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Author Topic: The Cognitive Dissonance of His Glibness  (Read 530536 times)
Power User
Posts: 7831

« Reply #250 on: March 10, 2009, 08:32:09 AM »

Although his personal history suggests he cares not for the investor class, the successful, the business class, he really should because without them he won't have any money to put into socialistic programs he really does care about.

Taxing toilet bowel flushes, and every mile we drive with electronic eavesdropping devices on our odometers will not be enough.

Amazing huh, how surprised so many people are at BOs leftism?  There was NOTHING to suggest he was anything but.
You pretend to be Abe Lincoln  well I'll give you Abe Lincoln:

*"You can fool some of the people all of the time...."  That should be the theme of the Republicans.*

Power User
Posts: 7831

« Reply #251 on: March 11, 2009, 10:40:31 AM »

BO is starting to get ciritcism from a few on the left and the MSmedia but only indirectly.  Here Fineman criticizes him but them lets him off the hook at the end:  " Obama is no socialist".   No of course not, he just allows a massive socialist agenda pass because he doesn't want to hurt feelings. huh

Camille Paglia criticizes many of his aides, but just not the Obama.  It's all their clumsiness - not his.  Of course.  Give the telepromter king credit whenever it may be due but criticize his aides when the opposite is due.

Go after Hillary when it is BOs obvious opinions/policies on the Palestinian - Israel issue that runs the show.

IF BO starts to fall in the polls this might just change.  But I suspect until, then the media and the left will still suck up to BO.

"Sponsored ByA Turning Tide?
Obama still has the approval of the people, but the establishment is beginning to mumble that the president may not have what it takes.

Howard Fineman
Newsweek Web Exclusive
Mar 10, 2009 | Updated: 8:37  a.m. ET Mar 10, 2009
Surfer that he is, President Obama should know a riptide when he's in one. The center usually is the safest, most productive place in politics, but perhaps not now, not in a once-in-a-century economic crisis.

Swimming in the middle, he's denounced as a socialist by conservatives, criticized as a polite accommodationist by government-is-the-answer liberals, and increasingly, dismissed as being in over his head by technocrats.

Luckily for Obama, the public still likes and trusts him, at least judging by the latest polls, including NEWSWEEK's. But, in ways both large and small, what's left of the American establishment is taking his measure and, with surprising swiftness, they are finding him lacking.

They have some reasons to be concerned. I trace them to a central trait of the president's character: he's not really an in-your-face guy. By recent standards—and that includes Bill Clinton as well as George Bush—Obama for the most part is seeking to govern from the left, looking to solidify and rely on his own party more than woo Republicans. And yet he is by temperament judicious, even judicial. He'd have made a fine judge. But we don't need a judge. We need a blunt-spoken coach.

Obama may be mistaking motion for progress, calling signals for a game plan. A busy, industrious overachiever, he likes to check off boxes on a long to-do list. A genial, amenable guy, he likes to appeal to every constituency, or at least not write off any. A beau ideal of Harvard Law, he can't wait to tackle extra-credit answers on the exam.

But there is only one question on this great test of American fate: can he lead us away from plunging into another Depression?

If the establishment still has power, it is a three-sided force, churning from inside the Beltway, from Manhattan-based media and from what remains of corporate America. Much of what they are saying is contradictory, but all of it is focused on the president:

The $787 billion stimulus, gargantuan as it was, was in fact too small and not aimed clearly enough at only immediate job-creation.
The $275 billion home-mortgage-refinancing plan, assembled by Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, is too complex and indirect.
The president gave up the moral high ground on spending not so much with the "stim" but with the $400 billion supplemental spending bill, larded as it was with 9,000 earmarks.
The administration is throwing good money after bad in at least two cases—the sinkhole that is Citigroup (there are many healthy banks) and General Motors (they deserve what they get).
The failure to call for genuine sacrifice on the part of all Americans, despite the rhetorical claim that everyone would have to "give up" something.
A willingness to give too much leeway to Congress to handle crucial details, from the stim to the vague promise to "reform" medical care without stating what costs could be cut.
A 2010 budget that tries to do far too much, with way too rosy predictions on future revenues and growth of the economy. This led those who fear we are about to go over Niagara Falls to deride Obama as a paddler who'd rather redesign the canoe.
A treasury secretary who has been ridiculed on "Saturday Night Live" and compared to Doogie Howser, Barney Fife and Macaulay Culkin in "Home Alone"—and those are the nice ones.
A seeming paralysis in the face of the banking crisis: unwilling to nationalize banks, yet unable to figure out how to handle toxic assets in another way—by, say, setting up a "bad bank" catch basin.
A seeming reluctance to seek punishing prosecutions of the malefactors of the last 15 years—and even considering a plea bargain for Bernie Madoff, the poster thief who stole from charities and Nobel laureates and all the grandparents of Boca. Yes, prosecutors are in charge, but the president is entitled—some would say required—to demand harsh justice.
The president, known for his eloquence and attention to detail, seemingly unwilling or unable to patiently, carefully explain how the world works—or more important, how it failed. Using FDR's fireside chats as a model, Obama needs to explain the banking system in laymen's terms. An ongoing seminar would be great.
Obama is no socialist, but critics argue that now is not the time for costly, upfront spending on social engineering in health care, energy or education.
Other than all that, in the eyes of the big shots, he is doing fine. The American people remain on his side, but he has to be careful that the gathering judgment of the Bigs doesn't trickle down to the rest of us.

URL:© 2009 "
« Reply #252 on: March 11, 2009, 12:44:08 PM »

Heads should roll

President Obama's clumsy, smirky staff is sinking him -- and resurrecting a deflated GOP! Plus: Lay off Rush! And a Brazilian diva, up close and electric
By Camille Paglia

Mar. 11, 2009 |

Free Barack!

Yes, free the president from his flacks, fixers and goons -- his posse of smirky smart alecks and provincial rubes, who were shrewd enough to beat the slow, pompous Clintons in the mano-a-mano primaries but who seem like dazed lost lambs in the brave new world of federal legislation and global statesmanship.

Heads should be rolling at the White House for the embarrassing series of flubs that have overshadowed President Obama's first seven weeks in office and given the scattered, demoralized Republicans a huge boost toward regrouping and resurrection. (Michelle, please use those fabulous toned arms to butt some heads!)

First it was that chaotic pig rut of a stimulus package, which let House Democrats throw a thousand crazy kitchen sinks into what should have been a focused blueprint for economic recovery. Then it was the stunt of unnerving Wall Street by sending out a shrill duo of slick geeks (Timothy Geithner and Peter Orszag) as the administration's weirdly adolescent spokesmen on economics. Who could ever have confidence in that sorry pair?

And then there was the fiasco of the ham-handed White House reception for British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, which was evidently lacking the most basic elements of ceremony and protocol. Don't they read the "Iliad" anymore in the Ivy League? Check that out for the all-important ritual of gift giving, which has cemented alliances around the world for 5,000 years.

President Obama -- in whom I still have great hope and confidence -- has been ill-served by his advisors and staff. Yes, they have all been blindsided and overwhelmed by the crushing demands of the presidency. But I continue to believe in citizen presidents, who must learn by doing, even in a perilous age of terrorism. Though every novice administration makes blunders and bloopers, its modus operandi should not be a conspiratorial reflex cynicism.

Case in point: The orchestrated attack on radio host Rush Limbaugh, which has made the White House look like an oafish bunch of drunken frat boys. I returned from carnival in Brazil (more on that shortly) to find the Limbaugh affair in full flower. Has the administration gone mad? This entire fracas was set off by the president himself, who lowered his office by targeting a private citizen by name. Limbaugh had every right to counterattack, which he did with gusto. Why have so many Democrats abandoned the hallowed principle of free speech? Limbaugh, like our own liberal culture hero Lenny Bruce, is a professional commentator who can be as rude and crude as he wants.

Yes, I cringe when Rush plays his "Barack the Magic Negro" satire or when he gratuitously racializes the debate over Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb, who is a constant subject of withering scrutiny for quite different reasons on sports shows here in Philadelphia. On the other hand, I totally agree with Rush about "feminazis," whose amoral tactics and myopic worldview I as a dissident feminist had to battle for decades. As a student of radio and a longtime listener of Rush's show, I have gotten a wealth of pleasure and insight from him over the years. To attack Rush Limbaugh is to attack his audience -- and to intensify the loyalty of his fan base.

If Rush's presence looms too large for the political landscape, it's because of the total vacuity of the Republican leadership, which seems to be in a dithering funk. Rush isn't responsible for the feebleness of Republican voices or the thinness of Republican ideas. Only ignoramuses believe that Rush speaks for the Republican Party. On the contrary, Rush as a proponent of heartland conservatism has waged open warfare with the Washington party establishment for years.

And I'm sick of people impugning Rush's wealth and lifestyle, which is no different from that of another virtuoso broadcaster who hit it big -- Oprah Winfrey. Rush Limbaugh is an embodiment of the American dream: He slowly rose from obscurity to fame on the basis of his own talent and grit. Every penny Rush has earned was the result of his rapport with a vast audience who felt shut out and silenced by the liberal monopoly of major media. As a Democrat and Obama supporter, I certainly do not agree with everything Rush says or does. I was deeply upset, for example, by the sneering tone both Rush and Sean Hannity took on Inauguration Day, when partisan politics should have been set aside for a unifying celebration of American government and history. Nevertheless, I respect Rush for his independence of thought and his always provocative news analysis. He doesn't run with the elite -- he goes his own way.

President Obama should yank the reins and get his staff's noses out of slash-and-burn petty politics. His own dignity and prestige are on the line. If he wants a second term, he needs to project a calmer perspective about the eternal reality of vociferous opposition, which is built into our democratic system. Right now, the White House is starting to look like Raphael's scathing portrait of a pampered, passive Pope Leo X and his materialistic cardinals -- one of the first examples of an artist sending a secret, sardonic message to posterity. Do those shifty, beady-eyed guys needing a shave remind you of anyone? Yes, it's bare-knuckles Chicago pugilism, transplanted to Washington. The charitably well-meaning but hopelessly extravagant Leo X, by the way, managed to mishandle the birth of the Protestant Reformation, which permanently split Christianity.
« Reply #253 on: March 11, 2009, 10:09:36 PM »

This makes my brain hurt. Maybe next we can set up a market for stimulus derivatives, eh?

Cities selling stimulus money

By Alfred Lee, Staff Writer
Posted: 03/09/2009 08:15:39 PM PDT

A few area cities have found an alternate way to use their federal stimulus money: selling it to other cities for cash.

Metropolitan Transportation Authority has allocated a minimum of $500,000 in federal stimulus funds to each of the 88 cities in the county for transportation-related projects. Unincorporated areas will benefit, too.

Several smaller cities, some without shovel-ready projects, are making deals with others to sell or swap such funds and replenish their general funds.

"The best way to see this is as a huge windfall for us because we do have the flexibility of using the general fund money now," city manager Shauna Clark of La Habra Heights said.

The city of Bradbury, with a population of roughly 1,000, is working on a deal to sell its $500,000 share of federal funding doled out by the MTA to the city of Torrance for $315,000 in cash for its general fund, according to Torrance officials.

Torrance, which was allocated $2.9 million by the MTA, plans to use the extra funds for a variety of street improvement projects, including a major reconstruction and expansion of Crenshaw Boulevard, one of the city's main thoroughfares, said city manager LeRoy Jackson.

La Habra Heights, a city of 6,000, has sold its $500,000 in federal funds to the city of Westlake Village for $310,000 cash. Irwindale, population 1,500, also sold its $500,000 to Westlake Village, for $325,000 cash.

Westlake Village, in turn, plans to use those federal funds for a multimillion dollar project improving the overpass and on-ramp near the Lindero Canyon Road exit off the 101 Freeway, said city manager Ray Taylor.
The city of Rolling Hills, population 1,900, sold its $500,000 share to the city of Rancho Palos Verdes for $305,000 cash. The city of Avalon has reached an agreement to swap its $500,000 with L.A. County.

Sierra Madre was courted by Pasadena, Arcadia and El Monte, but rather than take general fund money, has tentatively agreed to swap its $500,000 in stimulus funds for an equal $500,000 in future Measure R funds with nearby La Canada Flintridge.

Temple City and Hidden Hills have also been contacted by hopeful buyers, but have not yet given notice of any kind of deal, according to MTA officials.

Most of the deals still must be approved by the respective City Councils involved and by the MTA.

The MTA's authorization of such swaps amounts to a "cash giveaway out the back door," said Doug Johnson of the Rose Institute.

"The MTA pleads they have no money for transportation projects, and now they're just giving cash away and letting the cities auction it off to each other regardless of priority or project or what," Johnson said. "I'm just stunned and appalled."

Part of the reason the MTA did not simply reallocate the unused money, said chief planning officer Carol Inge, was that "our board wanted to give every city at least a chance to benefit from the stimulus package."

"The intent of the stimulus funds is to get jobs quickly, and I think it's a good thing to get them all over the county, and our cities have always been partnered with us in doing transportation improvements," Inge said.

The funding that the MTA plans to allocate to its cities totals some $215 million - a number that could rise to $315 million, pending a bill in the state legislature.

In a March 3 letter to all cities in its jurisdiction, MTA officials authorized the swapping and provided a list of cities that had not submitted enough projects qualified for stimulus spending.

The deadline to notify the MTA of a swap is Friday, March 13.

