In American cities, when the temperature spiked, it was time to open up a fire hydrant. It was a splashy fun moment for kids of all ages.
But no more.
It is now Politically Incorrect to open up a fire hydrant.
The Washington City Paper reports on a stern, new no-fun policy of the D.C. government: “Opening a fire hydrant sounds like a really urban and fun thing to do,” explains Pete Piringer, public information officer for the D.C. Fire and Emergency Management Services. “But you can’t open a fire hydrant here anymore.”
Now the city has spent gobs of money on a new fangled alternative called “spray parks.” This is the politically correct way for kids to beat the heat.
The problem is the parks don’t quite work. After $4 million, a nearby spray park in my neighborhood still has not opened. The drains have been recalled and the green Canadian company cannot get the replacement parts.
“Congress is drowning America in a sea of red.”
That’s the theme of a new video, “Red Ink” that was released today by the “Cut, Cap and Balance” coalition. The coalition represents more than 150 fiscal conservative organizations.
Since its launch last week they claim 170 Members of Congress and 50,000 citizens have signed the CCB pledge.
Their new video vividly captures the seeping red ink that’s washing over our country. Our current $14.2 debt load is estimated to cost $125,000 for each American taxpayer.
See the video here:
The International Monetary Fund has chosen Christine Lagarde to serve as its first woman managing director. The Tatler agrees this is a bit of glass-ceiling news.
However, it was interesting to see that yesterday’s Washington Post chose to transform Madame Lagarde — an accomplished lawyer and French politician — into a goddess of sorts.
Instead of using a news-oriented picture of her in a working setting, the paper’s editors posted a highly stylized page-one celebrity photo that was straight out of the pages of Vogue.
The photo credit says it was purchased from Getty Images, a commercial photo house that sells staged photos of models, actors, movie idols, sports figures and personalities for publicity campaigns.
In the posed photo used by the Post, Ms. Lagarde looks confidently into the camera lens with her hands clasped behind her back. The background is the Parisian skyline.
A visit to Getty Images finds that the photo house offers a photo spread of 26 pictures of her standing in various dramatic poses. The professional photo caption says she “poses on the heliport of her ministry” in Paris. The staged photos were caught by Martin Bureau, a photographer for Agence France Presse, on June 14. Here is the picture:
Interestingly, the Post’s own web site refused to use the photograph. You cannot find this photo anywhere at WashingtonPost.com, even though the editors created a gallery of 17 photos of Lagarde. None of the photos included the publicity shot from the newspaper. The newspaper version of the photo has been officially airbrushed from its web site.
Instead, virtually all of the online photos were working photos of the Ms. Lagarde, featuring her gesturing in a speech before the European Union, in a press conference, meeting with European bankers, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
Why did the Post run the adoring photo on its front page? Why did it decide to use a staged photo? Why did it buy it from a photo house rather than a news source? And why did WaPo’s online site refuse to use the prominent photo in its photo spread?
The Tatler contacted the Post for the reasons behind its choice of the photo. Unfortunately, the Post has not responded to our inquiry … yet.
My suspicion is that the newspaper’s pro-feminist editors got so caught up with the idea a woman was heading up the IMF that for them, a “normal” photo would not have done the moment justice. So rather than report the news, they wanted a coronation.
The question is, if the new IMF managing director had been a man, would they have used a staged publicity shot? The chances of that are pretty slim.
In reality, by selecting their photo, they diminished Madam Lagarde’s accomplishments that landed her the job in the first place. So in their eagerness to glorify her, they actually took her down a notch.
This is what happens when mainstream newspapers go beyond their mission of objectively calling the shots and they join in as a cheerleader for only one side. They get carried away and lose all sight of the story.
Yesterday’s suicide assault on the Kabul Intercontinental Hotel has been considered a signal of the Taliban’s new found boldness in the face of President Obama’s U.S. troop withdrawal announcement last week.
But the selection of the Intercontinental was impressive in another way: the hotel is in fact the unofficial headquarters of the state’s Intelligence Service. Our source in Kabul tells the Tatler this morning that it had been considered “the safest hotel in Kabul, until now.”
For those in Hillaryland at the State Department who triumphantly praised Egypt’s “Arab Spring” and pooh poohed the idea that this opened the door to a future Muslim Brotherhood-led government, it’s “uh oh” time.
As the Jewish online site Arutz Sheva reports this morning:
“Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood has created a coalition of 17 parties, including liberal and secular groups, to form a common platform ahead of legislative elections, Egyprian state media said Wednesday.
The new political alliance, including the Brotherhood’s Freedom and Justice Party, the liberal Wafd party, the left-leaning Tagammu, and the newly formed Salafi (Muslim Fundamentalist) Noor party, say they joined forces to “channel their efforts… into building a state of law based on citizenship, equality and sovereignty of the people.”
