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Posts For: May 9, 2009

Re: We’ll Leave the Light On!

It seems Jim Moran’s hometown spoke out on this issue a couple of months ago, according to this news report.  Residents were apparently “decidedly unfriendly to news that the Obama administration might move some detainees from their highly controlled military fortress at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to Alexandria.” The rest of the political establishment is not nearly as excited as Moran about being a “host city”:

“We would be absolutely opposed to relocating Guantanamo prisoners to Alexandria,” Mayor William D. Euille (D) said. “We would do everything in our power to lobby the president, the governor, the Congress and everyone else to stop it. We’ve had this experience, and it was unpleasant. Let someone else have it.”

[. . .]

The 2006 death penalty trial of Zacarias Moussaoui, who was convicted of conspiring in the terrorist attacks of Sept, 11, 2001, turned the neighborhood into a virtual encampment, with heavily armed agents, rooftop snipers, bomb-sniffing dogs, blocked streets, identification checks and a fleet of television satellite trucks.

Well, perhaps Moran will have a town meeting and explain why citizens should put such parochial concerns aside to help out the Obama administration. And Moran has company – one of his neighboring colleagues, Gerry Connolly (who replaced Rep. Tom Davis) isn’t game on efforts to keep terrorists out. In a radio interview he said he wouldn’t be supporting the Keep Terrorists Out of America bill and sounded peeved that anyone would object to letting terrorists loose here.

This should be an interesting test of the popularity of the president’s policies on national security and whether Virginia (which holds state elections this fall) will remain in the blue column.

It seems Jim Moran’s hometown spoke out on this issue a couple of months ago, according to this news report.  Residents were apparently “decidedly unfriendly to news that the Obama administration might move some detainees from their highly controlled military fortress at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to Alexandria.” The rest of the political establishment is not nearly as excited as Moran about being a “host city”:

“We would be absolutely opposed to relocating Guantanamo prisoners to Alexandria,” Mayor William D. Euille (D) said. “We would do everything in our power to lobby the president, the governor, the Congress and everyone else to stop it. We’ve had this experience, and it was unpleasant. Let someone else have it.”

[. . .]

The 2006 death penalty trial of Zacarias Moussaoui, who was convicted of conspiring in the terrorist attacks of Sept, 11, 2001, turned the neighborhood into a virtual encampment, with heavily armed agents, rooftop snipers, bomb-sniffing dogs, blocked streets, identification checks and a fleet of television satellite trucks.

Well, perhaps Moran will have a town meeting and explain why citizens should put such parochial concerns aside to help out the Obama administration. And Moran has company – one of his neighboring colleagues, Gerry Connolly (who replaced Rep. Tom Davis) isn’t game on efforts to keep terrorists out. In a radio interview he said he wouldn’t be supporting the Keep Terrorists Out of America bill and sounded peeved that anyone would object to letting terrorists loose here.

This should be an interesting test of the popularity of the president’s policies on national security and whether Virginia (which holds state elections this fall) will remain in the blue column.

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A Mixed Bag

For now at least the Obama administration has not abandoned its senses or what leverage the U.S. has with regard to Syria:

The Obama administration said Friday it is renewing economic and diplomatic sanctions on Syria, even as two U.S. envoys are in the Syrian capital exploring prospects for improved relations.

[. . .]

“The actions of the government of Syria in supporting terrorism, pursuing weapons of mass destruction and missile programs, and undermining U.S. and international efforts with respect to the stabilization and reconstruction of Iraq pose a continuing unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy and economy of the United States,” Obama said in the letter dated Thursday.

Now the question is whether in its “outreach” and “engagement” to Syria the U.S. will demand a change in that objectionable behavior before taking steps to improve relations — by, for example, affording a high level visit or lifting the sanctions. Or, instead, will the Obama team be foolhardy enough to throw out the carrots, hoping for the best and signaling not only to Syria but to Iran and others that no real behavior-modification is required? At least for now, Obama deserves credit for leaving in place the Bush sanctions.

