I have a new piece up at Hudson New York today, called "The Negotiations Trap." It's here.
Daily Snippets are here.
Answers to the current question are here.
The new current question is here.
TO OUR READERS
55% - Creeping.
We began our third subscription drive two weeks ago. We've reached 55% of our goal. Compared to where we were at this point in our last drive, we're well behind. Our first two drives exceeded their goals. We've got to do better in this one.
Subscriptions are the lifeblood of Urgent Agenda. We must nearly triple the number of subscribers to become financially stable. Otherwise, Urgent Agenda will either disappear or be reduced.
And think of it - a subscription is less than the price of a candy bar each week.
What do you get by subscribing? First, you insure the survival of this site, which has one of the most informed readerships on the web. You're in very good, and sometimes well-known company.
Second, subscribers and donators now receive The Angel's Corner. We discuss trends of the week, but also get into movies, music and TV. Further, Angel's Corner gives the very coveted Pompous Fool Award, bestowed only on the most deserving candidates in politics and journalism. And Angels are given a special e-mail address they can use to contact Urgent Agenda.
If for any reason you wish to cancel your subscription, the unused portion will be returned, upon request. You can't lose.
This is a great time to join. So please subscribe, or donate, in the column on the right. Urgent Agenda is needed more than ever.
Our subscription drive ends soon. Please subscribe and join the Angel's Corner today.
THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 5, 2009
NOT GOOD, NOT GOOD - AT 9:03 P.M. ET: From The Politico:
This morning, radio host Bill Press brought up the recent closing of liberal station Obama 1260 when speaking with Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow, and talked about whether there needs to be a balance to right-wing talk on the radio dial.
BILL PRESS: Yeah, I mean, look: They have a right to say that. They’ve got a right to express that. But, they should not be the only voices heard. So, is it time to bring back the Fairness Doctrine?
SENATOR DEBBIE STABENOW (D-MI): I think it’s absolutely time to pass a standard. Now, whether it’s called the Fairness Standard, whether it’s called something else — I absolutely think it’s time to be bringing accountability to the airwaves. I mean, our new president has talked rightly about accountability and transparency. You know, that we all have to step up and be responsible. And, I think in this case, there needs to be some accountability and standards put in place.
COMMENT: Now that's trouble. The Fairness Doctrine, which was administered by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), was abolished in the 1980s. There may have been a time when a standard of balance, or fairness, was called for. It was during an era when there could easily be one radio station for a large geographic area, and that station used the publicly owned airwaves. Today, though, with so many media outlets, and the internet to boot, there is no need whatever for any governmental oversight of political speech. Besides, there are serious First Amendment issues. If the Dems start this fight, they will stir up a hornet's nest, probably lose, and come off as a gang of dictators. But I fear they'll be reckless enough to start the fight.
PLACE TONGUE IN CHEEK, AND READ - AT 7:26 P.M. ET:
MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (AP) -- Starting a family might be a little easier with a trip to Ripley's Believe It or Not museum in Myrtle Beach. The museum on Thursday opens a monthlong display of its fertility statues. The 5-foot tall wooden statues were acquired on the Ivory Coast of West Africa in 1993. The company says they were then placed in its corporate headquarters in Orlando, Fla., and within months, 13 women became pregnant...
..The company says couples wanting to have a baby can touch the statues for free during business hours.
COMMENT: Is there a charge for an after-hours emergency touching? Is that the idea?
This is the news service that informs us about global warming.
DANGER AHEAD - AT 5:53 P.M. ET: From The Jerusalem Post:
Russia plans to begin operating the nuclear reactor it has been building for Iran before the end of 2009, the Interfax News Agency quoted a top official as saying on Thursday.
"If there are no unforeseen events... then the launch will go according to the timetable," Sergei Kiriyenko, chief of Russia's state nuclear corporation, Rosatom, was quoted as saying. "The launch is scheduled for this year."
COMMENT: All right, President Obama, what are you going to do about this? And please don't give us the line about "negotiations." We haven't got much time, and "negotiations" are neither a solution nor an objective.
