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MONDAY, MAY 3, 2010
OUR TURN – AT 8:27 P.M. ET: It can't be denied. Our side has waited for quite some time to stick it to those who stuck it to President Bush for Katrina. Our sticking time has come. Investor's Business Daily examines the Obama role in response to the Louisiana oil spill, and the behavior of the press in covering that response. It's okay to be judgmental. Permission is granted:
As the Gulf Coast faced ecological disaster, the president yukked it up with White House correspondents. His Saturday radio address didn't even mention the oil spill. President Bush, call your office.
Rarely has media sycophancy been on such sharp display as in the largely indifferent response to President Obama's own indifference to the oil rig disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. The coverage has been far different from that given to President Bush's handling of the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
As the St. Petersburg Times editorialized about the damage that could soon hit Florida's shores: "President Obama met U2's Bono in the Oval Office on Friday when he should have been headed to the Gulf Coast." The fragile marshes and shorelines of the Mississippi Delta could wait. Bono was in the house...
...Other than mobilize the resources of the federal government, there's little the president personally could have done. But words are important, Obama has said, and pictures are worth thousands of words. We remember President Reagan's stirring words and the images of a nation comforted after the Challenger disaster. We will not remember the jokes at Saturday's correspondents dinner.
We also remember the harsh and largely unwarranted criticism of President Bush after Hurricane Katrina, although the state of Louisiana and the city of New Orleans, both governed by Democrats, dropped the ball as first and primary responders.
Interior Secretary Ken Salazar says it could be 90 days before a relief well is completed to address the Gulf spill. Nearly two weeks after the oil rig exploded, Obama appears at the site of a disaster not yet under control. Heckuva job, Mr. President.
COMMENT: The editorial is correct in every respect. The press is covering for the president, rather than covering him. The administration's response is far slower than was Bush's response to Katrina. But Keith Olbermann, who railed against Secretary of State Condi Rice going to the theater the night Katrina hit, is silent. So is Anderson Cooper, who rushed to New Orleans for the storm, and found loads of human suffering, most of it caused by the incompetence of the city's mayor, although the focus was on Bush.
Pure hypocrisy, and another black mark on our biased and lazy press.
May 3, 2010 Permalink
KIRK AHEAD IN ILLINOIS – AT 7:55 P.M. ET: Republican Congressman Mark Kirk leads the Democratic candidate for the Illinois U.S. Senate once held by Barack Obama, according to the latest from Scott Rasmussen. From the Washington Examiner:
Rasmussen has released its latest poll on the race to fill Barack Obama’s old Senate seat in Illinois:
Kirk now attracts 46% support in Illinois’ race for the U.S. Senate, up from 41% in early April. Support for Giannoulias is at 38%, virtually unchanged from the previous survey but down from March, when he earned 44% of the vote. Five percent (5%) currently support some other candidate, and 12% are undecided…
After months of highly-publicized financial struggling, including reports of loans to convicted felons, Broadway Bank, where Giannoulias worked as a senior official from 2002 to 2006, was seized by bank regulators on April 23 and its assets taken over by another bank. The survey was taken five days later on Wednesday night.
COMMENT: We're glad Kirk is ahead, but the margin is not comfortable. Illinois is a Democratic state, there's fooling around on election day in Chicago, and a GOP candidate has to build up quite a head of steam to be elected. Giannoulias has gone through a major scandal surrounding his family's bank. Kirk is an attractive guy. I would have imagined that Kirk would be further ahead.
There's talk that Giannoulias will be replaced on the ticket with someone without the current candidate's baggage, someone like Rahm Emanuel. That will make it even harder for Kirk. But Kirk is an energetic campaigner, and we remain guardedly optimistic.
May 3, 2010 Permalink
TIMES SQUARE UPDATE – AT 7:18 P.M. ET: Fox News is reporting that a "person of interest" has been identified in the attempted car-bomb attack in Times Square over the weekend.
The individual is described as a naturalized American who just returned from Pakistan. Are you not shocked? Sources have told Fox that the plot appears to have an international flavor. Are you shocked again?
