In 2005, in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, President George W. Bush was caught on a microphone saying “Heckuva job, Brownie,” to the then-Director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Michael D. Brown. This quick bit of positive reinforcement for his FEMA head was subsequently (and is to this day) hung around Dubya’s neck and juxtaposed with every iota of human hardship associated with Katrina and New Orleans. How could Bush compliment Brown when so many people were still suffering?
That was then. Consider what we’ve been witnessing since last Tuesday, in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, in terms of political leaders and bureaucrats praising one another in a non-stop cavalcade of love and affection. You can’t tune into any of these press conferences, by Bloomberg, Cuomo or Christie, without hearing a great litany of how happy the various leaders and governments and agencies are with one another. “Unprecedented cooperation.” “FEMA is doing everything we ask.” “Couldn’t be happier.” “So grateful.” It has all been crowned, of-course, by the outpouring of gratitude and appreciation on Wednesday between Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey and President Barack Obama. Continue reading Sandy: The political parade of mutual congratulation→
A few weeks ago while on stage in Singapore, Dave Mustaine, the lead singer of Megadeth, is reported to have said:
“Back in my country, my president … he’s trying to pass a gun ban, so he’s staging all of these murders, like the ‘Fast And Furious’ thing down at the border … Aurora, Colorado, all the people that were killed there … and now the beautiful people at the Sikh temple.”
He continued, “I don’t know where I’m gonna live if America keeps going the way it’s going because it looks like it’s turning into Nazi America.”
Ry Cooder, who is promoting a new album called Election Special, gave an interview to the UK Guardian round about the same time as Mr. Mustaine was lecturing on political science in Singapore. Excerpts from that:
Look, what did Gore Vidal say recently? The interviewer asked him what he thought of the Republican party and he said it’s not a party any more, it’s a Hitler Youth mindset and they’re out to destroy the country, and he was 110% right.
Romney is as bad as anyone can be. He’s a dangerous man. He’s a cruel man. He’s a perfect creation for what the Republican party is all about. And that is to say, a rapacious capitalist. Anyone who ran Bain Capital is not your friend. All they’re going to do is rape and pillage the land. Continue reading Dave Mustaine and Ry Cooder→
Today, Neil Munro of the Daily Caller caused some kind of massive kerfuffle by merely asking the President of the United States a pointed question as he delivered his statement in the White House Rose Garden regarding illegal immigrants.
Presidents have steadily become more and more controlling of their public statements and media face-time, but certainly President Obama has set new precedents for being inaccessible. He frequently uses the “bully pulpit” of the White House to deliver televised statements like today’s while refusing to answer questions from the assembled press (on the off-chance any are asked). Neil Munro threw a wrench in the president’s style today, prompting him to lose his temper and so mess up the presentation. Now, a reporter who asked a question is being labeled by much of the rest of the media as a “heckler.” Continue reading Why do reporters even show up for Rose Garden statements?→
There was more than a little bit of “Day of the Locusts” about the Presidential Medal of Freedom ceremony at the White House this afternoon, which I watched via C-Span. Bob Dylan was the last to be introduced, and also the last to receive the medal, which is odd, since otherwise they seemed to be following alphabetical order. Hmmm. Zimmerman? Or were they trying to create some drama regarding Bob? (Why would they do that?) He was the only recipient wearing shades, which he kept on throughout. He stayed pretty low-key, not even applauding other recipients as far as I could see. When standing beside President Obama and hearing the citation read out, he shifted restlessly from side to side. Quick handshake with the President afterwards but no real words exchanged, in contrast to how it went down with several other recipients. I did not observe Dylan smiling even once.
I somehow don’t think he was planning to hang around for dinner. Nevertheless, congratulations to Bob. His country has now honored him about as highly as it can, and that’s always better than a kick in the pants, regardless of how one might feel about the occupant of the Oval Office at the given time.
In about thirty days he kicks off a new tour in England. I suspect he’ll be considerably more comfortable on that stage, as always.
UPDATE: Video clip below.
The wearing of the sunglasses throughout an indoor ceremony seemed like a serious statement of aloofness, as was the absence of a simple smile (contrasted dramatically, I might add, with President Obama’s grinning). I guess I’d see it as Bob trying to keep himself from appearing overly friendly to the political aromas floating around. Others will make of it what they will.
The madness continues in Libya, and regarding Libya. It’s no kind of war at all, says President Obama. The American military activity he has authorized in Libya doesn’t come under the purview of the War Powers Resolution, and therefore doesn’t require the approval of the U.S. Congress, because …
U.S. operations do not involve sustained fighting or active exchanges of fire with hostile forces, nor do they involve the presence of U.S. ground troops, U.S. casualties or a serious threat thereof.
