Commentary Magazine


Posts For: May 25, 2009

Gobsmacking Analogy of the Year

From the reinvented Newsweek, in an article by Dan Ephron and Michael Hirsh about Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff, likening him in many ways to Bibi Netanyahu:

Both men come from intense, competitive broods consisting of three successful brothers—Netanyahu’s older brother, Yoni, was a national hero, the slain commander at Entebbe; Emanuel’s younger brother, Ari, is a Hollywood superagent who has earned a kind of immortality, American style, as the inspiration for an HBO character.

Yes, the man who led the greatest and most daring rescue in modern history and died in the course of it is likened by Ephron and Hirsh to…a super-rich Hollywood agent notorious for being incredibly ruthless and personally unpleasant. Hello, new Newsweek? Any editors on the premises over there?

From the reinvented Newsweek, in an article by Dan Ephron and Michael Hirsh about Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff, likening him in many ways to Bibi Netanyahu:

Both men come from intense, competitive broods consisting of three successful brothers—Netanyahu’s older brother, Yoni, was a national hero, the slain commander at Entebbe; Emanuel’s younger brother, Ari, is a Hollywood superagent who has earned a kind of immortality, American style, as the inspiration for an HBO character.

Yes, the man who led the greatest and most daring rescue in modern history and died in the course of it is likened by Ephron and Hirsh to…a super-rich Hollywood agent notorious for being incredibly ruthless and personally unpleasant. Hello, new Newsweek? Any editors on the premises over there?

Read Less

Re: Where’s the Line?

Most of the commentators expressing outraged reaction to my post, “Where’s the Line?” argue along the lines of “Obama is so endangering our national security, so what’s your problem, bub?” As I tried to make clear, the point of my post wasn’t to defend the Obama national security policy–although I think on the whole it’s been pretty centrist and sensible.

Much of the change from the Bush administrative has been rhetorical not substantive. For instance, Obama has made a big deal out of banning “enhanced interrogation techniques” like waterboarding but they had already been discarded by the Bush administration in its second term. Much of what the commentators object to (and that I object to also) are a continuation of President Bush’s weak policies toward North Korea and Iran. In some areas Obama is actually being more hawkish by authorizing more Predator strikes in Pakistan and by increasing our troop numbers in Afghanistan well beyond the levels previously authorized by Bush. He has also backed off his campaign rhetoric by delaying our withdrawal from Iraq.

As for the defense budget, I have previously expressed some qualms about the Obama/Gates defense budget, but it hardly cuts defense; rather it increases defense spending but by less than I and some others think is appropriate. That’s an issue on which reasonable people can disagree, as they can over whether the F-22 and Future Combat System are worth funding. (Personally I think Gates is right to cancel them.) It’s hardly grounds for claiming that Obama doesn’t believe in a “strong national defense,” especially when he is enhancing spending in other areas such as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.

Ask yourself this: If Obama doesn’t believe in a strong national defense, what does he believe in? Making America weaker? Helping our enemies? I know Liz Cheney didn’t say anything remotely like that, but that’s the logical next step if we take seriously her claim that Obama doesn’t “believe in … a strong national defense.”

Likewise, when so many liberals claimed that “Bush lied” to get us into the war in Iraq, this raised an obvious question: Why did he “lie”? If he didn’t think that invading Iraq was in our national interest, why did he do it? That kind of thinking led to wacky conspiracy theories about neocons and Halliburton.

To avoid those dangers, we should stick to criticizing a president’s actions, not his motives. Simply because a lot of liberal criticism of President Bush was over the top doesn’t mean that conservatives are now justified in making hyperbolic accusations against President Obama.

Most of the commentators expressing outraged reaction to my post, “Where’s the Line?” argue along the lines of “Obama is so endangering our national security, so what’s your problem, bub?” As I tried to make clear, the point of my post wasn’t to defend the Obama national security policy–although I think on the whole it’s been pretty centrist and sensible.

