One of the wonderful things about maintaining a blog with a centrist bent is that there rarely is a lack of things to complain about.
I was not thrilled to see President Obama paying a visit to Hugo Chavez in Venezuela, but I won't go as far as Sean Hannity, Michelle Malkin, et al., to say that it was patently un-American to do so. Chavez does not support al Qaeda or provide them safe harbor. He is simply a socialist who, especially during the Bush years, peppered his speeches with anti-American rhetoric. It is very clear that whatever justification the president proffered for his visit is ridiculous and stupid -- there is clearly no compelling reason to visit with the man, and for that reason, if I were president, I would not have paid Mr. Chavez a visit. A meeting simply for the sake of having a meeting and a photo-op is unproductive. But to suggest that meeting him somehow threatens national security is absurd.
If the president is going to pick a country with which diplomatic relations should be opened, it should be Syria. Yes, Boy Assad finances Hezbollah, and is an enemy of Israel, but he is a key pawn on the world stage because Syria remains Iran's lone ally. Reopening diplomatic relations could potentially lead to the isolation of Iran and cause Syria to move away from the financing of radical Islamic groups such as Hezbollah. The reason for this is because Assad fancies himself as progressive and western, and by all accounts, views his relationship with western Europe as more important than that with Ahmadenijhad. If President Obama wishes to do something really outside the box, instead of simply capitulating to the workers-of-the-world-unite wing of his party by visiting Hugo Chavez, he'd pay a visit to Damascus. In terms of state leaders, Ahmadenijhad is the most clear and present danger to the United States. Isolating him is imperative, and by any means necessary.
I have two thoughts on the tea party protests of April 15:
First, the premise of these protests is ridiculous. For eight years, a Republican president cut taxes and raised spending, blowing through an enormous budget surplus he inherited, causing the national debt to skyrocket. Non-defense discretionary spending, which rose an average of 3 percent every year under President Clinton, rose nearly 10 percent every year under President Bush. In 2008, the Bush administration shoved through two separate financial bailouts, one of them unilaterally after Congress voted it down. Every economic indicator is worse now than it was eight years ago. This happened under a Republican president. And now conservatives have the audacity to protest the "tax and spend" policies of a Democratic president, all of a sudden claiming that enough is enough? It's insane. Just insane. If Bush was still in office, they'd still be cheering wildly as they followed him over a cliff. These people are unbelievable.
(Check out this random collection of signs photographed at various tea parties across the country, and try to gauge the level of intelligence.)
Second, however, much of the media coverage of the protests was despicable. On Countdown with Keith Olbermann, left-wing moonbat Janeane Garafaolo opined that these protests were simply borne out of hatred of a black president. Her claim went unchallenged. I watched coverage on CNN and MSNBC, and read reports in various mainstream media outlets, and it's safe to say that journalistic integrity has gone the way of the dinosaur. As a journalist, your job is to afford the subjects of your reporting a certain measure of respect. If you can't put aside your personal political predilections for a couple of hours, you're in the wrong field.
I am with Sen. McCain on the issue of the release of the interrogation memos. Even if you support the president's decision to close Guantanamo Bay and bring our interrogation policies into line with the Geneva conventions, let's move forward. Grandstanding and railing against the Bush administration is just another example of the Obama administration childishly pointing the finger at someone else.
On Friday, I walked to the Starbucks a few blocks from my office, and while waiting for my drink, I picked up the New York Times. On the front page was a "news story" about the interrogation memos. The headline called these techniques "harsh," and the lede called them "brutal." What were these techniques, you ask? Sleep deprivation. Placing detainees in cramped quarters. Forced nudity. Dousing detainees with water. And my favorite: Putting insects in their cells to "exploit their fears." Give. Me. A. Break. Once again, journalistic integrity no longer exists. Could Times reporters Mark Mazzetti and Scott Shane perhaps put aside their biases just for the purposes of this assignment? Could the Times editors at least pretend to have journalistic integrity, instead of allowing their reporters to preach from the front page? I will cheer the day the Old Gray Hag shutters its doors.
Dick Cheney should take the lead from President Bush and Secretary Rice and gracefully ride into the sunset. Along with Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz, Cheney was one of the chief architects of the "preemption" doctrine that led to a war in which we sustained thousands more casualties than necessary. Unlike past Republican leaders like Henry Kissinger and James Baker III, Mr. Cheney has very little foreign policy capital left to use up. And Mr. Cheney's rhetoric drags down the rest of the party, as escaping his large shadow becomes even more difficult. It's time to move on, sir. You have had your chance to lead.