Tag Archives: Pajamas Media

Subterranean Agenda Blues

Kenneth T. Walsh at US News:

On March 12, 2010, President Obama welcomed me into the Oval Office for an interview for this book. Dressed in an elegant dark blue business suit and tie with an American flag pin in his left lapel, he was serene and confident. Behind him was the portrait of George Washington that has hung in the Oval Office for many years. Flanking that portrait were two busts added by Obama, reflecting his own values and heroes—behind him on his right was a likeness of Martin Luther King Jr., and on his left was one of Abraham Lincoln.

Obama was in a reflective mood. He began the interview by saying he had been “fully briefed” on my topic and was ready for me to “dive in.” He proceeded to methodically defend his effort to build a race-neutral administration. “Americans, since the victories of the civil rights movement, I think, have broadly come to accept the notion that everybody has to be treated equally; everybody has to be treated fairly,” the president told me. “And I think that the whole debate about how do you make up for past history creates a complicated wrinkle in that principle of equality.”

[…]

But Obama, in his most candid moments, acknowledged that race was still a problem. In May 2010, he told guests at a private White House dinner that race was probably a key component in the rising opposition to his presidency from conservatives, especially right-wing activists in the anti-incumbent “Tea Party” movement that was then surging across the country. Many middle-class and working-class whites felt aggrieved and resentful that the federal government was helping other groups, including bankers, automakers, irresponsible people who had defaulted on their mortgages, and the poor, but wasn’t helping them nearly enough, he said.

A guest suggested that when Tea Party activists said they wanted to “take back” their country, their real motivation was to stir up anger and anxiety at having a black president, and Obama didn’t dispute the idea. He agreed that there was a “subterranean agenda” in the anti-Obama movement—a racially biased one—that was unfortunate. But he sadly conceded that there was little he could do about it.

His goal, he said, was to be as effective and empathetic a president as possible for all Americans. If he could accomplish that, it would advance racial progress for blacks more than anything else he could do.

Mike Riggs at Daily Caller:

Pres. Obama has successfully avoided reducing the complex populist outrage of the Tea Party to racial anxiety–in public, that is. Behind closed doors, however, he allegedly has no problem distorting the motivations of anti-government types.

Roger L. Simon at Pajamas Media:

That was May 2010, according to Walsh. Ironically, only a few days before, on April 29, 2010, your humble scribe wrote the following:

The real reason liberals accuse Tea Partiers of racism is that contemporary America-style liberalism is in rigor mortis. Liberals have nothing else to say or do. Accusations of racism are their last resort.

The European debt crisis — first Greece, then Portugal and now Spain (and Belgium, Ireland and Italy, evidently) — has shown the welfare state to be an unsustainable economic system. The US, UK and Japan, according to the same Financial Times report, are also on similar paths of impoverishment through entitlements.

Many of us have known this for a long time, just from simple math. Entitlements are in essence a Ponzi scheme. Now we have to face that and do something serious about it or our economy (the world economy) will fall apart.

Liberals, leftists or progressives — whatever they choose to call themselves — have a great deal of trouble accepting this. To do so they would have to question a host of positions they have not examined for years, if ever, not to mention have to engage in discussions that could threaten their livelihood and jeopardize their personal and family associations.

Thus the traditional wish to kill the messenger who brings the bad news: the Tea Partiers. And the easiest way to kill them — the most obvious and hoariest of methods – is to accuse them of racism.

When I wrote that, it was a month after Andrew Breitbart issued his as yet unanswered $100,000 challenge for evidence of racism at a Tea Party demonstration. So this is now already a relatively old debate. And the same arguments keep coming up again and again. The left keeps accusing the right of racism and the right keeps denying it, demanding evidence, which is never forthcoming. Not once. But that doesn’t stop the left. They continue the accusations — and the president, at least according to Walsh, believes them.

Bryan Preston at PJ Tatler:

There was, of course, no evidence at all that the Tea Parties had any racial motive whatsoever, and there still isn’t. None. They’re not motivated by race, but by policy. They consider Obama’s policies to be dangerous and destructive, and they’re right on both counts.

But this president, and the people he hires (think Eric “nation of cowards,” “my people” Holder, Van Jones, etc) can’t seem to abide opposition based on policy. Either that, or they’re using race cynically as a way to freeze the shallower thinkers around them and try to put legitimate critics out into the political outer darkness. Charges of racism do both quite nicely.

Tom Maguire:

I think (hope?!?) he was being polite to some fat-cat donors rather than describing his own convictions (and I am bitterly clinging to the notion that he has some convictions).  Huckabee going on about Obama’s Kenyan attitudes would be an example from the right of pandering to the nutters rather than challenging them.

Obviously, your mileage may vary.

THEN AGAIN:  The First Panderer is also the First Condescender, so he might very well believe the worst of these lowly Tea Partiers…

Patterico at Patterico’s Pontification:

Of course, it’s difficult to know what he said and how he said it from this report, as it is admittedly full of paraphrases, and lacks the clarifying aids of a recording or even direct quotes longer than two words. Depending on what he said, he may have been accurate — there clearly is a racial component to some of the opposition to Obama. The issue is how widespread he portrayed this aspect of his opposition to be. Because most of us really don’t care about the color of his skin. The color we’re worried about is red — all the red ink required to document the effects of his disastrous policies on our national balance sheet. (Look at it as a stimulus program: Obama will save or create thousands of jobs at the manufacturers of the red ink hues!)

