Tuesday, April 28, 2009

FOX to President Obama: Lie to Me

For the very first time since the FOX Television Network was founded, a major over-the-public-airways network has decided to skip a major prime time news conference requested by the President of the United States. FOX Television Network has announced they WILL NOT cover the live press conference, instead opting to air their regularly scheduled programming.

NEW YORK -- The Fox network is sticking with its regular schedule over President Barack Obama this week.

The network is turning down the president's request to show his prime-time news conference on Wednesday. The news conference marks Obama's 100th day in office. Instead of the president, Fox viewers will see an episode of the Tim Roth drama "Lie to Me."

It's the first time a broadcast network has refused Obama's request. This will be the third prime-time news conference in Obama's presidency. ABC, CBS and NBC are airing it.

President Obama has been taking a lot a criticism from conservative bloggers and commentators for scheduling this ego driven (as opposed to crisis or event driven) press conference to mark his 100th day on office.

But the normally supportive Hollywood industry insider publications and blogs have also been critical about what they see as President Obama's abuse of this executive privilege.

While the FOX Television Network shares common ownership with the FOX (cable based) News Network, it is unlikely this is any sort of political statement. And, it must be noted, that FOX NEWS will carry the entire presser live and with all hands on deck.

It is the regular FOX broadcasting network that has opted for a critical May Sweep Ratings victory over what has been up til now, normal news coverage. FOX was already likely to win the May Sweeps with its powerhouse line-up of American Idol, House and 24. Presidential press conferences have always been a ratings drag with local and independent stations picking up huge audience share, especially since the national networks of ABC, CBS and NBC essentially duplicated themselves.

Still, FOX is getting a lot of flak, especially from Obama supporters and left leaning media. I wouldn't be surprised if they blink and carry President Obama's show.

In reality, such national over-the-airways coverage may well be a thing of the past. With most homes having access to the 200 plus cable channels, there are many outlets on which to view such events. We may well see all networks reduce or eliminate such coverage, just as they have already reduced or eliminated coverage of the political conventions.

Just wondering out loud..... You know I really like that new Tim Roth drama, Lie to Me. Wouldn't it be super cool if the cable news networks could hire someone like Dr. Cal Lightman to analyze the Presidential News Conference and let us know when someone was lying.....

Sadly, as Grayson Wray says, "It's Only Science Fiction." SHAMELESS AMAZON LINK TO EARN MONEY FOR THE WIZARD

Thursday, April 23, 2009

The War on Torture

"The War on Torture"

I heard an announcer use this phrase on MSNBC this morning. While the phrase does reflect the left leaning bias of MSNBC, it strikes me as an appropriate summary of what is happening in Washington and in all the media right now. The nation is in an uproar. It is a frenzy that is unlikely to diminish in the near term.

It really reflects the nation's mood and priorities that the Obama Administration has eliminated the term "War of Terror," while engaging in an introspective and potentially destructive "War on Torture."

As the T-Shirt on the right illustrates, The War on Torture is about to become a national industry. That t-shirt and literally hundreds more are available from
cafe press.

Although Republicans object to the administration's release of the various torture memos and their simultaneous failure to release the significant intelligence gathered through the use of "enhanced interrogation," what Republicans fail to realize is "the cat is out of the bag."

This drama will now play out for the next two years at the very least, unless......

...... unless we suffer a significant terrorist attack. That would instantly change the national mood and the direction of this inquiry. Frankly, if our enemies have a modicum of political intuition, they will leave the nation alone and just watch the coming train wreck.

Here are some interesting links with different opinions and observations:

Representative Peter Hoekstra (R-MI), ranking Republican on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence:
Congress Knew About the Interrogations

Blogger and frequent contributor Bob "Shoo" Shoemaker:
Prosecute 'Em

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Decisions Reinvented

After Barack Obama was elected I had a series of conversations with an Illinois blogger who claimed to know Obama and worked with him in Illinois. His one quibble with the President-elect was his reputation as a wishy-washy decision maker. In effect he claimed Obama frequently changed his mind and reversed earlier decisions.

Why do I bring up this hearsay now? Because President Obama seems to be demonstrating this behavior in the oval office. At least twice now he has clearly embarrassed his top aides and left them hanging in the breeze.

