Apologizing for Obama’s Serial Apologies

by David Solway

The next president will have to embark once again on a worldwide “reset” campaign, apologizing to America’s allies for the shabby treatment meted out to them by Obama.

As we all know by this time, judging from President Obama’s junket behavior and his endless nostra culpae, America is probably the most flawed, aggressive, and insensitive nation on the face of the earth, bar none. It is guilty, we’ve been informed, of harboring the mistaken notion of historical exceptionalism, which it supposedly does not merit. It is guilty of imposing its imperial will on other countries and peoples without regard for their economic well-being and without the slightest consideration for their cultural structures, beliefs, and presuppositions. It has identified as an “axis of evil” nations which may have had legitimate grievances. It has been, apparently, a blundering hegemon riding roughshod over the planet, prosecuting wars it had no business starting in the first place, alienating nations it could have dealt with diplomatically, and wreaking misery and havoc when, with both insight and foresight, it might have brought peace and mutual understanding among needless belligerents. It has a dark past to purge and much to apologize for. So goes the current presidential narrative. And under Obama, it has indeed apologized, and done so with a vengeance, presumably redeeming its sullied image for all posterity.

Thus Obama has apologized to the UN for America’s propensity to “act alone” rather than take the road of multilateral consultation, a claim which is patently false. Obama has apologized to Europe for failing “to appreciate Europe’s leading role in the world” and for being arrogant, “even derisive.” Obama has apologized to Islam for having misprised, neglected, or demeaned the Muslim world and for grinding the umma beneath its colonial boot, and is now seeking pardon in the hope of restoring the harmony of “20 or 30 years ago” — which of course never existed. Obama has apologized to Turkey for “difficulties” and “strained” trust over “these past few years” — the same Turkey that is moving inexorably into the Iranian orbit of influence. Obama has apologized, through State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley, to Libyan despot Muammar Gaddafi for offensive remarks clumsily delivered. Dispatching his adviser Valery Jarrett to the World Economic Forum in Davos, Obama has apologized by proxy to the entire planet for America’s role in the economic meltdown. Obama effectively apologized to Japan for the way in which the war in the Pacific theater was brought to an end. Obama has apologized to Russia by other means, offering to press the “reset” button, as per the hapless Hillary Clinton. Via his mouthpiece Assistant Secretary of State Michael Posner, Obama has apologized to China, perhaps the world’s worst human rights offender, for Arizona’s entirely legitimate new immigration law. Obama’s Magical History Tour shows no sign of ever folding its tent and returning, however belatedly, to the real world or to the realm of national dignity.

When Obama is swept from office in 2012, as he surely will be if the American people still retain a femtogram of good sense, a Republican president will have his or her work cut out for them. Be it Mitt Romney or Sarah Palin or — who knows? — the very impressive Tom McClintock (sanely refusing to apologize to Mexican President Felipe Calderón, who objected to the Arizona immigration law, but administering a thorough dressing down instead), a major rehabilitation effort will be necessary. For the new president will have to embark once again on a worldwide “reset” campaign, apologizing to America’s allies for the shabby treatment meted out to them by the former president.

He (or she) will need to apologize to Honduras for Obama’s backing of mini-Chavez, would-be dictator Manuel Zelaya who attempted to steal a country. He (or she) will need to apologize to Poland and the Czech Republic for Obama’s broken promises and his crude mishandling of the anti-missile program. He (or she) will need to ask forgiveness from the Iranian people whom Obama abandoned in the midst of their bloody uprising against a repressive and violent regime. He (or she) will need to soothe the ruffled feelings of the British electorate for having insulted their prime minister with the meager gift of unplayable CDs and for returning the bust of Winston Churchill. And he (or she) will need to make amends to Israel for Obama’s inexcusable conduct toward Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and for putting all the onus for the success of the so-called “peace talks,” whether “proximity” or “direct,” — or the blame for their failure — on the Jewish state while giving the Palestinians every benefit of the doubt and pandering to their insatiable demands.

This will be no easy task as the abjection of apology does not befit a great and admirable nation, but Obama has left his successor no choice but to apologize, both for his orgy of apologies to America’s enemies and competitors and for his churlish betrayal of America’s allies and friends.

When the business of restitution is accomplished, enemies put on notice and friends restored to their proper place, and once the United States is prepared to resume its former pre-eminence and proud stature as the world’s best arbiter and as Abraham Lincoln’s “last best hope,” apologies can cease altogether — except, perhaps, for the apology the American people should make to themselves and to their children for having elected the most feckless and damaging sorcerer’s apprentice of a president in the storied chronicle of the republic.

