Martial Law in America?

The White House

Office of the Press Secretary

Executive Order — National Defense Resources Preparedness

EXECUTIVE ORDER

NATIONAL DEFENSE RESOURCES PREPAREDNESS

By the authority vested in me as President by the Constitution and the laws of the United States of America, including the Defense Production Act of 1950, as amended (50 U.S.C. App. 2061 et seq.), and section 301 of title 3, United States Code, and as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces of the United States, it is hereby ordered as follows:

PART I – PURPOSE, POLICY, AND IMPLEMENTATION

Section 101. Purpose. This order delegates authorities and addresses national defense resource policies and programs under the Defense Production Act of 1950, as amended (the “Act”).

Sec. 102. Policy. The United States must have an industrial and technological base capable of meeting national defense requirements and capable of contributing to the technological superiority of its national defense equipment in peacetime and in times of national emergency. The domestic industrial and technological base is the foundation for national defense preparedness. The authorities provided in the Act shall be used to strengthen this base and to ensure it is capable of responding to the national defense needs of the United States.

Sec. 103. General Functions. Executive departments and agencies (agencies) responsible for plans and programs relating to national defense (as defined in section 801(j) of this order), or for resources and services needed to support such plans and programs, shall:

(a) identify requirements for the full spectrum of emergencies, including essential military and civilian demand;

(b) assess on an ongoing basis the capability of the domestic industrial and technological base to satisfy requirements in peacetime and times of national emergency, specifically evaluating the availability of the most critical resource and production sources, including subcontractors and suppliers, materials, skilled labor, and professional and technical personnel;

(c) be prepared, in the event of a potential threat to the security of the United States, to take actions necessary to ensure the availability of adequate resources and production capability, including services and critical technology, for national defense requirements;

(d) improve the efficiency and responsiveness of the domestic industrial base to support national defense requirements; and

(e) foster cooperation between the defense and commercial sectors for research and development and for acquisition of materials, services, components, and equipment to enhance industrial base efficiency and responsiveness.

Sec. 104. Implementation. (a) The National Security Council and Homeland Security Council, in conjunction with the National Economic Council, shall serve as the integrated policymaking forum for consideration and formulation of national defense resource preparedness policy and shall make recommendations to the President on the use of authorities under the Act.

(b) The Secretary of Homeland Security shall:

(1) advise the President on issues of national defense resource preparedness and on the use of the authorities and functions delegated by this order;

(2) provide for the central coordination of the plans and programs incident to authorities and functions delegated under this order, and provide guidance to agencies assigned functions under this order, developed in consultation with such agencies; and

(3) report to the President periodically concerning all program activities conducted pursuant to this order.

(c) The Defense Production Act Committee, described in section 701 of this order, shall:

(1) in a manner consistent with section 2(b) of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2062(b), advise the President through the Assistant to the President and National Security Advisor, the Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, and the Assistant to the President for Economic Policy on the effective use of the authorities under the Act; and

(2) prepare and coordinate an annual report to the Congress pursuant to section 722(d) of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2171(d).

(d) The Secretary of Commerce, in cooperation with the Secretary of Defense, the Secretary of Homeland Security, and other agencies, shall:

(1) analyze potential effects of national emergencies on actual production capability, taking into account the entire production system, including shortages of resources, and develop recommended preparedness measures to strengthen capabilities for production increases in national emergencies; and

(2) perform industry analyses to assess capabilities of the industrial base to support the national defense, and develop policy recommendations to improve the international competitiveness of specific domestic industries and their abilities to meet national defense program needs.

PART II – PRIORITIES AND ALLOCATIONS

Sec. 201. Priorities and Allocations Authorities. (a) The authority of the President conferred by section 101 of the Act, 50 U.S.C. App. 2071, to require acceptance and priority performance of contracts or orders (other than contracts of employment) to promote the national defense over performance of any other contracts or orders, and to allocate materials, services, and facilities as deemed necessary or appropriate to promote the national defense, is delegated to the following agency heads:

Read more here.

