Archive for Amateur Hour

Feel Safer?

Your National Security Adviser:

Lesley Stahl: But when you have so many phone records being held, emails, heads of state’s phone conversations being listened in to, has it been worth our allies being upset? Has it been worth all the tech companies being upset? Has it been worth Americans feeling that their privacy has been invaded?

Susan Rice: Lesley, it’s been worth what we’ve done to protect the United States. And the fact that we have not had a successful attack on our homeland since 9/11 should not be diminished. But that does not mean that everything we’re doing as of the present ought to be done the same way in the future.

As NRO’s Jim Geraghty puts it: Ahem.

I would also note that any nation’s diplomatic property is sovereign to that nation. The terrorist lynching of Sean Smith, Tyrone Woods, Glen Doherty, and Chris Stevens IS a terrorist attack on our homeland.

But then, what would she know about that?

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MSNBC To Hire Al Sharpton?!

You thought Keith Olberman was a problem? How ’bout The Racist Reverend, Al Sharpton?

Louis Farrakhan was unavailable.

Does anyone besides me remember Freddie’s Clothing Mart? Al Sharpton railed against the rich diamond merchants (code language for Jews) and some of his followers used a gun and matches to murder… if memory serves it was seven people. Not to be outdone, he then made more antisemitic comments in Crown Point, NY, and eventually an enraged crowd attacked a young Yeshiva student, screaming: Kill the Jew! and knifed him to death. And we all have found memories of the Tawana Brawley incident, where The Racist Reverend Al accused a NY city prosecutor of raping a young girl. She retracted the lie, Sharpton was fined, and as far as I know, has refused to pay up.

None of that stopped the Democrats from giving him a key note address at the 2004 Democratic Convention in Boston.

So I guess I shouldn’t be so surprised.

Let’s recall: Sharpton is the man who, in 1987, supported Tawana Brawley in a laughably implausible rape charge, and to this day refuses to recant, probably for fear of alienating his constituency. This means that he has refused to take back a vile lie that poisoned New York City’s racial climate for years.

Then, in 1995, a Jewish store owner was accused on flimsy pretenses of driving a black store owner out of business from a vendor’s market in a building on 125th Street. Sharpton speechified against the “white interloper.” In the heated atmosphere, a young black man stormed the building, armed, and gutted Freddy’s Fashion Mart. Death toll: eight. Sharpton: unrepentant.

When a white woman was raped and beaten in Central Park in 1989, Sharpton insisted against all evidence that her boyfriend was the culprit. And Sharpton all but ring-led the Crown Heights race war with such memorable counsel as “If the Jews want to get it on, tell them to pin their yarmulkes back and come over to my house.”

So I count nine dead. Talk about bottom feeders – MSNBC is down below the lobsters.

- Aggie

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Royal Screw-Up

Cringe-inducing:

Following the queen’s toast to him and the playing of the U.S. national anthem, Obama began his toast by thanking her and commenting on her reign and the close ties between their countries. The president then asked the guests to stand and join him in toasting the queen.

“To Her Majesty the Queen,” Obama began, but the orchestra — apparently thinking the president had concluded — started playing the British anthem.

Obama continued with his toast, speaking over the music in citing the special relationship between the British and American people and quoting William Shakespeare’s tribute to “to this blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England” from “Richard II.”

“To the queen,” Obama concluded as the music played on.

When the music ended, Obama repeated, “to the queen,” and the audience, clearly confused by the turn of events, delayed a few seconds before applauding.

I thought the embarrassment was in quoting the most hackneyed phrase in English literature. But that’s just me.

As Rush has been saying, protocol dictates that the toast be short and sweet: “To the Queen” was plenty. When he fumbled for his next words (there being no teleprompter), of course the musicians filled in the silence. They were the only ones who knew what they were supposed to do.

This is what happens when you elect a president whose only experience with toast is throwing at the screen during the Rocky Horror Picture Show.

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POTUS FUBAR

You ever see those Navy SEAL training shows on TV? Where they have to run ten miles with an 80 pound backpack, then complete an obstacle course, before lying in the cold surf for an hour? Before breakfast?

Well, we know who can survive such ordeals—and we know who can’t:

We should not forget the bottom line in this: bin Laden was justifiably and legally killed by brave and skilled US Navy SEALs. The operation was audacious and meticulous in its planning and execution. President Barack Obama made the call to carry out the raid and his decision was vindicated in spades.

