The new bin Laden documents make clear that there was intelligence politicization during the 2012 campaign.
Jenna Lifhits reports: A top foreign correspondent at the New York Times said Friday that the Obama administration deliberately downplayed al Qaeda’s strength in the run-up to the 2012 presidential election.
“The overall narrative that I think was being pushed to the press, and if you look back at the editorials that were done when that trove came out, was an image of bin Laden isolated, he had lost control of this group,” Rukmini Callimachi said during an event at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, referring to the 17 hand-picked documents released by the Obama administration in May of 2012.
“The narrative I would get is that . . . it had opportunistically taken the al Qaeda name in order to have prestige and scare people, and that in fact those people were just criminals.”
— Rukmini Callimachi
Her remarks triggered the following question from Kim Dozier, a former top correspondent for the Associated Press and CBS, and current executive editor of the Cipher Brief: “Do you think that was something that was kept from the public’s view because it revealed that there had to be reams of communication going back and forth, which means U.S. intelligence, Western intelligence, was missing this?”
“Suddenly, my worldview, which had been informed by officials . . . started to fall apart. Suddenly, I was seeing that this group that I was told really had no ties, with no connection . . . was in fact being micromanaged by al Qaeda central.”
— Rukmini Callimachi
“Think back to when bin Laden was killed. It was 2011, it was right before a major campaign season. I don’t want to underplay the role that the killing of Osama bin Laden had,” said Callimachi. “But I think that that was theorized into something much bigger.”
“The head of the organization has been killed, and now—these are literally quotes that I would get: the organization has been ‘decimated,’ the organization is in ‘disarray,’ the organization is ‘on the run,’” she continued. “At the same time that we were preparing to pull out troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, I think that it was important to portray this as a problem that no longer existed.”
* * *The Trump administration released roughly 470,000 files in November that were captured in the Abbottabad raid. Only a few hundred were released under the Obama administration, despite one official’s description of the haul as enough to fill a “small college library.”
When Callimachi was covering West Africa in 2011, Obama administration officials and others told her that al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), which had just taken over the northern half of Mali, “was actually not really connected to al Qaeda.” Read the rest of this entry »
[VIDEO] Too little, Too Late? US ‘Retaliates’ Against Russia: Steve Hayes, Mollie Hemingway, Charles KrauthammerPosted: December 29, 2016
[VIDEO] Jonah Goldberg with Bill Kristol: Trump’s Candidacy, Conservative Exile, and ‘Liberal Fascism’ RevisitedPosted: July 18, 2016
‘The Newsletterist of Our Time’. My favorite part appears at 1:16:03 – 1:32:20, where Jonah discusses some important books and essays that have influenced his writing. Spoiler: Goldberg, a bonafide scholar and ‘deep diver’ as an adult (the recommended readings discussed here include some of the most influential texts of 20th century conservative thought) was an ardent fan of science fiction and comics as a young man. Jonah’s absurdist flourishes and madcap pop-culture riffing are a happy result of this early influence. I’ve often thought Goldberg could easily ended up as a screenwriter, or sitcom/variety show writer, but accidentally became a professional conservative instead.
Exit question: Is American conservatism preparing to go into exile? As the two leading presidential candidates offer competing versions of statism? Watch the whole thing.
The National Review senior editor on Donald Trump’s candidacy. Click “Show more” to view all chapters. For more conversations, visit conversationswithbillkristol.org
Chapter 1 (00:15 – 41:02): On Trump and Conservatism
Chapter 2 (41:02 – 57:38): Liberal Fascism Revisited
Chapter 3 (57:38 – 1:16:03): Liberalism, Conservatism, and 2016
Chapter 4 (1:16:03 – 1:32:20): Suggested Reading Read the rest of this entry »
Photo of the 2,242 page omnibus and tax deal. Voting could happen as soon as Thursday night.
Jeffrey H. Anderson With a deadline looming, congressional leaders unveiled “sweeping” tax and spending legislation late last night. The result makes one wonder whether congressional Republicans negotiate directly with President Obama on these deals, or whether they just send corporate lobbyists to do so, thereby cutting out the middle man.
