Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The best and the brightest (and their tax problems)

It is hard to keep up with all of the tax problems of Obama nominees, so here is a quick summary, in no particular order:
  1. Health and Human Services nominee Kathleen Sebelius: $7,000 in back taxes.
  2. Health and Human Services nominee (and former Senate Democratic leader) Tom Daschle: $140,000 in taxes and interest.  (Since it was disclosed that he failed to pay taxes on his limo and driver, it is fun to go watch this Tom Daschle campaign commercial.)
  3. Treasury Secy. Timothy Geithner: $34,000 in back taxes.  Now confirmed and in office, he intends to pursue tax evaders.
  4. Nancy Kelleher had been Obama's choice to oversee budget and spending reform:   failed, for nearly two years, to pay employment taxes on household help.
  5. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis: her husband had tax liens against his business that had been outstanding for "as long as 16 years" that were settled (or partly settled?) for $6,400.
Does the IRS normally charge penalties in cases like these?  These Democrats didn't seem to have paid any.

Separately, New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson "announced he no longer wanted the
Commerce Secretary job because he had become the focus of an ethics
looking involving state contracts."

PREVIOUSLY, tax problems of Rep. Rangel, former Sen. Wellstone, and possible senator Al Franken were discussed here.  Polls showing that Democrats think it is OK to cheat on taxes are discussed here.  Clinton Attorney General nominees Zoe Baird and KimbaM. Wood also had tax problems.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Ad Hominem at the New York Times

The New York Times today has a (mostly reasonable) article on famous physicist Freeman Dyson.  Since he is remains skeptical of global warmist hype, the NY Times finds it essential to question his sanity:
There is the suspicion that, at age 85, a great scientist of the 20th century is no longer just far out, he is far gone — out of his beautiful mind.
While they admit they have no evidence to support the accusation, they find it necessary to make it anyway. 

Emperor Obama announces plans; stock market not appreciative

One day stock market movements are normally meaningless but there is a continuing pattern here: Pres. Obama speaks and the markets drops.  The AP reports:
Traders put Wall Street's big March rally on hold after the White House
rejected turnaround plans from General Motors Corp. and Chrysler. ....

At the close, the Dow is down 254 points, or 3.3 percent, at 7,522. The
Standard & Poor's 500 is down 3.5 percent. The Nasdaq composite
index is down 2.8 percent.
Pres. Obama decided that GM's CEO didn't understand the auto business well enough so he fired him.  After that, Obama decided to have the federal government enter the auto warrantee business:

But just in case there are still nagging doubts, let me say it as plainly as I can -- if you buy a car from Chrysler or General Motors, you will be able to get your car serviced and repaired, just like always. Your warrantee will be safe.

In fact, it will be safer than it's ever been. Because starting today, the United States government will stand behind your warrantee.

That makes you feel better, doesn't it?

Sunday, March 29, 2009

US weakening

After his election as President, Sen. Obama declared:
"I think we've got a unique opportunity to reboot America's image around the world and also in the Muslim world in particular," Obama said Tuesday, promising an "unrelenting" desire to "create a relationship of mutual respect and partnership in countries and with peoples of goodwill who want their citizens and ours to prosper together."
The world, he said, "is ready for that message."
Israel News reports that Iran is interpreting Pres. Obama's recent overtures in a predictable fashion:
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told his Syrian counterpart, Bashar Assad, on Friday that Israel and the US were "weakening with God's help".
If a country acts weak, it's enemies think that it is weak. Pres. Carter's attempts to gain the release of the hostages from Iran proved this. Will the new US administration continue to repeat Jimmy Carter's mistakes?

