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MONDAY, FEBRUARY 1, 2010
ADVENTURES IN GOVERNMENT HEALTH CARE – AT 8:13 P.M. ET: Reader Joseph J. Gallick alerts us to this report on the wonders of government health care in Britain. Seems there are a couple of problems. From London's Daily Mail:
More than 500,000 patients every year are readmitted to hospital after apparently being sent home too soon, alarming figures reveal.
Labour's waiting-time targets have been blamed for the 50 per cent rise in emergency readmissions of patients within days of them being discharged.
Critics said it was a scandal that almost 1,500 a day were apparently being released before they are well enough, harming their recovery.
When politics runs a medical system, that's what happens. Welcome to the future...if the Obamans get their way.
They say the targets put pressure on hospitals to discharge people early to free up beds and have turned the National Health Service into a 'revolving door'.
Elderly patients are particularly vulnerable if they are sent home too soon, charities warned. There are also fears hospitals are trying to cash in from being paid twice to treat the same patient.
What? What? You mean hospitals can act dishonestly? You mean a single-payer system isn't paradise? Why, in the new order there will be a ban on disturbing articles like this.
But, if you're in Britain, it may be a good idea to look in on grandma after she's been released from the hospital. Just make sure they've disconnected the tubes.
And this is what some in the American elite would like here.
February 1, 2010 Permalink
QUOTE OF THE DAY – AT 6:27 P.M. ET: From Charles Krauthammer, speaking before the Heritage Foundation:
In the real world, as opposed to what French President Nicolas Sarkozy calls President Barack Obama's "virtual world," America faces the reality of Iran's intransigence and aggressiveness; China's headlong pursuit of its own national, regional, and global interests; Russia's determination to regain its Near Abroad; the Arab states' refusal to accept any kind of a reasonable settlement of the kind that Israel has already offered under several governments; Syria's designs on Lebanon; and Hugo Chávez's designs on the weaker countries in Latin America. President Obama's foreign policy agenda of gradual American retreat will have inexorable consequences: When erstwhile allies see the American umbrella being withdrawn, they will have to accommodate themselves to those from whom we were protecting them. If Obama proves impervious to empirical evidence and experience, all these accommodations, the weakening of alliances, the strengthening of centers of adversarial power in Moscow, Beijing, Tehran, Caracas, and elsewhere will continue until we are awakened by some cataclysm.
COMMENT: Excellent observation. True, Obama has continued some of Bush's policies, especially in Afghanistan. But, overall, American foreign policy is weakening. It is also drifting. Our opponents see, not resolve, but confusion, and a president dragged by his party's leftist (not liberal) wing into policies strangely reminiscent of the 1930s.
The neoconservatives are regularly ridiculed for saying that our situation feels like 1939. But they're right. It feels like 1939. History, of course, doesn't repeat itself. It's the psychology of history that repeats itself. And we see a disturbing tendency today to go back to the kind of thinking – appeasement, delays, wishful dreaming, even blaming allies – that led directly to World War II. And if we have a tragedy, the so-called "realists" will blame the very people who warned of it, after they get finished blaming BUSH (!!).
February 1, 2010 Permalink
UNDER THE RADAR – AT 6:23 P.M. ET: We have, naturally, not seen anything about this in the mainstream media, but we've been aware of it from other sources. Fox News reports on a George Soros-funded project that's already had an impact.
The obscure office of secretary of state within the several states can actually have substantial power over the way elections are conducted, votes are counted, voters registered, and winning candidates certified. The Soros forces are targeting these offices, with success:
Since 2006 the Democracy Alliance, a left leaning influence group funded by George Soros among others, has had remarkable success in targeting and claiming Secretary of State's offices in 11 of 13 critical states they targeted, including Ohio, Minnesota and Iowa.
Called the Secretary of State Project (SOSP) its aim is to target and capture the obscure, often overlooked office and implement election rules changes that give democrats a better chance of winning a plurality. Among those changes that SOSP calls "election protection," are a loosening of voter registration requirements and a lessening of efforts to prevent fraudulent voting, according to Matthew Vadum, a political analyst with the Capitol Research Center.
And they have an ally in Eric Holder's Justice Department, which dropped a slam-dunk voter intimidation suit against the Black Panthers, in the face of overwhelming evidence of guilt.