“The deal would adopt environmental and renewable measures that Democrats want. These include extending wind and solar tax credits, reauthorizing a conservation fund for three years and excluding any measures that block major administration environmental regulations.”
The Wall Street Journal reports, “The agreement…is expected to suspend for two years a tax on medical devices and delay for two years the scheduled 2018 start of the so-called Cadillac tax on high-cost employer health plans.” Each of these “fixes” to Obamacare will make deep-pocketed groups that much less interested in full repeal in 2017, while the suspension of the Cadillac tax will also make it that much harder to pass the conservative alternative needed to make full repeal a reality. The delay of that tax is also a big win for labor unions.
“Lawmakers and aides said the spending bill doesn’t include any restrictions on the resettlement of Syrian and Iraqi refugees into the U.S.”
But that’s just the beginning.
The new Office takes the work out of working together.
Take a look at the new Office.
The Journal also reports that “the deal would adopt environmental and renewable measures that Democrats want. These include extending wind and solar tax credits, reauthorizing a conservation fund for three years and excluding any measures that block major administration environmental regulations.”
And that’s not all: “Lawmakers and aides said the spending bill doesn’t include any restrictions on the resettlement of Syrian and Iraqi refugees into the U.S.” (It does, however, reportedly “limit certain travel privileges granted to citizens of 38 friendly foreign countries that are allowed to enter the U.S. without obtaining a visa.”) Read the rest of this entry »
The Clinton Clock: 24 Hour Advance Notice Required for Press Credentials to Cover Event Announced…Only a Few Hours AgoPosted: March 10, 2015
— The Weekly Standard (@weeklystandard) March 9, 2015
Failure Upon Failure
Stephen F. Hayes writes: A year before his first inauguration, Barack Obama laid out the objective of his presidency: to renew faith and trust in activist government and transform the country. In an hourlong interview with the editorial board of the Reno Gazette-Journal on January 16, 2008, Obama said that his campaign was already “shifting the political paradigm” and promised that his presidency would do the same.
“Journalists not only swallowed this legend, many of them promoted it. Obama didn’t appear ideological to influential political reporters because they shared his views. He wasn’t liberal, he was right.”
His model would be Ronald Reagan, who “put us on a fundamentally different path,” in a way that distinguished him from leaders who were content merely to occupy the office. “I think that Ronald Reagan changed the trajectory of America in a way that Richard Nixon did not. And in a way that Bill Clinton did not.”
If Reagan sought to minimize the role of government in the lives of Americans, Obama set out to do the opposite. “We’ve had a federal government that I think has gotten worn down and ineffective over the course of the Bush administration, partly because philosophically this administration did not believe in government as an agent of change,” he complained.
“I want to make government cool again,” he said.
“When he’s not on the golf course, the president seems to spend most of his time fundraising for vulnerable Democrats, threatening executive action on those things he can’t accomplish by leading, and working to minimize crises of his own making. This is a failed presidency.”
Obama believed in government, and he was confident that his election would signal that the American people were ready to believe again, too.
“Rather than restore faith in government, the Obama presidency has all but destroyed it.”
As we approach the sixth anniversary of his election, the Obama presidency is in tatters. Obama’s policies, foreign and domestic, are widely seen as failed or failing. His approval rating is near its lowest point. Obama’s base of support is loyal and fierce and shrinking. Much of the country sees him as incompetent or untrustworthy, and government, far from being “cool,” is a joke on good days and a threat on bad ones.
Max Boot writes: Last week brought a reminder of what the United States has lost since Bob Gates and Leon Panetta left the Obama cabinet. Both are straight shooters with a centrist, hardheaded sensibility.
“What happened? How did the centrist Obama of his early years in office give way to the dovish Obama of more recent times? “
Panetta has been making headlines with his criticism of Obama on 60 Minutes for pulling out of Iraq too soon (“I really thought that it was important for us to maintain a presence in Iraq”) and not doing more early on to aid the Syrian opposition (“we pay the price for not doing that in what we see happening with ISIS”).
