THE OTHER SHOE DROPS: Updates To Previous Posts
† Is Obama Already A Lame Duck?: National Journal’s Kirk Victor observes that nine months after being elected, President Barack Hussein Obama has yet to settle then-rival Hillary Clinton’s question of whether he was tough enough and experienced enough to handle that "3 a.m. phone call":
[A] narrative is emerging among some columnists, pundits, and academics across the political spectrum that Obama's low-key, cool, cerebral style, while reassuring on many levels, lacks the punch that is sometimes needed to advance an agenda in Washington, and in a perilous world.
Neither foreign leaders nor
Such observations are prompted in part by Obama's public setbacks. Even when such incidents are small, their sheer number costs the president political capital, critics say. …
"There are moments when fear is useful, when people have to realize who's in charge and there may be consequences for bucking the person in charge," said Bruce Buchanan, a professor of government at the University of Texas (Austin).
† Obama – Not McCain - Will Be Bush III: The Christian Science Monitor reports that human rights and civil liberties activists “complain that emerging Obama antiterror policies seem more Bush-like than Obama-like”:
The administration has embraced Mr. Bush's law of war philosophy justifying the potential indefinite detention of terror suspects deemed by President Obama to be too difficult to put on trial, but also too dangerous to release.
Administration officials are hinting that Obama may fail to fulfill his pledge to close the Guantánamo prison camp by January. A new version of the controversial military commission process is expected to emerge soon from Congress. And construction continues for a new, expanded terror prison camp at the Bagram air base in Afghanistan.
"Bagram is becoming Obama's Guantánamo," Hope Metcalf, director of the National Litigation Project of the Lowenstein International Human Rights Clinic at Yale Law School, warned during a panel discussion in Washington Thursday.
"The situation at Bagram is, if anything, far worse than Guantánamo," she told a gathering of the American Constitution Society. "At Bagram, there are no lawyers, no courts, and essentially no hope."
† What Freedom Of Speech Means To Muslims: In a USA Today op-ed Jonathan Turley, who teaches public interest law at George Washington University, warns that “[a]round the world, free speech is being sacrificed on the altar of religion” – and takes President Barack Hussein Obama to task for allying himself with the Egyptians in a U.N. Human Rights Council effort to curtail free speech:
Whether defined as hate speech, discrimination or simple blasphemy, governments are declaring unlimited free speech as the enemy of freedom of religion. This growing movement has reached the United Nations, where religiously conservative countries received a boost in their campaign to pass an international blasphemy law. It came from the most unlikely of places: the United States.
While attracting surprisingly little attention, the Obama administration supported the effort of largely Muslim nations in the U.N. Human Rights Council to recognize exceptions to free speech for any "negative racial and religious stereotyping." The exception was made as part of a resolution supporting free speech that passed this month, but it is the exception, not the rule that worries civil libertarians. Though the resolution was passed unanimously, European and developing countries made it clear that they remain at odds on the issue of protecting religions from criticism. It is viewed as a transparent bid to appeal to the "Muslim street" and our Arab allies, with the administration seeking greater coexistence through the curtailment of objectionable speech. …
In the resolution, the administration aligned itself with Egypt, which has long been criticized for prosecuting artists, activists and journalists for insulting Islam. …
Turley notes that “[b]lasphemy prosecutions in the West appear to have increased after the riots by Muslims following the publication of cartoons disrespecting prophet Mohammed in Denmark in 2005” – citing recent cases in Canada, England, France, Holland. Italy and Poland – and that “[p]rivate companies and institutions are following suit in what could be seen as responding to the Egyptian-U.S. call for greater ‘responsibility’ in controlling speech.”
† The Media Love Obama, But He Doesn’t Love Them Back: In its annual ranking of global press freedom, Reporters Without Borders jacked the US up 20 places (from 40th in 2008 to 20th) because of “Barack Obama’s election as president.” However, the group complains that, “Despite a slight improvement, the attitude of the United States towards the media in Iraq and Afghanistan is worrying. Several journalists were injured or arrested by the US military.”