Did Rapper Common say God ‘Was Able to Barack Us’ at White House Event?

Rapper Common has sparked controversy since it was announced he was set to perform his poetry and rap at the White House on Wednesday. His pro cop-killing lyrics, as well as his song supporting a cop-killer, were chief among the critics’ arguments against his appearance. But despite drawing ire, Common ended up performing. And while there was no mention of cops, that performance wasn’t without at least one curious line.

The pinnacle of his performance was a poem set to a beat and more lyrical in nature. It’s untitled, but suffice it to say it references “shorties,” Noah, Moses, “the struggle,“ and then a curious ending that seems to suggest God ”was able to Barack us.”

The video, which doesn’t include the first little bit of the song:

NJ State Police “Outraged” Over Rapper Invite to White House

The invitation of rapper Common to the White House this week is drawing the ire of the union representing New Jersey state police.

While even casual hip-hop fans wouldn’t characterize him as a controversial rapper, Common found himself under the microscope after First Lady Michelle Obama invited him to the White House for an arts event. In question: the lyrics to “A Song for Assata,” about convicted cop-killer and former Black Panther Assata Shakur.

FOX News and Sarah Palin condemned the decision after the Daily Caller published some of Common’s lyrics, including some that criticize former President George W. Bush.

For New Jersey police, the outrage centers on “A Song for Assata” lyrics like “Your power and pride is beautiful. May God bless your soul.”

Shakur, formerly known as Joanne Chesimard, was convicted for the 1973 slaying of Trooper Werner Foerster on the New Jersey Turnpike. She escaped prison in 1979, and is living in asylum in Cuba.

Read more here.

Michelle O Invites Rapper to Join ‘In Your Face Club’

Michelle Obama declared on numerous occasions the White House would be “the people’s house” after her husband was elected. Whose people?

The First Lady invited the Chicago-born rapper “Common” (aka Lonnie Rashid Lynn, Jr.) to DC for a Wednesday evening poetry event. Common joins Mrs. Obama’s ‘in your face’ club which includes her “favorites” like singer Beyonce.

The 39-year old Grammy winning rapper/actor has been a member of the Obamas’ Trinity United Church of Christ for most of his life. Pastor Wright’s anti-white, anti-America sermons surely influenced the youngster’s linguistic prowess. Michelle must feel right at home with the avowed Christian Mr. Common.

These lyrics to “Rich Man vs. Poor Man” could have been written after hearing a Sunday homily: (profanity alert)

But the white man didn’t care, shit he didn’t have to wear it (uh ha)

He scratched that pad he got from his parents, with his tight ass

He would of been poor white trash, but anyway

Everyday the blackman would ask for some spare change

But Adam, the white man would stare strange

So the black man got fed up

cause wasn’t nobody feedin’ him and feedin’ him

And took red by his neck and started beatin’ him and beatin’ him

And this one offers a taste of the misogynist Common entitled “The Bitch In Yoo”

I’m a have ta wreck a Ho’shea

I heard a ho say you her favorite rapper

(So what) so I had to slap her, ugn

And violate you, a Muslim drinking brew

Your nigga ain’t no Mack 10, he’s a 22

I seen you, you ain’t say shit in ATL

A year ago, you wasn’t talking shit about the West

Guess you knew you’re shit was done plus the one got you cable

Hoo Bangin, you ain’t banging shit but the table

in the Circle Mad, ain’t got no choice but to fight

Ain’t none of y’all muthafuckas got a chance on the mic

Pretty sick stuff, but that didn’t stop Michelle O from enlisting his help in leading rap workshops with area schoolchildren before the evening performance. Why should we be surprised at any of the First Lady’s antics? Her husband keeps Safe Schools Czar radical homosexual Kevin Jennings at the helm in the Department of Education.

Does Michelle really want school children and her own daughters Mahlia and Sasha to listen to rappers who abuse and denigrate women through their choice of language? What is she thinking? This is not child advocacy, this is child endangerment.

Sex and violence themes especially towards women permeate the rap genre culture. Nevertheless, Common is peddling his poetry at the White House and the “people’s house” has become the “my people” hangout.

