Commentary Magazine


Posts For: May 6, 2009

Not the Linkage They Had in Mind

Hillary Clinton and the rest of the Obama administration keep telling Israeli officials that they won’t have support in dealing with Iran unless they get moving on the non-existent peace process. The latest bit of evidence comes today that the opposite is true. The Arab nations are exactly aligned with Israel on this one: the Obama engagement policy makes them very nervous.

The AP reports:

Washington’s efforts to start a dialogue with Iran have sent ripples of alarm through the capitals of America’s closest Arab allies, who accuse Tehran of playing a destabilizing role in the Middle East. The concerns being raised by Arab leaders sound strikingly like those coming from the mouths of Israeli officials. “We hope that any dialogue between countries will not come at our expense,” said a statement Tuesday by the six oil-rich nations of the Gulf Cooperation Council, who have long relied on US protection in the region.

But it gets better. It seems the Arab states now are more amenable to working with Israel because of the Iranian threat:

The London-based Palestinian daily, Al-Quds Al-Arabi even said the Arab moderates governments were actively working on building an alliance with Israel to counter Iranian influence in the region.

The Wednesday report, citing Palestinian officials, said Egyptian and Jordanian diplomats were working to amend the 2002 Arab peace initiative to make it more acceptable to Israel.

Since the Obama administration is all about listening, maybe they should listen to the emerging consensus in the Middle East. The problem, everyone seems to agree, is not Israel but Iran. And they can talk for a while, but the patience of all those who would fall, as Shimon Peres said, under the “dark cloud” of Iran’s nuclear threat, is limited.

Hillary Clinton and the rest of the Obama administration keep telling Israeli officials that they won’t have support in dealing with Iran unless they get moving on the non-existent peace process. The latest bit of evidence comes today that the opposite is true. The Arab nations are exactly aligned with Israel on this one: the Obama engagement policy makes them very nervous.

The AP reports:

Washington’s efforts to start a dialogue with Iran have sent ripples of alarm through the capitals of America’s closest Arab allies, who accuse Tehran of playing a destabilizing role in the Middle East. The concerns being raised by Arab leaders sound strikingly like those coming from the mouths of Israeli officials. “We hope that any dialogue between countries will not come at our expense,” said a statement Tuesday by the six oil-rich nations of the Gulf Cooperation Council, who have long relied on US protection in the region.

But it gets better. It seems the Arab states now are more amenable to working with Israel because of the Iranian threat:

The London-based Palestinian daily, Al-Quds Al-Arabi even said the Arab moderates governments were actively working on building an alliance with Israel to counter Iranian influence in the region.

The Wednesday report, citing Palestinian officials, said Egyptian and Jordanian diplomats were working to amend the 2002 Arab peace initiative to make it more acceptable to Israel.

Since the Obama administration is all about listening, maybe they should listen to the emerging consensus in the Middle East. The problem, everyone seems to agree, is not Israel but Iran. And they can talk for a while, but the patience of all those who would fall, as Shimon Peres said, under the “dark cloud” of Iran’s nuclear threat, is limited.

Read Less

Commentary of the Day

nacl, on Noah Pollak:

Andrew Sullivan has in the past shown that he can think. He is no dummy. That previous, demonstrated capacity to see through malarkey and smoke and being hard headed is now his undoing.

He understands very well that Israel is not challenging Iran, but Iran is challenging Israel. He knows that a nuclear standoff between Israel and Iran is not a possibility. Iran is seventy million and the size of France, Germany, UK and Spain combined. Israel with its six million Jews on a pimple half the size of Switzerland is not comparable to the continental US squaring off against the USSR. Iranian leaders have discussed their ability to absorb Israeli blows, even as they can obliterate Israel completely.

Iran with a nuclear arsenal will not have to use it. The regime will just have to periodically make furious noises. Israeli fathers and mothers won’t raise their families in the shadow of mullahs with a red button in their feverish palms. Whoever can will emigrate will, and the country will depopulate. That is the existential threat facing Israel at its most benign. Andrew has the stuff to figure that out. If he retains the smallest sense of justice he knows that a country that crawled out of the ashes of Hitler’s ovens, should not have to accept that fate, and won’t.

That he now cannot understand that tells us where Andrew Sullivan is coming from.

nacl, on Noah Pollak:

Andrew Sullivan has in the past shown that he can think. He is no dummy. That previous, demonstrated capacity to see through malarkey and smoke and being hard headed is now his undoing.

He understands very well that Israel is not challenging Iran, but Iran is challenging Israel. He knows that a nuclear standoff between Israel and Iran is not a possibility. Iran is seventy million and the size of France, Germany, UK and Spain combined. Israel with its six million Jews on a pimple half the size of Switzerland is not comparable to the continental US squaring off against the USSR. Iranian leaders have discussed their ability to absorb Israeli blows, even as they can obliterate Israel completely.

Iran with a nuclear arsenal will not have to use it. The regime will just have to periodically make furious noises. Israeli fathers and mothers won’t raise their families in the shadow of mullahs with a red button in their feverish palms. Whoever can will emigrate will, and the country will depopulate. That is the existential threat facing Israel at its most benign. Andrew has the stuff to figure that out. If he retains the smallest sense of justice he knows that a country that crawled out of the ashes of Hitler’s ovens, should not have to accept that fate, and won’t.

That he now cannot understand that tells us where Andrew Sullivan is coming from.

Read Less

Think Again

We are on the verge of another great debate over judicial philosophy and the role of the courts. Conservatives generally adore these discussions that accompany a Supreme Court nomination because polling shows the public agrees with their view that judges should determine the meaning of the Constitution rather than make up law or enact policy.

But I wonder if liberals might take a second look at their own judicial philosophy. Now that they hold large majorities in both houses of Congress and have the White House (which gives them the power to publish and enact federal regulations) why isn’t judicial restraint a more appealing philosophy to them? After all, they shouldn’t want unelected judges making policy decisions which would overturn the handiwork of Nancy Pelosi. They should want the Court to extend great deference to the regulations and administrative decisions from the Obama EPA and dozens of other federal agencies, boards, and departments.

Democrats might want to embrace their inner judicial humility, acknowledge that judges are ill-equipped to make policy decisions, and look for judges who are not eager to tell Congress how to do its job. After all, it is what most Americans believe and it is the basis of self-government.

Well, that might be too much to expect. But it should give them pause to consider whether empowering empathetic judges is really the way to preserve public support, not to mention their liberal domestic agenda.

We are on the verge of another great debate over judicial philosophy and the role of the courts. Conservatives generally adore these discussions that accompany a Supreme Court nomination because polling shows the public agrees with their view that judges should determine the meaning of the Constitution rather than make up law or enact policy.

But I wonder if liberals might take a second look at their own judicial philosophy. Now that they hold large majorities in both houses of Congress and have the White House (which gives them the power to publish and enact federal regulations) why isn’t judicial restraint a more appealing philosophy to them? After all, they shouldn’t want unelected judges making policy decisions which would overturn the handiwork of Nancy Pelosi. They should want the Court to extend great deference to the regulations and administrative decisions from the Obama EPA and dozens of other federal agencies, boards, and departments.