Given how uncertain it is what he said, how’s about a journalist asks him at his next press conference? Let’s get some clarification on just how racist he thinks Tea Partiers really are.

Jim Hoft at Gateway Pundit:

What a horrible disappointment this man has been as president.
2012 cannot get here soon enough.

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Filed under Political Figures, Politics, Race

What The Hell Is Happening In Bahrain?

Scott Lucas at Enduring America

Andrew Sullivan

Michael Slackman and Nadim Audi at NYT:

Government forces opened fire on hundreds of mourners marching toward Pearl Square on Friday, sending people running away in panic amid the boom of concussion grenades. But even as the people fled, at least one helicopter sprayed fire on them and a witness reported seeing mourners crumpling to the ground.

It was not immediately clear what type of ammunition the forces were firing, but some witnesses reported fire from automatic weapons and the crowd was screaming “live fire, live fire.” At a nearby hospital, witnesses reported seeing people with very serious injuries and gaping wounds, at least some of them caused by rubber bullets that appeared to have been fired at close range.

Even as ambulances rushed to rescue people, forces fired on medics loading the wounded into their vehicles. That only added to the chaos, with people pitching in to evacuate the wounded by car and doctors at a nearby hospital saying the delays in casualties reaching them made it impossible to get a reasonable count of the dead and wounded.

Nicholas Kristof at NYT:

As a reporter, you sometimes become numbed to sadness. But it is heartbreaking to be in modern, moderate Bahrain right now and watch as a critical American ally uses tanks, troops, guns and clubs to crush a peaceful democracy movement and then lie about it.

This kind of brutal repression is normally confined to remote and backward nations, but this is Bahrain. An international banking center. The home of an important American naval base, the Fifth Fleet. A wealthy and well-educated nation with a large middle class and cosmopolitan values.

To be here and see corpses of protesters with gunshot wounds, to hear an eyewitness account of an execution of a handcuffed protester, to interview paramedics who say they were beaten for trying to treat the injured — yes, all that just breaks my heart.

So here’s what happened.

The pro-democracy movement has bubbled for decades in Bahrain, but it found new strength after the overthrow of the dictatorships in Tunisia and Egypt. Then the Bahrain government attacked the protesters early this week with stunning brutality, firing tear gas, rubber bullets and shotgun pellets at small groups of peaceful, unarmed demonstrators. Two demonstrators were killed (one while walking in a funeral procession), and widespread public outrage gave a huge boost to the democracy movement.

King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa initially pulled the police back, but early on Thursday morning he sent in the riot police, who went in with guns blazing. Bahrain television has claimed that the protesters were armed with swords and threatening security. That’s preposterous. I was on the roundabout earlier that night and saw many thousands of people, including large numbers of women and children, even babies. Many were asleep.

I was not there at the time of the attack, but afterward, at the main hospital (one of at least three to receive casualties), I saw the effects. More than 600 people were treated with injuries, overwhelmingly men but including small numbers of women and children.

Nitasha Tiku at New York Magazine:

On Bahrain TV, Crown Prince Sheikh Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa called for open communication, saying, “The dialogue is always open and the reforms continue. This land is for all citizens of Bahrain.” He added, “We need to call for self-restraint from all sides, the armed forces, security men, and citizens.”

As in Egypt, the White House is in the awkward position of asking for restraint from a longtime strategic ally, while not appearing to directly oppose the regime. After four protesters were killed on Wednesday night, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton “expressed deep concern about recent events and urged restraint moving forward.”

As the government turned to violence, the protesters, who vowed to repeat Egypt’s nonviolent model, have likewise grown more aggressive. Early on they called for a transition from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional one. Then, reports the Times, “On Thursday, the opposition withdrew from the Parliament and demanded that the government step down. And on Friday, the mourners were chanting slogans like ‘death to Khalifa,’ referring to King Hamad bin Isa al-Khalifa.”

Stephen J. Smith at Reason:

Despite denials from sources close to the Bahraini government, credible rumors of Saudi tanks and troops on the ground in Bahrain are widespread, as the ruling Bahraini House of Khalifa desperately reasserts control in the capital after initially ceding the central Pearl Square to tens of thousands of anti-government protesters. The House of Saud, as you may recall, has a strong interest in ensuring that the Shiite-driven unrest in Bahrain doesn’t spill over to Saudi Arabia’s own Shiite-manned oil fields.

In addition to the Nicholas Kristof tweet that Jesse Walker posted earlier (more here), which suggested that Saudi troops were stopping ambulances from helping protesters injured in the surprise midnight attack (and that’s not the only suggestion of medics being prevented from helping), there are a few reports that Saudi tanks may have arrived on the island. One Spanish racing team owner (Bahrain was set to host the season-opening Formula 1 Grand Prix next month, something which is now very much in doubtclaimed that “there are Saudi tanks everywhere.” An Iranian news organization is claiming the Saudis sent hundreds of tanks and personnel carriers in from Qatar, which it backs up with a video of armored personnel carriers rolling down a highway in Manama, though I can’t confirm that those are actually from Saudi Arabia. The Guardian writes, somewhat ambiguously: “Tanks and troops from Saudi Arabia were reported to have been deployed in support of Bahraini forces.”

