Saturday, March 02, 2013

Why the 'threat' on Bob Woodward matters

By , Published: March 1

The Washington Post

To the world beyond the Beltway, it might not mean much that Bob Woodward of the famed Watergate duo went public with his recent White House run-in.
This would be an oversight.
It also may not mean much that the White House press corps got teed off when they weren’t allowed access to President Obama as he played golf with Tiger Woods. This, too, would be an oversight.
Though not comparable — one appeared to be a veiled threat aimed at one of the nation’s most respected journalists and the other a minor blip in the scheme of things — both are part of a pattern of behavior by the Obama administration that suggests not just thin skin but a disregard for the role of the press and a gradual slide toward a state media.
This is where oversight can become dangerous.
Understandably, everyday Americans may find this discussion too inside baseball to pay much mind. Why can’t the president play a little golf without a press gaggle watching? As for Woodward, it’s not as though the White House was threatening to bust his kneecaps.
Add to these likely sentiments the fact that Americans increasingly dislike the so-called mainstream media, sometimes for good reason. Distrust of media, encouraged by alternative media seeking to enhance their own standing, has become a tool useful to the very powers the Fourth Estate was constitutionally endowed to monitor. When the president can bypass reporters to reach the public, it is not far-fetched to imagine a time — perhaps now? — when the state controls the message.
To recap: Woodward recently wrote a commentary for The Post that placed the sequester debacle on Obama’s desk and accused the president of “moving the goal posts” by asking for more tax increases.
Before his piece was published, Woodward called the White House to tell officials it was coming. A shouting match ensued between Woodward and Gene Sperling, Obama’s economic adviser, followed by an e-mail in which Sperling said that Woodward “will regret staking out that claim.”
Though the tone was conciliatory and Sperling apologized for raising his voice, the message nonetheless caused Woodward to bristle.
Again, Woodward’s kneecaps are probably safe, but the challenge to his facts, and therefore to his character, was unusual, given Woodward’s stature. And, how, by the way, might Woodward come to regret it? Sperling’s words, though measured, could be read as: “You’ll never set foot in this White House again.”
When reporters lose access to the White House, it isn’t about being invited to the annual holiday party. It’s about having access to the most powerful people on the planet as they execute the nation’s business.
Inarguably, Woodward has had greater access to the White House than any other journalist in town. Also inarguably, he would survive without it. He has filled a library shelf with books about the inner workings of this and other administrations, the fact of which makes current events so remarkable.
Woodward, almost 70, is Washington’s Reporter Emeritus. His facts stand up to scrutiny. His motivations withstand the test of objectivity. Sperling obviously assumed that Woodward wouldn’t take offense at the suggestion that he not only was wrong but was also endangering his valuable proximity to power.
He assumed, in other words, that Woodward would not do his job. This was an oversight.
This is no tempest in a teapot but rather the leak in the dike. Drip by drip, the Obama administration has demonstrated its intolerance for dissent and its contempt for any who stray from the White House script. Yes, all administrations are sensitive to criticism, and all push back when such criticism is deemed unfair or inaccurate. But no president since Richard Nixon has demonstrated such overt contempt for the messenger. And, thanks to technological advances in social media, Obama has been able to bypass traditional watchdogs as no other president has.
More to the point, the Obama White House is, to put it politely, fudging as it tries to place the onus of the sequester on Congress. And, as has become customary, officials are using the Woodward spat to distract attention. As Woodward put it: “This is the old trick . . . of making the press . . . the issue, rather than what the White House has done here.”
Killing the messenger is a time-honored method of controlling the message, but we have already spilled that blood. And the First Amendment’s protection of a free press, the purpose of which is to check power and constrain government’s ability to dictate the lives of private citizens, was no accident.

Read more from Kathleen Parker’s archivefollow her on Twitter or find her on Facebook.
More on this topic: Dana Milbank: The same old song Alexandra Petri: How to threaten Bob Woodward Erik Wemple: L’affaire Woodward: Now these are threats