The move puts stimulus money in the hands of cities that are better-prepared, Inge said.

"I think that gives it to the cities who are better poised to get this federal money out quickly. They know how to go through the process, and they have the resources to get money."

Staff Writer Nathan McIntire contributed to this story.
Power User
Posts: 42475

« Reply #254 on: March 12, 2009, 01:47:26 AM »

Wow, just wow.  cry
prentice crawford
« Reply #255 on: March 12, 2009, 04:23:56 PM »

 President Obama, during a recent press conference, said that he wanted Congress to take up the matter of the Clinton gun ban again and make it permanent law this time. One of the reasons he gave for this was that guns bought at gunshows in the US, especially AR15 assault rifles, were being transported across the border to Mexico and were being used by the drug cartels. This was a baldface lie by Obama.
 The Mexican government has not released any serial numbers from weapons capture from the cartels. So Obama has no idea where the guns came from. Now why wouldn't the Mexican government want to prove where the guns are coming from instead of just blaming the US? Well it's pretty much an open secret in Mexico that those brand spanking new AR's, are Mexican military issue.
 Of course if Obama was serious about stopping anything from going into Mexico, he could close those big honking holes in our border down there. Oh I forgot, that might infringe on the rights of some illegal alien sneaking into our country. So yeah, his only option is to take American citizens rights away from them. Those ranchers along the borders can start tossing rocks at the drug cartels when the violence crosses over onto their property in the US. tongue
Power User
Posts: 42475

« Reply #256 on: March 12, 2009, 05:18:05 PM »

For the record, apparently the actions described in my post #253 have been reversed due to adverse publicity.
Power User
Posts: 15533

« Reply #257 on: March 16, 2009, 01:16:13 PM »

Even Obama supporters worried about White House incompetence
posted at 9:37 am on March 16, 2009 by Ed Morrissey   
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I guess we can officially say that the honeymoon’s over.  The New York Daily News, not exactly a pillar of conservative thought, finds itself wondering aloud about whether Barack Obama and his team have the competence to lead the nation.  The whispers have grown into a chorus:

Not long ago, after a string of especially bad days for the Obama administration, a veteran Democratic pol approached me with a pained look on his face and asked, “Do you think they know what they’re doing?”

The question caught me off guard because the man is a well-known Obama supporter. As we talked, I quickly realized his asking suggested his own considerable doubts.

Yes, it’s early, but an eerily familiar feeling is spreading across party lines and seeping into the national conversation. It’s a nagging doubt about the competency of the White House.

Well, what did people expect?  For the first time in decades and perhaps ever, America chose a President without executive experience in the public or private sectors, and without military command experience.  If people expected smooth performance and cool competence from that kind of resume, then the best that can be said about them is that they indulged in self-delusion on a massive scale.

For the rest of us, this comes as no surprise at all.  The failed appointments have managed to be less embarrassing than the ones that “succeeded”, such as Tim Geithner and Vivek Kundra.  The administration keeps promising plans that never get delivered, and Obama all but abdicated to Nancy Pelosi during the Porkulus debacle.  And that doesn’t even begin to cover Obama’s embarrassing performance during Gordon Brown’s visit, and Hillary Clinton’s shameful “I don’t understand multiparty democracy” tour at the EU.

Obama is in over his head, and so are his closest aides, such as Geithner, Hillary, and the entire team.  The best we can hope is that on-the-job training can work quickly.

Update: Worse than Bush? Kevin McCullough makes that argument in his weekly column.
Power User
Posts: 7831

« Reply #258 on: March 16, 2009, 02:19:56 PM »

Do I hear

Jimmy C?
Power User
Posts: 15533

« Reply #259 on: March 16, 2009, 02:22:59 PM »

Well, Carter actually had a resume. Captain Teleprompter on the other hand....   rolleyes
Power User
Posts: 15533

« Reply #260 on: March 16, 2009, 02:27:34 PM »

Does he even understand what he reads off of the teleprompter?
Power User
Posts: 15533

« Reply #261 on: March 16, 2009, 08:53:50 PM »

American Legion commander “angered” after meeting Obama
posted at 7:00 pm on March 16, 2009 by Ed Morrissey   

Apparently, the Obama administration hasn’t backed away from its plans to start offloading costs for wounded veterans to third-party insurance, which will make acquiring such insurance nearly impossible.  The commander of the American Legion emerged from a meeting with President Obama “angered” at Obama’s insistence on generating revenue from those who sacrificed for American security:

The leader of the nation’s largest veterans organization says he is “deeply disappointed and concerned” after a meeting with President Obama today to discuss a proposal to force private insurance companies to pay for the treatment of military veterans who have suffered service-connected disabilities and injuries. The Obama administration recently revealed a plan to require private insurance carriers to reimburse the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in such cases.

“It became apparent during our discussion today that the President intends to move forward with this unreasonable plan,” said Commander David K. Rehbein of The American Legion. “He says he is looking to generate $540-million by this method, but refused to hear arguments about the moral and government-avowed obligations that would be compromised by it.”

The Commander, clearly angered as he emerged from the session said, “This reimbursement plan would be inconsistent with the mandate ‘ to care for him who shall have borne the battle’ given that the United States government sent members of the armed forces into harm’s way, and not private insurance companies. I say again that The American Legion does not and will not support any plan that seeks to bill a veteran for treatment of a service connected disability at the very agency that was created to treat the unique need of America’s veterans!”

Commander Rehbein was among a group of senior officials from veterans service organizations joining the President, White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel, Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki and Steven Kosiak, the overseer of defense spending at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The group’s early afternoon conversation at The White House was precipitated by a letter of protest presented to the President earlier this month. The letter, co-signed by Commander Rehbein and the heads of ten colleague organizations, read, in part, ” There is simply no logical explanation for billing a veteran’s personal insurance for care that the VA has a responsibility to provide. While we understand the fiscal difficulties this country faces right now, placing the burden of those fiscal problems on the men and women who have already sacrificed a great deal for this country is unconscionable.”

The Obama administration explains that it wants private insurers who sell coverage to vets to pay their fair share, but there are two things wrong with that argument.  First, the United States has a moral obligation to provide treatment for those wounded in the service of their country. That’s a commitment we make to the people who enlist in military, and should not get outsourced.

Second, vets with service-related injuries and illnesses can only get third-party insurance because insurers know the US will cover all service-related medical treatment through the VA.  If the government reneges on that commitment, it will put insurers on the hook for veterans already enrolled — but it will make it a lot harder for the next set of veterans to get insured.  It will also raise costs to the rest of the insured by those companies, when the burden should fall on all Americans equally.

If the country needs more revenue streams, it should find some other way to find them than the backs of our wounded veterans.  They’ve sacrificed enough.  Shame on the Obama administration for attempting to weasel out of our commitment.

Update: This Ain’t Hell wonders when General Eric Shinseki will resign in protest.
Power User
Posts: 15533

« Reply #262 on: March 17, 2009, 06:56:43 PM »

Bush, for his flaws was a good man. Obama is a piece of lying garbage.
Power User
Posts: 42475

« Reply #263 on: March 18, 2009, 10:50:52 AM »

Brilliance is Overrated
Dennis Prager
Tuesday, March 17, 2009

I have met very few parents or grandparents who have not characterized at least one of their offspring as “extremely bright” or even “brilliant” – usually beginning at the age of 2. The emphasis on the importance of the intellect is greater than ever.

That is why people were persuande into having their babies listen to Mozart after it was reported that listening to Mozart -- even in utero -- would make babies smarter. As an occasional orchestra conductor, I am delighted when anyone of any age is exposed to classical music. But love of music was not an issue here -- the Mozart-for-babies craze was about love of brains, not love of music. Likewise, those who can afford to do so vie with one another to have their children admitted to prestigious preschools and elementary schools.

This preoccupation with brains and intellectual attainment extends into adulthood. Most Americans upon hearing that someone has attended Harvard University assumes that this person is not only smarter than most other people but is actually a more impressive person. That is why, for example, people assume that a Nobel laureate in physics has something particularly intelligent to say about social policy. In fact, there is no reason at all to assume that a Nobel physicist has more insight into health care issues or capital punishment than a high school physics teacher, let alone more insight than a moral theologian. But people, especially the highly educated, do think so. That’s why one frequently sees ads advocating some political position signed by Nobel laureates.

Intellectuals, e.g., those with graduate degrees, have among the worst, if not the worst, records on the great moral issues of the past century. Intellectuals such as the widely adulated French intellectual Jean Paul Sartre were far more likely than hardhats to admire butchers of humanity like Stalin and Mao. But this has had no impact on most people’s adulation of the intellect and intellectuals.

So, too, the current economic decline was brought about in large measure by people in the financial sector widely regarded as “brilliant.” Of course, it turns out that many of them were either dummies, amoral, incompetent, or all three.

The adulation of the intellect is one reason President George W. Bush was so reviled by the intellectual class. He didn’t speak like an intellectual (even though he graduated from Yale) and for that reason was widely dismissed as a dummy (though he is, in fact, very bright). On the other hand, Barack Obama speaks like the college professor he was and thereby seduces the adulators of the intellect the moment he opens his mouth. Yet, it is he, not George W. Bush, who nearly always travels with teleprompters to deliver even the briefest remarks. And compared to George W. Bush on many important issues, his talks are superficial -- as reading, as opposed to hearing, them easily reveals.

Take, for example, one of the most complex and compelling moral issues of our time -- embryonic stem cell research. This is an excellent area for comparison since both presidents delivered major addresses on the exact same subject.

Charles Krauthammer of the Washington Post has compared the two speeches. He has particular credibility on this score because he is a scientist (he has a medical degree from Harvard Medical School), a moralist, and has special interest in stem cell’s possibilities because he is a paraplegic from a diving accident. And, as he points out, “I am not religious. I do not believe that personhood is conferred upon conception.”

Krauthammer’s verdict?

“Bush's nationally televised stem cell speech was the most morally serious address on medical ethics ever given by an American president. It was so scrupulous in presenting the best case for both his view and the contrary view that until the last few minutes, the listener had no idea where Bush would come out.”

“Obama's address was morally unserious in the extreme. It was populated, as his didactic discourses always are, with a forest of straw men.”

“Unlike Bush, who painstakingly explained the balance of ethical and scientific goods he was trying to achieve, Obama did not even pretend to make the case why some practices are morally permissible and others not.”

In a similar manner, I devoted two columns to analyzing Barack Obama’s widely hailed speech in Berlin when he was a candidate for president. I found it to be both vacuous and, to use Krauthammer’s words, “morally unserious in the extreme.”

But Obama sounds intelligent. As indeed he is.

The reason we have too few solutions to the problems that confront people -- in their personal lives as well as in the political realm -- is almost entirely due to a lack of common sense, psychological impediments to clear thinking, a perverse value system, to a lack of self-control, or all four. It is almost never due to a lack of brainpower. On the contrary, the smartest and the best educated frequently make things worse.

« Reply #264 on: March 18, 2009, 03:00:23 PM »

March 18, 2009
The dumbest-ever team of the 'best and brightest' (updated)

Ed Lasky
We seem to have the stupidest team of "the best and the brightest" ever assembled in any administration. We have a blatantly illegal breaking of the NAFTA agreement as a sop to the Teamsters Union (Obama has stopped Mexican truckers from transporting goods into America, Mexico reacted by slapping tariffs on a wide-range of American goods); we have buy American provisions in the stimulus bill (violating WTO rules); Obama humiliated Gordon Brown, Prime Minister of England (our closest ally),  by  a series of actions that were not just rude but displayed a galling level of incompetency.

Then there is Timothy Geithner, the tax cheat charged with enforcing the letter of the tax law on the rest of us.

Now we have the Energy Secretary piling on: touting the option of using carbon tariffs as a "weapon" against our trading partners. The statement is clearly aimed at China-the largest owner of Treasury securities in the world who we will need to continue buying them to fund Obama's giveaways.

Energy Secretary Steven Chu on Tuesday advocated adjusting trade duties as a "weapon" to protect U.S. manufacturing, just a day after one of China's top climate envoys warned of a trade war if developed countries impose tariffs on carbon-intensive imports.

Mr. Chu, speaking before a House science panel, said establishing a carbon tariff would help "level the playing field" if other countries haven't imposed greenhouse-gas-reduction mandates similar to the one President Barack Obama plans to implement over the next couple of years. It is the first time the Obama administration has made public its view on the issue.

"If other countries don't impose a cost on carbon, then we will be at a disadvantage...[and] we would look at considering perhaps duties that would offset that cost," Mr. Chu said.

Li Gao, a senior Chinese negotiator from the National Development and Reform Commission, told Dow Jones Newswires Monday that a carbon tariff would be a "disaster," would prompt a trade war and wouldn't be legal under World Trade Organization agreements

"It does not abide by the rule of [the] WTO and, secondly, it's not fair," Mr. Gao said, adding that his delegation would relate China's concerns to U.S. officials.

Barack Obama all but declared himself a citizen of the world; he brought out worshipful crowds in Europe during the campaign. Are they having any doubts about him now?

Update (via Mark Steyn). Our media friends didn't publicize this the way they would have if the Bush White House had done it: when the White House announced a meet-and-greet with Brazil's president Lula Da Silva, they misspelled his name.