First Obama did it by absolutely contradicting his administration's representatives during the AIG Bonus disclosure. But yesterday's reversal on investigation and possible criminal prosecution of Bush administration officials for "enhanced interrogation" is even more telling.

Here's the report from
The Boston Globe:

President Obama left the door open yesterday to creating a bipartisan commission that would investigate the Bush administration's use of harsh interrogation techniques on terrorism suspects, and did not rule out action by the Justice Department against those who fashioned the legal rationale for those techniques.

The remarks, in response to questions from reporters in the Oval Office, amounted to a shift for the White House. The president had repeatedly said that the nation should look forward rather than focusing on the past, and his chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, said Sunday in a television interview that Obama believed that "those who devised policy" should not be prosecuted.

But under intense pressure from congressional Democrats and human rights organizations to investigate, the president suggested yesterday that he would not stand in the way of a full inquiry into what he has called "a dark and painful chapter" in the nation's history.

The comments knocked the ordinarily smooth White House press operation back on its heels. Obama’s press secretary, Robert Gibbs, spent much of his daily briefing yesterday trying to explain precisely what Obama had meant, declaring at one point, "To clear up any confusion on anything that might have been said, I would point you to what the president said."

The real questions all remain. Why did President Obama clearly reverse a decision he had so clearly made and articulated for many months. It was extremely obvious from Rahm Emanuel's smooth and articulate performance under fire on Sunday that this policy had been thoroughly vetted in White House meetings.

Why the flip-flop? Most speculation surrounds an uproar and very intense pressure from the left, led by the liberal activist group Move-On.org and key Congressional leaders.

Obviously left open is how this investigation and potential prosecution will play out. It will likely paralyze the administration and Congress for months and perhaps years. Clearly President Obama had (past tense) wanted to avoid this modern day version of the Spanish Inquisition. Yet he has now put the drama into full motion.

Most important, in my opinion, will be the paralyzing impact this ill advised reversal will have on the CIA and President Obama's own executive staff and advisers.

I've seen this type of second guessing absolutely destroy organizations. It doesn't produce better opinions. It stops all opinions all together. President Obama will quickly start receiving less advice from staffers, especially second level staffers who do 95% of all work in the administration. Folks quickly figure out they never get in trouble for saying nothing. Being non-committal is the new order of the day.

The 9-11 Commission placed great blame for the failure of our intelligence community on the restrictive policies in place to prevent abuses by the intelligence community. There is no doubt in my mind this will ultimately harm our nation's intelligence gathering efforts. Once again we will be unable to connect the dots.

I genuinely believe President Obama had thought through all of this. I simply don't understand yet why the President reinvented his decision.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Fighting Fire with Willful Ignorance

There is no need for me to add a lot of commentary to the library of bloggery already on line about the "tax and spend protest" Tea Parties taking place around the country later today. From the Daily Kos to Michelle Malkin, posts, schedules, analysis and buffoonery abound.

What I am appalled about this early morning is the left's astonishingly coordinated misinformation campaign against the Tea Party movement.

I genuinely don't know if the Tea Parties will be a rousing success or just fizzle out and die. I know I'm not attending one and I'll likely skip Fox News wall to wall coverage. But I do understand both the motives and the message behind these protests.

And, if I'm smart enough to understand this groundswell of protest, I'm quite positive my fellow liberals understand it too. So why are they all pretending (or at least the so-called progressives are pretending) to completely misunderstand what is happening? Is it denial? Is it a misinformation campaign? Is it, as some conservatives argue, fear of the common man? Or are they all just plain stupid?

Virtually all of the stupidity, or denial, or misinformation is wrapped up in
Paul Krugman's rambling, nearly incoherent, monument to fear column in Sunday's New York Times. Krugman starts off with the totally incorrect premise that the Tea Parties are fake protests carefully orchestrated by the Republican Party. What a frakking joke (homage to Battlestar Galactica). The incompetent Republicans are so screwed up they can't even organize their party's national committee, let alone a nationwide, massive protest.

But Krugman goes rapidly down hill from there.

