Saturday, August 23, 2008

Joe Biden on Joe Biden

Updates (2), below:

Here was Joe, speaking to just plain folks at a small reception on April 3, 1987, specifically in a blowhard response to a man identified only as "Frank," at a home in Claremont, New Hampshire.*

Joe dropped out of that race once the recounting of this story, and especially the several plagiarism allegations hit hard on the MSM circuit in the very early fall of that year.

At his blog, Brendan Nyhan gives the background of this, Joe's most famous dissembling moment. He also linked to the Micky Kaus take at Slate, and he reposted a subsequent New York Times story about the incident.

Here is the actual link to the New York Times takedown story from September of '87, by E.J Dionne, recounting and parsing all the details of Joe's blowhard claims to "Frank." That story was also recently re-posted here on The NRO Corner.


Really, no further explanation needed . . . except to say that this is going to be a colorful fall campaign!

Update 4:55 pm: Here's a thought. Perhaps Joe and the Vice-Presidential Presidential candidate should consider anointing themselves as, The TWO? Ed Morrissey at HotAir has posted the Obama gaffe at the rollout today! And, the Biden gaffe -- "Barack America."

Update II: The entire exchange between Joe and the questioner named "Frank" at that Democrat coffee klatch up in Claremont, New Hampshire, has now been posted on YouTube.** You can hear the question, Joe's defensive and blustering answer, together with all the boasts that were later proven false.

It is also interesting to hear him belittle the question about his plans, and call Democrats "heartless technocrats" for always being so concerned about 12 or 14 or 19 point plans.

Here it is:

* Source: a news rebroadcast of a CSPAN feed of the event, posted by 9195340, at YouTube)

** Source:

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Monday, August 18, 2008

A Liberal Entrée of Media Dish

Thomas F. Roeser is the chairman of the editorial board of The Chicago Daily Observer, and a regular columnist there of some considerable talent.

He has served up a generous course of media dish with his latest column, "How the Liberal Media Stonewalled the Edwards Story." (h.t., Newsalert, here).

Roeser simply left no large stones undisturbed. None.

Addressing the general and perennial accusation of "progressive" bias in the media, as manifested by to the failure to pursue this story, Roeser pegged that right off with two equally harsh and unequivocal diagnoses, each one having spilled, scent and all, right from an offending source:

Two journalistic liberals now attest to the fact. Howard Kurtz, media critic for The Washington Post last week blasted his mainline journalistic colleagues for trying to snuff out the truth because Edwards is a fellow liberal. He wrote, "the widespread allegations…were an open secret that was debated in every newsroom and reported by almost none." He was joined by Clark Hoyt, ombudsman for The New York Times whose job is to determine how impartial his newspaper is. He wrote, "The John Edwards 'love child' story finally made the national news media and made the front page of yesterday’s Times. For weeks, Jay Leno joked about it, the internet was abuzz and readers wondered why The Times and most of the mainstream media seemed to be studiously ignoring a story of sex and betrayal involving a former Democratic presidential candidate who remains prominent on the political stage."

Hoyt harshly condemned his employer: "Before Edwards' admission, The Times never made a serious effort to investigate the story, even as [The National Enquirer] wrote one sensational report after another."

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Thursday, August 14, 2008

Kremlin "Endorsement" of Obama?

*Update, below:

Shades of the Cold War! The Russian regime is now fully engaged in a clumsy, old style propaganda campaign, having told the Russian television breakfast crowd on the news today that the entire incident in Georgia was secretly "engineered" by Vice President Dick Cheney in order to promote the candidacy of John McCain, and prevent Barack Obama from being elected!

In fact, it's the "official" line, according to the above story in the Times of London filed by their Moscow correspondent, Charles Bremner, "Kremlin dusts off Cold War lexicon to make US villain in Georgia." (h.t. Drudge)

Russians were told over breakfast yesterday what really happened in Georgia: the conflict in South Ossetia was part of a plot by Dick Cheney, the Vice-President, to stop Barak Obama being elected president of the United States.

The line came on the main news of Vesti FM, a state radio station that — like the Government and much of Russia's media — has reverted to the old habits of Soviet years, in which a sinister American hand was held to lie behind every conflict, especially those embarrassing to Moscow. Modern Russia may be plugged into the internet and the global marketplace but in the battle for world opinion the Kremlin is replaying the old black-and-white movie.

The Obama angle is getting wide play. It was aired on Wednesday by Sergei Markov, a senior political scientist who is close to Vladimir Putin, the Prime Minister and power behind President Medvedev.

