Saturday, April 11, 2009
Headlines Saturday 11th April 2009
Comanchero arrested after drugs, weapons raid
A member of the outlaw motorcycle gang, the Rebels, has been charged after being found with firearms on the Sunshine Coast, police say.
National Easter toll climbs to seven
Australia's Easter road toll has risen to seven with the death of a pedestrian in a hit-run incident in Sydney's west.
Broadband could cost $200 a month
Just days after Australians were promised a super fast broadband network across the country we're now being warned it could set us back $200 a month.
Italy bids farewell to quake victims
Italy bade a final farewell on Friday to the nearly 300 people killed in the earthquake that devastated the central Abruzzo region.
Safran nailed to cross in ceremony
The Triple J radio partner of comic John Safran, Father Bob Maguire, is not surprised the 33-year-old has had himself nailed to the cross in a Good Friday ceremony in the Philippines.
Fiji military chief reappointed as PM
Fiji's military chief Commodore Frank Bainimarama has been reappointed as PM a day after the president abrogated the constitution and assumed executive power.
Chaplain defies RNSH, returns crosses
Fiji cancels constitution, Aust condemns
Mad rush for Nanos in Bihar. People aspiring to own the world’s cheapest car, Nano, were seen standing in long queues in Kochi. “No one in our colony owns a car. Now many are thinking of buying one,” says Ravinder Prasad. Puneites have given a stupendous welcome to the Tata Nano. R. Sampathkumar makes about $410 a month as a goldsmith and says he wants a Nano for status. “Automatically, women will come forward,” he said, grinning.
There were more than 100 orders at one Banjara Hills showroom alone on Friday morning. Forty-year-old bus driver Ram Nath in New Delhi never dreamed of owning a car on his $300 a month salary, but he was among the first in line at a dealership when orders for the Nano opened. “Nano means technological advancement. Nano means moving forward,” said Ranjit Chatterjee. Nano fever grips Bangalore:
The Nano has captured the nation’s imagination like no other automobile in recent memory.
India’s sheer pride in the Nano is even more impressive than the car’s low price and clever construction. This is similar, but far more significant, to the launch of Holden in Australia.
UPDATE. An illegally-parked Nano is confiscated by Chandigarh’s Municipal Corporation, provoking yet more Nano mania:
What began as a strict action for violation of norms turned into a source of great amusement. Even before the Nano could pull up before the MC office, news of its arrival had spread like wild fire and employees left behind all work as they scrambled out of their chairs to get a dekko of the janta car. Ironically, the MC yard proved to be a better display ground for the car with hundreds of people thronging the place to get a glimpse.
The UK Telegraph‘s Gerald Warner reviews Barack Obama’s Eurotour:
President Barack Obama has recently completed the most successful foreign policy tour since Napoleon’s retreat from Moscow. You name it, he blew it. What was his big deal economic programme that he was determined to drive through the G20 summit? Another massive stimulus package, globally funded and co-ordinated. Did he achieve it? Not so as you’d notice.
Barack is not the first New World ingenue to discover that European leaders will load him with praise, struggle sycophantically to be photographed with him and outdo him in Utopian rhetoric. But when it comes to the critical moment of opening their wallets – suddenly it is flag-day in Aberdeen.
Still, Obama’s flying high back in the US:
When you’re the president of the United States, only the best pizza will do – even if that means flying a chef 860 miles.
A jet-freighted pizza guy? This would be ideal mockery material inside a Vanity Fair green issue … if it was still published.
UPDATE. On the other hand, Waleed Aly was quite taken by Obama’s Turkish visit:
Obama’s understanding of the Muslim world’s anti-Americanism was apparently sophisticated enough to see that it was not simply a function of clashing values or foreign policy. It was also an expression of something deeper; of something less tangible, less concrete. It was an expression of humiliation, of feeling disrespected.
WE ARE THE FUTURE
Australia leads the way, according to the LA Times:
What will global warming look like? Scientists point to Australia
Naturally, the piece quotes Tim Flannery ("Australia’s most vocal climate change prophet"):
“The problems for us are going to be greater. The cost to Australia from climate change is going to be greater than for any developed country. We are already starting to see it. It’s tearing apart the life-support system that gives us this world.”
Flannery’s record doesn’t exactly justify that “prophet” tag. Further from the LAT:
Some Australians are considering whether outback settlements should be abandoned …
Most of the country is in the grip of the worst drought in more than a century. Every capital in Australia’s eight states and territories is operating under considerable water restrictions. In urban areas, “bucketing” has become a common practice – placing pails in showers and using the gray water on lawns or gardens. In some cities, such as Brisbane, residents drink recycled water, a process nicknamed “toilet to tap.”
