Commentary Magazine


Posts For: June 11, 2009

Do We Have a Congress?

Rory Cooper of the Heritage Foundation writes:

President Obama has a Pay Czar, Border Czar, Energy Czar, Urban Czar, Tech Czar, Faith Based Czar, Health Reform Czar, TARP Czar, Drug Czar, Stimulus Accountability Czar, Non-Proliferation Czar, Terrorism Czar, Regulatory Czar, Guantanamo Closure Czar, AIDS Czar, Weather Czar, Intelligence Czar, Economic Czar, Green Jobs Czar and Cybersecurity Czar. I’m not making any of that up! All of these people report directly to the President, and most of the new positions expand government’s reach into the American daily life to a troubling extent. . .  As John McCain said, even the Romanovs who ruled Russia for 3 centuries only had 17 czars. This is madness.

Cooper raises a valid point: it is not just that we’ve had an enormous expansion of power by the federal government, it is that it has been done with virtually no Congressional consent, funding, or oversight. Liberals were very concerned about an imperial executive in the era of George W. Bush but nary a peep now is raised when Congress becomes a mute bystander. Conservatives don’t like the expansion of federal power, the erosion of the rule of law, the attack on the free market and irresponsible spending — but they should be alert also to the grave constitutional distortion underway. Congress may not be to conservatives’ ideological liking but at least there the minority’s voice is heard in the Senate, debate and compromise can take place, and there is the opportunity for public opinion to register. Government by executive fiat contains none of those protections.

At some point the legislative branch may want to wake from its slumber and assert its rightful role. And the lawmakers might want to do that before they get blamed in 2010 for the executive branch’s failings. “It wasn’t us!” is going to sound like a lame excuse.

Rory Cooper of the Heritage Foundation writes:

President Obama has a Pay Czar, Border Czar, Energy Czar, Urban Czar, Tech Czar, Faith Based Czar, Health Reform Czar, TARP Czar, Drug Czar, Stimulus Accountability Czar, Non-Proliferation Czar, Terrorism Czar, Regulatory Czar, Guantanamo Closure Czar, AIDS Czar, Weather Czar, Intelligence Czar, Economic Czar, Green Jobs Czar and Cybersecurity Czar. I’m not making any of that up! All of these people report directly to the President, and most of the new positions expand government’s reach into the American daily life to a troubling extent. . .  As John McCain said, even the Romanovs who ruled Russia for 3 centuries only had 17 czars. This is madness.

Cooper raises a valid point: it is not just that we’ve had an enormous expansion of power by the federal government, it is that it has been done with virtually no Congressional consent, funding, or oversight. Liberals were very concerned about an imperial executive in the era of George W. Bush but nary a peep now is raised when Congress becomes a mute bystander. Conservatives don’t like the expansion of federal power, the erosion of the rule of law, the attack on the free market and irresponsible spending — but they should be alert also to the grave constitutional distortion underway. Congress may not be to conservatives’ ideological liking but at least there the minority’s voice is heard in the Senate, debate and compromise can take place, and there is the opportunity for public opinion to register. Government by executive fiat contains none of those protections.

At some point the legislative branch may want to wake from its slumber and assert its rightful role. And the lawmakers might want to do that before they get blamed in 2010 for the executive branch’s failings. “It wasn’t us!” is going to sound like a lame excuse.

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Commentary of the Day

J.E. Dyer, on Jennifer Rubin:

Anyone know what the Republicans are doing on this, other than chanting “Me too, Me too, Me too”?

A whole lot of people would respond to the option of being able to carry catastrophic-only medical insurance, and paying for routine visits out of pocket. In a majority of states, you are not allowed to do that. You must be insured to a standard that includes things like covering sex-change operations and mental health treatment. In other words, you must be enrolled in a “health plan,” and not just carry “insurance.” It would cost a LOT less for people to carry just “insurance.” E.g., break your leg, get in an accident, get diagnosed with cancer — insurance pays fees. Go in for routine visits, need allergy medicine — patient pays fees.