Much of the change from the Bush administrative has been rhetorical not substantive. For instance, Obama has made a big deal out of banning “enhanced interrogation techniques” like waterboarding but they had already been discarded by the Bush administration in its second term. Much of what the commentators object to (and that I object to also) are a continuation of President Bush’s weak policies toward North Korea and Iran. In some areas Obama is actually being more hawkish by authorizing more Predator strikes in Pakistan and by increasing our troop numbers in Afghanistan well beyond the levels previously authorized by Bush. He has also backed off his campaign rhetoric by delaying our withdrawal from Iraq.

As for the defense budget, I have previously expressed some qualms about the Obama/Gates defense budget, but it hardly cuts defense; rather it increases defense spending but by less than I and some others think is appropriate. That’s an issue on which reasonable people can disagree, as they can over whether the F-22 and Future Combat System are worth funding. (Personally I think Gates is right to cancel them.) It’s hardly grounds for claiming that Obama doesn’t believe in a “strong national defense,” especially when he is enhancing spending in other areas such as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.

Ask yourself this: If Obama doesn’t believe in a strong national defense, what does he believe in? Making America weaker? Helping our enemies? I know Liz Cheney didn’t say anything remotely like that, but that’s the logical next step if we take seriously her claim that Obama doesn’t “believe in … a strong national defense.”

Likewise, when so many liberals claimed that “Bush lied” to get us into the war in Iraq, this raised an obvious question: Why did he “lie”? If he didn’t think that invading Iraq was in our national interest, why did he do it? That kind of thinking led to wacky conspiracy theories about neocons and Halliburton.

To avoid those dangers, we should stick to criticizing a president’s actions, not his motives. Simply because a lot of liberal criticism of President Bush was over the top doesn’t mean that conservatives are now justified in making hyperbolic accusations against President Obama.

Read Less

Re: Getting California Wrong

John, the conclusion Paul Krugman reaches is noteworthy, although perhaps not in the way he intended. He writes:

But the California precedent still has me rattled. Who would have thought that America’s largest state, a state whose economy is larger than that of all but a few nations, could so easily become a banana republic?

On the other hand, the problems that plague California politics apply at the national level too.

This is interesting in two respects. First, it always comes as rattling news to liberals when the natural results of their policies prove unworkable. Who’d have thought that an environment of high taxes, oppressive regulation, unchecked government spending and pro-litigation rules wouldn’t bring prosperity? And who knew that the citizens of an overwhelmingly Democratic state would finally rebel against the imposition of yet another round of exorbitant taxation, huh? Yes, the liberal assumption that the populace will accept the “bargain” of ever-higher taxes for ever-higher spending never quite works out in practice.

Second, he’s right: this is a peek at what will befall us at a national level as we mimic California’s budgetary, labor, tax and regulatory policies. And so the sea of red ink swells, growth grinds to a standstill and spending soars. The national electorate and their representatives may turn out to be just as recalcitrant as their California counterparts when the cry goes out that higher — much higher — taxes are “essential.”

This really is the question before the country: do we want to be more or less like California? If the answer is “less” then we are in for an inevitable and substantial political course correction when the populace sees just how closely Obama and the Congress are following California’s model.

John, the conclusion Paul Krugman reaches is noteworthy, although perhaps not in the way he intended. He writes:

But the California precedent still has me rattled. Who would have thought that America’s largest state, a state whose economy is larger than that of all but a few nations, could so easily become a banana republic?

On the other hand, the problems that plague California politics apply at the national level too.

This is interesting in two respects. First, it always comes as rattling news to liberals when the natural results of their policies prove unworkable. Who’d have thought that an environment of high taxes, oppressive regulation, unchecked government spending and pro-litigation rules wouldn’t bring prosperity? And who knew that the citizens of an overwhelmingly Democratic state would finally rebel against the imposition of yet another round of exorbitant taxation, huh? Yes, the liberal assumption that the populace will accept the “bargain” of ever-higher taxes for ever-higher spending never quite works out in practice.