On a less positive note, this report suggests that Israeli officials are more than a bit concerned about the lack of consultation and coordination by U.S. officials. They have a list of complaints:

Senior White House officials told their Israeli counterparts that Obama will demand Netanyahu completely suspend construction in the settlements, the officials said.

“Obama’s people brief their Israeli counterparts in advance much less about security and Middle East policy activities than the Bush administration used to,” the officials said.

In addition, when they do brief Israeli officials, they don’t consult with them or coordinate their statements in advance.

This has caused several coordination “malfunctions” between the two states in the past two months, they said.

The last incident was the statement of Assistant U.S. Secretary of State Rose Gottemoeller, calling on Israel to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The statement had not been coordinated with Israeli officials in charge of the nuclear issue and they heard it first from the media.

There are, it seems, two possible ways to read this. The first is that we may be seeing the lack of co-ordination and gaffe-proclivity that has popped up on everything from the Russian reset button to the chintzy gifts for Gordon Brown. The new U.S. team simply hasn’t gotten its act together and has committed a series of oversights.

The alternative, more troubling explanation is that the U.S. is already signaling a less warm relationship with Israel in an effort to cozy up to the Arab states and begin a process of cajoling and pressuring Israel to offer up concessions. If Netanyahu is to be given an ultimatum on settlements, Israel will have the unlucky distinction as the only country exempt from the “listen, don’t dictate” Obama diplomacy. Perhaps if Israeli leaders threaten or insult the president rather than sing his praises in public they might get the kid glove treatment currently reserved for the likes of Iran and China.

We will have to see. But the “incompetent” explanation does not engender confidence and the fact that the “chilling” explanation seems plausible should worry those who believe that a rift in the U.S.-Israeli relationship benefits neither country.

For now at least the Obama administration has not abandoned its senses or what leverage the U.S. has with regard to Syria:

The Obama administration said Friday it is renewing economic and diplomatic sanctions on Syria, even as two U.S. envoys are in the Syrian capital exploring prospects for improved relations.

[. . .]

“The actions of the government of Syria in supporting terrorism, pursuing weapons of mass destruction and missile programs, and undermining U.S. and international efforts with respect to the stabilization and reconstruction of Iraq pose a continuing unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security, foreign policy and economy of the United States,” Obama said in the letter dated Thursday.

Now the question is whether in its “outreach” and “engagement” to Syria the U.S. will demand a change in that objectionable behavior before taking steps to improve relations — by, for example, affording a high level visit or lifting the sanctions. Or, instead, will the Obama team be foolhardy enough to throw out the carrots, hoping for the best and signaling not only to Syria but to Iran and others that no real behavior-modification is required? At least for now, Obama deserves credit for leaving in place the Bush sanctions.

On a less positive note, this report suggests that Israeli officials are more than a bit concerned about the lack of consultation and coordination by U.S. officials. They have a list of complaints:

Senior White House officials told their Israeli counterparts that Obama will demand Netanyahu completely suspend construction in the settlements, the officials said.

“Obama’s people brief their Israeli counterparts in advance much less about security and Middle East policy activities than the Bush administration used to,” the officials said.

In addition, when they do brief Israeli officials, they don’t consult with them or coordinate their statements in advance.

This has caused several coordination “malfunctions” between the two states in the past two months, they said.

The last incident was the statement of Assistant U.S. Secretary of State Rose Gottemoeller, calling on Israel to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The statement had not been coordinated with Israeli officials in charge of the nuclear issue and they heard it first from the media.

There are, it seems, two possible ways to read this. The first is that we may be seeing the lack of co-ordination and gaffe-proclivity that has popped up on everything from the Russian reset button to the chintzy gifts for Gordon Brown. The new U.S. team simply hasn’t gotten its act together and has committed a series of oversights.

The alternative, more troubling explanation is that the U.S. is already signaling a less warm relationship with Israel in an effort to cozy up to the Arab states and begin a process of cajoling and pressuring Israel to offer up concessions. If Netanyahu is to be given an ultimatum on settlements, Israel will have the unlucky distinction as the only country exempt from the “listen, don’t dictate” Obama diplomacy. Perhaps if Israeli leaders threaten or insult the president rather than sing his praises in public they might get the kid glove treatment currently reserved for the likes of Iran and China.

