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SATURDAY, JUNE 13, 2009
IRAN ERUPTS - AT 8:40 P.M. ET: We've been told for years that it's the government of Iran that's the problem, not most of the people. That certainly appears to be true tonight. From The Times of London:
IRAN’S hardline leaders warned last night that they would crush dissent after opposition supporters protesting against their candidate’s defeat in disputed presidential elections clashed with riot police on the streets of Tehran.
In the Iranian capital’s most serious unrest for 10 years, thousands of liberals who claimed the election had been rigged vented their fury in running battles with police.
They fought officers armed with batons and stun grenades, set fire to police vehicles and threw stones at government buildings.
I saw police in camouflage uniforms and black flak jackets respond by firing the grenades from motorcycles into a crowd that chanted “down with the dictator” and denounced what it called a stolen election.
COMMENT: The people in the streets are, right now, looking to America for guidance and inspiration, as the oppressed have for generations.
What do they see?
They see a president filled with apologies, filled with contempt for his predecessor, who tried to advance democracy, and a president who's made it clear that dictatorships like Iran's don't keep him up at nights. That's what they see.
If you were an Iranian in the streets, who would you like to see when you see a photo of the White House - Barack Obama...or Ronald Reagan? Barack Obama...or George W. Bush?
JUne 13, 2009
THE EYES AND EARS OF THE PUBLIC - AT 7:25 P.M. ET: The Associated Press blesses us with this hard-hitting, probing news story dealing with the very highest echelons of truth, justice, and the American way. Thanks, Superman:
WASHINGTON (AP) -- Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor has bonded with female senators about her childhood love of Nancy Drew mysteries and shared war stories with the Senate's former prosecutors about her days in the gritty Manhattan district attorney's office.
Slogging through dozens of personal, one-on-one meetings with senators that amount to a high-stakes job interview, she has impressed her questioners with an engaging personality and life story -- even those lawmakers with big reservations about her views on the law.
COMMENT: This is the press, ladies and gentlemen, that protects us from tyranny.
June 13, 2009
OBAMA STILL POLL-CHALLENGED - AT 10:53 A.M. ET: President Obama retains his personal popularity, but, after a week of gain, he's slipped back again in the respected Rasmussen report. Ras has him up at 54% approval versus 46% disapproval. The gap between those who strongly approve and those who strongly disapprove is only three points, 35-32.
The key, though, is other polling that shows the president's issues aren't too popular with the public. And Congress certainly isn't popular. How these polling results will translate at the polls a year from November will profoundly impact how much running room this administration has. So far they've been all over the field, with the most sweeping expansion of powers that we've seen since the great Depression.
June 13, 2009 Permalink
MEANWHILE, IN THE EASTERN VACATIONLAND - AT 9:44 A.M. ET: North Korea is responding to that UN resolution yesterday, sold to us by diplomats as "tough":
SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea responded to new United Nations sanctions on Saturday by defiantly vowing to press forward with production of nuclear weapons and take “resolute military actions” against efforts to isolate it.
In a statement on the North’s official Korean Central News Agency, an unnamed spokesman for the North Korean Foreign Ministry was quoted as saying that his nation will continue its nuclear program to defend itself against what he called a hostile United States policy. He was quoted as saying his nation will “weaponize” its existing plutonium stockpiles and begin a new program to enrich uranium, another material that can be used to make atomic warheads.
COMMENT: Not very sporting. Of course, the North Koreans always talk tough, and we haven't exactly responded with much muscle. They calculate that they can get away with anything verbal, and most things physical. And that is the record.
There's no question but that crunch time is coming. It is inconceivable for anyone to think that we'll make progress with Iran if we allow North Korea to run rampant over us and our allies. For President Obama, the honeymoon may soon turn into a nightmare, eased only by the obeisance of much of the press. We have said here that the last half of this year, especially the last third, will be hellish. Nothing has happened to alter that judgment.
June 13, 2009 Permalink
IT'S AS IF BUSH (!!) GOT ELECTED - AT 9:10 A.M. ET: To no one's surprised, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, whose claim to Divinity rivals that of a certain member of the Disciples of Wright, has been overwhelmingly reelected by the people, or the vote counters, of Iran. The Iranian Al Gore is apparently not pleased:
TEHRAN —President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad won Iran’s presidential election in a landslide, officials of Iran’s election commission said Saturday morning. But his main rival, Mir Hussein Moussavi, had already announced defiantly just two hours after the polls closed on Friday night that he had won and charged that there had been voting “irregularities.”
