Monday, 09 November 2009

NORWAY'S "ACADEMIA" AND A BOYCOTT OF ISRAEL

Ken Berwitz

Please note that, in this blog's title, I put academia in quotation marks. That is because, in reading these geniuses' understanding of Israel and how it evolved into its present form, it is hard to seriously consider them academics.

Norway, it should be pointed out, is no newcomer to hatred of Israel.  Not necessarily all Norwegian people, but its government and various institutions.  You can get a sense of some (by no means all) of the ways this manifests itself by clicking here.

David Harris, who heads the American Jewish Congress (AJC) has written an excellent piece for the Huffington Post, on the possibility that at least one Norwegian university will boycott Israeli universities.  While I have had my differences with Mr. Harris in the past concerning domestic politics, in this instance he is spot-on: 

Boycott Israel? Norwegian University Must Decide

November 9, 2009

by David Harris


Later this month, Norway's second largest university, the Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU), will consider a proposed boycott of Israel.

The university's board of directors is expected to vote on an appeal by several employees calling for a boycott of "the educational, research and cultural institutions of Israel and their representatives, regardless of religion or nationality."

Why the call for the boycott? The appeal's first sentence says it all: "Since 1948, the state of Israel has occupied Palestinian land and denied the Palestinians basic human rights." The boycott should continue until there "is an end to the occupation."

It goes on to accuse Israeli academics, among other alleged misdeeds, of developing "Zionist ideology and renouncing Palestinian history and identity."

There you have it. Israel is deemed illegal. It has no right to exist. Until it disappears from the face of the earth, it must be treated as a pariah nation, so radioactive as to be untouchable.

Well, as least the petitioners are being honest.

More often, we're treated to deliberately vague slogans such as "end the occupation," without any specificity. Do these calls refer to 1948, the year of Israel's establishment, or 1967, the year Israel fought a war of self-defense and, in winning, acquired territory it then expected to trade for a peace agreement? It can be hard, if not impossible, to tell.

Of all the nations in the world, according to these Norwegian luminaries, only Israel has no legitimacy and must be ostracized.

Obviously, the ancient Hebrew presence, the continuous link between the Jewish people and the land, the Balfour Declaration, the League of Nations mandate, and the votes of the UN Special Committee on Palestine and the UN General Assembly have no bearing, though they provide a legal and historical foundation for statehood far exceeding that of many countries.

In reality, if the petitioners were truly concerned about sovereign legitimacy, they might begin by asking how many countries in the world today were established by violent conquest. And how many were created by politicians in distant capitals dispassionately drawing and redrawing boundaries in far-off lands?

The list would be a rather long one and, incidentally, would include any number of Arab countries. (For instance, the indigenous people of North Africa were not Arab, yet today the countries of the Maghreb are all referred to as Arab, following invasion and occupation.)

The petitioners' appeal also assails Israel for creating a climate of fear and harassment at the "eleven Palestinian universities in Gaza and the West Bank."

Not surprisingly, no mention is made of the fact that there were no universities whatsoever in Gaza or the West Bank before 1967. They all emerged after Israeli rule.

And there's no reference to what took place in the West Bank and Gaza before 1967. It's as if it were a historical black hole, even if it shouldn't be for those who claim concern for "Palestinian history and identity."

The West Bank was in Jordanian, not Israeli, hands. Indeed, Jordan formally annexed the territory. Gaza was under Egyptian military rule.

No one spoke of a Palestinian state, though the Arab world had the power to create one at the time. And no one in Amman or Cairo had any interest in fostering a sense of "Palestinian history and identity," except as a weapon to be used against Israel, whose destruction they sought.

But surely none of this concerns the Norwegian signatories to the boycott appeal. It's all just a diversion from the one issue at hand. Theirs is a singular preoccupation with Israel. Nothing else matters.

If the petitioners were genuinely concerned about human rights, of course, they would appeal to NTNU - an institution with a proud international character and hundreds of cooperative agreements with universities around the world - to boycott serial violators of basic liberties, but I wouldn't hold my breath.

For some reason, most likely to be found in the deep recesses of the human mind, the rights of Iranians, North Koreans, Burmese, Cubans, Darfuris, Zimbabweans, and others just don't have the same cachet for those single-mindedly focused on Israel.

