Friday, May 20, 2011

Credibility Is Obama's Biggest Weakness In Middle East Strategy

By James Jay Carafano

After Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address, the crowd walked away disappointed. Too short, was the rap. Too straightforward.

Yet today that speech is admired for both its power and beauty. It endures as one of the most memorable speeches in American history, in large part because of Lincoln’s incredible accomplishments. His presidential triumphs over adversity—both before and after the speech—added substantive gravitas and resonance to his words.

In comparison, President Obama's address today proved doubly disappointing. It lacked Lincoln’s simplicity and clarity. And the orator himself could offer no real accomplishments to give the speech weight.

Credibility is the big problem with this president’s Middle East strategy. Thursday’s speech had to build on a foundation of next to nothing.

Mr. Obama has promised to negotiate away the Iranian nuclear threat and failed.

He has promised to negotiate an Israeli-Palestinian peace and failed.

His 2009 Cairo speech was so vacuous, it promised nothing, so I suppose you could argue he delivered on that one.

Still, it’s hard to take seriously the words of a leader who has so abjectly failed to make good on previous promises.

Further undercutting the president’s standing today is the fact that he spent most of the Arab Spring as bystander-in-chief. Mr. Obama called for Mubarak to step down after it was clear Mubarak had to step down. He turned against Syria when everyone else did. He dumped Libya faster than NBC dropped Charlie Sheen. And he completely ignored the protesters in Iran.

It’s not like he had no chance to get ahead of breaking events in the region. Weeks beforehand it was public knowledge that the so-called Facebook Intifada was scheduled for after prayers on May 15.

If Obama really wanted to lead, to act like a game-changing president, he could have come out and made a strong speech in defence of Israel before the 15th. Instead, he waited sheepishly to see how things unfolded. He “led from behind” with a speech four days after the fact.

Today’s speech provided little evidence that president really gets it on leadership in general or the Middle East in particular. This idea of promoting a “mini-Marshall Plan” for the Middle East is as stale as it is doomed. Just look at Egypt.

As my colleague Ted Bromund notes, “The amounts the administration is talking about -- $1 billion in debt forgiveness, and $1 billion in loan guarantees -- will be swallowed up by the broader collapse of the Egyptian economy. In practice, the administration’s plan is not enough to matter, but enough to create the false impression that the U.S. can simply ride to the rescue of the Egyptian economy.”

Furthermore, you can’t just dump money into un-free economies and expect that act to somehow further the cause of freedom. All that approach does is prop up the powers that be and promote corruption. Again, take a gander at what billions in aid to Egypt accomplished for the people there.

Though he spoke at length, the president failed to adequately address any of the top issues that U.S. policy should focus on in the region. The bulk of speech consisted of warmed over promises and calls for more dead-end dialogue. This was an exercise in cheerleading, not leading.

James Jay Carafano is director of the Heritage Foundation’s Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Quote of The Year

"Thanking Obama for killing Bin Laden is like going into McDonalds and thanking Ronald McDonald for the hamburger.

It's the guy cooking the burger that should get the credit, not the clown."

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Why Don't We Hear About Soros' Ties to Over 30 Major News Organizations?

By Dan Gainor

When liberal investor George Soros gave $1.8 million to National Public Radio , it became part of the firestorm of controversy that jeopardized NPR’s federal funding. But that gift only hints at the widespread influence the controversial billionaire has on the mainstream media. Soros, who spent $27 million trying to defeat President Bush in 2004, has ties to more than 30 mainstream news outlets – including The New York Times, Washington Post, the Associated Press, NBC and ABC.

Prominent journalists like ABC’s Christiane Amanpour and former Washington Post editor and now Vice President Len Downie serve on boards of operations that take Soros cash. This despite the Society of Professional Journalist’s ethical code stating: “avoid all conflicts real or perceived.”

This information is part of an upcoming report by the Media Research Centers Business & Media Institute which has been looking into George Soros and his influence on the media.

