Archive for December, 2009
Several GOP legislators are weighing in on Judge Gearin’s TRO ruling.
Here’s Rep. Laura Brod’s reaction:
Last session, the Democrats walked away from the negotiating table and gave up the leadership authority granted to them by the people of Minnesota and instead decided upon a strategy in which they simply criticize the Governor. Lacking real solutions to the budget problems, they took the easy way out. The Governor did the hard work for them. If Democrats cannot solve problems working with the Governor, they now have shown that they are willing to use the courts rather than legislate their way out of controversial and difficult decisions. Through their use of legislative resources, they even found a way to not even have to pay their legal billsâ€”but, unfortunately, the taxpayers will.
The focus on unallotment disquises a real long-term problem: spending is out of control and unsustainable. We need to do things differently. There is a clear need to prioritize our spending so that we do not continue to have deficit after deficit year after year. If the Democrats really wanted to solve the problem and minimize the Governor’s use of unallotment in the future, the solution is quite simple: donâ€™t spend more than you have.
Here’s Rep. Mary Kiffmeyer’s reaction:
Judge Gearin is the same one in the Frankin/Coleman Canvassing Board.
She says law says can do allotment only if an â€œunforeseenâ€ budget shortfall. That law does not qualify the ability of the governor to unallot. The DOR must ascertain that the condition exists and then the Governor can unallot. Gearin is wrong that there is a qualification of â€œunforeseenâ€.
Here is the link to a brief on it with a quote on this law.
Here’s Rep. Pat Garofalo’s reaction:
Whether it is unallotment or legislative action, the result will be the same…government will have to live within it’s means and trimmed in size.
Here’s House GOP Whip Dan Severson’s reaction:
This is just another example of over-reaching of judicial activism that is infringing on the separation of powers. If they really want to go there, we then need to legislatively restrict their ability to legislate from the bench.
I did a quick skim of the Research Department’s brief on unallotment. This section jumped out at me:
The first prerequisite to unallotment is that the Commissioner of Finance â€œdetermines that probable receipts for the general fund will be less than anticipated, and that the amount available for the remainder of the biennium will be less than needed…â€
I don’t know whether that condition existed at the time of Gov. Pawlenty’s announcement but I’m positive that that condition currently exists. In other words, even if Judge Gearin’s ruling stands, Gov. Pawlenty will be able to unallot the minute the TRO expires.
In other words, if Minnesota’s Supreme Court rules that Gov. Pawlenty should’ve waited until a deficit existed, the point would be moot in this instance. It appears as though the minute a deficit appears AND the budget reserve is exhausted, the governor has the authority to unallot.
UPDATE: King’s post on what Judge Gearin’s ruling means is today’s must reading.
Earlier today, Judge Kathleen Gearin issued a TRO preventing Gov. Pawlenty’s unallotments to be executed as planned. According to PIM, Speaker Kelliher called it “a victory for all Minnesotans.” Here’s more from her interview with PIM:
â€œ[The order] clearly lays out that the way Gov. Pawlenty used unallotment at the end of the last legislative session was not constitutional,â€ she elaborated in an interview with PIM. â€œThe governor took a go-it-alone attitude, and when you are facing a budget crisis of the size and magnitude we are, that is unacceptable.â€
The ruling will only add to the stateâ€™s mounting deficit problems, Kelliher acknowledged.
â€œAs this debt grows, Minnesotans expect that their leaders will come together and solve these bigger problems,â€ she said. â€œThat is what Iâ€™m going to call for in the House.â€ She also added that â€œall solutionsâ€ remain on the table for fixing the budget deficit.
“All solutions” is another DFL euphemism for “We’re gonna raise your taxes.” That isn’t going to fly with people struggling to make ends meet. Whenever the DFL starts talking tax increases, they always talk about “taxing the rich” so that “they pay their fair share.”
Whenever small business owners hear that, they start heading for the nearest state line because that’s code for “We’re raising taxes on small businesses”, aka the job creation engines of America. There’s no way Gov. Pawlenty signs a tax increase.
As for the TRO, I think a strong case can be made that the DFL legislature didn’t meet its constitutional obligation. I’ve pointed out several times that the DFL’s only balanced budget of the session was the one passed with 5 minutes left in the session. Had Gov. Pawlenty signed the tax increase and the spending bills, the forecasted surplus at the end of the biennium was $3,625.
