Commentary Magazine


Posts For: May 13, 2009

Maureen Dowd and the Argumentum ad Hominem

Here’s the New York Times columnist, brimming with class and wisdom:

Cheney, who had five deferments himself to get out of going to Vietnam, would rather follow a blowhard entertainer who has had three divorces and a drug problem (who also avoided Vietnam) than a four-star general who spent his life serving his country.

For a refresher on the respect Maureen Dowd affords four-star generals, check out her “Peaches Tightens the Girdle” column from September 12, 2007:

It’s obvious that the Surge is like those girdles the secretaries wear on the vintage advertising show, “Mad Men.”

It just pushes the fat around, giving a momentary illusion of flatness. But once Peaches Petraeus, as he was known growing up in Cornwall-on-Hudson, takes the girdle off, the center will not hold.

I guess when you predicate every argument on name-calling, it’s bound to catch up with you.

Of course, for Dowd’s schoolyard analysis of Dick Cheney, Rush Limbaugh, and Colin Powell to mean anything, we’d all have to either agree with every general over every divorced entertainer or the other way around. If this is the tone of argumentation in the New York Times, why oh why was anyone taken aback at the personal invective issued by a stand-up comic a few nights ago?

Here’s the New York Times columnist, brimming with class and wisdom:

Cheney, who had five deferments himself to get out of going to Vietnam, would rather follow a blowhard entertainer who has had three divorces and a drug problem (who also avoided Vietnam) than a four-star general who spent his life serving his country.

For a refresher on the respect Maureen Dowd affords four-star generals, check out her “Peaches Tightens the Girdle” column from September 12, 2007:

It’s obvious that the Surge is like those girdles the secretaries wear on the vintage advertising show, “Mad Men.”

It just pushes the fat around, giving a momentary illusion of flatness. But once Peaches Petraeus, as he was known growing up in Cornwall-on-Hudson, takes the girdle off, the center will not hold.

I guess when you predicate every argument on name-calling, it’s bound to catch up with you.

Of course, for Dowd’s schoolyard analysis of Dick Cheney, Rush Limbaugh, and Colin Powell to mean anything, we’d all have to either agree with every general over every divorced entertainer or the other way around. If this is the tone of argumentation in the New York Times, why oh why was anyone taken aback at the personal invective issued by a stand-up comic a few nights ago?

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Commentary of the Day

SteelyTom, on Jonathan Tobin:

This is an excellent, balanced analysis. It’s worth underlining that Benedict was the theological and intellectual architect of his predecessor’s efforts to improve Catholic-Jewish relations, and edited the current version of the Catechism which sets forth the church’s much more positive, post-Vatican II teaching on its relationship with Judaism.

When the pope travels to Israel, he does so as representative of my faith community. I’m an American, not a German. Regrettably, Benedict’s Germanness renders his presence in Israel immutably problematic. Israelis (to judge from lefty comment) deem him a German first and religious leader second. As a result, Catholic-Jewish relations have been set back. His visit has cemented Bendict’s gaffe-prone reputation. It has perhaps also blinded some in Israel to the advantages of a friend at the Vatican in this era of Muslim immigration and rising anti-semitism in Europe.

Catholics in the US and elsewhere now have to deal with German-Jewish tensions, to which we have not contributed and have no wish to inflame.

It would have been better if Benedict had chosen to interact with Jewish/Israeli leaders in Rome. I suspect his visit to Yad Vashem was the last we will see from this or any other pope for a long time.

SteelyTom, on Jonathan Tobin:

This is an excellent, balanced analysis. It’s worth underlining that Benedict was the theological and intellectual architect of his predecessor’s efforts to improve Catholic-Jewish relations, and edited the current version of the Catechism which sets forth the church’s much more positive, post-Vatican II teaching on its relationship with Judaism.

When the pope travels to Israel, he does so as representative of my faith community. I’m an American, not a German. Regrettably, Benedict’s Germanness renders his presence in Israel immutably problematic. Israelis (to judge from lefty comment) deem him a German first and religious leader second. As a result, Catholic-Jewish relations have been set back. His visit has cemented Bendict’s gaffe-prone reputation. It has perhaps also blinded some in Israel to the advantages of a friend at the Vatican in this era of Muslim immigration and rising anti-semitism in Europe.

Catholics in the US and elsewhere now have to deal with German-Jewish tensions, to which we have not contributed and have no wish to inflame.

It would have been better if Benedict had chosen to interact with Jewish/Israeli leaders in Rome. I suspect his visit to Yad Vashem was the last we will see from this or any other pope for a long time.

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Reaction to the President

Republicans, unlike the Left, are reacting to the president’s flip-flop on the photos with restraint. Sen. Mitch McConnell put out a brief statement, “I agree with the President that the release of these photos would serve no purpose other than to put our troops in greater danger. The President made the right decision and I applaud him for it.”

In a conference call this afternoon Senator Saxby Chambliss was similarly complimentary, saying that the original decision “was unwise” and that he was “pleased to see [Obama] reverse himself.”  On the topic of Guantanamo, Chambliss was less circumspect. He said the decision to close Guantanamo showed “a lack of experience and immaturity” by the administration which was attempting, he said “to satisfy the far Left.”

But his harshest language was reserved for the Democrats’ efforts to investigate and potentially prosecute Bush administration attorneys Jay Bybee and John Yoo who drafted the now-released interrogation memos: “I think it’s atrocious for anyone to even think in that direction. . . That’s going to shut the door on a lot of people even coming in the door [to government service].”

Of course the meltdown on the Left is well underway. The cognitive dissonance is reaching new heights. An example: a devoted reader of the maternity expert of the Atlantic passes on this curious post in which the final italicized sentence was later deleted without explanation:

From extending and deepening the war in Afghanistan, to suppressing evidence of rampant and widespread abuse and torture of prisoners under Bush, to thuggishly threatening the British with intelligence cut-off if they reveal the brutal torture inflicted on Binyam Mohamed, Obama now has new cheer-leaders: Bill Kristol, Michael Goldfarb and Max BootYep: that’s why he was elected — to continue, deepen and protect the legacy of George W. Bush.

Perhaps it is too bitter a pill to swallow that the Left’s messiah has now (to a greater degree than they could ever have imagined) adopted many of the positions of their arch-enemy George Bush. But the Left should take heart: there’s no sign, as Abe said, that these decisions are based on any well-founded or lasting world view. Tomorrow is always another day, and perhaps he will throw some bones to the frothing Left once again.

