Commentary Magazine


Posts For: March 22, 2009

An Appetite for Galilee

The car bomb that miraculously failed to explode in the city of Haifa was in all likelihood delivered by a terror group in the West Bank. Nobody was hurt, but this was a timely reminder that Palestinian terrorism is not yet a feature of the past. “As far as Israel is concerned, this was a terrorist attack in every sense,” Ehud Olmert had said.  The U.S. plans the next round of remove-more-road-blocks pressure, but within the last week or so two policemen were killed in the West Bank, and an attempt was made at killing civilians in a shopping mall.

One symbolic, but still troubling component of Saturday’s bomb scare was the name of the group claiming responsibility for planting the bomb:

A terror group called the Galilee Freedom Battalions has claimed responsibility for a failed terror attack near Haifa’s Lev Hamifratz mall. An announcement by the organization said “the explosive device did not explode due to a technical flaw or difficulty”. “This action is part of a range of actions we promised you in response to the razing of houses in east Jerusalem and the occupation’s slaughter in Gaza and the West Bank,” it said.

Israel’s security forces doubted the claim, “saying they were unfamiliar with a group of that name currently operating in Israel.” Nevertheless, the fact that those trying to kill Israelis thought about “freeing” Galilee, a part of Israel’s territory presumably not under dispute, is telling. This is not the first time Arab radicals have demonstrated their intentions regarding this area (populated by many Arab-Israelis), and it’s probably not the last time. Those believing that the Arab world is ready to accept Israel’s sovereignty, and that the only area of debate is the West Bank should think again. When Israel forces left southern Lebanon back in 2000, Hezbollah was quick to announce that the territory evacuated wasn’t nearly enough:

The 1924 negotiations between France and Britain included the reassignment of the Galilee “panhandle” from Lebanon to Mandatory Palestine. The panhandle incorporated Jewish settlements, Christian and Sunni villages, as well as six Shi’i villages: Ibl Qamah, Hounine, Malkieh, Nabi Yusha, Kades, and Saliha. Hizballah claims include these six villages, along with a seventh Shi’i village, Teir Bikha, located in the Acre district far east of the Galilee panhandle.

In 2006, when Israeli diplomats started talking about the possibility of Israel evacuating Shaba’a Farms, Michel Rubin rightly commented on the inadvisability of whetting Hezbollah’s appetite. And as we’ve seen this weekend, it’s an appetite backed by deadly action.

The car bomb that miraculously failed to explode in the city of Haifa was in all likelihood delivered by a terror group in the West Bank. Nobody was hurt, but this was a timely reminder that Palestinian terrorism is not yet a feature of the past. “As far as Israel is concerned, this was a terrorist attack in every sense,” Ehud Olmert had said.  The U.S. plans the next round of remove-more-road-blocks pressure, but within the last week or so two policemen were killed in the West Bank, and an attempt was made at killing civilians in a shopping mall.

One symbolic, but still troubling component of Saturday’s bomb scare was the name of the group claiming responsibility for planting the bomb:

A terror group called the Galilee Freedom Battalions has claimed responsibility for a failed terror attack near Haifa’s Lev Hamifratz mall. An announcement by the organization said “the explosive device did not explode due to a technical flaw or difficulty”. “This action is part of a range of actions we promised you in response to the razing of houses in east Jerusalem and the occupation’s slaughter in Gaza and the West Bank,” it said.