'The thing that is amazing is that they can get the office for as little $100,000 in campaign funding because no one pays attention to it, and they get to control election opportunities in a state. It is cheap," Vadum said.
He said SOSP is currently targeting three states in the 2010 election: California, Michigan and Minnesota. In total they count for 82 electoral votes.
More change we can believe in:
Perhaps nowhere is the impact of the new influence of the Secretary of State had a more profound than in Minnesota, where Mark Richie defeated incumbent Republican Secretary of Sate Mary Kiffmeyer in 2006.
Ritchie, a former community organizer, said at his inauguration that he owed his upset victory to the Secretary of State project.
According to Kiffmeyer, as soon as Ritchie took office he began dismantling much of the framework that had been assembled to ensure honest voting in the state. It was that loosening of election controls, she argues, that lead to the eight month standoff between incumbent Senator Norm Coleman and challenger Al Franken in what was one of the closest Senate race ever.
In a telephone interview from Minneapolis, Dan McGrath and Jeff Davis, who have formed a small research-watchdog group called the Minnesota Majority, say that their computer assisted-examination of the voting records from the 2008 election show that Al Franken's 312 vote margin of victory can be attributed to Ritchie's dismantling election rules. Specifically they charge that Franken's victory can be attributed entirely to illegally cast votes by convicted felons.
COMMENT: I'd hate to see America turned into a third-world democracy by massive voter fraud, but I'm afraid we're headed that way. I hope this story gets circulated further, and is featured on Fox's TV news reports.
February 1, 2010 Permalink
TERROR WATCH – AT 5:59 P.M. ET: The latest "isolated incident" not related to any overall scheme, philosophy, religious fanaticism or anything else other than a sense of adventure:
NEW YORK -- The father of an airport driver accused of trying to cook up homemade bombs in a Colorado motel for an attack on New York City was charged Monday with trying to get rid of chemicals and other evidence.
FBI agents arrested Mohammed Wali Zazi on Monday at his home in a Denver suburb after a previous charge, lying to the government, was dropped. He was out on bail.
You mean, he didn't lie to the government?
A new indictment unsealed in federal court in Brooklyn accused Mr. Zazi of conspiring with others to destroy or hide "glasses, masks, liquid chemicals and containers" that were evidence in a foiled terrorism plot.
Mr. Zazi, the father of suspect Najibullah Zazi, was scheduled to appear in a Denver court Monday. There was no immediate response to a phone message left with his attorney, and the U.S. attorney's office in Brooklyn, which is leading the investigation, declined to comment.
COMMENT: I wonder how long it took the government to read him his Miranda rights? A minute? Ten seconds?
And, by the way, whatever happened to that guy arrested in New Jersey last week, on a tip from an alert citizen, who had an arsenal in his home, along with jihadist material? That story has disappeared. Just a guy reading up on religion, I guess.
February 1, 2010 Permalink
THE BEST ARGUMENTS ARE FACTUAL – AT 10:57 A.M. ET: Former White House Press Secretary Dana Perino knocks down some of the myths surrounding terrorist trials in the United States.
It's nice to see the use of facts, for a change. From The Politico:
...we've heard three people in the Sunday shows talking about the "hundreds" of terrorists that we have tried in US courts and hold in US prisons - as if KSM (the mastermind of 9-11) was just some regular Joe terrorist. Some facts:
First, the only civilian trial of a 9/11 terrorist was Zacarias Moussaoui, who was arrested before 9/11 had even happened and before the president had authorized detaining terrorists as enemy combatants.
Second, Moussaoui had his trial while the entire military commission system was under sustained legal attack by left-wing lawyers, which put all military commission trials on hold. So he couldn't have been tried by a military commission back then anyway.
Third, the trial was a circus largely because the defendant was uncontrollable and used the attention to spout hate against the US; the prosecutors were unfairly accused of misconduct, though the judge gave some credence to the accusations; and they couldn't even get the death penalty even though Moussaoui eventually admitted he was supposed to be the 20th hijacker. The Moussaoui trial is hardly viewed as a model of success.
