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  • August 10, 2010

    The Alien in the White House

    The distance between the president and the people is beginning to be revealed.

    By DOROTHY RABINOWITZ, WSJ

    The deepening notes of disenchantment with Barack Obama now issuing from commentators across the political spectrum were predictable. So, too, were the charges from some of the president’s earliest enthusiasts about his failure to reflect a powerful sense of urgency about the oil spill.

    There should have been nothing puzzling about his response to anyone who has paid even modest critical attention to Mr. Obama’s pronouncements. For it was clear from the first that this president—single-minded, ever-visible, confident in his program for a reformed America saved from darkness by his arrival—was wanting in certain qualities citizens have until now taken for granted in their presidents. Namely, a tone and presence that said: This is the Americans’ leader, a man of them, for them, the nation’s voice and champion. Mr. Obama wasn’t lacking in concern about the oil spill. What he lacked was that voice—and for good reason.


    Those qualities to be expected in a president were never about rhetoric; Mr. Obama had proved himself a dab hand at that on the campaign trail. They were a matter of identification with the nation and to all that binds its people together in pride and allegiance. These are feelings held deep in American hearts, unvoiced mostly, but unmistakably there and not only on the Fourth of July.

    A great part of America now understands that this president’s sense of identification lies elsewhere, and is in profound ways unlike theirs. He is hard put to sound convincingly like the leader of the nation, because he is, at heart and by instinct, the voice mainly of his ideological class. He is the alien in the White House, a matter having nothing to do with delusions about his birthplace cherished by the demented fringe.

    One of his first reforms was to rid the White House of the bust of Winston Churchill—a gift from Tony Blair—by packing it back off to 10 Downing Street. A cloudlet of mystery has surrounded the subject ever since, but the central fact stands clear. The new administration had apparently found no place in our national house of many rooms for the British leader who lives on so vividly in the American mind. Churchill, face of our shared wartime struggle, dauntless rallier of his nation who continues, so remarkably, to speak to ours. For a president to whom such associations are alien, ridding the White House of Churchill would, of course, have raised no second thoughts.

    Far greater strangeness has since flowed steadily from Washington. The president’s appointees, transmitters of policy, go forth with singular passion week after week, delivering the latest inversion of reality. Their work is not easy, focused as it is on a current prime preoccupation of this White House—that is, finding ways to avoid any public mention of the indisputable Islamist identity of the enemy at war with us. No small trick that, but their efforts go forward in public spectacles matchless in their absurdity—unnerving in what they confirm about our current guardians of law and national security.

    Consider the hapless Eric Holder, America’s attorney general, confronting the question put to him by Rep. Lamar Smith (R., Texas) of the House Judicary Committee on May 13.

    Story continues below…
    Bumper stickers, t-shirts, magnets for Tea Party Teabaggers!

    Did Mr. Holder think that in the last three terrorist attempts on this soil, one of them successful (Maj. Nidal Hasan’s murder of 13 soldiers at Fort Hood, preceded by his shout of “Allahu Akbar!”), that radical Islam might have played any role at all? Mr. Holder seemed puzzled by the question. “People have different reasons” he finally answered—a response he repeated three times. He didn’t want “to say anything negative about any religion.”

    And who can forget the exhortations on jihad by John Brennan, Mr. Obama’s chief adviser on counterterrorism? Mr. Brennan has in the past charged that Americans lack sensitivity to the Muslim world, and that we have particularly failed to credit its peace-loving disposition. In a May 26 speech at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Mr. Brennan held forth fervently, if not quite comprehensibly, on who our enemy was not: “Our enemy is not terrorism because terrorism is just a tactic. Our enemy is not terror because terror is a state of mind, and as Americans we refuse to live in fear.”

    He went on to announce, sternly, that we do not refer to our enemies as Islamists or jihadists because jihad is a holy struggle, a legitimate tenet of Islam. How then might we be permitted to describe our enemies? One hint comes from another of Mr. Brennan’s pronouncements in that speech: That “violent extremists are victims of political, economic and social forces.”

    Yes, that would work. Consider the news bulletins we could have read: “Police have arrested Faisal Shahzad, victim of political, economic and social forces living in Connecticut, for efforts to set off a car bomb explosion in Times Square.” Plotters in Afghanistan and Yemen, preparing for their next attempt at mass murder in America, could only have listened in wonderment. They must have marvelled in particular on learning that this was the chief counterterrorism adviser to the president of the United States.

    Long after Mr. Obama leaves office, it will be this parade of explicators, laboring mightily to sell each new piece of official reality revisionism—Janet Napolitano and her immortal “man-caused disasters” among them—that will stand most memorably as the face of this administration.

    It is a White House that has focused consistently on the sensitivities of the world community—as it is euphemistically known—a body of which the president of the United States frequently appears to view himself as a representative at large.

    It is what has caused this president and his counterterrorist brain trust to deem it acceptable to insult Americans with nonsensical evasions concerning the enemy we face. It is this focus that caused Mr. Holder to insist on holding the trial of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in lower Manhattan, despite the rage this decision induced in New Yorkers, and later to insist if not there, then elsewhere in New York. This was all to be a dazzling exhibition for that world community—proof of Mr. Obama’s moral reclamation program and that America had been delivered from the darkness of the Bush years.

