Tuesday, 25 May 2010

THE WHITE HOUSE JOB OFFER: SESTAK'S DOWNFALL?

Ken Berwitz

Months ago, Joe Sestak made a huge political mistake.  He told us that the White House, either directly or through an emissary, offered him a job in the administration if he would withdraw from the Pennsylvania senate primary and leave Arlen Specter a clear field to run for re-election.

Well, the good news for Sestak is that he stayed in and won.

But the bad news?  That offer he told us about is almost certainly illegal and almost certainly an actionable offense, probably a felony.

Now the Democrats not only have a candidate they clearly did not want, but one who is going to be pressured every day to come clean on who offiered him what job. 

And the more he ducks this question the worse he looks.

Excerpted from an Associated Press article:

BLUE BELL, Pa. Republican Senate candidate Pat Toomey said Tuesday that "it would be helpful" if Democratic Rep. Joe Sestak was more forthright about what job the White House offered him to drop a primary challenge to Sen. Arlen Specter but that he wants to move on.

Toomey, speaking at an event in suburban Philadelphia with Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele, said he prefers to focus on the candidates ideological differences.

"I do think that it would be helpful if Joe would be more forthcoming and clear the air, but Im not going to dwell on this," Toomey said after his remarks at the rally for Republican candidates from across Pennsylvania.

Sestak and the White House have declined to discuss the offer in detail, but Sestak has said he was offered a job to avoid challenging Specter. Sestak defeated Specter, a longtime Republican who switched parties last year, in last weeks primary.

Steele told dozens of Republican supporters at the rally that Pennsylvania needs "real, principled leaders" and then took a swipe at Sestak.

"Speaking of forthright, dont you just love Congressman Sestak right now?" Steele said. "Singing all kinds of tunes. White House is not happy."

A Sestak campaign spokesman had no immediate comment on the remarks when reached Tuesday afternoon.

 Personally, I think Pat Toomey is using this pleasant language ("it would be helpful if Joe would be more forthcoming....") to sucker Sestak into thinking he won't pay a huge political price for not answering the question.

It is enormously damaging for Mr. Sestak to duck this question now -- but even more damaging after Labor Day, when voters will be paying the most attention, thus will be maximally impacted by Sestak's clumsy evasions. 

I'm no Sestak operative.  But if I were, I'd be warning him that, as bad as it may hurt to own up right now, it will hurt worse later on in the campaign.

Any way you look at it, this issue puts Joe Sestak is in a world of political hurt -- possibly so much so that his candidacy will become untenable.

Maybe Arlen should pack his things a little slower.....   


ET TU, BOB HERBERT?

Ken Berwitz

Last night I blogged about the fact that the networks - finally - may have turned a corner, by reporting dispassionately about the Obama administration's non-performance regarding the oil rig explosion.

Now, amazingly, we have this excerpt from today's column by Bob Herbert of the New York Times; a major-league Obama fan if there ever was one:

BP got off much too easy with the fines it agreed to in 2007. And for some odd reason, its being treated much too deferentially now. This crisis has gone on for more than a month, and neither BP nor the Obama administration seems to know what to do.

No one has a handle on how much oil is gushing out of control into the gulf. No one understands the environmental impact of the hundreds of thousands of gallons of chemical dispersants that BP is injecting into the gulf. No one has any idea how far this awful stain on the environment will spread.

President Obama should have taken charge of the response to the oil spill which he called a potentially unprecedented environmental calamity from jump street. He should have called in the very best minds and operatives from the corporate and scientific worlds and imposed an emergency plan of action to be carried out by BP and all others who might be required. Instead, after all this time, after more than a month of BPs demonstrated incompetence, the administration continues to dither.

Incredibly, until The Times blew the whistle in an article on Monday, environmental waivers were still being offered for oil drilling in the gulf. What will it take for sanity to prevail? How many people have to die or face ruin, and how much of nature has to be despoiled before we rein in the cowboys of these runaway corporations?