In calculating press freedom in other countries, Reporters Without Borders considers how the government and its leaders restrict or harass journalists. Curiously, the group did not apply this standard to the Obama administration’s treatment of the press right here in the U.S., substituting instead our military’s interactions with the media in the middle of a war zone. Too bad the group wasn’t honest enough to take Obama to task for officials in his administration going after specific journalists - notably, CNBC’s Rick Santelli - or punishing news outlets, such as FOX News:
The White House stopped providing guests to "Fox News Sunday" after host Chris Wallace fact-checked controversial assertions made by Tammy Duckworth, assistant secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, in August. [Contextual link added by The Stiletto; fifth item on page.]
Dunn said fact-checking an administration official was "something I've never seen a Sunday show do."
"She criticized 'Fox News Sunday' last week for fact-checking - fact-checking - an administration official," Wallace said Sunday. "They didn't say that our fact-checking was wrong. They just said that we had dared to fact-check."
But had the U.S. media not been so besotted with Obama, they would have seen all this coming during the campaign.
The Nation’s Ari Melber writes about a video in which White House Communications Director Anita Dunn - who is leading the administration’s war against FOX News – explains how the Obama campaign controlled the media’s access to the candidate (disintermediation) so as to completely control the message:
One of the reasons we did so many of the David Plouffe videos was not just for our supporters, but also because it was a way for us to get our message out without having to actually talk to reporters [emphasis, Ari Melber]. We just put that out there and make them write what Plouffe had said - as opposed to Plouffe doing an interview with a reporter. So it was very much we controlled it, as opposed to the press controlled it. And it did not always make us popular with the press... increasingly by the General Election, very rarely did we communicate through the press anything that we didn't absolutely control. …
Melber also quotes a January 2008 article by the Washington Post's Howard Kurtz about how Obama kept the press at arm’s length:
[Obama] remains a remote figure to those covering him, and his team, while competent and professional, makes only spotty attempts to drive its preferred story lines in the press ... Obama often goes days without taking questions from national reporters ... the absence of a senior official traveling with the press is a sign of benign neglect. ... Newsweek correspondent Richard Wolffe [adds] "The contact is limited. . . . They see the national media more as a logistical problem than a channel for getting stuff out."
† The Nobel Peace Prize? Really?: When the Nobel committee gave President Barack Hussein Obama the Peace Prize for … well, being Barack Hussein Obama, The Stiletto suggested that “The Nobel Committee clearly regards Obama as being one rung higher on the evolutionary ladder than the rest of us Homo sapiens: Homo obamus.” Apparently, the Nobel committee is not alone, judging from this description of the new HBO documentary "By the People: The Election of Barack Obama," by Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen:
It reveals - you will be surprised to learn - that Barack Obama is pretty close to the most perfect person you will never get to know.
This is what he does not do in the course of the primary and general election campaigns: He does not lose his temper. He does not curse. He does not follow a pretty woman with his eyes or sneak a smoke. He does not dress sloppily. He is always calm and always good-natured and gets emotional only once - the day his grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, the woman who in effect raised him, died in Hawaii. …
What's striking about this inside look at Obama is how being inside gets you nowhere. It is virtually the same as being outside. What's also striking about this movie is its lack of arc. Obama is always golden, always going to win and always does. His issue, if it can be called that, is himself. He is something new, something young, something biracial and something black, but he is not something from a political or ideological constituency. He is adored by his fans - the directors, Amy Rice and Alicia Sams, included - not for something he's done, but rather for something he is.
† Never Mind Marxism. Will An Obama Administration Be Totalitarian?: Part II: The New York Times reports that “[a] number of active duty and retired senior officers say there is concern that the president is moving too slowly, is revisiting a war strategy he announced in March and is unduly influenced by political advisers in the Situation Room” and quotes one of them – though not by name:
A retired general who served in Iraq said that the military had listened, “perhaps naïvely,” to Mr. Obama’s campaign promises that the Afghan war was critical. “What’s changed, and are we having the rug pulled out from under us?” he asked. Like many of those interviewed for this article, he spoke on the condition of anonymity because of fear of reprisals from the military’s civilian leadership and the White House.