The investigative reporting start-up ProPublica is a prime example. ProPublica, which recently won its second Pulitzer Prize, initially was given millions of dollars from the Sandler Foundation to “strengthen the progressive infrastructure” – “progressive” being the code word for very liberal. In 2010, it also received a two-year contribution of $125,000 each year from the Open Society Foundations. In case you wonder where that money comes from, the OSF website is www.soros.org. It is a network of more than 30 international foundations, mostly funded by Soros, who has contributed more than $8 billion to those efforts.

The ProPublica stories are thoroughly researched by top-notch staffers who used to work at some of the biggest news outlets in the nation. But the topics are almost laughably left-wing. The site’s proud list of “Our Investigations” includes attacks on oil companies, gas companies, the health care industry, for-profit schools and more. More than 100 stories on the latest lefty cause: opposition to drilling for natural gas by hydraulic fracking. Another 100 on the evils of the foreclosure industry.

Throw in a couple investigations making the military look bad and another about prisoners at Guantanamo Bay and you have almost the perfect journalism fantasy – a huge budget, lots of major media partners and a liberal agenda unconstrained by advertising.

One more thing: a 14-person Journalism Advisory Board, stacked with CNN’s David Gergen and representatives from top newspapers, a former publisher of The Wall Street Journal and the editor-in-chief of Simon & Schuster. Several are working journalists, including:

• Jill Abramson, a managing editor of The New York Times;

• Kerry Smith, the senior vice president for editorial quality of ABC News;

• Cynthia A. Tucker, the editor of the editorial page of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

ProPublica is far from the only Soros-funded organization that is stacked with members of the supposedly neutral press.

The Center for Public Integrity is another great example. Its board of directors is filled with working journalists like Amanpour from ABC, right along side blatant liberal media types like Arianna Huffington, of the Huffington Post and now AOL.

Like ProPublica, the CPI board is a veritable Who’s Who of journalism and top media organizations, including:

• Christiane Amanpour – Anchor of ABC’s Sunday morning political affairs program, “This Week with Christiane Amanpour.” A reliable lefty, she has called tax cuts “giveaways,” the Tea Party “extreme,” and Obama “very Reaganesque.”

• Paula Madison – Executive vice president and chief diversity officer for NBC Universal, who leads NBC Universal’s corporate diversity initiatives, spanning all broadcast television, cable, digital, and film properties.

• Matt Thompson – Editorial product manager at National Public Radio and an adjunct faculty member at the prominent Poynter Institute.

Once again, like ProPublica, the center’s investigations are mostly liberal – attacks on the coal industry, payday loans and conservatives like Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour. The Center for Public Integrity is also more open about its politics, including a detailed investigation into conservative funders David and Charles Koch and their “web of influence.”According to the center’s own 990 tax forms, the Open Society Institute gave it $651,650 in 2009 alone.

The well-known Center for Investigative Reporting follows the same template – important journalists on the board and a liberal editorial agenda. Both the board of directors and the advisory board contain journalists from major news outlets. The board features:

• Phil Bronstein (President), San Francisco Chronicle;

• David Boardman, The Seattle Times;

• Len Downie, former Executive Editor of the Washington Post, now VP;

• George Osterkamp, CBS News producer.

Readers of the site are greeted with numerous stories on climate change, illegal immigration and the evils of big companies. It counts among its media partners The Washington Post, Salon, CNN and ABC News. CIR received close to $1 million from Open Society from 2003 to 2008.

Why does it all matter? Journalists, we are constantly told, are neutral in their reporting. In almost the same breath, many bemoan the influence of money in politics. It is a maxim of both the left and many in the media that conservatives are bought and paid for by business interests. Yet where are the concerns about where their money comes from?

Fred Brown, who recently revised the book “Journalism Ethics: A Casebook of Professional Conduct for News Media,” argues journalists need to be “transparent” about their connections and “be up front about your relationship” with those who fund you.

Unfortunately, that rarely happens. While the nonprofits list who sits on their boards, the news outlets they work for make little or no effort to connect those dots. Amanpour’s biography page, for instance, talks about her lengthy career, her time at CNN and her many awards. It makes no mention of her affiliation with the Center for Public Integrity.