As for the "hundreds of terrorists" – that figure encompasses every type of terrorism charge DOJ brought in eight years and has nothing to do with 9/11, nor were any of those people foreign terrorists captured overseas as part of the war on terror. Those terrorists were held at Guantanamo Bay as enemy combatants with the intention of eventually trying them in military commissions.
Of course, Dana Perino's argument assumes that we're at war. We are. Even the president says we are. But many of his supporters believe we're not. They think we're involved in an inter-cultural dispute created by American triumphalism, Western imperialism, rapacious capitalism, and high-cholesterol Milky Ways dropped on unsuspecting Third World peoples.
If things go our way in November, sanity may start to prevail. Until then, we'll have to contend with leftist diehards who are more interested in trying George W. Bush than the terrorists who come to kill us.
February 1, 2010 Permalink
MAY JUST BE TEMPORARY – AT 9:43 A.M. ET: Scott Rasmussen reports on the continuing gains President Obama is making as a result of the State of the Union message. Once again we're reminded that the president is a more-than-formidable political presence, not to be sold short:
The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Monday shows that 35% of the nation's voters Strongly Approve of the way that Barack Obama is performing his role as President. That’s the highest level of strong approval for the President in more than seven months and reflects a significant bounce following the State-of-the-Union address. Before the speech, just 27% voiced strong approval.
Thirty-nine percent (39%) now Strongly Disapprove down from 42% before the speech. Putting it all together gives Obama a Presidential Approval Index rating of -4. That’s the President’s best Approval Index rating in months. In fact, he’s earned a better rating on only two days in the past six months...
...Overall, 49% of voters say they at least somewhat approve of the President's performance. Fifty percent (50%) disapprove.
COMMENT: We'll look for these numbers to return to pre-speech levels in the next few weeks. It was only days ago that the spread between approval and disapproval was seven points, not the one point we see today. If the numbers do return, fine. If they don't, our side has a problem.
Obama can turn it on. It worked in November, 2008. It probably cannot work that effectively in influencing voters during a midterm election year. But that will depend, in part, in how effective Republicans will be in recruiting Scott Brown-level candidates and delivering their message.
February 1, 2010 Permalink
BROWN CAUSES FAINTING SPELLS – AT 9:24 A.M. ET: Scott Brown is making his way to Washington, and making waves. This is a very independent man.
Don't say he didn't warn us. When he was elected, Brown told the nation that he would work for his constituents, and would take orders from no one, including the GOP. He's proving it, as the Washington Post notes:
Fresh off an election victory in Massachusetts, Republican Senator-elect Scott Brown advocated a big tent outlook for the GOP when asked whether his party should move in a more moderate direction.
"They can do whatever they want," Brown said of other Republicans, on ABC's "This Week." "I just know that I'm a Scott Brown Republican. What does that mean? That means I'm going to go down there and be accountable, accessible, open, and honest, and I'm going to bring good government and fairness back to the equation."
Brown said his win in a solidly-Democratic state, along with the interest in the Q&A session President Obama and House Republicans had on Friday, is proof that voters want more transparency and less backroom dealing.
"What it means is that now there will be full and fair debate," Brown said of his 41st Republican vote in the Senate that erased a Democratic supermajority. "And there will be no more behind-closed-doors actions."
That's a tough order. Watch out for the meat grinder, Scott.
Brown, a socially moderate Republican in an age where the national party is nearly unified on opposition to abortion rights and same-sex marriage, said states should be allowed to make their own decisions on marriage rights. He said while he is pro-choice, he is against partial- birth abortions, federal funding of abortions and believes in strong parental consent notification laws.
COMMENT: Look, this guy is a star right now, and I get the feeling that he wants to remain one. He's chalked up one of the most stunning wins in modern American political history.
Republicans must understand that politics is local. Officeholders will reflect their constituencies. Rudy Giuliani, for example, one of the toughest law-and-order types ever to hold office in New York, favors some gun-control laws. Within limits, a party must have some flexibility. Otherwise, it will soon be holding its meetings in a closet.
So Brown's views may not meet every conservative test, but they will meet most tests. It will be utterly fascinating to see how this guy, from the bluest of the blue states, functions within his party.