Second, he’s right: this is a peek at what will befall us at a national level as we mimic California’s budgetary, labor, tax and regulatory policies. And so the sea of red ink swells, growth grinds to a standstill and spending soars. The national electorate and their representatives may turn out to be just as recalcitrant as their California counterparts when the cry goes out that higher — much higher — taxes are “essential.”

This really is the question before the country: do we want to be more or less like California? If the answer is “less” then we are in for an inevitable and substantial political course correction when the populace sees just how closely Obama and the Congress are following California’s model.

Read Less

Getting California Wrong

Sometimes you just have to wonder if there is sentient life on the opinion floor of the New York Times Building.

Yesterday, the Times ran an editorial called “The Sorry State of the States” that noted that many states have budget problems, thanks to the recession. State deficits over the next two years, according to the Times, will add up to $350 to $370 billion. The editors note, happily, that federal stimulus spending will take care of about forty percent of that but fail to notes that that merely transfers the deficit from the states to the federal government.

The problem, says the Times, is “a collapse in  tax revenues brought on by the recession.” That is indeed the problem, if you regard the world as having come into existence on, say, January 20th, 2009. But since it didn’t, there are other reasons that are more important. During the prosperity of the mid-Bush years, many states increased spending both markedly and irresponsibly. The ones that didn’t are the very states that, today, have the least problems dealing with the recession.

California, for instance, increased total spending by an astonishing forty percent just since 2003 and is now–surprise!–the state with the biggest budget problem. The Times thinks the blame lies with the people of California, with their “deeply anti-tax strain” dating back to 1978 when Proposition 13 limited property tax increases.  Of course, California had a string of balanced budgets and rapidly increasing prosperity beginning in that year because other referenda imposed strict spending restraints. It was only when those spending restraints were gutted in the late 1980’s that California’s budget roller-coaster ride began. Perhaps I missed it, but I’m pretty sure that the Times did not report Californians starving in the streets during that period.

Today, Paul Krugman chimes in, backing the Times party line that California’s budget travails stem principally from its inability to raise taxes easily. Again,  Krugman blames the people for acting in their sovereign capacity to limit the ability of their servants in Sacramento to tax. To be fair, Krugman, unlike the Times’s editors, does note the state’s “irresponsible policies that have doubled the state’s debt burden since Arnold Schwarzenegger became governor.” But, like the editorial, Krugman seems oblivious to the history of California’s public fisc.

When both taxes and spending were tightly controlled, the state prospered. When only taxes were constrained, things quickly began to spin out of control. Perhaps, just perhaps, the solution lies not in increasing taxation but in, once again, limiting the ability of the government to increase spending during prosperous years.

Sometimes you just have to wonder if there is sentient life on the opinion floor of the New York Times Building.

Yesterday, the Times ran an editorial called “The Sorry State of the States” that noted that many states have budget problems, thanks to the recession. State deficits over the next two years, according to the Times, will add up to $350 to $370 billion. The editors note, happily, that federal stimulus spending will take care of about forty percent of that but fail to notes that that merely transfers the deficit from the states to the federal government.

The problem, says the Times, is “a collapse in  tax revenues brought on by the recession.” That is indeed the problem, if you regard the world as having come into existence on, say, January 20th, 2009. But since it didn’t, there are other reasons that are more important. During the prosperity of the mid-Bush years, many states increased spending both markedly and irresponsibly. The ones that didn’t are the very states that, today, have the least problems dealing with the recession.

California, for instance, increased total spending by an astonishing forty percent just since 2003 and is now–surprise!–the state with the biggest budget problem. The Times thinks the blame lies with the people of California, with their “deeply anti-tax strain” dating back to 1978 when Proposition 13 limited property tax increases.  Of course, California had a string of balanced budgets and rapidly increasing prosperity beginning in that year because other referenda imposed strict spending restraints. It was only when those spending restraints were gutted in the late 1980’s that California’s budget roller-coaster ride began. Perhaps I missed it, but I’m pretty sure that the Times did not report Californians starving in the streets during that period.