The election is scheduled for September.
Is the president is playing politics with the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserves, a national security inventory that is only supposed to be used for national emergencies? Yes, say both critics and supporters of the president.
All sides agree he is using the reserve to bring down the politically damaging high price of gas, not as a response to a genuine national emergency. The announcement was also made the day after a devastating Federal Reserve Bank forecast of a poor economy for the second half of 2012.
The oil reserve has only been tapped two other times in its 40 year history. The first was during Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm, the outbreak in the First Gulf War. The second was in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 21 million barrels were released during the Gulf War. Following Katrina, 11 million barrels were withdrawn. Today’s draw down of 30 million barrels is fifty percent larger than our record wartime withdrawal.
The administration claims the release was required because of the daily loss of 1.5 million barrel of light, sweet high-quality crude oil from the fighting in Libya. However, hardly any of the Libyan crude ever makes it to the United States — it’s consumed mostly in Europe, specifically by Italy and France.
This morning as you’re sipping on your coffee, you can see the overnight results for President Obama’s withdrawal speech on Afghanistan.
This morning NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has told reporters today that one-third of NATO forces will withdraw from Afghanistan by next year. In Paris President Nicholas Sarkozy said France would begin a “progressive withdrawal” from Afghanistan.
Everyone is rushing for the exits. The President was warned this could happen if it looked like America was about to cut and run.
In fact over the last few weeks during his worldwide farewell tour, Defense Secretary Robert Gates warned that the worse thing to happen is for NATO to “rush to the exits” in Afghanistan. This, he said, would jeopardize military progress.
Echoing a similar sentiment is anti-insurgency expert Brian Jenkins, now at the Rand Corporation. “If we signal that we are just getting out, then it does risk a stampede for the exits,”he told AFP.
Well the stampede has begun.
Yes Mr. President, words do have consequences.
My how time flies. It was only one year ago today that the White House announced we were on the eve of last year’s ”Recovery Summer.”
As a single candle burns down and “Happy Birthday” chimes in the background, the video identifies the “President’s gift to America:” 13,941,000 jobless and 44 million on food stamps.
The candle flame turns to smoke and the video concludes: “With him in charge, hope went up in smoke.”
American Jobs Creators was established by Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA), chairman of the House Oversight and Reform Committee. Their website www.americanjobcreators.com has actively solicited reports from businesses to quantify how government regulations affect real businesses in the real world.
In a possible game changer, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan last night lashed out at the violent government attacks against Syrian democracy protestors, calling the Syrian government’s actions, “savagery.” He said the continued police and army attacks against civilians were “unpalatable.” Human rights groups have estimated more than 1,000 civilians have been gunned down by Syrian forces since the protests began.
Erdogan also said Turkey could back a UN Security Council decision against the country.
Turkey shares a border with Syria. As the Assad regime’s attacks against Syrian towns and cities have intensified, thousands of Syrians are reported to be fleeing across the border into Turkey.
Until last night’s speech, Erdogan has been an ally with Syrian authorities and he has recently tilted toward Iranian regime, which also is close to Syria. The Turkish break may signal the loss of a major supporter for Assad.
As with Libya, Egypt and Tunisia, the Obama White House has been slow to support pro-democracy movements in Syria or pressure the government to end violence against its own citizens. Early into the protests, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton described Assad as a “reformer.” Finally on May 28, Clinton broke her silence by condemning the Syrian violence. But she ruled out any action against Damascus.
On June 1 Australian foreign minister Kevin Rudd said Syrian President Bashar al-Assad should be tried for war crimes for unleashing police and the military against his own people.
“I believe it is high time that the Security Council now consider a formal referral of President Assad to the International Criminal Court,” Rudd said.
The missing woman at Rep. Anthony Weiner’s tell-all press conference was his newlywed Muslim-American wife Huma Abedin. At the moment she is in seclusion and an air of mystery is enveloping her. For years Huma has been one of the premier Washington mystery women. She has been both a Muslim who has lived in the political shadows of Washington power and a eye popping glamor girl, posing in a very sexy 2007 photo spread in Vogue.
Until recently, Huma seemed to be the woman who had it all. She was an inseparable ”traveling chief of staff” to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Weiner, with a reptuation in D.C. as a perpetual womanizer, was a former aide to Sen. Chuck Schumer and an aspirant to become the next Jewish mayor of New York City. They were a power couple on steroids whose bosses were both superstars. They were married at a wedding only 11 months ago officiated by Bill Clinton.
Now as the sordid details of Weiner’s own lewd virtual sexual affairs hang out, people are wondering which Huma will emerge? Is it the conservative Muslim woman or the glitzy Broadway gal? The fact she did not walk out by his side at today’s news conference indicates she is not like Silda Wall Spitzer, Eliot Spitzer’s now divorced wife.
