Commentary Magazine


Posts For: November 26, 2008

Kadima’s Nosedive

Another Israeli poll has come out, and both the centrist Kadima and leftist Labor parties have taken another hit. According to the study conducted by the Geocartography Institute (a respectable pollster), if the elections were held today, Likud would take 37 seats, compared with Kadima’s 25 — a decisive lead in the battle for Israel’s 120-seat parliament. More stunning still is the implosion of Labor, which is down to 7 seats — making the former ruling party into the seventh-largest party in the Knesset.

How to explain the sudden dive? Pretty simple: Israel has finally, fully, entered the global financial crisis. In the past two weeks, Israel’s stock market has been slammed, layoffs have been announced, the government began floating emergency bailouts and a safety net for pension funds, and the central bank cut the prime lending rate another half-point, for the second time in a month, to the lowest rate in Israeli history, of 2.5 percent. Of all the major parties’ leaders, Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu is widely perceived as being the most competent on economics. Add this to the other considerations I mentioned in my last post on the subject, and voila! — the return of the Israeli Right.

The elections are February 10, so there is still much time.

Another Israeli poll has come out, and both the centrist Kadima and leftist Labor parties have taken another hit. According to the study conducted by the Geocartography Institute (a respectable pollster), if the elections were held today, Likud would take 37 seats, compared with Kadima’s 25 — a decisive lead in the battle for Israel’s 120-seat parliament. More stunning still is the implosion of Labor, which is down to 7 seats — making the former ruling party into the seventh-largest party in the Knesset.

How to explain the sudden dive? Pretty simple: Israel has finally, fully, entered the global financial crisis. In the past two weeks, Israel’s stock market has been slammed, layoffs have been announced, the government began floating emergency bailouts and a safety net for pension funds, and the central bank cut the prime lending rate another half-point, for the second time in a month, to the lowest rate in Israeli history, of 2.5 percent. Of all the major parties’ leaders, Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu is widely perceived as being the most competent on economics. Add this to the other considerations I mentioned in my last post on the subject, and voila! — the return of the Israeli Right.

The elections are February 10, so there is still much time.

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It’s a Sustainable Resource

Obama attempts to calm the base:

[A]fter some grumbling from liberal supporters about his cabinet selections so far, Obama said it was inevitable that he would tap high-ranking officials drawn from the last Democratic administration of Bill Clinton.

[…]

“What we’re going to do is combine experience with fresh thinking,” he said, stressing his new team had the background of government service to “hit the ground running.”

For a smart charismatic guy, he’s just not selling it right. If liberal supporters are upset by all the old names and faces, Obama should tell them this is all part of his green agenda: he’s leading by example and recycling.

Obama attempts to calm the base:

[A]fter some grumbling from liberal supporters about his cabinet selections so far, Obama said it was inevitable that he would tap high-ranking officials drawn from the last Democratic administration of Bill Clinton.

[…]

“What we’re going to do is combine experience with fresh thinking,” he said, stressing his new team had the background of government service to “hit the ground running.”

For a smart charismatic guy, he’s just not selling it right. If liberal supporters are upset by all the old names and faces, Obama should tell them this is all part of his green agenda: he’s leading by example and recycling.

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Say It Ain’t So, Joe!

Vice President-elect Joe Biden has been silent of late. He also, according to this report, has no real job in the new administration so far. Alas, that’s the lot of many vice presidents. But it might not have had to turn out this way. Let’s be frank — he proved himself undisciplined and unhelpful during the campaign. The New York Times notes:

Aides say Mr. Biden and Mr. Obama sometimes rib each other in private meetings, and they maintain that Mr. Obama was not unduly angry at Mr. Biden for his gaffe predicting that Mr. Obama would be tested by a world crisis in his first six months in office.

Since then, however, Mr. Biden has not had much to say to the news media. Through a spokeswoman, he declined to be interviewed for this article, itself a break from his voluble past.

Not “unduly” angry, was he? Just the right amount, I suspect.

Then candidate Barack Obama (either knowingly or not) chose someone as VP whose longevity and verbosity masked a lack of insight and intellectual heft. The Senate is full of these types — long-winded and filled with arcane information, but utterly devoid of common sense and keen judgment. He gave the appearance of gravitas, for a fleeting moment, but in an odd way wound up highlighting his running mate’s discipline and tact.

If in fact Biden has been relegated to the funeral circuit and deprived of any real responsibility that would likely be for the best. And it might be the strongest sign yet that the President-elect really does possess some management acumen.

Vice President-elect Joe Biden has been silent of late. He also, according to this report, has no real job in the new administration so far. Alas, that’s the lot of many vice presidents. But it might not have had to turn out this way. Let’s be frank — he proved himself undisciplined and unhelpful during the campaign. The New York Times notes:

Aides say Mr. Biden and Mr. Obama sometimes rib each other in private meetings, and they maintain that Mr. Obama was not unduly angry at Mr. Biden for his gaffe predicting that Mr. Obama would be tested by a world crisis in his first six months in office.

Since then, however, Mr. Biden has not had much to say to the news media. Through a spokeswoman, he declined to be interviewed for this article, itself a break from his voluble past.

Not “unduly” angry, was he? Just the right amount, I suspect.

Then candidate Barack Obama (either knowingly or not) chose someone as VP whose longevity and verbosity masked a lack of insight and intellectual heft. The Senate is full of these types — long-winded and filled with arcane information, but utterly devoid of common sense and keen judgment. He gave the appearance of gravitas, for a fleeting moment, but in an odd way wound up highlighting his running mate’s discipline and tact.

If in fact Biden has been relegated to the funeral circuit and deprived of any real responsibility that would likely be for the best. And it might be the strongest sign yet that the President-elect really does possess some management acumen.

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Giving Thanks to the Troops

Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate with family-and a time to remember those who won’t have that privilege. I am thinking primarily of the 279,825 American service personnel who were, according to official Department of Defense statistics, deployed abroad as of June 30, 2008. Some of them are able to have their families with them — for instance those stationed in Germany. But most are on “unaccompanied” tours, whether in combat zones such as Iraq and Afghanistan, or even in peaceful countries such as South Korea and Japan. (And even many of the troops nominally stationed in Germany are actually in war zones elsewhere.)

I met a few such soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen while traveling around the Philippines during the past week — part of the roughly 600 personnel deployed as part of Operation Enduring Freedom-Philippines to help the armed forces of the Philippines fight jihadist terrorists.

As always when spending time with the troops, I was impressed by their professionalism, good humor, and sky-high morale. In places like Iraq and Afghanistan it is a trial to maintain such a positive outlook amid the stress of combat, with its attendant casualties. In the Philippines, the stress comes from the lack of combat and the boredom that can result. In my experience, American troops handle both sorts of challenges better than just about any other armed force that I can think of.

