulous effort that went into crafting interrogation policy following 9/11.

WSJ editorial today detailing how the reporting of the memos’ release has been distorted and taken out of the context of national security

And the sagacious Rabinowitz in a WSJ op-ed.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Pirates, Tea, Stem Cells, Russia and more

Some recent items I found interesting, enlightening, irritating or amusing.

Last Thursday in the WSJ, Daniel Henninger suggested that the successful management of the recent pirate crisis could be a model for handling the world's metaphorical pirates - Hugo Chavez, North Korea, Iran, Pakistan.

Bill Kristol had some fun a few days ago on a Fox News panel with the resolution of the pirate thing. He wondered why we didn't go to the Security Council to ask permission to act, or if we should now have to worry about radicalizing "moderate pirates" or what the reaction will be on the "pirate street".

Several commentators have effectively derided Janeane Garafalo’s hate filled, ignorant diatribe on the tea parties held across the country April 15, (for example, Kevin McCullough, )
I won’t add to those. What I question is why Hollywood left wingers like Garafalo have a platform in the first place.
Garafalo is paid to…well, I don’t know exactly what she does for her pay, but I’m sure it isn’t for her insight on political issues. And I don't mean to single her out. Why are we constantly subjected to Sean Penn, Alec Baldwin, Tim Robbins, et al discussing subjects outside their realm of expertise? We don’t hear Robert Gates’ opinion of Susan Sarandon’s acting ability or Tim Geithner discussing Italian cinema. I suspect the MSM grants actors a stage because it's an easy way to attract an audience. And because it shares their viewpoints. The few Hollywood conservatives, like Jon Voigt and Kelsey Grammer are rarely heard from.

Jeanne Garafalo to the contrary, the tea parties were not dominated by racist rednecks.
Mary Katherine Ham went to one tea party in Noth Carolina and interviewed some participants.
The following exemplifies the prevelant attitude.

For Frank Lathrop, a retiree sporting a homemade sweatshirt that read "Pay your own taxes," the April 15 protest was for future generations.
"I'm no protester. We've never protested, but we have eight grandchildren," Lathrop said. "All of this [money for stimulus, bailouts, and deficits] is being taken from them."
His wife, Anna, whose matching iron-on political message read "Stop stealing our kids' future," jumped in: "I'm not even a Republican! And, to say that this is a party or a race thing is just ridiculous," she said, alluding to news coverage. "The idea that they're stealing from our children and grandchildren to remove tattoos in California? That's not worth my grandchildren's future. It's not."

Mark Steyn, of course, had some choice words about the tax protests and Obama's response to them.

Asked about the tea parties, President Obama responded that he was not aware of them. As Marie Antoinette said, “Let them drink Lapsang Souchong.” His Imperial Majesty at Barackingham Palace having declined to acknowledge the tea parties, his courtiers at the Globe and elsewhere fell into line. Talk-show host Michael Graham spoke to one attendee at the 2009 Boston Tea Party who remarked of the press embargo: “If Obama had been the King of England, the Globe wouldn’t have covered the American revolution.”

What about the leftist teabagging fetish?! This from Ann Coulter, noting that the term used by the protesters is “tea party”.

Every host on Air America and every unbathed, basement-dwelling loser on the left wing blogosphere has spent the last week making jokes about tea bagging, a practice they show a surprising degree of familiarity with.

You know what else would be hilarious? It would be hilarious if Hillary Clinton's name were "Ima Douche." Unfortunately, it's not. It was just a dream. Most people would wake up, realize it was just a dream and scrap the joke. Not MSNBC hosts.

Commenting about the Garafalo remarks, Charles Krauthammer noted that after eight years of (stupidly) saying that dissent is the highest form of patriotism, liberals now equate dissent with racism.

In my post about Krauthammer a few days ago, I mentioned that he had been called the most influential commentator in America a couple of years ago by the Financial Times. Well apparently, he still is. President Obama has modified his stem cell policy to fit exactly the one recommended by Krauthammer. Obama has now ordered the prohibition of federal funding of human embryo creation solely for the purpose of research. Krauthammer had criticized Obama for originally allowing such funding and he lauded the change. Now if Obama would only conform to the rest of Krauthammer’s positions, we’d have a decent president.

David Horowitz wrote a rare column for the WSJ detailing his abominable mistreatment at the University of Texas where he recently gave a talk. Horowitz, who now brings a bodyguard with him to these events, says that his experience is typical for a conservative speaker at a college campus.

A WSJ op-ed by Josef Joffe, editor of the German weekly, Die Zeit, tells of the non-impact that Obama had on Europe's leaders on his recent tour.
Showcasing Obama's credulousness, Joffe writes

"We will listen carefully," Mr. Obama said with a view to Tehran, "we will bridge misunderstandings, and we will seek common ground." Some 500 years ago, Francis I of France was asked what misunderstandings had fueled his constant wars with the Habsburg Empire's Charles V. He replied: "None, we are in complete agreement. We both want control over Italy."
Conflict between states is made from sterner stuff than bad manners or bad vibes, past grievances or imaginary fears. International politics is neither psychiatry nor a set of "see me, feel me" encounter sessions. It is about power and position, about preventing injury and protecting interests. Love and friendship move people, not nations.