Enlarging the tax advantage for health savings accounts; allowing the savers to bequeath them tax-free to legatees, for the purpose of health savings; and tax advantaging private gifts to cover the health costs of others would all be popular measures as well.

There are a number of other measures we need, such as states capping litigation awards (and, ideally, instituting a “loser pays” system). Their effect on health care costs would be substantial, but harder to build a popular wave of support for.

One thing Republicans need to be hammering is the fact that focusing on the “uninsured” has to end up dragooning a lot of more lightly-insured or uninsured young people as PAYERS, into a system they will statistically have less use for than their elders for some time. Naturally, universal health care advocates never say this out loud, but we can be sure it has not escaped them that many of the “uninsured” are people under 30-35 who do not choose to carry insurance. They can’t be brought into the system without being made to PAY into it. The prospect of that influx of cash is far more significant than you’d think, from the complete silence about it maintained among universal coverage advocates.

J.E. Dyer, on Jennifer Rubin:

Anyone know what the Republicans are doing on this, other than chanting “Me too, Me too, Me too”?

A whole lot of people would respond to the option of being able to carry catastrophic-only medical insurance, and paying for routine visits out of pocket. In a majority of states, you are not allowed to do that. You must be insured to a standard that includes things like covering sex-change operations and mental health treatment. In other words, you must be enrolled in a “health plan,” and not just carry “insurance.” It would cost a LOT less for people to carry just “insurance.” E.g., break your leg, get in an accident, get diagnosed with cancer — insurance pays fees. Go in for routine visits, need allergy medicine — patient pays fees.

Enlarging the tax advantage for health savings accounts; allowing the savers to bequeath them tax-free to legatees, for the purpose of health savings; and tax advantaging private gifts to cover the health costs of others would all be popular measures as well.

There are a number of other measures we need, such as states capping litigation awards (and, ideally, instituting a “loser pays” system). Their effect on health care costs would be substantial, but harder to build a popular wave of support for.

One thing Republicans need to be hammering is the fact that focusing on the “uninsured” has to end up dragooning a lot of more lightly-insured or uninsured young people as PAYERS, into a system they will statistically have less use for than their elders for some time. Naturally, universal health care advocates never say this out loud, but we can be sure it has not escaped them that many of the “uninsured” are people under 30-35 who do not choose to carry insurance. They can’t be brought into the system without being made to PAY into it. The prospect of that influx of cash is far more significant than you’d think, from the complete silence about it maintained among universal coverage advocates.

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What Do They Like?

The latest Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll reflects a now-familiar phenomenon: the public still approves of the president’s performance but doesn’t much like the things he is doing.

We learn:

By 58 percent to 38 percent voters across the country say they disapprove of the government takeover and majority ownership stake in General Motors. Majorities of Republicans (79 percent) and independents (59 percent) think it was a bad move, as well as a sizable minority of Democrats (39 percent).

The public is divided on whether the economy is improving (40% say things are getting better, 42% say worse). And on unions:

Labor unions have been front and center in the government’s rescue of GM — and Chrysler as well. The largest number of Americans — 43 percent — think labor unions have too much influence on the Obama administration, 29 percent say the right amount and 12 percent too little influence.

Oh, and Dick Cheney gets a 34% popularity rating while Nancy Pelosi scores a George W. Bush-like 29%.

On whether all the billions in spending are helping matters: 46% say yes, 39% say no. When it comes to government and business, 49% say business is better equipped to run troubled firms and financial institutions and 27% say government.

So one has to ask: why is it that people approve of the job the president is doing? After all he is the one who took over GM and Chrysler. He has given unprecedented influence to labor unions. And he’s shoving private business out of the way to manage large sectors of the economy. And other polls show the president’s position on issues like Guantanamo is overwhelmingly unpopular.  There is a disconnect somewhere.

Now perhaps voters simply like him personally and conflate “job approval” with “personal approval.” Or perhaps they simply don’t want to give up hope for a successful presidency. But at some point voters may realize that the president is the one directing policies they don’t like. Then what?