No, they don’t.
In rural areas, the lucky tap their own wells, provided they still function. Others survive on rainwater or what they can scrounge or buy …
Meanwhile, the tropical north’s rainy season, known as the Big Wet, is longer and wetter than ever. Warming tropical waters in the Coral Sea and the Gulf of Carpentaria spawn ever more powerful cyclones, while rainfall and heat records are broken every year …
Australians in the south would see water as heaven-sent; in the north, it’s a curse …
This is Australia. Here’s the New York Times in 1899:
There has been an exceptional rainfall at Gladstone, Queensland, causing a new railway dam to burst, releasing 30,000,000 gallons of water. Many houses were flooded, and their inmates were rescued with great difficulty.
Drought in the inland districts of New South Wales is causing ruin among farmers. The rivers in the country are drying up because of the great heat.
Planet saved. Greens get coffee
Green blogger Graham Readfearn solves the ghastly dilemma that keeps fashionable greens awake at night - how to have your barrista serve you a takeaway coffee without killing the planet stone dead.
Not that he’s actually bothered to get the solution he so strongly recommends:
I’ve yet to actually lay my hands on one ...
Speaking of other useless green solutions:
There is no evidence that industrial wind power is likely to have a significant impact on carbon emissions. The European experience is instructive. Denmark, the world’s most wind-intensive nation, with more than 6,000 turbines generating 19% of its electricity, has yet to close a single fossil-fuel plant. It requires 50% more coal-generated electricity to cover wind power’s unpredictability, and pollution and carbon dioxide emissions have risen (by 36% in 2006 alone).
Flemming Nissen, the head of development at West Danish generating company ELSAM (one of Denmark’s largest energy utilities) tells us that “wind turbines do not reduce carbon dioxide emissions.” The German experience is no different.
Meanwhile Roger Pielke Jr checks British Government figures to find almost no economic return for more than $600 billion of spending to “stop” global warming.
Jew crucified again
I think John Safran, a fine talent and lovely man, may have gone too far this time:
TV comedian John Safran has had himself crucified during bloody Good Friday rituals near the Philippines capital of Manila… Safran would not say why he had joined the ceremony but an Australian companion merely said “this is a personal thing for him”.
From a Reuters report:
The crowd cheered John Michael (allegedly Safran), 33, as the nails were driven to his hands and feet. Minutes, later he gave a broad smile of relief as the nails were pulled out.
Governor forgets his duty, too
What’s good for the goose in Yarralumla, is good for the gander in Victoria:
VICTORIAN Governor David de Kretser has called for consideration of a carbon tax, to increase the price of goods produced using energy from high-pollution power stations.
He has also implicitly criticised the Rudd Government’s planned emissions trading scheme, saying many people suggest it will “favour polluting industries and dissuade community actions to move to more renewable energy sources”.
How is it that a Governor General and a Victorian Governor can simultaneously forget their most fundamental obligation to stay out of politics? Is it that both are of the Left, and therefore have too little respect for the institutions they seek to exploit and too much respect for their right to do as they please? Is it that being green planet-savers they can indulge in the conceit that their cause licences them to do as they feel they must to “save” the world?
A rmemo to de Krester of what a more distinguished holder of his office once said of the role of Governor General (and, by extension, Governor):
(F)ormer Victorian governor, Labor official and Supreme Court judge, Richard McGarvie ...said the Governor-General had to be a “respected person who remains entirely above partisan politics and exerts a unifying influence”.
Challenges issued to Obama
It’a a law of politics that a leader thought to be strong can afford to show restraint, but a leader thought to be weak cannot. Examples of the first: Ariel Sharon, Ronald Reagan, Yitzhak Rabin. Examples of the second: Barack Obama…
The American captain held hostage by four Somali pirates made a desperate escape attempt Friday but was recaptured after they fired shots, and officials said other pirates sought to reinforce their colleagues by sailing hijacked ships with other captives aboard to the scene of the standoff. A Somali in contact with a pirate leader said the captors want a ransom and are ready to kill the hostage, Capt. Richard Phillips, if attacked.
France expressed concern Friday after Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinejad boasted that his country had developed new nuclear fuel enrichment technology despite international pressure not to do so… On Thursday, Ahmadinejad opened a nuclear fuel plant and announced the testing of two high capacity centrifuges, while claming that Iran’s Natanz site now holds 7,000 working centrifuges to enrich nuclear fuel.
Stand by for the response.
