Witch’s Will For Martin Luther King Day
My Pick of the Litter Today
Obama’s Quest for Greatness
By Robert Samuelson
WASHINGTON — The “legacy thing” may be harder than Barack Obama imagines. Beginning his second term, Obama has a focused, though unstated, agenda: to achieve presidential greatness in the eyes of historians and Americans. In this, he will almost certainly fail. He is already a historic president as the first African-American to be elected, but there is a chasm between being historic and being great.
Presidents are ultimately judged not by their total record, or by their ability to enact their agendas, or by their popularity. They are judged by whether they get a few very big decisions right or wrong. Lyndon Johnson is mostly remembered for failure in Vietnam; it overshadows the passage of two landmark civil rights bills and approval of Medicare and Medicaid. Richard Nixon is not celebrated for creating the Environmental Protection Agency, expanding food stamps or opening talks with China; Watergate dwarfs all.
“Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
Martin Luther King Jr.
Are MLK’s Christian Values Welcome Today?
by Star Parker
The Rev. Louie Giglio, designated to give the benediction at this year’s presidential inauguration, has withdrawn, under apparent pressure, after the surfacing of remarks he made, some 25 years ago, about the sinfulness of homosexuality.
Note that the pastor of the evangelical Passion City Church in Atlanta has been pushed off the stage not because of a deed, but because of words he said — words expressing a widely held Christian belief that homosexuality is a sin.
Let’s recall that freedom of religion appears in the First Amendment of our constitution, alongside the protection of freedom of speech.
So what kind of irony do we have before us that two key aspects of American life, protected by our constitution, are up in smoke and the venue is inauguration of an American president, who will put his hand on a Bible and swear to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States”?
“Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.” ~ Martin Luther King Jr.
FNC’s Political Insiders On Obama’s Second Term; If GOP “Is A Party That Lost Its Way”
Want to Stop Violence? Start in Hollywood
The disgraceful movie treatment of Paul Lieberman’s Gangster Squad.
Paul Lieberman is a feature writer who spent 24 years covering a variety of beats at the Los Angeles Times. He has won a fistful of awards plus a Nieman Fellowship and was on two reporting teams that were awarded the Pulitzer Prize.
Back in 1992 the paper had just run a story about how the Intelligence unit of the Los Angeles Police Department was digging up dirt on various celebrities and politicians around town while monitoring organized crime. The piece said the practice started back in the 1950s. A few days later, Lieberman received a call from a dissenting reader. “A quavering old man’s voice on the other end said to me, ‘You’ve got it wrong. That goes back to right after World War II and the Gangster Squad.’ ‘How do you know?’ I asked him. ‘Because I was there.’”
So began a 15-year reportorial odyssey in which Lieberman reconstructed the saga of the LAPD’s “Gangster Squad,” which started as an eight-man unit in 1946 and eventually expanded to more than 50 members before being folded into the tamer Intelligence Division after the U.S. Supreme Court placed restrictions on searches and seizures. The Squad’s mission was to investigate, harass, and otherwise make life difficult for the mobsters who were starting to filter into Los Angeles from other parts of the country. Chief among them was Mickey Cohen, a 5-foot-5-inch former flyweight boxer who wore a Star of David on his trunks and was threatening to bring Chicago-style crime to the West Coast’s “Garden of Eden.”
Gangster Squad, which just opened with Sean Penn as Mickey, is based on Lieberman’s fifteen-year labor. “Inspired by a True Story” is what it says in the opening titles, but at the end of the final crawl there’s another notice saying, “The characters depicted in this film are fictional and any resemblance to any real persons…etc.” The latter comes much closer to the truth.
What Up With Republicans?
GOP Puts Spotlight on Feckless Senate Democrats
Have the House Republicans come up with a winning strategy on the debt ceiling and spending cuts? Or just a viable one? Maybe so.
They certainly need one that is at least the latter, if not the former. Barack Obama is up in the polls since the election, as most re-elected presidents have been. The most recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll shows him with 52 percent approval and 44 percent disapproval. Other public polls have similar results.
In contrast, the NBC/WSJ poll reports that only 26 percent have positive feelings about the Republican Party and 51 negative feelings. Toward Speaker John Boehner only 18 percent have positive feelings and 37 percent negative feelings.
It’s usually true that groups get lower ratings than individuals and congressional leaders get lower ratings than presidents. Still, these results represent a pretty negative verdict on House Republicans’ attempts to wrestle Obama into supporting their preferred fiscal policies.
Defections by enough House Republicans to defeat Boehner’s Plan B approach to the fiscal cliff ended up producing a compromise considerably less to their liking. The agreement reached by Vice President Joe Biden and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell did limit effective tax increases to those with incomes over $400,000.