Why Johnny can't read

At Lexiblog, Michael J O'Neal writes on the problem of public education:
The public assumes that colleges of education are preparing aspiring teachers to teach kids how to read by requiring rigorous courses in how to do so. One would think that the teaching of reading would be a college of education’s Prime Directive. To test that assumption, the Washington, D.C.–based National Council on Teacher Quality launched a sweeping examination of reading courses and textbooks at the nation’s colleges of education. The results are appalling. What masquerades as reading pedagogy is, with painfully few exceptions, a soggy confection of political correctness, collectivist social indoctrination, diversity training, and fluff courses that make basket weaving sound like advanced biophysics.
Teacher's Ed is such that even an illiterate can get a degree, or so claimed a 17-year veteran teacher as discussed in: "How the education system works."

RELATED in education, Obama has promised to solve the education problem by throwing money at it. Others on the left believe that students will be more literate and knowledgeable if only we could raise their "self-esteem."

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Obama and the triumph of ideology over science

While Pres. Obama has claims to be "restoring scientific integrity to government decision-making," his actions say otherwise. Three examples are:
  1. Obama claims that the flooding of the Red River proves "global warming." Yet the Red River has flooded many times before the atmospheric CO2 balance was altered by man and there is no evidence that it is flooding more frequently now. Obama's conclusion is ideology not science.
  2. Obama and Biden have praised the solar panel at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. Yet, the museum refuses to document the amount of electricity produced and calculations appear to show that the panel will not last long enough to pay for itself.
  3. His policies on human cloning are certainly the product of ideology even if he will not admit it. As Charles Krauthammer explained:

    [Obama admonished] that we must resist the "false choice between sound science and moral values." Yet, exactly 2 minutes and 12 seconds later he went on to declare that he would never open the door to the "use of cloning for human reproduction."

    Does he not think that a cloned human would be of extraordinary scientific interest? And yet he banned it.

    Is he so obtuse not to see that he had just made a choice of ethics over science? Yet, unlike President Bush, who painstakingly explained the balance of ethical and scientific goods he was trying to achieve, Obama did not even pretend to make the case why some practices are morally permissible and others are not.

    This is not just intellectual laziness. It is the moral arrogance of a man who continuously dismisses his critics as ideological....

On the other side, while Obama's speeches may not make sense, at least he delivers them well.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Amateur Hour at the State Dept.

Perhaps relevant in light of the other recent diplomatic failures, Ben Smith at Politico reviews the now famous "reset" gaffe:
[In Geneva] Clinton met Sergei Lavrov, the dour Russian Foreign Minister, and cheerily presented him with a large red button in a yellow case, with the words “Reset” and “Peregruzka” written on it.

“We worked hard to get the right Russian word. Do you think we got it?” Clinton asked.

“You got it wrong,” said Lavrov.

The error appalled some in the State Department, because the button – which was inscribed in Latin script, not Cyrillic – hadn’t been assembled with the help of State’s cadre of Russian speakers and professional translators, but rather by Clinton’s small political team.
[emph. added]

OTHER recent foreign policy failures are discussed here and here.

Amateur Hour, continued

The Wall Street Journal reports that "over the weekend, the White House worked to tone down its Wall Street bashing." Why, you ask? The answer is that:
In recent days, ... the administration has concluded that it needs the private sector to play a central role in fixing the economy.
The lightworker just realized that now?

Separately, Obama called the New York Times to explain that he is not a socialist.

Obama angers Iran

Pres. Obama wanted to improve Iran-US relations. Bret Stephens explains how the Iranian government reacted to his message:

Mr. Obama's solicitous message, timed to the Persian New Year's celebration of Nowruz, met a blunt response from the Islamic Republic's supreme leader, Ali Khamenei: "He insulted the Islamic Republic of Iran from the first day," he said. "If you are right that change has come, where is that change?" To this, soi-disant Iran experts and latter-day Walter Durantys explain that it is merely Mr. Khamenei's opening gambit in what promises to be a glorious new chapter in Iranian-U.S. relations.

Maybe the experts never got the message about no meaning no. And maybe Mr. Obama forgot that the late Ayatollah Khomeini tried to ban Nowruz, a pre-Islamic tradition, and that both Mr. Khamenei and President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad have sought to curtail and Islamicize the holiday against widespread resistance. [emph. added]

Separately, Venezuela's President Hugo Chavez called Obama an "ignoramus."