“I am the absolute winner of the election by a very large margin,” Mr. Moussavi said during a news conference with reporters just after 11 p.m. Friday, adding: “It is our duty to defend people’s votes. There is no turning back.”
COMMENT: Look, it's all over but the counting, and counting isn't even necessary. Such a revolting Western concept.
Now the Obama administration has run out of excuses for delaying a coherent policy toward Iran that has any chance of success. He will be dealing with the same players as before the election, and they have proved unyielding. And yet, if North Korea is any example, the response to Iran will probably be one more compromised UN resolution, forgotten as soon as it's issued.
June 13, 2009 Permalink
FRIDAY, JUNE 12, 2009
THE FEAR, THE QUIVERING - AT 9:50 P.M. ET: There is United Nations action on North Korea. All right, please act nicely and stop laughing. But there really is. The New York Times gives us all the drama, wrapped up in a clenched fist. Well...
UNITED NATIONS — Responding vigorously to a recent North Korean nuclear test, the Security Council voted unanimously Friday on an enhanced package of sanctions that, among other things, calls upon United Nations members to inspect cargo vessels and airplanes suspected of carrying military matériel in or out of the country.
The sanctions in Resolution 1874 were considered tougher than previous versions largely because China and Russia, the closest thing North Korea has to friends, agreed to a mixture of financial and trade restrictions designed to choke off military development.
That actually is the good news. Now for the asterisks:
Aside from a mandatory ban on arms exports, however, the steps are recommendations rather than requirements, so the potential impact depends on the determination of member states. Both China and Russia pushed to dilute some of the mandatory sanctions sought by the West, Japan and South Korea, and the hesitancy about going too far in punishing North Korea was reflected in their statements.
Oh. So what, actually, did they do? Well, China has already issued a statement warning against using force to enforce the no-force resolution.
But U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Susan Rice says this step was unprecedented.
Why don't I believe that? You don't think it's the history of the U.N., do you?
The story has some further explanation:
But many analysts and former diplomats question whether the new measures will have enough bite to break a cycle — North Korean threats and weapons tests, followed by American-led sanctions and short-lived deals — and persuade the North to give up its nuclear weapons and missile programs once and for all.
“Sanctions won’t bring North Korea to its knees,” said Kim Keun-sik, a specialist on North Korea at Kyungnam University in Seoul. “The North knows this very well, from having lived with economic sanctions of one sort or another for the past 60 years.”
So again, we wait and see, after being assured that we're getting "tough" with North Korea.
Now you can laugh.
June 12, 2009 Permalink
YOU WILL NOT BELIEVE - AT 8:07 P.M. ET: Just read this slowly and carefully. It's from London's Telegraph, but it's about the United States:
Dozens of US cities may have entire neighbourhoods bulldozed as part of drastic "shrink to survive" proposals being considered by the Obama administration to tackle economic decline.
The government looking at expanding a pioneering scheme in Flint, one of the poorest US cities, which involves razing entire districts and returning the land to nature.
Local politicians believe the city must contract by as much as 40 per cent, concentrating the dwindling population and local services into a more viable area.
The radical experiment is the brainchild of Dan Kildee, treasurer of Genesee County, which includes Flint.
Having outlined his strategy to Barack Obama during the election campaign, Mr Kildee has now been approached by the US government and a group of charities who want him to apply what he has learnt to the rest of the country...
...In Detroit, shattered by the woes of the US car industry, there are already plans to split it into a collection of small urban centres separated from each other by countryside.
COMMENT: Who authorized this? Do you remember voting for this? Aren't these local decisions? What "charities" are involved, and what gives them the moral right to try to dictate to cities?
I have never seen, in my lifetime, a power grab by the federal government and its favored organizations as great as we're seeing now. Let's haul out that old colonial flag, with its warning, "Don't tread on me."
June 12, 2009 Permalink
WHY, JUST LIKE CHICAGO - AT 7:10 P.M. ET: The president of the United States should feel right at home as they count the election results in Iran, which voted for president today. Ah, it's wonderful when folks overseas copy some of our ways. From Fox News:
TEHRAN, Iran — Iran's interior ministry said President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad took nearly 70 percent of the early votes counted, but his pro-reform rival countered that he was the clear victor and warned of possible fraud in the election.
The dispute rose up even before polls closed early Saturday, heightening tensions across the capital where emotions have been running at a fever pitch. Mir Hossein Mousavi, the reformist candidate, suggested he might challenge the results.
COMMENT: It's time for Al Gore's lawyers from 2000 to get on planes and rush over. Don't be shocked if we're told that the deciding votes will come from a place called Floridastan. And we know who'll steal this election. BUSH (!!).