An awful loss, a beautiful life, a daunting task

By Tim Carney
The Washington Examiner
February 24, 2013

Photo - John Paul smiles at his brother Joey. (Photo: Katie G. Carney)
John Paul smiles at his brother Joey. (Photo: Katie G. Carney)
Nothing can prepare you for seeing your one-year-old nephew in a casket. Nothing can take away his parents' agony. And nobody could have expected how much good work this helpless baby would do in 14 months.
John Paul Kilner was born with an advanced case of spinal muscular atrophy. Nearly paralyzed at birth, his body deteriorated further as he grew.
My sister-in-law Elena and her husband Pat brought JP home as soon as possible, and began the 24-hour a day job of keeping him alive. Someone was always at JP's side, monitoring blood-oxygen levels, suctioning mucus through his tracheostomy tube.
If Elena's younger sister Suzanne (now a nurse) or a hired nurse named Donnisse weren't on duty, either Pat or Elena did without sleep.
Daily saving the life of an immobile kid with a fatal disease raises some fundamental questions. What is the point of such a life? Which raises the prior question: What is the purpose of any life?
Pat and Elena are devout Catholics from strong families, but their answer to this question can't be set aside as some teaching in the Catechism. It's a truth written on the human heart.
Jesus said that the two greatest commandments are to love God and love your neighbor. This is our purpose. This view is not uniquely Christian. It's understood in other religions and in secular worldviews.
In this regard, John Paul lived a superior life. He exuded love. Before he lost control of his facial muscles, he beamed smiles that made grown men sob. Babies can love those around him with the pure, unconditional love we all should show.
Also, JP drew love from others. Neighbors, relatives and strangers cooked meals and gave time, equipment and money to help the Kilners. JP's brothers and sister showered him with affection. And Pat and Elena sacrificed immensely to care for him.
Before the wake at St. Patrick's in Rockville, during an observance called Stations of the Cross, we read a Gospel passage in which Christ explains our duty to feed the hungry, clothe the naked and visit the sick.
"Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine," the Lord says in this passage, "you did for me."
Clearly a call to charity, this is also an exaltation of parenthood. Even moreso, this exalts the work of caring for helpless JP.
Tribulations both reveal character and form it. JP's struggles revealed his parents' heroic virtue and fostered virtue in others.
Pat and Elena saw John Paul as a blessing, and they generously shared that blessing with the world. They took him wherever they could, in a chair rigged with a ventilator and an IV. Elena shared wider, by penning hopeful, contemplative letters to John Paul every few weeks, which she posted on a blog.
One friend of mine, who never met the Kilners, read the "Letters to John Paul" blog. She wrote me, "John Paul's story made me want to be a better person."
John Paul continued shaping souls even in dying. A priest at St. Patrick's took confessions during and after the wake. He commented afterwards that he heard some of the more honest, searching and contrite confessions he's ever heard.
More than 500 people attended the beautiful funeral. One non-Catholic mourner was moved so much by the Mass she told Pat, "Now I understand why you're Catholic."
John Paul, who never spoke a word in his life, was the greatest evangelist of love, faith, virtue and hope I have ever met.
I don't think Pat and Elena foresaw all this as they sacrificed and toiled for JP. They just did what was right, understanding the "incomparable worth of the human person," in the words of JP's namesake, Pope John Paul II.
Father Drew Royals, Pat's high school friend, gave the homily. He said to Pat and Elena, "You saw so clearly that John Paul's life possessed a dignity that was radically equal to that of everybody else. His medical condition was simply the battlefield upon which this young warrior-prince would carry out his campaign."
At the funeral Mass, we mourned a calamity. The pain of JP's death pierces the heart, again and again.
Also, we thanked God we were blessed with John Paul for 442 days. Fr. Drew reminded us that "this blessing carries with it a great responsibility."
"If our love for this little one has enlarged our hearts," Fr. Drew said, "then that means that now we must love all the more. Your work is not done."
Timothy P. Carney, The Examiner's senior political columnist, can be contacted at His column appears Monday and Thursday, and his stories and blog posts appear on

Woodward Villified After Criticism of Obama

The hero of Watergate becomes a beltway villain

By Harry Stein
City Journal
March 1, 2013

Bob Woodward’s charge that he was threatened by a high-ranking Obama administration official after publishing a column critical of the White House was, it turns out, at least somewhat exaggerated. But it’s no accident that the media has chosen to focus on Woodward’s characterization of his exchange with White House economic director Gene Sperling, while all but ignoring the essence of the column that touched off the brouhaha in the first place: that Obama’s claims about Republican responsibility for the looming sequester were false, and that it was “months of White House dissembling” that had “eroded any semblance of trust between Obama and congressional Republicans.”

Indeed, the media treatment of the episode provides an all-too-telling glimpse into the administration’s relationship with the press. It hardly bears repeating that from the start of Barack Obama’s career on the national stage, he has enjoyed an unprecedented kinship with the media—one that, as frustrated opponents rightly observe, often seems indistinguishable from outright alliance. On contentious issues like those involving the budget, especially, the administration has been hugely dependent on a compliant press—not only to shore up public support for its ongoing campaign of class warfare, but also to marginalize competing arguments.
So overt has the media cheerleading been on the president’s behalf that few have noted the potential pitfalls that the arrangement holds for both sides. By now, the media are so all-in with Obama that they cannot call his credibility into question, even when the facts demand it. By the same token, so reliant is Obama on the lapdog media that he is uniquely vulnerable to what might be called Emperor’s New Clothes Syndrome: any meaningful breach in the code of silence and the whole damn thing could come crashing down.

Enter Bob Woodward. For weeks, coverage of the looming sequester had been going precisely the way the administration intended. Indeed, the media’s handling of this difficult and complicated story is a reminder of why, notwithstanding four-plus years of bungling, the president has paid no political price for the stalled economy. Though frustrated Republicans believed that they had both math and logic on their side—the mandated cuts amounted to less than 2 percent of a $4 trillion budget, and federal spending would remain massively higher than when Obama took office—the White House–generated scare stories appeared day after day. In short order, we heard, there would be four-hour waits at airports; draconian cuts to special education; a gutting of mental-health services; a military unable to react to the Iranian mullahs’ saber-rattling. Here in southern Arizona, where I live, local news reports have been rife with tales of released illegals running amok.