“Obama suffers from the not uncommon defect of the intellectually able: He imagines that he is always the smartest guy in the room and thus has trouble taking advice that does not accord with his own predilections.”
Meanwhile, Gates has been critical of Obama for prohibiting U.S. “boots on the ground” to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria: “The reality is, they’re not gonna be able to be successful against ISIS strictly from the air, or strictly depending on the Iraqi forces, or the Peshmerga, or the Sunni tribes acting on their own,” he told CBS This Morning. “So there will be boots on the ground if there’s to be any hope of success in the strategy. And I think that by continuing to repeat that [the United States won’t put boots on the ground], the president, in effect, traps himself.”
[Check out Max Boot’s “Invisible Armies: An Epic History of Guerrilla Warfare from Ancient Times to the Present” at Amazon.com]
In retrospect, it is clear, the first Obama term—when Gates was at Defense (followed by Panetta), Panetta at CIA (followed by General David Petraeus), Hillary Clinton at State, Admiral Mike Mullen at the Joint Chiefs, and retired General Jim Jones at the National Security Council—was a golden age (by Obama standards) when there were grown-ups more or less in charge of U.S. foreign policy. Obama at first tended to accede to the advice of his more seasoned foreign policy hands because as a first-term senator he was acutely aware of his own lack of experience or credibility in the field. Read the rest of this entry »
Reality Check: Al Qaeda Wasn’t ‘on the Run’
Stephen F. Hayes writes: In the early morning hours of May 2, 2011, an elite team of 25 American military and intelligence professionals landed inside the walls of a compound just outside the Pakistani city of Abbottabad. CIA analysts had painstakingly tracked a courier to the compound and spent months monitoring the activity inside the walls. They’d concluded, with varying levels of confidence, that the expansive white building at the center of the lot was the hideout of Osama bin Laden.
“Many of the analysts and military experts with access to the documents were struck by a glaring contradiction: As President Obama and his team campaigned on the coming demise of al Qaeda in the runup to the 2012 election, the documents told a very different story.”
They were correct. And minutes after the team landed, the search for bin Laden ended with a shot to his head.
The primary objective of Operation Neptune Spear was to capture or kill the leader of al Qaeda. But a handful of those on the ground that night were part of a “Sensitive Site Exploitation” team that had a secondary mission: to gather as much intelligence from the compound as they could.
“As the public heard this carefully managed story about al Qaeda, analysts at CENTCOM were poring over documents that showed something close to the opposite.”
With bin Laden dead and the building secure, they got to work. Moving quickly—as locals began to gather outside the compound and before the Pakistani military, which had not been notified of the raid in advance, could scramble its response—they shoved armload after armload of bin Laden’s belongings into large canvas bags. The entire operation took less than 40 minutes.
The intelligence trove was immense. At a Pentagon briefing one day after the raid, a senior official described the haul as a “robust collection of materials.” It included 10 hard drives, nearly 100 thumb drives, and a dozen cell phones—along with data cards, DVDs, audiotapes, magazines, newspapers, paper files. Read the rest of this entry »
“This business about a lawsuit and talk of impeachment is pathetic.”
On ABC’s This Week, apparently having dipped into the NYT’s cannabis stash before going on the air, continues.
“It is a very sad spectacle, and history will look back on this Congress with a very, very critical eye.”
History will look back on which branch of the government with a very, very critical eye?
Later in the show, Remnick insisted that it was shameful that a majority of the Republican party was in favor of impeachment.
Really. A majority of the Republican party?
There you have it. If the editor of The New Yorker says it on ABC’s This Week, it must be true.
