"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
HOW THE PRESS BLUNDERS - AT 3:30 P.M. ET: Often, press bias is slipped into a story in oh so subtle ways. Take today's New York Times piece about Obama continuing some of the detention policies of the Bush administration. The piece makes it clear that Obama has his critics:
But Mr. Obama’s critics say his proposal is Bush redux. Closing the prison at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba, and holding detainees domestically under a new system of preventive detention would simply “move Guantánamo to a new location and give it a new name,” said Michael Ratner, president of the Center for Constitutional Rights. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates suggested this month that as many as 100 detainees might be held in the United States under such a system.
COMMENT: Bad journalism. It quotes the president of the Center for Constitutional Rights, implying that he is some kind of great authority on the subject, and gives no background on the organization.
In fact, the Center is a pro-Communist, anti-American group that has consistently sided with this country's enemies over the years. It was formed in 1966 to oppose our effort in Vietnam, and at one time suggested that American officials of the period be tried as war criminals.
ONCE A GREAT COMPANY - AT 8:31 A.M. ET: With all the hype about recovery, we've reached the bottom, we see the light at the end of the tunnel, etc., etc., there are certain stark realities out there. General Motors is one of them. We're not talking only of the main company. We're talking about the dealers, the suppliers, the customers whose trade-in value is plummeting, and all the little businesses that depend on this once-great company. No one is shrugging shoulders:
General Motors is preparing to file for bankruptcy protection as early as May 31, but a speedy restructuring of the carmaker faces headwinds from an increasingly sceptical US Congress.
Under the current plan, the US government would cancel most or all of its existing debt in the company and invest in a “new” GM that could emerge from bankruptcy in the autumn, said a person close to the matter.
GM would receive tens of billions of dollars in new government money, probably in stages, to prop up its business at a time when car sales are threatening to be lower than the 10m annual rate at which GM says it can break even.
Shares of GM dropped by 25.5 per cent to close at $1.43.
COMMENT: The effects here are not just economic, they're psychological. Chrysler in trouble is one thing. GM is on another level - practically the symbol of American industry. And, increasingly, Americans are starting to doubt that the government should be running car companies, or has the ability to run them effectively. The economic downturn continues, and now the policies are Obama's. He can't continue to blame BUSH (!!).
A WORD FROM THE COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF, PLEASE - AT 7:34 A.M. ET: There was a major terror arrest in New York this week, but you'd never know it by the reaction of the White House. The New York Post gets it exactly right in today's editorial:
President Obama has done a lot of speechifying in recent days about America's "responsibilities" in fighting terror.
So you'd think he'd have a word of encouragement for the team of crack FBI agents and NYPD officers that foiled a real-life terror attack against two Bronx synagogues on Wednesday.
Alas, not a peep.
A verbal nod to the Bronx plot -- especially as he raised the prospect Thursday of bringing Guantanamo detainees to US soil -- would at least have assured Americans that he's aware of the stakes involved.
Or is the president's "new approach" in the War on Terror entirely an academic exercise?
COMMENT: Well said. You'd think that, after the hammering the Obamans have taken from Dick Cheney, the White House would have invited the cops and FBI agents who broke that plot to have a photo-op with the president.
WHY NOT EMBRACE CHILD ABUSE AS WELL? - AT 7:27 A.M. ET:
May 23 (Bloomberg) -- Morgan Stanley, the sixth-biggest U.S. bank by assets, will increase some executive salaries and double Chief Financial Officer Colm Kelleher’s pay as bonuses come under scrutiny from the Obama administration and lawmakers.
The majority of executives will get raises, according to a person briefed on the decision. Chief Executive Officer John Mack’s base salary is unchanged this year, according to a regulatory filing yesterday.
COMMENT: Great sense of public relations, ay? These guys never cease to amaze me. Look, maybe they deserve the coins, but there's a time and a place, and a right way to do it. With people really hurting out there, they could have deferred this and shown respect for public concerns.
A PERFECT STORY FOR THIS WEEKEND - AT 7:19 A.M. ET: A great family indeed:
Caroline Miller, a saber in her white-gloved hand, leads cadets of Company D with crisp commands. "Ready -- eyes right!" As hundreds of West Point cadets march across the sprawling green grass for review, she is in lockstep.
She also is following in the footsteps of family members who have marched just like this for seven generations, forming a long gray bloodline, longer than any still existing at West Point.