Israel’s security forces doubted the claim, “saying they were unfamiliar with a group of that name currently operating in Israel.” Nevertheless, the fact that those trying to kill Israelis thought about “freeing” Galilee, a part of Israel’s territory presumably not under dispute, is telling. This is not the first time Arab radicals have demonstrated their intentions regarding this area (populated by many Arab-Israelis), and it’s probably not the last time. Those believing that the Arab world is ready to accept Israel’s sovereignty, and that the only area of debate is the West Bank should think again. When Israel forces left southern Lebanon back in 2000, Hezbollah was quick to announce that the territory evacuated wasn’t nearly enough:

The 1924 negotiations between France and Britain included the reassignment of the Galilee “panhandle” from Lebanon to Mandatory Palestine. The panhandle incorporated Jewish settlements, Christian and Sunni villages, as well as six Shi’i villages: Ibl Qamah, Hounine, Malkieh, Nabi Yusha, Kades, and Saliha. Hizballah claims include these six villages, along with a seventh Shi’i village, Teir Bikha, located in the Acre district far east of the Galilee panhandle.

In 2006, when Israeli diplomats started talking about the possibility of Israel evacuating Shaba’a Farms, Michel Rubin rightly commented on the inadvisability of whetting Hezbollah’s appetite. And as we’ve seen this weekend, it’s an appetite backed by deadly action.

Read Less

Where Are the Lawyers When You Need Them?

When liberal media outlets talk about the president and “the rule of law,” you can bet they are talking about restrictions on executive power and the war on terror. But “the rule of law” refers to something far more fundamental than executive war powers. You really can’t get away from King John and those nobles at Runnymede. The core issue is whether the head of state is checked by a regime of law or whether he can, depending upon the needs and desires of the moment, do whatever the heck he wants.

So how’s Obama doing? Not great. Signing statements are back in fashion — a bad development for those who contend the Constitution provides just two options (veto or sign/enforce the law). He’s pursing cram down mortgages, allowing mortgage contracts to be abrogated on a case by case basis. And, of course, those AIG bonuses have become inconvenient and embarrassing so we’ll alter the tax code just for those unlucky employees. The sanctity of contracts are out; populist mobs are in.

And where is the Justice Department in all this? The rule of law is its specialty, right? Well, Eric Holder seems entirely unwilling to restrain or even question the political operatives in the executive branch. (Some of us anticipated he was the least likely person to stand up to the president.) Whatever the president and Nancy Pelosi want seems fine with Holder.

It is unfortunate that Democrats in Congress (with the exception of a few stalwarts like Robert Byrd) are mute in the face of an executive who seems intent on pushing the envelope. Only when George Bush is “shredding the Constitution” are they moved to complain. So the minority party is largely alone in complaining about these sorts of things. The Democrats may regret their new loose attitude towards the law. For the law may come in handy some day. But by then it won’t quite be what it used to be.

When liberal media outlets talk about the president and “the rule of law,” you can bet they are talking about restrictions on executive power and the war on terror. But “the rule of law” refers to something far more fundamental than executive war powers. You really can’t get away from King John and those nobles at Runnymede. The core issue is whether the head of state is checked by a regime of law or whether he can, depending upon the needs and desires of the moment, do whatever the heck he wants.

So how’s Obama doing? Not great. Signing statements are back in fashion — a bad development for those who contend the Constitution provides just two options (veto or sign/enforce the law). He’s pursing cram down mortgages, allowing mortgage contracts to be abrogated on a case by case basis. And, of course, those AIG bonuses have become inconvenient and embarrassing so we’ll alter the tax code just for those unlucky employees. The sanctity of contracts are out; populist mobs are in.

And where is the Justice Department in all this? The rule of law is its specialty, right? Well, Eric Holder seems entirely unwilling to restrain or even question the political operatives in the executive branch. (Some of us anticipated he was the least likely person to stand up to the president.) Whatever the president and Nancy Pelosi want seems fine with Holder.

It is unfortunate that Democrats in Congress (with the exception of a few stalwarts like Robert Byrd) are mute in the face of an executive who seems intent on pushing the envelope. Only when George Bush is “shredding the Constitution” are they moved to complain. So the minority party is largely alone in complaining about these sorts of things. The Democrats may regret their new loose attitude towards the law. For the law may come in handy some day. But by then it won’t quite be what it used to be.

Read Less

Thuggish

Last week it came out that the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) had been approved by the Obama administration to help recruit millions of temporary workers the Census Bureau will need to count all Americans.

