May 2013, Part 3
Jim Miller on Politics
Like Father, Like Son? Joseph Kennedy was a brilliant businessman, and an exceptionally nasty man. His political career died when, as ambassador to Great Britain during World War II, he was openly defeatist.
Throughout 1938, while the Nazi persecution of the Jews in Germany and Austria intensified, Kennedy attempted to arrange a meeting with Adolf Hitler. Shortly before the Nazi aerial bombing of British cities began in September 1940, Kennedy once again sought a personal meeting with Hitler, again without the approval of the Department of State, "to bring about a better understanding between the United States and Germany". It has been surmised that Kennedy also had personal reasons for wanting to avoid war; "He feared for the lives of his three eldest sons, Joe, Jack and Bobby, all of whom were or soon would be eligible to serve."Did his son, John F. Kennedy, share some of his father's beliefs in the 1930s?
A new book out in Germany reveals how President Kennedy was a secret admirer of the Nazis.(According to the Daily Mail, the book is titled: "John F. Kennedy - Among the Germans. Travel diaries and letters 1937-1945". Since the book was published in Germany, I would guess that's a translation of the German title. It will be interesting to see whether it gets published here.)
To be fair, John F. Kennedy did, apparently, change his mind early in the war. He wrote his Harvard thesis on why England was unprepared for another war. The thesis was turned into a book, with more than a little help from professionals.
(It is odd that so many on the left hold the business dealings of Prescott Bush against his son and grandson, but are undisturbed by Joseph Kennedy's defeatism, and see no reason to blame his descendants for his sins.
A quick read through that Wikipedia biography of Joseph Kennedy will show you that he was a crony capitalist, but that he was not just a crony capitalist, in his business career.)
- 9:33 AM, 24 May 2013 [link]
They're Rioting In Stockholm Suburbs: Who is rioting? "Youths", of course. Do we know anything about those youths, other than their ages? Well, yes, but you have to read between the lines of articles like this one to understand the rioters, who are mostly immigrants, or the children of immigrants.
Overall, about 15 percent of Sweden's 9.5 million people were born abroad, compared to 10 percent 10 years ago. The influx has mostly come from war-torn countries such as Iraq, Somalia, former Yugoslavia, Afghanistan and Syria.(Any politically correct person will tell you that you should ignore the fact that four of those countries are predominantly Muslim, and that the fifth, the former Yugoslavia, had a large Muslim minority.)
Who should be blamed for the riots? The rioters? Of course not.
The riots that have broken out in recent days in the suburbs of Stockholm show that the many immigrants who live there have not been integrated. The fault lies with the government and the lack of political will to take action on education and employment.Lena Mellin, who wrote this column, appears to be a respected journalist, and is writing in Sweden's largest newspaper.
I would agree,in part, with Mellin that the Swedish government can be blamed for these riots — but not for lack of action on education and employment, but for accepting large numbers of Muslim immigrants who do not want to fit into Swedish society.
It may be illegal to say such things in Sweden, but luckily I don't live in Sweden.
- 8:02 AM, 24 May 2013 [link]
Google Does something patriotic.
I hope the Google employee who did it doesn't get fired.
- 6:25 AM, 24 May 2013 [link]
Truck Takes Out I-5 Bridge?! Here's an early report from the Seattle Times.
A chunk of Interstate 5 collapsed into the Skagit River near Mount Vernon on Thursday evening, dumping two vehicles into the icy waters and creating a gaping hole in Washington state’s major north-south artery.Amazingly, there were no fatalities and, apparently, no serious injuries. When I saw first reports on television, I fully expected that there would be a number of deaths from the crashes into the river. (Or from hypothermia, as people were unable to get out of the cold water in time.)
There's feel-good story here, and lots of pictures in the Daily Mail article.
(Other early reports said three vehicles went into the river. I'm not sure who's right.)
- 5:49 AM, 24 May 2013 [link]
"Iran To Chair U.N. Disarmament Conference" That sounds like a sick joke, but isn't.