IT SURE IS - AT 7:40 P.M. ET: Talk-show host Erich "Mancow" Muller volunteered to be waterboarded, in effect to prove it wasn't torture. His request was accommodated. He went through it, and concluded it was torture. He lasted only six or seven seconds before signalling to stop.
A stunt, obviously. And the host came out of it very sober about this technique. And it teaches us a lesson: Waterboarding isn't funny. No knowledgeable person thinks it's a joke. Those of us who believe it must remain an option argue that it should be used only as a last resort, and only in extreme circumstances. That seems to be the way it was used the few times it was employed by the Bush administration.
No more talk-show stunts. Former Vice President Cheney discusses enhanced interrogation techniques in a mature, restrained manner. As it should be.
PRESS BIAS? WHAT PRESS BIAS? - AT 2:19 P.M. ET: The New York Times informs us of President Obama's graduation appearance at the Naval Academy today:
ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Nobody protested President Obama’s commencement address Friday morning at the United States Naval Academy. Nobody told Mr. Obama he was undeserving of an honorary degree. Instead, under a nearly cloudless sky, Mr. Obama was treated to a 21-gun salute, a Blue Angels flyover — and a respite from graduation controversy.
It was Mr. Obama’s first commencement speech as president to graduates of a military academy — a rite of passage for every commander-in-chief — and he used it to reiterate the message he offered Thursday at the National Archives in Washington, that in an age of terrorism, he can both protect Americans from attack and uphold fundamental American values.
COMMENT: Yeah, not like those pesky, committed Catholics at Notre Dame. Who were those people?
Oh, memo to The Times: Did the reporter who wrote this story, Cheryl Gay Stolberg, actually think that cadets would demonstrate against the president at a service academy? They don't do that in the military.
And the president always gets a 21-gun salute.
And the Blue Angels normally appear at Naval Academy graduations, president or no.
GINGRICH ALSO RIDES AGAIN - AT 9:28 A.M. ET: Another Republican figure back from the political graveyard, where resurrections periodically occur, is Newt Gingrich. Neither he nor Cheney would currently win any popularity contests, but both are hitting their mark once again. They are making the Republican argument better than anyone else out there.
Why is that? Consider: Both men are extremely intelligent, both are extremely articulate, and both possess a characteristic that Americans admire immensely: They are passionate. They believe in something.
Newt gives a very convincing argument as to why Republicans should be optimistic. He writes in the increasingly important Washington Examiner:
Astute analysts ignore the Washington conventional wisdom and focus on the political winds blowing from the fifty states. And the public opinion currents in America today are becoming eerily similar to those circulating in 1993.
Today, just as then, Washington liberals are getting complacent. They’re ignoring mounting evidence that the American people don’t share their desire for bigger government, higher taxes and a liberal social agenda.
Take, for instance, the political earthquake that shook California this week. On Tuesday, Golden State voters resoundingly rejected five ballot measures that would, among other things, raise taxes, borrow against future lottery receipts and lock revenue surpluses in a Sacramento slush fund—all ostensibly to close California’s gapping $42 billion budget deficit.
Even though supporters of the measures outspent opponents by 10-to-1, the only measure that passed was one that prohibits pay raises for elected officials in times of deficits.
And there's more:
And not just in California, but across the country, opinion is shifting against major parts of the liberal Washington agenda.
Recent Gallup polling contains two major public opinion shifts away from liberalism that Americans have yet to see reflected in their leadership in Washington.
First, in April, Gallup found that fewer Americans support gun control than at anytime in the 50-year history of the poll. Only 29% of Americans said possession of hand guns should be made illegal in the United States.
Then, just this month, came a truly shocking finding. The Gallup poll found that, for the first time, a majority of Americans describe themselves as “pro-life.”
COMMENT: As Newt points out, only time will determine whether all this is building toward a major trend. But recent news should push Republicans out of their self-induced depression.
LOOKING CLOSELY - AT 8:40 A.M. ET: Despite Dick Cheney's critiques of some parts of the Obama security policies, the fact is that in many other areas the president has adopted Bush/Cheney programs, to our considerable relief. Charles Krauthammer, who has become one of the prime targets of the journalistic left, explains that you have to look carefully, not only at what President Obama says, but what he does:
If hypocrisy is the homage that vice pays to virtue, then the flip-flops on previously denounced anti-terror measures are the homage that Barack Obama pays to George Bush. Within 125 days, Obama has adopted with only minor modifications huge swaths of the entire, allegedly lawless Bush program.
