PowerLine – Scrubbing texts is nothing new for Team Obama
- Looking Back at Ali
- Weldon Angelos finally released from prison; why did Obama leave him there so long?
- Scrubbing texts is nothing new for Team Obama
- Cheryl Mills would prefer not to
- CRB: Song of Troy
|Looking Back at Ali
Posted: 04 Jun 2016 02:45 PM PDT
I remember listening to the first Ali-Frazier fight in 1971 on the radio—they didn’t have easily accessed pay-per-view TV back then (there was some kind of closed-circuit broadcast, probably in Las Vegas casinos), and I don’t know why it wasn’t broadcast on one of the networks, but even so it was dramatic listening especially to the late rounds. And the famous photo of him glowering triumphantly over Sony Liston has to be one of the greatest sports photos ever.
Lately, I’ve been thinking a bit about how Trump reminds me of Ali in his heyday (with this importance difference: Ali was more articulate than Trump is), being able to get inside the heads of his opponents. This pint comes out in the eight-minute video below, where BBC interviewer Michal Parkinson brings up this very point about halfway through:
|Weldon Angelos finally released from prison; why did Obama leave him there so long?
Posted: 04 Jun 2016 12:04 PM PDT
Weldon Angelos was the poster prisoner for opponents of mandatory minimum sentencing and those who want the minimums reduced. And for good reason. Angelos was unjustly sentenced under the mandatory minimums to 55 years in prison after being convicted for selling marijuana.
Are there other instances of unjust sentences under the minimums? Almost certainly. Yet, advocates of sentencing leniency seem hard-pressed to find them. Of the cases cited in the debates I’ve watched and the hearings I’ve attended, only the Angelos sentence strikes me as manifestly unfair. It appears to be in a class of its own.
Fortunately, the system provides a way for dealing with unjust sentences. The president can commute the sentence. Yet President Obama, despite having commuted many sentences, did not commute that of Angelos.
This week comes happy word that Weldon Angelos is a free man. On Tuesday, he was released from prison. He returned home to his family in the Salt Lake Valley.
How did Angelos obtain his release? According to this report from Fox 13 in Salt Lake City, the court granted a reduction in sentence, “but it’s not clear why because part of the federal case is now sealed.”
Obama did not commute Angelos’ sentence. Fox 13 reports:
Petitions were launched asking President Obama to grant clemency to Angelos. [The sentencing judge] himself sent a letter to the president urging Angelos’ release. . . .
President Obama did not commute Angelos’ sentence, and the reason for the release remains unknown.
I think we can make an educated guess as to the reason why Angelos spent nearly the entire Obama administration behind bars. Obama probably wanted Angelos to remain in jail so supporters of more lenient sentencing could continue to use him as their poster prisoner. Commutation would have rendered him useless for that purpose — worse than useless, actually, because it would have highlighted the fact that the system provides a cure for injustices brought about by the mandatory minimums.
Meanwhile, in the same week Angelos was released, Obama commuted 42 more sentences, bringing his total to 348. The commutation is proudly announced in this White House press release.
All but two of the 42 cases involved manufacturing, selling, and/or possessing with intent to distribute significant quantities of drugs much more dangerous than marijuana (most often cocaine). More than half a dozen also involved firearms.
Obama has proudly commuted the sentences of hundreds of cocaine and other hard drug dealers, some of whom carried firearms to the drug deal. But he left Weldon Angelos to wile away the Obama years in jail.
The latest White House press release says the commutations “underscore [the president’s commitment] to reforming our criminal justice system.” So too, I fear, did the decision not to grant clemency to Weldon Angelos.
|Scrubbing texts is nothing new for Team Obama
Posted: 04 Jun 2016 10:40 AM PDT
In a post called “On the Iran deal, lies upon lies,” I discussed the deletion by the State Department from an archived video of an exchange in which spokeswoman Jen Psaki effectively admitted that the administration lied about its nuclear negotiations with Iran. Summarizing the situation better than I did in my post, Jake Tapper explains:
There was a first lie told to us about the secret talks between Iran and the Obama administration. We’ll call that lie number one. Now Jen Psaki acknowledged lie number one later that year, 2013. But then someone removed that acknowledgment from the official video. Let’s refer to the scrubbing as lie number two. And then, three weeks ago, we were lied to again, with the whole glitch thing. We’ll call that lie number three.
The Algemeiner reminds of two past instances of record scrubbing — the kind of dishonesty evinced in what Tapper calls “lie number two” — by the Obama administration (it also cites a couple of examples from previous Democratic administrations). In both prior cases, as with the Psaki deletion, the Obama administration tampered with words in order to promote a false narrative on important matters of foreign policy and national security.
Team Obama did this so recently that when I first read about the Psaki deletion, I thought we might already have written about it. Just two months ago, during a meeting with President Barack Obama at the White House, French president Francois Hollande used the term “Islamist terrorism” when referring to the recent Islamic State terrorist attacks in Europe. As Scott noted here, someone at White House deleted this language from the official White House video.
As it initially did with the Psaki deletion, the White House official claimed there had been a “technical issue” that “led to a brief drop in the audio.” However, he could not explain why the alleged technical problem occurred at the precise moment that the words “Islamist terror” were spoken or how the glitch managed to correct itself in time for Hollande’s next words.