Iran will chair the United Nations’ most important disarmament negotiating forum during the panel’s May session, which opened today, sparking calls by an independent monitoring group for the U.S., the EU, and UN chief Ban Ki-moon to protest. Click here for UN website.At one time, I thought that scandals such as this one would discredit the UN, and lead to reforms. That was quite a mistake, now that I look back on it.
(By way of Kate McMillan.)
- 6:38 PM, 23 May 2013 [link]
Worth Reading: Debra Saunders's balanced column on security leaks.
Here's her lead paragraph:
As a journalist, I am not supposed to admit this, but: I sympathize with the Obama administration's frustration over national security leaks. After a spate of leaks last year -- notably, The Associated Press' reporting that national security officials foiled an underwear bomb 2.0 attempt last May -- Senate Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein joined Republicans to denounce the Beltway's proclivity for leaking classified information. "This has to stop," quoth DiFi. "When people say they don't want to work with the United States because they can't trust us to keep a secret, that's serious."Saunders sympathizes with that frustration, — as do I — but she also thinks that the Obama administration has gone about these investigations in the wrong way, with the wrong man heading them. As she bluntly notes: [Attorney General] "Holder has a history of putting politics before national security."
She does not add, as I would, that some of the suspected leakers are very high in the Obama administration, and that some of the authorized leaks may have made the Obama administration look good — and damaged our national security. Example: It would have been better if they had held off on the announcement of the death of Osama bin Laden as long as they could, and much better if they had revealed few details about the raid.
(It would be fun to join with the "mainstream" journalists who are now outraged, or say they are outraged, by these investigations, but I can't. The Obama administration may sometimes seem to have been borrowing methods from Inspector Clouseau, but we should not let that distract, completely, from our attention to the real problem of leaks.
FWIW, the New York Times no longer seems to be getting the lion's share of these leaks, now that Bush is no longer president. That supports the commonly-held idea that many of those leaks were intended to undermine Bush, that there was, to be blunt, a conspiracy between some bureaucrats and a few reporters at the Times.)
- 5:13 PM, 23 May 2013 [link]
Did Lois Lerner Waive Her 5th Amendment Rights? Legal experts differ.
(I have no opinion on the question, since I don't know enough about the law and precedents to have one.)
- 4:08 PM, 23 May 2013 [link]
The Washington Post Fact Checker, Glenn Kessler, Usually Limits Himself To, At Most, Four Pinocchios: So IRS official Lois Lerner, last seen taking the 5th, must have seriously annoyed him, because the headline for that post is: "A bushel of Pinocchios for IRS’s Lois Lerner ".
Formally, he only gives her four, but you can see that he would like to give her give her four Pinocchios, three times, for a total of twelve.
Here's his lead paragraph:
In the days since the Internal Revenue Service first disclosed that it had targeted conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status, new information has emerged from both the Treasury inspector general’s report and congressional testimony Friday that calls into question key statements made by Lois G. Lerner, the IRS’s director of the exempt organizations division.( I had not known that there are twelve Pinocchios to a bushel, but you learn something every day — if you are paying attention.)
- 2:05 PM, 23 May 2013 [link]
"Terrorism Suspected In Brutal London Attack" That was the headline the Seattle Times put on this New York Times article.
If you are wondering how they came to suspect terrorism in the attack on the British serviceman, you might want to look at this Daily Mail article.
(Our "mainstream" networks did call the attack terrorism, but were reluctant to tell viewers what kind of terrorism it was.
The New York Times put the story on page A7, near the middle of their international section, with this headline: "'Barbaric' Attack in London Prompts Meeting on Terror Threat". That's not quite as ambiguous as the headline in the Seattle Times.)
- 1:20 PM, 23 May 2013 [link]
There's Fresh Snow In The Cascades: Enough fresh snow to close a school on the east slope of the Cascades.