William Kristol weighs in:
…the overwhelming reason to kill the bill is that it’s not going to become law anyway. The president and the Senate leadership have made clear they’ll never accept it. So what’s the point of passing it? Leadership’s answer is—well, we’ll get credit for trying to do something. But will they? From whom? The mainstream media? Then the media will focus on what further compromises the GOP leadership will accept in September, on why Republicans won’t go to conference with the original Senate bill or parts of it, and on splits in GOP ranks about immigration…
…The president’s approval rating is slipping to historic lows. Let it continue to slide. Don’t bail him out by jamming though a bill that divides Republicans, will confuse voters, won’t become law anyway, muddies responsibility for the border fiasco, and takes the spotlight off what should be the focus of the August recess–President Obama’s failed policies and Congressional Democrats’ support for them…(read more)
For The Weekly Standard, Ellen Bork reports: Over half a million people filled the streets of Hong Kong on July 1, marching for democracy on the anniversary of the British colony’s handover to Chinese Communist rule in 1997.
On June 29, an unofficial referendum organized by democracy activists concluded with 800,000 votes cast—more than one-tenth of Hong Kong’s population. The overwhelming majority supported a democratic election for Hong Kong’s next chief executive.
“The Obama administration’s response to the massive display of support for democracy has been more appropriate to a teenager shrugging ‘whatever’ than a major power expressing itself on a central pillar of the president’s Asia policy.”
Beijing has promised that in 2017, the Hong Kong chief executive will be popularly elected. Hoping to tamp down expectations of an actual democratic election with a competitive nomination process, however, Beijing issued a white paper on June 10 that identified “loving the country” as the “basic political requirement” for civil servants, including the chief executive. For Beijing, “love” means loyalty to the Communist party, disdain for civil liberties undergirded by the rule of law, and hostility to democracy. Read the rest of this entry »
For The Weekly Standard, Mark Hemingway writes: Someone I’m related to by marriage has written a superb column on the problem of media ignorance. The fact I’m not a disinterested observer shouldn’t stop me from noting that the column and the event that prompted it has attracted some attention. The piece is pegged to a much discussed interview talk radio star Hugh Hewitt conducted with Zach Carter, the Huffington Post’s “senior political economy reporter.”
[Also see – Mollie Hemingway on Media Illiteracy]
Hewitt asked Carter why he was spouting off various critical opinions related to Dick Cheney and the 2003 invasion of Iraq. Certainly, Carter’s not alone here — the rise of ISIS has had liberal journalists queuing up to insist President Obama bears minimal responsibility for the disintegration of the situation in Iraq. Joe Biden bet his vice presidency Iraq would extend the Status of Forces Agreement, and had they not failed, it might well have prevented the current mess. But here we are.
“The problem is ultimately not Carter’s ignorance. The problem is that we live in an environment where you can become a “senior political economy reporter” for a major news organization at age 28.”
Still, perhaps there are reasons to criticize Cheney and the invasion of Iraq, but the trouble was that Carter couldn’t articulate any of them substantively, and what’s more, Hewitt asked a series of questions establishing that Carter doesn’t even have an acceptable baseline of knowledge to spout off on the topic. Some of the questions, such as whether Carter has read specific books, might seem pedantic. Others seemed to be a pretty basic litmus test about knowledge of al Qaeda and the U.S.’s involvement in Iraq. Read the rest of this entry »
For The Weekly Standard, Daniel Halper reports: The IRS comissioner insists his agency did not break the law or relevant statutes. But under questioning by Rep. Trey Gowdy, the IRS commissioner also admitted that he doesn’t know the law or the relevant statutes:
“You have already said, multiple times today, that there was no evidence that you found of any criminal wrongdoing,” Gowdy said. “I want you to tell me: What criminal statutes you have evaluated?”
“Common sense? Instead of the criminal code, you want to rely on common sense?”
“I have not looked at any,” the IRS commissioner admitted.