Promise today, withdrawn tomorrow
Technically this fufills Kevin Rudd’s commitment to back a US plan for more troops to Afghanistan, but in practice....:
AUSTRALIA is set to send more armed forces to Afghanistan - most likely about 120 - to help protect voters from attack by insurgents when they go to the polls in August…
It is understood the deployment would cover a period leading up to and beyond the elections but it would not be intended as a permanent bolster to the 1100 Australian defence force personnel already in Afghanistan.
Only a few soldiers and only for a few months. Rudd spins again.
Great Obama praised for repeating Bush
Monash lecturer Waleed Aly once more lavishly praises Barack Obama for doing what Aly ignored when done by George Bush:
This is why Obama was so keen in Turkey to stress that “America’s relationship with … the Muslim world, cannot, and will not, just be based upon opposition to terrorism”. This is why Obama sent a video message to Iran last month for the Persian New Year, declaring his eagerness to see Iran “take its rightful place in the community of nations”, and greeting his audience in Farsi.
It is why he noted again last week that “Iran is a great civilisation”. It is also why Obama chose to give his first full-length television interview as president, not to CNN or the BBC, but to the Middle Eastern satellite network Al-Arabiya. The symbolic message in all the above is clear: the success of the Muslim world matters to him. He is careful, though, to recognise that each nation has its own rich traditions on which to draw for its progress, while acknowledging that America, too, has its shortcomings. It is a message calculated to return esteem to these populations and to win hearts.
This dramatic philosophical departure from Bush’s approach will quickly be derided by those of that persuasion as weak-willed appeasement.
Let’s go through Aly’s list.
Obama said America’s relationship with the Muslim world was not just based on opposition to (Muslim) terrorism? Here’s Bush:
We respect the vibrant faith of Islam . . . By working together to advance mutual understanding, we point the way to a brighter future for all.
Obama wants Iran to rejoin the “community of nations”? Here’s Bush:
Tonight, let me speak directly to the citizens of Iran: America respects you, and we respect your country. We respect your right to choose your own future and win your own freedom. And our nation hopes one day to be the closest of friends with a free and democratic Iran…
Our message to the leaders of Iranis also clear: Verifiably suspend your nuclear enrichment, so negotiations can begin. And to rejoin the community of nations, come clean about your nuclear intentions and past actions, stop your oppression at home, cease your support for terror abroad.
Obama addressed his audience in Farsi? Here’s Bush:
Q As you know, Mr. President, this is the eve of Nowruz, the Iranian New Year. What is your message to the Iranian people as they face tough economic circumstances and infringement on their freedoms?
THE PRESIDENT: Well, first, Nowruz a tan Mubarak.
Obama praised Iran’s civilisation? Here’s Bush:
...the people of the United States respects the people of Iran; that we respect the traditions of Iran, the great history of Iran.
So, no, those words alone do not show “a dramatic philosophic difference” between Bush and Obama, and will not “quickly be derided by those of (Bush’s) persuasion as weak-willed appeasement”.
What would be derided as appeasement are in fact actions, and not just this one, strangely overlooked by Walid, if not by the writer of his headline: “Obama sheathes his sword and bows in respect to the Muslim world”:
No, appeasement will be when Obama gives up defying tyrannies, fighting terrorists, defending democracy and all the other things the Left once claimed to stand for. Appeasement will be letting Iraq sink, Afghanistan fall and Iran’s theocrats arm themselves with nuclear weapons. If Obama fights those causes with the steadfastness that did Bush, let’s see then what Aly says of his hero.
How not to spend $43 billion
Peter Hartcher, one of the most trusted recipients of flattering briefings from Kevin Rudd’s office, describes how Rudd came to decide to spend $43 billion on a broadband system:
It’s a puff piece, of course, yet even so alarm bells ring. Note, first the manic frenzy:
The obituary for Rudd’s promise of a world-class national internet broadband system was read to him by his Minister for Broadband, Stephen Conroy....Conroy… had scrambled from Melbourne to Sydney to get onto a plane with Rudd for the opportunity of a meeting.... Rudd wanted to keep talking to Conroy about their problem but the flight from Sydney to Melbourne was not long enough. The next day, January 22, Conroy found himself on another VIP flight with Rudd. Now it was Melbourne to Brisbane.
Note how Rudd now considers his judgment so impeccable that he can decide on an instant, without benefit even of an business plan, to replace his last failed idea with a $43 billion new one:
In those first airborne conversations, the Prime Minister barely hesitated. He decided that, if the private sector was unable to build the system, the Government would.
