May 10, 2010

Obama’s ‘Grocery Scanner Moment’ (Except That It’s Not Made Up) Mostly Ignored by the Press

ObamaAtHamptonU0510Yesterday, in the midst of the commencement address he delivered at Hampton University, President Obama made a startling “admission” (readers will see why “admission” is in quotes shortly):

And meanwhile, you’re coming of age in a 24/7 media environment that bombards us with all kinds of content and exposes us to all kinds of arguments, some of which don’t always rank that high on the truth meter. And with iPods and iPads; and Xboxes and PlayStations — none of which I know how to work — (laughter) — information becomes a distraction, a diversion, a form of entertainment, rather than a tool of empowerment, rather than the means of emancipation. So all of this is not only putting pressure on you; it’s putting new pressure on our country and on our democracy.

There are more troubling overtones inherent in the excerpt that many observers have already noted. I’ll stay away from them for the purposes of this post.

Those matters, aside, there are still a few pesky items that arise from the bolded portion of the excerpt.

If the President really doesn’t know how to “work” an iPod, which has been out since 2001, isn’t that just as bad or worse than the idea that President George H.W. Bush (Bush 41) supposedly marveled at the operation of a grocery scanner in 1992? (I say “supposedly” because, which if anything tends to err to the left, has definitively labeled those contentions, which were made twice by writers at the New York Times — here and here — “false.”) Journalists leaped to their conclusions about Bush 41 based on jaded “observation.” Here we have a president admitting to technical ignorance with no equivocation.

But the truth appears to be that Obama knows darned well how to “work” at least an iPod. At’s SciTech blog, John D. Sutter writes that “Given his apparent tech literacy, I wonder if Obama was kidding about not knowing how to work an iPod, iPad, Xbox or PlayStation. During the 2008 presidential campaign he told Rolling Stone his iPod contained songs by Bob Dylan, Jay-Z and cellist Yo-Yo Ma, among others. Presumably, his staffers didn’t turn it on and work it for him.” Just “kidding,” huh? How about “fibbing to ingratiate yourself with your audience”?

Further, Obama’s apparent belief that Xboxes and Playstations are commonly used as sources of “information” is pretty odd. Yes you can access the Internet with them, but the question is how many game console owners are doing so, and even if they are, whether it’s for playing games or to getting info. I’d suggest that to the extent game console owners are accessing the Internet, they’re usually doing so for gaming purposes, especially because the vast majority of households have computers with Internet access.

Press coverage of Obama’s “iPod moment” is pretty scarce.

Jackie Calmes at the New York Times dodged it. Her last paragraph’s quote begins in mid-sentence immediately after the iPod moment, but is presented as if a new sentence began instead. In her report at the Associated Press, Darlene Superville, last seen writing (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog) that General Motors and Chrysler shed 400,000 jobs in 2008 when they didn’t have that many employees to lose, avoided the controversial commencement paragraph completely.’s report did address the information-related items in Obama’s speech, but didn’t mention the President’s allusion to iPods and other gadgets. AFP’s coverage (“Obama bemoans ‘diversions’ of IPod, Xbox era”) was the sole exception.

It’s safe to say that the press would have jumped all over a Republican or conservative president claiming (or feigning) technical ignorance. Why? Because they uncriticially allowed the Obama campaign to do something very similar (actually, worse) to John McCain during 2008 the presidential campaign (noted at the time at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog).

The Obama campaign mocked McCain’s tech capabilities, saying that, “He (McCain) admits he still doesn’t know how to use a computer, can’t send an e-mail …” It turns out that “McCain’s severe war injuries prevent him from combing his hair, typing on a keyboard, or tying his shoes.”

The question, “At long last, have you no decency?” springs to mind.

These people have no credibility when they lecture the nation about “civility” or “ranking high on the truth meter.”

Cross-posted at

Beating A Dead Wife…

Filed under: Activism,Life-Based News — Rose @ 10:48 am

From (emphasis mine):

Terri Schiavo’s Ex-Husband Michael Threatens to Sue Her Family Over Foundation
St. Petersburg, FL (

Terri Schiavo’s name could be back in court, but this time for a different reason. Her former husband says he is considering a lawsuit against her family because they started a foundation in her name to assist other disabled who may be deprived of their legal rights and medical care.

The foundation was once named Terri’s Fight and existed before Terri’s death, which saw Michael Schiavo starve and dehydrate her to death over 13 days after winning a court order to take her life.

The Schindler family — Terri’s mother and father and brother and sister — headed up the foundation to defray legal expenses and costs to provide Terri the rehabilitative treatment and medical care Michael deprived her when he gave up on her recovery.

