Sunday, 22 March 2009
HAS THE NEW YORK TIMES SOURED ON OBAMA?
I didn't blog about it yesterday, but Paul Krugman, the left wing economics
guru of the New York Times, wrote a
genuinely scathing criticism of what President Obama and his people are
His key paragraph:
Why am I so vehement about this? Because Im
afraid that this will be the administrations only shot that if the first
bank plan is an abject failure, it wont have the political capital for a
second. So its just horrifying that Obama and yes, the buck stops there
has decided to base his financial plan on the fantasy that a bit of financial
hocus-pocus will turn the clock back to 2006.
That's pretty remarkable commentary from someone who, along with the rest of
the Times crew, has been so completely in the bag for Mr. Obama.
But today we have Frank Rich, if anything even harder-left than Krugman, attacking
President Obama just as scathingly. Here is an excerpt of his
Has a Katrina
A CHARMING visit with Jay Leno wont fix it. A 90 percent
tax on bankers bonuses wont fix it. Firing Timothy Geithner wont fix it.
Unless and until Barack Obama addresses the full depth of Americans anger with
his full arsenal of policy smarts and political gifts, his presidency and,
worse, our economy will be paralyzed. It would be foolish to dismiss as
hyperbole the stark warning delivered by Paulette Altmaier of Cupertino, Calif.,
in a letter to the editor published by
The Times last week: President Obama may not realize it yet, but his Katrina
moment has arrived.
Six weeks ago I wrote in this space that the
countrys surge of populist rage could devour the presidents best-laid plans,
including the essential Act II of the bank rescue, if he didnt get in front of
it. The occasion then was the Tom Daschle firestorm. The White
House seemed utterly blindsided by the publics revulsion at the moneyed insiders culture illuminated by
Daschles post-Senate career. Yet last weeks events suggest that the
administration learned nothing from that brush with disaster.
Otherwise it never would have used Lawrence Summers, the
chief economic adviser, as a messenger just as the A.I.G. rage was reaching a
full boil last weekend. Summers is so tone-deaf that he makes Geithner seem like
Bob Schieffer of CBS asked
Summers the simple question that has haunted the
American public since the bailouts began last fall: Do you know, Dr. Summers,
what the banks have done with all of this money that has been funneled to them
through these bailouts? What followed was a monologue of evasion that,
translated into English, amounted to: Not really, but you little folk neednt
worry about it.
Yet even as Summers spoke, A.I.G. was belatedly confirming what he would
not. It has, in essence, been laundering its $170 billion in taxpayers money by
paying off its reckless partners in gambling and greed, from Goldman Sachs and
Citigroup on Wall Street to Socit Gnrale and Deutsche Bank abroad.
Summers was even more highhanded in addressing the
retention bonuses handed to the
very employees who brokered all those bad bets. After reciting the requisite
outrage talking point, he delivered a patronizing lecture to
viewers of ABCs This Week on how our tradition of upholding law made it
impossible to abrogate the bonus agreements. It never occurred to Summers that
Americans might know that contracts are renegotiated all the time most
conspicuously of late by the United Automobile Workers, which consented to givebacks as its
contribution to the Detroit bailout plan. Nor did he note, for all his supposed
reverence for the law, that the A.I.G. unit being rewarded with these bonuses is
now under legal investigation by British
and American authorities.
Within 24 hours, Summerss stand was discarded by Obama,
who tardily (and impotently) vowed to pursue every single legal
avenue to block the bonuses. The question is not just why the White House was
the last to learn about bonuses that Democratic congressmen had sought hearings about back in
December, but why it was so slow to realize that the publics anger couldnt be
sated by Summerss legalese or by constant reiteration of the word outrage. By
the time Obama acted, even the G.O.P. leader Mitch McConnell was ahead of him in full (if hypocritical)
I assure you that neither of these two columnists would agree with my
assessment of what Mr. Obama is doing wrong. But, whatever our reasons, we
all agree that it is wrong. Egregiously wrong.
And if Mr. Obama is wrong, then it necessarily follows that the
Democrat-dominated congress, which is passing his legislation, must
be just as wrong.
And that means, whether Mr. Krugman or Mr. Rich will say it in so many words,
that the Democratic Party is wrong.
And if Krugman and Rich are saying it any way at all, you can be sure that somewhere in the
bowels of the Times building, a new overall position on Mr. Obama has been
Why? Maybe it has something
to do with what effect the legislation will have on the
New York Times company (that's right, it's not just a newspaper, it's a company;
a big one) and its executives.
