Wednesday, September 30, 2009

President Obama must begin to govern from the center, not cater to the likes of Michael Moore

Two faces of the Democratic Party: Sen. Blanche Lincoln and filmmaker Michael Moore

If folks like Michael Moore have their way in Washington and in the counsels of the Democratic Party, Senator Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas, first elected to the House of Representatives in 1992, won't be reelected again in 2010.

Moore, never one to miss a chance at publicity, especially when he's selling a movie, puffed himself up into his quite considerable full size and bloviated the other day on the future he sees for Democrats:

“To the Democrats in Congress who don’t quite get it: I want to offer a personal pledge. I – and a lot of other people – have every intention of removing you from Congress in the next election if you stand in the way of health care legislation that the people want,” Moore told supporters of women’s groups and unions gathered at the headquarters of the government watchdog group Public Citizen.

“That is not a hollow or idle threat. We will come to your district and we will work against you, first in the primary and, if we have to, in the general election.”

Lincoln is, indeed, in trouble down home -- but has no need to fear that Moore and the left wing of her party will knock her off in either a primary or a general election. Republicans will take care of that, but with a clear-cut boost from Moore and company.

As I reported in a recent post, independent political analyst Charlie Cook and many others believe that the leftward tilt of the Democratic agenda this year has already alienated a large part of "purple America" -- the independent and moderate swing voters who went decisively for Obama and the Democrats to punish the GOP for its failures. As a result, Cook now believes that Democrats will suffer substantial losses in 2010 -- possibly even control of the House -- at the hands of "an electorate growing just as disgusted with the Democratic majority as it did with the Republican one in 2006."

So, you'd think that self-anointed "progressives" like Moore, who never tire of casting themselves as the only people in America concerned about working families, the environment and so much else, would have enough sense to take it easy, lest control be returned to the GOP in two or four years.

No, they don't. Far from it, they're doing everything possible either to enact an agenda that is simply too radical for an American consensus or to wreck the Democratic Party in the process by driving moderates like Lincoln from office. Allow them to get away with this and Arkansas will be represented in the Senate by a Republican far more conservative than Lincoln (and five or six other Senate seats could change parties with similar results).

Come to think of it, that's what Moore and company really want, isn't it? Even more polarization -- a deep divide between an aggressive left and an equally aggressive right -- because they enjoy the thrills of fierce political combat. It works wonders in pumping up their self-righteousness and feeding their sense of superiority.

The rest of us just want a competent, reasonable practical-minded government presided over by principled but sensible people who can disagree but still find ways to work together.

President Obama can make this happen -- if he plants his own feet firmly in the center and insists that his party join him there.

What do you think? Post a comment.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

A great American Democrat speaks to the United Nations

I thought of this when I saw the despicable Muammar Gaddafi and the dangerous Mahmoud Ahmadinejad holding forth at the UN. Not much has changed at the UN General Assembly in three decades, since that great American, proud Democrat, and captivating speaker, Daniel Patrick Moyhihan, gave the dictators and despots of that time (who included Gaddafi even then, God help us) hell. But one thing has changed. They're not making them like Pat Moynihan anymore.

It was November 10, 1975. The United Nations General Assembly had just approved by a vote of 72 to 35 and 32 abstentions the infamous Resolution 3339, which condemned Zionism as a form a racism. The resolution was the culmination of a Soviet Bloc push that began on the heels of the 1973 Arab-Israeli war to forge an anti-Israel coalition of Arab, African and Communist nations. After Israeli Ambassador Chaim Herzog brilliantly defended his nation and the Zionist movement and devastatingly excoriated supporters of the resolution, then-U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. and future U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan delivered a blistering attack on the 72 nations that voted yes. Some said it was undiplomatic of him. UN member states would take offense. Perhaps, they would like the US less. Nonetheless, this is part of what Pat Moynihan said, because it needed to be said:

The United States rises to declare before the General Assembly of the United Nations, and before the world, that it does not acknowledge, it will not abide by, it will never acquiesce in this infamous act.


There will be time enough to contemplate the harm this act will have done the United Nations. Historians will do that for us, and it is sufficient for the moment only to note the foreboding fact. A great evil has been loosed upon the world. The abomination of anti-semitism--as this year's Nobel Peace Laureate Andrei Sakharov observed in Moscow just a few days ago--the Abomination of anti-semitism has been given the appearance of international sanction. The General Assembly today grants symbolic amnesty--and more--to the murderers of the six million European Jews. Evil enough in itself, but more ominous by far is the realization that now presses upon us--the realization that if there were no General Assembly, this could never have happened.

As this day will live in infamy, it behooves those who sought to avert it to declare their thoughts so that historians will know that we fought here, that we were not small in number--not this time--and that while we lost, we fought with full knowledge of what indeed would be lost.