Following Terri’s painful euthanasia death, the Schindler family change(d) the name to the Terri Schindler Schiavo Foundation and it has raised a modest amount of money — less than six figures — to provide help and support for disabled people like her.

But, Michael, who said he never wanted anyone to profit from the use of Terri’s name, claims the helpful nonprofit organization is doing just that.

Michael says a court document gives him rights to the name Terri Schiavo and he says it means no one can use her name without her permission. His attorney has written to the Terri Schindler Schiavo Foundation telling it that its use of the name violates that court order.

Schiavo’s attacks are ironic given that he attempted to profit politically from Terri’s death, by starting a political action committee that supported candidates until it closed down after the FEC repeatedly fined it for late reports and violating reporting guidelines.

The rest is here.

Sigh, I have sinned in my anger, so pardon me for a moment…

“Dear Lord, please forgive me for wishing this reprobate in front of a [speeding] Mack truck. Amen.”

The ‘Tea Party’ of the Late 1930s

Filed under: Activism,Economy,Taxes & Government — Tom @ 9:05 am

It ended FDR’s rubber stamp. Is there a 2010 echo?


Note: This column went up at Pajamas Media and was teased here at BizzyBlog on Saturday.


The past year’s tea party movement is not the first popular uprising against an overtaxing, encroaching, economy-stifling government. Though its past version seems not to have involved much in the way of street demonstrations, it may have been even stronger than the modern phenomenon, at least so far. As noted later, it will be difficult to exceed its electoral performance.

No less a luminary that Michael Barone rediscovered this largely forgotten history in the course of creating his latest book, Our Country: The Shaping of America from Roosevelt to Reagan. Barone, correctly described as “one of the most learned political observers of our time,” was the first person to characterize the Obama administration’s modus operandi as “Gangster Government” when he wrote in May of last year about how it bullied and shortchanged disfavored secured creditors during Chrysler’s bankruptcy proceedings. His April 21, 2010 column (“Gangster Government becomes a long-running series”) excoriates the so-called financial regulation bill currently under consideration in the Senate as “the channeling of vast sums from the politically unprotected to the politically connected.” One look at the expected workings and powers of the Financial Services Oversight Council the bill envisions confirms Barone’s assessment.

Visits to various items published during 1937 and 1938 reveal that the anti-New Deal sentiment Barone learned of had legs — and impact.

President Obama’s stimulus bill passed in February of last year is what ignited an initial storm of protest that has been followed by a growing wave of political activism. In 1937, the equivalent spark was newly reelected President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s February 1937 proposal, buttressed by a March fireside chat, to pack the Supreme Court with six additional justices friendly to the New Deal’s statism and hostile to the original intent of the Constitution. The fighting words from his address were these: “We have, therefore, reached the point as a nation where we must take action to save the Constitution from the Court and the Court from itself.” He didn’t lack nerve, did he?

It wasn’t long before it became obvious that FDR had vastly overplayed his hand, as Obama would do 72 years later. After an initial lull, public reaction was furious. The proposal was denounced by much of the press, in letter-writing campaigns that ran 9-to-1 against, and even by Gallup polls that never showed majority support. This was a first for a president who had gotten his own way, except with the Court, during the previous four years. A formerly invincible politician had become a bit vulnerable, releasing more than a little pent-up frustration.

It’s virtually impossible without having been there to determine which outrages most set off anti-New Dealers — a group, by the way, that included plenty of Democrats as well as conservatives and Republicans. Here are a few that probably were near the top of the list:

  • There was the utopian community of Greenbelt, Maryland, which was promoted as a place where “the profit motive does not exist,” and “Uncle Sam is everybody’s landlord.” In a foreshadowing of the current stimulus plan’s cost per job “created or saved” excess, spending on the supposedly “low cost” project worked out to be more than $16,000 per house, or $250,000 in what’s left of today’s dollars.
  • The government had gone headlong into many industries, either co-opting or crowding out private players. A Victoria, Texas newspaper in June 1938 noted that “10,000 WPA (Works Progress Administration) units are making clothing, and … more than 100,000,000 garments have been produced.” It was also going to extraordinary lengths to prop up markets, buying “31,500 tons of dried prunes, 500,000 cases of grapefruit juice, and perhaps even enough wheat to cut down somewhat the tremendous surplus that looms.”
  • You want corruption? Apparently there was plenty of it. A Google News Archive search on ["New Deal" corruption] (typed as indicated within quotes) for 1937-1938 returns 246 items, many with dozens of “related” items. The Day of New London, Connecticut carried an August 17, 1937 story by David Lawrence describing “‘The Teapot Dome scandal’ of the Roosevelt administration,” where “everything possible is being done by the Democratic chieftains to prevent an investigation of the ‘racket’ by which corporations were shaken down and forced to pay tribute to the Democratic national committee in violation of the corrupt practices act.”