Democrats might want to embrace their inner judicial humility, acknowledge that judges are ill-equipped to make policy decisions, and look for judges who are not eager to tell Congress how to do its job. After all, it is what most Americans believe and it is the basis of self-government.

Well, that might be too much to expect. But it should give them pause to consider whether empowering empathetic judges is really the way to preserve public support, not to mention their liberal domestic agenda.

Read Less

Boogie on, Burkha Woman

One of my all-time favorite Mark Steyn columns is titled “My Sharia Amour” and it ran in the Telegraph in 2002. It’s a satirical piece that finds the author doing a celebrity-judge stint at a “culturally sensitive Miss World” contest. Here’s his fictional exchange with fellow judge David Hasselhoff:

I glanced at my watch. “For crying out loud, when are they going to raise the curtain?”
“They have raised the curtain,” said David. “Those are the girls.” I peered closer at the shapeless line of cloth, and he was right: there they all were, from Miss Afghanistan to Miss Zionist Entity.

I sighed. “How long till the swimsuit round?”
“This is the swimsuit round,” said David.

In seven years, reality has caught up to satire, chewed it up, spat it out, and left it for dead. Let’s cut to that bastion of burlesque, the Associated Press:

Sukaina al-Zayer is an unlikely beauty queen hopeful. She covers her face and body in black robes and an Islamic veil, so no one can tell what she looks like. She also admits she’s a little on the plump side.

But at Saudi Arabia’s only beauty pageant, the judges don’t care about a perfect figure or face. What they’re looking for in the quest for “Miss Beautiful Morals” is the contestant who shows the most devotion and respect for her parents.

“The idea of the pageant is to measure the contestants’ commitment to Islamic morals… It’s an alternative to the calls for decadence in the other beauty contests that only take into account a woman’s body and looks,” said pageant founder Khadra al-Mubarak.

But there’s no Hasselhoff and no Steyn. There are, in fact, no male judges. It’s a strange contest all around. Here’s the first ever winner from 2008, Zara al-Shurafa: “I tell this year’s contestants that winning is not important . . . What is important is obeying your parents.”

One of my all-time favorite Mark Steyn columns is titled “My Sharia Amour” and it ran in the Telegraph in 2002. It’s a satirical piece that finds the author doing a celebrity-judge stint at a “culturally sensitive Miss World” contest. Here’s his fictional exchange with fellow judge David Hasselhoff:

I glanced at my watch. “For crying out loud, when are they going to raise the curtain?”
“They have raised the curtain,” said David. “Those are the girls.” I peered closer at the shapeless line of cloth, and he was right: there they all were, from Miss Afghanistan to Miss Zionist Entity.

I sighed. “How long till the swimsuit round?”
“This is the swimsuit round,” said David.

In seven years, reality has caught up to satire, chewed it up, spat it out, and left it for dead. Let’s cut to that bastion of burlesque, the Associated Press:

Sukaina al-Zayer is an unlikely beauty queen hopeful. She covers her face and body in black robes and an Islamic veil, so no one can tell what she looks like. She also admits she’s a little on the plump side.

But at Saudi Arabia’s only beauty pageant, the judges don’t care about a perfect figure or face. What they’re looking for in the quest for “Miss Beautiful Morals” is the contestant who shows the most devotion and respect for her parents.

“The idea of the pageant is to measure the contestants’ commitment to Islamic morals… It’s an alternative to the calls for decadence in the other beauty contests that only take into account a woman’s body and looks,” said pageant founder Khadra al-Mubarak.

But there’s no Hasselhoff and no Steyn. There are, in fact, no male judges. It’s a strange contest all around. Here’s the first ever winner from 2008, Zara al-Shurafa: “I tell this year’s contestants that winning is not important . . . What is important is obeying your parents.”

Read Less

His First Smart Move

Sen. Arlen Specter has had his share of problems since switching parties. So he decided to take matters into his own hands — and cancel an appearance on Larry King Live. Good move. There is really nothing to be gained at this point by appearing in public to retrace the Norm Coleman gaffe, the bad polling numbers, the pending primary challenge, the threats from Big Labor to oppose him and the loss of seniority. As Politico bluntly put it in a story headlined “Meltdown: Specter stands alone”: “Arlen Specter infuriated Senate Republicans when he bolted from their party last week. Now he’s alienated just about everybody in the Senate Democratic caucus, too.”

The liberal blogs are giving potential Democratic challenger Rep. Joe Sestak plenty of visibility. In a Talking Points Memo interview, Sestak went on a tear:

 “He left the fight,” said the former admiral and highest ranking military man ever to serve in Congress. “In the military, we just don’t leave fights.”

Sestak’s shot at Specter comes amid grassroots grumbling that the deal Democratic leaders struck to get Specter to defect from the GOP cost the party a shot at putting a real liberal in the seat in 2010.

“I can’t figure out…why the deal was done,” Sestak told me, saying he’s concerned that the party was so quick to embrace Specter for reasons of “expediency,” and without regard to the needs of Pennsylvania voters. “It isn’t Washington’s prerogative to tell us what to do,” Sestak insisted.

And Sestak isn’t the only primary opponent for Specter. Joe Torsella is redoubling his efforts. His spokesman had this to add:

I certainly think there will be a core of Democrats in the primary who cannot stomach the idea of voting for a guy who just a few years ago was standing on stage in the warm embrace of George W. Bush. . . There is an opportunity to build a coalition of Democratic voters in the primary who aren’t willing to accept Arlen Specter as a Democrat.

Given all that, perhaps it is best for Specter to keep his head down and his mouth closed. That’s appropriate, after all, for a senator with the least seniority in his party.

Sen. Arlen Specter has had his share of problems since switching parties. So he decided to take matters into his own hands — and cancel an appearance on Larry King Live. Good move. There is really nothing to be gained at this point by appearing in public to retrace the Norm Coleman gaffe, the bad polling numbers, the pending primary challenge, the threats from Big Labor to oppose him and the loss of seniority. As Politico bluntly put it in a story headlined “Meltdown: Specter stands alone”: “Arlen Specter infuriated Senate Republicans when he bolted from their party last week. Now he’s alienated just about everybody in the Senate Democratic caucus, too.”

The liberal blogs are giving potential Democratic challenger Rep. Joe Sestak plenty of visibility. In a Talking Points Memo interview, Sestak went on a tear:

 “He left the fight,” said the former admiral and highest ranking military man ever to serve in Congress. “In the military, we just don’t leave fights.”

Sestak’s shot at Specter comes amid grassroots grumbling that the deal Democratic leaders struck to get Specter to defect from the GOP cost the party a shot at putting a real liberal in the seat in 2010.

“I can’t figure out…why the deal was done,” Sestak told me, saying he’s concerned that the party was so quick to embrace Specter for reasons of “expediency,” and without regard to the needs of Pennsylvania voters. “It isn’t Washington’s prerogative to tell us what to do,” Sestak insisted.

And Sestak isn’t the only primary opponent for Specter. Joe Torsella is redoubling his efforts. His spokesman had this to add:

I certainly think there will be a core of Democrats in the primary who cannot stomach the idea of voting for a guy who just a few years ago was standing on stage in the warm embrace of George W. Bush. . . There is an opportunity to build a coalition of Democratic voters in the primary who aren’t willing to accept Arlen Specter as a Democrat.