PLAY IT AGAIN, AND AGAIN, AND AGAIN - AT 5:43 P.M. ET: Been here, done this. What is wrong with these people? From The Washington Post:
A Senate committee today abruptly canceled a session to consider President Obama's nomination of Rep. Hilda Solis to be labor secretary in the wake of a report saying that her husband yesterday paid about $6,400 to settle tax liens against his business -- including liens that had been outstanding for as long as 16 years.
The report, by USA Today, came just before the Senate's Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee was slated to meet to consider Solis's nomination, which had been delayed by questions over her role on the board of the pro-labor organization American Rights at Work. A source said that committee members did not learn about the tax issue until today.
COMMENT: What do you do? Do you laugh? Do you cry? The White House is saying that the nominee has nothing to do with this because it's her husband's business, and there may be some logic to that. But there is no excuse for the fact that this came out only in the last day or so. It must be examined. Did the nominee know? When did she know? Okay, it's only $6,400, which is peanuts compared to the real tax-beating champs this president has appointed. But it is, as they say, the principle of the thing. I've said it before here: I've never seen a new administration with so many nominees under a cloud.
GRIM REPORT ON JUSTICE GINSBURG - AT 1:51 P.M. ET: From AP:
WASHINGTON (AP) - Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had surgery Thursday after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, the court said.
Ginsburg, 75, had the surgery at the Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center in New York. She will remain in the hospital for seven to 10 days, said her surgeon, Dr. Murray Brennan, according to a release issued by the court.
COMMENT: You can be sure that the political vultures will be out in force with "speculation" about a replacement. We prefer not to join in.
THE END IS COMING! THE END IS COMING! - AT 1:42 P.M. ET: From AP:
WASHINGTON – President Barack Obama warned on Thursday that failure to act on an economic recovery package could plunge the nation into a long-lasting recession that might prove irreversible, a fresh call to a recalcitrant Congress to move quickly.
COMMENT: Irreversible? Really? You mean, if Congress doesn't pass his bill right now we'll be hauling down the stars and stripes? As reader Ken Braithwaite comments, "This is the smooth, calm temperament?"
After only two weeks in office, the president is sounding desperate. Foreign enemies are watching. They are watching very carefully. They are taking the measure of this man.
Posted at 9:10 a.m. ET:
Is the pressure getting to President Obama already? Joseph Curl, in The Washington Times, writes of some rather stressed-out behavior by the president, who hasn't had a great week:
President Obama, fresh off his first Washington apology tour, grew combative Wednesday, asserting that America voted for him, not the other guy, and demanding that lawmakers "put aside politics" -- well, Republican lawmakers, anyway.
Note to the president: We know who won the election, but 46% of Americans voted for that other guy. They expect some consideration as well.
A day before he headed to a luxury resort to meet behind closed doors with Democrats, the Harvard graduate lectured the less economically astute, ridiculing the Reaganomics Doctrine held dear by Republicans, who prefer tax cuts to new spending to bounce America out of its financial mess.
A luxury resort? Is that the message the "change" president wants to send? Do you get the feeling the train may be leaving the rails?
In the White House's Roosevelt Room, he told a Republican senator who opposed an element of the stimulus package that "I won. I will trump you on that."
Great diplomacy. "I won, I won." Maybe a lollipop would help.
Mr. Obama, beaten bloody for weeks over his nominations of high-powered lobbyists and tax scofflaws that have rapidly drained his political capital, is no longer making any pretense of seeking to change the tone of Washington, as he repeatedly vowed to do when campaigning.
Scratch one promise. More to come.
While President Clinton's first trip as president was to Detroit, where he held a town hall meeting with average Americans to talk about how to fix the economy, and President Bush flew to Fort Stewart, Ga., to visit soldiers in the 3rd Infantry Division, Mr. Obama's first trip aboard Air Force One will take him to a luxury resort in Williamsburg.
If it's good enough for Chicago politicians, it should be good enough for the country. Right?