So far, Obama's policy of reaching out to US enemies has not fared well.

Politicizing the economy

The Treasury secretary announced a new plan to nationalize more companies and to move such decisions from (relatively) non-political independent agencies to the White House, as the Washington Post reports:
The Obama administration is considering asking Congress to give the Treasury secretary unprecedented powers to initiate the seizure of non-bank financial companies, such as large insurers, investment firms and hedge funds, whose collapse would damage the broader economy, according to an administration document.

The government at present has the authority to seize only banks.

Giving the Treasury secretary authority over a broader range of companies would mark a significant shift from the existing model of financial regulation, which relies on independent agencies that are shielded from the political process. The Treasury secretary, a member of the president's Cabinet, would exercise the new powers in consultation with the White House, the Federal Reserve and other regulators, according to the document.[Emph. added]

Companies that are "too large to fail" probably monopolies/oligopolies and should be dismembered via existing anti-trust laws. Obama prefers nationalization.

Geithner's policy also appears to send a clear message that, if they want to avoid nationalization, large companies better start contributing larger sums to Democrats.

The PETA death machine

Do you know how many animals PETA kills each day? The answer is here.

Do you know which terrorist groups PETA supports? The answer is here (see item 3).

Monday, March 23, 2009

Obama Watch

Some random recent news on US president Obama:
  • As Obama laughs about GM and Chrysler going bankrupt, CBS's Steve Kroft asks the president if he is "punch-drunk." (Video here.) Obama laughs some more.

  • At the Washington Post, Kathleen Parker wonders if Obama knows who the president is.

  • Obama now claims: "Iraq war was easier." GatewayPundit admires his chutzpah.

Global Warming and Cooling in Review

Prof. Akasofu has some interesting things to say about global warming. His credentials as a scientist are impressive:
Dr. Syun-Ichi Akasofu, IARC Founding Director and Professor of Physics, Emeritus, was the the director of the International Arctic Research Center of the University of Alaska Fairbanks from its establishment in 1998 until January of 2007. He originally came to the University of Alaska Fairbanks in 1958 as a graduate student to study the aurora under Sydney Chapman, receiving his PhD in 1961. He has been professor of geophysics since 1964. Dr. Akasofu has published more than 550

professional journal articles, authored and co-authored 10 books and has been the invited author of many encyclopedia articles. He has collaborated with numerous colleagues nationally and internationally, and has guided nine students to their Ph.D. degrees.

Dr. Akasofu's auroral work has earned national and international recognition. His paper on the aurora published in 1964 was cited as one of the most quoted papers. In 1980, he was named a Distinguished Alumnus by UAF, and in 1981 and again in 2002, he was named one of the "1000 Most Cited Scientists". The Royal Astronomy Society of London presented Dr. Akasofu with its Chapman Medal. He has been honored with the Japan Academy of Sciences Award, the John Adams Fleming Award of the American Geophysical Union, and in 2003, the Order of the Sacred Treasure, Gold and Silver Star, was conferred on him by the Emperor of Japan. In 1985, Dr. Akasofu became the first recipient of the Chapman Chair Professorship at the University of Alaska Fairbanks; and in 1987, he was named one of the "Centennial Alumni" by the National Association of State Universities and Land Grant Colleges. In addition, he has received awards of appreciation for his efforts in support of international science activities from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan in 1993 and from the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications of Japan in 1996. He was the recipient of the University of Alaska Edith R. Bullock Prize for Excellence in 1997, and was named a Fellow of the American Geophysical Union in 1977, and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in 2001.