Note how even in this briefing of Hartcher, a hugely expensive problem is somehow wished away:
(Under the old fibre-to-the-node plan) the moment the Government’s super-fast fibre-optic cables connected with the local copper wire of the old Telstra system, the Government could be fouled by Telstra’s lawyers. As Conroy told the Herald’s Phillip Hudson this week: “This would probably, on all legal advice, be deemed an acquisition of property and require compensation. No piece of legal advice I received or saw or discussed suggested it would be less than $20 billion."… The expert panel had given Conroy a word of advice on this.... Fibre to the premises means there is no need to tap into the copper wire. No time-consuming litigation, no costly compensation. Adios, amigos!
Well, not necessarily at all. For the Government’s FTTH to make financial sense, it would have to persuade - or force - Telstra to switch over its business from its cheaper Foxtel cable and target fibre connections. Billions in compensation are still a real possibility. But to Hartcher’s story:
Rudd instantly saw the attraction of this option. The big drawback? The cost. It would cost much more than the $10 billion or so for the original proposal. Next came the detail work.
So decision first, justification afterwards. Anyone else see a disturbing pattern?
In the event, the gang of four decided not to spend any more money from the budget on broadband. The extra share of public funding, up to a total of about $22 billion, would, at Rudd’s suggestion, come from infrastructure bonds open to public subscription.
How Hartcher be serious? Rudd’s original broadband plan involved spending $4.7 billion of taxpayers’ money. This one involves spending at least $22 billion, and quite possibly more if private investors refuse to stump up the rest. What kind of weird calculations went into justifying this?
On Monday night, Rudd hosted a dinner for his cabinet at Kirribilli House. He briefed them on the final plan for a special purpose company, owned 51 per cent by the Government, to spend up to $43 billion over eight years building a national fibre-to-the-premises broadband network. It would operate a wholesale system, allowing private firms to deliver retail services. Five years after completion, it would be sold. The technology would transform the productivity of the economy.
Rudd decides. Cabinet merely assents. And all done in a few days. This is Whitlam - plus billions.
And note one more obvious “yes, but” missed by Hartcher, one of Rudd’s keenest media backers. Here he notes why Rudd’s expert panel dismissed all the bids under Rudd’s previous broadband plan:
“All proposals were to some extent underdeveloped,” said the expert panel, according to an extract released publicly by Conroy. “No proposal, for example, provided a fully developed project plan. None of the national proposals was sufficiently well-developed to present a value-for-money outcome.”
A lack of fully developed project plans or any proof of value for money is what persuaded the Rudd Government to cancel a $10 billion broadband plan.
A lack of fully developed project plans or any proof of value for money did not deter the Rudd Government from apporving instead a $43 billion boradban plan.
And rather than note this alarming inconsistency, or the rushed decision making, or Rudd’s towering monomania, or the potentially disastrous flaws, Hatcher applauds. As will, I fear, the public that will one day wonder where their money went.
Jeb Bush on School Reform
This is a rush transcript from "Hannity," April 9, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
SEAN HANNITY, HOST: Welcome back to a special edition of "Hannity." Six Ideas to Save America. Now since leaving office, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush has gone on to devote his time and energy to education reform. I recently sat down with the governor with his first interview since leaving office.
HANNITY: And Governor Bush, thanks for being with us.
JEB BUSH, FORMER FLORIDA GOVERNOR: Thank you, Sean, for allowing me to be with you.
HANNITY: Let me ask you this. Because I know your passion is education, and I have often said that if we don't fix the educational problem — well, we're going to have — we're going to increase the crime problem, the drug dependency problem in society, and have a whole host of other problems, drugs and others. This is fundamental for America to be on the cutting edge in the future. Explain what your principles are.
BUSH: Well, I think we're in an education arms race with the rest of the world because knowledge will drive job creation, high wage jobs are only going to be created by people that can acquire knowledge, and our education system is not up to the standards that it needs to be, so the debate shouldn't be about whether the current system is good or bad and whether the alternatives that I think are better are good or bad, it ought to be where do we need to be? We need to be a lot better.
And so I think the principles that — the reform principles that could be applied start with accountability, that we need to measure things so that we know when we're doing right, when we're doing wrong, that we should have more school choice to put pressure on the current system, but more importantly to empower parents and get them actively involved in their children's education, we should pay teachers for performance, and we should have a customized learning system for the student, not focused on the system, but focused on kids that uses more technology, that allows for more options for them, that doesn't — isn't driven by seat time, it's driven by what you learn and when you learn what you need to learn you must on to the next level, and there is intervention early to make sure that kids don't lag behind.
hat system can work, and it's...