The George Soros-backed “Free Press” media organization claims it is interested in ending back room deals involving government and media lobbyists.
As it declares on its web site,”For too long, media policy has been made behind closed doors in the public’s name but without our involvement or consent.”
However, in a series of newly released e-mails between the Free Press and the U.S. Federal Commuications Commission, it appears that it is the Free Press that’s working the back rooms.
Under the Freedom of Information Act the non-profit Judicial Watch obtained a number of private communications between the media group and the FCC over the policy of advancing “net neutrality,” a proposal to regulate the Internet. The Free Press is an enthusiastic supporter of net neutrality.
In the e-mails it’s clear the Free Press is acting as the FCC’s PR firm, lobbyist and speaker’s bureau all rolled up in one. As the e-mails show, the news outlet is very chummy with the FCC executive staff, advising and strategizing over the best ways to promote net neutrality. Judicial Watch reports:
Ever hear of the U.S. National Science Foundation? Don’t be too broken-hearted if you haven’t. It is one of at least 15 federal departments, 72 sub-agencies, and 12 independent agencies engaged in federal scientific research. And now we can say we know what types of ridiculous research they are conducting over there at the NSF — and at taxpayer expense.
In the name of “scientific research,” NSF researchers have studied online dating services, March Madness, Farmville on Facebook, trendy baby names, and rap songs. Other NSF researchers concluded that “people who often post pictures on the Internet from the same location at the same time are usually friends.” Overall, there is at least $1.2 billion “due to waste, fraud, duplication and mismanagement.”
This is the conclusion of a fascinating study released today by Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK), titled “The National Science Foundation: Under the Microscope.”
Sen. Coburn found that hundreds of millions of dollars were lost to ineffective contracting. And his staff identified “at least” $3 million in excessive travel funds.
And, the NSF left $1.7 billion on the table unspent.
However, the Senator did demolish the myth that government researchers are kind of quiet and dorky. He noted that at an NSF operated facility in Antartica, there was “porn surfing and Jello wrestling and skinny-dipping.”
Skinny-dipping in artic waters? Now these must be wild and crazy NSF guys.
Congress may begin scrutinizing the $250,000 golden parachute given to disgraced and indicted IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn. American taxpayers will be footing the bill for his severance pay.
Fox News is reporting that Rep. Jerry Lewis, R-Calif., will “request hearings in the Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs on the IMF directorship, and review what leverage the U.S. might have over operations. Lewis is a member of that subcommittee.”
Other sources tell the Tatler that they may examine the entire pay structure at these development banks. DSK and World Bank President Robert Zoellick both receive higher salaries than the President of the United States and the Federal Reserve Chairman.
Brits woke up this morning to learn that Scotland Yard has code-named President Obama “smart alec” during his visit to Britain.
For the Presidential code word, Scotland Yard are using a Punjabi term “Chalaque”. According to the Daily Mail it means “to denigrate someone who we think is too clever for their own good.” Another interpretation says the Daily Mail is “‘cheeky, crafty and cunning.”
The premier police agency claims the code name was randomly selected by computer. But when the offensive term came up Scotland Yard could have selected an alternative. They did not.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), the highest ranking Democrat in Congress, last night publicly rebuked President Barack Obama and his decision to impose new borders between Israel and the Palestinians. It has been rare for Reid to so publicly reject the President.
“No one should set premature parameters about borders, about building, or about anything else,” he declared in reference to Obama’s May 19 speech. He gave his remarks at the national meeting of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC). They rose to their feet and gave him a standing ovation.
Reid suggested President Obama was wrong to give speeches about private peace negotiations. If you’re serious about peace it should be at the negotiating table, the Nevada senator said “The place where negotiating will happen must be at the negotiating table – and nowhere else,” he said ”Those negotiations . will not happen – and their terms will not be set – through speeches, or in the streets, or in the media.”
Former Senator George Mitchell, President Obama’s chief representative to the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations, resigned just days before the president delivered his speech.
The president, in Europe for a G-8 meeting, is likely to hear more about his poorly received speech. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is scheduled to deliver a speech to a joint session of Congress today.
Yesterday’s Presidential Mideast speech may have caused collateral damage to White House press secretary Jay Carney. White House reporters today feel burned by Carney’s earlier absolute denial that the president would call for Israel to withdraw to pre-1967 borders.
Two days before the speech Carney rejected an Israeli press report alleging the president would call for an Israeli withdrawal to pre-1967 borders. He flatly told White House reporters the news account, reported by PJ Media was ”completely false.” But by the end of the yesterday’s speech, it was clear that what was deceptive was Carney’s denial.