So as you sit down to supper tomorrow hoist a turkey leg in honor of our gallant and selfless defenders who are enjoying their dinner in a chow hall rather than at home, surrounded probably by close friends but no doubt missing spouses, children, and other family members.

Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate with family-and a time to remember those who won’t have that privilege. I am thinking primarily of the 279,825 American service personnel who were, according to official Department of Defense statistics, deployed abroad as of June 30, 2008. Some of them are able to have their families with them — for instance those stationed in Germany. But most are on “unaccompanied” tours, whether in combat zones such as Iraq and Afghanistan, or even in peaceful countries such as South Korea and Japan. (And even many of the troops nominally stationed in Germany are actually in war zones elsewhere.)

I met a few such soldiers, sailors, marines, and airmen while traveling around the Philippines during the past week — part of the roughly 600 personnel deployed as part of Operation Enduring Freedom-Philippines to help the armed forces of the Philippines fight jihadist terrorists.

As always when spending time with the troops, I was impressed by their professionalism, good humor, and sky-high morale. In places like Iraq and Afghanistan it is a trial to maintain such a positive outlook amid the stress of combat, with its attendant casualties. In the Philippines, the stress comes from the lack of combat and the boredom that can result. In my experience, American troops handle both sorts of challenges better than just about any other armed force that I can think of.

So as you sit down to supper tomorrow hoist a turkey leg in honor of our gallant and selfless defenders who are enjoying their dinner in a chow hall rather than at home, surrounded probably by close friends but no doubt missing spouses, children, and other family members.

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Ghetto Housekeeping

As delectable a mash-up as a black-and-white cookie, gangster rapper and sometime porn director Snoop Dogg recently appeared on Martha Stewart’s TV show to whip some potatoes. While the pairing might seem bizarre—Snoop’s lyrics couldn’t be quoted in a family publication, even a Manson one—the rapper has actually spent less time behind bars than the genteel host. They even discuss some hip-hop patois, which Stewart might have picked up in the joint.

Toward the end of the segment, we discover that Snoop’s real purpose on the show is to plug his new cognac, which he adds to the potatoes. It turns out that the liquor he is promoting comes in a bottle shaped like a curvy woman, and even wears a dress and a hat. (Please, will some East Coast rapper start a feud by rhyming that “cognac” with “syrup of ipecac“?)

But the politically minded will be most interested to hear Snoop say that he hopes to perform at Obama’s inauguration, so long as the president-elect will let him. Fat chance, given that Obama would surely choose a hip-hop star from his adopted home turf, Chicago, over one from California. And, in fact, back in 2006 Obama met privately with the Cook County-raised rapper Ludacris, which seems to have worked wonders. In Ludacris’s controversial recent song “Politics (Obama Is Here),” he actually dares to criticize Jesse Jackson: “Now Jesse talkin’ slick and apologizin’ for what? / If you said it then you meant it.” If that doesn’t add to the rapper’s street cred, I don’t know what will.

As delectable a mash-up as a black-and-white cookie, gangster rapper and sometime porn director Snoop Dogg recently appeared on Martha Stewart’s TV show to whip some potatoes. While the pairing might seem bizarre—Snoop’s lyrics couldn’t be quoted in a family publication, even a Manson one—the rapper has actually spent less time behind bars than the genteel host. They even discuss some hip-hop patois, which Stewart might have picked up in the joint.

Toward the end of the segment, we discover that Snoop’s real purpose on the show is to plug his new cognac, which he adds to the potatoes. It turns out that the liquor he is promoting comes in a bottle shaped like a curvy woman, and even wears a dress and a hat. (Please, will some East Coast rapper start a feud by rhyming that “cognac” with “syrup of ipecac“?)

But the politically minded will be most interested to hear Snoop say that he hopes to perform at Obama’s inauguration, so long as the president-elect will let him. Fat chance, given that Obama would surely choose a hip-hop star from his adopted home turf, Chicago, over one from California. And, in fact, back in 2006 Obama met privately with the Cook County-raised rapper Ludacris, which seems to have worked wonders. In Ludacris’s controversial recent song “Politics (Obama Is Here),” he actually dares to criticize Jesse Jackson: “Now Jesse talkin’ slick and apologizin’ for what? / If you said it then you meant it.” If that doesn’t add to the rapper’s street cred, I don’t know what will.

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A Haunting Wake-up Call

What’s most worrisome in thinking about this is the delusional impression that such news is a kind of throwback to a pre-election age:

Uniformed police officers have flooded New York City’s Penn Station, home to the Long Island Rail Road, following a warning from the FBI of a “plausible but unsubstantiated” threat of a terrorist bomb attack against the system during the holidays.

Law enforcement officials tell ABCNews.com, the plot involved a “Madrid-like attack,” a reference to the synchronized bombing of the commuter rail system in Spain in March 2004 that killed 191 people.

I can’t think of a single public terror warning that’s proved accurate, and of course I like it that way. But this story is an eerie reminder of the threat we still live under, and the particular shock it produces is a reminder of the complacency that comes with having remained attack-free for seven years.

What’s most worrisome in thinking about this is the delusional impression that such news is a kind of throwback to a pre-election age:

Uniformed police officers have flooded New York City’s Penn Station, home to the Long Island Rail Road, following a warning from the FBI of a “plausible but unsubstantiated” threat of a terrorist bomb attack against the system during the holidays.

Law enforcement officials tell ABCNews.com, the plot involved a “Madrid-like attack,” a reference to the synchronized bombing of the commuter rail system in Spain in March 2004 that killed 191 people.

I can’t think of a single public terror warning that’s proved accurate, and of course I like it that way. But this story is an eerie reminder of the threat we still live under, and the particular shock it produces is a reminder of the complacency that comes with having remained attack-free for seven years.

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Obama’s Middle East Choices

Aaron David Miller’s advice to Barack Obama is somewhat better than the advice Obama was given by the Scowcroft-Brzezinski duo a week ago. But it is still incoherent in many respects.

The older guys want Obama to start with Palestinians first; Miller wants him to start with Syria first. He is right in saying that “there’s no deal there” as far as the Palestinians go, and he makes the case forcefully. But since something has to be done somewhere, Miller turns his attention to Syria, and before he even starts negotiating, he is already willing to make some concessions:

The White House would have to be patient. Syria won’t walk away from a 30-year relationship with Iran; weaning the Syrians from Iran would have to occur gradually, requiring a major international effort to marshal economic and political support for Damascus.

So, why even bother now?

Still, an Israeli-Syrian peace treaty would confront Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran with tough choices and reduced options.

What “tough choices” is he talking about? I can’t say, because Miller doesn’t specify. He does talk about the hard choices the two countries will have to make: Israel, on the “extent of withdrawal from the Golan Heights,” and Syria, on “normalization and security” – normalization being the extent to which Syria will let “peace” to be “real peace,” and security being, well, Miller doesn’t say. It’s a short article – maybe he didn’t have enough room to make his argument in full.

