Commentary Magazine


Posts For: November 10, 2008

It Really Was a Nuclear Site

It seems that there is finally some closure about that Israeli airstrike on Syria in September, 2007. The headline of this story should remove all but the most improbable doubt:

IAEA found uranium traces at alleged Syrian nuclear site

As UN nuclear watchdog agency prepares to write final draft of report on alleged Syrian reactor, diplomats indicate enriched uranium found at al-Kibar site bombed by Israel in 2007.

It is time for some recriminations. Many of the liberal leaders of the national-security establishment in Washington made grand pronouncements after the Israeli strike assuring the impossibility of a Syrian nuclear program. Seymour Hersh spent three months snooping around Washington, Israel, and Damascus trying to find evidence that the attack was unwarranted. He didn’t find anything very useful, so instead he quoted the aforementioned national-security liberals articulating what he was unable to get on the record.

The resulting piece was full of disparaging skepticism. Hersh was sure the Israelis had no idea what they bombed.

Jeffrey Lewis, director of the nuclear strategy and nonproliferation initiative at the New America Foundation, told Hersh of the target in Syria: “All you could see was a box…You couldn’t see enough to know how big it will be or what it will do. It’s just a box.” He also insisted that the proportions of the building Israel bombed made it impossible for use as a nuclear reactor [Update: this isn’t an accurate reproduction of Lewis’ position; I should have written that he said he didn’t think the building could hold a Yongbyon-style reactor — NP]. To be fair to Lewis, this spring he appears to have come around to the idea that the Syrians were up to no good at al-Kibar. But if so little was known in the weeks after the strike, why go on the record — especially with someone such as Hersh — with such emphatic declarations?

Joseph Cirincione, the director for nuclear policy at the Center for American Progress, should not get off so lightly. He told Hersh that

“Syria does not have the technical, industrial, or financial ability to support a nuclear-weapons program. I’ve been following this issue for fifteen years, and every once in a while a suspicion arises and we investigate and there’s nothing. There was and is no nuclear-weapons threat from Syria. This is all political.” Cirincione castigated the press corps for its handling of the story. “I think some of our best journalists were used,” he said.

In late September, 2007, Cirincione was quoted by the Foreign Policy blog casting even more scorn on anyone who thought that perhaps al-Kibar was a legitimate target:

There is no evidence that there was anything of nuclear significance in Syria. …This hasn’t stopped [John] Bolton, now with the full support of the [Washington] Post, from crying wolf again. … Any nuclear material—even after a bombing—would leave traces that IAEA inspectors could detect.

Mr. Cirincione certainly has been proven right on his final point.

So, the coterie which rails against the supposedly ideologically-driven nature of conservative foreign policy; its supposedly incessant need to find enemies to fight; its manipulation of intelligence; its dangerous embrace of military power; etc. — many of these same people appear to be guilty of the very crime they have been making such a racket about, only in reverse.

It seems that there is finally some closure about that Israeli airstrike on Syria in September, 2007. The headline of this story should remove all but the most improbable doubt:

IAEA found uranium traces at alleged Syrian nuclear site

As UN nuclear watchdog agency prepares to write final draft of report on alleged Syrian reactor, diplomats indicate enriched uranium found at al-Kibar site bombed by Israel in 2007.

It is time for some recriminations. Many of the liberal leaders of the national-security establishment in Washington made grand pronouncements after the Israeli strike assuring the impossibility of a Syrian nuclear program. Seymour Hersh spent three months snooping around Washington, Israel, and Damascus trying to find evidence that the attack was unwarranted. He didn’t find anything very useful, so instead he quoted the aforementioned national-security liberals articulating what he was unable to get on the record.

The resulting piece was full of disparaging skepticism. Hersh was sure the Israelis had no idea what they bombed.

Jeffrey Lewis, director of the nuclear strategy and nonproliferation initiative at the New America Foundation, told Hersh of the target in Syria: “All you could see was a box…You couldn’t see enough to know how big it will be or what it will do. It’s just a box.” He also insisted that the proportions of the building Israel bombed made it impossible for use as a nuclear reactor [Update: this isn’t an accurate reproduction of Lewis’ position; I should have written that he said he didn’t think the building could hold a Yongbyon-style reactor — NP]. To be fair to Lewis, this spring he appears to have come around to the idea that the Syrians were up to no good at al-Kibar. But if so little was known in the weeks after the strike, why go on the record — especially with someone such as Hersh — with such emphatic declarations?

Joseph Cirincione, the director for nuclear policy at the Center for American Progress, should not get off so lightly. He told Hersh that

“Syria does not have the technical, industrial, or financial ability to support a nuclear-weapons program. I’ve been following this issue for fifteen years, and every once in a while a suspicion arises and we investigate and there’s nothing. There was and is no nuclear-weapons threat from Syria. This is all political.” Cirincione castigated the press corps for its handling of the story. “I think some of our best journalists were used,” he said.

In late September, 2007, Cirincione was quoted by the Foreign Policy blog casting even more scorn on anyone who thought that perhaps al-Kibar was a legitimate target:

There is no evidence that there was anything of nuclear significance in Syria. …This hasn’t stopped [John] Bolton, now with the full support of the [Washington] Post, from crying wolf again. … Any nuclear material—even after a bombing—would leave traces that IAEA inspectors could detect.

Mr. Cirincione certainly has been proven right on his final point.

So, the coterie which rails against the supposedly ideologically-driven nature of conservative foreign policy; its supposedly incessant need to find enemies to fight; its manipulation of intelligence; its dangerous embrace of military power; etc. — many of these same people appear to be guilty of the very crime they have been making such a racket about, only in reverse.

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Re: Bombers and the Bailout

Max, I think there is something else also at play here. Even if one assumes that it is in our interests to “do something” about the car companies, there is absolutely no indication that–absent a reworking of labor contracts, employment agreements, pension and health obligations–simply throwing more money at them will do a bit of good. As Stephen Bainbridge writes:

Letting GM avoid bankruptcy by giving it a federal bailout ought to be unthinkable, because of the very real risk that a federal bailout will come with conditions that preclude GM from fixing its core problems. It’s likely to preserve the gold plated union contracts, the excess payroll numbers, the excess plant capacity, and the excess number of dealers.

Alternatively, if taxpayers are to incur further obligations to yet another failing business, we should insist on some fairly stiff terms. The Wall Street Journal suggests that, at a minimum, the bailout proponents should

at least do so in a way that really protects taxpayers. That means handing a receiver the power to replace current management, zero out current shareholders, and especially to rewrite labor and other contracts. Anything less is merely a payoff to Michigan politicians and their union allies.

Aside from all this, there is the (very legitimate) concern about the creep of government intervention into each and every sector of the economy. There really is no rationale, after we depart from the financial sector, for picking and choosing among the pleaders. They might as well all line up.

Max, I think there is something else also at play here. Even if one assumes that it is in our interests to “do something” about the car companies, there is absolutely no indication that–absent a reworking of labor contracts, employment agreements, pension and health obligations–simply throwing more money at them will do a bit of good. As Stephen Bainbridge writes:

Letting GM avoid bankruptcy by giving it a federal bailout ought to be unthinkable, because of the very real risk that a federal bailout will come with conditions that preclude GM from fixing its core problems. It’s likely to preserve the gold plated union contracts, the excess payroll numbers, the excess plant capacity, and the excess number of dealers.

