Obama’s NSA – NoKo’s no ‘imminent threat’ — then why raise alert level?

Obama’s NSA – NoKo’s no ‘imminent threat’ — then why raise alert level?
Rick Moran
More Keystone Kops foreign policy from Obama. In this piece by Roxana Trion in The Hill, we discover our national security advisor dismissing the North Korean threat:

President Obama’s national security adviser on Wednesday said that North Korea’s recent nuclear detonation and missile tests are not “an imminent threat” to the safety and security of the United States.

Retired Marine Corps Gen. James Jones, in his first speech on the administration’s approach to national security, said that the “imminent threat” posed by North Korea is that of the proliferation of nuclear technologies to other countries and terrorist organizations.

North Korea still has “a long way” to “weaponize” and work on the delivery of its nuclear missiles before they pose a threat to U.S. security, Jones said in a discussion hosted by the Atlantic Council.

“Nothing that the North Koreans did surprised us,” Jones said. “We knew that they were going to do this, they said so, so no reason not to believe them.”

Very true. No need to worry quite yet that Kim will lob a missile or two toward the US.

But why then, have we raised our alert level?

One day after North Korea warned of a possible attack against the South, the United States and South Korea ordered their forces here to their highest alert for three years, increasing surveillance flights and satellite reconnaissance to counter what officials termed a “grave threat.”

The move was the latest sign of escalating tensions on the Korean peninsula after North Korea conducted its second nuclear test on Monday, sparking a confrontation with South Korea and the international community that has built into ever more bellicose rhetoric. North Korea reinforced its menacing language by test-firing six short-range missiles earlier in the week.

The South Korean Defense Ministry said allied troops, including, 28,000 U.S. soldiers based in South Korea, raised their Watch Condition, or Watchcon, to the second-highest level from Watchcon 3 to Watchcon 2.

That report by Choe Sang Hun of the New York Times makes it clear that the North Korean threat is being taken very seriously by the White House. Good, that’s the way it should be.

But why go out of your way to downplay the threat by trotting out your national security advisor to state the obvious?

Mixed signals in diplomacy can be deadly. At this point, it appears the administration is indeed taking the threat seriously. But being unambiguous about it would have been much better.

Page Printed from: http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2009/05/obamas_nsa_nokos_no_imminent_t.html at May 28, 2009 – 12:45:30 PM EDT

Car Czar and Chrysler dealer terminations

Car Czar and Chrysler dealer terminations
Rosslyn Smith
We know that Caesar’s wife is supposed to be above suspicion, but what about a Czar’s wife, when it comes to terminating Chrysler’s dealers?

From Instapundit:

UPDATE: A reader notes something about “car czar” Steven Rattner: “Rattner is married to Maureen White, the former National Finance Chair for the Democratic Party.” The comment: “So one of the guys advising SecTreas on this thing is married to someone who used to be one of the people in charge of fundraising for the Democratic Party. This explains so much it’s scary.” Well, it bears a close look.

Page Printed from: http://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2009/05/car_czar_and_chrysler_dealer_t.html at May 28, 2009 – 12:42:56 PM EDT

Leaking Intel for Fun and Political Advantage

Leaking Intel for Fun and Political Advantage
By: Gregory Gethard
Tuesday, May 26, 2009

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Congressional Democrats only believe in revealing classified information if it hurts our country.
Once again history is repeating itself. Two incidents – one involving Joe Biden and one involving the Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee – prove Democrats are still in the habit of releasing classified intelligence to discredit the CIA or the Republicans and, at the same time, stonewalling on releasing non-threatening information that would cast either in a positive light. It’s politicking of the worst kind; manipulating the nation’s most important secrets for a cheap boost in the polls.

In March, Vice President Joe Biden spoke at the Gridiron Club’s annual dinner, an event that joins Washington’s top politicians and media members for a lighthearted night of fun and entertainment. But at this year’s event, Biden divulged the precise location where Dick Cheney hid during and after the 9/11 attacks. According to Newsweek’s Eleanor Clift:

Joe Biden reveals the bunker-like room is at the Naval Observatory in Washington, where Cheney lived for eight years and which is now home to Biden. The veep related the story to his head-table dinner mates when he filled in for President Obama at the Gridiron Club earlier this year. He said the young naval officer giving him a tour of the residence showed him the hideaway, which is behind a massive steel door secured by an elaborate lock with a narrow connecting hallway lined with shelves filled with communications equipment. The officer explained that when Cheney was in lock down, this was where his most trusted aides were stationed, an image that Biden conveyed in a way that suggested we shouldn’t be surprised that the policies that emerged were off the wall. (Emphasis added.)

The vice president’s remarks are being cast by the mainstream media as another case of Biden’s infamous loose lips, and his office denies he was describing the bunker. But his words are far from innocuous; al-Qaeda could have better planned 9/11 with this information, and is now better prepared for the next attack. Biden’s statements not only revealed classified information that makes Americans, in this case his own family members, less safe, but they were spoken casually in order to discredit Dick Cheney and the Bush administration’s aggressive counterterrorism policies. Yet the Left has treated it as a non-event.

