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Belmont Club

Monthly Archives: September 2012

Legitimacy

September 30th, 2012 - 10:37 pm

It’s getting to them.  David Carr at the New York Times tries to laugh off the charge of media bias. But clearly it is creeping under his skin. “In the last few days, conservatives have become agitated about Mitt Romney’s drop-off in the polls … in their view, the mysterious drop can only be explained by the fact that the mainstream media have their collective liberal thumb on the scale, in terms of coverage and, more oddly, polling.”

To imagine bias is only paranaoia he says. “Let’s be fair. It’s not as if everyone who believes there is a liberal bias needs to be fitted for a tinfoil helmet. But the trope is losing traction, partly because there are many robust champions of the right, which gives conservatives the means to project their message far beyond the choir.”

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The Company We Keep

September 30th, 2012 - 2:02 pm

A question on the Internet: “Could you post a link substantiating your headline that the ‘KKK endorse(s) Romney‘, thanks. ~Ed”.

Answer: “Obviously he wouldn’t make that public, but we have clues this is highly likely if not definite. His admiration for Cleon Skousen and his support by the John Birch society, combined with the use of “keep America American” motif shows how he’s a favorite of these folks.”

So is Romney endorsed by the KKK? So someone says, but “obviously he wouldn’t make that public.” Candidates can’t really be responsible for who endorses them. But fortunately,  som of them have made it public. The Communist Party of the USA has endorsed Barack Obama for President in 2012 as shown here and here. He also has the nod of Hugo Chavez, as noted by the Chicago Tribune and numerous other media outlets. “”I hope this doesn’t harm Obama,” Chavez said, “but if I was from the United States, I’d vote for Obama”.

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Obama Furioso

September 30th, 2012 - 1:05 am

The Christian Science Monitor  says that “when a journalist for Univision asked President Obama last week why he hasn’t fired Attorney General Eric Holder over the ‘Fast and Furious’ gun walking fiasco, the reporter, it turns out, had an inside scoop that added urgency to the question. At 7 p.m. on Sunday, Univision says it’ll air a blockbuster investigation detailing the impact of the deeply flawed gunrunning investigation, which operated between Oct. 2009 and January 2011.”

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Sleight of Hand

September 29th, 2012 - 1:49 pm

Reports the FBI has still not started investigating the attack on the US consulate in Benghazi half a month after it occurred suggests that they’re really not going to.  The real crime of interest is not the murder of Ambassador Stephens but something else. While the ambassador’s death was tragic it may have been incidental. Collateral. The real objective of the Benghazi attack may have been US intelligence operations in North Africa and the Middle East.

“It’s a catastrophic intelligence loss,” said one U.S. official who has served in Libya and who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the FBI is still investigating the attack. “We got our eyes poked out.”

The CIA’s surveillance targets in Benghazi and eastern Libya include Ansar al-Sharia, a militia that some have blamed for the attack, as well as suspected members of al-Qaida’s affiliate in North Africa, known as al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb.

These would have been the second set of eyes they got poked out. According to Michael Scheuer, former head of the Bin Laden search unit, the “Arab Spring” dealt a major blow to US intelligence efforts in the region because it disrupted the CIA’s ability to render suspects to Arab intelligence services.

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The Co-candidates

September 28th, 2012 - 1:20 pm

When USA Today reported that Romney supporters were deliberately tuning out the published polls showing him falling ever further behind Barack Obama observers should have seen it as a warning that one the pillars of American political legitimacy was about to collapse.

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A shared belief in the unimpeachability of certain institutions is the keystone of political legitimacy. The most obvious example is the electoral process and the courts. The media — along with associated institutions like the academy and Hollywood — are lesser, but similar examples. If the public don’t ‘believe’ in their judgments then all hope for a suspension of the political season until the next campaign are lost.

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One of the recent minor news storms has been over school lunches:

Students and teachers from a high school in Kansas have created a YouTube video parody protesting the recent lunch restrictions placed on high school menus, USA Today reported. The video — titled “We Are Hungry” — comes just a week after students from a Wisconsin high school boycotted their school lunch over the changes.

The parody is in response to the new federal guidelines funded by the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, dictating what is served in school cafeterias during lunch hour. The legislation was promoted by Michelle Obama, and is designed to improve nutrition standards for food served in schools. Some of the changes include age-aligned calorie restrictions of up to 850 calories, serving more whole grains and less sugar, and only allowing low- or non-fat milk.

It may not be long before the unsatisfying and politically correct school lunches are known as Obama Meals. After all, people have a habit of coining phrases to catch the sense of a thing. The phrase “Obama (something)” has been applied to a number of items, such as Obamacare; it may also apply to phones.

The other day a video made the rounds purporting to show a woman saying she would vote for Obama because he would give her a free phone. Here was another of the eponymous articles: the Obama Phone. But first of all, is there really an Obama Phone?

The answer is apparently a qualified “yes” — or “no” if you prefer, but not really. It’s not what people think it is:

There’s a government phone assistance program for low income people. It consists of two parts: “Link-Up,” which helps income-eligible people set up new home phone service, and “Lifeline,” which helps income-eligible people pay their monthly phone charges.