A freak snowstorm in May gave students a surprise day off on Wednesday in the Cascades town of Bickleton.The main passes east out of the Seattle area, Snoqualmie and Stevens, are 3,022 and 4,061 feet high, respectively. Both got some snow yesterday, and both are predicted to get a mixture of snow and rain today.
Mt. Rainier got even more snow, and you can see them plowing it this morning on the webcams to the right. (The east and gh (guidehouse) cameras will give you the best views of the plowing.)
(If you are a bluebird fancier, you may have heard of Bickleton.)
- 6:46 AM, 23 May 2013 [link]
Howard Dean Has an odd sense of humor.
Or, possibly, he is getting nervous about the Benghazi revelations.
- 5:10 AM, 23 May 2013 [link]
Apple's Irish Tax Loophole: Here's a very brief, but probably basically correct, explanation from Floyd Norris.
Ireland seems to have been very clever. It offers the benefit of "stateless subsidiaries" only to companies that have actual operations in Ireland. Apple has its European headquarters there, and employs a lot of people. In effect, Ireland pays companies to come to Ireland by offering to let them avoid taxes in their home countries.Which can work out well for the companies, and for Ireland.
More here from Tom Maguire.
- 7:39 PM, 22 May 2013 [link]
Danny Westneat Hasn't Seen "Any Evidence" That President Obama "Has Done Anything Wrong" So far.
On Sunday, the Seattle Times columnist gave this blanket defense of President Obama.
You can sense the same thing happening today. President Obama’s second term feels basically over. And he’s got 44 months to go!(Emphasis added.)
(You may have noticed that Westneat does not mention the one scandal that appears to disturb journalists most, the aggressive investigations of Associated Press and Fox News reporters.)
Putting out a completely false story about a riot, sparked by an offensive video, does not seem to fall into the "message massaging" category, at least to me.
It is hard to know how to react to this defense. My first impulse was to laugh at it and suggest that the Seattle Times may want to change the Westneat picture they use with his columns to something more like these famous statues.
But along with a chuckle or two at a journalist who is determined not to see any evidence against a president he supports, we should learn from his error, since almost all of us make similar errors, from time to time.
As any cognitive dissonance theorist could tell you, Westneat doesn't see the evidence, because he doesn't want to see the evidence. If he admits that there is evidence that President Obama has done something wrong, then Westneat will have to change his opinion about Obama. Since he doesn't want to change that opinion, he doesn't see the evidence.
There is, I repeat, nothing unusual about this. We have all seen, for instance, the mothers who insist that that their criminal sons are really good boys, and even the mothers who insist against all evidence — which, like Westneat, they may not be able to see — that their criminal sons did not commit the crimes for which they are serving time.
Although there is nothing unusual about this refusal to see evidence, it is, I think, a larger defect in journalists than in most other citizens. If a journalist refuses to see — and report — evidence against his favorite leader or party, the rest of us may never see it at all.
In all the years that I have read Westneat, I can not recall a single time when he uncovered a significant Democratic scandal. I can't help wondering whether a less partisan journalist than Westneat might have seen a few such scandals in all the years he has been working for the newspaper — if he were more open-minded, more willing to see that kind of evidence.
(You'll notice, by the way, that Westneat first tells us that there is no evidence that Obama has done anything wrong, and then supplies a little evidence — which he dismisses as unimportant. That kind of confusion is common in a person struggling with cognitive dissonance.)
- 4:51 PM, 22 May 2013 [link]
Venezuela Has More Exciting Scandals Than We Do: Take, for example, the scandals revealed on a leaked tape.
Venezuelan opposition congressman Ismael García reported on Monday during a press conference along with other members of the Unified Democratic Panel on a taped conversation between Mario Silva, a hardcore government supporter and anchorman of "La Hojilla" a TV show aired on state-run TV channel VTV, and Aramis Palacios, a lieutenant colonel of Cuban G2.And there is much more.
Is the tape authentic? Miguel Octavio thinks so. And Silva has stepped away from his job for health reasons, instead of staying on and defending himself.