David Solway is a Canadian poet and essayist. He is the author of The Big Lie: On Terror, Antisemitism, and Identity, and is currently working on a sequel, Living in the Valley of Shmoon. His new book on Jewish and Israeli themes, Hear, O Israel!, has just been released by Mantua Books.

The Return of the Ottomans

BY Lee Smith

Beirut

A few months back, I was dining with a friend at an Armenian restaurant in Beirut, and at the end of the meal he gracefully sidestepped the Turkish question by ordering a “Byzantine” coffee. The waiter laughed grimly. “Aside from coffee and waterpipes,” asked my friend, “what did the Turks leave us? They were here for 500 years, and they didn’t even leave us their language. We speak Arabic, French, and English. No one speaks Turkish. Their most important political institutions were baksheesh and the khazouk.”

Baksheesh is bribery, and the khazouk is a spike driven through its victim’s rectum, which the Ottomans used to terrify locals and deter potential insurgents. The Ottomans were hated here and throughout the Arabic-speaking Middle East, not only by the regional minorities (Christians, Jews, Shia, etc.) but also by their Sunni Arab coreligionists. All felt the heavy yoke of the Sublime Porte.

In the last few weeks, however, half a millennium’s worth of history has been conveniently forgotten, perhaps even forgiven, as Turkey has emerged as a regional power and the guarantor of Arab interests—against Israel, to be sure, but more importantly against Iran.

In truth, the wheels were in motion long before Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s government sponsored the Mavi Marmara’s cruise to Gaza, which left nine activists dead after they challenged an Israeli boarding party. Erdogan’s winter 2009 performance at Davos, when he confronted Israeli president Shimon Peres in the wake of the Gaza offensive, made the Turkish Islamist a regional celebrity. And while the Arab masses were thrilled to hear Israel denounced by a Muslim leader—and an ally of the Jewish state no less—the more important work was taking place behind the scenes. After Davos, high-level political sources in Beirut let on that there’d been a meeting in Cairo with President Hosni Mubarak. “The Egyptians are very happy with Erdogan,” said one. “The Turks are trying to take the Palestinian file out of the hands of the Iranians and give it back to the Arabs.”

It’s not yet clear whether Ankara really means to restore the Arabs to their pride of place by handing over a Hamas scrubbed of Iranian influence, or, as is more likely, the Turks simply want to use the Palestinian cause to enhance its own regional credentials, as Tehran has been doing for the last three decades. But the Turkish gambit has induced a lot of willful self-delusion in the Arab states—and amnesia.

Long before Arab nationalism identified Israel and the United States (and before that the European powers) as the enemy, it was the Ottomans who were called to account for everything that was wrong in the Arabic-speaking regions. The Ottomans certainly encouraged Middle East sectarianism: playing up confessional differences, empowering some sects while weakening others, and balancing minorities against each other. Arab nationalism was inspired by Turkish nationalism, but it was a doctrine that asserted Arab independence from the Ottomans. There were no longer Sunni, Shia, Druze, Alawi, etc., only Arabs, unified as one against the outsiders, the colonizers.

The Arab states that had been most directly oppressed by the Sublime Porte—and so those most divided along sectarian lines—were determined to illuminate the evils of Ottoman occupation. No Arab state was more anti-Turkish than Baathist Syria. The Syrian television serials that commonly promote the blood libel and feature other anti-Semitic caricatures at one time also cast Ottomans as villains. Indeed, Damascus went where even Washington fears to tread, producing serials that mention the Armenian genocide. And Syrian anti-Turkish sentiment wasn’t only about past affronts. Just as Damascus demands that Israel return the Golan Heights, there is a significant land dispute at the center of Syrian-Turkish relations. In 1939, the Turks conquered what is today known as Hatay province, but the Syrians call Iskenderun or Alexandretta, and which Damascus long claimed was occupied land. In 2005, the Syrians quietly relinquished their claims and thus opened a new chapter in the history of their two countries—which included a 1998 conflict in which Turkey was poised to invade its Arab neighbor until Hafez al-Assad handed over Kurdish separatist leader Abdullah Ocalan.