    It was why this administration tapped officials like Michael Posner, assistant secretary of state for Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor. Among his better known contributions to political discourse was a 2005 address in which he compared the treatment of Muslim-Americans in the United States after 9/11 with the plight of the Japanese-Americans interned in camps after Pearl Harbor. During a human-rights conference held in China this May, Mr. Posner cited the new Arizona immigration law by way of assuring the Chinese, those exemplary guardians of freedom, that the United States too had its problems with discrimination.

    So there we were: America and China, in the same boat on human rights, two buddies struggling for reform. For this view of reality, which brought withering criticism in Congress and calls for his resignation, Mr. Posner has been roundly embraced in the State Department as a superbly effective representative.

    It is no surprise that Mr. Posner—like numerous of his kind—has found a natural home in this administration. His is a sensibility and political disposition with which Mr. Obama is at home. The beliefs and attitudes that this president has internalized are to be found everywhere—in the salons of the left the world over—and, above all, in the academic establishment, stuffed with tenured radicals and their political progeny. The places where it is held as revealed truth that the United States is now, and has been throughout its history, the chief engine of injustice and oppression in the world.

    They are attitudes to be found everywhere, but never before in a president of the United States. Mr. Obama may not hold all, or the more extreme, of these views. But there can be no doubt by now of the influences that have shaped him. They account for his grand apology tour through the capitals of Europe and to the Muslim world, during which he decried America’s moral failures—her arrogance, insensitivity. They were the words of a man to whom reasons for American guilt came naturally. Americans were shocked by this behavior in their newly elected president. But he was telling them something from those lecterns in foreign lands—something about his distant relation to the country he was about to lead.

    The truth about that distance is now sinking in, which is all to the good. A country governed by leaders too principled to speak the name of its mortal enemy needs every infusion of reality it can get.

    Ms. Rabinowitz is a member of the Journal’s editorial board.

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  • Posted by Ted Belman @ 7:17 am | 6 Comments »

    6 Comments to The Alien in the White House

    1. yamit82 says:

      Bye Bye American pie!!!

      Jobs, stimulus, dollar, more baliouts

      The truth about that distance is now sinking in, which is all to the good. A country governed by leaders too principled to speak the name of its mortal enemy needs every infusion of reality it can get.

    2. Laura says:

      I believe Obama is a blessing in disguise. Americans are waking up and we will take our country back.

    3. yamit82 says:


      ICE Agents Vote ‘No Confidence’ in Leaders, Say Amnesty Coming

      The union that represents rank-and-file field agents at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has unanimously passed a “vote of no confidence” for the agency’s leadership, saying ICE has “abandoned” its core mission of protecting the public to support a political agenda favoring amnesty.

      The National Immigration and Customs Enforcement Council of the American Federation of Government Employees, which represents 7,000 ICE agents and employees, voted 259-0 for a resolution saying there was “growing dissatisfaction and concern” over the leadership of Assistant Secretary John Morton, who heads ICE, and Phyllis Coven, assistant director for the agency’s office of detention policy and planning.

      The resolution said ICE leadership had “abandoned the agency’s core mission of enforcing U.S. immigration laws and providing for public safety,” instead directing its attention “to campaigning for programs and policies related to amnesty and the creation of a special detention system for foreign nationals that exceeds the care and services provided to most U.S. citizens similarly incarcerated.

      “It is the desire of our union … to publicly separate ourselves from the actions of Director Morton and Assistant Director Coven and publicly state that ICE officers and employees do not support Morton or Coven or their misguided and reckless initiatives, which could ultimately put many in America at risk,” the union said.

      In a strongly worded statement, the union and its affiliated local councils said the integrity of the agency “as well as the public safety” would be “better provided for in the absence of Director Morton and Assistant Director Coven.”

      The statement also noted that:

      • The majority of ICE’s enforcement and removal officers are prohibited from making street arrests or enforcing U.S. immigration laws outside of the jail setting.

      • Hundreds of ICE officers nationwide perform no law enforcement duties whatsoever because of resource mismanagement within the agency.

      • ICE detention reforms have transformed into a detention system aimed at providing resortlike living conditions to criminal aliens based on recommendations not from ICE officers and field managers, but from “special-interest groups.”

      • The lack of technical expertise and field experience has resulted in a priority of providing bingo nights, dance lessons and hanging plants to criminals, instead of addressing safe and responsible detention reforms for noncriminal individuals and families.

      • Unlike any other agency in the nation, ICE officers will be prevented from searching detainees housed in ICE facilities, allowing weapons, drugs and other contraband into detention centers — putting detainees, ICE officers and contract guards at risk.

      • Senior leadership ignores reports that ICE internal investigations by the office of professional responsibility conceal agency and supervisor misconduct and are used to retaliate against employees who make whistleblower-type disclosures or question inappropriate policies and procedures.

      ICE spokesman Brian Hale said the agency meets regularly with representatives of the union to discuss its goal of ensuring public safety by focusing on finding criminal aliens and removing them from the country.

