Free Markets, Free People
Yesterday, in the New York Times and other media outlets:
President Barack Obama secured a promise from President Hu Jintao of China on Monday to join negotiations on a new package of sanctions against Iran, administration officials said, but Hu made no specific commitment to backing measures that the United States considers severe enough to force a change in direction in Iran’s nuclear program.
In a 90-minute conversation before the opening of a summit meeting on nuclear security, Obama sought to win more cooperation from China by directly addressing one of the main issues behind Beijing’s reluctance to confront Iran: its concern that Iran could retaliate by cutting off oil shipments to China. The Chinese import nearly 12 percent of their oil from Iran.
Obama assured Hu that he was “sensitive to China’s energy needs” and would work to make sure that Beijing had a steady supply of oil if Iran cut China off in retaliation for joining in severe sanctions.
U.S. officials portrayed the Chinese response as the most encouraging sign yet that Beijing would support an international effort to ratchet up the pressure on Iran and as a sign of “international unity” on stopping Iran’s nuclear program before the country can develop a working nuclear weapon.
Today in the Jerusalem Post, via AP:
A state-owned Chinese refiner plans to ship 30,000 metric tons of gasoline to Iran after European traders halted shipments ahead of possible new UN sanctions, according to Singapore ship brokers.
A deputy Chinese foreign minister, Cui Tiankai, said Tuesday that China is ready to discuss all ideas that UN Security Council members put forward to deal with Iran’s nuclear program. But he said any agreement on Iran must involve all parties, not just one or two countries.
Cui said Iran’s legitimate right to have energy trade with other countries should not be undermined as the world pursues a settlement of the nuclear standoff.
Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is explain how today’s actions by China reconcile with the claim Obama made yesterday.
If Dana Milbank is any example, they’re certainly not particularly happy with the way they were treated at the just ended nuclear summit in DC:
World leaders arriving in Washington for President Obama’s Nuclear Security Summit must have felt for a moment that they had instead been transported to Soviet-era Moscow.
They entered a capital that had become a military encampment, with camo-wearing military police in Humvees and enough Army vehicles to make it look like a May Day parade on New York Avenue, where a bicyclist was killed Monday by a National Guard truck.
In the middle of it all was Obama — occupant of an office once informally known as “leader of the free world” — putting on a clinic for some of the world’s greatest dictators in how to circumvent a free press.
The only part of the summit, other than a post-meeting news conference, that was visible to the public was Obama’s eight-minute opening statement, which ended with the words: “I’m going to ask that we take a few moments to allow the press to exit before our first session.”
Reporters for foreign outlets, admitted for the first time to the White House press pool, got the impression that the vaunted American freedoms are not all they’re cracked up to be.
Controlling the press through access and the amount of time they’re given with the subject of their interest is a pretty tried and true way less than free countries give the impression of having a free press when, in fact they don’t. I’m not suggesting that’s the case here – yet – but this bit by Milbank suggests that an opinion of how this administration works with the press is forming and it doesn’t appear favorable. That said, you also have to remember that the press thinks they should have unlimited access at all times, so there is certainly a natural friction there. But there’s also an expected, or at least a traditional level of access that I’m getting the impression the press is not seeing and are just now beginning to grumble about.
After citing a number of foreign reporter’s comments about their surprise at the press restrictions, Milbank says:
Reporters, even those on the White House beat for two decades, said these were the most restricted such meetings they had ever seen. They complained to both the administration and White House Correspondents’ Association, which will discuss the matter Thursday with White House press secretary Robert Gibbs.
The restrictions have become a common practice for the Obama White House. When Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu came to the White House a couple of weeks ago, reporters were kept away. Soon after that, Obama signed an executive order on abortion, again without any coverage.
Over the weekend, Obama broke with years of protocol and slipped off to a soccer game without the “protective” pool that is always in the vicinity of the president in case the unthinkable occurs. Obama joked about it later to Pakistan’s prime minister, saying reporters “were very upset.”
In “bilateral” meetings with foreign leaders, presidents usually take questions, or at least trade statements. But at most of Obama’s, there were only written “readouts.” Canada: “The president and the prime minister noted the enduring strength of our bilateral partnership.” India: “The two leaders vowed to continue to strengthen the robust relationship between the people of their countries.” Pakistan: “President Obama began by noting that he is very fond of Pakistan.”
Unlike Milbank and the rest of the press, I’m not particularly surprised by this. It has been fairly obvious that this administration has viewed the press as a tool to be manipulated from the beginning – in fact, it was fairly clear during the campaign. The vaunted “openness” of the campaign was a device used to paint a picture of a candidate who would conduct his presidency the same way. The reality has been far from the promise. Now the administration has no need – or it seems, desire – to have that promised openness and now the press, which was complicit in building the myth, is upset. They don’t seem to have yet picked up on the fact that this administration doesn’t see it’s role as that of governance and service. It’s there to rule. And controlling the message and manipulating the press is how one rules.
Trust me – this example I’m about to paste below isn’t the first nor will it be the last example of government health care and how it will work. Or in this case, how it works now:
A Hollywood woman who was dropped from Medicaid coverage while needing a bone marrow transplant is finally getting the coverage and treatment she needs to stay alive.
Diana Smith is battling a rare form of Leukemia and needs the transplant to survive. She managed to raise money to pay for it thanks to her friends and the community, but then last week she found out her Medicaid coverage was dropped – putting her operation on hold.