Having said that, the messiness since then has taken much of the sheen off this success, temporarily at least. Here’s a summary of what went wrong once the most difficult bit had been achieved:

2. To say that bin Laden was armed and hiding behind a wife being used as a human shield was an unforgiveable embellishment. The way it was expressed by John Brennan was to mock bin Laden as being unmanly and cowardly. It turned out to be incorrect and gave fuel, again, to conspiracy theories as well as accusations of cover-ups and illegality. Of all the mistakes of the week, this was by far the biggest.

3. It was a kill mission and no one should have been afraid to admit that. Bin Laden was a dead man as soon as the SEAL Team landed. There’s nothing wrong with that but the Obama administration should have been honest about it rather than spinning tales about bin Laden having a gun, reaching for a gun (the latest) and resisting (without saying how he resisted).

4. Too much information was released, too quickly and a lot of it was wrong. When it made the administration look good, the information flowed freely. When the tide turned, Jay Carney, Obama’s spokesman, clammed up completely. I’m a journalist; I like it when people talk about things. But from the administration’s perspective, it would have been much better to have given a very sparse, accurate description of what happened without going into too much detail, especially about the intelligence that led to the compound (an account which is necessarily suspect).

5. Obama tried to claim too much credit. Don’t get me wrong, he was entitled to a lot of credit. but sometimes less is more and it’s better to let facts speak for themselves. We didn’t need official after official to say how “gutsy” Obama was. Far better to have heaped praise on the CIA and SEALs (which, to be fair, was done most of the time) and talked less about Obama’s decision-making. And a nod to President George W. Bush would have been classy – and good politics for Obama.

He has ten of them. Read ‘em all.

Michelle Malkin has even more:

[T]he hourly revamping of key details of Sunday’s raid suggests something far beyond the usual realm of situational uncertainty that accompanies any military operation. The Navy SEALs did their job spectacularly. The civilians tasked with letting the world know about the mission, however, have performed like amateur dinner theater actors in a tragi-comic production of “Rashomon-meets-The Blind Men and the Elephant-meets-Keystone Kops.”

Incapable of straightforward answers, Team Obama’s clarity-challenged civilians have led nauseated news-watchers through more twists and turns than San Francisco’s Lombard Street.

Take your Dramamine, and let’s review.

Take One: Bin Laden died in a bloody firefight.

On Sunday night, Obama dramatically told the world that “after a firefight,” our brave men in uniform “killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body.”

Embellishing the story the next morning, White House deputy national security adviser John Brennan said at his briefing that bin Laden “was engaged in a firefight with those that entered the area of the house he was in. … And whether or not he got off any rounds, I quite frankly don’t know. … It was a firefight. He, therefore, was killed in that firefight.”

Take Two: Bin Laden did not engage in a firefight.

The day after Brennan disclosed such vivid details, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney walked them back Michael Jackson-style. Bin Laden, he said in version 2.0, “was not armed.” Brennan had clearly implied that bin Laden “resisted” with arms. Carney amended the narrative by insisting that “resistance does not require a firearm.” How exactly bin Laden resisted, Carney would not say.

It’s been all downhill, uphill, K-turns and 180s ever since. Fasten your seatbelts:

Take Three: Bin Laden’s wife died after her feckless husband used her as a human shield.

Take Four: Bin Laden’s wife did not die, wasn’t used as a human shield and was only shot in the leg. Someone else’s wife was killed, somewhere else in the house.

Take Five: A transport helicopter experienced “mechanical failure” and was forced to make a hard landing during the mission.

Take Six: A top-secret helicopter clipped the bin Laden compound wall, crashed and was purposely exploded after the mission to prevent our enemies from learning more about it.

Take Seven: The bin Laden photos would be released to the world as proof positive of his death.

Take Eight: The bin Laden photos would not be released to the world because no one needs proof and it’s more important to avoid offending peaceful Muslims who supposedly don’t embrace bin Laden as a “true” Muslim in the first place.

Take Nine: Bin Laden’s compound was a lavish mansion.

Take Ten: Bin Laden’s compound was a glorified pigsty.

She has ten more.

Maybe they didn’t want to “spike the football”; or run a “victory lap”. Or even do a “sack dance”. But either these guys are covering up something big (one theory I heard today is that we did interrogate him before—and even while—killing him), or they couldn’t wait to crow and preen over Osama’s “gruesome” lifeless body. And this is what happens when you put amateurs in charge.