George Will writes about the absurdity and irrelevance of Obama's offer of arms control talks with a dying country, Russia, and what a great gift it was to its thuggish leader, Vladimir Putin.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Inconvenient Data

Above is a graph of the variation of two measures of global temperature (blue and red lines) and the variation in global atmospheric CO2 levels (green line) since the implementation of the Kyoto Protocol.
Some things to consider..
What has been the relationship between global temperature and atmospheric CO2 over the past 12 years?
How effective has the Kyoto Protocol been in reducing global CO2 levels.
Why hasn't this data hasn't been more widely publicized?
Why are the U.N.'s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and Al Gore held in such high regard? Why are they regarded at all?
Why do we elect leaders that enact policies which inspire headlines like the one appearing in the Wall Street Journal today?

U.S. in Historic Shift on CO2
Businesses Brace for Costly New Rules as EPA Declares Warming Gases a Threat

Yes, I know. This is just a tiny snippet of data covering a very short time period. However, there's a lot more like it. For more detailed arguments disputing the current GW "concensus", there's
C:\Users\Kestens\Documents\Steve's Documents\Climate Change Science.mht
This last reference describes the saturated greenhouse gas theory. That is the idea that the level of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere is constant. Any addition of, say CO2, is balanced by the release of water vapor (the most important greenhouse gas) in the form of rain. If this were happening, then a rise in atmospheric CO2 levels would lead to a decrease in global relative humidity. This has indeed been the case, especially at higher altitudes.

Friday, April 17, 2009

"A Dark and Painful Chapter"

"Former Bush officials slam release of torture memos".

That from an AFP headline today. Note the casual use of the term "torture". Over the past seven years, this verbal contrivance has been thrust upon the American public by the left and its media enablers. It is disingenuous, deceitful, purposely inflammatory, misleading, propagandistic and it empowers our enemies. "Torture" is the slur that liberals have labeled Bush administration attempts to obtain critical, lifesaving intelligence from a handful of unlawful enemy combatants; intelligence that has helped protect our country from attack. "Torture" methods utilized included sleep deprivation, head seizing and holding, and face slapping. By that definition, parents of newborns and consumers being reminded that they could've had a V8 are victims of torture. In one case a caterpillar was placed in the cell of an insect averse captive. Torquemada would surely have been impressed. Only one technique, "waterboarding", even remotely approaches the level of torture. And that was used on only three high value subjects. Much of what we know about al-Queda was learned from one of those three, Khalid Sheik Mohammed.
Perhaps the most appalling lie spread by the left is that coercive interrogations were secretly carried out by the Bush-Rove-Cheney cabal. Here are former CIA director Michael Hayden and former Attorney General Michael Mukasey writing in today's Wall Street Journal.

...the methods used...were disclosed repeatedly in more than 30 congressional briefings and hearings beginning in 2002, and open to all members of the Intelligence Committees of both Houses of Congress beginning in September 2006. Any protestation of ignorance of those details, particularly by members of those committees, is pretense.

I would use a scatological substitute for the more civil term "pretense".

The Obama administration yesterday declassified and released documents relating to the interrogation techniques used by the CIA during the Bush administration. Attorney General Eric Holder also said that the government would not pursue criminal prosecutions of CIA officials involved in those interrogations. Obama, apparently precluding the use of these methods in the future, said that this ends "a dark and painful chapter in our history".

In the WSJ op-ed mentioned above, Hayden and Mukasey excoriate Obama's decision to release this information.

On the Fox News panel last night, Charles Krauthammer and Bill Kristol tore into Obama's decisions. Krauthammer disputed Obama's charcterization of "a dark and painful chapter in our history".

"If I had to weigh the numberless and nameless lives that have been saved by this technique (waterboarding) against the thirty seconds of terror in the eyes of this terrorist, I think the moral choice is easy."

Kristol was sharply critical, accusing Obama of

"moral preening and pandering to the left wing" and saying "It is pathetic to disavow the good faith efforts of the previous administration to protect us that were entirely appropriate".

Kristol contended that if it had wanted to, the Obama administration could have contested the release of the documents and won in court. He mocked Obama's phrasing, "This is a time for reflection", saying

"Isn't that nice. Reflection. We're in the middle of a war! It's not a time for reflection. It's a time to keep the country safe!"

Kristol also blasted the NY Times latest attack on the use of our terrorist surveillance program, noting the "crusade" that that paper continues against a perfectly legal program and the damage that it's done to our security. The latest "controversy" concerns the news that some telephone numbers of innocent Americans were wrongly targeted. Kristol pointed out that there was no harm done and no information was incorrectly used. The Times' story was "utterly ludicrous!"
Saving the best for last, Kristol responded to Mara Liasson who emphasized that Obama was declining to prosecute intelligence personnel who carried out interrogations. Visibly angry, Kristol said,

"It's very big of the President of the United States not to take retribution against patriotic Americans who've been serving the country in the last few years. This is the pass we've come to where we're supposed to be grateful that President Obama isn't going to prosecute CIA agents? Really."

Obama is clearly trying to have it both ways. He knows that he needs to maintain Bush's successful antiterror strategy but he doesn't want to alienate his left wing base. I just hope he understands that the former is much more important than the latter.