Earlier today the chief law enforcement official of the United States, Attorney General Eric Holder, said that it was too early to say that this was terrorism. But it's not too early to say that this man is a clown and a fool, and should be replaced as quickly as you fix a flat tire. The analogy is a good one. Both a tire and Holder are usually filled with hot air.
We're following the story closely.
May 3, 2010 Permalink
GOOD FOR THEM – AT 9:37 A.M. ET: As readers know, we have a rather skeptical view here of some of our institutions of sometimes higher education. One of the worst things about the college game is the endless rating of colleges, as if we're talking about which coffee maker is best. Some educators are taking action:
A small but determined group of college presidents is boycotting one of higher education's little-known spring rituals: the practice of lobbying each other for better "peer assessments" in pursuit of a higher spot in the coveted rankings compiled annually by U.S. News & World Report.
The reputation survey is the most important component of the preeminent collegiate rankings and the only factor that depends entirely on the opinions of college leaders, as opposed to objective metrics such as admission rate or student-faculty ratio. Every year, hundreds of college presidents seek to improve their scores by sending their counterparts at other schools glossy mailings, interactive CDs and books that celebrate their institutional feats.
In the midst of this promotional blitz, an opposition movement has emerged: A clutch of presidents, largely centered around the nation's capital, says that the lobbying campaign is unseemly and unworthy of a process that has profound impact on the trajectories of the ranked institutions.
"We have other things to do with our money," said William Durden of Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pa. Durden said he had received faculty-penned books, bound volumes of presidential speeches and coffee-table art tomes this spring at a rate of 10 to 15 a week. "We know it's a PR gimmick."
COMMENT: The college admissions madness is sick enough without these phony ratings. The ratings put additional pressure on high-school students and often distort reality. Some of the "top" colleges are actually plagued with problems, including political correctness and professors who think their mission in life is to keep out all dissenting ideas.
I'm glad to see this act of resistance. We need more. Most important, we need real reform at our colleges, which have taken on a thoroughly undeserved and unbecoming saintly quality.
May 3, 2010 Permalink
YOUR TAX DOLLARS AT NO-WORK – AT 8:28 A.M. ET: Your government shows it is indeed expert in one critical area – wasting years of time. Apparently the census takers have a problem. And remember that their results will determine the way seats in the House of Representatives are proportioned:
LOS ANGELES (AP) - A computer system that the Census Bureau needs to manage its door-to-door count of the U.S. population remained buggy and prone to crash a day before enumerators were set to begin their work, government officials said Friday.
Let's see, they've had ten years to prepare since the last census. But that's five minutes in government years.
The bureau's Paper Based Operations Control System did not function reliably in tests and, despite hardware and software upgrades, "may not be able to perform as needed under full operational loads," the U.S. Government Accountability Office said in a report.
In other words, it can't count correctly. Isn't that what the census is about?
"So far, it is not as stable as it needs to be," GAO Strategic Issues Director Robert Goldenkoff said before the start of a congressional hearing on the census.
The paper-based system's hasty design began in early 2008, after the census bureau scrapped plans to use a handheld-computer method that ended up costing more than $700 million but did not operate adequately.
You know, guys, I go to the Apple Store. I buy my computers. They work. They even work under "full operational loads." And they're as stable as they need to be. Shall I send you the address of the store? I know some good sales people who actually know what "boot" means. And look, you're government. Maybe there's a discount, or a free subscription to Macworld.
The system will generate assignments for the roughly 635,000 enumerators hired to visit about 48 million homes to tally people who did not return their census forms by mail.
When we're told that 85% of the population looks like the Democratic Party base, we'll know that the software wasn't quite right.
There have also been massive problems in the FBI computer system, and in systems under development for the FAA. If government big shots want these systems to work, they should check out the expertise in the dorm rooms of any good American college, and forget some of the favored "contractors" they've been indulging.