On the other hand, a Congressional Democrat has accused an opponents of threatening national security for seeking the truth about Nancy Pelosi. The Speaker has made an adamant if unconvincing case that the CIA never informed her about instances of waterboarding detainees at Guantanamo Bay. Media reports indicate she knew in 2002 about the CIA’s detainee interrogation tactics, but Pelosi has insisted she did not know about waterboarding until much later. She has since accused the CIA of misleading Congress “all the time.” In an effort to determine what meetings related to waterboarding Pelosi attended, Republican ranking member Pete Hoekstra managed to obtain a classified CIA document that detailed the many briefings informing Pelosi about the practice of waterboarding. Since Nancy Pelosi continued her denials, Hoekstra called for the release of all related CIA documents that would reveal what Pelosi knew and when she knew it. This drew the wrath of Democrat Silvestre Reyes, whom Pelosi appointed chairman of the House Intelligence Committee:

It’s irresponsible what Republicans are doing, particularly in Mr. Hoekstra’s case. When you’re asking to declassify material that’s been classified for a very good reason — that’s the height of irresponsibility. (Emphasis added.)

It’s hard to imagine that any major state secrets will be unearthed due to Hoekstra’s information; it is easy to see why Reyes would want to prevent Hoekstra’s efforts.

These two events might be humorous were they not so typical. The Left has an abysmal record on revealing classified information or cheering on those who do.

A glaring example of this came in 2006, when CIA officer Mary McCarthy was fired for allegedly leaking information about CIA “black sites” to Dana Priest, a reporter for The Washington Post. Priest’s article identified several nations which allowed the CIA to hold al-Qaeda operatives within their borders, including “several democracies in Eastern Europe” and Jordan. Exactly one week later, al-Qaeda attacked Jordan. Although it is illegal for CIA officers to leak this information and the leak destroyed the program, the Left used this information to marginalize the Bush administration.

Just months after his presidential defeat, Senator John Kerry leapt at the chance to minimize, or justify, the leak on ABC’s This Week:

A CIA agent has the obligation to uphold the law and clearly leaking is against the law, and nobody should leak. I don’t like leaking. But if you’re leaking to tell the truth, Americans are going to look at that, at least mitigate or think about what are the consequences that you, you know, put on that person. Obviously they’re not going to keep their job, but there are other larger issues here. You know, classification in Washington is a tool that is used to hide the truth from the American people. (Emphasis added.)

Coincidentally, McCarthy donated $2,000 to Kerry’s presidential campaign.

Unfortunately, this decision of a leftist to justify leaking classified anti-terror programs to the media is hardly an isolated event.

In December 2005, New York Times journalist James Risen wrote an article entitled “Bush Lets U.S. Spy on Callers Without Courts,” which detailed the Bush administration’s policy of wiretapping foreign jihadists speaking in another country without first obtaining a warrant. Risen’s article was largely helped by Thomas Tamm, a Department of Justice official who took it upon himself to release this information to the media.

Rep. James Moran, D-VA, instantly hailed both the Risen and Priest stories for “breaking through the administration’s secrecy,” justifying crippling this program on the grounds that the Bush administration was “doing everything possible to impose censorship.”

It did not take long for Democrats to vehemently protest this policy, which became a rallying cry in both the 2006 Congressional campaign as well as the 2008 election. Senator Russ Feingold, D-WI, said on the floor of the U.S. Senate:

This program is breaking the law, and this president is breaking the law. Not only that, he is misleading the American people in his efforts to justify this program.

However, Bush administration officials were adamant about the absolute need for this program to exist. This Thursday, former Vice President Dick Cheney told the AEI:

Our government prevented attacks and saved lives through the Terrorist Surveillance Program, which let us intercept calls and track contacts between al-Qaeda operatives and persons inside the United States. The program was top secret, and for good reason, until the editors of the New York Times got it and put it on the front page. After 9/11, the Times had spent months publishing the pictures and the stories of everyone killed by al-Qaeda on 9/11. Now here was that same newspaper publishing secrets in a way that could only help al-Qaeda. It impressed the Pulitzer committee, but it damn sure didn’t serve the interests of our country, or the safety of our people.

Feingold has yet to make a comment on President Barack Obama’s decision to continue the warrantless wiretapping policy.

Yet the leaks, and their enthusiastic reception by the Left, continued. On September 24, 2006, the New York Times published an article citing information from the classified National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), which discussed the spread of Islamic radicalism in the wake of the Iraq War. The leak came in the heat of the midterm Congressional campaigns. However, in October, a never-identified Democratic aide on the intelligence committee was banned from access to classified information. According to the New York Times, the aide asked for a copy of the NIE two days before details of the report ended up in the newspaper, leading to suspicions he was the leak.

Also in 2006, the New York Times published another article which used classified material to detail the Terrorist Finance Tracking Program, a secretive Bush-era program tracking the financial transactions of suspected al-Qaeda suspects.

However, once this information was revealed in the press, it gave al-Qaeda an opportunity to readjust its financial strategies in funding their efforts. And it also gave Democrats yet another opportunity to paint the Bush administration as working above the law. Said Congressman Edward Markey:

I am very concerned that the Bush administration may be once again violating the constitutional rights of innocent Americans as part of another secret program created in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks.

