Commentary Magazine


Posts For: January 8, 2009

Richard John Neuhaus, 1936-2009

Richard John Neuhaus, perhaps the most important and influential religious intellectual in the United States since the passing of Reinhold Niebuhr, died last night. A Canadian by birth, he was a Lutheran pastor who came to the United States and served as the minister of a congregation in a poor Brooklyn neighborhood. A liberal in the model of Niebuhr, Neuhaus found himself migrating rightward once the Supreme Court inaugurated the age of abortion on demand with the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973. In 1984, he wrote the book for which he will be remembered, The Naked Public Square — a concise masterpiece about the role of religion in a democracy and the danger posed to a democratic society in the notion that public life should be effectively atheistic.

He was ever a man of principle. As an official of the Rockford Institute, he could not hold his silence when the magazine published by that institute, Chronicles, began running barely veiled anti-Semitic work (much of it aimed at COMMENTARY and his contributors). His breach with Rockford led to the creation of the Institute on Religion and Public Life and the creation of First Things, the brilliant monthly he edited and then supervised until his passing. At the same time, he completed his own religious journey when he converted to Catholicism and became a priest of the church and an intimate of Pope John Paul II.

His conviction that abortion was the great crime of the age and his disgust with the American system’s failure to expunge the crime led to the most controversial act of his editorship, the publication of a symposium entitled “The End of Democracy?” in which he and other participants flirted with the notion that the United States had lost its legitimacy. COMMENTARY’s editors responded in part with a symposium entitled “On the Future of Conservatism,” in which various contributors argued heatedly against what they perceived to be an unacceptable radicalization of conservative discourse.

The breach was never fully healed, and yet, through it all, there was Richard, a man of great personal good cheer and bonhomie, always in possession of a terrific piece of gossip he always knew exactly when and how to drop in order to cause the biggest commotion, who somehow found the time to crank out thousands of words a month while jetting back and forth from Rome, engaging in plots and subplots and side bets. He was an exemplar of the truism that a righteous man need not be or conduct himself as though he were holier-than-thou. But in the end, his work was his life, and whether he was ministering to fatherless youths in Brooklyn or offering his considered and always highly informed opinion on the matter of stem-cell research, Richard John Neuhaus did what he did and said what he said for the betterment of humankind and for the greater glory of God.

Richard John Neuhaus, perhaps the most important and influential religious intellectual in the United States since the passing of Reinhold Niebuhr, died last night. A Canadian by birth, he was a Lutheran pastor who came to the United States and served as the minister of a congregation in a poor Brooklyn neighborhood. A liberal in the model of Niebuhr, Neuhaus found himself migrating rightward once the Supreme Court inaugurated the age of abortion on demand with the Roe v. Wade decision in 1973. In 1984, he wrote the book for which he will be remembered, The Naked Public Square — a concise masterpiece about the role of religion in a democracy and the danger posed to a democratic society in the notion that public life should be effectively atheistic.

He was ever a man of principle. As an official of the Rockford Institute, he could not hold his silence when the magazine published by that institute, Chronicles, began running barely veiled anti-Semitic work (much of it aimed at COMMENTARY and his contributors). His breach with Rockford led to the creation of the Institute on Religion and Public Life and the creation of First Things, the brilliant monthly he edited and then supervised until his passing. At the same time, he completed his own religious journey when he converted to Catholicism and became a priest of the church and an intimate of Pope John Paul II.

His conviction that abortion was the great crime of the age and his disgust with the American system’s failure to expunge the crime led to the most controversial act of his editorship, the publication of a symposium entitled “The End of Democracy?” in which he and other participants flirted with the notion that the United States had lost its legitimacy. COMMENTARY’s editors responded in part with a symposium entitled “On the Future of Conservatism,” in which various contributors argued heatedly against what they perceived to be an unacceptable radicalization of conservative discourse.

The breach was never fully healed, and yet, through it all, there was Richard, a man of great personal good cheer and bonhomie, always in possession of a terrific piece of gossip he always knew exactly when and how to drop in order to cause the biggest commotion, who somehow found the time to crank out thousands of words a month while jetting back and forth from Rome, engaging in plots and subplots and side bets. He was an exemplar of the truism that a righteous man need not be or conduct himself as though he were holier-than-thou. But in the end, his work was his life, and whether he was ministering to fatherless youths in Brooklyn or offering his considered and always highly informed opinion on the matter of stem-cell research, Richard John Neuhaus did what he did and said what he said for the betterment of humankind and for the greater glory of God.

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How Loud is Iran?

The BBC’s lack of sympathy for Israel is not exactly a secret but a listen to its “World Update” program this morning (generally available on your local NPR station) provided listeners with some interesting perspective on the conflict, even though that may not have been the intention of the show’s host.

“World Update” host Dan Damon seemed determined to put Iran in a positive light during a discussion with the BBC’s Tehran correspondent John Light.

It is widely understood that Iranian support for Hamas has encouraged the terrorist group in their extremism and propensity for violence as well as providing them with the money and the weaponry to pursue those aims. But Damon’s take on the recent fighting is that Iran’s role has been largely passive if not downright moderate. When asked by Damon as to what the reason might be for Iran’s “restrained response” to the situation in Gaza, Light was somewhat flummoxed and could provide no proof for such restraint.

Not satisfied with this response, Damon declared that the Iranians “haven’t been as loud in calling for the destruction of Israel” as they usually are.

To this, the BBC man in Tehran merely replied that he “wouldn’t say it [Iran] was less strident” and then mentioned that evidence of Iranian involvement in the current battle had been made clear by the upgrade in weapons fired by Hamas. The inconvenient fact that Hamas has graduated from the more primitive locally-built Kassam missiles to longer range weapons which can reach as far into Israel as Beersheba was, he said, probably Iran’s doing. Though they were independent groups, Hamas and Hezbollah were being used by Iran to promote its Islamist agenda.

But that humiliating exchange wasn’t the end of Damon’s foray into Israel-bashing. Later in the program he interviewed an Israeli who was critical of his own country’s decision to defend itself against Hamas.

This is, of course, one of the standard clichés of Israel-bashing journalism so often provided by NPR and the BBC. Their idea of fairness is generally to balance an Arab denouncing Israel with an Israeli who does the same. In this case, the Israeli was Omri Evron, who was identified as a student and a member of the Israeli Communist Party. Evron considered the attacks on terrorist bases and missile launchers as “war crimes.”

