"The left needs two things to survive. It needs mediocrity, and it needs dependence. It nurtures mediocrity in the public schools and the universities. It nurtures dependence through its empire of government programs. A nation that embraces mediocrity and dependence betrays itself, and can only fade away, wondering all the time what might have been."
- Urgent Agenda
AND NOW THE GOOD NEWS - AT 4:17 P.M. ET: It's rare that we get any good news out of Pakistan, and I wouldn't make too much of this, but there has been a victory of sorts. From The Washington Times:
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan | The Taliban on Friday started withdrawing from Buner, a district close to the troubled Swat Valley and about 60 miles from the capital, Islamabad, as Pakistan's top political and military leadership warned of a possible military operation in the region.
The top administrator in the region said the Taliban began withdrawing after successful talks between the district administration and Maulana Sufi Muhammad, the cleric who negotiated a deal with the government for enforcement of an Islamic legal system in the Malakand region.
COMMENT: There has been much American pressure on the Pakistani government to take action against the Taliban. It is much too early to say if this one victory has any permanence. It could just as easily be a tactical withdrawal, with fighters living to fight another day.
UH OH - AT 3:51 P.M. ET: The kind of news we don't like to read, from the New York Post:
A stack of blank birth certificates has been stolen from the city Health Department's offices, leading investigators to worry that they may have fallen into the hands of terrorists, The Post has learned.
On March 12, an employee discovered that 104 certificates with the agency's stamp on them were missing from the department's offices at 125 Worth St., near City Hall, sources said.
It was the first time in 10 years that blank birth certificates were stolen from the department.
The NYPD and the city's Department of Investigation are investigating.
"It's like hitting the Lotto for a terrorist," one investigator said.
COMMENT: Obviously a source of concern. Question: Why was the agency's stamp placed on the certificates before they were filled out? Seems a bit foolish. We'll follow this, if there's any further news.
ANOTHER NORTH KOREAN RESPONSE TO OBAMA'S OUTREACH - AT 8:57 A.M. ET:
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- North Korea has restarted its nuclear facilities to harvest plutonium for atomic weapons, the regime said Saturday, just hours after the U.N. imposed new sanctions on the communist state for its recent rocket launch.
Though it could take months before the facility is fully operational, the move is a key step away from a 2007 disarmament deal -- signed months after North Korea conducted a nuclear test -- that called for the North to disable its atomic faciliti es in exchange for much-needed energy aid.
COMMENT: North Korea has also announced that it's trying two American journalists as spies. Thus, another country melts into submission in the mere shadow of the saintly American president.
This is dangerous stuff from North Korea. Our diplomacy has failed, and we should admit it. The North Koreans will not keep their agreements. But there is no sense of urgency at the White House, as the Korean nuclear arsenal is set for another big boost. The illusion continues that just a little more talk from Obama, and all will be turned around.
QUOTE OF THE DAY - AT 8:41 A.M. ET: Former CIA director and member of Congress Porter Goss, on the claim by some Dems in Congress that they didn't know about enhanced interrogation techniques. From the Washington Post:
Today, I am slack-jawed to read that members claim to have not understood that the techniques on which they were briefed were to actually be employed; or that specific techniques such as "waterboarding" were never mentioned. It must be hard for most Americans of common sense to imagine how a member of Congress can forget being told about the interrogations of Sept. 11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed. In that case, though, perhaps it is not amnesia but political expedience.
COMMENT: Right on. If the Democrats force an investigation of Bush-era appointees, it can blow up right in their collective faces. There are records of those congressional briefings, and attendance was taken.
This is a test case: Can the Democrats control the left wing of their party? So far, the record isn't encouraging. We may get a "truth commission," a term the leftists like to use to compare us to South Africa, which had a truth commission after apartheid came down. The commission can tear the country apart, and damage us further before other countries, something the left would dearly love to do.