Given all that, perhaps it is best for Specter to keep his head down and his mouth closed. That’s appropriate, after all, for a senator with the least seniority in his party.

Read Less

Israel’s Nuclear Closet

Andrew Sullivan joins the debate on Israel’s declared nuclear status, and although he professes not to find any insight from reading Contentions, I must admit I find even less from reading him.

From the point of view of, say, Iran, it seems perfectly reasonable for them to ask why they can’t have a couple of nukes when their chief regional rival, Israel, has scores.

But Israel isn’t Iran’s rival — Iran is Israel’s. Can Andrew name any acts of unprovoked bellicosity Israel has committed against Iran? During the reign of the shah, the countries were quiet allies and Israel maintained a diplomatic delegation in Tehran. The post-Islamic Revolution history of terrorism and weekly “Death to Israel” chants needs no elaboration.

Sullivan’s logic works something like this: Iran is pursuing a campaign of terrorism and annihilation against Israel that is entirely of its own choosing; because of this confrontation, Iran demands nuclear weapons to bring it closer to military parity with Israel; and the United States — Israel’s ally and Iran’s enemy — should respond to this unilateral belligerence by saying: your nuclear program is understandable, because Israel has one too.

What has become telling is that Andrew doesn’t seem able to write about Israel without gratuitous elbow-throwing:

But it begins to look once again as if Israel is privileged not as normal allies are privileged, but as a very special case which has … the right to launch wars and threaten wars against its neighbors, but its neighbors have no right to do the same.

This cheap and preposterous assertion should tell you everything you need to know about the reliability of his analysis.

Andrew Sullivan joins the debate on Israel’s declared nuclear status, and although he professes not to find any insight from reading Contentions, I must admit I find even less from reading him.

From the point of view of, say, Iran, it seems perfectly reasonable for them to ask why they can’t have a couple of nukes when their chief regional rival, Israel, has scores.

But Israel isn’t Iran’s rival — Iran is Israel’s. Can Andrew name any acts of unprovoked bellicosity Israel has committed against Iran? During the reign of the shah, the countries were quiet allies and Israel maintained a diplomatic delegation in Tehran. The post-Islamic Revolution history of terrorism and weekly “Death to Israel” chants needs no elaboration.

Sullivan’s logic works something like this: Iran is pursuing a campaign of terrorism and annihilation against Israel that is entirely of its own choosing; because of this confrontation, Iran demands nuclear weapons to bring it closer to military parity with Israel; and the United States — Israel’s ally and Iran’s enemy — should respond to this unilateral belligerence by saying: your nuclear program is understandable, because Israel has one too.

What has become telling is that Andrew doesn’t seem able to write about Israel without gratuitous elbow-throwing:

But it begins to look once again as if Israel is privileged not as normal allies are privileged, but as a very special case which has … the right to launch wars and threaten wars against its neighbors, but its neighbors have no right to do the same.

This cheap and preposterous assertion should tell you everything you need to know about the reliability of his analysis.

Read Less

A True Choice

The president’s Guantanamo policy is in trouble. Politico reports:

The Guantanamo prison closure effort is quickly unraveling for President Barack Obama, and all his problems are coming from Democrats.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is now demanding specifics on where the prisoners will go and what will be done with them. Reid’s concerns, laid out Tuesday afternoon at a news conference, come a day after House appropriators yanked $81 million requested to help close the facility in Cuba.

Granted, Reid’s new found concern about releasing terrorists comes after Republicans, including Sens. Mitch McConnell and Sessions, raised a fuss, but his new visibility is emblematic of the difficulty Obama now faces. Democrats cannot be seen as silent or in agreement with a policy that will generate  enormous public backlash.

After all, Republicans are continuing to raise concerns, most specifically about the pending release of the seventeen Uighurs. Sessions sent a follow up letter to Attorney General Eric Holder (demanding answers to an earlier letter) in which he queried Holder on how he plans to get around a federal statute barring entry into the U.S. of persons who received terror training. And Sen. Saxby Chambliss will introduce legislation to bar any funds from being used to release Guantanamo detainees into the U.S.

So what does the president do now? To go back on his promise to close Guantanamo would mean incurring the wrath of not only the Left in the U.S., but of the fawning European leaders and public who praised his decision to shut the place down. And it would, of course, be a humiliating admission that his initial pronouncement — made even before Eric Holder visited Guantanamo — was ill-conceived. He can try to fudge the issue or delay, but ultimately he has to do one or the other: proceed to close Guantanamo and begin releasing the detainees, or admit error and adhere to the Bush policy of housing dangerous terrorists there. It is not “a false choice,” but a very real one. We’ll see which audience, American or European, he is willing to offend.

The president’s Guantanamo policy is in trouble. Politico reports:

The Guantanamo prison closure effort is quickly unraveling for President Barack Obama, and all his problems are coming from Democrats.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is now demanding specifics on where the prisoners will go and what will be done with them. Reid’s concerns, laid out Tuesday afternoon at a news conference, come a day after House appropriators yanked $81 million requested to help close the facility in Cuba.

Granted, Reid’s new found concern about releasing terrorists comes after Republicans, including Sens. Mitch McConnell and Sessions, raised a fuss, but his new visibility is emblematic of the difficulty Obama now faces. Democrats cannot be seen as silent or in agreement with a policy that will generate  enormous public backlash.

After all, Republicans are continuing to raise concerns, most specifically about the pending release of the seventeen Uighurs. Sessions sent a follow up letter to Attorney General Eric Holder (demanding answers to an earlier letter) in which he queried Holder on how he plans to get around a federal statute barring entry into the U.S. of persons who received terror training. And Sen. Saxby Chambliss will introduce legislation to bar any funds from being used to release Guantanamo detainees into the U.S.

So what does the president do now? To go back on his promise to close Guantanamo would mean incurring the wrath of not only the Left in the U.S., but of the fawning European leaders and public who praised his decision to shut the place down. And it would, of course, be a humiliating admission that his initial pronouncement — made even before Eric Holder visited Guantanamo — was ill-conceived. He can try to fudge the issue or delay, but ultimately he has to do one or the other: proceed to close Guantanamo and begin releasing the detainees, or admit error and adhere to the Bush policy of housing dangerous terrorists there. It is not “a false choice,” but a very real one. We’ll see which audience, American or European, he is willing to offend.

Read Less

Scary Reasoning

Last week, several lawyers affiliated with the Federalist Society participated in a conference call in which they challenged the notion that waterboarding amounts to torture. The lawyers stated that since the military has waterboarded over 26,000 of our personnel as part of its Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) training, waterboarding cannot constitute torture.

Disagreement with this mode of reasoning is encapsulated in a recent NPR story quoting a scientist who studied the effects of waterboarding on soldiers. He says that one cannot compare the psychological effect of SERE training with the tactic that was used aganist Al-Qaeda terrorists because our soldiers had the ability to “stop the process at any point” whereas the three high-level Al-Qaeda detainees whom the CIA waterboarded didn’t have that luxury.

Isn’t that the point?