As absurd as Evron’s critique of his own country was, it did provide some perspective on the conflict. Though Damon didn’t choose to explain it, the groups to which Evron belongs are explicitly anti-Zionist. In fact, Evron gained some notoriety for his refusal to serve in the Israel Defense Forces. The Communists don’t believe there should be a Jewish State though they would probably not be too happy about its conversion into the sort of Islamic republic that Hamas envisions. That is, of course, more or less, the same reason why so many critics of Israel think its counter-attack into Gaza is wrong. After all, if you have no right to exist, what right do you have to defend yourself?

The BBC’s lack of sympathy for Israel is not exactly a secret but a listen to its “World Update” program this morning (generally available on your local NPR station) provided listeners with some interesting perspective on the conflict, even though that may not have been the intention of the show’s host.

“World Update” host Dan Damon seemed determined to put Iran in a positive light during a discussion with the BBC’s Tehran correspondent John Light.

It is widely understood that Iranian support for Hamas has encouraged the terrorist group in their extremism and propensity for violence as well as providing them with the money and the weaponry to pursue those aims. But Damon’s take on the recent fighting is that Iran’s role has been largely passive if not downright moderate. When asked by Damon as to what the reason might be for Iran’s “restrained response” to the situation in Gaza, Light was somewhat flummoxed and could provide no proof for such restraint.

Not satisfied with this response, Damon declared that the Iranians “haven’t been as loud in calling for the destruction of Israel” as they usually are.

To this, the BBC man in Tehran merely replied that he “wouldn’t say it [Iran] was less strident” and then mentioned that evidence of Iranian involvement in the current battle had been made clear by the upgrade in weapons fired by Hamas. The inconvenient fact that Hamas has graduated from the more primitive locally-built Kassam missiles to longer range weapons which can reach as far into Israel as Beersheba was, he said, probably Iran’s doing. Though they were independent groups, Hamas and Hezbollah were being used by Iran to promote its Islamist agenda.

But that humiliating exchange wasn’t the end of Damon’s foray into Israel-bashing. Later in the program he interviewed an Israeli who was critical of his own country’s decision to defend itself against Hamas.

This is, of course, one of the standard clichés of Israel-bashing journalism so often provided by NPR and the BBC. Their idea of fairness is generally to balance an Arab denouncing Israel with an Israeli who does the same. In this case, the Israeli was Omri Evron, who was identified as a student and a member of the Israeli Communist Party. Evron considered the attacks on terrorist bases and missile launchers as “war crimes.”

As absurd as Evron’s critique of his own country was, it did provide some perspective on the conflict. Though Damon didn’t choose to explain it, the groups to which Evron belongs are explicitly anti-Zionist. In fact, Evron gained some notoriety for his refusal to serve in the Israel Defense Forces. The Communists don’t believe there should be a Jewish State though they would probably not be too happy about its conversion into the sort of Islamic republic that Hamas envisions. That is, of course, more or less, the same reason why so many critics of Israel think its counter-attack into Gaza is wrong. After all, if you have no right to exist, what right do you have to defend yourself?

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Re: Re: The Next President’s Inevitable Mistakes

I wanted to pick up on Jennifer’s intelligent posting and her fair corrective to me, in which she writes

We shouldn’t get too carried away with restraint in the effort to be good citizens and loyal opponents. It is entirely appropriate and indeed helpful to the cause of good governance to call it as we see it when the President makes an error… So I think observers, whether from the Left or the Right, are well advised to offer criticism when warranted. It might improve the decision making and cause the administration to think twice before embarking on a rash course of action.

I tried to be clear on this point in my original piece, in which I said

I’m not asking for a moratorium on criticism or arguing that criticisms are unwarranted in every instance. That needs to be determined by facts and circumstances. And certainly we should have vigorous debates over the direction of policy.

But I may well have made the point too briefly. In any event, and to the larger point of our discussion: having worked in the political world–in three Administrations–and in the world of punditry, I’m of the view each  can benefit from the other.

The temptation of commentators is to pretend that governing is far easier than it is (the world is terribly untidy and maintaining control over a vast federal bureaucracy, much less the unpredictable forces of history, is daunting); to think that your insights have somehow not dawned on policy-makers (they almost always have, and they almost always have met with intelligent counter-arguments); to make emphatic recommendations based on incomplete information (those in government almost always have access to information that outsiders do not); and to be under the illusion that a single, very good speech will fundamentally change things (when in reality it is the facts on the ground that are most important).

I know people from the academy who have said they had to rip up everything they thought they knew about decision-making after actually serving in government and seeing what it was like. Henry Kissinger, in the first volume of his brilliant memoirs, writes that serving as an outside consultant to President Kennedy, and later, as a key adviser to President Nixon, taught him that the process of decision-making was quite different than he imagined while teaching at Harvard.

In a different category, of course, are commentators who speak with thunderous, self-righteous assurance, including those who argue today very nearly the opposite of what they were arguing just a few years ago.

On the other side of the equation, it’s very easy when you’re working in the White House to assume that you know more, and therefore possess greater wisdom than, outsiders; to believe every criticism is unwarranted, misinformed, and unfair; and to disregard the counsel of pundits because they appear to be offering advice based on ignorance or worse. Some do, of course. But in fact, while serving in positions of power it is important to check those impulses and retain strong relationships with those outside of government, including those who share a somewhat different worldview than your own. And of course it’s vital to maintain, to the degree that it is possible, intellectual integrity; to carefully think through and re-think through your policies in light of changing circumstances and serious, informed criticisms. It’s not easy, given the pace and pressure of life in the White House, but it can be invaluable.

James Madison spoke about what our country deserves from us: “loving criticism,” by which Madison meant candor in the service of improvement and toward the end of excellence. These are precisely the kind of critics those serving in government need – and, actually, those of us not serving in government can benefit from as well.

I wanted to pick up on Jennifer’s intelligent posting and her fair corrective to me, in which she writes

We shouldn’t get too carried away with restraint in the effort to be good citizens and loyal opponents. It is entirely appropriate and indeed helpful to the cause of good governance to call it as we see it when the President makes an error… So I think observers, whether from the Left or the Right, are well advised to offer criticism when warranted. It might improve the decision making and cause the administration to think twice before embarking on a rash course of action.

I tried to be clear on this point in my original piece, in which I said

I’m not asking for a moratorium on criticism or arguing that criticisms are unwarranted in every instance. That needs to be determined by facts and circumstances. And certainly we should have vigorous debates over the direction of policy.

But I may well have made the point too briefly. In any event, and to the larger point of our discussion: having worked in the political world–in three Administrations–and in the world of punditry, I’m of the view each  can benefit from the other.

