Commentary Magazine


Posts For: May 16, 2009

The Anglo-Saxon Model in a Hole

The Economist makes its living as much off its covers as its reputation. This past week was no exception: “Europe’s New Pecking Order,” with a triumphant French model Sarkozy looking down at a glum German model Merkel and a nearly invisible “Anglo-Saxon” model Brown.

Well, Brown’s in a hole, all right.  And the Economist points out that the long-term cost of the statist French model is slow growth, high unemployment, and tremendous difficulties assimilating immigrants.  But before we also accept the down and out picture of the Anglo-Saxon model, maybe we should look at what Britain has actually done.

In the fifteen years after they won the Cold War, the U.S. and Britain have done something curious: amidst the hubbub about the end of history and the triumph of capitalism, they retreated from the model that helped them win.  On the other hand, the Continent, under the relentless pressure of failure, moved the other way.

In 1997, the average governmental share of GDP across the OECD was 38.8 percent, higher than Britain’s 38.4 percent.  Key European competitors, such as Germany, at 45.7 percent, had substantially larger states.  By 2008, Germany’s share had declined, to 43.4 percent, a 2.3 percent drop, while Britain’s had increased to 41.9 percent, a 3.5 percent rise.  Within a decade, Britain went from being a country with a limited state and a flexible economy to one that looked more like a Continental economy.

Anyone who thinks that Britain is a model of “Anglo-Saxon” deregulation hasn’t paid much attention for the past ten years.  As the Tax Payers’ Alliance points out, since 1998, “[The UK’s] use of ‘command and control regulation’ has actually increased, pulling it from 9th to 21st in the OECD rankings of its 30 members, alongside ex-communist countries such as Hungary and the Czech Republic.”

The problem was that regulators – including Gordon Brown’s creation, the Financial Services Authority – got it wrong.  But while the failed banks are being punished, the regulators who failed are getting more power.

We’ve seen all this before.  When the Great Depression struck, France seemed immune: as Le Figaro put it in 1931, “For our part let us rejoice in our timid yet prosperous economy as opposed to the presumptuousness and decadent economy of the Anglo-Saxon races.”  Not until the mid-1930s did the Depression hit home in France.  Since then, France has lost a world war, had four different regimes, and innumerable governments.  And yet the pattern of French resilience in the early stages of a world economic crisis remains.

To my mind, this suggests that what matters in this painful short term is not so much French policies, but the nature and behavior of the French — as savers.  It is not so surprising that France, which relies less on the financial sector than the U.S. or Britain, and less on exports than Germany or Japan, is doing better in the face of a financial crisis that has led to a world slump in exports.

Of course, active financial markets and exports are powerful engines of long-term growth.  And that is why, as the Economist concludes, the French model is not likely to stay on top for very long.

The Economist makes its living as much off its covers as its reputation. This past week was no exception: “Europe’s New Pecking Order,” with a triumphant French model Sarkozy looking down at a glum German model Merkel and a nearly invisible “Anglo-Saxon” model Brown.

Well, Brown’s in a hole, all right.  And the Economist points out that the long-term cost of the statist French model is slow growth, high unemployment, and tremendous difficulties assimilating immigrants.  But before we also accept the down and out picture of the Anglo-Saxon model, maybe we should look at what Britain has actually done.

In the fifteen years after they won the Cold War, the U.S. and Britain have done something curious: amidst the hubbub about the end of history and the triumph of capitalism, they retreated from the model that helped them win.  On the other hand, the Continent, under the relentless pressure of failure, moved the other way.

In 1997, the average governmental share of GDP across the OECD was 38.8 percent, higher than Britain’s 38.4 percent.  Key European competitors, such as Germany, at 45.7 percent, had substantially larger states.  By 2008, Germany’s share had declined, to 43.4 percent, a 2.3 percent drop, while Britain’s had increased to 41.9 percent, a 3.5 percent rise.  Within a decade, Britain went from being a country with a limited state and a flexible economy to one that looked more like a Continental economy.

Anyone who thinks that Britain is a model of “Anglo-Saxon” deregulation hasn’t paid much attention for the past ten years.  As the Tax Payers’ Alliance points out, since 1998, “[The UK’s] use of ‘command and control regulation’ has actually increased, pulling it from 9th to 21st in the OECD rankings of its 30 members, alongside ex-communist countries such as Hungary and the Czech Republic.”

The problem was that regulators – including Gordon Brown’s creation, the Financial Services Authority – got it wrong.  But while the failed banks are being punished, the regulators who failed are getting more power.

