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Chuck Todd On Cuba, Sony, And The Rumored Knife Fight For Donors Between Jeb Bush And Chris Christie

Friday, December 19, 2014  |  posted by Duane Patterson

The moderator of Meet The Press always has insight, and does here in an interview with guest host, Ed Morrissey.

The Audio:


The Transcript:

EM: Joining me on the line now, NBC News correspondent and Meet The Press host, Chuck Todd. Welcome to the show, sir.

CT: Mr. Morrissey, always a pleasure.

EM: Mr. Todd, always a pleasure to speak with you as well. And today was a pretty busy day in Washington, Barack Obama giving his final 2014 press conference mostly focusing on the Sony hack in North Korea and his change of diplomatic policy with Cuba. Now we’ve talked a little bit about the Sony hack in the first hour. Let’s talk a little bit about the Cuba policy. This is a big change. This was obviously Obama being proactive, getting an opportunity to do something on his own, and changing the narrative a little bit. Looking at this from the perspective of today’s press conference, do you think that he’s, that he was successful in changing the idea of the lame duck trailing into two years of irrelevance?

CT: When you look at these last six weeks, I mean, you think about he could have responded, post-election, and where the types of stories that could be written, and all these things, I mean, he’s dictating the terms of the debate, right? That’s ultimately, a president doesn’t want to lose that ability ever. It eventually does happen. New presidential elections happen, and there’s going to be a point that that’s going to happen as a natural occurrence. But I certainly think he has successfully prolonged it. The question is how long. You can successfully do this in a lame duck. He did it in 2010. But then he lost control of things in 2011. You know, so he did it at the end of 2012, but he lost control of things in 2013. So look, I think the question is can he continue it when the new Congress comes in? Can he continue it after his state of the union? That’s going to be a tougher test. Continue Reading

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“Red Kettle Rhymes” by Tarzana Joe and a “FMH” Update

Friday, December 19, 2014  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

Two things:

First, our campaign to help the Salvation Army continues in full flood.  Tarzana Joe has leaked me tomorrow’s poem, available as all his verse is at TarzanaJoe.blogspot.com, but worth a sneak peak to prompt giving:

“Red Kettle Rhymes” by Tarzana Joe

In Spring, the birds are singing
And in gardens, pretty petals
While now, the bells are ringing
And on corners, there are kettles

Those birds and buds embody
The renewal they proclaim
The coins inside those kettles…
Well, the do about the same

That flowering empowers
The potential in the earth
Your contributions also
Are a part of that rebirth

For where the lost and least
Are waiting, whispering a prayer
Your gracious generosity
Can put an Army there

So when you feel the spirit
And you’re doing as you should
Make sure, then, that you’re giving
Where you’re doing the most good

The Army that I speak of
Is essential to our nation
Named and motivated
By the promise of Salvation

The hosts who speak for Salem
Are committed to their mission
And each year they engage in
Somewhat friendly competition

Prager’s in the running
But Bill Bennett’s in the tank
Gallagher’s so far ahead
We think he robbed a bank.

I urge you to contribute
And I’m confident you’ll do it
So please go click the button
By the picture of Hugh Hewitt

With your participation
Hewitt’s vic’try is a cinch
So please go make it happen
Or he’ll turn into the Grinch.

And thanks to all of you who have inquired about the Fetching Mrs. Hewitt who collided with the glass door at The Apple Store this morning.  The raccoon eyes, gash and broken nose are a bit painful, but she is a daughter of the USMC and fine.  As I noted on the show first hour today, after I had placed her in the EMT’s care for a trip to the  local Waikiki hospital for X-ray and a glue stick, I asked her if I should go to the studio and broadcast — show time was imminent and zero chance of finding a guest host– or accompany her to the ER.  She waived me off, and off I went.  (In my defense, I knew she was going to be fine if in some discomfort for a few weeks.)  I put the question to the audience on the soundness of my call, and the married women broke 50/50 pro and con. By contrast, married men were overwhelmingly condemning of my choice, warning I shall hear of this in the next 32 years of marriage.  Perhaps. Lileks opined it shall be kept by FMH in reserve, like a suitcase nuke, for deployment at a dinner party, and he’s been married a long time too.  Our pal, gifted illustrator Steve Bjorkman, dashed off the definite treatment of the situation every husband faces when confronting a choice between accompanying his wife to the ER or going to work (or play), which I offer to all young married men out there who will confront similar situations in the years ahead:

Embedded image permalink

The Reagan Void And 2016

Thursday, December 18, 2014  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

We all have to suspect that neither Truman nor Ike would have let the Castro brothers write their own ticket as President Obama did Wednesday.

We know with certainty that neither JFK, LBJ, RN, Ford, Carter, Reagan, either Bush nor Bill Clinton would have done what President Obama did vis-a-vis Cuba because none of the last nine presidents did so, even though all were confronted with essentially the circumstances: a communist dictatorship exporting revolution throughout Central and South America (and during Carter’s years, throughout Africa) while brutally oppressing their own people with complete disdain for basic human rights.

We can also be very confident that none of the last 11 men to be president would have quietly acquiesced in Sony Pictures’ decision to capitulate to cyber-terrorism emanating from a state, even one as unhinged and unpredictable as North Korea.  This was a cyber Pearl Harbor, except that after Pearl Harbor America fought back. Here major American business executives packed up and crept away and the president did nothing to rally them or stand by them.

“[I]t could be that these hackers deliberately targeted the most spineless section of the American economy,” former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton told me Wednesday, adding “we should be thankful that these hackers have targeted the entertainment industry instead of something important, like Boeing or Raytheon or Honeywell.”  But we both agreed that that which gets rewarded gets repeated, and we can expect more attacks from North Korea’s Bureau 121.