The temptation of commentators is to pretend that governing is far easier than it is (the world is terribly untidy and maintaining control over a vast federal bureaucracy, much less the unpredictable forces of history, is daunting); to think that your insights have somehow not dawned on policy-makers (they almost always have, and they almost always have met with intelligent counter-arguments); to make emphatic recommendations based on incomplete information (those in government almost always have access to information that outsiders do not); and to be under the illusion that a single, very good speech will fundamentally change things (when in reality it is the facts on the ground that are most important).

I know people from the academy who have said they had to rip up everything they thought they knew about decision-making after actually serving in government and seeing what it was like. Henry Kissinger, in the first volume of his brilliant memoirs, writes that serving as an outside consultant to President Kennedy, and later, as a key adviser to President Nixon, taught him that the process of decision-making was quite different than he imagined while teaching at Harvard.

In a different category, of course, are commentators who speak with thunderous, self-righteous assurance, including those who argue today very nearly the opposite of what they were arguing just a few years ago.

On the other side of the equation, it’s very easy when you’re working in the White House to assume that you know more, and therefore possess greater wisdom than, outsiders; to believe every criticism is unwarranted, misinformed, and unfair; and to disregard the counsel of pundits because they appear to be offering advice based on ignorance or worse. Some do, of course. But in fact, while serving in positions of power it is important to check those impulses and retain strong relationships with those outside of government, including those who share a somewhat different worldview than your own. And of course it’s vital to maintain, to the degree that it is possible, intellectual integrity; to carefully think through and re-think through your policies in light of changing circumstances and serious, informed criticisms. It’s not easy, given the pace and pressure of life in the White House, but it can be invaluable.

James Madison spoke about what our country deserves from us: “loving criticism,” by which Madison meant candor in the service of improvement and toward the end of excellence. These are precisely the kind of critics those serving in government need – and, actually, those of us not serving in government can benefit from as well.

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Re: Inexperience Preferred

J.G., I hope you are right and that we benefit from some new blood at the notoriously insular CIA. However, there are significant downsides to this approach: The last pol who tried to shake up the CIA was Porter Goss, who lasted less than a year. At least he actually had some core experience–specifically as Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

It is one thing to bring in an outsider who may not be part of the CIA culture; it is quite another to bring in someone with virtually no substantive expertise. How does one evaluate competencies, resolve clashes between competing groups, and properly assess whether anyone is, frankly, blowing smoke, unless one has a grounding in the subject matter of one’s agency? Leon Panetta may be reduced to the equivalent of: “Well, that guy sounds like he knows what he is talking about.”

Now, one certainly can overstate the danger of having an intelligence novice heading the CIA. There will be Admiral Blair in the Director of National Intelligence slot, subordinates at the CIA, and intelligence professionals at the Pentagon to keep an eye out. But if you believe directing the CIA is a real job and that the pop-culture notion that “a good manager can manage anything” is bunk (recall the travails of the head of the International Arabian Horse Association), then Leon Panetta remains a troubling selection.

Experience is no guarantee of success, but it certainly raises its likelihood. That’s why we generally hire highly experienced people for the top jobs in government (the current President-elect being the exception of course). There seems to be something odd about finding people with loads of experience in their subject areas for Departments of Agriculture, Education, Housing, and the like–all quite important fields, but rarely involving life-and-death issues–yet selecting an inexperienced, generic manager as the head of the CIA. If the Senate feels compelled to go along with this approach, let’s hope this won’t be a decision everyone comes to regard as a well-intentioned but misguided experiment.

J.G., I hope you are right and that we benefit from some new blood at the notoriously insular CIA. However, there are significant downsides to this approach: The last pol who tried to shake up the CIA was Porter Goss, who lasted less than a year. At least he actually had some core experience–specifically as Chairman of the House Intelligence Committee.

It is one thing to bring in an outsider who may not be part of the CIA culture; it is quite another to bring in someone with virtually no substantive expertise. How does one evaluate competencies, resolve clashes between competing groups, and properly assess whether anyone is, frankly, blowing smoke, unless one has a grounding in the subject matter of one’s agency? Leon Panetta may be reduced to the equivalent of: “Well, that guy sounds like he knows what he is talking about.”

Now, one certainly can overstate the danger of having an intelligence novice heading the CIA. There will be Admiral Blair in the Director of National Intelligence slot, subordinates at the CIA, and intelligence professionals at the Pentagon to keep an eye out. But if you believe directing the CIA is a real job and that the pop-culture notion that “a good manager can manage anything” is bunk (recall the travails of the head of the International Arabian Horse Association), then Leon Panetta remains a troubling selection.

Experience is no guarantee of success, but it certainly raises its likelihood. That’s why we generally hire highly experienced people for the top jobs in government (the current President-elect being the exception of course). There seems to be something odd about finding people with loads of experience in their subject areas for Departments of Agriculture, Education, Housing, and the like–all quite important fields, but rarely involving life-and-death issues–yet selecting an inexperienced, generic manager as the head of the CIA. If the Senate feels compelled to go along with this approach, let’s hope this won’t be a decision everyone comes to regard as a well-intentioned but misguided experiment.

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A Defense of Barack Obama

President-elect Barack Obama is getting grief from all corners for refusing to say anything substantial about the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. It’s a legitimate complaint up to a point. Obama deliberately campaigned as a Rorschach candidate upon whom would-be supporters could project their own views. The downside to Obama’s strategy is that potential opponents can also project their criticisms onto him and he’ll be left with too few friends instead of too many. In this case, both supporters and enemies of Israel who assume Obama agrees with them can criticize him for not speaking up.

In less than two weeks, when Obama is officially inaugurated as President of the United States, this will change. A president has to take a position and live with the consequences. Executive leaders must stand alone with their decisions and cannot vote “present.”

That said, I’d like to weigh in here as supportive of Obama’s decision to keep quiet.

I don’t know what Obama really thinks about Israel’s war in Gaza, but I can guess. He has a track record of relevant statements, and his most recent was this one: “If someone was sending rockets on my house where my daughters were sleeping at night, I would do everything to stop it, and I would expect Israelis to do the same thing.” It’s possible, though, that he only said that to reduce skepticism among Israelis. Perhaps Obama is quietly joining France’s Nicolas Sarkozy in his condemnation of Israel instead of quietly joining Germany’s Angela Merkel in her support.

Whatever he thinks, his silence ought to be welcomed among supporters of Israel for at least one of two reasons.