Then out of nowhere came Woodward—the iconic co-hero of Watergate, a man who convinced many of today’s media stars to enter the biz in the first place—declaring in his February 22 column that it was all a crock. Not only was the sequester legislation Obama’s own creation, and not Congress’s, as he’d had been everywhere proclaiming; the president also had great discretionary power to determine which cuts would be made. Moreover, in insisting on new taxes not required in the legislation, the president, whom the media portray as fair-minded and reasonable, was “moving the goal posts.”

Unsurprisingly, the White House was incensed, but its reaction revealed how much it had at stake. Woodward soon reported that a senior administration official, later identified as Sperling, had warned him that he would “regret staking out that claim” about moving the goalposts. Undeterred, Woodward was at it again a few days later, saying that Obama’s citing the looming sequester as an excuse for failing to send a second aircraft carrier into the Persian Gulf was “a kind of madness.”

Woodward’s observations about Obama and the sequester were not just true but obvious. The president’s critics had long since gone much further. “Mr. Obama is not only out to scare everybody about a tiny cut in the growth of our out-of-control spending,” wrote Bernard Goldberg; “I think he wants the most hardship to the most people so he can secure the most political points.” Michael Walsh added: “By now, it should be clear to even the dumbest Republican that Obama has no intention of negotiating in good faith. His goal isn’t the nation’s financial stability of the country. . . . Having gotten one round of tax hikes in the year-end ‘fiscal cliff’ negotiations, the president is back for another bite of the apple.”

The administration’s problem is that the legendary Woodward is clearly no conservative, which makes it harder for his media colleagues to dismiss him. This is why the coverage of the Obama-Woodward brawl constituted a major test for the media, one that most have failed. The leader of the pack, the New York Times, has led from behind, underreporting the story into virtual nonexistence. Others have done what would once have been unthinkable: they’ve gone after Woodward outright. While some merely mocked him for characterizing his exchange with Sperling as threatening, others have been more personal, even vicious—especially as they’ve realized that they have sufficient numbers for safety. Reason’s Matt Welch calls them “pack-attack critics.”

A small sample, courtesy of Welch, will suffice. Josh Marshall, Talking Points Memo: “Who goes birther first, Scalia or Woodward?” Jason Linkins, Huffington Post: “I think Woodward will find people will stop yelling at him the very minute he decides to stop sucking so much at his job.” Matthew Yglesias, Slate: “Woodward’s managed to make me suspect Nixon got a raw deal.” These are young journalists, much esteemed on the left.

Bob Woodward can take it; his place in history is secure. But journalism’s future, to say nothing of its present, is worrisome. “Now that the truth is inconvenient to the WH, Woodward is being attacked and vilified,” Jonah Goldberg reports that a friend e-mailed him. “‘Truth’ is no longer determined by what is factually accurate, but by what is politically necessary. Woodward shouldn’t be a ‘hero to conservatives’ suddenly . . . he should be a hero to Americans who want their office holders held accountable regardless of partisan affiliation.”

Harry Stein is a contributing editor of City Journal and the author, most recently, of No Matter What . . . They’ll Call This Book Racist.

