- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Flat beer

The big story of the week — the White House beer summit — mostly produced “so what” shrugs among conservative bloggers, with Jimmie Bise being typical in dismissing it as “a non-story.”

“The President obviously stuck his foot so far into his mouth he’s tasting his own knee and he needed a semi-graceful way out of the situation. The MSM, always eager to provide a first-class bootlicking, was right where it usually is, curled up at his feet and when CNN and MSNBC and the rest realized they could help the President, they leaped right to it. … Nothing got resolved and neither man apologized. [Harvard professor Henry Louis] Gates still thinks [Cambridge Sgt. James] Crowley is a power-hungry bigot and Crowley still thinks Gates is a class and race-baiting twit,” Mr. Bise wrote at his blog Sundries Shack.

However, the popular conservative blogger did see the beer summit as an object lesson in President Obama’s diplomatic skills and/or the limits of “conflict resolution” in dealing with such anti-American regimes as Iran and North Korea.

“It does make me wonder, though. If President Obama can’t broker peace between Gates and Crowley (and remember, Gates is supposed to be the President’s friend) why should we believe him when he said that his soothing words will cause Mad Mahmoud and Kim Jong-Il to lay down their nukes and become our buddies?”

There was a fun upside, Mr. Bise noted, linking to Dan Collins at his new site Piece of Work in Progress, who imagined himself as “a fly on the tomato bush” and “overheard” the following.

“Obama: So, Sgt. Crowley, these are my daughters, Malia and Sasha. Hey! Want to see their birth certificates?”

“Obama: What’s the name of the place where the Sox play? Crowley: Fenway? Obama: No, it’s like … Comersky, or something. Wait.”

“Gates: I loved her, and she left me! Crowley: Dude, she wasn’t right for you. Obama: I know it hurts. Have another.”

“Biden: There was this one time when I was …; Obama, Gates, Crowley: Shut up, Joe.”

Auto breakdown

The beer summit wasn’t the only event last week widely taken as a metaphor. The unexpectedly popular “cash for clunkers” program quickly burned through its appropriation in hardly more than a week — it was news to some that providing a subsidy to do something makes people more likely to do that something. And several bloggers saw a lesson for government health care plans.

Elizabeth Scalia at her First Things blog the Anchoress asked, “You know what might really be immoral? Putting the health care of the nation in the hands of people who can’t manage a car buy-back program for ten days without going broke.”

She linked to a post by popular red state blogger Moe Lane that explained government efficiency in putting auto dealers on the hook for the federal government.

“Note that the program started on July 1, they only published the actual rules Friday and they’re still working out how to get the dealers their money … what’s essentially happening here is that car dealerships are giving $4,500 interest-free, unguaranteed loans to the federal government … and the determination of whether or not those loans get paid off is more or less going to be at the discretion of mid-level bureaucrats at the [National Highway Traffic Safety Administration],” Mr. Lane wrote.

“MMMhhmmmm, that’s just the sort of incompetent, inefficient nightmare bureaucracy I want managing my health care! The billion-dollar program is already broke, even though the dealers haven’t been paid. And the White House is considering asking for ‘more money’?” Ms. Scalia concluded.

Or as Glenn Reynolds at Instapundit put it: “Dont worry, though — I’m sure they’ll do a better job with your prostate.”

Elderly crime

Democrats love the elderly.

In a little-noticed story picked up by the pseudonymous blogger known as Bookworm, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, California Democrat, showed her love by having a group of seven senior citizens arrested on trespassing charges in her Los Angeles office.

“It’s a little unclear just exactly what side of the political spectrum the senior citizens waiting in Dianne Feinstein’s office represented, but one thing is clear: they were not constituents she wanted to see as part of her prep work for Obama Care. Rather than meeting with them herself (or having a representative meet with them), she therefore had them arrested,” Bookworm wrote, linking to an account of the arrests in the San Francisco Chronicle.

“Cate Engel, a spokeswoman for the group California Alliance for Retired Americans, says the activists — all between 55 and 87 years old — wanted to talk to Feinstein about strengthening Medicare and using the program as a model for health reform. The group arrived at Feinstein’s office around noon and refused to leave her conference room until their arrest more than six hours later,” the Chronicle reported.

“Even if the oldsters were the worst nut cases around, complete with tin foil head wrapping, it was insanely bad politics to have them hauled off by the police. Those who commented on the story at the SFGate website (whether coming from the statist or the individualist side of the political spectrum) agree with my take on the matter,” Bookworm concluded about the Chronicle account, which had 389 comments by late Monday morning.

Feud ends?

MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann and Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly haven’t exactly “kissed and made up,” any more than the Harvard professor and the Cambridge cop did. But they’re no longer at each other’s throats nightly, and the absence of the catfight has led some liberal bloggers to smell a rat.

The two “have, by all appearances, maintained a healthy hatred of one another for many years. Their back and forth, however, apparently reached a tipping point recently, prompting their high-powered bosses to reach something akin to a truce,” wrote Steve Benen at the Washington Monthly blog Political Animal.

“As feuds go, this one seemed odd. Olbermann would criticize O’Reilly’s brand of ‘journalism,’ O’Reilly would sidestep Olbermann and MSNBC, instead attacking General Electric, including sending activists to disrupt a GE shareholders’ meeting. … It wasn’t, in other words, a host vs. host conflict, but rather, one causing headaches for a corporation. … Olbermann, whose ratings have been bolstered by the feud, was asked last week about the negotiations between [GE Chairman Jeffrey] Immelt and [News Corp. Chairman Rupert] Murdoch. ‘I am party to no deal,’ Olbermann said. And while Immelt and Murdoch have sought to protect their corporate interests, there are legitimate concerns about interference with news programming,” Mr. Benen wrote.

Salon’s Glenn Greenwald, to whom Mr. Benen linked, was blunter in a post partially titled “GE’s silencing of Olbermann” and a follow-up post “The scope — and dangers — of GE’s control of NBC and MSNBC” at his self-titled blog.

“So here we have yet another example — perhaps the most glaring yet — of the corporations that own our largest media outlets controlling and censoring the content of their news organizations based on the unrelated interests of the parent corporation,” Mr. Greenwald charged.

Victor Morton can be reached at [email protected]

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