"Well, I'd -- you know, I'd -- Williamsburg is -- has a lofty place in our country's history," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said, when asked if there was any special significance to the president's choice.
The man can't be serious. I mean, could he?
Democrats will ride together to the resort on a chartered Amtrak train at a cost to taxpayers of about $70,000, the Hill reported. Taxpayers will also foot the bill for security helicopters to fly above the train. The caucus will spend thousands: In 2003, for example, they spent $11,200 on food and $6,900 on entertainment, the paper said.
Just put a gun to your head and keep pulling the trigger. This is unbelievable.
Just Tuesday, the president made the rounds on every TV network to apologize for abandoning what he called the highest ethical standards ever enacted in any administration. But living up to that pledge has been trying from the start, and the White House said on Wednesday that it fully expects to fail in the future to meet that threshold.
Watch us fail! Watch us fail! Boy, is this ever encouraging.
"Are there lessons learned here?" a reporter asked the spokesman Wednesday.
"Well, as I said - I mean, you know, we - the president didn't think that we were going to come in here and change everything about the way Washington worked in such a short period of time. You can rest assured that we understand that we've not yet marked off all of our to-dos."
Fellas, you'd better sharpen up.
February 5, 2009. Permalink
THEY'RE ACTUALLY SENDING HIM? - AT 8:34 A.M. ET: From Reuters:
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Vice President Joe Biden will seek to break with the unilateralist tilt of the Bush years by emphasizing cooperation and diplomacy in a major weekend foreign policy speech in Germany, U.S. officials said.
His remarks on Saturday to the Munich Security Conference, a gathering of defense and security experts, will be scrutinized for more details on the new administration's policies on Russia, Afghanistan, the Middle East and NATO expansion.
COMMENT: I hope one of his minders reads Joe's speech in advance. The whole slant of the story, by the way, blames BUSH (!) for all the problems we have with Europe.
Wonder why Hillary isn't going. Hmm.
ENJOY THE SILENCE - AT 8:14 A.M. ET: From Media Line News Agency:
Iran is furthering its efforts to block international news websites from delivering their reports to the country, the Iranian daily Etemad Melli reported.
Local authorities have recently decided not to allow Iranians access to the Persian websites of Radio France Internationale (RFI) and Germany's Deutsche Welle radio.
This move comes only two weeks after the Persian service of Britain's BBC was declared illegal and "a threat to national security" by Iran's Ministry of Culture and Islamic Guidance (MCIG).
COMMENT: Another sign of warmth prompted by the age of Obama. But don't worry. The One will turn all this around.
WHY CAN'T THEY JUST VOTE FOR US AND LEAVE US ALONE? - AT 7:45 A.M. ET: The American people are once again instructing members of Congress in the meaning of democracy, as CNN reports:
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- The recent debate over the nearly $900 billion economic stimulus plan and revelations of tax problems by three Obama administration appointees have voters angrily jamming phone lines on Capitol Hill to air their frustrations to their elected representatives.
Voters are calling several congressional offices, complaining about stimulus negotations.
Their reactions are putting pressure on Congress and benefiting watchdog groups on both sides of the political aisle.
Capitol operators tell CNN Radio that phone lines have been jammed for the past two weeks, sometimes prompting busy signals.
COMMENT: Now you can see why so many "intellectuals" have contempt for democracy. Who are these people to have opinions? Do they live on farms? Do they ever watch PBS? Do they wear those funny soldier hats?
The American people do speak, and, when they do, they expect to be respected.
OUR OWN JAMES BOND - NOT - AT 7:31 A.M. ET: The Senate Intelligence Committee considers the nomination of Leon Panetta to be CIA chief today. Panetta has no background in intelligence. The nomination, though, reveals how one more Washington insider has benefited from the who-you-know circuit in the nation's capital. The Chicago Tribune's "The Swamp" reports:
Some of the senators may be asking about disclosures that Panetta has filed with the Office of Government Ethics detailing his paid posts on a number of corporate boards, including BP Corp., and money made in speeches for Merrill Lynch and Wachovia - part of the $1.2 million he made from clients, firms and investments last year. Panetta, a former California congressman, reports assets of up to $3.7 million.