And maybe that’s why the word “Lebanon” does not even appear in this article. Not once. As if the U.S. no longer has any interest in Lebanon’s fate. Those who weren’t around in the last four years might have forgotten, but one major reason the Bush administration was never enthusiastic about an Israeli-Syrian peace process was the feeling among American policy makers that what Syria is after is not the Golan Heights, but rather the Shouf Mountains. There hasn’t been any indication that priorities have changed for Syria, but maybe Miller believes that it is the U.S. that needs to change course – namely, to abandon the idea of free Lebanon. I guess we’ll have to wait for the longer article.

Aaron David Miller’s advice to Barack Obama is somewhat better than the advice Obama was given by the Scowcroft-Brzezinski duo a week ago. But it is still incoherent in many respects.

The older guys want Obama to start with Palestinians first; Miller wants him to start with Syria first. He is right in saying that “there’s no deal there” as far as the Palestinians go, and he makes the case forcefully. But since something has to be done somewhere, Miller turns his attention to Syria, and before he even starts negotiating, he is already willing to make some concessions:

The White House would have to be patient. Syria won’t walk away from a 30-year relationship with Iran; weaning the Syrians from Iran would have to occur gradually, requiring a major international effort to marshal economic and political support for Damascus.

So, why even bother now?

Still, an Israeli-Syrian peace treaty would confront Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran with tough choices and reduced options.

What “tough choices” is he talking about? I can’t say, because Miller doesn’t specify. He does talk about the hard choices the two countries will have to make: Israel, on the “extent of withdrawal from the Golan Heights,” and Syria, on “normalization and security” – normalization being the extent to which Syria will let “peace” to be “real peace,” and security being, well, Miller doesn’t say. It’s a short article – maybe he didn’t have enough room to make his argument in full.

And maybe that’s why the word “Lebanon” does not even appear in this article. Not once. As if the U.S. no longer has any interest in Lebanon’s fate. Those who weren’t around in the last four years might have forgotten, but one major reason the Bush administration was never enthusiastic about an Israeli-Syrian peace process was the feeling among American policy makers that what Syria is after is not the Golan Heights, but rather the Shouf Mountains. There hasn’t been any indication that priorities have changed for Syria, but maybe Miller believes that it is the U.S. that needs to change course – namely, to abandon the idea of free Lebanon. I guess we’ll have to wait for the longer article.

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Mom-In-Chief

Ruth Marcus is miffed at Michelle Obama for coming right out and saying that her primary task right now is “to continue to be mom in chief.” This is deemed “retro,” and Marcus is annoyed that Michelle is letting down the working-mom “team.”

Oh please. Let’s go through a few of the ways in which this is misguided. First, once again we see that liberal feminism was never about “choices,” but about a certain choice — a career outside the home. It is cringe-inducing, apparently, for someone to come right out and say that child-rearing is a priority.

Second, there are two little girls here. Their parents have been on the road non-stop and now they are moving, going to a new school, and keeping the imposing 24/7 company of  men in suits who drive big black SUV’s. Is it so awful to expect that one of their parents (Yes, the one not elected Leader of the Free World) should devote some time to focus on them? But again, liberal feminism wasn’t so much about caring for and devotion to other people. That’s, you know, “retro.”

And finally, let’s be honest here. Michelle Obama isn’t going to be “giving up” much in any meaningful sense. She’s one of the most famous women on the planet and she’ll have an army of professionals helping her with a dizzying range of activities.  There will be schedulers, planners, drivers, cooks, advisors, stylists, and more.  So let’s not take the “giving it all up for the kids” quite so literally. It’s not a life of drudgery and lonely sacrifice we’re talking about here.

But Marcus gives away the game at the end:

I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit lately, and not only because of Michelle Obama. I’m in the midst of one of those periodic work-family recalibrations, balancing the needs of adolescent daughters, my husband’s busy job and my own overextended one.

Well, maybe everyone should solve their own “recalibrations” and let the Obamas do their own. The latter certainly don’t seem very angst-ridden about their new life.

Ruth Marcus is miffed at Michelle Obama for coming right out and saying that her primary task right now is “to continue to be mom in chief.” This is deemed “retro,” and Marcus is annoyed that Michelle is letting down the working-mom “team.”

Oh please. Let’s go through a few of the ways in which this is misguided. First, once again we see that liberal feminism was never about “choices,” but about a certain choice — a career outside the home. It is cringe-inducing, apparently, for someone to come right out and say that child-rearing is a priority.

Second, there are two little girls here. Their parents have been on the road non-stop and now they are moving, going to a new school, and keeping the imposing 24/7 company of  men in suits who drive big black SUV’s. Is it so awful to expect that one of their parents (Yes, the one not elected Leader of the Free World) should devote some time to focus on them? But again, liberal feminism wasn’t so much about caring for and devotion to other people. That’s, you know, “retro.”

And finally, let’s be honest here. Michelle Obama isn’t going to be “giving up” much in any meaningful sense. She’s one of the most famous women on the planet and she’ll have an army of professionals helping her with a dizzying range of activities.  There will be schedulers, planners, drivers, cooks, advisors, stylists, and more.  So let’s not take the “giving it all up for the kids” quite so literally. It’s not a life of drudgery and lonely sacrifice we’re talking about here.

But Marcus gives away the game at the end:

I’ve been thinking about this quite a bit lately, and not only because of Michelle Obama. I’m in the midst of one of those periodic work-family recalibrations, balancing the needs of adolescent daughters, my husband’s busy job and my own overextended one.

Well, maybe everyone should solve their own “recalibrations” and let the Obamas do their own. The latter certainly don’t seem very angst-ridden about their new life.

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How Bush Actually Helps Obama

Robert Kaplan thinks Barack Obama will be able to build on President Bush’s realist swansong:

For President George W. Bush did not just damage America’s position in the world, he has also, over the past two years, quietly repositioned himself as a realist in foreign policy, and that, coupled with a bold new strategy in Iraq, known as the “surge,” has poised America for a diplomatic rebound, which the next administration will get the credit for carrying out.

But how has this realist tack (about which Kaplan is correct) better positioned the U.S. to manage coming foreign policy hurdles? The newly streamlined category of America’s interests is certain to encourage bad actors abroad and inspire dangerous indifference at home. This is a recipe for the fool’s paradise of the Clinton years, and it brought us 9/11 and a nuclear North Korea. Kaplan, whose book Balkan Ghosts went some distance in delaying Bill Clinton’s decision to halt ethnic cleansing in Bosnia, is at pains to demonstrate how President Bush’s robust interventions fell short and how his diplomatic left turn shows promise [emphasis added]:

[T]here is Iran, perhaps about to become more reasonable, given the collapse in the price of oil. Syria has been subtly re-engaged by both America and Europe, and may be about to inch away from Iran’s orbit. And Arab-Israeli peace negotiations have been making a little headway over the course of 2008, even as there has been almost no coverage of it. Here, too, Team Obama is poised to get the credit for break-throughs.