McChrystal’s real offense

By: Byron York

There is a lot of uproar about Gen. Stanley’s McChrystal’s disrespectful comments about his civilian bosses in the Obama administration, and President Obama would be entirely justified in firing McChrystal for statements McChrystal and his subordinates made to Rolling Stone. Obama is a deeply flawed commander-in-chief who doesn’t want to be fighting a war on terror, but he is the commander-in-chief. He should have a general who will carry out his policies without public complaint until the voters can decide to change those policies.

But the bigger problem with McChrystal’s leadership has always been the general’s devotion to unreasonably restrictive rules of engagement that are resulting in the unnecessary deaths of American and coalition forces. We have had many, many accounts of the rules endangering Americans, and the Rolling Stone article provides more evidence. In the story, a soldier at Combat Outpost JFM who had earlier met with McChrystal was killed in a house that American officers had asked permission to destroy. From the article:

The night before the general is scheduled to visit Sgt. Arroyo’s platoon for the memorial, I arrive at Combat Outpost JFM to speak with the soldiers he had gone on patrol with. JFM is a small encampment, ringed by high blast walls and guard towers. Almost all of the soldiers here have been on repeated combat tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and have seen some of the worst fighting of both wars. But they are especially angered by Ingram’s death. His commanders had repeatedly requested permission to tear down the house where Ingram was killed, noting that it was often used as a combat position by the Taliban. But due to McChrystal’s new restrictions to avoid upsetting civilians, the request had been denied. “These were abandoned houses,” fumes Staff Sgt. Kennith Hicks. “Nobody was coming back to live in them.”

One soldier shows me the list of new regulations the platoon was given. “Patrol only in areas that you are reasonably certain that you will not have to defend yourselves with lethal force,” the laminated card reads. For a soldier who has traveled halfway around the world to fight, that’s like telling a cop he should only patrol in areas where he knows he won’t have to make arrests. “Does that make any f–king sense?” Pfc. Jared Pautsch. “We should just drop a f–king bomb on this place. You sit and ask yourself: What are we doing here?”

McChrystal Apologizes for Remarks in Profile, Summoned to White House

May 10: General Stanley McChrystal speaks during a press briefing with White House spokesman Robert Gibbs, left, and U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry at the White House

The top U.S. war commander in Afghanistan is being called to the White House for a face-to-face meeting with President Obama after issuing an apology Tuesday for an interview in which he described the president as unprepared for their first meeting.

In the article in this week’s issue of Rolling Stone, Gen. Stanley McChrystal also said he felt betrayed and blind-sided by his diplomatic partner, Ambassador Karl Eikenberry.

McChrystal’s comments are reverberating through Washington and the Pentagon after the magazine depicted him as a lone wolf on the outs with many important figures in the Obama administration.

It characterized him as unable to convince some of his own soldiers that his strategy can win the nation’s longest-running war and dejected that the president didn’t know about his commendable military record.

In Kabul on Tuesday, McChrystal issued a statement saying: “I extend my sincerest apology for this profile. It was a mistake reflecting poor judgment and should never have happened.”

McChrystal has been called to the White House Situation Room on Wednesday to explain his comments to the magazine directly to the president, a senior administration official told Fox News. Normally, he would appear on a conference call for a regular strategy session.

McChrystal also called Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen late Monday to apologize. Mullen told the general he was deeply disappointed, according to a senior military official at the Pentagon.

The article says that although McChrystal voted for Obama, the two failed to connect from the start. Obama called McChrystal on the carpet last fall for speaking too bluntly about his desire for more troops.

“I found that time painful,” McChrystal said in the article, on newsstands Friday. “I was selling an unsellable position.”

It quoted an adviser to McChrystal dismissing the early meeting with Obama as a “10-minute photo op.”

“Obama clearly didn’t know anything about him, who he was. The boss was pretty disappointed,” the adviser told the magazine.