We will have to see. But the “incompetent” explanation does not engender confidence and the fact that the “chilling” explanation seems plausible should worry those who believe that a rift in the U.S.-Israeli relationship benefits neither country.

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We’ll Leave the Light On!

Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va), the congressman for Alexandria, Virginia, has not been without controversy. He has been forced from time to time to apologize for anti-Semitic comments and he is embroiled in the PMA Group scandal. Now he’s cheerfully welcoming the release of Guantanamo detainees into his district. Really.

In a column in the Washington Post he says he’s not exactly “advocating” for their release in his district, but he sure is talking up the idea:

Taking the easy route and joining the chorus of those crying “not in my back yard” is appealing. But that’s not the Alexandria I know and have represented in Congress for nearly 20 years.

[. . .]

But should President Obama determine that Alexandria needs to play a reasonably limited role in a nationwide effort to bring justice to the Guantanamo detainees and close this unfortunate chapter of American history, I am confident that Alexandrians will stand strong as they always have: gritting their teeth, stiffening their spines and carrying the load required so that the American values of justice and the rule of law are not overridden but, rather, respected and honored, as is our heritage as a great nation.

Uh, . . . has he checked with his constituents? Perhaps someone should check with congressmen from adjoining districts or with Governor Tim Kaine (Hmmm, what would the president’s close friend say on this?). Moran’s brother is running for Governor and one wonders whether he shares the enthusiasm not merely for housing the Uighurs in advance of trial, but for potentially releasing them and putting them on the public dole, which is what is being suggested.

Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va), by contrast, has been a vocal critic of the idea, trying at the very least, to force the administration to reveal information concerning a possible release. But Moran doesn’t need any more data — he’s ready to take them in, no questions asked.

Perhaps this is a new tactic for Democrats. Step forward to welcome Guantanamo detainees and flatter their constituents by declaring that they are too “big” to complain or worry about their families’ safety. Somehow I don’t think it will be embraced by his colleagues, but stay tuned.

Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va), the congressman for Alexandria, Virginia, has not been without controversy. He has been forced from time to time to apologize for anti-Semitic comments and he is embroiled in the PMA Group scandal. Now he’s cheerfully welcoming the release of Guantanamo detainees into his district. Really.

In a column in the Washington Post he says he’s not exactly “advocating” for their release in his district, but he sure is talking up the idea:

Taking the easy route and joining the chorus of those crying “not in my back yard” is appealing. But that’s not the Alexandria I know and have represented in Congress for nearly 20 years.

[. . .]

But should President Obama determine that Alexandria needs to play a reasonably limited role in a nationwide effort to bring justice to the Guantanamo detainees and close this unfortunate chapter of American history, I am confident that Alexandrians will stand strong as they always have: gritting their teeth, stiffening their spines and carrying the load required so that the American values of justice and the rule of law are not overridden but, rather, respected and honored, as is our heritage as a great nation.

Uh, . . . has he checked with his constituents? Perhaps someone should check with congressmen from adjoining districts or with Governor Tim Kaine (Hmmm, what would the president’s close friend say on this?). Moran’s brother is running for Governor and one wonders whether he shares the enthusiasm not merely for housing the Uighurs in advance of trial, but for potentially releasing them and putting them on the public dole, which is what is being suggested.

Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va), by contrast, has been a vocal critic of the idea, trying at the very least, to force the administration to reveal information concerning a possible release. But Moran doesn’t need any more data — he’s ready to take them in, no questions asked.

Perhaps this is a new tactic for Democrats. Step forward to welcome Guantanamo detainees and flatter their constituents by declaring that they are too “big” to complain or worry about their families’ safety. Somehow I don’t think it will be embraced by his colleagues, but stay tuned.