There's an excellent essay in the current issue of National Review (April 20) by Andrew McCarthy on the Islamic threat explaining the danger of trying to appease Islamists.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

The Free Market Miracle

Over the past few years I've saved electronically, hundreds of articles, essays, opinion pieces and columns. I've forgotten the content of most of them. One that I clearly remember was an op-ed written by Johan Norberg published in the Wall Street Journal 10/2/2006. In it Norberg describes how capitalism has powered the miraculous global transformation we've experienced over the past century and a half. This transformation is taken for granted by most of us and this allows the left to claim, nonsensically, that because of the current downturn, free markets have failed. The piece is appropriate reading now that the Democrats have embarked on a path toward greater government restriction of economic freedom. I don't want to run afoul of copyright laws so I won't reproduce the entire article here. It can be ordered online from

In Praise of Obama

I did not want to have Barack Obama elected President. I dreaded the thought. Many of my fears have been realized. As his socialist vision is imposed on us, it will stifle innovation, repress freedom, increase dependency on government, deaden our nation’s unique vibrancy and diminish its greatness. However, I consoled myself and still do, that there was potential for some good to come out of an Obama Presidency. I saw three positive aspects.
The first, of course, is that we finally have a black President. This achievement greatly contributes to our ongoing process of righting some of the terrible wrongs of our past – slavery, segregation, discrimination. And as an intelligent, hard worker who showed that a black man could succeed in this country, (a wild understatement), Obama could be a role model to those blacks who reject the path he took because they believe there’s no hope following it. [During the campaign, Obama was interviewed on a black TV network. He was asked if he thought that young black males should lift their drawers – referring to the current style of wearing pants below the hips. Obama said that with all the world’s problems, there are far more important things on which to focus. Then he added, “Having said that, I think they should lift their drawers”. It was a droll and subtle admonition to black youth – “Get serious”].
Obama’s election shows definitively that the U.S. is not the racist country so many leftists like to believe it is. Not that we really needed more proof. Exit polls taken on Election Day 1996 showed that had he run, Colin Powell would have trounced Bill Clinton. Finally, Obama’s election is a blow to the elitist snobbery of those so called enlightened European nations, which have never come close to electing a leader from a racial group representing 13% of their population.
Another positive element of Obama's election is personal. I am presently unemployed and considering retirement. I’m exactly the type of person who stands to gain since my income has dropped beneath Obama’s radar. I've become a member of one of the Democrats favored constiuencies - non-productive slackers. Let the hard working productive folks pay for Obama’s spending surge. Some of that spending will be sure to head my way too. I only hope he pays for that spending by cranking up taxes. The alternative - printing money - will devalue my lifelong savings.
The third benefit of a President Obama, and the one I want to concentrate on here, is that the Democrats are at last forced to take our present war with Radical Islam seriously.
Obama has two choices. He can continue to treat this existential threat as an annoying minor criminal matter. This is how it’s been historically viewed by Democrats and it resulted in the 9/11 attacks. Continuing along this path would almost inevitably lead to an even worse catastrophe than 9/11. The nation would be severely, maybe fatally, damaged and civil liberties (and the Democratic party) would be a thing of the past.
Fortunately for the country (and his party) Obama seems to have learned this lesson (notwithstanding his silly wordplay). He has committed to securing our success in Iraq and implementing an Iraq style surge in Afghanistan. Equally important, he’s reversed his campaign position on utilizing at least some of the security tools necessary to prevent another attack. Those two meetings he had soon after he was elected must have opened his eyes. First the National Security briefing, which has supposedly left people who’ve heard it deeply shaken with the knowledge of the dangers we face. Then his meeting with George Bush a few days later which confirmed and reinforced that message.
So now we have this from Fox News.

"I wasn't happy when George Bush asserted that he could do these things and I'm not happy that President Obama is now agreeing with George Bush," said Jane Hamsher of Accountability Now.
"Other than being flat wrong, the Obama administration's position is seriously disappointing to those Americans who listened to candidate Obama's promises of a new era of government accountability and transparency, said Kevin Bankston, senior attorney at the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
EFF sued the government claiming that AT&T and perhaps other telecommunications companies cooperated with it to allow access to people's phone and Internet records -- a so-called dragnet in a search for terrorist communications.
Obama criticized the cooperation during the campaign, calling it an abuse of authority and arguing that the Bush administration "undermined the Constitution."
Now, the Obama administration is trying to have that same lawsuit dismissed.
"For the Obama administration now to try to have our lawsuit dismissed based on the exact same state secrecy arguments is quite a turnaround and very disappointing," Bankston said.