“Well then how can you possibly tell our fellow citizens that there is no criminal wrongdoing if you don’t even know what statutes to look at?” Gowdy followed-up. Read the rest of this entry »
For The Weekly Standard, Michael Warren writes: Republican congressman Jim Jordan of Ohio excoriated the Internal Revenue Service commissioner Monday night in a House hearing looking into the agency’s malfeasance regarding conservative non-profit groups…(read more) The Weekly Standard
Watch the exchange below:
Koskinen says he “did nothing” when he learned of the lost emails, despite the fact that both Congress and the FBI were investigating the abuse by IRS officials, led by Lerner. A visibly irritated Jordan tried to get a straight answer…
William Kristol: ‘…Even if it Were Discovered That Barack Obama Personally Took a Hammer to Lois Lerner’s hard drive in the Lincoln Bedroom…’Posted: June 20, 2014
2016 or Bust
Here’s another set of precedents to cheer us up—if we can survive the next two years. Since World War II, the party seeking to hold the White House for a third term has done significantly worse than it did in the preceding presidential election. Here are the numbers…
For The Weekly Standard, William Kristol writes: Commenting on the results of the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journalsurvey, NBC’s Chuck Todd remarked, “This poll is a disaster for the president.” Indeed, he continued, “essentially the public is saying, ‘Your presidency is over.’ ”
We’re generally inclined to defend our presidential system of government as opposed to a parliamentary alternative. But if we weren’t so set in our ways and such fans of the Founders, this is one of those moments that could lead us to rethink our allegiance. It sure would be nice to be able to move a vote of no confidence in an American parliament right now, and take the issue of who should govern to the country. It would be wonderful not to be stuck with Barack Obama for two and a half more years. But it isn’t over. It won’t be over for two and a half years. And that’s a problem.
“…in our system, even if it were discovered that Barack Obama personally took a hammer to Lois Lerner’s hard drive in the Lincoln bedroom, and Obama were impeached and convicted, we’d end up with President Joe Biden. Which would be good for the late night comedians, but no better for America.”
“I am very optimistic about — about Iraq. I mean, this could be one of the great achievements of this administration.”
“You’re going to see 90,000 American troops come marching home by the end of the summer. You’re going to see a stable government in Iraq that is actually moving toward a representative government.”
“I spent — I’ve been there 17 times now. I go about every two months — three months. I know every one of the major players in all of the segments of that society. It’s impressed me. I’ve been impressed how they have been deciding to use the political process rather than guns to settle their differences.”
For Businessweek, Joshua Green writes: Last year the conservative Heritage Foundation had more influence on the direction of the Republican Party than just about anyone else—and not necessarily for the better. Over the summer, the conservative think tank’s president, former South Carolina Senator Jim DeMint, teamed up with Texas Senator Ted Cruz and other lawmakers on a cross-country tour to convince party activists, and eventually GOP leaders, that they could stop Obamacare by refusing to fund it.
“We came to the realization that the mainstream media had really abdicated the responsibility to do the news and do it well.”
DeMint forced a showdown because he wanted Republicans to unify around his vision of an unapologetic hardline conservatism—a vision he thinks most Americans will support if given the chance. That led to a government shutdown, a collapse of conservative will, and plenty of angry recriminations from fellow Republicans.
“We plan to do political and policy news, not with a conservative bent, but just true, straight-down-the-middle journalism.”
— Geoffrey Lysaught
Now Heritage has a new plan to exert its influence and, its leaders hope, win converts to the cause. On June 3 it will begin publishing the Daily Signal, a new digital news site whose primary focus will be straight reporting. “We came to the realization that the mainstream media had really abdicated the responsibility to do the news and do it well,” says Geoffrey Lysaught, vice president of strategic communications at the Heritage Foundation, who will also serve as publisher. The site aims to rectify the conservative perception that mainstream news slants to the left. “We plan to do political and policy news,” says Lysaught, “not with a conservative bent, but just true, straight-down-the-middle journalism.”