Page Printed from: at March 18, 2009 - 03:59:10 PM EDT
Power User
Posts: 15533

« Reply #265 on: March 18, 2009, 06:48:18 PM »

Fiddling while Rome burns.
« Reply #266 on: March 18, 2009, 08:36:20 PM »

Published: 03.18.2009
Mexico releases list of U.S. products that will see higher tariffs
Products that face higher tariffs beginning today:

Mexico has released the list of U.S. products that will see tariffs of 10 percent to 45 percent. The move is in retaliation for the U.S. scrapping a test program allowing Mexican trucks to deliver goods beyond a U.S. border zone.
Among affected goods are certain fruits and vegetables, wine, juices, sunglasses, toothpaste and coffee, according to a government statement. Most tariffs are 10 percent to 20 percent, with unspecified fresh products subject to a 45 percent charge. The tariffs will apply to $2.4 billion of goods and take effect today.
Talks to diffuse the first trade dispute of President Barack Obama's administration can't begin until the U.S. has a Commerce Secretary, Economy Minister Gerardo Ruiz Mateos said. Discussions to resolve the dispute will start once his counterpart, Gary Locke, is confirmed by the Senate, the economy minister said.
Among the 90 products on Mexico's list are potatoes, cherries, mineral water, photocopy and toilet paper, as well as wireless phones, tickets for public events and the lottery. The list doesn't include corn.
"We're waiting to begin work," Ruiz Mateos said. "Unfortunately, the U.S. Senate hasn't designated our counterparts yet."
The tariffs "will have a big impact on the companies that export those items," said Sidney Weintraub, a specialist in international economics at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. "It could take them out of the market."
Mexico is the second largest U.S. export market for agricultural products, said John Murphy, vice president of Latin American affairs for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. He couldn't immediately say which companies would be most affected.
Editor's note: The list has been added in a box to the right of your screen.
Products that face higher tariffs beginning today:
Christmas trees 20 percent
Onions 10 percent
Cabbage 10 percent
Pears 20 percent
Apricots 20 percent
Strawberries 20percent
Potatoes 20 percent
Pork rind 20 percent
Almonds 20 percent
Cherries 20 percent
Fruit juice 20 percent
Soy sauce 20 percent
Mineral water 20 percent
Wine 20 percent
Beer 20 percent
Dog and cat food 10 percent
Manicure and pedicure tools 15 percent
Shampoo 15 percent
Hair conditioner 15 percent
Toothpaste 15 percent
Shaving products/after shave 15 percent
Deodorants and antiperspirant 15 percent
Dinnerware 15 percent
Statues and decorative artwork 20 percent
Copy paper 10 percent
Toilet paper 10 percent
Notebooks 10 percent
Pencils 20 percent
Event or lottery tickets 20 percent
Plastic identification cards 20 percent
Curtain rods or hanging tools for blinds 20 percent
Coffee makers 20 percent
Cordless telephones 20 percent
Sunglasses 15 percent
« Reply #267 on: March 18, 2009, 10:46:40 PM »

Interesting take on AIG culpability in the white house. Contains a lot of links and formatting well worth pursuing:
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« Reply #268 on: March 19, 2009, 01:38:06 AM »

The WH or Geitner?
« Reply #269 on: March 19, 2009, 06:02:23 AM »

The WH or Geitner?

Good question. I'd guess Geitner, though it looks like Greyhound is going to be doing some big biz, what with all the busses all these clowns are throwing each other under.
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« Reply #270 on: March 19, 2009, 05:55:48 PM »

Confirmed: DVDs that Obama gave Gordon Brown are the wrong format
posted at 4:50 pm on March 19, 2009 by Allahpundit   

Via Media Blog, one final cringeworthy indignity from the gifts that keep on giving. Until now I thought Obama’s team had spent about five minutes brainstorming on what to get Brown. I was wrong. It was more like two minutes.

What’s that term The One’s been using for his foreign policy? Ah, right. “Smart power.”

Alas, when the PM settled down to begin watching them the other night, he found there was a problem.

The films only worked in DVD players made in North America and the words “wrong region” came up on his screen. Although he mournfully had to put the popcorn away, he is unlikely to jeopardise the special relationship – or “special partnership”, as we are now supposed to call it – by registering a complaint…

A White House spokesman sniggered when I put the story to him and he was still looking into the matter when my deadline came last night.

By the way, when Obama’s unlikely gift was disclosed, a reader emailed me to ask if Clueless was among the films. Funnily enough, it was not.

What’d he get the Irish PM for St. Patrick’s Day, a kilt? Exit question: Seriously, as minor as this is, doesn’t someone deserve to be fired for it?

Update: Iowahawk e-mails to remind me that he called this 10 days ago, but, he says, “In Obama’s defense at least they weren’t Betamax.”
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« Reply #271 on: March 19, 2009, 09:32:12 PM »

**He'll get right on this, after Leno....**

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Standing By for Orders?

According to our senior commanders in the Pacific, the U.S. military is prepared to shoot down North Korea's Tapeodong-2 missile when it is launched next month.

If it is called upon.

That's an important caveat, because there is no indication (yet) that President Obama has given that order. At this point, we're roughly two weeks away from the DPRK's planned launch window, and comments from Admiral Timothy Keating, the Commander of U.S. Pacific Command (USPACOM) suggest the shoot down directive has not been issued.

More from the AP via Breitbart:

Admiral Keating told senators at a hearing that there was a "high probability" that the United States could knock down a North Korean missile. Gen. Walter Sharp, the U.S. commander in South Korea, said the threat "is real."


Keating said the United States is getting "reasonable intelligence" reports that give a close look at North Korea's activities.

"We'll be prepared to respond," he said, adding that "the United States has the capability" to shoot down any missile.

In terms of "reasonable intelligence," Admiral Keating means the U.S. has some idea of Pyongyang's plans, in terms of an actual satellite launch, or a long-range missile test masquerading as a satellite shot. We may not have conclusive data, but through the use of advanced imagery techniques and MASINT (Measures and Signatures Intelligence) sensors, the intel community has probably made a preliminary call, favoring one scenario over the other.

Put another way, the Obama Administration (at this point) should have enough information to make a call, and issue a warning to the DPRK. Prior to the last TD-2 test in 2006, the U.S. put land and sea-based missile defenses on higher alert, and publicly promised to shoot down the missile, if it threatened our interests, including American allies in the region. The intercept became unnecessary when the long-range missile fell apart, roughly 100 seconds into its flight.

So far, Mr. Obama has refrained from making a similar vow, creating some confusion among military leaders and our Asian partners. Keating made similar remarks a couple of weeks ago, earning a verbal rebuke from White House aides, who claimed that the admiral's comments were unhelpful and could upset diplomatic overtures to North Korea.

As we noted previously, the logic of this approach is apparently lost on Japan as well. Tokyo has threatened to intercept the TD-2 if it threatens Japanese territory--a virtual certainty--using its Kongo-class destroyers, equipped with the same Aegis radar system and SM-3 interceptor missiles found on U.S. naval vessels.

Without better coordination, we could well witness a Japanese combatant knock down the North Korean missile while we stand by and watch. While the Japanese have the inherent right of self-defense, the ramifications of that intercept would be felt throughout Northeast Asia and beyond. Even South Korea, the most likely target for any North Korean military action, would be uneasy over Japanese forces taking defensive action against the DPRK.

Reading between the lines of Admiral Keating's testimony, he appears to be prodding Washington for some kind of guidance on the pending TD-2 launch. His assets include several ballistic missile defense ships assigned to the 7th Fleet (home ported in Japan), as well as land-based interceptor missiles in Alaska and tracking radars across the region, all designed to deal with this type of threat.

These resources can be rapidly deployed, placed on heightened alert and respond to the North Korean test. All that's required is an executive decision. Based on his testimony before Congress, it sounds like Admiral Keating is still awaiting orders, even at this (relatively) late hour.
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« Reply #272 on: March 19, 2009, 11:51:16 PM »

Fascinating.  Perhaps it would be better in the North Korea thread?
« Reply #273 on: March 20, 2009, 12:51:52 PM »

Top 10 gaffes by Barack Obama and Joe Biden
Posted By: Toby Harnden at Mar 20, 2009 at 16:35:26 [General]

Perhaps Barack Obama was just trying to make Joe Biden feel better by dropping his clanger on Jay Leno. Whatever the President was thinking, 60 days into their new administration it's time for a post-election Obama-Biden Top 10, in reverse order:

10.  Just after he's been sworn in by him, the newly-minted Vice President Joe Biden gets the name of Justice John Paul Stephens, "one of the great justices" of the Supreme Court, calling him "Justice Stewart":


9. Barack Obama jokes about Nancy Reagan having séances in the White House. He later called her to apologise after the AP noted that although she had consulted astrologers, "she did not hold conversations with the dead":


8.  Joe Biden forgets the "website number" for the White House internet site designed to show how TARP money is being spent:


7. Barack Obama mixes up the windows and doors at his new home:


6. Joe Biden jokes about Chief Justice John Roberts fluffing the inauguration oath. The president is visibly annoyed with his veep and Biden later apologises:


5. A Marine One double. First, on his maiden Marine One trip Obama breaches protocol and makes life uncomfortable for an enlisted marine by shaking the the serviceman's hand as he's saluting his commander-in-chief:

Then - Gerald Ford, eat your heart out. Barack Obama bangs his head as he boards his helicopter:


4. Joe Biden tells his wife that he had the choice of being either Secretary of State or vice-president - an offer that was news to Obama aides and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton when Jill Biden spilled the beans on Oprah:


3. Gordon Brown presents the new President with: a pen holder carved from the timbers of HMS Gannett, a sister ship of HMS Resolute; the commissioning certificate of HMS Resolute; and a seven-volume biography of Winston Churchill. In return, the Prime minister gets 25 DVDS, which don't work in Britain:


2. Joe Biden tells a former Senate colleague who addresses him as "Mr Vice-President" to "give me a f---ing break":


1. The latest one takes the biscuit. Barack Obama jokes about the disabled on the Jay Leno show. Afterwards, he calls the head of the Special Olympics to apologise:

« Reply #274 on: March 20, 2009, 07:49:59 PM »

Coming soon to a neighborhood or shopping center near you?

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« Reply #275 on: March 20, 2009, 08:30:38 PM »

Will they be wearing brown shirts, like the asshat in the video?
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« Reply #276 on: March 22, 2009, 09:23:07 AM »

Yet another czar!

Here's a taste of his thinking:

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« Reply #277 on: March 23, 2009, 05:59:21 PM »

Obama volunteers hunt budget support in Birmingham, Alabama grassroots campaign
Sunday, March 22, 2009
News staff writer
Volunteers fanned out across the Birmingham area and Alabama Saturday to pump up enthusiasm for President Barack Obama's budget proposal in much the same way they did to win over voters during the presidential campaign.

About 30 volunteers in Birmingham canvassed shopping areas and other high-traffic locations to talk about the need for health care reform, an education overhaul and environmentally friendly energy development.

"If we don't change these three things in the next 10 to 15 years, America is over as we know it," Chris DeHaven, told the group of volunteers before they went their separate ways.

Obama's plan faces criticism from Republicans and others who say it's too expensive. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office released a report Friday saying Obama's agenda would cause huge budget deficits, forcing the country to borrow $9.3 trillion in the next decade.

Those who gathered at Kelly Ingram Park in downtown Birmingham were urged to enlist others who share Obama's vision and to stay away from trying to convert naysayers.

"We're looking for supporters," said DeHaven of Hoover, one of the event's organizers. "We're not looking for a fight. That will come later, when we have an army."

The volunteers are part of Organizing for America, the same grassroots, national network credited in large part with Obama's quick rise from obscurity to president. Birmingham and 11 other sites statewide were part of a national push this weekend by Organizing for America to trumpet Obama's spending proposal.

Across the metro area, volunteers gave their opinions about why Obama's plan is good for the country's future. Then they asked those willing to sign a pledge of support for the budget. Supporters' e-mail addresses and other contact information were collected, to keep people engaged and to recruit more volunteers.

Leanne Townsend of Hoover also helped organize Saturday's event. She has been a member of the Obama grassroots network since March 2007.

"Our group in Birmingham has been very involved," Townsend said. "We're still very energetic. We all worked so hard during the campaign. We can't just stop."

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« Reply #278 on: March 24, 2009, 02:49:40 AM »

- Pajamas Media - -

Obama’s Amateur Hour on 60 Minutes
Posted By John Hawkins On March 23, 2009 @ 1:30 am In . Feature 01, Media, Politics | 144 Comments

Many of us, at certain times during our lives, have believed we could do a better job than the president of the United States, just as we thought we’d do a better job than the coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers or the network executive who greenlighted [1] Real Chance of Love.

The problem tends to be that what looks so crystal clear from the outside, usually in hindsight, appears confusing, muddled, and difficult to fathom when you’re actually going through it.

That’s why experience matters, particularly executive experience, and it’s a big part of the reason why Barack Obama has done such a mediocre job so far.

Obama is a silver-tongued political novice who has managed to be in the right place at the right time.

Now, if you’re a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. And if you’re a politician like Barack Obama, who has gotten everything he has in life by being slick and sounding confident, every problem looks like something that can just be talked away.

That tendency was on display in his 60 Minutes interview, a “grilling” which would be considered a softball interview for a Republican (”Wow, that’s a great swing set for your kids to play on. How are they liking the White House so far?”) but was still probably tougher than any interrogation Obama has received since he entered the White House. (After all, he even admitted that he gets lost in the White House “repeatedly.”)