As a result of these intelligence leaks, House Republicans passed a measure condemning such leaks and asking for “the cooperation of all news media organizations in protecting the lives of Americans.” It passed on a near party-line vote, with more than 100 Democrats voting no.

On the other hand, the Left opposes the release of classified information under certain circumstances, specifically when it may be politically detrimental or when it might benefit their political opponents. Democrats were apoplectic when the Bush administration released some of the National Intelligence Estimate in 2006, which detailed the intelligence the administration saw before launching the invasion of Iraq. The book Party of Defeat by David Horowitz and Ben Johnson quotes future Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, who said with no trace of irony:

I served for years on the House intelligence committee, and I know intelligence must never be classified or declassified for political purposes. One of the constants in the Bush administration’s miserable record on Iraq has been the manipulation of intelligence precisely for political purposes.
Now Madam Speaker and her allies are at it again, accusing Rep. Hoekstra of undermining national security by investigating their lies.

This is yet another example of the hypocritical cynicism of the Left, which has a history of wanting it both ways with its manipulation of intelligence. In their eyes, politics come before pragmatism and sound bytes come before safety. Protecting the image of the party is more important than protecting the safety of the people the party is supposed to represent.

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Gregory Gethard is a Philadelphia-based freelance writer.

Obama in L.A.: ‘You ain’t seen nothing yet’

Obama in L.A.: ‘You ain’t seen nothing yet’
By Sam Youngman
Posted: 05/27/09 11:51 PM [ET]
LOS ANGELES — Even as he conceded there is still much hard work to do, President Obama was in a boastful mood Wednesday night, telling a star-studded crowd at a fundraising dinner that he “would put these first four months up against any prior administration since FDR.”

The president, speaking to a dinner that included Hollywood A-listers like Kiefer Sutherland, Marisa Tomei, Jamie Foxx, Ron Howard and Steven Spielberg, lauded the legislation he has signed since taking office but added that he is “not satisfied.”

“I’m confident in the future, but I’m not yet content,” Obama said.

The celebrity dinner, which cost couples $30,400 to attend, was followed by a larger, lower-dollar concert that all told raised between $3 million and $4 million for the Democratic National Committee (DNC).

Joining the celebrities feting Obama were Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) and Republican-turned-Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.), “the newest member of our caucus.”

Obama was introduced by Dreamworks CEO and longtime Democratic donor Jeffrey Katzenberg. The president thanked Katzenberg, saying: “If it weren’t for you, we would not be in the White House.”

The trip here came on the heels of a fundraising jaunt to Las Vegas to raise about $2 million for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), according to aides.

The president, while seeking to bolster his record as president so far, warned both audiences that significant challenges lie ahead.

At the concert, headlined by Jennifer Hudson and Earth, Wind and Fire, Obama responded to an audience member yelling, “Yes we can” by saying, “Yes we have. But we’ve got more work to do. We can’t rest on our laurels.

“We didn’t ask for the challenges that we face, but we don’t shrink from them either,” he said. “It won’t be easy. There will be setbacks. It will take time.”

The president conceded that his administration “had our fits and starts.”

“I’ve made some mistakes, and I guarantee you I’ll make some more,” he said.

But Obama said in promising to continue to work hard, “Los Angeles, you ain’t seen nothing yet.”

Obama also lauded Judge Sonia Sotomayor, his pick to replace retiring Supreme Court Justice David Souter, repeating his line that she has more experience than anyone currently sitting on the bench when they were nominated.

He joked at the second fundraiser that she graduated summa cum laude, “not just magna or laude laude, but summa cum laude.”

Obama is scheduled to leave for Washington early Thursday morning.

No He Can’t

No He Can’t
by Anne Wortham

Fellow Americans,

Please know: I am black; I grew up in the segregated South. I did not vote for Barack Obama; I wrote in Ron Paul’s name as my choice for president. Most importantly, I am not race conscious. I do not require a black president to know that I am a person of worth, and that life is worth living. I do not require a black president to love the ideal of America.

I cannot join you in your celebration. I feel no elation. There is no smile on my face. I am not jumping with joy. There are no tears of triumph in my eyes. For such emotions and behavior to come from me, I would have to deny all that I know about the requirements of human flourishing and survival – all that I know about the history of the United States of America, all that I know about American race relations, and all that I know about Barack Obama as a politician. I would have to deny the nature of the “change” that Obama asserts has come to America. Most importantly, I would have to abnegate my certain understanding that you have chosen to sprint down the road to serfdom that we have been on for over a century. I would have to pretend that individual liberty has no value for the success of a human life. I would have to evade your rejection of the slender reed of capitalism on which your success and mine depend. I would have to think it somehow rational that 94 percent of the 12 million blacks in this country voted for a man because he looks like them (that blacks are permitted to play the race card), and that they were joined by self-declared “progressive” whites who voted for him because he doesn’t look like them. I would have to be wipe my mind clean of all that I know about the kind of people who have advised and taught Barack Obama and will fill posts in his administration – political intellectuals like my former colleagues at the Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.

I would have to believe that “fairness” is equivalent of justice. I would have to believe that man who asks me to “go forward in a new spirit of service, in a new service of sacrifice” is speaking in my interest. I would have to accept the premise of a man that economic prosperity comes from the “bottom up,” and who arrogantly believes that he can will it into existence by the use of government force. I would have to admire a man who thinks the standard of living of the masses can be improved by destroying the most productive and the generators of wealth.