But maybe, just maybe, the president has figured out that wrecking our defenses to score points with the netroot base is a poor modus operandi for the commander-in-chief. If the team of Kristol, Godfarb, and Boot carries more weight with this administration than Sullivan, Klein, and Yglesias, we can rest easier.

Republicans, unlike the Left, are reacting to the president’s flip-flop on the photos with restraint. Sen. Mitch McConnell put out a brief statement, “I agree with the President that the release of these photos would serve no purpose other than to put our troops in greater danger. The President made the right decision and I applaud him for it.”

In a conference call this afternoon Senator Saxby Chambliss was similarly complimentary, saying that the original decision “was unwise” and that he was “pleased to see [Obama] reverse himself.”  On the topic of Guantanamo, Chambliss was less circumspect. He said the decision to close Guantanamo showed “a lack of experience and immaturity” by the administration which was attempting, he said “to satisfy the far Left.”

But his harshest language was reserved for the Democrats’ efforts to investigate and potentially prosecute Bush administration attorneys Jay Bybee and John Yoo who drafted the now-released interrogation memos: “I think it’s atrocious for anyone to even think in that direction. . . That’s going to shut the door on a lot of people even coming in the door [to government service].”

Of course the meltdown on the Left is well underway. The cognitive dissonance is reaching new heights. An example: a devoted reader of the maternity expert of the Atlantic passes on this curious post in which the final italicized sentence was later deleted without explanation:

From extending and deepening the war in Afghanistan, to suppressing evidence of rampant and widespread abuse and torture of prisoners under Bush, to thuggishly threatening the British with intelligence cut-off if they reveal the brutal torture inflicted on Binyam Mohamed, Obama now has new cheer-leaders: Bill Kristol, Michael Goldfarb and Max BootYep: that’s why he was elected — to continue, deepen and protect the legacy of George W. Bush.

Perhaps it is too bitter a pill to swallow that the Left’s messiah has now (to a greater degree than they could ever have imagined) adopted many of the positions of their arch-enemy George Bush. But the Left should take heart: there’s no sign, as Abe said, that these decisions are based on any well-founded or lasting world view. Tomorrow is always another day, and perhaps he will throw some bones to the frothing Left once again.

But maybe, just maybe, the president has figured out that wrecking our defenses to score points with the netroot base is a poor modus operandi for the commander-in-chief. If the team of Kristol, Godfarb, and Boot carries more weight with this administration than Sullivan, Klein, and Yglesias, we can rest easier.

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Re: He Who Shouts Loudest

Jennifer, the question of President Obama’s inner compass is a vital one. Let us not forget all the fawning evaluations of his fundamentally non-ideological nature. Pragmatism, remember, was his guiding principle.

Of course, pragmatism isn’t a principle at all; it’s a renouncement of principle — and that’s the problem. Even before Obama tried to block the release of the detainee photos, there was a spectacular paradox at work. On the one hand he goes before the Turkish parliament and intones, “Let me say this as clearly as I can, the United States is not and never will be at war with Islam.” Then he returns to American soil to tell the (Muslim) world, in painstaking detail, about all the ways in which the U.S. “tortures” Muslims (so much for his attempt at clarity). Should the memo stunt lose something in translation in the border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan, a picture menu gets slated for release.

Hey, it’s pragmatic. In Ankara, leaders want to hear that the U.S. is not singling out Muslims; in the U.S., the Left wants to hear that the U.S. has been singling out Muslims. But Obama’s pragmatism is so absolute that every news cycle is approached on a case-by-case basis, and the pending release of the pictures poses new challenges. So now he’s giving military commanders what they want: no pictures.

Next pragmatism trainwreck — Guantanamo Bay posturing: “US President Barack Obama is due to announce ‘this week’ that he is reviving controversial military trials for suspected terrorists held at Guantanamo Bay, US officials said Tuesday.”

Not incidentally, Obama has had the hardest time being “pragmatic” when attempting to dismantle the Bush national security apparatus. Maybe that’s because ideology is sometimes what’s needed after all.

Jennifer, the question of President Obama’s inner compass is a vital one. Let us not forget all the fawning evaluations of his fundamentally non-ideological nature. Pragmatism, remember, was his guiding principle.

Of course, pragmatism isn’t a principle at all; it’s a renouncement of principle — and that’s the problem. Even before Obama tried to block the release of the detainee photos, there was a spectacular paradox at work. On the one hand he goes before the Turkish parliament and intones, “Let me say this as clearly as I can, the United States is not and never will be at war with Islam.” Then he returns to American soil to tell the (Muslim) world, in painstaking detail, about all the ways in which the U.S. “tortures” Muslims (so much for his attempt at clarity). Should the memo stunt lose something in translation in the border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan, a picture menu gets slated for release.

Hey, it’s pragmatic. In Ankara, leaders want to hear that the U.S. is not singling out Muslims; in the U.S., the Left wants to hear that the U.S. has been singling out Muslims. But Obama’s pragmatism is so absolute that every news cycle is approached on a case-by-case basis, and the pending release of the pictures poses new challenges. So now he’s giving military commanders what they want: no pictures.

Next pragmatism trainwreck — Guantanamo Bay posturing: “US President Barack Obama is due to announce ‘this week’ that he is reviving controversial military trials for suspected terrorists held at Guantanamo Bay, US officials said Tuesday.”

Not incidentally, Obama has had the hardest time being “pragmatic” when attempting to dismantle the Bush national security apparatus. Maybe that’s because ideology is sometimes what’s needed after all.

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He Who Shouts Loudest

As Jake Tapper and Bill Kristol reported, it is has dawned on the president that releasing detainee-abuse photos might endanger the lives of servicemen, so he will now object to their release. This is an overwhelmingly positive sign that the president is subject to persuasion and reason and that those defending the country by placing their own lives on the line carry more sway than ideological extremists in the Justice Department.

The Left is in meltdown mode. As ABC News reports, it’s just like the third Bush term:

“The reversal is another indication of a continuance of the Bush administration policies under the Obama administration,” ACLU attorney Amrit Singh told ABC News. “President Obama’s promise of accountability is meaningless, this is inconsistent with his promise of transparency, it violates the government’s commitment to the court. People need to examine these abusive photographs, but also the government officials need to be held accountable.”

However, one wonders what inner compass guides the president. Surely the argument that releasing the photos would imperil our troops and incite the enemy was long known. Surely, he could have seen the firestorm that would have ensued when he made the decision originally to allow the ACLU to steamroll voter national security interests, right? One can’t help concluding this is all politics: How’s it going to fly? Can the administration “get away with it”? Will the public side with those nasty Cheneys?