Emiliana Duarte reacts to the tape, and subsequent events.
(If you read Spanish, you might want to look at the transcript.)
- 8:00 AM, 22 May 2013 [link]
Lois Lerner Will Take The 5th today.
Lois Lerner, an IRS official who led the agency’s tax exemption division, will invoke her Fifth Amendment right to remain silent at a scheduled House Oversight and Government Reform committee hearing Wednesday. Chairman Darrell Issa has issued a subpoena for Lerner to testify, but it is not clear whether she will make her plea in person.Her lawyer, William W. Taylor, "previously represented former IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn in a sexual assault case". Most likely, Taylor charges more for his services than the average criminal lawyer.
- 7:14 AM, 22 May 2013 [link]
PJ Media's Roger Simon has two interesting Benghazi stories, from, he says, "two former U.S. diplomats who spoke with PJ Media Monday afternoon".
The two stories seem plausible enough to me, but I won't go further than that until the diplomats go public, or we hear confirmation from other sources.
- 9:00 AM, 21 May 2013 [link]
Bush Appointee — And Democrat — Douglas Shulman: Almost every story about the former IRS Commissioner will remind you that he was appointed by President Bush.
Lawmakers are getting their first chance to question the former head of the Internal Revenue Service, the man who ran the agency when agents were improperly targeting tea party groups.It's true that Bush appointed Shulman, but that's misleading without some background.
When Bush appointed Shulman in 2008, he faced a hostile Democratic Congress. According to the National Review's John Fund (who I heard on John Carlson's show this morning), President Bush made a deal with the Democratic leaders, picking a Democrat for the position, but a Democrat who was respected, and not known to be especially partisan.
So it would be more accurate to say that Shulman was a Bush-Pelosi-Reid appointee.
(In a quick search of the net, I saw claims that Shulman was not registered in either party, but did give a $500 donation to the Democratic National Committee in 2004.)
- 8:10 AM, 21 May 2013 [link]
The Daily Mail has pictures of the devastation from the tornado that hit Moore, Oklahoma.
We can only hope that the missing will be rescued in the next few days, as we extend our sympathy to those who lost friends and relatives.
(There's a Wikipedia article on the 1999 tornado that hit Moore.
The 1999 Bridge Creek – Moore tornado was an extremely powerful F5 tornado in which the highest wind speeds ever measured, 302 mph, were recorded by a Doppler On Wheels (DOW) radar, which devastated towns just outside of Oklahoma City on May 3, 1999. Throughout its one hour and 25 minute existence, the tornado covered 38 mi (61 km), destroying thousands of homes, killing 41 people and leaving $1 billion in losses behind. This ranks the tornado as the third costliest on record, not accounting for inflation.And another one on yesterday's tornado.)
- 6:13 AM, 21 May 2013 [link]
Andrew Malcolm's Weekly collection of jokes is better than usual.
Here are three I especially liked:
Conan: A Chinese man may have to pay $26 million for secretly fathering seven children. Wow, I didn’t even know that China had an NBA.(There is at least one political joke in that collection that will appeal to leftists.)
- 10:03 AM, 20 May 2013 [link]
How's That Free trade Agreement With Colombia Working Out? Quite well, so far.
Today, exactly a year since the pact went into effect, U.S. exports to Colombia have risen 13% while Colombia's to the U.S. are up 3.4% — for a total of $28.5 billion in no-tariff trade. Net gains for both economies, in other words, but with the U.S. showing four times as many.Of all the free trade agreements negotiated by President Bush, this was the one with the most obvious payoff to the United States, economically. (The Obama administration renegotiated the agreement, getting more concessions on the treatment of unions, but the basic agreement was Bush's.)
- 8:56 AM, 20 May 2013 [link]
Steve Chapman Tries To Defend Obama, And Fails: The Chicago Tribune columnist compared statements by Obama and Nixon, and concluded that Obama is not like Nixon.
