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Showing posts with label Obama administration. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Obama administration. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

38 journalism organizations protest Obama administration's efforts to manage the news

38 journalism groups, led by the Society of Professional Journalists, have attacked the Obama administration's “politically-driven suppression of the news.”

The text of the SPJ letter, signed by representatives of the other groups, to the President can be found here.

The letter includes the following:

The stifling of free expression is happening despite your pledge on your first day in office to bring “a new era of openness” to federal government – and the subsequent executive orders and directives which were supposed to bring such openness about.

Recent research has indicated the problem is getting worse throughout the nation, particularly at the federal level. Journalists are reporting that most federal agencies prohibit their employees from communicating with the press unless the bosses have public relations staffers sitting in on the conversations. Contact is often blocked completely. When public affairs officers speak, even about routine public matters, they often do so confidentially in spite of having the title “spokesperson.” Reporters seeking interviews are expected to seek permission, often providing questions in advance. Delays can stretch for days, longer than most deadlines allow. Public affairs officers might send their own written responses of slick non-answers. Agencies hold on-background press conferences with unnamed officials, on a not-for-attribution basis.

In many cases, this is clearly being done to control what information journalists – and the audience they serve – have access to. A survey found 40 percent of public affairs officers admitted they blocked certain reporters because they did not like what they wrote.

The letter included three specific examples:

• The New York Times ran a story last December on the soon-to-be implemented ICD-10 medical coding system, a massive change for the health care system that will affect the whole public. But the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), one of the federal agencies in charge of ICD-10, wouldn’t allow staff to talk to the reporter.

• A reporter with Investigative Post, an online news organization in New York, asked three times without success over the span of six weeks to have someone at EPA answer questions about the agency's actions regarding the city of Buffalo’s alleged mishandling of “universal waste” and hazardous waste.

• A journalist with Reuters spent more than a month trying to get EPA’s public affairs office to approve him talking with an agency scientist about the effects of climate change. The public affairs officer did not respond to him after his initial request, nor did her supervisor, until the frustrated journalist went over their heads and contacted EPA’s chief of staff.

It would seem that there are limits to the media's patience even with a president for whom they are in the habit of relating to as virtual lapdogs

HT; Drudge

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Obamacare proves lethal for Frank Alfisi

Obamacare has now taken at least one life.

Frank Alfisi needed dialysis to live. But he could only get dialysis if he were an inpatient- and government guidelines prevented him from being admitted to the hospital. So he died.

Reminds me of the hysterical horror stories told by leftists all over the world about  uninsured Americans dying because emergency rooms wouldn't treat them. That this would have been illegal is conveniently overlooked.

The difference is that Frank Alfisi's story is true.

Stories of Canadians with early and highly treatable cancers which had become advanced and inoperable by the time the bureaucratic machinery of the Canadian health care system managed to authorize simple diagnostic tests are not uncommon. It should be noted that a great many of these tests are carried out in the United States, outsourced by a Canadian health care system which lacks the necessary resources:

 Wealthy Canadians come to the U.S. for health care. And as we've seen, we do their lab work for them.

Like the Cuban system (wonderful for the few party members with access to it; foreigners are no longer covered), the Canadian healthcare system turns out to be all sizzle, and no steak.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Obama's foreign policy paradox: Americans are embarassed to be wimps

Contrary to what is often claimed, the architect of our defeat in Vietnam, Gen.Vo Nguyen Giap, was not the subject of the interview a section of which is reproduced below. It is not from his memoirs, but from the Wall Street Journal.

The actual interview was with (former) North Vietnamese Col. Bui Tin, who when he gave it had turned against the Communist cause. Here is what Bui had to say:

Q: How did Hanoi intend to defeat the Americans?

A: By fighting a long war which would break their will to help South Vietnam. Ho Chi Minh said, "We don't need to win military victories, we only need to hit them until they give up and get out."

Q: Was the American antiwar movement important to Hanoi's victory?

A: It was essential to our strategy. Support for the war from our rear was completely secure while the American rear was vulnerable. Every day our leadership would listen to world news over the radio at 9 a.m. to follow the growth of the American antiwar movement. Visits to Hanoi by people like Jane Fonda and former Attorney General Ramsey Clark and ministers gave us confidence that we should hold on in the face of battlefield reverses. We were elated when Jane Fonda, wearing a red Vietnamese dress, said at a press conference that she was ashamed of American actions in the war and that she would struggle along with us.

Q: Did the Politburo pay attention to these visits?

A: Keenly

Q: Why?

A: Those people represented the conscience of America. The conscience of America was part of its war-making capability, and we were turning that power in our favor. America lost because of its democracy; through dissent and protest it lost the ability to mobilize a will to win.