As would be expected, the intellectual elitism used today to defend Obamanomics was also on display during the New Deal. After allowing that “there is a great deal more anti-New Deal sentiment among smaller business men than the President and his counselors have conceded in their public utterances,” a rabbi writing a February 12, 1938 column in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette proceeded to characterize them as “little” businessmen “offer(ing) nothing constructive” while claiming, “There is no knowledge in them.” Echoing what we hear and see today directed at the financial and housing industries and George W. Bush, he also wrote that “the business world has developed no constructive program that will prevent a return to 1929-1932.”

Republicans led by New York gubernatorial candidate Thomas Dewey played up the corruption angle in the run-up to the November 1938 congressional elections and, in an ACORN echo, even warned that relief recipients were being cajoled into voting for Democrats.

On Election Night in 1938, an overwhelming Democratic majority (334-88 in the House, 76-17 in the Senate) shrunk considerably to 252-177 in the House and 69-23 in the Senate. The GOP gained 89 seats, while Democrats lost 82. After factoring in the considerable number of Democratic anti-New Dealers, it was clear that FDR’s rubber-stamp days were largely over. The New York Times, which had endorsed Roosevelt in 1932 and 1936, blubbered about how “party control and party responsibility have been restored to a more normal place in American government.”

R. Emmett Tyrell, Jr. at the American Spectator summarizes Barone’s take on what became of the late-1930s pushback:

Barone now believes that had World War II not arrived this late-1930s Tea Party manifestation would have supported a stiff challenge to FDR’s precedent-breaking third term.

Indeed, despite the world war and the dangers it was posing here, Roosevelt’s 1940 winning margin of 55%-45%, while wide by modern standards, was far narrower than his victories in 1932 (by 17%) and 1936 (by 24%).

The strenuous objections manifested during the early stages of FDR’s second term to his and the federal government’s increasingly authoritarian tendencies explain an item of fallout from his administration that most people have never quite understood. Posed as a question, it is this: Why, if historians are correct about the population’s general reverence for Roosevelt when he served, did Congress pass the 22nd Amendment only 19 months after the end of World War II, thereby ensuring that no future president could ever run for a third term in office? Further, why was the amendment able to attain its required ratification by three-quarters of the states just four years later, proving that it was far more than mischievous Republicans and conservatives who supported it?

Answer: Roosevelt’s legendary popularity with the masses is a convenient urban legend not supported by history. Despite FDR’s generally fine leadership during World War II, few Americans at the time wanted to risk a future re-run of his New Deal statism.

Can the popular uprising of 2009-2010 known as the tea party movement outdo its 1930s counterpart? Perhaps, but the modern version will have to overcome two sets of enemies: The left itself, and the considerable collection of control-obsessed, counterproductive, go-along get-along dingbats on the right who would rather empty their treasuries than see genuine sensible conservatives prevail.

10 Years Ago, Tony Snow Correctly Recalled Vietnam and Its Lessons

Filed under: Taxes & Government,US & Allied Military — Tom @ 6:00 am

First, a belated welcome back to Rose after a curricular and extracurricular hiatus.

In her first post back over the weekend, she, as she so often does, went to a place where the daily news-obsessed yours truly neglected to go, namely the 35th anniversary of when the helicopters left the U.S. embassy in Saigon.

The reax to that post was strong, and compelled me to look up the late Tony Snow’s classic from 10 years ago on the same topic.

Very few could pack as much into 800+ words as Tony. In the column that follows, thankfully archived by the indispensable Binyamin Jolkovsky at Jewish World Review (and nowhere else that I could find without heading to the library databases), Snow capsulized everything one needs to know and remember about that bitter chapter in American history.

I’ve heavily excerpted, but go to JWR for the whole thing (some paragraph breaks and quote marks added by me):

Prevailing myths of the Vietnam War
May 1, 2000

THE VIETNAM WAR marked the first time in American history that we waged war not only against a foreign enemy, but against ourselves.

Truth was the first casualty of that internecine fight, which means that now, on the 25th anniversary of our departure from Vietnam, many younger Americans know little about the war other than the grim idiocies passed on by the professors and the press.

Let’s refute some of those popular myths.

“Vietnam was an unjust war.”