To the petitioners, that Israel is consistently rated by Freedom House as far more democratic than its neighbors has no bearing. That the American Association of University Professors, in response to the Norwegian boycott move, noted that "Israel has the best record of supporting academic freedom of any country in the area," falls on deaf ears. That Israel alone in its region doesn't have capital punishment means not a whit. That Israel faces enemies who would destroy it clearly has no claim on their conscience. And that Israel's Arab population has continued to grow, even as the Jewish population in neighboring Arab countries was compelled to flee, evokes at best a yawn.

I hope the university's board of directors will do the right thing on November 12.

Whether or not each member of the board loves Israel, or approves of every Israeli action, isn't the issue.

The board should reject the appeal because of its naked politicization and bias, which should have no place in an academic institution like NTNU.

But I also hope the petitioners will have the courage of consistency. If they want a boycott of Israel, then they should lead by example.

If any of them or their families suffers from multiple sclerosis, let them refuse to take Copaxone.

If they have Parkinson's disease, stop the Azilect.

If they need an endoscopy, make sure the doctor doesn't use the PillCam, the ingestible video capsule to evaluate gastrointestinal ailments.

If they use a computer, check first that it doesn't have Israeli technology developed for Intel.

And they shouldn't dare go near their cell phones, which are filled with Israeli innovations.

In fact, Israel ranks in the top twenty nations in the world for patent filings, so the petitioners will need to be extremely vigilant.

And since four Israeli universities are ranked among the top two hundred in the world (Norway has one on the list, and it's not NTNU), with especially high ratings in science, medicine, and technology, the petitioners will have to be very busy watching out for any Israeli "intrusion" into their lives.

But, hey, all this constant attention will have at least one redeeming feature for the petitioners. It'll keep them from grappling with the real complexities on the ground in the Middle East. How much easier it must be for them to cling to their airtight narrative of hatred of Israel.

During World War II, Norway was one of the first countries to capitulate to the nazis and give over its Jews.  It is true that there was an active Norwegian resistance operating outside of its government, which I certainly respect.  But the government itself?  Just as cowardly and collaborative as the French and the Belgians (#1 and #2 on the Jewish genocide hit parade).  About 3/4 of Norway's Jewish community was either exterminated or fled - mostly to Sweden.

With a history like that, you would think Norway might be especially sensitive to blasting off against Jews.  You would think it might, after all this time, grow a collective set of gonads and stand up to the "people" who want to exterminate Jewish existence, starting with the state of Israel.

Well, if you thought that, you would be wrong.

Thank you Mr. Harris, for your excellent analysis.


IS BARACK OBAMA TO BLAME FOR NIDAL MALIK HASAN'S TERRORIST ACT?

Ken Berwitz

Let me answer that title in the first line of this blog.  No, Barack Obama is not to blame.  It would be idiotic to put this on the President personally.

Now that we've got that straightened out, let's think back 8 years, to 9/11.  Was President Bush blamed for the terrorist attacks on that date by the same media which (correctly, this time) does not put the Fort Hood massacre on Barack Obama's shoulders?  The answer is that many in the media did, in fact, blame Mr. Bush.

The key rationale for blaming Bush for 9/11 was an August 6th 2001 briefing memo.  Former professional wrestler and governor of Minnesota, Jesse Ventura, a human cartoon if there ever was one, likes to refer to this memo as "proof" of Bush's misfeasance, and he is far from alone.

So let's compare the two situations to see if there is any more reason to blame Bush for 9/11 than there is to blame Obama for Fort Hood.

First, here - from ABC News - is what the FBI knew about hasan prior to his terrorist act:

Officials: U.S. Aware of Hasan Efforts to Contact al Qaeda

Army Major in Fort Hood Massacre Used 'Electronic Means' to Connect with Terrorists

By RICHARD ESPOSITO, MATTHEW COLE and BRIAN ROSS
Nov. 9, 2009

 

U.S. intelligence agencies were aware months ago that Army Major Nidal Hasan was attempting to make contact with people associated with al Qaeda, two American officials briefed on classified material in the case told ABC News.

It is not known whether the intelligence agencies informed the Army that one of its officers was seeking to connect with suspected al Qaeda figures, the officials said.

One senior lawmaker said the CIA had, so far, refused to brief the intelligence committees on what, if any, knowledge they had about Hasan's efforts.

CIA director Leon Panetta and the Director of National Intelligence, Dennis Blair, have been asked by Congress "to preserve" all documents and intelligence files that relate to Hasan, according to the lawmaker.