      “We have fundamentally reformed immigration enforcement, and we are removing record numbers of criminal aliens because of it,” Mr. Hale said. “Half of the people we have removed so far this year have been convicted criminal aliens — up from 35 percent a year ago.

      “We understand the union’s reason for engaging in creative collective-bargaining tactics and, regardless, we remain committed to working with them to address substantive issues in the interests of making our communities safer,” he said.

      ICE documents show that during the first nine months of fiscal 2010, a total of 279,035 noncitizens were removed from the U.S. as a result of ICE enforcement — a 10 percent increase over the total in fiscal 2008, the last fiscal year of the Bush administration.

      But according to the union, illegal immigrants now being held in state and local jails seek out ICE agents for deportation to avoid prosecution, conviction and prison terms. It said criminal aliens “openly brag” that they are taking advantage of a broken immigration system and will be back in the United States within days to commit crimes — while U.S. citizens arrested for the same offenses serve prison sentences.

      “ICE senior leadership is aware that the system is broken, yet refuses to alert Congress to the severity of the situation and request additional resources to provide better enforcement and support of local agencies,” the statement said.

      The no-confidence vote, taken in June and made public last week in a letter by the union, said the agency’s senior leadership dedicated “more time to campaigning for immigration reforms aimed at large-scale amnesty legislation than advising the American public and federal lawmakers on the severity of the illegal-immigration problems.”

      The vote, first reported by the Washington Examiner, said Mr. Morton and Ms. Coven also ignored the need for more manpower and resources within the agency.

      Rep. Lamar Smith of Texas, ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee and a member of the House Committee on Homeland Security, told The Washington Times that the Obama administration is “simply not serious about enforcing all of our immigration laws.”

      Mr. Smith said ICE doesn’t have the resources because it didn’t ask for them, adding that “the Obama administration did not request a single new detention bed in their most recent budget request.”

      “So the limits on detention capacity that they now claim hold them back from further enforcement are of their own making,” he said. “What’s more, ICE is running under its average daily detention capacity — the Obama administration is not even using all the resources it has.”

      Michael W. Cutler, a retired 31-year U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) senior criminal investigator and intelligence specialist, said the no-confidence vote “makes it clear that the leadership at ICE has politicized a major component of national security at the behest of the administration.”

      “It is clear that the marching orders coming from the administration have nothing to do with securing our nation’s borders or enforcing the immigration laws,” Mr. Cutler said.

      “It is an absolute absurdity to believe that our nation can successfully wage a war against terrorists who are determined to enter our nation and then embed themselves in our nation with virtually no fear of being identified, arrested or removed from our country,” he said.

      Janice Kephart, director of national security policy at the Center for Immigration Studies, described the no-confidence vote in a statement last week as an example of how ICE’s mission was being “skewed towards supporting an unflinching goal of amnesty by refusing to allow agents to do their job.”

      Ms. Kephart, former counsel to the Sept. 11 commission and a nationally recognized border-security authority, suggested that ICE leadership — particularly Mr. Morton — needed to pay attention to the no-confidence vote and the concerns expressed by the rank-and-file agents.

      “May I suggest that a significant problem with dismissing a no-confidence vote from your entire employee population is, when you run an agency of 7,000 officers and agents, you can’t do your job unless they do theirs?” she said. “Oh wait, that is the whole point, is it not?”

      Mr. Morton recently announced new guidelines telling ICE agents to focus on apprehending terrorists and criminals, causing many of agency’s rank-and-file agents to wonder who, then, is responsible for tracking down and detaining the millions of other illegal border-crossers and fugitive aliens now in the country.

      The new guidelines noted that ICE “only has resources to remove approximately 400,000 aliens per year, less than 4 percent of the estimated illegal-alien population in the United States,” and that as a result, it needed to focus wisely on the limited resources Congress had provided the agency.

      He said the agency would “prioritize the apprehension and removal of aliens who only pose a threat to national security and/or public safety, such as criminals and terrorists.” Lesser priorities were given to foreign nationals caught crossing the border illegally or using phony immigration documents to gain entry, and those identified as fugitives after failing to show up for immigration or deportation hearings.

    4. yamit82 says:

      ICE Agents Vote ‘No Confidence’ in Leaders, Say Amnesty Coming

      The union that represents rank-and-file field agents at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement has unanimously passed a “vote of no confidence” for the agency’s leadership, saying ICE has “abandoned” its core mission of protecting the public to support a political agenda favoring amnesty.

    5. rongrand says:

      Laura says:
      August 10, 2010 at 6:37 pm

      I believe Obama is a blessing in disguise. Americans are waking up and we will take our country back

      Laura, your right. I often say Obama is the kick in the ass we needed to wake up Americans to take back their country.

      Let’s hope and pray November will be the turning point. We better or this clown will destroy the Republic as we know it.

    6. RandyTexas says:

      I believe Obama is a blessing in disguise. Americans are waking up and we will take our country back.

      I can only believe the second sentence has anything to do with a blessing. I can in no way wrap my head around Obama and blessing as they relate to each other. We are waking up to a curse.

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