Friday, 13 June 2008

"FIGHT THE SMEAR", BARACK OBAMA-STYLE

Ken Berwitz

John Hinderaker of www.powerlineblog.com has written an excellent analysis of  the selectivity with which Barack Obama will "Fight The Smear" - i.e. the negative things said about him that he feels are unfair and untrue (which appear to be just about everything). 

Mr. Obama is understandably worried about the image his opponents portray because, with no rsum and no political accomplishments, his image is pretty much all there is. 

Here is the Hinderaker piece:

Fighting "Smears," Selectively

The Obama campaign has set up a web site called Fight the Smear, dedicated to debunking alleged "smears" about the candidate. Coverage of the site has been overwhelmingly positive. The Washington Post's Chris Cillizza, a Democrat, writes:

[T]he sheer level of misinformation/whispers/innuendo is FAR higher as it relates to Obama than any candidate in recent memory. ***

Given the seeming determination of some people to traffic in negative and false information about Obama, there is a far larger burden on Obama than on previous presidential candidates to fight back hard and quickly.

The Associated Press is similarly sympathetic to Obama:

The site is a response to the realities of a brave new world, where information travels 24 hours a day on blogs and voters are increasingly turning to the Internet for information. It's a particular problem for Obama, a relative newcomer to national politics who is still unknown to many voters and has been the target of persistent misinformation campaigns online.

Actually, the politician who has been most targeted by "misinformation/whispers/innuendo" on the web has undoubtedly been President Bush. Maybe he should have put up a "Fight the Smear" web site a long time ago. Somehow, though, I doubt that it would have been greeted with the same enthusiasm.

No one, least of all us, is in favor of smears, so a lot of what appears on Obama's site is easy to applaud. The site effectively disputes the claim that Michelle Obama railed against "whitey" at the Trinity Church. That rumor, apparently started by the Clinton campaign, should now be regarded as false. Likewise, Obama has now made his birth certificate public; there is nothing odd about it.

The problem with Obama's site is the issues it doesn't address. Thus, Obama's debunking of the "whitey" tape appears under the heading, "The truth about Michelle." But what about the other questions that have been raised about Michelle Obama, such as her claim to have been proud of her country for the first time when her husband ran for President? The "truth about Michelle" is very much in doubt.

Similarly, another "smear" is the claim that "Obama's Books Contain Racially Incendiary Remarks." This "smear" is disproved by quoting several emails that are either false or out of context, none of which I had ever seen. The fact is, though, that Obama's books do include racially incendiary comments--for example, Obama's account of how he was inspired to join Trinity Church by hearing Rev. Wright preach that "white folks' greed runs a world in need." So Obama's debunking, while not false as to the instances it addresses, is misleading.

The site proclaims that "Senator Obama has never been a Muslim, was not raised a Muslim, and is a committed Christian." I've seen what appears to be credible evidence that Obama was raised as a Muslim as a boy, during the time he lived in Indonesia. But that is of little importance. What concerns me, and millions of others, is not the idea that Obama could be a Muslim--he clearly is not--but rather the fact that the religion to which he was drawn as a young man, and in which he participated for twenty years, is not Christian at all. Rather, Rev. Wright preached hatred, paranoia and racism, the opposite of Christianity, and for twenty years, Obama treated Wright as a spiritual mentor. This is, obviously, a legitimate concern which Obama's "smear" site does not address.

It will be interesting to see what "smears" Obama chooses to rebut as the campaign continues, and whether he ever uses this site to respond to the many legitimate concerns that have been raised about him and his candidacy.

Barack Obama is a Democratic Chicago machine politician.  He had a thoroughly nondescript record in the Illinois state senate for 6 years, and then was assigned sponsorship of 26 bills, most of which he little or nothing to do with, so that he would look good when he ran for the senate. 

In the US Senate Mr. Obama  has virtually no record at all, because all he has done from almost the beginning is run for President.

Maybe if Mr. Obama had spent more time actually accomplishing something, smears directed against him would be juxtaposed to his achievements and would therefore have less chance of success. 

But, as noted above, in the absence of achievements, image is what there is.  So he better fight those "smears" tooth and nail.  What else is there to judge him on?


TIM RUSSERT R.I.P.

Ken Berwitz

I just received the stunning news that Tim Russert, host of Meet The Press and NBC's most important political guru, has died of a heart attack at the age of 58.

Whether he was interviewing Republicans or Democrats, nobody asked politicians the hard questions better than Tim Russert.  And nobody was more tenacious in demanding answers when they tried to duck them.

While it is true that Russert was a born and bred Democrat, straight from the Buffalo (New York) political machine,  he worked hard at trying to present both sides of the issues.  He didn't always succeed, but he usually did - which put him in the pantheon of political journalists in this day and age.