HANNITY: Well, we know it can work because it works for some kids and it doesn't work for other kids. Let me just put out some alarming statistics for our audience just to know how bad the educational system as gotten. And we've thrown a lot of money at the problem, and money isn't the answer.
For example, there's been studies that show only 31 percent of eighth graders are proficient in science, only 26 percent are proficient in math, and Hungary and Estonia are among the nations that outperform the U.S. In a survey of 30 industrialized nations, Americans, 15 year olds, rank 21st in science and 25th in math.
Now, I think that's very telling about if you say this is connected to job creation, where the country is going to be in the next generation.
BUSH: Absolutely, and if you look at emerging nations like China and India, there's a command focus on education, and so our long-term threat is directly related to our ability to make sure that more and more of our children can learn, to acquire knowledge, and then create a new means by which this happens at an accelerated rate. So not only do conservatives need to adhere to principle as you stated in the preface of our conversation, but I think conservatives need to be on the cutting edge of reform. The world has changed. The 21st century is dramatically different than the 19th century, but we still apply a 19th century system of organization on education. It's 180 days. It's that way so that kids can get out into the farms in the summertime.
It should be — it's driven by seat time which makes no sense. It does not harness technology to the extent it could. So my hope is that, yes, let's adhere to conservative principles but let's have a passion for reform so that we can transform the things that we need government to do right. It doesn't have to be a government system, but it can be a government financed application so that no child is denied an opportunity to pursue their dreams.
HANNITY: Let me give some other statistics to show people what will happen should we not act and if we don't have educational reform which is the key idea to help save America. We know 40 percent of dropouts under the age of 24, they don't even have a job. We know that more than two-thirds of inmates in the American prison system are high school dropouts, two-thirds, we know that individuals graduating from high school literally save the government $14,000 a year in health care costs. High school dropouts earn about $250,000 or less a year than those that graduate high school, and so we will pay a price financially as a country by creating dependency and the higher proclivity toward crime and drugs if we don't fix it, and the statistics bear this out.
BUSH: These statistics are so compelling, you would think that we would all pause, liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans and say if we weren't doing it this way, how would we do it? And the answer is we would have a totally different system that's focused on the students rather than on the adults. Right now the fight in Washington and most state capitals is focused on which adult is going to have to change their lifestyle, and the focus needs to be on a customized learning for kids.
So my hope is that there could actually be common ground between people of differing ideologies to focus on systemic change. In Florida we've started along that path and we're one of the few states that has actually closed the achievement gap. We've gone from the near bottom results in terms of academic achievement as measured by the NATE (ph) which is the only standard I know of comparing state by states to being above the median, and our graduation rates have been going up every year, but there's so much more that we need to do.
HANNITY: Well, let me ask you this. Because this is now where we meet resistance, and there's a lot of resistance with teachers' unions. I've gone through the seven principles that you believe we should follow for education. Number one, we should have high academic standards. We should have measurement standardized testing. I agree with you on that. Data-driven accountability. In other words, we'll be able to tell how well you're doing. Teacher quality, school choice, which I've always been a fan of. Out-come based funding, and, for example, innovation, technology, and all this. As I look at all these things, most of them have been resisted by the left in this country and by teachers' unions, and there's this unholy alliance between Democrats and teachers' unions, so politically how do you convince people that that unholy alliance needs to be broken and we need to create new paradigms? We can talk about it all day but if it doesn't get passed politically, it's not going to happen.
BUSH: First, I think we need to be constantly reaching out to reform- minded Democrats so that they cannot embrace the dogma that you described very accurately, and I think there's some hope in that regard. I've visited with Secretary Duncan on several occasions. I've talked to him. He was a superintendent of schools. He's seen the frustration of parents and teachers in a system that hasn't worked, and he's made changes in Chicago that have helped kids, and so my hope is from that platform he can do a lot more, and when he does Republicans and conservatives should applaud him, and when he doesn't, we should have alternatives, but we shouldn't be engaged in a 1950s discussion about this. This ought to be about the here and now because it is a pressing national issue for our long term survival and our prosperity.
Those Who Forget History...
By Glenn Beck
Our country is not being controlled by jack-booted fascists, but just like I said during George W. Bush's presidency, the groundwork is continuously being laid to take us there.
History shows us that it only takes two simple things for fascism to rear its ugly head virtually overnight: fear and hunger. A temporary crisis is almost always a precursor to a much more permanent one.
With that in mind, let me show you the four main things we'll be talking about tonight.