Well, yesterday ACORN — through one of its subsidiaries — decided to demonstrate its qualifications for the challenges: it showed that it could identify and locate a certain group of Americans, and disseminate their findings effectively.

ACORN did this by hosting a bus tour of some of AIG’s employees’ homes.

Gee, I can’t think of a single bad thing that might happen as the result of identifying the homes of people who are being denounced and demonized on a national stage

ACORN (well, ACORN’s puppet,  the Connecticut Working Families Party) says that it just wanted to show “what kinds of lifestyle billions of dollars in credit-default swaps can buy.” One wonders why the specific homes had to be indicated, and not just the neighborhoods.

Combine that with other aspects of the whole story — New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo demanding a list of the executives who received bonuses and the amounts, and Congress howling in protest over the bonus program they authorized — and the phrase “mob rule” doesn’t sound too hysterical.

For ACORN, this isn’t about justice; it’s about flexing its muscles. It’s about keeping people sufficiently outraged so that they can be manipulated. It’s about reminding the powers that be in Washington that ACORN is a force to be reckoned with.

In that context, the “See the lifestyles of the rich and greedy you’re paying for” tour is but a small part of the big picture. But it is very emblematic of the attitude and mentality behind ACORN, which is calling in the markers it’s been handing out over decades.

And, after the last election, quite a few of those marker-holders are holding positions of exceptional power.

Last week it came out that the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN) had been approved by the Obama administration to help recruit millions of temporary workers the Census Bureau will need to count all Americans.

Well, yesterday ACORN — through one of its subsidiaries — decided to demonstrate its qualifications for the challenges: it showed that it could identify and locate a certain group of Americans, and disseminate their findings effectively.

ACORN did this by hosting a bus tour of some of AIG’s employees’ homes.

Gee, I can’t think of a single bad thing that might happen as the result of identifying the homes of people who are being denounced and demonized on a national stage

ACORN (well, ACORN’s puppet,  the Connecticut Working Families Party) says that it just wanted to show “what kinds of lifestyle billions of dollars in credit-default swaps can buy.” One wonders why the specific homes had to be indicated, and not just the neighborhoods.

Combine that with other aspects of the whole story — New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo demanding a list of the executives who received bonuses and the amounts, and Congress howling in protest over the bonus program they authorized — and the phrase “mob rule” doesn’t sound too hysterical.

For ACORN, this isn’t about justice; it’s about flexing its muscles. It’s about keeping people sufficiently outraged so that they can be manipulated. It’s about reminding the powers that be in Washington that ACORN is a force to be reckoned with.

In that context, the “See the lifestyles of the rich and greedy you’re paying for” tour is but a small part of the big picture. But it is very emblematic of the attitude and mentality behind ACORN, which is calling in the markers it’s been handing out over decades.

And, after the last election, quite a few of those marker-holders are holding positions of exceptional power.

Read Less

Re: Be Careful What You Wish For

Apparently Lanny Davis is behind the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) “compromise” suggested by Costco, Starbucks, and Whole Foods. The companies candidly dump on the idea of doing away with the secret ballot or imposing mandatory arbitration:

Whole Foods Market chief executive John Mackey said that binding arbitration is “not the way we normally do things in the United States” and that allowing workers to organize without a secret ballot “violates a bedrock principle of American democracy.”

And the CEOs also do not share the labor movement’s underlying belief that the decline of organized labor has contributed to income inequality and the economy’s current imbalance. “That so few companies are unionized is not for a lack of trying but because [unions] are losing elections — workers aren’t choosing to have labor representation,” Mackey said. “I don’t feel things are worse off for labor today.”

.  . .

Giving organizers the ability to use card check, [Starbucks CEO Howard]Schultz said, would lead to a slew of separate bargaining units at a company like his, leading to “havoc and significant cost and disruption.” Mackey had an even grimmer view. “Armed with those weapons, you will see unionization sweep across the United States and set workplaces at war with each other,” he said. “I do not think it would be a good thing.”