Regardless of whether or not Saudi troops and tanks actually took part in the brutal early morning attack that dislodged the protesters from Pearl Square, the Khalifas have taken measures to prevent their own security forces from sympathizing with the mostly Shiite Bahraini protesters. For years the Sunni rulers of Bahrain have been accused of recruiting foreign riot police and naturalizing them in an effort to avoid an Egypt-like situation where low-level officers refuse orders to fire on their countrymen. As a result, few among the Bahraini security forces speak the local dialect, and some of the Pakistanis don’t speak Arabic at all.

Chris Good at The Atlantic:

Obama condemned that violence Friday in a written statement that also sought to quell reprisals against pro-democracy activists in Yemen and Libya, saying:

I am deeply concerned by reports of violence in Bahrain, Libya and Yemen. The United States condemns the use of violence by governments against peaceful protesters in those countries and wherever else it may occur. We express our condolences to the family and friends of those who have been killed during the demonstrations. Wherever they are, people have certain universal rights including the right to peaceful assembly. The United States urges the governments of Bahrain, Libya and Yemen to show restraint in responding to peaceful protests, and to respect the rights of their people.

Obama’s statement maintained the stance he took as Egypt’s protests unfolded — where protesters at first met police resistance and then, after police left the streets, where gangs of Mubarak supporters turned violently on protesters and journalists. Throughout that turmoil, Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton steadfastly called on the Egyptian government to avoid violence and respect the “universal rights” of Egyptian citizens.

The picture from Bahrain, however, appears grimmer for pro-democracy activists, as police opened fire on the protestors Friday. The New York Times reports that shots were fired from at least one helicopter.

Vodka Pundit at Pajamas Media:

I know some Glenn Beck fans are probably reading this, but anarchy is a much more likely outcome than Caliphate. Not that either result would be especially good for our interests. Al Qaeda & Co thrive in failed states — but what happens in a failed region?

Truth be told, the Arab world has been failing for a long time. The region combines a long history of Ottoman oppression, lingering resentment from the fleeting period of Western colonialism, ballooning populations and shrinking economies, a malign fascination with Nazi racial theories and Soviet-style politics, and the skewed absurdities of oil wealth and Western aid. Shake it all up with the murderous and nihilistic resentments of Islamic fundamentalism, and you get lots of angry, well-armed people with no experience in self-governance and lots of scapegoats in need of a good killing.

This will get worse before it gets better.

Ashley Bates at Mother Jones

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The Murder Of Brisenia Flores

Will Bunch at Media Matters:

All of America continues to mourn the unbelievably tragic loss of Christina Green, the 9-year-old granddaughter of former Phillies’ manager Dallas Green who was killed, along with five adults, by a murderous madman trying to assassinate Rep. Gabrielle Giffords in Tucson. The sight of Christina’s parents and brother in the gallery at the State of the Union address last night is more proof that the killing of such an innocent continues to resonate with the American people.

You’ve heard all about Christina Green, but do you know about Brisenia Flores? Like Christina, Brisenia was 9 years old, and she also lived in Pima County, Arizona, not far from Tucson. Like Christina, she was gunned down in cold blood by killers with strange ideas about society and politics.

But there are also important differences. While the seriously warped mind of Christina’s Tucson murderer, Jared Lee Loughner, is a muddled mess, the motives of one of Brisenia’s alleged killers– a woman named Shawna Forde — are pretty clear: She saw herself as the leader of an armed movement against undocumented immigrants, an idea that was energized by her exposure to the then-brand-new Tea Party Movement. But unlike the horrific spree that took Christina’s life, the political murder of Brisenia and her dad (while Brisenia’s mom survived only by pretending to be dead) has only received very sporadic coverage in the national media. That’s a shame, because it’s an important story that illustrates the potential for senseless violence when hateful rhetoric on the right — in this case about undocumented immigrants — falls on the ears of the unhinged.

This week, Forde is on trial on Tucson, and the details are horrific:

As her mother tells it, 9-year-old Brisenia Flores had begged the border vigilantes who had just broken into her house, “Please don’t shoot me.”

But they did — in the face at point-blank range, prosecutors allege, as Brisenia’s father sat dead on the couch and her mother lay on the floor, pretending that she too had been killed in the gunfire.

Why did Forde, said to be the “mastermind,” and the other alleged killer, Jason Bush, carry out this heinous crime? Prosecutors allege that Forde cooked up a scheme to rob and murder drug dealers, all to raise money for the fledgling, anti-immigrant border patrolling group called Minutemen American Defense, or MAD.

Terry Greene Sterling at Daily Beast:

The murders in Arivaca, a tiny community about 11 miles north of the Mexican border, were followed nearly a year later by the still unsolved killing of southern Arizona rancher Robert Krentz, which was widely blamed on a faceless Mexican narco in the country illegally. But whereas the Flores murders received brief press attention and then were largely forgotten, Krentz’s killing set off a national cry for beefed-up border security and fueled the passage of Arizona’s notorious immigration law, which makes it a state crime for unauthorized immigrants to set foot there and requires all Arizona cops to enforce immigration law, a task normally delegated to the feds.

Latinos are still waiting for similar outrage over the deaths of Brisenia Flores and her dad. “A prevalent impression by those in the Hispanic community concerned with the Shawna Forde case is that, despite the fact that an innocent child was murdered, public condemnation of this senseless act has not been forthcoming,” Salvador Ongaro, a Phoenix lawyer and member of Los Abogados, Arizona’s Hispanic bar association, said in an email to The Daily Beast.