A PRESENT FROM RASMUSSEN - AT 8:32 A.M. ET: Rasmussen reports:
For the first time since Barack Obama was elected president last November, more than half of U.S. voters (53%) say it is at least somewhat likely that the next occupant of the White House will be a Republican. Thirty-one percent (31%) say it is Very Likely.
COMMENT: The mainstream media is doing everything to create the image of the GOP as a dead or dying party, with little hope for the future. A bunch of regional rednecks, that's what they are. And they're stuck with BUSH (!!).
Not so fast, according to Rasmussen.
If the Republican Party comes up with a positive program, advances the solid candidates it has in the wings, and gets out of its psychological paralysis, it can snap back. So far, after all, Obama's policies have not shown any positive result.
OH DEAR, DID THE WHITE HOUSE CLEAR THIS? - AT 7:53 A.M. ET: We said at The Angel's Corner earlier in the week that Hillary Clinton always positions herself slightly to the right of the White House. And, as Mr. Reagan liked to say, there she goes again. From Fox News:
BAGHDAD — Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton arrived here Saturday morning for a one-day visit, delivering an American show of support for Iraq as it battles a sudden eruption of violence, in the wake of suicide bombings that killed at least 140 people and wounded several hundred more on Thursday and Friday.
But she played down suggestions that the attacks augured a return to the relentless sectarian violence that convulsed Iraq in 2006...
...“In Iraq, there will always be political conflicts,” Mrs. Clinton said to reporters before setting off on the unannounced visit Friday evening. “But I really believe that Iraq, as a whole, is on the right track.”
MoveOn and the House Progressive Caucus just put her on their target list. What kind of heresy is this?
She characterized the latest bout of violence as the last gasp of “rejectionists” who fear that the government will succeed in creating a united and peaceful Iraq.
Wait a minute, wait a minute. Didn't Rumsfeld say something like that, something about "dead enders"? Remember the Dem response? They went crazy.
“Are there going to be bad days? Yes, there are,” Mrs. Clinton said. But she added, “If you look at the evidence, overwhelmingly the progress that’s been made has been positive.”
What? Who does she think she is, Joan of Arc? Didn't she get the memo? The surge has no chance of working. Pass it on.
At least Hillary sounds like she's representing the United States of America. her boss had some problems with that concept during recent travels.
AND PAKISTAN, TOO - AT 1:57 P.M. ET: The crisis in Pakistan continues. American military men now add their voices to the alarm expressed by Hillary Clinton. Reports say that Richard Holbrooke, our special representative for the region, is sending back alarming dispatches several times each day. From The New York Times:
American officials have been expressing alarm about the widening areas of Pakistan coming under Taliban control this week, as hundreds of armed Taliban militants consolidated control of yet another Pakistani region. On Friday, Gen. David H. Petraeus, the top commander in the region, told members of a committee in the House of Representatives that extremists who have set up sanctuaries along Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan are eroding security in Afghanistan and threaten "Pakistan’s very existence."
Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, also expressed concerns Friday about the deteriorating situation, which he said was in “constant, steady decline.”
“The situation there is definitely worse than it was two weeks ago. It just continues to spin off,” Admiral Mullen told reporters in southern Afghanistan, where he was touring following a visit to Pakistan Wednesday and Thursday.
COMMENT: And what are we doing in America? Why, we're deciding whether to investigate Bush-era officials for keeping the country safe.
We sometimes forget what kind of a party the Democratic Party started becoming in the sixties. Think Carter. Think McGovern. Think cutting off aid to our South Vietnamese allies. Think indifference to crime. Think destroying intelligence agencies.
Harry Truman is turning over in his grave. I'd love to hear the old blue-mouthed guy talk about his party today.
Reader John Tozier adds:
Just a thought. With all that is going on in Pakistan, I wonder why I haven't heard anything about what must be going through the minds of the leaders of India.
They have an even larger stake in this than we do.