That’s already disappeared into a sea of red ink. It’s now forecast that the deficit for the rest of this biennium is $1,200,000,000. Last year, Rep. Steve Gottwalt said during a townhall meeting that raising the top income tax bracket by 1 percentage point would generate new revenue of less than $400,000,000. That’s for a tax increase that was in place for the entire biennium. The TRO expires in March, 2010, which there’d only 16 months left in the 24 month biennium. That means a 1 percentage point tax increase on the top bracket would net less than $275,000,000.
That’d still leave the legislature with a $1,000,000,000 deficit to plug. They’d either have to raise taxes on the middle classor agree to cut $1,000,000,000 or a combination of spending cuts and tax increases.
Speaker Kelliher and the DFL legislature will be forced to argue for that tax increase while it’s passing a $1,000,000,000 bonding bill and while the GOP gubernatorial candidates are campaigning on cutting taxes and cutting spending to bring prosperity to the state after a long job creation drought.
I don’t have any insider information on this but I’d be surprised if GOP candidates don’t campaign on an agenda of reform and prosperity next year. Prosperity and reform aren’t words in the DFL dictionary. In fact, rumor has it that if you look in the DFL’s dictionary for the definition of prosperity and reform, you’ll only find a question mark, not a word answer.
Let’s remember that there wasn’t much unity amongst DFL House members on increasing taxes. Rep. Gene Pelowski was openly critical of the DFL’s tax increase bills. Now he’s got a primary challenger. I’d say that the odds of him walking the tax increase plank for Speaker Kelliher are tiny at best.
It might be that Speaker Kelliher wants to campaign on raising taxes but I’d doubt it. That might play well within the DFL but I’ve seen survey after survey say that most Minnesotans don’t like tax increases.
UPDATE: This passage from Judge Kathleen Gearin’s ruling jumped off the page at me:
The court is aware that the actual revenues received by the State since the beginning of the 2010/2011 biennium are even less than predicted in the February dismal forecast. On December 2, Minnesota’s Management and Budget Department reported that general fund revenues for the present two-year budget period are forecast to be $1.156 billion below pre-biennium estimates mainly because of a decline in tax receipts. Even if the budget had been balanced by painful give and take between the Executive and Legislative branches, the Governor would have had to use his unallotment authority before the end of the biennium.
This is significant because Judge Gearin is essentially saying that the minute that the TRO expires, Gov. Pawlenty will be within his rights to unallot to balance the budget.
Earlier in her ruling, Judge Gearin said that she wouldn’t rule on whether unallotment was constitutional because it’s already been decided that it’s constitutional.
What this essentially means is that the March 1, 2010 hearing will determine what parameters future governors will have to live within. Judge Gearin appears to have already said that Gov. Pawlenty will be able to unallot sometime in the near future.
In 1992, James Carville infamously wrote “It’s the economy, Stupid” on a chalkboard inside the Clinton war room. If there’s a modern application for that cliche, it would be the American people telling the Obama administration saying “It’s the war, Stupid.” It seems utterly lost on the Obama administration that al-Qa’ida is still at war with us.
Last night, a criminal defense attorney named Tamara Holder argued on O’Reilly that Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab should be prosecuted like a criminal. Former CIA operative Gary Berntsen dismantled her arguments in this video:
Here’s a partial transcript of the interview:
ERIC BOLLING: As you may know, the Nigerian man who attempted to set off a bomb on a plane in Detroit was arrested, Mirandized, and taken to a federal prison in Michigan. He was charged in the criminal court system, where he faces up to 20 years in prison. But should he have been taken to Gitmo, interrogated and treated like an enemy combatant? Joining us now from Chicago is criminal defense attorney Tamara Holder. And with us in studio is a retired CIA operations officer, Gary Berntsen.
Tamara, this guy tried to blow up 300 innocent people in the air over Detroit on Christmas day. We should give this guy a break?
HOLDER: I’m not saying give him a break. Whoever said that? He needs to be charged in America. Look, there’s something called Special Aircraft Jurisdiction. What that means is that, if you are in an American plane bound for America, you do something or you commit a crime, you are subject to American courts. Just because we give him rights, just because we give him a trial, that doesn’t mean that we have some failed American justice system.
I don’t know what the big deal is. We’re gonna send him to Guantanamo and then what? Send him back to Illinois like we’re gonna do with all the other detainees? That doesn’t even make sense.