Phoenix-based radio talk-show host Carlos Galindo says he has reminded his listeners of Brisenia Flores “on a regular basis at least two or three times a week” since the murders occurred. He criticizes Latino leaders for failing to voice sufficient outrage. “This was a horrible, tragic, and absolutely race-based coldblooded murder,” he says, “and we allowed the far right to muddy it up and say her dad was a drug dealer and Brisenia was collateral damage. When we don’t counter that, we allow continued violence against all Arizonans.”

Joe Coscarelli at The Village Voice:

For more details on the trial, read At the Courthouse. Meanwhile, a search of the New York Times website for “Brisenia Flores” yields zero results; CNN.com last covered the story in June of 2009.

Maya at Feministing:

Maybe it’s because the victims of this crime were Latino. Or because the story doesn’t square with the conservative narrative that Minutemen are just like a “neighborhood watch.” Or because right-wing rhetoric–in this case anti-immigration rhetoric–played such a clear and unequivocal role in this instance of violence.

PJ Tatler on Bunch:

This morning, Will Bunch cries at the senseless death of Brisenia Flores… since they found a way to spin her death as being something they could blame on the Tea Party as well.

It seems rather odd, but somehow, MMFA seems to have missed a much larger story of the arrest of Kermit Gosnell and his staff of ghouls. Gosnell, will be placed on trial for drug dealing and at least eight murders. He is thought to have taken the lives of hundreds of newborn babies, and will go down as one of the most prolific serial killers in American history.

Perhaps they have a blind spot for mass murderers that share their politics.

Mao and Che would be proud.

E.D. Kain:

People like Forde and Bush are life-long losers, criminals, racists. Forde has an erratic past and was described as unstable. Bush has ties to the Aryan Nation. These are scummy people, and they’d be scummy people without Glenn Beck or the Tea Party. But having a cause based on fear and hatred and bigotry just fuels these sorts of bigots. It gives them a moral edifice, however bizarre, to justify their actions. Murder and theft aren’t crimes – they’re part of the revolution! Gunning down a nine-year-old girl is part of the resistance, it’s patriotic! And Beck and others, including members of the Arizona government, who are fomenting fear and paranoia over immigration are at least partly to blame.

Maybe this is what Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik was talking about in the wake of the Giffords shootings. Maybe he was so quick to denounce heated rhetoric because he’d seen what it had already led to in his county, in his state and his country. It’s not just rhetoric, after all. It’s rallies and talk of revolution. It’s people up in arms, passing laws to get the Mexicans out, and when that fails, arming themselves and taking the vigilante route. And if Brisenia’s story doesn’t break your heart, nothing will.

Doug J.:

I hadn’t hear much about about the murder of Brisenia Flores and her father until ED’s and mistermix’s posts. That’s no accident, it hasn’t received a lot of media coverage. Neither is the news about the attempted bombing in Spokane.

Over the past few years, we’ve had one major dust-up over two black guys in Philadelphia dressing in “traditional Black Panther garb” and another about the fact Obama has a met a guy who used to be in the Weathermen. I guess the idea is that the political violence of the 60s, often associated with the left (rightly or wrongly) was so awful that we can never forget it, which is strange given that we are ignoring similar levels of political violence, generally associated with the right, today (see Digby).

I realize times have changed, that national media is more diffuse, that nothing as cinematic as the Patty Hearst kidnapping has taken place yet. But it’s still amazing that so many journalists (Joe Klein, for example) is looking for black panthers under his bed, while cheerfully shrugging off today’s political violence as isolated incidents.

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Filed under Crime, Mainstream, Politics

They Make Their Voice Vote Heard

Steve Benen:

House Democrats haven’t exactly been hiding their disagreement with the tax policy agreement struck by the White House and congressional Republicans. But this morning, that dissatisfaction was registered in a more formal way.

Defying President Obama, House Democrats voted Thursday not to bring up the tax package that he negotiated with Republicans in its current form.

“This message today is very simple: That in the form that it was negotiated, it is not acceptable to the House Democratic caucus. It’s as simple as that,” said Democratic Congressman Chris Van Hollen.

“We will continue to try and work with the White House and our Republican colleagues to try and make sure we do something right for the economy and right for jobs, and a balanced package as we go forward,” he said.

The vote comes a day after Vice President Biden made clear to House Democrats behind closed doors that the deal would unravel if any changes were made.

By all appearances, House Dems weren’t just bothered by policies that made up the compromise, but were also offended in a more personal way — they didn’t feel as if they had sufficient input on the pre-deal negotiations, and were bothered by Vice President Biden’s take-it-or-leave-it message yesterday.

Jon Ward at The Daily Caller:

The vote inside the Democratic meeting was not on the House floor and was a voice vote, and so has no legislative impact. And in the Senate, Majority Leader Harry Reid, Nevada Democrat, said he planned to begin debate on the measure Thursday evening.

But the impact of the House Democratic vote reverberated around Washington, and some media reports said inaccurately that House Democrats had decided not to bring the measure up for a vote this year. House Democrats stressed fiercely that those reports were not true.

But the message to Obama was clear: House Democrats want changes to the package.

“It means that there is a very significant portion of the caucus that feels like they can’t accept the deal as it is,” said a House Democratic leadership aide. “They’re especially upset about the estate tax piece, and they want to send a message to the White House that this is just unacceptable.”

The aide said House Democrats would like to see the threshold at which individual estate inheritors are taxed lowered from $5 million, as it currently is in the tax cut deal, to $1 million. They would also like to see the percentage raised from 35 percent to 45 percent.