How does this help Heritage? The Daily Signal will also publish an opinion section aimed at a younger audience that isn’t thumbing through the editorial pages of theWall Street Journal. Heritage is betting that these readers, attracted to the Daily Signal’s news, will find themselves persuaded by the conservative commentary and analysis that will draw on the think tank’s scholars and researchers. Read the rest of this entry »
Death is inescapable, but so is a craving for immortality. And for carbohydrates. You’d better skip those if you want to see 120…
For The Weekly Standard, Charlotte Allen writes: Aubrey de Grey, 51, is the man who insists that within a few decades technology will enable us human beings to beat death and live forever. Actually, he’s not the only one to make these assertions—that death is a problem to be solved, not a fate to be endured—but he is the only one I know of togive eternal life an exciting, just-around-the-corner timeline. “Someone is alive right now who is going to live to be 1,000 years old,” he told me when I interviewed him last fall at the SENS (for “Strategically Engineered Negligible Senescence”) Research Foundation headquarters, a well-worn 3,000-square-foot cement building in the Silicon Valley flatlands where de Grey holds the title of chief science officer. He has made this prophecy to a number of reporters—and this is what makes de Grey the most famous of a growing number of people who have staked their lifestyles and futures on the prospect of never dying. He is constantly interviewed by the press, has written a 2007 book, Ending Aging, and has given at least two of the TED talks that are a genius-certification ritual for public intellectuals these days.
The British-born de Grey, with a doctorate in biology from Cambridge, is also the single most colorful figure in the living-forever movement, where colorful figures generously abound. “I look as though I’m in my 30s,” he informed me after we settled, first into a cluttered conference room dominated by an enormous scribbled-over whiteboard, and then into a low-ceilinged lounge whose mélange of hard-bounce chairs and sofas looks as though it was scrounged from sidewalk discards. And maybe he does look that young, but it’s hard to tell, because his waist-length, waterfall-style beard—a de Grey trademark—gives him the look of an extremely spry Methuselah, who, according to the Bible, made it only to 969 years. De Grey is actually of the phenotype Ageless British Eccentric: English Rose cheeks, piercing blue eyes, and someone-please-make-him-a-sandwich slenderness; his tomato-red shirt and gray slacks hang from angular shoulders and legs. Bony frames that verge on gauntness are a hallmark of the living-forever movement, most of whose members hew to severe dietary restrictions in order to prolong their lives while they wait for science to catch up with death. De Grey, by contrast, claims to eat whatever he likes and also to drink massive quantities of carb-loaded English ale, working it all off by punting on the River Cam in the four months a year he spends doing research back at Cambridge. (During the rest of the year he lives in Los Gatos, a picturesque Victorian town in the Santa Cruz Mountains 14 miles southeast of Mountain View.)
De Grey subscribes to the reigning theory of the live-forever movement: that aging, the process by which living things ultimately wear themselves out and die, isn’t an inevitable part of the human condition. Instead, aging is just another disease, not really different in kind from any of the other serious ailments, such as heart failure or cancer, that kill us. And as with other diseases, de Grey believes that aging has a cure or series of cures that scientists will eventually discover. “Aging is a side effect of being alive,” he said during our interview. “The human body is exactly the same as a car or an airplane. It’s a machine, and any machine, if you run it, will effect changes on itself that require repairs. Living systems have a great deal of capacity for self-repair, but over time some of those changes only accumulate very slowly, so we don’t notice them until we are very old.” Read the rest of this entry »
Monotony Motors: Why today’s cars all look alike
For The Weekly Standard, Patrick Cooke writes: Anyone who’s ever misplaced the family car in a parking lot at the mall must surely sense that we are not living in a golden era of automobile design. Gazing in panic out across that vast tar pit, every car seems to look like every other car. Late-model midsize sedans and compacts, especially, appear nearly identical. It’s no help that there are only a handful of basic paint colors to offer clues: white, black, silver, and gray. The quest appears to be at an end when you climb behind the wheel and realize that you are . . . in somebody else’s car.
When doors open this week at the New York International Auto Show, the grumbling will continue, as it has for the past few years, that there isn’t much new and different to see. The public once flocked to auto shows to marvel at groundbreaking designs created by giants in the field like Harley Earl at General Motors who “styled” magnificent sculptures in the early to mid 20th century. They bore names like Firebird and Golden Rocket. Today, mileage standards and safety regulations largely determine what most cars rolling off assembly lines look like. Auto styling may not yet be a dead art, but the artists have certainly been thwarted. As standardization by governments has taken hold—there are more than 200 safety and environmental regulations that go into building a car—the challenge for designers is no longer to create something uniquely beautiful, but to turn out a product that’s in compliance—and hope people buy the result.