BOLLING: Well, Tamara, I’m trying to figure it out. Is it a crime or is it a terrorist attack? Because if it’s a terrorist attack, you can be held as an enemy combatant and be interrogated.
HOLDER: No. You’re wrong. Actually, in March, Obama dispelled the word enemy combatant. There is no word enemy combatant. I don’t know why Hoekstra and Candace Miller and all these people are saying that he’s an enemy combatant. There is no such term in America anymore. Obama dispelled with that. He is a terrorist. He did commit a terrorist attack. He was not on the battlefield. He is supposed to be tried and convicted in America. Just because we give him his rights and we read him his Miranda warning doesn’t mean that our American justice system has failed.
BOLLING: Alright Gary. Go ahead.
BERNTSEN: Well, first of all, the term enemy combatant does exist. Enemy combatants are defined by the Geneva Convention. They’re not in uniform. They’re carrying their…they’re hiding their weapons. They’re not being led by a competent authority and they’re not following the rules of war.
BOLLING: And they want to kill us.
BERNTSEN: Al-Qaida is an organization. It is a non-state actor that has declared war on us. We need to recognize that we are actually at war with these guys. This guy didn’t do a carjacking. He didn’t hold up a 7-11. He tried to commit mass murder as part of and in support of Al-Qaida’s war on the United States.
If we treated him and tried him in a military tribunal, as Roosevelt did in 1942 with those Germans that came ashore in Long Island, near where I’m from, and in Florida, we would have the military at him interrogating him. And what we’re fighting with right now is time. The more access we have to him right now, to find out everything that he knows without having his lawyer between us and him, the quicker we can track down other people who are planning to conduct mass murder against us.
BOLLING: Follow that up, Gary. What else can we find out?
BERNTSEN: Where was he recruited? Who trained him. What other people were trained along with him that are planning on committing mass murder against America?
BOLLING: Tamara, Gary makes a very good point. This a little different than a guy holding up a 7-11.
HOLDER: Of course but at the same time, he was attempting to commit a crime against American whether it is holding up a store and trying to kill one person or whether he’s trying to kill a whole group of people. The issue is that he committed a crime in America on an American plane and he should be tried accordingly. To interrogate him any differently…he’s still gonna give us plenty of information.
This appears to be the Obama administration’s mindset, too. This isn’t a crime. It’s an act of war. This isn’t even mass murder of the Dahmer or Bundy types. Everything about Friday’s attempted terrorist attack screams jihadist martyr attack. Abdul Mutallab was prepared to die that day on that plane. That’s why he got a window seat right next to the wing (Seat 19A) where the fuel is stored.
Officer Berntsen is exactly right. Abdul Mutallab was acting on al-Qaida’s behalf in their war against the United States. Ms. Holder is exactly wrong about the terrorist giving us “plenty of information:”
“Authorities are holding out hope that [Abdulmutallab] will change his mind and cooperate with the probe, the officials said.”
Mr. President, it’s time you realized that all your diplomatic initiatives are utterly ineffective. We’re fighting a real, honest-to-goodness war with a bunch of persistent, ruthless terrorists. There’s only one proper response to acts of war: aggressively pursue these jihadists with our military and intelligence assets. Fighting this war with intensity and with total ruthlessness is the only way we’ll defeat these jihadists.
The Obama administration’s unwillingness to admit that their policies have failed has led them to push back against their critics rather than reviewing and changing their policies. While the Obama administration’s allies decry the Republicans’ attempts to “score cheap political points”, Americans wonder whether this administration is serious about fighting the jihadists with everything in this nation’s arsenal.
It didn’t help that, after President Obama declared that his administration wouldn’t rest until the terrorists were defeated, he left to return to his round of golf in Paradise, aka Hawaii.
It’s often possible to tell what’s important to a person by how much time he devotes to the subject. We’ve known for some time that taking over America’s health care system is President Obama’s highest priority. Day after day, week after week, President Obama has fought for and gave speeches on health care reform.
By contrast, President Obama has spent almost no time talking about the importance of defeating the terrorists. Now the DCCC is pushing back, saying that President Obama “has been much more aggressive about going after al Qaeda than the Bush administration.”
That’s insulting. Was President Obama’s procrastination a sign of President Obama’s commitment to aggressively attacking the jihadists?