[…]

Then there’s China, India, and Russia. China and the United States may be about to move closer together, thanks to the world economic crisis, which now increases the degree to which each of these two great powers will depend on the other. In India, Bush has left a legacy of improved relations, thanks in no small measure to the recently concluded nuclear pact. And Obama’s promise to engage Russia, while perhaps calling a halt to NATO expansion – even as Russia is weakened by falling oil prices and a negative international reaction to its adventure in Georgia – could signal improved ties on that score. And improved ties with Russia could mean more Russian pressure on Iran.

In South America, Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez has become measurably more unpopular according to recent polls, even as he, too, is weakened by falling oil prices. Obama can also look forward to the end of the Castro regime in Cuba and that of Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe over the next four years. Burma may be edging towards a transition away from its aging, implacable dictator, Than Shwe. North Korea is a dicey call, as Kim Jong Il continues to manipulate negotiations, but the overall trend there is in the direction of a comprehensive agreement.

The language is hedged for a reason. Kaplan can not find a single quantifiable example of the benefits of Bush’s realist repositioning. By contrast, all the demonstrable gains of the past 8 years have come as a result of the bold use of American power and deliberate cooperation among democracies. From improved conditions in Iraq to the nuclear agreement with India, the U.S. has gained most by unapologetically promoting its strengths and values, and by partnering with those who share the latter. Despite Kaplan’s evidence-free descriptions, if you look at today’s expansionist Russia, non-compliant China, or duplicitous North Korea, you see the Bush administration’s failure to articulate these strengths and values.

Kaplan is right that Obama’s global popularity could be exploited to great effect. But if that happens, any progress will be built on the success of the more daring, non-realist early years of George W. Bush’s presidency.

Robert Kaplan thinks Barack Obama will be able to build on President Bush’s realist swansong:

For President George W. Bush did not just damage America’s position in the world, he has also, over the past two years, quietly repositioned himself as a realist in foreign policy, and that, coupled with a bold new strategy in Iraq, known as the “surge,” has poised America for a diplomatic rebound, which the next administration will get the credit for carrying out.

But how has this realist tack (about which Kaplan is correct) better positioned the U.S. to manage coming foreign policy hurdles? The newly streamlined category of America’s interests is certain to encourage bad actors abroad and inspire dangerous indifference at home. This is a recipe for the fool’s paradise of the Clinton years, and it brought us 9/11 and a nuclear North Korea. Kaplan, whose book Balkan Ghosts went some distance in delaying Bill Clinton’s decision to halt ethnic cleansing in Bosnia, is at pains to demonstrate how President Bush’s robust interventions fell short and how his diplomatic left turn shows promise [emphasis added]:

[T]here is Iran, perhaps about to become more reasonable, given the collapse in the price of oil. Syria has been subtly re-engaged by both America and Europe, and may be about to inch away from Iran’s orbit. And Arab-Israeli peace negotiations have been making a little headway over the course of 2008, even as there has been almost no coverage of it. Here, too, Team Obama is poised to get the credit for break-throughs.

[…]

Then there’s China, India, and Russia. China and the United States may be about to move closer together, thanks to the world economic crisis, which now increases the degree to which each of these two great powers will depend on the other. In India, Bush has left a legacy of improved relations, thanks in no small measure to the recently concluded nuclear pact. And Obama’s promise to engage Russia, while perhaps calling a halt to NATO expansion – even as Russia is weakened by falling oil prices and a negative international reaction to its adventure in Georgia – could signal improved ties on that score. And improved ties with Russia could mean more Russian pressure on Iran.

In South America, Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez has become measurably more unpopular according to recent polls, even as he, too, is weakened by falling oil prices. Obama can also look forward to the end of the Castro regime in Cuba and that of Robert Mugabe in Zimbabwe over the next four years. Burma may be edging towards a transition away from its aging, implacable dictator, Than Shwe. North Korea is a dicey call, as Kim Jong Il continues to manipulate negotiations, but the overall trend there is in the direction of a comprehensive agreement.

The language is hedged for a reason. Kaplan can not find a single quantifiable example of the benefits of Bush’s realist repositioning. By contrast, all the demonstrable gains of the past 8 years have come as a result of the bold use of American power and deliberate cooperation among democracies. From improved conditions in Iraq to the nuclear agreement with India, the U.S. has gained most by unapologetically promoting its strengths and values, and by partnering with those who share the latter. Despite Kaplan’s evidence-free descriptions, if you look at today’s expansionist Russia, non-compliant China, or duplicitous North Korea, you see the Bush administration’s failure to articulate these strengths and values.

Kaplan is right that Obama’s global popularity could be exploited to great effect. But if that happens, any progress will be built on the success of the more daring, non-realist early years of George W. Bush’s presidency.

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The Glorious Paradox

Last week, when Attorney General Mukasey suffered his attack while addressing the Federalist Society, it was reported that prior to that he had been heckled. A man was noted to have stood up and shouted, “Tyrant! You are a tyrant!”

Whenever I hear stories like that, it gladdens my heart.

I also enjoy hearing and seeing accounts of President Bush being vilified and excoriated in public. I smile when I see the giant papier-mâché heads that are de rigeur at so many political protests. I warm when I see protesters taking turns waterboarding each other and dressing up in orange hooded jumpsuits like Guantanamo detainees. I swell a little with pride when I see the American flag being burned or trampled upon. And I hold a special place in my heart whenever I hear about Nazis or Ku Klux Klan members holding parades and rallies.

Because, to me, that is all emblematic of what is truly great about America.

Mukasey’s heckler turned out to be Richard Sanders, a justice from the Washington State Supreme Court (not to be confused with the actor Richard Sanders, who famously played Les Nessman on WKRP in Cincinnati.) Sanders has a solid reputation as an outspoken crank, and his outburst toward Mukasey came as little surprise to many.

I personally find all of the examples I cited as repugnant, for various and sundry reasons and to differing degrees. But I welcome their expression, as they represent the essential nature of America:

Such things are not only allowed, but guaranteed.

The innate contradictions of these people’s actions always seems to escape them. In Sanders’ case, were Mukasey truly a tyrant, then Sanders would have been hauled off by the secret police and tossed into a prison somewhere, alongside people like Keith Olbmermann, George Soros, and Barack Obama, just to name a few. But it was the sheer impossibility of that happening that encouraged Sanders to stand up at this gathering and make a complete and utter ass of himself without fear of government retaliation.