The proposition to be sanctioned by a resolution of the General Assembly of the United Nations is that ``Zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination.'' Now this is a lie.


What we have here is a lie--a political lie of a variety well known to the twentieth century, and scarcely exceeded in all that annal of untruth and outrage. The lie is that Zionism is a form of racism. The overwhelmingly clear truth is that is it not.


Now I should wish to be understood that I am here making one point, and one point only, which is that whatever else Zionism may be, it is not and cannot be ``a form of racism.'' In logic, the State of Israel could be, or could become, many things, theoretically, including many things undesirable, but it could not be and could not become racism unless it ceased to be Zionist.
Indeed, the idea that Jews are a ``race'' was invented not by Jews but by those who hated Jews.... It was a contemptible idea at the beginning, and no civilized person would be associated with it. To think that it is an idea now endorsed by the United Nations is to reflect on what civilization has come to.

It is precisely a concern for civilization, for civilized values that are or should be precious to all mankind, that arouses us at this moment to such special passion. What we have at stake here is not merely the honor and the legitimacy of the State of Israel--although a challenge to the legitimacy of any member nation ought always to arouse the vigilance of all members of the United Nations. For a yet more important matter is at issue, which is the integrity of the whole body of moral and legal precepts which we know as human rights.

The terrible lie that has been told here today will have terrible consequences. Not only will people begin to say, indeed they have already begun to say that the United Nations is a place where lies are told, but far more serious, grave and perhaps irreparable harm will be done to the cause of human rights itself. The harm will arise first because it will strip from racism the precise and abhorrent meaning that it still precariously holds today. How will the people of the world feel about racism and the need to struggle against it, when they are told that it is an idea as broad as to include the Jewish national liberation movement?

As the lie spreads, it will do harm in a second way. Many of the members of the United Nations owe their independence in no small part to the notion of human rights, as it has spread from the domestic sphere to the international sphere exercised its influence over the old colonial powers. We are now coming into a time when that independence is likely to be threatened again. There will be new forces, some of them arising now, new prophets and new despots, who will justify their actions with the help of just such distortions of words as we have sanctioned here today. Today we have drained the word ``racism'' of its meaning. Tomorrow, terms like ``national self-determination'' and ``national honor'' will be perverted in the same way to serve the purposes of conquest and exploitation. And when these claims begin to be made--as they already have begun to be made--it is the small nations of the world whose integrity will suffer. And how will the small nations of the world defend themselves, on what grounds will others be moved to defend and protect them, when the language of human rights, the only language by which the small can be defended, is no longer believed and no longer has a power of its own?

There is this danger, and then a final danger that is the most serious of all. Which is that the damage we now do to the idea of human rights and the language of human rights could well be irreversible.

The idea of human rights as we know it today is not an idea which has always existed in human affairs, it is an idea which appeared at a specific time in the world, and under very special circumstances. It appeared when European philosophers of the seventeenth century began to argue that man was a being whose existence was independent from that of the State, that he need join a political community only if he did not lose by that association more than he gained. From this very specific political philosophy stemmed the idea of political rights, of claims that the individual could justly make against the state; it was because the individual was seen as so separate from the State that he could make legitimate demands upon it.

That was the philosophy from which the idea of domestic and international rights sprang. But most of the world does not hold with that philosophy now. Most of the world believes in newer modes of political thought, in philosophies that do not accept the individual as distinct from and prior to the State, in philosophies that therefore do not provide any justification for the idea of human rights and philosophies that have no words by which to explain their value. If we destroy the words that were given to us by past centuries, we will not have words to replace them, for philosophy today has no such words.

But there are those of us who have not forsaken these older words, still so new to much of the world. Not forsaken them now, not here, not anywhere, not ever.

The United States of America declares that it does not acknowledge, it will not abide by, it will never acquiesce in this infamous act.

It took relentless efforts by the US and the West to get R. 3339 rescinded finally in 1991. In the intervening 16 years, the UN -- at least, the General Assembly -- lost a great deal of its credibility, trust and support. Naturally, its effectiveness in helping to secure peace waned as confidence in it drained.

The lesson most of us -- Democrats and Republicans -- took from the confrontation over R. 3339 was that American diplomacy must be tough smart, but also moral and rooted in principles -- our principles. We should never give that up -- or fail to honor our obligations to allies -- in the name of better relations with one or another thuggish regime.

Pat Moynihan understood that. Pity there aren't more like him.