Alternatively, if taxpayers are to incur further obligations to yet another failing business, we should insist on some fairly stiff terms. The Wall Street Journal suggests that, at a minimum, the bailout proponents should

at least do so in a way that really protects taxpayers. That means handing a receiver the power to replace current management, zero out current shareholders, and especially to rewrite labor and other contracts. Anything less is merely a payoff to Michigan politicians and their union allies.

Aside from all this, there is the (very legitimate) concern about the creep of government intervention into each and every sector of the economy. There really is no rationale, after we depart from the financial sector, for picking and choosing among the pleaders. They might as well all line up.

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Commentary of the Day

Henry Lee, on Peter Wehner:

Obama is elected. I did not vote for him and still don’t feel he is the right person for the job. However………at least in the short term, I need to support his efforts. It’s what makes us Americans. Get behind the guy and push like hell. Remind him of the campaign promises. The Dems have the votes, now use ‘em. Hold them accountable. In the meantime, the Republicans need to take a deep breath, take the high road and be a part of the process and, hopefully, the success. We want Obama to succeed and we want to be able to say that he couldn’t have done it without us!

Henry Lee, on Peter Wehner:

Obama is elected. I did not vote for him and still don’t feel he is the right person for the job. However………at least in the short term, I need to support his efforts. It’s what makes us Americans. Get behind the guy and push like hell. Remind him of the campaign promises. The Dems have the votes, now use ‘em. Hold them accountable. In the meantime, the Republicans need to take a deep breath, take the high road and be a part of the process and, hopefully, the success. We want Obama to succeed and we want to be able to say that he couldn’t have done it without us!

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Bombers and the Bailout

As far as I’m concerned, the best argument for bailing out Chrysler, GM, and Ford would be if they really were an “an essential part of our industrial base,” as claimed by Rahm Emanuel. Those with memories of World War II–when automobile plants were retooled to turn out the Arsenal of Democracy–might be tempted to agree with him. It would be hard to imagine the Allies defeating Germany and Japan without the contribution of plants such as Ford’s famous Willow Run factory which, at its peak, was turning out a new B-24 bomber every hour.

Some argue that war has changed so much that we no longer need the capacity to turn out large numbers of tanks, ships, and airplanes. I think that’s an overly optimistic assessment. Even today we don’t have enough soldiers or enough military equipment to wage all the wars we’re fighting. And when we do need new, unexpected equipment–such as mine-resistant vehicles for Iraq–they can take far too long to deliver.

We also cannot rule out the possibility of a major war in the future, one that could involve a far larger mobilization than anything we can imagine today. All you have do is think about what would happen if the U.S. were to suffer a nuclear terrorist attack to realize that we might well wind up fighting and occupying countries larger than Iraq or Afghanistan. (What if the nuclear materiel is traced back to Pakistan or Iran?) And that’s only one possible scenario. It’s not hard to think of other contingencies, such as a war over Taiwan, that could require a much bigger military with a lot more equipment than we have today.

So does this justify an enormous influx of government funds to keep badly-managed automakers afloat? Not necessarily. As noted in this Wall Street Journal editorial, automobile manufacturing in America is no longer synonymous with Detroit: “Honda, Toyota and the rest employ about 113,000 American auto workers who make nearly four million cars a year in states like Alabama and Tennessee.”

I realize those are “foreign” companies (though such designations are somewhat artificial, in an age of multinational firms). But as long as their plants are on American soil, they and their workers presumably could be conscripted in wartime if necessary. That should provide enough of a hedge in case we need to ramp up defense production in a hurry. The Detroit automakers, it seems, will have to make the case for a bailout on the economic (or political) merits, not on national security grounds.

As far as I’m concerned, the best argument for bailing out Chrysler, GM, and Ford would be if they really were an “an essential part of our industrial base,” as claimed by Rahm Emanuel. Those with memories of World War II–when automobile plants were retooled to turn out the Arsenal of Democracy–might be tempted to agree with him. It would be hard to imagine the Allies defeating Germany and Japan without the contribution of plants such as Ford’s famous Willow Run factory which, at its peak, was turning out a new B-24 bomber every hour.

Some argue that war has changed so much that we no longer need the capacity to turn out large numbers of tanks, ships, and airplanes. I think that’s an overly optimistic assessment. Even today we don’t have enough soldiers or enough military equipment to wage all the wars we’re fighting. And when we do need new, unexpected equipment–such as mine-resistant vehicles for Iraq–they can take far too long to deliver.

We also cannot rule out the possibility of a major war in the future, one that could involve a far larger mobilization than anything we can imagine today. All you have do is think about what would happen if the U.S. were to suffer a nuclear terrorist attack to realize that we might well wind up fighting and occupying countries larger than Iraq or Afghanistan. (What if the nuclear materiel is traced back to Pakistan or Iran?) And that’s only one possible scenario. It’s not hard to think of other contingencies, such as a war over Taiwan, that could require a much bigger military with a lot more equipment than we have today.

So does this justify an enormous influx of government funds to keep badly-managed automakers afloat? Not necessarily. As noted in this Wall Street Journal editorial, automobile manufacturing in America is no longer synonymous with Detroit: “Honda, Toyota and the rest employ about 113,000 American auto workers who make nearly four million cars a year in states like Alabama and Tennessee.”

I realize those are “foreign” companies (though such designations are somewhat artificial, in an age of multinational firms). But as long as their plants are on American soil, they and their workers presumably could be conscripted in wartime if necessary. That should provide enough of a hedge in case we need to ramp up defense production in a hurry. The Detroit automakers, it seems, will have to make the case for a bailout on the economic (or political) merits, not on national security grounds.

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Post-Cold War, Bizarro Version

For some truly depressing reading, see this Guardian editorial, entitled, “The Progressive Moment.” The authors argue that Gordon Brown should–deep, deep breath–follow America down its new socialist pathway:

The financial crisis sealed the election for Barack Obama. Immediately before Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy in mid-September he was, if anything, slightly adrift in the polls. But watching Washington administer socialist solutions to protect Wall Street bankers, an anxious nation rallied to Mr Obama’s redistributive tax plans and his rejection of the “old theory that says we should give more to billionaires and big corporations and hope that prosperity trickles down to everyone else.” If the mass market press is gauging the mood of its readers correctly, opinion in Britain is running the same way. “Now pass it on, you bankers,” screamed the Sun after last week’s bumper interest rate cut. Wealthy financiers are suddenly attracting the sort of rage more often directed at asylum seekers and workless benefit claimants. Can Gordon Brown respond to that change and seize the progressive moment?

Certainly he has the opportunity.

The funny thing about opportunity is the way it shrinks for citizens as it grows for governments. There are no progressive moments–only progressive spirals, progressive unravelings, progressive declines. No leader can reward a weary population with a temporary respite from self-reliance. A state cannot experiment with entitlements and play it by ear. When citizens get goodies, they hang on to them.