Today, Hafez’s son Bashar likes to speak of Turkey and Syria’s shared history, explaining that “Arab and Turkish blood is one blood across history”—a phrase that unintentionally resonates with historical pathos. Syrians after all are often disparagingly called Tamerlane’s bastards, a reference to the trail of destruction and sexual violence that the Turkic conqueror left in his wake. Presumably, today’s Turks are of a much kinder disposition, and Damascus has both an Iranian ally and a government in Ankara that is wooing it—or at least this is how the Syrians are playing it publicly.

Erdogan’s invitation to Hezbollah’s secretary general to visit Ankara certainly reinforces the fear that what we’re watching is the formation of a united resistance front, with Turkey signing on to the Iran-Syria-Hezbollah-Hamas alliance. But this may well turn out, eventually anyway, to be a revival of the historic rivalry between the Turks and the Persians. The problem is not just that their competition is likely to further radicalize the political culture of an already volatile region, but that subsidiary actors will be forced to prove their bona fides as well. It will drag in the Jordanians. And what about the Egyptians, who are on the verge of a very delicate succession issue as the 83-year-old Mubarak’s days are numbered and no one knows if his son Gamal will indeed be able to replace him?

Syria is about the only player whose actions can be gamed with any accuracy. The country right now considers itself Hamas’s interlocutor, which is precisely the role that Erdogan auditioned for with the cruise of the Mavi Marmara. Should Europe, or at some point the United States, accept Turkish mediation, it will knock Syria down a peg, which will then feel obligated to assert itself. Perhaps the best way to understand Syria’s recent shipment of Scuds to Hezbollah is as a reminder to everyone that attention must be paid to Damascus as well as Tehran, that when it comes to Hezbollah, Assad also has a vote in war or peace with Israel. Turkish-Iranian competition will entail accelerated Syrian activity on two of Israel’s borders.

Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states, Iran’s neighbors across the water, see the recent events in starker terms. Ankara’s shot across Tehran’s bow is a good thing, period. As Abdul Rahman al-Rashid, Saudi columnist for the London-based pan-Arab news-paper Asharq al-Awsat writes:

Erdogan, who wanted to break Israel’s blockade of Gaza, broke the Iranian blockade on the Arabs instead. .  .  . [T]he most that Ankara could benefit from by raising the Palestinian flag would be by advancing its political status, [which] does not contract or marginalize Arab interests, unlike the Iranian goal which directly undermines the Arab position.

If some Saudi officials are concerned that Erdogan’s play is a bit radical and wish, according to Asharq al-Awsat editor in chief Tariq Homayed, “Hamas would follow Turkey, and not vice versa,” in the end it all comes down to sectarianism. Turkey is Sunni, Iran is Shia, and despite the Ottoman Empire’s long history of oppressing their imperial subjects, the Arabs prefer anything to the prospect of Persian hegemony. If it means casting their lot with the progeny of those who enslaved them for centuries—well there is great comfort in custom.

If in a sense the Middle East is returning to its historical divisions—an Ottoman (Turkish) and Safavid (Iranian) rivalry where Israel stands in for the Western powers—especially with Washington’s diminishing profile in the region—it is worth lamenting how the Arabs wasted their moment of independence. What started with the birth of the Arab state system moved quickly to wars between those states and within them, and then the empty rhetoric of Nasser, despotism, mass murder, and a unifying hatred of Israel, all culminating in the suicidal obscurantism of groups like Hezbollah and Hamas, whom the Arab masses, characteristically, regard as heroes. The “Arab century,” that period during which the Arabs had their own destiny in their hands, was brief, lasting roughly a decade from 1956-67. A harsher, and perhaps more accurate, assessment suggests that it was even shorter than that: After all, Israel’s victory in the Six Day War shows that Nasser’s success at Suez was due not to anything he did, but to an American president’s ordering the French, British, and Israelis to stand down.

In reality, the Arab century was ours. For more than 65 years, the United States was the power underwriting the Arabs, and if not always the most sincere benefactor, we nonetheless protected them from more dangerous forces and their even more dangerous fantasies. What we won from the region is what the Turks now want as well: the wealth, influence, and power that is consequent on hegemony in the energy-rich Middle East. Ankara will serve as an inter-mediary between their Arab charges and a stingy Europe that up till now has turned its back on Turkey. But what do the Turks have to offer the Arabs that they hadn’t already impressed upon the region when they left it to its own devices almost a century ago? The Americans brought schools and hospitals to the Middle East, and, after 9/11, democracy, too, at last—or perhaps, too late. It’s not the Arab vacuum that Ankara is rushing to fill, but our own.