Obama agreed to dispatch an additional 30,000 U.S. troops to Afghanistan only after months of study that many in the military found frustrating. The White House’s troop commitment was coupled with a pledge to begin bringing them home in July 2011, in what counterinsurgency strategists advising McChrystal regarded as an arbitrary deadline.

McChrystal said Tuesday, “I have enormous respect and admiration for President Obama and his national security team, and for the civilian leaders and troops fighting this war and I remain committed to ensuring its successful outcome.”

The profile, titled “The Runaway General,” emerged from several weeks of interviews and travel with McChrystal’s tight circle of aides this spring.

It includes a list of administration figures said to back McChrystal, including Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, and puts Vice President Joe Biden at the top of a list of those who don’t.

The article claims McChrystal has seized control of the war “by never taking his eye off the real enemy: The wimps in the White House.”

Asked by the Rolling Stone reporter about what he now feels of the war strategy advocated by Biden last fall – fewer troops, more drone attacks – McChrystal and his aides reportedly attempted to come up with a good one-liner to dismiss the question. “Are you asking about Vice President Biden?” McChrystal reportedly joked. “Who’s that?”

Biden initially opposed McChrystal’s proposal for additional forces last year. He favored a narrower focus on hunting terrorists.

“Biden?” one aide was quoted as saying. “Did you say: Bite me?”

Another aide reportedly called White House National Security Adviser Jim Jones, a retired four star general, a “clown” who was “stuck in 1985.”

Some of the strongest criticism, however, was reserved for Richard Holbrooke, Obama’s special envoy to Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“The boss says he’s like a wounded animal,” one of the general’s aides was quoted as saying. “Holbrooke keeps hearing rumors that he’s going to get fired, so that makes him dangerous.”

If Eikenberry had doubts about the troop buildup, McChrystal said he never expressed them until a leaked internal document threw a wild card into the debate over whether to add more troops last November. In the document, Eikenberry said Afghan President Hamid Karzai was not a reliable partner for the counterinsurgency strategy McChrystal was hired to execute.

McChrystal said he felt “betrayed” and accused the ambassador of giving himself cover.

“Here’s one that covers his flank for the history books,” McChrystal told the magazine. “Now, if we fail, they can say ‘I told you so.”‘

There was no immediate response from Eikenberry. The Associated Press requested comment through an aide after business hours Monday in Kabul.

Eikenberry remains in his post in Kabul, and although both men publicly say they are friends, their rift is on full display.

McChrystal and Eikenberry, himself a retired Army general, stood as far apart as the speakers’ platform would allow during a White House news conference last month.

Fox News’ Justin Fishel and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Rahm Emanuel expected to quit White House

Rahm Emanuel expected to quit White House Photo: GETTY

By Alex Spillius in Washington

Washington insiders say he will quit within six to eight months in frustration at their unwillingness to “bang heads together” to get policy pushed through.

Mr Emanuel, 50, enjoys a good working relationship with Mr Obama but they are understood to have reached an understanding that differences over style mean he will serve only half the full four-year term.

Friends say he is also worried about burnout and losing touch with his young family due to the pressure of one of most high profile jobs in US politics.

“I would bet he will go after the midterms,” said a leading Democratic consultant in Washington. “Nobody thinks it’s working but they can’t get rid of him – that would look awful. He needs the right sort of job to go to but the consensus is he’ll go.”

An official from the Bill Clinton era said that “no one will be surprised” if Mr Emanuel left after the midterm elections in November, when the Democratic party will battle to save its majorities in the house of representatives and the senate.

It is well known in Washington that arguments have developed between pragmatic Mr Emanuel, a veteran in Congress where he was known for driving through compromises, and the idealistic inner circle who followed Mr Obama to the White House.

His abrasive style has rubbed some people the wrong way, while there has been frustration among Mr Obama’s closest advisers that he failed to deliver a smooth ride for the president’s legislative programme that his background promised.

“It might not be his fault, but the perception is there,” said the consultant, who asked not to be named. “Every vote has been tough, from health care to energy to financial reform.

“Democrats have not stood behind the president in the way Republicans did for George W Bush, and that was meant to be Rahm’s job.”