Likewise, the rest of the examples. If our government — our nation — were anywhere near as brutal and unjust and oppressive and violent and unprincipled as they say it is, then they would never have the opportunity to say so.

It’s why laws banning flag-burning are so absurd. The flag represents freedom, and that includes the freedom to burn it.

There is an added bonus to permitting such vile conduct in public: it makes it easy to identify the idiots. Subversives and domestic terrorists like the Klan, the neo-Nazis, William Ayers, and the like have always thrived in the shadows. They do their best work, their most successful recruiting, when they can wrap themselves in the romantic cloak of being fugitives and covert operatives. These public demonstrations often galvanize more people against them than they recruit. Indeed, their best recruiting has always taken place in private, in places like dark bars and other such quiet corners.

So the next time you see these idiots, join me. Celebrate their rights to make such public displays of their vile ideology and juvenile cries for attention and pathetic demonstrations. Rejoice that we live in a nation where such things are not only tolerated, but protected by the law.

Then join me in laughing at them. Because not being taken seriously is the greatest insult we can give them.

Last week, when Attorney General Mukasey suffered his attack while addressing the Federalist Society, it was reported that prior to that he had been heckled. A man was noted to have stood up and shouted, “Tyrant! You are a tyrant!”

Whenever I hear stories like that, it gladdens my heart.

I also enjoy hearing and seeing accounts of President Bush being vilified and excoriated in public. I smile when I see the giant papier-mâché heads that are de rigeur at so many political protests. I warm when I see protesters taking turns waterboarding each other and dressing up in orange hooded jumpsuits like Guantanamo detainees. I swell a little with pride when I see the American flag being burned or trampled upon. And I hold a special place in my heart whenever I hear about Nazis or Ku Klux Klan members holding parades and rallies.

Because, to me, that is all emblematic of what is truly great about America.

Mukasey’s heckler turned out to be Richard Sanders, a justice from the Washington State Supreme Court (not to be confused with the actor Richard Sanders, who famously played Les Nessman on WKRP in Cincinnati.) Sanders has a solid reputation as an outspoken crank, and his outburst toward Mukasey came as little surprise to many.

I personally find all of the examples I cited as repugnant, for various and sundry reasons and to differing degrees. But I welcome their expression, as they represent the essential nature of America:

Such things are not only allowed, but guaranteed.

The innate contradictions of these people’s actions always seems to escape them. In Sanders’ case, were Mukasey truly a tyrant, then Sanders would have been hauled off by the secret police and tossed into a prison somewhere, alongside people like Keith Olbmermann, George Soros, and Barack Obama, just to name a few. But it was the sheer impossibility of that happening that encouraged Sanders to stand up at this gathering and make a complete and utter ass of himself without fear of government retaliation.

Likewise, the rest of the examples. If our government — our nation — were anywhere near as brutal and unjust and oppressive and violent and unprincipled as they say it is, then they would never have the opportunity to say so.

It’s why laws banning flag-burning are so absurd. The flag represents freedom, and that includes the freedom to burn it.

There is an added bonus to permitting such vile conduct in public: it makes it easy to identify the idiots. Subversives and domestic terrorists like the Klan, the neo-Nazis, William Ayers, and the like have always thrived in the shadows. They do their best work, their most successful recruiting, when they can wrap themselves in the romantic cloak of being fugitives and covert operatives. These public demonstrations often galvanize more people against them than they recruit. Indeed, their best recruiting has always taken place in private, in places like dark bars and other such quiet corners.

So the next time you see these idiots, join me. Celebrate their rights to make such public displays of their vile ideology and juvenile cries for attention and pathetic demonstrations. Rejoice that we live in a nation where such things are not only tolerated, but protected by the law.

Then join me in laughing at them. Because not being taken seriously is the greatest insult we can give them.

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Re: How’s This Going To Work?

Yesterday, I noted that the President-elect pointed to  $49M worth of subsidies in a farm bill he supported in the Senate as wasteful spending. The Washington Post and Wall Street Journal editors spot the same glaring budget double-talk. The Post had this to say:

Mr. Obama spoke of meaningful cuts, but the example he cited yesterday — crop subsidy overpayments to millionaire farmers not entitled to receive them — was especially galling. The supposed amount involved — $49 million over four years — is puny in the context of a $3 trillion annual budget. Even worse, Mr. Obama, after inveighing on the campaign trail about “multimillion-dollar subsidies” for “agribusiness lobbyists,” then supported a farm bill stuffed with just such subsidies. “With so much at stake, we cannot make the perfect the enemy of the good,” Mr. Obama said of that measure, which also included significant increases in food stamp spending. Fine, but that does not augur well for President Obama’s willingness to stand up to such subsidies, or his ability to convince his former congressional colleagues to “shed the spending that we don’t need.”

The Journal sounded a similar note:

However, there is the small matter of where Senator Obama was on this issue when we really needed him. The 2008 farm bill — which set national policy for five years — was a perfect chance for real change thanks to surging crop prices, record farm income and a President unconcerned about re-election.

President Bush actually sought a $200,000 annual income cap on subsidy payments, but Congress couldn’t bring itself to vote on anything below $750,000. And even that got killed by the likes of Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad, who as it happens helped Mr. Orszag get his current job running the Congressional Budget Office. The Members ended up passing a $300 billion bill in which nearly every crop, from corn to sugar, won subsidy increases. Mr. Bush vetoed it in May but was overridden.

The vote in the Senate was 82 to 13. Mr. Obama missed the roll call, issuing a campaign statement saying that the bill was “far from perfect” and would have preferred “tighter payment limits.” However, he added that “with so much at stake, we cannot make the perfect the enemy of the good.” And he then went on to rake Mr. Bush and John McCain (who opposed the bill) for “saying no to America’s farmers and ranchers, no to energy independence, no to the environment, and no to millions of hungry people.” In other words, given the chance to support cuts in farm subsidies for the rich, Mr. Obama chose instead to attack his Republican opponents for doing precisely that.

This tells me two things. First, the Obama team understandably believes they can say anything with impunity. It worked time and time again in the campaign. But some hypocrisy is too galling even for his media fan club to ignore. Second, this suggests that the President-elect really hasn’t done much serious thinking about how all this budget “austerity” is going to work. (The Post: “Yesterday may not have been the moment for Mr. Obama to lay all this out, but at some point he is going to have to stop talking vaguely about the need for ‘sacrifice’ and be more candid about what that will entail.”) And perhaps the ludicrous example he picked is a give away that the whole notion of budget discipline is a bit of a joke in a trillion dollar deficit administration. In sum, the Obama team can’t rely on the media to spin everything they say — and sooner or later, all the spin in the world won’t conceal how massive his spending plans and humongous our budget imbalance will be.

Nevertheless, it is nice to see the Post showing a bit of critical thinking. Let’s hope it is the start of a trend.