Each time Obama got a tough question, he did what sociopathic politicians have done for decades: he lied, dodged, and talked out of both sides of his mouth. The best example of that was near the beginning of the interview when Steve Kroft asked Obama about the AIG bonuses.

Was Obama surprised by the hostility to the AIG bonuses. His answer?

I wasn’t surprised by it. Our team wasn’t surprised by it.

Well, that begs the question: if the Obama administration wasn’t surprised by the furor, why did they [2] work with Chris Dodd to safeguard the bonuses that were in the bill? It just makes no sense. What does Obama expect us to believe? That he thought it would be cathartic for Americans to yell in outrage at his incompetence, so his administration made sure the bonuses, the same ones he later criticized, were included in the stimulus for that reason? These are the sort of very obvious bald-faced lies that Democrats like Barack Obama are perpetually allowed to get away with by sympathetic liberal reporters who don’t want to make “their side”  look bad.

Another telling exchange, if you know what to look for, was Kroft’s question about the constitutionality of the attempt to tax away the bonuses of the AIG executives and Obama’s answer:

Kroft: I mean, you’re a constitutional law professor. Do you think this bill is constitutional?

Obama: Well, I think that as a general proposition, you don’t want to be passing laws that are just targeting a handful of individuals. You want to pass laws that have some broad applicability. And, as a general proposition, you don’t want to use the tax code to punish people. I think that you’ve got a pretty egregious situation here that people are understandably upset about. So, let’s see if there are ways of doing this that are both legal, that are constitutional, that uphold our basic principles of fairness, but don’t hamper us from getting the banking system back on track.

Now at first glance, that might seem to be a thoughtful answer. However, when you delve down into it, what you find is that is like many of Barack Obama’s comments, it’s utterly divorced from what he intends to do, while giving people on both sides of the case the impression that he agrees with them.

What’s really going on? Barack Obama’s administration, along with Chris Dodd, put a provision in the stimulus bill allowing companies like AIG to collect bonuses. After it became known and the public got angry, the same Democrats who supported that provision pretended to be outraged and whipped up a fury. Now, they’ve come up with a “[3] bill of attainder” that clearly violates the Constitution and Mr. “Constitutional Law Professor” fully intends to sign it if it makes it to his desk. Is any of that communicated in his answer? No — and that’s why listening to Barack Obama actually tells us very little about what he intends to do.

However, there were a couple of instructive moments in the interview when one was able to get a sense of the instinctual leftism that is guiding Barack Obama, now that he’s so far out of his depth that he can’t even see the surface.

The first was when Kroft noted that a lot of people in the banking industry are not going to stay in New York and work for $250,000 a year if they can make more money elsewhere — so does Obama really want to set salary caps for them? Obama’s condescending response, which sounded like something that should be in Mao’s Little Red Book, Volume 2, was as follows:

What I’ve told them directly, because I have heard some of this, is they need to spend a little time outside of New York. Because if you go to North Dakota or you go to Iowa or if you go to Arkansas, where folks would be thrilled to be making $75,000 a year without a bonus, then I think they’d get a sense of why people are frustrated. I think we have to understand the severity of the crisis that we’re in right now. The fact is, because of bad bets made on Wall Street, there have been enormous losses. There were a whole bunch of folks who, on paper, if you looked at quarterly reports, were wildly successful selling derivatives that turned out to be completely worthless.

First of all, it’s worth noting that Obama earned [4] 2.5 million dollars from his book sales in 2008 and brings home a cool $400,000 a year for being president. What do you think the folks down in North Dakota, Iowa, and Arkansas think of that? Why is Barack Obama more deserving of that money than someone who works at a bank? If you say they’re taking the public’s money, well — newsflash — every government employee, including Barack Obama, is taking the public’s money. Setting those sort of arbitrary salary limits for bank employees — driven not by the market, but by what some economically illiterate politician thinks is “fair” — is practically guaranteed to have adverse consequences down the line.

Beyond that, it’s extraordinarily troubling, given our current situation, that Obama is trying to pawn this entire crisis off on Wall Street when [5] Congress created the whole mess by forcing banks to give loans to people who were bad risks. That’s not to say irresponsible people on Wall Street are completely blameless, but “bad bets on Wall Street” certainly weren’t at the root of this economic downturn.

So, here’s where we are: the same government that created this crisis with their incompetence is now blaming it all on Wall Street and promising to fix it. No wonder the American people are terrified that we’re about to slip into a long-term depression.

The other illuminating moment in the interview came when Kroft brought up Dick Cheney’s criticism of closing Guantanamo Bay. Again, the unbearable lightness of Barack Obama came shining through like a beacon. Here is the first key quote from Obama’s response,

After all these years, how many convictions came out of Guantanamo? How many terrorists have actually been brought to justice under the philosophy that is being promoted by Vice President Cheney? It hasn’t made us safer.

If Obama believes that the purpose of Gitmo is to get “convictions” of terrorists, you have to question whether he has even the most basic understanding of the war on terror he’s currently in charge of fighting.

Gitmo is there to hold captured terrorists, to keep them from killing more Americans, and for interrogations that are designed to gain information for that same purpose. Obviously, terrorists held at Guantanamo can’t participate in new attacks, but even the limited amount of info that has been revealed publicly has shown that [6] we’ve gotten a lot of actionable intelligence from interrogations at Gitmo,

Interrogating Gitmoites yields priceless intelligence. Al-Qaeda bigwig Abu Zubaydah kept mum until interrogators played him the Red Hot Chili Peppers - at high volume. After they turned down the stereo, Zubaydah unmasked al Qaeda agents Omar al-Faruq, Rahim al-Nashiri and Ramzi bin al-Shibh.

Khalid Sheik Mohammed switched from taciturn to talkative after a few minutes of unpleasant but non-fatal waterboarding. With his guidance, counter-terrorists nabbed accused butchers such as Majid Khan, Bali bomber Hambali, Rusman “Gun Gun” Gunawan, Yazid Suffat, Jose “Dirty Bomber” Padilla and Iyman Faris, who conspired to plunge the Brooklyn Bridge into the East River.

This is what we’re abandoning — but, for what? When Kroft asked Obama what comes next for the terrorists imprisoned at Gitmo, he didn’t seem to know,

Well, I think we’re going to have to figure out a mechanism to make sure that they are not released on U.S. (inaudible), but do so in a way that is consistent both with our traditions, a sense of due process, and international law.

So Obama has announced we’re closing Gitmo, but he still hasn’t figured out what comes next? Isn’t that a bit of an issue, since we have these terrorists in hand, will presumably be capturing more, and even the New York Times is admitting that European nations are “[7] hedging” on helping us with Gitmo inmates? Shouldn’t Obama have thought this all the way through before he decided to close down Guantanamo Bay?

For people looking for signs of straight talk, competence, or substance from the glib teleprompter junky who inhabits the White House, sadly there was precious little of it in his 60 Minutes performance.

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[2] work with Chris Dodd to safeguard the bonuses:
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[7] hedging:
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« Reply #279 on: March 24, 2009, 03:33:57 AM »

- Faster, Please! - -

The I’s Had It
Posted By Michael Ledeen On March 22, 2009 @ 2:22 pm In Uncategorized | 28 Comments

President Obama has devoted a lot of time to foreign policy this past week, focusing like a laser beam on three countries that begin with the letter “I.”  He gave star billing in Washington to the prime minister of Ireland (who was treated a lot better than British Prime Minister Gordon Brown), during the course of which each read the other’s prepared text, perhaps a new departure in international diplomacy.  He also sent a letter to Italian President Giorgio Napolitano (a member of the now defunct Communist Party), expressing confidence that the United States and Italy would work together “to overcome the current global political and economic hardships and build a safer world.”  The only problem with the letter was that the Italian president does not make policy; that power resides with the prime minister and his cabinet.  Perhaps the White House czars have issued an ukaz stipulating that the American president writes only to his peers, and thus instead of addressing himself to Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, President Obama wrote to a man who holds an almost entirely ceremonial position.

This imprecision produced the predictable kerfluffle in Rome, as the leftist media and intellectuals pondered the event and concluded that Obama had deliberately stiffed Berlusconi.  The Italian prime minister thus joins his British counterpart in wondering what hope they are supposed to find in the recent change in diplomatic protocol in Washington.

Then the president turned his charm on the Iranian mullahs, releasing a video message to everyone celebrating Persian New Year, Norooz (or Nowrooz).  He began by explaining the holiday to the Iranians:

“This holiday is both an ancient ritual and a moment of renewal, and I hope that you enjoy this special time of year with friends and family.”

If he was trying to make nice to the mullahs, he should have omitted the “ancient ritual” reference, since that ritual–featuring bonfires (symbols from the ancient Zoroastrian faith) through which people leap and around which they dance–is banned in Iran, and anyone who engages in the ancient ritual is subject to beatings, arrest, and torture.  So, rather like the unfortunate “overcharge” button that Secretary of State Clinton gave the Russian foreign minister, the hoped-for change in our “relationship” with Iran got off to an unfortunate start.

The president continued with warm words for the Iranian people:

“Nowruz is just one part of your great and celebrated culture. Over many centuries your art, your music, literature and innovation have made the world a better and more beautiful place. “

True enough, but the whole idea of the Message to Iran was political, and he might have mentioned the long tradition of great and celebrated Persian political thought.  After all, the first known human rights “document” came from Cyrus the Great, and its message is daily rejected by the regime of the Islamic Republic.

Then he provided his vision of the Iranian peoples’ belief in hope and change.   “You will be celebrating your New Year in much the same way that we Americans mark our holidays,” he earnestly intoned, “by gathering with friends and family, exchanging gifts and stories, and looking to the future with a renewed sense of hope.”

NOT.  Most Iranians look to the future with a deepening mood of despair.  The mullahs have long since wrecked the economy, and things are getting worse now, what with the price of oil at one-third its recent highs.  The single word that best describes the state of the Iranian people–to whom Obama explicitly directed these words–is “degradation.”  The drop in Iranian birth rates during the reign of the mullahs is the most dramatic in the history of fertility statistics, and is now below replacement.  The level of opiate addiction is five times that of China at the time of the Opium Wars. Any Iranian hearing the American president talk of renewed hope, would wonder if he was thinking of the Iranians in Beverly Hills, who rule the place.

To the country’s leaders, Obama offered still more hope for change: “We seek…engagement that is honest and grounded in mutual respect.”  I don’t know exactly what that means, except that the “conflict management” crowd insists that Iranian leaders want to be respected.  My own view is that they want to be feared, but let’s move on.

“The United States wants the Islamic Republic of Iran to take its rightful place in the community of nations. You have that right…and that place cannot be reached through terror or arms, but rather through peaceful actions that demonstrate the true greatness of the Iranian people and civilization. And the measure of that greatness is not the capacity to destroy, it is your demonstrated ability to build and create.”

The mullahs no doubt loved the first sentence, not because of the happy thought about the “community of nations,” in which Iran’s leaders most assuredly do not believe (they want Islamic domination of the whole thing), but because you can read the phrase as a coded message that means “we’re not going to try to change the nature of the regime.”  If so, it was a foolish concession, both because it condemns the Iranian people to continued oppression and misery, and because the very existence of America threatens the Islamic Republic.  The Iranians would rather live like Americans, and despite thirty years of pathetic fecklessness from one president after the next, they still hope that the day will come when we rescue them–or at least help them rescue themselves–from the hated mullahcracy.

As for the president’s call for “peaceful actions,” it jars with the reality the mullahs have created.  Nobody pays much attention to Iraq any more, but Coalition forces have arrested a considerable number of (Iranian) Quds Force officers there.  Their mission was to kill as many Iraqis and Americans as possible, as they routinely confess to their interrogators.  Incredibly, these killers are routinely released in a year or less, whereupon, like the terrorists at Guantanamo, they resume their murderous activities.  They are now sponsoring a new tactic:  exploding motorcycles.  We’ve seen two already in recent weeks, and there will be more.  And they’re fueling both Shi’ite and Sunni terrorists in Afghanistan.

So for Obama to say that Iran will only take its place as a major player if they embrace peace and abandon “terror or arms,” is nonsense.  They have become a major player, at least on the American agenda, precisely because of terror and (nuclear) arms.

I suppose it’s possible that Obama thought that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nezhad would end the Islamic Republic’s thirty-year war against America, and sit down with him to define the details of Iran’s new status in world affairs.  But they aren’t interested.  The supreme leader gave Obama the back of his one good hand, starting with an important question: who is in charge in Obama’s Washington?

“We don’t know who is the real decision maker in America,” Khamenei wickedly responded, “the President or the Congress.  But we underlined that the Iranians decide on the basis of definite calculations not on emotions.”  And then, for the umpteenth time, he laid down the conditions for improved relations:

“Has your enmity with the Iranian nation ended? Have you released the Iranian assets or cut the sanctions? Have you quit negative propaganda against Iran? Have you ended your absolute support to the Zionist regime?”  He even advised Obama to have his words translated, but not by “Zionist translators.”

In other words, Obama has to shut up about Iranian-supported terrorism, drop sanctions, release the Iranian money blocked in this country, and abandon Israel (oddly, this last condition does not seem to have been reported either in the New York Times–which ran an AP story–or the Washington Post.  Probably they assumed we knew it already, so there was no reason to spend precious pennies on extra ink and newsprint).  Happy New Year.