Friday, March 01, 2013

Ozzie Sweet: 1918-2013

The New York Times

February 23, 2013

Ozzie Sweet, Who Helped Define New Era of Photography, Dies at 94

At the end of World War II, Ozzie Sweet’s picture of a friend posed as a German soldier surrendering appeared on the cover of Newsweek — “the magazine of news significance,” as it billed itself then. Not a stratagem that would pass muster in contemporary journalism, but Mr. Sweet, who had apprenticed to the Mount Rushmore sculptor Gutzon Borglum, appeared in a Cecil B. DeMille film and helped create promotional ads for the United States Army, found the art in photography to be in creating an image, not capturing one.
He considered himself not a news photographer but a photographic illustrator, and like the work of the painter Norman Rockwell, whom he claimed as an influence, his signature images from the 1940s through the 1950s and into the 1960s, many in the fierce hues of increasingly popular color film that emulated the emergent Technicolor palette of American movies, helped define — visually, anyway — an era.
Mr. Sweet, who was 94 when he died Wednesday at his home in York Harbor, Me., took photographs that appeared on an estimated 1,800 magazine covers.
He shot, it seemed, for everyone, from top-flight general-interest publications like Look and Collier’s, to men’s magazines like Argosy, to women’s books like Family Circle, to myriad hunting and fishing publications (for which his deer and ducks were sometimes borrowed from a taxidermist), to photography magazines, recreation magazines (he shot a lot of young women on ski slopes and in bikinis on beaches) and health magazines.
He made Rockwell-like pictures of boys and their dogs, smiling soldiers returning from war, families on vacation. He also made garish photographs for lurid publications like Official Detective, for which one cover depicted a woman lying on an inflatable raft, seemingly about to be attacked by a scuba diver with a knife; and Real Romances, for which he depicted a young man and woman frolicking in a hayloft, next to the headline “Old Enough for Sin.”
Much of his best-known work was portraiture. For Newsweek, he produced images of Albert Einstein in his office, smiling at a joke about his shoes; Ingrid Bergman in a suit of armor, her costume for a Broadway play; and Bob Feller simulating his windup. He photographed Dwight D. Eisenhower as the president of Columbia University, Jimmy Durante with a butterfly perched on his famous schnozz (it was glued there), Jack Nicklaus in fake follow-through for Golf. He photographed Ernest Hemingway’s house in Key West, Fla., full of cats, for Cat Fancy.
But Mr. Sweet became most closely associated with Sport, a monthly magazine that predated Sports Illustrated and after 1947 featured dozens, if not hundreds, of his portraits on its cover. Johnny Unitas, Jim Brown, Maurice Richard, Ted Williams, Joe DiMaggio, Sandy Koufax and Mickey Mantle were all his subjects.
Sometimes, he positioned them trading-card style, in poses suggestive of action, as with Jackie Robinson seemingly in midslide; sometimes, he contrived an imaginative image, as he did with Roger Maris, with a half-dozen bats flying in the air around him. (To make the picture Mr. Sweet suspended the bats in midair with fishing line.) Still others were immediate, intimate close-ups.
He took dozens of pictures of Mantle, many collected in a 1998 book, “Mickey Mantle: The Yankee Years,” in collaboration with the writer Larry Canale. The two men later traveled together during spring training and produced a second book of old and new photographs, “The Boys of Spring: Scenic Images From the Grapefruit League, 1948-2004.
Ozzie Sweet was born Oscar Cowan Corbo on Sept. 10, 1918, in Stamford, Conn. His parents divorced when he was a toddler. When his mother, Elsie Cowan, a nurse who was also an avid photographer, married Hardy Sweet, a mechanic, the family moved to New Russia, N.Y., in the Adirondacks. He returned to Stamford, where he finished high school and also worked as an assistant to Borglum, who had built a studio in the area.
Young Ozzie, however, also aspired to be an actor, and he moved to California, where he appeared as an extra in several movies, including “Reap the Wild Wind” (1942), a 19th-century adventure story, directed by DeMille, that starred John Wayne.
Shortly after the United States entered World War II, Mr. Sweet enlisted in the Army, where he became a photographer. He was stationed in San Diego, where he took his first Newsweek cover, a staged photograph of a G.I. in training, peering over a rock with a knife in his teeth.
Mr. Sweet remained in the Army until after the war was over and then went to work for Newsweek. It was the Feller photograph, in June 1947, that changed the path of his career. As the story goes, it was seen by the editor of Sport, who contacted him. When Mr. Sweet protested that he wasn’t a sports photographer, the editor replied that that’s exactly why they wanted him.
Mr. Sweet’s first marriage ended in divorce. In addition to his wife, the former Diane Rocco, whom he married in 1974 and who confirmed his death, he is survived by two daughters, Pamela and Linnea Sweet; a son, Blair; and a grandson.
Mr. Sweet was nothing if not prolific. Beyond his magazine work, he took photographs for advertisements and packaging (his picture of a collie appeared on boxes of Milk Bone). He shot antique cars, puppies and kittens for calendars. And he provided the photographs for a series of wildlife books for children, including “City of Birds and Beasts,” focusing on denizens of the Bronx Zoo.
Diane Sweet said her husband was “a real guys’ guy,” and it showed in what she said were his most frequent subjects: “Sports, automobiles and women.”
Perhaps that was true, but Mr. Sweet had a practical explanation for his interest in photographing these things. Well, women, anyway. In an article for the magazine The Camera in 1948, he offered advice for the photographer who wanted to sell cover shots.
“Photographs of pretty girls occupy more cover space than any other type of subject,” he wrote, adding: “Basically there are about four types of magazines which always use girl pictures for covers. These are the fashion, women’s, cheesecake and romance publications. On the other hand, farm journals, garden, medical, science, travel, sport, picture and news magazines invariably resort to a girl photograph if they can find a logical excuse. All art editors are fully aware of the pretty girl potential and honestly like to take full advantage of this natural popularity.”


The Orange County Register
2013-03-01 10:50:41
A few weeks ago, Ann Coulter announced that she was bored of American politics and spending her days watching Turner Classic Movies. I confess that, when it comes to Beltway melodrama, I, too, am fighting vainly the old ennui, and minded to plump up the pillows and settle back with a bucket of bonbons and a beribboned Shih-tzu for an all-night Norma Shearer marathon. At least, unlike Washington, there's a chance you may catch something you haven't already seen a hundred times before. For example, I've a yen to see "Roberta" (RKO, 1935), in which Irene Dunne sings:

Days I knew as happy sweet sequester'd days..."

I believe that was the last known use of this blameless and mellifluous word until it was conscripted by the political class for this month's dreary Mayan Apocalypse of the Month thrill ride. Say what you like about those Mayan guys, but they only schedule an apocalypse once every 5,126 years. Only Washington would try to pull it off every six weeks. If I understand correctly, by the time you read this, the planes will be dropping from the skies; the drip-feeds in every emergency room will be dry; every creature on the endangered species list will have broken free from our pristine federally manned national parks to be left for roadkill in the potholed asphalt of America's crumbling interstates; you'll turn on your bathroom faucet only to find the town reservoir choked with fecal coliform; the ebola virus will be rampant across Ohio, Florida, New Hampshire and other swing states, where it will nevertheless enjoy higher approval ratings than Marco Rubio and every other prospective GOP nominee. The sequester supposedly cuts $44 billion from the federal budget – or from the rate of growth of the federal budget. Whatever. $44 billion is about what the United States government borrows every nine days, so it's not a lot. But it's apparently responsible for everything that matters in American life.