There were sharp differences over health care reform, with Mr Emanuel arguing that public hostility about cost should have forced them into producing a scaled down package. Mr Obama and advisers including David Axelrod, the chief strategist, and Valerie Jarrett, a businesswoman and mentor from Chicago, decided to push through with grander legislation anyway.

Mr Emanuel has reportedly told friends that his role as White House chief of staff was “only an eighteen month job” because of its intensity.

Regarded as the most demanding after president, it involves controlling the president’s agenda, enforcing White House message discipline as well as liaising with Congress.

His departure would regarded as another sign of how Mr Obama’s presidency has been far more troubled than expected.

Mr Emanuel has privately expressed a readiness to run for mayor of Chicago, which is also his home town though he was never part of the Obama set and did not endorse the then senator in the Democratic primary in 2008.

That would however depend on Mayor Richard Daley stepping down when he is up for re-election in 2011.

The chief obstacle to taking the White House job originally was doubts about moving his three children from Chicago. According to another former Clinton official, he has let friends know that he is “very sensitive to the idea that he is not a good father for having done this”.

One of Washington’s more colourful characters, Mr Emanuel is the son of Jewish immigrants and was an accomplished ballet dancer at school. He served as a civilian volunteer with the Israeli Defence Force in the 1991 Gulf War.

The White House did not respond to a request for comment.

Environmentalists give Barack Obama a Pass on His Incompetence Concerning Oil Spill

As the public grows frustrated with Obama's oil spill response, environmental groups remain quiet. AP

By JOSH GERSTEIN

Last week, it seemed, environmentalists were finally ready to let loose on President Barack Obama over the Gulf oil spill.

Actress Q’orianka Kilcher chained herself to the White House fence while her mother slathered the “Pocahontas” star in black paint meant to look like oozing crude.

Kilcher’s cause? Not the Gulf spill at all but oil-related abuses of indigenous people in Peru, whose president was visiting Obama that day.

As the greatest environmental catastrophe in U.S. history has played out on Obama’s watch, the environmental movement has essentially given him a pass — all but refusing to unleash any vocal criticism against the president even as the public has grown more frustrated by Obama’s performance.

About a dozen environmental groups took out a full page ad in the Washington Post Tuesday – not to fault Obama over the ecological catastrophe but to thank him for putting on hold an Alaska drilling project. “We deeply appreciate your decision. . .,” the ad says to Obama.

“President Obama is the best environmental president we’ve had since Teddy Roosevelt,” Sierra Club chairman Carl Pope told the Bangor Daily News last week. “He obviously did not take the crisis in the Minerals Management Service adequately seriously, that’s clear. But his agencies have done a phenomenally good job.”

Some say there’s little doubt that if a spill like the one in the Gulf took place on former President George W. Bush’s watch, environmental groups would have unleashed an unsparing fury on the Republican in the White House. For their liberal ally, Obama, they seem willing to hold their tongues.

“These guys have bet the farm on this administration,” said Ted Nordhaus, chairman of an environmental think tank, the Breakthrough Institute. “There has been a real hesitancy to criticize this administration out of a sense that they’re kind of the only game in town…..These guys are so beholden to this administration to move their agenda that I think they’re unwilling to criticize them.”

The most prominent voices of outrage have come not from mainstream environmental groups, but from the likes of political consultant James Carville, comedian Bill Maher and Plaquemines, La., Parish President Billy Nungesser.

Carville’s call for Obama to hold BP’s feet to the fire has penetrated the national consciousness in a way that comments from traditional environmental groups have not.

“ ‘Who’s your daddy?’ has become the talking point of the crisis so far,” observed Matt Nisbet, a professor of environmental communications at American University, referring to a comment by Carville. “It’s difficult for the national environmental groups to be critics of the administration—they’re working so closely with the administration…..They have reacted cautiously and softly.”

The White House says Obama has escaped the brunt of environmentalists’ criticism over the spill and the cleanup effort for a simple reason: he doesn’t deserve it.

