– Bud Norman
– Bud Norman
– Bud Norman
– Bud Norman
– Bud Norman
– Bud Norman
The Univision network isn’t a staple of our sparse television diet, mostly because we don’t habla español or watch soccer, but we must now tip our hat to the same good folks that give the world Sãbado Gigante. Although the network serves a mostly Hispanic audience, it did the entire nation a favor on Thursday by actually lobbing a few tough questions at Barack Obama.
This is such an unusual occurrence that the combative nature of the questions proved more newsworthy than the questionable answers they provoked. Even the reliably liberal Politico, which has had plenty of opportunities to pose a tough question or two, was forced to concede that Obama “faced some of the toughest questioning of his reelection campaign to date.”
Host Jorge Ramos demanded to know why the president had failed to pass a promised immigration reform law even when his party held overwhelming majorities in both chambers of Congress, prompting Obama to go right ahead and blame the Republicans Ramos, but Ramos retorted that “You promised that, and a promise is a promise, and with all due respect, you didn’t keep that promise.” Ramos was as aggressive in asking about the botched Fast and Furious gunrunning operation, which resulted in the death of more than 200 Mexicans as well as an American law enforcement agent, and when Obama blamed the Bush administration and some unnamed low-level employees Ramos posed a follow-up question about why Attorney General Eric Holder shouldn’t be fired.
Proving that Hispanics also care about the same national security issues as the rest of the right-thinking people in America, Ramos also asked some unexpectedly tough questions about the deadly attack on the American consulate in Libya. Ignoring the query about why the United States wasn’t better prepared for the violence, Obama continued to blame the incident on a rarely-seen and amateurishly produced movie and said that he was awaiting the results of investigation before concluding if the attack was terrorism.
Numerous stories have been published lately detailing the lax security at the consulate and the warnings from foreign governments that were ignored, all of them embarrassing to the administration, but most have come from the foreign press and none of them have gotten the screaming headlines and indignant broadcasts that would have surely occurred if such a screw-up had been committed a Republican administration. If Obama seemed a big weak in his response, it can be attributed to his surprise that anyone should ask such impertinent questions.
– Bud Norman
A few days ago we were splashing around a friend’s backyard pool, a much appreciated invitation in a Kansas summer, and a woman of our mutual acquaintance who had dropped by made a complimentary remark about the wooden gateway and concrete base that our friend had recently built. “You didn’t build that,” we teased him, “somebody else made that happen.” Our friend chuckled knowingly at the witticism, but the woman of our mutual acquaintance was clearly perplexed by it. We helpfully explained that the remark was an allusion to President Barack Obama’s recent speech in Roanoke, Virginia, where he made the very same comment about America’s business owners, and she was not the least embarrassed to admit that she had no idea what we were talking about.
Her ignorance of the speech left us looking perplexed. After all, the speech had been widely reported by almost all of the media, touched off a week’s worth of debate among the chattering classes, been highlighted by a widely disseminated advertisement from the Romney campaign, and it’s “You didn’t built that” line had immediately become as iconic an epigram for Obama’s administration as “I didn’t have sex with that woman” had been for Bill Clinton’s. We had assumed that the phrase was by then as ubiquitous as a catch phrase from “Laugh-In” or “Seinfeld,” and that even the most obstinately ignorant Americans would be aware of it, so it came a surprise that such a sentient woman could have somehow been aware of it.
People do manage to avoid hearing of such things, though, and often enough that we really shouldn’t have been surprised by the woman’s apparently blissful ignorance. We can recall another conversation with a young fellow who boasted of how the current administration had gone three years without a single scandal, which he clearly regarded as a most remarkable accomplishment. We asked if he didn’t consider the Fast and Furious operation, with its Keystone Kops plotline and massive body count, or find the Solyndra fiasco, with its mix of high-minded “green” idealism and corrupt cronyism, to be scandals. We then threw in the resignations of admitted communist Van Jones and the Mao-admiring Anita Dunn, the Justice Department’s lax attitude towards black supremacist voter intimidation, and a few other choice contretemps, asking if he didn’t find any of these the least bit scandalous. He was not only unfamiliar with any of the stories, but dubious that they had happened at all, and angrily demanded to know if we had heard these scurrilous lies on the Fox network.
An aversion to news outlets that provide news challenging to one’s own opinions is part of the problem. Politically-minded people who only want to hear things that deify their guy and impugn the others can now easily find a suitable magazine, network or internet site. This phenomenon leads some media critics to pine for the old days when everyone in the country got their news from the same three networks, a few newsweeklies, or the lone daily newspaper, but it’s likely that if the old order were still in place even right-wing news junkies such as ourselves wouldn’t have heard anything in the past four years or so that suggests the current administration hasn’t been scandal-free and wildly successful in all its efforts.
A larger part of the problem, alas, is that so many people don’t bother to seek out any information on current events even in the most sympathetic media. In some cases this is a result of cynicism, in others mere apathy, and oftentimes plain old stupidity, but in no cases does it ever prevent the ignorant from feeling entitled to an opinion and a vote.
The determinedly unaware segment of the population tends to vote Democrat, or so we have observed, and for a variety of reasons. Those who don’t follow the news still wind up hearing the generally left-leaning views of late night comedians, movie stars, and other opinion-makers, and never hear of the arguments advanced by the less glamorous but better-informed pundits. Hearing the anti-business tirade that Obama launched in Roanoke might not have dissuaded the woman at the pool from voting for him, as she shares the president’s resentment of the prosperous entrepreneurs, but at least it would have forced to her form some coherent argument for her envy.