It’s insulting because it took President Obama more time to figure out whether he’d increase troop levels in Afghanistan than it took the Bush administration to destroy al-Qaida’s sanctuary in Afghanistan.
Mr. President, if you’d spent half as much time focusing on fighting the “real war” as you spend talking about it, the troops would’ve already been in theater. Next time, don’t talk. Get it done.
Thus far, it’s accurate to say about the Obama administration that after everything is said and done, more was said than done.
Cross-posted at California Conservative
Conservatives have their long knives out hoping to score political points against a suddenly vulnerable Obama administration. Check out this column written by Obama critic Bill Kristol:
â€œI hope the terrorists donâ€™t think this is a good time to attack,â€ I said, looking protectively at the White House, which always looks smaller and more vulnerable and beautiful than you expect, no matter how often you see it up close.
I thought our guard might be down because of the holiday; now I realize our guard is down every day.
OUCH!!! That’s a shot at the Obama administration’s less-than-stellar performance in preventing terrorist attacks if ever I’ve heard one.
If we canâ€™t catch a Nigerian with a powerful explosive powder in his oddly feminine-looking underpants and a syringe full of acid, a man whose own father had alerted the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria, a traveler whose ticket was paid for in cash and who didnâ€™t check bags, whose visa renewal had been denied by the British, who had studied Arabic in Al Qaeda sanctuary Yemen, whose name was on a counterterrorism watch list, who can we catch?
I’ll give Mr. Kristol credit for this much: when he unloads both barrels, there’s alot of damaged landscape.
The bad news for the Obama administration is that Bill Kristol didn’t write this stunning rebuke of the Obama administration’s homeland security apparatus. It wasn’t Charles Krauthammer, either.
This scathing review was written by Maureen Dowd.
Yes, that Maureen Dowd. The crazed liberal NYTimes columnist Maureen Dowd. Ms. Dowd’s attack should unsettle an already wobbly administration. Last night, Charles Krauthammer ridiculed President Obama during the Roundtable. Even A.B. Stoddard was disgusted when she learned from Chris Wallace that the CIA had been tracking Abdulmutallab.
This is one of those moments when a president’s fiercest defenders understand that they can’t defend or spin something, that it’s a time when he’ll just have to take his lumps.
Before he left for vacation, Obama tried to shed his Spock mien and juice up the empathy quotient on jobs. But in his usual inspiring/listless cycle, he once more appeared chilly in his response to the chilling episode on Flight 253, issuing bulletins through his press secretary and hitting the links. At least you have to seem concerned.
President Obama hasn’t stepped into the role of commander-in-chief. Instead, he’s stepped into shoes that more closely resemble those of the pontificator-in-chief or professor-in-chief. That isn’t what America needs right now. What we need is someone who is competent on national security issues. What we need is someone who will persistently engage our terrorist enemies in mortal battle.
President Obama hasn’t shown the grittiness and persistence that’s needed to destroy al-Qa’ida. His personna is almost detached. For all his faults on domestic policy, one thing that Americans knew about President Bush, it’s that they understood that he was taking the fight to the terrorists day-after-day-after-day. President Bush’s relentlessness was reassuring. Looking back, objective people understand that he protected us from another terrorist attack.
By contrast, we’ve seen three terrorist attacks this year under President Obama’s watch. Thoughtful people esentially agree that each was preventable.
It’s time for President Obama to review his administration’s policies and his administration’s personnel. Starting today would be a good start. Personnel-wise, a good start would be firing Janet Napolitano. Policywise, it’d be wise if he stopped his ‘open arms to tyrants’ policy. Tyrants should be punished, not coddled. Incompetents should be terminated, not kept on.
Thanks to Maureen Dowd’s criticism, that possibility seems a bit more likely.
Cross-posted at California Conservative
Last weekend, Obama administration propagandist Robert Gibbs tried blaming the failed terrorist attack on the Bush administration. That isn’t surprising considering this administration’s we’re-never-at-fault mantra. Mr. Gibbs’ attempt to spin this as a Bush administration failure just got infinitely more difficult now that it’s been reported that the CIA knew about the terrorist:
A CIA official prepared a report on Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab after a meeting with the suspect’s father in November, who shared information about his son’s extremist views, CNN reported Tuesday. The report was sent to CIA headquarters in Langley, Virginia, but it sat there for five weeks and was not disseminated, a “reliable source” said. “Had that information been shared…[he] might have been denied passage on the Northwest Airlines flight,” the source reportedly said.