Read More

Apparently Lanny Davis is behind the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) “compromise” suggested by Costco, Starbucks, and Whole Foods. The companies candidly dump on the idea of doing away with the secret ballot or imposing mandatory arbitration:

Whole Foods Market chief executive John Mackey said that binding arbitration is “not the way we normally do things in the United States” and that allowing workers to organize without a secret ballot “violates a bedrock principle of American democracy.”

And the CEOs also do not share the labor movement’s underlying belief that the decline of organized labor has contributed to income inequality and the economy’s current imbalance. “That so few companies are unionized is not for a lack of trying but because [unions] are losing elections — workers aren’t choosing to have labor representation,” Mackey said. “I don’t feel things are worse off for labor today.”

.  . .

Giving organizers the ability to use card check, [Starbucks CEO Howard]Schultz said, would lead to a slew of separate bargaining units at a company like his, leading to “havoc and significant cost and disruption.” Mackey had an even grimmer view. “Armed with those weapons, you will see unionization sweep across the United States and set workplaces at war with each other,” he said. “I do not think it would be a good thing.”

The anti-card check forces probably can add those lines to those of Warren Buffet and George McGovern for one big “everyone you ever heard of opposes card check” ad. But something is strange here.

The three companies are peddling a hodgepodge of pro-union ideas that have been rattling around for a couple of decades:

[I]t would also toughen penalties for union violations, and it would make it easier for businesses to call elections to try to decertify a union.

To address labor’s concern that businesses intimidate workers before elections, it would set a fixed period in which an election must be held, limiting the delays that give employers time to exert pressure. The proposal does not specify what the time period should be.

The proposal would also provide unions equal access to workers before elections — for instance, by allowing organizers to address workers on a lunch break in the company cafeteria just as management can.

(By the way these companies could give unions equal access to their employees now, so why don’t they?) This is a message to Big Labor –card check is a loser and this alternative is what the White House can get behind? Seems odd Lanny Davis would be claiming that his approach is consistent with Obama’s attempt to make organizing easier if he didn’t have a wink-wink from the White House. Big Labor is not buying this in any event. But shouldn’t they be nervous that they’re being given the brush off from the White House?

Even odder is the reaction of some anti-card check lobbying forces which seemed intent on ignoring what the companies are actually proposing. You’d think they’d be throwing a party when Lanny Davis is reduced to hawking a grab bag of half-measures, because not even big Democratic donor CEO’s can bring themselves to support card check.

So what does all this really mean? Most people who can count votes in Congress have figured out that EFCA is going nowhere — at least for the foreseeable future. So the scramble begins for pro-Big Labor operatives and their allies to find ways of retreating and declaring victory in the face of defeat. But make no mistake:  the central planks of EFCA — doing away with the secret ballot and mandatory arbitration – are withering on the legislative vine, no matter what the spinners say.

Read Less

Coalition Conundrum

Benjamin Netanyahu is working overtime. Faced with the unappealing possibility of a right-wingers-only government, one that would undoubtedly make it harder for him to function in an international arena, he is struggling to create a broader coalition that would include elements of the center-left. At the same time, he doesn’t want to sacrifice too much of the right-wing platform that the Israeli voters overwhelmingly supported in the election. To this end, he has obtained from President Shimon Peres a two-week extension on putting together a coalition.

Having found little interest on the part of Tzipi Livni’s Kadima party — which is looking to re-establish its electoral relevance through a stint in opposition — Netanyahu is finding an unlikely partner in Labor. Labor’s chair, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, has thrown his full weight behind joining the coalition despite the harsh objections of other Labor leaders, and has chosen to gamble his political future by bringing it to a vote of the party’s central committee this coming Tuesday.