Today, Paul Krugman chimes in, backing the Times party line that California’s budget travails stem principally from its inability to raise taxes easily. Again,  Krugman blames the people for acting in their sovereign capacity to limit the ability of their servants in Sacramento to tax. To be fair, Krugman, unlike the Times’s editors, does note the state’s “irresponsible policies that have doubled the state’s debt burden since Arnold Schwarzenegger became governor.” But, like the editorial, Krugman seems oblivious to the history of California’s public fisc.

When both taxes and spending were tightly controlled, the state prospered. When only taxes were constrained, things quickly began to spin out of control. Perhaps, just perhaps, the solution lies not in increasing taxation but in, once again, limiting the ability of the government to increase spending during prosperous years.

Read Less

The Fruits of Grandstanding

How’d that speech last week on Guantanamo work out for the president? Well, not so well — at least if he was looking to clamp down on the frenzy or solve the problem of what to do with the detainees. ABC News reports:

When Obama didn’t specify the mechanics for closing the prison, his allies were left scratching their heads and his critics asking why the need to shut it down, given that some of the prisoners were likely to go to scaled-down versions of Guantanamo anyway.

Well, you can’t say Obama isn’t bringing people together. Everyone from Sen. Jon Kyl to Sen. Dick Durbin (“Well, it was a mistake for us to entertain putting money — $80 million — in for the transfer of these detainees until the president’s plan was released”) to the media-deified Colin Powell thinks this is one big mess:

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell, a Republican who endorsed Obama’s candidacy and has called for Guantanamo’s closing, also said Obama made a mistake.

“I think that’s the message that came out of Congress: We can’t give you $80 million,” said Powell, a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs.

“There’s a lot of internal home resistance to bringing these people into the country. So you come forward with a plan that makes some sense and you tell us how you’re going to resolve all of these cases and do it in a way that we can support and then maybe we can move forward. So I think it was premature to ask for the money,” Powell said.

This is what comes from political grandstanding, from declaring your predecessor to be derelict or ethically defective in not snapping his fingers to solve a problem. This is what comes from decrying 300 million Americans and 90 senators as hysterical. And this is what comes from not being a serious commander-in-chief. It is a hard lesson about the consequences of mistaking a campaign slogan for national security policy.  We can only hope the president will take it to heart — and not repeat his mistake.

How’d that speech last week on Guantanamo work out for the president? Well, not so well — at least if he was looking to clamp down on the frenzy or solve the problem of what to do with the detainees. ABC News reports:

When Obama didn’t specify the mechanics for closing the prison, his allies were left scratching their heads and his critics asking why the need to shut it down, given that some of the prisoners were likely to go to scaled-down versions of Guantanamo anyway.

Well, you can’t say Obama isn’t bringing people together. Everyone from Sen. Jon Kyl to Sen. Dick Durbin (“Well, it was a mistake for us to entertain putting money — $80 million — in for the transfer of these detainees until the president’s plan was released”) to the media-deified Colin Powell thinks this is one big mess:

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell, a Republican who endorsed Obama’s candidacy and has called for Guantanamo’s closing, also said Obama made a mistake.

“I think that’s the message that came out of Congress: We can’t give you $80 million,” said Powell, a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs.

“There’s a lot of internal home resistance to bringing these people into the country. So you come forward with a plan that makes some sense and you tell us how you’re going to resolve all of these cases and do it in a way that we can support and then maybe we can move forward. So I think it was premature to ask for the money,” Powell said.

This is what comes from political grandstanding, from declaring your predecessor to be derelict or ethically defective in not snapping his fingers to solve a problem. This is what comes from decrying 300 million Americans and 90 senators as hysterical. And this is what comes from not being a serious commander-in-chief. It is a hard lesson about the consequences of mistaking a campaign slogan for national security policy.  We can only hope the president will take it to heart — and not repeat his mistake.

Read Less

Where’s the Line?