Finally, Americans, I would have to erase from my consciousness the scene of 125,000 screaming, crying, cheering people in Grant Park, Chicago irrationally chanting “Yes We Can!” Finally, I would have to wipe all memory of all the times I have heard politicians, pundits, journalists, editorialists, bloggers and intellectuals declare that capitalism is dead – and no one, including especially Alan Greenspan, objected to their assumption that the particular version of the anti-capitalistic mentality that they want to replace with their own version of anti-capitalism is anything remotely equivalent to capitalism.

So you have made history, Americans. You and your children have elected a black man to the office of the president of the United States, the wounded giant of the world. The battle between John Wayne and Jane Fonda is over – and that Fonda won. Eugene McCarthy and George McGovern must be very happy men. Jimmie Carter, too. And the Kennedys have at last gotten their Kennedy look-a-like. The self-righteous welfare statists in the suburbs can feel warm moments of satisfaction for having elected a black person. So, toast yourselves: 60s countercultural radicals, 80s yuppies and 90s bourgeois bohemians. Toast yourselves, Black America. Shout your glee Harvard, Princeton, Yale, Duke, Stanford, and Berkeley. You have elected not an individual who is qualified to be president, but a black man who, like the pragmatist Franklin Roosevelt, promises to – Do Something! You now have someone who has picked up the baton of Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society. But you have also foolishly traded your freedom and mine – what little there is left – for the chance to feel good. There is nothing in me that can share your happy obliviousness.

November 6, 2008

Anne Wortham [awortha@ilstu.edu ] is an individualist liberal who happens to be black and American.

Supreme Contortions

Supreme Contortions
By Sally Zelikovsky

With the nomination of Sonia Sotomayor comes yet another democrat sleight of hand–ignoring one reality and twisting another.

Obama calls for a Supreme Court justice who “understands that justice isn’t about some abstract legal theory or footnote in a case book, it is also about how our laws affect the daily realities of people’s lives, whether they can make a living, and care for their families, whether they feel safe in their homes, and welcome in their own nation. I view that quality of empathy, of understanding and identifying with people’s hopes and struggles as an essential ingredient for arriving at just decisions and outcomes.”

In addition to experience, competence, intelligence and a law degree, Mr. Obama is seeking a resume with the added virtues of empathy and the experience of having overcome life’s obstacles.

A close examination of a few of the sitting Supreme Court justices should shed some light on Obama’s expectation that empathy and a tough life will necessarily translate into the kind of justice Obama would like to see on the bench.

If, indeed, overcoming life’s hardships is critical to one’s nomination and somehow perceived as an indication of how a justice will rule from the supreme bench, then Clarence Thomas, would surely win the prize. Having come from probably the poorest background of any of the sitting justices, no father in the family picture, raised by his grandparents and having clawed his way through schools and life with only his intellect as a guide, he should be revered by the left.

Instead, he was reviled and maligned before stepping foot onto the bench and has been anything but lauded for his Supreme Court decisions. Clearly misguided, the left perceives Thomas as a sell-out, an Uncle Tom, who, because of his conservative viewpoint, does not rule from his heart and is not driven by the empathy and compassion he should possess based on his personal experiences. (Ironically, Thomas is more or less the conscience of the Court, often reminding his brothers and sisters of the Court’s proper role, ever toeing the line that judges should not legislate from the bench. He has often expressed discomfort with the outcome of some of the decisions but has made clear that they are issues to be resolved by the legislature and not the Court.)

Had life’s hardships and Thomas’ ability to relate to the average guy on the street been requirements for his nomination and accurately predicted his popularity as a justice, he would be batting 1000 in the eyes of the left. But the left perceives the second black man on the bench, who is from the poorest most dysfunctional background, as a big zero. Plugging Thomas’ life experience into the Obama equation proves that background does not equal satisfactory performance.

When the Thomas story is contrasted with that of Justice Stevens, a veritable jurisprudential icon of the left, the sheer inanity of Obama’s reasoning emerges. Stevens, who is white, comes from probably the most affluent background of all of the sitting justices–the son of a man who made a fortune in the insurance and hotel business. He led a life of privilege and, according to the left, a life which should immediately disqualify him from a seat on the Supreme Court because a white man of such wealth and prominence could never possess the empathy or understanding to relate to the common man.

And yet, this white man of status, has proven to be one of the most liberal justices on the Court, whose opinions are praised by progressives. While he should be a big zero, he is batting 1000 in the eyes of the left (and is still going strong at 89). Again, plugging Stevens’ life experience into the Obama equation proves that background does not equal satisfactory performance.

In reality, sitting on the Supreme Court is a man of little means and comfort, who grew up black and poor, and should, by all meaningful liberal calculations, be a superb Supreme Court justice, yet his opinions are condemned by the left. In stark contrast to this is a man on the bench of considerable means and comfort, who grew up white and wealthy and should stand in complete contradiction to everything the left stands for, yet is the standard-bearer for the liberal jurisprudential mantra of legislating from the bench.