Today's lead story in the Times talks about how Mr. Obama is looking to
regulate the compensation paid to executives at banks and other financial
institutions -- but that the regulations might be expanded into other
areas. Do you think Pinch Sulzberger and his inner circle might have a
worry or two about that?
Whatever the reason, I will now expect a significantly more critical
view of President Obama by the Times and its sister paper, the Boston Globe.
My pal Jeff Jacoby, the Globe's house conservative, should be pleasantly surprised by this turn of
events. I'll contact him, ask what he thinks about this and let you
know what he says.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ISRAEL AND ITS ARAB ENEMIES
From Jonathan Kaye of Canada's National Post. No comment necessary:
Jonathan Kay: Here is the
difference between Israel and its Arab enemies
Here, in a nutshell, is the difference between
Israel and the terror-worshiping cultures that besiege it. When terrorists kill
Israeli women and children with bombs or missiles, they regard it as a triumph
worthy of celebration; sweets are passed out; the terrorists themselves are
venerated as martyrs. When Israeli soldiers deliberately kill Arab women and
children, on the other hand, most Israelis regard it as a disgusting aberration,
and a legal investigation is launched.
Last week, the director of an Israeli military
institute leaked unproven testimonials from soldiers who claimed they'd engaged in or
been urged to engage in reckless and inhumane tactics during the recent Gaza
campaign. In one instance, it was claimed a sniper had shot an elderly woman. In
another, an Israeli gunman was alleged to have killed a woman and two children.
All four of the victims, the testimonials allege, were killed because they
approached Israeli positions or violated Israeli battlefield orders, despite the
fact they posed no military threat. Other accounts leaked from the same military
institute, all taken from a taped discussion among Gaza war veterans, feature
claims that Israel had recklessly destroyed Gazan property; and that militant
Israeli Rabbis had distributed unsettling propaganda to the soldiers prior to
None of the accounts have been verified. But no
one should be surprised if some turn out to be true. No army even one serving
a humane, democratic nation such as Israel, tragically well-practiced in the art
of counter-terrorism is staffed by unbroken legions of angels. There are
always bad apples. Thousands of Israeli soldiers fought in Gaza in late 2008 and
early 2009. No doubt, a few of them fell under some of the lunatic and sadistic
impulses that have been known to grip soldiers in times of war. (We should be
far more skeptical of the related claim that Israeli units actually were
commanded to maraud Gazan civilians and their homes. If that were true,
the civilian death toll in Gaza would have been orders of magnitude higher than
it actually was.)
What is more remarkable is how this all has been
handled in Israel itself. As soon as the allegations surfaced, Israel's military
advocate general launched an investigation. As with the United States following
Abu Ghraib in Iraq, and Canada following the Airborne Regiment scandal in
Somalia, the sadists will be identified and, where justified, punished. Israel
is an open society in which ordinary soldiers often discuss their combat
experiences in op-ed articles, blogs and radio programs. Indeed, this whole
story was originally broken by Israeli newspapers. The prospect of a cover-up is
Nevertheless, we all know how Israel's enemies and
critics will play this news. From the opening days of the Gazan campaign, the
blood-libels of "massacre" and "genocide" have flown thick and fast. From the
moment this story appeared on the front-page of Thursday's New York Times, it was
obvious that the Israel-Apartheid crowd had found its latest talking point. (It
doesn't help matters that some Israeli soldiers are playing up the sadistic
motif for gallows humor, with t-shirts bearing the image of dead Arabs and the like. Sometimes, Israel is own
its worst PR enemy)
Well, here's another talking point worth
considering. In April, 1979, a Lebanese terrorist by the name of Samir Kuntar murdered
a 31-year-old Israeli father and his 4-year-old daughter dispatching the
latter by smashing her head against a rock. (A 2-year-old sister also died
from suffocation, as her mother tried to quiet the toddler's screams so as not
to alert Kuntar to their presence.) Kuntar's crimes are now 30 years old. But
recent events suggest they remain instructive to this day: Last year, after
spending three decades in an Israeli jail for the killings, the murderer was
sent back to Lebanon in exchange for the remains of two Israeli soldiers. Upon
his return, Arabs greeted Kuntar with confetti and applause. The head of Al
Jazeera's Beirut office called the man a "pan-Arab hero," and feted him at a
special party. A few months later, in Nov. 2008, the Syrian president gave
Kuntar his country's highest medal.