If journalists were more up front, they would have to admit numerous uncomfortable connections with groups that push a liberal agenda, many of them funded by the stridently liberal George Soros. So don’t expect that transparency any time soon.

Dan Gainor is the Boone Pickens Fellow and the Media Research Center’s Vice President for Business and Culture. 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Where Are the Jobs, Mr. President? The Jobless Obama Recovery Continues

By John Lott

There has been no recovery in the job market during the Obama recovery. Despite all the cheerleading by the Obama administration and the media, job creation has been horribly sluggish. The jobs created recently are noteworthy only in comparison to the lack of jobs created during the rest of the “recovery.” In contrast to other recoveries over at least the last half century, job creation has never been more anemic.

When the new employment numbers came out on Friday, Austan Goolsbee, the head of the President Obama's Council of Economic Advisors, boasted about "the solid pace of employment growth in recent months" and that "The overall trajectory of the economy has improved dramatically over the past two years." Headlines in the Los Angeles Times and the New York Times were equally glowing, trumpeting "solid growth" and "strong growth."

During the 23 months since the Obama recovery started, an average of 23,000 jobs a month have been created. The same 23 month period into the Reagan recovery saw that an average of 285,800 jobs were added each month.

So what about the last three months? Goolsbee brags: "We added more than a quarter million jobs a month over the last quarter." But that number fails to reach even the average monthly job creation rate under President Reagan. Indeed, during the Reagan recovery, 857,000 or 991,000 jobs were created in the two best months, the number of jobs created in those individual months dwarfed those produced during this entire last quarter.

Depending on the measurement chosen -- the survey of businesses (the Establishment survey) or workers (the Household survey) -- between 6.3 and 7.5 million jobs were lost during the recession. Yet, the Establishment survey only shows some 535,000 total jobs created during the recovery, a meager fraction of what would be needed to get back to the recession employment levels. The Household survey paints an even bleaker picture: in addition to jobs lost during the recession, another 304,000 jobs were lost during the recovery. A graph of the changes in jobs shown here illustrates the incredibly flat job growth under Obama.

Why has the unemployment rate fallen if there are so few new jobs? It is simple: because 5 million people have given up looking for work and thus completely left the labor force during the recovery. Just since August, 2 million have left the work force.

Alas, the problem is even worse than these numbers indicate. The jobs created from June 2009 through April 2011 have almost all been temporary service jobs. Of the 535,000 new jobs, 500,000 were temporary jobs. Thus, just a measly 35,000 were permanent jobs. To put it differently, up until this last month, there had been no net increase in permanent jobs during the recovery.

The graphs I provide here show the monthly change in jobs using both measures of the total number of people employed since the beginning of the recession. Doing that shows that the job growth has been extremely flat even during the recovery.

Remember last year was supposed to be the long awaited “Summer of Recovery” for jobs? In May 2009, President Obama even declared that the Stimulus had started working and that improvement in the job market was near. By September 2009, Vice President Biden was declaring: “In my wildest dreams, I never thought it [the stimulus] would work this well.” But the graphs show virtually none of the lost jobs have been recovered.

Mr. Goolsbee has quite often had a tendency to pick and choose the data and time periods to twist the facts around (see here and here), but no matter what, it should be clear: this recovery is not adding many jobs.

John R. Lott, Jr. is an economist and author of the revised edition of "More Guns, Less Crime" (University of Chicago Press, 2010).

Monday, May 9, 2011

Liberals Whine While Heroes Do Their Dirty Work For Them

By Michael Goodwin
Years ago, when my young son and I visited a dude ranch in Montana, a local rancher told us he butch ered his cows for meat. My son, Scott, who was only 7, was horrified. "You kill your own cows and eat them?" he asked with urban disgust.

The rancher answered with country logic, saying something like, "Well, how is that different from you eating cows that other people butcher?"

The exchange came back to me after yet another attack on the Bush administration's use of harsh interrogation on Al Qaeda terrorists. It's a tiresome refrain under any circumstance, but especially now that the intelligence infrastructure built after 9/11 has paid such obvious dividends.