This will not be easy. True, Labor just got hammered, its representation in the Knesset is down to a measly 13 seats, and the party is desperate for any proof it can show that it’s still capable of offering national leadership. Yet Labor is also a self-proclaimed party of the Left, where “Left” here reflects opposition not only to the Right’s hawkishness but also to its economic liberalism. At a time when Israel is desperately trying to avoid the economic turbulence of other Western countries, and when peace negotiations seem to have little promise, the concessions Netanyahu might end up making on economics may have a far greater impact on the legacy of the next government than anything that may happen on the diplomatic front. 

But this may be moot, if Barak fails to garner enough support in his own party. He’s working the phones as we speak.

Benjamin Netanyahu is working overtime. Faced with the unappealing possibility of a right-wingers-only government, one that would undoubtedly make it harder for him to function in an international arena, he is struggling to create a broader coalition that would include elements of the center-left. At the same time, he doesn’t want to sacrifice too much of the right-wing platform that the Israeli voters overwhelmingly supported in the election. To this end, he has obtained from President Shimon Peres a two-week extension on putting together a coalition.

Having found little interest on the part of Tzipi Livni’s Kadima party — which is looking to re-establish its electoral relevance through a stint in opposition — Netanyahu is finding an unlikely partner in Labor. Labor’s chair, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, has thrown his full weight behind joining the coalition despite the harsh objections of other Labor leaders, and has chosen to gamble his political future by bringing it to a vote of the party’s central committee this coming Tuesday.

This will not be easy. True, Labor just got hammered, its representation in the Knesset is down to a measly 13 seats, and the party is desperate for any proof it can show that it’s still capable of offering national leadership. Yet Labor is also a self-proclaimed party of the Left, where “Left” here reflects opposition not only to the Right’s hawkishness but also to its economic liberalism. At a time when Israel is desperately trying to avoid the economic turbulence of other Western countries, and when peace negotiations seem to have little promise, the concessions Netanyahu might end up making on economics may have a far greater impact on the legacy of the next government than anything that may happen on the diplomatic front. 

But this may be moot, if Barak fails to garner enough support in his own party. He’s working the phones as we speak.

Read Less

If You’re Not Petrified, You’re Not Paying Attention

The headline reads: “Obama Backs Geithner Despite Vast Criticisms.” The report concerning the president’s 60 Minutes interview tells us:

In excerpts released yesterday by CBS, Obama joked that even if Geithner offered to step down, he would say, “Sorry, buddy, you’ve still got the job.” The hail of criticism that has hit Geithner for his handling of the bonuses paid by insurance giant AIG — which only heightened the critique of his overall handling of the financial crisis — is to be expected, the president said.

“It’s going to take a little bit more time than we would like to make sure that we get this plan just right. Of course, then we’d still be subject to criticism,” Obama said. ” ‘What’s taken so long? You’ve been in office a whole 40 days and you haven’t solved the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression.’ “

It is to be expected that every appearance before Congress by Geithner will be a cringe-inducing exercise? Should we have expected that he would have gotten the ball rolling on the AIG debacle and then not come clean on his role for nearly a week?

But never fear: next week we are finally going to get the toxic asset purchase plan. Oh, and Geithner is going to become compensation czar for the entire financial sector. No, really:

The administration has been considering increased oversight of executive pay for some time, but the issue was heightened in recent days as public fury over bonuses spilled into the regulatory effort.

The officials said that the administration was still debating the details of its plan, including how broadly it should be applied and how far it could go beyond simple reporting requirements. Depending on the outcome of the discussions, the administration could seek to put the changes into effect through regulations rather than through legislation.

One proposal could impose greater requirements on company boards to tie executive compensation more closely to corporate performance and to take other steps to ensure that compensation was aligned with the financial interest of the company.

The new rules will cover all financial institutions, including those not now covered by any pay rules because they are not receiving federal bailout money. Officials say the rules could also be applied more broadly to publicly traded companies, which already report about some executive pay practices to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Apparently the game plan is to freak out everyone who works for any financial institution and encourage them to pursue other lines of work. Good thing we don’t have to rely on these institutions for our economic recovery. Oh wait.

