WILLIAM KATZ / URGENT AGENDA

Cheerful Resistance

HOME  ABOUT  /  ARCHIVE  /  DAILY SNIPPETS  /  SNIPPETS ARCHIVE AUDIO  / AUDIO ARCHIVE  CONTACT

 

WE'RE ON TWITTER, GO HERE       WE'RE ON FACEBOOK, GO HERE

 

 

 

 

FRIDAY,  NOVEMBER 27,  2009

OUR NEW JUSTICE DEPARMENT IN ACTION - 10:33 P.M. ET:  The Department of Justice, under Eric Holder, is likely to become a major political issue.  The decision to try the mastermind of 9-11 in a civilian court in New York is one factor.  Here is another:

WASHINGTON — The Justice Department has concluded that the Obama administration can lawfully pay the community group Acorn for services provided under contracts signed before Congress banned the government from providing money to the group.

The department’s conclusion, laid out in a recently disclosed five-page memorandum from David Barron, the acting assistant attorney general for the Office of Legal Counsel, adds a new wrinkle to a sharp political debate over the antipoverty group’s activities and recent efforts to distance the government from it.

COMMENT:  Notice the day this comes out - the day after Thanksgiving, when no one is concentrating on the news. 

Earlier this year, Eric Holder and his band little litigators abandoned a perfectly winnable case against a group of new Black Panthers who were charged with intimidating voters at a Philadelphia polling place on election day, 2008. 

We have a Justice Department being run as a political adjunct of the left wing of the Democratic Party.  Eric Holder, who had a reputation as a very political Justice Department official during the Clinton administration, and who approved the pardon of fugitive Marc Rich, should never have been made attorney general.  Obama's mistake is now our curse, and it must be lifted as soon as possible.

November 27, 2009   Permalink 

POTENTIALLY MAJOR STORY - AT 5:03 P.M. ET:  Lost in the turkey and holiday sales, an economic crisis in the Gulf nation of Dubai has roiled markets and raised gray hairs.  We don't yet know how much damage this can do here.  From The Washington Post:

NEW YORK -- This was the sideswipe investors had feared.

The stock market is in the middle of one of the great rallies of a generation, but for weeks there has been a nagging fear that bad news was never far off. The news came from Dubai, a wealthy Middle Eastern city-state that many Americans probably couldn't find on a map. Concerns that a government-backed investment company risked defaulting on $60 billion in debt ripped through world markets and served as a reminder of how fragile the financial system remains a year after it nearly collapsed.

And...

Worries about bad debt are fresh in investors' minds after the collapse of the U.S. brokerage Lehman Brothers in September last year kicked the U.S. economy deeper into recession overnight as banks halted lending on fears about the extent of bad loans.

The latest concern is that problems in Dubai, which has drawn wealthy tourists and investors from around the globe in the past decade with its Las Vegas-in-the-Middle East appeal, could imperil a nascent economic rebound around the world. This could happen if banks suffer big losses or confidence falters.

"The biggest risk is a domino effect," said Kevin Shacknofsky, portfolio manager of the Alpine Dynamic Dividend Fund in Purchase, N.Y.

COMMENT:  Experts are divided over the impact of Dubai, with some saying it indicates that the financial markets are still fragile and subject to collapse, and others saying this will be taken in stride.  But $60-billion isn't a teenager's weekly allowance, except in Hollywood, and it has to have some impact somewhere. 

We are not out of the woods, especially if consumer spending during this holiday season falls below expectations, or if profits, because of deep discounting, are weak.  Watch the Dubai story.

November 27, 2009   Permalink

OH, THEY CAN'T MEAN THIS - AT 4:28 P.M. ET:  On a spin, the trial of the century, and our safety, may well depend.  How may the judge in the New York "mastermind of 9-11" trial of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed be selected?  From The New York Times:

At first glance, the wooden wheel looks as if it might have been used to call out bingo numbers in a church fund-raiser. But sometime soon, a federal magistrate judge in Manhattan could be spinning the wheel in open court, unlocking a small door on one of its sides, and pulling out a sealed envelope containing the name of a judge.

