The normally tight-lipped Obama administration is reportedly giving a Hollywood production company access to sensitive intelligence information, in an effort to help produce a film about the Osama bin Laden raid. Why would the White House do something like this, you might wonder? It could have something to do with the movie’s well-timed release date – a month before the 2012 election.
At the moment, there aren’t many details about what type of information is actually being given to the production company. We only know that Maureen Dowd (who broke the story) characterized it as “top-level access” to the mission, which could encompass a whole range of possibilities.
Last week, an appeals “court” in Cuba rejected the request of an American citizen, Alan Gross, to be freed from the 15-year sentence he was given in March of this year after being convicted of subversion. The 61-year-old Gross, a tourist who worked as a subcontractor for the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), was arrested in March of 2009 after bringing communications equipment to a small Jewish community on the communist island. The paranoid government sees these openings to the outside world as subversive and punishes them with prison terms long enough to be death sentences.
Throughout Gross’s imprisonment, the Obama administration has attempted quietly, through backdoor channels, to secure his release. After two American journalists were captured in North Korea two years ago, the Obama administration sent former President Bill Clinton to secure their release. With Gross, they tried something similar, sending President Jimmy Carter, but this time the former president came home empty-handed.
With Texas Governor Rick Perry seemingly on the verge of declaring his candidacy for the presidency, he can expect to be the object of more scrutiny in the coming days and weeks. But along with the inevitable attempts to dig up dirt on every aspect of his career as well as his family, there will also be an attempt to understand his positions on vital issues. Foreign Policy has tried to decipher what positions a Perry administration might take abroad, and the results will probably encourage most conservatives.
According to FP, Perry has been listening to briefings from former Bush administration officials like Doug Feith, William Luti and even former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. The upshot is Perry might have more in common with the neoconservative wing of the Republican Party than the isolationists.
Click on this link to watch something absolutely extraordinary. It’s an exchange on a British television show between two politicians—a Labourite named Harriet Harman and a Conservative named Michael Gove, a Scot who worked for many years as an editorial writer and editor at The Times in London. Gove puts on the single most impressive display of one-on-one ideological and moral combat I’ve ever seen, akin to watching Chris Christie go after a reporter. Only Christie speaks in the tones of a world-weary, no-bull kind of guy who’s sick of the nonsense. As the program goes on here, Gove becomes genuinely outraged, and for very good reason.
Mitch McConnell and John Boehner named their super committee appointments earlier today, and, other than the absence of Paul Ryan, the final list had few surprises.
Boehner avoided choosing any freshman or Tea Partiers, and instead tapped veteran Reps. Jeb Hensarling, Dave Camp and Fred Upton. When the Democrats call the House Republicans “hostage-takers,” these guys are not the ones they’re referring to. Upton and Camp are both members of the moderate Republican Main Street Partnership, and Hensarling is closely aligned with House Republican leadership.
The results of last night’s recall elections in Wisconsin left the Republican governing authority intact, but the fact remains the GOP immediately lost two seats and came within a few thousand votes from losing its majority, while the Republican governor’s approval ratings continue to tank. The rallying cry of “hey–it could have been (and almost was) much worse” is not the best justification to celebrate.
That the state GOP was not completely steamrolled in recall elections is good for the party’s fight against public unions. But if this is celebrated as an unqualified “win,” the national Republican party will fail to learn important lessons from the public’s response to Scott Walker’s policies.
The union crusade against Republican state senators in Wisconsin came a cropper last night when four of the six who were subjected to a recall election were re-elected. Of the two who were defeated, one was from a basically Democratic district and the other had personal issues, involving a mistress and wife who supported the recall.
So the Wisconsin state senate will stay in Republican hands, and the recall election against Governor Scott Walker planned for next year will probably be abandoned.
Both the United States and Israel are expending a great deal of time and effort trying to convince United Nations member states to oppose the Palestinian effort to gain the world body’s recognition for their independence in the 1967 lines. The UN gambit has been viewed as a terrible threat to Israel, where leaders have warned a vote on the Palestinians’ request could set off a “diplomatic tsunami.” But as harmful as this debate may be to Israel’s standing in the world, it is becoming increasingly clear the effort is a gigantic bluff.
Haaretz noted yesterday the London-based Arab daily Al Sharq al-Awsat newspaper reported the Palestinian Authority was planning to delay its UN bid. The article said they feared setting off an economic crisis in the territories because the effort was bound to cause a cutoff of American aid. Though this was quickly denied by the PA’s Saeb Erekat, who claimed the “train had already left the station,” the disastrous implications for the Palestinians of this effort to evade peace talks and escalate the conflict are clear.
One of the reasons I like Jon Stewart, apart from his comedic talent (which is considerable), is that while he’s admittedly liberal, there can also be an impressive fair-mindedness to him. A case in point is Stewart taking Tina Brown and Newsweek to task for their deliberately unflattering photo of Representative Michele Bachmann. He exposes Brown’s blatantly false explanation the photo is meant to capture the “intensity” of Bachmann: “Be honest, Newsweek, you used that photo in a petty attempt to make Michele Bachmann look crazy.” Stewart added, “You’ve got to go pretty far out of your way to find a crappy photo of Michele Bachmann, and you did.”