What do you think? Post a comment.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Final act in health care reform drama: the seniors will decide

The health care "deciders" -- America's old folks

In a post four months ago, I wrote this:

Here is my prediction: seniors are not paying much attention to this whole issue now, because they have health insurance. In all likelihood, they also don't think Obama and a Democratic Congress will monkey with their coverage. When they start to pay attention, watch out on Capitol Hill, because these folks vote. I mean, they ALL vote.

Then, in a post one month ago, I added this:

Sure enough, polls show that seniors are the major group that is least supportive of the various health care reform schemes, and the steady erosion of Obama's public approval ratings is being driven in significant part by seniors.

And that was when seniors were just skeptical but -- what with all the smoke and mirrors surrounding multiple health care bills and Obama's serial speeches -- not yet really sure that Medicare benefits were going to be cut. Now the cat is out of the bag:

Congress' chief budget officer is contradicting President Barack Obama's oft-stated claim that seniors wouldn't see their Medicare benefits cut under a health care overhaul.

The head of the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, Douglas Elmendorf, told senators Tuesday that seniors in Medicare's managed care plans would see reduced benefits under a bill in the Finance Committee.

The bill would cut payments to the Medicare Advantage plans by more than $100 billion over 10 years.

That's what the CBO chief had to say about just the $100 billion in cuts proposed for the popular Medicare Advantage plans. There is as much as another $400 billion in Medicate and Medicaid cuts being proposed (depending on which of the bills, which keep changing).

Folks, there is no way in hell that this Congress is going to pass a bill that relies on such huge cuts in Medicare. Only the safest Democrats could risk voting for something that will, as surely as the sun rises in the morning, rouse seniors to vote against them. The only thing worse for your reelection prospects is to cut Social Security benefits.

Mark my words: any final bill will have to be radically changed -- somehow -- to eliminate the Medicare cuts or it won't pass.

What are your thoughts? Post a comment.

Even the IRS shuns it -- but Kirsten Gillibrand still backs ACORN

Chuck Schumer and Kirsten Gillibrand not seeing eye-to-eye on ACORN

Now, it's the Internal Revenue Service that won't be doing business anymore with the pimp-and-prostitute-stained group, ACORN. According to AP:

The IRS says it is severing ties with ACORN, the community activist group involved in a scandal after employees were caught on video giving advice to a couple posing as a prostitute and pimp.

The Internal Revenue Service said Wednesday it would no longer include ACORN in its volunteer tax assistance program. The program offered free tax advice to about 3 million low- and moderate-income tax filers this spring.

Little wonder, since ACORN was caught giving advice to a supposed about how to cheat the IRS while setting up a whorehouse with underage girls from Latin America, among other things. So who would ever trust this group to give tax advice to poor people, who have quite enough problems already?

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. that's who. The Senator, appointed eight months ago by constantly embattled Governor David Patterson, is one of only seven senators to vote against a measure to block federal funds to ACORN, which passed 83-7 with overwhelming Democratic support. Gillibrand's senior colleague, Chuck Schumer, voted to defund the group, and nearly all of New York's leading Democrats are on Schumer's wavelength.

So what's up with Gillibrand? A former "Blue Dog" in the House, Gillibrand has been running hard and fast to acquire and polish enough liberal credentials to fend off any primary challengers. But sheesh, someone should tell her that most Democrats -- voters, that is -- don't much care for this ACORN bunch of mopes. She's handing her eventual GOP opponent a powerful issue to use against her next year.

Time to back down from this indefensible defense of ACORN, Senator.

Any thoughts? Post a comment.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

N.Y. Gov. Patterson freezes ACORN contracts; Kirsten Gillibrand all alone supporting ACORN

David Patterson and Kirsten Gillibrand: is she still applauding him now?

(Hat tip: Instapundit)

Acting like nearly every other public official in his state and the country with half a brain and any heart, New York Gov. David Patterson has ordered a freeze on all state contracts with ACORN.

Patterson's move leaves appointed Senator Kirsten Gillibrand all alone as the only major statewide official who blindly supports the deeply tainted, publicly funded mess known as ACORN.

It's important for New Yorkers to persuade Giilibrand of the error of her ways. Despite lop-sided votes to defund ACORN in the House and Senate, it's far from certain whether both Houses will pass and agree on a final measure. Pressing the current handful of ACORN supporters like Gillibrand to retreat could make a big difference when Congress takes up the issue again. And as an appointed Senator up for election in 2010, Gillibrand is, well, more persuadable than most.

So, New Yorkers: let Gillibrand hear from you. Contact her by going to her website here.

Previous posts on Gillibrand's defense of ACORN here, here and here.

