April 11, 2009

Mark Steyn Notes TB’s NB Post on ‘Distractions,’ and Makes Important, Attention-Getting Points

Yeah, this was pretty cool (bold is mine; link added by me):

If the incompetent management driving The New York Times from junk status to oblivion wished to decelerate their terminal decline, they might usefully amend their motto to “All The News That’s Fit To Distract.” Tom Blumer of Newsbusters notes that in the past 30 days there have been some 2,500 stories featuring Obama and “distractions,” as opposed to about 800 “distractions” for Bush in his entire second term. The sub-headline of the Reuters story suggests the unprecedented pace at which the mountain of distractions is piling up: “First North Korea, Iran – now Somali pirates.”

But it’s what Steyn did with the “distracting” info that makes him the world’s One Man Global Content Provider:

Er, OK. So the North Korean test is a “distraction,” the Iranian nuclear program is a “distraction,” and the seizure of a U.S.-flagged vessel in international waters is a “distraction.” Maybe it would be easier just to have the official State Department maps reprinted with the Rest of the World relabeled “Distractions.” Oh, to be sure, you could still have occasional oases of presidential photo-opportunities – Buckingham Palace, that square in Prague – but with the land beyond the edge of the Queen’s gardens ominously marked “Here be distractions…”

As it happens, Somali piracy is not a distraction but a glimpse of the world the day after tomorrow. In my book “America Alone,” I quote Robert D. Kaplan referring to the lawless fringes of the map as “Indian Territory.” It’s a droll jest but a misleading one, since the very phrase presumes that the badlands one day will be brought within the bounds of the ordered world. In fact, a lot of today’s badlands were relatively ordered not so long ago, and many of them are getting badder and badder by the day. Half a century back, Somaliland was a couple of sleepy colonies, British and Italian, poor but functioning. Then it became a state, and then a failed state, and now the husk of a nation is a convenient squat from which to make mischief. According to Chatham House in London, Somali pirates made about $30 million in ransom and booty last year. Thirty mil goes a long way in Somalia, making piracy a very attractive proposition.

It’s also a low-risk one. …..

….. When all the world’s a “distraction,” maybe you’re not the main event after all. Most wealthy nations lack the means to defend themselves. Those few that do, lack the will. Meanwhile, basket-case jurisdictions send out ever bolder freelance marauders to prey on the civilized world with impunity. Don’t be surprised if “the civilized world” shrivels and retreats in the face of state-of-the-art reprimitivization. From piracy to nukes to the limp response of the hyperpower, this is not a “distraction” but a portent of the future.

That would appear to be the case as long as President ‘Prompter and his current crew are in office. April 12: Blessedly, in this case, this assessment was wrong. Let’s hope this is a long-term trend.

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UPDATE: The BizzyBlog post Steyn should have referred to (/kidding) is here.

UPDATE 2: Steyn at the Corner — “…. while the pirates send for reinforcements, the President sends for pizza.”

UPDATE 3: Ed Driscoll at PJM — “When The Going Gets Tough, The Aloof Call Pizza Hut.”

UPDATE 4: What in the world is so funny, Hillary (YouTube direct; HT Gateway Pundit via Instapundit)?

My guess is that this is not playing well in Underhill, Vermont.

If Condi or Powell had been caught on tape like this, there would have been howls of outrage for weeks. There should be howls of outrage now.

AP Decides March Deficit Is More Important Than Year-To-Date, Claims 2010 Deficit Will Be ‘Inherited’

I got this e-mail yesterday from CNN shortly after Uncle Sam’s Monthly Treasury Statement for March was released:

CNNdeficitEmail041009

That was indeed a serious piece of news. Only halfway through the year, the federal government’s deficit for fiscal 2009 is already larger by far than any previous year’s deficit.

So I was curious to see how the Associated Press’s Martin Crutsinger might work this story to minimize the damage to Dear Leader, President ‘Prompter himself, Barack Obama.

That Crutsinger and AP intended to go above and beyond the call of duty was obvious in the headline:

APheadlineForMarch09Deficit.jpg

Here are the first few paragraphs from Crutsinger’s report:

The Treasury Department said Friday that the budget deficit increased by $192.3 billion in March, and is near $1 trillion just halfway through the budget year, as costs of the financial bailout and recession mount.

Last month’s deficit, a record for March, was significantly higher than the $150 billion that economists expected.

The deficit already totals $956.8 billion for the first six months of the budget year, also a record for that period. The Obama administration projects the deficit for the entire year will hit $1.75 trillion.

A deficit at that level would nearly quadruple the previous annual record of $454.8 billion set last year. The March deficit was nearly four times the size of the imbalance in the same month last year.