He has reported $831,500 in speaking and director's fees last year, $251,500 for speaking and $580,000 from boards.
COMMENT: Just like all the rest of us. There's probably nothing there to derail his nomination, but the whole recitation of how much these former and future government officials grab from "consulting" is disheartening. This isn't the "change" we were promised. It doesn't come close.
WARNING ON DEFENSE - AT 6:40 A.M. ET: The San Francisco Examiner warns about news reports that President Obama will demand that the Pentagon slash defense spending by ten percent. The Examiner notes that "the U.S. Armed Forces are already stretched too thin, and proportional military spending has steadily declined for two solid decades after the brief spike under President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s. Defense spending averaged about 9 percent of gross domestic product in the early 1960s, but now has fallen all the way to 4 percent." The Examiner goes on:
Both Russia and China are building new aircraft-carrier fleets, and the International Institute for Strategic Studies reports that Russia’s military budget this year will be nearly double what it was just three years ago. Worse, on Friday, North Korea declared every one of its agreements with South Korea “dead” as it bragged about its growing stockpile of nuclear-weapons-grade plutonium and threatening that “a war may break out at any time.” And, Iran on Tuesday successfully launched its first satellite — demonstrating mastery of the same technology required to deliver a nuclear bomb with a missile.
COMMENT: Dead on. If Obama actually asks for that cut, Republicans should stand like a stone wall against it, solemnly pledging to try to defeat any member of Congress who votes for it. You could see a real firestorm.
IS THIS MAN CRAZY, OR WHAT? - AT 6:23 A.M. ET: I always thought David Ignatius of The Washington Post was reasonably sane, as Post writers go. But after his column today, I have my doubts. Ignatius is recommending that Obama send Zbigniew Brzezinski and Brent Scowcroft to negotiate with Iran. The first was national security adviser to Jimmah Carter. It was on his watch that the mullahs took Iran. The second was national security adviser to Bush 41. It was on his watch that we didn't finish the job, leading to the current Iraq war. Both men are viscerally anti-Israel. Both opposed the liberation of Iraq. Neither has shown much interest in democracy.
Sending these two men would be a betrayal. It would spit in the faces of our soldiers in Iraq. It would knife our ally Israel, and our Arab allies who fear Iran, it might even dismay European allies who have tried to toughen the West's stand against Iran. Worse, it could result in a real agreement that would solve nothing, the way the "realist" school of foreign policy likes to solve nothing, and simply kick the problem down the road, when Iran will have nuclear weapons.
COMMENT: What is this columnist thinking?
WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 4, 2009
NO CHANGE WE CAN BELIEVE IN - AT 8:47 P.M. ET: From the Financial Times:
A senior adviser to Iran’s president says dialogue with the US will succeed only if the Obama administration accepts Tehran’s right to have a nuclear programme.
Mojtaba Samareh-Hashemi, right-hand man to Mahmoud Ahmadi-Nejad, the fundamentalist president, said, in an interview with the Financial Times, Tehran was studying its options, just as the new US administration was reviewing its Iran policy.
COMMENT: Who do you think will give in here? I'm betting it won't be the Iranians.
THE REAL MELTDOWN - AND IT'S NOT GLOBAL WARMING
Posted at 8:05 p.m. ET:
Reader Beth Harrison alerts us to a great column by Victor Davis Hanson called, "The Impending Obama Meltdown." Of course, we always want the best for the country, and we want the president to succeed...if we can accept his definition of success. But Hanson's concerns are serious, and should be studied in the White House:
We are quite literally after two weeks teetering on an Obama implosion—and with no Dick Morris to bail him out—brought on by messianic delusions of grandeur, hubris, and a strange naivete that soaring rhetoric and a multiracial profile can add requisite cover to good old-fashioned Chicago politicking.
First, there were the sermons on ethics, belied by the appointments of tax dodgers, crass lobbyists, and wheeler-dealers like Richardson—with the relish of the Blago tapes still to come.