Lee Smith is the author of The Strong Horse: Power, Politics, and the Clash of Arab Civilizations (Doubleday).

Obama’s Latest Shakedown

By: David Limbaugh

President Obama’s oil spill speech revealed, once again, how stunningly shameless he is. This relentless ideologue is not even marginally competent at masking his ongoing crusade to apply a wrecking ball to every sector of our economy and remake it in his own image.

And I do mean “his” own image. Once again, his speech was loaded with first-person references, from “I refuse to let (Gulf Coast residents lose their way of life)” to “I expect (the new commission tasked with determining the cause of the explosion) to do that work thoroughly and impartially” to “I am happy to look at other ideas and approaches from either party.” More on that last howler in a moment.

Obama’s MO is so predictable that sophisticated practitioners of Marxist transformation should be embarrassed. Then again, Obama doesn’t need to be subtle; he is the president — a president who rejects the constitutional limitations that applied to his mortal predecessors.

After sitting on his hands for months, he comes out rhetorically swinging with both barrels of his teleprompter blazing. First, declare a crisis — meticulously distorting the facts, especially those relative to what caused the crisis. Second, isolate a scapegoat (along with the awful, resource-exploiting, oil-inhaling, pre-Obama America) to be demonized and bullied into conspiring with him to launch his transformational solution — a solution that has nothing to do with solving the “crisis.” In the meantime, shield the true culprits from any blame. Third, unveil his grandiose plan for salvation by the federal government, provided it first acquires structurally new powers. All the while, he not only downplays the government’s culpability in all of this but also overstates its (and his) response to date.

A returning space traveler watching his speech would have assumed Obama actually had been “kicking tail” throughout this “crisis” instead of partying and playing golf. Upon watching the speech, the traveler would not have experienced the megadoses of d?j? vu felt by the rest of us, who had watched this movie — starring this very president — many times before.

To be sure, the oil spill has been terrible, and BP doubtlessly bears much blame. But do any of us know all the facts? Should the president be unilaterally declaring BP’s strict liability as if he were the final judge, jury and executioner — without even affording the company any opportunity to defend itself?

Alinsky-starved radicals might find it gratifying for a dictatorial president to beat up on such an evil agent of capitalism, but some of us find his approach unseemly and disturbing. Besides denying the company any semblance of due process and fairness, how about his habitual expenditure of negative energy — pointing fingers — instead of employing a constructive approach?

No matter how culpable BP is ultimately determined to be, Obama’s bullying should not deflect our attention from another culprit here: environmental extremists.

Just as Obama blamed Wall Street and exempted government (liberal policies) and quasi government entities (Freddie and Fannie) for their complicity in the financial meltdown and just as he blamed doctors, pharmaceuticals and insurance companies for soaring health care costs caused mostly by socialistic governmental policies, he is summarily blaming BP and exempting unreasonable liberal environmental policies for shutting down more conventional and safer drilling methods — and venues. As usual, he and his ilk greatly contribute to problems and then use those problems as catalysts to justify even greater doses of their destructive socialistic prescriptions. It’s maddening.

Just as Obama browbeat and bought off the American Medical Association and big pharma to go along with Obamacare, he summoned BP executives to his office. Flanked by Attorney General Eric Holder, who has threatened criminal action against BP, he shook down BP into forking over a $20 billion installment to defer the government’s further wrath. BP is but another prop Obama has chosen to advance another plank of his statist agenda — this time his plan to shut down our conventional energy industry in favor of new, quixotic alternative energy methods that will succeed only in propelling this nation even faster toward Third World status.

I’m surprised Obama didn’t give another “shout-out” to “Joe Medicine Crow” as he began his speech designed to pretend he cares about the victims of the oil spill (even his lib media enablers aren’t buying it this time) — for the sole purpose of passing cap and trade on their backs. Cap and trade has already failed, but so had health care before he finally crammed it through.

Just as Obama fraudulently promised to listen to Republican ideas at his bogus health care summit after he’d shut them out of the process from the beginning, he promised to “look at other ideas and approaches from either party” on his cap-and-trade fiasco. Oh, yes, he’s all about considering the ideas of others and the will of the American people. And I’m all about advancing liberalism. LOL.

The politics of disaster

By: Susan Estrich

When BP Chief Executive Officer Tony Hayward went to Capitol Hill this week, he got beat up on by all sides.

When the president declared “war” from the Oval Office in response to the continuing spill, he, too, got beat up on by all sides.

Welcome to the politics of disaster.