May 3, 2010 Permalink
GUESS WHO'S COMING TO DIN-DIN – While New York police are probing the Times Square bombing, they're also contending with an undistinguished visitor who's popped into town. He could be trouble at the UN, but what else is new? John Bolton, in the Wall Street Journal, reflects on Mr. Ahmadinejad, and our failed Iran policy:
Negotiations grind on toward a fourth U.N. Security Council sanctions resolution against Iran's nuclear weapons program, even as President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad arrives in New York to address the Non-Proliferation Treaty review conference...
...In Congress, sanctions legislation also creaks along, but that too is simply going through the motions. Russia and China have already rejected key proposals to restrict Iran's access to international financial markets and choke off its importation of refined petroleum products, which domestically are in short supply.
The further pursuit of sanctions is tantamount to doing nothing...
...Speculating about regime change stopping Iran's nuclear program in time is also a distraction. The Islamic Revolution's iron fist, and willingness to use it against dissenters (who are currently in disarray), means we cannot know whether or when the regime may fall.
And since the Obamans will not use force, and will prevent Israel from doing so, Iran will certainly get the bomb, and soon.
While U.S. policy makers will not welcome that outcome, they certainly hope as a corollary that Iran can be contained and deterred. Since they have ruled out the only immediate alternative, military force, they are doubtless now busy preparing to make lemonade out of this pile of lemons...
...Facile analogies to Cold War deterrence rest on the dubious, unproven belief that Iran's nuclear calculus will approximate the Soviet Union's. Iran's theocratic regime and the high value placed on life in the hereafter makes this an exceedingly dangerous assumption.
Correct. The proper analogy might be Japan in World War II, which sponsored suicide attacks.
We should recognize that an Israeli use of military force would be neither precipitate nor disproportionate, but only a last resort in anticipatory self-defense. Arab governments already understand that logic and largely share it themselves. Such a strike would advance both Israel's and America's security interests, and also those of the Arab states.
Nonetheless, the intellectual case for that strike must be better understood in advance by the American public and Congress in order to ensure a sympathetic reaction by Washington. Absent Israeli action, no one should base their future plans on anything except coping with a nuclear Iran.
The tragedy is that we have a president who's spent most of his life among leftist intellectuals who really don't see a problem with a nuclear Iran. After all, who are we to judge? Because they live in their own limited world, these leftists are convinced that Iran would never use the bomb. After all, the Iranians must be rational, they argue, and logic will prevent them from using it.
On such fantasies may rest the fate of our nation.
May 3, 2010 Permalink
HIGHER SECURITY AT AIRPORTS – AT 7:48 A.M. ET: In response to the Times Square bomb, which clearly had potential for enormous damage, security is being stepped up at airports. From CNN:
The Transportation Security Administration on Sunday ramped up security screening at airports along the East Coast after an attempted car bombing a day earlier in New York's Times Square, a Department of Homeland Security official said.
The official told CNN the TSA has begun operations to counter potential car bombs, or "vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices," as well as taking measures to prevent other kinds of terrorist acts that might occur in crowded public spaces.
The TSA also is coordinating with Customs and Border Protection to facilitate additional secondary passenger screening on both domestic and international flights, the official said.
Officials in Washington participated in a call with top TSA officials at airports in New York, Boston and Philadelphia to talk about partnering with Customs to identify flights that might need more random screening, the official said.
COMMENT: This new security upgrade may reflect the fact that, on June 30, 2007, a car carrying a propane bomb was driven into the glass doors of Glasgow International Airport and set ablaze. The bomb found in Times Square over the weekend was similar in construction.
How much longer will we be lucky?
May 3, 2010 Permalink
CAUGHT ON TAPE – MAYBE – AT 7:37 A.M. ET: See for yourself. This is the tape released by the New York Police Department, possibly of the guy who planted that large truck bomb in Times Square.
The police actually aren't sure that this is the guy. But he appears to look back toward the place where the bomb was planted, and changes his shirt on camera. He has a bag with him with the new shirt.
He's described as a white male in his 40s, although I'd say the tape doesn't make clear whether he's white-bread white or a foreign variation thereof. Actually, his suspicious movements remind me of a Hollywood agent I know, but that's another story.
We'll be following this closely.
