Prime Minister Cameron: “You don’t get to choose the leaders that you have to work with, but all I can say is that it is a pleasure to work with someone with moral strength, with clear reason, and with fundamental decency.”
George Clooney sits beside first lady Michelle Obama during the State Dinner
Three Rupert Murdoch stooges: Piers Morgan with Rebekah Brooks (disgraced former editor of The News of the World) and Andy Coulson (disgraced former editor of the News of the World and recently arrested former communications director for Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron)
Daily Beast: Members of Parliament are calling on the CNN host to return to the U.K. and disclose what he knew about phone hacking at his former paper, the Mirror.
…. Piers Morgan is certain to face official questioning in the U.K. about alleged phone hacking at the Daily Mirror while he was editor.
He will be required to answer claims by a former Mirror journalist, James Hipwell, and by Paul McCartney’s ex-wife, Heather Mills, that Mirror group reporters illegally accessed mobile-phone voicemails in the same manner that prompted the closure last month of Rupert Murdoch’s London Sunday tabloid, News of the World. But his questioners will have bigger, more general suspicions in mind as well.
… Morgan was editor of the Daily Mirror from 1995 to 2004 …. The new allegations leave him on the defensive, but other, more circumstantial evidence has long raised serious suspicions about what went on at the Mirror.
… Morgan is not known as a pillar of journalistic ethics. In 2000, while editor of the Mirror, he was censured by the Press Complaints Commission for his share-buying activities …. And in 2004 he was sacked after publishing photographs of British soldiers abusing Iraqis that turned out to be fake:
At the time, he was criticized for failing to make appropriate checks; later he would mount the curious argument that publication had been justified because later evidence showed that some British soldiers, in different circumstances, did abuse Iraqis.
… The allegations of the past few days make close scrutiny of Morgan’s record a certainty. James Hipwell, a former financial journalist who was jailed in 2004 in the same scandal over share dealings for which Morgan was criticized, told the Independent newspaper that hacking was common at the Mirror. Heather Mills described on BBC television a conversation with a senior Mirror Group reporter, at the time that Morgan edited the Mirror, in which the reporter admitted listening to her voicemails.
If Morgan is not already in close consultation with his British lawyers, he will be very soon.
AP (July 20): After remaining on the sidelines of Britain’s phone hacking scandal, Piers Morgan was finally drawn into it, defending himself and his former boss Rupert Murdoch.
While Murdoch testified in London before Parliament, Morgan took to Twitter.
A former editor of the News of the World the CNN host has largely declined to address the scandal on his CNN nightly prime-time show, but he tweeted frequently in support of Murdoch throughout Tuesday’s inquiry.
….Morgan has backed Murdoch during the scandal. He said he was a “big admirer of” Murdoch and he would not “join in the kind of witch hunt that’s been going on”.
While following Tuesday’s hearing, he wrote: “Strong finish by Rupert. Love him or hate him, does anyone genuinely think he’s a crook or condoned crime? Because I don’t.”
Piers? Go hack a murdered kid’s phone. Truly, that’s your ‘journalistic’ level ;-)
The Guardian: Vince Cable (UK Government Business Secretary) has launched an extraordinary attack on “rightwing nutters” in America who are trying to block the raising of the US government’s debt ceiling and who are, he said, a bigger threat to the world economy than problems in the eurozone.
… He said: “The irony of the situation at the moment, with markets opening tomorrow morning, is that the biggest threat to the world financial system comes from a few rightwing nutters in the American Congress rather than the eurozone.”
Negotiations on raising the US government’s debt limit above its current level of $14.3tn (£8.7tn) collapsed in acrimony late on Friday over details of a package of spending cuts and tax rises that would help to pay for such a move.
A visibly angry Barack Obama attacked the Republican speaker of the house, John Boehner, for refusing to return his phone calls and said he had been “left at the altar” in trying to reach an agreement. Most experts agree that if the US were to default on its debt payments, stock and bond markets worldwide would plunge, threatening a new great recession. The deadline for agreement is just over a week away, on 2 August……
Channel Four (UK): You get a flavour of why David Cameron might be so keen to bask in Barack Obama‘s glory on this trip in various photo ops. We asked YouGov to repeat a poll they did in November 2003 when President George W Bush was in town and see how the numbers changed. It suggests that Brits love Obama as much as they hated Bush.
The 2003 poll suggested that 75 per cent polled had little or no confidence in President Bush. Today 72 per cent have a great deal or fair mount of confidence in President Obama. In today’s poll, 81 per cent think President Obama is highly intelligent, back in 2003 17 per cent thought the US had got itself an highly intelligent president. You get the picture.
UK Independent: …Think what would have happened if Washington had taken the lead in declaring a no-fly-zone over Libya without UN agreement or Arab backing. The people now criticising President Obama for dilatoriness would be accusing him of being another Bush. And if he’d refused to have anything to do with the no-fly-zone, commentators in Europe and the Middle East would be saying that it was because, at the end of the day, America doesn’t want democracy in the Arab world, that it prefers the rulers of Bahrain and Yemen to suppress revolt than bow before it….