What everyone wants, of course, is the one thing neither man can deliver anytime soon: a stop to the spill.

If they could do it, they would. If they could make it happen, they would. But for all the talk of war and funds and escrow, the reality is very simple: The oil is still spilling out, even more (big surprise) than they said before. The damage will be enormous, even with the secretary of the Navy in charge. The losses will be greater than what anyone forecasts, escrow fund or not.

Whatever they’ve done so far has been too little and too late.

The politics of disaster are difficult. That’s why it’s called a disaster. Not a good thing. Not easily addressed.

And yet, politically speaking, some people emerge from disasters looking better than others. George W. Bush came out of 9/11 a stronger and more popular president than he ever was, before or later. Johnson & Johnson came out of its first Tylenol disaster with a better reputation for quality and integrity than it had before someone tampered with its medicine. Public relations types, not to mention lawyers and politicos, get paid millions of dollars to manage disasters. And every once in a while they get it right.

The secret, as in all such things, is easier said than done. Managing disaster is all about taking responsibility and taking charge — sooner not later. It’s about being perceived as facing it, not downplaying it.

In the first days after the spill, BP did not take responsibility. They ran TV ads, which is altogether different. They downplayed the severity of the spill and became instantly unreliable. They sought to protect shareholder profits and were seen as being slow to put money on the table and as nickel and diming people who were suffering. All bad.

Imagine if they had immediately called up Kenneth Feinberg, who has justifiably earned the reputation as disaster’s go-to guy when it comes to fairly arranging compensation. Say they had put $10 billion in escrow and had given him the authority to start, right then, handing it out. It would have seemed like an amazing gesture. They could have said (to calm their screaming lawyers) that they were very hopeful that costs wouldn’t reach nearly that much, but they wanted people to know they were putting their money where their mouths were.

Instead, they’ve now put twice that on the table, and nobody gives them an ounce of credit. As in relationships, timing is everything.

Imagine if the president, in the first days after the spill, had established a command center in the Gulf, complete with Rahm Emanuel in charge. Like him or hate him, if he’s good enough to run the White House, why not put your top guy in charge of your biggest disaster? Pull out all the big shots. Set up the Gulf White House. Daily briefings by Rahm. The president wouldn’t need to talk about “kicking ass” on television if Rahm were doing it every day.

Would the oil have stopped because Rahm told it to? Of course not. But would people feel like the president really did care, like they were the No. 1 priority, like heads would roll? Yes. You wouldn’t need to talk about a war if you were seen putting everything you had into the fight.

No one wants to face disaster. In only that way, 9/11 was, if not easier, clearer. There was no denying what we were up against, no downplaying the tragedy.

The biggest obstacle to handling disasters is the desire of those facing them to believe it won’t be so bad. When — as usually happens — it is even worse, they are blamed for not facing it sooner.

Had the president and BP stepped up and the oil been stopped, they would have been credited for stopping it. And when the disaster turned out to be a disaster (as disasters usually do), they would have been credited for stepping up and facing it, instead of being blamed for things they could never control.

Leaks and lies

By: Oliver North

WASHINGTON — For two months, the Obama administration has been skirting the truth about its inept response to the April 20 BP Deepwater Horizon drilling rig explosion and the resulting fire and oil spill. The O-Team claims it has been “on top” of this problem since “day one.” Reality shows that both the leaks and the lies continue.

On June 15, President Barack Obama, master and commander of the teleprompter, tried using his first address from the Oval Office to convince the American people that his team was doing all that could be done in handling “the worst environmental disaster America has ever faced.” It was, even his supporters agree, a failure.

It’s not that the president and his speechwriters didn’t try. He attempted to emote. He tried to express his anger at BP’s “recklessness.” Having previously likened the Gulf catastrophe to the terror attack of 9/11, he referred to “our brave men and women in uniform.” He even described his plan for dealing with millions of gallons of petroleum spewing into the Gulf of Mexico as a “battle we’re waging” and said the oil is “assaulting our shores and our citizens.” He then went on to lay out his “battle plan.”

By the end of Obama’s blessedly brief remarks, it was apparent the only new resources he’s committing to “fight” this “epidemic” — his words, not mine — are lawyers and about 17,000 National Guard members. He went on to “urge the governors in the affected states to activate these troops as soon as possible.” The contrast between the number of uniformed personnel being sent to the Gulf Coast and the paltry 1,200 dispatched to help protect our southern border from a tidal wave of violence was inescapable.