Mr. President, You can’t blame this on the Bush administration. They didn’t have anything to do with YOUR CIA not getting this important information into the right people’s hands. I’d further suggest that President Obama instruct Mr. Gibbs to apologize to the Bush administration after blaming them for this foiled terrorist attack.
President Obama can order all the reviews he wants but the problem won’t be solved by reshuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic. Until this administration gets serious about hunting down terrorists and interrogating terrorists instead of reading them their Miranda rights, we’ll be stuck in this defensive posture.
There was never a doubt that the Bush administration was constantly on the offensive against the terrorists. There’s doubts aplenty that the Obama administration is on the offensive against the terrorists. I’m not suggesting that President Obama wants something bad to happen. I’m just saying that President Obama’s policies aren’t keeping us safe thus far.
Tonight on O’Reilly, a criminal defense attorney actually tried making the case that this was a crime, not an act of war. This defense attorney then said that President Obama had “eliminated the word enemy combatant.” It was at that point that Gary Bertnsen, a retired CIA operative working now as a FNC miltary analyst, interjected a coherent thought. Mr. Berntsen rightly pointed out that (a) the term enemy combatant is part of the Geneva Convention and that (b) the term is in the Geneva Convention because terrorists aren’t afforded the same protections as uniformed soldiers because “they fight outside the laws of war.”
This Detroit News op-ed highlights something important that the Obama administration has rejected:
The State Department shouldn’t be giving visas to any of the 550,000 people worldwide identified as terror risks. Some people on that list certainly may be wrongfully named. But it’s better to offend an innocent few than to risk allowing a bona-fide terrorist access to the country.
Bush administration policy was that it was better to err on the side of fighting too aggressively against the terrorist rather than fighting too timidly, which seems to be the Obama administration’s policy.
HINT TO THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION: Al-Qa’ida hasn’t declared a cessation of hostilities with us, which means that we shouldn’t treat terrorists as criminals.
Terrorists don’t deserve Miranda rights protections. That gives them the right to be silent, which interferes with the CIA’s ability to gather important information from a captured terorrist. Think of how much information we might’ve gathered about Yemen’s terrorist infrastructure had we treated Abdulmutallub as an enemy combatant rather than letting him hide behind the Miranda Warning’s protections.
Liberals love asking why conservatives don’t trust the criminal justice system. That’s a stupid argument. It isn’t about trusting or not trusting the justice system. It’s about whether we do everything possible to gather intelligence and thwart other terrorist attacks.
This administration, despite everything they’ve said, has been a failure at protecting us from terrorist attacks. The last 2 terrorists have a common thread, too, in that they both were ‘activated’ by the same radical cleric, Anwar Awlaki, who’s living in Yemen now. Not coincidentally, Abdulmutallub just travelled to Yemen.
Considering all that we know now, these words ring extremely hollow:
Obama said there were several “deficiencies” in the intelligence-gathering process, and that information about the suspect “could have and should have been pieced together.”
“It’s becoming clear that the system that’s been in place for years now is not sufficiently up to date to take full advantage of the information we collect and the knowledge we have,” Obama said.
This isn’t a matter of putting new policies in place. It’s a matter of getting people notifying the right intelligence and law enforcement agencies when someone reports that his son is a terrorist.
The fact that the CIA was tracking this terrorist is proof that this administration failed in its most important responsibility to protect the American people. no amount of presidential bloviation will erase that fact.
Cross-posted at California Conservative
I’ve never hidden the fact that, as a conservative, I don’t agree with Tarryl Clark very often. For that matter, I don’t agree often with any liberals. Still, I can recognize talent even if I disagree with what they’re saying. At this point, I don’t see the talent of Zach Rodvold, especially after reading this:
The campaign manager for Bachmann’s opponent in the Sixth District, Tarryl Clark, issued an unrelated fundraising appeal to supporters on Monday attacking the Stillwater congresswoman for these types of speaking engagements.
“Congresswoman Bachmann will spend 2010 just like she spent 2009, promoting her personal agenda and continuing to obstruct reform,” Zach Rodvold wrote. “Sheâ€™s already booked to travel across the country, speaking at Tea Party Conventions and raising money from her national conservative base.”