Second, was the "stimulus" (the euphemism for "borrow/print money") that was simply a way to go into debt for a generation to shower Democratic constituencies with cash.
Then third, there were the inflated lectures on historic foreign policy to be made by the clumsy political novice who trashed his own country and his predecessor in the most ungracious manner overseas to a censored Saudi-run press organ...
Fourth, there was the campaign rhetoric of Bush shredding the Constitution—FISA, Guantánamo, the Patriot Act, Iraq, renditions, etc.—followed by "all that for now stays the same" inasmuch as we haven't ben hit in over seven years and can't risk another attack.
Fifth, Gibbs as press secretary is a Scott McClellan nightmare that won't go away, given his long McClellan-like relationship with Obama (McClellan should have been fired on day hour one on the job). Blaming Fox News for Obama's calamities is McClellan to the core and doesn't work...
Six, Biden is being Biden.
And the result of all this?
At home, Obama is becoming laughable and laying the groundwork for the greatest conservative populist reaction since the Reagan Revolution.
Abroad, some really creepy people are lining up to test Obama's world view of "Bush did it/but I am the world"...
...This is quite serious. I can't recall a similarly disastrous start in a half-century (far worse than Bill Clinton's initial slips). Obama immediately must lower the hope-and-change rhetoric, ignore Reid/Pelosi, drop the therapy, and accept the tragic view that the world abroad is not misunderstood but quite dangerous. And he must listen on foreign policy to his National Security Advisor, Billary, and the Secretary of Defense. If he doesn't quit the messianic style and perpetual campaign mode, and begin humbly governing, then he will devolve into Carterism—angry that the once-fawning press betrayed him while we the people, due to our American malaise, are to blame.
This is like a very bad report card. Is anyone listening?
And Obama hasn't even had his first foreign crisis. Stay tuned.
February 4, 2009. Permalink
THIS JUST IN - AT 7:08 P.M. ET: From The Washington Times:
WASHINGTON -- Robert F. Kennedy Jr. on Wednesday said he thinks hog farmers are a greater threat to Americans than Osama bin Laden.
COMMENT: What is it with this generation of Kennedys? Every time they open their mouths...
UNSTIMULATING NUMBERS - AT 4:50 P.M. ET: Rasmussen reports that support for the president's stimulus package is sinking:
Support for the economic recovery plan working its way through Congress has fallen again this week. For the first time, a plurality of voters nationwide oppose the $800-billion-plus plan.
The latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey found that 37% favor the legislation, 43% are opposed, and 20% are not sure.
Two weeks ago, 45% supported the plan. Last week, 42% supported it.
Opposition has grown from 34% two weeks ago to 39% last week and 43% today.
COMMENT: This is what happens when a president lets Congress write the legislation he should have proposed. Mr. Obama runs the risk of looking like a minor figure, a symbol, if he doesn't get control of things. The "first black president" thing has faded away. Please notice that no one even mentions it any longer.
DOW DOWN - AT 4:20 P.M. ET: The Dow closed down 122, to 7957.
AGAIN? - AT 4:01 P.M. ET: Do you get the feeling that the Obama administration needs a vice president for personnel? From an exclusive report in The Washington Times:
The Obama administration asked retired Marine Gen. Anthony Zinni to be U.S. ambassador to Iraq but abruptly withdrew the appointment without explanation, Gen. Zinni said Tuesday.
Gen. Zinni, a former commander of Central Command, told The Washington Times that he had been offered the job by the White House national security adviser, retired Marine Gen. James Jones, two weeks ago and that Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton confirmed the offer on Jan. 26.
"I started making arrangements," Gen. Zinni said, but became concerned because he heard nothing further from the State Department or White House. He called Gen. Jones Monday night and was told that Christopher Hill, the outgoing assistant secretary of State for East Asia, was getting the job.
COMMENT: More competence we can believe in. First off, the idea of Zinni as ambassador to Iraq is grotesque, and maybe the Obamans realized it. Zinni opposed the liberation of Iraq, which means he would have been posted to a country whose liberation he opposed. That would have been a direct insult to the Iraqis and to former President Bush...as well as to our military.