That’s an interesting word Bankston uses. Transparency. Transparency, huh? Yeah, let’s be real transparent. I guess we should just open the doors to the CIA, FBI, NSC, the Pentagon and have walking tours. No area should be off limits. It would be a popular tourist attraction and help to reduce the debt. Imagine how much could be charged for a ticket to a top secret security meeting. Make available all of those agencies’ computer files too. From the comfort of our homes we could peruse all of the information we have on al-Queda, terrorist cells in our country, North Korea’s and Iran’s missile programs, our military capabilities, where our satellites and nuclear subs are located, tactics and strategies in Iraq and Afghanistan, where our spies are, etc, etc, etc. And while we’re at it, why not broadcast all of the security meetings and briefings held at the White House? The public has a right to know. Our civil liberties are at stake.
The fact is that "transparency" kills. National security requires thick opacity.
Defenders say that this is a ridiculous scenario and greatly exaggerates what civil liberties groups are trying to achieve. They’re just trying to keep the likes of Dick Cheney and Karl Rove off our phones and out of our bedrooms. There’s much more to it than that. These groups are trying to undermine our ability to fight the war. Why else would the ACLU be so concerned about protecting prisoners’ rights at Guantanamo? There are no American citizens incarcerated there. Isn’t it the American Civil Liberties Union? What business do they have advocating for foreign nationals who are violators of the Geneva Convention and are thus not protected by its provisions. This is from the ACLU web site.

In response to a troubling Wall Street Journal report that the Obama administration is considering withholding key information from Bush-era memos that authorized torture, the American Civil Liberties Union today once again urged the Justice Department to turn over the memos in full.

Can anyone doubt that the agenda of these “civil liberties” groups run starkly counter to America’s best interests? Yet they command almost universal respect from those on the left.
At least for now it appears that the President understands where our best interests lie and that he intends to support them. Anytime you’re accused by the ACLU of stonewalling the courts, supporting Bush, promoting torture, you know you’re doing something right.
All that’s left is for Obama now is to apply some of his newfound real world understanding beyond homeland security and into his dealings with unsavory regimes like Iran, North Korea and Russia. He should also follow Mort Kondracke’s suggestion and give his predecessor a well deserved apology.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

And Martians Have Landed In New Jersey!

A sign of incurable geekiness – Most of what I find humorous these days is found in the pages and website of National Review. Writers Mark Steyn, (former “Cheers” screenwriter) Rob Long and Jonah Goldberg are consistently amusing. As is John Derbyshire’s “Radio Derb” on NR Online. Also funny are non NR contributors, conservative writers Bert Prelutsky and Ann Coulter (banished from NR for her post 9/11 comments suggesting conversion of all Muslims to Christianity). If I were a “cool” liberal, I’d be stuck listening to the likes of Bill Maher and Jon Stewart and their dreary dumb Bush jokes, another reason for my political tilt. [Actually, the funniest liberal these days is Joe Biden, though he doesn’t realize it. With luck, in 3 years, 9 months and 7 days, he’ll have retired from his present job and be doing his standup routine on MSNBC. Rob Long makes note of Joe’s buffoon-like status within the Obama administration here.
But I digress].

What prompted me to write about funny stuff was a recent item in NR that struck me as hilarious. In a previous post (3/7) I made a brief mention of a piece by Rob Long in the March 9 issue of NR. (To be able to more fully appreciate the comedy of the situation, stop reading this and first read Long’s piece referenced below. Then come back here).
As a spoof, Long “excerpted” parts of the “stimulus” package, the actual thousand plus pages of which, written by House and Senate interns, went largely unread as it was rushed through Congress in one day. Long’s “excerpts” were very funny and obviously fake. So I was surprised to read the following letter appearing in the latest NR (4/20).

In the March 9 issue I read “The Long View,” by Rob Long, which consisted of excerpts from the unread parts of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. Was this a joke or a serious article? I was appalled at what I read and wanted to find out if I had been fooled. Would you please clarify this for me? When I called up the bill online to search for these parts I couldn’t find them, though it showed only 407 pages of the whole thing.

Appalled?! Who wouldn’t be? Congress enacts a bill and in its haste fails to note provisions to nullify interns’ student loans, give them new iPhones, legalize marijuana, force a woman to date an intern or be arrested, etc. etc. What an outrage!! I can just imagine this person (name, Pat), at his (or her) computer, angrily and feverishly searching the Congressional website, scouring through the 407 pages he/she could find.
I’d like to think that the letter writer just came across the issue in a doctor’s office. It’s hard to believe that a regular reader of NR would be unable to recognize such a clear example of satire. Or, maybe Pat is goofing on NR.
Long’s response to the letter writer is a model of forbearance for someone so hopelessly naive. My response would’ve been, “Are you effing serious?!”

I’m ashamed to say I made up those excerpts out of whole cloth. Entirely my own fancy and conjecture. The actual American Recovery and Reinvestment Act is a lot funnier.

Here’s the link to Long’s original article

Since I'm on the topic of satire, I'll note the op-ed appearing in yesterday's WSJ written by Joe Queenan.
Apparently the Obama administration's policy of substituting soothing euphemisms for confrontational rhetoric is being copied by others. For instance, the Taliban is now saying "cephalic attrition" instead of "beheading". Queenan provides several other examples.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Sally Field Meet Mariam Farahat, Reem Riyashi, Samira Jassim

An item appearing in a recent issue of National Review reminded me of something the actress Sally Field felt compelled to say at an Emmy Awards ceremony a year and a half ago. As one of those Hollywood celebrities with a pathological need to use their accidental platform to broadcast their asinine opinions, she suggested the following.

"If mothers ruled the world, there would be no god-damned wars in the first place."

I offer a couple of past news items on the subject.