The gap between the administration’s demonstrated level of competence and its ambition to micromanage the economy is humongous. The president seems to have boundless faith in both his hapless Treasury Secretary and his own unlimited wisdom to determine everything from the bonuses for bank vice presidents, to the types of cars Detroit should make, to the appropriate level of carbon output for every factory in the country. Frankly, any government which seeks that much power and control over the livelihoods of its citizens and the operation of its economy would be dangerous. With this crew, it is positively frightening.

The headline reads: “Obama Backs Geithner Despite Vast Criticisms.” The report concerning the president’s 60 Minutes interview tells us:

In excerpts released yesterday by CBS, Obama joked that even if Geithner offered to step down, he would say, “Sorry, buddy, you’ve still got the job.” The hail of criticism that has hit Geithner for his handling of the bonuses paid by insurance giant AIG — which only heightened the critique of his overall handling of the financial crisis — is to be expected, the president said.

“It’s going to take a little bit more time than we would like to make sure that we get this plan just right. Of course, then we’d still be subject to criticism,” Obama said. ” ‘What’s taken so long? You’ve been in office a whole 40 days and you haven’t solved the greatest financial crisis since the Great Depression.’ “

It is to be expected that every appearance before Congress by Geithner will be a cringe-inducing exercise? Should we have expected that he would have gotten the ball rolling on the AIG debacle and then not come clean on his role for nearly a week?

But never fear: next week we are finally going to get the toxic asset purchase plan. Oh, and Geithner is going to become compensation czar for the entire financial sector. No, really:

The administration has been considering increased oversight of executive pay for some time, but the issue was heightened in recent days as public fury over bonuses spilled into the regulatory effort.

The officials said that the administration was still debating the details of its plan, including how broadly it should be applied and how far it could go beyond simple reporting requirements. Depending on the outcome of the discussions, the administration could seek to put the changes into effect through regulations rather than through legislation.

One proposal could impose greater requirements on company boards to tie executive compensation more closely to corporate performance and to take other steps to ensure that compensation was aligned with the financial interest of the company.

The new rules will cover all financial institutions, including those not now covered by any pay rules because they are not receiving federal bailout money. Officials say the rules could also be applied more broadly to publicly traded companies, which already report about some executive pay practices to the Securities and Exchange Commission.

Apparently the game plan is to freak out everyone who works for any financial institution and encourage them to pursue other lines of work. Good thing we don’t have to rely on these institutions for our economic recovery. Oh wait.

The gap between the administration’s demonstrated level of competence and its ambition to micromanage the economy is humongous. The president seems to have boundless faith in both his hapless Treasury Secretary and his own unlimited wisdom to determine everything from the bonuses for bank vice presidents, to the types of cars Detroit should make, to the appropriate level of carbon output for every factory in the country. Frankly, any government which seeks that much power and control over the livelihoods of its citizens and the operation of its economy would be dangerous. With this crew, it is positively frightening.

Read Less

Liberalism as Tolerant Advocacy

In the New York Times Book Review, Gary Hart reviews books on liberalism and freedom – Alan Wolfe’s The Future of Liberalism,  and Jedediah Purdy’s A Tolerable Anarchy

Hart describes Wolfe’s book as a “rescue of liberalism from the jaws of latter-day know-nothings” and Purdy’s book as a “reconciliation of radical individualism with community obligation,” and he sees a common theme in the two books:  freedom is self-realization — which is “liberalism’s gift to public discourse” and a “uniquely American virtue.”  In the course of the review,  Hart presents this definition of liberalism:

Liberalism is substantive – individual autonomy, freedom and equality; it is procedural – fairness and impartiality; and it is temperamental – invoking tolerant, open and charitable advocacy.

