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SUNDAY, JUNE 14, 2009
REAL POLITICS - AT 9:38 P.M. ET: We're seeing more and more of this - congressional Democrats willing to defy President Obama and chart their own course. Most of them are moderates who defeated Republicans in the last two elections in generally moderate districts. They have no interest in being beaten at the polls. But there are some liberals who now are willing to defy the president, in part because of personal ambition, generally an important trait in Washington. From The Politico:
He’s riding high in the polls among his fellow Democrats, but President Barack Obama’s political sway within his own party is about to be tested.
Two House Democrats, Joe Sestak of Pennsylvania and Carolyn Maloney of New York, are poised to defy the unambiguous wishes of Obama and challenge incumbent senators of their own party.
Both indicated to POLITICO that they were likely to run — and would do so regardless of what Obama said.
Sestak, a second-term Philadelphia-area congressman and retired admiral, said he was just over a month away from announcing his intention to challenge Republican-turned-Democrat Sen. Arlen Specter...
...Asked directly if a plea from Obama would make any difference, Sestak shook his head and said: “No.”
Presidents only serve for a maximum of eight years. Congresspeople and senators can serve for much longer. What member of Congress would enthusiastically let a president stand in the way of a political dream...unless there was a huge promise made?
But, as intriguing as these career moves are, it is on issues that Mr. Obama faces his greatest pushback from members of his own party. His leftism is well beyond the safe zone for a large chunk of Democrats. Unless the president can produce results very quickly, he may hear some Democrats, running for reelection next year, ask, "President who?"
June 14, 2009
AFTER THE MOST CAREFULY CONSIDERATION - AT 7:40 P.M. ET: Are these Obamans real? As noted earlier, they're starting to sound like kids in school. The vice president of the United States (and all its associated territories and possessions) has now given us the benefit of his many years of international experience in assessing the Iranian elections:
Vice President Biden said Sunday that there are "real doubts" about whether Iran's presidential election was free and fair, but the United States has to "accept" Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as the winner for now.
For now? For now, Joe? You mean sometime down the line we might take the issue to the Supreme Court to see if Mahmoud passes the Florida test?
The vice president, speaking on NBC's "Meet the Press," stressed that monitors and officials do not yet have enough information to gauge whether the results are accurate but said several factors raise serious questions about the credibility of the vote.
Yeah, like the numbers. But look, Joe, don't say it too loudly. I mean, the guy you work for comes from a city where people who died in Teddy Roosevelt's time are still voting for good government today. And each one gets a friendly greeting at the polls.
Biden acknowledged the U.S. was disturbed by the Iranian government's suppression of free speech and crackdown on crowds protesting Ahmadinejad's re-election.
That's good to know. I will sleep more soundly tonight.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Saturday she hoped the outcome reflects the "genuine will and desire" of Iranian voters.
She would have said the same when Hitler was elected. Another great product of a values-free education.
June 14, 2009
THE PRESIDENT IS EXCITED - AT 12:06 P.M. ET: The president of the United States, on Friday, gave us his student-level analysis of the situation in Iran, before the vote result was known:
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Barack Obama said on Friday he was hopeful the robust debate taking place in Iran's presidential election would advance his administration's efforts to engage longtime U.S. rival Tehran in new ways.
"We are excited to see what appears to be a robust debate taking place in Iran," Obama told reporters when asked about the Iranian election during an event at the White House.
"Whoever ends up winning the election in Iran, the fact there has been a robust debate hopefully will advance our ability to engage them in new ways," he said.
COMMENT: Back to the playpen. This president's childish approach to foreign policy is placing us in danger. Time is not on our side, not when rogue nations are fooling around with nuclear energy. The idea that a "robust debate" advances engagement is absurd. The mullahs run Iran, not the debating societies.
Once again the president proves that he's not ready for life outside school.