The purpose of interrogation is to get information, and the purpose of the interrogations now under such virulent attack was to obtain information that, if acquired, would save (and, at least according to Michael Hayden, Michael Mukasey, and Dennis Blair, did save) American lives. For such interrogations to prove effective, it is necessary that they entail a level of coercion so that the person undergoing interrogation cannot simply demand a stop to it and call in his lawyer (as criminal defendants in the United States have the right to do during even the most fearsome good cop/bad cop routines). Focusing on fear is what distinguishes “enhanced interrogation” techniques from outright torture — things like drilling holes in kneecaps or pulling out fingernails — the effects of which are far worse than mere apprehension.

Let’s assume that waterboarding, as practiced on the three high-level al-Qaeda detainees by the CIA, does, however, produce “negative psychological repercussions,” in the words of NPR. A lifetime jail sentence, which any terrorist wanted by the United States should feel lucky to have, would also carry “negative psychological repercussions,” but that doesn’t mean we release terrorists onto the streets out of concern for their emotional well-being. There are more important things than the mental health of Abu Zubaydah and Khaled Sheikh-Mohammed. Risking these thugs’s psychological state is a price we should be willing to pay, albeit sparingly, if it’s required to save innocent American lives.

Waterboarding does not instill fear of imminent death (as KSM probably figured out around the 4th or 5th time he endured it), which makes the difference between these two scenarios — the difference, ultimately, that distinguishes the training that soldiers voluntarily undergo from the “torture” that the CIA used to extract information – the imposition of fear. It says something absurd about the “torture” debate that scaring terrorists, in the cause of saving American lives, is now considered not only out of legal bounds, but on par with the behavior of Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany.

Last week, several lawyers affiliated with the Federalist Society participated in a conference call in which they challenged the notion that waterboarding amounts to torture. The lawyers stated that since the military has waterboarded over 26,000 of our personnel as part of its Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape (SERE) training, waterboarding cannot constitute torture.

Disagreement with this mode of reasoning is encapsulated in a recent NPR story quoting a scientist who studied the effects of waterboarding on soldiers. He says that one cannot compare the psychological effect of SERE training with the tactic that was used aganist Al-Qaeda terrorists because our soldiers had the ability to “stop the process at any point” whereas the three high-level Al-Qaeda detainees whom the CIA waterboarded didn’t have that luxury.

Isn’t that the point?

The purpose of interrogation is to get information, and the purpose of the interrogations now under such virulent attack was to obtain information that, if acquired, would save (and, at least according to Michael Hayden, Michael Mukasey, and Dennis Blair, did save) American lives. For such interrogations to prove effective, it is necessary that they entail a level of coercion so that the person undergoing interrogation cannot simply demand a stop to it and call in his lawyer (as criminal defendants in the United States have the right to do during even the most fearsome good cop/bad cop routines). Focusing on fear is what distinguishes “enhanced interrogation” techniques from outright torture — things like drilling holes in kneecaps or pulling out fingernails — the effects of which are far worse than mere apprehension.

Let’s assume that waterboarding, as practiced on the three high-level al-Qaeda detainees by the CIA, does, however, produce “negative psychological repercussions,” in the words of NPR. A lifetime jail sentence, which any terrorist wanted by the United States should feel lucky to have, would also carry “negative psychological repercussions,” but that doesn’t mean we release terrorists onto the streets out of concern for their emotional well-being. There are more important things than the mental health of Abu Zubaydah and Khaled Sheikh-Mohammed. Risking these thugs’s psychological state is a price we should be willing to pay, albeit sparingly, if it’s required to save innocent American lives.

Waterboarding does not instill fear of imminent death (as KSM probably figured out around the 4th or 5th time he endured it), which makes the difference between these two scenarios — the difference, ultimately, that distinguishes the training that soldiers voluntarily undergo from the “torture” that the CIA used to extract information – the imposition of fear. It says something absurd about the “torture” debate that scaring terrorists, in the cause of saving American lives, is now considered not only out of legal bounds, but on par with the behavior of Imperial Japan and Nazi Germany.

Read Less

Dealing Ourselves Out

In the Wall Street Journal, Andrew Shearer reports on Kevin Rudd’s plan to enlarge Australia’s military:

The new force would have enhanced maritime capabilities (particularly for antisubmarine warfare), Joint Strike Fighters, a larger army, big amphibious ships to transport it and at least three air warfare destroyers to protect them. Australia’s six existing conventional submarines will be replaced by 12 larger and more capable boats. And in a first for its immediate neighborhood, Australia would acquire land-attack cruise missiles.

If you think of the Anglosphere as a dominant and cooperative network within the larger West, a bulked up Australia makes a lot of historical sense. The U.S., Britain, Canada, and Australia share a dynamic tradition of free trade and liberal society originally honed by the Dutch in the 17th Century, and expansion of maritime power has always been a key feature of the alliance. Moreover, as one state hands the superpower baton to another, (as happened with England and the U.S. after World War II) all states who share the same conception of free markets and free society continue to benefit.

But to label these cooperative countries the Anglosphere is, today, a misnomer. Ever more open and successful societies have emerged in the non-English speaking world over the past decades, and the successes of, say, India and Japan are not a threat to American power, but a complement to it. It is much better to trade with and fight alongside countries that share our aims, then it is to waste resources keeping them in line. That is what declinists always get wrong.

What Barack Obama has gotten wrong is the extent to which upholding our obligations to our newer Pacific allies benefits both them and us. As Shearer notes:

The Obama administration’s recent decision to slash funding for missile defense and the F-22 Stealth Fighter program are particularly disappointing. Both are vital not just to future U.S. force posture in Asia but also to U.S. allies. Integrated missile defense capabilities are important to both Japan and South Korea. Refusing to release the F-22 to Japan has two consequences-helping to ensure the production line closes in the U.S. and implying American distrust for Tokyo. No wonder Japanese politicians of both stripes are weighing whether to develop their own autonomous national strike capabilities.

On the face of it, the Rudd government, too, has decided it is time to beef up. Canberra is obviously watching the U.S. budget process closely. Buried in the policy paper is the bland-seeming observation that “balancing the capabilities required for unconventional operations such as counter-insurgency and stabilization, while retaining strong high-technology conventional forces, will be a major challenge for U.S. defense planners.” That’s defense-planner speak for, “We’re nervous you aren’t going to spend enough money to keep ahead of China and maintain security in Asia.”

You can say you don’t want the U.S. to police the world, but there’s a lot more at issue than American arrogance and dominance. If the world is no longer going to be unipolar, can we at least try to be part of the multipolarity? In the Pacific today, as in Europe centuries ago, lines are being drawn between powerful countries that believe in aggression and autocracy and those that believe in dynamism and liberty. By flattering the former group and turning our backs on the latter, we’re dealing ourselves out of a crucial game.

In the Wall Street Journal, Andrew Shearer reports on Kevin Rudd’s plan to enlarge Australia’s military:

The new force would have enhanced maritime capabilities (particularly for antisubmarine warfare), Joint Strike Fighters, a larger army, big amphibious ships to transport it and at least three air warfare destroyers to protect them. Australia’s six existing conventional submarines will be replaced by 12 larger and more capable boats. And in a first for its immediate neighborhood, Australia would acquire land-attack cruise missiles.