Yes, that’s right, she was dropped by Medicaid and had to raise the money herself to have the treatment she needed to survive. She’d been in remission after chemo treatments which was a prerequisite to receive the bone marrow transplant. Here’s the ironic part:
But her hopes of receiving the transplant were dashed in March, when she says, the Social Security Administration contacted her –without her soliciting it — and told her that her three year-old son was entitled to receive Social Security disability payments. Even though she didn’t ask for it, she signed the form and received her son’s first check.
In April, Medicaid canceled her universal health care policy because her income level had risen with her son’s payments – making her ineligible for the insurance program.
The problem is Jackson Memorial Hospital could not provide the procedure because the risk is too high. The universal policy from Medicaid helps shield the hospital from liability in this kind of case. Without it, they are subject to liability issues.
Even though Smith offered to cancel her son’s disability benefits, she was told it’s too late.
The bureaucracy had spoken, she was denied any appeal and Smith was left to fend for herself. The not so amazing thing is she found a way to do that through the charity of others. But the “compassionate government” – which promised to make this all better and ensure that things like this wouldn’t be perpertrated by heartless and evil insurance companies – could care less.
Now you may say this is just an odd-ball exception to what normally happens – a set of circumstances which aren’t normal or what one could consider routine. Well, it was easily fixable, wasn’t it? Just accept her offer to cancel the disability benefits, schedule repayment and resume her treatment. Why was it be “too late” to do that? What possible reason makes it “too late”? Obviously she needed the treatment, had undergone the requisite chemo to get to a state of remission and was scheduled to receive it because of that. How could a compassionate government not quickly cancel her son’s unsolicited disability payment and resume her treatment?
Easy – bureaucracies aren’t compassionate. They’re inflexible rule followers, most of which they write themselves. One government program’s bureaucracy (Medicare) denies more claims per year than do the evil, heartless insurance companies. Stories like Diana Smith’s aren’t particularly unusual, nor will the likely be rare if we ever have a fully government run system. Bureaucracies will rule and their only rule will be to follow the rules – their rules, and you’d better know them – or find yourself in Smith’s position.
I’ve been watching this for a while – groups that have plans to crash the Tea Parties planned for April 15. Michelle Malkin gives a pretty good rundown of the one group in particular that has gotten my attention. They call themselves the “Tea Party Crashers“. You’ll love their action plan. Saying they plan on infiltrating the TP, they will then attempt to discredit, or as they say “dismantle and demolish” the TP by whatever “nonviolent means necessary”. That leaves the field pretty wide open, but as you read on down, the plan is plainly stated. First they define the TP as a “loose affiliation of racists, homophobes and morons; who constitute a fake grass-roots movement”. The left has attempted to lay those labels on the TP since its beginning and the Tea Party Crashers plan to try to make them finally stick:
Whenever possible we will act on behalf of the Tea Party in ways which exaggerate their least appealing qualities (mispelled protest signs, wild claims during TV interviews, etc.) to further distance them from mainstream America and damage the public’s opinion of them. We will also use inside information that we have gained in order to disrupt and derail their plans.
Tea Party Crashers claims it has already infiltrated TP meetings, thus the claim they’ll use “inside information” to accomplish their goals of disruption and derailing TP plans.
Malkin identifies the head of Tea Party Crashers as Jason Levin. She also uses a personal example of how this sort of smear has been accomplished in the past:
I speak from direct experience about the underhandedness of Tea Party smear merchants. On Feb. 17, 2009, at one of the country’s first tax revolt rallies in Denver, a man approached me amid a throng of bona fide anti-stimulus protesters and thrust a camera in my face. I obliged cheerfully, as I usually do after such speaking events. I later learned from the character assassins at Progress Now, a left-wing outfit that just happened to be there and just happened to snap a close-up photo of the interaction, that the man pulled out a sign at the last minute (which I didn’t see until later) sporting Obama’s name with a swastika on it. He held the sign away from me, but in direct view of the Progress Now cameraperson.
That cameraperson just happened to be a former CNN producer, whose blog post on the photo just happened to be immediately disseminated by the local press and to the hit men at the radical-left Media Matters website. The narrative was set: A conservative supporter of the nascent Tea Party movement posed for a photo with a man holding up a swastika at a protest against out-of-control spending! Ergo, the anti-stimulus protesters and the entire Tea Party membership are all racist, fascist menaces to society!
The point of exposing this now is to make it clear that every single solitary unacceptable sign, vulgar or “racist” slur, etc. that is seen or heard at the TP rallies tomorrow should immediately be suspect and, quite frankly, blamed on these guys. And, per Levin, since this has supposedly been going on for a while, it is just as likely that if there actually were racist and anti-gay slurs thrown around on the day of the health care reform bill’s passage, it is entirely possible that those too were hurled by the Tea Party Crashers.
As for the TP – get plenty of pictures and videos whenever you see something that casts your group in a bad light. Then get them up on the ‘net. Someone will recognize the person shouting the slur or holding the unacceptable sign. And someone will also know their background. TPers also need to visibly and loudly repudiate such people (as they did to the person who yelled an anti-gay slur at the HCR event) at the moment their utterance is made or their sign appears.
Polls now show a significant portion of the American public identify with the TP movement. This obviously is a blatant attempt to wrongfully discredit an organization simply because politically it is at odds with the big government left. Ironically, the publishing of the Tea Party Crasher’s agenda gives the TP plausible deniability, and the identification of people who attempt to carry out the Tea Party Crasher agenda with that group will inoculate the TP from many future assertions they’re anything other than small government, anti-tax and spending protesters.