American Elephants

Obama Signs Freedom of the Press Act, Ignores the Press. by The Elephant's Child

At a signing ceremony for the Freedom of the Press Act, President Obama, like his Attorney General could not bring himself to identify the killers of the fearless reporter, in whose name the bill was presented.  Daniel Pearl was beheaded by Islamic terrorists, and our president could not bring himself to say the word jihad, terror, Islam, or any other word that might possibly offend anyone.  Obama said:

And obviously the loss of Daniel Pearl was one of those moments that captured the world’s imagination because it reminded us of how valuable a free press is, and it reminded us that there are those who would go to any length in order to silence journalists around the world.

The loss of Daniel Pearl did not “capture the world’s imagination.” It enraged much of the world at the senseless brutality of Islamic jihadists.  It enraged the world that  freedom of the press was so disrespected.  And does the Freedom of the Press Act have some kind of teeth that will protect future reporters around the world?  Does it restrain governments who imprison members of the press, or allow them to be beaten or harmed?  Obama continued:

What this act does is it sends a strong message from the United States government and from the State Department that we are paying attention to how other governments are operating when it comes to the press.  It has the State Department each year chronicling how press freedom is operating as one component of our human rights assessment, but it also looks at countries that are — governments that are specifically condoning or facilitating this kind of press repression, singles them out and subjects them to the gaze of world opinion in ways that I think are extraordinarily important.

Oftentimes without this kind of attention, countries and governments feel that they can operate against the press with impunity. And we want to send a message that they can’t.

So, if I am reading the President’s statement correctly, the State Department will take notes each year, and if anyone is mean to members of the press, our State Department will ferociously disapprove, in words that will not offend anyone of course,  or something like that.

So “sending a message” will be about as effective as all the other times we “send a message.”  It’s not a priority, and we mangle our messages by apologizing to brutal governments who imprison members of the press and keep them there for years, for things like Arizona trying to force the federal government to protect the borders.

Following the signing ceremony, the press was quickly ushered out of the room without being offered any opportunity to ask questions. Since this is a bill about the freedom of the press, one might assume that the press might have some questions, but that was not allowed.  President Obama has become increasingly remote from the press, except when he is in total control.

Obama’s last formal press conference was July 22, 2009.

It’s Time to Move on Free Trade! by The Elephant's Child

President Obama has claimed to favor free trade. But as in so many cases, what he says doesn’t mean there will be any action.   The free-trade pacts with Columbia, Panama and South Korea have been “pending” for the last sixteen months.  Big Labor does not like free trade.  This one big interest group has driven much of Obama’s action or inaction on almost every administration program or policy.

This week there is some rumbling in the background.  Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made an impassioned plea at the Council of the Americas for Columbia  to hang on just a bit longer, assuring Bogota of  U.S. “commitment”.

John Kerry, Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations committee, is focusing on South Korea and the increasingly dangerous situation on the peninsula.  He made a forceful plea to Obama along with GOP Sen. Richard Lugar, to use the trade pact to seal ties.  It is critical to secure the relationship.

U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, and Defense Secretary have separately made pleas for action from Democrats.

Contrary to Union objections, these trade pacts mean job opportunities and markets for U.S. Companies.  The three countries are signing pacts with Europe and other countries while Obama dithers.  There are limits to how long pacts can languish before governments move on.

If this was Obama’s aim, it’s another job killer, and a legacy-killer for his presidency.  It does not serve American interests.

An Attack on Times Square? Quick, Cut NY Security Funds! by The Elephant's Child

Let’s see, we just had an attempt — fortunately botched — to blow up an unknown number of people in Times Square by an Islamic radical.  The response from the White House has been to play it down, sniff at the bumbling, attempt to modify our language in the fear that someone would say something that offends someone, and to wonder if we should change the Miranda warning rules instead of changing who we apply them to, and insisting that there’s no reason not to try KSM in New York.  All very strange.

The administration is funding anything and everything,  as is demonstrated by figures on the deficit, the national debt and the budget about which no one is willing to speak.  So where are they suddenly becoming tightwads?

In 2005, New York received almost 41 percent of homeland security funds.  Obama dropped it to 30 percent and now they are cutting it further.

This is the second attempted attack on New York in recent months.  In September, the FBI disrupted an attack on the New York subway system.  New York is the nation’s financial and cultural capital, and as such, a prime target.  On the fifth anniversary of 9/11, al Qaeda attempted to blow up seven planes headed for America as they crossed the Atlantic.  They are big on anniversaries — will they have something special planned for the tenth anniversary? New York probably needs more money, not less.

We aren’t doing much about capturing terrorists and interrogating them so we can try to stop attacks before they happen, either.  You can’t do that and pretend there is no such thing as Islamic radicals.

The Obama Administration’s Continuing Case of Foot in Mouth Disease. by The Elephant's Child

The United States reported no breakthrough in their second round of talks  about human rights since 2002.  The administration wants to push Beijing into treating its citizens better, but it also needs Chinese support on Iranian and North Korean nuclear standoffs, climate change and other difficult issues.

Michael Posner, the assistant secretary of state, told reporters that another round will happen sometime next year in Beijing.  He will participate, he said, in an economic and security summit in Beijing this month.

The tone of the discussions was very much “We’re two powerful, great countries.  We have a range of issues that we are engaged on.  Human rights is part of that discussion, and it will remain so.

Posner said that in addition to talks on freedom of religion and expression, labor rights and the rule of law, officials discussed Chinese complaints about problems with U.S. human rights, which have included crime, poverty, homelessness and racial discrimination.

He said U.S. officials did not whitewash the American record and in fact raised on its own an a new immigration law in Arizona that requires police to ask about a person’s immigration status if there is suspicion the person is in the country illegally. (emphasis added)

Let’s see.  China imprisons dissidents, practitioners of Falun Gong, has killed millions of their own citizens, persecutes the Uighur, and there is the case of Tibet, and Mr. Assistant Secretary of State shamefully admits that the United States cannot control illegal immigration.

The federal government will not protect the citizens of Arizona from drug gangs and smugglers on our Southern border; so the state of Arizona is forced to enact a law enforcing federal immigration laws, in order to force the federal government to do their job.  Well, it’s so nice that Mr. Posner did not “whitewash” our record.

It’s not enough that the President of the United States travels the world apologizing for his country.  Now he sends his minions out to do the same.  When you send out people to represent this country who are historically and morally ignorant, you succeed only in making America appear weak.

Power Line has more, and Posner’s remarks are even more embarrassing than detailed in the AP report.

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