“We have responded with unprecedented resources, and when you look at what most of the critics say…and you ask them, specifically, what is it that the administration could or should have done differently that would have an impact on whether or not oil was hitting shore, you’re met with silence,” Obama said in an interview aired Tuesday on NBC’s “Today Show.”

But analysts say it’s more complicated than that – a practical sense among the groups that Obama is about the best they’re going to do when it comes to their key issues.

“The environmental movement as such has nowhere to turn but Obama,” said Douglas Brinkley, a presidential historian at Rice University. “They’re feeling they have one person to do business with…..We’re down to like two Republican senators who want to deal with these environmental groups.”

“There is a level of confusion,” said Michael Egan, an environmental historian at McMaster University in Ontario. “Part of it is they’re still trying to figure out how to work with the Obama administration, which is sounding more and more like a Clinton one—much to their chagrin.”

“While they’re disappointed by a variety of Obama’s actions, the alternatives are much, much worse,” Egan said.

Several analysts said the low profile of the large environmental groups since the disaster is due in large part to uncertainty about the impact of the spill on the strategy for passing pending climate legislation. Environmental groups are leery of alienating Obama as he weighs how hard to push a sweeping cap-and-trade energy bill to rein in carbon emissions blamed for global warming.

Obama implicitly blessed a drilling-for-climate-votes swap back in March when he announced plans to open additional areas in the Gulf, along the Atlantic coast, and in Alaska for offshore drilling leases. Most environmental groups publicly opposed that move, but some accepted the White House’s analysis that allowing more drilling was the best way to win the Republican support needed to pass a climate change bill this year.

“Obama made his . . . pledge to lift the offshore drilling ban because he was trying to rustle up votes for Kerry-Lieberman, and that’s what most of the environmental community has been about,” Bill McKibben, a prominent environmental writer and leader of climate change group 350.org, said this week.

The major environmental groups insist they have been actively trying to harness public anger over the spill. However, they concede they haven’t had the kind of media traction Carville and others voices not usually associated with the environmental debate have found.

“We’ve been very vocal about the spill since it started. We’ve been doing field events all over the country at BP gas stations,” said Dave Willett of the Sierra Club. “I obviously don’t think we’ve had the profile Carville has had….An environmentalist being against offshore drilling isn’t exactly a man-bites-dog kind of angle.”

Asked if Sierra Club has any concerns about the administration’s response to the spill, Willett said, “Overall, we’re satisfied with the cleanup and recovery effort.”

A spokesman for the Natural Resources Defense Council, Bob Deans, said there’s no need for his group to whip up anger over the spill—recent photos of birds coated in oil have done that just fine.

“I think that made people plenty angry. Every time you see a picture like that it breaks your heart,” Deans said. “Certainly, we’re outraged, but it’s not our job to generate outrage. It’s our role to try to focus that sentiment on priorities we need to make our country stronger.”

Some say that even though environmental groups aren’t dominating the debate, their issues certainly are—and are driving huge swings in public opinion against drilling and in favor of action on climate issues.

“In some ways the media coverage is doing a lot of the work for the environmental groups,” Nisbet said. “They have a perfect narrative going right now….The lower profile is working for them.”

As the criticism of Obama ramped up in the media last month, some protesters did challenge his handling of the crisis—but they often came from groups not commonly associated with environmental causes. The “Make Big Oil Pay” signs outside a fundraiser Obama attended in San Francisco on May 25 were carried by a contingent from the socialist group ANSWER (Act Now to Stop War and End Racism), which is mounting a campaign to have the U.S. government seize BP’s assets.

“The national environmental organizations have become very establishment, very hierarchical and have close ties to decision-makers. A lot of their influence is based on their reputations, their expertise and their ability to marshal mainstream members,” Nisbet said. “Groups outside the mainstream are benefitting.”

So far there has been one modest spill-related protest directed at the White House. On May 11, before significant criticism of the administration got attention, about 50 people marched outside with a banner calling the spill Obama’s “Crude Awakening.”