As today’s Politico noted, the new Obama policy “surprised reporters.” The incident raises questions about Carney’s credibility and his “insider” status at White House. Was Carney lying or, more benevolently, was he “out of the loop?” After press secretary Robert Gibbs left, Carney was not offered the same access to meetings. Instead he has to report to Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer.
Last January the Daily Beast’s Lloyd Grove suggested that second class status could give Carney problems saying “he’s not an Obama insider—hardly an advantage when toiling for an insular politician who is naturally wary of newcomers and relies on a tight circle of advisers and intimates. Some White House veterans, including at least one former presidential press secretary, worry that Carney won’t receive the necessary access to Obama, and other policymakers at key meetings, to speak from the podium with the authority that Gibbs unquestionably enjoyed.”
Underlying all of the grumbling is a larger problem of White House access to reporters. Since the inauguration White House reporters have quietly suffered levels of secrecy, hostility and denial of access. Some reporters who filed critical stories have experienced retaliation reminiscent of the Nixon administration. Last year Politico reporter Josh Gerstein reviewed the White House hostility, citing the retaliation as an ugly surprise. He wrote:
“The ferocity of pushback is intense. A routine press query can draw a string of vitriolic e-mails. A negative story can draw a profane high-decibel phone call or worse. Some reporters feel like they’ve been frozen out after crossing the White House.”
There is a great deal of speculation that in the wake of bin Laden’s killing President Obama might try to curry Arab favor by striking out at Israel. There are some reports the President will do just that in a special Middle East address planned for delivery at the State Department on Thursday.
The reports are that the President will issue new demands upon the Jewish state to unilaterally withdraw to 1967 borders and make other concessions in the name of the peace process. This prospect was stoked by an article in the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth, which was reported yesterday in the Tatler by colleague Bryan Preston.
Now it appears pacifists in Israel and the left leaning J Street organization are anticipating such a call and pushing for it with an ad campaign that will include a full page ad in the New York Times on the eve of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Washington visit scheduled for next week. Over the years there have been numerous reports the President’s advisers have regularly briefed J Street leaders in advance on the President’s Middle East policy.
Today in an email to supporters, J Street solicited contributions for a New York Times ad, saying it should echo an Israeli full page ad calling for Israel to accept 1967 borders and recognize a new Palestinian state. J Street founder Jeremey Ben-Ami told potential contributors today:
“With Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressing a joint meeting of Congress on Tuesday and President Obama laying out his own Middle East strategy in a speech tomorrow, we’ve got to make sure decision makers in America, in Israel, and in the Palestinian territories hear their message loud and clear.”
Senator Tom Coburn has unexpectedly announced that he is abandoning the “Gang of Six,” a bi-partisan group of three Democratic and three Republican Senators who have behind the scenes tried to find $4 trillion in budget cuts.
Coburn was the highest profile Republican of the group, the toughest fiscal hawk and the closest Republican Senator to President Obama. His departure potentially spells a collapse of the group. It may stiffen other Republicans to toughen their position with the Democrats and the White House over spending.
His departure also comes the same week the U.S. treasury hit the debt ceiling limit of $14 trillion. Democrats and Republicans spent the last several weeks in New York City with Wall Street analysts to assess the fallout in the bond market if the debt ceiling was not raised. Democrats want the ceiling raised while Republicans want it raised only if there were a commensurate cut in spending.
Coburn’s departure assures that the Gang of Six experiment will lose credibility among budget-cutting conservatives. It also may send a message to Wall Street that Washington is not serious about cutting the budget and control runaway federal spending .
In an email from John Hart, the Senator’s communications director, his office announced that the negotiations have ”reached an impasse.” Coburn said he is “disappointed the group has not been able to bridge the gap between what needs to happen and what senators will support.”
Coburn said he “decided to take a break from the talks.”
The group held out the promise of a genuine negotiated settlement to cut at least $4 trillion in federal spending over the next decade. Away from the super-heated Washington debate, there was a sense that the political range of the Gang of Six could quietly cut a sensible deal that could truly cut spending.
The group included the number two ranking Senator Dick Durbin (R-Ill), a fierce liberal and moderate North Dakota Democrat Kent Conrad (D-ND) along with Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA). Rounding out the Republicans were Sen. Saxby Chambliss (R-GA) and Michael Crapo (R-IL).
A sensational little video has been obtained by PJ Media that captures the Topsy Turvy world of doublespeak and President Barack Obama’s promise for openness and transparency.
Titled “White House: Transparency Behind Closed Doors,” the video is of a May 12 congressional hearing where an administration official incongruously insists the best transparency occurs behind closed doors. PJ Media shows it to you for the first time. It was produced by the House Oversight and Reform Committee.
During the hearing the White House aide invokes confidentiality eleven times, refusing to answer questions raised by congressmen about a potentially chilling executive order being prepared, well, behind White House doors.