It all feels like fingers testing the wind. And the message is unmistakable: he who screams the loudest and makes the most convincing case that the president’s own reputation will suffer has the winning argument. It’s not reassuring, but it certainly gives encouragement to those who want to disabuse the president of the notion that effective national security policy is synonymous with Democratic campaign rhetoric.

As Jake Tapper and Bill Kristol reported, it is has dawned on the president that releasing detainee-abuse photos might endanger the lives of servicemen, so he will now object to their release. This is an overwhelmingly positive sign that the president is subject to persuasion and reason and that those defending the country by placing their own lives on the line carry more sway than ideological extremists in the Justice Department.

The Left is in meltdown mode. As ABC News reports, it’s just like the third Bush term:

“The reversal is another indication of a continuance of the Bush administration policies under the Obama administration,” ACLU attorney Amrit Singh told ABC News. “President Obama’s promise of accountability is meaningless, this is inconsistent with his promise of transparency, it violates the government’s commitment to the court. People need to examine these abusive photographs, but also the government officials need to be held accountable.”

However, one wonders what inner compass guides the president. Surely the argument that releasing the photos would imperil our troops and incite the enemy was long known. Surely, he could have seen the firestorm that would have ensued when he made the decision originally to allow the ACLU to steamroll voter national security interests, right? One can’t help concluding this is all politics: How’s it going to fly? Can the administration “get away with it”? Will the public side with those nasty Cheneys?

It all feels like fingers testing the wind. And the message is unmistakable: he who screams the loudest and makes the most convincing case that the president’s own reputation will suffer has the winning argument. It’s not reassuring, but it certainly gives encouragement to those who want to disabuse the president of the notion that effective national security policy is synonymous with Democratic campaign rhetoric.

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A Prediction About the Iranian “Election”

The same liberals who have spent the past four years dismissing Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s Holocaust denial, incitement to genocide, nuclear triumphalism, and celebration of terrorism as the ravings of a man with no real power will suddenly discover, should one of the “moderate” candidates win next month, that the Iranian presidency is an office of tremendous authority.

The same liberals who have spent the past four years dismissing Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s Holocaust denial, incitement to genocide, nuclear triumphalism, and celebration of terrorism as the ravings of a man with no real power will suddenly discover, should one of the “moderate” candidates win next month, that the Iranian presidency is an office of tremendous authority.

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Re: Re: Obama, Civility and Wanda Sykes

Kathleen Parker spends a column telling us that Sykes wasn’t funny and Rush Limbaugh isn’t a terrorist, which is why Sykes’s now oft-repeated joke wasn’t funny. Thank goodness she cleared that up! But she misses the boat when she says the real problem is “our thin-skinned intolerance and our reflexive lurch to take offense.” Yes, that’s a problem in society and would have been relevant if Limbaugh had actually taken offense. But that’s not what is at issue here.

The concern Pete and I (as well as many others) have raised has nothing to do with a foul-mouthed, unfunny comic. It has to do with the president. If Parker hadn’t noticed, the focus of the mini-kerfuffle has been on the president’s obvious amusement at the time, followed by perhaps the first time in history a White House press secretary has “walked back” a laugh. It’s not the biggest story of the week, but it provides some insight into the president’s lack of presidential-ness, which has become all too familiar.

It should be of concern that, after riding into office on the hope and promise to end the perpetual cycle of acrimony, Obama has intensified it through perpetual slights and jabs at his predecessor. It should be of concern that he doesn’t quite realize his job is to rise above nastiness; not to encourage it. It should be of concern that his administration has made a fetish of vilifying select media figures, a practice not seen since the Nixon presidency. And it should be of some concern, quite bluntly, that Obama thinks a joke about someone keeling over from kidney failure is a hoot.

Bottom line: we don’t expect anything better from Sykes, but we do from our president.

Kathleen Parker spends a column telling us that Sykes wasn’t funny and Rush Limbaugh isn’t a terrorist, which is why Sykes’s now oft-repeated joke wasn’t funny. Thank goodness she cleared that up! But she misses the boat when she says the real problem is “our thin-skinned intolerance and our reflexive lurch to take offense.” Yes, that’s a problem in society and would have been relevant if Limbaugh had actually taken offense. But that’s not what is at issue here.

The concern Pete and I (as well as many others) have raised has nothing to do with a foul-mouthed, unfunny comic. It has to do with the president. If Parker hadn’t noticed, the focus of the mini-kerfuffle has been on the president’s obvious amusement at the time, followed by perhaps the first time in history a White House press secretary has “walked back” a laugh. It’s not the biggest story of the week, but it provides some insight into the president’s lack of presidential-ness, which has become all too familiar.

It should be of concern that, after riding into office on the hope and promise to end the perpetual cycle of acrimony, Obama has intensified it through perpetual slights and jabs at his predecessor. It should be of concern that he doesn’t quite realize his job is to rise above nastiness; not to encourage it. It should be of concern that his administration has made a fetish of vilifying select media figures, a practice not seen since the Nixon presidency. And it should be of some concern, quite bluntly, that Obama thinks a joke about someone keeling over from kidney failure is a hoot.

Bottom line: we don’t expect anything better from Sykes, but we do from our president.

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The Pope is Not the Problem

Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to the State of Israel has not been a resounding success.

The Pope’s spokesman told a big fib when he said to the Israeli press that the pontiff “never, never, never” belonged to the Hitler Youth when he was a teenager — a retraction was issued later. The chief Islamic judge of the “moderate” Palestinian Authority hijacked an interfaith meeting and used it as a platform for a vile anti-Israel rant. The Pope, to his credit, fled the meeting.

Then the Pope’s remarks during his visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial were widely criticized for being insufficient to the occasion. His philosophical tone offended the sensibilities of both former chief rabbi Israel Meir Lau and the editors of the left-wing Ha’aretz newspaper. Like them, many Israelis on both the left and the right expected the first post-Holocaust German Pope to apologize for his native country’s heinous history as well as for the Catholic Church’s own long tradition of anti-Semitism.

Such statements would have been both welcome and appropriate but it appears that Pope Benedict’s chief fault is that he is not his heroic predecessor John Paul II. John Paul was a Pole who experienced Nazi tyranny first-hand, and a genuine friend of the Jewish people. Moreover, he understood it was necessary for the Vatican to speak and act in a way that would at least partially undo the many centuries of pain the Church had inflicted on the Jews. He exemplified the sea change on Jewish issues that came about as the result of the Vatican II reforms.