May 3, 2010 Permalink
SUNDAY, MAY 2, 2010
SMEARING THE TEA PARTY – AT 7:50 P.M. ET: Dennis Prager, always a thoughtful writer and broadcaster, has analyzed the smears against the tea party, and makes some excellent points that should be made more frequently by soldiers of the MSM, but they don't dare:
Opponents of the popular expression of conservative opposition to big government, the tea parties, regularly note that tea partiers are overwhelmingly white. This is intended to disqualify the tea parties from serious moral consideration...
...The fact that the Left believes that the preponderance of whites among tea partiers invalidates the tea party movement tells us much more about the Left than it does about the tea partiers...
...One of the more dangerous features of the Left has been its replacement of moral categories of right and wrong, and good and evil with three other categories: black and white (race), male and female (gender) and rich and poor (class).
Therefore the Left pays attention to the skin color -- and gender (not just "whites" but "white males") -- of the tea partiers rather than to their ideas.
That is correct. And the value of ideas is considered greater if they come from some "oppressed" group.
In this morally inverted world, the virtual absence of blacks from tea party rallies cannot possibly reflect anything negative on the black and minority absence, only on the white tea partiers.
But in a more rational and morally clear world, where people judge ideas by their legitimacy rather than by the race of those who held them, people would be as likely to ask why blacks and ethnic minorities are virtually absent at tea parties just as they now ask why whites predominate. They would want to know if this racial imbalance said anything about black and minority views or necessarily reflected negatively on the whites attending those rallies.
The leftist mentality has made real conversation on these issues impossible:
Unfortunately, however, no real exploration of almost any important issue in American life is possible as long as the Left focuses on the race, gender and class of those who hold differing positions. And that will not happen. For when the Left stops attacking people and starts arguing positions, we will see what the Left most fears: blacks and Hispanics at tea parties.
COMMENT: That is also correct. The left does not feel any need to argue issues. Its fundamental belief is that it is so morally superior, and that this superiority is so obvious, that debate is a waste of time. It believes that there is something fundamentally, even biologically wrong, with conservatives. Indeed, that's why leftists so often describe conservatives as stupid. They are defective, and that explains their ideas.
It's a lazy way to see the world. But intellectual rigor is not notable on today's political left, which is why their glass of ideas is always half empty, or less so.
May 2, 2010 Permalink
BOMBING UPDATE – AT 7:34 P.M. ET: Police in New York are treating the attempted Times Square bombing as a major event, although they are not ready to assign responsibility.
The vehicle holding the large but amateurish bomb was parked in one of the most densely filled tourist locations of New York, the theater section of Times Square, about a block from where the ball comes down on New Year's Eve. From the Washington Post:
Police said Sunday that they were reviewing surveillance video that may have captured a suspect in Saturday's failed car bombing in Times Square, describing him as a white man in his 40s who repeatedly looked back at the rigged SUV in a furtive manner and exhibited other suspicious behavior.
New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly told reporters at an afternoon press conference that the man was spotted near a Nissan Pathfinder packed with fireworks, propane and other materials. The vehicle aroused suspicion when it began smoking around 6:30 p.m. Saturday, prompting authorities to evacuate Midtown Manhattan for most of the night.
The man, whose involvement in the incident is unclear, was caught on video near the sport-utility vehicle removing a dark shirt and slipping it into a bag before walking away. Detectives, Kelly said, were in route to an unnamed town in Pennsylvania where a tourist who was in Times Square Saturday night "believes he may have captured the suspect's image on this video camera."
"There is a high likelihood it would have been lethal," New York Police spokesman Paul Browne told reporters. "We just don't know to what degree how catastrophic it would have been."
A Taliban group took responsibility for the attempted bombing, but investigators quickly dismissed the claim as unlikely. Terik-i Taliban Pakistan, or TTP, is one of the major Taliban groups battling U.S. and Pakistani forces along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. A statement released by the group said the attempted bombing was revenge for the killings of "Muslim martyrs," especially two senior leaders of al-Qaeda in Iraq who were killed by U.S. and Iraqi forces last month.