We are left with a nomination process that has no bearing whatsoever on reality (the reality being that each nominee’s judicial philosophy and actual record are paramount), but on a perceived reality that a nominee’s past personal history is tantamount to his/her decision-making abilities as, it is hoped, will be the case with Sonia Sotomayor–even though it is certainly not the reality among those currently sitting on the bench.

Simply put: there is no guarantee that one’s background or station in life, let alone color, gender or ethnicity will dictate one’s judicial philosophy and, while interesting, should not factor into a Supreme Court nomination. Supreme Court case law is rife with rulings that benefit Americans of all shapes and sizes and were handed down by…white men. If we accept as true the fact that white men are incapable of handing down legal decisions that benefit minorities, then, taken to its logical extreme, we would have to go through the contortions of doing away with Brown v. Board of Education given that all of the Supreme Court justices in 1954 were white men. That’s how twisted Obama’s reasoning is.
Page Printed from: http://www.americanthinker.com/2009/05/supreme_contortions.html at May 27, 2009 – 03:34:41 PM EDT

Critics focus on Sotomayor speech in La Raza journal

Critics focus on Sotomayor speech in La Raza journal
By Alexander Bolton
Posted: 05/27/09 01:36 PM [ET]
Senate Republicans investigating Sonia Sotomayor’s record are zeroing in on a speech she delivered in 2001 in which she stated her hope that a “wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences,” including appreciation for Latin-American cuisine, “would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.”

They are also taking a close look at the Supreme Court nominee’s skepticism, expressed in the same speech, about whether it is possible for judges to “transcend their personal sympathies and prejudices.”

Sotomayor delivered the Judge Mario G. Olmos Memorial Lecture in 2001 at the University of California at Berkeley School of Law. The Berkeley La Raza Law Journal published the lecture the following year.

Conservative critics have latched onto the speech as evidence that Sotomayor is an “activist judge,” who will rule on the basis of her personal beliefs instead of facts and law.

“Personal experiences affect the facts that judges choose to see,” Sotomayor said. “My hope is that I will take the good from my experiences and extrapolate them further into areas with which I am unfamiliar. I simply do not know exactly what that difference will be in my judging. But I accept there will be some based on my gender and my Latina heritage.”

Sotomayor also claimed: “For me, a very special part of my being Latina is the mucho platos de arroz, gandoles y pernir — rice, beans and pork — that I have eaten at countless family holidays and special events.”

This has prompted some Republicans to muse privately about whether Sotomayor is suggesting that distinctive Puerto Rican cuisine such as patitas de cerdo con garbanzo — pigs’ tongue and ears — would somehow, in some small way influence her verdicts from the bench.

Curt Levey, the executive director of the Committee for Justice, a conservative-leaning advocacy group, said he wasn’t certain whether Sotomayor had claimed her palate would color her view of legal facts but he said that President Obama’s Supreme Court nominee clearly touts her subjective approach to the law.

“It’s pretty disturbing,” said Levey. “It’s one thing to say that occasionally a judge will despite his or her best efforts to be impartial … allow occasional biases to cloud impartiality.

“But it’s almost like she’s proud that her biases and personal experiences will cloud her impartiality.”

Conservative critics say that a willingness to rule on the basis of personal values instead of the law and legal precedent is at the core of judicial activism. And some Senate Republicans have said a nominee with a clear propensity toward activism would deserve a filibuster.

Levey, who has been in contact with other conservative activists and Republicans on Capitol Hill, predicted that the speech would be raised at Sotomayor’s confirmation hearing.

“I cannot imagine that Sen. Sessions and some of the other Republicans will not bring that up,” he said in reference to Sen. Jeff Sessions (Ala.), the ranking Republican on the Judiciary Committee.

“It’s fine to identify with Latina heritage all she wants, just not in the courtroom,” he said.

The Berkeley La Raza Law Journal did not respond to a request for comment.

In her 2001 speech, after citing legal thinkers who called on jurists to transcend personal biases, Sotomayor questioned whether judges could in fact escape such prejudices.

“While recognizing the potential effect of individual experiences on perception, Judge Cedarbaum nevertheless believes that judges must transcend their personal sympathies and prejudices and aspire to achieve a greater degree of fairness and integrity based on the reason of law,” Sotomayor said.

“Although I agree with and attempt to work toward Judge Cedarbaum’s aspiration, I wonder whether achieving that goal is possible in all or even in most cases. And I wonder whether by ignoring our differences as women or men of color we do a disservice both to the law and society.”

Some Republican critics say these statements raise concerns about whether Sotomayor, who was raised under modest circumstances in the Bronx, would serve as a neutral arbiter in a case pitting a wealthy white male against a less wealthy man or woman of color.

In her most controversial decision, Sotomayor ruled against 18 white firefighters, including one Hispanic, in their lawsuit against New Haven, Conn., after city officials scrapped a promotional test that showed the plaintiffs more eligible for advancement within the fire department. The white firefighters scored much better than their African-American peers on the test.

Concerns about Sotomayor’s activist view of the law prompted 29 Republicans to vote against her nomination to the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in 1998.

“I think 29 senators voted against her last time,” Sessions said in a CNN interview Wednesday. “I think there was an unease maybe about her background and her tendency to activism. We’ll just have to go back and look at the record and see what most people felt.”