February 1, 2010 Permalink
WHEN YOU RUN AS A DEMIGOD – AT 8:32 A.M. ET: No one has been sharper in his commentary on Barack Obama than Professor Fouad Ajami of Johns Hopkins University. Ajami does not like what he sees, and explains why in the Wall Street Journal:
The curtain has come down on what can best be described as a brief un-American moment in our history. That moment began in the fall of 2008, with the great financial panic, and gave rise to the Barack Obama phenomenon.
Note the phrase, "un-American moment." Someone had the guts to say it.
In a little-known senator from Illinois millions of Americans came to see a savior who would deliver the nation out of its troubles. Gone was the empiricism in political life that had marked the American temper in politics. A charismatic leader had risen in a manner akin to the way politics plays out in distressed and Third World societies.
Ouch! Triple ouch.
The speed with which some of his devotees have turned on him—and their unwillingness to own up to what their infatuation had wrought—is nothing short of astounding. But this is the bargain Mr. Obama had made with political fortune...
...In the manner of political redeemers who have marked—and wrecked—the politics of the Arab world and Latin America, Mr. Obama left the crowd to its most precious and volatile asset—its imagination. There was no internal coherence to the coalition that swept him to power. There was cultural "cool" and racial absolution for the white professional classes who were the first to embrace him. There was understandable racial pride on the part of the African-American community that came around to his banners after it ditched the Clinton dynasty.
This is probably the best advance political obit on Obama that we've read.
Mr. Obama himself authored the tale of his own political crisis. He had won an election, but he took it as a plebiscite granting him a writ to remake the basic political compact of this republic.
Mr. Obama's self-regard, and his reading of his mandate, overwhelmed all restraint...
...better ram down sweeping social programs—a big liberal agenda before the people stirred to life again.
We have had stylish presidents, none more so than JFK. But Kennedy was an ironist and never fell for his own mystique. Mr. Obama's self-regard comes without irony...
...But while the Europeans and Muslim crowds hailed him, they damned his country all the same. For his part, Mr. Obama played along, and in Ankara, Cairo, Paris and Berlin he offered penance aplenty for American ways.
There had been that magical moment—the campaign of 2008—and the true believers want to return to it. But reality is merciless. The spell is broken.
Please read the whole piece. It's well worth it and will make your decade. Ajami is a particularly brave writer, someone who defies the fashions of the university, not only on the subject of Barack Obama, but in his commentary on the Islamic world.
February 1, 2010 Permalink
PREPARE SPACE UNDER THE REAR LEFT AXLE – AT 8:08 A.M. ET: There is buzz, and I suspect it will grow, that Obama will eventually have to send a basket of fruit and a dismissal notice to his attorney general, Eric Holder.
Holder's record, for only one year, is the most controversial of that of any attorney general since Nixon's manservant, John Mitchell. And Holder is finding few strong supporters, even in his own party. Jennifer Rubin, at Contentions, argues that it's time for him to take the honored place under the bus, possibly next to Rev. Jeremiah Wright:
...the administration’s official flack did not exactly give a ringing endorsement of either the KSM trial or of Holder himself. Appearing on CNN, Robert Gibbs would only say:
“He will be brought to justice, and he will likely be executed for the heinous crimes he has committed. … That you can be sure of.”
But he dodged repeated questions by CNN host John King about whether the administration might shift the venue back from federal court in New York to a military court, finally saying that “The attorney general believes the best place to try him is in an American courtroom,” but not committing to that option…
“We are talking with the authorities in New York,” Gibbs said. “We understand their logistical concerns. We have been discussing that with them.”
Nothing about the president having "full confidence" in the attorney general, or backing his decisions.
So this is all the attorney general’s idea, you see. Not exactly the “buck stops here” sort of decision-making we were assured we’d get from Obama. But aside from the lack of presidential accountability and candor (who believes Holder made this monumentally dumb decision with no input from the White House?), it does leave open the potential for a serious revision in personnel and policy.
His attorney general, however, has had quite a run and is fast becoming a liability for the administration. What better way to pivot and restore some bipartisan credibility than to throw Holder under the proverbial bus?
We’ve learned that it takes a lot to get fired by Obama. But if anyone has earned that fate, it is Holder. His departure would earn praise from conservatives at a time when Obama is struggling to demonstrate some bipartisanship. It would suggest that there is hope yet for this administration to steer back toward the Center of the political spectrum and away from the netroot agenda that has proven utterly unworkable and politically toxic.