There was a time when America knew this, and other Western countries suspected it and sought our guidance in creating more free markets and less entitled citizens. Now, with Obama at the helm, we’re apparently leading the charge in the other direction. The authors of the piece advise Gordon Brown “to take to heart Mr Obama’s progressive three-word mantra. Yes, we can.” Indeed, they can. If it can happen here . . .

For some truly depressing reading, see this Guardian editorial, entitled, “The Progressive Moment.” The authors argue that Gordon Brown should–deep, deep breath–follow America down its new socialist pathway:

The financial crisis sealed the election for Barack Obama. Immediately before Lehman Brothers filed for bankruptcy in mid-September he was, if anything, slightly adrift in the polls. But watching Washington administer socialist solutions to protect Wall Street bankers, an anxious nation rallied to Mr Obama’s redistributive tax plans and his rejection of the “old theory that says we should give more to billionaires and big corporations and hope that prosperity trickles down to everyone else.” If the mass market press is gauging the mood of its readers correctly, opinion in Britain is running the same way. “Now pass it on, you bankers,” screamed the Sun after last week’s bumper interest rate cut. Wealthy financiers are suddenly attracting the sort of rage more often directed at asylum seekers and workless benefit claimants. Can Gordon Brown respond to that change and seize the progressive moment?

Certainly he has the opportunity.

The funny thing about opportunity is the way it shrinks for citizens as it grows for governments. There are no progressive moments–only progressive spirals, progressive unravelings, progressive declines. No leader can reward a weary population with a temporary respite from self-reliance. A state cannot experiment with entitlements and play it by ear. When citizens get goodies, they hang on to them.

There was a time when America knew this, and other Western countries suspected it and sought our guidance in creating more free markets and less entitled citizens. Now, with Obama at the helm, we’re apparently leading the charge in the other direction. The authors of the piece advise Gordon Brown “to take to heart Mr Obama’s progressive three-word mantra. Yes, we can.” Indeed, they can. If it can happen here . . .

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An Extraordinary Rescue

Sean Naylor of Army Times is one of the best combat correspondents in the business today–a fearless, objective chronicler who understands the military inside and out in a way that few (if any) who write for the MSM can rival. His latest scoop may be found here. It is an awe-inspiring account of how a Special Operations unit made up primarily of Navy SEALS rescued an American businessman, who had been kidnapped in Afghanistan by followers of jihadist warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. With details such as the operators “aiming their silencer-equipped weapons to shoot and kill the kidnapper in the room before he could fire a round,” the story reads like something from “The Unit,” “24,” or some other television show. The difference being, of course, that this really happened. Appearing as it does just before Veterans Day, this article provides yet another reason to be grateful for the supreme skill shown by so many in our armed forces–as well as for the skill and empathy shown by the few reporters, like Sean Naylor, who chronicle their achievements.

Sean Naylor of Army Times is one of the best combat correspondents in the business today–a fearless, objective chronicler who understands the military inside and out in a way that few (if any) who write for the MSM can rival. His latest scoop may be found here. It is an awe-inspiring account of how a Special Operations unit made up primarily of Navy SEALS rescued an American businessman, who had been kidnapped in Afghanistan by followers of jihadist warlord Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. With details such as the operators “aiming their silencer-equipped weapons to shoot and kill the kidnapper in the room before he could fire a round,” the story reads like something from “The Unit,” “24,” or some other television show. The difference being, of course, that this really happened. Appearing as it does just before Veterans Day, this article provides yet another reason to be grateful for the supreme skill shown by so many in our armed forces–as well as for the skill and empathy shown by the few reporters, like Sean Naylor, who chronicle their achievements.

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Bicycles Built for All

Bicycle-sharing programs are becoming enormously popular in Europe, according to the New York Times:

The sharing plans include not just Paris’s Vélib’, with its 20,000 bicycles, but also wildly popular programs with thousands of bicycles in major cities like Barcelona and Lyon, France. There are also programs in Pamplona, Spain; Rennes, France; and Düsseldorf, Germany. Even Rome, whose narrow, cobbled streets and chaotic traffic would seem unsuited to pedaling, recently started a small trial program, Roma’n’Bike, which it plans to expand soon.

The article notes that such programs have been successful even in cities without a cycling tradition. The benefits include cleaner air, healthier citizens, time-savings for commuters, and, let’s not forget, fun a la Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Having recently pedaled around Paris on a Vélib’, I can confirm that bicycling is a faster form of transportation than automobile (whether by bus, taxi, or one’s own car) and possibly even the Metro, depending on the trip.

While the District of Columbia is experimenting with a bike-rental program, New York City would seem to be an even better place to test one out, and happily this summer the Department of Transportation has expressed interest in doing so. After all, Manhattan is small—13.4 miles long, 2.3 miles wide—and has largely flat topography (the two exceptions being Morningside and Washington Heights). And during rush hour, it can be faster to walk crosstown than to take a taxi or bus. While it’s currently dangerous to ride a bike on the city’s grid, having more bikes on the road would make drivers more aware and cautious. Ideally, true bike paths would be created—of the few that currently exist, many are adjacent to parked cars, which allows a suddenly-opened door to end your ride—and life. Admittedly, any bike-sharing program in New York would be a test of how much anti-social behavior remains in the city since the bicycles can easily be vandalized and stolen (as does occur in Paris). If, however, the program turns out to be a success, it would add to the sense of mutual trust among Gothamites.

One of the less obvious reasons the article offers as to why American cities have been slow to start bicycle-sharing programs is “a preference for wearing helmets.” What the article doesn’t mention is that many places in America and Canada have mandatory bicycle helmet laws, which studies show decrease the number of riders (because of the inconvenience), while having a negligible effect on injuries. Many of the researchers who have studied the issue have concluded that the benefits of having more people get more exercise, especially at a time of rising rates of obesity, outweigh the risks to riders who go helmet-less. In fact, there’s even evidence that helmets can be outright counterproductive to their wearers: A psychologist found that cars drive closer to bicyclists who wear helmets (perhaps because they look more protected, skillful, or responsible). This chimes with the findings of “Seatbelt” Sam Peltzman, the University of Chicago economist who has argued that mandatory seatbelt laws result in people driving more dangerously because they feel safer.

Bicycle-sharing programs are becoming enormously popular in Europe, according to the New York Times:

The sharing plans include not just Paris’s Vélib’, with its 20,000 bicycles, but also wildly popular programs with thousands of bicycles in major cities like Barcelona and Lyon, France. There are also programs in Pamplona, Spain; Rennes, France; and Düsseldorf, Germany. Even Rome, whose narrow, cobbled streets and chaotic traffic would seem unsuited to pedaling, recently started a small trial program, Roma’n’Bike, which it plans to expand soon.

The article notes that such programs have been successful even in cities without a cycling tradition. The benefits include cleaner air, healthier citizens, time-savings for commuters, and, let’s not forget, fun a la Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Having recently pedaled around Paris on a Vélib’, I can confirm that bicycling is a faster form of transportation than automobile (whether by bus, taxi, or one’s own car) and possibly even the Metro, depending on the trip.