Indeed, critics can smugly mount their high horse of disgust only because somebody else was willing to do their dirty work for them. At least my son was a child when he showed a lack of knowledge about his hamburgers. So-called sophisticated adults have no excuse not to understand who and what is protecting them nearly 10 years after 9/11.

Numerous reports, including one from former Attorney General Michael Mukasey, that waterboarding started the daisy chain that led to the courier that led to Usama bin Laden's hideout, qualify as a distinctly inconvenient fact for hard-line liberals. They call waterboarding and other harsh techniques immoral and denounce supporters as apologists for torture.

And then they and their families ride the subway or an airplane or walk the street, believing they are safe. By and large, they are safe, thanks to the dedicated patriots whose heroic work does not allow for the snobbery that passes for moral superiority. The reality of war, warriors will tell you, leaves little margin for nuance.

Being forced to hear the hard facts about interrogation was only part of the misery Bin Laden's demise caused the Michael Moore set. The communication and surveillance technology that made possible the raid into Pakistan for the kill mission -- capture was not the goal -- vindicated the black arts of the CIA and Pentagon intelligence, two favorite targets of the professional left.

Then there's the helicopter that crashed, which the SEALs tried to destroy before they left. Pictures show a tail system unlike any other, a feature thought to represent advances in stealth know-how. It's the kind of machine made possible only by a "bloated" Pentagon budget that must now be slashed so expanding entitlements and binge spending can be protected.

Even the praise conservatives showered on President Obama must mortify his party's base. His Dirty Harry "Make My Day" attitude about the killing of Bin Laden earned him a poll vault primarily because Republicans and independents saw a side of him they liked. You might call the raid "American Exceptionalism" in action.

Murmurs from some on the right that Obama is milking the moment for political gain were drowned out by the cheers for him. His dignified silence at Ground Zero was the best speech never given.

Finally, there are the computers and documents the SEALs grabbed, a trove one official called a "mother lode of intelligence." The first piece to be analyzed showed talk of a plot to mark the 10th anniversary of 9/11 with a fresh terror attack on American trains. It's a case of dividends compounded, with justice delivered for the past and a possible future attack thwarted -- making life safer for all Americans, even those who scorn their defenders.

The world is a better place for Bin Laden's death and, as the president said, May 1, 2011, was "a great day for America." It's a pity that some Americans won't honestly acknowledge how that greatness was achieved.

Michael Goodwin is a  New York Post columnist.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Will Obama Now Admit That George Bush's Tough Stance In the War on Terror Was Right?

By Van Hipp

Hallelujah! If one word best sums up the reaction of most Americans in the wake of Sunday night’s news that terror mastermind Usama bin Laden has finally met justice, that’s probably it.

The throngs of men and women who marked the occasion at Times Square, Ground Zero and outside the White House seemingly did so for all of us. And for many of those who lost loved ones in the dastardly attacks a decade ago, have friends or family who have served in our nation’s armed forces in the months and years that followed, or have any personal connection to that fateful day whatsoever, Sunday night’s revelation helped deliver a long overdue sense of closure. Hallelujah, indeed.

Questions about how the world’s top terrorist was allowed and possibly enabled to call Abbottabad, Pakistan home by that country are already being asked. As well they should. But when it comes to the issue of where the credit lies in ultimately bringing down bin Laden, no question is necessary.

The men and women of the U.S. military have always answered the call when our nation needed them most. Such has been the case since we were attacked in 2001 by terrorists seeking to destroy us and our way of life.

Working in concert with our country’s intelligence community, these brave heroes have taken the fight to Al Qaeda and other terrorist networks around the globe while strategically smoking out their leadership along the way. Despite many in the media’s best attempts to say otherwise, it’s an effort that is working and winning. Usama bin Laden’s death at the hands of an American-led operation executed by Navy Seals is pretty compelling evidence to that end.

President Obama should also be commended for signing off on the high-risk military operation that led to bin Laden’s demise and for not wavering when the chips were down. His leadership in the operation made a difference.

As for those in his administration who seem anxious to shamelessly score political points, however, they should tread very carefully. Remember, this is the same Barack Obama who campaigned vigorously in 2008 against many of the methods and tools which led to Sunday’s success.