A frustrated Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC) sums up the Alice in Wonderland moment when he asks: “Does it strike you at all as ironic to invoke confidentiality and not answer questions when we’re having a hearing about transparency?”
“It does not, sir,” White House aide Daniel Gordon replied to Gowdy. “I think there are discussions, even about transparency and developing rules about transparency that we need to be able to have quietly and behind closed doors.” The beginning and end of the video contains remarks by President Obama at the beginning of his administration that openness would be the hallmark of his administration.
The hearing was about a pending Obama executive order that will require companies competing for government contracts to list their political contributions. The administration witness was Daniel Gordon, the Administrator of the Office of Federal Procurement Policy, a part of the Executive Office of the President.
Oh, how times have changed. Today’s Washington Post reads as if President Bush never really left the White House:
- In his weekly radio address, the President announces the renewal of oil drilling in the Gulf of Mexico and Alaska. The GOP cheer and Democrats complain.
- The White House is considering a GOP plan to force federal workers to contribute more for their generous penion programs. The President’s bipartisan fiscal commission endorsed the idea, saying federal pensions are “out of line” with private plans.
- In its lead editorial, the Post endorses Rep. Paul Ryan’s Medicare reform proposal, saying it mirrors a 1995 proposal by liberal Democratic economists Robert Reischauer and Henry Aaron.
- In a 4,000-word front page investigative article, the paper assails HUD programs as a multi-million “wasteland.”
- The President and his advisers say they are ready to push for retaliation against Pakistan for the government’s coddling extremist groups.
- The FBI arrested a Miami-based Imam and his two sons on providing $50,000 to the Pakistani Taliban. They face 15 years for each of four counts.
- Radical al-Jazeera TV is charged by WaPo with a double standard on their coverage of the Arab Spring uprising, protecting the interests of the Qatari Emir and his government, which own the network.
- U.S. forces may be asked to extend their presence in Iraq.
Is this really Washington in May 2011?
Might this be a bold decision by WaPo to regain moderate readers who have abandoned the paper?
Or are its editors merely genuflecting, reflecting President Obama’s own moves to the center?
The founder and CEO of the American PR agency that represented Libyan strongman Col. Mummar Qaddafi has announced that he is resigning. The company also has admitted wrongdoing in failing to file as a Libyan registered foreign agent as required by U.S. law.
The firm, called the Monitor Group, however, still remains silent on its failure to register as lobbyists on behalf of the Libyan dictator. The Lobbying Disclosure Act of 1995 requires organizations and individuals to file with the U.S. Congress when they communicate with Members of Congress or their staff. PJ Media has reviewed LDA filings with the Clerk of the House of Representatives and has found no registration or filing by the Monitor Group. A company spokesman was contacted and has not replied to our inquiries.
In an admission of guilt, today the Monitor Group has announced that it will retroactively comply with Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), which required the company to register as a agent of Tripoli with the U.S. Department of Justice. PJ Media originally reported the story about the Cambridge, Mass. company earlier this year here and here.
From 2006 to 2008 the Monitor Group received at least $3 million to wage a PR campaign on behalf of Qaddafi. It also represented Qaddafi’s son, son Saif al Islam al-Qaddafi and his “charity,” the Qaddafi International Charity and Development Foundation. The firm reportedly sponsored many meetings with Saif in Washington D.C. with human rights groups, think tanks and congressional staff.
Saif al Islam is not the son who recently was killed in a NATO bombing. Still alive, Saif al Islam is the most vocal of Qaddafi’s six sons. He has repeatedly appeared on Libyan TV supporting his embattled father.
The Monitor Group, based in Cambridge, Mass was founded by seven Harvard faculty members. The multi-billion company recruited a wide range of intellectuals throughout the United States to vouch for the Qaddafi regime. Documents found by Libyan rebels disclosed the firm signed a PR contract with Al-Sanusi, Qaddafi’s reputed Libyan intelligence chief.
Mark Fuller, one of the original seven Harvard founders and the lead representative of the Qaddafi PR account announced he will be stepping down and will be stripped of all “executive, managerial and governance roles” at the firm. It was Fuller who authored the infamous July 2006 memothat envisioned an agressive pro-democracy PR campaign on behalf of the dictator. Fuller will stay with the firm, however, to work on “developing elements of Monitor’s next generation of intellectual property.”
The announcements were made this week in the wake of an internal investigation by a prestigious Washington law firm of Covington and Burling. U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder was a partner with Covington and Burling immediately before joining the Obama administration.
In a statement released by Monitor Managing Partner Stephen M. Jennings, he said “We made some mistakes along the way.”
New Yorker Mag called the special ops team today hailed by Obama VP Cheney’s “personal assasination team”
As we all know today President Obama hailed Seal Team Six, the legendary professional special ops team that killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan.