The Chairman of the House Committee on Foreign Affairs Ed Royce alerted my audience the same day to the fact that the NORKs “also attempted to test our grid, and access our energy grid and other crucial infrastructure,” and urged the reimposition of the sort of punishing, hard currency banking sanctions used briefly and with devastating impact during W’s tenure.  A terrorist state doesn’t ramp down its capabilities for asymmetric warfare, it builds them faster and faster.  These past two weeks North Korea tested those capabilities to devastating impact on one American company.  Who’s next, and will they fly a white flag as quickly as did Sony Pictures?

The double slam on American power and national security came after a 48 hour period that saw an awful Islamist attack in Australia and an Islamist massacre in Pakistan even as new details of ISIS atrocities came to light.  Strung back to back to back, the collapse of Sony Pictures after Obama’s Cuba melt and the massacres abroad  marked not just, as Rob Lowe put it, Hollywood imitating Neville Chamberlain, but the end of the worst 100 hours in American foreign policy in many years.

Of course just before that sequence of massacres and failures rolled out, President Obama proved impotent to stop even Harry Reid and Dianne Feinstein –a combined age of 157 but still too strong for the president and John Kerry to deal with– from releasing the Senate report on detention and interrogation of terrorists that puts Americans and out allies in danger of being hauled before the International Criminal Court, a prospect from which lawyers can spring them but which could be ruinous financially and in other ways for those caught up in the net put out by Senate Democrats.  (Thus my suggestion to House Intelligence Committee Member Mike Pompeo that the new Congress act with dispatch to pass a law promising aid to any American or ally prosecuted before a tribunal to which the United States is not a party.)

The bad news is this looks like a beginning of the “Obama unbound” phase of his presidency, not the last gasps of a lame duck president.  Expect a disastrous “deal” with Iran and unilateral cuts to our nuclear deterrent (and pray the Pentagon and the new SecDef slow roll the ideologue in the Oval Office as such cuts would have to be mandated by Congress which they surely will not be any more than the Congress will confirm an Ambassador to Cuba or pay for a reopening of the embassy there, or for lifting the embargo.)  The president’s faculty lounge inclinations are now to be on full display and the only good to come of it might be the ruin of Hillary’s chance to succeed him.

Americans don’t like being patsies.  Even Hollywood  briefly roused itself to collectively condemn Sony Pictures’ spinelessness.

But there is not yet a GOP candidate who has laid secure claim to the space on the 2016 spectrum reserved for a national security hawk whose campaign is built first and foremost on the rebuilding of American power and the repair of its national security.  Ambassador Bolton noted in this regard that Florida Senator Marco Rubio had distinguished himself in the aftermath of the Cuba announcement (even as the ambassador issued some gentle criticism of Jeb Bush’s early campaign agenda-setting), and two of the country’s most able national security reporters Eli Lake and Josh Rogin noted that with Obama’s unilateralism “Rubio has been handed a new crusade,” thus giving “him a national platform from which to possibly launch a presidential run, he also has a pending 2016 race to keep his Senate seat.”

The Reagan void –the one that was on display yesterday for the entire world to see as the Castro brothers got everything they wanted and could conceivably get from just this president in exchange for the release of one American hostage and as the White House was silent as a major American corporation succumbed to terrorist blackmail– is waiting to be filled.  Perhaps Rubio or Jeb Bush or Ted Cruz or one of the other Republican possibilities will step up today or over the weekend with a full-throated blast at Obama for his fan dance with Cuba as well as his abandonment of the executives at Sony Pictures who fled in the face of the NORKs while placing both in the context of all of the events mentioned above.

Lots of center-right voters, and increasingly non-political “security moms” and even some on the left have noticed the downside of spiraling decline in the eyes of the world.  The Republican who gets to that space first and with the most energy, knowledge and detailed proposals is going to have a very early start to the nomination.

House Foreign Affairs Chairman Ed Royce On Cuba and The North Korean Moves On Sony

Wednesday, December 17, 2014  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

California Congressman Ed Royce joined me today to discuss the president’s decisions on Cuba, and what if any impact the North Korean move on Sony has on his agenda in the Foreign Affairs Committee in 2015:




HH: Joined now by Congressman Ed Royce. Congressman Royce is the chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Mr. Chairman, welcome, it’s great to have you back.

ER: Hugh, good to be with you.

HH: Your jurisdiction is much in the news, on Cuba and North Korea. Let’s start with Cuba. What is your reaction to the President’s decision to reestablish diplomatic relations with Cuba today?

ER: Well, it’s the way in which he’s doing it, Hugh, that’s so hard to believe, in terms of negotiating strategy. Up until now, what we’ve been trying to leverage out of the Cubans, and they’re really up against it, because Venezuela can no longer support them, we have been trying to get them to change their system so that workers in Cuba can actually get a direct paycheck from any company coming from the United States. So if you’re in the travel industry, and you’re going there to Cuba, the thing you should know is that you’re actually depositing the money in the account controlled by Raul Castro, who also controls the security forces there. The amount that a worker in Cuba gets paid can be as little as five cents on the dollar. The rest of it goes into their security apparatus. And that is used to maintain, you know, the control over the island, but also for all the skullduggery they’re involved in, in Latin America, Central America. I’m just back from South America and Central America, and the topic was Cuba’s attempts to overthrow governments down there. So why not negotiate something that would, that we’ve negotiated in the past with Vietnam, and with other countries like China? Why not at least do that for the workers if you’re going to give everything on our side of the ledger? Continue Reading

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