But to say that Benedict is not John Paul should not be an excuse for Israelis or Jews to spend this week bashing either the Vatican or the Pope. While there are many shortcomings in the positions enunciated by the Pope about the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians (his call for the lifting of the embargo on Hamas-ruled Gaza is remarkably muddle-headed), it is a colossal mistake to treat him or the vast institution he represents as either an enemy of Israel or a major problem for the Jewish people. The Vatican has maintained its ties with Israel and has spoken out against anti-Semitism repeatedly, no small gesture at a time when the tide of Jew-hatred is rising in Europe.

This Pope is no master of public relations; he is prone to mistakes that raise the hackles of Jews and others. And it’s hard to see how any Pope who served, albeit briefly, in Hitler’s Wehrmacht would ever be able to cope with the hard feelings that many Jews understandably have about the Holocaust unless he did nothing but continually apologize.

But at a time when Israel is currently beset by real enemies, including an Iranian regime threatening the Jews with a new Holocaust, fixating on the Pope’s shortcomings and the Church’s history is an absurd misreading of the situation. Like it or not, Israel and the Church are on the same side of a clash of civilizations in which radical Islam is a deadly threat to both Jews and Christians. Rather than bashing the Pope, Israelis and Jews need to embrace him as a friend, best as they can.

Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to the State of Israel has not been a resounding success.

The Pope’s spokesman told a big fib when he said to the Israeli press that the pontiff “never, never, never” belonged to the Hitler Youth when he was a teenager — a retraction was issued later. The chief Islamic judge of the “moderate” Palestinian Authority hijacked an interfaith meeting and used it as a platform for a vile anti-Israel rant. The Pope, to his credit, fled the meeting.

Then the Pope’s remarks during his visit to the Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial were widely criticized for being insufficient to the occasion. His philosophical tone offended the sensibilities of both former chief rabbi Israel Meir Lau and the editors of the left-wing Ha’aretz newspaper. Like them, many Israelis on both the left and the right expected the first post-Holocaust German Pope to apologize for his native country’s heinous history as well as for the Catholic Church’s own long tradition of anti-Semitism.

Such statements would have been both welcome and appropriate but it appears that Pope Benedict’s chief fault is that he is not his heroic predecessor John Paul II. John Paul was a Pole who experienced Nazi tyranny first-hand, and a genuine friend of the Jewish people. Moreover, he understood it was necessary for the Vatican to speak and act in a way that would at least partially undo the many centuries of pain the Church had inflicted on the Jews. He exemplified the sea change on Jewish issues that came about as the result of the Vatican II reforms.

But to say that Benedict is not John Paul should not be an excuse for Israelis or Jews to spend this week bashing either the Vatican or the Pope. While there are many shortcomings in the positions enunciated by the Pope about the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians (his call for the lifting of the embargo on Hamas-ruled Gaza is remarkably muddle-headed), it is a colossal mistake to treat him or the vast institution he represents as either an enemy of Israel or a major problem for the Jewish people. The Vatican has maintained its ties with Israel and has spoken out against anti-Semitism repeatedly, no small gesture at a time when the tide of Jew-hatred is rising in Europe.

This Pope is no master of public relations; he is prone to mistakes that raise the hackles of Jews and others. And it’s hard to see how any Pope who served, albeit briefly, in Hitler’s Wehrmacht would ever be able to cope with the hard feelings that many Jews understandably have about the Holocaust unless he did nothing but continually apologize.

But at a time when Israel is currently beset by real enemies, including an Iranian regime threatening the Jews with a new Holocaust, fixating on the Pope’s shortcomings and the Church’s history is an absurd misreading of the situation. Like it or not, Israel and the Church are on the same side of a clash of civilizations in which radical Islam is a deadly threat to both Jews and Christians. Rather than bashing the Pope, Israelis and Jews need to embrace him as a friend, best as they can.

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The Tribute Vice Pays to Virtue

The debate over enhanced interrogation has gotten sidetracked by a remarkable tale of hypocrisy and hubris. What was supposed to be the ultimate “gotcha” issue to bury the Bush administration has now become a tale of intrigue and public character — or lack thereof — focused on the would-be inquisitors. Jack Kelly observes:

It is shabby enough when politicians develop amnesia for partisan reasons, as when Sens. John Kerry and Hillary Clinton forgot why it was they had voted to authorize war with Iraq. But what Ms. Pelosi did was much worse. She was proposing to ruin the lives of lawyers who had acted in good faith by rendering opinions with which she recorded no objection to at the time. She wasn’t just trying to criminalize a policy disagreement. She was trying to criminalize ex post facto a policy she’d agreed with.
[. . .]

Like Speaker Pelosi, President Obama is discovering that pandering to the moonbats isn’t cost free. Congress has refused to fund closure of the prison at Guantanamo Bay until the president makes clear what he intends to do with the terrorists incarcerated there. The prospect that some will be released into the civilian population has Democrats scurrying for cover.

On the campaign trail, Mr. Obama denounced the Bush administration’s plans to try some of the terrorists by military commissions as “an enormous failure.” But now that he’s president, Mr. Obama has decided military commissions are a good idea after all. Hypocrisy is the tribute vice pays to virtue.

It is ironic that the Bush administration lawyers — who sincerely believed they were defending the country in a time of peril — can now be seen in stark contrast to their Democratic inquisitors. The latter, we have learned, either thought what the lawyers had advised was wrong (yet lacked the courage to speak up) – or actually agreed with them, but then lost their nerve when they thought (incorrectly, as it turned out) that the public would recoil against those who crafted extraordinary interrogation methods to fight an extraordinary war.

And the president — what does he believe? It’s hard to fathom. He said he wanted to look forward but then seemed to egg on the truth inquiry. And then decided not to. He agreed to release highly inflammatory photos, but then maybe not. What is the criteria by which he makes the decisions? It’s a blur. Not a profile in courage.

But one thing we know: those who urged the president and Democratic Congress to conduct a witch hunt gave some awful advice. In the future, one hopes that decision-makers will keep that in mind and appropriately discount their insights and recommendations.

The debate over enhanced interrogation has gotten sidetracked by a remarkable tale of hypocrisy and hubris. What was supposed to be the ultimate “gotcha” issue to bury the Bush administration has now become a tale of intrigue and public character — or lack thereof — focused on the would-be inquisitors. Jack Kelly observes:

It is shabby enough when politicians develop amnesia for partisan reasons, as when Sens. John Kerry and Hillary Clinton forgot why it was they had voted to authorize war with Iraq. But what Ms. Pelosi did was much worse. She was proposing to ruin the lives of lawyers who had acted in good faith by rendering opinions with which she recorded no objection to at the time. She wasn’t just trying to criminalize a policy disagreement. She was trying to criminalize ex post facto a policy she’d agreed with.
[. . .]