Steadily increasing numbers of anxiety-ridden coastal residents are watching not just their livelihoods but an entire way of life slip away. Even as BPs lawyers are consumed with the task of limiting the companys liability, the administration continues to insist it has little choice but to follow the companys lead in fighting the spill. That is dangerous nonsense.

President Obama has an obligation to make it unmistakably clear that BPs interests are not the same as Americas interests. He needs to stand shoulder to shoulder with the people who are taking the brunt of this latest corporate outrage. The oil has now stained nearly 70 miles of the Louisiana Coast. No one can say what terrible toll the gusher is taking in the depths of the gulf. And spreading right along with the oil is a pervasive and dismaying sense of helplessness from our leaders in Washington.

 Does Mr. Herbert nail BP along with Mr. Obama?  You bet he does -- and, frankly, that doesn't bother me a bit.  BP certainly deserves it.

But the point is that Barack Obama is getting the back of Bob Herbert's hand every bit as much as BP is. 

Not so long ago, this column would most likely have been entirely, or nearly entirely, about BP - with Obama & Co. getting the deferential treatment it clearly has come to expect.

Are the days of deference towards Mr. Obama now irrevocably over?  I don't know.  But I hope they are. 

Will media now just report/opine on the facts, without letting partisan cheerleading obscure them?  I don't know.  But I hope so:  it is all I ever ask.

Regardless of what happens in the future, today Bob Herbert gets my thanks for doing just that.

Zeke .... .... .... The solution is obvious: .... .... Bring all the birds, mollusks and fish to the New Orleans SuperDome. ... .... Haul GW Bush out of retirement, and blame him. ... ... ... (05/25/10)


SEIU'S THUGGERY & MAINSTREAM MEDIA'S MALFEASANCE

Ken Berwitz

I have already blogged about the raw thuggery displayed by a SEIU (Service Employee's International Union) goon squad, escorted by the police, who put on their version of terrorist intimidation against, as it turned out, a 14 year old child.

Here is how Investors Business Daily editorialized about this sick event.  Please pay special attention to the paragraphs I have put in bold print:

Mob Rule From SEIU

 

Labor: Does belonging to the service workers' union give you the right to invade private homes, terrorize children and smear anyone questioning such tactics? Apparently so, based on recent events in Maryland.

 

On May 16, Washington, D.C., police escorted 14 busloads full of Service Employees International Union (SEIU) members at least part of the way to storm the Chevy Chase, Md., home of Bank of America's deputy legal counsel, Greg Baer.

 

Some 500 protestors affiliated with SEIU and their allies in the community organizing group National Political Action (NPA) trampled his lawn, blocked his doorway to his home and screamed "greed." Legally, it was burglary, trespassing and, possibly, assault.

 

But Maryland cops didn't enforce the law. And Baer had to brave the insult-hurling mob alone to rescue his 14-year old son who, home alone, had locked himself in the bathroom in fear.

 

But there was one thing these thugs didn't count on a credible journalist next door who reported what happened.

 

Fortune Magazine's Nina Easton wrote about what happened and asked SEIU spokesman Stephen Lerner to explain.

 

His response was chilling: "People in powerful corporations seem to think they can insulate themselves from the damage they are doing," Lerner said, implying that physical intimidation was indeed the intent.

 

Perhaps we shouldn't be surprised. Aggressive, personalized protests have been a fact of life in the world of unions and community organizers influenced by the radical philosophy of Saul Alinsky.

 

But they're now growing in frequency as SEIU officials top the White House visitors' list and union influence grows.

It started in earnest last year, when SEIU thugs gave a "beat down" to a black trinket seller at a tea party protest with no consequences.

 

It also was seen when the SEIU teamed up with its community-organizing ally Acorn to set up bus harassment tours of AIG executives' homes during last year's insurance bailout.

 

In recent weeks in New York and Washington, SEIU and NPA protestors invaded and shut down banks, frightening customers.

 

What's important here is that these mobs act with near impunity and lash out at critics like Easton. What Stern calls "the persuasion of power" is identical to the violent means of maintaining political order in Cuba and Venezuela.