Hollande’s words were inconsistent with the Obama narrative on terrorism, which somehow seeks to deny that the terrorism plaguing the world is “Islamist.” Therefore, the words had to go.
Two years earlier, the White House famously edited the Benghazi talking points. Among other edits, someone changed the characterization of the violence from “attacks” to “demonstrations” before the document was given to Susan Rice for peddling on the major television networks.
Who made the change? When asked this question by Bret Baier, former National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor replied “I don’t remember. . . .Dude, that was like two years ago.”
When asked the corresponding question about the Psaki deletion, State Department spokesman John Kirby gave the same answer, minus “dude” and “like.”
The original version of the talking points contradicted then-operative Obama narrative on terrorism, which held that Obama had essentially conquered it. Therefore, the words had to go.
In the case of the latest scrubbing, Psaki’s statement to James Rosen contradicted the Obama narrative on the Iran nuclear talks, which claimed they were prompted by the election of a “moderate” Iranian president. It also constituted an admission that the administration wasn’t always truthful about its negotiations. Therefore, the words had to go.
Obama’s foreign policy is predicated on a series of lies: the terrorists have been largely vanquished; they are not “Islamist;” the Iranian regime has significantly moderated; the Iran deal was prompted by Iranian moderation, rather than the desire to deal with the regime Obama, however, radical it may be.
No wonder the truth so often must be scrubbed.
|Cheryl Mills would prefer not to
Posted: 04 Jun 2016 05:52 AM PDT
Kim Strassel has read the transcript of the deposition of Cheryl Mills in the case brought by Judicial Watch against the State Department under the Freedom of Information Act. Although the transcript runs to 270 pages, it can’t have taken long to review. It also can’t have been a pleasant experience. Strassel reports:
The entire 270-page transcript of the deposition, which Judicial Watch released Tuesday, has an almost eye-glazing repetition about it.
A persistent Judicial Watch attorney attempts to ask Ms. Mills a straightforward question. Before she even finishes, Ms. Mills’s army of attorneys falls all over itself to object, to insist that the query is outside the “scope” of the inquiry or too vague, and to instruct the witness not to answer.
On the rare occasions that they do allow Ms. Mills to open her mouth, it is only after coaching her on what is a permissible response. Not that they need to worry, as Ms. Mills appears to have lived on a distant planet the past several decades.
She doesn’t “know” or can’t “recall” even basic facts or conversations. “I don’t recall having such discussions.” “I can’t speak” to that. “I don’t have a recollection of doing so.” “I don’t know the answer to that question.”
She can’t, or won’t, make a direct statement even about her own honesty. “Are there any reasons why you would not be able to answer truthfully here today?” asks the Judicial Watch attorney. “Not that I know of,” Ms. Mills responds, suggesting that there may be reasons she’s lying, but that she probably won’t recall them until later.
Reading Strassel’s column I inferred that Judicial Watch must have placed the transcript online. Indeed, it has.
|CRB: Song of Troy
Posted: 04 Jun 2016 05:28 AM PDT
The origins of the Iliad and the Odyssey are shrouded in mystery, or just shrouded, but this much we know. They are two of the greatest poems ever composed.
New translations by Robert Fagles with introductions by Bernard Knox were something of an event in the publishing world when they appeared in 1990 and 1996. I saw Fagles chant a portion of his translation of the Iliad before a packed house of Directed Studies freshmen at Yale back in 2002 or so. It was an impressive performance. Fagles lived up to the rock star treatment that the students accorded him.
Once upon a time, I could read ancient Greek and grapple with one or two books of the Iliad in the original. Reading Fagles, I have been unsure whether the translations give us too many Fagles and not enough Homer. A few years ago, Daniel Mendelsohn compared translations of one passage of the Iliad (including Fagles’s) against the original. He shows how difficult the task is.
Before Fagles came Richmond Lattimore and Robert Fitzgerald. Lattimore strove for literal accuracy; Fitzgerald, not so much. As one fellow translator of Homer observed: “[The Fitzgerald and Fagles translations] were poetic works effected in part to display the authors’ lyrical responses to the story units in Homer’s epic. Rather than hew to the original, Fitzgerald and Fagles expanded it substantially in accordance with their own poetic lights.”
Anthony Esolen is the professor of English at Providence College and a distinguished translator in his own right. Professor Esolen takes a look at Peter Green’s new translation of the Iliad in “Song of Troy.” Esolen declares: “Peter Green has given us more than a translation here. He has given us the distilled results of decades of his close reading and careful research into Greek history and civilization. In other words, he has given us a fine textbook for teachers and students, and for readers who are not unfamiliar with Homer, but who are not on easy terms with him either.”
Professor Esolen’s review is published in the new issue of the Claremont Review of Books that is now in the mail. I asked our friends at the CRB to let us roll out this fourth preview of the new issue as a bonus addition to our usual two or three because of my own interest in Homer. I also hoped it would add depth to the theme of greatness we have explored in the other reviews we have featured this time around. As Professor Esolen observes of the Iliad: “It is a profoundly philosophical and therefore human poem, asking great questions and venturing but tentative answers.”
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