Modern conservatism, on the other hand, is a “mutant strain,” produced by the recent “prolonged neo-medieval era,” which “has not wanted to reverse the New Deal; it has wanted to reverse the Enlightenment,” and which features a neoconservatism springing from “militarism’s roots in Romanticism.”

So liberalism is substantively, procedurally and temperamentally superior to conservatism, which features mutant, pre-Enlightenment, neo-medieval militarists.  What a nice demonstration of the “tolerant, open and charitable advocacy” that defines contemporary liberalism.

In the New York Times Book Review, Gary Hart reviews books on liberalism and freedom – Alan Wolfe’s The Future of Liberalism,  and Jedediah Purdy’s A Tolerable Anarchy

Hart describes Wolfe’s book as a “rescue of liberalism from the jaws of latter-day know-nothings” and Purdy’s book as a “reconciliation of radical individualism with community obligation,” and he sees a common theme in the two books:  freedom is self-realization — which is “liberalism’s gift to public discourse” and a “uniquely American virtue.”  In the course of the review,  Hart presents this definition of liberalism:

Liberalism is substantive – individual autonomy, freedom and equality; it is procedural – fairness and impartiality; and it is temperamental – invoking tolerant, open and charitable advocacy.

Modern conservatism, on the other hand, is a “mutant strain,” produced by the recent “prolonged neo-medieval era,” which “has not wanted to reverse the New Deal; it has wanted to reverse the Enlightenment,” and which features a neoconservatism springing from “militarism’s roots in Romanticism.”

So liberalism is substantively, procedurally and temperamentally superior to conservatism, which features mutant, pre-Enlightenment, neo-medieval militarists.  What a nice demonstration of the “tolerant, open and charitable advocacy” that defines contemporary liberalism.

Read Less

Flotsam and Jetsam

A thought provoking piece on whether “return at any cost” bias in Hebrew press coverage of efforts to recover Gilad Shalit is weakening Israel’s hand. “Even those who attempt to suggest that releasing hundreds of the worst terrorists who are sure to strike again, both by slaughtering innocent Israelis and by kidnapping additional ones for future trades, are forced first to reiterate that they also would be acting as the Schalit family has been if it were their own child in captivity.”  

Charlie Rangel first expressed qualms about the AIG bonus tax. But then he joined the populist mob. Still, he’s quite cozy with the insurer: “But Mr. Rangel’s indignation was a reversal of his position earlier in the week, when he opposed heavily taxing the bonuses and warned his colleagues to restrain themselves from allowing the public outcry to warp their judgment. What is more, the congressman’s relationship with A.I.G. is a complicated one; as recently as last year, he was trying to woo the company to donate $10 million to a school to be named in his honor. And while A.I.G. officials mulled the request, Mr. Rangel supported a provision in a tax bill that saved the company millions of dollars. ”

Rahm Emanuel is using the Situation Room for political arm twisting. Makes you miss the Clintons, who just rented out the Lincoln Bedroom.

Will the mullahs still respect Obama in the morning? Yes, the Iran video was an embarrassing display of bowing and scraping to the “Islamic Republic of Iran” — with nary a mention of our own interests or suggestion that there are negative consequences for Iran’s continued human rights atrocities or nuclear program.

Meanwhile, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is upset that Obama is not the change he was waiting for. Perhaps MSNBC can book Iran’s Supreme Leader on Rachel Maddow or he can get his own Huffington Post column.

I hope the White House and Congress are pleased with their handiwork: “Longtime pillars of the community are now pariahs living in fear, hiding behind locked gates and security guards amid the public outrage over bonuses paid with taxpayer bailout money. . . Death threats have been pouring in since the brouhaha broke, the company said, and its workers are taking no chances.”

Charlie Cook on Congressional Republicans pulling into a tie with Democrats in generic polling: “If Republicans really have pulled even or slightly ahead among independent voters, that is a very ominous sign for Democrats, an indication that Obama’s talking the talk of bipartisanship isn’t sufficient and that he and the Democratic majorities on Capitol Hill have to walk the walk.” And fixing the economy would help, too.