If Obama opposes Israel’s use of force to defend itself from missile attack, he deserves credit for keeping his opinion to himself while he is not actually president. As he has stated on several occasions: the United States only has one president at a time. “We can’t have two administrations running foreign policy at the same time,” he says. “We simply can’t do it.” He could try to undermine the current President Bush, but he’s right that it wouldn’t be proper.

On the other hand, perhaps he silently supports Israel’s short operation in Gaza against a terrorist army with whom he himself repeatedly said he would refuse to negotiate. If he said so out loud, though, his global “hope and change” honeymoon would be over before it even began. It’s not in his interest to hobble himself from the start, nor is it in America’s interest or Israel’s.

The Obama honeymoon will be just that – a honeymoon. It will end. Those who think otherwise will see this in time. The world’s most moderate and reasonable anti-Americans might dial down their hatred somewhat for the duration, but the world’s irrational and dangerous anti-Americans won’t. They are the ones who matter most. There is nothing Obama can do to appease them, nor should he try.

The U.S. will earn some temporary leverage during the honeymoon, even so. A few weeks ago I spoke with Chatham House fellow Nadim Shehadi in West Beirut, and he made a strong case that for a brief period it will be safer for the Middle East’s liberals to be pro-American. He acknowledged, of course, that it won’t last long, but it will be worth something during the brief period in which it does. It would be a waste and a shame if it didn’t last until the inauguration later this month.

President-elect Barack Obama is getting grief from all corners for refusing to say anything substantial about the war between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. It’s a legitimate complaint up to a point. Obama deliberately campaigned as a Rorschach candidate upon whom would-be supporters could project their own views. The downside to Obama’s strategy is that potential opponents can also project their criticisms onto him and he’ll be left with too few friends instead of too many. In this case, both supporters and enemies of Israel who assume Obama agrees with them can criticize him for not speaking up.

In less than two weeks, when Obama is officially inaugurated as President of the United States, this will change. A president has to take a position and live with the consequences. Executive leaders must stand alone with their decisions and cannot vote “present.”

That said, I’d like to weigh in here as supportive of Obama’s decision to keep quiet.

I don’t know what Obama really thinks about Israel’s war in Gaza, but I can guess. He has a track record of relevant statements, and his most recent was this one: “If someone was sending rockets on my house where my daughters were sleeping at night, I would do everything to stop it, and I would expect Israelis to do the same thing.” It’s possible, though, that he only said that to reduce skepticism among Israelis. Perhaps Obama is quietly joining France’s Nicolas Sarkozy in his condemnation of Israel instead of quietly joining Germany’s Angela Merkel in her support.

Whatever he thinks, his silence ought to be welcomed among supporters of Israel for at least one of two reasons.

If Obama opposes Israel’s use of force to defend itself from missile attack, he deserves credit for keeping his opinion to himself while he is not actually president. As he has stated on several occasions: the United States only has one president at a time. “We can’t have two administrations running foreign policy at the same time,” he says. “We simply can’t do it.” He could try to undermine the current President Bush, but he’s right that it wouldn’t be proper.

On the other hand, perhaps he silently supports Israel’s short operation in Gaza against a terrorist army with whom he himself repeatedly said he would refuse to negotiate. If he said so out loud, though, his global “hope and change” honeymoon would be over before it even began. It’s not in his interest to hobble himself from the start, nor is it in America’s interest or Israel’s.

The Obama honeymoon will be just that – a honeymoon. It will end. Those who think otherwise will see this in time. The world’s most moderate and reasonable anti-Americans might dial down their hatred somewhat for the duration, but the world’s irrational and dangerous anti-Americans won’t. They are the ones who matter most. There is nothing Obama can do to appease them, nor should he try.

The U.S. will earn some temporary leverage during the honeymoon, even so. A few weeks ago I spoke with Chatham House fellow Nadim Shehadi in West Beirut, and he made a strong case that for a brief period it will be safer for the Middle East’s liberals to be pro-American. He acknowledged, of course, that it won’t last long, but it will be worth something during the brief period in which it does. It would be a waste and a shame if it didn’t last until the inauguration later this month.

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How Many Zeroes in a Trillion?

There is no way to hide the huge numbers. $700B used to seem like an enormous sum. Forget “billions.” We’re into trillions and trillions. And mounds of debt. The Wall Street Journal editors provide a dose of badly needed perspective:

The economically crucial issue for the long term is how much the government spends, because that is what becomes a claim on current or future taxpayers. This is where the CBO forecast gets scary. Including the Obama stimulus spending and assuming the full $700 billion of bailout money for the banks, insurance companies, auto firms and so forth gets fully spent, federal outlays could approach $4 trillion in 2009. That’s double the $2 trillion Congress spent only seven years ago.

Federal expenditures are now rapidly outpacing the growth of the economy, which is expected to be negative this year. CBO estimates that even before the stimulus federal spending will climb to an all-time high 24.9% of GDP, up from the previous post-World War II high of 23.5% in 1985. Add the stimulus and bailout cash and we estimate the federal spending share of GDP will climb to 27.5%. All of this is fast pushing the U.S. to European spending levels, and that’s before Mr. Obama’s new health-care entitlements.

The problem with most of this spending is that it will be hard to stop once it becomes part of the annual CBO baseline. Congress never reduces spending year over year. While much of the $700 billion in Troubled Asset Relief Program money will probably be returned to the Treasury as banks redeem the government’s preferred shares, Congress will want to turn around and spend that cash on other things unless the Obama Administration says no.
.  .  .

Whether or not you think new spending will stimulate the economy, the one undeniable truth is that this money has to come from somewhere, which means that it is borrowed or taxed from the private economy. This spending blowout is all but guaranteeing huge future tax increases, and anyone who thinks only the rich will pay is living an illusion. Taxpayers need some new champions in Washington — and fast.

So what’s the answer? It seems spending less and figuring ways to grow the private sector would be at the top of the list. Yet the Obama stimulus is based on the opposite: spending lots, growing the public sector and thinking up new ways to burden businesses (e.g. a health care insurance mandate). In exchange for the unproven and historically suspect theory that we can spend our way to prosperity, we are going to cripple our future growth and spend an increasingly large portion of our budget simply servicing the debt we’ve accumulated in building dog parks, skating rinks and a host of other “shovel ready” boondoggles.

Democrats used to harp on President Bush for his fiscal irresponsibility and tell us to think “about the children.” Well, he was a penny pincher compared to what’s coming down the pike; and the children and their grandchildren are going to be paying for all of this for years to come. We need more than a “performance czar.” We need someone to pull out those Ross Perot charts and explain to the politicians and voters the economic mess we are adding to as we continue to spend beyond our — and our great grandchildren’s — means.