We’ve seen all this before.  When the Great Depression struck, France seemed immune: as Le Figaro put it in 1931, “For our part let us rejoice in our timid yet prosperous economy as opposed to the presumptuousness and decadent economy of the Anglo-Saxon races.”  Not until the mid-1930s did the Depression hit home in France.  Since then, France has lost a world war, had four different regimes, and innumerable governments.  And yet the pattern of French resilience in the early stages of a world economic crisis remains.

To my mind, this suggests that what matters in this painful short term is not so much French policies, but the nature and behavior of the French — as savers.  It is not so surprising that France, which relies less on the financial sector than the U.S. or Britain, and less on exports than Germany or Japan, is doing better in the face of a financial crisis that has led to a world slump in exports.

Of course, active financial markets and exports are powerful engines of long-term growth.  And that is why, as the Economist concludes, the French model is not likely to stay on top for very long.

Read Less

Cementing the Bush Legacy

George W. Bush must be smiling. He’s not talking in public about the Obama administration, but he can’t be displeased: his harshest critic is adopting most of his national security policies, albeit grudgingly and with a whole lot of spin. But not even the White House spinners can conceal what has happened.

The New York Times  has figured it out:

Faced with the choice of signaling an unambiguous break with the policies of the Bush era, or maintaining some continuity with its practices, the president has begun to come down on the side of taking fewer risks with security, even though he is clearly angering the liberal elements of his political base. . . But the bottom line is that Mr. Obama’s course corrections have real-life consequences. Mr. Bush kept saying that he wanted to close Guantánamo Bay but could not find an effective replacement for it. So he never acted. Mr. Obama began with that action, and now discovers it is more difficult to accomplish than it seemed a few months ago.

The Obama team is loath to admit this. So they dress up the decision to utilize military tribunals as a entirely different sort of approach than Bush. Rubbish. Like most observers who bother to look at the details and compare, the Wall Street Journal editors aren’t buying Obama’s tale that his are any different than Bush’s. Nevertheless the editors conclude:

Mr. Obama deserves credit for accepting that the civilian courts are largely unsuited for the realities of the war on terror. He has now decided to preserve a tribunal process that will be identical in every material way to the one favored by Dick Cheney — and which, contrary to the narrative that Democrats promulgated for years, will be the fairest and most open war-crimes trials in U.S. history. Meanwhile, friends should keep certain newspaper editors away from sharp objects. Their champion has repudiated them once again.

Perhaps the key test will be when that deadline on closing Guantanamo comes along and there is still no adequate alternative. “Can’t close Guantanamo” is going to be pretty hard to spin as anything but confirmation of Bush’s detention policy.

The Left is apoplectic about all this. And conservatives are conflicted. (Does Obama get “credit”? Is this a change of heart or political convenience?) But it doesn’t really matter what Obama’s motives are. The reality is that on one national security decision after another he has come to conclusions strikingly similar to his predecessor. That likely makes George Bush happy. But more importantly, it makes us all safer.

George W. Bush must be smiling. He’s not talking in public about the Obama administration, but he can’t be displeased: his harshest critic is adopting most of his national security policies, albeit grudgingly and with a whole lot of spin. But not even the White House spinners can conceal what has happened.

The New York Times  has figured it out:

Faced with the choice of signaling an unambiguous break with the policies of the Bush era, or maintaining some continuity with its practices, the president has begun to come down on the side of taking fewer risks with security, even though he is clearly angering the liberal elements of his political base. . . But the bottom line is that Mr. Obama’s course corrections have real-life consequences. Mr. Bush kept saying that he wanted to close Guantánamo Bay but could not find an effective replacement for it. So he never acted. Mr. Obama began with that action, and now discovers it is more difficult to accomplish than it seemed a few months ago.

The Obama team is loath to admit this. So they dress up the decision to utilize military tribunals as a entirely different sort of approach than Bush. Rubbish. Like most observers who bother to look at the details and compare, the Wall Street Journal editors aren’t buying Obama’s tale that his are any different than Bush’s. Nevertheless the editors conclude:

Mr. Obama deserves credit for accepting that the civilian courts are largely unsuited for the realities of the war on terror. He has now decided to preserve a tribunal process that will be identical in every material way to the one favored by Dick Cheney — and which, contrary to the narrative that Democrats promulgated for years, will be the fairest and most open war-crimes trials in U.S. history. Meanwhile, friends should keep certain newspaper editors away from sharp objects. Their champion has repudiated them once again.