COMMENT: Look for the buzz to increase in this election year. Some Democrats are not happy to go down with the ship. Last week, Dems were especially harsh in their comments about Homeland Security chief Janet Napolitano, another liability as a result of her handling of the Christmas-day bomber case, who didn't show up for a Congressional hearing.
Dianne Feinstein, considered a senior, influential voice in the Democratic Party, denounced Holder's decision to try top terrorists in New York City. Evan Bayh, Democrat of Indiana, facing a tough reelection battle, joined the chorus.
One way out for Obama: There are stories circulating that Associate Justice John Paul Stevens, of the U.S. Supreme Court, may step down at the end of this term. Holder could get a court nomination, vacating the top job at the Justice Department. His nomination would be controversial, and probably opposed by almost all Republicans, but it would probably slip through.
February 1, 2010 Permalink
SUNDAY, JANUARY 31, 2010
THE SCANDAL GROWS BY THE DAY – AT 7:55 P.M. ET: The march of global-warming "science." Hear the bands playing, the people cheering, the money flowing. From London's Telegraph:
The United Nations' expert panel on climate change based claims about ice disappearing from the world's mountain tops on a student's dissertation and an article in a mountaineering magazine.
Hey, I get information about my computer from Macworld. What's the difference? Who are these people to question?
The revelation will cause fresh embarrassment for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which had to issue a humiliating apology earlier this month over inaccurate statements about global warming.
No it won't. These people are incapable of embarrassment.
...it can be revealed that one of the sources quoted was a feature article published in a popular magazine for climbers which was based on anecdotal evidence from mountaineers about the changes they were witnessing on the mountainsides around them.
The other was a dissertation written by a geography student, studying for the equivalent of a master's degree, at the University of Berne in Switzerland that quoted interviews with mountain guides in the Alps.
The revelations, uncovered by The Sunday Telegraph, have raised fresh questions about the quality of the information contained in the report, which was published in 2007.
It comes after officials for the panel were forced earlier this month to retract inaccurate claims in the IPCC's report about the melting of Himalayan glaciers.
COMMENT: What is stunning is the silence of the American media. Fortunately, through the internet, we're able to pick up the best British reporting. Although much of British journalism is standard left-wing stuff, there's still an island of sanity remaining.
One story I'd like to see reported is the degree of intimidation in science. You know: Take the right position, or lose your government grant. President Eisenhower worried about this almost half a century ago. But it seems to be the unspeakable issue.
It is very hard, in the United States, to root out corruption in universities, a situation implied in stories that question global-warming "research." Loyal alumni who want to maintain the glitter of their degrees, members of Congress who depend on universities for political support, and economic forces, including powerful trustees, combine to provide a solid wall of defense. But my sense is that a day of reckoning is coming, prompted by the huge fees that colleges and universities charge today. People, including those ordinary unlettered peasants out there, are starting to ask questions. They should. All the time.
January 31, 2010 Permalink
MORE GOOD ADVICE; AGAIN, WILL THEY TAKE IT? – AT 6:55 P.M. ET: Former CIA director Michael Hayden challenges the Obama administration's approach to the war on terror. Obamans don't seem to learn too quickly. Maybe they'll learn from this:
We got it wrong in Detroit on Christmas Day. We allowed an enemy combatant the protections of our Constitution before we had adequately interrogated him. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab is not "an isolated extremist." He is the tip of the spear of a complex al-Qaeda plot to kill Americans in our homeland.
In the 50 minutes the FBI had to question him, agents reportedly got actionable intelligence. Good. But were there any experts on al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in the room (other than Abdulmutallab)? Was there anyone intimately familiar with any National Security Agency raw traffic to, from or about the captured terrorist? Did they have a list or photos of suspected recruits?
And here's an important lesson on intelligence gathering, some of the best background information we've had so far on the subject:
When questioning its detainees, the CIA routinely turns the information provided over to its experts for verification and recommendations for follow-up. The responses of these experts -- "Press him more on this, he knows the details" or "First time we've heard that" -- helps set up more detailed questioning.
Remember that paragraph the next time Eric Holder reads a terrorist his Miranda rights five minutes after they rip the bomb from his body.