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Re: Obama’s “Respect” for Islam

Eric, the Obama administration has made its overseas human rights and democracy policy crystal clear. In President Obama’s very first interview (on Al Arabiya television) he was deferential toward the theocratic regime in Iran and effusive about the bravery of the oppressive Saudi king. He offered not a word of encouragement or solidarity for the Muslim world’s reform movements. Then came Hillary Clinton’s dismissal of human rights concerns in China, silence on human rights in North Korea, hints of easing sanctions on Burma and Sudan, and a loosened trade relationship with the Castro dictatorship. People focused on the Venezuelan handshake, but Obama’s biggest shame in Latin America was his failure to criticize Hugo Chavez’s bullying domestic policies. A rebuff of Hosni Mubarak now would look bizarrely inconsistent.

Over the last seven years we heard endlessly about how American policy was fomenting international resentment and creating more enemies. It’s unlikely the fawning media will say much about the Obama administration’s human rights cynicism.

Since World War II, the U.S. has served (somewhat inconsistently) as the world’s police. Obama has not yet given up that job. We are staying the course in Iraq and beefing up operations in Afghanistan. But America’s role as beacon of hope to the world’s oppressed is an older and more fundamental aspect of our exceptionalism; it was the basis upon which the country was conceived. And on that front it’s hard not to conclude that we’ve simply closed shop.

Eric, the Obama administration has made its overseas human rights and democracy policy crystal clear. In President Obama’s very first interview (on Al Arabiya television) he was deferential toward the theocratic regime in Iran and effusive about the bravery of the oppressive Saudi king. He offered not a word of encouragement or solidarity for the Muslim world’s reform movements. Then came Hillary Clinton’s dismissal of human rights concerns in China, silence on human rights in North Korea, hints of easing sanctions on Burma and Sudan, and a loosened trade relationship with the Castro dictatorship. People focused on the Venezuelan handshake, but Obama’s biggest shame in Latin America was his failure to criticize Hugo Chavez’s bullying domestic policies. A rebuff of Hosni Mubarak now would look bizarrely inconsistent.

Over the last seven years we heard endlessly about how American policy was fomenting international resentment and creating more enemies. It’s unlikely the fawning media will say much about the Obama administration’s human rights cynicism.

Since World War II, the U.S. has served (somewhat inconsistently) as the world’s police. Obama has not yet given up that job. We are staying the course in Iraq and beefing up operations in Afghanistan. But America’s role as beacon of hope to the world’s oppressed is an older and more fundamental aspect of our exceptionalism; it was the basis upon which the country was conceived. And on that front it’s hard not to conclude that we’ve simply closed shop.

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The Jig Is Up

It is not just Nancy Pelosi who is facing increased scrutiny for her feigned ignorance of the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques. The Wall Street Journal reports on Jay Rockefeller’s denial of knowledge:

Amusingly, or almost, Senator Rockefeller’s denial is flatly contradicted by his own report on the subject released last month, which notes that “On May 19, 2008, the Department of Justice and the Central Intelligence Agency provided the Committee with access to all opinions and a number of other documents prepared by the Office of Legal Counsel . . . concerning the legality of the CIA’s detention and interrogation program. Five of these documents provided addressed the use of waterboarding.”

So much for the canard that the Bush Administration didn’t keep Congress informed. But Congressional Democrats are being equally disingenuous when they pretend they could do nothing about what they were hearing from the CIA. Members could, and sometimes did, object to proposed CIA actions and could stop them in their tracks.

So what will be the next round of excuses from Congressional “leaders”? They didn’t understand what the briefers were saying — or they couldn’t do anything about it, perhaps. But if lawmakers are not competent enough to listen to critical data, make inquiry and act in their legislative capacity then what good, if any, are they doing on intelligence committees? And what use is it to consult with them?

There is a new game in town. The president tried a selective declassification and suggested some potential investigation and prosecution of those who worked to defend the country from peril. Someone or some group of individuals don’t appreciate the gamesmanship and have thrown open the hatches — out comes the information about forgotten briefings. And Rep. Pete Hoekstra hints there is more where that came from.

Obama and the Democrats in Congress violated a cardinal rule: don’t play politics with national security. They now should be prepared to pay the price.