It turns out the anti-war Left, and specifically The New Yorker’s Seymour Hersh, vilified the team, characterizing the unit as ”Dick Cheney’s personal assassination team.”
Read all about it here. Tip of the hat to Mark Hemingway at the Washington Examiner.
The Donald has been vilified by the Washington press corps, including the Washington Post, which on April 27 solemnly editorialized that he was campaigning on “bogus” issues and should “cease and desist.”
So it was quite interesting to note that at the last night’s White House correspondents’ dinner, Donald Trump sat as a guest of…the Washington Post.
This morning Politico’s Mike Allen sent out an email saying SNL comedian Seth Meyers’ cutting speech about The Donald at the dinner bummed out both Trump and the entire WaPo table of reporters and guests. Allen reports:
“TRUMP sat stone-faced at the WashPost table at last night’s White House Correspondents’ Association dinner as Seth Meyers of ‘Saturday Night Live’ripped him brutally. Definitely laughing at him, not with him. Was so awkward that some folks at his table stopped laughing and applauding.”
WaPo’s Dana Milbank – who we assumed sat at one of his paper’s tables — mused that all these Washington reporters hobnobbing with the rich and powerful could send the wrong message. As he also wrote in this morning’s paper: “Washington journalists give Americans the impression we have shed our professional detachment and are aspiring to be like the celebrities and power players we cover.”
Now this comes as shocking news to all of us here at the Tatler. Shocking, I tell you.
As I mentioned in a post last month, our man in Damascus, Syria is none other than Senator John Kerry, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He has personally visited Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad a half dozen times over the last two years. Well before Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called Assad a “reformer,” Kerry was Assad’s highest profile booster and lobbyist in the nation’s capital.
Since Assad has spilled blood in the streets of Syria, however, Kerry has been silent. He has had nothing to say since Syrian police and troops have been gunning down civilian, sealing off cities, cutting off food and electricity to protesting towns and closing the border with Jordan. His staff told reporters he could not be reached because of the congressional recess.
Kerry is not alone. Other major liberals who have trekked to Damascus in support of he dictator also have remained quiet. Among those who have personally visited and extolled him are former President Jimmy Carter and former Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Pelosi herself thumbed the nose of the U.S. State Department in August 2007 to travel to personally visit Assad.
All three figures have said nothing about Syrian atrocities. Actually, that’s not exactly right. Today former President Carter did raise human rights violations. It was not about Syria, however. Today, wrapping up his two day visit to Pyongyang, North Korea, he raised U.S. human rights violations — against the North Korean regime.
Another U.N. global warming prediction — 50 million “climate refugees” by 2010 — fails to materialize
In 2005 the United Nations issued a dire warning that by 2010 the world would be engulfed with 50 million “climate refugees.” These were people who would be forced from their homes and cities due to floods, storms or expanding deserts due to the menace of global warming. It was part of a series of apocalyptic U.N. forecasts about the dangers of climate change.
The only problem is that these migrations have failed to materialize anywhere. In fact, in many places the populations living in these “environmental danger zones” have been thriving and growing. The Tatler tips its hat for this revelatory information to the UK’s indefatigable environmental scientist and skeptic Benny Peiser.
Peiser brings our attention to this week’s edition of the German publication, Der Spiegel, which report that the U.N. climate gurus now are quietly distancing themselves from their original catastrophic predictions — and air brushing out their web site maps that once depicted danger zones.
Today it was confirmed by others. It appears Pelosi has been forced into some form of involuntary retirement. She is persona non grata within Democratic leadership circles and at the White House. Politico‘s Jonathan Allen reports this morning that in the budget negotiations to avoid a government shut down, “none of the power brokers wanted her in the room.” They thought her hard edged liberal politics would doom the dialogue. And it turned out she wasn’t invited when the tough negotiations ensued.
And yesterday when President Obama unveiled his new board to decide future Medicare changes, the former Speaker had to learn about it from a Politico newspaper reporter. Politico says Pelosi “snapped” at presidential economic adviser Gene Sperling because she had never been consulted about the panel, its composition or the timing of its confirmation by Congress.
In Washington terms, the former Speaker is no longer “in the loop.”
UPDATE: In an press conference today former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi wavered between petulance and coldness toward her Democratic colleagues and President Barack Obama. She said the she felt “no ownership” for the 2100 budget bill hammered out by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and the President. The House still needs to pass the bill for it to become law.
She told reporters today “I haven’t made any statement as to how I would vote but it was pretty evident the House Democrats were not a part of that agreement.”
Pelosi’s growing estrangement from the President and her fellow Democrats in the Senate appears to be deepening. It is unclear how Pelosi’s attitude might contribute to future Democratic congressional unity and to the spreading left-liberal disenchantment with the President.