I have the greatest respect and admiration for Liz Cheney who has been a forceful advocate for causes like democracy in the Middle East even while raising five kids. She is a also a fierce and admirable defender of her dad, the former vice president. A few weeks ago I saw her in action at the Intelligence Squared debate in New York arguing that diplomacy with Iran isn’t going anywhere, and I not only agreed with all of her arguments but thought she made them very capably and persuasively. So it is with no joy that I have to note that she has
stepped over the line in the course of a spirited debate. Today’s New York Times quotes her as follows:

Liz Cheney, a Republican strategist and Mr. Cheney’s daughter, said, “This isn’t complicated.”

“Conservatism is conservatism,” Ms. Cheney said. “Republicans have led the nation to greatness when they’ve been true to fundamental principles, such as a strong national defense, limited government and low taxes. None of those are things President Obama believes in.”

It is debatable where the line governing civility in public discourse lies. I would argue that Dick Cheney’s comment claiming that President Obama has made the nation less safe is close to the line but not over it. Although I disagree with Cheney (I don’t see much evidence that the nation is any less safe today than it was on January 19), I believe this is a tough but fair criticism to make.

So too I believe that Liz has a perfect right to argue that Obama doesn’t believe in “limited government” and “low taxes” (assertions that I believe are borne out by Obama’s budget). But it’s not fair to claim the president doesn’t believe in a “strong national defense.” That’s questioning his motives and suggesting that he will not carry out his oath of office to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” Agree with him or not, you need to grant that Obama believes the policies he is pursuing are designed to enhance, not weaken, our national security. Otherwise civilized democratic discourse becomes impossible. Republicans rightly abhorred such invective against President Bush (“Bush lied, they died,” etc.). They should not make the mistake of mirroring moveon.org-style rhetorical excesses now that a president of the other party is in power.

Liz Cheney is a tough but principled debater, so I am sure that this was a one-time slip for her, but unfortunately some on the right are prone to such over-the-top criticism on a routine basis, which risks alienating the centrist voters who (rightly) hold the office of the president in great respect.

I have the greatest respect and admiration for Liz Cheney who has been a forceful advocate for causes like democracy in the Middle East even while raising five kids. She is a also a fierce and admirable defender of her dad, the former vice president. A few weeks ago I saw her in action at the Intelligence Squared debate in New York arguing that diplomacy with Iran isn’t going anywhere, and I not only agreed with all of her arguments but thought she made them very capably and persuasively. So it is with no joy that I have to note that she has
stepped over the line in the course of a spirited debate. Today’s New York Times quotes her as follows:

Liz Cheney, a Republican strategist and Mr. Cheney’s daughter, said, “This isn’t complicated.”

“Conservatism is conservatism,” Ms. Cheney said. “Republicans have led the nation to greatness when they’ve been true to fundamental principles, such as a strong national defense, limited government and low taxes. None of those are things President Obama believes in.”

It is debatable where the line governing civility in public discourse lies. I would argue that Dick Cheney’s comment claiming that President Obama has made the nation less safe is close to the line but not over it. Although I disagree with Cheney (I don’t see much evidence that the nation is any less safe today than it was on January 19), I believe this is a tough but fair criticism to make.

So too I believe that Liz has a perfect right to argue that Obama doesn’t believe in “limited government” and “low taxes” (assertions that I believe are borne out by Obama’s budget). But it’s not fair to claim the president doesn’t believe in a “strong national defense.” That’s questioning his motives and suggesting that he will not carry out his oath of office to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” Agree with him or not, you need to grant that Obama believes the policies he is pursuing are designed to enhance, not weaken, our national security. Otherwise civilized democratic discourse becomes impossible. Republicans rightly abhorred such invective against President Bush (“Bush lied, they died,” etc.). They should not make the mistake of mirroring moveon.org-style rhetorical excesses now that a president of the other party is in power.

Liz Cheney is a tough but principled debater, so I am sure that this was a one-time slip for her, but unfortunately some on the right are prone to such over-the-top criticism on a routine basis, which risks alienating the centrist voters who (rightly) hold the office of the president in great respect.