Such a sick spectacle could never unfold in
Israel, of course: In the case of the soldiers alleged last week to have killed
Gazan civilians, the reaction from Israelis has been what one would expect in a
civilized culture that values human life: outrage, disgust, and a legal
investigation. It is this contrast not the isolated outrages alleged to have
been performed by Israeli soldiers that tell us all we need to know about the
moral gulf between the Jewish state and its terrorist
MEDIA BIAS? NAAAAAHHHH
From of Todd Huston of www.newsbusters.org:
SF Chron Reports 'Massive'
Anti-War Protest, Completely Ignored Equally Large Cincy Tea Party
Back on March 15, Noel Sheppard noted
that the San Francisco Chronicle completely ignored the thousands of average
Americans that came together in Cincinnati, Ohio to protest Obama's
unprecedented take over of the US economy. The Cincinnati Tea Party truly was
massive but is just one of the many dozens of Tea Party protests that have
occurred -- and are continuing to occur -- all across the country in the last
two months. Still, the SF Chronicle didn't see any reason to cover the rally.
But never fear for the Chronicle does enjoy a good
protest, nonetheless. As long as it's of a leftist, anti-war flavor, of course.
Witness the Chron's coverage of the "Massive anti-war, anti-Wall Street protest in San
Francisco" from this weekend, March 21.
This rally was no bigger (and arguably smaller)
than the anti-Obama protests in Cincinnati, yet the Chronicle reserves the word
"massive" for the anti-war/anti-Wall Street protest while offering no coverage
at all for the one in Cincy. If size was the key here, as the Chronicle's
headline seems to note, then why ignore the likely bigger protest in Ohio only a
I'll bet you can figure that one out,
It seems that not all protests are created equal
in the eyes of the SFChron.
The Chronicle also made another shifty move in its
coverage of the Frisco weirdo's little march. It made the violence that happened
there seem to be the fault of supporters of Israel when it clearly was not. In
the third paragraph of the SF Chronicle story we are informed about when
The protest remained peaceful until the main
group arrived at Civic Center Plaza. There, a couple hundred pro-Israel
protesters waving Israeli flags were waiting for the larger contingent, which
included many pro-Palestine protesters.
Yes, apparently everything was great until those
darned Joooows showed up. The truth is, though, that it was the pro-Muslim
protesters from the leftys side that accosted the pro-Israel group, not the
other way around. The Chronicle would have been more proper to say something
like the following: "The protest remained peaceful until pro-Palestinian
protesters broke from the group to confront several hundred pro-Israel
protesters that had gathered at the Civic Center."
The Chron did go on to say that the
pro-Palestinian protesters broke off "to confront" the pro-Israel group, but
that first paragraph does make it seem as if everything was fine until Jewish
supporters showed up placing the onus on the Jews and not the Palestinians.
Subtle, but just so.
In any case, what we have here is clear. The
Chronicle had no desire to cover the massive protest in Cincinnati against
Barack Obama's socialist intervention in the U.S. economy, a protest that is
noteworthy for the fact that those thousands all came together for one goal. On
the other hand, the protest in San Francisco represented dozens of different
causes -- from Planned Parenthood and Code Pink feminazi groups to the common
anti-war, and anti-Jew folks -- and was an effort organized by several of those
professional protest organizations so ubiquitous on the American extreme left.
Whereas the Cincinnati protest was organized
almost spontaneously and with singular purpose, the Frisco protest was a melange
of nutty causes and fringe characters brought together in a kaleidoscope of
ideas that did not reveal a united message. In light of this, the Cincinnati
protest was far more consequential since everyone was there for that one purpose
while the Frisco gathering was a bunch of smaller groups coinciding for all
sorts of reasons.
It would seem to any disinterested reporter that
the protest in Cincinnati deserved at least as much coverage as the San
Francisco anti-whatever protest received. Sadly, the Chronicle doesn't seem to
agree with that more balanced journalistic viewpoint.
On a side note, it was amusing to read an
eyewitness account of
the lefties trying to organize a protest in front of several AIG executives
house this weekend. Apparently, there was only two small buses of protesters and
about 20 vanloads of media folks to cover it.
For a Business Insider blog, Rhys Southan wrote:
At this point, we're waiting outside of AIGFP
HQ, and still waiting for another bus to arrive. But we've heard that that bus
is being followed by 20 vans of media. Once again, it seems the media is much
more interested than anyone who's actually protesting.