On Sunday, Senator Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) called for an investigation into whether the Army missed signs as to whether Hasan was an Islamic extremist.

"If Hasan was showing signs, saying to people that he had become an Islamist extremist, the U.S. Army has to have a zero tolerance," Lieberman told Fox News Sunday.

Investigators want to know if Hasan maintained contact with a radical mosque leader from Virginia, Anwar al Awlaki, who now lives in Yemen and runs a web site that promotes jihad around the world against the U.S.

In a blog posting early Monday titled "Nidal Hassan Did the Right Thing," Awlaki calls Hassan a "hero" and a "man of conscience who could not bear living the contradiction of being a Muslim and serving in an army that is fighting against his own people."

According to his site, Awlaki served as an imam in Denver, San Diego and Falls Church, Virginia.

The Associated Press reported Sunday that Major Hasan attended the Falls Church mosque when Awlaki was there.

Did these "intelligence agencies" not advise homeland security that there was a potential terrorist among the soldiers at Fort Hood?  Did homeland security not advise the President?  How could he not have known?  That is the argument someone would make in order to connect Barack Obama to this horrific attack.

Now let's look at the August 6 memo which is supposed to be the "smoking gun" that implicates President Bush in 9/11.  Appropriately enough, therefore, I'll use www.smokinggun.com for this, since the site also provides an excellent analysis of whether there is blame in the oval office:

Two and a half years after 9/11, the American public learned today that President Bush received explicit warnings that Osama bin Laden was planning to attack the United States including activities "consistent with preparations for hijacking." Yet, there was no domestic follow-up by the Bush administration. No high level meetings. No sense of urgency. No warnings to FBI agents across the country.

We now know why the Bush administration has been hiding the Aug. 6, 2001, intelligence briefing for the president, called "Bin Laden Determined to Attack Inside the United States." All of the 9/11 Commission members Republicans and Democrats have asked the Bush administration to declassify this document.
http://www.americanprogress.org/issues/2004/04/b44925.html

Our take...

The August 6th memo has been referenced in many places as a possible warning of the 9/11 attacks, but is this really true? Fortunately its been declassified now, so we can check this for ourselves.

Bin Ladin Determined to Strike in US

Clandestine, foreign government, and media reports indicate Bin Ladin since 1997 has wanted to conduct terrorist attacks in the U.S. Bin Ladin implied in US television interviews in 1997 and 1998 that his followers would follow the example of World Trade Center bomber Ramzi Yousef and "bring the fighting to America."

After US missile strikes on his base in Afghanistan in 1998, Bin Ladin told followers he wanted to retaliate in Washington, according to xxxxxxxxxxx service.

An Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ) operative told an xxxxxxxxxx service at the same time that Bin Ladin was planning to exploit the operative's access to the US to mount a terrorist strike.
http://www.cnn.com/2004/images/04/10/whitehouse.pdf

Were starting with a history lesson: bin Ladin is determined to strike in the US, but has been so since 1997 with no success as of yet.

The millennium plotting in Canada in 1999 may have been part of Bin Ladin's first serious attempt to implement a terrorist strike in the US. Convicted plotter Ahmed Ressam has told the FBI that he conceived the idea to attack Los Angeles International Airport himself, but that Bin Ladin lieutenant Abu Zubaydah encouraged him and helped facilitate the operation. Ressam also said that in 1998 Abu Zubaydah was planning his own US attack.

Ressam says Bin Ladin was aware of the Los Angeles operation.

Although Bin Ladin has not succeeded, his attacks against the US Embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998 demonstrate that he prepares operations years in advance and is not deterred by setbacks. Bin Ladin associates surveilled our Embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam as early as 1993, and some members of the Nairobi cell planning the bombings were arrested and deported in 1997.
http://www.cnn.com/2004/images/04/10/whitehouse.pdf

Now a little more caution is added. Although theyre pointing out that bin Ladin has not succeeded, hes playing a long game, and theres no guarantee some operation may not be active right now. (Although note that given the 5 year lead time they mention on the Embassy attacks, thats not a suggestion that something is imminent.)

Al-Qa'ida members including some who are US citizens have resided in or traveled to the US for years, and the group apparently maintains a support structure that could aid attacks. Two al-Qa'ida members found guilty in the conspiracy to bomb our Embassies in East Africa were US citizens, and a senior EIJ member lived in California in the mid-1990s.