See: U.S. forces might have bombed and shot at Libyans quite a bit early on, and may potentially do so again if circumstances demand it, but Col. Gaddafi and his forces understand that it’s just not appropriate to shoot back, and actually injuring or killing any Americans engaged in this operation against them would be a completely unacceptable faux pas. Therefore, no war. Continue reading Libya: What kind of damned war is this?→
The last time President Obama attempted to fundamentally shift U.S. policy against Israel—when he tried to order the Israeli government to prevent Jews from building homes in Jerusalem—the backlash, domestically, and from Congress, was so severe that he had to back down. On this occasion, the situation is still developing—Netanyahu meets Obama today, and will himself address a joint session of the U.S. Congress on Tuesday—but I think in this case the damage to Israel is all but impossible to undo. (File it under “elections have consequences.”) Continue reading Obama: Pulling the Carpet from Under Israel→
Robert Gates, who just visited Egypt and from there stopped in Israel, has made a number of pointed but quite well thought-out statements regarding the current unprecedented upheavals in the Middle East. With regard to Syria, where dozens of demonstrators have been killed by Bashar Assad’s security forces, Gates said: Continue reading President Robert Gates speaks on Middle East→
Rewinding a few weeks, President Obama had a decision to make in response to the attempted revolution in Libya. He could have said, “We watch events with concern. We will use all the diplomatic and economic means at our disposal to influence the situation, but (let me be clear!) this is not a case where U.S. military power will be used.” There’s a strong argument to be made that that would have been the correct approach. After all, U.S. forces are fighting in Afghanistan, are still in harm’s way in Iraq, and have been in action against al-Qaeda types with varying degrees of secrecy in other locales, including East Africa and Yemen. North Korea continues to represent a potential war that might explode at any minute; and then there are all the humanitarian missions the U.S. military is performing, and so on. In other words, there were very good reasons for Defense Secretary Robert Gates to be extremely reluctant to get U.S. forces engaged in Libya at all. Continue reading Obama’s calibration on Gaddafi and Libya→
The recent revolt in Tunisia has been followed by massive unrest in Egypt, and frustrations are beginning to bubble into actions in a number of other Middle-Eastern dictatorships. Is it 1989 again? Too soon to say that, but things are moving quickly, and, should Mubarak fall, it will surely encourage revolt in other nearby countries with underemployed and unhappy young populations. Continue reading Egypt: Yes, it’s Bush’s fault→
Just a couple of small entries which are on my mind this morning.
When President Barack Obama speaks tonight in his State of the Union speech of investing in things, what he means is government spending; i.e., the federal government taking money from people who have earned it and spending it on favored projects.
When President Barack Obama speaks tonight in his State of the Union speech of green jobs, what he means is jobs that require government spending.
We have entered a political wonderland, where the rules are whatever Democrats say they are. Mrs. Pelosi and the White House are resorting to these abuses because their bill is so unpopular that a majority even of their own party doesn’t want to vote for it. Fence-sitting Members are being threatened with primary challengers, a withdrawal of union support and of course ostracism. Michigan’s Bart Stupak is being pounded nightly by MSNBC for the high crime of refusing to vote for a bill that he believes will subsidize insurance for abortions. Continue reading Healthcare nightmare→
With President Obama and the Democrats willing to use the reconciliation process in an attempt to by-pass their loss of a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, the focus is now on the House of Representatives. Despite optimistic stories in the press and Nancy Pelosi’s braggadocio, getting the House to pass the Senate bill in advance of reconciliation is going to be a steep and hopefully impossible mountain to climb. As Jeffrey Anderson writes in the Weekly Standard, nine Democrats who supposedly are considering switching their former “no” votes to “yes” have some awfully good reasons not to do so. And further:
An even bigger problem for the Democrats than somehow turning these members around is the strong likelihood that many other members are salivating at the thought of switching their votes to “no” and saving their careers. Clark Judge writes, “‘Blue Dogs want health care to come up again,'” said a long-time veteran of the House in a closed door briefing last Monday. ‘So they can vote against it.'”
Now, I know that Randy Newman is some kind of darned liberal, and (based on media reports I’ve seen) was quite recently in possession of a very fine case of Bush Derangement Syndrome. I don’t like him for his politics, but I do genuinely enjoy his artful and ironic way with a song. And all I know is that his song Mr. President (written around 1974, but with something of an aura of 1934) has never been a more relevant and sharply-aimed arrow than it is at this very moment. Today, President Barack Obama, in the face of so much incredulity — on both sides of the aisle, mind you — and in the face of so much frustration on the part of average Americans, continues to pursue his ideological goal of getting the hands of the federal government firmly around the U.S. health-care system. On this particular day he is doing it by means of a televised “summit” with Democrats and Republicans from Congress, as if all of the issues have not had more than their due airing over the past 13 months and more; as if he has just not had sufficient time to make his arguments. He persists in this vein while the U.S economy continues to descend in its death spiral, with real working Americans (and once working Americans) continuing to suffer in ever greater numbers, and with no real recovery even in sight. Continue reading Mr. President (Obama): Have Pity On The Working Man→
At this point, we have the following narrative on the events of last July 16th in Cambridge, Massachusetts — one which appears to have won majority acceptance by the public (and I think rightly so): A neighbor called the police on seeing two men forcing their way into a house on her street; a house which had been broken into just weeks earlier. (Obviously she failed to recognize Professor Gates as the legitimate resident — but this is hardly a huge surprise these days, in an urban environment, when so few people really know their neighbors.)
Sgt. Jim Crowley, who happened to be very nearby, attended to the scene. Professor Gates, seeing a white police officer in his doorway and hearing a request to step outside of his home to talk, took deep umbrage on an immediate basis. The encounter progressed with Gates yelling accusations and demands, and Sgt. Crowley attempting to ascertain the facts of the situation. It ended with Gates pursuing Sgt. Crowley out of the house, still yelling and carrying-on, in the presence of other police officers and the general public, and with the arrest of Gates for disorderly conduct.