That being so, maybe it would be easier to reinstate this critical $44 billion and cut the other $3.8 trillion, which is apparently responsible for nothing other than Harry Reid's beloved federally funded cowboy poetry festival and the cost of the dress uniforms for the military detachment accompanying the First Lady at her Oscars appearance. Congresswoman Maxine Waters, ranking Democrat on the Financial Services Committee, warned of "over 170 million jobs that could be lost" thanks to the sequester. There are only 135 million jobs in America, but the sequester gods are so powerful they can eliminate every job in Canada, Britain and Germany, too. Why, because of this weekend's looming Mayan Apocalypse, President Obama declined to deploy a carrier to the Persian Gulf, concerned that it might be left on the other side of the planet, completely sequestered with no fuel to limp back home and insufficient stores in the mess hall larder to cook up federally compliant slop. So, when the mullahs go nuclear and drop the big one on Tel Aviv, it will be the fault of the Republicans for failing to agree to a prudent, balanced, fiscally responsible plan - like the Senate's latest deficit reduction proposal, which, as is traditional, increases the deficit (by $7 billion).
It's not just the U.S. fleet and air traffic control and clean water that have been swept into the garbage can of history by Sequestageddon, but even the most venerable Beltway colossus. In time the Rockies may crumble, Gibraltar may tumble, but surely Bob Woodward is here to stay – or so we thought until he ventured some very mild criticism of the president's negotiating technique, which appears to be a cross between a suicide-bomber and Cleavon Little taking himself hostage in "Blazing Saddles." In a flash, Woodward's four decades of loyal service were forgotten, and the court eunuchs of the Obama media turned on their own: He's about one news cycle away from being revealed as on the take from the Koch brothers and the real father of Trig Palin.
Speaking of the First Lady's Academy Awards appearance, I see she gave the Oscar for Best Film to Ben Affleck's movie "Argo." If you haven't seen the picture, it's about a group of government operatives whose ingenious plan to achieve their objectives depends on creating a fake movie as a cover story. Obama seems to have taken this inspiring tale to heart. In the Affleck version, the fake movie is a space opera for which John Goodman rustles up a few cheesy costume designs for some generic aliens. They make a promotional brochure, take out an ad in Variety and hold a well-attended press conference, awash in cocktails and canapés. But there is no movie. And so it goes with Obama's monthly cliffhangers. The White House press corps show up for the reception, and they all excitedly report the intriguing teasers about the white-knuckle thriller coming soon to your town: This weekend, "Les Sequesterables," starring Maxine "I Dreamed A Dream" Waters and a cast of hundreds of millions of downtrodden laid-off extras; next week, "Zero Debt Thirty," in which Paul Ryan proposes cutting $30 from the federal budget, and all civilized life comes to an end; next month, "Django Short-Changed," in which a retired bounty hunter discovers his Social Security check is a buck seventy-three lower than usual because cruel plantation owners like Mitt Romney aren't willing to pay their fair share; and, coming soon, "No Silver Linings Playbook," in which Barack Obama warns yet again that total societal collapse is just around the corner but at the 11th hour manages to avert it by swooping in with a daring, last-minute tax increase.
Government-by-fake-disaster-movie seems to be going swimmingly for Obama. Every Republican attempt at fiscal discipline now ends with both higher spending and more taxes: that's the way it went with the Christmas blockbuster "Fiscal Cliff," and that's the way to bet with "Les Sequesterables," too. Even the IRS can't keep up: "tax season" is upon us, and yet they're not accepting tax returns from millions of Americans because the IRS hasn't yet managed to process the tax changes passed in the dead of night at New Year. American government is a joke – and, sadly, not one of those jokes that everybody takes seriously and kicks up a fuss about, like Seth MacFarlane's "We Saw Your Boobs" song that the New Yorker attacked for its "hostility to women in the workplace," or Joan Rivers' joke about Heidi Klum's Oscars gown that Abraham Foxman's Anti-Defamation League is busy issuing stern denunciations of. No, in an America in which every throwaway gag is a hate crime, Obama's fake disaster movie of the month is the only joke we all go along with, even though he's insulting our intelligence far more than Seth and the Los Angeles Gay Men's Chorus singing "We Saw Your Boobs" to Anne Hathaway and Halle Berry.
Can you pierce the mists of time and go back all the way to the year 2007? Back then, federal spending was 40 percent lower than it is today. In a mere half-decade, has all that 40 percent gravy become so indispensable to the general welfare that not even a teensy-weensy sliver of it can be cut?
If you really believe that, then America is going to die, and a gullible citizenry willing to give this laughable charade the time of day will bear ultimate responsibility. We have seen the boobs, and they are us.