It is common for multiple terrorist groups to seek credit for high-visibility terrorist incidents, and some terrorism experts on Sunday were skeptical that TTP could have organized a bombing attempt in Times Square to avenge deaths that occurred less than two weeks earlier.
COMMENT: Television coverage of the event has been quite serious and responsible. We came very close to an explosion.
The police appear to have a great deal of physical evidence, some of which they're probably holding back from the public.
In general, attempts against New York have been made by Muslim extremists. The militia types tend to concentrate on other parts of the country.
May 2, 2010 Permalink
REPUBLICAN GAINS, FOR NOW – AT 11:32 A.M. ET: Expert political reporter Charlie Cook observes that the Republicans are still gaining, despite Dem efforts to stem the conservative tide.
The Dems are trying, but attempting to counter the tea party with a Vitamin D party just doesn't cut it in the heartland. From the National Journal:
With the midterm elections now just six months away, are Democrats' prospects improving? Not really. For every hopeful sign they get, several others -- usually the more telling ones -- point the other way.
The most recent, and quite compelling, bad omen surfaced in an April 27 Gallup report. The polling organization found that, based on interviews with more than 5,000 registered voters from April 1-25, Democrats had a 4-point lead in the generic congressional ballot test among those "not enthusiastic about voting" this year, 46 percent to 42 percent; they had a 14-point lead, 52 percent to 38 percent, among those "somewhat enthusiastic about voting." Among the all-important "very enthusiastic" crowd, aka the folks most likely to vote, Democrats trailed by a whopping 20 points, 57 percent to 37 percent.
Across all registered voters in the Gallup Poll, Republicans held a 1-point lead, 46 percent to 45 percent, a result that's not out of line with other national surveys of registered voters. Because voter turnout in midterm elections is generally a third below that of presidential elections, measuring the intensity of voters' interest in participating provides an important tip-off. And, this year, the passion for voting is almost all Republican.
COMMENT: Well, we can hope. But we must also be cautious, rather than giddy. Giddiness is so, so liberal. Scott Rasmussen's latest reports emphasize the need for wariness:
In April, the number of adults not affiliated with either major party increased by 1.6 percentage points, while the number identifying themselves as Republicans decreased 1.3 percentage points. This marks the lowest level for Republicans since July 2008.
The Republican Party remains unpopular. The gains it is showing represent a backlash against the age of Obama, not a national crush on Mitch McConnell. As we've said here before, the GOP must come up with a positive program of its own. The party is hungry, and I assume it will do it.
May 2, 2010 Permalink
GOP SMELLS BLOOD – AT 11:19 A.M. ET: The Gulf of Mexico oil slick is providing Republicans with an opportunity for revenge that comes once in a decade. Let the salivating begin. From The Politico:
Even before the spilled oil reaches shore, the political game of assigning credit and blame is in full swing.
The White House Saturday stepped up its efforts to respond to the Gulf Coast oil slick now within days of making landfall in Mississippi and Alabama – designating a new incident commander, introducing a new website detailing their efforts and announcing President Barack Obama himself would visit the Gulf Coast on Sunday.
But it's already too late. As Ira Gershwin asked, "How long has this been going on?" It went on for days before Washington took much notice. Now, Bush-like, Obama will fly out...but attended the White House Correspondents Association dinner first.
Republicans have tried to brand the oil spill “Obama’s Katrina,” as talker Rush Limbaugh put it Friday – a label they also tried to attach to the U.S. rescue efforts after the Haiti earthquake – and the administration has stepped up its efforts in recent days to demonstrate its command of the situation.
“The way we play politics right now, anytime something like this comes up the opposition is going to run it up the flagpole to see if anyone salutes,” said Bruce Buchanan, a professor of government at the University of Texas, Austin. “And if they don’t, everyone moves on and if they do, well, then the administration has got a problem.”
A few Republicans did salute Friday. Fox News host Sean Hannity said the slow response to the spill came from “the very same people who were so fast to criticize George W. Bush.” Former Ark. Gov. Mike Huckabee, appearing on Hannity’s show, said that "If Katrina was George Bush's responsibility, this is Barack Obama's responsibility."