Like Speaker Pelosi, President Obama is discovering that pandering to the moonbats isn’t cost free. Congress has refused to fund closure of the prison at Guantanamo Bay until the president makes clear what he intends to do with the terrorists incarcerated there. The prospect that some will be released into the civilian population has Democrats scurrying for cover.

On the campaign trail, Mr. Obama denounced the Bush administration’s plans to try some of the terrorists by military commissions as “an enormous failure.” But now that he’s president, Mr. Obama has decided military commissions are a good idea after all. Hypocrisy is the tribute vice pays to virtue.

It is ironic that the Bush administration lawyers — who sincerely believed they were defending the country in a time of peril — can now be seen in stark contrast to their Democratic inquisitors. The latter, we have learned, either thought what the lawyers had advised was wrong (yet lacked the courage to speak up) – or actually agreed with them, but then lost their nerve when they thought (incorrectly, as it turned out) that the public would recoil against those who crafted extraordinary interrogation methods to fight an extraordinary war.

And the president — what does he believe? It’s hard to fathom. He said he wanted to look forward but then seemed to egg on the truth inquiry. And then decided not to. He agreed to release highly inflammatory photos, but then maybe not. What is the criteria by which he makes the decisions? It’s a blur. Not a profile in courage.

But one thing we know: those who urged the president and Democratic Congress to conduct a witch hunt gave some awful advice. In the future, one hopes that decision-makers will keep that in mind and appropriately discount their insights and recommendations.

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She’s Losing Her Own

You know you’re in trouble when, as a liberal Democrat, you’re mocked by Jon Stewart of Comedy Central. But that’s what happened to Nancy Pelosi last night. Stewart charts, through Pelosi’s own words, what he describes as the Speaker’s slow parse away from her unequivocal denials of having ever been told about enhanced interrogation techniques, including waterboarding. In Stewart’s words, we have “basically gone from ‘I definitely was not told’ to ‘I was told but they used an auxiliary verb with a slightly more passive mood.”

This is a clever and funny skit on what is, in reality, a very serious matter. Nancy Pelosi’s clumsy effort to explain what she knew and when she knew it is Clintonesque. Add to that her thundering condemnation of a technique she apparently approved of at the time, and certainly took no steps to stop, and you have a story that ought to be, and still may be, very damaging to the Speaker of the House.

You know you’re in trouble when, as a liberal Democrat, you’re mocked by Jon Stewart of Comedy Central. But that’s what happened to Nancy Pelosi last night. Stewart charts, through Pelosi’s own words, what he describes as the Speaker’s slow parse away from her unequivocal denials of having ever been told about enhanced interrogation techniques, including waterboarding. In Stewart’s words, we have “basically gone from ‘I definitely was not told’ to ‘I was told but they used an auxiliary verb with a slightly more passive mood.”

This is a clever and funny skit on what is, in reality, a very serious matter. Nancy Pelosi’s clumsy effort to explain what she knew and when she knew it is Clintonesque. Add to that her thundering condemnation of a technique she apparently approved of at the time, and certainly took no steps to stop, and you have a story that ought to be, and still may be, very damaging to the Speaker of the House.

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It Gets Worse

CNN reports:

A source close to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi now confirms that Pelosi was told in February 2003 by her intelligence aide, Michael Sheehy, that waterboarding was actually used on CIA detainee Abu Zubaydah.

This appears to contradict Pelosi’s account that she was never told waterboarding actually happened, only that the administration was considering using it.

Sheehy attended a briefing in which waterboarding was discussed in February 2003, with Rep. Jane Harman, D-California, who took over Pelosi’s spot as the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.

This source says Pelosi didn’t object when she learned that waterboarding was being used because she had not been personally briefed about it — only her aide had been told.

If accurate, this seems to be the final nail in the coffin of the Speaker’s credibility. For weeks she insisted on the lie that she wasn’t told waterboarding was actually taking place, only that the administration had a legal opinion authorizing such a tactic. Provided the CNN account is correct, she now will need to explain why she has been spinning a falsehood — again and again, both directly and through spokespeople.

It is bizarre, one must acknowledge, that she took to putting her fingers in her ears and humming — clinging to the notion that she didn’t really know what was going on because she was told through an intermediary. That’s a pretty pathetic dodge, even in an evolving storyline littered with paltry excuses.

Maybe Pelosi will deny the story or maybe she’s going to clam up. But it is hard to escape the conclusion that the Speaker has been deceiving her fellow Democrats and the country at large. Democrats will need to decide whether there is any price to be paid for that, other than the revelation itself that the Speaker of the House and the leader of their caucus is deceitful and undeserving of their — and our — trust.

CNN reports:

A source close to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi now confirms that Pelosi was told in February 2003 by her intelligence aide, Michael Sheehy, that waterboarding was actually used on CIA detainee Abu Zubaydah.

This appears to contradict Pelosi’s account that she was never told waterboarding actually happened, only that the administration was considering using it.

Sheehy attended a briefing in which waterboarding was discussed in February 2003, with Rep. Jane Harman, D-California, who took over Pelosi’s spot as the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee.

This source says Pelosi didn’t object when she learned that waterboarding was being used because she had not been personally briefed about it — only her aide had been told.

If accurate, this seems to be the final nail in the coffin of the Speaker’s credibility. For weeks she insisted on the lie that she wasn’t told waterboarding was actually taking place, only that the administration had a legal opinion authorizing such a tactic. Provided the CNN account is correct, she now will need to explain why she has been spinning a falsehood — again and again, both directly and through spokespeople.

It is bizarre, one must acknowledge, that she took to putting her fingers in her ears and humming — clinging to the notion that she didn’t really know what was going on because she was told through an intermediary. That’s a pretty pathetic dodge, even in an evolving storyline littered with paltry excuses.

Maybe Pelosi will deny the story or maybe she’s going to clam up. But it is hard to escape the conclusion that the Speaker has been deceiving her fellow Democrats and the country at large. Democrats will need to decide whether there is any price to be paid for that, other than the revelation itself that the Speaker of the House and the leader of their caucus is deceitful and undeserving of their — and our — trust.

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Eugenics and Class in Brit Schools

Savor, if you will, the following three stories on education in Britain.

First, yesterday, the former head of Ofsted, the Office for Standards in Education, Chris Woodhead, weighed in on the reasons why the middle-class do better in schools in Britain: they’re smarter.  Not all of them, of course, but, Woodhead says forthrightly, the fact is that some kids are “not very bright,” and that the brighter ones were “likely to be better if their parents are teachers, academics, lawyers.”  Smart parents, smart kids.