Ghost Cities

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Unmasking the Grim Reaper's Foot Soldiers

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March 1, 2013

By Selwyn Duke

One day back in high school, a very interesting English teacher asked our class a moral question: if you could press a button and get a million dollars, but a little old man -- with no family, friends, or ties of any kind -- in the backwoods of China would die, would you push that button?
Approximately a third of the class raised their hands in the affirmative.
This story always comes to mind when I ponder the abortion question. The old line of the pro-abortion lobby was that they wanted abortion to be "safe, legal, and rare," implying it's some sort of necessary evil. Their reasoning always was, "Well, we don't know when human life begins, so whether or not to end a pregnancy should be the woman's choice." Of course, this position was never morally or philosophically sound. After all, if what lies within the womb is just an "unviable tissue mass," why worry about abortion being "rare"? Oh, yes, the pro-aborts aren't sure about the intrauterine being's status. All right, then what they're essentially saying is that they'll err on the side of recklessness. It may be murder, you know -- so we'll just do it a little bit.
Yet the truth is different still.
The militant pro-aborts couldn't have cared less about any of the above.
It was simply that pushing the button worked for them.
And now that we've descended further down the rabbit hole of atheism and barbarity, the mask is coming off. New York's Governor Andrew Cuomo just recently bloviated about keeping people safe from imaginary "assault weapons," but then in a later speech advocated abortion almost without restriction. He repeated passionately, "It's her body, her choice!" -- three times. Interestingly, this political tactic for manipulating the masses was recommended by Adolf Hitler in Mein Kampf: he said that the average person had a very short memory, so you must use pithy, catchy slogans and repeat them frequently. Hey, now we know why talk-show host Bob Grant dubbed Cuomo's father, a former NY governor, "Il Duce."
But Cuomo the Younger has plenty of company. When Barack Obama infected the Illinois Senate, he voted against the Born Alive Infants Protection Act (BAIPA) and inveighed against it on the Senate floor -- on more than one occasion. And understand this law's purpose. It would sometimes happen that a baby was born alive during a botched abortion, and, well, a good contract killer always finishes the job. So these poor children would be left to die of exposure, perhaps in lonely, soiled storerooms. And BAIPA would have prohibited this. But Push-button Obama?
He clearly had no problem with it.
Of course, he did say during the 2008 campaign that the question of when human life begins was above his "pay grade." But how far above? Is it that the president believes human life begins when a person can vote Democrat?
A better explanation was provided by former Obama aide Neera Tanden, who said that her ex-boss "really doesn't like people." And, well, people are people, no matter how small (hat tip: Dr. Seuss).

In reality, however, my erstwhile high-school peers, Cuomo, Obama, and the rest of the push-button Baal worshipers are simply moving closer to intellectual consistency as they move further from moral sanity. After all, think about where the "pro-choice" position takes us. It doesn't really matter what month one says human life "may" begin because we're always presented with the same correlative questions. What week of that month? What day of that week? What hour and minute of that day? And, then, what second of that minute?
This lends perspective. For what we then must accept is that one second the intrauterine entity isn't a person, but the next second it - although I suppose at that moment we can say "he" -- somehow magically becomes one. And this isn't even the moment of conception, a seminal event without which there would be no development in the womb whatsoever. So how, pro-aborts, does this humanizing transformation take place?
And this logic also applies to the justification of abortion throughout pregnancy... and beyond. After all, if it's okay to kill the intrauterine being in a certain month, what is the exact week, day, hour, and second of that month before which it isn't morally licit? This is a case where when seconds count, the police will never come because the wrong second deems you push-button prey.
But here is the reality: that being inside the womb is a person. And forget the intellectual contortions -- the truth will out. If it's all right to murder an innocent person one second, there is no reason to think it isn't okay the next, and then the next and the next and... well, finish the progression. So is Obama's tolerance for killing the already born really surprising? "Already born" simply refers to a change in a person's location -- not status. And note, the same is true of "born a long, long time ago."
This brings us back to my question of how the post-conception, second-to-second humanizing transformation occurs. The only logical (which isn't necessarily synonymous with correct) argument is that the moment in question is when the being is implanted with a soul; this is, after all, why Christians say that conception is when personhood begins. Yet theological discussions would be pointless here because the vanguard pro-aborts are secularists who, by and large, don't subscribe to antiquated ideas about souls and "sky fairies." They are materialists.
And this is why the atheistic world view ultimately makes respect for life incomprehensible. For if we don't have souls, we're just some pounds of chemicals and water -- mere organic robots -- as Stephen Hawking says he considers us. And what could be wrong with terminating the function of a robot? This "insight" frees you from the burden of performing more complex intellectual contortions. Big robot, small robot, temporarily residing inside a larger robot; what does it matter? Robots are robots, no matter how tall.
Taking the matter further, note that if there is no God, there can be no transcendent Moral Truth. Following from this is that what we call morality is just a reflection of man's wants, which means there isn't really any such thing as right and wrong; as the liberals are wont to say, it's all just a matter of "perspective." And with no Truth but only taste, no virtues but only "values," the formula becomes, as occultist Aleister Crowley devilishly put it, "Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law."
This is why I've said that if the leftists' moral relativism is taken to its logical conclusion, the result is sociopathy. After all, how does a conscience compute, fellow organic robots, if there is nothing to be conscientious about?
Now perhaps you better understand why leftists' behavior is often so sociopathic. And be afraid, be very afraid. Once the godless left has the power and the mask drops completely, it may be you who they push the button on next.
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Page Printed from: at March 01, 2013 - 06:41:20 AM CST