The decision to hold a non-binding vote was essentially a move by Democrats to negotiate with the White House in public after being left out of private negotiations between the administration and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican.

A House Democratic aide said that the feeling among the caucus is that the White House was “not acting in good faith” and that there was “some underhanded things going on that is unnerving folks.”

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said that the president does not like where the estate tax is at, but hinted that Republicans would walk away from the deal if there were any changes made to that component.

“The question for [House Democrats] to work through with their Republican counterparts is if you do that, do you lose votes on the other side,” Gibbs said.

“If there are ways to strengthen the framework that are agreeable to everybody and strengthen the coalition that’s good,” he said, but expressed confidence that the House would pass the deal.

“I think at the end of the day this will get done.”

And House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, California Democrat, made clear that she still planned to bring the measure to the floor for a vote.

According to the Hill, it’s the estate tax rate that’s the sticking point, not the income tax rate extension for the wealthy. As humiliating as it is to have his own caucus flip him the bird, though, I’m not sure this is so terrible for The One. It depends on whether Pelosi follows the caucus’s wishes and refuses to bring the deal to the floor or whether, as the Daily Caller claims, this is a symbolic gesture by House progressives aimed at showing Obama how badly they want changes. If Pelosi holds a vote on it anyway, the bill would likely still pass thanks to a coalition of Blue Dogs and Republicans, which in turn would give Obama both a legislative victory and a little bipartisan juice that he needs for 2012. In fact, I wonder if there’s an element of kabuki to it, with Pelosi urging her allies to vote no on the proposal in the caucus meeting to generate some political cover knowing full well that she intends to bring it to the floor anyway.

Still, it’s always jolly fun to see Democrats arguing in public. If my read on this feels like a bit of a buzzkill, no worries: Read this excellent Sean Trende piece making the case for why the deal is a political loser for Obama long-term. Clinton could get away with triangulation in the 90s because the lefty base at the time thought conservatism was still going strong and were reluctant to weaken him by opposing him. They don’t believe that anymore — last month’s results notwithstanding — so they may be willing to take chances with The One that they wouldn’t have dared take 15 years ago. Today’s caucus vote might be an early indicator of that. Long live the myth of the Great Liberal Realignment!

Dan McLaughlin at Redstate:

What will happen to Barack Obama’s presidency if his tax compromise is shot down with the help of his own party? The House Democratic caucus just voted against it, which puts the deal on life support, at best. Can Obama recover from that?

One of the great questions of the past two years, ever since it became obvious that Democrats would suffer significant setbacks in the 2010 elections, was how President Obama would respond to life with a Republican Congress (or, as it turns out, a Republican House and a weakened Democratic majority in the Senate). On the one hand, you have the fact that Bill Clinton managed to use the “triangulation” strategy to win re-election in 1996, and surely Obama is capable of being equally cold-bloodedly dismissive of his now-depleted Congressional troops. On the other hand, Obama is naturally much more ideological than Clinton and doesn’t have Clinton’s deft political touch, his decade-long track record as an executive or his experience winning multiple elections outside deep-blue territory, all of which suggests that even if the spirit is willing, Obama may not be competent at executing the same strategy.

Bowing to the results of the 2010 election, Obama has taken at least some tentative, temporary steps towards accomodation with the center. The first of these, which already irritated his base, was the announcement of a “pay freeze” for federal workers (actually just a freeze on annual cost-of-living salary adjustments). Now, he’s struck a deal that gives GOP leadership nearly everything it had asked for on taxes – a two-year extension of all the Bush income tax rate cuts, a payroll tax cut, and a lower estate tax than what would return under current law after the 2010 moratorium in the tax, all in exchange for extending unemployment benefits as far out as three years for some recipients.

Now, both liberals and conservatives are up in arms against the deal, and it’s hard to see how it passes even the House when the Democratic caucus is against it. What happens if the deal falls through?

Jim Geraghty at NRO:

In light of this

President Obama warned his fellow Democrats on Wednesday that they risk plunging the country into a double-dip recession if they reject his tax-cut deal with Republicans.

we can only conclude one of two things:

A) A majority of Congressional Democrats don’t believe the president when he says a particular act is necessary to prevent a double dip recession. In short, most members of Obama’s own party no longer trust his judgment on economic issues.

B) A majority of Congressional Democrats agree, but don’t care, because they’re willing to endure a double dip recession if that’s what it takes to ensure the rich pay higher taxes.

Ed Driscoll at Pajamas Media

David Dayen at Firedoglake

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Filed under Economics, Legislation Pending, The Crisis

Helen, Helen, Helen…

Jeff Dunetz at YID With LID:

Proving once again that you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, former White House Correspondent Helen Thomas told an anti-Arab-Bias workshop in Dearborn Michigan that she absolutely stands by her ugly comments about Jews made earlier this year, that they should return to Germany and Poland and went even further, even adding the anti-Semitic meme that Zionists  control U.S. foreign policy and other American institutions.

The Detroit Free Press which report about Thomas’ speech in Dearborn  characterized the comments that got her fired as something “which critics have said were anti-Israel,” perpetuating the myth that Thomas was fired for being critical of the Jewish State. Note to the Freep, no one gets fired for being critical of Israel, not even in Israel. Thomas’ comments back in June were anti-Semitic, she told Israeli Jews to go back to Germany and Poland [where they faced the horrors of the Holocaust]

Ed Morrissey:

The Detroit Free Press reports on Thomas’  remarks at a workshop that focused, ironically, on anti-Arab bias.  She told the group that “Zionists” control US foreign policy and “other institutions,” and that they own Hollywood, Wall Street, Congress, and the White House (via The Blog Prof):

In a speech to about 300 people inside a center in Dearborn, she talked about “the whole question of money involved in politics.”

