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Flotsam and Jetsam

Kevin Madden reminds me of my favorite George Shultz story (quizzing ambassadorial appointees as to where “their” country was) and concludes: “Schultz’s point was that our nation’s foreign policy initiatives are endangered if our most important objective is to promote the world’s views to America, instead of showcasing America’s leadership and values to the rest of world.”

Robert Gibbs insists on denying the “bow” because it was, like, a week ago. And no one noticed. Except they did. But if it is no big deal, why lie?

Tedisco was up 24 votes. Then maybe less. Or maybe he’s behind. Or maybe no one really knows until the votes are counted.

Whatever you think of immigration reform this seems downright strange at a time when the Obama administration is already facing legislative override and finding it hard to reach consensus on its top priorities: “While Mr. Emanuel once predicted that comprehensive immigration reform wouldn’t be considered until the second term of a Democratic president, he now says conversations on the issue will begin this year to lay the groundwork for possible action in 2010.” In an election year? I find it hard to believe Democrats and Big Labor (which helped sink immigration reform last time with the some poison pill amendments approved by the Junior Senator from Illinois) are going to be thrilled with that.

Fred and Kimberly Kagan agree with the president’s formulation on Iraq: “Mr. Obama has stated his objectives in Iraq clearly: The U.S. must ‘make sure that Iraq is stable, that it is not a safe haven for terrorists, that it is a good neighbor and a good ally.’ This is an attainable goal. Iraq has undergone a profound transformation — it is no longer a predatory, dictatorial state or a maelstrom of sectarian violence. It no longer threatens its neighbors or stability in the region. Indeed, Iraq has become an attractive political and economic partner for states throughout the Middle East.”

The Washington Post editors have discovered that the U.S. income tax system is very progressive: “In 2006, the top 20 percent of earners paid 70 percent of all federal taxes. On average, they paid 26 percent of their income to the government. The very richest — the top 1 percent of taxpayers, with household incomes of over $332,000 — paid 28 percent of all taxes, with an effective tax rate of 31 percent. The middle three quintiles paid rates of 10, 14 and 18 percent. The lowest 20 percent of households paid only 0.8 percent of all federal taxes — and the bottom 90 percent of households paid only 45 percent.” You mean George W. Bush didn’t sock it to the poor? Well, as the editors point out, that means there is only one place to go for more tax revenue — the middle class.

Charles Krauthammer sums up the Obama foreign foray: “After all, it was Obama, not some envious anti-American leader, who noted with satisfaction that a new financial order is being created today by 20 countries, rather than by ‘just Roosevelt and Churchill sitting in a room with a brandy.’ And then added: ‘But that’s not the world we live in, and it shouldn’t be the world that we live in.’ It is passing strange for a world leader to celebrate his own country’s decline. A few more such overseas tours, and Obama will have a lot more decline to celebrate.”

You mean Joe Biden made up stories about meetings with former President George W. Bush to exaggerate his own importance? Wow. Who’d have thought Biden would lie about easily verifiable facts?

Alex Conant makes a good argument that Obama should spend more time and political captial rallying the public to support the war in Afghanistan: “Make no mistake: Obama is committing the US to a multi-year escalation in Afghanistan that will be costly in both American blood and treasure. Without first rallying the public’s support, he is now asking Congress to fund the first installment of his escalation.” Ironic isn’t it, that he follows a president who also failed to prepare the public for the realities of the Long War?

Consensus is breaking out: “Three-quarters of all Americans think that the federal government should let General Motors or Chrysler go bankrupt rather than pumping more money into the struggling automakers, according to a new CNN/Opinion Research Corporation poll — and most now say that the economy would not face major problems if those companies went into bankruptcy.” You don’t think that’s why the Obama team is now talking about bankruptcy as a possibility, do you?


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