In a later passage, Crutsinger attempted to deflect blame from Obama not only for the fiscal year 2009 deficit, but also for fiscal 2010. I’m serious. Read this:

The administration projects that after hitting $1.75 trillion this year, the gap between spending and tax revenues will dip to $1.17 trillion in 2010, and plunge to $533 billion in 2013. If accurate, that would fulfill Obama’s pledge to cut the deficit he inherited in half by the end of his current term in office.

The deficit Obama has promised to cut in half is 2010′s. Crutsinger is thus claiming that 2010′s deficit, not just 2009′s, is “inherited.”

Even the argument that Obama is “inheriting” all of the fiscal 2009 deficit is absurd on its face. Most obviously, a large portion of so-called stimulus money based on legislation passed this year is supposed to be spent, or I should say sent, in fiscal 2009. Much of it won’t really be used by its state, local, and other recipients until fiscal 2010 or 2011.

Obama and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner are the ones deciding to distribute TARP money far and wide, and spreading it to recipients, including auto-parts suppliers, beyond those targeted during the Bush administration. Geithner is also the one who has recently created the Toxic Assets Program. This is what Congress was told TARP would originally be when it passed the original bailout legislation last year. This administration is the crew that has decided that the government should not only “invest” in banks, but also buy their junk.

But Crutsinger clearly goes beyond the absurd to claim that Obama is also inheriting fiscal 2010′s deficit of $1.17 trillion.

What? The Obama administration is indeed saying that it will cut 2010′s deficit by half in three years. But as far as I know, the administration has never said that its projected 2010 deficit will be “inherited.”

But then again, they don’t have to, because lapdog reporters like Crutsinger will do it for them.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

Positivity: He Worked in This Town Again

Filed under: Business Moves,Positivity — Tom @ 8:55 am

From Friday’s Wall Street Journal, a tale of two heroes (important historical background facts are in bold):

…. the first time a (McCarthy era) blacklistee was openly brought back into the Hollywood fold actually came almost a decade earlier with the rehabilitation of 42-year-old director and former communist Edward Dmytryk. A young Ronald Reagan, of all people, was substantially responsible.

Despite establishing himself as the father of film noir with “Murder, My Sweet” in 1944, the studios officially wanted nothing to do with Mr. Dmytryk. In 1947, executives fired him and other communists who refused to cooperate with a congressional investigation about Communist Party activity in the movie industry.

By that year, Mr. Dmytryk no longer considered himself a communist, but he had yet to formally sever his ties to the party. He said that his refusal to answer questions before Congress was motivated by what he considered the unfairness of the inquiry rather than by party loyalty, but his stance still earned him a prison term. After serving four months, he was released in 1951. Alarmed by communist aggression around the world, especially in Korea, Mr. Dmytryk sought to distance himself from the party. “It made me realize there is a communist menace and that the Communist Party in this country is a part of that,” he said.

Communist operatives feared that Mr. Dmytryk’s apprehension would turn him into a whistleblower, so they pre-emptively started a campaign of character assassination and harassment against him. Because Reagan had helped block communist attempts to seize control of Hollywood unions five years earlier, Mr. Dmytryk knew that he would be sensitive to his plight.

In the winter of 1951, a small group led by Reagan, who was then president of the Screen Actors Guild, began meeting late at night in an office on Canon Drive in Beverly Hills. Its unique mission was to save the broke, unemployed director.

Mr. Dmytryk’s story was a searing indictment of the party. He described being part of a conspiracy to break up the American Federation of Labor in Hollywood and to replacing it with unions controlled by communists. He revealed that the party bullied filmmakers into molding the editorial content of pictures in keeping with the party line.

He also said that the party had twisted his legal battle into a First Amendment issue so as to demonize congressional investigations. “It was like everything else the communists do,” he told the Saturday Evening Post. “They would go into a lynching case, but instead of trying to help the Negroes, what they are really after is to use the incident to stir up still more trouble. The Negroes don’t matter — they’re just a means to an end.”

Reagan was emphatic that Mr. Dmytryk go public. When Mr. Dmytryk agreed, Reagan built a coalition of liberals and conservatives to champion him. The team purchased a full-page ad in the Hollywood Reporter. “The Communist Party is now trying to destroy Edward Dmytryk,” it read. “We will be surprised if there are not other attacks by the Party on other former communists who have the guts to stand up and be counted and to tell the truth.”

Reagan argued to friends and colleagues that Mr. Dmytryk ought to be embraced for breaking with the Stalinists. The Reagan team even vouched for Mr. Dmytryk when he applied for life insurance.

Later that summer, producers at Monogram Pictures were finally persuaded to hire Mr. Dmytryk. Communists asserted that he had struck a secret deal while incarcerated, agreeing to “name names” in exchange for a lucrative studio contract. In truth, there was no deal. The salary he received was a fraction of what he was making at the peak of his career. Eventually, he reclaimed some of his prestige, directing “Raintree County” (1957) and “The Young Lions” (1958). …..

Read the whole thing.