REMEMBER IRAQ? - AT 1:47 P.M. ET: The growing violence in Iraq, a hint of a return to pre-surge days, hasn't yet caught the American public's imagination. It should. The New York Times reports:
BAGHDAD — Two suicide bombers struck outside the gates of the holiest Shiite site in Baghdad on Friday, killing at least 60 people and wounding scores more, according to preliminary reports from police
The blasts came after the single deadliest day in Iraq in more than a year, and punctuated a deadly outburst of violence in recent weeks. In barely 24 hours, at least 140 people have died and 240 have been wounded.
COMMENT: There is still an enemy in Iraq. It knows that the new president has no stomach for the struggle. It acts accordingly. It also knows that the American media spin machine will blame all this on BUSH (!!).
What will Obama do if the violence escalates even further? It will be one of the major foreign-policy tests coming up. The media will cover for him. I have no direct proof, but I can suggest the idea that Obama's soft line is partly responsible for the new reversal of fortune. It was awfully quiet in Iraq just before he took office.
April 24 (Bloomberg) -- General Motors Corp., facing the threat of a bankruptcy filing if it can’t meet a June 1 U.S. deadline, will preserve the GMC truck line and drop its 83-year- old Pontiac brand as part of a government-led recalibration of its business plan, people familiar with the decision said.
The Detroit automaker will keep the GMC, Chevrolet, Cadillac and Buick brands, after a review that included profitability with the Obama administration’s automotive task force, said the people, who asked not to be named because the decisions have not been announced. GM may reveal next week the end of the make that produced the Grand Prix, Bonneville and Firebirds, they said.
COMMENT: No more Pontiac. But you can be sure, in the age of government control, that we'll soon see the Chevrolet Efficiency, the Buck Planetsaver, the GMC Windpower, and the Cadillac Rich but Green. Can't wait to drive 'em. Understand the dash boards will be spectacular, and will include the new digital guilt meter.
YOU WILL NOT BELIEVE - AT 7:42: From the Los Angeles Times, via the Seattle Times:
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration agreed late Thursday to release dozens of photographs depicting alleged abuses at U.S. prisons in Iraq and Afghanistan during the Bush years.
The decision will make public for the first time photos obtained in military investigations at facilities other than the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Forty four pictures that the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) was seeking in a court case, plus a "substantial number" of other images, will be released by May 28.
The photos, examined by Air Force and Army criminal investigators, are apparently not as shocking as those taken at Abu Ghraib, which became a symbol of U.S. mistakes in Iraq. But Pentagon officials nevertheless are concerned that the release could incite another backlash in the Middle East.
COMMENT: Will these Obama people ever learn? Of course, the ACLU would not care at all if there's another backlash in the Middle East. The ACLU wouldn't even care if Americans were killed as a result. This organization, which joined the fringe many years ago, has little to do with civil liberties today.
A prominent ACLU lawyer, one of the last of the decent ones, told me a few years ago how worried he was about what the organization had become. He reported that there are people on the ACLU national board who didn't even believe in free speech.
At one time the ACLU did some valuable work, and probably still does some today. I was a member. So was Douglas MacArthur. It had members across the political spectrum. That changed dramatically in the mid-sixties, as the organization absorbed the sixties culture. There was a mass exodus of members in that time, moving the group sharply to the left. It has never recovered.
So, now we'll see some new pictures, and the Bush haters will be energized once more. This from an administration that promised bi-partisanship.
THE RECURRING NIGHTMARE - AT 7:25 A.M. ET: We've brought this up before, but there's more. Government experts warned, when Obama came in, that it is mid-level appointees, not Cabinet officers, who can do the real damage in an administration. It's at the mid level that policies get made and carried out. We've seen some real horror stories at Justice, where a group of leftist professors from the Ivy League have taken up residence.
But at Defense, the insult is the greatest. The Washington Times expresses its outrage at the appointment of radical columnist and law professor Rosa Brooks to a sensitive Defense position. You'd think Defense Secretary Robert Gates would have raised the roof, but he's showing signs of becoming a company man:
President Obama is surrendering national security with a radical appointment at the Defense Department. Rosa Brooks, this month made adviser to Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Michelle Flournoy, will be in a position to do significant damage to U.S. security...