If you think of the Anglosphere as a dominant and cooperative network within the larger West, a bulked up Australia makes a lot of historical sense. The U.S., Britain, Canada, and Australia share a dynamic tradition of free trade and liberal society originally honed by the Dutch in the 17th Century, and expansion of maritime power has always been a key feature of the alliance. Moreover, as one state hands the superpower baton to another, (as happened with England and the U.S. after World War II) all states who share the same conception of free markets and free society continue to benefit.

But to label these cooperative countries the Anglosphere is, today, a misnomer. Ever more open and successful societies have emerged in the non-English speaking world over the past decades, and the successes of, say, India and Japan are not a threat to American power, but a complement to it. It is much better to trade with and fight alongside countries that share our aims, then it is to waste resources keeping them in line. That is what declinists always get wrong.

What Barack Obama has gotten wrong is the extent to which upholding our obligations to our newer Pacific allies benefits both them and us. As Shearer notes:

The Obama administration’s recent decision to slash funding for missile defense and the F-22 Stealth Fighter program are particularly disappointing. Both are vital not just to future U.S. force posture in Asia but also to U.S. allies. Integrated missile defense capabilities are important to both Japan and South Korea. Refusing to release the F-22 to Japan has two consequences-helping to ensure the production line closes in the U.S. and implying American distrust for Tokyo. No wonder Japanese politicians of both stripes are weighing whether to develop their own autonomous national strike capabilities.

On the face of it, the Rudd government, too, has decided it is time to beef up. Canberra is obviously watching the U.S. budget process closely. Buried in the policy paper is the bland-seeming observation that “balancing the capabilities required for unconventional operations such as counter-insurgency and stabilization, while retaining strong high-technology conventional forces, will be a major challenge for U.S. defense planners.” That’s defense-planner speak for, “We’re nervous you aren’t going to spend enough money to keep ahead of China and maintain security in Asia.”

You can say you don’t want the U.S. to police the world, but there’s a lot more at issue than American arrogance and dominance. If the world is no longer going to be unipolar, can we at least try to be part of the multipolarity? In the Pacific today, as in Europe centuries ago, lines are being drawn between powerful countries that believe in aggression and autocracy and those that believe in dynamism and liberty. By flattering the former group and turning our backs on the latter, we’re dealing ourselves out of a crucial game.

Read Less

If It’s Not What You’re Looking For…

Eli Lake of the Washington Times had an important yet overlooked scoop yesterday: Democratic Congresswoman Jane Harman, scourge of the left-wing of her party and subject of intense and petty hatred from Speaker Nancy Pelosi, “was one of the only lawmakers in 2003 to challenge the CIA’s program of harsh interrogations, according to a little-noticed letter to the CIA that was declassified last year.” Lake reports on a letter that she wrote to the CIA, in which she expressed her concern that the interrogation program “raises profound policy questions and I am concerned about whether these have been as rigorously examined as the legal questions. I would like to know what kind of policy review took place and what questions were examined.”

Harman not only questioned the legality and effectiveness of the CIA interrogation programs, she also called upon the CIA not to destroy tapes of its interrogation of Abu Zubaydah. Whatever one thinks about the propriety of this program, Harman at least demonstrated the concern that Nancy Pelosi only now claims — completely unconvincingly, as Bret Stephens cogently reminded us last week — to have expressed.

Furthermore, Lake cites a government official who says that Harman’s inquiry “was one of very few the CIA received about the program from members of Congress at the time.” So much for the theory — a point of consensus among the leading lights of the credulosphere — that Harman is part of the vast neoconservative conspiracy and was merely an appendage of the Bush administration in Congress. In the eyes of her left-wing detractors, Harman ought to be a hero.

But why let facts get in the way of a good narrative? Harman was a vocal supporter of the Iraq War and opposed most of her colleagues by not supporting a withdrawal of troops from that country in 2006 and 2007. Due to her hawkishness, she has long been a target of virulent left-wing attacks, and lost out on her bid to chair the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, a job that former Minority Leader Dick Gephardt promised her when the Democrats were in the minority. Pelosi ended up giving that job to Silvestre Reyes, a legislator who infamously didn’t know that Al Qaeda is primarily Sunni and Hezbollah is Shi’ite.

If the Democratic Party leadership wants voters to think they’re serious about national security, they would be promoting Jane Harman. One can draw the appropriate conclusions from their not having done so.

Eli Lake of the Washington Times had an important yet overlooked scoop yesterday: Democratic Congresswoman Jane Harman, scourge of the left-wing of her party and subject of intense and petty hatred from Speaker Nancy Pelosi, “was one of the only lawmakers in 2003 to challenge the CIA’s program of harsh interrogations, according to a little-noticed letter to the CIA that was declassified last year.” Lake reports on a letter that she wrote to the CIA, in which she expressed her concern that the interrogation program “raises profound policy questions and I am concerned about whether these have been as rigorously examined as the legal questions. I would like to know what kind of policy review took place and what questions were examined.”

Harman not only questioned the legality and effectiveness of the CIA interrogation programs, she also called upon the CIA not to destroy tapes of its interrogation of Abu Zubaydah. Whatever one thinks about the propriety of this program, Harman at least demonstrated the concern that Nancy Pelosi only now claims — completely unconvincingly, as Bret Stephens cogently reminded us last week — to have expressed.

Furthermore, Lake cites a government official who says that Harman’s inquiry “was one of very few the CIA received about the program from members of Congress at the time.” So much for the theory — a point of consensus among the leading lights of the credulosphere — that Harman is part of the vast neoconservative conspiracy and was merely an appendage of the Bush administration in Congress. In the eyes of her left-wing detractors, Harman ought to be a hero.

But why let facts get in the way of a good narrative? Harman was a vocal supporter of the Iraq War and opposed most of her colleagues by not supporting a withdrawal of troops from that country in 2006 and 2007. Due to her hawkishness, she has long been a target of virulent left-wing attacks, and lost out on her bid to chair the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, a job that former Minority Leader Dick Gephardt promised her when the Democrats were in the minority. Pelosi ended up giving that job to Silvestre Reyes, a legislator who infamously didn’t know that Al Qaeda is primarily Sunni and Hezbollah is Shi’ite.

If the Democratic Party leadership wants voters to think they’re serious about national security, they would be promoting Jane Harman. One can draw the appropriate conclusions from their not having done so.

Read Less

Walter Pincus’s Past

In yesterday’s Jerusalem Post, Lenny Ben-David showed how the anti-Israel conspiracies of the present — seen in the form of Walt-Mearsheimer, the AIPAC “espionage” case, and the politically charged leaking of classified information to imply Jane Harman has dual loyalties — have a long and ugly history in Washington. The entire column is worth reading, but there’s a nugget of particular interest buried halfway through the piece:

In 1962 [William] Fulbright launched an investigation of foreign lobbyists in Washington, attempting to force AIPAC to register as an agent of Israel rather than a domestic American lobby. His chief investigator was a journalist named Walter Pincus. (Today, Pincus, the Washington Post’s veteran national security reporter, helps cover the Jane Harman story and the Rosen-Weissman trial.)

“Israel controls the United States Senate,” Fulbright told Face the Nation in 1973. “Around 80 percent are completely in support of Israel; anything Israel wants it gets. Jewish influence in the House of Representatives is even greater.” (Years later, after retiring from the Senate, Fulbright registered as a foreign agent for Saudi Arabia.)