Read Less

Maybe He Is Naive

Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett’s profoundly wrongheaded op-ed in the Sunday New York Times did contain this valuable nugget:

Why has President Obama put himself in a position from which he cannot deliver on his own professed interest in improving relations with the Islamic Republic? Some diplomatic veterans who have spoken with him have told us that the president said that he did not realize, when he came to office, how “hard” the Iran problem would be.

Sure, how could he have known it would take more than a video and a smile to subdue thirty years of Khomeinist terrorism? Add to this underestimation Robert Gibbs’s acknowledgment that ordering Gitmo closed was “hasty,” and add to it Obama’s scrambled reversals on a host of national security policies and it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that Obama really was in over his head upon entering office.

Yet through all the course corrections and rude awakenings he has never dropped the self-satisfied disparagement of the very administration he’s come to mimic. Not for Obama the false choice between insulting your predecessor and carrying out his policies.

On issue after issue, Obama tells us that he is not naïve. Then, on issue after issue, he tacks Bushward before his naiveté causes irreversible damage. I suppose we should be thankful for the “hasty” nature of the president’s mistakes. For the sooner he puts his naiveté to the test the sooner we can return to what works.

Flynt Leverett and Hillary Mann Leverett’s profoundly wrongheaded op-ed in the Sunday New York Times did contain this valuable nugget:

Why has President Obama put himself in a position from which he cannot deliver on his own professed interest in improving relations with the Islamic Republic? Some diplomatic veterans who have spoken with him have told us that the president said that he did not realize, when he came to office, how “hard” the Iran problem would be.

Sure, how could he have known it would take more than a video and a smile to subdue thirty years of Khomeinist terrorism? Add to this underestimation Robert Gibbs’s acknowledgment that ordering Gitmo closed was “hasty,” and add to it Obama’s scrambled reversals on a host of national security policies and it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that Obama really was in over his head upon entering office.

Yet through all the course corrections and rude awakenings he has never dropped the self-satisfied disparagement of the very administration he’s come to mimic. Not for Obama the false choice between insulting your predecessor and carrying out his policies.

On issue after issue, Obama tells us that he is not naïve. Then, on issue after issue, he tacks Bushward before his naiveté causes irreversible damage. I suppose we should be thankful for the “hasty” nature of the president’s mistakes. For the sooner he puts his naiveté to the test the sooner we can return to what works.

Read Less

Mulling It Over

Joint Chief of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen on This Week sounded a blunt warning call on Iran:

Well, I believe then and I still believe that Iran’s strategic objective is to achieve nuclear weapons, and that that path continues. Their leadership is committed to it. They conducted a missile test this last week that was successful, which continues to improve their missile delivery system and capability. Their intent seems very clear to me, and I’m one who believes if they achieve that objective, that it is incredibly destabilizing for the region. And I think eventually for the world.

[. . .]

Well, I believe then [ at the time of the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate] and I still believe that Iran’s strategic objective is to achieve nuclear weapons, and that that path continues. Their leadership is committed to it. They conducted a missile test this last week that was successful, which continues to improve their missile delivery system and capability. Their intent seems very clear to me, and I’m one who believes if they achieve that objective, that it is incredibly destabilizing for the region. And I think eventually for the world.

(He goes on to put the timeframe at one to three years.) Translation: The politicians and CIA analysts can knock themselves out trying to diminish or ignore reality, but time is running out to do something about a very, very serious threat.

Mullen is a military leader and must answer to civilian leaders who are engaged in some wishful thinking. We are fortunate to have Mullen, who is not, and who can render smart, informed judgment. Whether the president chooses to take that advice is quite another matter.

Joint Chief of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen on This Week sounded a blunt warning call on Iran:

Well, I believe then and I still believe that Iran’s strategic objective is to achieve nuclear weapons, and that that path continues. Their leadership is committed to it. They conducted a missile test this last week that was successful, which continues to improve their missile delivery system and capability. Their intent seems very clear to me, and I’m one who believes if they achieve that objective, that it is incredibly destabilizing for the region. And I think eventually for the world.