“Congress, the White House and Hollywood, Wall Street are owned by the Zionists. No question, in my opinion,” she said. “They put their money where their mouth is. … We’re being pushed into a wrong direction in every way.” …

In an interview, Thomas, 90, said that criticizing Israel led to her resignation and ostracism in Washington.

“I can call a president of the United States anything in the book, but I can’t touch Israel, which has Jewish-only roads in the West Bank,” Thomas said. “No American would tolerate that — white-only roads.”

That last part would be true … if there were any such thing as “Jewish-only roads” in the West Bank.  There are Israeli-only roads, but anyone with an Israeli license plate can use them — including Israeli Arabs, who are a significant minority in Israel.  They can also vote, and a handful hold office in the Knesset.  How many Jews hold office in Lebanon?  Syria?  Saudi Arabia?  Egypt?  Yemen?  For that matter, even in non-Arab Iran?

As far as her other comments go, they’re typical of anti-Semites who cast Jews as villains in worldwide conspiracies.  No one ever got canned for criticizing Israel, which is hardly immune from criticism as it is; plenty of people openly question our allegiance to the Israelis without going into Protocols of the Elders of Zion territory.  Thomas had to resign because she got inept at hiding her bigotry, and now apparently feels much more comfortable letting it show.

Ed Driscoll at Pajamas Media:

Numerous legacy media reporters, after a lifetime of pretending to be objective, have dropped the mask and let it all hang out, such as Dan Rather, Mr. Objectivity himself, now doing fundraisers for far left Nation magazine (which incidentally thinks Helen got a bum rap).

John Hinderaker at Powerline:

The Associated Press actually covered for Thomas by mischaracterizing the comments that got her fired by Hearst:

Her speech followed her resignation from Hearst Newspapers in June, after she told an interviewer that Jews should “get the hell out” of the Palestinian territories and go to Germany, Poland or the United States.

The AP just volunteered that part about the “Palestinian territories.” If you listen to Thomas saying the Jews should “get the hell out of Palestine,” it is obvious that she is using “Palestine” in the Arab sense to mean Israel. If she had merely meant that Jews should get out of the West Bank, she would have said they should go home to Israel.

The AP reports that Thomas received a standing ovation at the “Images and Perceptions of Arab Americans” conference. Yesterday was a big day for her; she was also “the guest of honor at the Arab American National Museum, where a sculpture of her was unveiled during a private reception.”

Jim Treacher at Daily Caller:

This woman sat in the front row of the White House briefing room for decades.

Speaking of roads, that reminds me of a joke:

Why did Helen Thomas cross the road?

It had just been invented!

Doug Mataconis

Moe Lane

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Filed under Mainstream, Religion

How Do You Say “Whodunit?” In Farsi?

DEBKAfile:

Prof. Majid Shahriari, who died when his car was attacked in North Tehran Monday, Nov. 29, headed the team Iran established for combating the Stuxnet virus rampaging through its nuclear and military networks. His wife was injured. The scientist’s death deals a major blow to Iran’s herculean efforts to purge its nuclear and military control systems of the destructive worm since it went on the offensive six months ago. Only this month, Stuxnet shut down nuclear enrichment at Natanz for six days from Nov. 16-22 and curtailed an important air defense exercise.

Prof. Shahriari was the Iranian nuclear program’s top expert on computer codes and cyber war.

The Jawa Report

David Frum at FrumForum:

Perhaps Iranian parents should be advising their science-minded youngsters to consider a less hazardous specialty.

Aaron Worthing at Patterico:

The last few days we have seen quite a few interesting stories about the Stuxnet virus/malware currently wreaking havoc in Iran’s nuclear program.  First was this very interesting Fox news reportage on the program:

Intelligence agencies, computer security companies and the nuclear industry have been trying to analyze the worm since it was discovered in June by a Belarus-based company that was doing business in Iran. And what they’ve all found, says Sean McGurk, the Homeland Security Department’s acting director of national cyber security and communications integration, is a “game changer.”

The construction of the worm was so advanced, it was “like the arrival of an F-35 into a World War I battlefield,” says Ralph Langner, the computer expert who was the first to sound the alarm about Stuxnet. Others have called it the first “weaponized” computer virus.

Simply put, Stuxnet is an incredibly advanced, undetectable computer worm that took years to construct and was designed to jump from computer to computer until it found the specific, protected control system that it aimed to destroy: Iran’s nuclear enrichment program.

The target was seemingly impenetrable; for security reasons, it lay several stories underground and was not connected to the World Wide Web. And that meant Stuxnet had to act as sort of a computer cruise missile: As it made its passage through a set of unconnected computers, it had to grow and adapt to security measures and other changes until it reached one that could bring it into the nuclear facility.

I mean that passage is so “holy sh-t” I wonder if the correct name for this thing should be “Skynet.”  Of course I urge you to read the whole thing.

But then there was a moment this morning that I liken to the second plane striking the WTC.  Now let me be clear.  I am not about to compare this thing to the evil of the 9-11 attacks, or anything like that.  But like a lot of you, I remember hearing about the first plane striking, and thinking it was an accident, or maybe just one lone crazy pilot.  And then I heard about the second plane and I knew this was an attack, and it had to be more than just one nut.  That was the feeling I had learning the next few facts.