Stewart is no fan of Michele Bachmann, as he makes clear. But he’s more honest exposing bias in the media than most of the media is. Which makes Stewart not only funnier than most journalists but more intellectually honest than many of them, too. (h/t: mediaite.com)
House Speaker John Boehner has released his three appointments for the super committee, and one name is conspicuously missing:
- House Republican Conference Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX)
- House Ways & Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-MI)
- House Energy & Commerce Committee Chairman Fred Upton (R-MI)
Speaker Boehner has tapped Chairman Hensarling to serve as a co-chair of the joint select committee.
A Siena College New York Poll released today brings encouraging news for Republicans hoping for an upset win in the special congressional election to replace Anthony Weiner. The survey shows Republican Robert Turner trailing Democrat David Weprin by only six percentage points with the latter holding a 48-42 percent lead.
This puts Turner within striking distance with five weeks to go before the vote, a development that ought to worry Democrats. However, the one issue some believed might help turn the election might not be as important as we thought. Though former New York City Mayor Ed Koch has called upon Jewish voters to abandon the Democrats in the election in order to send a message protesting President Obama’s pressure on Israel, the poll shows the Jewish vote is still firmly in Weprin’s pocket with the latter holding a 56-35 percentage point lead.
In April, Human Events published a column offering ten reasons Sarah Palin will run for president. Last month, Fox News host Greta Van Susteren blogged about the seven reasons Palin will run for president. Then last week, Henry D’Andrea, writing in the Washington Times, offered three reasons he believes Palin will run for president.
Though I’ve been skeptical all along that Palin would run, I would imagine the entrance of Rick Perry into the race will give Palin one very good reason not to. Perry’s candidacy has, as many others have pointed out, put several of the Republican campaigns on life support. As I wrote last week, the latest Gallup poll numbers show once Perry is included, Republican primary voters show substantially less interest in candidates outside the field. There may still be calls for Paul Ryan or Chris Christie to get in the race, but Perry has quieted the clamoring for “someone else.” But the numbers also show why he easily replaces Palin.
In the last few weeks, President Obama and his administration have blamed our struggling economy and/or the downgrading of America’s credit rating on the Arab Spring, the earthquake and tsunami in Japan, events in Europe, the GOP, the Tea Party, talk radio, Standard & Poor’s, the previous decade and his predecessor. Some of these excuses are familiar, predictable and a bit tiresome. But some of the excuses, like pinning blame for our fiscal crisis on protests in Tahrir Square and 130 foot waves that slammed the coast of Tohoku, shows a certain creativity.
If those responsible for America’s failures is an ever-expanding list, there is one person who escapes any responsibility, who is always fenced off from blame, who remains pure of heart, who alone rises above partisan squabbling, and whose analysis and decisions are unfailingly wise. That would be Obama. The president escapes blame despite the fact (a) his legislative agenda was implemented virtually whole during the first half of his presidency; and (b) he made a slew of promises regarding job growth, unemployment, our deficit and economic growth that have simply failed to materialize.
Yesterday’s Politico report on the Obama campaign’s plan to “kill Romney” has had some interesting unintended consequences. While the premise of the president’s strategists is Mitt Romney is the Republican best placed to threaten the president’s re-election, their decision to leak their intention to do everything possible to destroy him has had the opposite effect.
Rather than scaring off Republicans who will hope to avoid the Democratic effort to brand him as “weird,” Romney has already used the attack as material for an effective campaign video and fundraiser titled “Civility.” Even more troubling for the president is that other journalists are beginning to pick up on the fact the “weird” charge is a thinly veiled incitement to religious prejudice.
$20 million – that’s how much labor unions and their Democratic supporters reportedly poured into the recall elections in Wisconsin. They outspent Republicans two-to-one. And yet they fell short at taking control of the Wisconsin state senate, only winning two out of the six Republican seats they attempted to recall.
It’s a crushing blow to the unions, especially coming on the heels of their failure to oust Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser just a few months ago. The Washington Post’s “The Fix” blog reports this isn’t just a defeat for labor, but also for the progressive movement:
In a “news analysis” in today’s New York Times, Helene Cooper, the paper’s White House correspondent, let drop a phrase we’re going to be hearing a lot in the next 17 months: “one term presidency.” Playing off of President Obama’s vainglorious boast of a year ago that he would rather be a good one-term president than a mediocre two-term chief executive, Cooper asks whether he really meant it.
At this point, the question is irrelevant. The president has taken no heroic yet unpopular stands that will be vindicated by history. The reason why Obama’s chances for a second term are rapidly vanishing is that even many of his former admirers are coming to grips with the fact he wasn’t ready for the job. And with the economy sinking on his watch, even his cheerleaders at the Times are conceding there is little, if anything, he can do to change things. As the president demonstrated in his speech on Monday about the downgrading of the national credit rating, he is out of ideas and has nothing to offer but more of the same partisan wrangling he claims to wants to rise above. Though the outcome of the 2012 election will depend in large measure on the abilities and electability of his Republican opponent, that just means it will be the GOP’s race to lose.
The rioting in England has moved from London to the cities of Manchester, Liverpool, and Birmingham. And if the violence started out as a localized and ethnically defined expression of rage over the police shooting of a black man, it has since become a hooligan’s free-for-all.
England has become a bonfire for every left-wing gripe and excuse you can name. There’s the claim of racial injustice, of course, but there’s also the call to class warfare. Young British looters explained to the BBC that they’ve been “showing the rich we do what we want.” There is the demand for the continuation of the unbridled welfare state. In the Guardian, Nina Power describes the riots as a response to “brutal cuts” in government spending. And anarchists have joined the fray. One self-proclaimed British anarchist told the Associated Press, “This is the uprising of the working class. We’re redistributing the wealth.” Read More