Here is what the 44th president had to say about how the agency should operate: "Americans have a right to be angry about it, and I'm angry about it. It should not matter what political stripe you're from. The fact of the matter is the IRS has to operate with absolute integrity." Obama said this as he announced the dismissal of the acting commissioner for failing to prevent political abuse.Do you see the mistake Chapman made? He compared Obama's public statements with Nixon's private statements. If he were to go back into the Tribune's 1970s archives, he would have no trouble finding public statements from Nixon that sound much like what Obama said.
Right now, we don't know what Obama, and his underlings, have said in private. We do know that Obama jokingly suggested that he might sic the IRS on his opponents. We do know that other Democrats openly called for using the IRS against the Tea Party groups. We do know that the Obama campaign openly targeted Romney donors. And we do know — and Chapman should not have missed this — that Obama learned his politics from Saul Alinsky and the Chicago machine. Neither took many prisoners in their political wars.
So, although we don't know what Obama said, in private, about the IRS and his enemies, it is entirely plausible that Obama has said things like what Nixon said, and almost certain that he encouraged these IRS practices even more in private than he did in public.
(As I said earlier, I think that Obama is more like Kennedy, in his taste for dirty politics, than Nixon.
Chapman is a fascinating case; he's a libertarian who backed Obama in 2008 (and Kerry in 2004). This strikes me as roughly equivalent to a chicken supporting KFC, since Obama is the least libertarian major American politician to come along in a long time. An error that big is fascinating, and some time I may look back over Chapman's work to see if I can figure out how he made it. I should add that Chapman has done some good columns, over the years, showing where less government might produce better results, columns that I have sometimes learned from.)
- 7:36 AM, 20 May 2013 [link]
Borowitz Gives Us The Obama Administration's latest excuse.
President Obama used his weekly radio address on Saturday to reassure the American people that he has “played no role whatsoever” in the U.S. government over the past four years.And so, naturally, he can't be blamed for anything.
- 5:36 AM, 20 May 2013 [link]
The Three Benghazi Scandals: There are three mostly separate Benghazi scandals, and we have been paying the most attention to the least important of the three.
First, the Obama administration, definitely including Hillary Clinton, was unprepared for any attack on 9/11, and unprepared for an attack on our diplomatic "facility" in Benghazi, in spite of the specific warnings they had received.
(In contrast, Dick Cheney says that the Bush administration always ramped up preparations for violence, on the anniversaries of the 9/11 attack.)
Some, Barbara Boxer, for instance, have tried to blame the Republicans in Congress for not providing enough money for security. The Washington Post fact checker, Glenn Kessler, rejects that argument.
State Department officials repeatedly told Congress that a lack of funds was not an issue. Instead, security was hampered because of bureaucratic issues and management failures. In other words, given the internal failures, no amount of money for the State Department likely would have made a difference in this tragedy.Second, the administration apparently decided not to try to rescue the besieged Americans. I have even seen reports that a small group that wanted to go to the rescue were told to "stand down".
It is unclear whether a rescue attempt would have succeeded — but we should have tried, anyway.
It's hard to say much more about a possible rescue than that, because we haven't seen an explanation of what, if anything, President Obama and Secretary of State Clinton were doing during the siege.
The third, of course, is the concoction of the talking points, and the administration's use of them long after they should have known that an obscure video had nothing to do with the attack in Benghazi.
I wrote "should", because I fear that Obama and Clinton believed their own the-video-provoked-a-mob story, fear that neither of them took time to look at the intelligence reports.
As annoying as this bogus video story is, it is less important than the other two, the failure to prepare, and the failure to attempt a rescue.
Ordinary police departments prepare for problems on New Year's Eve, and similar holidays. Ordinary police departments try to rescue their people, even when they don't know whether they will succeed. But this ordinary behavior was beyond Clinton and Obama last September 11th.
(Similar thoughts from Jonah Goldberg.
