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Flotsam and Jetsam

Stephen Hayes looks at whether Chris Hill engaged in rogue diplomacy with North Korea and then lied about it. Perhaps Condi Rice’s testimony could clear that up.

James Taranto organizes a protest: all you have to do is not sit in the dark. (True story: reminds me of a “support for Gay Rights” day organized at UC Berkeley in 1979, or maybe it was 1980. All you had to do was wear jeans to class. Righhht.)

Not exactly one big happy family: “Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said Friday that liberal groups targeting moderate Democrats with ads should back off, saying pressure from the left wing of his party won’t be helpful to enacting legislation.”

Meanwhile, Reid’s spokesman tries to bully his way through questioning on public-financed abortion in the proposed healthcare reform.

On the peek at JournoList, Politico’s Michael Calderone writes: “As members told POLITICO, there are frequent disagreements on the list, and this TNR spat is a representative example of the sort of chattering-class debates that play out on a regular basis.” Ah, so it’s always conducted at this high level of sophistication and civility! (Actually a couple of Politico writers are on the list themselves, so query why they didn’t publish some of it themselves — unless it’s, well, embarrassing.)

Huffington Post reports on the latest, very tough 9-11 ad in the NY-20 aimed at Democrat Scott Murphy’s objection to the death penalty for 9-11 terrorists. Even Huffington Post concedes Murphy gave a “somewhat mealy-mouthed response to the death penalty prompt.” It wasn’t mealy-mouthed actually. The guy clearly articulated his position that terrorists shouldn’t face the dealth penalty. Whether it matters in a race focused on the economy is an open question.

Stu Rothenberg’s take on the race and the two candidate is here. One take away: ultimately good candidates beat less adept ones. (Another one: the Democrat may be fortunate to be running while unemployment is still below 8% in the state.)

Interesting polling: “Only 11% of Americans think a financial institution will run better if it’s run by the federal government, according to a new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey. Sixty-seven percent (67%) say the institution will not run better, and 22% aren’t sure. . . Interestingly, seven-out-of 10 government workers (70%) do not believe a financial institution will run better under government control, nearly identical to the views of entrepreneurs and those who work in the private sector.”

Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz calls Tim Geithner’s toxic asset clean-up plan “very badly flawed.” Why? “U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner’s plan to wipe up to US $1 trillion in bad debt off banks’ balance sheets, unveiled on Monday, offered ‘perverse incentives’, Stiglitz said. The U.S. government is basically using the taxpayer to guarantee against downside risk on the value of these assets, while giving the upside, or potential profits, to private investors, he said. ‘Quite frankly, this amounts to robbery of the American people. I don’t think it’s going to work because I think there’ll be a lot of anger about putting the losses so much on the shoulder of the American taxpayer.’”

If SEIU didn’t exist, Big Labor critics would have to invent it.

The Washington Post editors have it precisely right: “The strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan announced by President Obama yesterday is conservative as well as bold. It is conservative because Mr. Obama chose to embrace many of the recommendations of U.S. military commanders and the Bush administration, based on the hard lessons of seven years of war. Yet it is bold — and politically brave — because, at a time of economic crisis and war-weariness at home, Mr. Obama is ordering not just a major increase in U.S. troops, but also an ambitious effort at nation-building in both Afghanistan and Pakistan.” The test will come when the expense and the casualties  raise the ire of the president’s base.

But, yes, there is reason to worry: “Our main question — and, we suspect, the world’s — is whether the new Commander in Chief is really prepared to devote the resources and political capital that his plan will need to succeed. . . All the more so because Mr. Obama himself has spent so much time questioning America’s antiterrorist mission abroad. While he tried, during the campaign, to distinguish Iraq (Bush’s war) from Afghanistan (the good war), the truth is that they are both exercises in counterinsurgency and nation building. The irony is that both tasks are arguably easier in Iraq, because of its denser population and history of a stronger central government.”


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