The latest Fox News/Opinion Dynamics poll reflects a now-familiar phenomenon: the public still approves of the president’s performance but doesn’t much like the things he is doing.

We learn:

By 58 percent to 38 percent voters across the country say they disapprove of the government takeover and majority ownership stake in General Motors. Majorities of Republicans (79 percent) and independents (59 percent) think it was a bad move, as well as a sizable minority of Democrats (39 percent).

The public is divided on whether the economy is improving (40% say things are getting better, 42% say worse). And on unions:

Labor unions have been front and center in the government’s rescue of GM — and Chrysler as well. The largest number of Americans — 43 percent — think labor unions have too much influence on the Obama administration, 29 percent say the right amount and 12 percent too little influence.

Oh, and Dick Cheney gets a 34% popularity rating while Nancy Pelosi scores a George W. Bush-like 29%.

On whether all the billions in spending are helping matters: 46% say yes, 39% say no. When it comes to government and business, 49% say business is better equipped to run troubled firms and financial institutions and 27% say government.

So one has to ask: why is it that people approve of the job the president is doing? After all he is the one who took over GM and Chrysler. He has given unprecedented influence to labor unions. And he’s shoving private business out of the way to manage large sectors of the economy. And other polls show the president’s position on issues like Guantanamo is overwhelmingly unpopular.  There is a disconnect somewhere.

Now perhaps voters simply like him personally and conflate “job approval” with “personal approval.” Or perhaps they simply don’t want to give up hope for a successful presidency. But at some point voters may realize that the president is the one directing policies they don’t like. Then what?

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The Enemy of My Enemy is Still My Enemy if He’s a Jew

While elsewhere in the media the push to appease Iran is growing more popular, Jeffrey Goldberg is taking the opposite tack in his latest feature for the Atlantic, titled “How Iran Could Save the Middle East.”

His thesis is one that many Israelis, particularly President Shimon Peres, have been promoting in the last year. Namely, that Israel and the moderate Arab nations can come together in order to combat their mutual enemy: Iran. Goldberg rightly points out that the Sunni-Shia divide within the Muslim world is of paramount importance and that the Sunni nations such as Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia both despise and fear Tehran, especially now that its nuclear ambitions may well be realized.

The conflict between Sunni and Shia is the most consequential in the Middle East because it is so profound and elemental. But precisely because it is so intractable, it might hold the key to solving another seemingly eternal Middle East conflict, the one between Muslim and Jew. The definitive Middle East cliché is, of course, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Well, it turns out that today, more than at any other time in the ruinous 100-year encounter between Arabs and Jews on the strip of land between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, the two parties in the dispute have a common enemy: the Shia Persian Islamic Republic of Iran. President Obama’s skills and charisma just might bring Sunni Arabs and Israeli Jews together…

According to Goldberg and David Makovsky (whom Goldberg cites as the “expert” who has thought all this through) Iran’s gains in Iraq and aggressive behavior elsewhere ought to be enough to motivate Arab/Sunni countries to cooperate with the United States and Israel against Iran. His formula for sealing this alliance is familiar. Israel must freeze Jewish settlements on the West Bank and make other concessions to the Palestinians that will give the other Arabs cover for more cooperation with the Jewish state. Then Israel and the Palestinians can move on to delineate the borders of a future Palestinian state, clearing the decks for a “Sunni-Jewish alliance” against Iran.

It’s an interesting idea but, like so many other bright ideas produced by “experts” such as Makovsky, it runs aground on the shoals of reality. Neither Iran-backed Hamas nor the Fatah-run Palestinian Authority are interested in coming to an agreement with Israel on borders. If they were, they could have had a favorable deal with Ehud Olmert last year (forget about Yasser Arafat’s rejection of another offer of state in the West Bank, Gaza and Jerusalem nine years ago). Both Hamas and Hezbollah (funded and supplied by Iran) also have the ability to heat things up with terror attacks and rocket fire across Israel’s border any time they like because Israel’s self-defense measures against such actions inevitably stir up more Arab and Muslim hatred for the Jewish state. No matter how bitterly they criticize Iran in private, when push comes to shove Arab countries always play to the crowd by appealing to anti-Jewish sentiment.