Q: What else?

A: We had the impression that American commanders had their hands tied by political factors. Your generals could never deploy a maximum force for greatest military effect.

But the point remains valid. One of the weaknesses of a democracy is that when its people become discouraged and war-weary, and there is a lack of political support for a war, it gives up. There is no doubt but that the strategy worked for the Viet Cong and their North Vietnamese allies. There is no doubt that it's working now for the Taliban.

Yes, when the pain gets too severe and Americans decide that it's not worth it, they give up. They even go through periodic episodes of isolationism, in which they are content to withdraw from the world and lick their wounds regardless of the threats to their welfare, lives and freedom that may be out there. But this is not 1789; the United States is not a minor, agrarian nation separated (and therefore protected) by two oceans from anybody who would want to mess with us. Our security- indeed, our survival- requires involvement in the affairs of the world, and sometimes military action. In fact, as the most powerful nation on the planet,  the world looks to us (even the parts of the world that despise us, as the most powerful and richest power in the world is always despised) to do exactly that.

Yes, when the going gets rough, we throw in the towel.  But we are not proud of that fact.

As a result, Jimmy Carter found that a wimpish foreign policy was no key to popularity. And Barack Obama has found the same thing. It seems that only 39% of the American people approve of the Obama foreign policy.

Obama's foreign policy is even less popular than his handling of health care and the economy.

Robert Kagan, Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution, explores the paradox Mr. Obama faces- a paradox that may have implications for the 2016 presidential election, especially if Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee: while Americans say that they want a head-in-the-sand, isolationist approach to the world, they are embarrassed and even revolted by it when it's given to them.

Yes, the urge to disengage from the world when our involvement starts to hurt is an inherent weakness of democracy. But it seems that the American people, even as they heed that urge, are embarrassed by it.

They know that they are better than that- and that America is, too.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Vatican Chief Justice: Obama policies "increasingly hostile toward Christian civilization"

It seems to me that Raymond Cardinal Burke- formerly the Archbishop of St. Louis, and now the Vatican's chief justice- pretty much has President Obama's number.

“It is true that the policies of the president of the United States have become progressively more hostile toward Christian civilization. He appears to be a totally secularized man who aggressively promotes anti-life and anti-family policies,” Burke told  Polonia Christiana magazine.

Cardinal Burke accurately accuses Mr. Obama of  trying to “restrict” religion:"“Now he wants to restrict the exercise of the freedom of religion to freedom of worship, that is, he holds that one is free to act according to his conscience within the confines of his place of worship but that, once the person leaves the place of worship, the government can constrain him to act against his rightly-formed conscience, even in the most serious of moral questions.”

Bingo. Mr. Obama- and the Left generally- just don't seem to "get" the idea that separation of church and state doesn't mean the separation of religion and state- an impossibility, insofar as religion reflects people's most deeply held beliefs and values. The movement to abolish slavery, child labor, the death penalty, as well as the Civil Rights movement and the various anti-war movements of the past half-century and, in fact, virtually every major social reform of our history, have all sprung from people's religious convictions.

As long as people who have those convictions urge them on religiously-neutral grounds- that is, on the basis of public policy rather than the content of specific, sectarian religious beliefs- secularists like Mr. Obama have no beef coming. In fact, even when they overstep that boundary, they are no threat; no nation as diverse as ours is apt to be swept away by a sectarian theocratic crusade, the paranoia of the Left to the contrary.

A secularist stifling of freedom of religion, of speech, and of the press, on the other hand, already seems to be taking place before our very eyes, as witness the policies Cardinal Burke comments upon.

Cardinal Burke, one of the few Catholic prelates with the guts to insist that Catholic politicians ought not to advocate policies contrary to the church's teachings, once denied pro-choice, pro-gay "marriage" John Kerry communion. According to the secular media, the current pope- who sometimes does seem to think that giving in to the enemies of the Christian faith within the church will somehow convert them- responded by not reappointing Cardinal Burke to the list of priests eligible to be bishops.

Or did he? Burke's career has bee mostly administrative rather than pastoral, and Pope Francis gave no explanation for his decision.

And a lack of facts has, after all, never deterred them before.

HT: Drudge

Monday, March 17, 2014

Russia declines to give Obama and Kerry their shrubbery

Russia's deputy premier is calling President Obama a "prankster" for the reprisals John Kerry threatened so ominously last week.

As predicted in this space
, the Russians are laughing at us- just as Mr. Obama and Mr. Kerry invited them to do by their threat to say "nih!" to Vladimir Putin if he didn't give up his ambitions in Crimea.

Mr. Putin's response to the administration's posturing was to recognize the "independence" of  Crimea, a first step toward its annexation.