While the District of Columbia is experimenting with a bike-rental program, New York City would seem to be an even better place to test one out, and happily this summer the Department of Transportation has expressed interest in doing so. After all, Manhattan is small—13.4 miles long, 2.3 miles wide—and has largely flat topography (the two exceptions being Morningside and Washington Heights). And during rush hour, it can be faster to walk crosstown than to take a taxi or bus. While it’s currently dangerous to ride a bike on the city’s grid, having more bikes on the road would make drivers more aware and cautious. Ideally, true bike paths would be created—of the few that currently exist, many are adjacent to parked cars, which allows a suddenly-opened door to end your ride—and life. Admittedly, any bike-sharing program in New York would be a test of how much anti-social behavior remains in the city since the bicycles can easily be vandalized and stolen (as does occur in Paris). If, however, the program turns out to be a success, it would add to the sense of mutual trust among Gothamites.

One of the less obvious reasons the article offers as to why American cities have been slow to start bicycle-sharing programs is “a preference for wearing helmets.” What the article doesn’t mention is that many places in America and Canada have mandatory bicycle helmet laws, which studies show decrease the number of riders (because of the inconvenience), while having a negligible effect on injuries. Many of the researchers who have studied the issue have concluded that the benefits of having more people get more exercise, especially at a time of rising rates of obesity, outweigh the risks to riders who go helmet-less. In fact, there’s even evidence that helmets can be outright counterproductive to their wearers: A psychologist found that cars drive closer to bicyclists who wear helmets (perhaps because they look more protected, skillful, or responsible). This chimes with the findings of “Seatbelt” Sam Peltzman, the University of Chicago economist who has argued that mandatory seatbelt laws result in people driving more dangerously because they feel safer.

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Prop 8 Problems

In news that will disturb many on the Left, the Canadian Press has reported that African Americans might have been a contributing, even decisive, factor to the banning of same-sex marriage in California. By a 70 to 30 margin, black voters, who turned out in unusually large numbers to vote for Obama, supported Proposition 8, which prohibited same-sex marriage. By contrast, whites were slightly opposed to the proposition, and Hispanics split 50/50. Not only does this phenomenon becloud Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow Coalition, but it even led to an ugly clash at a post-election rally:

“It was like being at a Klan rally except the Klansmen were wearing Abercrombie polos and Birkenstocks,” said one attendee, a gay black man.

The UCLA student said he was twice called the n-word.

Putting aside the irony that Abercrombie and Fitch is the most homoerotic mainstream men’s clothing brand, this tension does not bode well for Democratic unity.

In news that will disturb many on the Left, the Canadian Press has reported that African Americans might have been a contributing, even decisive, factor to the banning of same-sex marriage in California. By a 70 to 30 margin, black voters, who turned out in unusually large numbers to vote for Obama, supported Proposition 8, which prohibited same-sex marriage. By contrast, whites were slightly opposed to the proposition, and Hispanics split 50/50. Not only does this phenomenon becloud Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow Coalition, but it even led to an ugly clash at a post-election rally:

“It was like being at a Klan rally except the Klansmen were wearing Abercrombie polos and Birkenstocks,” said one attendee, a gay black man.

The UCLA student said he was twice called the n-word.

Putting aside the irony that Abercrombie and Fitch is the most homoerotic mainstream men’s clothing brand, this tension does not bode well for Democratic unity.

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What’s Next for the GOP

Some thoughts on the task ahead for the GOP:

1. Right now the attention of the country is (understandably) riveted on Obama and the Democratic Congress. There’s not a great deal Republicans can, or even should, do about that. Democrats hold the reins of power; their fate is now largely in the hands of Democrats. If the Democrats succeed and the nation prospers, they will be hard to dislodge. If they fail and the country falters, they’ll pay a price. The philosophical significance of the Obama presidency depends on whether he governs successfully (as did FDR) or poorly (as did Carter). It’s premature for either side to pretend it knows whether or not Tuesday’s election is a hinge point in American politics.

2. Republicans should avoid petty, small-minded criticisms of Obama. The public can sense when politicians are trying to manufacture criticism and outrage. That is what Republicans need to guard against: a reflexive tendency to lash out, particularly when the public is weary of such things after a seemingly endless campaign.

Read the rest of this COMMENTARY web exclusive here.

Some thoughts on the task ahead for the GOP:

1. Right now the attention of the country is (understandably) riveted on Obama and the Democratic Congress. There’s not a great deal Republicans can, or even should, do about that. Democrats hold the reins of power; their fate is now largely in the hands of Democrats. If the Democrats succeed and the nation prospers, they will be hard to dislodge. If they fail and the country falters, they’ll pay a price. The philosophical significance of the Obama presidency depends on whether he governs successfully (as did FDR) or poorly (as did Carter). It’s premature for either side to pretend it knows whether or not Tuesday’s election is a hinge point in American politics.

2. Republicans should avoid petty, small-minded criticisms of Obama. The public can sense when politicians are trying to manufacture criticism and outrage. That is what Republicans need to guard against: a reflexive tendency to lash out, particularly when the public is weary of such things after a seemingly endless campaign.

Read the rest of this COMMENTARY web exclusive here.

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The Old Gray Blabbermouth

The New York Times continues its series of articles exposing top-secret U.S. operations in the War on Terror. Today’s installment, as Abe mentioned, describes U.S. Special Operations incursions into Syria, Pakistan, Somalia, and other countries under the terms of an executive order signedby President Bush.

Portions of these revelations have already been leaked in the past, making this piece less harmful than previous Times classics such as this 2005 article in which the Paper of Record exposed secret wiretapping of terrorists. Or this article from the Washington Post which exposed the CIA’s overseas prisons in which top terrorists were held. But it’s bad enough.

I can’t help thinking that such operational details never would have been revealed in a war–say World War II–that the editors of these newspapers believed was worth fighting. The really interesting issue will be what happens henceforward. I have a feeling that perhaps the MSM won’t be so eager to blow the whistle on operations ordered by a president they love rather than one they loathe. At the very least, they will give President Obama a longer presumption of goodwill than they gave to President Bush, who enjoyed it for only a few months after 9/11. If we are thus better able to make covert ops truly covert, that may well be an unexpected benefit of Obama’s ascendancy.

The New York Times continues its series of articles exposing top-secret U.S. operations in the War on Terror. Today’s installment, as Abe mentioned, describes U.S. Special Operations incursions into Syria, Pakistan, Somalia, and other countries under the terms of an executive order signedby President Bush.

Portions of these revelations have already been leaked in the past, making this piece less harmful than previous Times classics such as this 2005 article in which the Paper of Record exposed secret wiretapping of terrorists. Or this article from the Washington Post which exposed the CIA’s overseas prisons in which top terrorists were held. But it’s bad enough.

I can’t help thinking that such operational details never would have been revealed in a war–say World War II–that the editors of these newspapers believed was worth fighting. The really interesting issue will be what happens henceforward. I have a feeling that perhaps the MSM won’t be so eager to blow the whistle on operations ordered by a president they love rather than one they loathe. At the very least, they will give President Obama a longer presumption of goodwill than they gave to President Bush, who enjoyed it for only a few months after 9/11. If we are thus better able to make covert ops truly covert, that may well be an unexpected benefit of Obama’s ascendancy.