Perhaps the key test will be when that deadline on closing Guantanamo comes along and there is still no adequate alternative. “Can’t close Guantanamo” is going to be pretty hard to spin as anything but confirmation of Bush’s detention policy.

The Left is apoplectic about all this. And conservatives are conflicted. (Does Obama get “credit”? Is this a change of heart or political convenience?) But it doesn’t really matter what Obama’s motives are. The reality is that on one national security decision after another he has come to conclusions strikingly similar to his predecessor. That likely makes George Bush happy. But more importantly, it makes us all safer.

Read Less

Israel and Gaza, Explained in About One Minute

Sometimes you come across a small masterpiece. I don’t think there’s much missing here except the infinite replay:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PmfOLl92MrQ[/youtube]

Sometimes you come across a small masterpiece. I don’t think there’s much missing here except the infinite replay:

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PmfOLl92MrQ[/youtube]

Read Less

Pathetic

Late Friday, after being called out by Leon Panetta for lying about the CIA’s effort to “mislead” her, Nancy Pelosi trotted out this:

“We all share great respect for the dedicated men and women of the intelligence community who are deeply committed to the safety and security of the American people,” she said in a statement issued by her office. “My criticism of the manner in which the Bush Administration did not appropriately inform Congress is separate from my respect for those in the intelligence community who work to keep our country safe.

“What is important now is to be united in our commitment to ensuring the security of our country; that, and how Congress exercises its oversight responsibilities, will continue to be my focus as we move forward.”

Ah, . . . no. She made a serious accusation against the CIA, has been called on it and now seeks to shift her allegation to the amorphous and all-purpose political punching bag, the “Bush administration.” I’m thinking a Truth Commission is in order. Pelosi can ask and answer the questions and then cross-examine herself.

We have seen some embarrassing displays by politicians in recent years — lying, incompetence, and confusion. But rarely all three in such vivid terms.

You have to laugh — but the mainstream and liberal punditocracy aren’t going to rush to defend her — because it’s Obama on the other side. David Ignatius writes:

To escape from the charge that she was briefed about — and implicitly condoned — interrogation methods that she now calls torture, Pelosi is accusing the Central Intelligence Agency of lying. And not just the Bush-era CIA, mind you, but the Obama CIA as well.

Yes, we can’t have that. So Ignatius eggs on Obama to stand by Panetta — and presumably finish off Pelosi. Ignatius observes:

 Playing politics with the CIA is a way of life on Capitol Hill — love ‘em when they’re up, trash ‘em when they’re down. Republicans and Democrats both play this game, from administration to administration. Rarely, though, has it been as naked as in Pelosi’s case. Having climbed up a very tall tree, she is now watching — and yelping — as the CIA saws off the limb.

Well perhaps neither the CIA nor Obama will have to do much sawing. Pelosi’s doing an expert job of hanging herself.

Late Friday, after being called out by Leon Panetta for lying about the CIA’s effort to “mislead” her, Nancy Pelosi trotted out this:

“We all share great respect for the dedicated men and women of the intelligence community who are deeply committed to the safety and security of the American people,” she said in a statement issued by her office. “My criticism of the manner in which the Bush Administration did not appropriately inform Congress is separate from my respect for those in the intelligence community who work to keep our country safe.

“What is important now is to be united in our commitment to ensuring the security of our country; that, and how Congress exercises its oversight responsibilities, will continue to be my focus as we move forward.”

Ah, . . . no. She made a serious accusation against the CIA, has been called on it and now seeks to shift her allegation to the amorphous and all-purpose political punching bag, the “Bush administration.” I’m thinking a Truth Commission is in order. Pelosi can ask and answer the questions and then cross-examine herself.

We have seen some embarrassing displays by politicians in recent years — lying, incompetence, and confusion. But rarely all three in such vivid terms.

You have to laugh — but the mainstream and liberal punditocracy aren’t going to rush to defend her — because it’s Obama on the other side. David Ignatius writes:

To escape from the charge that she was briefed about — and implicitly condoned — interrogation methods that she now calls torture, Pelosi is accusing the Central Intelligence Agency of lying. And not just the Bush-era CIA, mind you, but the Obama CIA as well.

Yes, we can’t have that. So Ignatius eggs on Obama to stand by Panetta — and presumably finish off Pelosi. Ignatius observes:

 Playing politics with the CIA is a way of life on Capitol Hill — love ‘em when they’re up, trash ‘em when they’re down. Republicans and Democrats both play this game, from administration to administration. Rarely, though, has it been as naked as in Pelosi’s case. Having climbed up a very tall tree, she is now watching — and yelping — as the CIA saws off the limb.