The most interesting part of Khamenei’s speech had to do with Iran, not the United States.  More than half the speech dealt with internal matters, not international affairs. He warned darkly that the country was facing a severe internal crisis.  He called for a campaign against “economic and social corruption,” and exhorted Iranians to fight the “disease of wasting,” stating, rather shockingly, that one-third of bread and one-fifth of water was currently being wasted.  Thus, it is necessary to change the “pattern of consumption,” which Khamenei defined as both a religious and rational issue.

All of which brought him to the upcoming (June 12th) elections.  Everybody must vote, he said (most Iranians have boycotted recent elections as a sign of contempt for the regime and its pretense of fair elections).  He went out of his way to say that he would not endorse a single candidate, and that it was up to the people, not to him,  to elect the next president.  Then he added that, while he had felt it necessary to publicly support the government (meaning Ahmadi-Nezhad) on occasion, this should not be taken as an endorsement.

If I were Ahmadi-Nezhad, I would see this as a vote of no confidence from my boss.  And you can be sure that many Iranians will see it the same way.  The most interesting candidate is Mir Hossein Mousavi, the former prime minister (under Khomeini, during the Iran-Iraq War) who has been largely out of politics for twenty years.  An artist and architect, Mousavi is an old “new face.”  The Iranian version of Hope and Change, I suppose.  Khamenei seems to like him (otherwise he’d endorse someone else), and perhaps, against all the odds, the internal situation is seen as so grave that even the supreme leader is willing to contemplate real change, and some small degree of freedom for the people.

One thing is for sure: having failed to gain Khamenei’s endorsement, Ahmadi-Nezhad’s best hope is support from Washington;  that Obama makes unilateral concessions, thus demonstrating that the current Iranian policies are the right ones.  The best American tactic at the moment is probably to shut up about “respect,” keep the Iranian terrorists in jail, step up the tempo of financial sanctions (Obama smartly renewed the existing ones a few days ago), and strike against the terror bases where the jihadis are trained and armed.  That would further discredit Ahmadi-Nezhad, demonstrate that Obama’s velvet glove covers a mailed fist, and give hope for change to the Iranian people.

UPDATE:  Jamie Kirchik at The New Republic has produced [1] the video Obama should have.  And Ron Radosh delivers another [2] stern lesson to Roger Cohen, the New York Times’s candidate for the Walter Duranty 2009 award, bestowed on the journalist who has done most to advance the cause of tyranny.

Update 2: Obama won’t take no for an answer:  “The President believes it’s time for that change, and regardless of any response, the President is hopeful that the Iranian leadership will work to change the way that they do business.”

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« Reply #280 on: March 24, 2009, 11:56:53 AM »

George Will does a nice job today of exposing the glibness and his troubled policies. We are now to the left of Sweden on government meddling in private sector affairs.
The Toxic Assets We Elected
By George Will

WASHINGTON -- With the braying of 328 yahoos -- members of the House of Representatives who voted for retroactive and punitive use of the tax code to confiscate legal earnings of a small unpopular group -- still reverberating, the Obama administration Monday invited private-sector investors to become business partners with the capricious and increasingly anti-constitutional government. This latest plan to unfreeze the financial system came almost half a year after Congress shoveled $700 billion into the Troubled Asset Relief Program, $325 billion of which has been spent without purchasing any toxic assets.

TARP funds have, however, semi-purchased, among many other things, two automobile companies (and, last week, some of their parts suppliers), which must amaze Sweden. That unlikely tutor of America regarding capitalist common sense has said, through a Cabinet minister, that the ailing Saab automobile company is on its own: "The Swedish state is not prepared to own car factories."

More From RCP: 10 States in the Biggest Budget Trouble

Another embarrassing auditor of American misgovernment is China, whose premier has rightly noted the unsustainable trajectory of America's high-consumption, low-savings economy. He has also decorously but clearly expressed sensible fears that his country's $1 trillion-plus of dollar-denominated assets might be devalued by America choosing, as banana republics have done, to use inflation for partial repudiation of improvidently incurred debts.

From Mexico, America is receiving needed instruction about fundamental rights and the rule of law. A leading Democrat trying to abolish the right of workers to secret ballots in unionization elections is California's Rep. George Miller who, with 15 other Democrats, in 2001 admonished Mexico: "The secret ballot is absolutely necessary in order to ensure that workers are not intimidated into voting for a union they might not otherwise choose." Last year, Mexico's highest court unanimously affirmed for Mexicans the right that Democrats want to strip from Americans.

Congress, with the approval of a president who has waxed censorious about his predecessor's imperious unilateralism in dealing with other nations, has shredded the North American Free Trade Agreement. Congress used the omnibus spending bill to abolish a program that was created as part of a protracted U.S. stall regarding compliance with its obligation to allow Mexican long-haul trucks on U.S roads. The program, testing the safety of Mexican trucking, became an embarrassment because it found Mexican trucking at least as safe as U.S. trucking. Mexico has resorted to protectionism -- tariffs on many U.S. goods -- in retaliation for Democrats' protection of the Teamsters union.

NAFTA, like all treaties, is the "supreme law of the land." So says the Constitution. It is, however, a cobweb constraint on a Congress that, ignoring the document's unambiguous stipulations that the House shall be composed of members chosen "by the people of the several states," is voting to pretend that the District of Columbia is a state. Hence it supposedly can have a Democratic member of the House and, down the descending road, two Democratic senators. Congress rationalizes this anti-constitutional willfulness by citing the Constitution's language that each house shall be the judge of the "qualifications" of its members and Congress can "exercise exclusive legislation" over the District. What, then, prevents Congress from giving House and Senate seats to Yellowstone National Park, over which Congress exercises exclusive legislation? Only Congress' capacity for embarrassment. So, not much.

The Federal Reserve, by long practice rather than law, has been insulated from politics in performing its fundamental function of preserving the currency as a store of value -- preventing inflation. Now, however, by undertaking hitherto uncontemplated functions, it has become an appendage of the executive branch. The coming costs, in political manipulation of the money supply, of this forfeiture of independence could be steep.

Jefferson warned that "great innovations should not be forced on slender majorities." But Democrats, who trace their party's pedigree to Jefferson, are contemplating using "reconciliation" -- a legislative maneuver abused by both parties to severely truncate debate and limit the minority's right to resist -- to impose vast and controversial changes on the 17 percent of the economy that is health care. When the Congressional Budget Office announced that the president's budget underestimates by $2.3 trillion the likely deficits over the next decade, his budget director, Peter Orszag, said: All long-range budget forecasts are notoriously unreliable -- so rely on ours.

This is but a partial list of recent lawlessness, situational constitutionalism and institutional derangement. Such political malfeasance is pertinent to the financial meltdown as the administration, desperately seeking confidence, tries to stabilize the economy by vastly enlarging government's role in it.
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« Reply #281 on: March 24, 2009, 08:00:31 PM »

The public starts to notice the empty-suit behind the podium.
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« Reply #282 on: April 02, 2009, 03:30:52 PM »

The American President bows to the Wahabbi king of Saudi Arabia
« Reply #283 on: April 02, 2009, 07:15:57 PM »

By Penn Jillette
Special to CNN
Editor's note: Penn Jillette -- the larger, louder half of Penn & Teller -- is a magician, comedian, actor, author and producer.

Penn Jillette says counterintuitive actions sometimes work -- and other times fail spectacularly.

(CNN) -- Counterintuitive action makes a fellow feel smart. When I first got my driver's license, I took my old Ford Falcon into the Greenfield Public High School parking lot when it was freshly covered with fresh powder on top of wet slippery Western Massachusetts snow and ice. I turned fast, gunned it and lost control of the car in a skid.

I turned into the skid and instantly gained control of my car. Telling someone to turn into a skid, that's crazy talk. It seems so wrong, but my Dad knew it worked. Dad suggested I do it over and over in the parking lot, so I would conquer my intuition to be ready when a real emergency arose on a real road. Counterintuitive actions prove we can trust real knowledge and do the opposite of what we feel makes sense.

I'm a fire-eater. There is some technique to fire-eating, but most of the practice goes into learning that one's mouth is wet enough, most of the heat goes up enough, and cutting the oxygen leg off the fire triangle (it's now a fire tetrahedron, but I learned fire-eating a long time ago) with one's mouth really does put the fire out.

It took watching a professional whom I trusted do it -- a lot of trust and a lot of practice -- before my first reaction, when my mouth started to burn from the lit torch in my mouth, was to put the torch deeper in my mouth, close my mouth around the torch and put it out.

Handling fire seems like a superpower. There are whole seminars and self-help jive centered on fire-walking, which is hustled as "mind over matter," or "empowerment" but is really just counterintuitive physics. As long as the fire walk is set up right and you keep moving, you can even hope and pray to be burned, while yelling counter-self-help slogans such as "I do not have any power to do this" and "universe, please burn my little piggies," and you'll be fine.

Whether it's fire walking or knowing that the Earth is round, everyone seems to dig counterintuitive thinking. Many dig it when our president explains we're going to spend our way out of debt. That's way against all the intuition we've developed in our adult lives. Spending our way out of debt doesn't work often, does it? It's crazy talk. Didn't a lot of people try that spending out of debt thing?

I live in Vegas, and I see people by the side of the road with cardboard signs who seem like they might have tried that spending their way out of debt thing. Or maybe they tried the all too intuitive "crack will make me feel healthy again" thing. I don't know.

Didn't lots of people try piling up debt on credit cards and buying houses they couldn't afford in hopes of solving all their financial problems? I've tried spending more than I was going to earn (remember, I was carny trash, that's why I know how to eat fire), and it way didn't work. Spending more money than I had to spend put me more in debt, just like my silly intuition warned me.

President Obama is so damn smart. He just drips smart. He clearly understands stuff that we could never understand. He's trustworthy. If Obama were teaching fire-eating, we would all learn fast. If he told you that the burns would be minor and the fire would go out when you closed your mouth, you'd believe him. If I weren't twice his weight, I'd fall back with my eyes closed into his caring arms in one of those cheesy '70s church trust exercises. He could talk me into anything.

Obama tells us that we can spend our way out of debt. He tells us that even though the government had control over the banks and did nothing to stop the bad that's going on, if we give them more control over more other bank-like things, then they can make sure bad stuff doesn't happen ever again. He says we can get out of all those big wars President Bush caused by sending more troops into Afghanistan. And I don't know. I really don't know.

I trusted my Dad that turning into a skid would work. I trusted my carny mentor, Doc Swan, that closing my mouth around a burning torch would put it out. They were right. Maybe the United States borrowing more money than I could imagine in a billion years with a billion computers and a billion monkeys typing on them, will get us out of financial trouble. I really don't know. It's certainly true that many counterintuitive things are true, and when you have the guts to do something counterintuitive that works, it's really cool. It's a superpower under our yellow sun.

But there are some things that are just intuitive. Did you know, that if you're going 100 mph, directly at a very, very thick, reinforced concrete wall, and you speed up, so you're accelerating right when you hit the wall that the accident you have is going to be much worse than if you'd jammed on the brakes as soon as you saw the wall at the end of the street? Did you know that? It's exactly what everything you know and feel would tell you, and it's exactly true. Most times when you're driving, or playing with fire, or handling money, the thing that makes sense to you is also true.

I way hope we're turning into a skid and not accelerating into a concrete wall.

Note: Reading this article does not give you the information you need to really eat fire, fire walk or even turn into a skid. Do not try any of it. You really need a trained professional to teach you, and most important you need to sign something that says Penn Jillette and CNN are not in any way responsible for your inevitable injuries.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Penn Jillette.
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« Reply #284 on: April 03, 2009, 12:37:13 PM »

Remember when the savior of the world stated Americans need to speak more than English?

"We need to say more than merci beaucoup".

How come he wasn't speaking French to the French when he was there giving a town hall meeting?

Yet he has not problem humiliating our own country by going around the world stating we tortured people.

The Russians, the Indians, the Chinese, the Iranians - they must all be happy beyond belief at having a anti-American demigogue as President.   The Europeans of course love the guy who is going to give away control of the world's richest country's economy to Europeans.

And yet our own MSM hails BO.

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« Reply #285 on: April 03, 2009, 03:22:09 PM »

The NO MERCI BEAUCOUP comment made think you might like this.  Crafty if this is not a good place for this let me know where you might want it.  Just put it here because of the comment.  Enjoy 

p.s. Im the guy on the accordian
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« Reply #286 on: April 03, 2009, 04:06:45 PM »

I don't have flashplayer.
What does it do?

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« Reply #287 on: April 03, 2009, 04:29:13 PM »

Krauthammer is only partly correct.  Yes BO's ultimate goal is socialism by taking from the upper classes in the US and giving to the lower classes.  But it is far worse, delusional, and crazy.  He wants to take from the haves in the US and give to the lower classes of the world!  His presidency is not about advancing the interests of US citizens, but is about advancing socialism around the world using his position here to do it!

BO obviously doesn't believe in the US model that *everyone has a chance*.  BO obviously believes that the successful have unfairly beaten or kept down the less successful.  He is fully of the philisophical camp that beleives the US is to blame for much of the world's ills.  We are an imperialist selfish money grubbing nation that has caused climate change, and for everyone to righly hate us because we "dictate" to the world rather than "listen".  The fact that most of these same haters would love to come here goes unnoticed (including his own family many of whom are illegally here).  Yes, BO beleives it is the responsibility of those with any money whatsoever, (no matter how hard they worked for it or earned it) to give it away to those who have less. 