It isn’t that Mr. Rodvold is suggesting that Tarryl won’t be “raising money from her national [progressive] base”. After all, she’ll be accepting tons of PAC money from now until Election Day. After all, she’s already accepted 10’s of thousands of dollars from unions. I think it’s that he’s jealous that Michele Bachmann has a donor base that dwearfs Tarryl’s.
Rodvold’s statement that “Congresswoman Bachmann” is obstructing reform is laughable in the extreme. Last year, Tarryl said that the Legislature couldn’t find more than $500,000,000 in budget cuts and cost savings:
Hauser: You can talk about reform all you want but reform inevitably ends up meaning that some people that are getting state services now wonâ€™t be getting them after this reform, whether it be in HHS, whether it be in education, early childhood, any of those things.
Tarryl: Sure, and an estimate, a good estimate would be that maybe we could figure out how to save about $500 million.
I pointed out in that post that $500,000,000 represented 1.4 percent of the budget at that time. Anyone that thinks there’s less than 2 percent waste or inefficiency in a state budget isn’t a reformer. That’s how a status quo advocate spins things.
Let’s face other facts, too. Washington needs tons of reforming. It’s foolish to think that sending a former lobbyist like Tarryl to the lobbyist capitol of the universe will spark a reform revival, especially considering her already-cozy relationship with ‘Bike Path’ Jim Oberstar:
I’m proud to support my friend, Senator Tarryl Clark, in her campaign for Congress.
Tarryl is a seasoned, experienced legislator. She knows her district, and she knows central Minnesota. She knows the needs of the people of this area, their economic needs, their transportation needs, and their community service needs. She knows how to work in a legislative environment, to work across party lines and to bring people together for a consensus to build a better future for us in Minnesota.
Tarryl is a winner-she’s already won in this district. With your support, she will win this campaign and serve the people of Minnesota effectively.
We need Tarryl in Congress and you can make sure she gets there. Please join me in supporting Tarryl Clark.
Rep. Oberstar’s penchant for loading up transportation bills with low-priority earmarks is legendary. The fact that he’s praising Tarryl for knowing her constituents’ transportation needs speaks volumes. That’s code for ‘I’ll make sure she brings home the pork.’ That isn’t reform. That’s business-as-usual.
There’s nothing in Tarryl Clark’s record that says she’s a reformer. In fact, I’d argue that there’s nothing in her history that she’s anything but a dotrinaire liberal.
Next time Tarryl runs for higher office, she should find a major league talent to handle communications. She didn’t do that this time.
Monday, President Obama issued a statement on the latest terrorist attack. It would’ve been nice had President Obama reacted quicker. William McGurn’s WSJ op-ed puts things in perfect perspective:
The December headlines remind us that we have no shortage of these nasty regimes. In China, the government sentences Liu Xiaobo to 11 years in prison for writing a letter calling for legal and political reforms. In Iran, security forces fire on citizens marching in the streets. In Cuba, pro-government goons intimidate a group of wives, mothers and sisters of jailed dissidentsâ€”with President Raul Castro characterizing these bullies as “people willing to protect, at any price, the conquests of the revolution.”
In all these cases, the cry goes up: Where is the president of the United States?
For a man whose whole appeal has been wrapped in powerful imagery, President Obama appears strikingly obtuse about the symbolism of his own actions: e.g., squeezing in a condemnation of Iran before a round of golf. With every statement not backed up by action, with every refusal to meet a leader such as the Dalai Lama, with every handshake for a Chavez, Mr. Obama is defining himself to foreign leaders who are sizing him up and have only one question in mind: How much can we get away with?
President Obama’s staff rushed in immediately to tell him he’d won the Nobel Peace Prize but they waited 3 hours before telling him about Iran’s latest killings. What’s worse is that it took President Obama 3 days before talking about the foiled terrorist attack.
Anyone who remembers Russia’s invasion of South Ossetia remembers that then-Sen. Obama’s response was tepid whereas Sen. McCain’s answer was strong. Here’s Obama’s initial statement:
â€œI strongly condemn the outbreak of violence in Georgia, and urge an immediate end to armed conflict,â€ Obama said in a written statement. â€œNow is the time for Georgia and Russia to show restraint and to avoid an escalation to full-scale war. Georgiaâ€™s territorial integrity must be respected.â€
Contrast that with Sen. McCain’s initial response:
â€œ[T]he news reports indicate that Russian military forces crossed an internationally recognized border into the sovereign territory of Georgia. Russia should immediately and unconditionally cease its military operations and withdraw all forces from sovereign Georgian territory.