The Washington Examiner’s Ashe Schow reports: A White House adviser had to walk back the oft-repeated myth that women make 77 cents on the dollar that men make after being questioned about the figure during a conference call Monday.
While detailing executive actions President Obama plans to take Tuesday regarding equal pay for women, Betsey Stevenson, a member of the White House Council of Economic Advisers, said very defiantly that despite women contributing 44 percent of their household incomes, they continue to make less than men. Obama has declared Tuesday “Equal Pay Day” to highlight his administration’s focus on that issue.
Bonus: From The Weekly Standard:
CBS: WH ‘Roughed Up By Its Own Pay Equity Rhetoric’
“The White House is getting, as you indicated Norah, roughed up by its own pay equity rhetoric,” reported Major Garrett. “In an analysis of White House salaries, which nobody here disputes, shows that the median income of female staffers is 88 percent of that of male staffers.”
“Now the study also showed that men and women with the same White House jobs earn exactly the same salary. Now the White House said its gender pay gap is tied to job experience, education, and hours worked among other factors. This matters because those explanations, according to the Labor Department, explain a good deal of the gender pay gap nationally…(read more)
“They’re stuck at 77 cents on the dollar, and that gender wage gap is seen very persistently across the income distribution, within occupations, across occupations, and we see it when men and women are working side by side doing identical work.”
In late March, President Obama took a week-long trip through Europe which included a stop of less than 24 hours in Brussels, Belgium for meetings with the European Union and NATO. The president stayed at The Hotel, a twenty-seven story hotel in the center of the city. The estimated cost for the president’s stay, including about two weeks for an advance team, was $1,522,646.36.
I saw this press conference, early this morning. A few things stood out. One, the Dutch press was blunt and direct, asking the U.S. President uncomfortable questions. More than we see here. No softballs. Two, Obama talked too much, long, meandering, answers. And three, he was on the defensive, for the entire press conference.
“With respect to Mr. Romney’s assertion that Russia is our number one geopolitical foe, the truth of the matter is that America has a whole lot of challenges…”
He goes in circles for a long time, barely making sense.
“So my response then continues to be what I believe today, which is: Russia’s actions are a problem. They don’t pose the number one national security threat to the United States. I continue to be much more concerned when it comes to our security with the prospect of a nuclear weapon going off in Manhattan.”
[VIDEO] Rehearsal: White House Press Secretary Gets Questions from Reporters Before Press Briefing – Debunked?Posted: March 20, 2014
Catherine Anaya, from Phoenix’s KPHO-TV, says she was mistaken for saying members of the White House Press Corps submit questions to press secretary Jay Carney before the daily televised press briefing. Read more: nydailynews.com
The Weekly Standard reports: A CBS reporter from Arizona reveals that President Obama’s press secretary, Jay Carney, receives questions from the press in advance of his daily press briefing. In fact, she says, the reporters often receive the answers in advance of the briefing, too.
“…unless it’s something breaking, the questions that the reporters actually ask — the correspondents — they are provided to him in advance. So then he knows what he’s going to be answering and sometimes those correspondents and reporters also have those answers printed in front of them, because of course it helps when they’re producing their reports for later on. So that was very interesting.”
“I Dont Have Time to Waste. The Clock Is Ticking…”
The Weekly Standard‘s Daniel Halper reports: President Obama knows that his time is almost up. It’s a point he’s making to liberal Democratic donors to get them to donate generously in this year’s mid-term election.
“We have our blind spots and we have our dogmas and we’ve got our crazy folks…”
At a Democratic fundraiser last night in New York City, President Obama said, “I hope you will all step up because, although I’m very optimistic about our long-term trends, the notion that we would waste two years in further inaction rather than move boldly on a path that I think all of us in this room agree on — we don’t have time to waste.”
The president continued, “I don’t have time to waste. The clock is ticking…
The Daily Caller‘s Brendan Bordelon writes: Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer questioned President Barack Obama’s new climate change push on Monday, claiming “the president pretends that this is settled science” when in reality there is little the United States can do to reverse global carbon emissions.