And sadly, far too many of the actions he’s taken as president suggest Mr. Obama is less interested in delivering justice to terrorist thugs than delivering political correctness to the masses. Dumping the term, "War on Terror,' in favor of "Overseas Contingency Operation" (or is it ‘Man-Made Disasters’ this week?); pledging until just last month to try 9/11-conspirator Khalid Shaikh Mohammed before a civilian jury in New York City; signing orders to close the Guantanamo Bay detention camp; and making speeches abroad apologizing for U.S. foreign relations are probably not the best ways to support our troops and convey conviction in the mission.

By the way, there’s one other person who deserves gratitude for helping ensure Usama bin Laden’s downfall at the wrong end of a Navy SEAL’s rifle. I’m thinking of the person who said in October of 2001, “We will not waver; we will not tire; we will not falter; and we will not fail. Peace and freedom will prevail.” It’s also the same person who gave our courageous military members their marching orders as commander-in-chief almost 10 years ago: President George W. Bush.

It’s worth noting, Al Qaeda did not become a nemesis to our nation and the free world during President Bush’s time in office. The fingerprints of the terrorist network were on the 1993 attempted bombing of the World Trade Center that ultimately killed six and the 2000 attack against the USS Cole that left 17 sailors dead and over 30 injured. Both occurred on Bill Clinton’s watch as president.

It was, however, President Bush who led our nation through the aftermath of 9/11 by declaring an unequivocal ‘War on Terror;’ making and honoring every commitment to support it despite the political consequences; and keeping our country safe until the day he left office. Not surprisingly, reports now suggest that the intelligence which helped seal bin Laden’s fate was rooted in enhanced interrogation work and results that took place during President Bush’s administration.

Sunday’s successful operation was a major victory in the ongoing battle to defeat the murderous terrorists who continue to have the United States in their crosshairs. And President Obama’s role with it is an encouraging sign for many reasons. Here’s hoping he’s finally realized his predecessor’s tough stance on terrorism was right all along.


Van D. Hipp Jr. is chairman of American Defense International, Inc., a Washington, D.C.-based consulting firm specializing in government affairs, business development and public relations. He is the former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Army.

Monday, May 2, 2011

UBL Is now In Hell! But who really put him there?

As we rejoice over the news that Usama Bin Laden is now feeding the fishes (I love the euphemism the media is using about him being "buried at sea." You have to KNOW that those SEALS just dumped his carcass out the door of that Blackhawk helo like a bag of trash), I'd like to take a moment and reflect back a few years ago. Back to when all the bleeding heart liberals were screaming about how it was illegal for George Bush to capture terrorist scum on the battle field and ship them to Gitmo. How it was illegal to not turn them over to be tried by civilian courts (yeah, that went over really big a short time ago when they tried that guy and the scumbag got acquitted of all the charged except one - a bullshit conspiracy charge), but more importantly how it was absolutely criminal to subject these poor detainees to enhanced interrogation techniques, even if it never endangered their lives, but saved American lives.

Now, of course, we find out that if it weren't for having the intel garnered from those same detainees at Gitmo, probably derived as a result of some form of interrogation, that we probably would still be looking for Usama in some cave on the border with Pakistan and Afghanistan, rather than in the heart of Pakistan, living in the lap of luxury.

I’d like to hear these same left-wing liberal slime who had such affection for the poor detainees, tell us now that finding and killing this slime bag Bin Laden wasn’t worth inconveniencing those murdering, terrorist scum we have sitting in Gitmo. These are probably some of the same people who are jumping up and down for joy that their savior, Obama, announced that ‘he’ got Usama, when it was the efforts and courage of the past administration, and some brave Navy SEALS, who actually made it possible - Obama at best being marked down with an assist. Yes, I’m sure these same bleeding heart liberals, along with all the talking heads in the lame-stream media who are now jubilant over the demise of Bin Laden, are conveniently forgetting who and what exactly made it possible for this to happen. Of course, no one ever said liberal, left-wing loons were anything but a bunch of hypocrites.
 



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