A clandestine source said in 1998 that a Bin Ladin cell in New York was recruiting Muslim-American youth for attacks.
http://www.cnn.com/2004/images/04/10/whitehouse.pdf

They back up the previous point by pointing out that there are al Qaeda members within the US. Note the vagueness of the group apparently maintains a support structure, though -- this does not suggest in-depth knowledge of their activities.

The pointer to recruitment of Muslim-American youth is also interesting, but not of direct relevance to 9/11.

We have not been able to corroborate some of the more sensational threat reporting, such as that from a xxxxxxxxxx service in 1998 saying that Bin Ladin wanted to hijack a US aircraft to gain the release of "Blind Shaykh" 'Umar 'Abd al-Rahman and other US-held extremists.
http://www.cnn.com/2004/images/04/10/whitehouse.pdf

Ah, thats the first mention of hijacking, but look at the context. It comes from another intelligence service (we believe the UK); its around three years old; the context suggests it relates to hostage-taking, not using a plane as a missile; and the FBI call the claim sensational and say they cannot corroborate it. 

Nevertheless, FBI information since that time indicates patterns of suspicious activity in this country consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks, including recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York.
http://www.cnn.com/2004/images/04/10/whitehouse.pdf

Then once again the memo writer adds a note of caution, although pay attention to the caveats... 

Since that time means theyve observed patterns of suspicious activity since 1998, which suggests to us theyre nothing detailed or of great urgency.

The second one is most important, as we see the true context of consistent with preparations for hijackings in the original claim, and in reality its consistent with preparations for hijackings or other types of attacks. Thats about as useless a warning you can get, as plainly it covers everything (and hijacking may only have been mentioned as a reference to the previous paragraph).

Recent surveillance of federal buildings in New York suggests the identification of New York as a possible target. Although, of course, as the WTC towers were not federal buildings its hard to see how this would help very much.

The FBI is conducting approximately 70 full field investigations throughout the US that it considers Bin Ladin-related. CIA and the FBI are investigating a call to our Embassy in UAE in May saying that a group of Bin Ladin supporters was in the US planning attacks with explosives.
http://www.cnn.com/2004/images/04/10/whitehouse.pdf

So the original comment that there were No warnings to FBI agents across the country seems a little out of place; the FBI are saying here theyre already conducting 70 bin Ladin-related full field investigations.

This includes the final one, suggesting a plan for an attack with explosives, but how is foretelling 9/11? If anything, with the preceding paragraph, they may relate it to an attempt to bomb federal buildings in New York.

Overall, then, there is no reference to the use of planes as missiles. There are two references to hijackings, one virtually dismissed, the second only mentioned as one possible type of terrorist attack. There is no sense of urgency, a suggestion that attacks may only be weeks away, quite the opposite: were on top of it, they seem to be saying.

Now theres plenty you can say about this, how the intelligence services should have known more, perhaps were complacent, but what you cant say is that the August 6th memo constitutes a particularly useful warning of 9/11: that simply isnt true.

Footnote:

A reader points out that a footnote in the 9/11 Commission Report suggested the 70 full-field investigations number was misleading...

The 70 full-field investigations number was a generous calculation that included fund-raising investigations. It also counted each individual connected to an investigation as a separate full-field investigation. Many of these investigations should not have been included, such as the one that related to a dead person, four that concerned people who had been in long-term custody, and eight that had been closed well before August 6, 2001. Joint Inquiry interview of Elizabeth and Laura, Nov. 20, 2002; FBI report,"70 UBL Cases," undated (produced to the Joint Inquiry on Aug. 12, 2002).
http://www.faqs.org/docs/911/911Report-552.html

This may suggest a basis for another take on the memo (the President was being deliberately misled), but doesnt add any support for the idea that Bush should have reacted differently to it. How was he to know the number didnt mean what it said? How was he to know what an appropriate number of full-field investigations should be, anyway? 

The fact remains that the memo is not a convincing warning of 9/11, it does not suggest attacks might be imminent in weeks, and it suggests the FBI are already involved in detailed investigations of the situation. On the specific point of Bushs reaction to the document (which is what were discussing here), theres no evidence to show he should have done anything differently.

This is another of the seemingly countless examples in which our wonderful "neutral" media were happy to go after Bush hammer and tongs when he clearly had no culpability, but suddenly noticed that lack of culpability on behalf of Saint Bara...er, President Barack Obama .