He has reason to be concerned, given how swiftly and ruthlessly the Obama Attack Machine went after Gen. Stanley McChrystal. And before this retired general feared going public with his criticisms, car dealers were reluctant to be quoted by name about the “cash for clunkers” program because they feared retaliation from the administration. Do you see a worrisome pattern?
† Dems Resort To Mean-Spirited Campaign Rhetoric: Only now, they're cruelly taunting each other. New York magazine reports that (Communications Workers of America) Local 1180 is launching a $500,000 TV ad campaign in support of NYC mayoral candidate Bill Thompson (D) that is “an homage to Jon Corzine's infamous and seemingly influential ad” that makes a campaign issue of Christopher J. Christie’s girth:
[T]he underlying theme of its first anti-Bloomberg spot [link added by The Stiletto] is that ... the mayor is ugly. In the ad, a narrator criticizes the mayor on various issues as photos of Hizzoner's face at particularly awkward and unattractive moments flash across the screen, until finally, it all comes together: "Even with hundreds of millions in campaign spending, they can't hide the ugly side of Michael Bloomberg."
According to an old saying, “handsome is as handsome does” and tactics like this won’t make Thompson look good (or good-looking, for that matter).
† Semper Fi(nk): Sgt. David Budwah, charged with pretending to be a wounded veteran so he could avail himself of tickets to rock concerts, sporting events and other gifts meant to honor the sacrifices of our men and women in uniform, will plead guilty at his court-martial hearing at the Marine Corps Base in Quantico, VA. He faces as much as 31½ years in prison.
† Al Sharpton: Still Race-Baiting After All These Years: Rev. Al Sharpton is threatening to sue radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh for defamation over a Wall Street Journal op-ed (“He … played a leading role in the 1991 Crown Heights riot … and 1995 Freddie's Fashion Mart riot”), reports the New York Daily News:
"I am definitely going to prove he makes reckless, unaccountable statements," Sharpton said. "Which is why he was forced out of buying an NFL team in the first place." …
Seven people were killed by a gun-toting man who set a fire in the Freddie's Fashion Mart. A Jewish scholar was stabbed to death in Crown Heights three hours after a 7-year-old black boy was fatally struck by a car.
Leaving aside the fact that Sharpton is a public figure - thus the bar for showing defamation and resulting damages is higher than for a private individual - truth is the best defense against his accusations, and Sharpton’s own words will sink his case.
† Updates To Previous Posts (fifth item, Now Is Not The Time To Talk About Race): Bob Weir, a former detective sergeant in the NYC Police Department, calls the brouhaha over Rush Limbaugh not being of good enough repute to buy an NFL franchise “one of the phoniest canards ever foisted upon the American public” given that the charge against him was led by “two of the most incendiary provocateurs in the race-baiting business”:
Talk about the pot calling the kettle black, Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, who give themselves the ludicrous title of Reverend, have the unmitigated gall to proclaim that Limbaugh is a polarizing figure in the country. This from a couple of race hustlers who have been living large for several decades with no visible means of support except for the "donations" they received from corporations they've threatened with not so subtle methods of extortion.
Using their race as a bludgeon, they begin by claiming that a company doesn't have enough blacks on the payroll, therefore they will stage protests and jeopardize the company's profits until it cries uncle and makes sizable "contributions" to the respective bank accounts of some very suspicious "nonprofit" groups. Add to that several instances in which these charlatans have thown [sic] gasoline on black-white incidents from coast to coast, and you have a clear picture of actual racism.
Weir terms their demagoguery “nothing less than a strategy to limit free speech for one segment of society, while giving unlimited license to another.”