But it also gave Democrats something they want — a permanent fix to the Alternative Minimum Tax, which threatened to engulf high-earning Democratic voters in high-tax states like New York, New Jersey and California. Republicans used to dangle a one-year AMT fix as a negotiating chip in fiscal battles. Now they can’t.
The House Republicans seem to be emerging from their Williamsburg retreat with a united approach to the debt ceiling issue, however. Raise the debt ceiling for three months and couple it with a cut off of congressional pay if the Democratic-majority Senate fails to pass a budget, as it has for the last three years.
This is similar to the approached advocated by former Bush budget negotiator Keith Hennessey: Give Democrats an alternative between short-term debt limit increases with no immediate spending cuts and a long-term increase with serious spending cuts.
Senate Democrats are a more attractive target than the president. The NBC/WSJ poll shows only 16 percent with positive feelings toward Majority Leader Harry Reid and 28 percent with negative feelings.
Fully 36 percent have no view, significantly more than the 22 percent with no view about Boehner. That leaves plenty of room to drive Reid’s negatives up. The no-budget, no-pay provision is perhaps a gimmick, but may strike a chord with voters.
The besmallification of the presidency
President Obama came in with big promises. But he turned out to be a small man.
Fans of “The Simpsons” might remember Episode 144, in which the writers created two wonderful neologisms. The first was “embiggen,” such as in the Springfield town motto — “A noble spirit embiggens the smallest man.” Now, “embiggen” is a perfectly “cromulent” word (neologism no. 2, meaning “acceptable”), but it doesn’t work at all for Mr. Obama and his first term. In fact, one needs a word that means exactly the opposite to describe the most partisan, petty and divisive president America has ever seen.
Yet no such word exists, so we’ll have to make one up — how about “besmallify”? Used in a sentence: “From his very first day in office, Barack Obama has done nothing but be-small-i-fy the presidency.”
He didn’t intend to, of course, or, at least, that’s what he told us. Remember the soaring rhetoric of the 2008 campaign, the promises of a post-partisan presidency, an America united through the brilliant beneficence of the first half-black, half-white president? Millions voted for him based on those promises alone — the rancor and ruckus that was Washington by then drove them nuts as they asked the age-old question: Can’t we all just get along?
Sens. Cruz, Schumer Discuss Gun Violence, Debt On “Meet The Press”
Can Obama’s Luck Hold in His Second Term?
It is no cliché to note that while all presidents ardently desire second terms, they are more often a curse than a blessing. Most of those who have been elected twice in the last century have seen their presidencies run aground for various reasons. George W. Bush had Katrina and the Iraq quagmire. Bill Clinton had Monica Lewinsky and impeachment. Ronald Reagan had Iran Contra. Richard Nixon had Watergate. Lyndon Johnson had Vietnam. Amid the pomp and hope of new beginnings of a second inauguration day always lurk the threat of unseen or dimly understood disasters that sink presidents who leave the presidency as wounded lame ducks worn down by the cares of office. That’s the challenge facing Barack Obama after being sworn in today for another four years in office.
The president’s opponents can comfort themselves after their shocking defeat last November with the thought that he will inevitably be capsized by the usual second term nightmares that have brought down his predecessors. But that is an assumption, not an argument. Throughout his career Obama has often defied the laws of political gravity and it is by no means impossible that he should do so again. If the economy actually begins a recovery or he is able to pass some kind of immigration reform or a gun control package and begin the process of reforming entitlements while avoiding foreign disasters, Obama could be that rare species of president who does not spend his second term explaining failures or scandals. That’s a tall order, but amid clear signs of future disaster, the president does have some factors that would argue in favor of his success.
Democrat Senator Charles Schumer said retailers that sell assault weapons should stop offering them for purchase while Congress discusses gun regulation legislation. How about Congress stops spending while we discuss government budget cuts?
Our Old Grand Fantasies About Radical Islam
by Victor Davis Hanson
Most things that we read in the popular media about radical Islam are fantasies. They are promulgated in the mistaken belief that such dogmas will appease terrorists, or at least direct their ire elsewhere. But given the recent news — murdering in Algeria, war in Mali, the Syrian mess, and Libyan chaos — let us reexamine some of these more common heresies. Such a review is especially timely, given that Mr. Brennan believed that jihad is largely a personal quest for spiritual perfection; Mr. Kerry believed that Bashar Assad was a potentially moderating reformer; and Mr. Hagel believed that Iran was not worthy of sanctions, Hezbollah was not deserving of ostracism, and Israel is equally culpable for the Middle East mess.
1. Contact with the West Moderates Radical Muslims
In theory, residence in the West could instruct young Muslim immigrants on the advantages of free markets, constitutional government, and legally protected freedoms. But as we saw with many of the 9/11 hijackers, for a large subset of Muslim expatriates, a strange schizophrenia ensues: they enjoy — indeed, seek out — the material bounty of the West. But in the abstract, far too many either despise what wealth and affluence do to the citizenry (e.g., gay marriage, feminism, religious tolerance, secularism, etc.) or try to dream up conspiracy theories to explain why their adopted home is better off than the native one that they abandoned.