Got an opinion? Post a comment.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Charlie Cook: Democrats at risk of losing "purple America"

Click to enlarge and check out all that purple

In the latest "Cook Report," the respected independent political analyst, Charlie Cook, lays out the major challenge now facing President Obama and the Democratic Congressional majorities simply and bluntly: the are fast losing independents and moderates and must focus on "purple America" or suffer big losses in 2010:

I am becoming convinced, based on this and other research, that although many independent voters are disappointed in specific things that Obama has done, they still hope that he will do well and believe that he might. To be sure, red America has already given Obama the thumbs down. And blue America just wishes he would be more liberal. But it's purple America, the independents who voted for Democrats in the 2006 midterm election by an 18-point margin, that makes the biggest difference right now [emphasis added]. Most House Democrats live in blue America and show little awareness that their party has a problem. However, the Democrats' majority is built on a layer of 54 seats that the party picked up in 2006 and 2008 that are largely in purple -- or even red -- America. Democrats ought to keep in mind that 84 of their current House members represent districts won by President Bush in 2004 or John McCain in 2008.

A whopping 48 of those Democrats -- eight more than the size of their party's majority -- are from districts that voted for both Bush and McCain. That America is very different from the Democratic base in blue America, and it sees many major issues very differently.


The 17-point advantage that Democrats enjoyed in the January Gallup Poll (when "leaners" were included) shrank to 5 points in August. Their edge on the generic congressional ballot test has vanished, according to most national polls. For three years, Democrats enjoyed high single-digit or low double-digit leads on this question -- a very good indicator of which direction (and how hard) the political winds are blowing as a congressional election nears.

What we are seeing is an electorate growing just as disgusted with the Democratic majority as it did with the Republican one in 2006.

Indeed. The right and left may fuss and snarl at each other, but every time, the nation's vast purple center will wind up calling the shots. If you're the guy in power, once independents and moderate Democrats and Republicans begin to turn skeptical, much less negative, you'd better work hard to turn them around or the next election will be one you don't like.

Any thoughts? Post a comment.

Taxpayer group slams Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand for her support of ACORN

From Crain's New York Business:

A group that fights government waste blasted Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand Thursday for voting to continue funding for Acorn, the nationwide nonprofit reeling from a conservative sting operation now showing on YouTube.

Citizens Against Government Waste noted that Sen. Charles Schumer, Ms. Gillibrand's fellow New York representative and political benefactor, had voted Monday to stop the Department of Housing and Urban Development from funding Acorn, while only six senators joined Ms. Gillibrand in opposition. The Senate's vote tally was 83-7.


Acorn is under fire because two amateur actors posing as a pimp and a prostitute used an undercover camera to record Acorn employees giving them advice on how to secure housing for a brothel. The pair visited a slew of Acorn offices across the country and found employees in four of them—Brooklyn, Baltimore, Washington, D.C., and San Bernardino, Calif.—who took the bait. After the videos went live on the Internet Monday, Acorn fired the employees and did not defend their actions but said they should not obscure the organization's good work.


“Cutting off funds to Acorn should have been the easiest vote of the year, yet these senators could not bring themselves to do it,” said Tom Schatz, president of Citizens Against Government Waste, in a statement. He went on to call the seven senators “nutty” and named them “porkers of the month.”

“Sen. Gillibrand deserves special opprobrium for her vote, since one of the videos was shot in Brooklyn's Acorn office, and the New York Post had a story on the scandal prior to the vote,” Mr. Schatz said. “Apparently Sen. Schumer reads the local papers, and Sen. Gillibrand does not.”

Democrats and all New Yorkers need to let Gillibrand know that supporting the bunch of mopes at ACORN is unacceptable. To send her the message, go to her website here.

And post a comment.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand defends ACORN, as her possible opponents and successor in the House vote to cut off its federal funding

Gillibrand sworn in, January 27, 2009. Will she be gone in January 2011?

New York's appointed Senator, Kirsten Gillibrand, was one of only seven Senators to back pimp-and-prostitute tolerant ACORN in an 83-7 vote to block some federal funding to the discredited "community" group.

Now, the House has passed an even more sweeping measure that would cut off all Washington dough to ACORN. As in the Senate, the overwhelming majority of Gillibrand's fellow Democrats joined with Republicans to repudiate ACORN by a resounding vote of 345 to 75.

A solid majority of New York's House delegation -- including most Democrats -- voted yes. Conspicuously, Gillibrand's successor in the upstate House seat she vacated, Scott Murphy, voted yes. And three of the House members who have considered challenging Gillibrand in a 2010 Democratic primary -- Carolyn Maloney of Manhhattan, Carolyn McCarthy of Long Island, and Steve Israel of Long Island -- voted yes. (So did Republican Rep. Pete King who just recently said he would not seek the Senate seat next year, perhaps a decision he'll now rethink.)

And as I posted yesterday, Sen. Chuck Schumer, Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and a host of other New York Democrats are making themselves part of the solution.