Which do you think drew more people — the tea parties or the Obama pro-$3.6-trillion-budget canvassers? The whole grassroots/take back the country schtick doesn’t really work once you are the one in power.

I wonder how many White House spinners will descend on Tom Friedman for this one: “Right now we have an absence of inspirational leadership.”

The Washington Post editors hope the president will rethink his budget now that the CBO has revealed what the real deficit numbers will look like down the road: “Mr. Obama should treat the CBO report as an incentive to fulfill his repeated promises, during and after the campaign, to make hard choices on the budget.” Yeah, righhht.

Mitt Romney has the advantage of having run for president once — and it shows. His stance on the AIG bonuses and the confiscatory tax bill seems rather more mature than most of what is coming out of Washington.

A thought provoking piece on whether “return at any cost” bias in Hebrew press coverage of efforts to recover Gilad Shalit is weakening Israel’s hand. “Even those who attempt to suggest that releasing hundreds of the worst terrorists who are sure to strike again, both by slaughtering innocent Israelis and by kidnapping additional ones for future trades, are forced first to reiterate that they also would be acting as the Schalit family has been if it were their own child in captivity.”  

Charlie Rangel first expressed qualms about the AIG bonus tax. But then he joined the populist mob. Still, he’s quite cozy with the insurer: “But Mr. Rangel’s indignation was a reversal of his position earlier in the week, when he opposed heavily taxing the bonuses and warned his colleagues to restrain themselves from allowing the public outcry to warp their judgment. What is more, the congressman’s relationship with A.I.G. is a complicated one; as recently as last year, he was trying to woo the company to donate $10 million to a school to be named in his honor. And while A.I.G. officials mulled the request, Mr. Rangel supported a provision in a tax bill that saved the company millions of dollars. ”

Rahm Emanuel is using the Situation Room for political arm twisting. Makes you miss the Clintons, who just rented out the Lincoln Bedroom.

Will the mullahs still respect Obama in the morning? Yes, the Iran video was an embarrassing display of bowing and scraping to the “Islamic Republic of Iran” — with nary a mention of our own interests or suggestion that there are negative consequences for Iran’s continued human rights atrocities or nuclear program.

Meanwhile, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei is upset that Obama is not the change he was waiting for. Perhaps MSNBC can book Iran’s Supreme Leader on Rachel Maddow or he can get his own Huffington Post column.

I hope the White House and Congress are pleased with their handiwork: “Longtime pillars of the community are now pariahs living in fear, hiding behind locked gates and security guards amid the public outrage over bonuses paid with taxpayer bailout money. . . Death threats have been pouring in since the brouhaha broke, the company said, and its workers are taking no chances.”

Charlie Cook on Congressional Republicans pulling into a tie with Democrats in generic polling: “If Republicans really have pulled even or slightly ahead among independent voters, that is a very ominous sign for Democrats, an indication that Obama’s talking the talk of bipartisanship isn’t sufficient and that he and the Democratic majorities on Capitol Hill have to walk the walk.” And fixing the economy would help, too.

Which do you think drew more people — the tea parties or the Obama pro-$3.6-trillion-budget canvassers? The whole grassroots/take back the country schtick doesn’t really work once you are the one in power.

I wonder how many White House spinners will descend on Tom Friedman for this one: “Right now we have an absence of inspirational leadership.”

The Washington Post editors hope the president will rethink his budget now that the CBO has revealed what the real deficit numbers will look like down the road: “Mr. Obama should treat the CBO report as an incentive to fulfill his repeated promises, during and after the campaign, to make hard choices on the budget.” Yeah, righhht.

Mitt Romney has the advantage of having run for president once — and it shows. His stance on the AIG bonuses and the confiscatory tax bill seems rather more mature than most of what is coming out of Washington.

Read Less




Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.