Well perhaps neither the CIA nor Obama will have to do much sawing. Pelosi’s doing an expert job of hanging herself.

Read Less

Undone by Reality

The mainstream press has been fixated on the silly game of assessing how much damage Dick Cheney has caused the Republicans. Bill Kristol is having none of it:

He challenged the president to release CIA memos evaluating the effectiveness of the enhanced interrogation techniques. He raised the question of whether congressional Democrats–Nancy Pelosi, for one–had known of, and at least tacitly approved of, the allegedly horrifying abuses of the allegedly lawless Bush administration. Now, a month later, Pelosi is attacking career CIA officials for lying to Congress, and other Democrats are scrambling to distance themselves from her. Meanwhile, the Obama administration has pulled back on threats to prosecute Bush-era lawyers, reversed itself on releasing photos of alleged military abuse of prisoners, and embraced the use of military commissions to try captured terrorists. The administration now looks irresponsible when it lives up to candidate Obama’s rhetoric, and hypocritical when it vindicates Bush policies the candidate attacked.

But the media’s certainty that, of course, Cheney couldn’t make headway and, of course, every TV appearance was a disaster for Obama’s critics was, I strongly suspect, shared by the White House. In fact they taunted and poked at Cheney and gleefully declared he was a fine spokesperson for the GOP ( wink, wink — and you know what that means).

In this obsession over Cheney’s unpopularity the mainstream media and the Obama administration share a common and debilitating fault: an preoccupation with personality and polling data. It makes not one wit of difference that someone not running for office has a current popularity rating of 20% — if what he is saying is deadly accurate and central to a key policy debate. The media and the administration somehow believed Cheney was irrelevant because they, not he, are hung up on irrelevant data points and are largely immune to arguments on the merits.

The media is obsessed with who the “leader” of the minority party is and who the “frontrunner for 2012″ is. How bizarrely out of touch are they? Well, no more so than the Obama team which spent weeks tying the GOP to Rush Limbaugh while they created a disastrous stimulus package and frittered away a trillion dollars.

The administration and the media jointly overlooked the power of Cheney’s message which was based on a set of facts over which he has complete mastery (and which they were either indifferent to or ignorant of). So they now sit slack-jawed while Cheney has largely pinned the Obama team to the mat.

Perhaps the media would do well to start brushing up on some basic facts. What are the relevant statutes regarding “torture” that were in place at the relevant time, what’s the basis for prosecution of Bush officials, what statutes might prevent release of Guantanamo detainees, what is the record of the released Guantanamo detainees, what did the Bush military tribunals entail, etc. In other words, rather than reporting as if this were a popularity contest (Obama wins because his Q rating is triple Cheney’s!) they might examine the underlying facts bedeviling the administration. And the administration? Rather than play “pin the tail on the least popular Republican,” they might give up the Bush-Cheney vendetta and start governing like grown-ups, considering what is best for the nation’s security first and not as a last resort. If they did that, they might not miss the next pothole in their national security planning.

The mainstream press has been fixated on the silly game of assessing how much damage Dick Cheney has caused the Republicans. Bill Kristol is having none of it:

He challenged the president to release CIA memos evaluating the effectiveness of the enhanced interrogation techniques. He raised the question of whether congressional Democrats–Nancy Pelosi, for one–had known of, and at least tacitly approved of, the allegedly horrifying abuses of the allegedly lawless Bush administration. Now, a month later, Pelosi is attacking career CIA officials for lying to Congress, and other Democrats are scrambling to distance themselves from her. Meanwhile, the Obama administration has pulled back on threats to prosecute Bush-era lawyers, reversed itself on releasing photos of alleged military abuse of prisoners, and embraced the use of military commissions to try captured terrorists. The administration now looks irresponsible when it lives up to candidate Obama’s rhetoric, and hypocritical when it vindicates Bush policies the candidate attacked.

But the media’s certainty that, of course, Cheney couldn’t make headway and, of course, every TV appearance was a disaster for Obama’s critics was, I strongly suspect, shared by the White House. In fact they taunted and poked at Cheney and gleefully declared he was a fine spokesperson for the GOP ( wink, wink — and you know what that means).

In this obsession over Cheney’s unpopularity the mainstream media and the Obama administration share a common and debilitating fault: an preoccupation with personality and polling data. It makes not one wit of difference that someone not running for office has a current popularity rating of 20% — if what he is saying is deadly accurate and central to a key policy debate. The media and the administration somehow believed Cheney was irrelevant because they, not he, are hung up on irrelevant data points and are largely immune to arguments on the merits.