June 12, 2009 Permalink
THE DOUBLE STANDARD - AT 11:22 A.M. ET: We've had a few things to say in recent days about the remarkable double standard that exists in the nation's media and among some of its "cause" groups. The latest example, of course, is the silence of so many on the left, especially "feminists," regarding David Letterman's crude "jokes" about Sarah Palin's daughters, and about Sarah Palin herself. (He also insulted airline attendants.) Letterman gets a pass because he's on the "correct" side of politics.
A careful reader alerts us to some stories surrounding another double standard. When abortion doctor George Tiller was murdered, the press gave saturation coverage, and some commentators suggested that "right wing" talk radio and talk TV might be to blame for the killing. But when an American soldier was murdered outside a recruiting station by a Muslim extremist, on American soil, coverage was minimum, and we were immediately told that this was another "isolated incident." Nothing to see here, folks, nothing to see, despite a number of "isolated incidents" involved Muslim extremists in the years since 9-11.
But, as our reader notes, there was more to the story. A few solid journalists did start investigating, including a team, commendably, from ABC. The ABC reporters recalled the convictions of three Muslim extremists for terror-related crimes, and reported:
All three terrorists worshiped and socialized at a small mosque in Columbus, Ohio, and, according to David B. Smith, an attorney for Faris (ed note: one of the convicted men), were part of a larger group of jihadists and extremists who frequented the mosque.
The FBI now is investigating reports of links to that same mosque by Muslim-convert Abdulhakim Muhammad who allegedly shot and killed one soldier Monday and critically wounded another in a drive-by attack on a Little Rock, Ark., recruiting station, ABC News has learned.
I haven't seen that anywhere else. I'd like some answers.
Another story noted by our reader, from the Ohio State University newspaper:
A female Ohio State student was trying to catch a bus to class Tuesday afternoon when she became the victim of a random stabbing.
Police say the 20-year-old student was walking down Stinchcomb Drive near Buckeye Village at 12:55 p.m. when she was stabbed by 34-year-old Wael W. Kalash. Witnesses said Kalash had been walking up and down the street exhibiting "bizarre" behavior before the stabbing occurred.
"There's no connection between the victim and him other than she was at the wrong place at the wrong time, it was a completely random act," said Det. Jay Fulton of the Columbus Division of Police homicide unit.
Connection: This guy worshipped at the same mosque targeted in the ABC story. Hmm.
We certainly don't mean to suggest that all mosques preach terrorism. Indeed, there can simply be coincidences here. But this is worth investigating. It is worth the same kind of time the news outlets devoted to probing the associations of Dr. Tiller's alleged killer. That's what journalism is about.
We thank our astute reader, who asked that his name be withheld.
June 12, 2009 Permalink
QUOTE OF THE DAY - AT 9:58 A.M. ET: From the great Charles Krauthammer, also commenting, as Victor Davis Hanson does below, on the president's Cairo speech and the bizarre moral equivalencies found within it:
Distorting history is not truth-telling, but the telling of soft lies. Creating false equivalencies is not moral leadership, but moral abdication. And hovering above it all, above country and history, is a sign not of transcendence but of a disturbing ambivalence toward one's own country.
June 12, 2009 Permalink
THE CAIRO SPEECH, STILL MAKING NEWS - AT 9:45 A.M. ET: No presidential speech in recent memory has been more examined than President Obama's "outreach" show to Muslims, delivered in Cairo. The speech, if we judge reaction correctly, has had virtually no impact in the Muslim world. But many clear-thinking commentators, examining it, have been appalled.
The president is a bright man. But he is not, contrary to public image, an intellectual man. He exhibits little curiosity, and there's no evidence that he reads as widely as, say, former President George W. Bush, who did read widely.
Here, Victor Davis Hanson examines the president's ignorance of history, as revealed in the Cairo speech. Not an encouraging picture:
In his speech last week in Cairo, President Obama proclaimed he was a “student of history.” But despite Barack Obama’s image as an Ivy League-educated intellectual, he lacks historical competency, in areas of both facts and interpretation...
...Almost every one of his references was either misleading or incomplete. He suggested that today’s Middle East tension was fed by the legacy of European colonialism and the Cold War that had reduced nations to proxies.
But the great colonizers of the Middle East were the Ottoman Muslims, who for centuries ruled with an iron fist. The 20th-century movements of Baathism, Pan-Arabism, and Nasserism — largely homegrown totalitarian ideologies — did far more damage over the last half-century to the Middle East than did the legacy of European colonialism.