So what's with Gillibrand? Why is she making herself part of the problem?

Even after the latest undercover video of ACORN shot at a San Diego ACORN office -- the fifth released so far -- depicts an ACORN employee curiously willing to help smuggle underage (13-15) girls from El Salvador into the country to staff a whorehouse? Even though the White House has now said that ACORN must be held accountable? Even though it seems there are more videos to come of more ACORN employees at more offices helpfully "advising" a pimp and prostitute on their business.

As a New Yorker and a moderate Democrat, I was pleased by Gov. David Patterson's choice of Gillibrand to fill Hillary Clinton's seat. In her brief tenure in the House representing a relatively conservative upstate district, Gillibrand had gained a reputation for the brand of centrist politics I support. Not surprisingly, as a Senator, she has shifted some of her previous stands, particularly those concerning gun control and immigration. That's politics.

But backing ACORN puts her in bed with an especially scummy outfit and aligns her with the the most left-wing elements of the Democratic Party -- and may help put her out on her ear in January 2011. Maybe she thinks it will help her head off a Democratic primary next year, but the pols most likely to challenge her voted against funding ACORN! In any case, her vote on this issue (one of only seven!), far from fading from public view, will stand out as a major issue for her GOP opponent to hammer her with (this Marist poll shows her already running behind former Governor George Pataki).

New York Democrats -- and all New Yorkers -- should send Gillibrand this simple message: stop wasting public money on this bunch of mopes. There are dozens of dedicated, well-run, effective and honest community groups in New York State alone who can make far better use of those taxpayer millions.

To contact Gillibrand and email her that message, go to her website here.

And post a comment.

Welcome The Other McCain readers.

More on Gillibrand's support for ACORN at these blogs:, Jumping in Pools, which asks whether Gillibrand has committed career suicide, VASS Political Blog, and JammieWearingFool, among others.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Attention New Yorkers: Why is our appointed Senator Kirsten Gillibrand one of a handful still backing ACORN?

Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand thanks Gov. David Patterson for her new job

To all my fellow New Yorkers:

New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, who was appointed last January by our unelected Governor to fill Hillary Clinton's seat, is one of only seven Senators to vote against a Senate proposal to stop giving federal funds to ACORN, the mob of mopes who have been ensnared in a long list of scandals and investigations, most recently being captured on tape advising a "prostitute" and her "pimp" on ways to defraud banks and cheat the IRS.

The vote in the Senate was 83-7 to de-fund ACORN. Our senior Senator, Chuck Schumer, voted yes with the overwhelming majority, including most of the Senate's 59 Democrats. The U.S. Census Bureau has cut all ties to ACORN. With the deeply offensive "prostitute" video of ACORN employees in Brooklyn fresh in every one's mind, New York officials are cracking down. New York State Attorney General Andrew Cuomo has launched an investigation of "pork-barrel grants given to ACORN by state lawmakers" (uh, oh). The Brooklyn DA has opened a criminal inquiry into the group. The leader of the City Council has frozen city funding earmarked for ACORN, and the state Comptroller plans added scrutiny of state funds destined for the group.

So what's Gillibrand got to say for herself? Only this:

Gillibrand has defended her vote, saying the group does good work that should continue, despite the bad actions of a few employees.

"While Sen. Gillibrand finds the actions of certain ACORN employees to be reprehensible and will ask ACORN leaders for a full investigation and plan to prevent any further abuse, the truth remains that thousands of New York families who are facing foreclosure depend on charitable organizations like ACORN [emphasis added] for assistance," said Bethany Lesser, a spokesman for Gillibrand.
Say what? Charitable organization? Senator, charity is when you give your own money to someone who needs help. ACORN passes out the taxpayers' money, so public officials like you should be paying close attention to whether they do a good job of it or pay mopes in New York, Baltimore, D.C. and California and lord knows where else to "advise" people who walk in off the street how to set up whore houses and get away with importinh teenagers for prostitution.

Gillibrand, a former upstate member of the House of Representatives who got elected in a largely Republican district by pretending to be a conservative Blue Dog Democrat, is now going all out to shed the conservative label and earn some street cred with New York City voters. Her diligent new work at pretending to be a liberal apparently has begun to pay off. She's already been endorsed by ACORN's political action committee! (Don't ask me how a group that takes millions in federal, state and city money can endorse candidates.)

It's time for New York voters -- especially Democrats like me -- to send Gillibrand a clear message: we don't want any more of the taxpayers' money to be wasted on ACORN, an outfit which has few accomplishments other than scandals in its history and which exists mainly to perpetuate itself and give cushy jobs to people who are then drafted into "political action" to keep the money flowing.