(Even SourceWatch, a left-wing advocacy group run by John Stauber, could find nothing negative to say Dr. Akasofu.) Prof. Akasofu's presentation last month on global warming can be found here (ppt). He reminds the audience that CO2 and particularly anthropogenic CO2 are actually contribute only a very small amount to the greenhouse effect:

Most of the greenhouse effect is due to water vapor, something that, due to the oceans, man has very little influence over. Then he looks at temperature history:

The period over which we have fairly good temperature measurement, since 1880, shows a slow (0.5C/century) increase in temperature. This is easily explained as being part of the natural recovery from the last "little ice age." On top of the slow increase is a widely recognized fluctuation that gives 30-40 years of heating followed by 30-40 years of cooling. The graph shows that we are currently near the peak of an ordinary heating cycle. Tne non-scientists at the IPCC (2001) predicted rapidly increasing heating as shown by the red cone. The data up to the present, however, show no heating at 1998: the IPCC fails, at least so far, the test of experiment. Prof. Akasofu indicates (red dashed line) a more likely course for future temperatures.

What drives those multi-decade temperature fluctuations? That is not settled but Prof. Akuson notes the general similarity of global temperatures to sunspot cycles:

More presentations from the same conference can be found here.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

That was then, this is now

Networks have discovered that "as broadcasters we have a responsibility to provide the airtime" for Obama's speeches.  Curiously, they saw no such responsibility when Bush was speaking.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Living in a Fantasy World, II

One might think that, if there is one issue upon which all factions in the developed world can agree, it is that violence against women is a crime.  But that is not true in the world of (UK) Guardian columnist Julie Bindel.  She believes that men are pro-rape and pro-domestic violence:
The men who regularly get very offended on this blog, protesting that they have never hurt a fly, probably do not do an awful lot to stop other men harming women. Where are men's voices of protest in this war against women? When can we expect your support in reducing numbers of females killed and raped by men? I will not be holding my breath, but in the meantime, I will say loud and proud, yes, today I hate men, and will tomorrow and the day after. [emph. added]
Her column is entitled, appropriately enough, "Why I hate men."

Living in a self-created fantasy world

The Wall Street Journal calls attention to this claim from the Obama White House:
First Lady's social secretary when she said, "one idea Michelle had was to have an event for military families -- here they are sacrificing so much for the country and many of them probably have never been invited to the White House."
Apparently, in the Obama-world, the Bushes were anti-military.  More at GatewayPundit.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Amateur hour at the White House

They don't just have it in for Britain: the Obama administration snubs Brazil's president.

This continues Obama's go-it-alone approach to foreign affairs, as previously discussed here, here, and here.

Is bin Laden alive?

Angelo Codevilla, a professor at Boston U who has intelligence experience dating back to 1977, summarizes the evidence as he sees it:

Negative evidence alone compels the conclusion that Osama is long since dead. Since October 2001, when Al Jazeera's Tayseer Alouni interviewed him, no reputable person reports having seen him—not even after multiple-blind journeys through intermediaries. The audio and video tapes alleged to be Osama's never convinced impartial observers. The guy just does not look like Osama. Some videos show him with a Semitic aquiline nose, while others show him with a shorter, broader one. Next to that, differences between colors and styles of beard are small stuff.

Nor does the tapes' Osama sound like Osama. In 2007 Switzerland's Dalle Molle Institute for Artificial Intelligence, which does computer voice recognition for bank security, compared the voices on 15 undisputed recordings of Osama with the voices on 15 subsequent ones attributed to Osama, to which they added two by native Arab speakers who had trained to imitate him and were reading his writings. All of the purported Osama recordings (with one falling into a gray area) differed clearly from one another as well as from the genuine ones. ....

Also in 2007, Professor Bruce Lawrence, who heads Duke University's religious studies program, argued in a book on Osama's messages that their increasingly secular language is inconsistent with Osama's Wahhabism. Lawrence noted as well that the Osama figure in the December 2001 video, which many have taken as his assumption of responsibility for 9/11, wears golden rings—decidedly un-Wahhabi. He also writes with the wrong hand. Lawrence concluded that the messages are fakes, and not very good ones.  