The name “Obama Phone” supposedly comes from an email that has been doing the rounds from 2009. In the email, an unknown but perhaps conservative author complains that Obama is giving away phones paid for by taxpayer money. But the actual program –according to Politifact – is nothing of the kind; it is from a phone assistance program started under Clinton.

The e-mail is correct in saying that tax dollars are being used to support the phone program. Still, it mischaracterizes the program by making it seem as if it were created by the Obama administration. These are not “Obama Phones.” (Clinton Phones?) So we rate the claim Barely True.

However, what liberals are certain of is that featuring the video of a low-income woman pleased about a phone is a racist trope.

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The Mansourian Candidate

September 26th, 2012 - 3:59 pm

A single skein runs through a number of recent articles. It starts with an extraordinary piece by Frank Miele, who rummaging through the newspaper morgue, came across an piece that shed light on who put Barack Obama on the fast track back in 1979.  The old article described a $20 million dollar fund from OPEC and Saudi Prince Alwaleed to place promising ‘blacks, Arabs, Hispanics, Asians and native Americans’ into elite colleges. The conduit was a lawyer named Khalid al-Mansour. The article’s author was Vernon Jarrett.

For some reason, al-Mansour had used Jarrett as the messenger to get out the word about his efforts to funnel Arab oil money to black students and minority colleges at about the same time that Barack Obama began his college career. That doesn’t mean either Jarrett or al-Mansour knew Obama at that time, but eight years later when Obama was a rising star in Chicago, a friend of Bill Ayers and Valerie Jarrett, it is much more likely that he did indeed have the assistance of very important people in his meteoric rise. The words of Percy Sutton about what al-Mansour told him regarding Obama certainly have the ring of truth:

“His introduction was there is a young man that has applied to Harvard. I know that you have a few friends back there… Would you please write a letter in support of him? (That’s before Obama decided to run.) … and he interjected the advice that Obama had passed the requirements, had taken and passed the requirements necessary to get into Harvard and become president of the Law Review. That’s before he ever ran for anything. And I wrote a letter in support of him to my friends at Harvard, saying to them that I thought there was a genius that was going to be available and I certainly hoped they would treat him kindly…”

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“Be A Man”

September 25th, 2012 - 7:07 pm

The New York Post describes a farcical cat and mouse game between activist Mona Eltahawy and a woman called Pamela Hall as Eltahawy tried to paint over a poster like the one depicted below. Hall was blocking the spray paint and Eltahawy scooted around finding an opening to continue her over-painting.

One Man's Speech Is Another Man's Hate Crime

“Mona, do you think you have the right to do this?” said Pamela Hall, holding a mounted camera as she tried to block the barrage of spray paint.

“I do actually,” Eltahawy calmly responded. “I think this is freedom of expression, just as this is freedom of expression.”

Hall then thrusts herself between Eltahawy’s spray paint and the poster.

Eltahawy — an activist who has appeared on MSNBC and CNN — engaged her in an odd cat-and-mouse dance, spraying pink every time she had an opening.

“What right do you have to violate free speech,” Hall pleaded.

“I’m not violating it. I’m making an expression on free speech,” an increasingly agitated Eltahawy shot back.

“You do not have the right!” Hall said.

Eltahawy continued spraying around Hall until the Transit police arrived to arrest Eltahawy.

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Fame

September 25th, 2012 - 1:03 pm

By the 1990s he was world famous. PJ O’Rourke traveling through China saw his likeness everywhere:

Omnipresent amid all the frenzy of Shanghai is that famous portrait, that modern icon. The faintly smiling, bland, yet somehow threatening visage appears in brilliant hues on placards and posters, and is painted huge on the sides of buildings. Some call him a genius. Others blame him for the deaths of millions. There are those who say his military reputation is inflated, yet he conquered the mainland in short order.

See if you can guess the identity of this man. A panel of distinguished guests had difficulty doing so in 1963.

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To Dream the Implausible Dream

September 24th, 2012 - 7:13 pm

The problem with pretending to like something when you don’t — no let us put it more strongly — the problem with lying with a straight face is forgetting the last vestiges of your own self respect. Frederick Forsyth’s hero in the Dogs of War describes his inability to adapt to civilian life. The problem was simple. He couldn’t stomach it.

The real problem was being able to stick it out, to sit in an office under the orders of a wee man in a dark gray suit and look out of the window and recall the bush country, the waving palms, the smell of sweat and cordite, the grunts of men hauling the jeeps over the river crossings, the copper-tasting fears just before the attack, and the wild cruel joy of being alive afterward. To remember, and then to go back to the ledgers and the commuter train, that was what was impossible.

All the more reason to admire those who can stomach anything; who can put aside logic and every feeling for self in the performance of the job. Take the New York Times’ account of the second attack on State Department personnel in Benghazi.

The survivors of the assault on the American Mission in Benghazi, Libya, thought they were safe. They had retreated to a villa not far from the main building where the surprise attack had occurred, and a State Department team had arrived to evacuate them. The eruption of violence had ended, and now they were surrounded by friendly Libyan brigades in what seemed to be a dark, uneasy calm.

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