Ben-David neglects to mention that Pincus also covered the aftermath of the Freeman debacle for the Post, and did so in a thoroughly dishonest fashion. Most embarrassing was a story he filed on the Arab media’s reaction to Freeman’s resignation, as if the typically paranoid, inaccurate, and anti-Semitic ramblings of the Arab press were somehow newsworthy (the piece was deftly skewered by Noah Pollak). Nevertheless, by reminding us of Pincus’s past work as a “chief investigator” for the segregationist and virulently anti-Israel William Fulbright, Ben-David provides context for understanding his contemporary reporting on Israel.

In yesterday’s Jerusalem Post, Lenny Ben-David showed how the anti-Israel conspiracies of the present — seen in the form of Walt-Mearsheimer, the AIPAC “espionage” case, and the politically charged leaking of classified information to imply Jane Harman has dual loyalties — have a long and ugly history in Washington. The entire column is worth reading, but there’s a nugget of particular interest buried halfway through the piece:

In 1962 [William] Fulbright launched an investigation of foreign lobbyists in Washington, attempting to force AIPAC to register as an agent of Israel rather than a domestic American lobby. His chief investigator was a journalist named Walter Pincus. (Today, Pincus, the Washington Post’s veteran national security reporter, helps cover the Jane Harman story and the Rosen-Weissman trial.)

“Israel controls the United States Senate,” Fulbright told Face the Nation in 1973. “Around 80 percent are completely in support of Israel; anything Israel wants it gets. Jewish influence in the House of Representatives is even greater.” (Years later, after retiring from the Senate, Fulbright registered as a foreign agent for Saudi Arabia.)

Ben-David neglects to mention that Pincus also covered the aftermath of the Freeman debacle for the Post, and did so in a thoroughly dishonest fashion. Most embarrassing was a story he filed on the Arab media’s reaction to Freeman’s resignation, as if the typically paranoid, inaccurate, and anti-Semitic ramblings of the Arab press were somehow newsworthy (the piece was deftly skewered by Noah Pollak). Nevertheless, by reminding us of Pincus’s past work as a “chief investigator” for the segregationist and virulently anti-Israel William Fulbright, Ben-David provides context for understanding his contemporary reporting on Israel.

Read Less

Now It’s a Horrible Week

Defying expectations, Arlen Specter’s week is getting worse. The latest poll shows Tom Ridge crushing Pat Toomey in the primary and beating Arlen Specter in the general election. (But Ridge isn’t yet in and it is, after all, only May of 2009.) Then Specter confided in an interview that he is rooting for the return of Republican Norm Coleman. Not surprisingly, the liberal blogosphere is going bonkers. Even before the Coleman comment Greg Sargent called Specter a “train wreck on the horizon.” But then comes the clincher. Coleman’s new Democratic colleagues voted to deny him the seniority promised by Harry Reid. Why does this matter? Well:

Without any assurance of seniority, Specter loses a major weapon in his campaign to win reelection in 2010: the ability to claim that his nearly 30 years of Senate service places him in key positions to benefit his constituents.

And then, to top it off, Specter took back his comment about Coleman.

A busy week indeed, which raises the question: is Specter trying to lose? If not, something is seriously awry and a Democratic challenge in the primary seems inevitable. Even if he loses that one, he could always run as an independent. But one senses Specter is becoming a punchline — and rivaling Chris Dodd as the most vulnerable Democratic incumbent.

Defying expectations, Arlen Specter’s week is getting worse. The latest poll shows Tom Ridge crushing Pat Toomey in the primary and beating Arlen Specter in the general election. (But Ridge isn’t yet in and it is, after all, only May of 2009.) Then Specter confided in an interview that he is rooting for the return of Republican Norm Coleman. Not surprisingly, the liberal blogosphere is going bonkers. Even before the Coleman comment Greg Sargent called Specter a “train wreck on the horizon.” But then comes the clincher. Coleman’s new Democratic colleagues voted to deny him the seniority promised by Harry Reid. Why does this matter? Well:

Without any assurance of seniority, Specter loses a major weapon in his campaign to win reelection in 2010: the ability to claim that his nearly 30 years of Senate service places him in key positions to benefit his constituents.

And then, to top it off, Specter took back his comment about Coleman.

A busy week indeed, which raises the question: is Specter trying to lose? If not, something is seriously awry and a Democratic challenge in the primary seems inevitable. Even if he loses that one, he could always run as an independent. But one senses Specter is becoming a punchline — and rivaling Chris Dodd as the most vulnerable Democratic incumbent.

Read Less

Comment Moderation Policy

Dear Contentions readers and commenters,

We have always prided ourselves on the quality of the discourse in the comments sections here at COMMENTARYMAGAZINE.COM — reflecting as it does the intelligence and civility of our readership. Since the inception of our blog, CONTENTIONS, we have followed a hands-off approach to moderating and reviewing the comments left on our site, believing that the good judgment of our commenters would serve as a sufficient guide in maintaining a respectful ongoing exchange of ideas.

Unfortunately, we have lately received a growing number of complaints from readers, subscribers, and commenters regarding inappropriate content or personal invective (directed at other commenters, blog authors, or outside parties) surfacing in the comments. We agree that this has become an ongoing problem, and have decided to employ a stricter moderation policy going forward:

• Comments that advocate violence, incite hatred of race or religion, or are intended to harass writers or commenters will be cause for immediate banning with no appeal.

• Obscene and abusive remarks will be deleted.

• Posts that contain phone numbers, street addresses, email addresses or other personal information will also be deleted.

Commenters should note that because of this new policy, a comment might not appear immediately.

We encourage our commenters to adhere to the above policy and to also help us enforce it by reporting any comments that violate these simple rules to kgjermani at commentarymagazine dot com. Your future contributions in helping to keep our comment sections consistent with the highest standards of argument are greatly appreciated.

Sincerely,

Kejda Gjermani

Dear Contentions readers and commenters,

We have always prided ourselves on the quality of the discourse in the comments sections here at COMMENTARYMAGAZINE.COM — reflecting as it does the intelligence and civility of our readership. Since the inception of our blog, CONTENTIONS, we have followed a hands-off approach to moderating and reviewing the comments left on our site, believing that the good judgment of our commenters would serve as a sufficient guide in maintaining a respectful ongoing exchange of ideas.

Unfortunately, we have lately received a growing number of complaints from readers, subscribers, and commenters regarding inappropriate content or personal invective (directed at other commenters, blog authors, or outside parties) surfacing in the comments. We agree that this has become an ongoing problem, and have decided to employ a stricter moderation policy going forward:

• Comments that advocate violence, incite hatred of race or religion, or are intended to harass writers or commenters will be cause for immediate banning with no appeal.

• Obscene and abusive remarks will be deleted.

• Posts that contain phone numbers, street addresses, email addresses or other personal information will also be deleted.

Commenters should note that because of this new policy, a comment might not appear immediately.

We encourage our commenters to adhere to the above policy and to also help us enforce it by reporting any comments that violate these simple rules to kgjermani at commentarymagazine dot com. Your future contributions in helping to keep our comment sections consistent with the highest standards of argument are greatly appreciated.