There is widely varying speculation, but of course no clear facts, on how he died if he died:
On December 26, 2001, Fox News interviewed a Taliban source who claimed that he had attended Osama's funeral, along with some 30 associates. The cause of death, he said, had been pulmonary infection. The New York Times on July 11, 2002, reported the consensus of a story widespread in Pakistan that Osama had succumbed the previous year to his long-standing nephritis. Then, Benazir Bhutto—as well connected as anyone with sources of information on the Afghan-Pakistani border—mentioned casually in a BBC interview that Osama had been murdered by his associates. Murder is as likely as natural death. Osama's deputy, Ayman al-Zawahiri, is said to have murdered his own predecessor, Abdullah Azzam, Osama's original mentor.
More at DrSanity.

PREVIOUSLY, this issue has been discussed here, here, here, and here.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Is a pattern emerging?

Bruce McQuain notes a trend:
I mentioned last week that there was a narrative building which could be quite detrimental to the Obama administration. That narrative started with the British press, in a snit about the treatment of British PM Gordon Brown during a visit to the White House, noting that the administration seemed “overwhelmed”. Supporters claimed that was normal for a new administration, and besides, this one had been handed a very difficult crisis as they came into power, one that would test the abilities of even the most seasoned of administrations. But that didn’t stop the narrative from continuing to form. Then we saw others, even among supporters, begin to wonder. Camille Paglia and Howard Fineman were concerned that things seemed “not quite right” even after 50 days. Was this new administration in over its head? Even Paul Krugman carefully mentioned that those things which needed to be addressed immediately weren’t getting the attention they needed or deserved.
Maybe not coincidentally, video has appeared on youtube showing what happens when the President's teleprompter goes off:

Everyone botches a sentence now and then. Unfortunately for Mr. Obama, this looks bad because he was once supposed to be the Messiah.

RELATED teleprometer disaster: Pres. Obama thanked himself. More at PowerLine.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Obama adopts McCain's economic message

This flip-flop is so obvious that even the AP reports on it:
The economy is fundamentally sound despite the temporary "mess" it's in, the White House said Sunday in the kind of upbeat assessment that Barack Obama had mocked as a presidential candidate.  ....

After weeks projecting a dismal outlook on the economy, administration officials—led by the president himself in recent days—swung their rhetoric toward optimism in what became Wall Street's best stretch since November.

During the fall campaign, Obama relentlessly criticized his Republican opponent, Sen. John McCain, for declaring, "The fundamentals of our economy are strong." Obama's team painted the veteran senator as out of touch and failing to grasp the challenges facing the country.

But on Sunday, that optimistic message came from economic adviser Christina Romer. When asked during an appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press" if the fundamentals of the economy were sound, she replied: "Of course they are sound." ....

Just a week ago, White House Office of Management and Budget director Peter Orszag declared that "fundamentally, the economy is weak." Days later, Obama told reporters he was confident in the economy.

Hat tip: Powerline.

Jerry Brown learns economics, the left objects

The Calfornia state budget is a disaster.  Current California Attorney General Jerry Brown has a surprising approach, considering that he is a Democrat, as  the SF Chronical reports:

The California governor's job this time around could be a no-win situation, he acknowledged. It's an era when just the state deficit is out of control and budget battles are bloody. There's no one easy answer, "there's just pain," he said.

Still, "I would not be advocating new taxes, I'll tell you that," he said. Already, California is "one of the highest tax states around," he said. "So we've got to be competitive. We can't drive all the jobs out and tax the few people who stay."

So even Jerry Brown, once known as Governor Moonbeam, acknowledges that there are supply-side effects.  This upsets Paul Hogarth, of BeyondChron,  who, in a "news" story, writes:
The [California] Attorney General [Jerry Brown] said in an online interview this week that the budget situation is a mess, and that “there’s just pain.” But he then said he “would not be advocating new taxes,” which is wholly contradictory.
"Contradictory"?  That is true only if decreasing government spending is somehow a "contradiction."  His next sentence explains the usual goals of a leftist:
Everyone has to share the pain during these tough times, ....
While some may see a choice between creating prosperity or sharing pain, Hogarth sees shared pain as inevitable: the left, as evidenced by both polls and anecdotes, suffers from depression.