Hail Armageddon

By Published: February 28

The Washington Post

“The worst-case scenario for us,” a leading anti-budget-cuts lobbyist told The Post, “is the sequester hits and nothing bad really happens.”
Think about that. Worst case? That a government drowning in debt should cut back by 2.2 percent — and the country survives. That a government now borrowing 35 cents of every dollar it spends reduces that borrowing by two cents “and nothing bad really happens.” Oh, the humanity!
A normal citizen might think this a good thing. For reactionary liberalism, however, whatever sum our ever-inflating government happens to spend today (now double what Bill Clinton spent in his last year) is the Platonic ideal — the reduction of which, however minuscule, is a national calamity.
Or damn well should be. Otherwise, people might get the idea that we can shrink government and live on.
Hence the president’s message. If the “sequestration” — automatic spending cuts — goes into effect, the skies will fall. Plane travel jeopardized, carrier groups beached, teachers furloughed. And a shortage of junk-touching TSA agents.
The Obama administration has every incentive to make the sky fall, lest we suffer that terrible calamity — cuts the nation survives. Are they threatening to pare back consultants, conferences, travel and other nonessential fluff? Hardly. It shall be air-traffic control. Meat inspection. Weather forecasting.
A 2011 Government Accountability Office report gave a sampling of the vastness of what could be cut, consolidated and rationalized in Washington: 44 overlapping job training programs, 18 for nutrition assistance, 82 (!) on teacher quality, 56 dealing with financial literacy, more than 20 for homelessness, etc. Total annual cost: $100 billion-$200 billion, about two to five times the entire domestic sequester.
Are these on the chopping block? No sir. It’s firemen first. That’s the phrase coined in 1976 by legendary Washington Monthly editor Charlie Peters to describe the way government functionaries beat back budget cuts. Dare suggest a nick in the city budget, and the mayor immediately shuts down the firehouse. The DMV back office, stacked with nepotistic incompetents, remains intact. Shrink it and no one would notice. Sell the firetruck — the people scream and the city council falls silent about any future cuts.
After all, the sequester is just one-half of 1 percent of GDP. It amounts to 1.4 cents on the dollar of nondefense spending, 2 cents overall.
Because of this year’s payroll tax increase, millions of American workers have had to tighten their belts by precisely 2 percent. They found a way. Washington, spending $3.8 trillion, cannot? If so, we might as well declare bankruptcy now and save the attorneys’ fees.
The problem with sequestration, of course, is that the cuts are across the board and do not allow money to move between accounts. It’s dumb because it doesn’t discriminate.
Fine. Then change the law. That’s why we have a Congress. Discriminate. Prioritize. That’s why we have budgets. Except that the Democratic Senatehasn’t passed one in four years. And the White House, which proposed the sequester in the first place, had 18 months to establish rational priorities among accounts — and did nothing.
When the GOP House passed an alternative that cut where the real money is — entitlement spending — President Obama threatened a veto. Meaning, he would have insisted that the sequester go into effect — the very same sequester he now tells us will bring on Armageddon.
Good grief. The entire sequester would have reduced last year’s deficit from $1.33 trillion to $1.24 trillion. A fraction of a fraction. Nonetheless, insists Obama, such a cut is intolerable. It has to be “balanced” — i.e., largely replaced — by yet more taxes.
Which demonstrates that, for Obama, this is not about deficit reduction, which interests him not at all. The purpose is purely political: to complete his Election Day victory by breaking the Republican opposition.
At the fiscal cliff, Obama broke — and split — the Republicans on taxes. With the sequester, he intends to break them on spending. Make the cuts as painful as possible, and watch the Republicans come crawling for a “balanced” (i.e., tax-hiking) deal.
In the past two years, House Republicans stopped cold Obama’s left-liberal agenda. Break them now, and the road is open to resume enactment of the expansive, entitlement-state liberalism that Obama proclaimed in his second inaugural address.
But he cannot win if “nothing bad really happens.” Indeed, he’d look both foolish and cynical for having cried wolf.
Obama’s incentive to deliberately make the most painful and socially disruptive cuts possible (say, oh, releasing illegal immigrants from prison) is enormous. And alarming.
Hail Armageddon.