There is no way to hide the huge numbers. $700B used to seem like an enormous sum. Forget “billions.” We’re into trillions and trillions. And mounds of debt. The Wall Street Journal editors provide a dose of badly needed perspective:

The economically crucial issue for the long term is how much the government spends, because that is what becomes a claim on current or future taxpayers. This is where the CBO forecast gets scary. Including the Obama stimulus spending and assuming the full $700 billion of bailout money for the banks, insurance companies, auto firms and so forth gets fully spent, federal outlays could approach $4 trillion in 2009. That’s double the $2 trillion Congress spent only seven years ago.

Federal expenditures are now rapidly outpacing the growth of the economy, which is expected to be negative this year. CBO estimates that even before the stimulus federal spending will climb to an all-time high 24.9% of GDP, up from the previous post-World War II high of 23.5% in 1985. Add the stimulus and bailout cash and we estimate the federal spending share of GDP will climb to 27.5%. All of this is fast pushing the U.S. to European spending levels, and that’s before Mr. Obama’s new health-care entitlements.

The problem with most of this spending is that it will be hard to stop once it becomes part of the annual CBO baseline. Congress never reduces spending year over year. While much of the $700 billion in Troubled Asset Relief Program money will probably be returned to the Treasury as banks redeem the government’s preferred shares, Congress will want to turn around and spend that cash on other things unless the Obama Administration says no.
.  .  .

Whether or not you think new spending will stimulate the economy, the one undeniable truth is that this money has to come from somewhere, which means that it is borrowed or taxed from the private economy. This spending blowout is all but guaranteeing huge future tax increases, and anyone who thinks only the rich will pay is living an illusion. Taxpayers need some new champions in Washington — and fast.

So what’s the answer? It seems spending less and figuring ways to grow the private sector would be at the top of the list. Yet the Obama stimulus is based on the opposite: spending lots, growing the public sector and thinking up new ways to burden businesses (e.g. a health care insurance mandate). In exchange for the unproven and historically suspect theory that we can spend our way to prosperity, we are going to cripple our future growth and spend an increasingly large portion of our budget simply servicing the debt we’ve accumulated in building dog parks, skating rinks and a host of other “shovel ready” boondoggles.

Democrats used to harp on President Bush for his fiscal irresponsibility and tell us to think “about the children.” Well, he was a penny pincher compared to what’s coming down the pike; and the children and their grandchildren are going to be paying for all of this for years to come. We need more than a “performance czar.” We need someone to pull out those Ross Perot charts and explain to the politicians and voters the economic mess we are adding to as we continue to spend beyond our — and our great grandchildren’s — means.

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Not Following the Talking Points Part Two

Adam Schiff isn’t the only J-Street “endorsed” member of Congress to contradict the organization’s posture of moral equivalence regarding Israel and Hamas. Robert Wexler, Democratic Congressman from West Palm Beach, issued a statement several days ago, now on his congressional homepage.

The statement is similar in spirit to Schiff’s message, fully supportive of Israel’s right to defend itself. “It is unconscionable for anyone to expect that the Israeli government or any other government for that matter, to sit idly as thousands of deadly rockets rain down on their cities and threaten the well-being and security of their citizens.”

If it is unconscionable to expect the Israeli government to capitulate to Hamas, which is the expressed position of J Street, one wonders why Wexler accepted their endorsement in the first place, and why he has not distanced himself from the organization. Curiously, Wexler’s statement does not appear on J Street’s website alongside those issued by its other endorsed congresspeople who have reiterated J Street’s mantra (that is, one that morally equates Israel to Hamas).

Adam Schiff isn’t the only J-Street “endorsed” member of Congress to contradict the organization’s posture of moral equivalence regarding Israel and Hamas. Robert Wexler, Democratic Congressman from West Palm Beach, issued a statement several days ago, now on his congressional homepage.

The statement is similar in spirit to Schiff’s message, fully supportive of Israel’s right to defend itself. “It is unconscionable for anyone to expect that the Israeli government or any other government for that matter, to sit idly as thousands of deadly rockets rain down on their cities and threaten the well-being and security of their citizens.”

If it is unconscionable to expect the Israeli government to capitulate to Hamas, which is the expressed position of J Street, one wonders why Wexler accepted their endorsement in the first place, and why he has not distanced himself from the organization. Curiously, Wexler’s statement does not appear on J Street’s website alongside those issued by its other endorsed congresspeople who have reiterated J Street’s mantra (that is, one that morally equates Israel to Hamas).

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Senate Resolution on Israel and Gaza

A Senate resolution is soon to be introduced jointly by Sens. Reid and McConnell on the Gaza situation (UPDATE: the resolution passed with unanimous consent). It reads as follows:

Recognizing the right of Israel to defend itself against attacks from Gaza and reaffirming the United States’strong support for Israel in its battle with Hamas, and supporting the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Whereas Hamas was founded with the stated goal of destroying the State of Israel;

Whereas Hamas has been designated by the Secretary of State as a Foreign Terrorist Organization;

Whereas Hamas has refused to comply with the requirements of the Quartet (the United States, the European Union, Russia, and the United Nations) that Hamas recognize Israel’s right to exist, renounce violence, and agree to accept previous agreements between Israel and the Palestinians;

Whereas, in June 2006, Hamas crossed into Israel, attacked Israeli forces and kidnapped Corporal Gilad Shalit, whom they continue to hold today;

Whereas Hamas has launched thousands of rockets and mortars since Israel dismantled settlements and withdrew from Gaza in 2005;

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A Senate resolution is soon to be introduced jointly by Sens. Reid and McConnell on the Gaza situation (UPDATE: the resolution passed with unanimous consent). It reads as follows:

Recognizing the right of Israel to defend itself against attacks from Gaza and reaffirming the United States’strong support for Israel in its battle with Hamas, and supporting the Israeli-Palestinian peace process.