You see, this morning we learn that two of Iran’s nuclear scientists were attacked in car bombs—meaning their cars were blown up.  One died and one is hospitalized.

Tom Maguire:

I suppose that some dissident Iranian faction could have pulled this off but the money bet has to be the Israelis.  (Hmm, might the Russians be on the board?  They could be playing both sides, publicsly sorta-supporting Irana while privately getting worried about a nuclear crazy on their border.)

Roger L. Simon at Pajamas Media:

Ahmadinejad et al, of course, blame Israel and the West, and no doubt this “blame” is deserved. How it should be apportioned may be forever a mystery, but it is unlikely we will find out via WikiLeaks, which have thus far done little more than ratify the obvious and make the Obama administration look foolish for its ludicrously ineffective security. Intelligence work evidently has two levels – a completely incompetent one that produces WikiLeaks and a brilliant one that produces Stuxnet.

Speaking of Stuxnet, some recent reports have added Russia to the list of nations (in this case with the US and Germany, not Israel) who have conspired to construct the malware. Now that’s interesting – and undoubtedly crazy-making to the Iranians.

Instapundit

Moe Lane:

The Iranians are blaming Israel, of course… despite the fact that this would be precisely the sort of cinematic attack that generally stays in cinemas*.  That would be because you don’t start a war to kill two scientists; and if Mossad had done this, it would have been an act of war.

On the other hand: between this situation and the Stuxnet worm, this entire Iranian nuke situation is starting to get an action-movie feel to it.  Which is not actually a good thing, given a). the number of extras that typically die in action movies and b). the amount of real estate that typically gets blown up…

Gateway Pundit

Ace of Spades:

I sure would like to think my government was capable of stuff like this. Or had the balls to do it. But I don’t.

Reza Aslan at The Daily Beast:

Earlier this year, I wrote about a clandestine CIA program to delay or perhaps even derail Iran’s nuclear ambitions by convincing high-level Iranian nuclear scientists to defect to the United States. The program, called Brain Drain and put in place by the Bush administration as early as 2005, came under intense scrutiny after the botched defection of a 30-year-old junior staff member of Iran’s Atomic Agency named Shahram Amiri, who was picked up by U.S. intelligence agents in Saudi Arabia last summer but who later asked to be returned to Iran.

Part of the CIA’s clandestine efforts apparently include selling faulty nuclear components to Iran, some of which have been booby-trapped to explode and destroy the machinery altogether. There have been scattered reports of explosions at various enrichment facilities, including one that destroyed 50 centrifuges at Iran’s Natanz plant. And, just recently, we learned of the so-called Stuxnet computer virus, which seems to have been developed (likely by the U.S. and/or Israel) specifically to target Iran’s centrifuges. The virus reportedly shut down thousands of centrifuges at Iran’s controversial Natanz enrichment facility.

I reported then about the possibility that these covert activities, which seem to have been successful in slowing Iran’s nuclear program, may also include targeted assassinations of high-level nuclear scientists and members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard. In 2007, the intelligence website STRATFOR claimed that Mossad agents had used “radioactive poison” to kill a nuclear physicist named Ardashir Hosseinpour who was suspected of being involved in Iran’s secret nuclear program. Another Iranian nuclear scientist, Massoud Ali-Mohammadi, was also mysteriously assassinated by a car bomb in January 2010. Add to this a number of high-profile “disappearances,” like that of a former defense minister and general in the Revolutionary Guard, Ali-Reza Asgari, who vanished while on a trip to Turkey, and a distinct pattern starts to emerge.

Reva Bhalla, a senior analyst at STRATFOR, puts it plainly. “With cooperation from the United States, Israeli covert operations have focused both on eliminating key human assets involved in the nuclear program and in sabotaging the Iranian nuclear supply chain.”

If that is true and Monday’s assassination attempt of Iranian nationals signals a shift in U.S. or Israeli strategy toward Iran (perhaps emboldened by what the recent WikiLeaks dump shows is growing Arab government support for a harder line toward Iran’s nuclear program), then we may be entering a new and extremely dangerous phase in the nuclear standoff with Iran—one that could quickly get out of hand. The head of Iran’s nuclear program, Ali Akbar Salehi, sounded a dire warning to the U.S. and Israel. “Don’t play with fire,” he said. “The patience of the Iranian people has its limits. If our patience runs out, you will suffer the consequences.”

Doug Mataconis:

Of course, it’s unlikely that we’ll ever really know who’s behind this, which is of course the point of a covert operation. However, it seems pretty clear that there is an ongoing effort, perhaps international in origin, to sabotage the Iranian nuclear program. That in and of itself is a fascinating story.

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Piss Christ, Part II: Antz

Penny Starr at Newsbusters:

The federally funded National Portrait Gallery, one of the museums of the Smithsonian Institution, is currently showing an exhibition that features images of an ant-covered Jesus, male genitals, naked brothers kissing, men in chains, Ellen DeGeneres grabbing her breasts, and a painting the Smithsonian itself describes in the show’s catalog as “homoerotic.”

The exhibit, “Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture,” opened on Oct. 30 and will run throughout the Christmas Season, closing on Feb. 13.