On the other hand, she might never hear that Mitt Romney is a dog-torturing, woman-hating, tax-evading cad who somehow made money by sending his businesses into bankruptcy and then killed a factory worker’s wife. She’s also unlikely to avoid the mounting evidence of economic decline that daily confronts everyone who has to work for a living, whether they ever pick up paper or not, and no one will get the opportunity to explain that it’s all the fault of the people who have been out of power the past several years.
– Bud Norman
An upcoming House vote on holding Attorney General Eric in contempt of Congress has forced reluctant news media to belatedly explain the Fast and Furious scandal, but so far no one has offered a satisfactory explanation of what the heck those government agents were thinking when they launched the now-infamous “botched law enforcement operation.” We don’t know, either, but offer the following scenario, an entirely fictitious account first presented as a skit at the annual Gridiron show, as one possibility.
(Scene opens at a hearing of a Senate investigating committee, with Senators Forehead, Cheeks, Chin and Lips seated at a table. Across from them is Chip Wilson of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms.)
SEN. FOREHEAD: This session of the Senate’s investigation into Operation Fast and Furious will now come to order. Our first witness is Mr. Chip Wilson of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, the man who devised this program. Mr. Wilson, could you please tell us what Operation Fast and Furious was all about?
WILSON: Certainly, Senator. Operation Fast and Furious was a program carried out by the BATF under the auspices of our supervisory agency, the Department of Justice. Basically, the program involved our facilitating the sale of more than 2,000 guns, grenades, and other weapons to various Mexican drug gangs.
SEN. FOREHEAD: You purposely helped in the sale of 2,000 guns, grenades, and other weapons to Mexican drug gangs?
SEN. CHEEKS: I’m sorry, Mr. Wilson, but I have to ask you this. Why on earth would you ever facilitate the sale of more than 2,000 guns, grenades, and other weapons to Mexican drug gangs?
WILSON: We wanted to see if anything bad would happen.
SEN. CHIN: Good lord, man, those guns have been linked to more than 200 murders. I think it’s fair to say that something bad did happen.
WILSON: Yes, and now we know. In that regard, at least, I think the operation has to be considered an unqualified success.
SEN. CHIN: Mr. Wilson, one of the murder victims was an American immigration agent. Several Mexican policemen and government officials were also killed.
WILSON: With all due respect, Senator, I don’t think it’s productive to quibble over who’s responsible for whose bloody murder. The important thing is that we now have definitive proof that Mexican drug gangs are not the kind of people you want to be selling heavy weaponry to. If you don’t think that’s important, Senator, well, frankly, I’m disappointed by how very incurious you are.
SEN. LIPS: Mr. Wilson, I am shocked that this cockamamie operation of yours ever won approval from the Department of Justice. When did Attorney General Holder learn of this?
WILSON: I recall that Attorney General Holder testified before this very committee that he learned of it in May of 2011, so I’ll go with that.
SEN. LIPS: We have e-mails from you and other officials discussing this matter with him that are dated well before that.
SEN. FOREHEAD: What I’d like to know, Mr. Wilson, is how a person such as yourself ever wound up an employee of a federal agency.
WILSON: Well, Senator, ever since I was a kid there was nothing I loved more than drinkin’, smokin’ and shootin’ off guns. So when I heard that there was a Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, well, it seemed a good fit. I soon discovered that I had been somewhat misled by the name about the kind of work they do there, but by then I was a government employee, and as you know, there was no getting rid of me at that point.
SEN. CHEEKS: Mr. Wilson, do you have any professional or academic credentials for your job?
WILSON: Well … KU. Senator, if it makes you feel any better, I have recently accepted a reassignment and will be leaving my current post.
SEN. FOREHEAD: Well, I’m sure we can all be grateful for that.
– Bud Norman
This Fast and Furious business keeps getting worse for the Obama administration.
A House oversight committee voted on Wednesday to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for refusing to hand over requested documents about the “gun-walking” fiasco, and it’s likely that next week the full House will do the same. Most Americans hold Congress in some degree of contempt, and Holder’s invocation of executive privilege raises the sort of complicated legal issues that send the average voter in search of a celebrity sex scandal or a box score, but the story should nonetheless undermine public confidence in the president and his appointees to some extent.
A contempt of Congress vote is the sort of thing that the major media outlets feel obliged to report on, no matter how much they’d prefer to ignore it, and in this case it will require that they give their readers and viewers some background information about the Fast and Furious operation. A government program that provided Mexican drug gangs with thousands of weapons and resulted in the death of an American law enforcement agent and hundreds of Mexicans apparently is the sort of that major media outlets don’t feel obliged to report on, at least not during a Democratic administration, and even the fact that an Attorney General’s sworn testimony was contradicted by documents got little play in the news, so many Americans will be hearing the basic facts of the scandal for the first time. None of those facts reflect well on the administration, nor do any of them have anything whatsoever to do with Republican nominee Mitt Romney, so the best that the Obama campaign and its media allies can hope for is to limit the damage.
Holder’s refusal to turn over the documents is seemingly part of the damage control effort, but it will inevitably raise suspicions about what it is that he doesn’t want the public to know. Given how very embarrassing the already known facts are, and the political cost of provoking a contempt vote that puts the tragic story into prominent play, the obvious conclusion is that the documents are pretty darned damning.
The rest of the Democrats’ responses seem similarly counter-productive. The ever-loyal Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee is blaming the Bush administration, even after Holder’s Justice Department officially gave up on that ploy, while other Democratic apologists are blaming the controversy on Republican racism, even though the charge necessarily implies that the death of a couple hundred Mexicans is no big deal. We suspect that many Americans are already weary of hearing Bush and racism offered as excuses for the administration’s failings, and in this case it will likely prove especially grating.
– Bud Norman