While the liberal media can be depended upon to downplay the fact, our ineffectual president has embarrassed himself- and America- once again in this latest caper cut by the most diplomatically inept administration in recent American history.

HT: Drudge

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Kerry to say "Nih!" to Putin next Monday; Kremlin silent on shrubbery demand

Secretary of State John Kerry has given Russia until Monday to reverse course in the Ukraine, or face "serious consequences."

Perhaps he will say "Nih!" to Vladimir Putin.

One thing is pretty obvious, though: there's not much the United States can do next Monday that will faze old Vlad. Which would seem to argue for not setting oneself and one's nation up to look foolish through silly posturing.

Mr. Obama and his administration seem to have a knack for such things. But not to worry. Perhaps we'll get a shrubbery out of the deal.

And the world holds its breath....

HT: Drudge


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Hobby Lobby and the First Amendment

Some thoughtful comments by constitutional law professor Phillip Hamburger on the Hobby Lobby forced contraception coverage case, the Obama administration's ongoing war on religion, and their implications for the future of the First Amendment in a world in which the Left increasingly sees it as unconstitutional.

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Never fear! Barack is here!

If you crash while landing your spacecraft or are sucked into a jet engine, relax. The Federal Government will have a code to classify your mishap so as to generate precisely the right shade of red tape.

The Administration says that it's an essential part of Obamacare. But be careful when landing that spacecraft, you hear?

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Barack Obama and the First Amendment

If contempt for the Constitution and a lack of reluctance to act on that contempt is any criterion, this be the most impeachable president we've ever had. Anti-freedom of religion. Anti-freedom of the press. And anti-freedom of speech. And willing to make those perverse convictions the basis of policy.

But don't get all excited, Tea Party and Paulista whack-jobs. There are two arguments which ought to halt all talk of impeaching Mr. Obama.

The first is that it would make Joe Biden president, and the second is that we'd be running against an incumbent again in 2016- even if it would be Joe Biden.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Barack Obama: the 'Super-Nixon'

Richard Milhaus Nixon is one of the most tragic figures in American history.

The malicious Left has never been willing to regard our 37th president as anything other than Satan incarnate, and its vitriol against him (not always, I will grant, undeserved) has been a constant ever since his 1950 California Senate race against Helen Gahagan Douglas. To hear the Left tell it, Nixon had no virtues whatsoever.

But history tells another tale. Whatever one might think of Nixon, were it not for Watergate, his accomplishments in the areas of both foreign and domestic policy were such that he would inevitably have been remembered otherwise at the very least as a near-great president. Thus, he's a classic example of the tragic hero as the Greeks saw him: a man who stood on the pinnacle of greatness, only to be undone by a fatal flaw.

Lyndon Johnson is a similar character. In Nixon's case, the flaw was paranoia, leading both to the Watergate affair and to the rest of what he termed (to paraphrase his rather own rather pungent term) his rodent fornication operations; in Johnson's, an inability to admit that he was wrong about the character of the conflict in Southeast Asia, and react- well, as Nixon did.

If there is one thing which remains pre-eminent in our memories of Dick Nixon, it's not detente with the Soviet Union,  or the opening of China, or the effective reversal of our policy in Vietnam, or welfare reform, or the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency, or any of the other achievements which, if "progressives" could but put their personal malice aside, would qualify him as one of the most successful modern presidents even by Democratic standards. It's the "enemies list-" a paranoid assemblage of names belonging to people who had tried to do Dick Nixon in. 

With the exception of Watergate, he doesn't seem to have actually done much with that list. That's where he and Barack Obama differ.

I've often blogged of late of the tendency of "liberals" to attempt to silence dissent from their policies by intimidation. Sometimes it means the denial of tenure (or employment) to a professor whose personal politics do not pass orthodox muster. Sometimes it means denying a license to open a restaurant in Chicago because Dan Cathy disagreed with Mayor Emanuel about gay "marriage." And sometimes it means Barack Obama's favorite tactic: phony-baloney legal action, whether involving trumped-up criminal charges, lawsuits, or simply the abuse of the administrative powers of institutions like the IRS.

If there is a pattern in Obama's career more prominent than his tendency to lie even when he doesn't really have to (as in the case of that uncle he denied, for no particular reason, having ever met, despite having lived with him for a time) or when it makes his situation more complicated rather than less so (his defense against criticism of his killing as a state senate committee chair of the would- be Illinois Born Alive Act was to say that he would have supported it had it contained language similar to that of a subsequent Federal bill safeguarding rights guaranteed by Roe v. Wade- which is odd, since it's subsequently come out that before killing the Illinois bill in committee he and his fellow Democrats had amended it to include even stronger language to that effect than the Federal bill, and then killed it anyway),  it's his tendency to use legal intimidation as a tactic against his opponents and their supporters, whether those opponents were  named are Hillary Clinton or John Edwards or Mitt Romney.