“There is, I think, a tendency of waiting,” said one leader of that demonstration, Rev. Lennox Yearwood of the Hip Hop Caucus, who attributed some of the sluggishness to most environmentalists being political supporters of the president. “As people were waiting, they were outraged but they were waiting for something to happen. When it didn’t, I think a lot of groups and people said, ‘What is going on?’ ”

Yearwood said the White House should have had “a higher sense of urgency early in the process.” And he said his group is planning more demonstrations to make sure Obama keeps up the pressure on BP and leads a drive to reduce America’s dependence on oil.

“We’re going to be at the gates again being angry as hell,” he said. “We have to speak truth to power, no matter who that power is.”

Helen Thomas agrees to bow out as commencement speaker at Walt Whitman High

By Martin Weil and Debbi Wilgoren

Veteran journalist Helen Thomas agreed Sunday not to appear as commencement speaker at Walt Whitman High School in Bethesda, after she was captured on videotape saying that Jews should leave Israel and go “home” to countries like Germany and Poland.

Alan Goodwin, principal of Whitman, said he reached a niece of Thomas’s earlier in the day and they agreed to cancel the appearance after the footage of Thomas’s May 27 remarks generated widespread criticism. “We had a mutual understanding about her not coming,” Goodwin said.

“Graduation celebrations are not the venue for divisiveness,” Goodwin said in an e-mail to Whitman parents. “Graduation is the time for a cohesive and joyous celebration of our students’ achievements.”

Thomas, the 89-year-old daughter of Lebanese immigrants, has covered the White House for decades, most recently as a columnist for Hearst Newspapers. She made her remarks in an impromptu video interview with an organization called RabbiLIVE.com, conducted in conjunction with a White House celebration of Jewish Heritage Month.

Asked about recent arrests of Palestinians by Israel, Thomas said Israelis should “get the hell of Palestine.” “Remember,” Thomas said of the Palestinian people, “these people are occupied. And it’s their land.” Asked where Jews living in Israel should go, she said “home . . . [to] Poland, Germany . . . and America, and everywhere else.”

The video interview then fades to black, followed by the words: “Six million Jews were killed at home in Germany and Poland. Does Helen know that Jews have lived in Israel way before the Holocaust? How can Helen possibly report unbiased?”

Thomas has apologized, saying, “I deeply regret my comments I made last week regarding the Israelis and the Palestinians.” But the interview footage is dominating the airwaves, receiving significant coverage on Internet blogs and television news reports.
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“I don’t know why anybody would ask a person like that to speak at a commencement ceremony,” Whitman parent Raisa Slepoy said, “. . . especially where there’s a pretty large Jewish population.”

If Thomas had appeared, Slepoy said, there would “be a lot of people booing her off the stage. . . . It would be an embarrassment.”

The remarks have “already stirred up the community quite a bit,” Slepoy said, bringing up “bad feelings.” Germany, she pointed out, is not a Jewish homeland.

Reportedly, a campaign against Thomas’s appearance, which had been scheduled for weeks, was waged on Facebook.

The outcry against her remarks prompted the speaking bureau that had represented Thomas to drop her as a client.

“Ms. Thomas has had an esteemed career as a journalist, and she has been a trailblazer for women, helping others in her profession, and beyond,” Nine Speakers President Diane Nine said in a statement. “However, in light of recent events, Nine Speakers is no longer able to represent Ms. Thomas, nor can we condone her comments on the Middle East.”

Goodwin said he had received e-mails from Whitman parents and students, some merely calling attention to the statements, others suggesting that perhaps he should reconsider the invitation.

Goodwin said he and Thomas’s niece talked about having her meet with students next year in a different forum. Neither Thomas nor her niece could be reached late Sunday.

The commencement is to be June 14 at Constitution Hall.

Patricia O’Neill, president of the Montgomery County School Board, said she knew of no such previous incident.

“You know,” she said, responding to a question, “one worries about freedom of speech.” But she added, “The biggest concern is this is the kids’ day, and nothing should be a distraction.”

Goodwin said the school is looking for a replacement graduation speaker.