There may be a fourth scandal. There is, as yet, no official explanation for the CIA operation in Benghazi. I'm not necessarily saying there should be one, but I do wonder whether the administration's silence on this subject is intended to protect operatives, or the politicians who give those operatives their orders.)
- 2:32 PM, 19 May 2013 [link]
Nice Part-Time Work, If You Can Get It: And if you are a Clinton retainer, like Huma Abedin, you might be able to get this kind of "Incredibly Sweet Deal".
Huma Abedin remained Hillary Clinton's deputy chief of staff when she came back from maternity leave in June 2012, even though she worked part-time from her home in New York and was allowed to start a side gig as a consultant. Abedin was paid $135,000 by the State Department in 2012 as a "special government employee," Politico reports. As The New York Times' Raymond Hernandez explains, Abedin was not legally obligated to declare her income from consulting because she had become a part-time State Department worker, even though in official documents she continued to be described with her old title.So Abedin was simultaneously working for the government, and working for groups that had an interest in influencing government policy — and getting paid by both.
(Since the outside groups were all connected with the Clintons, I think that medieval term, "retainer", is especially appropriate to describe Abedin's relationship to Hillary Clinton.)
- 7:43 AM, 19 May 2013 [link]
Is That AP Leak Investigation About Security, Or PR? If you read this Washington Post article, carefully, you will, at the very least, wonder about that question.
The news service was prepared to publish its scoop on May 2, 2012. But in discussions with government officials, the CIA stressed to AP that publishing anything about the operation to obtain the bomb and thwart the plot would create grave national security dangers and compromise a “sensitive intelligence operation.”But then the administration complained to the Associated Press.
Because, possibly, the administration was hoping to make an announcement of their own, and the AP was spoiling their PR plan.
(In my view — assuming the reports are accurate that the British were able to get a double agent into Yemen — then we should have said nothing about the incident publicly. Or privately, as the original leaker(s) did. That would have forced the terrorists to guess at what had happened to their man and their scheme. It is always a good idea, in war, to keep your enemy guessing.
Ron Fournier, who has a little experience in these matters, thinks that it was PR.)
- 4:25 PM, 18 May 2013 [link]
More Evidence For The Theory That Each Party Is Controlled By Its Enemies: All right, it isn't actually a theory, it's a joke. But it is an occasionally popular joke because it sometimes seems to explain the inexplicable.
For instance, if you assume that the clumsy Republican bunch that bugged the Democratic offices, setting off the Watergate scandal, were actually working for the Democrats, then the incident makes more sense.
(At that time, Nixon's campaign didn't need to cheat to win, and whoever authorized the operation should have known that. The bugging, if it got caught, was one of the few things that could hinder Nixon's march to victory. And national party headquarters typically leak like sieves, so it is pointless to bug them, when you can get the same information from the newspapers.)
Similarly, if you were trying to make trying to make right-to-life organizations suspicious, it's hard to top this.
During a House Ways and Means Committee hearing today, Rep. Aaron Schock, R-Ill., grilled outgoing IRS commissioner Steven Miller about the IRS targeting a pro-life group in Iowa.In both cases, i am reasonably sure that we are seeing incompetence rather than infiltration — but I think you will admit that infiltration is an awfully tempting explanation in both.
- 4:05 PM, 18 May 2013 [link]
You'll Be Reassured To Learn That The White House Is Not Facing Any Scandals: According to White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, anyway.
Now, isn't that reassuring?
- 7:04 AM, 17 May 2013 [link]
President Obama Evades A Question About When the White House knew about the IRS abuses.
In a potentially ominous development, President Obama carefully avoided saying Thursday whether he knew about the IRS targeting of conservative groups before the White House counsel was supposedly informed last month, raising new questions about when Obama and his advisers became aware of the targeting and whether they had anything to do with it.Obama's lawyerly answer — which is worth reading — was, undoubtedly, prepared in advance. He came into that brief press conference expecting that question and planning to evade it.
Which should make any sensible person even more suspicious.
- 6:45 AM, 17 May 2013 [link]