Mariam Farahat, who was elected to the Palestinian parliament, was one of Hamas' most popular candidates. In Gaza, Farahat is known as Um Nidal, or Mother of the Struggle -- a mother who sent three of her six sons on Hamas suicide missions against Israeli targets.
She is most famous for her presence in a Hamas video, showing her 17-year-old how to attack Israelis and telling him not to return. Shortly afterward, he killed five students in a Jewish settlement before he was killed himself.
Um Nidal's home has become a shrine to her dead sons, with admirers and other members of Hamas often dropping by.
She is now a politician, but she says violence is still an option. And she does have three sons who are still alive. If necessary, she says, they will follow in their brothers' footsteps.


A 22-year-old Palestinian mother of two small children, Reem Riyashi, pretending to be disabled, killed four Israelis at a Gaza border crossing yesterday after duping soldiers into allowing her a personal security check rather than going through a metal detector.

And now the NR item about a metaphorical, if not biological mother.

The depravity of Islamofascism, the depravity of the jihad, knows no bounds. The latest illustration of this comes from Iraq, where lives a woman named Samira Jassim. She is known as “Um al-Mumenin,” or the “Mother of the Believers.” She organized the rape of more than 80 women: so as to force them into suicide bombing. First, they would be raped. Then they would be told that there was no escape from the “shame” of this except “martyrdom”: a self-detonation that murdered others. As President Bush continually said, if this is not evil, then there is no evil. And civilized people have no choice except to keep fighting it.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


Jonah Goldberg's latest column is the sharpest, wittiest take on Obama's euphemistic wordplay to date.

For those not acquainted with the President's vernacular - here are a few examples.

war - Overseas contingency operation
terrorist attack - Man caused disaster
surge - Tactical demographic enhancement
enemy combatants - Individuals captured in connection with armed conflicts and counterterrorism operations, or;
Members of enemy forces, or;
Persons who the President determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, and persons who harbored those responsible for the September 11 attacks.
To paraphrase the John Gielgud character in the movie "Arthur", "He lacks a great economy with words."
Goldberg has a couple of other suggestions for "enemy combatants" - "Men Prone to Disaster Causation" or "Overseas Counter-Contingency Operators"
Or Mark Steyn's - "Future Facebook Friends."
Goldberg also makes note of the original title of Tolstoy's classic, "Overseas Contingency Operations and Cessation of Overseas Contingency Operations".

I have a couple of my own possiblities for the Obamadictionary
Hope - The feeling that the Neville Chamberlain approach to dealing with brutal, megalomaniacal tyrants will work this time.
Change - The projected 2009 Obama federal budget deficit, $1,800,000,000,000 (in pennies).

Other good reads :
Mark Steyn on Obama's "distractions".

George Will on another example of the continuing government erosion of Constitutional rights.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Read All About It!

When the Wall Street Journal downsized a couple of years ago, its quality dropped, notably its financial reporting. Happily, however, its opinion pages were unaffected, even growing from two to three pages (though incorporating the letters section took up part of that space).
It seems like every day there's at least one high value article in the WSJ opinion section. Today, (4/11) there's nearly a half dozen. Check out page A9. First there's Peggy Noonan's moving account of the Wall Street response to 9/11. In her best column in a some time she recalls how brokers, businessmen and government officials worked courageously, selflessly and tirelessly to get the NYSE back in operation only five days after the attack. This despite working in the shadow of ground zero and with the grief of the event weighing heavily on them.

Next is an article by Naval War College professor, Mackubin Thomas Owens explaining why the Obama administration is so very wrong about how it intends to treat detained terrorists. He notes how Obama is trying to have it both ways - appeasing his left wing base while maintaining much of Bush's successful antiterror apparatus. Owens also goes after those in Congress who feel compelled to criminalize the Bush administration despite its success. Here's an excerpt.

Some in Congress want to go further than the Obama team. Rather than focusing their attention on the terrorists, these politicians wish to criminalize the behavior of Bush administration officials for actions they took to protect Americans, and that fell well short of those taken by Lincoln in suppressing the Rebellion of 1861. Thus Sen. Patrick Leahy (D., Vt.), aided and abetted by my own Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D., R.I), have begun hearings on Mr. Leahy's proposal for a "Truth Commission" to investigate the Bush administration's interrogation policies. [Shame on them].
The mantra of Bush critics has been that the previous administration "tortured" detainees. But this is nonsense. At issue is the CIA's waterboarding of three high-ranking latrunculi [the Roman term used for "pirates] who had been instrumental in planning and executing attacks that killed thousands of Americans. These individuals had been trained to resist conventional interrogation methods and were thought to have information about impending attacks.
What makes the Leahy-Whitehouse show trials most appalling -- and hypocritical -- is that Congress was briefed on the enhanced interrogation methods in September 2002. At the time, according to the Washington Post, members of Congress from both parties -- including current Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi -- wanted to ensure that the interrogations were tough enough to get the necessary intelligence from the captured terrorists. As the Post reported, "there was no objecting, no hand-wringing," and according to a U.S. official present during the briefings, "the attitude was, 'We don't care what you do to those guys as long as you get the information you need to protect the American people.'" But of course, according to a source looking back on that period, "the environment was different then because we were closer to Sept. 11 and people were still in a panic."
And therein lies the problem. Too many of our leaders have forgotten that we are at war with latrunculi who wish to destroy us. Anyone who doubts this need only read the recent statement by the five detainees at Guantanamo charged with planning the 9/11 attacks in which they describe the charge that they murdered Americans very clearly -- as a "badge of honor."