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The Joe Problem

I got a chuckle out of this piece on what to do about Joe Biden:

“You can’t just have a guy like him at loose ends, he’d go crazy,” said a Democratic consultant who knows the affable, bright and mercilessly quotable soon-to-be ex-chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. “They need to keep him busy. Nobody over there wants him getting into the Secretary of State’s [business].”

Harnessing Biden’s considerable talents and containing his flaws will be an ongoing challenge for Obama.

That, given his gaffe-filled campaign, would be an understatement. The piece goes on to speculate that Biden’s greatest use in the new administration may be in forging deals in the Senate. But then again:

“Joe’s really well liked—and he can be a real stand-up guy—but it’s going to be tough for him,” said an aide to a top Senate Republican, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“We’re not in the mood to make deals. People like him, sure, but people are going to change their votes on defense or health care or taxes just because Joe Biden’s a great guy?”

And after all, as one analyst observed, “Obama already has his own relationships in the Senate so, in a sense, he doesn’t need an emissary.”

Well, this is the dilemma of all Vice Presidents. How to spend their time and what to do? Unlike Dick Cheney, however, Biden can’t get enough of the limelight, and is unlikely to be content simply as an advisor behind the scenes. Nor does he have a particular portfolio distinct from the roles other key administration members (e.g. the Secretary of State) will play.

So, other than presiding over the Senate in close votes, going to funerals, and selling the President’s platform, what will Biden do? If Obama is really as savvy as we are led to believe, he will come up with some long, boring, and tedious topic (re-reinventing government?) to keep Biden occupied. Since the election Biden, has been kept largely under wraps, but that certainly won’t last — to the delight of comics and pundits everywhere.

I got a chuckle out of this piece on what to do about Joe Biden:

“You can’t just have a guy like him at loose ends, he’d go crazy,” said a Democratic consultant who knows the affable, bright and mercilessly quotable soon-to-be ex-chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. “They need to keep him busy. Nobody over there wants him getting into the Secretary of State’s [business].”

Harnessing Biden’s considerable talents and containing his flaws will be an ongoing challenge for Obama.

That, given his gaffe-filled campaign, would be an understatement. The piece goes on to speculate that Biden’s greatest use in the new administration may be in forging deals in the Senate. But then again:

“Joe’s really well liked—and he can be a real stand-up guy—but it’s going to be tough for him,” said an aide to a top Senate Republican, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“We’re not in the mood to make deals. People like him, sure, but people are going to change their votes on defense or health care or taxes just because Joe Biden’s a great guy?”

And after all, as one analyst observed, “Obama already has his own relationships in the Senate so, in a sense, he doesn’t need an emissary.”

Well, this is the dilemma of all Vice Presidents. How to spend their time and what to do? Unlike Dick Cheney, however, Biden can’t get enough of the limelight, and is unlikely to be content simply as an advisor behind the scenes. Nor does he have a particular portfolio distinct from the roles other key administration members (e.g. the Secretary of State) will play.

So, other than presiding over the Senate in close votes, going to funerals, and selling the President’s platform, what will Biden do? If Obama is really as savvy as we are led to believe, he will come up with some long, boring, and tedious topic (re-reinventing government?) to keep Biden occupied. Since the election Biden, has been kept largely under wraps, but that certainly won’t last — to the delight of comics and pundits everywhere.

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Post-Zionist Mayors?

Here’s an interesting question: Does it matter if the mayor of the “first Hebrew city” of Tel Aviv is a Zionist?

Tomorrow, Israel is going to the polls to elect its municipal legislatures. I wrote here about the race in Jerusalem– still a very tight one–between the secular Nir Barkat and the ultra-orthodox Meir Porush. But Tel Aviv is also electing a mayor. The incumbent, Ron Huldai, a former General and air force pilot, is a good mayor, but not a very popular one. He has “no soul,” former mayor Roni Millo complained, and many agree:

Huldai belongs to the old style of obnoxious politicians who know how to work, not how to talk. He’s an energetic, dedicated mayor with values, but even when he was principal of Tel Aviv’s Gymnasia Herzliya high school he was accused of arrogance when he stood at the gate in the morning and shook the hand of every student who entered. His list of candidates is not exactly thrilling.

Huldai is portrayed, for good reason, as friendly to the rich. He seems to make Tel Aviv less friendly to the young, the bohemian, the artistic, the trendy. All the people, in other words, who make the city what it is. And, yes, many are to the left, even far left, of Israel’s center. Naively–almost comically–to the left.

Huldai’s emerging opposition is Dov Khenin: smart, personable, interested in management, and with a challenging agenda for the city. Oh–and he’s also a communist, a Knesset Member from the Chadash Party. And post-Zionist, or so they say. Khenin has gone a bit shy since he started running for mayor, and is having trouble exactly saying what he believes. “Do you sing Hatikvah, the national anthem?” he was asked by a TV anchor. “I respect the national anthem,” he responded.

Khenin argues that municipal politics should be about municipal issues, and many among the more trendy Tel Avivians support this claim:

Yes, Dov Khenin is a communist. It is not easy for a Zionist to support a communist. But these elections are municipal, not national. The question that hangs in the balance is not whether Israel will become a state of all its citizens, but whether Tel Aviv will be a city of all its residents. Khenin, for his part, has proven his incorruptibility by adding Likudniks and skullcap-wearing politicians to his list. As such, there is no justification for the ugly campaign being waged against him. He, as well as the political movement he heads, are a reason for national pride, not a pretext for McCarthyist persecution.

Thus, both in Jerusalem and in Tel Aviv, we have competitive races that share an important characteristic:

On the face of it, the campaigns in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem are as different as these cities are from each other – in appearance, lifestyle and temperament. Yet in both races, the contests are between those who represent mainstream Zionism and those with a more narrow constituency aiming to rebrand.

In Jerusalem, this means the ultra-orthodox Porush; in Tel Aviv, it means Khenin. No wonder the other ultra-orthodox party, Shas, has considered endorsing Khenin. Like him, they care about the poor, and propagandize against the rich. Like him, they don’t much care for the Zionist cause.

Huldai is leading in the polls, but municipal politics, even more than national elections, are all about turnout, and it seems now that Khenin has the more enthusiastic constituency. It should also be said that he made this race much more interesting, partially by way of making young people more interested in their local politics, but also by forcing upon many the need to choose camps. He’s split the city electorate into those who do not really care if their mayor is a Zionist, and those who have suddenly discovered that they do care. I know people who generally don’t care about the mayoral race, but will go the polls tomorrow just to make sure that they do not wake up the next morning with a mayor who “respects” the national anthem, but does not sing it.

Here’s an interesting question: Does it matter if the mayor of the “first Hebrew city” of Tel Aviv is a Zionist?

Tomorrow, Israel is going to the polls to elect its municipal legislatures. I wrote here about the race in Jerusalem– still a very tight one–between the secular Nir Barkat and the ultra-orthodox Meir Porush. But Tel Aviv is also electing a mayor. The incumbent, Ron Huldai, a former General and air force pilot, is a good mayor, but not a very popular one. He has “no soul,” former mayor Roni Millo complained, and many agree:

Huldai belongs to the old style of obnoxious politicians who know how to work, not how to talk. He’s an energetic, dedicated mayor with values, but even when he was principal of Tel Aviv’s Gymnasia Herzliya high school he was accused of arrogance when he stood at the gate in the morning and shook the hand of every student who entered. His list of candidates is not exactly thrilling.