Finally, foreign students, journalists, and religious expatriates tend to congregate around American campuses and in liberal big cities. There, they are more often nursed on American race/class/gender critiques of America, and so apparently believe that their own anti-Americanism must naturally be shared by millions of Americans from Bakersfield to Nashville. Take Mohamed Morsi, Egypt’s new theocratic president. He should appreciate the U.S. It gave him refuge from persecution in Egypt. It allowed unfettered expression of his radical anti-American views. It schooled him in meritocratic fashion and offered him secure employment at the CSU system, despite his foreign national status. It gave citizenship to two of his daughters (apparently retained). But the result is that Mr. Morsi is an abject anti-Semite (“apes and pigs”) and anti-American. He does not believe terrorists caused 9/11. He wants the imprisoned, murderous blind sheik, who was the architect of the first World Trade Center bombing, sent home to Egypt. And he is pushing Egypt into a Sunni version of Iran.
2. The West Must Atone for Its Past Behavior
I have noted elsewhere both the fantasies found in Barack Obama’s Cairo speech and their general irrelevance to the Muslim world. Polls from Pakistan to Palestine — both recipients of massive U.S. aid — show that the U.S. is as unpopular under Obama as it was under Bush. All small nations have writs against large ones, especially the globally ubiquitous U.S. But America must be seen in comparison to … what? Russia’s artillery and missile barrage that leveled Muslim Grozny (which the UN declared the most destroyed city in the world)? China, which outlaws free expression of Islam and persecutes Muslim minorities? Both are largely left alone by al-Qaeda, due to their unapologetic attitudes, possible unpredictable response, and inability to offer attackers a globalized media forum.
In contrast, no single nation lets in more Muslim immigrants than does the U.S. No non-Muslim nation gives more foreign aid than does the U.S. to the Muslim world — Pakistan, Jordan, Egypt, and Palestine. No nation has so sought to save Muslims from dictatorial violence — whether bombing European Christians to save Muslims in the Balkans; jawboning Kuwaitis to spare Palestinian turncoats in 1991; trying to feed starving Somalis; aiding Muslims fighting Russians in Afghanistan; freeing Kuwaitis from Saddam; rebuilding Iraq; rebuilding Afghanistan from Taliban terror; trying to free Libyans from Gadhafi; and on and on.
The sources of radical Islam rage are thus not past U.S. actions. Read The Al Qaeda Reader to chart all the bizarre excuses that bin Laden and Dr. Zawahiri alleged were the roots of their anger at the U.S. So why exactly does radical Islam hate us? Mostly because of the age-old wages of insecurity, envy, and a sense of inferiority — and the hunch that such gripes win apologies, attention, and sometimes money. In a globalized world, Muslims see daily that everyone from South Koreans to North Americans are better off. Why? In their view, not because of market economies, meritocracies, gender equality, religious pluralism, consensual government, and the Western menu of personal freedom. To draw that conclusion would mean to reject tribalism, gender apartheid, religious intolerance, anti-Semitism, statism, authoritarianism, and conspiracy theory — and to admit indigenous rather than foreign causation. Instead, it is far easier to blame “them” for turning the majestic Islamic empire of old into the chaos of modern Islam — as well as to fault Arab secularists whose lack of religious zealotry allowed the West to move ahead. All antidotes to these deductive beliefs — foreign aid, democratization, outreach, better communications — have so far proved ambiguous at best.
Eric Holder Displays Extraordinary Hypocrisy on Gun Control
by Katie Pavlich
Attorney General Eric Holder spoke at the U.S. Conference of Mayors Friday and said the following (numbers are mine):
“This unspeakable tragedy but also the individual tragedies that take place on your streets and all (1) too often unnoticed stand as stark reminders of our shared responsibility to address not just the epidemic of gun related crimes and the (2) ongoing need for vigorous enforcement of our laws but also the underlying conditions that give rise to gun violence. Throughout our history, the overwhelming majority of American gun owners have been responsible, law abiding citizens, yet (3) we have repeatedly seen in the most tragic ways how easy it can be for dangerous people to acquire and to wreak havoc with deadly weapons. Although there is no single solution that can bring a decisive end to this senseless violence, it’s incumbent upon each of us to try and it’s time to consider (4) what common sense steps we can take together to save lives. This means (5) doing everything that we can to secure the tools and resources we need to keep guns out of the hands who are not and should not be allowed to possess them.