â€œThe government of Georgia has called for a ceasefire and for a resumption of direct talks on South Ossetia with international mediators. The U.S. should immediately work with the EU and the OSCE to put diplomatic pressure on Russia to reverse this perilous course that it has chosen.â€
The Russian invasion of South Ossetia happened on August 10, 2008. It wasn’t until August 12, 2008 that then-Sen. Obama reacted forcefully. I noted in this post that then, too, Obama was vacationing in Hawaii:
Obama, on vacation in Hawaii, on Tuesday read a statement blaming Russia for increasing tensions in the Caucasus.
â€œNo matter how this conflict started, Russia has escalated it well beyond the dispute over South Ossetia and invaded another country,â€ said Obama, 47. â€œThere is no possible justification for these attacks,â€ he added.
Liberals quickly criticized President Bush for not reacting quickly enough after the 9/11 attacks for their liking. Chief among those critics was Marty Meehan:
Meehan was quoted as saying “I don’t buy the notion Air Force One was a target … That’s just PR. That’s just spin.”
Nary a peep was heard from President Obama’s allies in the print media when he took 3 days to denounce the Iranian regime’s violent squashing of the people’s uprising.
President Obama’s reticence to quickly respond to a terrorist attack makes the United States look timid. It also makes us look weak in the terrorists’ eyes. (If there’s anything that President Obama is good at with regards to national security, it’s that he’s great at procrastination and making the United States look positively wimpy.)
This is why we shouldn’t have elected a toy messiah to do a man’s job.
Cross-posted at California Conservative
This post at Reality Check about the TEA Party movement asks a couple of great questions about the movement. Permit me to give a couple answers to these questions:
Unless we are able to foresee this limitation of the Tea Party movement and take concrete measures to prevent it we will see the passion and engagement of these millions of Americans frittered away until just cynicism is left.
Passion about politics is great and likely the fervor of Tea Party participants will help fuel a 2010 resurgence of Republicans in the midterm elections. But what after that? In fact, what during it?
The best way to avoid the cynicism is to get politicians understand that TEA Party activists demand accountability and fiscal restraint. The politicians I’ve talked with understand that already. In fact, it’s their identity as politicians. In fact, most are bigtime supporters of the Live Within Our Means movement.
Another way to channel the energy into a productive political force is by reminding the TEA Party faithful that there’s alot of bureaucratic crud that’s built up over the years, crud that’s going to take lots of time to undo the damage. In other words, this isn’t a one-and-done type thing. It’s important that TEA Party activists preech vigilance, persistence and making common sense arguments on the issues we care most deeply about.
Here’s an interestin observation on the TEA Party movement from the post:
Hereâ€™s the problem and, as I see it, itâ€™s a problem that is actually sort of built right into the Tea Party movement from its inception. That would be its essentially leaderless nature.
The beauty of the TEA Party movement is that its activists don’t pledge allegiance to a group of politicians. RatherTEA Party activists pledge allegiance to the U.S. Constitution and to the liberty our Founding Fathers put their highest priority on.
Isn’t it past time that we dropped the petty Cult-Of-Personality politics and reverted back to the principles that made us the freest, most prosperous nation of the last 2 centuries?
If there are any political leaders of the TEA Party movement, they’d be Gov. Sarah Palin, Reps. Mike Pence and Michele Bachmann and Sen. Jim DeMint. Having watched Rep. Bachmann speak at the 9/12 TEA Party in St. Cloud, it’s obvious that she gets it in terms of what the TEA Party movement is about.
Rep. Bachmann understands that it’s about returning to first principles, especially respecting the Constitution and, as a result, limited government. Based on her speech, it’s apparent that she understands that it’s about accountability and being a public servant.
There’s no way I can agree with this statement:
There was no unifying single goal of the Tea Partiers and no agency or party directing them.
It’s true that the two major political parties don’t control TEA Party events because they’re bottom-up in nature. It’s totally false to say that there’s “no unifying single goal.” The single biggest goal is to return to a federalist, limited government federal government. The Obama administration’s out-of-control spending, its bailoutmania and its takeover of CM and Chrysler.