Huldai is portrayed, for good reason, as friendly to the rich. He seems to make Tel Aviv less friendly to the young, the bohemian, the artistic, the trendy. All the people, in other words, who make the city what it is. And, yes, many are to the left, even far left, of Israel’s center. Naively–almost comically–to the left.

Huldai’s emerging opposition is Dov Khenin: smart, personable, interested in management, and with a challenging agenda for the city. Oh–and he’s also a communist, a Knesset Member from the Chadash Party. And post-Zionist, or so they say. Khenin has gone a bit shy since he started running for mayor, and is having trouble exactly saying what he believes. “Do you sing Hatikvah, the national anthem?” he was asked by a TV anchor. “I respect the national anthem,” he responded.

Khenin argues that municipal politics should be about municipal issues, and many among the more trendy Tel Avivians support this claim:

Yes, Dov Khenin is a communist. It is not easy for a Zionist to support a communist. But these elections are municipal, not national. The question that hangs in the balance is not whether Israel will become a state of all its citizens, but whether Tel Aviv will be a city of all its residents. Khenin, for his part, has proven his incorruptibility by adding Likudniks and skullcap-wearing politicians to his list. As such, there is no justification for the ugly campaign being waged against him. He, as well as the political movement he heads, are a reason for national pride, not a pretext for McCarthyist persecution.

Thus, both in Jerusalem and in Tel Aviv, we have competitive races that share an important characteristic:

On the face of it, the campaigns in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem are as different as these cities are from each other – in appearance, lifestyle and temperament. Yet in both races, the contests are between those who represent mainstream Zionism and those with a more narrow constituency aiming to rebrand.

In Jerusalem, this means the ultra-orthodox Porush; in Tel Aviv, it means Khenin. No wonder the other ultra-orthodox party, Shas, has considered endorsing Khenin. Like him, they care about the poor, and propagandize against the rich. Like him, they don’t much care for the Zionist cause.

Huldai is leading in the polls, but municipal politics, even more than national elections, are all about turnout, and it seems now that Khenin has the more enthusiastic constituency. It should also be said that he made this race much more interesting, partially by way of making young people more interested in their local politics, but also by forcing upon many the need to choose camps. He’s split the city electorate into those who do not really care if their mayor is a Zionist, and those who have suddenly discovered that they do care. I know people who generally don’t care about the mayoral race, but will go the polls tomorrow just to make sure that they do not wake up the next morning with a mayor who “respects” the national anthem, but does not sing it.

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You’re Not Serious?

Barack Obama seems intent on pressing forward with a middle-class tax cut sooner rather than later. Conservatives should applaud that. However, he also appears to be serious about a disastrous part of his campaign agenda. Over the weekend, Rahm Emanuel suggested the next president wouldn’t just stick to tax cuts:

Rahm Emanuel also hinted that Obama would not postpone a tax increase for families earning more than $250,000 a year despite the deepening economic gloom. He said Obama’s proposals would reduce taxes for 95 percent of working Americans by an average of $1,000 each, resulting in “a net tax cut” for the overall economy.

Is he serious? There is no longer any need to play the class warfare card or gin up the liberal base. But we are in a recession, unemployment is at a fourteen-year high, and the Fed can’t find enough ways to shovel liquidity into the private sector. And Obama still wants to hike taxes?

It is a puzzlement, unless we conclude he really is an ideologue who values income redistribution over all else. And he can spare us the “we have to pay for the tax cuts” rationale. If we were serious about fiscal discipline, we would not be larding up a stimulus package now topping $150B, or considering new giveaways to the car industry.

It is possible that the Republicans have caught their first break. Raising taxes on anyone, let alone small businesses and the few still willing to invest in our economy, will not be greeted kindly by the markets. We will see if Obama is really serious about doing so. If he is, it will be his first significant misstep.

Barack Obama seems intent on pressing forward with a middle-class tax cut sooner rather than later. Conservatives should applaud that. However, he also appears to be serious about a disastrous part of his campaign agenda. Over the weekend, Rahm Emanuel suggested the next president wouldn’t just stick to tax cuts:

Rahm Emanuel also hinted that Obama would not postpone a tax increase for families earning more than $250,000 a year despite the deepening economic gloom. He said Obama’s proposals would reduce taxes for 95 percent of working Americans by an average of $1,000 each, resulting in “a net tax cut” for the overall economy.

Is he serious? There is no longer any need to play the class warfare card or gin up the liberal base. But we are in a recession, unemployment is at a fourteen-year high, and the Fed can’t find enough ways to shovel liquidity into the private sector. And Obama still wants to hike taxes?

It is a puzzlement, unless we conclude he really is an ideologue who values income redistribution over all else. And he can spare us the “we have to pay for the tax cuts” rationale. If we were serious about fiscal discipline, we would not be larding up a stimulus package now topping $150B, or considering new giveaways to the car industry.

It is possible that the Republicans have caught their first break. Raising taxes on anyone, let alone small businesses and the few still willing to invest in our economy, will not be greeted kindly by the markets. We will see if Obama is really serious about doing so. If he is, it will be his first significant misstep.

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Obama Was Still Wrong . . .

In July, when George W. Bush signed off on unilateral military action inside Pakistan, Barack Obama supporters were quick to claim that the President was now following Obama’s lead. For in August 2007, Obama said of al Qaeda members inside Pakistan, “If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won’t act, we will.” But a story in today’s New York Times reveals that Bush had okayed such actions on before Obama even took his seat in the Senate:

The United States military since 2004 has used broad, secret authority to carry out nearly a dozen previously undisclosed attacks against Al Qaeda and other militants in Syria, Pakistan and elsewhere, according to senior American officials.

These military raids, typically carried out by Special Operations forces, were authorized by a classified order that Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld signed in the spring of 2004 with the approval of President Bush, the officials said. The secret order gave the military new authority to attack the Qaeda terrorist network anywhere in the world, and a more sweeping mandate to conduct operations in countries not at war with the United States.

In the year before the candidate of international cooperation decided to advertise his plan for American unilateralism (upsetting the Pakistani leadership and inflaming the Pakistani street), there was a Navy Seal raid on suspected militants in the Bajaur region of Pakistan’s volatile Federally Administered Tribal Area. Obama was correct that the U.S. should not always wait for the okay of foreign governments before taking out deadly enemies. But broadcasting it was a reckless rookie move. The election was long; August 2007 seems a lifetime ago, and Obama seems more than willing to move away from failed tactics. Let’s hope he’s learned the whole walk softly-big stick thing by now.

In July, when George W. Bush signed off on unilateral military action inside Pakistan, Barack Obama supporters were quick to claim that the President was now following Obama’s lead. For in August 2007, Obama said of al Qaeda members inside Pakistan, “If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won’t act, we will.” But a story in today’s New York Times reveals that Bush had okayed such actions on before Obama even took his seat in the Senate:

The United States military since 2004 has used broad, secret authority to carry out nearly a dozen previously undisclosed attacks against Al Qaeda and other militants in Syria, Pakistan and elsewhere, according to senior American officials.