Sessions voted against Sotomayor’s nomination.

Have a comment on this story? Sound off in The Hill’s Blog Briefing Room here.

FULL COVERAGE: Supreme Court

Memorial Day Surprises Knock Props from Obama’s Diplomatic Overtures

Memorial Day Surprises Knock Props from Obama’s Diplomatic Overtures
By Leo Rennert

President Obama vowed to do a better job than George W. Bush by using diplomacy instead of wielding a big stick in dealing with hostile nations like Iran, North Korea and Syria. It hasn’t worked.

Obama pleaded with them to “unclench their fists” and promised to reward them with a softer, more deferential United States eager to atone for past bullying tactics. Thus, the President opted for more positive relations with the United Nations, extolled the virtues of multilateralism, and appointed high-level special envoys to Iran (Dennis Ross), to Afghanistan-Pakistan (Richard Holbrooke) and to Israel and the Palestinians (George Mitchell).

So far, however, there have been no takers for Obama’s entreaties. Just the opposite. The president’s charm offensive has had the opposite effect — a tougher, more belligerent tone, coupled with ominous muscle-flexing by the likes of Tehran and North Korea. The Taliban also ihs been riding high, while Pakistan falters.

On Memorial Day weekend, North Korea announced that it has conducted a “successful” nuclear test, which came at the heels of its recent test-firing of an advanced, long-range rocket over Japan, while Iranian President Adhmadinejad ruled out negotiations with Washington over his nuclear program Tehran in the meantime rattled more sabers by demonstrating that it could reach Israel, U.S. troops in the Mideast and portions of Europe with a new 2,000-kilometer-range missile.

While Obama places his bets on “soft” power to cajole Iran, North Korea and Syria away from threatening their neighbors, they see his agenda as appeasement and a license to create even more mischief. Ahmadinejad even managed to draw the presidents of Afghanistan and Pakistan to a three-way summit that signaled Iran’s clear intention to erode U.S. influence with Islamabad and Kabul.

In the Middle East, Syria is reasserting itself, fearing no adverse reactions from Washington. Obama’s diplomats returned empty-handed from Damascus. President Assad, who was supposed to be weaned away from Tehran, instead insists that Syria’s close alliance with Iran’s regime is non-negotiable, as are his harboring of Hamas’s terrorist leadership and his supply of weapons and other support to Hezbollah in Lebanon.

An emboldened Hezbollah, with full backing from Syria and Iran, is making a determined bid to emerge stronger than ever from upcoming Lebanese elections and recently planted terrorist cells in Egypt to challenge President Mubarak’s hold on power and his alliance with Washington.

Wherever Obama has tried to woo bellicose adversaries with his benign I’m-not-George-Bush strategy, he has been met with ever-more ominous rebuffs and direct challenges to American influence and interests.

Even as Obama told Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu that he intends to pursue diplomatic overtures to rein in Iran’s nuclear program until the end of this year before moving to possible stronger measures, Ahmadinejad already has served notice that Obama is barking up the wrong tree — Iran is not about to abandon or slow down its drive to become a nuclear power. And Tehran’s determination not to be deflected from becoming a nuclear power is supported across the entire political spectrum — whether or not Ahmadinejad gets another term in upcoming elections.

Even in America’s own backyard, Obama has reaped nothing but snooty responses to his conciliatory gestures from the likes of Venezuelan President Chavez. Cuba’s Raul Castro pocketed Obama’s concession in easing travel restrictions, and now demands more such gestures as the price of normalizing relations

Given all these affronts to Obama’s diplomacy, the question now is how much longer will the president let himself be used as the favorite piñata of the world’s worst tyrants?

Page Printed from: http://www.americanthinker.com/2009/05/memorial_day_surprises_knock_p.html at May 26, 2009 – 12:11:57 PM EDT

Iran’s Annihilation of Israel: Made in America

Iran’s Annihilation of Israel: Made in America
By: Dick Morris and Eileen McGann
Tuesday, May 26, 2009

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Obama may have held the first White House seder, but he’s not planning to spend next year in Jerusalem.
From Caroline Glick, deputy editor and op-ed writer for the Jerusalem Post, comes alarming news. An expert on Arab-Israeli relations with excellent sources deep inside Netanyahu’s government, she reports that CIA chief Leon Panetta, who recently took time out from his day job (feuding with Nancy Pelosi) to travel to Israel “read the riot act” to the government warning against an attack on Iran.

More ominously, Glick reports (likely from sources high up in the Israeli government) that the Obama administration has all but accepted as irreversible and unavoidable fact that Iran will soon develop nuclear weapons. She writes, “…we have learned that the [Obama] administration has made its peace with Iran’s nuclear aspirations. Senior administration officials acknowledge as much in off-record briefings. It is true, they say, that Iran may exploit its future talks with the U.S. to run down the clock before they test a nuclear weapon. But, they add, if that happens, the U.S. will simply have to live with a nuclear-armed mullocracy.”

She goes on to write that the Obama administration is desperate to stop Israel from attacking Iran writing that “as far as the [Obama] administration is concerned, if Israel could just leave Iran’s nuclear installations alone, Iran would behave itself.” She notes that American officials would regard any harm to American interests that flowed from an Israeli attack on Iranian nuclear facilities as Israel’s doing, not Iran’s.