Tim Russert will be sorely missed.  May he rest in peace

 


LETTING THE UN DO ITS WORK

Ken Berwitz

"Let the UN do its work".

You may remember that line from before we invaded Iraq.  It was used relentlessly by the people who assured us that the UN was an effective organization dedicated to eradicating terrorism, so the US could just sit back and watch the fun.

Well, here is another example of letting the UN do its work, from Joseph Abrams writing for www.foxnews.com.  See what you think of it:

UNICEF Partners With Islamic Charity Linked to Terror Groups

Friday, June 13, 2008

 An Islamic charity with ties to Al Qaeda and the Taliban is now collaborating with an unlikely new partner: UNICEF, the United Nations Childrens Fund.

UNICEF has signed a memorandum of understanding with the International Islamic Relief Organization (IIRO), a Saudi charity of massive scope that keeps branches in more than 20 countries and has over 100 offices worldwide.

According to UNICEF, it will be teaming with the charitys domestic Saudi branch to promote childrens rights, health, equality and education, in the oil-rich kingdom but the organization has been doing more than just charity work.

The U.S. Treasury Department has designated the IIROs branches in the Philippines and Indonesia as terrorist entities for funding and supporting terrorist groups that have killed hundreds in East Asia. The Philippine branch was founded by Usama bin Ladens brother-in-law, Muhammad Jamal Khalifah, and has long had ties to Al Qaeda.

The U.N. itself says that both the Indonesian and Philippine branches of IIRO are tied to Al Qaeda and the Taliban, and has singled them out for an asset freeze, arms embargo and travel ban on members of the groups.

But that hasnt stopped the U.N. from recognizing the Saudi office as a legitimate relief group, nor has it stopped UNICEF or other U.N. agencies from working with it in the past.

According to Chris de Bono, UNICEFs chief of media, UNICEF does not and will not engage with the two East Asian branches. Its new partnership is with the main Saudi branch only, and UNICEF will coordinate relief primarily for children living within Saudi Arabia, de Bono said.

The U.S. government also noted the distinction between the head office and the international branches.

We are monitoring the situation closely, but we also understand the difference between the IIRO main headquarters and its branches, Carolyn Vadino, deputy spokeswoman for the U.S. mission to the U.N., wrote in an e-mail to FOX News.

It is the two branches in question that are designated and have ties to terrorists and at this time we have been assured that they are separate entities, Vadino wrote.

But some critics are not convinced the distinction is so clear.

We have to look a lot harder at whether or not an organization thats headquartered in one country is really disconnected from operations which bear the same name in other countries and are referred to as branches, said Anne Bayefsky, senior editor of Eye on the U.N., a watchdog group.

According to the Treasury Department, the head of the IIROs Eastern Province branch has been directly funding the two terror-tied branches straight from his office in Saudi Arabia.

Abd Al Hamid Sulaiman Al-Mujil, who runs the Eastern Province branch, has been called the million dollar man for his support of Islamic militant groups, and the Treasury Department says he has provided donor funds directly to Al Qaeda.

According to UNICEF, there isnt yet a financial relationship with the IIRO, but joint programs launched in the future could change that. That has some critics worried about a potential for money to make its way into the wrong hands.

The risks involved in funding terror are sufficiently great that UNICEF officials and other U.N. officials who accredit this organization are called upon to assure themselves that there are no ties, said Bayefsky.

The IIRO's Indonesia branch was discovered by FOX News to still be operating despite being on the U.N.s own terror list. Questions to the Indonesian mission to the U.N. have gone unanswered.

And while UNICEFs Gulf-area office vetted the Saudi charitys domestic office in June, it would not confirm whether it had investigated the Eastern Province branch or its sources of financing.

Bayefsky told FOXNews.com that even such vetting might not be enough.

One has to remind oneself over and over again that the United Nations has no definition of terrorism, she said. Its very hard to investigate and object to links to terrorist groups when you dont know what [terrorism] is."

My god that's beautiful.  The UN partnering with a terrorist supporting group to promote "children's rights, health, equality and education".  It just doesn't get better than that, does it?

Well, does it?

If, after reading this, you are finding it hard to hold down what you ate today, believe me you've got the right idea.

This is the organization that we are supposed to subordinate our efforts against terrorism to?  An organization that partners with a terrorist funding, terrorist supporting group?  And to do what?  Take care of CHILDREN?

Maybe the UN can broker a deal between IIRO and the UN troops that specialize in raping children in third world countries.  I'm betting they have a lot of notes to compare.

That, folks, is the UN doing its work.   Remember it every time you hear someone gush about how wonderful it is and how much better things would be if it were in charge of them.


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