The root of our current problem:
Two days after his inauguration, President Obama issued an executive order that limited all interrogations by the U.S. government to the techniques authorized in the Army Field Manual. The CIA had not seen the final draft of the order, let alone been allowed to comment, before it was issued. I thought that odd since the order was less a legal document -- there was no claim that the manual exhausted the universe of lawful techniques -- than a policy one: These particular lawful techniques would be all that the country would need, at least for now.
In a phrase, that paragraph tells us why elections are important. The wrong guy won.
In August, seemingly again in contradiction to the president's policy of not looking backward and over the objections of the CIA, Justice pushed to release the CIA inspector general's report on the interrogation program. Then Justice decided to reopen investigations of CIA officers that had been concluded by career prosecutors years ago, even though Panetta and seven of his predecessors said that doing so would be unfair, unwarranted and harmful to the agency's current mission.
Add this to the entire, sorry record of Eric Holder's Justice Department in the last year.
Intelligence officers need to know that someone has their back. After the Justice memos were released in April, CIA officers began to ask whether the people doing things that were currently authorized would be dragged through this kind of public knothole in five years. No one could guarantee that they would not.
Does the term "leftist lawyers recruited by Eric Holder" come to mind? The former dean of the Harvard Law School is solicitor general. The former dean of the Yale Law School gives legal advice to the State Department. These are not conservatives.
Some may celebrate that the current Justice Department's perspective on the war on terrorism has become markedly more dominant in the past year. We should probably understand the implications of that before we break out the champagne. That apparently no one recommended on Christmas Day that Abdulmutallab be handled, at least for a time, as an enemy combatant should be concerning. That our director of national intelligence, Denny Blair, bravely said as much during congressional testimony this month is cause for hope.
Blair doesn't seem to have any power. Went to the wrong school.
The final insult:
There's a final oddity. In August, the government unveiled the High Value Detainee Interrogation Group for questioning al-Qaeda and announced that the FBI would begin questioning CIA officers about the alleged abuses in the 2004 inspector general's report. They are apparently still getting organized for the al-Qaeda interrogations. But the interrogations of CIA personnel are well underway.
That reflects the values of the administration, the law schools and firms from which it recruited senior personnel, and the McGovern wing of the Democratic Party. And they show no signs of changing.
January 31, 2010 Permalink
GOOD ADVICE, BUT WILL THEY TAKE IT? – AT 6:30 P.M. ET: The Republicans are giving the Dems some good advice on health care, but will the Dems see the light, or only the left (pun intended)? From the Washington Post:
As senior Democrats struggled to rescue their health-care legislation, Republicans urged President Obama and congressional leaders to give up on the unpopular bill and launch bipartisan talks on a new consensus approach.
Ever since Senate Democrats lost their filibuster-proof majority with the Massachusetts special election, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (Nev.) have explored using special budget rules to fix the Senate version of the bill before passing it through the House.
It's a highly unusual and risky manuever, albeit the most direct route to Obama's desk, and Pelosi and Reid already have run into numerous internal problems as they search for Democratic votes. Liberals want to strip out the primary source of funding in the Senate bill -- an excise tax on high-cost insurance plans -- and are pressing to add a public insurance option. Yet Democratic moderates are reluctant to take another partisan vote on health care, whatever the bill's contents.
COMMENT: The Republican approach is correct and creative. Start from scratch. Take on four or five changes that will bring real reform to the health-care system. One of those changes should be tort reform.
The Republicans are giving the Dems a way out, and certainly know that the Dems will take any credit for what results. The Republicans are acting like statesmen. The Democrats? We'll see in the next few weeks. Don't hold your breath.
January 31, 2010 Permalink
HUH? ARE WE READING THIS RIGHT? – AT 12:17 P.M. ET: Just when we thought it was safe to go back to New York...
The press has been filled with reports, in the last few days, that the Obama administration has given up plans to try the mastermind of 9-11 in an ordinary New York civilian courtroom. We've been told that the Obamans are searching for alternative sites, including military bases. But now the White House news secretary tells us that the whole thing is up in the air. This is pretty unbelievable. From The Hill:
White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said Sunday that the despite reports of mulling new locations to try 9/11 terrorism suspects, the administration still very much wants Khalid Sheikh Mohammed tried in the Big Apple.