This administration has hit the ground, stumbling.
SICKENING - AT 3:57 P.M. ET: Reader Ken Braithwaite alerts us to a piece by the great Michael Ledeen. I'd like to see some multiculturalist try to defend what is described. Please read:
This showed up in an Aussie newspaper (h/t Free Republic). It recounts the grisly story of a 51-year old Iraqi woman, known by her monicker “The Mother of the Believers,” who not only recruited female suicide terrorists, but led them to their final destination.
So what’s new? Her method of recruitment, on behalf of Ansar al-Sunnah, an Iranian-supported terrorist group operating in Diyala province.
"A WOMAN suspected of recruiting more than 80 female suicide bombers has confessed to organising their rapes so she could later convince them that martyrdom was the only way to escape the shame."
She was arrested in late January, and her confession was videotaped.
COMMENT: Does Mr. Obama understand what we're up against?
THEY WEEP, THEY WAIL - AT 3:30 P.M. ET: From AFP:
Wall Street and the business community gave a lukewarm response Wednesday to the US administration's plan to cap executive pay, fearing it may lead to a talent exodus and delay recovery in the finance sector.
The reaction came after President Barack Obama announced that executives of finance firms taking government bailouts would have their annual salaries limited to 500,000 dollars, a move aimed at protecting taxpayer interests.
COMMENT: We also are apprehensive about govenment interference in the private sector, but if there was ever a time when people brought it on themselves, it's now. If these clowns have so much "talent," why didn't they prevent the collapse? And where, precisely, are they going to go? Too many executives, including failures, were looting their firms, and rigging boards of directors to support their demands. And many of them never took any risks at all, never built a company, never provided sound services.
There are many fine people who work on Wall Street. I've known some. They're visionaries, public-spirited, and ethical. But I've known some others as well, and you wouldn't believe what they're like. You just lock your doors at night.
MONITOR REPORT - AT 3:25 P.M. ET: I spend part of my day monitoring the 24-hour news networks. Impression: The Obama administration is already in trouble. Even CNN can't hide the blunders and confusion. Many in the MSM will still cover for The One, but the impression given by news coverage is that the grownups in Washington are getting tired of the amateurism, especially on the stimulus package. Next shoe to drop: Confusion and weakness in foreign policy.
MORE IRAN - AT 8:26 A.M. ET:
TEHRAN (Reuters) - A representative of Iran's supreme leader said Barack Obama taking office as U.S. president did not mean Tehran's ties with Washington would change, a news agency reported on Wednesday.
COMMENT: Someone please tell the White House.
STAGGERING - AT 8:14 A.M. ET: From a Washington Post report on the withdrawal of Tom Daschle to be Health and Human Services secretary:
Democrats close to the White House said that they are now at a loss for who will fill the void, given that Daschle was the only real contender contemplated by the president.
"There were no other names," said one administration ally who was not permitted to speak on the record about the Daschle saga.
COMMENT: Incredible. No other names? This administration, starting at the top, really believes that some people are anointed. The Obama crowd should learn the old French saying, "The graveyards of the world are filled with indispensable men." Maybe The One should start the growth process by publicly declaring, "I am not The One."
THE GENERAL IS DEMOTED - AT 7:54 A.M. ET: From the Financial Times:
Annualised US car sales slipped below 10m last month in spite of steep discounts offered by carmakers and government efforts to ease lending.
General Motors’ monthly sales of cars and light trucks fell by 49 per cent last month, Chrysler’s by 55 per cent and Ford Motor’s by 40 per cent, including vehicles made by Volvo, its Swedish premium brand.
GM said it estimated the overall annualised selling rate for cars at 9.8m in the US in January, compared with 10.3m in December, and less than China’s estimated selling rate of 10.7m last month.
”This is the first time in history that China has surpassed the US,” said Michael DiGiovanni, GM’s head of global sales and industry analysis.