. . . .

The whole thing is really "camp" in a way, and Bremner's description of it as a "black-and-white movie" is exactly right. Plus, it definitely reads like the Kremlin is thereby implicitly endorsing Obama.

Now, if Obama was really sharp politically, he'd step right up to the plate and expressly and categorically reject any such suggestion. That would be duly noticed by those in the center. One trouble is that his foreign policy advisor, Susan Rice has already fanned the flames of the overall general notion, as was noted by Ed Morrissey on HotAir by ridiculously stating on Hardball that John McCain had aggressively "shot from the hip" with his response. No one else made such an asinine comment, but a sizeable contingent of his support base likely believes everything the Kremlin has said is all true -- so Obama would have to carefully calculate his response so as not to disappoint them!

*Update: Last night, Allahpundit at HotAir posted a sentence from the Times story as the Quote of the Day.

"Bush himself did not want a war in South Ossetia but his Republican Party did not leave him any choice."
Many of the comments at the post note the implicit endorsement of Obama angle therein.

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Tuesday, August 12, 2008

More On The Petraeus Interview

In a blog entry at his site, Michael Barone has also picked up on the 30-minute General Petraeus interview by Austin Bay through Bay's new presence at the new multi-media, Arena Channel. We posted about the convergence media interview on August 7th. If you haven't had the opportunity to check in on their interactive site, it is well worth it.

Michael mentions an observation by General Petraeus about al-Qaeda-in-Iraq having taken to operating as a "mafia" style organization, which Barone further notes is a not-uncommon historical tendency among terror outfits.

The splash page for the nascent Arena Channel can be found here. So far, there is one other contributor, Annie Jacobsen, an author whose work has focused on airline security, having a few years back, been as noted on the site "unwittingly involved in an airplane incident which many federal agents believe was a dry run for a terrorist attack."

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Sunday, August 10, 2008

Funny Comment of the Day

Here it is, on a post at Hot Air by Allahpundit, noting that even HuffPo is implying that Edwards lied to ABC's Bob Woodruff about the timeline regarding when he began his affair with Rielle Hunter, and when she was hired by the campaign to produce the video.

No real elaboration needed for this funny comment:
I donated $2,300 to the John Edwards campaign and all I got was six months of pampers for his "love child" .…

SaintOlaf on August 9, 2008 at 8:57 PM

Well . . . except to say that at least it's a better deal than those other early contributors got -- the ones who paid for a few $400.00 haircuts!

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Saturday, August 09, 2008

Blah, blah, blah . . .

Chapter One, "Plane Truths" . . . (h.t., Newsalert, Edwards on Morality, here)

In the credits at the end of this first chapter in the "Webisode Series, Following John Edwards," note the Director, and also one of the two on Camera.

Yep. "Rielle Hunter."

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Thursday, August 07, 2008

General Petraeus -- The Man "In The Arena"

(Update, o8/08, below:)
Ever the educator, Col. Austin Bay, Army Reserve (Ret.), a PhD (English & Comp. Lit.) from Columbia, and a graduate of the U.S. Army War College, has just launched a half hour web-based telephone interview presentation with the newly-confirmed head of CENTCOM, General David Petraeus, PhD, who has, since January, 2007, commanded the Multi-National Forces in Iraq, and overseen the implementation of the surge.

The Arena Channel:

Entitled, "A Conversation With General Petraeus," the interview presentation can be found on Bay's relatively new and ambitious website, The Arena Academy, or the Arena Channel. The interview turned out to be a thorough and in-depth look at a variety of issues related to our ongoing mission in Iraq, set in the context of the war on terror. You will need to register for entry into the Arena Channel site, but that is a significant benefit, as you receive timely e-mail notices of breaking and up-coming postings.

Austin Bay views this new and ambitious project as,
"an example of the Internet’s real contribution to serious discussion – space for the expert to elaborate, for concepts to evolve, for significant facts to receive due emphasis, for the experts and the audience to explore."
It certainly does not disappoint. More on the Arena website, below.*

The Petraeus Interview:

The interview, I think, speaks for itself, and really should be heard in its entirety. The West Point and Princeton-educated General broadly addresses what has been happening in Iraq, what we can hope for in the future, and what additional needs remain to be addressed.

In describing the current period of strategic change in Iraq, Petraeus pointedly emphasizes that those changes have not been, nor are they now "light switch" moments. He says they are what he would rather describe as a whole series of "rheostat" moments throughout the provinces and local areas, gradually giving rise to an emerging and improved overall security situation. In other words, he emphasizes that progress in Iraq has consisted of incremental progress, the difficulty at times even resembling a "Sisyphean endeavor."