That judge could well be charged with overseeing the trial of Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and four others accused in the Sept. 11 terror attacks. And that judge will have to consider questions as procedural as trial dates and as controversial and delicate as evidence gained through torture.

The case could last years, and the judge who gets it will most likely be assigned security around the clock — for his or her lifetime.

COMMENT:  Caution.  It is not absolutely certain that the wheel will be used.  There are other methods available.  As the story says, the Justice Department may seek to join this case to another, current terrorism case, where the judge has already been selected.  However, that judge is Jewish, and you can just imagine the comments among the Islamists and in the print columns of their stalwart friends on the left. 

But the wheel carries with it all kinds of risks.  What if we wind up with the person considered to be the "worst judge in New York," to cite a newspaper series that used to run regularly?  What if we wind up with the most left-leaning judge available?  What if we wind up with New York's Lance Ito?

It shows how foolish was the decision to try the 9-11 kingpin in an ordinary federal courtroom.  This is the first of many complications.

November 27, 2009   Permalink

QUOTE OF THE DAY - AT 10:13 A.M. ET:  From Peggy Noonan, in The Wall Street Journal:

I was reminded of something I began noticing a few months ago in bipartisan crowds. I would ask Democrats how they thought the president was doing. In the past they would extol, with varying degrees of enthusiasm, his virtues. Increasingly, they would preface their answer with, "Well, I was for Hillary." This in turn reminded me of a surprising thing I observe among loyal Democrats in informal settings and conversations: No one loves Barack Obama. Half the American people say they support him, and Democrats are still with him. But there were Bill Clinton supporters who really loved him. George W. Bush had people who loved him. A lot of people loved Jack Kennedy and Ronald Reagan. But no one seems to love Mr. Obama now; they're not dazzled and head over heels. That's gone away. He himself seems a fairly chilly customer; perhaps in turn he inspires chilly support.

And this:

Mr Obama is in a hard place. Health care hangs over him, and if he is lucky he will lose a close vote in the Senate. The common wisdom that he can't afford to lose is exactly wrong—he can't afford to win with such a poor piece of legislation. He needs to get the issue behind him, vow to fight another day, and move on. Afghanistan hangs over him, threatening the unity of his own Democratic congressional base. There is the growing perception of incompetence, of the inability to run the machine of government. This, with Americans, is worse than Obama's rebranding as a leader who governs from the left. Americans demands baseline competence. If he comes to be seen as Jimmy Carter was, that the job was bigger than the man, that will be the end.

COMMENT:  Peggy Noonan is inconsistent, but this is one of the best columns I've seen from her in a long while.  Read the whole thing.  She discusses the meaning of the presidential bows - to the Saudi king, to the Japanese emperor - and how devastating they are to Obama, and why.  Very insightful.

November 27, 2009   Permalink

THE POLLING BLUES - AT 9:17 A.M. ET:  In America, our system of states plays a critical role in our politics, and who gets what and how much.  An examination of the midwestern states, and others, shows the extent of the political problems the Obama administration is facing, less than a year into its term.  From Politics Daily:

Tom Jensen of Public Policy Polling, which did some of the new surveys cited here, observes: "Obama generally seems to be having problems in the Midwest. A Des Moines Register poll (Nov. 8-11) showed Obama's approval rating there dropping to 49%. A Quinnipiac poll a few weeks ago in Ohio showed 50% of voters disapproving of him there to just 45% approval. A recent Rasmussen survey in Minnesota found him only slightly in positive territory, 51/48. He won all three of those states last year by margins ranging from 4 points in Ohio to 10 points in Iowa and Minnesota."

One thing that is increasingly disturbing is the division of the country along ethnic lines.  Consider California, for example:

SurveyUSA reports that Californians approve of the job Obama is doing by 62 percent to 33 percent with 5 percent undecided. Whites disapprove by 50 percent to 46 percent (the margin of error is 4 percentage points) but blacks, who make up 6 percent of the sample, approve by 80 percent to 19 percent and Hispanics, who make up 28 percent of the sample, approve by 75 percent to 17 percent.