First, to Russia, where, under communists like Lenin and Stalin, their revolution pitted peasants against the rich. They were basically saying "Eat the rich! They did it to you! Get them, kill them!" These days? There were demonstrators rioting in front of the G20, unions protesting in front of AIG and buses showing up at the houses of the evil AIG executives.
It's a different style, but the sentiments exactly the same: find them, get them, kill them.
Second, we'll consider what the average person thinks about fascism. They believe it's ridiculous and could never happen in America; after all, no one's electing Adolf Hitler to office. But the secret we'll learn tonight is that fascism wasn't always synonymous with mass murder.
Progressives once had a love affair with it — particularly with Mussolini. You may remember him as the guy whose body was hung upside down by meat hooks while civilians threw stones at it. But before that he had lots of admirers in the United States, including singers Irving Berlin and Cole Porter, comic Will Rogers (who said "I'm pretty high on that bird,") and The New York Times, which wrote "Mussolini is a Latin [Teddy] Roosevelt who first acts and then inquires if it is legal. He has been of great service to Italy at home." Mussolini was also well-respected abroad. Winston Churchill once called him "the world's greatest living lawgiver."
Third, I'll show you how Woodrow Wilson moved away from the Founding Fathers' principles and values. Today, those who disparage the strict constructionists as worshiping old men in wigs are building on what the progressives started at the top of the last century.
The fourth topic tonight is the Great Depression. The world was starving and when the world goes into darkness, it's always based on several small events followed by one cataclysmic one. Hitler used the world economic crisis as a pivot point; he said he was going to protect the common man, people rallied around him.
Rove: Biden Is a 'Serial Exaggerator' and 'Blowhard'
This is a rush transcript from "On the Record ," April 9, 2009. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
MEGYN KELLY, FOX NEWS GUEST HOST: Well, Karl Rove goes "On the Record." Vice President Biden made waves recently when he told a dramatic story about a Oval Office confrontation he allegedly had with President Bush.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
JOSEPH BIDEN, VICE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: We are more safe. We're more secure. Our interests are more secure, not just at home but around the world. We are rebuilding America's ability to lead. I remember President Bush saying to me one time in the Oval Office -- and he was a great guy, enjoyed being with him. He said to me, he said, Well, Joe, he said, I'm a leader. And I said, Mr. President, turn around and look behind you. No one's following. People are beginning to follow the United States again as a consequence of our administration.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
KELLY: Fascinating story. But did it really happen? We asked the man they call "the architect," one of President Bush's closest advisers, Karl Rove.
KELLY: Karl Rove, thanks so much for joining us tonight.
KARL ROVE, GEORGE W. BUSH ADVISER, FOX CONTRIBUTOR: You bet. Thanks, Megyn.
KELLY: All right. So let's start with this latest claim by the vice president, Joe Biden, that he basically schooled President Bush and told him, Listen, you may consider yourself a leader, but turn around, no one's following you. A lot of people in the White House, which you were in when President Bush was there, have come out and said that just didn't happen. What's your memory of it?
ROVE: Yes. It didn't happen. Look, Joe Biden does this. I remember this a couple years ago when he made a similar claim. Joe Biden said, for example, that he spent hours with the president. Joe Biden was never alone with the president for more than a few moments. There was staff in the room at all times. He never said these kind of things.
I hate to say it, but he's a serial exaggerator. If I was being unkind, I'd say he's a liar. But it is a habit he ought to drop. You'll notice every one of these incidents has the same structure. Joe Biden courageously raises the impudent question. The president befuddledly answers, and Joe Biden drives home the dramatic response. And I mean, it just -- it's his imagination. It's a made-up, fictional world. He ought to get out of it and get back to reality.
KELLY: Really? So you're saying he just made this thing up out of whole cloth with no basis in fact?
ROVE: He's making these things up out of whole cloth. And you know, if you look back at him -- I mean, Joe Biden is spending hours, he said, with President Bush? I mean, please. I mean, members of Congress might spend, you know, a significant amount of time with the president if you added up all the meetings that they were in together with other people. But the implication that he leaves is that he and the president were sitting there in the Oval Office. He was tutoring the president. He was asking him the critical questions that no one was willing to confront him with.
I mean, this is -- this -- with all due respect to the vice president, these are the kinds of things you can get away with if you are a United States senator or a backbencher in the U.S. House of Representatives. You should not exaggerate and lie like this when you're the Vice President of the United States.
KELLY: Does this not happen, were a senator would spend, in his words, hours with the president in the Oval Office? Is that unusual?