These military raids, typically carried out by Special Operations forces, were authorized by a classified order that Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld signed in the spring of 2004 with the approval of President Bush, the officials said. The secret order gave the military new authority to attack the Qaeda terrorist network anywhere in the world, and a more sweeping mandate to conduct operations in countries not at war with the United States.

In the year before the candidate of international cooperation decided to advertise his plan for American unilateralism (upsetting the Pakistani leadership and inflaming the Pakistani street), there was a Navy Seal raid on suspected militants in the Bajaur region of Pakistan’s volatile Federally Administered Tribal Area. Obama was correct that the U.S. should not always wait for the okay of foreign governments before taking out deadly enemies. But broadcasting it was a reckless rookie move. The election was long; August 2007 seems a lifetime ago, and Obama seems more than willing to move away from failed tactics. Let’s hope he’s learned the whole walk softly-big stick thing by now.

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Did He Steal Their Agenda?

Mara Liasson on Fox News Sunday observed:

You know, fiscal responsibility — there are a whole bunch of issues that Republicans are going to have to come up with answers for. They were successful on taxes. Look at Obama. He ran as a tax cutter. They were successful on crime and welfare reform and strong defense. Obama wants to increase the size of the military.But what about global warming? What about income inequality? What about immigration — I mean, in terms of the importance of the Hispanic vote? There’s a whole bunch of new issues that Republicans are going to have to come up with conservative solutions for and not just fall back on, you know, fiscal responsibility, low taxes.

She is right that Barack Obama ran on some issues not associated with liberalism, including tax cuts and expanding the military. However (and it is a big however), it is not at all clear that he is going to fulfill those promises, including the one about going “line by line” through the federal budget. So if conservatives were right that Obama ran a disingenuous campaign, there will be plenty of room to reclaim that center-right agenda. If, however, he continues the rightward march, the GOP will be scratching their heads and wondering how their agenda was confiscated by a liberal from Chicago.

Liasson’s other main point — the need for Republicans to expand their agenda — is on the money. John McCain was not able to do it. Republicans will have to do better. But these involve very hard choices and very big fights. Will the conservative Mandarins and the talk show ringleaders go into open rebellion again if party reformers move on immigration reform? (Mike Pence’s plan looks pretty darn good, in retrospect.) And when a certain segment of the party doesn’t agree there is such a thing as man-made global warming or that income inequality is a problem, it is going to be hard to reach consensus.

None of that is to say that it is not possible to innovate. But those who are calling for innovation should be prepared to defend the “heretics” whose innovations and suggestions do not meet with past party orthodoxies. And those who want to lead the party should, well, lead. And they should not be dissuaded by the howls of the establishment when they spot deviations from the party hymnal. That’s what reform and innovation are about — breaking with accepted wisdom. The other option is to change nothing –and keep losing elections.

Mara Liasson on Fox News Sunday observed:

You know, fiscal responsibility — there are a whole bunch of issues that Republicans are going to have to come up with answers for. They were successful on taxes. Look at Obama. He ran as a tax cutter. They were successful on crime and welfare reform and strong defense. Obama wants to increase the size of the military.But what about global warming? What about income inequality? What about immigration — I mean, in terms of the importance of the Hispanic vote? There’s a whole bunch of new issues that Republicans are going to have to come up with conservative solutions for and not just fall back on, you know, fiscal responsibility, low taxes.

She is right that Barack Obama ran on some issues not associated with liberalism, including tax cuts and expanding the military. However (and it is a big however), it is not at all clear that he is going to fulfill those promises, including the one about going “line by line” through the federal budget. So if conservatives were right that Obama ran a disingenuous campaign, there will be plenty of room to reclaim that center-right agenda. If, however, he continues the rightward march, the GOP will be scratching their heads and wondering how their agenda was confiscated by a liberal from Chicago.

Liasson’s other main point — the need for Republicans to expand their agenda — is on the money. John McCain was not able to do it. Republicans will have to do better. But these involve very hard choices and very big fights. Will the conservative Mandarins and the talk show ringleaders go into open rebellion again if party reformers move on immigration reform? (Mike Pence’s plan looks pretty darn good, in retrospect.) And when a certain segment of the party doesn’t agree there is such a thing as man-made global warming or that income inequality is a problem, it is going to be hard to reach consensus.

None of that is to say that it is not possible to innovate. But those who are calling for innovation should be prepared to defend the “heretics” whose innovations and suggestions do not meet with past party orthodoxies. And those who want to lead the party should, well, lead. And they should not be dissuaded by the howls of the establishment when they spot deviations from the party hymnal. That’s what reform and innovation are about — breaking with accepted wisdom. The other option is to change nothing –and keep losing elections.

Read Less

Flotsam and Jetsam

Can’t argue with Mark Steyn on this: “From this last few days, the McCain campaign seems determined to go down in history as a blend of personal viciousness and strategic ineptitude. Not an attractive combination.”

Well, it’s not a secret anymore, thanks to the New York Times. Do you think liberals will look upon national security leaks less kindly when it is a Democratic Administration? Or will the leaks dry up now that the striped-pants set at State and the Ivy League clique at CIA are happy as clams with their new President?

Victor Davis Hanson makes suggestions after watching the President Elect’s first presser: “1) call on 1 opposition press person at least 1 time 2) Don’t talk more about hypo-allergenic puppies more than the state of the world 3) Don’t make cheap cuts about an aged former first lady that would better apply to Hillary Clinton 4) Use the teleprompter more.”The Union Leader needles John Boehner – now he says he’s for less government?

Yes, the GOP is dying in New England. But they’re not racking up the wins in the West, the Mountain states, and the Upper Midwest either.

More smart advice from John Avlon: “Great parties grow — they reach out and win over new voters. Republicans will remain in the wilderness if they stubbornly deny their problems by preaching to the choir or becoming preoccupied with hunting down party heretics. They must remember that the essence of evangelism is winning converts.”

Claudia Rosett suggests Republicans start with individual liberty as their cornerstone. If the new President is going to start attacking free speech (e.g., with the fairness doctrine) and secret ballots, such an agenda is going to sound very attractive. And if voters get sick of government bailouts, crony capitalism, and nationalized industries, “free markets” will sound equally intriguing.

Only the Palin-haters are convinced there is a grand conspiracy to “anoint” Palin as the 2012 nominee. Her defenders would be happy not to see the party savage a bright new face.

Harry Reid doesn’t sound like someone about to kick Joe Lieberman out of the party or strip him of his committees. Chris Dodd sure doesn’t.

Her vice-chairmanship of Fannie Mae–and her role in erecting the wall between security agencies (much discussed in the 9-11 aftermath)–didn’t disqualify Jamie Goerlick for consideration as Attorney General? Good grief.

A bailout of the AIG bailout. The government gets more control and AIG gets more money. What’s not to like? Everything.

And on the car company bailout: just say no. Or at the very least, put in a government-appointed receiver to “to replace current management, zero out current shareholders, and especially to rewrite labor and other contracts.” Hey — the perfect job for Mitt Romney.

I think it is perfectly fine for the Obamas to send their kids to private schools. But maybe they might have a chat with the D.C. Schools Chancellor about vouchers and school choice. Those private schools could probably use some economic diversity. And there are plenty of kids who could use a decent education.