COMMENT:  A cautionary note about polls:  Rasmussen generally has Obama's figures lower than other polls.  This may reflect methodology.  Rasmussen polls among likely voters, whereas other organizations may poll among all voters or even all citizens above a certain age.  Republicans tend to do better among likely voters than in other samples.

But there's no denying that Obama's poll numbers are, in most places, declining.  That is not a guarantee of the future, but clearly this White House has become a disappointment to many.  If the real economy, as opposed to the Wall Street economy, continues in the doldrums, Obama's numbers are not likely to improve.

November 27, 2009   Permalink  

MADNESS - AT 8:40 A.M. ET:  The unemployment and underemployment situation has become a real crisis.  If we don't create jobs, we will have, at best, a sluggish recovery, and possibly another recession.

So who is making job creation more difficult?  I suspect you've guessed it

While President Obama and congressional leaders say they would like to do more to spur job creation, economists and business executives warn that their plans to impose new health care and climate-change costs on corporations would have the opposite effect.

The initiatives, according to this analysis, are likely to overwhelm any positive impact on jobs from stimulus measures by giving businesses a reason to keep laying people off.

The House's health care bill would raise the cost of hiring in a straightforward way: by charging businesses a new payroll tax of up to 8 percent if they do not provide health insurance to workers. The Senate plan would impose smaller fines on those same employers.

The House-passed climate-change legislation would not add directly to the cost of hiring, but would raise energy prices, which are a major cost of doing business. Economists say that many companies would react by hiring fewer people.

And...

The legislation has "perverse economic effects," said John Silvia, chief economist at Wells Fargo Securities. "Health care mandates will likely raise the cost of labor and thereby discourage hiring," while "cap-and-trade will likely increase the cost of energy and transportation for employers and thereby reduce any funds left to hire workers."

COMMENT:  One of the biggest mistakes Obama has made was to turn his legislative program over to Congress.  The result is wild legislation that may hurt more people than it helps, if it helps anyone.  Yet, the liberals in Congress, who run the place, show little interest.  Once again we see that they're more interested in ideology than in people. 

But they will get great praise at those seminars in Aspen.

November 27, 2009   Permalink

IRAN CENSURED - AT 8:23 A.M. ET:  Well, at least it's a start.  From the New York Times:

PARIS — One day after the director general of the United Nations nuclear watchdog castigated Iran for blocking inquiries into its nuclear program, the organization’s governing body voted on Friday to censure the country and demanded that it freeze operations “immediately” at a once-secret uranium enrichment plant. The panel also expressed “serious concern” about potential military aspects of Iran’s nuclear program.

The censure resolution, which passed 25-3, came after Mohamed ElBaradei, the head of the International Atomic energy Agency, declared in unusually blunt language on Thursday that Iran had stonewalled investigators about evidence that the country had worked on nuclear weapons design, and that his efforts to reveal the truth had “effectively reached a dead end.”

And...

While 6 of the governing body’s 35 nations abstained, and one was absent, the resolution had unusual backing by Russia and China, broadening the message of international displeasure with Iran that is frequently voiced in the West. But it was not immediately clear whether Moscow and Beijing would go further and support the expansion of sanctions that the Obama administration may promote.

That, of course, is a key issue.  This resolution, while desirable, has no teeth.  There's no way to enforce it.  It was easy for China and Russia to support it, then privately reassure their Iranian friends that nothing more will be done.

President Obama is approaching an end-of-year deadline to reassess whether the United States should move toward what Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has termed “crippling sanctions” on Iran.

Words.  The U.S., on its own, could not impose crippling sanctions.  It could, of course, blockade Iranian ports, but that goes well beyond sanctions.

Israeli officials, meanwhile, have said that they will not consider taking military action until Mr. Obama’s deadline runs out, leaving hanging the suggestion — maybe the bluff — that they are preparing for that possibility in 2010.

That is the real area of international concern.  But this would be a difficult military operation, with success not guaranteed. 