[. . .]

Well, I believe then [ at the time of the 2007 National Intelligence Estimate] and I still believe that Iran’s strategic objective is to achieve nuclear weapons, and that that path continues. Their leadership is committed to it. They conducted a missile test this last week that was successful, which continues to improve their missile delivery system and capability. Their intent seems very clear to me, and I’m one who believes if they achieve that objective, that it is incredibly destabilizing for the region. And I think eventually for the world.

(He goes on to put the timeframe at one to three years.) Translation: The politicians and CIA analysts can knock themselves out trying to diminish or ignore reality, but time is running out to do something about a very, very serious threat.

Mullen is a military leader and must answer to civilian leaders who are engaged in some wishful thinking. We are fortunate to have Mullen, who is not, and who can render smart, informed judgment. Whether the president chooses to take that advice is quite another matter.

Read Less

Put North Korea Back on the List

North Korea says it just tested another nuclear weapon. Why is this happening? Hasn’t the West done everything to give them a ladder to climb down from the tree of Armageddon?

One particular rung in the ladder was the decision by the Bush Administration to remove North Korea from the State Department’s list of terror-sponsoring states. This surely had not a shred of justice in it: there is no evidence that suggests the North Koreans have stopped supporting terror. On the contrary, it was less than a year before that they were caught building Syria a nice fat center-for-the-production-of-weapons-of-mass-destruction. They have also been caught supplying weapons to Palestinian terrorists by sea, and building underground tunnels for Hezbollah.

The only reason for taking the North Koreans off the list was as part of a carrot-and-stick policy regarding that blasted nuclear thing. It failed.

If the Obama Administration wants simultaneously to (a) show it will not be pushed around, (b) pounce on an opportunity to right a wrong of its predecessor, and (c) draw attention away from its other troubles, it will immediately put North Korea back on the list.

North Korea says it just tested another nuclear weapon. Why is this happening? Hasn’t the West done everything to give them a ladder to climb down from the tree of Armageddon?

One particular rung in the ladder was the decision by the Bush Administration to remove North Korea from the State Department’s list of terror-sponsoring states. This surely had not a shred of justice in it: there is no evidence that suggests the North Koreans have stopped supporting terror. On the contrary, it was less than a year before that they were caught building Syria a nice fat center-for-the-production-of-weapons-of-mass-destruction. They have also been caught supplying weapons to Palestinian terrorists by sea, and building underground tunnels for Hezbollah.

The only reason for taking the North Koreans off the list was as part of a carrot-and-stick policy regarding that blasted nuclear thing. It failed.

If the Obama Administration wants simultaneously to (a) show it will not be pushed around, (b) pounce on an opportunity to right a wrong of its predecessor, and (c) draw attention away from its other troubles, it will immediately put North Korea back on the list.

Read Less

Flotsam and Jetsam

Sen. Ben Nelson (D- Neb.) gives a fine summation of what would be the ideal Supreme Court nominee: “I don’t care whether they’re liberal or conservative. I just want to make sure they’re not activist. . . Quite honestly, I think we want to read the law. We don’t want to have to read judges’ minds. So I think that’s the test — will they be an activist or not — and I — I would hope that there wouldn’t be any circumstances that would be so extreme with any of the president’s nominees that the other side would feel the need to filibuster or that I might feel the need to filibuster in a case of extraordinary circumstances.”

North Korea is reported to have conducted a nuclear test. They seemed not to be interest in Obama’s nonproliferation invitation.

Another fraud investigation, another Jack Murtha story. At what point do the Democrats stop protecting him?

Not much impressed by Maureen Dowd’s “friend” email excuse, Politico’s Michael Calderone writes that “the problem wasn’ t just Dowd’s lifting of words, but in how The Times handled the situation, quickly brushing off what I believed to be some worthwhile questions in the face of the writer’s version of events.”