…Obama’s cautious approach is perfectly sensible. Libya is not America’s dogfight. Thanks in large part to Lockerbie, Washington has never favoured Gaddafi. It is, in US eyes, and rightly, a European problem. It was France and Britain – Sarkozy and Blair – who spent their time sucking up so obscenely to the Libyan dictator, just as Silvio Berlusconi embraced him in a Faustian pact to stop illegal migration from Africa. Washington under President George W Bush certainly welcomed Gaddafi’s dramatic (and largely meaningless) gesture of giving up nuclear ambitions – but they didn’t sell their souls to him in the way we (the British), and the French, did.
Nor can Washington be blamed for being forced into military command of the first phase of the Libyan operation by the simple fact that it is only the US that has the hardware and control systems to do it. French objections to this becoming a Nato exercise are just so much hot air. They can’t do it, nor can the British in alliance with them.
Obama is also right to spell out, as he did this week, a clear separation between the objectives of the UN resolution, which is to protect Libyan civilians, and the objectives of American policy, which is to see the back of the Colonel.
…Once Gaddafi had turned the military tide and was openly threatening, by word as well as deed, to wreak his wrath on the rebels in Benghazi, the world couldn’t stand by and watch a massacre. Memories of Srebrenica and Rwanda are too raw for western politicians to allow it to happen again….
UK Independent: The United States appears to have been taking a back seat in coping with the Libyan crisis, leaving its European allies and the Arab world to make the running. And that is exactly how Washington wants it.
After Iraq and Afghanistan, there is little appetite on Capitol Hill and absolutely none in the White House for another US-led attack on a Muslim country, at least without the declared blessing – and better still, the participation – of other Arab states.
In the end, the Obama administration had little choice. However much it abhors the slightest risk of another Middle Eastern military entanglement, there was no way the US could be caught, as the well-worn American phrase goes, on the wrong side of history, watching from the sidelines as a dictator unleashed brutal violence against his own people.
With its authorisation of “all necessary force… short of foreign occupation” to protect the Libyan civilian population from Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s onslaught, Thursday evening’s Security Council resolution at the United Nations essentially makes the best of a bad job. The mission has been couched in humanitarian terms. The resolution’s wording explicitly rules out an Iraq-style ground war. It follows approval by the Arab League of a no-fly zone over Libya, while White House officials made clear yesterday they expected logistical support from “Arab partners”.
…Like everyone else, the US is scrambling to keep up. And Washington must display an especially delicate touch, given its vast geo-strategic interests in the region, the need to preserve alliances and the importance of making sure the turbulence does not play out to the longer-term advantage of Iran.
Thus far, this cautious approach – one that reflects the instincts of Barack Obama – seems to be working. In Tunisia and Egypt, friendly governments were toppled but their replacements, at least for now, have not sought to break ties with Washington. Nor does radical Islam appear to be moving to fill the vacuum.
The Gaddafi regime’s declaration of a ceasefire after the Security Council resolution is also probably exactly what Washington wants. Whether it is sincere, or merely a ploy to buy time, the next few days will tell. But at least it raises the chance of a peaceful outcome.
Jonathan Chait (New Republic): Apropos of Mike Huckabee’s quasi-endorsement of the “Kenyan anti-colonialism” theory of Barack Obama, there’s something I’ve been wondering about this. The theory holds that Barack Obama, through his father, acquired a worldview twisted by opposition to British colonialism.
But the people most enamored of this theory are also highly enamored of the Tea Party, which is steeped in worship of… opposition to British colonialism!
Wouldn’t this theory mean that our Founding Fathers were also twisted by opposition to British colonialism? Or maybe the idea is that we had a right to throw off the British yolk, but the Kenyans should have put up with it, because the British occupation there was so much more benign.
Love this – and this:
Joe Klein (Time): ….Mike Huckabee made a toxic fool of himself on the subject of Barack Obama’s upbringing and heritage…
…Huckabee was never an entirely plausible candidate for President … but he always struck me as a good guy, more concerned about working-class America than most of his rivals. These comments, however, and his subsequent lie that he really meant Indonesia not Kenya, really show a demented, perverse sensibility, and they demonstrate some of the ugliness at the heart of Obama hatred.
I’m talking about the Mau Mau comment, especially. When I was growing up, Mau Mau was shorthand for: Extremely Scary Black People. The brutality of the Mau Mau rebellion was legendary (and, who knows, perhaps even accurate). It became a term of art in the sixties: to mau-mau was to intimidate white people. (As a young reporter in Boston, I covered a would-be black militant group that called itself, with brilliant irony, De Mau Mau.) To associate Barack Obama with the Mau Mau rebellion is to feed all the worst, paranoid fears of Glenn Beck’s America – and, as any sane person knows, completely ridiculous.
But with Newt Gingrich … about to enter the presidential race, the question of where and how Barack Obama grew up should be a bright line test for every Republican candidate. If a candidate is willing to endorse, or equivocate, on these racist fantasies, we of the wildly powerless Mainstream Media Priesthood should shun and shame him or her. At the very least, a candidate who seeks to run against Obama should know where and how Obama grew up: in Hawaii, with a four-year detour to Indonesia, raised mostly by his white, Republican, Kansan grandparents.