COMMENT:  As with most international issues, it will be the position of the United States that will be decisive.  Thus far, that position has been weak and indecisive.  The president's address Tuesday at West Point, dealing with Afghanistan, may hint at a tougher foreign-policy line, which is certainly called for with Iran.

Watch for Iran to make some "gesture" toward the end of the year to get the U.S. to extend its deadline.  If we take that bait, we're fools.  Or at least one man is a fool.

November 27,  2009   Permalink

 

 

 

THURSDAY,  NOVEMBER 26,  2009

SANITY IN HONDURAS - AT 9:34 P.M. ET:  Honduras survived the attempt, shamefully assisted by the Obama administration, to restore ousted corruptionist Manuel Zelaya to the country's presidency.  Zelaya, an ally of Fidel Castro and Hugo Chavez, was legally removed by action of the Honduran Supreme Court and Congress. 

Now the Supreme Court speaks again:

TEGUCIGALPA, Honduras -- The Honduran Supreme Court recommended Thursday that lawmakers vote against restoring ousted President Manuel Zelaya, another blow for his quickly fading chances of returning to power.

The Supreme Court submitted its opinion six days before Congress is scheduled to vote on Zelaya's fate as part of a U.S.-brokered agreement to end the political crisis over a June coup.

The justices concluded that Zelaya should not be restored to the presidency because he has criminal charges pending against him, Supreme Court spokesman Danilo Izaguirre said.

"While he faces judicial charges, he cannot return to power," Izaguirre said.

The United States has now altered its position on Zelaya, backtracking from its early alliance with the South American left, and accepting that a new election will select a legitimate government.  It's nice to know that we now think the people of Honduras should elect their own leaders, even if that angers Chavez and Castro.

November 26, 2009   Permalink

SURVIVAL - AT 9:16 P.M. ET:  I have survived my Thanksgiving party with liberals.  My food taster assures me that no poisons were found.  My tires were not slashed.  There were no threats.  The people, in fact, were entirely warm and gracious, which makes me think they weren't really that liberal at all.  Great folks, all around. 

Only the sudden pinprick in my right arm, followed by the sensation that I was dancing with Jimmy Carter, made me suspicious.

November 26, 2009   Permalink

FANATIC - AT 10:10 A.M. ET:  When a president appoints fanatics, and socialists, this is what we get.  Carol Browner, the so-called climate czar of the Obama administration, and a self-declared socialist, speaks out on climate change.  Can you guess in advance what she says?  From the Washington Times:

Obama administration climate czar Carol Browner on Wednesday rejected claims that e-mails stolen from a British university show that climate scientists trumped up global-warming numbers, saying she considers the science settled.

"I'm sticking with the 2,500 scientists. These people have been studying this issue for a very long time and agree this problem is real," said Ms. Browner, whom President Obama has tapped as his chief of policy on global warming.

When will people like Browner learn that science isn't about "consensus."  It isn't a show of hands.  It's about observation and proof.  And a disturbing number of first-class scientists are dissenting from the "consensus."

The e-mails were hacked from the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia and have come to light over the past week. They appear to show scientists saying they've smoothed over data that doesn't back up their claims of warming, and pondering how to freeze out scientists who disagree with them.

Nothing to see here, folks, nothing to see.  Just some boys fooling around.  Remember the consensus!

Sen. James M. Inhofe, Oklahoma Republican, has called for an investigation into the e-mails, and says they confirm his long-held suspicion that climate claims are not supported by the actual data.

Ms. Browner said the only people who still doubt global warming is happening and that humans are to blame are "a very small group of people who continue to say this isn't a real problem, that we don't need to do anything."

COMMENT:  This is what happens when policy becomes religion.  Browner isn't interested in the evidence.  She doesn't care about the credentials of the skeptics.  She has a party line, and will follow it, no matter how much damage is done.

The climate has cooled for the last ten years.  Don't tell her.