ROVE: Well, it's not unusual for somebody to spend a considerable block of time with the president. But I think there are very few presidents who spend hours with somebody in the Oval Office, particularly a -- with all due respect, a blowhard like Joe Biden was. I mean, this guy is -- I've seen him in some meetings when he came to the White House. He was -- you know, he was -- you know, would have outbursts and say something that didn't really make much sense. This is not the kind of guy who becomes the confidant of any president of either party, particularly if it's the president of the other party that you represent.
KELLY: And Karl, would there be a note taker there? I mean, because I know some in the White House even said...
KELLY: ... I went back and looked at the notes of every meeting he had...
KELLY: ... President Bush had with Joe Biden...
KELLY: ... and I didn't see anything to back up any of these claims.
KELLY: Would it have been in notes? Would somebody have been keeping notes of such meetings?
ROVE: Sure. Absolutely. Absolutely. There would be a note taker in the room. I thought it was interesting, Andy Card, who was the chief of staff, said he didn't recall any such meeting like this. Candy Wolf (ph), who was the head of congressional liaison -- these are the two officials most likely to be in there, the head of congressional liaison and the chief of staff.
I've talked to other members of the White House staff who -- both several years ago when this first emerged, and then in the last couple of days, and no one has any recollection of anything remotely akin to what Vice President Biden says he was routinely saying and doing in the White House.
KELLY: You know, Karl, this isn't -- it's not getting a lot of play. Do you think -- do people not care? If you -- as you claim here, if the vice president of the United States is absolutely flat-out lying about a conversation he claims he had with President Bush -- and not just one conversation but other conversations -- why doesn't anyone care?
ROVE: Yes. Well, first of all, could you imagine Dick Cheney as vice president in 2001 coming in and saying, Well, I had these kind of conversations with Bill Clinton or Al Gore or during the previous eight years, and here's what I told him, and if Gore or Clinton said, That's not accurate, don't you think the media would be all over it?
I think part of this is, is that it's the Obama administration and the media is giving him a pass. I think the other part of it may be that some in the media know -- look, this is a guy whose 1980 presidential campaign was derailed because he was found to be copying, plagiarizing a speech by Neil Kinnock, the leader of the British Labor Party, and recounting an episode in Kinnock's life as if it were in his own life, involving -- I believe it was a coal miner relative or something.
So this is a guy who has a reputation for embellishing -- mildly, I would say -- embellishing the truth. And he is doing so this time around, and the media ought to pay attention to it. The man is the Vice President of the United States, and he may be Joe Biden, but he's still the Vice President of the United States and ought to be held to a higher standard.
KELLY: Well, up next, Karl Rove on the presidential bow controversy. Did President Obama bow to the Saudi king or didn't he? The White House denies it, but do the pictures tell a different story? Karl weighs in on that next.
Plus: The president's economic guru, Larry Summers, gets heckled by Codepink, C-Span looking more like Jerry Springer today. We're back in two minutes.
KELLY: Welcome back, everybody. More now with Karl Rove.
KELLY: You know, another thing not getting that much attention in the press is this dustup over whether President Obama bowed when he met the king of Saudi Arabia. And we've got the videotape of it, you know, that shows clearly, there was something that amounted to at least a stoop. But interestingly now, Karl, the White House has come out and denied this, saying explicitly it was not a bow, saying he grasped the king's hand with two hands and he's taller. And that was their explanation for what we saw there.
ROVE: Well, it reminds me of the politician who was caught in bed with somebody other than his wife by his wife, and he told his wife, Who are you going to believe, me or your lying eyes?
ROVE: I mean, who do they think they're kidding? I mean, this is a bow to the waist. I mean, for them to say that this is -- he was holding both of the king's hands and bowing and lowering his head because the king is shorter than him -- he'd have to be talking to Tattoo from "Fantasy Island."
ROVE: I mean, the kind only a couple inches shorter than he is. And look, they ought to admit the president bowed. He shouldn't have bowed. It was a breach of protocol. But it diminishes them for them to try and say to the American people, Don't believe what you see on the camera. I mean, the president...
KELLY: They didn't come out explicitly and do it. It was, like, an unnamed White House source that came out and said it wasn't a bow, wasn't a bow. But...
ROVE: Well, that says a lot. Would you like to be the White House spokesman on camera saying, No, that's not a bow? I mean, there's a reason why it is an unnamed White House spokesman is saying -- giving an -- offering an excuse because nobody's willing to go on camera and look them in the eye and say, Oh, yes, you're misunderstanding, that's not a bow. I mean, it's a bow. Please. It maybe was unintentional, maybe was unscripted. But don't ask us to expect (ph) it wasn't a bow.
KELLY: Isn't there somebody in the White House advising him on protocol? You know, This is what you do when you meet the kind. Don't bow! U.S. presidents don't bow!