What is even more nuts, and Charles doesn't take it to this next logical conclusion, is that BO applies this attitude not only to the classes here in the US but between classes in the US and around the world.  It is now the responsibility of the those who earn anything in the US to support the world.  The world's obligation to us is merely to spend our money "wisely".

Folks the nerve of this guy to stand there in France and say how he will gladly give more money to countries in need if only their officials just don't steal it.  Whose money is he giving away?  It ain't his.  When are Americans going to stand up to this cook?

And the liberal, crat-leaning MSM is following this nut down the path of leading the US to I have no idea but it ain't what it has been for 200 years.  Why?  Some believe in this I guess.  Some just hate Repubs so much they will follow any crat to oblivion I guess.

In any case, here is Charles's article but he falls short the last step I outlined above:

****Obama's Ultimate Agenda

By Charles Krauthammer | Five minutes of explanation to James Madison, and he'll have a pretty good idea what a motorcar is (basically a steamboat on wheels; the internal combustion engine might take a few minutes more). Then try to explain to Madison how the Constitution he fathered allows the president to unilaterally guarantee the repair or replacement of every component of millions of such contraptions sold in the several states, and you will leave him slack-jawed.

In fact, we are now so deep into government intervention that constitutional objections are summarily swept aside. The last Treasury secretary brought the nine largest banks into his office and informed them that henceforth he was their partner. His successor is seeking the power to seize any financial institution at his own discretion.

Despite these astonishments, I remain more amused than alarmed. First, the notion of presidential car warranties strikes me as simply too bizarre, too comical, to mark the beginning of Yankee Peronism.

Second, there is every political incentive to make these interventions in the banks and autos temporary and circumscribed. For President Obama, autos and banks are sideshows. Enormous sideshows, to be sure, but had the financial meltdown and the looming auto bankruptcies not been handed to him, he would hardly have gone seeking to be the nation's credit and car czar.

Obama has far different ambitions. His goal is to rewrite the American social compact, to recast the relationship between government and citizen. He wants government to narrow the nation's income and anxiety gaps. Soak the rich for reasons of revenue and justice. Nationalize health care and federalize education to grant all citizens of all classes the freedom from anxiety about health care and college that the rich enjoy. And fund this vast new social safety net through the cash cow of a disguised carbon tax.

Obama is a leveler. He has come to narrow the divide between rich and poor. For him the ultimate social value is fairness. Imposing it upon the American social order is his mission.

Fairness through leveling is the essence of Obamaism. (Asked by Charlie Gibson during a campaign debate about his support for raising capital gains taxes — even if they caused a net revenue loss to the government — Obama stuck to the tax hike "for purposes of fairness.") The elements are highly progressive taxation, federalized health care and higher education, and revenue-producing energy controls. But first he must deal with the sideshows. They could sink the economy and poison his public support before he gets to enact his real agenda.

The big sideshows, of course, are the credit crisis, which Obama has contracted out to Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, and the collapse of the U.S. automakers, which Obama seems to have taken on for himself.

That was a tactical mistake. Better to have let the car companies go directly to Chapter 11 and have a judge mete out the bitter medicine to the workers and bondholders.

By sacking GM's CEO, packing the new board, and giving direction as to which brands to drop and what kind of cars to make, Obama takes ownership of General Motors. He may soon come to regret it. He has now gotten himself so entangled in the car business that he is personally guaranteeing your muffler. (Upon reflection, a job best left to the congenitally unmuffled Joe Biden.)

Some find in this descent into large-scale industrial policy a whiff of 1930s-style fascist corporatism. I have my doubts. These interventions are rather targeted. They involve global financial institutions that even the Bush administration decided had to be nationalized and auto companies that themselves came begging to the government for money.

Bizarre and constitutionally suspect as these interventions may be, the transformation of the American system will come from elsewhere. The credit crisis will pass and the auto overcapacity will sort itself out one way or the other. The reordering of the American system will come not from these temporary interventions, into which Obama has reluctantly waded. It will come from Obama's real agenda: his holy trinity of health care, education and energy. Out of these will come a radical extension of the welfare state; social and economic leveling in the name of fairness; and a massive increase in the size, scope and reach of government.

If Obama has his way, the change that is coming is a new America: "fair," leveled and social democratic. Obama didn't get elected to warranty your muffler. He's here to warranty your life.****

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« Reply #288 on: April 08, 2009, 06:36:16 PM »

Well at least the Crats are consistent.  No longer do Americans help themselves.  It has become, "what can goernment do for me?"
The national scene is the same.  No longer does a liberal led America ask what it must do for itself whan faced with a problem.
As per Hillary and the rest of the crew it is now, "we must ask the *world* to deal with our problems.
We must go the UN.  We must join hands with the world and let them tell us what to do.

****Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called Wednesday for world action to "end the scourge of piracy" as U.S. warships raced to confront pirates who hijacked a U.S.-flagged ship off the coast of Somalia.

American crew members aboard the hijacked ship were able to regain control of the vessel Wednesday, but the ship's captain still is being held hostage on a smaller boat.

"We are deeply concerned and we are following it very closely," Clinton said.

"Specifically, we are now focused on this particular act of piracy and the seizure of a ship that carries 21 American citizens. More generally, we think the world must come together to end the scourge of piracy," she said.

U.S. Navy officials told FOX News on Wednesday afternoon that its closest ship was 300 miles away, which would place it 15 hours from the vessel, known as the Maersk Alabama.

A defense official said the ship's captain is being held captive on board a lifeboat belonging to the ship. Four pirates are in the lifeboat and according to the official there is no clear evidence that a pirate remains captive with the U.S. crew.

"We are able to confirm that the crew of the Maersk Alabama is now in control of the ship," said Kevin Speers, a spokesman for Maersk Lines Limited. "The armed hijackers who boarded this ship earlier today have departed, however they are currently holding one member of the ship's crew as a hostage. The other members of the crew are safe and no injuries have been reported."

Speaking on the ship's satellite phone, one of the 20 crew members said they had been taken hostage but managed to seize one pirate and then successfully negotiate their own release.

"All the crew members are trained in security detail in how to deal with piracy," Maersk CEO John Reinhart told reporters. "As merchant vessels we do not carry arms. We have ways to push back, but we do not carry arms."

John Harris, CEO of HollowPoint Security Services, which specializes in maritime security, said that the crew's overtaking the pirates could help prevent future hijackings, especially since the military can't protect the entire high seas.

Related StoriesFor Somalis, Piracy Road to Power, Prosperity
Photo EssaysSomali Pirates Seize 20 Americans
"Any time you can get intel from them, they can give you any kind of significant information, they more than likely will not, but anything we can get will always help us in the future," Harris told FOX News.

"Naval vessels ... can't be everywhere at one time, just like law enforcement," he said, noting that the U.S. Navy has been protecting the most vulnerable shipping lanes in the Indian Ocean.

"If you saturate an area long enough in the shipping lanes, if you saturate it with war ships long enough, they venture out. In this case that's what they did. They want 350 miles out of the coast where no Naval vessels were present," he said.

Click here for photos.

As for the boldness of the pirates taking a ship operating under a U.S. flag, Harris said pirates don't care which ship they grab.

"We have not seen it matters at all. This is a business to them. They are not intended on carrying what cargo we're carrying. All they want to do is see a dollar figure. They know if they catch a big ship, they get big money. All they want is ransom out of this. They are not worried about crew or cargo," Harris said.

Pentagon Spokesman Bryan Whitman said earlier Wednesday he has "no information to suggest the 20 crew members of the Maersk Alabama have been harmed by the pirates."

During its one communication with the ship, Maersk was told the crew was safe, Reinhart said. He would not release the names of the crew members.

Cmdr. Jane Campbell, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Navy's Bahrain-based 5th Fleet, said that it was the first pirate attack "involving U.S. nationals and a U.S.-flagged vessel in recent memory."

Wednesday's incident was the first such hostage-taking involving U.S. citizens in 200 years. In December 2008, Somali pirates chased and shot at a U.S. cruise ship with more than 1,000 people on board but failed to hijack the vessel.

The top two commanders of the ship graduated from the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, the Cape Cod Times reported Wednesday.

Andrea Phillips, the wife of the captured captain, Richard Phillips of Underhill, Vt., said her husband has sailed in those waters "for quite some time" and a hijacking was perhaps "inevitable."

The Cape Cod Times reported his second in command, Capt. Shane Murphy, was also among the 20 Americans aboard the Maersk Alabama.

Capt. Joseph Murphy, a professor at the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, says his son is a 2001 graduate who recently talked to a class about the dangers of pirates.

The newspaper reported the 33-year-old Murphy had phoned his mother to say he was safe.

The 17,000-ton Maersk Alabama was carrying emergency relief to Mombasa, Kenya, at the time it was hijacked, for the Copenhagen-based container shipping group A.P. Moller-Maersk.

Robert A. Wood, Deputy State Department Spokesman, told reporters the ship was carrying "vegetable oil, corn soy blend and other basic food commodities bound for Africa."****
« Reply #289 on: April 10, 2009, 07:41:48 AM »

The DC school system is abysmal. Private schools funded in part by a voucher program do a better job of teaching at .25 the cost of the DC system. Yet "open administration" Obama appointees are trying to disappear the voucher system and hope no one notices:

Previous: A Flagging Obama Transparency Effort
Whitehurst: “Duncan Is Not Lying”

Posted by Andrew J. Coulson

Brookings senior fellow Grover Whitehurst has just come to the defense of education secretary Arne Duncan over charges that Duncan sat on (or remained “willfully ignorant” of) a study showing that the D.C. voucher program is boosting achievement. The Senate passed a bill sunsetting funding for the program on March 10, but Whitehurst contends Duncan wouldn’t have known about the study’s results until a week or so later (it was released on April 6th).

Until last November, Whitehurst was head of the Institute for Education Sciences (IES), which released the new voucher study. He obviously knows its timelines and procedures. But even Whitehurst acknowledges that there is ”substantial reason to believe that the secretary didn’t want to draw attention to the report,” citing the choice of a Friday release (Friday releases were deliberately discontinued by the IES years ago) and the mysterious absence of the news briefing that typically accompanies the release of such reports.

So what is a fair observer to think of Secretary Duncan based on Whitehursts’ revelations? Duncan may not have had an opportunity to sit on the report, because he may not have known about it. But Duncan had ultimate control over its release and it looks as though he went out of his way to bury it.

Why would a secretary of education bury a study showing that one government program (vouchers) produces better outcomes than another government program (D.C. public schooling) at one quarter the cost? No flattering explanation comes to mind. Perhaps someone else will come forward to defend Duncan on this point.

Or perhaps the secretary himself might like to share with the American people why this study was buried at the bottom of a locked filing cabinet in the basement of an abandoned building with a hand scrawled “beware of leopard” sign affixed to it. Maybe he would like to let us know why he isn’t touting private school choice as a model for the states to emulate at a time when outcomes are languishing and money is tight. The only justification he has offered for not doing so is risible: it doesn’t serve enough kids. As Cato’s David Boaz pointed out earlier today, it is only limited in size because, uh…, Congress statutorily limited its size. We know that many more parents would like vouchers. We know from the international evidence that the supply of schools rises to meet demand, just as supply rises to meet demand in other fields.

But we also know that the Democratic party is beholden to the teachers unions and that the National Education Association sent a letter to congressional Democrats — not to all of Congress, mind you, it’s addressed “to Democrats” — demanding that they kill the D.C. voucher program.

Because of the constant pressure exerted by the NEA, Democrats who might otherwise have supported the program have voted to let it — and the hopes of 1,700 poor kids — die. To reverse their decision, a countervailing public pressure must be brought to save it.

And that is why Grover Whitehurst is mistaken when he says that ”the future of the D.C. Opportunity Scholarship Program is far more important than the contretemps” over the secretary’s handling of the voucher study. The future of the program depends on that “contretemps.” Were it not for the public outcry, there would be no political pressure on Democrats to rethink their decision to feed these children back into the D.C. public schools.

And as someone who is much happier under divided government than under the unitary rule of either major party, I hope that Democrats figure out that long-term political calculus demands support for educational freedom. When the $100 billion ”stimulus” spending on public schools accomplishes little or nothing — as it will — the public will be even angrier at the politicians extorting them into those schools. And the party associated with defending that system to the bitter end against the wishes of families won’t recover for a long while.

Andrew J. Coulson • April 10, 2009 @ 7:00 am
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« Reply #290 on: April 10, 2009, 10:20:05 AM »

Imagine this sociopath in the job.
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« Reply #291 on: April 10, 2009, 12:06:10 PM »

President Pantywaist

Charles Krauthammer and Gerald Warner take up where Jackson Diehl left off in analyzing Barack Obama’s Grand Tour this month.  Both men sound warning alarms over Obama’s tendency to surrender large swaths of the American agenda in return for getting nothing at all.  And while Krauthammer wonders whether Obama has a sense of his own American identity, Warner wonders whether Obama has any sense at all.

First, Krauthammer:

Our president came bearing a basketful of mea culpas. With varying degrees of directness or obliqueness, Obama indicted his own people for arrogance, for dismissiveness and derisiveness, for genocide, for torture, for Hiroshima, for Guantanamo and for insufficient respect for the Muslim world.