The TEA Party mocvement will continue to confound those who aren’t part of it because we’re living in a top-down, control freak political environment. The TEA Party movement is a bottom up movement, which is why it confuses people.
Cross-posted at California Conservative
This morning, on GMA, Janet Napolitano said that the government needs to re-examine how their terrorist watch lists are monitored:
Today, on “Good Morning America,” she said, “Clearly, there’s some work that needs to be done to link up what we call the tie, the generic base in which his name had been entered, to those who already have visas.”
“We want to go backwards now and review our list processes,” Napolitano added. “They clearly need to be adjusted. We need to look at this individual specially, and the screening technology that was deployed.”
That’s possibly true but there’s a more fundamental step that should be taken, namely, having the appropriate authorities look into a person whose father walked into a U.S. embassy and told the embassy people that his son might be an Islamic extremist. You’d think that people in security positions would attempt to connect the dots, especially after a high profile commission published a report saying that the most important thing going forward was connecting the terrorist warning dots.
You’d think that a tip like that would at least warrant a quick check of things like visas, whether he’d traveled to or lived in any terrorist-sympathizing countries like, say, Nigeria. Here’s another troubling piece of information:
In May 2009, a report by the Justice Department Inspector General found problems with how the FBI was managing the terrorism watch list, noting, “We found that the FBI failed to nominate many subjects in the terrorism investigations that we sampled, did not nominate many others in a timely fashion, and did not update or remove watchlist records as required. Specifically, in 32 of the 216 (15 percent) terrorism investigations we reviewed, 35 subjects of these investigations were not nominated to the consolidated terrorist watchlist, contrary to FBI policy.”
Was this IG report shared with Secretary Napolitano? If not, why wasn’t it? If it was, what action did Secretary Napolitano take? What types of recommendations did she get from her senior policy staff? If it’s revealed that this IG’s report had made it to Secretary Napolitano’s desk and she hadn’t acted on it, then she needs to be fired ASAP.
Frankly, I don’t have a bit of confidence in Secretary Napolitano. This is, after all, the same woman who thought that military veterans, conservatives and constitutionalists presented a terrorist threat:
The Federal Bureau of Investigation earlier this year launched a nationwide operation targeting white supremacists and “militia/sovereign-citizen extremist groups,” including a focus on veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan, according to memos sent from bureau headquarters to field offices.
The initiative, dubbed Operation Vigilant Eagle, was outlined in February, two months before a memo giving a similar warning was issued on April 7 by the Department of Homeland Security.
Disclosure of the DHS memo this week has sparked controversy among some conservatives and veterans groups. Appearing on television talk shows Thursday, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano defended the assessment, but apologized to veterans who saw it as an accusation.
Why should we suddenly think that she’ll experience a sudden burst of competence now?
Cross-posted at California Conservative
In Ed Morrissey’s post on the Hillary/Obama State Department’s failure, Ed asks an important rhetorical question: Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration have been in place for over eleven months. When do their failures start being their own? The opening paragraph of Ann Kornblut’s Washington Post article provides the answer to Ed’s question:
President Obama has performed a difficult but familiar balancing act over the past few days: ordering new security measures in the wake of an attempted airliner attack without excessively alarming the public or triggering an outcry from civil liberties advocates.
ANSWER: Never as long as President Obama’s phalanx of sycophants still have a major newspaper to write this type of garbage from.
The reality is that President Obama’s State Department and his Homeland Security Department FAILED MISERABLY. Ed quotes this Washington Post article saying that “Umar Farouk Abdulmutallabâ€™s father in Nigeria reported concern over his sonâ€™s ‘radicalization’ to the U.S. Embassy there last month” and that “intelligence officials in the United States deemed the information insufficient to pursue.”
Putting all the niceties aside, President Obama’s new approach to national security issues has been a failure. I don’t care whether “President Obama has performed a difficult but familiar balancing act” or whether he ordered “new security measures” after a potential mid-air disaster was avoided or whether he did so without “triggering an outcry from civil liberties advocates.”
The bottom line is that his administration failed miserably. This didn’t have anything to do with President Bush’s administration, as Robert Gibbs has suggested. It’s time for the children in the Obama administration to start taking responsibility for their failures.
There was a time when nespapers held administrations accountable for their failurs. Apparently, reporters like Ann Kornblut have dismissed those responsibilities. The good news is that citizen journalists like Ed have stepped into that gap.
Cross-posted at California Conservative