Petraeus discusses the important role of interagency coordination and cooperation (diplomatic and military) throughout the surge, and the remarkable string of successes both he and our coalition troops, and the Iraqi Defense Ministry, including their security forces, military and civilian, have achieved over the course of that effort. He also specifically notes the importance of the appointment of Lt. Gen. Lute as the "point man" on Iraq and Afghanistan, within the White House.

Petraeus identifies areas where there are additional needs, including continuing the emphasis on improving the "entire arena" of the role of the rule of law to further reduce AQI, and other groups resort to mafia-style gang violence.

He sets it in the overall context of the Iraqi security force growth, their increasing ability to operate independently of MNF command, and their improving professionalism. Responding to another Austin Bay question about historical context, he also addressed the overall makeup of the Iraqi military on the ground at the beginning of the operation, and talks a bit about the pros and cons of disbanding that military at the time. He also opines on the flexibility and benefits of the CERP, or Commander's Emergency Response Program, which allows a commander to quickly fund small, non-military humanitarian projects, to help maintain stability within a region.

Petraeus also speaks cautiously but candidly, for example, about where we are headed, even including expectations regarding current verbal commitments being made by Moqtada-al-Satr to "return" his Mahdi army into a "human resources" or social-services network, a commitment al-Satr has made and broken in the past.

Noting that the General is about to assume the position of CENTCOM Commander, which will put Afghanistan within his bailiwick, Austin Bay asked Petraeus if he "had any thoughts about the campaign in Afghanistan right now?" Petraeus cautiously demurred: "Austin, I do, but I think it would be premature to offer them candidly."

Recently, Petraeus did offer a hint about his possible views in a recent AP interview story run in the Boston Globe, and written by AP military writer, Robert Burns, to the effect that al-Qaeda may be shifting some of their emphasis from Iraq to Pakistan and possibly Afghanistan, having seen the string of substantial defeats in Iraq:

"We do think that there is some assessment ongoing as to the continued viability of al-Qaida's fight in Iraq," Gen. David Petraeus told The Associated Press in an interview at his office at the U.S. Embassy.

Whatever the result, Petraeus said no one should expect al-Qaida to give up entirely in Iraq.

"They're not going to abandon Iraq. They're not going to write it off. None of that," he said. "But what they certainly may do is start to provide some of those resources that would have come to Iraq to Pakistan, possibly Afghanistan."

He said there are signs that foreign fighters recruited by al-Qaida to do battle in Iraq are being diverted to the largely ungoverned areas in Pakistan from which the fighters can cross into Afghanistan. U.S. officials have pressed Pakistan for more than a year to halt the cross-border infiltration. It remains a major worry not only for the war in Afghanistan but also for Pakistan's stability.

However, he also said he was cautious about the reliability of the intelligence. But it could indicate that al-Qaeda is having to reassess their long-held desire to establish Iraq as a militant Islamic state.

That goal, of course, would have required driving the United States out by political means, through a forced withdrawal, a reactive position long favored by many Democrats in Congress, including Senator Barack Obama. But the notable success of the surge over the past year has, at least temporarily, forestalled that pressure.

Finally, asked by Austin Bay to address a topic of his own choosing, the General immediately took the opportunity to credit the extraordinary contribution of the young men and women of the American military who have served there, under extremely difficult conditions.

He said of our young soldiers that they had performed magnificently, especially in conducting counterinsurgency warfare, requiring them to perform "offensive, defensive and civilian support operations, sometimes all in the same hour," and adding at the end of the interview that they have been called "'the new greatest generation,' and I absolutely buy into that."

Update: Early today, 08/08, Powerline posted more on the importance of this interview, together with a link to a transcript and audio located at Pajamas Media, located here.

* More on the Arena Website:

Bay's web presentation format itself proves to be quite user-friendly, consisting (with this interview) of a five-frame page, with three on the left side, starting at the top with a controller frame from which you stop or start the presentation. That window contains four summary choices to chose from, -- Summary, Credits, Chapters, or Resources. I kept it on the Chapter frame, a general bulleted outline that tells you at a glance where you are in the interview and presentation.

The third window, located beneath that is a feedback survey frame with a few queries that are posted during the course of the presentation, i.e., asking whether you supported or opposed the surge, or, toward the end of the interview, whether you found the presentation useful. It gives you instant summary feedback on the percentages and number of respondents.