In classic Stockholm Syndrome fashion, the Obama administration is empathizing more with the Iranian leaders who are holding Israel hostage than with the nation that may be wiped off the map if Iran acquires the bomb.

Obama’s end-of-the-year deadline for Iranian talks aimed at stopping its progress toward nuclear weapons is just window dressing without the threat of military action. As Metternich wrote “diplomacy without force is like music without instruments.” By warning only of possible strengthening of economic sanctions if the talks do not progress, Obama is making an empty threat. The sanctions will likely have no effect, because Russia and China will not let the United Nations act as it must if it is to deter Iranian nuclear weapons.

All this means is that Israel’s life is in danger. If Iran gets the bomb, it will use it to kill six million Jews. No threat of retaliation will make the slightest difference. One cannot deter a suicide bomber with the threat of death. Nor can one deter a theocracy bent on meriting admission to heaven and its virgins by one glorious act of violence. Iran would probably not launch the bomb itself, anyway, but would give it to its puppet terrorists to send to Israel so it could deny responsibility. Obama, bent on appeasement, would likely not retaliate with nuclear weapons. And Israel will be dead and gone.

Those sunshine Jewish patriots who voted for Obama must realize that we, as Jews, are witnessing the possible end of Israel. We are in the same moral position as our ancestors were as they watched Hitler rise but did nothing to pressure their favorite liberal Democratic president, FDR, to take any real action to save them or even to let Jewish refugees into the country. If we remain complacent, we will have the same anguish at watching the destruction of Israel that our forebears had in witnessing the Holocaust.

Because one thing is increasingly clear: Barack Obama is not about to lift a finger to stop Iran from developing the bomb. And neither is Hillary Clinton.

Obama may have held the first White House seder, but he’s not planning to spend next year in Jerusalem.

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Dick Morris is a former adviser to Bill Clinton. Eileen McGann is an attorney and CEO of Vote.com. Together, they collaborate on books, columns and foreign political campaigns. To receive free copies of all of their commentaries, please sign up at dickmorris.com.

Tested

Tested
By: Ben Johnson
Tuesday, May 26, 2009

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North Korea detonates Obama’s inviting promises of appeasement.
Early yesterday morning, North Korea detonated the inviting promises of appeasement with earth-shattering force.

On May 25, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea conducted an underground nuclear test, allegedly of a 10-to-20 kiloton warhead. The blast registered a 4.52 on the Richter scale, only slightly higher than the 4.1 registered by the test of a less-than-one-kiloton warhead in October 2006. South Korean forces expect the North to test fire ground-to-ship missiles today.

…And thus came to pass the prophecy of Joe Biden, who exhorted attendees of a Seattle fundraiser late last October, “Mark my words, it willnot be six months before the world tests Barack Obama…Remember I said it standing here, if you don’t remember anything else I said. Watch, we’re gonna have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy.”

His mettle proved all-too malleable. It was Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso who called for an emergency meeting of the United Nations Security Council, which pushed through a non-binding resolution and a pledge to meet again to draft a binding one. Obama’s first statement merely told the nation that still calls itself the “Hermit Kingdom” its “behavior…will only serve to deepen North Korea’s isolation. It will not find international acceptance.” Later that morning, he rushed out a second statement, claiming DPRK missiles “pose a grave threat to the peace and security of the world” and are “a blatant violation of international law.”

And then, according to the L.A. Times and the Drudge Report, he went golfing.

Meanwhile, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, on a tour of Shanghai at the time of the explosion, told her hosts they “must use their influence to help bring North Korea to the table for the six party talks” – the same talks whose failure allowed North Korea to cement its place as a nuclear power…and which broke down last year because the North rightly suspected it could get a better deal from the Obama administration.(Near the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, Madam Speaker pressed China hard – for lower carbon emissions, on the grounds “protecting the environment is a human rights issue”)

Brinksmanship, Blackmail, Backtracking, and Betrayal

North Korea’s nuclear detonation was less a test of his mettle than an inevitable response to cultivated weakness. Over the course of three administrations, the DPRK has perfect the cycle of brinksmanship, blackmail, backtracking, and betrayal. Yet none of its negotiating partners, with the exception of Jimmy Carter, has been so eager to oblige its interests as Barack Obama.

When North Korea first announced its nuclear intentions in 1994, President Clinton signed the Agreed Framework negotiated, in freelance fashion, by Jimmy Carter. Clinton would 500,000 metric tons of oil, more than $100 million in food aid (which the government seized to feed its million-man army), and spent billions building two light-water nuclear reactors. Analysts warned Kim Jong-il could produce enough nuclear material for a handful of weapons within ten years by simply busting the caps on the U.S.-funded reactors, and evidence mounted Pyongyang used these reactors for military as well as civilian purposes. As Clinton stalled, Kim pressed on, lobbing a Taepodong-1 missile over Japan in 1998, then denying U.S. inspectors access to a nuclear facility producing illicit material. Clinton rewarded this defiance with an additional 1.1 million tons of food worth nearly $200 million. Even on his way out of office in December 2000, Clinton sought a new round of appeasement for the DPRK.