But listen to them squeal like stuck pigs if you call them biased.


THE DAY BUSH BLEW HIS NOBEL PRIZE

Ken Berwitz

Two warnings: 

-Warning #1:  The link below has some bad language in it.

-Warning #2:  When you watch it, you may laugh so hard that you'll strain your rib cage.

From my pal Bob (how does he dig up this stuff???):

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hZjpCK02s3A

 

 


THE DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY AND THE FORT HOOD TERRORIST ATTACK

Ken Berwitz

From National Review:

Monday, November 09, 2009

BARACK OBAMA

Four Days Later, DHS Homepage Has No Mention of Fort Hood

The big news this morning was about the Fort Hood shooter's disturbing ties to Islamists, including an apparent effort to reach out to al-Qaeda.

I'm not quite sure what, precisely, I expect from the Department of Homeland Security at a moment like this. I realize the investigation is still going on, and I realize the investigation is probably being primarily handled by the military and the FBI. But the idea of a Islamist soldier in the ranks would seem to suggest that there's a threat lurking out there, and that would seem to suggest that DHS should be at least monitoring this, right?

(At this moment, here's the DHS homepage)

Of course, there's more to their home page than the USFA campaign focusing on home smoke alarms and sprinklers; their home page center graphic rotates to "Border Contraband Seizures Soar", "Secretary Testifies on Nation's H1N1 resposne"; and "Careers in Homeland Security."

The top news items are about "Operation ATLAS targeting illegal cash couriers worldwide," Secretary Napolitano's visit to Belgium, radiation scanning technology being sent to the northern border, Napolitano's visit to the United Kingdom...

In other words, judging by the DHS web site, there was no shooting on Fort Hood last Thursday. A search finds similar results.

However, Napolitano did find time, while in Abu Dhabi, to insist that the attacks "must not lead to the victimisation of Muslim Americans."

Hey, how about a word or two about the victimization of Americans, period? That is your job, is it not, Madame Secretary?

UPDATE: The FBI and Department of Justice web sites have nothing on Fort Hood; DOD is, unsurprisingly, full of information.

An army psychiatrist becomes a radical Islamist.  He hands out korans to whoever will take them on the day of his attack.  He screams "allah akbar!" and starts shooting.  The result is 13 dead and 38 injured (as I write this, 11 of the injured are still hospitalized).

And THIS GOES UNMENTIONED ON THE DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY WEB SITE??????????????????????//

Is DHS secretary janet napolitano brain dead?  Or is she too busy trying to figure out how to call this a "man-made disaster" - her self-created alternative description - rather than the terrorist attack that it is?

If napolitano isn't brain dead, then her brain must be in a state of suspended animation.  Maybe her job as Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security should be too.


THE GOLDSTONE REGURGITATION

Ken Berwitz

I am having trouble calling it "The Goldstone Report", because, essentially, it is 567 pages of Palestinian Arab propaganda posing as reality.

CAMERA, The Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America has put out a report which shows, with painstaking detail, just how false and biased the Goldstone Regurgitation really is. 

The report is far too long to post here.  But it is must-reading for anyone interested in reality versus Palestinian Arab propaganda posing as facts. 

You can read it by clicking on http://camera.org/index.asp?x_context=2&x_outlet=118&x_article=1736, and I hope you do.


US NEGOTIATIONS WITH IRAN: A PROGRESS REPORT

Ken Berwitz

Here is the start of a New York Times article on the state of our negotiations with Iran:

Iran Said to Ignore Effort to Salvage Nuclear Deal

By DAVID E. SANGER

Published: November 8, 2009

 

WASHINGTON The Obama administration, attempting to salvage a faltering nuclear deal with Iran, has told Irans leaders in back-channel messages that it is willing to allow the country to send its stockpile of enriched uranium to any of several nations, including Turkey, for temporary safekeeping, according to administration officials and diplomats involved in the exchanges.

 

Skip to next paragraph But the overtures, made through the International Atomic Energy Agency over the past two weeks, have all been ignored, the officials said. Instead, they said, the Iranians have revived an old counterproposal: that international arms inspectors take custody of much of Irans fuel, but keep it on Kish, a Persian Gulf resort island that is part of Iran.