Sen. Jon Kyl  on Obama’s claim that Guantanamo served to recruit more terrorists than it kept in custody: “9/11 hijackers didn’t do their deeds because of Gitmo. The people who … blew up the (U.S.S.) Cole or the Kolbar Towers or the first World Trade Center didn’t say, ‘There’s Gitmo down there,’ because it didn’t exist. And even after that I don’t think you saw guys sitting around in some coffee shop in Saudi Arabia, saying, ‘You know, those Americans have this prison called Gitmo, I think I’ll become a terrorist,’ . . .I mean, it’s palpably false to suggest that the existence of Gitmo created terrorism, and yet the president gets away with that.”

Marty Peretz agrees: “No, I simply don’t believe it. They need nothing so superficial as pictures to deepen the hatred of those who hate us. Let us be frank: nearly every Arab country and most Muslim countries do not protect against torture. It is, I would say, assumed by anyone in prison for political crimes, at least, that they will feel the lash of the whip, many times over. And more.” And what about increased use of rendition? “Why do you think Arab terrorists were sent to Jordan? To have tea with Abdullah and Rania? Or to Egypt? To smoke a hookah with Mubarak?” Let’s be clear: all the moral preening means more detainees will be diverted from a perfectly decent facility to places which aren’t. I am missing how this serves our “moral values.”

The Hill has the “duh” headline: “Guantanamo not going away anytime soon.”

Even the New York Times has had it with Obama’s straw men.

Sen. Ben Nelson (D- Neb.) gives a fine summation of what would be the ideal Supreme Court nominee: “I don’t care whether they’re liberal or conservative. I just want to make sure they’re not activist. . . Quite honestly, I think we want to read the law. We don’t want to have to read judges’ minds. So I think that’s the test — will they be an activist or not — and I — I would hope that there wouldn’t be any circumstances that would be so extreme with any of the president’s nominees that the other side would feel the need to filibuster or that I might feel the need to filibuster in a case of extraordinary circumstances.”

North Korea is reported to have conducted a nuclear test. They seemed not to be interest in Obama’s nonproliferation invitation.

Another fraud investigation, another Jack Murtha story. At what point do the Democrats stop protecting him?

Not much impressed by Maureen Dowd’s “friend” email excuse, Politico’s Michael Calderone writes that “the problem wasn’ t just Dowd’s lifting of words, but in how The Times handled the situation, quickly brushing off what I believed to be some worthwhile questions in the face of the writer’s version of events.”

Sen. Jon Kyl  on Obama’s claim that Guantanamo served to recruit more terrorists than it kept in custody: “9/11 hijackers didn’t do their deeds because of Gitmo. The people who … blew up the (U.S.S.) Cole or the Kolbar Towers or the first World Trade Center didn’t say, ‘There’s Gitmo down there,’ because it didn’t exist. And even after that I don’t think you saw guys sitting around in some coffee shop in Saudi Arabia, saying, ‘You know, those Americans have this prison called Gitmo, I think I’ll become a terrorist,’ . . .I mean, it’s palpably false to suggest that the existence of Gitmo created terrorism, and yet the president gets away with that.”

Marty Peretz agrees: “No, I simply don’t believe it. They need nothing so superficial as pictures to deepen the hatred of those who hate us. Let us be frank: nearly every Arab country and most Muslim countries do not protect against torture. It is, I would say, assumed by anyone in prison for political crimes, at least, that they will feel the lash of the whip, many times over. And more.” And what about increased use of rendition? “Why do you think Arab terrorists were sent to Jordan? To have tea with Abdullah and Rania? Or to Egypt? To smoke a hookah with Mubarak?” Let’s be clear: all the moral preening means more detainees will be diverted from a perfectly decent facility to places which aren’t. I am missing how this serves our “moral values.”

The Hill has the “duh” headline: “Guantanamo not going away anytime soon.”

Even the New York Times has had it with Obama’s straw men.

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.