Debt, the hidden destroyer
By MARK LANDSBAUM / Register columnist
Debt is the most insidious of civic plagues, far more so than even excessive taxing and extreme spending. That’s because debt is less obvious and more abstract. Spend a dollar, and you know it’s gone. Tax a dollar, and you’re aware it’s taken. Go in debt for a dollar, and it’s out of sight, out of mind.
Q: Have you heard about McDonald’s’ new Obama Value Meal?A: Order anything you like and the guy behind you has to pay for it.~ Conan O’Brien
Debunking the Sandy Hook Debunkers
During the age of Obama, the major media have gone fully AWOL. If they fear that their reporting will lead to inconvenient discoveries, they simply stop their advance, lay down their notebooks, and disappear. This trend began in the Clinton years and picked up momentum after the 1994 electoral debacle, but the Clintons at least worried that the media might turn on them.
If Barack Obama ever had any such anxiety, the nonreporting on Fast and Furious, Benghazi and now Sandy Hook has had to reassure him. Sandy Hook is particularly disturbing because the truth is, or at least should have been, so accessible. This tragedy should never have spawned anything like a conspiracy theory, but it obviously has.
Protecting the major media’s flank during retreat are many and sundry well-funded leftist blogs — Huffington Post, The Daily Kos, Media Matters, and TPM among others. While the major media withdraw, the blogs attack those who might challenge the “narrative” the majors have left behind.
A case in point is a recent multi-media Huffington Post piece titled “Sandy Hook Conspiracy Theory Video Debunked By Experts.” In the video intro, HuffPo editor Meredith Bennett-Smith laughingly dismisses the various alternate theories of what transpired at Sandy Hook. Says Bennett-Smith, “That is what conspiracy theorists love to do. They put out a lot of questions, but they don’t necessarily provide a lot of answers.” When there is a Democrat in the White House, alas, anyone who asks a question becomes a conspiracy theorist.
See How AP Converted Nev. Story on Democratic Lawmaker’s Arrest For Threatening Colleagues
It should surprise no one that the Associated Press, aka the Administration’s Press, often first learns of stories when other outlets break them. When this occurs with a story about a Democratic Party politician in trouble, we get to see how the self-described “essential global news network” revises (i.e., cleans up) the outlet’s original content to make it render as little damage as possible.
Today out of Nevada, there’s the story of Steven Brooks, a State Assembly member from North Las Vegas. The Las Vegas Sun’s coverage (HT Instapundit) opens with the following sentence: “A Democratic assemblyman is in jail, arrested for threatening Democratic Speaker-elect Marilyn Kirkpatrick, according to North Las Vegas Police and Democratic sources familiar with the situation.” Since it concerns an intra-party squabble, tagging those involved as Democrats three times is not at all out of line — in fact, it’s necessary if one wishes to accurately communicate the situation.
But the AP report from Martin Griffith waited nine paragraphs to use the word “Democratic.” Incredibly, almost as if he’s a member of Brooks’s legal defense team, he also informed readers of Brooks’s family situation and made a list of the wonderful organizations he has allegedly served.
George Will: Obama’s Powers Of Persusion A “Myth”
“A durable myth of the Obama presidency, to which Mr. Obama subscribes, is that he’s tremendously persuasive. I don’t think his advocacy of Obamacare and the health care bill supports that. It did pass with chicanery and reconciliation and lots of other things, but he did not move the country, which is what he’s trying to do with the NRA. Obama’s approval rating at this point is 52 percent. The NRA’s approval rating is 54 percent.”
12 Year Old Shoots Home Intruder
BRYAN COUNTY, OK–A day off for fall break was anything but relaxing for a 12-year old Bryan County girl, when an intruder broke into her home on Michael Avenue.
Deputies say, the girl was home alone when a man she’d never seen before, rang the front doorbell. They say when no one answered the door, the man went around to the back of the house and kicked a door open. That’s when authorities say, the girl grabbed a gun and hid in a bathroom closet.
“He had worked his way all the way through the house and into the bathroom. And from what we understand, he was turning the doorknob when she fired through the door.” Says Bryan County Under sheriff, Ken Golden.
After the man was shot, The 12- year old ran out of the closet and called for help.
Authorities say she kept her cool despite the potential danger.
“She was very brave, she stayed on the phone with the dispatcher the whole time – talked all the way through it and was still on the phone with dispatch when we got into the house.” Says Golden.
Worth a Read:
Not News: Pastor Goes Off on ‘Enemies,’ Leads Chants of ‘Forward’ With Obamas in Attendance
Top aide: Obama seeks to split Republican Party into warring factions before 2014 midterm election
Is Chuck Hagel a George Soros Plant? We Look At the Evidence
Obama Shouldn’t Expect New Term to Be Better Than First
QUOTE OF THE DAY:
“So near is falsehood to truth that a wise man would do well not to trust himself on the narrow edge.” ~ Cicero