Sincerely,

Kejda Gjermani

Read Less

Empathy Isn’t Really Empathy, You See

Give Ruth Marcus credit: she realizes that the president got into some hot water by suggesting ”empathy” is a primary consideration in selecting a Supreme Court judge. The president didn’t actually mean that he wants a Supreme Court justice who harbors sympathy toward one side or the other  — because that would be wrong (wink, wink). No, he’s looking for someone with experience  which will “inform” the judge’s thinking, you see. So, she says, Justice Powell would have come out differently in  the Bowers v. Hardwick sodomy case if he had known some same-sex couples.

Let’s stipulate that the president has no problem expressing himself and does not lack for vocabulary. So he could have said he was looking for “life experience to inform the justice’s thinking” if that’s what he meant. But even taking Marcus’ interpretation at face value, we don’t get away from the central problem. If Marcus is right that Powell would have ruled differently had he known gay people, that would mean his interpretation of the case would  have been “informed” by bias,  albeit friendly bias, toward the litigants. And that’s exactly the problem. One’s degree of empathy or chumminess with the litigants, or people like them,  should have no bearing on the cases before the justice.

Otherwise, one would have to excuse a justice who had lots of gay friends and felt oodles of empathy toward them because she could not impartially evaluate disputes involving gay rights issues. That surely can’t be right. We expect her to ignore those relationships and look to the meaning of the Constitution, the statutes before her, and the precedent from prior decisions. We are, in this instance, trying to decide what the Constitution means not whether democratically elected legislators should pass laws protecting gays from discrimination.

Marcus is trying her best to tap dance around the premise which is plainly animating the Obama justice search. He wants “empathy” to guide the justice in reaching outcomes which favor the down-and-out, minorities, women, employees, and criminal defendants. And if you doubt that, go back and look at every confirmation hearing over the last couple of decades. Democrats railed against  judges who had written decisions which ruled against these parties. The nominees were therefore tagged as “insensitive” because they did not find a way to conform the law around a favorable outcome for these groups.

That’s what’s going on here. If honest, Democrats would own up to it and stop apologizing for the president’s refreshingly candid admission of what he is up to.

Give Ruth Marcus credit: she realizes that the president got into some hot water by suggesting ”empathy” is a primary consideration in selecting a Supreme Court judge. The president didn’t actually mean that he wants a Supreme Court justice who harbors sympathy toward one side or the other  — because that would be wrong (wink, wink). No, he’s looking for someone with experience  which will “inform” the judge’s thinking, you see. So, she says, Justice Powell would have come out differently in  the Bowers v. Hardwick sodomy case if he had known some same-sex couples.

Let’s stipulate that the president has no problem expressing himself and does not lack for vocabulary. So he could have said he was looking for “life experience to inform the justice’s thinking” if that’s what he meant. But even taking Marcus’ interpretation at face value, we don’t get away from the central problem. If Marcus is right that Powell would have ruled differently had he known gay people, that would mean his interpretation of the case would  have been “informed” by bias,  albeit friendly bias, toward the litigants. And that’s exactly the problem. One’s degree of empathy or chumminess with the litigants, or people like them,  should have no bearing on the cases before the justice.

Otherwise, one would have to excuse a justice who had lots of gay friends and felt oodles of empathy toward them because she could not impartially evaluate disputes involving gay rights issues. That surely can’t be right. We expect her to ignore those relationships and look to the meaning of the Constitution, the statutes before her, and the precedent from prior decisions. We are, in this instance, trying to decide what the Constitution means not whether democratically elected legislators should pass laws protecting gays from discrimination.

Marcus is trying her best to tap dance around the premise which is plainly animating the Obama justice search. He wants “empathy” to guide the justice in reaching outcomes which favor the down-and-out, minorities, women, employees, and criminal defendants. And if you doubt that, go back and look at every confirmation hearing over the last couple of decades. Democrats railed against  judges who had written decisions which ruled against these parties. The nominees were therefore tagged as “insensitive” because they did not find a way to conform the law around a favorable outcome for these groups.

That’s what’s going on here. If honest, Democrats would own up to it and stop apologizing for the president’s refreshingly candid admission of what he is up to.

Read Less

Onward to Carterville

Eli Lake has, as he so often does, an important report out today on what appears to be the Obama administration’s desire to end, or at least threaten to end, the United States’ longstanding support for Israel’s nuclear ambiguity. This apparently is intended to complement outreach to Iran. Color me puzzled.

It’s hard to see how pressuring Israel over its weapons will generate leverage against Iran’s weapons, or how Tehran would value a “nuclear-free Middle East” more than a Middle East in which both Iran and Israel are nuclear powers. Or perhaps Obama believes that if the U.S. demonstrates even-handedness in scrutinizing Middle East nuclear programs, Iran will be more willing to negotiate away its own program.

The Iranians must be watching the spectacle of the Obama administration dragging Israeli nukes into the open with amazement. What could be better for Iran than somebody else’s weapons becoming the object of international attention? It was always probable that Iran, in the unlikely event that it succumbed to pressure, would demand a “nuclear-free Middle East” as a last-gasp bargaining position — but who could have expected that the Obama administration would make Iran’s case for it, and long before Iran was in a position to need to do so?

We also see in Lake’s report the emergence in Obama’s foreign policy of that acute strain of Carterism that cannot tell a friend from an enemy:

Bruce Riedel, a former senior director for the Middle East and South Asia on the White House National Security Council, said, “If you’re really serious about a deal with Iran, Israel has to come out of the closet. A policy based on fiction and double standards is bound to fail sooner or later. What’s remarkable is that it’s lasted so long.” Mr. Riedel headed the Obama administration’s review of strategy toward Afghanistan and Pakistan

Ah yes, double standards — they do terribly offend the delicate code of international justice to which the Islamic Republic of Iran adheres. And besides, what does it matter that one country is a democracy and a close ally and the other is a terrorist theocracy and sworn enemy? The important thing is even-handedness.

Khamenei and the boys must be marveling at all of this.

Eli Lake has, as he so often does, an important report out today on what appears to be the Obama administration’s desire to end, or at least threaten to end, the United States’ longstanding support for Israel’s nuclear ambiguity. This apparently is intended to complement outreach to Iran. Color me puzzled.

It’s hard to see how pressuring Israel over its weapons will generate leverage against Iran’s weapons, or how Tehran would value a “nuclear-free Middle East” more than a Middle East in which both Iran and Israel are nuclear powers. Or perhaps Obama believes that if the U.S. demonstrates even-handedness in scrutinizing Middle East nuclear programs, Iran will be more willing to negotiate away its own program.

The Iranians must be watching the spectacle of the Obama administration dragging Israeli nukes into the open with amazement. What could be better for Iran than somebody else’s weapons becoming the object of international attention? It was always probable that Iran, in the unlikely event that it succumbed to pressure, would demand a “nuclear-free Middle East” as a last-gasp bargaining position — but who could have expected that the Obama administration would make Iran’s case for it, and long before Iran was in a position to need to do so?