 

A senior Obama administration official said that proposal had been rejected because leaving the nuclear material on Iranian territory would allow for the possibility that the Iranians could evict the international inspectors at any moment. That happened in North Korea in 2003, and within months the country had converted its fuel into the material for several nuclear weapons.

 

The intermediary in the exchanges between Washington and Tehran has been Mohamed ElBaradei, the director general of the energy agency. He confirmed some of the proposals including one to send Irans fuel to Turkey, which has nurtured close relations with Iran in interviews in New York late last week.

 

But members of the Obama administration, in interviews over the weekend, said that they had now all but lost hope that Iran would follow through with an agreement reached in Geneva on Oct. 1 to send its fuel out of the country temporarily buying some time for negotiations over its nuclear program.

In the immortal words of Homer Simpson....

"Doh".

What did President Obama and his resident geniuses think would happen with a regime that shamelessly, blatantly lies about everything all the time?  Were they thinking at all?  You almost hope the answer is "no", because if they were, this conclusion is based on their thought process.

Now:  have Mr. Obama and his team finally learned something?  Or are they going to continue on their merry way being played for suckers by our enemies and dismissed as incompetent fools by our friends?

Zeke ... Hitler's 1936 Remilitarization of the Rhineland ... ... History repeats itself. (11/09/09)


OBAMA & CLINTON: A FAILURE TO ADDRESS TERRORISM

Ken Berwitz

This is excerpted from Dick Morris's superb column, today, at www.frontpagemag.com:

The dividing line, of course, between a terrorist and a psychopathic killer is political motivation. His statements right before opening fire would indicate that Hasan was motivated by fanaticism and a commitment to Islamic fascism, even though President Obama bends over backwards to avoid saying so.

Obamas refusal to call the attack terrorism, and to heed the warning signs about the porous nature of our security system that allowed it to happen on a military base, recalls President Clintons deliberate decision to downplay the 1993 attack on the World Trade Center. He did not visit the site of the attack and treated it as a crime, promising to find those guilty and punish them, rather than to attack the international groups that funded and enabled them.

There may be no groups behind Major Hasans attack, but the fact that he was an officer in the Army, with full access to a military base and its arsenal of weapons, while holding the views he did, is the first indication of a laxity in security under President Obama. This attack did not take place in a shopping mall or a school, where security procedures are, understandably, relaxed. It happened on the highest security place of all a military base! That the military failed to spot the possibility of an attack and had no measures in place to prevent it must be laid at the feet of the commander-in-chief of that military: President Barack Obama.

Many commentators have warned that the diminution of security and the weakening of our anti-terrorist protections would leave us vulnerable to be hit again. Now it has happened. And the president is doing everything he can to blur the distinction between murder and terrorism.

It was his failure to understand the difference between an act of war and a crime that undermined President Clintons administrations anti-terror efforts and led directly to 9-11. It would appear that President Obama is going down the same road of denial and minimization of political harm. There may be casualties at Ft. Hood, but Obama is determined that his popularity will not be among them.

My only area of disagreement with Mr. Morris is that he lays nidal malik hasan's terrorist attack at the feet of Barack Obama.  Morris is correct in a technical sense - i.e. that President Obama is the commander in chief of the armed forces.  But, realistically, President Obama is not directly involved in the security at Fort Hood, Texas.

That aside, however, Morris's analysis of Bill Clinton's culpability in 9/11, and the fact that Barack Obama "is going down the same road of denial and minimization of political harm" as Clinton, is exactly right.  It is a prescription for disaster. 

Say what you want about President Bush, he took the hits - and they were monumental - for 8 years, because he thought it was more important to protect the country than to get feel-good coverage in the media. 

When we elected Barack Obama, that strength of resolve, that principled course of action, went right out the window.


THE BERLIN WALL: WALDO HAS NOTHING ON BARACK

Ken Berwitz

Where's Waldo?  Where's Waldo? 

No, where's Barack!  In Berlin, today, Barack makes Waldo look conspicuous by comparison.

Excerpted from the Associated Press article.  The bold print is mine:

BERLIN - Chancellor Angela Merkel thanked former Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev for making change possible in East Germany as she visited what was once a fortified border crossing on Monday retracing her steps on the night 20 years ago the Berlin Wall fell.

The Bornholmer Strasse bridge was the first crossing to open on Nov. 9, 1989 following a confused announcement that East Germany was lifting travel restrictions a pivotal moment in the collapse of communism in Europe.