The entire piece should be read. It will fail to persuade only those with intractable cases of BDS.

Then there's a short extract from Doris Kearns Goodwin's book, "Lyndon Baines Johnson and the American Dream". This sounds all too familiar.
In his determination to get Congress and America moving again, Johnson demanded support for the Great Society and confidence in the capacity of government to improve all the conditions of society as matters of faith. . . . The intensity of his own belief strengthened his formidable persuasive powers. . . . In so expansive an era, filled with such benevolent intentions, the boundaries between fact and fiction, between the present and the future, no longer held. . . .
And so it went in message after message. The subjects might change, but the essentials remained the same: in the opening, an expression of dire need; in the middle, a vague proposal; in the end, a buoyant description of the anticipated results -- all contained in an analysis presented in a manner that often failed to distinguish between expectations and established realities. . . .
[T]he need for haste often resulted in a failure to define the precise nature and requirements of social objectives. Legislative solutions were often devised and rushed into law before the problems were understood . . . Pass the bill now, worry about its effects and implementation later -- this was the White House strategy.

See my posting, "Steele on Race" (March 17). To many on the left all that matters is intent, not results. As mentioned in that post, the results of Johnson's programs were catastrophic.

Also on page A9 is a funny little parody of what a government backed warranty for a GM car could look like. This originally appeared in the Weekly Standard (4/13/2009)

Then there's another moving piece by a mother who lost a son in Iraq. The term she uses to describe his death, "he gave his life", is the language of someone recognizing that her son made a conscious choice, knew the risks and assumed them because he felt he was fighting for something he believed in. Contrast that with Cindy Sheehan, who diminishes the memory of her lost son by claiming he was a victim - had his life taken, and died for no purpose. We know better. Casey Sheehan was a hero. He re-enlisted near the end of his active service knowing that he would be sent to Iraq. He gave his life for a noble cause.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Useful Idiots

Six members of the Congressional Black Caucus continued a long tradition of "progressive" support for oppressive, totalitarian left wing dictatorships by traveling to Cuba and singing the praises of the murderous ruling regime presently enslaving that country. Mona Charen titled her book detailing that sad tradition, "Useful Idiots", using the phrase allegedly coined by Lenin to describe - well - progressive support for oppressive, totalitarian left wing dictatorships. She does a good job of castigating the latest cadre of those shameful idiots in a recent column.
Michelle Malkin also weighs in with the following.

"Not since The New York Times reporter Walter Duranty traipsed around Stalin's Russia, filing cheery travelogues whitewashing Communist-engineered famine, has America witnessed such disgraceful propaganda tourism."

She suggests a name change for the Congressional Black Caucus - CBC - Congressional Bootlickers for Castro.
Here are the names of the anti-American radicals who took part in this disgrace - House Democrats Emanuel Cleaver, Barbara Lee, Laura Richardson, Bobby Rush, Marcia Fudge, Mel Watt and Mike Honda. If anyone wants to know why I'm no longer a Democrat - the best answer is I don't wish to be associated with vermin such as these. Not all Democrats are apologists for left wing tyrannies, but except for a few stray communists, all apologists for left wing tyrannies are Democrats.

I've just heard John Derbyshire's latest Radio Derb (4/10). Conservatives (and open minded liberals) needing a good laugh - please listen.

The Eloquent Advocate

Some time back, on a Fox News panel, the mildly liberal Mara Liasson prefaced a response to one of Charles Krauthammer's assertions with the comment, "I will certainly never disagree with anything Charles Krauthammer says, but..."
Krauthammer, winner of a Pulitzer Prize in 1987, is held in high esteem by just about everyone, including those who disagree with him. Liberals (and some conservatives) think that the voice of conservatism is best represented by Rush Limbaugh or Ann Coulter. It isn't. (Not that those two aren't fun to read or listen to). The Financial Times agreed, in 2006 calling Krauthammer the most influential commentator in America.
Krauthammer is the polar opposite (as most of us are) of the Neanderthal-like caricature of conservatives as portrayed by the media and the arts. [Appearing in today's WSJ is a review of a new Bush bashing play (yes, another one) in which a character "is a right-wing stick figure who won't eat his wife's French toast unless she calls it freedom toast."]
For being able to devastate an opposing viewpoint or a politician's policies without resorting to mindless insults, Krauthammer is unmatched. A prime example is his shredding of Obama's "restoration of foreign policy realism" and "celebration of America's decline" in today's Wahington Post.
Another recent article by Krauthammer well worth reading is his derisive critique of Obama's stem cell decision last month. Krauthammer is uniquely qualified to write about this since he is both an M.D. and a paraplegic who supports and potentially stands to benefit from stem cell research. This column is also a good remedy for those afflicted with the twin delusions of Obama the intellectual and Bush the dummy.