Yesterday, I noted that the President-elect pointed to  $49M worth of subsidies in a farm bill he supported in the Senate as wasteful spending. The Washington Post and Wall Street Journal editors spot the same glaring budget double-talk. The Post had this to say:

Mr. Obama spoke of meaningful cuts, but the example he cited yesterday — crop subsidy overpayments to millionaire farmers not entitled to receive them — was especially galling. The supposed amount involved — $49 million over four years — is puny in the context of a $3 trillion annual budget. Even worse, Mr. Obama, after inveighing on the campaign trail about “multimillion-dollar subsidies” for “agribusiness lobbyists,” then supported a farm bill stuffed with just such subsidies. “With so much at stake, we cannot make the perfect the enemy of the good,” Mr. Obama said of that measure, which also included significant increases in food stamp spending. Fine, but that does not augur well for President Obama’s willingness to stand up to such subsidies, or his ability to convince his former congressional colleagues to “shed the spending that we don’t need.”

The Journal sounded a similar note:

However, there is the small matter of where Senator Obama was on this issue when we really needed him. The 2008 farm bill — which set national policy for five years — was a perfect chance for real change thanks to surging crop prices, record farm income and a President unconcerned about re-election.

President Bush actually sought a $200,000 annual income cap on subsidy payments, but Congress couldn’t bring itself to vote on anything below $750,000. And even that got killed by the likes of Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad, who as it happens helped Mr. Orszag get his current job running the Congressional Budget Office. The Members ended up passing a $300 billion bill in which nearly every crop, from corn to sugar, won subsidy increases. Mr. Bush vetoed it in May but was overridden.

The vote in the Senate was 82 to 13. Mr. Obama missed the roll call, issuing a campaign statement saying that the bill was “far from perfect” and would have preferred “tighter payment limits.” However, he added that “with so much at stake, we cannot make the perfect the enemy of the good.” And he then went on to rake Mr. Bush and John McCain (who opposed the bill) for “saying no to America’s farmers and ranchers, no to energy independence, no to the environment, and no to millions of hungry people.” In other words, given the chance to support cuts in farm subsidies for the rich, Mr. Obama chose instead to attack his Republican opponents for doing precisely that.

This tells me two things. First, the Obama team understandably believes they can say anything with impunity. It worked time and time again in the campaign. But some hypocrisy is too galling even for his media fan club to ignore. Second, this suggests that the President-elect really hasn’t done much serious thinking about how all this budget “austerity” is going to work. (The Post: “Yesterday may not have been the moment for Mr. Obama to lay all this out, but at some point he is going to have to stop talking vaguely about the need for ‘sacrifice’ and be more candid about what that will entail.”) And perhaps the ludicrous example he picked is a give away that the whole notion of budget discipline is a bit of a joke in a trillion dollar deficit administration. In sum, the Obama team can’t rely on the media to spin everything they say — and sooner or later, all the spin in the world won’t conceal how massive his spending plans and humongous our budget imbalance will be.

Nevertheless, it is nice to see the Post showing a bit of critical thinking. Let’s hope it is the start of a trend.

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Good News on Gates

The news reports that President-elect Obama will ask Defense Secretary Robert Gates to remain at the Pentagon are heartening. For one thing, it would be a reward for excellence. Bob Gates is a model public servant who has performed extremely well, in enormously trying circumstances. It would also be an example of authentic bipartisanship and a demonstration of continuity for the man who promised “change” at every stop along the campaign trail. The Gates appointment, along with retired Marine General James Jones as national security adviser, also has the added benefit of being, in the words of a friend of mine, “a line-up that makes the Kossacks’ [readers of the Daily Kos] teeth gnash, and that is a very good thing.”

Secretary Gates is close personally, and in his worldview, to General David Petraeus, the head of Central Command and who now oversees (among other theaters) Afghanistan and Pakistan. Gates and Petraeus worked very well together in turning around the Iraq war; it is reasonable to hope that they can make progress as well in other areas.

The choice of Gates, combined with many of Obama’s new economic team (Geithner, Summers, Orszag, Christina Romer and Paul Volcker, said to be the chair of the Economic Recovery Advisory Board, which will provide Obama with outside advice) are encouraging. It may not be an ideal line-up from a conservative perspective but, if you had said a month ago that this would be the composition of the new Obama Administration, most conservatives would have taken it in a heartbeat.

Many of the people who voted for Barack Obama were doing so as an act of faith; they were not voting for his past record (which was quite liberal) or his past achievements (which were, by the usual standards for selecting a President, fairly minimal). Friends of mine who are lifelong Republicans voted for Obama because they were impressed with the quality of his mind, his manner and approach, and the discipline of his campaign. They believed that if he were elected President, he would act in a prudent, responsible, non-radical way. But they readily admitted they weren’t sure what we would get; Obama, more than any other presidential candidate in recent memory, was an unknown quantity and something of a mystery in terms of how he would govern. I found myself going back and forth on Obama, sometimes in the course of a single day.

It’s far too early to make any kind of firm judgment on President-elect Obama; he has not even taken the oath of office. People who are viewed as strong picks at the outset of an administration can, in retrospect, look bad. Managing a team is harder than selecting one. And the acid test for Obama, as for all public officials, will be the policies he pursues and the actions he takes while in office. For example, my suspicion is that Obama will, in the areas of the courts, culture of life, and health care, take actions that conservatives will view as quite problematic. And I would prefer a stimulus package which reduces tax rates on individuals and businesses, which is the best way to increase productivity and wealth.

But for now, those who did not vote for Mr. Obama have reasons to be somewhat hopeful about the direction in which he appears to be heading. His actions to date are not those of an ideologue. If this trajectory continues – and it cannot be said often enough that we are only at the dawn of the Obama era – America’s new President may pleasantly surprise conservatives and agitate the Left. He just might turn out to be more like John Kennedy than George McGovern. It remains an open question; but right now, that possibility is reason enough to be grateful.

The news reports that President-elect Obama will ask Defense Secretary Robert Gates to remain at the Pentagon are heartening. For one thing, it would be a reward for excellence. Bob Gates is a model public servant who has performed extremely well, in enormously trying circumstances. It would also be an example of authentic bipartisanship and a demonstration of continuity for the man who promised “change” at every stop along the campaign trail. The Gates appointment, along with retired Marine General James Jones as national security adviser, also has the added benefit of being, in the words of a friend of mine, “a line-up that makes the Kossacks’ [readers of the Daily Kos] teeth gnash, and that is a very good thing.”

Secretary Gates is close personally, and in his worldview, to General David Petraeus, the head of Central Command and who now oversees (among other theaters) Afghanistan and Pakistan. Gates and Petraeus worked very well together in turning around the Iraq war; it is reasonable to hope that they can make progress as well in other areas.