“This is an exhibition that displays masterpieces of American portraiture and we wanted to illustrate how questions of biography and identity went into the making of images that are canonical,” David C. Ward, a National Portrait Gallery (NGP) historian who is also co-curator of the exhibit, told CNSNews.com.

crucifix 3  npg

A plaque fixed to the wall at the entrance to the exhibit says that the National Portrait Gallery is “committed to showing how a major theme in American history has been the struggle for justice so that people and groups can claim their full inheritance in America’s promise of equality, inclusion, and social dignity. As America’s museum of national biography, the NPG is also vitally interested in the art of portrayal and how portraiture reflects our ideas about ourselves and others.

crucifix 4

An ant-covered Jesus/crucifix in “A Fire in My Belly” video, part of the ‘Hide/Seek’ exhibit at the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery. (CNSNews.com/Penny Starr)

Victor Davis Hanson at Pajamas Media:

Its title is coyly encrypted in postmodern bipolarity: “Hide/Seek: Difference and Desire in American Portraiture.” And the exhibition apparently is full of Mapplethorpe-inspired gay-related imagery and offers us an image of Jesus being swarmed over by ants. Clever, brave, bold, shocking. Or in the words of the overseers of the federally-subsidized National Portrait Gallery, such artistic courage proves how the gallery is now “committed to showing how a major theme in American history has been the struggle for justice so that people and groups can claim their full inheritance in America’s promise of equality, inclusion, and social dignity.”

But once more all that verbiage turns out to be just Sixties-ish lingo for about the same old, same old:

  1. Abject cowardice—since if a theme were really religious intolerance, why not portray Mohammed in lieu of Christ, inasmuch as contemporary Islam is far more intolerant of gays and liberated women than the so-called Christian West. Such a video might better exhibit just how “committed” these federal artistic bureaucrats were to “equality, inclusion, and social justice.”
  2. Mediocrity—dressing up talentless soft-core pornographic expression with federal catch-phrases and subsidies ensures a venue for junk art that most otherwise would neither pay to see nor ever exhibit.
  3. Politics—all this is supposedly sort of revolutionary, full of neat phrases like “committed”, “struggle for justice”, “full inheritance”, “equality”, “inclusion”, and “social dignity”, and all the empty vocabulary that mostly upscale white nerds like a Bill Ayers employ when they want to tweak and embarrass the gullible liberals who support and pay for their nonsense.

The Jawa Report:

If these “artists” really wanted to be daring and controversial, they’d create an ant-covered Quran exhibit. But the cowards take the path of least resistance and then applaud their own courage in the face of minuscule risk.

Don Suber

Ann Althouse:

“If they’ve got money to squander like this – of a crucifix being eaten by ants, of Ellen DeGeneres grabbing her breasts, men in chains, naked brothers kissing…”

“… then I think we should look at their budget,” said Georgia Rep. Jack Kingston, a member of the House Appropriations Committee, scaring the Smithsonian Institution into taking down the ants-on-Jesus video. Cowed, the Institution nevertheless defended the artist, whose “intention was to depict the suffering of an AIDS victim.” The museum assures us it had no “intention to offend.”

John Nolte at Big Hollywood:

Another turn in this story, again via CNS News, and in my opinion a hollow threat from John Boehner and Eric Cantor:

House Speaker-to-be John Boehner (R-Ohio) is telling the Smithsonian Institution to pull an exhibit that features images of an ant-covered Jesus or else face tough scrutiny when the new Republican majority takes control of the House in January. House Majority Leader-to-be Eric Cantor (R.-Va.), meanwhile, is calling on the Smithsonian to pull the exhibit and warning the federally funded institution that it will face serious questions when Congress considers the next budget.

CNSNews.com had asked both congressional leaders if the exhibit should continue or be cancelled and both indicated it should be cancelled. …

“Smithsonian officials should either acknowledge the mistake and correct it, or be prepared to face tough scrutiny beginning in January when the new majority in the House moves to end the job-killing spending spree in Washington,” Smith said.

When asked to clarify what exactly Boehner meant by calling on the Smithsonian to “correct” their mistake with the exhibit, Smith said Boehner wanted the exhibit “cancelled.”

Cantor, meanwhile, said the exhibit should be “pulled.”

I’m sure some on the Left will scream censorship, but this is what happens when an institution takes money from the government, or anyone else. If the Smithsonian depended on big private donors to fund this junk, those big private donors would likely demand a say in what their money’s used for. Same with Congress, and not just in the arts. Whether you’re on welfare or a big corporation receiving subsidies, all taxpayer money comes with certain conditions.

The problem is that there’s no teeth behind this threat. The time to end the grossly immoral practice of funding the arts (and PBS) in every shape, manner and form was sometime between 2002 and 2006 when Republicans controlled both houses of Congress and the White House. Pardon my cynicism, but if the Republicans didn’t have the sand to do it then, they sure don’t now with even less power; so you can bet the Smithsonian isn’t exactly shaking in their boots.

Jim Newell at Gawker:

Update:

That didn’t take too long. The ant-covered Jesus is now gone. From TBD.com:

The National Portrait Gallery has removed a work of art from a GLBT-themed exhibition after it attracted conservative and religious ire for its images of homosexuality and Christianity. Director Martin Sullivan announced the removal of A Fire in My Belly by artist David Wojnarowicz after conservative news service CNS wrote yesterday that the “Christmas-season exhibit,” which opened in October, used taxpayer money to indirectly fund an exhibition that includes imagery of genitalia, homoerotic situations, and Christ covered in ants.

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