[Charles’ book: Things That Matter: Three Decades of Passions, Pastimes and Politics at Amazon]
The Weekly Standard‘s Daniel Halper writes: Richard Engel reported last night on NBC that all visitors to the Sochi Olympics are getting hacked as soon as their electronic devices connect to any Russian network:
“As tourists and families of athletes arrive in Sochi, if they haven’t been warned, and if they fire up their phones at baggage claim, it’s probably too late to save the integrity of their electronics and everything inside them. Visitors to Russia can expect to be hacked. And as Richard Engel found out upon his arrival there, it’s not a matter of if, but when,” reports NBC’s Brian Williams.
Gary Schmitt writes: Thankfully, President Obama is not a doctor. If he was and you happened to visit him in his office and mentioned that you were worried about the potential for lung cancer, he’d immediately put you under, open you up, and pull out a lung—or, at least, that’s the logic that seems to be guiding his decisions on NSA’s collection programs. Yes, no one has found any evidence that NSA has broken the law, invaded constitutionally-protected privacy rights, or is about to. But never mind, it’s the very possibility that someday, somehow, NSA will jump the tracks that requires the president now to unduly complicate the use of what he admits has been an important counterterrorism tool.
The documentary, Boogie Man: The Lee Atwater Story, features a clip of President George H.W. Bush’s 1989 Inaugural Address, where Bush discusses the need to “make kinder the face of the nation” with regard to “those who cannot free themselves of enslavement to whatever addiction—drugs, welfare, the demoralization that rules the slums.”
Ken Jensen writes: Just when you were getting used to U.S. withdrawal from the Middle East, he comes our formal withdrawal from the Western Hemisphere. Yesterday, November 18, Secretary of State Kerry repudiated the Monroe Doctrine in a speech to the Inter-American Dialogue. Here’s what he said:
“When people speak of the Western Hemisphere, they often talk about transformations that have taken place, but the truth is one of the biggest transformations has happened right here in the United States of America. In the early days of our republic, the United States made a choice about its relationship with Latin America. President James Monroe, who was also a former Secretary of State, declared that the United States would unilaterally, and as a matter of fact, act as the protector of the region. The doctrine that bears his name asserted our authority to step in and oppose the influence of European powers in Latin America. And throughout our nation’s history, successive presidents have reinforced that doctrine and made a similar choice.
“Today, however, we have made a different choice. The era of the Monroe Doctrine is over. (Applause.) The relationship – that’s worth applauding. That’s not a bad thing. (Applause.) The relationship that we seek and that we have worked hard to foster is not about a United States declaration about how and when it will intervene in the affairs of other American states. It’s about all of our countries viewing one another as equals, sharing responsibilities, cooperating on security issues, and adhering not to doctrine, but to the decisions that we make as partners to advance the values and the interests that we share.”
Ah, ha! So that explains why the Obama administration pays little attention to Latin America. Why Iran and Hezbollah are permitted to run amok from Argentina to Mexico, why Latin drug cartels are allowed to make common cause with anti-U.S. Islamist groups in North Africa and the Middle East.
Next thing you know, the Iranians or the North Koreans or maybe even the Russians will give Fidel those missiles he’s always wanted and the whole world will truly be that partnership of equal vulnerability Obama and Kerry so cherish.
Ken Jensen is associate director of the American Center for Democracy for its Economic Warfare Institute.
The Weekly Standard‘s Ken Jensen writes: The cartoon above is from the Great Game era in Central Asia, when the British and Russians were in a contest for places like Afghanistan and Iran. It’s strongly (perhaps perversely) suggestive given current events.
Could it be that, in withdrawing from the Middle East, the United States believes the Russian bear will sit on the Persian (nuclear-clawed) cat and keep him in order—along with Assad in Syria and Hezbollah in Lebanon—so that the (cowardly) lion(s) of the West can stand by and do nothing?
Could this be the realpolitik fantasy that underlies Obama’s “multipolar” Middle East fantasy?