Obama’s Definition of Change: More of the Same and Worse

By LIZ SIDOTI (AP)

WASHINGTON — So much for changing how Washington works.

Crimping his carefully crafted outsider image and undercutting a centerpiece of his 2008 campaign, President Barack Obama got caught playing the usual politics — dangling a job offer for a political favor in the hunt for power.

His lawyer admitted as much in a Friday report. It detailed how Obama’s chief of staff, Rahm Emanuel, sent former President Bill Clinton on a mission: try to persuade Rep. Joe Sestak, D-Pa., to abandon his primary challenge to Sen. Arlen Specter, D-Pa., by offering an executive branch post. Sestak said no, stayed in the race and beat the incumbent.

“I can assure the public that nothing improper took place,” Obama had told reporters at the White House on Thursday.

True or not, Obama has a political problem.

Because what did take place was backroom bargaining, political maneuvering and stonewalling, all of which run counter to the higher — perhaps impossibly high — bar Obama has set for himself and his White House to do things differently.

The White House’s reluctant acknowledgment of the chain of events shone a light on the unseemly, favor-trading side of politics — and at an inopportune time for Obama and Democrats as they seek to keep control of Congress.

This election year, angry voters have made clear they have little patience for politics generally and Washington politics specifically. And they are choosing candidates who promise to change the system — and ousting incumbents who fail to deliver.

But what may be even more troubling for the president is the question the episode raises: Has Obama become just like every other politician?

The answer could have implications for him ahead of congressional elections this fall and his likely re-election race in two years.

The White House tried to blunt the media maelstrom by releasing the report on the Friday before a long Memorial Day weekend, when fewer people are paying attention to the news.

White House counsel Robert Bauer said what transpired was neither illegal nor unethical.

But he also said: “There have been numerous reported instances in the past when prior administrations — both Democratic and Republicans and motivated by the same goals — discussed alternative paths to service for qualified individuals also considering campaigns for public office.”

Fair enough.

But Obama has held himself to a different standard. By that measurement, and in this case, he failed to deliver.

As a candidate, Obama cast himself as above partisan sniping and political maneuvering — even as he proved to be a shrewd politician able to broker deals. He promised voters turned off by politics and Washington — and yearning for change that this fresh-faced, political newcomer offered — that he would do things differently from his predecessors.

In Obama’s Washington, lobbyists would be banned from serving in his administration, the Democratic National Committee would be barred from accepting money from political action committees, White House visitor logs would be released and reams of information would be posted online.

As president, Obama has turned that vision into reality, albeit with some exceptions. He has trumpeted his goal of an open and transparent administration. He bristles at the notion that his White House is anything but. And in a frustrated tone, he routinely talks like an outsider doggedly working to change the ways of Washington.

But the Sestak incident undercuts all that — a point not lost on Obama’s GOP critics.

It all began when Specter, a veteran GOP senator facing a difficult Republican primary, chose to become a Democrat last year at the White House’s urging. Obama quickly endorsed him and pledged to campaign for him. The White House tried to clear the Democratic field for him.

But Sestak entered the Democratic primary anyway.

At one point during his campaign, he said that a job was offered but he provided no details. The White House deflected repeated questions about the claim, insisting officials did not behave inappropriately while also declining to elaborate.

It wasn’t until Sestak upset Specter in the Democratic primary May 18 that Republicans renewed their pressure on the administration to disclose what happened. Also, two top Democrats — party chief Tim Kaine and Dick Durbin of Illinois, the party’s second-ranking leader in the Senate — said the White House and Sestak needed to address the questions.

In the end, Bauer’s report said this: Emanuel enlisted Clinton’s help as a go-between with Sestak. Clinton agreed to raise the offer of a seat on a presidential advisory board or another executive board if Sestak remained in the House and dropped his bid, “which would avoid a divisive Senate primary.”

Sestak said Clinton called him last summer and raised the possibility, but “I said no.”

The White House hopes the report puts the matter to rest. Republicans will try to make sure it doesn’t.

EDITOR’S NOTE _ Liz Sidoti has covered national politics for The Associated Press since 2003.

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