The Telegraph reports that he blames the poor for having bad genes, but they don’t provide a quote.  It’s too bad if he did say that, because, among the nonsense about the middle class being brighter, he talks a lot of sense about declining educational standards in Britain and the value of vocational training.  If anyone is qualified to know about both matters, it’s Woodhead, since he presided over the entire system for six years, three of them under Labour.

Second, there’s this somewhat more cheerful story: “Ethnic minority pupils race ahead of poor white classmates in schools.” Another former head of Ofsted, Sir Mike Tomlinson, points out that “We are seeing every ethnic group progress rapidly — Chinese, Bengali, Indian.”  But the performance of poor white boys is lamentable: they do worse than most, if not all, minority groups. The problem, the government and Sir Mike agree, is a culture of low expectations among the less well-off Anglo-Saxons, and a culture of achievement among the others.  So Woodhead’s on to something when he points to the value of having teachers as parents, but that something is cultural, not genetic.

And third, what has the government done about things?  Well, it has spent a great deal of money on education: from 1997 to 2007 — up 60 percent. As a proportion of the economy, education expenditures have risen from 4.8 percent to 5.5 percent of GDP. And test scores have gone up.  Unfortunately, as Woodhead points out, this is because the tests themselves have (entirely coincidentally, I’m sure), become a great deal easier.  Test scores certainly aren’t rising because there are more teachers around: since 1997, the number of teachers has increased by only 1.8 percent.  Makes you wonder where the rest of the money has gone.  I’m sure the bureaucrats could answer that one.

The other prong of the government’s approach has been ‘work-based’ or ‘skills-based’ training.  This too has been an unmitigated failure.  A study released yesterday by the University of London described the entire program as a “waste of time” that was “fixated by the number of people with qualifications,” at the expense of what they were actually learning.  The result has been the creation of “a many-headed bureaucratic hydra, which, in turn, devours part of the funding intended for the ‘real’ economy.”  The bureaucrats in ‘work-based’ training should meet their colleagues in the schools.

Like anything else, education can be as complicated as you want to make it.  But as the educational success of Britain’s ethnic minorities points out, it really isn’t all that hard: almost all children are quite smart enough to learn if they are kept at it by their parents, and not thwarted by undemanding schools.  All the government’s interventions have spent a great deal of money, but no amount of money will help if the parents are not there, or don’t care, and if the teachers refuse to teach.  And no one suffers more in that world of low standards than the poor.

Savor, if you will, the following three stories on education in Britain.

First, yesterday, the former head of Ofsted, the Office for Standards in Education, Chris Woodhead, weighed in on the reasons why the middle-class do better in schools in Britain: they’re smarter.  Not all of them, of course, but, Woodhead says forthrightly, the fact is that some kids are “not very bright,” and that the brighter ones were “likely to be better if their parents are teachers, academics, lawyers.”  Smart parents, smart kids.

The Telegraph reports that he blames the poor for having bad genes, but they don’t provide a quote.  It’s too bad if he did say that, because, among the nonsense about the middle class being brighter, he talks a lot of sense about declining educational standards in Britain and the value of vocational training.  If anyone is qualified to know about both matters, it’s Woodhead, since he presided over the entire system for six years, three of them under Labour.

Second, there’s this somewhat more cheerful story: “Ethnic minority pupils race ahead of poor white classmates in schools.” Another former head of Ofsted, Sir Mike Tomlinson, points out that “We are seeing every ethnic group progress rapidly — Chinese, Bengali, Indian.”  But the performance of poor white boys is lamentable: they do worse than most, if not all, minority groups. The problem, the government and Sir Mike agree, is a culture of low expectations among the less well-off Anglo-Saxons, and a culture of achievement among the others.  So Woodhead’s on to something when he points to the value of having teachers as parents, but that something is cultural, not genetic.

And third, what has the government done about things?  Well, it has spent a great deal of money on education: from 1997 to 2007 — up 60 percent. As a proportion of the economy, education expenditures have risen from 4.8 percent to 5.5 percent of GDP. And test scores have gone up.  Unfortunately, as Woodhead points out, this is because the tests themselves have (entirely coincidentally, I’m sure), become a great deal easier.  Test scores certainly aren’t rising because there are more teachers around: since 1997, the number of teachers has increased by only 1.8 percent.  Makes you wonder where the rest of the money has gone.  I’m sure the bureaucrats could answer that one.

The other prong of the government’s approach has been ‘work-based’ or ‘skills-based’ training.  This too has been an unmitigated failure.  A study released yesterday by the University of London described the entire program as a “waste of time” that was “fixated by the number of people with qualifications,” at the expense of what they were actually learning.  The result has been the creation of “a many-headed bureaucratic hydra, which, in turn, devours part of the funding intended for the ‘real’ economy.”  The bureaucrats in ‘work-based’ training should meet their colleagues in the schools.

Like anything else, education can be as complicated as you want to make it.  But as the educational success of Britain’s ethnic minorities points out, it really isn’t all that hard: almost all children are quite smart enough to learn if they are kept at it by their parents, and not thwarted by undemanding schools.  All the government’s interventions have spent a great deal of money, but no amount of money will help if the parents are not there, or don’t care, and if the teachers refuse to teach.  And no one suffers more in that world of low standards than the poor.

Read Less

Boo Hoo

Well, it sounds like some in Congress are sorry they started the fight, declaring in effect the CIA is “out to get them”:

Democrats charged Tuesday that the CIA has released documents about congressional briefings on harsh interrogation techniques in order to deflect attention and blame away from itself.

Sens. Levin, Durbin and Feinstein are all grousing over release of information concerning the congressional briefings. You can understand why they’re fussing: “with the release of records showing that it briefed members of Congress along the way, the CIA has effectively put lawmakers on the defensive.”

Yeah, can you imagine the nerve of those threatened with prosecution for doing their jobs (and subjected to carefully selected disclosure of material intended to show their work in the worst possible light) pushing back at those whom they briefed? I’m not sure which is more remarkable — the Democrats’ surprise or their public whining. You’d think they would try to clamp down on the “Witch Hunt Comes Back To Bite Congress!” storyline.

But you really have to laugh that the lawmakers are aghast about executive branch leaks (after celebrating every front page New York Times leak-induced story for eight years of the Bush administration) :

Intelligence Committee member Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) said it appears that “members of the committee or their staff were not in any way involved in [the release of the document]. It appears to come from the executive branch itself. … I think it’s unbelievable.”

Horror that executive branch employees should leak against his side!