One amusing anecdote: The protesters stopped at
one point in an organic grocery store and were suprised to learn that many AIG
execs were shoppers there, and that according to the store's proprietor, they
were actually very nice people.
The flummoxed protesters spent several minutes
outside trying to figure out how such "evil" people could be nice to an
But, as with the SF Chronicle covering the
massive anti-war protest (for a war that is essentially over and won, by the
way) the AIG protests got all sorts of Old Media coverage. Meanwhile, Tea Party
after Tea Party goes unremarked upon by the Old Media.
Any bias there do ya think?
Thanks to the San Francisco Chronicle for so clearly showing us how
agenda-driven its "news coverage" actually is.
And, being Jewish, I offer particular thanks for turning the Palestinian
Arab/Jewish confrontation on its ear. Nice touch, making it seem as though
Jews were the aggressors but then backing off after leaving that indelible first
But listen to them squeal like stuck pigs if you call them
YES, WE HAVE NO BANANAS (THAT YOU WANT TO TOUCH)
I love Whole Foods and wish there were a store closer to where I live.
But, to tell you the truth, this story, from Fox News, isn't giving me any
warm fuzzies. Please pay special attention to the parts I've put in
'World's Deadliest Spider' Found in Whole Foods Produce
Friday, March 20, 2009
File: A Whole Foods store in Omaha,
One of the most deadly spiders in the
world was found in the produce section of an upscale Oklahoma grocery
An employee of
Whole Foods Market in Tulsa discovered what an expert said was a Brazilian
wandering spider in a bunch of bananas from Honduras on Sunday and managed to
catch it in a container.
The spider was
given to University of Tulsa animal facilities director Terry Childs, who
identified the arachnid and said that type of spider is one of the most lethal
in the world.
said a bite will kill a person in about 25 minutes, and while there is an
antidote, he doesn't know of any in the Tulsa area.
But a Tulsa Zoo
official disputed the findings, saying his analysis through video and photos
he'd seen led him to believe that it was a Huntsman spider which is harmless
definitive evidence it has been misidentified," said Barry Downer, the zoo's
curator of aquariums and herpetology.
Downer said the
spider should have been preserved for study, but he was told that the body would
not be made available.
"It doesn't make
any sense to me why it wouldn't be saved," he said.
Wednesday night that he had destroyed the spider at the urging of a university
administrator because of safety concerns.
spokesman said Thursday that the university is looking into how and why the
spider was destroyed.
director of the plant disease and insect diagnostics lab at Oklahoma State
University, also said the arachnid didn't appear to be a Brazilian
wandering spider and should not have been killed.
"We preserve it,"
Grantham said. "We don't destroy it."
Downer and Grantham disagreed with Childs' characterization of the
danger of a Brazilian wandering spider.
Death from its
bite is rare, and only victims with compromised immune systems, such as babies
or older people, would be at risk, they said.
Spiders often are
found in imported produce. A manager at Whole Foods says the store regularly
checks its goods and that's how the spider was found.
the Brazilian spider delivers more than a painful bite that sends most victims
to the hospital. Researchers have found its venom also stimulates an hours-long
erection in men.
not only experience overall pain and an increase in blood pressure, they also
get an uncomfortable erection.
emergency room staff can immediately spot the victims of a bite.
"The erection is
a side effect that everybody who gets stung by this spider will experience along
with the pain and discomfort," said study team member Romulo Leite of the
Medical College of Georgia, presumably speaking only about male bite
eventually this will end up in the development of real drugs for the treatment
of erectile dysfunction."
The good news, Mr. Jones, is that you have the best erection of your life,
and it will last for hours. The bad news is that YOU won't last for
hours. You've got 25 minutes to use it.
But if you're going to, can you get out of the produce section?
THE MOST DIFFICULT 100 DAYS?
My previous blog mentioned the great Boston Globe columnist (and really good
guy) Jeff Jacoby.
Jeff's latest column laughs off the ridiculous claim that President
Obama's first 100 days are the most difficult that any President has faced in
the history of the country.
Here it is:
'The most difficult first 100 days'? Not quite
The Boston Globe
March 22, 2009
"WHEN the stock market crashed," Joe Biden told Katie Couric in a CBS interview last fall, "Franklin Roosevelt got on the television
and didn't just talk about the princes of greed. He said, 'Look, here's what
happened.'" Katie didn't embarrass her guest by pointing out that there were no
TV broadcasts when Wall Street crashed in 1929 and that the president at the
time was Herbert Hoover -- though she would surely have pounced had Sarah Palin
committed such a howler.