Ouch. And we have to believe that the president's decisions are based in some measure on the rap he's taken for appearing soft in national-security matters. That's one effect of the kind of critique that the former vice president is giving.
Krauthammer explains the Obama technique:
Of course, Obama will never admit in word what he's doing in deed. As in his rhetorically brilliant national-security speech yesterday claiming to have undone Bush's moral travesties, the military commissions flip-flop is accompanied by the usual Obama three-step: (a) excoriate the Bush policy, (b) ostentatiously unveil cosmetic changes, (c) adopt the Bush policy.
The genius of democracy is that the rotation of power forces the opposition to come to its senses when it takes over. When the new guys, brought to power by popular will, then adopt the policies of the old guys, a national consensus is forged and a new legitimacy established.
That's happening before our eyes. The Bush policies in the war on terror won't have to await vindication by historians. Obama is doing it day by day. His denials mean nothing. Look at his deeds.
COMMENT: Krauthammer is fundamentally correct, although he may be overstating it to some degree. There are still troubling aspects to the Obama approach, such as a kind of groveling to foreign nations and cultures that can only encourage the terror masters.
In a few weeks Mr. Obama goes on another magical mystery tour, this time to Egypt, Germany and France. He will deliver a speech to the Muslim world in Egypt, will visit Dresden and Buchenwald in Germany, and commemorate D-Day in France. He's had plenty of time to absorb the criticism that past trips have received - namely that he projects weakness rather than strength. We'll examine how well he does this time, and see if the Krauthammer thesis holds up. As an American, I hope it holds up well.
CHENEY RIDES AGAIN - AT 7:26 A.M. ET: Dick Cheney is riding high. Rising in the polls, his national-security arguments resonating with the American people, he has given the GOP just the kick it needs to move forward and challenge administration policies.
But look for a press backlash. To watch the panic at CNN last night was to achieve a level of satisfaction I've rarely felt. Liz Cheney, who's also emerged as a leading spokesperson for her father's cause, was interviewed by Anderson Cooper, and Liz Cheney is very smart and articulate. But after Cooper's interview with her, CNN brought on the usual suspects, including a New York leftist journalist named Mark Danner. It was obvious that Danner and others felt it was unfair, not very sporting, that this former vice president had the nerve to come out of retirement and actually join the debate. Who does he think he is, an American citizen or somethin'?
I hope Cheney continues. But, if he does, it will get vicious for him in the weeks ahead. He went after The New York Times yesterday. The Times does not forget.
DISTURBING IDEAS FROM A POTENTIAL JUSTICE - AT 7:18 A.M. ET: President Obama will soon announce his choice for the open Supreme Court seat. Stuart Taylor, one of the best legal journalists around, has gone deeply into the background of one leading candidate, and is disturbed by what he sees. This is a classic example of good investigative journalism:
"I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion [as a judge] than a white male who hasn't lived that life." -- Judge Sonia Sotomayor, in her Judge Mario G. Olmos Law and Cultural Diversity Lecture at the University of California (Berkeley) School of Law in 2001
The above assertion and the rest of a remarkable speech to a Hispanic group by Sotomayor -- widely touted as a possible Obama nominee to the Supreme Court -- has drawn very little attention in the mainstream media since it was quoted deep inside The New York Times on May 15.
It deserves more scrutiny, because apart from Sotomayor's Supreme Court prospects, her thinking is representative of the Democratic Party's powerful identity-politics wing.
COMMENT: I would hope that Sotomayor's quote would pretty much disqualify her, but it won't. If I were Hispanic, I'd find the quote very demeaning, very insulting. It suggests that a Hispanic-American judge will decide a case differently because of her background, but that is not what the judiciary is about. We just appointed a Hispanic-American general to one of the highest posts in Afghanistan. Did anyone say of him that he thinks like a Hispanic general? Luis Alvarez, a Nobel laureate, was one of the greatest physicists this nation ever produced. Did anyone suggest that he thought like a Hispanic scientist?
We should always remember the American motto, "Out of many, one." Celebrating one's culture is wonderful. Suggesting that it makes one a better or worse public servant degrades that culture.
"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 Wednesday night.
Part II was sent last night.
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