Whereas Hamas was founded with the stated goal of destroying the State of Israel;

Whereas Hamas has been designated by the Secretary of State as a Foreign Terrorist Organization;

Whereas Hamas has refused to comply with the requirements of the Quartet (the United States, the European Union, Russia, and the United Nations) that Hamas recognize Israel’s right to exist, renounce violence, and agree to accept previous agreements between Israel and the Palestinians;

Whereas, in June 2006, Hamas crossed into Israel, attacked Israeli forces and kidnapped Corporal Gilad Shalit, whom they continue to hold today;

Whereas Hamas has launched thousands of rockets and mortars since Israel dismantled settlements and withdrew from Gaza in 2005;

Whereas Hamas has increased the range of its rockets, reportedly with support from Iran and others, putting additional large numbers of Israelis in danger of rocket attacks from Gaza;

Whereas Hamas locates elements of its terrorist infrastructure in civilian population centers, thus using innocent civilians as human shields;

Whereas Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said in a statement on December 27, 2008, that ‘‘[w]e strongly condemn the repeated rocket and mortar attacks against Israel and hold Hamas responsible for breaking the ceasefire and for the renewal of violence there’’;

Whereas, on December 27, 2008, Prime Minister of Israel Ehud Olmert said, ‘‘For approximately seven years, hundreds of thousands of Israeli citizens in the south have been suffering from missiles being fired at them.. . . In such a situation we had no alternative but to respond. We do not rejoice in battle but neither will we be deterred from it.. . .The operation in the Gaza Strip is designed, first and foremost, to bring about an improvement in the security reality for the residents of the south of the country.’’;

Whereas, on January 2, 2009, Secretary of State Rice stated that ‘‘Hamas has held the people of Gaza hostage ever since their illegal coup against the forces of President
Mahmoud Abbas, the legitimate President of the Palestinian people. Hamas has used Gaza as a launching pad for rockets against Israeli cities and has contributed deeply to a very bad daily life for the Palestinian people in Gaza, and to a humanitarian situation that we have all been trying to address’’;

Whereas the humanitarian situation in Gaza, including shortages of food, water, electricity, and adequate medical care, is becoming more acute;

Whereas Israel has facilitated humanitarian aid to Gaza with over 500 trucks and numerous ambulances entering the Gaza Strip since December 26, 2008;

Whereas, on January 2, 2009, Secretary of State Rice stated that it was ‘‘Hamas that rejected the Egyptian and Arab calls for an extension of the tahadiya that Egypt had negotiated’’ and that the United States was ‘‘working toward a cease-fire that would not allow a reestablishment of the status quo ante where Hamas can continue to launch rockets out of Gaza. It is obvious that that ceasefire should take place as soon as possible, but we need a cease-fire that is durable and sustainable’’; and

Whereas the ultimate goal of the United States is a sustainable resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that will allow for a viable and independent Palestinian state living side by side in peace and security with the State of Israel, which will not be possible as long as Israeli civilians are under threat from within Gaza: Now, therefore, be it Resolved, That the Senate—

(1) expresses vigorous support and unwavering commitment to the welfare, security, and survival of the State of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state with secure borders, and recognizes its right to act in self-defense to protect its citizens against acts of terrorism;
(2) reiterates that Hamas must end the rocket and mortar attacks against Israel, recognize Israel’s right to exist, renounce violence, and agree to accept previous agreements between Israel and the Palestinians;
(3) encourages the President to work actively to support a durable, enforceable, and sustainable cease-fire in Gaza, as soon as possible, that prevents Hamas from retaining or rebuilding the capability to launch rockets and mortars against Israel and allows for the long term improvement of daily living conditions for the ordinary people of Gaza;
(4) believes strongly that the lives of innocent civilians must be protected and all appropriate measures should be taken to diminish civilian casualties and that all involved should continue to work to address humanitarian needs in Gaza;
(5) supports and encourages efforts to diminish the appeal and influence of extremists in the Palestinian  territories and to strengthen moderate Palestinians who are committed to a secure and lasting peace with Israel; and                                                                                                                                                                           (6) reiterates its strong support for United States Government efforts to promote a just resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through a serious and sustained peace process that leads to the creation of a viable and independent Palestinian state living in peace alongside a secure State of Israel.

Needless to say, the resolution is as strong a statement of support for Israel as it and its allies might hope for, and a reassuring sign that bipartisanship is alive and well when it comes to American policy toward the Jewish state. A similar resolution will be introduced in the House. It will be instructive to see the final votes on the resolutions and the reaction, if any, from the White House and President-elect.

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These Are Not Your Father’s War Protesters

Every now and then, the mainstream finds another story to reinforce the meme that the Iraq war is  Vietnam with sand. One recurring theme is the poor, benighted military fugitive seeking sanctuary in Canada.

This was a big thing back in the days of Vietnam. Deserters, draft dodgers and the like fled north, where they were accepted as “political refugees” and allowed to stay. This continued long after the war, until Jimmy Carter granted a universal pardon for draft dodgers on his very first full day in office. (Deserters were excluded from this action.)

This was a highly controversial move, but even its critics had to admit that Carter had a certain level of justification: the was was over, the draft was over, and those being pardoned had been avoiding forced conscription.

There is one huge difference between those people, and the fugitives now: as noted, the draft ended in 1973. In the 35 years since then, not a single person has been inducted into the military who did not choose to be there.

The abolition of the draft and the institution of the volunteer, professional military turned out to be one of the greatest things ever to happen to the United States. For many, military service became not a burden, but a calling. To wear the uniform of the United States was not a duty, but a privilege. Indeed, eventually the military found itself with far more applicants than it could take, allowing it to pick and choose who it would accept, and those who were allowed to join had to prove that they were not only worthy of service, but better than their rival applicants.

Keep that in mind when you read tales of Jeremy Hinzman or Daryl Anderson or Ivan Brobeck or the latest poster child of the anti-war movement, Kimberly Rivera.

Ms. Rivera served one tour in Iraq, but when she was told that she would be returning with her unit, she chose to flee to Canada with her husband and children. She sought political asylum, but was rejected. She is slated to be returned to the United States — where she will presumably face military justice for desertion.

The stories about her are replete with details of her life — a Texan, married (to Mario Rivera), mother of three (son Christian, 6; daughters Rebecca, 4, and Katie, 6 weeks), served in Iraq in 2006, fled to Canada in 2007, lives in Toronto. But only one account I could find gave her Army rank.

This is a subtle form of bias. Ms. Rivera is a deserter from the Army. She is still, legally, a member of the Army, and as such is entitled to be addressed by her rank as “Private Rivera.” Indeed, the rank she accepted is at the core of her current situation.

So the solution is simple: don’t mention it. Instead, talk about her as a wife, as a mother, as a victim of her conscience, but for heaven’s sake don’t refer to her as a soldier.

The problem with this picture of her is that it is incomplete. Ms. Rivera is a poor choice for a victim. She voluntarily chose to join the Army, and signed a contract with the United States. She pledged — in a sworn oath — to serve faithfully and honorably for the duration of her term, and now she has changed her mind and wants out.