And what did he get for this obsessive denigration of his own country? He wanted more NATO combat troops in Afghanistan to match the surge of 17,000 Americans. He was rudely rebuffed.

He wanted more stimulus spending from Europe. He got nothing.

From Russia, he got no help on Iran. From China, he got the blocking of any action on North Korea.

And what did he get for Guantanamo? France, pop. 64 million, will take one prisoner. One! (Sadly, he’ll have to leave his swim buddy behind.) The Austrians said they would take none. As Interior Minister Maria Fekter explained with impeccable Germanic logic, if they’re not dangerous, why not just keep them in America?

When Austria is mocking you, you’re having a bad week. Yet who can blame Frau Fekter, considering the disdain Obama showed his own country while on foreign soil, acting the philosopher-king who hovers above the fray mediating between his renegade homeland and an otherwise warm and welcoming world?

I thought that would win the Scorn Award for the week, but that’s just a warm-up for Warner.  The British columnist for the Telegraph has a new name for Obama — well, two, actually:

So The One retired triumphant, having secured a massive contribution of 5,000 extra troops - all of them non-combatant, of course - which must really have put the wind up the Taliban, at the prospect of 5,000 more infidel cooks and bottle-washers swarming into the less hazardous regions of Afghanistan.

Then came the dramatic bit, the authentic West Wing script, with the President wakened in the middle of the night in Prague to be told that Kim Jong-il had just launched a Taepodong-2 missile. America had Aegis destroyers tracking the missile and could have shot it down. But Uncle Sam had a sterner reprisal in store for l’il ole Kim (as Dame Edna might call him): a multi-megaton strike of Obama hot air. …

President Pantywaist is hopping mad and he has a strategy to cut Kim down to size: he is going to slice $1.4bn off America’s missile defence programme, presumably on the calculation that Kim would feel it unsporting to hit a sitting duck, so that will spoil his fun.

Watch out, France and Co, there is a new surrender monkey on the block and, over the next four years, he will spectacularly sell out the interests of the West with every kind of liberal-delusionist initiative on nuclear disarmament and sitting down to negotiate with any power freak who wants to buy time to get a good ICBM fix on San Francisco, or wherever. If you thought the world was a tad unsafe with Dubya around, just wait until President Pantywaist gets into his stride.

The White House says it will take more than a few days for Obama’s impact to be felt, but I think they’re underestimating their President.  Obama’s impact was plain to see.  He drew great crowds for his American Humility Tour, and it played well — as bowing and scraping always does to those whom one bows and scrapes.  Europe might like the whiff of surrender coming from Obama, but they made it plain that it would result in no movement on the American agenda.  Actually, that’s not entirely true; as Diehl points out, Obama mostly neglected to even mention the American agenda.

John Kennedy had the insight to realize that he blew his performance with Nikita Khrushchev in 1961.  Newt Gingrich allowed for the possibility that Obama might come to the same realization after this disaster of a foreign tour.  Will President Pantywaist recover, a la Kennedy, or wallow in the self-delusional spin his White House provided this week, a la Jimmy Carter?  Let’s hope it’s the former, because the world is far too dangerous a place for America to have a President Pantywaist.
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« Reply #292 on: April 12, 2009, 10:49:40 AM »

What an upstanding family.

Barack Obama's brother banned from Britain over 'sex assault' lie

By Justin Penrose 11/04/2009
THE brother of U.S. President Barack Obama has been barred from Britain after lying to police when accused of a sexual assault.
Samson Obama – known as Abo – gave a false name to officers interviewing him after he was alleged to have tried to sexually assault a teenage girl in this country last November.
It was claimed that he approached a group of teenage girls, tried to sexually assault one of them, and then followed them into a nearby cafe. He was said to have become aggressive and was asked to leave by the owner.

The police were called and Samson was arrested.
He denied the assault and police did not prosecute him, but he accepted a police caution for a public order offence. At the time of his arrest Abo was living illegally at his mother Kezia’s house in Bracknell, Berks, but after the incident returned to his native Kenya.
And last week he had a visa application to return to Britain rejected. Home Office staff ruled that allowing him into Britain was “not conducive to the public good”.
The news will be embarrassing to the US President, who gave half-brother Abo a personal tour of the White House in January when he attended the historic inauguration. Abo, 41, and Barack, 47, are both sons of Barack Snr, a former goatherder from Kenya.
Abo’s mother Kezia was Barack Senior’s first wife in Kenya and the president’s mother is his second wife Ann Denham, a white American from Kansas.

Barack Snr left America in 1965 with his third wife to return to Africa where he rekindled his relationship with Kezia and Abo was born. He was killed in a car crash when the President was 21.
Abo and Barack first met in 1987 when Barack traced his family in Kenya.
Ever since, they have become extremely close, meeting several times and speaking regularly on the phone. Abo’s mother, Kezia, is Barack’s stepmum and takes pride of place at family gatherings following the death of Barack’s mother Ann in 1995.
Immigration officers have discovered that at the time of his arrest Abo had been living illegally with Kezia in Bracknell for the past seven years (seems to be the family way).

He claimed to police that he was a bin man called Henry Aloo – but bizarrely gave them Kezia’s address.
His DNA, fingerprints and photograph were taken.
Abo was given a caution for a public order offence but he denied sexual assault. Detectives did not take any further action on the alleged attack.
Abo left Britain for Kenya and in January applied for a family UK visa to visit his mother Kezia, 67. He had to provide a fingerprint as part of the application and checks matched him with the man accused of the assault. Days later Abo asked for his passport back to get a visa to attend his brother’s inauguration at the White House.
Despite the British authorities knowing Abo’s past, he was allowed to overnight at Heathrow on the way to Washington in January to attend the historic event.
But when he applied again for a family visa in February he was confronted with the allegations at the UK Borders Agency office in Nairobi.
Abo denied that the offences related to him and claimed that his “passport had been stolen”. To support his visa application Abo submitted documents showing that he had a business in Nairobi – but the documents were forged, according to the Kenyan authorities.
The documents were supposed to back up his claim that he would not attempt to claim asylum in the UK, and to deny claims that he had been an illegal immigrant in the UK from 2001 to 2008.
An UK Borders Agency source said: “Nobody could believe that a close member of President Obama’s family was accused of a sex attack, even though he denied it. The fact is that when he was accused he gave another man’s identity to avoid being detected as an illegal immigrant.
“When he applied for a visa to visit his mother again we had little choice but to deny him entry.”
A spokesman for the UK Border Agency said: “We oppose the entry of all individuals to the UK where we believe their presence is not conducive to the public good.”
In Barack’s 1995 book, Dreams from My Father, he writes of meeting Abo for the first time and how he expressed disappointment that the portable tape recorder Barack brought for him as a gift was not a Sony.
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« Reply #293 on: April 12, 2009, 11:00:39 AM »

Tax activists have been mailing tea bags to the white house. I think tampons or sanitary napkins would be of more use to the empty-suit. It took Carter years to get his hostage crisis.
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« Reply #294 on: April 13, 2009, 09:20:21 AM »

The What Of Nations?

A pandering Obama praised Europe's 'leading role in the world.' Actually, Europe exercises almost no leadership, even in Europe.
Published Apr 11, 2009  George Will, Newsweek

"He's a man way out there in the blue, riding on a smile and a shoeshine. And when they start not smiling back—that's an earthquake."
—Arthur Miller, "Death of a Salesman"

President William Howard Taft understood how political cant can bewitch the speaker's mind. Listening to an aide natter on about "the machinery of government," Taft murmured, "The young man really thinks it's a machine." The current president's U.N. ambassador, Susan Rice, was on Sunday television recently explaining why she thinks Iran, now several decades into its pursuit of nuclear weapons and close to consummation, might succumb to the siren song of sweet reason and retreat from success. Doing so, she said, would enable Iran "to be a responsible member of the international community"—perhaps not the highest priority for a regime that denies the Holocaust happened, and vows to complete it—and "enter the community of nations." Otherwise Iran will face "the full force of the international community."

Rice really thinks there is a community out there. To believe that is to believe, as liberals do, that harmony is humanity's natural condition, so discord is a remediable defect in arrangements.
Click here to find out more!

Regarding North Korea's missile launch, Rice was very stern. She said the U.N. Security Council would "meet," and there would be "consultation with our partners," who "all need to come together" and "add to" the 2006 U.N. resolution that North Korea had just disregarded, the one that demanded a halt to future missile-related activity, including launches. The Security Council met. It could not even bring itself to say North Korea's launch had violated the resolution against launches.

In the 1950s, conservatives vowed to "roll back" the Iron Curtain. Rice spoke of "ensuring that we roll back" North Korea's nuclear program. She took heart from what she called "some serious dismantlement" of North Korea's principal reactor. Actually, the reactor was not dismantled but disabled, an easily reversible act. Fuel rods were removed and the cooling tower was destroyed. The rods can be reinserted. The reactor can operate without the cooling tower—warm water would be released, which might kill lots of wildlife, but, then, the regime kills lots of North Koreans, even though that supposedly causes frowns to crease the faces of the supposed community of nations.

Perhaps Rice thinks the mere existence of the U.N. proves the existence of an international community. If so, she should spend some communitarian time with our allies the Saudis. The Obama administration has decided to join them as members of the U.N. Human Rights Council, which the Bush administration boycotted because it includes despotic regimes that are ludicrous auditors of other nations' respect for human rights.

An unmarried 23-year-old Saudi woman became pregnant when abducted and gang-raped. She was convicted of adultery and sentenced to a year in prison—and to a perhaps fatal 100 lashes after her child is born. Another woman was visited by two men—one had been breast-fed by her; the other was bringing her bread. Convicted of the crime of being in the presence of men who are not family members, she was sentenced to 40 lashes, which is perhaps a death sentence for a 75-year-old. The "community of nations" that liberals like Rice believe in certainly has what liberals celebrate: diversity.

If there is a "community of nations," then "Yes, we can" do this and that. But if not?

During Barack Obama's trip abroad, during which he praised himself by disparaging his predecessor and deploring America's shortcomings, he took pandering to a comic peak, combining criticism of America with flattery of Europe, when he deplored America's "failure to appreciate Europe's leading role in the world." Actually, as the crisis of aggression and ethnic cleansing in the Balkans demonstrated a decade ago, Europe plays almost no leadership role, even in Europe, which remains a geographical rather than a political denotation.

Europe's collective existence through NATO might be ending. Afghanistan, the supposed "graveyard of empires," might be the burial ground of NATO, which is 60 years old and showing signs of advanced senescence. Officially, NATO says the Afghanistan campaign is vital; actually, it promises a mere 5,000 more troops, none of them for combat. Most of the NATO nations that grudgingly send dribs and drabs of troops to Afghanistan send them enveloped in caveats that virtually vitiate their usefulness, including the stipulation that they shall not be put in harm's way. Tom Korologos, who was U.S. ambassador to Belgium from 2004 to 2007, recalls that when Belgium finally agreed to send a few hundred troops from its unionized "army"—average age: 40—other caveats concerned bottled water, a certain ratio of psychiatrists to troops and a requirement that dust be kept to a minimum.

In Europe, during his first star turn on the world stage, the president learned, or should have, that charm and two euros will almost get him a copy of the International Herald Tribune. Out there in the blue, flying high, selling himself, he found out how far he can go on a smile and a shoeshine.

America's enemies are not smiling back. Those are smirks, not smiles.
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« Reply #295 on: April 13, 2009, 09:49:28 AM »

Obama vindicates Bush, again
posted at 10:16 am on April 13, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

When will Barack Obama apologize to George Bush?  He spent the entire campaign impugning Bush’ handling of detainees at Guantanamo Bay, claiming that they required access to federal courts and that military detentions were not necessary.  On Friday, Obama took another big step towards Bush by deciding to fight a federal court that essentially endorsed Obama’s views on the campaign trail:

The Obama administration said Friday that it would appeal a district court ruling that granted some military prisoners in Afghanistan the right to file lawsuits seeking their release. The decision signaled that the administration was not backing down in its effort to maintain the power to imprison terrorism suspects for extended periods without judicial oversight.
In a court filing, the Justice Department also asked District Judge John D. Bates not to proceed with the habeas-corpus cases of three detainees at Bagram Air Base outside Kabul, Afghanistan. Judge Bates ruled last week that the three — each of whom says he was seized outside of Afghanistan — could challenge their detention in court.
Jim Geraghty’s axiom applies: All of Obama’s statements come with an expiration date — all of them.  That actually is good news for the Right, since we disagree with most of Obama’s statements.  This case is a a good example.
Terrorists and insurgents captured by military and intelligence personnel engaged overseas do not get habeas corpus.  Not even the Nuremberg defendants got habeas corpus in American courts, the example Obama liked to use (and got wrong) on the campaign trail.  Their military tribunals were the final word, as they should be with detainees at Bagram or at Gitmo.
I’m glad to see Obama coming to his senses on this point.  This is change I can believe in, but Obama should apologize to Bush in every brief his DoJ files along these lines.

« Reply #296 on: April 15, 2009, 10:27:33 AM »

Duncan the Mercenary, Obama the Coward

Posted by Adam Schaeffer

The Obama administration’s stance on the voucher program is transparently political and insulting. President Obama claims he wants to help the poor and improve education, and yet he has aided and abetted Congress in the murder of the only federal education program with evidence of sustained and increasing achievement gains for participants (and at a quarter of the cost).