So, too, is the evidence of political opportunism, egregious error and outright fabrication in what the O-Team claims to have done — and what it plans to do — in responding to the catastrophe. The very fact that Obama devoted nearly a third of his Oval Office remarks to advancing his cap-and-trade energy plan is proof that the administration still lives by chief of staff Rahm Emanuel’s maxim: “You never want a serious crisis to go to waste.”

Though Obama and his spokesmen steadfastly maintain they have been doing “everything possible since day one” to mitigate the consequences of the ongoing spill, it simply is not true. Fox News is not alone in reporting on the administration’s unwillingness to waive provisions of U.S. maritime law known as the Jones Act that bar foreign-flagged ships from transporting cargo or passengers between U.S. ports.

According to O-Team press briefings, Jones Act waivers will be granted when needed. This begs a question: Why isn’t there a veritable fleet of oil-recovery, -skimming and -containment vessels from the Persian Gulf, the Philippines, China and Russia already at work off U.S. shores? And it’s not just the issue of foreign ships; it’s also a matter of American companies’ being rebuffed after offering to help.

According to O-Team press briefings, Jones Act waivers will be granted when needed. This begs a question: Why isn’t there a veritable fleet of oil-recovery, -skimming and -containment vessels from the Persian Gulf, the Philippines, China and Russia already at work off U.S. shores? And it’s not just the issue of foreign ships; it’s also a matter of American companies’ being rebuffed after offering to help.

According to Obama, “mitigating the consequences” of this disaster for the “people of the Gulf” really matters. For decades, we have known that one of the most effective pieces of equipment in reducing shoreline damage from chemical and oil spills is floating containment boom.

On May 21, both of Maine’s U.S. senators, Olympia Snowe and Susan Collins, wrote Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Adm. Thad Allen, the national incident manager and the head of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, alerting them that miles of certified containment boom, manufactured by a company in Maine, was immediately available for overnight shipment to the Gulf Coast. Yet as of this writing, none of this critically needed boom has been shipped.

Attorney General Eric Holder’s June 1 announcement that the Department of Justice will pursue criminal sanctions against BP may sound good to those who want to launch punitive expeditions, but it does nothing to stop oil from gushing from the seabed. And his promise that “every cent of taxpayer money will be repaid” from a $20 billion “escrow account” is completely without foundation because BP could be driven out of business.

Obama also used his Oval Office remarks to announce the appointment of a new head of the Minerals Management Service, the government agency responsible for regulating oil drilling and mining. One might expect the person appointed to this post to be someone possessing at least minimal technical competence. Instead, the president chose a career government attorney — a lawyer who made his “bones” as an assistant special prosecutor in the effort to bring down President Ronald Reagan over the so-called Iran-Contra affair. Obama should be glad there are no special prosecutors looking into his actions in the “Offshore Drilling affair.” Yet.

Club Fed for illegal immigrants

By: Michelle Malkin

Thanks to their international “human rights” advocates, Gitmo detainees receive art therapy, movie nights and video games at their U.S. taxpayer-funded camp in Cuba. Now, the left’s bleeding heart lobby wants to provide similar taxpayer-sponsored perks to illegal alien detainees on American soil. Welcome to the open-borders Club Fed.

According to an internal Department of Homeland Security e-mail obtained by the Houston Chronicle, the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency plans a radical overhaul of the immigration detention system. No, the reforms will not increase the nation’s measly, chronically underfunded detention bed capacity — fewer than 35,000 beds last fiscal year to cover an estimated illegal immigrant population of between 12 million and 20 million. The Obama ICE leadership is headed in the exact opposite direction.

ICE chief John Morton — the same man who signaled last month that he may refuse to process illegal immigrants sent to him by Arizona law enforcement officials — has already eliminated 50 detention facilities. This despite a DHS inspector general report released last spring exposing the federal government’s bipartisan failure to expand detention space capacity to end the dangerous game of illegal alien “catch and release.”

Instead, among the p.c. makeover measures under consideration or about to be made by Obama’s ICE agency in the next 30 days:

— “Softening” the physical appearance of privately contracted detention facilities with “hanging plants.”

– Giving illegal alien detainees e-mail access and free Internet-based phone service.

– Abandoning lockdowns, lights-out, visitor screening and detention uniform requirements.

– Serving fresh veggies and continental breakfast and providing Bingo sessions, arts and crafts classes, and, yes, movie nights.