"He's going to meet justice," Gibbs said on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday morning. "He's going to meet his maker. He's likely to be executed" for the "heinous" crimes of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. Mohammed has claimed he was the al-Qaeda mastermind behind the terrorist attacks on New York and Washington.
Is this weird, or what? You mean all the stories are untrue?
And what about statements that KSM is "likely to be executed"? Any defense lawyer will use that to claim that the terrorist can't get a fair trial because the atmosphere has been contaminated by prejudicial statements coming from the White House.
When pressed about the location of the trial, as the plan to try KSM in Manhattan has drawn fire from many New Yorkers and Republicans, Gibbs said Attorney General Eric Holder felt that the "best place" to try 9/11 suspects would be in an "American courtroom."
"We are talking with the authorities in New York," Gibbs said. "We understand their logistical concerns and their security concerns that are involved."
"We want to see this man tried and brought to justice in the place where this crime was committed," Gibbs said.
What's going on here? Did the Democratic left wing get to the White House to demand its New York show trial, which would give KSM the greatest media megaphone in the world, which is what a lot of people on the trendy left would like?
The administration is in disarray. No headline there. You'd think they'd nail this down.
But Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is quoted later in the story as saying that support for the trial being held in New York is collapsing. Congress can cut off the funds. No matter what Gibbs says, KSM will have to meet justice somewhere else.
January 31, 2010 Permalink
THE BBC MISSES IT AGAIN – AT 10:27 A.M. ET: Our wonderful contributor, Renee Nielsen, alerts us to the fantasyland of the BBC, the world's most overrated news organization.
The arrogance and ignorance of this piece are breathtaking. It proves that the BBC either knows nothing of the United States, or prefers not to know. Or, it knows, and distorts, the better to serve the leftist party line. By the way, Renee recommends that you also listen to the audio version, which is more complete, and gives the full patronizing flavor of the BBC report. That's here.
From the BBC:
Political scientist Dr David Runciman looks at why is there often such deep opposition to reforms that appear to be of obvious benefit to voters.
When you see the word "obvious" in story, run in the other direction. The floodgates of arrogance are now open. Can't these fools see what we superior people see?
But it is striking that the people who most dislike the whole idea of healthcare reform - the ones who think it is socialist, godless, a step on the road to a police state - are often the ones it seems designed to help.
In Texas, where barely two-thirds of the population have full health insurance and over a fifth of all children have no cover at all, opposition to the legislation is currently running at 87%.
Did it ever occur to the BBC that Americans don't think the "reform" bill is reform at all? But, of course, what could the peasants know? Do they brush their teeth?
Also, will someone drop a note to the "reporter" informing him that Texans get health care whether formally covered or not. What true reformers want is to improve the system, end bad practices, and make access easier. But people do not die in the streets, which is the image the Beeb would like to project.
Instead, to many of those who lose out under the existing system, reform still seems like the ultimate betrayal.
Why are so many American voters enraged by attempts to change a horribly inefficient system that leaves them with premiums they often cannot afford?
Why are they manning the barricades to defend insurance companies that routinely deny claims and cancel policies?
Boy, are you getting this? One of the reforms Americans do want is the ability to buy insurance across state lines, vastly increasing competition and driving the bad guys out. We don't love insurance companies.
Inefficient system? Say what? Compare please to the British system, where people can wait weeks or months for an operation, or even to see a specialist. Our system needs improvement, but, if you need a serious operation here, you'll have it that night.
But, incredibly, the BBC does show a glimmer of understanding:
If people vote against their own interests, it is not because they do not understand what is in their interest or have not yet had it properly explained to them.
They do it because they resent having their interests decided for them by politicians who think they know best.
There is nothing voters hate more than having things explained to them as though they were idiots.
Don't get too excited. The story reverts back to a patronizing view of Americans. But at least the reporter understands that health care is deeply personal, and that the American people resent the way they've been treated during the debate.
Back to the patronization:
The Republicans have learnt how to stoke up resentment against the patronising liberal elite, all those do-gooders who assume they know what poor people ought to be thinking.
Right-wing politics has become a vehicle for channelling this popular anger against intellectual snobs. The result is that many of America's poorest citizens have a deep emotional attachment to a party that serves the interests of its richest.