...A review of Ms. Brooks' published work reveals her hard-left, rabidly ideological positions on defense matters. She regularly referred to Mr. Bush as a war criminal, and argues that Bush-era policies on terrorism - which prevented any major attacks on U.S. soil since Sept. 11, 2001 - made America less secure. Referring to Mr. Bush and former Vice President Richard Cheney, she wrote, "They should be treated like psychotics who need treatment." She has called al Qaeda "little more than an obscure group of extremist thugs" and wrongly predicted that the surge in Iraq was "a feckless plan" that would prove "too little, too late." Putting her in the policy shop "is like Lyndon Johnson making Jane Fonda a senior adviser on Vietnam," a former Pentagon adviser says.
COMMENT: Rosa Brooks is the daughter of radical feminist Barbara Ehrenreich. Brooks is not a liberal, but a radical. It is amazing that she could even get security clearance. Apparently, she's brought to you by the same fine folks who gave us Samantha Power.
Why was she appointed? Who chose her? We have a right to know, but the mainstream media is not interested. I'm sure that, for some "journalists" out there, the appointment is just fine. The line spewed by Rosa Brooks is what they heard for four years at "elite" colleges. It's not foreign to their ears.
Republicans should be in an uproar. The fact that they're not shows how far they have to go to get their act together.
ON SECOND THOUGHT - AT 7:01 A.M. ET: From The New York Times:
WASHINGTON — The White House and the Democratic leadership in the Senate signaled on Thursday that they would block for now any effort to establish an independent commission to investigate the Bush administration’s approval of harsh interrogation techniques.
In doing so, they sought to reduce pressure for a full inquiry — from, among others, the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi — that has grown more intense since President Obama suggested on Tuesday that he would be open to such an investigation. While the White House has contended that Mr. Obama never actively supported an inquiry, his firmer opposition to the possibility, communicated to Congressional leaders in meetings on Wednesday night and Thursday, represented a shift in emphasis.
COMMENT: The president realizes that he made a mistake, and let loose the rage of the Democratic left, a force that can destroy his presidency. The White House is trying to contain the damage, but Nancy Pelosi represents the left wing in the House of Representatives, and I doubt if she can put the fire out there. It burns continuously.
Americans must be made to understand - and only the GOP and the more conservative press outlets can do it - how radical some elements in the Obama coalition really are. The Congressional Black Caucus, for example, is headed by Barbara Lee of California, who has openly supported Marxist causes.
SOMEONE IS ALIVE IN THE GOP - AT 6:51 A.M. ET: From The Politico:
New York Republican Rep. Peter King thinks his party needs to go nuke if Bush era officials are prosecuted on torture charges.
King, the outspoken ranking member of the House homeland security committee, said Republicans should "shut down [legislative] activity across the board" if any Bush-era officials are hauled into court.
"We would need to have a scorched-earth policy and use procedural means to bring the place to a halt — go to war," he told POLITICO.
"If we have another 2,000 people killed, I want Nancy Pelosi and [liberal philanthropist] George Soros, John Conyers and Pat Leahy to go to the funeral and say, 'Your son was vaporized because we didn’t want to dump some guy's head under water for 30 seconds.'"
COMMENT: Whether you agree with Pete King or not, at least someone in the GOP is showing a little anger. Some of today's GOP leaders need electro-shock therapy to get their brains started.
The hard left in the Democratic Party, heavily headquartered in northern California and adjoining precincts, will apparently stop at nothing to paralyze our national-security apparatus and prosecute Bush officials, with the dream of getting to Bush and Cheney themselves. Fortunately, a backlash against these nut jobs is building.
"What you see is news. What you know is background. What you feel is opinion."
- Lester Markel, late Sunday editor
of The New York Times.
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