I can’t imagine this is going to change the impression that this entire episode has been a partisan witch hunt. It seems that the perpetrators are now bruised because they have not gotten away with their scheme. But they’d probably do well to keep their disappointment to themselves.

Well, it sounds like some in Congress are sorry they started the fight, declaring in effect the CIA is “out to get them”:

Democrats charged Tuesday that the CIA has released documents about congressional briefings on harsh interrogation techniques in order to deflect attention and blame away from itself.

Sens. Levin, Durbin and Feinstein are all grousing over release of information concerning the congressional briefings. You can understand why they’re fussing: “with the release of records showing that it briefed members of Congress along the way, the CIA has effectively put lawmakers on the defensive.”

Yeah, can you imagine the nerve of those threatened with prosecution for doing their jobs (and subjected to carefully selected disclosure of material intended to show their work in the worst possible light) pushing back at those whom they briefed? I’m not sure which is more remarkable — the Democrats’ surprise or their public whining. You’d think they would try to clamp down on the “Witch Hunt Comes Back To Bite Congress!” storyline.

But you really have to laugh that the lawmakers are aghast about executive branch leaks (after celebrating every front page New York Times leak-induced story for eight years of the Bush administration) :

Intelligence Committee member Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) said it appears that “members of the committee or their staff were not in any way involved in [the release of the document]. It appears to come from the executive branch itself. … I think it’s unbelievable.”

Horror that executive branch employees should leak against his side!

I can’t imagine this is going to change the impression that this entire episode has been a partisan witch hunt. It seems that the perpetrators are now bruised because they have not gotten away with their scheme. But they’d probably do well to keep their disappointment to themselves.

Read Less

The NYT v. Bibi

One should not expect new, creative ideas about the middle east to appear in a New York Times editorial. So when yesterday’s paper pushed an “Agenda for Mr. Netanyahu,” its perfect lockstep with the Obama Administration didn’t surprise too much. What did surprise, however, was its unique combination of cynicism and chutzpah. Bibi being Bibi, the Times could not take seriously any of his recent comments in favor of negotiations with the Palestinians, dismissing them as “unconvincing and insufficient.” As though Obama has by contrast produced a peace plan that is in any way convincing or sufficient. But what really gets the Times’ goat is that Netanyahu apparently “hinted” that Israel’s willingness to concede on the Palestinian side might depend on America’s successfully thwarting Iran’s nuclear program.

Stopping Iran’s nuclear program is crucial… Yes, the clock is ticking as Tehran’s capability improves. But Mr. Netanyahu should not artificially constrain Mr. Obama’s initiative. And Mr. Obama must discourage any move by Mr. Netanyahu to lead Israel, or push the United States, into unnecessary military action.

The Times has things backwards, in more ways than one. If Netanyahu did indeed hint at such a thing, it was in response to members of the Obama administration explicitly making the reverse linkage: that by failing to make progress on the Palestinian side, Israel was making it harder to stop Iran. Now, neither linkage makes a huge amount of sense, but while the American position is simply a non sequitur, at least one can understand where the Israelis are coming from: If you want us to feel comfortable taking risks with the lives of our people, they are saying, it will be easier to do so once you’ve eliminated another huge existential threat over our heads.

The Times is also appalled by Netanyahu’s backtracking from the two-state solution. As if to support its case, it is quick to point out that “On Monday, the 15-member United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted a statement endorsing the two-state solution.” Yet the authors seem to forget that Israel is one of the two states in question; and that its opinion — especially that of its democratically elected government — is more important than that of the UNSC. The Times is full of people who are aware that Israelis really do not enjoy endless warfare: Perhaps if Israel is today reluctant to take further steps down the Oslo road, it is because all the steps so far have resulted in failure and bloodshed?

But there is more than just the past that stands in the way of peace today, and that renders the “two-state solution” to be little more than a slogan. The Palestinians themselves are no longer a single entity, with which one can negotiate anything. We’ve been over this before, but it bears repeating. The regime in the West Bank is merely dedicated to supporting terror operations and a full-fledged “right of return” that would destroy Israel demographically; whereas the regime in Gaza is actually not interested in the two-state solution at all, at best offering prolonged cease-fires on the path to destroying Israel militarily. Hamas took over Gaza by force of arms, and it seems clear that the biggest thing keeping the two factions from all-out war against each other is the thin strip of land that divides them — that is, Israel. Maybe enough arms can be twisted to create a joint PA-Hamas regime; but what kind of peace could it make?

Perhaps the most curious element of the editorial, however, is the tone, of which the above passage is just one example. The amount of influence the Times seems to think Netanyahu has over Obama is astonishing. It’s almost as though they view the Obama administration as not having an opinion of its own, but rather as an internationally lifeless, infinitely malleable political creature, and the only question is who can exert more pressure on it: the Israeli government or the New York Times.

Do they know something we don’t?

One should not expect new, creative ideas about the middle east to appear in a New York Times editorial. So when yesterday’s paper pushed an “Agenda for Mr. Netanyahu,” its perfect lockstep with the Obama Administration didn’t surprise too much. What did surprise, however, was its unique combination of cynicism and chutzpah. Bibi being Bibi, the Times could not take seriously any of his recent comments in favor of negotiations with the Palestinians, dismissing them as “unconvincing and insufficient.” As though Obama has by contrast produced a peace plan that is in any way convincing or sufficient. But what really gets the Times’ goat is that Netanyahu apparently “hinted” that Israel’s willingness to concede on the Palestinian side might depend on America’s successfully thwarting Iran’s nuclear program.

Stopping Iran’s nuclear program is crucial… Yes, the clock is ticking as Tehran’s capability improves. But Mr. Netanyahu should not artificially constrain Mr. Obama’s initiative. And Mr. Obama must discourage any move by Mr. Netanyahu to lead Israel, or push the United States, into unnecessary military action.

The Times has things backwards, in more ways than one. If Netanyahu did indeed hint at such a thing, it was in response to members of the Obama administration explicitly making the reverse linkage: that by failing to make progress on the Palestinian side, Israel was making it harder to stop Iran. Now, neither linkage makes a huge amount of sense, but while the American position is simply a non sequitur, at least one can understand where the Israelis are coming from: If you want us to feel comfortable taking risks with the lives of our people, they are saying, it will be easier to do so once you’ve eliminated another huge existential threat over our heads.

The Times is also appalled by Netanyahu’s backtracking from the two-state solution. As if to support its case, it is quick to point out that “On Monday, the 15-member United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted a statement endorsing the two-state solution.” Yet the authors seem to forget that Israel is one of the two states in question; and that its opinion — especially that of its democratically elected government — is more important than that of the UNSC. The Times is full of people who are aware that Israelis really do not enjoy endless warfare: Perhaps if Israel is today reluctant to take further steps down the Oslo road, it is because all the steps so far have resulted in failure and bloodshed?