Huh? More Wall Street money was raised by Obama for the last election than by McCain. True, the GOP can get too cozy with big business, but Dems haven't been far behind. Both have indulged the corporations.
And Americans vote on a whole list of values, and have felt, especially since the sixties, that the Democrats may not represent those values. These include national defense and a respect for standards in education.
The BBC writer does make an honest effort to understand Americans, and does, we must concede, recognize that their anger is directed at snobbish political elites. But what gets you in this piece is the belief that, somehow, Americans are angry people blinded to their own interests. Yes, I suppose that sometimes happens. Lincoln said that you can fool all the people some of the time. But one wishes that the Beeb would study how liberal politicians fool people, especially minorities, and do so regularly. We've seen it with our own eyes here in New York, which is why New York City, with a four-to-one Democratic registration, hasn't elected a Democratic mayor since 1989. People do notice, and they're not stupid.
January 31, 2010 Permalink
STRENGTHENING THE MUSCLE – AT 10:17 A.M. ET: Washington is taking some action to show a bit of spine to Iran. But it will take a lot more than this. From The New York Times:
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration is accelerating the deployment of new defenses against possible Iranian missile attacks in the Persian Gulf, placing special ships off the Iranian coast and antimissile systems in at least four Arab countries, according to administration and military officials.
The deployments come at a critical turning point in President Obama’s dealings with Iran. After months of unsuccessful diplomatic outreach, the administration is trying to win broad international consensus for sanctions against the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, which Western nations say control a covert nuclear arms program.
Mr. Obama spoke of the shift in his State of the Union address, warning of “consequences” if Iran continued to defy United Nations demands to stop manufacturing nuclear fuel. And Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton publicly warned China on Friday that its opposition to sanctions was shortsighted.
The news that the United States is deploying antimissile defenses — including a rare public discussion of them by Gen. David H. Petraeus — appears to be part of a coordinated administration strategy to increase pressure on Iran.
COMMENT: I'm glad it's coordinated. Hurrah, hurrah. But the reality is that China, with a veto at the UN, continues to oppose sanctions on Iran. While Russia has shown a bit more flexibility, we don't really know how far Moscow will go.
And what if a watered-down round of new sanctions is ignored, as were all the sanctions on Iran in the past? Is there a plan, or will we wake up one day to an Iranian bomb, with the "realist" crowd then telling us, "We must adjust to new circumstances"?
We are taking bets.
January 31, 2010 Permalink
DEMS ARE BOUNCING – AT 10:01 A.M. ET: Rasmussen reports that the president continues to get a bounce from his State of the Union speech. However, it comes almost entirely from his own party:
The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Sunday shows that 33% of the nation's voters Strongly Approve of the way that Barack Obama is performing his role as President. Forty percent (40%) Strongly Disapprove giving Obama a Presidential Approval Index rating of -7 (see trends).
This is the first update based entirely upon interviews conducted since the State-of-the-Union Address and it reflects a bounce for the President. The number who Strongly Approve is the highest in more than four months (since September) and the overall Approval Index rating is the best in more than three months (since October).
And now the details:
The bounce comes almost entirely from those in the president’s party. Sixty-four percent (64%) of Democrats now Strongly Approve, up from 50% before the speech. However, the speech appears to have had the opposite impact on unaffiliated voters. Among those not affiliated with either major party, 50% now Strongly Disapprove. That’s up from 42% before the speech. The next few days should give an indication as to whether these changes will fade or if they signify the beginning of a new phase in the political environment.
So the president has, at least temporarily, strengthened himself among his base. I suspect the coming weeks will show slippage again. Also, the fact that the president actually lost support among independents as a result of the SOTU has to have the White House worried.
Overall, 50% of voters say they at least somewhat approve of the President's performance. That’s up four points since the morning of the speech and is the first time his approval has reached 50% among likely voters since November 16. Fifty percent now (50%) disapprove.
Not exactly impressive. The bounce in his own party didn't even get Obama over 50%.
Finally, the president did not indicate any change of direction, although change could, of course, come through actions. Unless the voters see change they can actually believe in, Mr. Obama's numbers will go Titanic again.
January 31, 2010 Permalink