You can contact Gillibrand by going to her website here.

And post a comment.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Elite British SAS commandos are training Libyan troops: Part of the oil deal?

British Prime Minister (so far) Gordon Brown with his (weird) new pal, Muammar Gaddafi

Wow, the Brits must need the oil really bad. First, they release the Lockerbie mass murderer as part of what the British press has reported to be a deal for oil. And now, Britain's elite Special Air Service (SAS) has been dragged into training Libyan strongman, Muammar Gaddafi's troops. The Telegraph breaks this sorry-ass story:

For the past six months Britain’s elite troops have been schooling soldiers working for Col Muammar Gaddafi’s regime, which for years provided [Irish] Republican terrorists with the Semtex explosive, machine-guns and anti-aircraft missiles used against British troops during the Troubles in Northern Ireland.

Sources within the SAS have expressed distaste at the agreement, which they believe could be connected to the release of the Lockerbie bomber.

Britain’s relationship with Libya has been under the spotlight since Abdelbaset al Megrahi was freed from a Scottish jail on compassionate grounds last month after being diagnosed as suffering from terminal prostate cancer and given three months to live.

Gordon Brown has faced claims that his Government helped engineer Megrahi’s release to promote Britain’s commercial interests, particularly energy, in Libya.

Downing Street has denied the allegations, but Jack Straw, the Justice Minister, has admitted that trade was a factor in deciding to include Megrahi in an earlier prisoner transfer agreement with Libya. Megrahi was the only person convicted for the murder of 270 people killed in the bombing in 1988 of Pan Am flight 103.

The disclosure that members of the SAS are training their Libyan counterparts will further raise suspicions about exactly what has been agreed behind the scenes between Tripoli and Britain.

It will also infuriate families of the Lockerbie victims and further sour relations with America. Earlier this week, President Barack Obama told the Prime Minister of his “disappointment” over Megrahi’s release.


Members of Britain’s elite regiment are angry at having to help train soldiers from a country that for years armed terrorists they fought against.

An SAS source said: “A small SAS training team have been doing it for the last six months as part of this cosy deal with the Libyans"

Any thoughts about this wretched business? Post a comment.

Friday, September 11, 2009

CNN, not the Coast Guard, should apologize for today's Potomac "shots fired" scare

Video of CNN's erroneous scare broadcast (h/t The Daily Beast)

The long and short of this story is that CNN screwed up. The network went live with a "story" about Coast Guard boats engaging a suspicious craft on the Potomac River this morning, as 9/11 ceremonies were underway at the Pentagon. In fact, what happened was that someone at CNN monitoring open radio traffic mistook a routine Coast Guard training exercise for the real thing and blasted the "story" out to the nation. Other news media scrambled to report it as well, and based on these news bulletins, some public agencies took steps (e.g., flights were grounded at the nearby airport). You can read the details here.

Not surprisingly, CNN and some other media tried to lay the error at the Coast Guard's door, suggesting that it was foolhardy to hold any training exercise on 9/11. But the Coast Guard refused to apologize -- rightly so -- a spokesman for the agency telling the media that this exercise in question was one it conducts several times a week involving a handful of boats and personnel. The White House backed the Coast Guard and laid the blame at the media's door.

Personally, I'm glad the Coast Guard continues to train its people day in, day out to be fully prepared to head off or confront another emergency like 9/11/01, God forbid.

CNN is taking some solace from the fact that the Coast Guard will conduct a "thorough review" of the day's events. In this story, the network does its best to imply that somehow this is still the Coast Guard's fault.

But really, CNN should be making the apologies. They would do themselves a favor by conducting a thorough review of their own to figure out how they can better report the actual news.

Any thoughts? Post a comment.

September 11, 2001 plus eight: Let's never forget

One thing about the evolution of Americans' views -- and disagreements -- about the 9/11 attacks that I'll never understand is the almost total lack of interest in what took place in Afghanistan as the U.S. counter-attacked swiftly and with devastating effect on al Qaeda. In brief, while the Pentagon had no contingency plans to operate inside land-locked Afghanistan, a tiny team of seven CIA officers, led by veteran Gary Schroen (who was pulled back from planned retirement), flew in an old Soviet helicopter over the Hindu Kush into the Panjshir Valley on September 23rd. For nearly a month, Shroen's team were the only Americans on this battlefront, gathering intelligence, forging an alliance with local Afghans, and developing the strategy and tactics that would result in the Taliban and al Qaeda being quickly routed with remarkably little loss of life.