The fourth and largest frame, really the focal point of the presentation, is located on the top right corner of the screen. It complements the audio with simultaneous "running" summary slides, in this case with Petraeus' responses, the text of each generously laced with links to a separate and considerable body of additional background information, accessable in separate windows.

In other words, during the interview, and while Petraeus is responding to a question about our coordination with the growing Iraqi army's responses to AQI, you see in that the upper right-hand quintrant of your screen, a slide containing a bulleted summary of Petraeus's response.

So, when he refers, for example, to the special groups, you could, if you wish, click on the embedded link for special groups and read background information about them, while listening to hs answer -- or, you could pause the interview, read the separate window, and then return right to where you left off in the interview, as you wish.

In the introduction portion of the interview, you can also follow any of the many links to read General Petraeus' bio, or link to descriptions of West Point, or to information about units he has commanded, or other related material. So you could click on and open a separate window and read and view public domain information about Multi-National Security Transition Command Iraq, or MNSTCI, as he succinctly describes its development and role.

And the final frame at the bottom right is set up to be either an automatic "feedback" e-mail window, a notepad, or comment thread, allowing participants to forward the link to friends or share comments with Austin Bay.

This website is, therefore, an extraordinarily informative and interactive tool for anyone seeking solid information on our ongoing role in Iraq. Prior to viewing the interview, I clicked on and viewed the entire Academy presentation on the consequences of a premature withdrawal, "A Rapid U.S. Military Withdrawal from Iraq," updated to, "CONSEQUENCES IRAQ UPDATE: Strategic Overwatch." It is hard to imagine anyone writing informatively about Iraq today without at least perusing the ample material available at Austin Bay's new website.

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Monday, August 04, 2008

Alexandr Solzhenitsyn Dies

Yesterday evening, the New York Times, in a short statement citing Interfax, announced that Alexandr Solzhenitsyn had died of ill health, at the age of 89. Today's papers carry considerable coverage, including a lengthy New York Times piece by Michael T. Kaufman.

Variously a novelist, poet, teacher and dramatist, he was the founder of a literary genre, a style through which he told the story of the Gulag Archipelago about the creation and administration of the vast Soviet penal system.

That three-volume work was based on his own experiences and the testimonials of hundreds of others. It is both a compelling and exhaustive work, describing details of the history of that system -- including mass arrests, imprisonments, tortures, and executions -- and tracing all the way back to Lenin and the founders of the Soviet system. In doing so, he exposed more of the ultimate evil underbelly of communism.

The work was not only officially embarrassing to the Soviets, it exposed their fundamental system of official political repression at the time when they were an emerging superpower in the years following World War II, and had been fiercely competing with the west in an ideological struggle for influence throughout the world.

He was the great Soviet dissident, becoming a central public figure in the history of the last quarter of the 20th Century, and a prominent and controversial intellectual influence on international thought.

Only one of his book-length works, One Day In The Life Of Ivan Desinovich, was published in Soviet Union. Nikita Khrushchev allowed it to be published for political reasons in 1962. As the First Secretary of the Soviet Communist Party, and Premier, Khruschchev had for several years been taking on his major predecessor, Josef Stalin, attacking the "cult of personality," and the "violation of Leninist norms," as well as calling the "great purges" crimes. Solzhenitsyn's book supported some of his anti-Stalinist claims.

But Solzhenitsyn also wrote many other great works, including The First Circle, Cancer Ward, his momumentally important historical novels of the Soviet Union, beginning with August, 1914, and it's later editions and successor works, known as The Red Wheel.

While his other works were consistently suppressed, and the manuscripts of some were confiscated, the Soviets were simply unable to ultimately silence him. It was one thing to go after the so-called "excesses" of Stalin had who ruled the Soviet Union for nearly thirty years, including throughout World War II. It was quite another to make the historical case that Stalin was merely the logical extension of Lenin, who put in place the entire repressive political police state system which Stalin then carried forward. That suggested the illegitimacy of the entire Soviet communist system, and of their own power.

But that was the case that Solzhenitsyn made, especially in the Gulag. In 1970, he achieved an irrepressible level of international fame, having been awarded the Nobel Prize for literature. Owing to his international fame, the Soviets were unable do away with him, but they could not allow him to remain. Eventually the Soviets deported him to West Germany in 1974, and stripped of his Soviet citizenship.