November 26, 2009   Permalink

NOT SO FAST - AT 9:57 A.M. ET:  A former British spy chief gives a guardedly optimistic view of the battle with Al Qaeda.  From Bloomberg:

Nov. 26 (Bloomberg) -- The al-Qaeda terrorist network may be losing its capacity to carry out large-scale attacks in the U.S. and U.K. because of improved security, Richard Dearlove, former chief of Britain’s MI6 spy agency, said.

“It could be the movement is past the high point in its ability to mount mass-casualty events in the West,” Dearlove, 64, said in an interview in London late yesterday. “It’s because the bar has been raised, the door has been shut.”

Dearlove served as chief of MI6, known officially as the Secret Intelligence Service, from 1999 to 2004, a period that included the Sept. 11 attacks on the U.S. “There is much more international security cooperation,” he said, though “the threat is not completely removed.”

COMMENT:  If true, there are two men who deserve our thanks on this Thanksgiving - George W. Bush and Dick Cheney.  And yet, their names are hardly mentioned.

Obama has, in fairness, kept in place a number of the security measures that Bush introduced.  But the image of weakness around him can only encourage Al Qaeda to grow again, and the decision to try the mastermind of 9-11 in a civilian court in New York, as if he'd done some shoplifting, is absurd, and flashes a pre 9-11 mentality.

We've made progress against Al Qaeda, and largely defeated it in Iraq.  But that progress can be reversed through indecision and trendiness.  The ball, and it isn't a basketball, is in Mr. Obama's court.

November 26, 2009   Permalink

PRESIDENT AND PARTY - AT 9:45 A.M. ET:  A well-reported Washington Post story makes it clear that the president's greatest opposition to his Afghanistan plan will come from his own party:

President Obama will reveal his new Afghanistan war strategy in a speech Tuesday evening to cadets at West Point, but his most skeptical audience is likely to be the powerful Democrats on Capitol Hill who oppose a troop buildup.

Top Democrats have made it clear to Obama that he will not receive a friendly reception should he announce what is considered the leading option: sending 30,000 more U.S. troops to Afghanistan. The legislators have indicated that a request for more money to finance a beefed-up war effort will be met with frustration and, perhaps, a demand to raise taxes.

How pathetic.  This was once the party of Roosevelt, Truman, and Kennedy, not to mention Lyndon Johnson, who receives too little credit for his concern for national security. 

Now it's the party of Dennis Kucinich and Barney Frank. 

The president should see the opposition of the leftist wing of his party as an opportunity to declare his independence and show a little spine.  But will he?  So far, the record isn't encouraging. 

On Tuesday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) described what she called "serious unrest" in her caucus over the prospect of another vote to finance billions of dollars for an expanded war.

Serious unrest?  Really?  Will they have to send the Capitol Police?  Use tear gas?  Will the California delegation be Tasered?  I've never heard the term "serious unrest" used to describe a condition in a caucus of the House of Representatives.

In June, Pelosi strong-armed anti-war Democrats into voting for a $100 billion measure to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. During an interview in July, she recounted her appeal to the lawmakers: "Will you change your mind and one more time vote for war funding?" She also promised not to ask again. "This is the very last time," she told them.

Real smart, Nance. 

Now, barely five months later, Pelosi and Obama will soon have to go back to the war well, even as they seek difficult votes from the same Democrats on health-care reform, climate change legislation and regulation of the financial industry.

Those domestic policy efforts are far from settled, but Pelosi has described them only as "heavy lifts" that were "nothing" compared with the war votes of the past three years. "You have to go to somebody who is totally, completely, entirely opposed to war funding, and you need to have them vote on it. And you don't even want to vote on it yourself," she said in the July interview.

What a strange world that party has become.  What a strange and dangerous world.  The sound you hear is our enemies applauding.

November 26, 2009   Permalink

THE TRUTH DAWNS ON HIM - AT 9:19 A.M. ET:  Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency, will leave office soon.  Apparently, this Nobel Peace Prize winner wants to redeem whatever is left of his reputation:

VIENNA (AP) -- The head of the International Atomic Energy Agency said Thursday that his probe of allegations that Iran tried to make nuclear arms is at ''a dead end'' because Tehran is not cooperating and warned that confidence in Tehran had shrunk in the wake of its belated revelation of a previously secret nuclear facility.