Just a short comment about an editorial today in the WSJ concerning Obama's decision to violate the Nafta treaty and ban Mexican trucks from U.S. roads. Mexico has retaliated by imposing a 20% tariff on imported U.S. produce. Now U.S. fruit growers are being hurt - the WSJ says the potential annual loss for pear exporters alone could reach $60 million. And for what? The number of trucks banned numbered in the low hundreds. There are billions of trucks on our roads.
Obama took this step to pay off his political debt to the Teamsters Union. Just another instance of reneging on his pledge not to bow to special interests nor to act unilaterally.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

GOP, Party of Principle

Before I forget, I want to congratulate Congressional Republicans for holding together and voting unanimously! on April 3 against Obama's budget. Let the Democrats be known as the party that mortgaged our future. Our children and their children will know who to blame. The vote in the House was 233-196 with all 176 Republicans voting no along with 20 Democrats. In the Senate all 41 Republicans voted no, including the three RINOs (Specter, Snowe, Collins) who had previously deserted their party for the "stimulus" package vote.
No surprise here but Obama's bipartisan campaign shtick has been thoroughly exposed as a hoax. As polls show, he's already the most polarizing President we've had, and he's less than three months into his term.

Obama Gets One Right

Yesterday, President Obama gave long overdue recognition to the American success in Iraq. Speaking to U.S. soldiers in Baghdad he said, "From getting rid of Saddam, to reducing violence, to stabilizing the country, to facilitating elections -- you have given Iraq the opportunity to stand on its own as a democratic country. That is an extraordinary achievement."
Hear! Hear!
I was also going to bring up the two excellent letters appearing in the WSJ today deriding Obama's euphemisms - "overseas contingency operation" (war) and man caused disaster (terrorist attack). And that the WSJ editorial today which praises Obama for his Iraq remarks mentions the silly euphemism he's using for the surge in Afghanistan - "tactical demographic enhancement". And today's WSJ op-ed criticizing the foolishness of Obama's proposed military cuts in a time of war and geopolitical turmoil.
I was going to bring these up, but since Obama deserves untarnished credit for his Iraq statement - I won't.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


I see a bumper sticker from time to time that says, "If You're Not Outraged, You're Not Paying Attention". It's not a stretch for me to assume that those people posting these things are liberals. I live in a city, the politics of which are somewhat to the left of Hugo Chavez. Also, liberals are more likely to believe the only reason that anyone could take an opposing view to theirs' is due to lack of interest. Well, I am paying attention, I am outraged and I'm decidedly not liberal.

Barack Obama seems to have (at least) three negative characteristics.
The first of these is his basic dishonesty concerning his positions and those of his opponents. Recall how Obama distorted statements made by John McCain during the Presidential campaign. Responding to a question from Rick Warren, McCain made the flip comment that he considered the threshold for being "rich" to be $5 million. In a rare moment of Randian clarity he was trying to convey his opinion that the government shouldn't be in the business of determining what "rich" is. The $5 million figure was just some arbitrary number he threw out to illustrate his viewpoint. However, Obama (and his supporters) used this $5 million as a definitive figure and used it (relentlessly) to show how "out of touch" McCain was.
Obama also took McCain's statement that the U.S. might need to maintain a presence in Iraq for 100 years and twisted it, saying that McCain wanted 100 years of war in Iraq.
This pattern of deception continues. Charles Krauthammer has noted how Obama has absurdly blamed the financial crisis on our lack of spending on education, energy, and health care so that he can pursue his agenda of government control of those areas. (See my post, "Say What?" March 7 )
In the April 13 issue of the Weekly Standard, Fred Barnes calls Obama's deceit "misdirection" in reference to the football tactic meant to trick a defense into thinking that a play is going one way while it's actually going the other. Barnes points out that Obama uses this tactic when he says he says he wants GM to remain independent of the government, or when he says he wants to strengthen the free market system, or when he says he wants to tax only the "rich" or he says he wants to cut the deficit. Obama's actions run counter to his words.
I quote Jonah Goldberg's short piece (National Review, 4/6) at length because it illustrates how ridiculous Obama's distortions and false choices are.
What Obama goes on and on about is how President Bush was a tightwad who refused to spend a dime on vital domestic priorities. Here’s Obama responding to the charge that he’s doing too much: “To kick these problems down the road for another four years or another eight years would be to continue the same irresponsibility that led us to this point.” In his address to Congress, Obama constructed a Potemkin army of straw men, and they were all Republicans and conservatives: “I reject the view that . . . says government has no role in laying the foundation for our common prosperity.” In another speech he boldly rejected “a philosophy that says every problem can be solved if only government would step out of the way; that if government were just dismantled, divvied up into tax breaks, and handed out to the wealthiest among us, it would somehow benefit us all. Such knee-jerk disdain for government — this constant rejection of any common endeavor — cannot rebuild our levees or our roads or our bridges.” Ah, yes, I believe it was Milton Friedman who said, “Bridges must never be rebuilt.”
Anyway, Obama often goes on to lament the deficit he “inherited” from George W. Bush, suggesting that if only someone like Barack Obama had been at the helm these last eight years, things would be better. So here’s what I don’t get...Spending under George W. Bush went through the roof: education (up 58 percent), Social Security (17 percent), Medicare (51 percent), health research and regulation (55 percent), highways and mass transit (22 percent), and veterans’ benefits (59 percent). Spending grew twice as fast under Bush as it did under Clinton. But Obama thinks that amounts to laissez-faire.
...Obama says Bush ignored necessary spending, which is why our new president needs to borrow $7 trillion just to spend enough money to catch up to where we should be. But he goes on to suggest that if he — or some other responsible party/messiah/lightworker type — had been running the show, we wouldn’t have this Republican-fueled deficit that he inherited, because Democrats would have spent two, three, or ten times as much money as Republicans.
Another discouraging Obama characteristic, disdain for the country he leads, is more serious than his dishonesty. He's been touring Europe lately, making speeches apologizing for and promising to reverse supposed American disregard for other nations' interests. Some of these nations aren't even allies. Iran is one example. Calling that country "The Islamic Republic of Iran" shows a groveling deference to an oppressive regime. (It's been pointed out that he doesn't say "The Islamic Republic of Pakistan"). Bret Stephens' excellent column today in the WSJ exposes Obama's flawed reasoning in seeking...
"another treaty to end the production of weapons-grade nuclear material. "As the only nuclear power to have used a nuclear weapon," said the president, "the United States has a moral responsibility to act."
Now there's a line to linger over. Implicitly, it suggests that the nuclear challenges we now face from North Korea and Iran all stem from America's original sin of using atomic bombs to bring World War II to the swiftest possible conclusion. Never mind the estimated one million American and Japanese lives saved as result, or the peace kept and the prosperity built for six decades thereafter under the U.S. nuclear umbrella. the journalist Walter Lippmann observed in 1943, the disarmament movement of the interwar years only proved "tragically successful in disarming the nations that believed in disarmament."
In a current NRO article, Rich Lowry calls Obama's strategy "excuse me diplomacy." That strategy has been getting rave reviews in foreign capitals and that alone is a major incentive for Obama to continue it. After all he envisions himself as the leader of the nations of a new world order. He acts like a man dissing his wife to the amusement of his drinking buddies. He should understand, however, that his wife is listening and is not amused. Obama was elected as leader of our nation. And there are those of us who are not so enamored with having that leader disparage our nation's noble and mostly effective attempts to promote peace and prosperity around the world. Hopefully, enough people will start paying attention and generate a sufficient degree of outrage.
A third characteristic of Obama is naivete. He offers to consider ending U.S. plans for a missile defense in Eastern Europe. In return he hopes Russia will use its influence to pursuade Iran to dismantle its nuclear program. Only the missile defense doesn't threaten Russia one iota. And, it's in Russia's interest to have the Iranians kick up trouble. Any crisis involving Iran pushes up the price of oil which helps fund Vladimir Putin's kleptocracy.
Obama seems to sense his foreign policy cluelessness. In his column, Lowry notes that Obama felt compelled during his Prague disarmament speech to insert the unplanned line, "I'm not naive".
And Nixon wasn't a crook.