We also see in Lake’s report the emergence in Obama’s foreign policy of that acute strain of Carterism that cannot tell a friend from an enemy:

Bruce Riedel, a former senior director for the Middle East and South Asia on the White House National Security Council, said, “If you’re really serious about a deal with Iran, Israel has to come out of the closet. A policy based on fiction and double standards is bound to fail sooner or later. What’s remarkable is that it’s lasted so long.” Mr. Riedel headed the Obama administration’s review of strategy toward Afghanistan and Pakistan

Ah yes, double standards — they do terribly offend the delicate code of international justice to which the Islamic Republic of Iran adheres. And besides, what does it matter that one country is a democracy and a close ally and the other is a terrorist theocracy and sworn enemy? The important thing is even-handedness.

Khamenei and the boys must be marveling at all of this.

Read Less

Flotsam and Jetsam

Jon Corzine panics: “Allies of New Jersey’s Democratic governor, Jon S. Corzine, are so worried about his re-election prospects that they are going to start spending and advertising heavily — in the Republican primary.Mr. Corzine’s allies plan to attack the Republican they consider more formidable, former federal prosecutor Christopher J. Christie, in an attempt to knock him out in the June primary, according to people briefed on the matter.”

Ross Douthat :”You can’t have a successful political party without centrists. Happily for Republicans still smarting from last week’s defection, you can have a successful political party without centrists like Arlen Specter.” At least one who is less erratic.

Los Angeles Unified School District pays out $10M to pay teachers not to teach.  That isn’t “teach badly” — that is “not teach at all.” And most school districts do the same. Hey, they could be GM employees!

What a difference six months and turnout makes: “Republican Captures Seat in Alexandria; Council Result Another Setback For Democrats.” That would be in Northern Virginia in a Democratic stronghold. Nothing in politics can be taken for granted.

The Washington Post continues to give Terry McAuliffe a tough time, chiding him for “always selling” and quoting Jame Hamsher saying he “looks like the guy who wants to get you into a LeSabre.” Ouch.

Nevertheless, McAuliffe according to a new poll appears to be pulling away from the pack. We’ll see if the Post remains as critical if and when he becomes the Democratic nominee.

It is official —  Florida Republican Marco Rubio throws his hat in the ring for U.S. Senate.

Interesting: “A new poll of the Delaware Senate race by Susquehanna Polling and Research (April 27-30, 500 RV, MoE +/- 4.38%) shows Republican Congressman Mike Castle with a substantial lead over Democratic State AG (and son of the Vice President) Beau Biden.” (Castle hasn’t yet declared.) Hmm. Suddenly 2010 looks a bit different if Connecticut, Delaware, and Illinois are opportunities for the Republicans.

Has Obama started a fight he can’t win with the CIA? Democrats in Congress think so and are trying letters of semi-apology.

And now Obama is in quite a fix over closing Guantanamo: incur a ferocious political backlash at home or disappoint his fan club in Berlin and Paris?

Sen. Max Baucus is trying to “work the refs” at CBO who keep insisting nationalized healthcare doesn’t magically pay for itself. They said they would take politics out of science, but math is a whole different matter.

I think Marc Ambinder has this backward: “Conservative talk radio hosts have begun impugning Sotomayor’s credibility. And the respectable intellectual center — see Jeffrey Rosen’s case against her temperament and inherent intellectual abilities — is beginning to have doubts.” Actually, Rosen published a scathing critique of her which conservatives cited. Rather than a vendetta from the Right, the buzz seems to be a plea for self-preservation from the Left. In any case, Obama can go ahead and pick whomever he wants regardless of what Rosen thinks.

In case you thought you were getting your money back: “Chrysler LLC will not repay U.S. taxpayers more than $7 billion in bailout money it received earlier this year and as part of its bankruptcy filing.”

The Wall Street Journal editors get it exactly right on the Voting Rights Act: “When it was written, Section Five was an important protection for minority voters. The best compliment to the law is that its success has made it no longer necessary. We keep reading that Mr. Obama’s election is a historic moment, and so it is. But then the country ought to be able to discuss — and the Supreme Court should be able to decide — if discriminatory laws passed to break Jim Crow are still justified.”

Jon Corzine panics: “Allies of New Jersey’s Democratic governor, Jon S. Corzine, are so worried about his re-election prospects that they are going to start spending and advertising heavily — in the Republican primary.Mr. Corzine’s allies plan to attack the Republican they consider more formidable, former federal prosecutor Christopher J. Christie, in an attempt to knock him out in the June primary, according to people briefed on the matter.”

Ross Douthat :”You can’t have a successful political party without centrists. Happily for Republicans still smarting from last week’s defection, you can have a successful political party without centrists like Arlen Specter.” At least one who is less erratic.

Los Angeles Unified School District pays out $10M to pay teachers not to teach.  That isn’t “teach badly” — that is “not teach at all.” And most school districts do the same. Hey, they could be GM employees!

What a difference six months and turnout makes: “Republican Captures Seat in Alexandria; Council Result Another Setback For Democrats.” That would be in Northern Virginia in a Democratic stronghold. Nothing in politics can be taken for granted.

The Washington Post continues to give Terry McAuliffe a tough time, chiding him for “always selling” and quoting Jame Hamsher saying he “looks like the guy who wants to get you into a LeSabre.” Ouch.

Nevertheless, McAuliffe according to a new poll appears to be pulling away from the pack. We’ll see if the Post remains as critical if and when he becomes the Democratic nominee.

It is official —  Florida Republican Marco Rubio throws his hat in the ring for U.S. Senate.

Interesting: “A new poll of the Delaware Senate race by Susquehanna Polling and Research (April 27-30, 500 RV, MoE +/- 4.38%) shows Republican Congressman Mike Castle with a substantial lead over Democratic State AG (and son of the Vice President) Beau Biden.” (Castle hasn’t yet declared.) Hmm. Suddenly 2010 looks a bit different if Connecticut, Delaware, and Illinois are opportunities for the Republicans.

Has Obama started a fight he can’t win with the CIA? Democrats in Congress think so and are trying letters of semi-apology.

And now Obama is in quite a fix over closing Guantanamo: incur a ferocious political backlash at home or disappoint his fan club in Berlin and Paris?

Sen. Max Baucus is trying to “work the refs” at CBO who keep insisting nationalized healthcare doesn’t magically pay for itself. They said they would take politics out of science, but math is a whole different matter.

I think Marc Ambinder has this backward: “Conservative talk radio hosts have begun impugning Sotomayor’s credibility. And the respectable intellectual center — see Jeffrey Rosen’s case against her temperament and inherent intellectual abilities — is beginning to have doubts.” Actually, Rosen published a scathing critique of her which conservatives cited. Rather than a vendetta from the Right, the buzz seems to be a plea for self-preservation from the Left. In any case, Obama can go ahead and pick whomever he wants regardless of what Rosen thinks.

In case you thought you were getting your money back: “Chrysler LLC will not repay U.S. taxpayers more than $7 billion in bailout money it received earlier this year and as part of its bankruptcy filing.”

The Wall Street Journal editors get it exactly right on the Voting Rights Act: “When it was written, Section Five was an important protection for minority voters. The best compliment to the law is that its success has made it no longer necessary. We keep reading that Mr. Obama’s election is a historic moment, and so it is. But then the country ought to be able to discuss — and the Supreme Court should be able to decide — if discriminatory laws passed to break Jim Crow are still justified.”

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.