Members of the self-described New Left argued in the ’60s that the people of Vietnam loved communism and that the South Vietnamese hungered for the ministrations of Ho Chi Minh. That proved thumpingly untrue. Within weeks of the American withdrawal from Vietnam, the Vietnamese people expressed their feelings about communism by crafting crude boats and trying to drift to freedom — much as Cubans do today.

“We had no reason to enter the battle.”

Vietnam differed from previous wars in that the Vietnamese could not conceivably bring the fight to American shores. But John Kennedy, the architect of the war, perceived a different reason for engagement. He was deeply anti-communist and believed in the “domino theory” — that if one nation in the region were to fall to communism, others would follow. Although college students of that era jeered at the notion, it turned out to be true. After Vietnam fell, so did Cambodia and Burma (now Myanmar). Millions subsequently died in communist “liberations.”

“The United States was an imperialist aggressor.”

Just the opposite was true. The United States, like France before it, was attempting to prevent communist imperialism. Like France, it failed. The Johnson and Nixon administrations, following the lead of Truman and Eisenhower in Korea, refused to call the war a “war,” designating it a “conflict” instead. …

“Vietnam War protests set off an age of youthful idealism.”

Vietnam War protesters — of which I occasionally was one — began their opposition to the war in earnestness and ended it in fecklessness.

Most protesters got involved not because they had lofty feelings about war and peace. They joined in because they were bored, because disobedience was exciting, because the movement provided the next best thing to a dating service and because they wanted a high-minded way to dodge the draft.

In retrospect, the tactics were wonderfully stupid.

… The boat people proved beyond all reasonable doubt that the Vietcong were peddling death and misery — and yet, left-wing commentators refused to acknowledge the fact. Many still do. Only communism could have turned the Vietnamese people into paupers. Here in America, Vietnamese immigrants have demonstrated their entrepreneurial and economic genius.

“We’re finally giving Vietnam veterans their due.”

Although Ronald Reagan and subsequent presidents have lavished Vietnam vets with praise, we can never give them what they deserve, which is their youth.

… Young people were instructed to fight, but not given the means to win. And when they stumbled home from the hell of jungle warfare, they had to endure taunts from a protest movement that viewed its cowardice as a form of nobility.

This sorry legacy does, however, permit us to formulate a pithy summary of the “lessons of Vietnam.”

First, if you enter a war, declare war and build popular support. Second, fight to win. Third, honor those who serve. And fourth, remember: A strong military is necessary not just to fight wars, but to prevent them. No sane outfit will mess with a superpower that not only has the means to fight, but the will to punish aggressors.

Ronald Reagan first and famously characterized Vietnam as a “noble cause” during the 1980 presidential campaign. The left and the media howled. The American people elected him, and reelected him, by convincing margins, both in the popular vote and the Electoral College, that have never been seen since.

Here is Reagan’s succinct statement on the cause’s nobility in 1988:

And yet after more than a decade of desperate boat people, after the killing fields of Cambodia, after all that has happened in that unhappy part of the world, who can doubt that the cause for which our men fought was just? It was, after all, however imperfectly pursued, the cause of freedom; and they showed uncommon courage in its service. Perhaps at this late date we can all agree that we’ve learned one lesson: that young Americans must never again be sent to fight and die unless we are prepared to let them win.

That final statement is worth noting at a time when we have a president for whom “victory” is unfortunately the virtual equivalent of a four-letter word.

Positivity: A bullet in Baghdad, a son’s need, a mother’s love

Filed under: Positivity,US & Allied Military — Tom @ 5:56 am

This is a long, read-the-whole-thing piece. Have a hanky at the ready.

From Manassas Park, Virginia (HT Michelle Malkin):

There are mothers who will spend today missing sons and daughters fighting overseas. There are women who have lost children in those wars, for whom Mother’s Day will never be the same.

And then there is Eva Briseno.

Joseph Briseno Jr., Eva’s 27-year-old son, is one of the most severely wounded soldiers ever to survive. A bullet to the back of his head in a Baghdad marketplace in 2003 left him paralyzed, brain-damaged and blind, but awake and aware of his condition.

Eva takes care of “Jay” in her suburban Virginia home where the family room has been transformed into an intensive care unit, with the breathing machine and tubes he needs to stay alive.

Try to imagine this life.

Each day starts with two hours of bowel care, an ordeal as awful as it sounds. She labors over his body, brushing his teeth, suctioning fluid from his lungs, exercising his limp arms and legs, and turning him every other hour to prevent bedsores.

She sleeps a few hours at a time, when the schedule says it is her turn, often slumped in exhaustion by his side. …