The choice of Gates, combined with many of Obama’s new economic team (Geithner, Summers, Orszag, Christina Romer and Paul Volcker, said to be the chair of the Economic Recovery Advisory Board, which will provide Obama with outside advice) are encouraging. It may not be an ideal line-up from a conservative perspective but, if you had said a month ago that this would be the composition of the new Obama Administration, most conservatives would have taken it in a heartbeat.

Many of the people who voted for Barack Obama were doing so as an act of faith; they were not voting for his past record (which was quite liberal) or his past achievements (which were, by the usual standards for selecting a President, fairly minimal). Friends of mine who are lifelong Republicans voted for Obama because they were impressed with the quality of his mind, his manner and approach, and the discipline of his campaign. They believed that if he were elected President, he would act in a prudent, responsible, non-radical way. But they readily admitted they weren’t sure what we would get; Obama, more than any other presidential candidate in recent memory, was an unknown quantity and something of a mystery in terms of how he would govern. I found myself going back and forth on Obama, sometimes in the course of a single day.

It’s far too early to make any kind of firm judgment on President-elect Obama; he has not even taken the oath of office. People who are viewed as strong picks at the outset of an administration can, in retrospect, look bad. Managing a team is harder than selecting one. And the acid test for Obama, as for all public officials, will be the policies he pursues and the actions he takes while in office. For example, my suspicion is that Obama will, in the areas of the courts, culture of life, and health care, take actions that conservatives will view as quite problematic. And I would prefer a stimulus package which reduces tax rates on individuals and businesses, which is the best way to increase productivity and wealth.

But for now, those who did not vote for Mr. Obama have reasons to be somewhat hopeful about the direction in which he appears to be heading. His actions to date are not those of an ideologue. If this trajectory continues – and it cannot be said often enough that we are only at the dawn of the Obama era – America’s new President may pleasantly surprise conservatives and agitate the Left. He just might turn out to be more like John Kennedy than George McGovern. It remains an open question; but right now, that possibility is reason enough to be grateful.

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Let’s Get Real

The Wall Street Journal’s Holman W. Jenkins, Jr. suggests there’s far too much “Rube Goldbergism” going on in the economy and too much avoidance of tough, simple solutions. He writes:

We need to simple-down. The economy has a giant adjustment ahead, paying off debts, going from a heavy absorber of foreign capital and goods to a rebalanced relationship with the world.

As far as the car companies, he offers up two ideas — both utterly sound and alas, politically unthinkable:

Here’s a plan, but it requires Mr. Obama to play a role too, finally relinquishing such chronic free-lunchism where autos are concerned. He should simply get rid of the CAFE rules and impose a gasoline tax to move the country to a “new energy economy,” if he really believes in panicky climate predictions and/or that “energy independence” would be a net improver of American welfare. And be prepared for Detroit to shift jobs offshore if the UAW won’t concede competitive labor agreements.

Not acceptable? Here’s an alternative plan: Buy out the UAW with taxpayer dollars and free the Big Three to staff their factories with nonunion workers the way Toyota and Honda and BMW do. Last week’s Hill circus notwithstanding, the negotiation that really needs to take place now is between Democrats and their union allies. The Big Three executives are just in the way.

In a sense the oohs and aaahs about cabinet personnel and the precise size of the massive stimulus are a distraction from hard choices. Truth be told, there is no bailout big enough to make the Big Three profitable if they don’t adopt one of these solutions ( or throw in the towel and let bankruptcy judges reconstruct them). There is not a WPA-style jobs program of road-building and bridge repair that can be mounted fast enough and can employ enough people to replace private sector jobs being lost. ( And by the way — are stock brokers, bankers, and insurance salesmen going to start working in the construction trades?)

All the Obama bells and whistles — primarily spending on steroids — is only delaying the inevitable. Some businesses must fail and some homeowners must become renters. And it would be nice to stop spending money we don’t have.

If the President-elect wants to do something positive rather than replay failed Keynesian tactics, he might think about ways to help businesses grow and hire workers. That might suggest some very un-Democratic tax policies. But for now it is just Rube Goldbergism as far as the eye can see.

The Wall Street Journal’s Holman W. Jenkins, Jr. suggests there’s far too much “Rube Goldbergism” going on in the economy and too much avoidance of tough, simple solutions. He writes:

We need to simple-down. The economy has a giant adjustment ahead, paying off debts, going from a heavy absorber of foreign capital and goods to a rebalanced relationship with the world.

As far as the car companies, he offers up two ideas — both utterly sound and alas, politically unthinkable:

Here’s a plan, but it requires Mr. Obama to play a role too, finally relinquishing such chronic free-lunchism where autos are concerned. He should simply get rid of the CAFE rules and impose a gasoline tax to move the country to a “new energy economy,” if he really believes in panicky climate predictions and/or that “energy independence” would be a net improver of American welfare. And be prepared for Detroit to shift jobs offshore if the UAW won’t concede competitive labor agreements.

Not acceptable? Here’s an alternative plan: Buy out the UAW with taxpayer dollars and free the Big Three to staff their factories with nonunion workers the way Toyota and Honda and BMW do. Last week’s Hill circus notwithstanding, the negotiation that really needs to take place now is between Democrats and their union allies. The Big Three executives are just in the way.

In a sense the oohs and aaahs about cabinet personnel and the precise size of the massive stimulus are a distraction from hard choices. Truth be told, there is no bailout big enough to make the Big Three profitable if they don’t adopt one of these solutions ( or throw in the towel and let bankruptcy judges reconstruct them). There is not a WPA-style jobs program of road-building and bridge repair that can be mounted fast enough and can employ enough people to replace private sector jobs being lost. ( And by the way — are stock brokers, bankers, and insurance salesmen going to start working in the construction trades?)

All the Obama bells and whistles — primarily spending on steroids — is only delaying the inevitable. Some businesses must fail and some homeowners must become renters. And it would be nice to stop spending money we don’t have.

If the President-elect wants to do something positive rather than replay failed Keynesian tactics, he might think about ways to help businesses grow and hire workers. That might suggest some very un-Democratic tax policies. But for now it is just Rube Goldbergism as far as the eye can see.

Read Less

“I Reject Your Reality And Substitute My Own”

There’s an old saw that truth is stranger than fiction. This is often true because fiction suffers from a handicap that truth does not: fiction has to be believable. Truth simply doesn’t care.

But every now and then you hear a story that is so insanely implausible you have to give it just a little credence because you cannot imagine someone would ever have the sheer nerve to make it up.

That was my first reaction when I read this story. Who’s behind the surge in piracy off the Horn of Africa? What sinister forces might be responsible for the increased attacks off Somalia?