RELATED:  BeyondChron is a leftist alternative the the very liberal San Francisco Chronicle.  The Chronicle is in financial trouble.  So where does BeyondChron get its funding?  Reportedly, it is funded by city money intended to help the homeless. 

Friday, March 13, 2009

Where were all the fact-checkers?

Michelle Malkin explains how Time and ABC News got their facts wrong about Speaker Pelosi and her military jets.

Obama's past as prolog

Now that Mr. Obama is president, information about his past is starting to surface.  For example, a former colleague of his at the Harvard Law review now feels free to speak, as Kate at smalldeadanimals reports:

Carol Platt Liebau was first female managing editor of the Harvard Law Review;

It reminds me a little bit of my experience with him when he was president of the Harvard Law Review. You know, I hesitated to say a lot about this during the campaign because I really thought maybe it wasn't fair. That maybe, finally, when he got to be President, this would be a job big enough to engage and hold Barack Obama's sustained interest, because really, is there a bigger job out here?


[W]hen he was at the HLR you did get a very distinct sense that he was the kind of guy who much more interested in being the president of the Review, than he was in doing anything as president of the Review.

A lot of the time he quote/unquote "worked from home", which was sort of a shorthand - and people would say it sort of wryly - shorthand for not really doing much. He just wasn't around. Most of the day to day work was carried out by the managing editor of the Review, my predecessor, a great guy called Tom Pirelli whose actually going to be one of the assistant attorney generals now.

He's the one who did most of the day to day work. Barack Obama was nowhere to be seen. Occasionally he would drop in he would talk to people, and then he'd leave again as though his very arrival had been a benediction in and of itself, but not very much got done.

So, you know, you see that and you think, gosh, maybe that's the way the guy operates, hut then you figure ok, obviously he always had his eye on bigger and better things.

But now he's President...there really isn't a bigger or better thing.

The full audio is here.

Is Obama as divisive as Bush?

The Wall Street Journal reports that the honeymoon may be over:
Polling data show that Mr. Obama's approval rating is dropping and is below where George W. Bush was in an analogous period in 2001. Rasmussen Reports data shows that Mr. Obama's net presidential approval rating -- which is calculated by subtracting the number who strongly disapprove from the number who strongly approve -- is just six, his lowest rating to date. [emph. added]
Rasmussen finds the particulars of Pres. Obama's economic plan are not entirely popular.  For example:
 Just 27% of voters like the idea of a second stimulus package while 55% are opposed.
Hat tip: DrSanity.

Democrats and ill-gotten gains

Bernie Madoff conned his victims into investing in his Ponzi scheme. He then transferred some of the victims money to Democrats and other liberal causes. Todd Zywicki asks: Should the Democrats return the money so Madoff's victims can receive some compensation?

Hat tip: Instapundit.

ALSO in Culture of Corruption news, the FBI arrests two people during a raid at an Obama appointee's office as part of an alleged government contracts/bribery scandal. Separately, the Wall Street Journal reports that Rep. Maxine Waters lobbied for special help for OneUnited Bank in which her husband had had a large investment. Michele Malkin has more.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Obama = Bush ?

Gene Gorlin suggests that, despite the pretense of sophistication, Pres. Obama arrives at decisions, particularly on economics, just as G. W. Bush did:

Consider Obama’s claim that his “core economic theory is pragmatism, figuring out what works” (“Obamanomics,” NYT, 8/20/08). How is this any different from prior, allegedly non-intellectual politicians, other than that those politicians didn’t happen to be explicit about their methodology?

However much Obama seems to sport the trappings of an intellectual—and clearly he does—in practice, his policy consists in shooting from the hip, making short-range decisions without adherence to any firm set of guiding convictions.