Michelle Obama admires Laura Bush because she doesn’t “fuel the fire.” Wise advice, if she can adhere to it. (Speaking of incendiary figures–ever since the election, Joe Biden seem to have been taken to a secure location. This is a team that learns from its mistakes!)

Can’t argue with Mark Steyn on this: “From this last few days, the McCain campaign seems determined to go down in history as a blend of personal viciousness and strategic ineptitude. Not an attractive combination.”

Well, it’s not a secret anymore, thanks to the New York Times. Do you think liberals will look upon national security leaks less kindly when it is a Democratic Administration? Or will the leaks dry up now that the striped-pants set at State and the Ivy League clique at CIA are happy as clams with their new President?

Victor Davis Hanson makes suggestions after watching the President Elect’s first presser: “1) call on 1 opposition press person at least 1 time 2) Don’t talk more about hypo-allergenic puppies more than the state of the world 3) Don’t make cheap cuts about an aged former first lady that would better apply to Hillary Clinton 4) Use the teleprompter more.”The Union Leader needles John Boehner – now he says he’s for less government?

Yes, the GOP is dying in New England. But they’re not racking up the wins in the West, the Mountain states, and the Upper Midwest either.

More smart advice from John Avlon: “Great parties grow — they reach out and win over new voters. Republicans will remain in the wilderness if they stubbornly deny their problems by preaching to the choir or becoming preoccupied with hunting down party heretics. They must remember that the essence of evangelism is winning converts.”

Claudia Rosett suggests Republicans start with individual liberty as their cornerstone. If the new President is going to start attacking free speech (e.g., with the fairness doctrine) and secret ballots, such an agenda is going to sound very attractive. And if voters get sick of government bailouts, crony capitalism, and nationalized industries, “free markets” will sound equally intriguing.

Only the Palin-haters are convinced there is a grand conspiracy to “anoint” Palin as the 2012 nominee. Her defenders would be happy not to see the party savage a bright new face.

Harry Reid doesn’t sound like someone about to kick Joe Lieberman out of the party or strip him of his committees. Chris Dodd sure doesn’t.

Her vice-chairmanship of Fannie Mae–and her role in erecting the wall between security agencies (much discussed in the 9-11 aftermath)–didn’t disqualify Jamie Goerlick for consideration as Attorney General? Good grief.

A bailout of the AIG bailout. The government gets more control and AIG gets more money. What’s not to like? Everything.

And on the car company bailout: just say no. Or at the very least, put in a government-appointed receiver to “to replace current management, zero out current shareholders, and especially to rewrite labor and other contracts.” Hey — the perfect job for Mitt Romney.

I think it is perfectly fine for the Obamas to send their kids to private schools. But maybe they might have a chat with the D.C. Schools Chancellor about vouchers and school choice. Those private schools could probably use some economic diversity. And there are plenty of kids who could use a decent education.

Michelle Obama admires Laura Bush because she doesn’t “fuel the fire.” Wise advice, if she can adhere to it. (Speaking of incendiary figures–ever since the election, Joe Biden seem to have been taken to a secure location. This is a team that learns from its mistakes!)

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More Obama Terrorist Connections

Apparently he intents to continue palling around with radicals:

Obama’s First Appointment is Son of Zionist Terrorist.

When will he learn?

Apparently he intents to continue palling around with radicals:

Obama’s First Appointment is Son of Zionist Terrorist.

When will he learn?

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Right or Left?

Scott Rasmussen, rated the most accurate of the 2008 pollsters, delves into the numbers and finds that Barack Obama’s tax-cutting stance greatly contributed to his victory. Rasmussen concludes:

Mr. Obama won the White House promising tax cuts, but he will be governing with a Democratic Congress bursting with desire for a more activist government. As he faces this challenge, he might remember the fate of another man who made taxes the central part of his campaign: the first President Bush, whose most memorable campaign line — “Read my lips, no new taxes” — was as central to his victory as Mr. Obama’s promise to cut taxes for 95% of Americans. George H.W. Bush famously reneged on that promise. Voters rejected his bid for a second term. Mr Obama ran like Reagan. Will he be able to govern that way, too?

That suggests an odd paradox, one applying not just to taxes but to a host of other issues. Republicans will be rooting for and assisting the new President on the the center-right aspects of his agenda, which are likely to broaden his appeal. Should he back off his protectionist language, or renege on his promises to meet rogue state leaders, he’ll get no complaint from Republicans. If he actually does go “line by line” through the budget and chop and trim, Republicans will be delighted. If he puts off for another day card check legislation, Republicans won’t remind the country he’s letting down a key ally. All of these actions would no doubt make President Obama more acceptable to a wider group of voters.

But should the new President follow the lead of his base on the Left, he will buy himself a heap of trouble. Juan Williams cautions:

The left is already laying out, you know, this kind of agenda that begins with everything from gays in the military to closing Guantanamo Bay, stem cell research, undoing the gag rule on suggesting abortions to people overseas. All of this is right there.Well, if the president-elect once he’s in office begins with that agenda, he’s in big trouble.

A commentator (whose name escapes me) once remarked that, since politicians always sell out their supporters, you should vote for your opponents. Republicans can only hope that will be true in the next four years. But, to their chagrin, they may be the worse for it in the next election.

Scott Rasmussen, rated the most accurate of the 2008 pollsters, delves into the numbers and finds that Barack Obama’s tax-cutting stance greatly contributed to his victory. Rasmussen concludes:

Mr. Obama won the White House promising tax cuts, but he will be governing with a Democratic Congress bursting with desire for a more activist government. As he faces this challenge, he might remember the fate of another man who made taxes the central part of his campaign: the first President Bush, whose most memorable campaign line — “Read my lips, no new taxes” — was as central to his victory as Mr. Obama’s promise to cut taxes for 95% of Americans. George H.W. Bush famously reneged on that promise. Voters rejected his bid for a second term. Mr Obama ran like Reagan. Will he be able to govern that way, too?

That suggests an odd paradox, one applying not just to taxes but to a host of other issues. Republicans will be rooting for and assisting the new President on the the center-right aspects of his agenda, which are likely to broaden his appeal. Should he back off his protectionist language, or renege on his promises to meet rogue state leaders, he’ll get no complaint from Republicans. If he actually does go “line by line” through the budget and chop and trim, Republicans will be delighted. If he puts off for another day card check legislation, Republicans won’t remind the country he’s letting down a key ally. All of these actions would no doubt make President Obama more acceptable to a wider group of voters.

But should the new President follow the lead of his base on the Left, he will buy himself a heap of trouble. Juan Williams cautions:

The left is already laying out, you know, this kind of agenda that begins with everything from gays in the military to closing Guantanamo Bay, stem cell research, undoing the gag rule on suggesting abortions to people overseas. All of this is right there.Well, if the president-elect once he’s in office begins with that agenda, he’s in big trouble.

A commentator (whose name escapes me) once remarked that, since politicians always sell out their supporters, you should vote for your opponents. Republicans can only hope that will be true in the next four years. But, to their chagrin, they may be the worse for it in the next election.

Read Less




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