No, that’s not quite fair. She has chosen to violate her word, breach her contract, and wants not only our acceptance and understanding, but our praise for her “courage.”

If she returns to the United States, she will not face persecution. She will face prosecution, under the terms of the enlistment contract she signed willingly. And she need not fear returning to Iraq if she doesn’t want to — there are alternatives, up to and including serving time in military prison.

Because that’s the sort of thing that happens to people who volunteer to put themselves under military justice, and then break military law. People like Kimberley Rivera.

Yes, it will be hard on her family. Yes, it will separate a mother from her husband and children. But Ms. Rivera is an adult, and has made an adult decision: to violate her oath and desert. To deny her the consequences of her decisions is to say that she was simply not competent to make that commitment in the first place. It is to say that she is not really a legal, responsible adult, and should be treated as a child or an incompetent in the eyes of the law.

If she really wants to serve as a good example to her children, then she should face up to the consequences of her actions and accept justice. Unfortunately, she doesn’t seem inclined to do so — and she has found a horde of enablers who are eager to praise her for this.

Fortunately, they do not include the Canadian government — which has consistently ruled that the American deserters who have fled there are fugitives, not refugees, and has been slowly (as whenever lawyers get involved) returning them to the United States.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Every now and then, the mainstream finds another story to reinforce the meme that the Iraq war is  Vietnam with sand. One recurring theme is the poor, benighted military fugitive seeking sanctuary in Canada.

This was a big thing back in the days of Vietnam. Deserters, draft dodgers and the like fled north, where they were accepted as “political refugees” and allowed to stay. This continued long after the war, until Jimmy Carter granted a universal pardon for draft dodgers on his very first full day in office. (Deserters were excluded from this action.)

This was a highly controversial move, but even its critics had to admit that Carter had a certain level of justification: the was was over, the draft was over, and those being pardoned had been avoiding forced conscription.

There is one huge difference between those people, and the fugitives now: as noted, the draft ended in 1973. In the 35 years since then, not a single person has been inducted into the military who did not choose to be there.

The abolition of the draft and the institution of the volunteer, professional military turned out to be one of the greatest things ever to happen to the United States. For many, military service became not a burden, but a calling. To wear the uniform of the United States was not a duty, but a privilege. Indeed, eventually the military found itself with far more applicants than it could take, allowing it to pick and choose who it would accept, and those who were allowed to join had to prove that they were not only worthy of service, but better than their rival applicants.

Keep that in mind when you read tales of Jeremy Hinzman or Daryl Anderson or Ivan Brobeck or the latest poster child of the anti-war movement, Kimberly Rivera.

Ms. Rivera served one tour in Iraq, but when she was told that she would be returning with her unit, she chose to flee to Canada with her husband and children. She sought political asylum, but was rejected. She is slated to be returned to the United States — where she will presumably face military justice for desertion.

The stories about her are replete with details of her life — a Texan, married (to Mario Rivera), mother of three (son Christian, 6; daughters Rebecca, 4, and Katie, 6 weeks), served in Iraq in 2006, fled to Canada in 2007, lives in Toronto. But only one account I could find gave her Army rank.

This is a subtle form of bias. Ms. Rivera is a deserter from the Army. She is still, legally, a member of the Army, and as such is entitled to be addressed by her rank as “Private Rivera.” Indeed, the rank she accepted is at the core of her current situation.

So the solution is simple: don’t mention it. Instead, talk about her as a wife, as a mother, as a victim of her conscience, but for heaven’s sake don’t refer to her as a soldier.

The problem with this picture of her is that it is incomplete. Ms. Rivera is a poor choice for a victim. She voluntarily chose to join the Army, and signed a contract with the United States. She pledged — in a sworn oath — to serve faithfully and honorably for the duration of her term, and now she has changed her mind and wants out.

No, that’s not quite fair. She has chosen to violate her word, breach her contract, and wants not only our acceptance and understanding, but our praise for her “courage.”

If she returns to the United States, she will not face persecution. She will face prosecution, under the terms of the enlistment contract she signed willingly. And she need not fear returning to Iraq if she doesn’t want to — there are alternatives, up to and including serving time in military prison.

Because that’s the sort of thing that happens to people who volunteer to put themselves under military justice, and then break military law. People like Kimberley Rivera.

Yes, it will be hard on her family. Yes, it will separate a mother from her husband and children. But Ms. Rivera is an adult, and has made an adult decision: to violate her oath and desert. To deny her the consequences of her decisions is to say that she was simply not competent to make that commitment in the first place. It is to say that she is not really a legal, responsible adult, and should be treated as a child or an incompetent in the eyes of the law.

If she really wants to serve as a good example to her children, then she should face up to the consequences of her actions and accept justice. Unfortunately, she doesn’t seem inclined to do so — and she has found a horde of enablers who are eager to praise her for this.

Fortunately, they do not include the Canadian government — which has consistently ruled that the American deserters who have fled there are fugitives, not refugees, and has been slowly (as whenever lawyers get involved) returning them to the United States.

It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Remember the Election Day video of the creepy New Black Panthers wielding a baton at a Philadelphia polling place? The Department of Justice has filed a suit  seeking injunctive relief “preventing any future deployment of, or display of weapons by, New Black Panther Party members at the entrance to polling locations.”

Remind me again why we gave Chrysler $4 billion: “Even by the standards of battered automakers, Chrysler is in dire shape. Its sales in December were down a stunning 53 percent, far worse than Ford or General Motors, and analysts say it probably won’t survive the year as an independent company — despite $4 billion in government loans and the possibility of more. Things were so bad last year that a single Toyota model, the Camry/Solara midsize car, outsold the entire fleet of Chrysler LLC’s passenger cars.”

The fairest and most insightful analysis of the Coleman recount comes from Minnesotan Scott Johnson. Being outlawyered in the recount doesn’t mean the election was “stolen.” Conservative critics would do well to keep this in mind and put aside the “we were robbed” mentality.

In tallying the pros and cons of seating Roland Burris, Gail Collins finds: “On the negative side, you might want to include the fact that Burris has already constructed a mausoleum for himself that is topped by Illinois’s state seal and the legend ‘Trail Blazer.’ Those are followed by a list of his historic firsts, ranging from the impressive (first African-American elected to a statewide office in Illinois) to some stuff you would really try to refrain from bragging about except at parties in which there had been a great deal of drinking (first African-American exchange student from Southern Illinois University to Hamburg). There also is a sidebar granite slab for ‘Other Major Accomplishments.'” Well, to be accurate, he’s done more than Caroline Kennedy.