But there is more than just the past that stands in the way of peace today, and that renders the “two-state solution” to be little more than a slogan. The Palestinians themselves are no longer a single entity, with which one can negotiate anything. We’ve been over this before, but it bears repeating. The regime in the West Bank is merely dedicated to supporting terror operations and a full-fledged “right of return” that would destroy Israel demographically; whereas the regime in Gaza is actually not interested in the two-state solution at all, at best offering prolonged cease-fires on the path to destroying Israel militarily. Hamas took over Gaza by force of arms, and it seems clear that the biggest thing keeping the two factions from all-out war against each other is the thin strip of land that divides them — that is, Israel. Maybe enough arms can be twisted to create a joint PA-Hamas regime; but what kind of peace could it make?

Perhaps the most curious element of the editorial, however, is the tone, of which the above passage is just one example. The amount of influence the Times seems to think Netanyahu has over Obama is astonishing. It’s almost as though they view the Obama administration as not having an opinion of its own, but rather as an internationally lifeless, infinitely malleable political creature, and the only question is who can exert more pressure on it: the Israeli government or the New York Times.

Do they know something we don’t?

Read Less

Flotsam and Jetsam

Hey, the Washington Times editors shouldn’t give him any ideas: “It’s not every day that a congressman asks for terrorists to be shipped to his hometown. So we were surprised to see Rep. Jim Moran, Democrat of Virginia, pen a column entitled ‘From Guantanamo to Alexandria’ in Saturday’s Washington Post. He actually championed the idea of bringing terrorists like 9-11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed and other al Qaeda detainees to historic Alexandria. What’s next? Does he want the nuclear waste that Nevada won’t take?” And the editors are suspicious: what is Moran getting in return for his bizarre offer of hospitality?

Ruth Marcus tries to make a case for gender discrimination and litmus tests for the Supreme Court. Sigh. I thought Democrats dumped the idea of gender favoritism when they rejected Hillary Clinton.

But if the president insists on a woman,  superior court judge Victoria Chaney from California sounds like a fine choice.

Alternatively, you could go with the criteria of that wacky Sen. Jeff Sessions who is looking for impartiality, commitment to the rule of law, integrity and legal expertise, and judicial temperament. It’s almost as if he thinks judges’ personal feelings and views on policy shouldn’t matter. Sheesh.

Megan McArdle explains that Obama can’t float unlimited debt on the international bond market: ” The Obama administration is trying to borrow 13% of GDP this year.  If bond markets think future deficits are a problem, they can rapidly push up rates to the point where that borrowing becomes unaffordable.” Hmm. We might actually have to start paying for more of what we’re spending.

Liz Cheney on cherry picking what information is declassified and Robert Gibbs’s “cute one-liners.” Worth watching in its entirety.

And the headline “Cheney Not Backing Down” is hardly a surprise. He is, after all, winning the debate — and tying the administration up in knots.

Obama might choose a stealth candidate for the Supreme Court — or not. But I guarantee you he won’t choose a never-married white male who lived in seclusion in rural New England all his life.

Blue Dog Democrats have their own healthcare plan — with no public option. But will they roll over and play dead when Pelosi and Reid bark? They usually do.

George McGovern sticks to defense of union secret ballot elections as “a matter of principle.”

Jeb Bush can’t figure out why conservatives turned up their noses at an effort to engage Americans in an interactive policy discussion. I’m stumped too. Maybe they like fighting among themselves and losing elections.

Martin Feldstein warns: “The barrage of tax increases proposed in President Barack Obama’s budget could, if enacted by Congress, kill any chance of an early and sustained recovery. . . The Obama budget calls for tax increases of more than $1.1 trillion over the next decade. ” Hmm, maybe all those “ignorant” tea party protesters who complained about the giant tax hikes coming down the road were on to something after all.

Hey, the Washington Times editors shouldn’t give him any ideas: “It’s not every day that a congressman asks for terrorists to be shipped to his hometown. So we were surprised to see Rep. Jim Moran, Democrat of Virginia, pen a column entitled ‘From Guantanamo to Alexandria’ in Saturday’s Washington Post. He actually championed the idea of bringing terrorists like 9-11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed and other al Qaeda detainees to historic Alexandria. What’s next? Does he want the nuclear waste that Nevada won’t take?” And the editors are suspicious: what is Moran getting in return for his bizarre offer of hospitality?

Ruth Marcus tries to make a case for gender discrimination and litmus tests for the Supreme Court. Sigh. I thought Democrats dumped the idea of gender favoritism when they rejected Hillary Clinton.

But if the president insists on a woman,  superior court judge Victoria Chaney from California sounds like a fine choice.

Alternatively, you could go with the criteria of that wacky Sen. Jeff Sessions who is looking for impartiality, commitment to the rule of law, integrity and legal expertise, and judicial temperament. It’s almost as if he thinks judges’ personal feelings and views on policy shouldn’t matter. Sheesh.

Megan McArdle explains that Obama can’t float unlimited debt on the international bond market: ” The Obama administration is trying to borrow 13% of GDP this year.  If bond markets think future deficits are a problem, they can rapidly push up rates to the point where that borrowing becomes unaffordable.” Hmm. We might actually have to start paying for more of what we’re spending.

Liz Cheney on cherry picking what information is declassified and Robert Gibbs’s “cute one-liners.” Worth watching in its entirety.

And the headline “Cheney Not Backing Down” is hardly a surprise. He is, after all, winning the debate — and tying the administration up in knots.

Obama might choose a stealth candidate for the Supreme Court — or not. But I guarantee you he won’t choose a never-married white male who lived in seclusion in rural New England all his life.

Blue Dog Democrats have their own healthcare plan — with no public option. But will they roll over and play dead when Pelosi and Reid bark? They usually do.

George McGovern sticks to defense of union secret ballot elections as “a matter of principle.”

Jeb Bush can’t figure out why conservatives turned up their noses at an effort to engage Americans in an interactive policy discussion. I’m stumped too. Maybe they like fighting among themselves and losing elections.

Martin Feldstein warns: “The barrage of tax increases proposed in President Barack Obama’s budget could, if enacted by Congress, kill any chance of an early and sustained recovery. . . The Obama budget calls for tax increases of more than $1.1 trillion over the next decade. ” Hmm, maybe all those “ignorant” tea party protesters who complained about the giant tax hikes coming down the road were on to something after all.

Read Less




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