Ensuring humane treatment of detainees is one thing. This, on the other hand, is beyond ridiculous. Detention centers should be clean, safe and temporary way stations for illegal immigrants on their way out the door. These proposals turn the immigration detention centers into permanent Dave & Buster’s-style comfort zones for illegal aliens biding their time until the next amnesty.

Dancing lessons? Game halls? This is an invitation for abuse — and a recipe for exploitation by smugglers and drug cartels. Open-borders and civil liberties activists will end up endangering DHS/ICE workers — and the rest of us — under the guise of “immigrant human rights.”

The left-wing campaign by the American Civil Liberties Union, change.org and illegal alien activists targeting our detention system began in earnest after 9/11. Under the Bush administration, hundreds of illegal aliens of Arab descent were detained and questioned as “material witnesses” in counterterrorism probes. The use of immigration laws in the war against Islamic jihadists became a rallying point for the open-borders propagandists.

The New York Times hysterically reported that most of these post-9/11 detainees were held for months without charges. In fact, 60 percent of the 762 immigrants detained after the 9/11 attacks were charged within 72 hours. And the Justice Department inspector general found that there were legitimate reasons for delay in the remaining cases, including logistical disruptions in New York City after 9/11, such as electrical outages, office shutdowns and mail service cancellation that slowed delivery of charging documents.

Immigrant abuse charges were hurled recklessly by the likes of Al Gore, who slandered DHS’s detention program during a paid appearance in Saudi Arabia — despite the DOJ’s failure to find any such patterns.

The truth got lost along the way. So did common sense. Allowing illegal alien terror suspects to roam free in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 attacks would have been a dereliction of duty. And countless homeland security experts and DHS inspector general reports have repeatedly spotlighted lax enforcement in the detention safety net over the past decade.

Hundreds of thousands of “absconders” remain on the loose because of failure (or refusal) to detain them. The immigration lawyers’ racket has lobbied for compassionate “alternatives” to detention that routinely result in deportation fugitives simply ditching the process and disappearing.

Their goal is not to improve detention. Their goal is to sabotage it — all while law-breakers munch on croissants and joyfully shout “BINGO!”

Obama Blames Everyone But Himself

WASHINGTON (AP) – President Barack Obama on Saturday pinned blame on Republicans for making life harder for the unemployed and for those who could lose their jobs without new federal intervention. He did so even as he sought to distance himself from the “dreary and familiar politics” of Washington.

Capping a week in which the administration scored a victory – a $20 billion fund to be paid by BP for the victims of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill – Obama reserved his radio and Internet address to focus on the work that didn’t get done.

His main concern was the rejection of a bill in the Senate that would have provided more money for the long-term unemployed, aid for strapped state governments and the renewal of popular tax breaks for businesses and individuals.

“If this obstruction continues, unemployed Americans will see their benefits stop,” Obama said. “Teachers and firefighters will lose their jobs. Families will pay more for their first home. All we ask for is a simple up or down vote. That’s what the American people deserve.”

The broad economic bill failed Thursday when Democrats could not muster the 60 votes needed to end debate. The 56-40 vote fell four shy of the total required to break the GOP filibuster. Republicans support many of the policies in the legislation but are demanding changes to shrink its toll on the deficit.

“Americans want us to show we’re serious about lowering the debt, so the president and his allies in Congress have a choice to make: they can either vote to reduce the deficit, or they can lock arms and dig an even deeper hole of debt,” said Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.

The standoff again revealed the gaps between the Democratic president and the Republican congressional leaders on how to solve the nation’s problems.

Obama was at the same time branding the opposition party as obstructionist while seeking a higher level of debate from his own party and Republicans.

“We have an obligation to care for the next generation,” Obama said. “So I hope that when Congress returns next week, they do so with a greater spirit of compromise and cooperation. America will be watching.”

In his address, Obama also bemoaned the stalling of a separate measure that would lift a $75 million liability cap on economic damages for companies such as BP during disasters like the Gulf oil spill. The Senate is considering a bill to increase that cap to $10 billion.

And Obama also said Republicans are the ones at fault for preventing votes on his nominees to key positions in the government. Former President George W. Bush often had the same complaint about Democratic lawmakers.

Republicans used their weekly address to claim that the president has been too slow to react to the threats posed by the Gulf oil spill and that some steps taken by his administration will do more harm than good.

“I’m glad President Obama is finally putting this catastrophe at the top of his agenda, but his response has been too slow,” Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi said. Wicker criticized Obama for pushing for an energy bill and increases in oil cleanup fees and for calling for a moratorium on deep-water drilling, which he said would cost jobs and raise the price of energy.