ROVE: I would suspect so. I'm not certain somebody was so emphatic beforehand. They might have assumed after he met the queen of England the lesson was good enough. And look, I would -- I would readily -- look, these are big conferences. You're on a different -- you're in a different time zone. It's a -- you've got a hurried schedule. You know, people -- you know, I've been there. I understand how you can sometimes do some things that you might not otherwise do.
They ought to just simply say it was unintentional. It was not intended to be a bow, you know, and let it go. But the idea of saying to the American people, It was not a bow, don't expect -- don't believe what your eyes are telling you -- this bespeaks at an alarming or lack of respect for the intelligence of the ordinary American on the part of the Obama White House press operation.
KELLY: You know, and you -- you came out with an interesting op-ed today in The Wall Street Journal, talking about President Obama and his recent trip abroad, and talking about how contrary to many people's expectations, in your view, President Obama has quickly become one of the most divisive presidents we've had...
KELLY: ... in recent history. Now, coming from a guy who worked for George Bush, that's saying something. How do you get away with that?
ROVE: Yes. Well, it was interesting. I -- actually, this was identified by the Pew Charitable Trust, the Pew Research Center, where they took a look back at all of the -- they took a look at the approval ratings that President Obama and his predecessors had among their party members. And among Democrats, 88 percent of Democrats approve of the job performance of President Obama. But his job approval among Republicans has dropped to 27 percent.
Now, what -- it's called the approval gap. You take the support among, you know, people in your own party and subtract from it the support that you have among people in the other party. And if you look back, this is the biggest gap -- 61 points is the biggest gap in the history of American politics. The next largest gap is 51 in 2001 under President George W. Bush.
Now, President Bush had come through an awfully contentious election with a big court case in Florida and a narrow victory. He lost the popular vote. Democrats were not accepting him as a legitimate president. And yet his gap is smaller than the gap that in 11 weeks Barack Obama has been able to amass.
KELLY: Well, how do you explain that? How do you explain that?
ROVE: Well, there are two reasons. One is, is a friend of mine, a political science professor at the University of Missouri, John Petrossic (ph), points out that this is a secular trend, that since 1980, this gap, this approval gap, where the partisans of your party approve and the partisans of other party quickly begin to disapprove -- that that gap has been growing, that each successive president has had a higher gap, approval gap, than his predecessor.
But the other thing is, is it has happened so quickly, I think, under this president and to such an extreme degree is because the conflict between what he said in the campaign he would do -- get past the petty recriminations, he said, end the nasty partisanship, be a new kind of president with a new kind of politics -- and instead, what we have seen is, is that he has come into office and has frozen the Republicans out of deliberations on Capitol Hill. And when they made suggestions about the stimulus bill, he pointedly reminded them, quote, "I won."
And then he goes to Europe and feels obligated to trash his predecessor in office -- his predecessor while in a foreign country. Now, can you imagine Angela Merkel, Chancellor Merkel, getting up at an international conference and trashing her predecessor, Chancellor Schroeder, or Chirac being trashed by Sarkozy or Gordon Brown standing up and trashing Tony Blair?
The Europeans must have looked at him and thought, Don't you understand the campaign is over and you're the winner? I thought it was gratuitous, unfair, unnecessary and diminishing. It makes him look like he's not self-confident, like he's only able to advance himself by trashing his predecessor. And of course, the Europeans, a lot of them, think it's unfair because they had taken the measure of Bush and worked with him over eight years, and know him and like him.
KELLY: Yes, I got to go, but I want to ask you this. The Washington Times and some others have come out and said President Obama succeeded in that trip in becoming loved by Europeans and others abroad. As for whether he's respected, that remains an open question. Do you agree with that? Is that a fair question to raise?
ROVE: I think that's -- look, I don't know if it's love, but they certainly admire him and like him. And part of the reason is because he's not asking them to do the hard things. The Europeans don't like American leadership to remind them that we must do tough things. I mean, he went over there with two purposes, get them to stimulate their economies by additional spending. They told him to get lost. And get additional combat capacity for Afghanistan, and they said, No, we're not going to do that.
So he's -- and he -- and he did -- and talked to them in a way that doesn't hold their feet to the fire on the big important issues. Whether we like it or not, whether he likes it or not, America's president is the world's leader, and he must tell (ph) the world to difficult and dangerous tasks.
KELLY: Karl Rove, always a pleasure, sir. Thanks so much for being here.
ROVE: Thanks for having me, Megyn.
KELLY: All of us (ph).
ROVE: Appreciate it.