As my close friend reminded me last night (who specialized in Soviet studies in graduate school) the Soviets simply could no longer tolerate his presence in the Soviet Union. He said they perceived he was becoming a serious threat because they feared that he would gather an alternative and dissident intellectual following around him if he was allowed to remain in the Soviet Union. Solzhenitsyn himself as much as said so in his book, The First Circle, a key phrase of which is quoted in the MSNBC story about him today:

"A great writer is, so to speak, a secret government in his country," he wrote in "The First Circle," his next novel, a book about inmates in one of Stalin's "special camps" for scientists who were deemed politically unreliable but whose skills were essential.
That, of course, was an intolerable concept in a "one party" system.

Today's Times relates the very public struggle that took place following his expulsion from the Soviet writer's union. They name many of the dozens of well known writers defended him and signed petitions calling for "an international cultural boycott of the Soviet Union."

As also noted at Wikipedia, "During this period, he was sheltered by the cellist Mstislav Rostropovich, who suffered considerably for his support of Solzhenitsyn and was eventually forced into exile himself." (links in original)

The Soviets eventually deported him, whereupon he quietly emigrated to the United States in 1974. He located briefly in California, but settled in Cavindish, Vermont by 1976, where he lived in relative personal seclusion for 20 years, before returning to Russia after the collapse of the Soviet Union. His Soviet citizenship was restored in 1990, but he did not return to Russia to live until 1994.

Solzhenitsyn was actually a military officer in the Soviet Army during World War II, but as a result of his personal criticisms of Stalin's conduct of the war army, he came to the attention of the Soviet political hierarchy. The Soviet military, including the Army, had powerful political officers, known as "military commissars" attached at all levels who protected the communist party's complete control of those services, and who even had the authority to countermand a military commander's orders. Solzhenitsyn was critical of the manner in which the Army was run, and was eventually "arrested and convicted for writing a derogatory comment in a letter to a friend, N. D. Utkevich, about the conduct of the war by Joseph Stalin," having referred to Stalin's moustache in a derogatory manner.

During his imprisonment, he abandoned Marxism and returned to the Russian Orthodox faith of his youth that his mother had taught him. He survived severe illness, including cancer at a time when survival was nearly unheard of.

Throughout his life Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn remained a controversial figure, having critics in both the East and West. For example, he was both vigorously attacked and stoutly defended for his 2003 book, Two Hundred Years Together, in which he discussed the role of Jewish participants in the communist revolution, and in the ensuing Soviet bureaucracies, including the dreaded Cheka. In light of a long history of Russian anti-semitism, the work was viewed -- by critics and defenders alike -- as having breached what had been a taboo subject.

He was also highly critical of Western society, as was best exemplified by his Harvard Commencement address, given in 1978, in which he observed that:
[a]fter the suffering of decades of violence and oppression, the human soul longs for things higher, warmer and purer than those offered by today's mass living habits, introduced by the revolting invasion of publicity, by TV stupor and by intolerable music.
His overarching belief was that spirituality had been too long gone from our lives.
If the world has not come to its end, it has approached a major turn in history, equal in importance to the turn from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance. It will exact from us a spiritual upsurge, we shall have to rise to a new height of vision, to a new level of life where our physical nature will not be cursed as in the Middle Ages, but, even more importantly, our spiritual being will not be trampled upon as in the Modern era.

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Friday, August 01, 2008

Ah ONE and ah Two . . .

On July 15th, the New York Times published an article by Bill Carter claiming that even top comedians see nothing really funny about Barack Obama, implying that they were trying, but that so far, they had failed to find the humor.

Here was the NYT lede (sans link):

"What’s so funny about Barack Obama? Apparently not very much, at least not yet."

Two days thereafter, Politico posted a somewhat similar piece by Jeffrey Ressner.

Well . . . the following is funny, no? Naturally, Obama doesn't think so . . . his campaign thinks it's "sad and juvenile antics" according to Ben Smith at Politico. That's actually pretty funny, too.

Is it that humor, like beauty, is in the eye (and the mind) of the beholder? I think I could correctly guess that much of Jon Stewart's audience would not find this ad particularly funny either.

But it is. And Barack has no one to look to but himself. He said these things.

My introduction to the biting humor in sarcasm was when my father first told me, "Just remember . . . there's nothing funnier than an explained joke!"

Maybe that was Bill Carter's problem. He was looking for someone else to explain why Barack Obama was (or was not) funny. He should have figured it out for himself.

He is funny! Buddy Hackett once demonstrated to a guest on the Tonight Show that the essence of humor is . . . timing!

Barack, this is your time!

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