Obama also claimed that “Islam . . . carried the light of learning through so many centuries, paving the way for Europe’s Renaissance and Enlightenment.”
Europeans, Chinese, and Hindus, not Muslims, invented most of the breakthroughs Obama credited to Islamic innovation.
Do you get the sense that the student may have to repeat this course?
In reference to Iraq, President Obama promised that “no system of government can or should be imposed upon one nation by any other.” Is he unaware that the United States imposed democracies after World War II?
Yes, he's unaware.
Obama also stated: “For centuries, black people in America suffered the lash of the whip as slaves and the humiliation of segregation. But it was not violence that won full and equal rights.”
With all due respect to our president, this assertion is again not fully accurate. The only thing that ended slavery in the United States was the Civil War, which saw some 600,000 Americans — the vast majority of them white — lost in a violent struggle to ensure that nearly half the country would not remain a slave-owning society. Also, the massive urban riots of the 1960s and 1970s were certainly violent.
Details, details. This historian doesn't understand that when the Divine One speaks, details are not important.
This list of distortions could be easily expanded. President Obama, in elegant fashion, may casually invoke the means of politically correct history for the higher ends of contemporary reconciliation. But it is a bad habit. Eloquence and good intentions exempt no one from the truth of the past — President Obama included.
COMMENT: And yet, the mainstream media refuses to clamp down on Obama. Hanson includes other historical distortions the president made in other places, like saying in Germany last year that he didn't look like other Americans they'd seen representing the U.S. - forgetting that our last two secretaries of state have been African-American.
Can you just imagine if Bush had delivered an inaccurate speech? The press, which obsessed over whether the Bush administration outed CIA employee Valerie Plame, would have gone bananas. (That's not an intended insult to the banana community.)
Obama gets away with it. He's probably supplied more misinformation to school children than any other president, aside from Bill Clinton's lamentations about sex.
June 12, 2009 Permalink
NORTH KOREA MAY TEST AGAIN - AT 8:18 A.M. ET: I don't like "may" stories because they're not really news. I'll make an exception this time because of the urgency of the subject. North Korea seems increasingly belligerent:
WASHINGTON (AP) - North Korea may be preparing for its third nuclear test, a show of defiance as the United Nations considers new sanctions on the dictatorship for conducting an underground nuclear explosion in May, according to a U.S. government official.
North Korea conducted an underground explosion on May 25, its first since a 2006 atomic test. The official, who spoke Thursday on condition of anonymity in order to discuss the unreleased information, would not provide details regarding the assessment.
A draft U.N. resolution proposed Wednesday would impose tough sanctions on North Korea's weapons exports and financial dealings and allow inspections of suspect cargo in ports and on the high seas. North Korea has threatened to retaliate if new sanctions are adopted.
North Korea already is a pariah to many countries and has been under tough economic sanctions for years. Last month's reported test defied a Security Council resolution adopted after the North's first underground atomic blast in October 2006.
COMMENT: Why shouldn't they conduct another test? What have they lost so far? The reporter talks about "tough" sanctions previously imposed on North Korea. That's misleading. If they were really tough, they would have changed the country's behavior. Obviously, North Korea doesn't see them as that punishing.
Again, our meekness is driving this. Who will tell the president?
June 12, 2009 Permalink
IRAN VOTES - AT 7:40 A.M. ET: Iranians go to the polls today to elect a president. Will they turn Ahmadinejad out of office? The campaign has been lively, even vicious at times. But remember a basic fact: No matter who wins, the ultimate power rests with the mullahs. Also, please note that no candidate has pledged any compromise on Iran's nuclear program. So, if a so-called "moderate" wins, and the White House goes giddy, stay calm. It's a show. The Washington Post sets the scene:
TEHRAN, June 12 -- A long column of provincial, working-class Iranians, clad in black and walking in flip-flops, streamed into a highway underpass, heading for a reelection rally for President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.
Standing on a high ledge safely out of the way, a group of cosmopolitan youths looked down at the crowd of mostly out-of-towners. "Go back to the zoo!" shouted a teenager with gelled-up hair and a green T-shirt, a sign of support for Ahmadinejad's main challenger, Mir Hossein Mousavi.
"Sissies!" the marchers yelled back.
COMMENT: At least they're communicating. My friend, Iranian political analyst Banafsheh Zand-Bonazzi, says that there will be bitter infighting among the Iranian leadership, regardless of the outcome of the election.
We will be following the returns closely. We'll also tell you if the winner sends a tingle up Chris Matthews's leg.
June 12, 2009 Permalink