The media is obsessed with who the “leader” of the minority party is and who the “frontrunner for 2012″ is. How bizarrely out of touch are they? Well, no more so than the Obama team which spent weeks tying the GOP to Rush Limbaugh while they created a disastrous stimulus package and frittered away a trillion dollars.

The administration and the media jointly overlooked the power of Cheney’s message which was based on a set of facts over which he has complete mastery (and which they were either indifferent to or ignorant of). So they now sit slack-jawed while Cheney has largely pinned the Obama team to the mat.

Perhaps the media would do well to start brushing up on some basic facts. What are the relevant statutes regarding “torture” that were in place at the relevant time, what’s the basis for prosecution of Bush officials, what statutes might prevent release of Guantanamo detainees, what is the record of the released Guantanamo detainees, what did the Bush military tribunals entail, etc. In other words, rather than reporting as if this were a popularity contest (Obama wins because his Q rating is triple Cheney’s!) they might examine the underlying facts bedeviling the administration. And the administration? Rather than play “pin the tail on the least popular Republican,” they might give up the Bush-Cheney vendetta and start governing like grown-ups, considering what is best for the nation’s security first and not as a last resort. If they did that, they might not miss the next pothole in their national security planning.

Read Less

Re: Reality’s Version of a Free Market

Francis Cianfrocca writes that the solution to the dilemma of how to design a real-world free market is to have a “system of strict financial regulation that makes it largely impossible for people to take risks with other people’s money.”

I respectfully disagree with a good bit of the rest of his post, which appears to me to run conservatism, classical liberalism, and libertarianism together into an undifferentiated “Right.”  Nothing of which I am aware in conservatism, or classical liberalism, requires or even recommends an entirely free market.  Such a thing would not be self-enforcing, and is a self-evident impossibility, for reasons Hobbes could explain.

To my mind, Adam Smith, from the classical liberal perspective, dealt first and best with the problem with Francis discusses: the endless need to balance personal and economic freedom with some measure of government control through the legal system, and I would add, responsibility for the common defense.

But the idea that people should not be allowed, by regulation, to take risks with other people’s money is not viable.  Banks exist to take your money.  They give it back to you, with interest, when you need it.  In order to do this, they need to make profit. They do this by making loans.  Loans are risky.  They are also beneficial, because they provide capital that others need to improve their productivity, and thereby the economy as a whole.

A world in which no one was allowed to take a risk with someone else’s money would be a world with no banks and no investments, in which everyone was very poor and kept their meager lot under their mattress (if such a thing had been invented).  I doubt that we will get very far by requiring everyone in the world to get by without taking any risks with anyone else’s assets.

Francis Cianfrocca writes that the solution to the dilemma of how to design a real-world free market is to have a “system of strict financial regulation that makes it largely impossible for people to take risks with other people’s money.”

I respectfully disagree with a good bit of the rest of his post, which appears to me to run conservatism, classical liberalism, and libertarianism together into an undifferentiated “Right.”  Nothing of which I am aware in conservatism, or classical liberalism, requires or even recommends an entirely free market.  Such a thing would not be self-enforcing, and is a self-evident impossibility, for reasons Hobbes could explain.

To my mind, Adam Smith, from the classical liberal perspective, dealt first and best with the problem with Francis discusses: the endless need to balance personal and economic freedom with some measure of government control through the legal system, and I would add, responsibility for the common defense.

But the idea that people should not be allowed, by regulation, to take risks with other people’s money is not viable.  Banks exist to take your money.  They give it back to you, with interest, when you need it.  In order to do this, they need to make profit. They do this by making loans.  Loans are risky.  They are also beneficial, because they provide capital that others need to improve their productivity, and thereby the economy as a whole.

A world in which no one was allowed to take a risk with someone else’s money would be a world with no banks and no investments, in which everyone was very poor and kept their meager lot under their mattress (if such a thing had been invented).  I doubt that we will get very far by requiring everyone in the world to get by without taking any risks with anyone else’s assets.

Read Less

Flotsam and Jetsam

Unions provide fodder for anti-card check forces: it seems unions don’t like arbitration or card check when it applies to them.

Via Andy McCarthy, some sharp congressmen extract a key point from Eric Holder: under the Justice Department’s own legal reasoning the waterboarding wasn’t “torture” unless those administering it had the specific intent to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering. Well, in that case all of this is much to do about nothing, right?