THIS JUST IN - AT 10:10 A.M. ET: Be assured that editors and reporters worked hours to come up with this insightful, breaking-news headline in today's Washington Post:
Obama's Spending Plans May Pose Political Risks
Yeah, I'll buy that. The Post goes on to say:
After enjoying months of towering poll numbers, legislative victories and well-received foreign policy initiatives, the White House has become increasingly concerned that President Obama's spending plans, which would require $9 trillion in government borrowing over the next decade, could become a political liability that defines the 2010 midterm elections.
I'd quibble over the "well-received foreign policy initiatives." By whom?
But the rest is accurate. "Issue" polls show increasing resistance to President Obama's programs. He went ahead with the takeover of GM and Chrysler in the face of clear, strong public opposition. If his policies work, and the economy improves substantially, the American people will probably forgive him. But if it doesn't, he and his party will be vulnerable to a Republican attack next year, assuming someone does the attacking.
Results from a Gallup survey released last week show that although more than six in 10 Americans approve of Obama's overall job performance, fewer than half say they approve of how he is handling the deficit and controlling federal spending. The poll also shows a decline from the previous month in the percentage of Americans who approve of Obama's handling of the economy, although a majority still does.
Even Democrats are starting to ask very public questions. Senator Kent Conrad of North Dakota, chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, said:
"People know we have an overall situation here that doesn't add up."
If Americans agree with that, and if they add a foreign policy that doesn't add up either, unless you're a hostile country, the Democratic Party can be looking at unexpected lean years.
POSSIBLE RUDDER ISSUE IN AIR FRANCE 447 - AT 9:22 A.M. ET:
RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) -- A burst of last-minute automatic messages sent by Air France Flight 447 includes one about a problem with a rudder safety device but that does not explain what sent the jet plunging into the Atlantic Ocean, an aviation expert says.
The industry official, who has knowledge of the Air France investigation, told The Associated Press that a transcript of the messages posted on the Web site EuroCockpit is authentic but inconclusive.
COMMENT: We continue to follow this story because of the mystery involving the cause of the crash, and the possibility, distant at this point, of terrorism. The rudder has been a periodic issue on Airbus aircraft. You may remember that, on November 12, 2001, two months after the 9-11 attacks, an American Airlines Airbus crashed just after takeoff in Queens, New York. The National Transportation Safety Board, in its report on the accident, said this:
The National Transportation Safety Board determines that the probable cause of this accident was the in-flight separation of the vertical stabilizer as a result of the loads beyond ultimate design that were created by the first officer's unnecessary and excessive rudder pedal inputs. Contributing to these rudder pedal inputs were characteristics of the A300-600 rudder system design and elements of the American Airlines Advanced Aircraft Maneuvering Program.
We'll continue to follow this carefully unless and until terrorism is absolutely ruled out.
WELL SAID - AT 9:15 A.M. ET: Excellent comment on American foreign policy in today's New York Post editorial:
But all indications are that foreign policy is being made directly -- and solely -- in the White House. And this president's foreign policy increasingly seems predicated on America's turning its back on its most reliable traditional allies.
Like Britain and Israel -- both of which have long been viewed as having a "special relationship" with Washington.
It's all well and good that Obama wants to cultivate the Third World and improve America's relations with countries in Asia, Latin America and the Muslim world.
But that can't be accomplished at the cost of turning Israel and the nations of Western Europe each into merely one among equals with the rest of the world.
During his campaign, Obama spoke of the need for increased diplomacy and of enlisting world public opinion behind US policies.
But when it comes to, say, confronting the nuclear ambitions of Iran and North Korea, he'll need more than Cuba, Venezuela and Saudi Arabia at his side.
COMMENT: And the president hasn't even begun to deal with countries like India, the world's largest democracy, which has moved closer to the U.S. in recent years.
There is a theory in politics that Americans don't care about foreign policy. I've always rejected that. I think enough people are interested to swing any election, if the argument is well made. It's up to the Republicans to start making it. The foreign policy of this administration is shallow, adolescent, and based on theories and wishes, rather than clear observation of real conditions. It is dangerous, and thus far has not produced a single advance, except a broad smile from Hugo Chavez.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
"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.
THE ANGEL'S CORNER
Part I of this week's Angel's Corner was sent late Wednesday night.
Part II was sent early Saturday morning.
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