Federal authorities are threatening conscientious government workers with prison time if they elect to continue to work out of their homes during a government closure, PJ Media has learned.
Making a possible government closure as complete as possible, the Obama administration is informing federal employees they can be legally prosecuted and face imprisonment even if they elect to volunteer their time and work at home during the shutdown. Some had hoped there would be a partial shuttering of the government, but it appears the Obama administration will seek the widest possible cessation.
Some Democrats appear to welcome a draconian federal shutdown simply for partisan reasons. Former Governor Howard Dean recently said a government wide shutdown would be “the best thing in the world” for Democrats. As the Obama shutdown plans have been secretive both to the public and even to government unions, it is unclear how badly the closure will hurt the public.
But one federal employee with a high GS-13 ranking at a major federal department was told the shutdown would be immediate, widespread and tough. She was informed by a supervisor that “if they discovered you’re working at home, you could go to jail. It’s against the law.” She agreed to be interviewed by PJ Media on the grounds her identity was not revealed.
The admonition is consistent with a stern April 7 memo by Jacob Lew, President Obama’s director of the Office of Management and Budget. Citing Section 124, Circular A-11, OMB warned federal employees that even voluntary work is strictly forbidden. All federal employees “are prohibited, pursuant to the legal requirements of the Anti-Deficiency Act, from performing any work over the weekend,” the memo warns.
In a dramatic speech on runaway government spending, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI), the chairman of the House Budget Committee, declared that America is on the “path of national bankruptcy.” His speech was closer to a declaration of war than the outline of an economic policy.
He released a budget blueprint this morning that seeks to reduce federal spending by $6.2 Trillion over ten years, and get the government debt free by 2015. Ryan laid out a plan that touched on reform of Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and taxes.
Ryan has a reputation for being a budget wonk. But today’s speech was not a numbing numbers address. Among his highlights in framing the debate on national priorities, the budget committee chairman said the country faces a “monumental choice” and is in a “death spiral path.” Unless the country changes spending, he said the country will “leave our children with a different country than we inherited.” The president, he said, was pursuing a “do nothing approach.” He said the “public rejects empty promises” from both political parties.
Here are ten missing elements from the President’s address to the nation about his decision to go to war:
- Why no Oval Office Address? This was not a somber war speech. You looked goofy jaunting up the steps and smiling in your opening remarks. It looked and felt like a campaign speech.
- What happened to Congress? Not a peep about notifying or securing consent from Congress. The War Powers Act disappeared into thin air.
- How long will U.S. forces continue combat missions? Whether under the NATO or U.S. flag, is this still a war for weeks, months or longer?
- What does success look like? What is the end game? If regime change is not the measure for success, what is? And what if Moammar Qaddafi doesn’t relinquish power?
- What will be the financial cost ? He warned about the $1 trillion for eight years in Iraq. Afghanistan now costs $3 billion each week. Any guesstimates on what this will cost the taxpayer?
Who’s our man in Damascus, Syria? Why it’s Senator John Kerry (D-MA), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. According to this morning’s Wall Street Journal Kerry has held nearly a half-dozen meetings with Syrian strongman Bashar Al-Assad. The Journal calls Kerry” a key supporter of Mr. Assad in Washington.”
“President Assad has been very generous with me in terms of the discussions we have had,” the former Democratic presidential nominee is reported to have said at recent speech before Washington’s Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Of course it is a bit obscure what kind of generosity Assad so far has offered Mr. Kerry. His security people kill dozens of protesters, does Iran’s bidding in the Middle East, arms the Hezbollah army in southern Lebanon, and gives Hamas sanctuary in Damascus.
Nevertheless Kerry is clearly part of the Obama wing that embraces the extraordinary claim (along with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton) that Assad may be a “reformer.” See Roger Simon’s superb analysis of Hillary’s ridiculous Assad claim on the Sunday talk shows.
But the Assad-as-a reformer view isn’t unanimous within the Obama administration. Further, apparently not all are thrilled with the Kerry-Assad assignations. Last month both the State Department and the French government intervened to prevent another meeting between the two in Damascus. As the Journal reports, “They were concerned the trip would signal Western weakness just weeks after the collapse of Lebanon’s government.”
So there still could be a slender trace of hope of foreign policy sanity within our government.
A county executive has decided to ignore the collective-bargaining process with their public employee unions and rejects the results of binding arbitration over pensions and health care.
Republican Governor Scott Walker in Wisconsin? Nope. It’s an African-American liberal Democratic county executive just outside Washington, D.C. County executive Isaiah Leggett, who presides over the wealthiest, most liberal and most Democratic county in the national capital area, has decided to rip up its collective bargaining agreement with its government unions.
The reason? Montgomery County has only enough money to pay for 3% of the lucrative pensions and health care packages it once negotiated with its government unions. Combined, the county is seeing a shortfall of $4.8 billion and no means to pay for it.