As Shroen summed it up in a compelling and informative "Frontline" interview:

What happened there in those last few months of 2001 to me was a validation of what the agency could be and should be. We were ready; we had established contacts long before anybody thought we'd needed them; ... we had the means in the area to allow us to infiltrate into the hostile territory to meet with [Afghan] colleagues there who were besieged. We had the area knowledge; we had language skills. We did it right. We did it cheap. ... We probably, in my little operation in the Panjshir Valley, spent about $6 million during that period, and we ended up freeing the northern half of the country for probably $10 million total, and no loss of American life, except for [former Marine and CIA agent] Mike Spann, unfortunately. ...

On 9/11/09, read the whole interview. You'll be glad you did.

Your thoughts on this day? Post a comment.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Obama's health care speech: nothing new, strongly partisan and a missed opportunity

As usual, President Obama delivered an impressive speech to Congress and the nation Wednesday night. But the speech contained nothing of consequence different from what he had to say in mid-July, despite the many signs of deep and growing public anxiety about and opposition to Democratic health care reform proposals.

The major questions surrounding these proposals remain unanswered, including these in particular:

How will programs that will cost $1 trillion, give or take, be paid for?

The President offered no support to any specific financing scheme but seemed to say that much of the cost would be covered by cutting "waste, fraud and abuse" in the Medicare and Medicaid programs. No one believes this. The President did say he would reject any plan that "adds one dime to the deficit." Fine words but the deficit will be added to a great deal without a major, new revenue stream -- very likely taxes -- to pay for a comprehensive plan and the President provided no guidance on that all-important matter.

How can Medicare and Medicaid be cut by as much as $500 billion without any reduction in benefits or increased out-of-pocket costs for beneficiaries?

The President said again that seniors would lose nothing, but no one believes this either.

Amidst sweeping changes of the roles of private insurers and payment methods, new efforts to extract savings from the current system, and a plethora of new federal rules and requirements, how is it possible that people who like the plan or doctors they have will be able to keep them?

If there is a government-run "public option," or a government-subsidized "co-op" option at the same time as private insurers are required to provide a certain specified benefits package and to insure everyone, while being barred from imposing lifetime benefit caps, isn't it obvious that private insurers won't be able to compete successfully with the government-linked plan over time so that large numbers of people will wind up having no choice

Obama had the opportunity to confront these questions head on and answer them laying out a new reform program that moderate Democrats and some Republicans could get behind. Unfortunately, he chose instead to give a basically partisan speech -- notwithstanding a few compliments to some GOPers and acknowledgement of a couple of GOP ideas. His aim seemed to be to mollify the left of his party, which had started to turn on him, while laying down a number of markers around which he can hope to rally Congressional Democrats and pressure those who are reluctant to back a sweeping, expensive plan.

I think he's missed a huge opportunity to bring about some really important health care reforms. He won't be able to rally or pressure enough moderate Democrats in the Senate to pass a bill that House progressives also support. He needs every single Senate Democrat to get the necessary 60 votes ("reconciliation" with only 51 votes simply won't work). The Senate's centrist Democrats are keenly aware of their states' and constituents' interests and are not easily pushed around, even by a President.

So we are still where we were in July. Nothing has changed -- except the President has put himself and his Presidency on the line without having provided Congress or the nation the clear leadership needed. My guess is that there will not be a bill passed and signed by the President anytime soon.

What are your thoughts about the speech and the issue? Post a comment.

GOP should punish Rep. Joe Wilson for "You lie" outburst against President Obama

Rep. Joe Wilson (R.-SC) making his loud point, "You lie!"

The whole country knows by now that Republican Rep. Joe Wilson of South Carolina shouted, "You lie!" at President Obama from the House of Representatives floor as Obama asserted that his plan for health care change would not cover illegal immigrants. The House GOP leadership and Senator John McCain, among others, immediately called Wilson's outburst wrong, and Wilson apologized. Most conservative commentators chimed in to criticize Wilson, too, although some seemed to go out of their way to downplay Wilson's rudeness by pointing to Democrats having treated President George W. Bush with less than courtesy.

So that's the end of it, right?

I don't think so. Wilson's behavior is inexcusable, so he should be made to pay a price, not get away with an apologetic phone call to Rahm Emmanuel. There can be no excuse because:

-- When the President -- any President -- speaks to Congress, he does so as the guest of both Houses. If a member can't stand a President or what he has to say, the member can stay away and put out statements of disagreement. But you don't invite the guy and then heckle him.

-- A member of Congress should be setting an example of decorum, civility in political discourse, and simple decency. We understand that political combat can sometimes be rough, but there are limits we all recognize intuitively. Wilson shattered those limits.

-- The President is not only the head of government and the leader of his political party. He's also our head of state. That does not in any way insulate him from criticism, however harsh. But criticism should be leveled in a way that respects the office. That's why Democratic disrespect toward President Bush does not and should not excuse Wilson. If we allow this coarseness toward one President, we can be sure that the next President will be on the receiving end of worse.