From Politico: Pelosi’s back-peddling isn’t likely to put the CIA mess behind her.

Slate observes: “The escalating mess is exactly why President Obama didn’t want a thorough look into the question of torture. Fights like these distract from his effort to get politicians to focus on other matters, and the arguments potentially weaken his party by either undermining its high-road position on torture or making leading Democrats look unsteady, as Pelosi looked during her halting and jittery press conference.”

All the Washington Post editors can muster at this point: “Ms. Pelosi’s shifting accounts and faltering performance at her news conference were far from reassuring. . . If Ms. Pelosi and Mr. Graham are mistaken, then the CIA is being done a disservice.” That’s quite a mild way of saying that if Pelosi’s story is as shaky as her performance she has defamed government officials and lied to the Congress and country. Really, if Panetta with the president’s obvious approval called Pelosi a liar I’m not sure why the editors feel compelled to walk on eggshells.

To her credit, Kathleen Parker gets it right on the witch hunt to get the Bush administration lawyers: “Even if [Jay]Bybee and [John]Yoo were wrong, their error doesn’t rise to the level of an ethical offense, much less a war crime. Under the Justice Department’s own standards, an ethical issue would arise only if their opinion was so obviously wrong that no reasonable lawyer could possibly reach the same conclusion. By that standard, the only obvious wrong is the continued persecution of Jay Bybee and John Yoo. The effect sanctions might have on future lawyering, meanwhile, could be chilling.” She cites the testimony of  Professor Michael Paulsen which is summarized here.

And Victoria Toensing explains what the memos actually say, making the same case that Paulsen did: the lawyers not only believed that their analysis was correct. It was correct under the legal standard then in place.

Fred Barnes thinks if Meg Whitman wins the governorship in California she’ll be seen as “a brainy, conservative, accomplished woman at the top of the Republican ladder with precisely the experience that Sarah Palin lacks.” Yeah, but then she’ll have to run California. (Being head of a company that sells junk is good experience, I think.)

Jon Huntsman takes the job as ambassador to China and, I suspect, ends his presidential prospects.

Unions provide fodder for anti-card check forces: it seems unions don’t like arbitration or card check when it applies to them.

Via Andy McCarthy, some sharp congressmen extract a key point from Eric Holder: under the Justice Department’s own legal reasoning the waterboarding wasn’t “torture” unless those administering it had the specific intent to inflict severe physical or mental pain or suffering. Well, in that case all of this is much to do about nothing, right?

From Politico: Pelosi’s back-peddling isn’t likely to put the CIA mess behind her.

Slate observes: “The escalating mess is exactly why President Obama didn’t want a thorough look into the question of torture. Fights like these distract from his effort to get politicians to focus on other matters, and the arguments potentially weaken his party by either undermining its high-road position on torture or making leading Democrats look unsteady, as Pelosi looked during her halting and jittery press conference.”

All the Washington Post editors can muster at this point: “Ms. Pelosi’s shifting accounts and faltering performance at her news conference were far from reassuring. . . If Ms. Pelosi and Mr. Graham are mistaken, then the CIA is being done a disservice.” That’s quite a mild way of saying that if Pelosi’s story is as shaky as her performance she has defamed government officials and lied to the Congress and country. Really, if Panetta with the president’s obvious approval called Pelosi a liar I’m not sure why the editors feel compelled to walk on eggshells.

To her credit, Kathleen Parker gets it right on the witch hunt to get the Bush administration lawyers: “Even if [Jay]Bybee and [John]Yoo were wrong, their error doesn’t rise to the level of an ethical offense, much less a war crime. Under the Justice Department’s own standards, an ethical issue would arise only if their opinion was so obviously wrong that no reasonable lawyer could possibly reach the same conclusion. By that standard, the only obvious wrong is the continued persecution of Jay Bybee and John Yoo. The effect sanctions might have on future lawyering, meanwhile, could be chilling.” She cites the testimony of  Professor Michael Paulsen which is summarized here.

And Victoria Toensing explains what the memos actually say, making the same case that Paulsen did: the lawyers not only believed that their analysis was correct. It was correct under the legal standard then in place.

Fred Barnes thinks if Meg Whitman wins the governorship in California she’ll be seen as “a brainy, conservative, accomplished woman at the top of the Republican ladder with precisely the experience that Sarah Palin lacks.” Yeah, but then she’ll have to run California. (Being head of a company that sells junk is good experience, I think.)

Jon Huntsman takes the job as ambassador to China and, I suspect, ends his presidential prospects.

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.