Merkel, who grew up in East Germany and was one of thousands to cross that night, recalled that "before the joy of freedom came, many people suffered."

She lauded Gorbachev for his role in pushing reform in the Soviet Union.

"We always knew that something had to happen there so that more could change here," she said.

"You made this possible you courageously let things happen, and that was much more than we could expect," she told Gorbachev, winning applause and cheers from a crowd of several hundred people gathered in light drizzle on the bridge over railway lines.

Merkel also welcomed Poland's 1980s pro-democracy leader, Lech Walesa, to the former crossing, saying that his Solidarity movement provided "incredible encouragement" to East Germans.

Also expected in Berlin for the ceremonies were the leaders of all 27 European Union countriesand Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.

Having a pleasant day, Mr. President?  I hope you enjoy whatever you're doing at the White House, or Camp David, or the golf course, or wherever you happen to be.

The relevant leaders of the world are in Berlin.

Is your lack of attendance because you think - correctly - that a US presence would bring to mind Ronald Reagan's success ("Mr. Gorbachev, tear down that wall!") more than your celebration of it?  Is your ego just a little too great to live with such a thing, so you're blowing off this hugely significant anniversary?

Just one other thing:  You can stop wondering why our friends think you're a lightweight loser and our enemies push you around.  You're making it clear enough for anyone to understand.

free` I think the reason obama isn't going is even worse than you do. I think obama sees the fall of communism as a bad thing and not something to celebrate. (11/09/09)


JOEL KLEIN: REPORTING FROM OVER THE DEEP END

Ken Berwitz

In the classic movie "Inherit The Wind", there is a scene during which Gene Kelly (playing the H. L. Mencken-inspired character) verbally attacks Frederic March (playing the William Jennings Bryan-inspired character), who has just died - and Spencer Tracy (playing the Clarence Darrow-inspired character) rebukes Kelly by reminding him  that "a great man once lived in that body".

Yes, it was a fabulous cast.  But it also made a very important point:  it is possible for some people to descend, precipitously, from where they have been.

I never thought of Joe Klein as a great reporter, but I thought if him as an excellent one and a very insightful analyst of news events too.  Now he has descended, precipitously, to hard-left-hack status.  It is pretty sad to see, but that is what has happened.

Here is the latest example, courtesy of Noel Sheppard, writing for www.newsbusters.org:

Time's Joe Klein: GOP Is An 'Extremist' 'Regional Southern Party'

 

By Noel Sheppard (Bio | Archive)
November 8, 2009 - 22:49 ET

The Republicans may have won huge victories in New Jersey and Virginia on Tuesday, but Time's Joe Klein still thinks the GOP is "an extremist shard of a party that is essentially a regional southern party in the country."

I guess the 66 and 60 percent of independents who voted for the Republican gubernatorial candidate in Virginia and New Jersey respectively on Tuesday are also part of this extremist regional southern party.

Alas, such facts didn't enter into the discussion on Sunday's "Reliable Sources" when Klein showed how one's biases can easily trump logic:

HOWARD KURTZ, HOST: All right. Joe Klein, political reporters love elections; it's part of what we do. But did this motley collection of races really have the huge national implications that some of these commentators were suggesting?

JOE KLEIN, TIME MAGAZINE: I mean, it was a sign, but actually, I was out of the country on Tuesday. That's how important I thought it was.

But I think that, you know, to go back to what Michael Medved just said, you know, it's not hard to keep all of your party in line when your party has become an extremist shard of a party that is essentially a regional southern party in the country and doesn't have broad appeal to the mass of Americans. And I think that that's...

KURTZ: But Joe, come back to the point...

KLEIN: And I think that that's the problem that Republicans are facing going forward. You know, you had two governors' races where you had Republicans who ran as moderates against dreary Democratic candidates, surprised they won. Up in New York, in that congressional race, you had an extremist attempt to take over the party there. And that extremist lost.

Well, at least Klein was honest about being out of the country Tuesday, as that quite explains how errant his opinions were five days later.

My only disagreement with Mr. Sheppard is the suggestion that Mr. Klein's being out of the country explains his nonsensical conclusions about the Republican party.  Klein was entirely capable of seeing the huge victory that Republicans won among independents last week, no matter what country he happened to be in.

It would be nice if the original Joe Klein - the one from years ago - re-emerged from whatever netherworld that incarnation of him is currently residing in. 

I'm not hopeful.


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