From Bloomberg today:

A spending law signed by Obama last month will end a program that gives low-income parents tuition vouchers of as much as $7,500 a year to send their children to private schools. Among 54 participating schools are Sidwell Friends, where Sasha and Malia Obama are students, and Ambassador Baptist Church Christian School, where Sherrise Greene sends her two daughters and had wanted to enroll Marquis.

“I had high hopes that he would be attending with a scholarship with his sisters,” Greene said in an interview. “I’m just really hurt that it’s being ended, because I think it’s a good program.”

Ms. Greene should feel hurt. And she should be angry as well. Many of the scholarship parents are meeting tonight to force Congress and the administration to recognize that they are real people who will be hurt by this payoff to the teachers unions. I look forward to their protests.

The most loathsome character in this sordid story, perhaps . . . it’s difficult to choose . . . is Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. This self-proclaimed “reformer” had this to say to the parents of this wildly popular and proven program:

Duncan said the Education Department findings don’t warrant a continuation of the voucher program, except for children already enrolled. While some students showed “modest gains” in reading, those who had switched to private schools from “low performing” public schools showed no improvement, he said in an e-mailed statement.

How stupid and insignificant do Duncan and Obama think these parents and children are? The whole affair is disgusting.

Adam Schaeffer • April 15, 2009 @ 11:06 am
Filed under: Education and Child Policy
Tags: Arne Duncan, Congress, education, obama, Obama administration, parent, President Obama, private schools, public schools, school, spending, state, students, unions, voucher, voucher program, vouchers

A panel discussion of this travesty:
« Last Edit: April 15, 2009, 11:20:12 AM by Body-by-Guinness » Logged
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« Reply #297 on: April 15, 2009, 12:02:10 PM »

Obama picked a pretend fight with the union over 'merit pay'.  We have that already here in MN.  As my friend describes the extra check his wife gets from the state each year, it's free money - for a middle school teacher in a nice suburban district where the teachers do their job and the kids show up ready and do the work assigned.  It doesn't come out of the pocket of the mediocre teachers, who still get full pay, benefits, summers off, winter break, spring break, afternoons off, weekends off, retirement guarantees, did I mention family medical?  The bonus comes from the already strapped taxpayers, and is above and beyond the above-market union contract pay.  In the case of a federal bonus program, the money comes out of thin air, on top of the other 7 trillion unfunded forecast, devaluing every other dollar in the economy.

Vouchers OTOH cost nothing, just paying the per kid rate the taxpayer is already obligated to pay.

Obama faced an easy choice between putting his cute and smart daughters in the best private school available or in the public schools run by the teachers' unions - and he paid no political price for his decision.  We were all supposed to be excited because of his race, but DC public schools are also largely black, isn't that exciting!

But the DC graduation rate is barely over 50%.  In my daughter's public school it is over 98%.  I contend that it is not the color of your skin but the prevalence of welfare dependency dollars in your district screwing up the families and priorities in the homes, neighborhoods and the schools that correlates best with academic deficiency.

Merit pay should go to the parents of the kids who show up ready and willing to learn across most of America.  Shame on Obama and almost all Democrats for abandoning the kids in the neighborhoods and not letting them at least take the dollars the taxpayer is already spending on them and use it in the accredited educational institution of their choice.

I guess the BS term 'pro-choice' has some other meaning to them.
« Last Edit: April 15, 2009, 12:08:25 PM by DougMacG » Logged
« Reply #298 on: April 20, 2009, 03:16:26 PM »

April 20, 2009
Not a misprint: Obama seeks cuts of $100 MILLION to reduce deficit (updated)

Rick Moran
If this were April 1, I might be inclined to think it a media joke. Or that the White House press office is pulling our leg.

But it is not and it makes me worry for the sanity of President Obama that he could actually believe that cutting  1/37,000 of the federal budget will make a dent in the $1.75 (at least) TRILLION debt he's running up this year.

And the way the Obamapress is reporting this is hysterically funny - as if he is actually trying to cut the deficit. Here's one of the major Obama rags in the country, the LA Times:

President Obama, whose healthcare and economic stimulus initiatives threaten to dramatically inflate the federal budget deficit, heralded a new push Saturday to cut wasteful spending in Washington.

The president said that in coming weeks he would announce the elimination of "dozens of government programs." And he said he would ask his Cabinet secretaries on Monday for specific proposals to slash their departments' budgets, promising there would be "no sacred cows and no pet projects."

The president singled out a move by Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano to end consulting contracts to create seals and logos that he said had cost the department $3 million since 2003.

In case you are unaware, it wouldn't surprise me if DHS spends $3 million on exercise bikes for higher grade bureaucrats. They may spend that much on Kleenex for DHS offices.

And by the way, just what the hell was DHS doing spending millions of dollars on logos anyway? I know everyone in America wants a DHS T-shirt 'cause they're so kewl but can't they settle for a coffee mug with the Homeland Security seal on it?

Economist Greg Mankiw can't believe it either:

To put those numbers in perspective, imagine that the head of a household with annual spending of $100,000 called everyone in the family together to deal with a $34,000 budget shortfall. How much would he or she announce that spending had be cut? By $3 over the course of the year--approximately the cost of one latte at Starbucks. The other $33,997? We can put that on the family credit card and worry about it next year.

Is the president that out of touch that he doesn't know there are far riper trees to prune if he wants to go after government waste? The Pentagon always has a lot of bloat as do entitlement programs. Don't need a pair of pruning shears there, an ax will do just fine. Just keep hacking away until someone starts screaming - and then hack some more.

Energy, Transportation, HHS, Commerce, Education - the whole jiggling, fat laden, porky pig of a budget could stand a once over by those Department secretaries. Instead, what will be cut won't even count as being superficial. More like a bad PR joke or Obama's idea of responsible government - which, when you think about it, is pretty much the same thing.

Talking trillions and cutting billions would at least be in the ballpark. But saving $100 million dollars out of a budget of $3.6 trillion is a slap in the face to the taxpayer - a cynical public relations blitz. I hope it is not indicative of the way the president will approach deficit cutting in the future.

At the rate he's going, the sun will burn out before the deficit is reduced to a manageable level.

Hat Tip: Ed Lasky

Update - Randall Hoven adds:

First, $100 million is a lot of money.  President Obama would have to appoint 2,940 more Tim Geithners to collect that much in back taxes (at $34,000 each).  Yet there are only about 20 cabinet positions and perhaps a similar number of czars.  I'm not sure even Barack Obama could come up with 2,900 more czars in only 90 days.

Secondly, Obama's willingness to spend 100 million fewer dollars means he thinks the economy is doing less badly than he had thought it was.  After all, he once said,

"What do you think a stimulus is?  It's spending - that's the whole point! Seriously."

The Congressional Budget Office estimated the 2009 federal deficit to be $1.8450 trillion.  Once that $100 million is cut, it we be only $1.8449 trillion.  If they could do that every 90 days, it would eliminate the 2009 deficit entirely by the year 6558. (Neglecting interest, of course.  If we don't neglect interest, that $100 million represents about one week's worth of interest on 2009's deficit.)

It's not all good news, though.  First, according to Al Gore's calculations, the oceans will be 900 feet above current levels by 6558.  And right after, in the year 6559, they would have to start working off the $1.379 trillion deficit of 2010.

But it's a start.  And for that, we must give President Obama credit.

Tom Suhadolnik adds:

Here is my attempt to bring Obama’s proposal into perspective for those who do not normally deal with billions and trillions in their daily lives.

Imagine you are the head of an average American family with a household income of $50,233.00.  Now imagine you are faced with a life changing crisis:  a family member becomes ill or someone is laid off.  As the prospect of bankruptcy or foreclosure becomes more real you are forced to make tough decisions. You call your family members to a meeting and give them the bad news.

You start by spending a few minutes explaining the seriousness of the situation.  You recount some stories about how the family has come together in the past.  You close the pep talk with something about adversity building character.

Then you tell them what needs to be done to stave off disaster.   You need the family to come together and slash the annual household budget by $1.39.  It will take help from all the family members.  It will certainly be painful.  But in order to respond to the crisis the family must endure the 0.00278% cut in spending.

Your teenage son, mouth agape, stares at you.  Your wife quietly wonders if you have forgotten to take your meds again.  Your teenage daughter worries you might strike up a conversation with her date tonight and scare him away.  And your 8 year old, always willing to help, places the change from her pocket on the kitchen table and begins counting.
In the years to come, your youngest will tell her grandchildren how she saved the family from financial disaster back in ought-nine with 5 quarters, 2 dimes and some lint.

Absurd?  Not at all. 

Obama’s budget for FY2010 is roughly $3,600,000,000,000.00.  He is asking his cabinet members to find $100,000,000.00 in cuts.  That is 0.00278% of FY2010 spending.  That is the equivalent of the average American family cutting $1.39 from their annual budget.

Page Printed from: at April 20, 2009 - 04:15:49 PM EDT
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« Reply #299 on: April 21, 2009, 10:16:47 AM »

The Apologists
by  Patrick J. Buchanan


For 50 minutes, Obama sat mute, as a Marxist thug from Nicaragua delivered his diatribe, charging America with a century of terrorist aggression in Central America.

After Daniel Ortega finished spitting in our face, accusing us of inhumanity toward Fidel Castro's Cuba, Obama was asked his thoughts.

"I thought it was 50 minutes long. That's what I thought."

Hillary Clinton was asked to comment: "I thought the cultural performance was fascinating," she cooed.

Pressed again on Ortega's vitriol, Hillary replied: "To have those first-class Caribbean entertainers all on one stage and to see how much was done in such a small amount of space. I was overwhelmed."

Thus the nation that won the Cold War, contained the cancer of Castroism in Cuba, liberated Grenada, blocked communist takeovers of Guatemala and the Dominican Republic, and poured scores of billions in aid into this region was left undefended by its own leaders at the Summit of the Americas.

Nor was this the only unanswered insult. Hugo Chavez, who has called Obama an "ignoramus" and Bush "El Diablo," walked over to a seated U.S. president and handed him the anti-American tract "Open Veins of Latin America: Five Centuries of the Pillage of a Continent."

The book blames Latin America's failures on white Europeans.

It opens, "Renaissance Europeans ventured across the oceans and buried their teeth in the throats of the Indian civilizations."

Civilizations? Before Pizarro and Cortez, the Inca and Aztec empires these conquistadors overthrew were into human sacrifice.

Evo Morales, the Aymaran president of Bolivia, who is using the race card against Bolivians of European descent, implied a U.S. role in an assassination plot against him.

Argentina's Cristina Kirchner, who allegedly received black-bag money from Chavez, ripped into America for its role in the 1980s. Under Reagan, America aided Britain in the Falklands War, after the Argentine junta invaded the islands, and assisted the Contras in their war of national liberation to oust Ortega's Sandinistas.

Again, Obama offered no defense of his country.

President Lula da Silva of Brazil, who blames the world financial crisis on "white, blue-eyed bankers," told Obama that any future Summit of the Americas without the Castro brothers was unacceptable.

Perhaps Obama believes in turn-the-other-cheek diplomacy, though it is hard to find much success in history for such a policy. Perhaps pacifism is in his DNA. Perhaps he shares the indictment of America that is part of the repertoire of every Latin demagogue.

Whatever his motive, in Trinidad, there were not two sides to the story. There were the trashers of America on the Latino left and a U.S. president who wailed plaintively, "I'm thankful that President Ortega did not blame me for things that happened when I was 3 months old."

But, the Bay of Pigs, had it succeeded, would have given Cubans 50 years of freedom instead of the brutal dictatorship they have had to endure. And it took place four months before Barack was born.

Obama's silence -- signifying, as it does, assent -- in the face of attacks on his country is of a piece with the "contrition tour" of his secretary of state.

"Clinton Scores Points by Admitting Past U.S. Errors," was the headline over Saturday's New York Times story by Mark Landler:

"It has become a recurring theme of Hillary Rodham Clinton's early travels as the chief diplomat of the United States: She says that American policy on a given issue has failed, and her foreign listeners fall all over themselves in gratitude.

"On Friday, Mrs. Clinton said ... that the uncompromising policy of the Bush administration toward Cuba had not worked. ...

"The contrition tour goes beyond Latin America. In China, Mrs. Clinton told audiences that the United States must accept its responsibility as a leading emitter of greenhouse gases. In Indonesia, she said the American-backed policy of sanctions against Myanmar had not been effective. And in the Middle East, she pointed out that ostracizing the Iranian government had not persuaded it to give up its nuclear weapons ambitions."

Sandler wrote that Hillary brought to mind Bill Clinton:

"On a single trip to Africa in 1998 ... Bill Clinton apologized for American participation in slavery; American support of brutal African dictators; American 'neglect and ignorance' of Africa; American failure to intervene sooner in the Rwandan genocide of 1994; American 'complicity' in apartheid ... ."

Yet, as C.S. Lewis reminds us in "God in the Dock," "The first and fatal charm of national repentance is ... the encouragement it gives us to turn from the bitter task of repenting our own sins to the congenial one of bewailing -- but, first, of denouncing -- the conduct of others."

Bewailing the policies of Bush as failures and standing mute in the face of attacks on his country and predecessors may come back to bite Obama.

For when Jimmy Carter assumed a posture of moral superiority over LBJ and Richard Nixon, by declaring, "We have gotten over our inordinate fear of communism," it came back to bite him, good and hard.
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