"Shoot from the hip" does seem to describe Obama's approach to Iraq, Iran, stimulus 'plans', bailouts, and gitmo.

Hat tip: Instapundit.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Those who do not learn from history

When planning for the future, it is important to review history. The banking crisis didn't just happen accidentally.  This video shows Democrats Dodd, Frank, Waters, and others insisting that banks give mortgages to people who could not afford them and then attacking the regulators who wanted more responsible lending:

Toward the end of the video, Democrat Franklin Raines is shown claiming that houses are 'riskless' assets. With such management, this banking crisis was inevitable.

Hat tip: Michael Costello

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

EU finds Obama debt plan too extreme

Despite urging from Obama, the EU is refusing to march off a cliff:

Disagreements between the European Union and the US over how to combat the global recession widened on Tuesday as EU governments made clear they had little appetite for piling up more debt to fight the collapse in output and jobs.

Finance ministers from the 27-nation bloc insisted in Brussels that it was doing enough to support world demand and did not need at present to adopt another fiscal stimulus plan, as Washington is urging.

Separately, it is still amateur hour at the US government.  While it is normal for an incoming administration to keep some holdovers to smooth the transition, Pres. Obama decided otherwise:
It also emerged that Gordon Brown, UK prime minister, was struggling to organise the summit. Britain’s most senior civil servant claimed it was hard to find anyone to speak to at the US Treasury. Sir Gus O’Donnell, cabinet secretary, blamed the “absolute madness” of the US system where a new administration had to hire new officials from scratch, leaving a decision-making vacuum.

“There is nobody there. You cannot believe how difficult it is,” he told a conference of civil servants.
PREVIOUSLY, a graph of Obama's plans for the US deficit was shown here.

Friday, March 06, 2009

Alienating allies, II

The Business Standard reports that Obama is antagonizing India (hat tip Ghostofaflea):
If the United States ranks near the bottom amongst India’s defence suppliers, Washington’s penchant for imposing sanctions and restrictions has much to do with it. Now, the US appears to have shot itself in the foot again. The Indian Navy chose to power its indigenously designed, cutting-edge stealth warship, the INS Shivalik, with gas turbines from American company General Electric (GE). But even as the Shivalik readies for sea trials, the US State Department has ordered GE to stop all work on the turbines it has supplied. ....

When asked to comment specifically on blanket orders from the State Department to GE regarding commercial defence dealings with India, the US Embassy did not respond. ....

US defence industry sources indicate that GE is upset by the State Department’s directives, which clearly damage GE’s commercial interests. The ban, suggest sources, was imposed by an “over-enthusiastic State Department bureaucrat”, keen to display that the Obama administration was on the ball from the beginning. But in India, the ban is already generating talk of an unwise choice in going for a US engine.
With its population of 1.1 billion and its rapidly growing economy, India has the potential to become a major player on the world stage. While India had, historically, been an ally of the USSR, Pres. Bush had the foresight and initiative to create new friendly relations with this emerging power. Will the Obama administration continue the reverse course as part of its go-it-alone approach to foreign policy?

Thursday, March 05, 2009

Dissing an ally

Upon entering office, Pres. Obama wasted no time before insulting the Brits, as the (UK) Telegraph reports:

A bust of the former prime minister once voted the greatest Briton in history, which was loaned to George W Bush from the Government's art collection after the September 11 attacks, has now been formally handed back.

The bronze by Sir Jacob Epstein, worth hundreds of thousands of pounds if it were ever sold on the open market, enjoyed pride of place in the Oval Office during President Bush's tenure.

But when British officials offered to let Mr Obama to hang onto the bust for a further four years, the White House said: "Thanks, but no thanks."

He then snubbed PM Brown on his visit here, prompting James Delingpole of the Telegraph to warn:
Britain's friendship is something Obama will come to regret having dispensed with so lightly.
Or not: Pres. Obama is just following in the Jimmy Carter tradition of alienating allies.