President Bush fared little better. Reviled for “going it alone,” he outsourced negotiations concerning the nuclear concern to the multilateral, six-party talks. Condoleeza Rice and others convinced Bush to jettison his original firm stance following the last underground detonation in 2006. After Pyongyang filed a late, fictitious report of its activities, Bush simply agreed to accept the lie as fact; he rewarded deception by granting generous aid, helping transfer funds formerly held up in overseas banks, and removing North Korea from the list of state sponsors of terrorism and producers of narcotics – all despite the fact that the new agreement lacked verification.

Speak Softly and Carry a Big Carrot

However bad the situation had been, President Obama made matters materially worse. Republican criticism of offering talks without preconditions was not merely election rhetoric: preconditions are a two-way affair, and when one drops his own, gravity shifts toward fulfilling those of his enemy.

North Korea has already rejected two pre-emptive offers of direct, bilateral talks with the Obama administration, opting to school the appeaser-in-chief in the fine art of nuclear blackmail.

The Obama administration attempted to unveil the proverbial “reset button” with Pyongyang, as Hillary Clinton tried to coax Kim back to the six-party talks with the promise of a treaty and (more) aid. On the eve of her February visit to Seoul, the worker’s paradise threatened to test a Taepodong-2 missile and declared itself “fully ready for an all-out confrontation” with South Korea, yet Madam Secretary told the Asia Society:

If North Korea is genuinely prepared to completely and verifiably eliminate their nuclear weapons program, the Obama administration will be willing to normalize bilateral relations, replace the peninsula’s long-standing armistice agreements with a permanent peace treaty, and assist in meeting the energy and other economic needs of the North Korean people.

She helpfully suggested Kim Jong-il “avoid any provocative action or unhelpful rhetoric toward South Korea.” (Like Nancy Pelosi, she too wanted to renew military contacts with China but had tough rhetoric for Beijing on carbon emissions.)

The DPRK responded with harassment and missile fire. It arrested two American journalists, who face “trial” next month. More troubling to international security, the regime tested its long-range Taepodong-2 missile, again over Japanese airspace. That month in Prague, Obama asserted, “All nations must come together to build a stronger, global regime” to confront Pyongyang. However, the UN Security Council responded by passing a non-binding resolution calling on members to begin following the measures set out in Resolution 1718, passed nearly three years earlier, which members had ignored. (Eventually three companies faced sanctions.) Obama deemed this a “clear and united message.”

That it was.

According to the South Korean media, North Korea immediately began building or rebuilding nuclear sites. The North openly vowed it “will never again take part in such talks and will not be bound by any agreement reached at the talks.” Speaking before the Senate Appropriations Committee earlier this month, Hillary called the North’s return to the negotiating table “implausible.”

Obama hoped to make the implausible come to pass by offering bilateral talks in early May, which North Korea again rejected. Obama’s Special Representative for North Korea Policy Stephen W. Bosworth has made several entreaties for a tête-à-tête in Pyongyang, only to be refused. Earlier this month a bewildered Bosworth pleaded, “President Obama has stressed on numerous occasions that the door to dialogue remains open [and] that we are committed to resolving the problems that we face through negotiation and dialogue. So I don’t think that we can be interpreted as having a hostile policy.” Indeed, he does not have a hostile policy to nuclear blackmail, betrayal, and brinksmanship. That is the problem.

The inevitable response to American weakness came yesterday, and possibly today. The North is in its brinksmanship mode. It will likely return to blackmail, once succession issues are settled over Kim Jong-il’s dead or incapacitated body. However, all candidates to become the next Beloved Leader know the louder the saber-rattling, the more desperate the cries for silence – and the richer the benefits offered. If Obama will offer direct, bilateral talks without any prodding whatever, more plunder can be exacted in due time. The nuclear test also leaves the hermit kingdom more capable of selling its publicly tested wares on the black market to Syria, Iran, or other anti-American states.

As Obama struggles to cobble together a response – beyond “Fore!” – a dangerous world grows more deadly on his watch. Iran has sent six warships into international waters, and last week it completed a test of the Sejil-2 missile, which Defense Secretary Robert Gates verified as “successful.” The new generation missile, an improvement over its Shahab predecessors, has a range of 1,200-1,500 miles, putting Israel and U.S. bases in the Persian Gulf in range. Rather than take harsh measures against Tehran’s genocidal theocrats, Obama has given them one year to continue their nuclear program before any hint of a reckoning; coincidentally, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen told ABC’s This Week program on Sunday Iran could have a nuclear warhead within “one to three years.” Following North Korea’s nuclear test yesterday, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejiad rejected a “freeze-for-freeze” offer, halting its nuclear program in return for an assurance the West will pursue no further sanctions. He responded, “The nuclear issue is finished for us,” adding, “countries like America are not able to manage the political atmosphere.”

In nuclear brinksmanship, North Korea has finally found an export industry. In the Obama administration, the two rogue states have found either a willing subsidizer or an oblivious enabler.

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Ben Johnson is Managing Editor of FrontPage Magazine and co-author, with David Horowitz, of the book Party of Defeat. He is also the author of the books Teresa Heinz Kerry’s Radical Gifts (2009) and 57 Varieties of Radical Causes: Teresa Heinz Kerry’s Charitable Giving (2004).