I'm going to end my short commentary here and direct you to all immediately go over to Mary's magnificent FREEDOM EDEN blog and read her two brilliant rants:
Krugman: Tea Parties Forever and Eugene Kane and Tea Parties

My advice to my fellow liberals is to focus on reality. People are upset and genuinely concerned about our exploding national debt. First, we should also be concerned about an unsustainable national debt. Second, lying about the nature and purpose of these protests hardly helps our cause and actually denies us the opportunity to argue the economics and the issues behind the President Economic plan.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

President Obama: From Principles to Pragmatism

I think President Barack Obama made a masterful first foray into International politics and International relationships last week during his maiden voyage to the G20 Conference and tour of selected European nations.

Oh sure, conservative commentators and bloggers have quibbled over a nuance here or a bow, dip and nod there, but I think President Obama represented our nation well. I predict he will continue to do well on the International stage.

But this morning, Scott Simon, National Public Radio's premier essayist and host of Saturday Weekend Edition, discussed a compromise President Obama had to make, or perhaps chose to make during his visit to Turkey. While I'll bet this decision received wide coverage in many Turkish and Armenian communities, I hadn't heard it mentioned as part of the national news coverage.

I genuinely don't believe Simon was being critical of the President. Simon made it clear that Presidents must make compromises in the real world of governing, but Scott Simon was clearly saddened that Obama didn't follow through on a very important campaign promise.

It is very worthwhile to read Simon's entire essay. It is even better to listen to it. You can do one or both at this link:
'Genocide' Is A Matter Of Opinion

Below are a few, selected quotes:

When President Obama was beginning his run for office, he said he believed the 1915 slaughter of 1.5 million Armenians by Turkey was not war but genocide and that the American people deserved "a leader who speaks truthfully about the Armenian genocide and responds forcefully to all genocides."

But when Obama addressed the Turkish parliament this week, he referred only to "the terrible events of 1915."

Now, Obama may feel that it is more important for the United States to win Turkey's cooperation on a range of issues than it is for him to be consistent on a controversy that may seem like old history.

But it's not. Almost every year, the Turkish government has charged reporters and writers, including the Nobel laureate, Orhan Pamuk, for "insulting national identity" by referring to the massacres of 1.5 million Armenians as genocide.

A country that spends millions of dollars a year in an effort stop the facts about the Armenian genocide from being known and that persecutes and prosecutes its own citizens for speaking truthfully about the extermination of the Armenians is hardly a government to trust to broker honest and just foreign policy.

In a way, the president's choice to say "killings" in front of his hosts may remind us that it might be wise to regard what any politician says as the words of a suitor who coos "I love you" during courtship. They mean it in the moment. But any adult should know that they may not mean it in just a few weeks.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

A Voice in the Wilderness

This is a relatively short post stating something I believe ought to be obvious. I'm going to emphasize the need for a strong, well tested and fully deployed missile defense system.

After the successful test of a multi-stage rocket by North Korea and the strong likelihood this delivery system will end up in the hands of Iran, it is absolutely certain we will need a missile defense system in the next few years. If we are not prepared to face the ultimate test from a renegade state, thousands, perhaps hundreds of thousands of innocent people will perish.

But I am going to digress for a few very important paragraphs before I finish this argument in favor of the continued funding of a missile defense system. I will be quoting Sarah Palin, the Governor of Alaska and former candidate for Vice President of the United States. In quoting Governor Palin I am fully endorsing her position on this issue. But I feel a stronger statement about Sarah Palin is important.

I've been reading with ever increasing disgust bordering on horror, the continuous, hateful and moronic attacks on Sarah Palin. Most are simply stupid, based on ignorance, hate, rumors, spin and outright lies about Mrs. Palin or her family. Virtually none are based on any real facts.

So I want to simply state the following. I am a huge fan of Sarah Palin. I find her to be refreshing, honest, gracious, kind, warm hearted, bright, brave and genuinely gifted. I would be proud to have her as a Governor, a Vice President or as President. And I am totally confident she would do an excellent job in any position.

I disagree with Mrs. Palin on many, many issues. I would be part of the loyal opposition on several important matters facing our country today and in the future. But, with Sarah Palin, I would be confident these matters would be weighed thoughtfully and good decisions would be reached by someone who had the best interests of our nation in her heart.

I find it tragic that many of my fellow Democrats and Liberals just cast a few clever hate filled diatribes or slander in Governor Palin's direction rather than listen to or consider her real positions or ideas. Such is the state of political debate today. If we can just call someone a name, we can dismiss all their ideas and never consider their solutions to today's most pressing problems.