OK, but since Wilson has a safe GOP seat and voters there probably won't rebuke him, what can be done?

One thing -- the most appropriate thing, in my view -- would be for his colleagues in the House Republican Caucus to pass a formal statement of censure. It would be awkward for House Republicans, but they would be applauded for not allowing this to rest with the usual meaningless apology. Plus, GOPers will be able to hold Democrats to the same high standard in the future.

What's your opinion? Post a comment.

UPDATE -- Some House Democrats are pushing Wilson to make an apology to the whole House on the floor and threatening a motion of censure if he doesn't. I think the more significant end to this story would be a censure from his fellow Republicans. A censure by the whole House, with its huge Democratic majority, would be just another round in the seemingly endless bitter partisan quarreling -- and likely a Pyrrhic victory for Democrats.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Radical leftist "Truther" Van Jones resigns top White House job in dead of night on Labor Day weekend

Well, at least the White House knows how to bury an awful story for the President. Van Jones, the screwball left-wing radical inexplicably hired into a high-level, policy-making post in the White House has resigned, according to this AP story filed at 12:34 am, Sunday, September 6th.

The revelations about Jones' very recent and never repudiated leftist radicalism, as I blogged about here, were getting worse. The latest was the most repulsive. Jones was a key participatant in what truly can only be called an anti-American rally held on September 13, 2001 in Jones hometown, Oakland, California, where it seems every radical kook in the Bay Area took turns in the immediate aftermath of 9/11 denouncing the "growing climate of racism, nationalism and anti-Arab bigotry" in the U.S. This was no pacifist get together, but as the sponsoring organization put it, made up of "supporters of Palestine...police brutality activists, anarchists and socialists," among others, who "stood together against the threat of more US violence[!]."

Jones clearly played a major role in this over-the-top America-bashing exercise. Here's what the sponsors said about Jones' role:

"The bombs the government drops in Iraq [presumably referring to the First Gulf War] are the bombs that blew up in New York City," said Van Jones, director of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, who also warned against forthcoming violence by the Bush Administration [emphasis added]. "The US cannot bomb its way out of this one."

This is raw stuff -- what you'd expect from a "radical Marxist-Leninist," as Jones once described himself, but not from a high official of a Democratic Administration.

Jones is gone, and good riddance. What remains, though, is the question of how and whyt such an extremist could snare himself a big-time slot in the White House. The President owes it to his country, his party and himself to find out who was responsible for overlooking Jones' manifest unsuitability and chastise him, her or them.

And let me say this again: liberals must step up and demand answers, too, rather than pretend that Jones is the victim of "racism" or a "witch hunt." Democrats won't keep the trust of the American people and the power that goes with it if they ignore extremism of the left.

What's your take? Post a comment.

Friday, September 4, 2009

President Obama must fire radical leftist "Truther" Van Jones -- now!

As President Obama grapples with growing uneasiness with and opposition to his policies from the broad center of American politics -- independents and moderate Democrats and Republicans -- the last thing he needs is one Van Jones in a high, policy-making position in the White House.

Jones is the so-called "green jobs czar," the guy who's supposed to guide policies aimed at boosting the U.S. economy in ways that also enhance the environment -- a delicate balance requiring someone with sound judgement and political skill.

But Jones, it turns out, is a guy who as recently as a decade ago was a leader of radical leftists and a founder of an expressly "revolutionary Marxist-Leninist" California group. Even more disturbing (if that's possible), Jones helped organize a January 2002 protest against the U.S. reponse to the 9/11 attacks, along with a host of leftist cranks at a time when 99.9 percent of Americans across the political spectrum were united in determination to retaliate against al Qaeda. Lest you think he changed his mind about this extremist stance, in 2004, Jones signed a "Truther" statement -- declaring 9/11 to be an inside job (you know, a vast Bush-CIA-Pentagon-Jewish conspiracy).

It is beyond comprehension how this obvious left-wing extremist got his big, cushy White House job in the first place. But he should be out the door fast. Obama has no chance -- repeat, no chance -- of retaining the support of the vital center if he places or tolerates radicals in important, policy-making posts.

While he's at it, Obama should find out who let this happen -- Rahm Emmanuel? David Axelrod? Valerie Jarrett? -- and treat that person to a stern trip to the wood shed.

This whole business is reminiscent of how some liberals have refused for decades to acknowledge that Paul Robeson was, in fact, a Communist with a capital "C," even though Robeson made no attempt to hide his CPUSA membership and affection for the USSR. It's inconvenient to do so, but liberals must stand up

Any thoughts? Post a comment.