Dems Turn On Obama

by Dick Morris and Eileen McGann

To the left, the oil spill is not an index of presidential competence or an issue in the political sphere. It is a daily gushing of poison into the Earth’s waters as a direct result of the president’s failure to stop it. They blame BP. But they already hate oil companies. And they blame Obama, too. And they are coming to dislike him.

When Obama attempts to recoup this damage to his political base by pushing new legislation on the environment or by resurrecting his cap-and-trade legislation or by bringing criminal charges against BP or by setting up a liability fund for the spill’s victims, it does not solve his political problem. With each day, 60,000 gallons gush into the Gulf of Mexico, Obama’s equivalent of the body count in Iraq that caused the left to loathe George W. Bush. Rhetoric or programs or visits to the gulf or posturing won’t assuage the negatives. Only plugging the hole in the bottom of the ocean can do it.

The right and center of American politics turned off Obama over health care. And now the left is leaving him over the oil spill.

Why can’t Obama plug the hole?

Because he has no administrative experience. I often saw Bill Clinton, as governor and as president, call in experts and ask the tough questions when he faced a new disaster. In Arkansas, it was tornadoes or floods or fires. In Washington, it was Oklahoma City. But, each time, he thoroughly familiarized himself with all the technical issues. He took a bath in the science and substance of the hazard and became as knowledgeable as those who had spent a lifetime studying it. So he knew what questions to ask.

Any CEO or COO or manager has similar experience. But a community organizer, law professor, state senator, U.S. senator and president doesn’t have the requisite experience. He doesn’t know not to trust his own bureaucracy. He hasn’t been burned enough to realize that he needs to intervene to waive restrictions, set aside regulations and open up the process to new solutions. He’s like JFK during the Bay of Pigs. He doesn’t know how to avoid being betrayed by his own bureaucracy and the industry it’s supposed to regulate.

Why did he not waive the Jones Act (he still hasn’t) to allow foreign vessels to ply our waters to clean up the spill? Not because he was against it. He couldn’t have been against so obvious a course as waiving it. It was likely because nobody told him about it, and he never knew to ask.

Why did he let the bureaucracy use only U.S. contractors to dredge the Gulf and build the berms that Lousiana wanted? Why did he spurn the offer of Dutch assistance (half the country has been dredged from the sea and is below sea level)? Not because he wanted the jobs to go to Americans. That would have been an insane consideration in the face of this crisis. It is probably because he never realized that our capacity for dredging needed augmentation. Because he never asked.

To the right and the center, these failings show that Obama is in over his head. But to the left, which bleeds for each drop of water in the gulf and cries over every turtle or shrimp or sea bird, it is an unpardonable sin.

It is the nature of things that presidential mistakes metastasize into presidential character flaws. Bush’s inaction over Katrina comes across as insensitivity. Now Obama’s incompetence and inexperience is causing liberals to see him as arrogant, aloof, removed, conceited, suspicious of outside advice and even lazy. Long after the oil has stopped spilling, these supposed character defects will haunt the president, just as Jimmy Carter’s reputation of timidity and inability lasted long after the Iran hostages came home. These defects will last until 2012 and beyond.

Local Politics, Local Blogs, Spoiled Brats, Grown Ups and Principles over Party

It seems a few local Salisbury blogs and many in the establishment of both parties have taken to attacking regular people who have the courage to run for office on ideals and beliefs. The idea of principle over party is not a new idea. In fact, I believe those who stand for principle over parties have much more to offer the people than your basic politicians who are only out for themselves and their party.

Instead of attacking those who are trying to do something, why don’t some of the party hacks get off their lazy butts and actually do something for the people? There are several local blogs who do a great job at reporting, but there are several who just attack and play the same old game that so many are tired of. The letter than comes after a name, is much less important than the person themselves and why they are running.

Instead of using the same old group politics tactic, why not think for yourself. Ask questions of the candidates and see what they are all about. personally, I believe the Democrat establishment has gone off the edge, and the Republican establishment has become basic Democrats. The ones who lose out in all of this, are the people.

In closing on this brief post, for those who can only attack and who are acting like spoiled brats, it is time for you to sit down and shut up. It is time for the grown ups to take action. It is now time for those with ideas to come to the forefront and the ones who still hold dearly to party politics, to step back and take their seat at the kids table.

Time to grow a pair and to grow up once and for all.