Mohamed ElBaradei also criticized Tehran for not accepting an internationally endorsed plan meant to delay its ability to make such weapons.

The unusually blunt comments appeared to be a reflection of frustration four days before he ends his tenure leading an agency that has proven unable to overcome Iran's defiance and ease international concerns that it may be using a civilian nuclear program as a cover for plans to make weapons.

''There has been no movement on remaining issues of concern which need to be clarified for the agency to verify the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear program,'' ElBaradei told the opening session of the IAEA's 35-nation board of governors. ''We have effectively reached a dead end, unless Iran engages fully with us.''

COMMENT:  President Obama will announce his plan for Afghanistan on Tuesday.  He will soon have to announce a plan for Iran.  Negotiations have gone nowhere. ElBaradei has been next to useless.

We recall that President Kennedy's first year in office was catastrophic, as is Obama's.  Kennedy understood that, despite his spirited inaugural address, he was perceived as weak, and easily rolled.  The question is whether Obama will come to the same realization, and firm up.  If he does, and is willing to take on the powerful left wing of his pathetic party, he has a chance for redemption.  If he doesn't, he'll go down as Jimmy II, not one of the higher honors available to him.

November 26,  2009   Permalink

 

 



 

 

 

"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.

 

"Councils of war breed timidity and defeatism."
    - Lt. Gen. Arthur MacArthur, to his
      son, Douglas.

 

THE ANGEL'S CORNER

Part I of this week's Angel's Corner was sent late Wednesday night.

Part II will be sent late tonight.

 

SUBSCRIPTIONS

Subscriptions to URGENT AGENDA are voluntary.  Why subscribe to something you're getting free?  To help guarantee that you'll continue to get it at all, and to get The Angel's Corner, which we now offer to subscribers and donators. 

Subscriptions sustain us.  Payments are through PayPal and are secure, but you do not have to sign up for a PayPal account.  Credit cards are fine.


FOR A ONE-YEAR ($48) SUBSCRIPTION, CLICK:

 

FOR A SIX-MONTH ($26)
SUBSCRIPTION, CLICK:


GREAT DEAL:  ONE-YEAR SUBSCRIPTION WITH ANOTHER SUBSCRIPTION SENT TO SOMEONE ELSE ($69) - PERFECT FOR A SON OR DAUGHTER AT SCHOOL.  (TELL US AT service@urgentagenda.com WHERE YOU WANT THE SECOND SUBSCRIPTION SENT.)  CLICK:


IF YOU DON'T WISH A SET SUBSCRIPTION, BUT PREFER TO DONATE ANY OTHER AMOUNT TO SUSTAIN URGENT AGENDA, CLICK:



SEARCH URGENT AGENDA

Search For:
Match: 
Dated:
From: ,
To: ,
Within: 
Show:   results   summaries
Sort by: 

POWER LINE

It's a privilege for me to post periodic pieces at Power Line. To go to Power Line, click here. To link to my Power Line pieces, go here.

 

CONTACT:  YOU CAN E-MAIL US, AS FOLLOWS:

If you have wonderful things to say about this site, if it makes you a better person, please click:
applause@urgentagenda.com

If you have a general comment on anything you see here, or on anything else that's topical, please click:
comments@urgentagenda.com

If you must say something obnoxious, something that will embarrass you and disgrace your loving family, click:
despicable@urgentagenda.com

If you require subscription service, please click:
service@urgentagenda.com

 

SIZZLING SITES

Power Line
Top of the Ticket
Faster Please (Michael Ledeen)
OpinionJournal.com
Hudson New York

Bookworm Room
Bill Bennett
Red State
Pajamas Media
Michelle Malkin
Weekly Standard  
Real Clear Politics
The Corner

City Journal
Gateway Pundit
American Thinker
Legal Insurrection

Political Mavens
Silvio Canto Jr.
Planet Iran
Another Black
   Conservative





  "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

 

 
 
 
 
````` ````````