Thursday spurning

| April 23, 2009
Atlas drowned.

Atlas drowned.


ITEM: I figured that Janet Napolitano had some kind of security credentials beyond being a Democrat from a border state who was current on all her taxes. It doesn’t appear so (the credentials, that is; not the taxes; hat tip to the Drudge Report):

In an interview broadcast Monday on the CBC, Ms. Napolitano attempted to justify her call for stricter border security on the premise that “suspected or known terrorists” have entered the U. S. across the Canadian border, including the perpetrators of the 9/11 attack.

All the 9/11 terrorists, of course, entered the United States directly from overseas. The notion that some arrived via Canada is a myth that briefly popped up in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, and was then quickly debunked.

Informed of her error, Ms. Napolitano blustered: “I can’t talk to that. I can talk about the future. And here’s the future. The future is we have borders.”

Indeed we do. Here’s a bit more sober account, but it doesn’t make her look any better. And here’s yet more head shaking from Up North.

ITEM: Speaking of security gaffes, the message from the Politico to Obama over security issues is:  you can’t have it both ways:

President Barack Obama’s attempt to project legal and moral clarity on coercive CIA interrogation methods has instead done the opposite — creating confusion and political vulnerability over an issue that has inflamed both the left and right.

In the most recent instance, Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair acknowledged in a memo to the intelligence community that Bush-era interrogation practices yielded had “high-value information,” then omitted that admission from a public version of his assessment.

That leaves a top Obama administration official appearing to validate claims by former Vice President Dick Cheney that waterboarding and other techniques the White House regards as torture were effective in preventing terrorist attacks. And the press release created the impression the administration was trying to suppress this conclusion.

The president, who has said he wants to focus on the future rather than litigate the past, also opened himself to distraction and attack by retracting the earlier assurance by top officials that they had no plans to prosecute lawyers for former President George W. Bush who approved the “enhanced interrogation” program.

Note to the White House: this is reality, not a Hollywood film (“Dave”, “The American President”) or a TV series (“The West Wing”), where high ideals and good intentions, mixed with charisma and good looks (rugged or smooth)  magically solve knotty domestic and international problems in 60 to 120 minutes. The Presidency of the United States is a tough, demanding, and unforgiving job, with lots of lose-lose situations. George W. Bush had far more executive experience coming in than did you, Mr. President, and he still managed to make any number of mistakes, both strategic and tactical. After 100 days, you appear to be in over your head, and things appear to be getting worse, not better.

ITEM: Maybe this is the approach that Pres. Obama should take.

ITEM: Speaking of things getting worse, they are for the New York Times. The NYT has $1.3 billion in debt and only $34 million in available cash (there’s another $240 million, but that’s set aside for debt payments). Hey, I know! The NYT can pull an Obama and find ways to cut an entire $100,000 in expenses; that’ll make everything better, won’t it? (For the math impaired [which includes the White House]: $1.7 trillion : $100 million ~:: $1.3 billion : $100 thousand.)

ITEM: Speaking of math impaired, it’s a good thing that — as VP Joe Biden solemnly informed NATO — only 5% of the Taliban is incorrigible, because otherwise they’d control the whole Middle East by now:

Pakistan’s Taliban have seized control of another district in the country’s northwest just 70 miles from the capital after consolidating their hold on the Swat valley following a peace deal with the government, according to local government officials and residents.

The latest Taliban advance into the Buner district has spurred fears that the controversial accord, which allowed the militants to enforce Sharia law in Swat, has emboldened them to expand their influence.

Militants have been moving into Buner since the Swat peace deal was signed in February. But starting Tuesday night they seized control of the entire district, which has a population of more than one million people, local government officials and residents said. Heavily-armed militants, streaming in from Swat, occupied government offices and set up their own checkposts. Terrified residents fled their homes.

Of course, the Taliban will have to deal with that old bugaboo, public backlash. After all, when they controlled Afghanistan, it was clear how much regard they had for world opinion. Meanwhile, the folks at Stratfor are pretty sure that things are going to get ugly in Pakistan.

ITEM: Speaking of tyrants who oppress, you know that book that Chavez gave Obama? Here’s a brisk fisking of it.

ITEM: Speaking of south of the border, it appears that Obama is losing Mexico.