Why, if Muslim pirates from a Muslim nation (Somalia) seize an oil tanker owned by another Muslim nation (Saudi Arabia) and hold the ship, its cargo, and its Muslim crew for ransom, who would be the logical people to blame for it?

The Jews, of course.

A long time ago, a sagacious individual opined that Israel was the best thing that could ever have happened to the Muslim world. By its very existence, it gave them a reason to stop beating up on each other and instead focus on a single entity to blame for all their troubles.

But this example… this one really, really takes the cake. The Israelis are behind Somali Muslims going out into the sea and raiding and pillaging? All as part of some nefarious plot to take control of the Red Sea from their one tiny little port city?

What’s the Arabic word for “chutzpah?”

There’s an old saw that truth is stranger than fiction. This is often true because fiction suffers from a handicap that truth does not: fiction has to be believable. Truth simply doesn’t care.

But every now and then you hear a story that is so insanely implausible you have to give it just a little credence because you cannot imagine someone would ever have the sheer nerve to make it up.

That was my first reaction when I read this story. Who’s behind the surge in piracy off the Horn of Africa? What sinister forces might be responsible for the increased attacks off Somalia?

Why, if Muslim pirates from a Muslim nation (Somalia) seize an oil tanker owned by another Muslim nation (Saudi Arabia) and hold the ship, its cargo, and its Muslim crew for ransom, who would be the logical people to blame for it?

The Jews, of course.

A long time ago, a sagacious individual opined that Israel was the best thing that could ever have happened to the Muslim world. By its very existence, it gave them a reason to stop beating up on each other and instead focus on a single entity to blame for all their troubles.

But this example… this one really, really takes the cake. The Israelis are behind Somali Muslims going out into the sea and raiding and pillaging? All as part of some nefarious plot to take control of the Red Sea from their one tiny little port city?

What’s the Arabic word for “chutzpah?”

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Flotsam and Jetsam

The unseemly stunt of “parking” an aide in the Senate seat until Vice President-elect Joe Biden’s son is freed up to run in Delaware in 2010 has left Democrats miffed and Republicans hopeful for 2010. Leave it to Biden — the first thing he does after being held in deep freeze is to create a fuss. Back to the undisclosed location for him!

Lots of people are overthinking the appointment of Governor Janet Napolitano. Maybe the President-elect chose her because she’s a competent executive with a smart, centrist record on border control and illegal immigration. This might just be a merit pick that only disappoints people looking for a perpetually unresolved, emotion-laden issue. Thus,  all the angst.

I’m not sure how Mike Murphy’s sailing to China on vacation signifies further evidence of the GOP “collapsing,” but when liberal reporters have a theme to spin there’s no data point that can’t be utilized.

Andy McCarthy explains why the Marc Rich pardon is not the only reason — and not the only pardon — to warrant grilling of Eric Holder.

And then McCarthy drills down into the Congressional report that makes clear that Holder disregarded his duty in the Rich case, actively subverted the legal process, and was less than candid during the subsequent Congressional hearing about the extent of his involvement with Rich’s attorney. There is no Republican who could serve in high office after all of that. We’ll see if the same standard applies to Holder.

Quin Hillyer urges the ABA to engage in some self-reflection before accusing others of politicizing the judiciary. To paraphrase the Chief Justice, the way to stop politicization of the courts is to stop politicizing the courts.

Another round up of the RNC Chair candidates. Is there no one else? When one candidate is head of the nearly defunct Michigan State GOP and another belonged to an all-white country club, it’s time to get more résumés.

Voters oppose an auto bailout 55-26%, with 18% undecided. We’ll see in early December whether Congress has the nerve to vote for one anyway.

It’s an all-star center-Right line-up of national security officials. If the Left had more self-respect and intellectual integrity they’d be madder.

How sleazy is fundraising off of cabinet appointments? And it seems disrespectful at this point to refer to the President-elect as “Barack.” Before they start auctioning off nights in the Lincoln Bedroom someone should remind them this is the Presidency not the campaign –or isn’t there a difference anymore?

Having made little headway recounting votes, Al Franken is now preparing the circus –challenging excluded absentee ballots. This tells us several things: the fears about “stealing the election” during the recount were misplaced — Franken now realizes he is on the verge of losing, and we may find out how anxious the Democratic Senate majority is to let Franken into that august body (e.g. Will the Senate vote to seat Coleman and let Franken litigate to his heart’s delight?).

The unseemly stunt of “parking” an aide in the Senate seat until Vice President-elect Joe Biden’s son is freed up to run in Delaware in 2010 has left Democrats miffed and Republicans hopeful for 2010. Leave it to Biden — the first thing he does after being held in deep freeze is to create a fuss. Back to the undisclosed location for him!

Lots of people are overthinking the appointment of Governor Janet Napolitano. Maybe the President-elect chose her because she’s a competent executive with a smart, centrist record on border control and illegal immigration. This might just be a merit pick that only disappoints people looking for a perpetually unresolved, emotion-laden issue. Thus,  all the angst.

I’m not sure how Mike Murphy’s sailing to China on vacation signifies further evidence of the GOP “collapsing,” but when liberal reporters have a theme to spin there’s no data point that can’t be utilized.

Andy McCarthy explains why the Marc Rich pardon is not the only reason — and not the only pardon — to warrant grilling of Eric Holder.

And then McCarthy drills down into the Congressional report that makes clear that Holder disregarded his duty in the Rich case, actively subverted the legal process, and was less than candid during the subsequent Congressional hearing about the extent of his involvement with Rich’s attorney. There is no Republican who could serve in high office after all of that. We’ll see if the same standard applies to Holder.

Quin Hillyer urges the ABA to engage in some self-reflection before accusing others of politicizing the judiciary. To paraphrase the Chief Justice, the way to stop politicization of the courts is to stop politicizing the courts.

Another round up of the RNC Chair candidates. Is there no one else? When one candidate is head of the nearly defunct Michigan State GOP and another belonged to an all-white country club, it’s time to get more résumés.

Voters oppose an auto bailout 55-26%, with 18% undecided. We’ll see in early December whether Congress has the nerve to vote for one anyway.

It’s an all-star center-Right line-up of national security officials. If the Left had more self-respect and intellectual integrity they’d be madder.

How sleazy is fundraising off of cabinet appointments? And it seems disrespectful at this point to refer to the President-elect as “Barack.” Before they start auctioning off nights in the Lincoln Bedroom someone should remind them this is the Presidency not the campaign –or isn’t there a difference anymore?

Having made little headway recounting votes, Al Franken is now preparing the circus –challenging excluded absentee ballots. This tells us several things: the fears about “stealing the election” during the recount were misplaced — Franken now realizes he is on the verge of losing, and we may find out how anxious the Democratic Senate majority is to let Franken into that august body (e.g. Will the Senate vote to seat Coleman and let Franken litigate to his heart’s delight?).

Read Less




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