MORE details on Obama's insults to PM Brown are here. The nature of the insults raises the question: is Obama "wicked, childish, or dim"?

PREVIOUSLY, we discussed Obama's Carteresque efforts to appease enemies here.

NYT: Beyond caricature

From John Hinderaker:

The New York Times has long been an advocate for illegal immigration. Today we got some insight, perhaps, into what has motivated the Times' editors, via the paper's corrections section:

An editorial on Feb. 22 stated incorrectly that unlawfully entering the country is not a criminal offense. It is a misdemeanor for a first-time offender.

It's quite remarkable: until today, the Times' editors believed that illegal immigration was legal!

The New York Times is not to be taken seriously.

Liberal paranoia is of two styles

Roseanne Barr believes that Israel is faking the rocket attacks:
ohlmert you lie:

you say that twelve rockets were fired into israel since the end of the "war" (ethnic cleansing). Not one Israeli was hurt or killed by these rockets, and now you say you are going to go back and kill more palestinians to teach them a lesson!!!

I think rockets are being fired by your own sources, since less than ten israelis have been killed by them. You are bullshitting the world as you pocket money made from arms sales, along with bibi and your agents in Hamas. step down all men in power!
From her blog, it seems that Roseanne Barr is also a 9-11 truther.

Paranoid liberals appear to come in two types.  One type believes that the enemies are particular identifiable individuals, such as Ms. Barr (who identifies Olmert as the enemy).  Those who believe that the JFK assassination was orchestrated by LBJ also belong in this group.  The second type believes the enemies are vast and impersonal.  Liberals who believe, say, that low-level nuclear radiation is going to kill them or that JFK was killed by a CIA-corporatist conspiracy are of the second type.

Democrats make it personal

The front-page of the Washington Post reports:
"Rush is the bloated face and drug-addled voice of the Republican
Party," said Paul Begala, a longtime Democratic strategist who rose to
prominence during Bill Clinton's presidency. [emph. added]
Likely because discussing actual issues can be difficult, Mr. Begala prefers an ad hominem attack, which seems to be typical of the left.

Why is the Washington Post running a front-page story on Rush Limbaugh?  The Obama administration's strategy is to make Rush the face of the Republican party and the Washington Post seems to be just doing its partisan part to implement that strategy.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

Enemies lists: should everyone have one?

Following in a tradition that Nixon made famous, Speaker Pelosi reportedly maintains an enemies list.  Interestingly, many on her list are her fellow Democrats.  Pres. Obama reportedly maintains and acts on his enemies list.  Following Hillary's unsuccessful primary run, Bill Clinton reportedly had to make major changes to his enemies list.

Monday, March 02, 2009

Appeasing enemies

The Russian invasion of Georgia last summer illustrated just how precarious the position of our allies in Eastern Europe is. Today, rumors have surfaced that Pres. Obama plans to abandon two US allies, Poland and the Czech Republic, in a pre-emptive surrender to Russia. Let us just hope that this is not true.

UPDATE: The Russians apparently have sensed the weakness in Obama, and are responding by hardening their position.

Should you trust the CIA?

MSNBC reports on Kyle Foggo, a former top CIA official:
A former CIA agent rose to the agency's No. 3 rank despite a record of misconduct that stretched over 20 years, prosecutors said, but his career came to an end with his conviction in a bribery scheme.

In court papers, prosecutors describe how, Kyle "Dusty" Foggo was investigated in the late 1980s for punching a bicyclist in a traffic dispute and for numerous relationships with foreign women that could have compromised security. ....

Foggo is scheduled to be sentenced Thursday in U.S. District Court in Alexandria after pleading guilty to a single count of fraud as part of a plea bargain.

Court papers filed this week offer the most detailed glimpse yet of Foggo's misconduct, which included getting his mistress hired to a $100,000 a year job at the CIA....
What would a man of Foggo's moral character plan to do after retiring from the CIA: MSNBC reports that he had planned to run for Congress.

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