 

It's going full blast in the U.S. now as the party in power loses popularity. That's a bad sign that democracy itself is under attack.

Tell me:  Has anyone at the White House - maybe even Barack Obama, who treats SEIU's people as his long-lost brothers - spoken out against this unbelievably depraved performance?

Has anyone at the White House - or within the Washington DC government - demanded to know why these thugs were given a police escort?  Why the police literally facilitated their illegal, thoroughly sickening actions?  

Has anyone asked for the names of these police officers, or their superior who presumably ok'ed what they did?

And, perhaps most importantly, why have our wonderful "neutral" media - other than IBD and a few other right-leaning venues - been ducking away from this scandal?  Why are they not demanding answers? 

Illustratively, read bigjournalism.com's blog, which details how the DC police continue to "fine-tune their story" while the Washington Post accommodatingly looks the other way. 

What is happening to our country?


WHY WE ARE FAILING IN AFGHANISTAN

Ken Berwitz

It's not hard to tell that we are failing in Afghanistan.  The tipoff is that our wonderful "neutral" media barely talk about it anymore:  if it were a success they would be hailing commander-in-chief Obama as a military genius.

Paul Mirengoff of powerlineblog.com has an excellent blog today on why things are going wrong.  I urge you to use the link I've just provided and read his entire piece.  But I'd like to show you a particularly salient excerpt below:

Consider the situation in Marjah. Our military campaign, designed to be the first blow in a decisive campaign to oust the Taliban from their spiritual homeland in adjacent Kandahar province, is faltering in large part because we cannot persuade the Afghans in the area to side with the government against the Taliban. This, in turn, is due in part to threats by the Taliban to kill residents who cooperate with the U.S. and the government. That threat is entirely credible, given the fact that we plan to begin withdrawing in about a year. If the U.S. were more committed, the threat would be far less credible.

The president's timetable also gives the new British government, which has no more desire to be fighting in Afghanistan than Obama does, a pretext for excusing itself from the fight at a time of its choosing. Thus, William Hague, the new foreign secretary, told the BBC during a visit to Afghanistan, "I don't think setting a deadline helps anybody; so much of what we're doing in Afghanistan, setting targets for people then to jump through hoops towards, doesn't help them in their work."

Mark Sedwill, Britain's former ambassador to Afghanistan and NATO's current representative there, was more direct:

If there are politicians anywhere in the alliance who are making a judgment that we shouldn't have gone for the surge unless we could have been confident by the end of 2010 it would all look completely different, then we shouldn't have gone for the surge, because that was never practical,"

After dithering throughout much of 2009, Obama may well have delivered a plan for Afghanistan that "was never practical."

Paul has this spot-on.  I wish it were not so, but it is.

Remember Marjah?  Remember all that fanfare about our initiative there, about how it was going to blow the taliban away? 

If anything like that were actually happening, you can bet that we would be fully informed.  Instead, Marjah has fallen back into the "and in other news" category, not to be exhumed by our media unless and until things turn around.

Simply stated, you cannot run a war by advising the enemy of your moves. 

Going public with a withdrawal timetable is very heartening for the hard left theorists, dreamers and USA-haters.  But it is just as heartening for our enemies, because it gives them a heads-up on how to run their end of the war.

Can we possibly want to do that?  Evidently the answer is yes, because that is what we're doing.

Is there any way to move up the 2012 election?  Please?

Zeke .... Bush definitely had it right. ... ... Fight just enough of a war to deny al Q'aida any training and military bases in Afghanistan. The Taliwackers are a local issue. ... ... This is the fourth conflict between Afghanistan and one of the major world powers since the mid 1800's --- Afghanistan won the last 3, and is looking pretty tough on this one. ... ... .... More than half the losses of US & Nato troops there have been under Obama's watch. ... .... We are NOWHERE near winning .... (05/26/10)

free` My feeling is Bush had it right, the surge was a huge mistake. If Afghanistan had anything to build upon would be one thing, but they have nothing except opium. (05/26/10)


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