It is not just Nancy Pelosi who is facing increased scrutiny for her feigned ignorance of the CIA’s enhanced interrogation techniques. The Wall Street Journal reports on Jay Rockefeller’s denial of knowledge:

Amusingly, or almost, Senator Rockefeller’s denial is flatly contradicted by his own report on the subject released last month, which notes that “On May 19, 2008, the Department of Justice and the Central Intelligence Agency provided the Committee with access to all opinions and a number of other documents prepared by the Office of Legal Counsel . . . concerning the legality of the CIA’s detention and interrogation program. Five of these documents provided addressed the use of waterboarding.”

So much for the canard that the Bush Administration didn’t keep Congress informed. But Congressional Democrats are being equally disingenuous when they pretend they could do nothing about what they were hearing from the CIA. Members could, and sometimes did, object to proposed CIA actions and could stop them in their tracks.

So what will be the next round of excuses from Congressional “leaders”? They didn’t understand what the briefers were saying — or they couldn’t do anything about it, perhaps. But if lawmakers are not competent enough to listen to critical data, make inquiry and act in their legislative capacity then what good, if any, are they doing on intelligence committees? And what use is it to consult with them?

There is a new game in town. The president tried a selective declassification and suggested some potential investigation and prosecution of those who worked to defend the country from peril. Someone or some group of individuals don’t appreciate the gamesmanship and have thrown open the hatches — out comes the information about forgotten briefings. And Rep. Pete Hoekstra hints there is more where that came from.

Obama and the Democrats in Congress violated a cardinal rule: don’t play politics with national security. They now should be prepared to pay the price.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

A round-up of Pelosifreude.

John McCormack wants to know why the Left isn’t calling for her to resign. (I’ll take a stab at the top two reasons: all of this outrage is ginned up residue from Bush Derangement Syndrome and Steny Hoyer, a rather moderate and sensible fellow, might become Speaker).

And her lines of defense crumble one by one: “A top aide to  House Speaker Nancy Pelosi attended a CIA briefing in early 2003 in which it was made clear that waterboarding and other harsh techniques were being used in the interrogation of an alleged al-Qaeda operative, according to documents the CIA released to Congress on Thursday. . . A Democratic source acknowledged yesterday that it is almost certain that Pelosi would have learned about the use of waterboarding from Sheehy.”

Obama is getting dinged for proposing cuts in programs he just proposed. But better to realize the error of his ways than to compound the spend-a-thon.

Less positive: “Mr. Obama’s war on government waste looks like a war on paper clips. Three-quarters of the cuts come from the national defense budget, not domestic agencies. Of the 10-year savings of $71 billion in entitlement programs — now with a mind-numbing $62.9 trillion unfunded liability over the long-term — one-third of the cutbacks aren’t cuts at all. They are tax increases, mostly on the oil and gas industry.”

David Broder is no kinder: “The nickel-and-dime exercise, a repeat of equally futile gestures by former president George W. Bush, claimed $17 billion in savings in a $3.4 trillion spending plan — a bit less than one-half of 1 percent.” And he takes a shot at the president for not overriding the Pelosi and Reid. Is the bloom off the rose already?

Charles Krauthammer explains that “if he is going to spend billions everywhere on everything, why would he shut down the assembly line for an F-22, which is already ongoing. Talk about shovel ready, it is ready and going. So his priority is cut defense and spend everything on anything everywhere else. And that, I think, tells us a lot about what he wants to accomplish.”

Stress test unintended consequence: “Experts warn that the tests could have a serious unintended consequence: Loans could be harder to come by for consumers and businesses. That’s because the government’s intense focus on thicker capital cushions might prompt banks to hoard cash and further curtail lending, said Jim Eckenrode, banking research executive at TowerGroup, a financial consulting firm. He said banks will have less room to offer consumers low interest rates, while corporate customers may have a tougher time getting financing for commercial real-estate and property development. That would undercut a key goal of the Obama administration, which has been pushing banks to lend more in order to jump-start the economy.”