Jane Hamsher and I agree on practically nothing, except Harry Reid: “Reid looks like a cat in a room full of rocking chairs on Meet the Press.  Nobody knows how much Fitz has (not even Fitz, who is still trying to transcribe his tapes) or how much he’ll need to reveal to prove his case, so Reid says he ‘doesn’t remember’ his conversation with Blago, but calls Blago a liar anyway.  When asked if he supported [Jesse Jackson, Jr.] for the Senate seat, he says he would support JJJ.   And admits that there’s ‘room to negotiate’ on Burris. Burris appears at the Senate on Tuesday.  Gets turned away.  Could Reid look any worse? Yes!” And there’s plenty more. (“A seventy-one year old dude who hasn’t held office for 14 years, appointed by a crook, takes the Senate Majority Leader to the cleaners.”) So, believe it or not, I encourage you to read the rest of Hamsher.

And just to prove Hamsher right, Reid declares he wasn’t outfoxed by Burris.  Sen. Diane Feinstein’s all wet about Burris having a “legal appointment.” But it’ll be Senator Burris soon enough. Funny how that happened with the wily Reid barring the door and no legal appointment.

Yes, it was indeed an “embarrassing about-face.”

And talk about embarrassing: Chuck Schumer gets caught committing a campaign violation by a writer doing a puff piece.

Dennis Ross talks some sense on Gaza. (h/t Marc Ambinder)

Former Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Dr. Dore Gold explains why the rest of the world should be rooting for Israel.

Please don’t get our hopes up : “[W]hat if The New York Times goes out of business—like, this May?” The author suggests it will become a sort of Huffington Post but “less partisan.” (Hmm, is that an improvement over the current state of affairs?). But if that’s all the Times will be, will anyone even bother with the pretense that it is the paper, er, website “of record”? Let’s hope not. (h/t New York Timeshonest!)

Ed Whelan provides some sage advice to Republican Senators for the confirmation hearings of the Solicitor General nominee Elena Kagan.

The liberal blogger fan club can’t understand why people would care about an unqualified CIA nomination or a surprising act of political malpractice in failing to notify the Senate Intelligence Chairman. Why doesn’t everyone just get in line and stop the criticism, gosh darn it!

Mickey Kaus twists the knife: “After all, even if Richardson didn’t fully disclose the scope of the investigation that scuppered his nomination, what kind of savvy Washingtonian would take Bill Richardson at his word? A scout for the Kansas City Athletics, maybe?”

Remember the Election Day video of the creepy New Black Panthers wielding a baton at a Philadelphia polling place? The Department of Justice has filed a suit  seeking injunctive relief “preventing any future deployment of, or display of weapons by, New Black Panther Party members at the entrance to polling locations.”

Remind me again why we gave Chrysler $4 billion: “Even by the standards of battered automakers, Chrysler is in dire shape. Its sales in December were down a stunning 53 percent, far worse than Ford or General Motors, and analysts say it probably won’t survive the year as an independent company — despite $4 billion in government loans and the possibility of more. Things were so bad last year that a single Toyota model, the Camry/Solara midsize car, outsold the entire fleet of Chrysler LLC’s passenger cars.”

The fairest and most insightful analysis of the Coleman recount comes from Minnesotan Scott Johnson. Being outlawyered in the recount doesn’t mean the election was “stolen.” Conservative critics would do well to keep this in mind and put aside the “we were robbed” mentality.

In tallying the pros and cons of seating Roland Burris, Gail Collins finds: “On the negative side, you might want to include the fact that Burris has already constructed a mausoleum for himself that is topped by Illinois’s state seal and the legend ‘Trail Blazer.’ Those are followed by a list of his historic firsts, ranging from the impressive (first African-American elected to a statewide office in Illinois) to some stuff you would really try to refrain from bragging about except at parties in which there had been a great deal of drinking (first African-American exchange student from Southern Illinois University to Hamburg). There also is a sidebar granite slab for ‘Other Major Accomplishments.'” Well, to be accurate, he’s done more than Caroline Kennedy.

Jane Hamsher and I agree on practically nothing, except Harry Reid: “Reid looks like a cat in a room full of rocking chairs on Meet the Press.  Nobody knows how much Fitz has (not even Fitz, who is still trying to transcribe his tapes) or how much he’ll need to reveal to prove his case, so Reid says he ‘doesn’t remember’ his conversation with Blago, but calls Blago a liar anyway.  When asked if he supported [Jesse Jackson, Jr.] for the Senate seat, he says he would support JJJ.   And admits that there’s ‘room to negotiate’ on Burris. Burris appears at the Senate on Tuesday.  Gets turned away.  Could Reid look any worse? Yes!” And there’s plenty more. (“A seventy-one year old dude who hasn’t held office for 14 years, appointed by a crook, takes the Senate Majority Leader to the cleaners.”) So, believe it or not, I encourage you to read the rest of Hamsher.

And just to prove Hamsher right, Reid declares he wasn’t outfoxed by Burris.  Sen. Diane Feinstein’s all wet about Burris having a “legal appointment.” But it’ll be Senator Burris soon enough. Funny how that happened with the wily Reid barring the door and no legal appointment.

Yes, it was indeed an “embarrassing about-face.”

And talk about embarrassing: Chuck Schumer gets caught committing a campaign violation by a writer doing a puff piece.

Dennis Ross talks some sense on Gaza. (h/t Marc Ambinder)

Former Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Dr. Dore Gold explains why the rest of the world should be rooting for Israel.

Please don’t get our hopes up : “[W]hat if The New York Times goes out of business—like, this May?” The author suggests it will become a sort of Huffington Post but “less partisan.” (Hmm, is that an improvement over the current state of affairs?). But if that’s all the Times will be, will anyone even bother with the pretense that it is the paper, er, website “of record”? Let’s hope not. (h/t New York Timeshonest!)

Ed Whelan provides some sage advice to Republican Senators for the confirmation hearings of the Solicitor General nominee Elena Kagan.

The liberal blogger fan club can’t understand why people would care about an unqualified CIA nomination or a surprising act of political malpractice in failing to notify the Senate Intelligence Chairman. Why doesn’t everyone just get in line and stop the criticism, gosh darn it!

Mickey Kaus twists the knife: “After all, even if Richardson didn’t fully disclose the scope of the investigation that scuppered his nomination, what kind of savvy Washingtonian would take Bill Richardson at his word? A scout for the Kansas City Athletics, maybe?”

Read Less




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