The White House pushed back hard on that line of attack Saturday, and so far anyway, the spill is far less serious than Katrina — not least because of the hurricane's massive death toll and its devastation of New Orleans. And the storm, unlike the leak, came with advance warning.
Gee, thanks for that last biased paragraph, filled with misinformation. The deal toll in Katrina wasn't massive, but a tenth of that predicted. There were a few days of warning about the storm, but the possibility of an oil spill is always with us, and so there is built-in advance warning. And New Orleans wasn't devastated. It was damaged, and is back in business.
What you're seeing here is MSM spin to protect the president. Expect more as the campaign progresses.
May 2, 2010 Permalink
BRITAIN TO VOTE – AT 10:48 A.M. ET: Britain votes Thursday, with probable major changes in the aftermath of the election. Again, The Telegraph reports:
The ICM survey for The Sunday Telegraph suggests David Cameron, who today promises to hand power “to the people” if he becomes prime minister, will lead the largest party in a hung parliament.
The poll also shows that three voters out of four believe immigration is a significant problem for Britain. After Gordon Brown’s description of a voter who raised concerns about immigration from eastern Europe as “bigoted”, the issue is seen as the second most important in the campaign behind the economy.
Which means the Brits have caught on to the difference between legitimate and dangerous forms of immigration. In the former, people migrate to Britain to become British. In the latter, they have no intention of becoming British, but wish to undermine British society. There is a difference.
The survey puts the Conservatives up three points from last Tuesday on 36 per cent, with Labour up one point to 29 per cent and reclaiming second place from the Lib Dems.
Mr Clegg’s party is down three points to 27 per cent – the same level it was on in an ICM poll at the time of the first televised debate.
Assuming a uniform national swing, analysis by John Curtice, professor of politics at Strathclyde University, shows that the figures – if repeated on Thursday – would give the Conservatives 279 seats, Labour 261 and the Lib Dems 78.
The Tories would still be 47 seats short of an overall majority and could be defeated in any Commons vote by an alliance of Labour and Lib Dem MPs.
But most reports say that the conservatives would try to govern as a minority government, hardly a dreamed-of prospect. This demonstrates the inherent instability of a three-party system. Our two-party affair, often ridiculed in Europe, provides stability because one party normally must get a majority, or awfully close to it, to govern.
May 2, 2010 Permalink
CROSSHAIRS OF THE WORLD – AT 10:35 A.M. ET: Times Square in New York is called the crossroads of the world. Yesterday it was the crosshairs of the world. Someone planted a large but crudely made bomb there. London's Telegraph has an interesting take on possible motive:
Police in New York are investigating whether a car bomb in Times Square was targeted on the makers of South Park over a controversial depiction of the Prophet Muhammad.
The device, which failed to detonate, was left near the offices of Viacom, which owns the irreverent cartoon series.
Last month postings on an Islamic website warned the creators of South Park - Matt Stone and Trey Parker - that they could face violent reprisals after an episode of the show featured Muhammad in a bear suit.
A posting on the website of a US-based group called Revolution Muslim warned Stone and Parker that they would “probably wind up like Theo Van Gogh”, the Dutch film-maker who was murdered in 2004 by a Muslim angered by his film about Muslim women.
Images of the Prophet are strictly forbidden in Islam, and Comedy Central, which broadcasts South Park, has banned Stone and Parker from depicting Muhammad in the past. In 2006 the network stopped them from featuring Muhammad in an episode which followed worldwide protests over a caricature of the Prophet by a Danish cartoonist.
Detectives are also understood to be investigating striking similarities between the New York bomb and two car bombs planted by Islamic terrorists outside the Tiger Tiger nightclub in London in 2007.
COMMENT: Once again we were lucky. But our luck will run out one day, as it did on 9-11.
Other stories report that the police have good forensic evidence. We have to nail this down, and steel ourselves for a battle against political correctness if the usual suspects turn out to be guilty.
May 2, 2010 Permalink