Lanny Davis is certainly stressed that “Secretary Geithner continues to conduct the Treasury Department as a mystery surrounded by an enigma.” He pleads: “Why can’t…sorry, he can…why doesn’t Secretary Geithner explain things better? Why?” I suppose transparency isn’t what it’s cracked up to be.

Maybe it’s because the worst case scenario envisioned by the stress test isn’t really the worst, or even most realistic, case now.

Jonah Goldberg writes what most conservative pundits are loath to admit:  picking a compelling candidate is the most critical factor in presidential politics. The good news, he says is that “nobody knew who the hell Barack Obama was the day before yesterday either.”

Larry Kudlow thinks Steve Friedman who resigned from the New York Fed is the tip of TARP corruption.

MoveOn.org targets Arlen Specter.

Not surprisingly his list of potential Democratic challengers is growing.

A round-up of Pelosifreude.

John McCormack wants to know why the Left isn’t calling for her to resign. (I’ll take a stab at the top two reasons: all of this outrage is ginned up residue from Bush Derangement Syndrome and Steny Hoyer, a rather moderate and sensible fellow, might become Speaker).

And her lines of defense crumble one by one: “A top aide to  House Speaker Nancy Pelosi attended a CIA briefing in early 2003 in which it was made clear that waterboarding and other harsh techniques were being used in the interrogation of an alleged al-Qaeda operative, according to documents the CIA released to Congress on Thursday. . . A Democratic source acknowledged yesterday that it is almost certain that Pelosi would have learned about the use of waterboarding from Sheehy.”

Obama is getting dinged for proposing cuts in programs he just proposed. But better to realize the error of his ways than to compound the spend-a-thon.

Less positive: “Mr. Obama’s war on government waste looks like a war on paper clips. Three-quarters of the cuts come from the national defense budget, not domestic agencies. Of the 10-year savings of $71 billion in entitlement programs — now with a mind-numbing $62.9 trillion unfunded liability over the long-term — one-third of the cutbacks aren’t cuts at all. They are tax increases, mostly on the oil and gas industry.”

David Broder is no kinder: “The nickel-and-dime exercise, a repeat of equally futile gestures by former president George W. Bush, claimed $17 billion in savings in a $3.4 trillion spending plan — a bit less than one-half of 1 percent.” And he takes a shot at the president for not overriding the Pelosi and Reid. Is the bloom off the rose already?

Charles Krauthammer explains that “if he is going to spend billions everywhere on everything, why would he shut down the assembly line for an F-22, which is already ongoing. Talk about shovel ready, it is ready and going. So his priority is cut defense and spend everything on anything everywhere else. And that, I think, tells us a lot about what he wants to accomplish.”

Stress test unintended consequence: “Experts warn that the tests could have a serious unintended consequence: Loans could be harder to come by for consumers and businesses. That’s because the government’s intense focus on thicker capital cushions might prompt banks to hoard cash and further curtail lending, said Jim Eckenrode, banking research executive at TowerGroup, a financial consulting firm. He said banks will have less room to offer consumers low interest rates, while corporate customers may have a tougher time getting financing for commercial real-estate and property development. That would undercut a key goal of the Obama administration, which has been pushing banks to lend more in order to jump-start the economy.”

Lanny Davis is certainly stressed that “Secretary Geithner continues to conduct the Treasury Department as a mystery surrounded by an enigma.” He pleads: “Why can’t…sorry, he can…why doesn’t Secretary Geithner explain things better? Why?” I suppose transparency isn’t what it’s cracked up to be.

Maybe it’s because the worst case scenario envisioned by the stress test isn’t really the worst, or even most realistic, case now.

Jonah Goldberg writes what most conservative pundits are loath to admit:  picking a compelling candidate is the most critical factor in presidential politics. The good news, he says is that “nobody knew who the hell Barack Obama was the day before yesterday either.”

Larry Kudlow thinks Steve Friedman who resigned from the New York Fed is the tip of TARP corruption.

MoveOn.org targets Arlen Specter.

Not surprisingly his list of potential Democratic challengers is growing.

Read Less




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