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No Ticky, No Ferry

We’ve already added our dismay to the story that while Britain was sending special forces and transport planes to rescue its people from the chaos in Libya, we told our people to hop a ferry to Malta.

It gets even better: we’re charging them for the ride.

In a notice sent to U.S. citizens in Libya, the department said Americans wishing to leave Libya should report to the As-shahab port in the capital of Tripoli with their passports starting at 9 a.m. local time on Wednesday. The ferry will depart for the Mediterranean island of Malta no later than 3 p.m. local time.

It said boarding the vessel would be on a first-come, first-served basis, with priority given to those with medical emergencies or severe medical conditions. Travelers will be allowed one suitcase and one small carry-on item, the notice said, adding that pets would be allowed on the ferry but that they must meet European Union requirements.

Those who want be evacuated should be prepared to wait several hours and bring food, water and other necessities to the pier, which is on the sea road across from the Radisson Blu Mahari Hotel in Tripoli.

Those who take the ferry will be expected to reimburse the government for the cost, estimated to be equivalent to the one-way commercial ferry crossing of the distance from Tripoli to the Maltese capital of Valletta, it said. Any onward travel from Malta must be paid for by the passengers, the notice said.

[T]he best part of this extravaganza of incompetence is highlighted above: evacuees were told to wait on a pier, in the open, water on three sides, like sitting ducks with no protection in case Qaddafi’s goons showed up for a bit of hostage-taking… or other revenge. My God, we are lucky there wasn’t a massacre.

Qaddafi’s gun ships owned the air. It would have been the work of a moment for one of his gorillas to recreate Lockerbie—he knows how much the boss likes that—only this time on the ground.

Media outrage? Excoriation by the opposition? Reaction of any kind?

Crickets

Whose a** do you kick for this SANFU?

If Fireman Barack should happen to respond to the call that my house is on fire, I think I’d shut and lock the window rather than depend on him for my rescue. I’d feel safer with a damp washcloth and my toothbrush.

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Mommy, Make Him Stop!

Now Jake, you leave little Barack be:

An accounting of the full two years of President Obama’s policy towards Egypt – prior to January 25, 2011 – may be in order.

As ably covered by the Washington Post’s Fact Checker – and former State Department reporter – Glenn Kessler, the Obama administration was far more quiet on the need for Egypt to engage in serious political reform, at least publicly, than the Bush administration.

Perhaps more glaringly, while the Bush administration tried to directly fund civil society in Egypt – pro-democracy groups and the like – the Obama administration changed that policy and cut funding significantly, ending an effort to provide direct funding to democracy groups not “approved” by the Egyptian government, and reduced funding in the budget for programs to promote civil society groups.

As Kessler writes: Bush’s final budget “proposed spending $45 million on democracy and good-governance programs in Egypt, including more than $20 million on promoting civil society…But that nascent effort was largely shelved when the Obama administration took office. For fiscal year 2009, the administration immediately halved the money for democracy promotion in Egypt; the civil society funds were slashed 70 percent, to $7 million. Meanwhile, money that was to be given directly to civil society groups was eliminated and the administration agreed to once again fund only those institutions that had Mubarak’s seal of approval.”

Freedom House in 2009 wrote that the Obama Administration “should reassess this reduction in support and strengthen its diplomatic efforts on behalf of independent democracy and human rights activists in this important country.”

In 2010, Freedom House wrote: “We have serious concerns about the US Government decision to stop funding civil society groups not registered with the Egyptian Ministry of Social Solidarity, essentially giving the Egyptian Government veto power over who receives funding from USAID. Not only is this decision harmful to civil society groups in Egypt, it sets a dangerous precedent in terms of U.S. foreign assistance.”

President Obama has in the last month been speaking quite loudly about the need for reform in Egypt – and former senior adviser David Axelrod told us that the president privately has been confronting Mubarak on the need for reform.

But Kessler notes that the first public, direct call for reform in Egypt by President Obama came on January 28, 2011, after President Mubarak announced he was dissolving his Cabinet following mass demonstrations in the streets of Cairo.

“No matter what was said in private, or how forcefully, the public message sent by the Obama administration over the past two years was that democracy and human rights in Egypt was not a top priority,” Kessler writes. “When given the opportunity to use the biggest megaphone in the world–the voice of the president of the United States–the words were whispered, if said at all.”

Racist SOB! That’s a real ear-boxing (oops, sorry!).

What a total chump. In this light, it might fairly be said that Obama “lost” Egypt.

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