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Thursday, February 28, 2013

ICE releases hundreds of illegal aliens due to possible sequestration

Obama Terrorizes Public with Illegal Alien Releases

Posted By Arnold Ahlert On February 28, 2013 @ 12:20 am In Daily Mailer,FrontPage | 3 Comments
In one of the most politically despicable moves ever perpetrated by a sitting administration, federal immigration officials have released hundreds of illegal aliens from prison in anticipation of budget cuts produced by the sequester. “As fiscal uncertainty remains over the continuing resolution and possible sequestration, ICE has reviewed its detained population to ensure detention levels stay within ICE’s current budget,” said agency spokeswoman Gillian M. Christensen in a statement. Immigration officials further warned that even more releases are possible, if the anticipated cuts are realized.
In Arizona, Pinal County Sheriff Paul Babeu, who revealed that more than 500 inmates were released in his county alone, put this ploy in the proper perspective. “President Obama would never release 500 criminal illegals to the streets of his hometown, yet he has no problem with releasing them in Arizona. The safety of the public is threatened and the rule of law discarded as a political tactic in this sequester battle,” he said.
House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) and House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) were equally incensed. ”This is very hard for me to believe that they can’t find cuts elsewhere in their agency,” said Boehner in an interview on Tuesday night. “I frankly think this is outrageous. And I’m looking for more facts, but I can’t believe that they can’t find the kind of savings they need out of that department short of letting criminals go free.” Goodlatte concurred. “It’s abhorrent that President Obama is releasing criminals into our communities to promote his political agenda on sequestration,” he said in a statement. “By releasing criminal immigrants onto the streets, the administration is needlessly endangering American lives.”
Yet it gets even more cynical. The “most transparent administration in history” is not only releasing inmates, it is refusing to say how many have been released, and where those releases are taking place. Federal officials claim that the detainees are still being monitored, even as they continue to face charges. They also insisted that only nonviolent offenders will be let go.
That first claim is utterly disingenuous, if not an outright lie. How is an agency ostensibly so “devastated” by budget cuts that it is forced to release criminals into the streets better equipped to monitor individuals in numerous locations, as opposed to keeping track of a group of incarcerated detainees in far fewer locations?
As for only nonviolent offenders being released, it seems the definition of that term is also somewhat elastic. The New York Times profiled one “nonviolent” detainee named Anthony Orlando Williams. Mr. Williams became an illegal alien after overstaying his visa in 1991. In 2010, he was detained by a deputy sheriff in Gwinnett County, GA, not for being in the country illegally, but for violating his probation stemming from a 2005 conviction–for simple assault, simple battery and child abuse.
Yet ICE insists it has no choice, claiming the “current fiscal climate” has forced it to do a spending review, part of which includes examining who they have detained. “As a result of this review, a number of detained aliens have been released around the country and placed on an appropriate, more cost-effective form of supervised release,” ICE said in a statement.
The notion that the “current fiscal climate” has forced ICE’s hand is ludicrous. The entire amount of the reductions engendered by the sequester this year is $85 billion, out of projected budget of $3.5 trillion. Yet even the $85 billion may be overstated. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), ”Discretionary outlays will drop by $35 billion and mandatory spending will be reduced by $9 billion this year as a direct result of those procedures [sequestration]; additional reductions in outlays attributable to the cuts in 2013 funding will occur in later years.” In other words, the true cost of the sequester for FY2013 is only $44 billion. Yet even that number is misleading: regardless of any so-called reduction in spending, the federal government will spend $15 billion more this year than it did last year–and a full 30 percent more than it did as little as six years ago.
Unsurprisingly, advocates for illegal aliens favor the releases, maintaining that there are better and more cost effective alternatives to incarceration. They are further urging the Obama administration to maintain their current enforcement priorities, which include the refusal to arrest illegal aliens accused of low-level crimes, or ICE administrative violations.
Yet this latest effort may backfire. Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL), who contended that “the administration is using the sequester as a convenient excuse to bow to political pressure from the amnesty groups,” warned that such a move “lessened the chances” of comprehensive immigration reform. “With this new action, the administration has further demonstrated that it has no commitment to enforcing the law and cannot be trusted to deliver on any future promises of enforcement,” he added.
In a coordinated scare tactic, DHS Secretary Janet A. Napolitano on Monday warned that, if the sequester occurs, as many as 5000 border agents will also be furloughed, increasing the chances that even more, and possibly more dangerous, illegal aliens will be roaming the countryside. “I don’t think we can maintain the same level of security,” Ms. Napolitano contended.
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) cut right through the manufactured hysteria. In a letter sent to Ms. Napolitano, he outlined a host of alternative cuts Ms. Napolitano could make. Yet the most telling part of that letter was the revelation that DHS will have approximately $9 billion inunspent funds by the end of FY2013, “raising the question of why we would not start reclaiming these funds,” Coburn wrote.
Napolitano is not the only government official with options. Barack Obama has the authority to prioritize the sequester cuts in any manner he chooses. Yet this is what he said in 2011 when the Congressional Supercommittee was formed in a failing effort to avoid sequestration:
Already, some in Congress are trying to undo these automatic spending cuts. My message to them is simple: No. I will veto any effort to get rid of those automatic spending cuts to domestic and defense spending. There will be no easy off ramps on this one.
Yesterday the Wall Street Journal reported that Congressional Republicans are considering ways to give Obama an off ramp, as in the power to determine how the cuts are administered. The president has dismissed those efforts. The dismissal follows a Wednesday statement by White House press secretary Jay Carney claiming that ICE made the decision to release illegals “without any input from the White House.”
If that is true (which already strains credulity), then why doesn’t the same president who issued an executive order granting legal status to nearly a million illegal aliens last August, order ICE to stop releasing illegals from incarceration?
The answer is simple. Once again, the President of the United States has made it clear that he and his administration are prepared to implement their agenda by any means necessary. In this case, Obama, along with DHS and ICE officials, have now demonstrated that they are more than willing to potentially endanger American lives, rather than accept a “cut” that merely reduces the overall increase in government spending. The president undoubtedly sees such tactics as “negotiation.” Extortion is more like it.
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