Last week the vice president brought up FDR again, telling a
Democratic audience that President Obama "has inherited the most difficult first
100 days of any president, I would argue, including Franklin
Perhaps that generated some quizzical looks, for
Biden continued: "Let me explain what I mean by that. It was clear the problem
Roosevelt inherited. This is a more complicated economic [problem]. We've never,
ever been here before -- here or in the world. Never, ever been here
If nothing else, Biden's comment was at odds with
the administration's new line on the economy: Whereas last month the
president was saying we were in a "crisis as deep and as dire as any since the
Great Depression," now he declares that things are "not as bad as we think they are" and his adviser tells "Meet the Press" that the nation's
economic "fundamentals are sound." Apparently Biden didn't get the memo to stop bad-mouthing the
Talking points aside, does Biden's claim have merit?
Is Obama faced with grimmer, more formidable conditions than any incoming
president has ever known? Were FDR's first 100 days notably less
challenging than Obama's?
the Depression: A destitute family in Alabama, 1935 (Library of
The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported earlier
this month that unemployment has reached 8.1 percent for the first time since 1983. When Roosevelt took the
oath of office on March 4, 1933, more than 25 percent of American workers were
unemployed. "Those fortunate enough to have work," historian Anthony Badger
writes in FDR: The First Hundred Days , "had seen their income fall by a third in three years.
Farmers had been crushed by catastrophic price falls, drought, and debt. A
thousand homeowners a day were losing their homes. No region, no industry, no
class escaped the Depression."
Since the beginning of 2008, 42 US banks have failed. But as FDR came to power, banks were failing by the thousands, wiping out the life's savings of countless American
families. Tens of thousands of other businesses had also gone under, turning
once-bustling city centers into near-ghost towns. Between 1929 and Roosevelt's
inauguration, national income had
been cut in half; industrial output had
plummeted just as much.
The recession we are in now is painful. American
households have lost 18 percent of their wealth, and millions fear for their jobs. No one knows for sure
what the next few years will bring. But at least this much is clear: Conditions
today are nowhere near as desperate as they were in 1933, a reality for which
all Americans, including their vice-president, should be grateful.
Even apart from FDR, Obama is hardly the first
president to take office amid bleak or threatening circumstances. When Ronald
Reagan assumed the presidency in 1981, he inherited a "misery
index" of 19.5 percent -- the impact of 12
percent inflation combined with 7.5 percent unemployment rate. Mortgage
rates were at 15 percent and climbing;
the prime rate had reached 20 percent. Today inflation is at one-half of 1
percent, while mortgage rates are at
historic lows. Biden
may insist that "we've never, ever been here before." The data tell a different
And what of the non-economic challenges new
presidents have had to confront? When Harry Truman succeeded FDR in 1945, the
United States was fighting a world war on multiple fronts. The Battle of Berlin
raged in Europe; B-29 bombers were pounding Tokyo. Nearly 200,000 American lives
had been lost, and new casualties were averaging 900 per day. Truman had no
background in foreign policy, and was shocked to discover how little
national-security intelligence Roosevelt had shared with him -- including the
imminent development of the atomic bomb. No wonder he told reporters he felt as
if "the moon, the stars, and all the planets had fallen on me."
But even Truman had it easy next to Abraham
Lincoln, whose election had prompted most of the South to secede from the Union
and form the Confederacy. For his inauguration, the 16th president
had to enter Washington in disguise, so serious were the threats to his life.
Five weeks into Lincoln's presidency, Confederate batteries attacked Fort
Sumter, triggering the Civil War -- the worst and bloodiest calamity in American
No, these are not the worst of times. Americans
have come through graver crises. Biden should be focused on helping the nation
get through this one, instead of trying to paint it as the most daunting we've
(Jeff Jacoby is a columnist for The Boston
Thank you, Jeff, for so clearly showing that this claim
is self-serving nonsense.
Simply stated, the administration's PR machine has floated the "most
difficult 100 days" BS in an effort to elevate Mr. Obama. It is
designed to create the illusion that he is some kind of superman overcoming
uniquely difficult circumstances.
Pathetically, some people are going to buy into this BS. I'm hopeful
that, after reading Mr. Jacoby's column, you won't be one of