This, of course, was before he had the IRS and the  Department of Justice to do his intimidating for him- an abuse of power that has not only become characteristic of this administration, but is becoming more and more common every day.

As Obama campaign counsel Bob Bauer said when filing suit against Clinton supporters in 2008, "There’s going to be a reckoning here. It’s going to be rough — it’s going to be rough on the officers, it’s going to be rough on the employees, it’s going to be rough on the donors."

Oppose Obama in such a way as to cause him serious inconvenience, and there will be a Reckoning. You will not merely be put on a list.

What Nixon had paranoid fantasies about doing, Barack Obama actually is doing. Paul Mirengoff comments on the parallels here.

But of course, it's only despicable- or worthy of comment- when a Republican does it.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Dissent from The Narrative will NOT be tolerated

More on the Big Brother aspect of the current administration in Washington.

There's one set of rules when you're Michael Moore, and quite another when you're Dinesh D'Souza.

Quite understandable when the party in power is the one cogently described so often as the party of "'Shut up,' he explained." That, of course, is the typical Leftist response to any demand that its policies be justified and rationally defended rather than accepted sola fide by the sheep.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Ya gotta swear that it's not Obamacare

The Obama administration is now requiring an oath from employers that layoffs are not due to Obamacare.

Whether it even has the legal authority to do so is very questionable, to say the least. But then, this is a president who has already told us in the State of the Union address that he plans, in essence, to do a bit of ruling by decree in his second term.

But make no mistake: the Thought Police are out there- so remember, for heaven's sake, that we have always been at war with East Asia.

Andrew C. McCarthy of National Review comments on the administration's growing lawlessness here, at The Corner.

HT: Drudge

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Monday, November 25, 2013

Now Illinoisans can be called 'Suckers' once again

Back in Lincoln's day, Illinois was known as the "Sucker State," and Illinoisans were called "Suckers" in much the same way as Indianans today are called "Hoosiers" or journalists "Democrats."

There are two theories as to the reason. One is that, when the rich lead deposits in Galena (at the extreme northwest of the state, just across the Mississippi River from Iowa), folks from central and southern Illinois and Missouri traveled en masse up the river to cash in, thereby imitating the migration patterns of the Mississippi River fish called the "sucker" (see illustration).

The other is that the word "sucker" also refers to the shoots that come off the main stems and roots of the tobacco plant, and that the word became an affectionate nickname for Virginians and North Carolinians who emigrated to southern Illinois to take advantage of the rich available farm land.

Either way, the consensus of our allies in the region seems to be that by reaching that nuclear arms agreement with Iran, President Obama has given the world fresh reason to call people who come from Illinois "suckers."

Ayatollah Khamanei is claiming victory.

Netanyahu's views are well-known.Now Israel has hinted that it now considers itself justified in taking unilateral action against Iran without consulting the United States. And Saudi Arabia is saying much the same thing.

Once again, the most diplomatically feckless administration in recent history has been played like a drum by the bad guys. And the world will pay the price.

HT: Drudge

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Report: pre-election unemployment statistics were deliberately faked!

You may remember that statistics were released just before the 2012 election which showed the unemployment rate, after remaining above eight percent during the entire Obama administration, suddenly and inexplicably dropping from 8.1% in August to 7.8% in September. Numerous economists and other experts said that the numbers simply didn't add up and couldn't possibly be accurate. Nevertheless, they were seen at the time as a major plus for the President which helped reverse a decline in the polls and may well have played a key role in his re-election.

Well, John Cruddle of the New York Post is reporting that the Census Bureau, which provided the statistics, knew at the time that they had been faked to make President Obama look good.

My comments at the time can be found here.

HT: Drudge

Thursday, November 14, 2013

What two things do Obamacare and dinosaurs have in common?

Obamacare in its present form is dead- and with it, any possible legacy for this president.

Extinct. Dead. Ancient history. A fit subject for paleontology.

Meanwhile, here's both an excellent analysis of what happened to Obamacare, and a critique both of this administration and of liberalism- excuse me, progressivism- generally. Basically, it argues that the fallacy involved is the same as that behind InGen's decision in the movie to go ahead with Jurassic Park.

BTW, how many of us have noticed how much the Obamacare fiasco has in common with the housing bubble that set off the economic meltdown of 2008 that the Democrats are so eager to blame (and not entirely without justification) on a president whose philosophy was predicated precisely on avoiding such presumptuous overreach?

If conservatives live in the Stone Age, as the Left so often maintains, what does this say about liberals progressives leftist dinosaurs?