ITEM: Speaking of fisking, here’s a wonderful example by Kevin Williamson of an editorial by Sen. Bernard Sanders (I-Finland), in which Sen. Sanders attempts to defend socialism. Here’s my favorite quote from Williamson’s piece:

A critic once asked Milton Friedman what he thought about the fact that Sweden has basically no poverty, and Friedman answered: We don’t have many poor Swedes in America, either.

ITEM: Speaking of socialism, here’s our daily creeping socialism/fascism alert: Some members of the Congressional Oversight Panel — unelected, unconfirmed, but very much at the heart of the financial bailout — apparently want  to expand their mandate:

The COP argued that historical lessons show that the most effective response to banking crises has involved a combination of ousting “failed management” and liquidating banks. The April report takes on the Treasury’s responses in these areas and questions how effectively it has implemented its goals in dealing with the crisis. The report essentially argues for nationalization on the grounds that, under government reorganization, bad assets can be removed, failed managers can be ousted or replaced and business segments can be spun off from the institutions. “Depositors and some bondholders are protected, and institutions can emerge from government control with the same corporate identity but healthier balance sheets,” the report argues, parroting a position that has been staked out by many prominent economic pundits.

Clearly, this is Elizabeth Warren’s particular crusade against the banks, since a majority of panel members dissented from the direction the report took and two refused to sign off on it at all. Her letters to Secretary Geithner and Chairman Bernanke stop just short of attacking them for trying to restart the market for asset-backed securities. These markets have been an important part of the financial intermediation system for decades, funding student loans, consumer credit and small businesses. But Professor Warren has had a long-standing antipathy to consumer credit markets.

ITEM: You know that big flap over the NSA “leak” of alleged wiretapped conversations by Rep. Jane Harman (D-Venice). Well, there’s a whole lot more to that story than meets the eye.

ITEM: Meanwhile, Mike Adams gives the lowdown on ten free speech rules at the UNC campus. For example:

5. Rights do not compel responsibility. The notion of responsibility is antithetical to the notion of collectivism. Notions of responsibility help to advance capitalism, which help to advance oppression. In other words, it is irresponsible to advance responsibility because it is responsible for a lot of group oppression.

And where do these rules come from? Well, Gay Patriot has some ideas.

ITEM: Six months ago — before the election — Arthur Laffler wrote an article on the burgeoning economic crisis. He was dead on about how the US Government would likely botch its efforts to “help”:

But here’s the rub. Now enter the government and the prospects of a kinder and gentler economy. To alleviate the obvious hardships to both homeowners and banks, the government commits to buy mortgages and inject capital into banks, which on the face of it seems like a very nice thing to do. But unfortunately in this world there is no tooth fairy. And the government doesn’t create anything; it just redistributes. Whenever the government bails someone out of trouble, they always put someone into trouble, plus of course a toll for the troll. Every $100 billion in bailout requires at least $130 billion in taxes, where the $30 billion extra is the cost of getting government involved.

If you don’t believe me, just watch how Congress and Barney Frank run the banks. If you thought they did a bad job running the post office, Amtrak, Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the military, just wait till you see what they’ll do with Wall Street.

Amen, brother. Amen. Hat tip to Samizdata.

ITEM: Happy Earth Day! This little reminder from Kevin Williamson (again) does much to explain both the US environmental movement and Sen. Arlen Specter (depends-PA).

ITEM: And here’s one more item for Earth Day. I had forgotten about this video — I sent it out to my “Link o’ the Day” mailing some months back — but Ace (at Ace of Spades) dredged it back up:

Actually, it’s sort of how I feel about the burgeoning deficits.

More links in the morning, maybe.  ..bruce w..

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Category: Credit Backlash, Creeping socialism, Economics, Education, Geopolitics, Journalism, Links roundup, Main, Obama Administration, Sea of deficits, Stimulus, Terrorism, US Politics

About the Author ()

Webster is Principal and Founder at Bruce F. Webster & Associates, as well as an Adjunct Professor of Computer Science at Brigham Young University. He works with organizations to help them with troubled or failed information technology (IT) projects. He has also worked in several dozen legal cases as a consultant and as a testifying expert, both in the United States and Japan. He can be reached at, or you can follow him on Twitter as @bfwebster.

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