This morning’s WaPo reports on four fascinating days it spent with Media Matters, the hard edged left wing media operation which had just completed “a partisan boot camp where rebel forces were trained for combat on Fox News.”
The effort is part of an MM booking and training program called the “Progressive Talent Initiative,” which claims to have trained nearly 100 talking heads who have appeared 800 times on radio and TV.
The four day session in Washington in mid-March featured Harvard-trained media trainers to create a new cadre of ultra-left pundits. The WaPo Style writer Jason Horowitz was given an exclusive inside look into the Media Matters program.
Tomorrow, the Israeli Knesset will hold an extraordinary hearing to examine if J Street is pro or anti-Israel. J Street is the Jewish American organization that has been fiercely critical of a roster of Israeli policies.
Most recently, the group criticized the Obama administration’s veto of an Arab resolution before the UN Security Council condemning Israeli settlements. Knesset members also argue the group has opposed Western sanctions against Iran.
Feeling under siege this week J Street began circulating an online petition to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu proclaiming “J Street’s pro-Israel, pro-peace views represent a large segment of American Jewry. We should be welcomed as allies by Israel’s leaders.”
Even some high profile J Street supporters, however, believe the group has taken positions that are counterproductive and has marginalized itself within Jewish American mainstream. At its national conference last month in Washington, D.C. liberal Rabbi David Saperstein scolded J Street for criticizing the administration’s UN veto on settlements. According to PJ Media contributor Ron Radosh, who reported from the conference, Sapperstein told a stunned J Street audience that its criticism of the U.S. veto “became ‘the straw that broke the camel’s back.’”
Radosh reported that Saperstein said as a result “many centrists who had supported them have broken ranks and dropped out of J Street.” “We,” [Saperstein] said, “made them move away from us.”
Radosh writes that “J Street therefore pushed the mainstream of the Jewish community away from them, rather than towards them.”
In the Israeli Knesset, the opinion expressed is that J Street indeed is anti-Israel. Shas Party Knesset member Nissim Ze’ev, told Israeli lawmakers that J Street was worse than their enemies. “Their sheer hatred toward the State of Israel and the government’s policies is more terrible than that of Israel’s worst enemies,” he said.
Kadima Party Knesset member Otniel Schneller, who called for the debate was just as blunt. “The fact that J Street fought against the sanctions that the United States wants to place against Iran is very, very serious in my eyes, as is the fact that they acted against the American [UN] veto,” he told his colleagues.
J Street’s president Jeremy Ben-Ami in a March 22 statement called the hearing an effort to “stifle debate” within the Jewish community. He called their public discussion “extreme and anti-democratic.”
Every once in a while there are clear eyed moments on Capitol Hill.
One such moment occurred yesterday, according to an eye witness who contacted the Tatler. As he was waiting for the Capitol subway, Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) apparently became physically agitated as he watched a TV monitor. The image wasn’t of earthquake victims in Japan, nor news of a pending nuclear meltdown there. It wasn’t even a picture of Libya’s madman Col. Muammar Qaddafi.
No. What unsettled him was a picture of General David Petraeus, the Commander of U.S. forces in Afghanistan. The general was talking about military progress in that country. Petraeus was testifying before the House Armed Services Committee and could be seen on a large TV monitor at a House of Representatives subway stop, which ferries members of Congress to the Capitol Building.
As the House staffers who surrounded him knew, Rep. Kucinich has repeatedly sought to de-fund the Afghan war. The top one of the congressman’s web sites, “kucinich.us” screams out in capital letters, “ACT NOW TO END THE WAR IN AFGHANISTAN.”
According to one House staffer who was standing at the subway stop beside Kucinich, the Democrat seemed troubled watching the American general. He told the Tatler, ”His neck was craned up at the TV with a zombie scowl on his face, like a stock broker witnessing a market crash.”
Quiet Evan Bayh, who retired from the Senate last year as a Democratic hero now is a Democratic goat.
The reason? Because he has joined Fox News as an analyst. This has sparked a venomous response as reported this morning as resported in Politico.
His Democratic colleagues were silent when the Senator began cleaning up at a financial investment shop, The Apollo Global Management, a la Al Gore. And they were quiet when he joined a lobby shops McGuire Woods like the legions of other Democrats who today populate K Street.
But they are spitting up at the prospect that such a gentleman should express his views on that villainous television network. Politico says Democrats characterized his move as “a brazen provocation.” (perhaps taken from a page from Pyongyang Radio?)
Interestingly, last week Secretary of State Hillary Clinton endorsed the Qatar-based TV network al Jazeera saying it reported “real news.” This week Democrats foam at the mouth about one of their own deciding to exercise his right to free speech by joining the American TV network Fox News.
Funny world we live in.