COMMENT: And Congress wants to hobble our car companies with more government regulations to satisfy the enviro-religionists. Brilliant.
TROUBLE ON THE LEFT - AT 7:40 A.M. ET: From Fox News:
Rep. Jim Cooper, a conservative Democrat from Tennessee, told a liberal radio network on Sunday that the Obama White House encouraged him to defy House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on the $819 billion economic stimulus bill.
"Well, I probably shouldn’t tell you this, but I actually got some quiet encouragement from the Obama folks for what I’m doing," said Cooper, one of only 11 Democrats to vote against the economic stimulus plan that passed the House last week.
"They know its a messy bill and they wanted a clean bill," he said. "Now, I got in terrible trouble with our leadership because they don’t care what’s in the bill, they just want it to pass and they want it to be unanimous."
COMMENT: Oh goody. How they fight among themselves. The conservative, blue dog Democrats may save us yet.
Posted at 7:29 a.m. ET:
The New York Times reports on the new administration's Iran policy, and you come off thinking that it doesn't really have one. Consider this:
Mr. Obama’s aides say that no decision has been made yet about how to proceed on Iran policy. “We’re still reviewing Iran policy,” said Robert A. Wood, the acting State Department spokesman. Indeed, Mr. Ross has yet to be named to his new post. And while Mrs. Clinton also struck a conciliatory note toward Iran last week, Mr. Obama’s top aides have yet to sit down for a substantive meeting on Iran, administration officials said.
Do you get a sense of misplaced priorities? Yesterday, the president and first lady went to a local school to read to kids. Warm and fuzzy, but it won't stop an Iranian bomb.
Then there's the question of getting our "friends" to increase pressure on Iran:
Mr. Obama’s aides are hoping that he can talk those countries into doing for him what they were unwilling to do for Mr. Bush. “I think Obama’s trip in April will be very important,” one administration official said, referring to Mr. Obama’s expected trip to attend the NATO summit meeting in Strasbourg, France, where he will meet with a number of European leaders for the first time as president.
So The One believes that, because he's The One, he can work magic. Sort of like Kennedy's trip to see Khrushchev in Vienna in 1961. Kennedy came away beaten and bleeding.
And there's this:
Several European diplomats said that France, Britain and Germany might be willing to consider sanctions if the Obama administration makes an effort to improve the atmosphere with Iran first.
Wait a second. We have to prove to them that we have good will toward Iran? Already, Obama's groveling attitude is paying dividends...for the other side.
February 4, 2009. Permalink
CUT - AT 6:40 A.M. ET: From The Los Angeles Times:
Jim Puzzanghera Reporting From Washington -- The motion picture industry's record-setting month at the box office may have cost it $246 million in tax breaks, as the Senate on Tuesday stripped a provision from the economic stimulus bill that critics derided as an unnecessary Hollywood bailout.
In denying the tax breaks on new film projects, senators cited the $1.03-billion haul from movie ticket sales in January, a 19% year-over-year increase, according to industry tracking firm Media by Numbers.
"They had their best January ever," said Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), who led the charge against the tax breaks.
COMMENT: I've got an idea: Why don't they restore the $246-billion in tax breaks, then eliminate $40-million every time Hollywood makes an anti-American film. Oh, can you just hear the "artistic-freedom" crowd.
THE TRUTH STARTS TO COME OUT - AT 6:32 A.M. ET: From AP:
A United Nation spokesman on Wednesday accused Hamas police in Gaza Strip of seizing thousands of blankets and food parcels meant for needy residents.
Spokesman Christopher Gunness said Hamas police raided a UN warehouse in Gaza City late Tuesday, snatching 3,500 blankets and over 400 food parcels.
COMMENT: Yesterday, the UN pulled back from an earlier charge, which created screaming headlines around the world, that Israel hit a school during its recent offensive in Gaza. Amazing how the "facts" start to change.
ACTUAL AP HEADLINE TODAY - AT 6:22 A.M. ET:
UN head urges fewer civilian deaths in Afghanistan
COMMENT: So nice of him. Instruction manual, please.