So all you who suffer from the absolutely terminal disease of Palin Derangement Syndrome can just leave your snide, sarcastic or hate filled comments below and move on, confident and snug in the cocoon spun out of your willful ignorance.

The rest of you can read and consider this press release from the Governor's office. It is so well written, I need add no further comments:

April 6, 2009, Juneau, Alaska – Responding to the missile test by North Korea, Governor Sarah Palin today reaffirmed Alaska’s commitment to protecting America from rogue nation missile attacks.

“I am deeply concerned with North Korea’s development and testing program which has clear potential of impacting Alaska, a sovereign state of the United States, with a potentially nuclear armed warhead,” Governor Palin said. “I can’t emphasize enough how important it is that we continue to develop and perfect the global missile defense network. Alaska’s strategic location and the system in place here have proven invaluable in defending the nation.”

Governor Palin stressed the importance of Fort Greely and the need for continued funding for the Missile Defense Agency. The governor is firmly against U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates’ proposed $1.4 billion reduction of the Missile Defense Agency. Greely’s isolated location in Alaska as well as its strategic location in the Pacific allows for maximum security and development of the country’s only ground-based missile defense complex.

“Our early opposition to reduced funding for the Missile Defense Agency is proving to be well-founded during this turbulent time,” Governor Palin said. “I continue to support the development and implementation of a defensive missile shield based in Alaska. We are strategically placed to defend the critical assets of the United States and our allies in the Pacific Theater.”

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Putting the Law Above Partisanship

There's a new sheriff in town.

Honor, integrity and the rule of law took a giant step forward yesterday as Attorney General Eric Holder made the difficult decision to drop the case against former Republican Alaskan Senator Ted Stevens. Holder took the extraordinary steps of both asking the federal judge in the trail to throw out the corruption conviction already won by the prosecution and then end both the investigation and future prosecution of the 85 year old Stevens.

And in ending the prosecution, Holder sent a powerful message to all federal prosecutors that the rule of law must be followed to the letter. What a refreshing change after a long parade of political partisan hacks who held the Office of Attorney General over the last eight years.

National Public Radio reports:

"After careful review, I have concluded that certain information should have been provided to the defense for use at trial," Holder said in a statement Wednesday. "In light of this conclusion, and in consideration of the totality of the circumstances of this particular case, I have determined that it is in the interest of justice to dismiss the indictment and not proceed with a new trial."
U.S. District Court Judge Emmett Sullivan set an April 7 hearing on the motion to dismiss the case.

Judge Sullivan has repeatedly delayed sentencing and criticized trial prosecutors for what he has called prosecutorial misconduct. At one point, prosecutors were held in contempt. Things got so bad that the Justice Department finally replaced the trial team, including top-ranking officials in the Public Integrity Section, which is charged with prosecuting public corruption cases.

The straw that apparently broke Holder's back was the discovery of more prosecutorial notes that were not turned over to the Stevens defense team as required by law. The notes were discovered by the new prosecution team, which was appointed in February.

With more ugly hearings expected, Holder is said to have decided late Tuesday to pull the plug. His decision is said to be based on Stevens' age — he's 85 — and the fact that Stevens is no longer in the Senate. Perhaps most important, Justice Department officials say Holder wants to send a message to prosecutors throughout the department that actions he regards as misconduct will not be tolerated.

Holder began his career in the Public Integrity Section; according to sources, he was horrified by the failure of prosecutors to turn over all relevant materials to the defense.

The attorney general also knows the trial judge, Emmett Sullivan, well. The two men served together as judges of the Superior Court of the District of Columbia before each was promoted to higher office.

Holder respects Judge Sullivan and reportedly has watched with growing alarm as the judge repeatedly has scolded prosecutors for failing to follow his judicial orders to fully inform defense lawyers about everything from potentially favorable evidence to the travel plans of witnesses. During the trial, prosecutors' missteps led the judge to instruct the jury to disregard some evidence.

It's a bold and gutsy move. It have politically convenient to continue to attack the Republican Stevens. There is little doubt many of Holder's predecessors would have just continued to use the Stevens case for political posturing. Not Eric Holder. Eric Holder is the Attorney general all America deserves.

Holder knows that when the rule of law wins, we all win.