Goldberg (embedded in)




Monday, April 6, 2009

Danger Ahead

One of the lead AP stories this morning includes the statement by President Obama that the U.S. "is not and never will be at war with Islam." This is presented as some startling change in policy, never mind that President Bush bent over backwards to make the same point. Mona Charen notes some of the ways Bush reached out to Muslims
"Bush made the Feast of Eid, which marks the end of Ramadan, an annual White House celebration with prominent Muslim guests. He arguably saved more Muslim lives through the African AIDS initiative than any other world leader could claim. Mrs. Bush made improving the lives of women and girls in Afghanistan her special project. In the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks, when this was not an obvious move, President Bush visited the Islamic Center in Washington, D.C. to telegraph to the nation that anger toward American Muslims would be a misplaced response to the atrocity."
Meanwhile, Obama will continue carrying on another Bush policy (one not well advised) with nuclear wannabes Iran and North Korea. That being appeasement diplomacy, favoring carrots over sticks. In today's WSJ, John Bolton (again) excoriates this approach. He points out that yesterday's missile launch by North Korea was an unambiguous political success and will inevitably lead to material and political benefits for Kim Jong Il's regime. He notes that Iran, Israel, Russia and China are all watching Obama's response to the launch and will be emboldened to carry out their own agendas. Iran to continue to develop its nuclear program and threaten Israel (and the West) with annihilation. Israel, with new PM Benjamin Natanyahu warning that his country will defend itself if the global community fails to deter Iran. (Meaning a pre-emptive attack). Russia to reestablish it's lost empire. China to replace the U.S. and Japan as the dominant powers in Asia.
As I write this, I'm watching Obama on TV giving (yet another) speech. In this one he's calling the U.S. arrogant. It's like listening to fingernails scratching a chalkboard. What Obama calls arrogance is actually much needed global leadership. Whatever peace and stability there exists in the world today is due to our willingness to project our military power abroad. That willingness fills the void left by nations (I mean you, EU) abdicating their own responsibility to defend freedom and democracy. So we incur the costs of this defense while those nations use the money saved to support their crumbling welfare states. Such is the nature of our arrogance.
The world is full of dangerous nations and ideologies seeking to expand their power and influence. The only credible power to counterbalance these forces is the U.S. and we now have a President who believes in the mushy, why can't we all just live together approach to managing crises. This is an approach our adversaries don't subscribe to and engage in only to achieve their own ends.