The Hamas-Iran alliance shows that despite the deep enmity between Shia and Sunni, it is a gap that can always be bridged by the hatred for Israel and the West that has been fomented by a generation of anti-Zionist incitement in the Muslim world. Goldberg’s scheme is predicated on the notion that Israeli concessions will enable the Sunnis to trump Iran’s stance as the protector of the Palestinians. But since those concessions are more likely to be interpreted by the Arab world as weakness and an incentive for more attacks on Israel, the moment for the Sunni-Jewish alliance may well never come. Goldberg’s heart may be in the right place with this article but, alas, in the Muslim world, the enemy of my enemy is still my enemy if he’s a Jew.

Making common cause with Israel against Iran would be the smart thing for Arab leaders to do. But despite knowing how dangerous Iran is, assuming they have the courage and the foresight to act in their own interest and cooperate with Israel is probably giving them far too much credit.

While elsewhere in the media the push to appease Iran is growing more popular, Jeffrey Goldberg is taking the opposite tack in his latest feature for the Atlantic, titled “How Iran Could Save the Middle East.”

His thesis is one that many Israelis, particularly President Shimon Peres, have been promoting in the last year. Namely, that Israel and the moderate Arab nations can come together in order to combat their mutual enemy: Iran. Goldberg rightly points out that the Sunni-Shia divide within the Muslim world is of paramount importance and that the Sunni nations such as Egypt, Jordan, and Saudi Arabia both despise and fear Tehran, especially now that its nuclear ambitions may well be realized.

The conflict between Sunni and Shia is the most consequential in the Middle East because it is so profound and elemental. But precisely because it is so intractable, it might hold the key to solving another seemingly eternal Middle East conflict, the one between Muslim and Jew. The definitive Middle East cliché is, of course, “The enemy of my enemy is my friend.” Well, it turns out that today, more than at any other time in the ruinous 100-year encounter between Arabs and Jews on the strip of land between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River, the two parties in the dispute have a common enemy: the Shia Persian Islamic Republic of Iran. President Obama’s skills and charisma just might bring Sunni Arabs and Israeli Jews together…

According to Goldberg and David Makovsky (whom Goldberg cites as the “expert” who has thought all this through) Iran’s gains in Iraq and aggressive behavior elsewhere ought to be enough to motivate Arab/Sunni countries to cooperate with the United States and Israel against Iran. His formula for sealing this alliance is familiar. Israel must freeze Jewish settlements on the West Bank and make other concessions to the Palestinians that will give the other Arabs cover for more cooperation with the Jewish state. Then Israel and the Palestinians can move on to delineate the borders of a future Palestinian state, clearing the decks for a “Sunni-Jewish alliance” against Iran.

It’s an interesting idea but, like so many other bright ideas produced by “experts” such as Makovsky, it runs aground on the shoals of reality. Neither Iran-backed Hamas nor the Fatah-run Palestinian Authority are interested in coming to an agreement with Israel on borders. If they were, they could have had a favorable deal with Ehud Olmert last year (forget about Yasser Arafat’s rejection of another offer of state in the West Bank, Gaza and Jerusalem nine years ago). Both Hamas and Hezbollah (funded and supplied by Iran) also have the ability to heat things up with terror attacks and rocket fire across Israel’s border any time they like because Israel’s self-defense measures against such actions inevitably stir up more Arab and Muslim hatred for the Jewish state. No matter how bitterly they criticize Iran in private, when push comes to shove Arab countries always play to the crowd by appealing to anti-Jewish sentiment.

The Hamas-Iran alliance shows that despite the deep enmity between Shia and Sunni, it is a gap that can always be bridged by the hatred for Israel and the West that has been fomented by a generation of anti-Zionist incitement in the Muslim world. Goldberg’s scheme is predicated on the notion that Israeli concessions will enable the Sunnis to trump Iran’s stance as the protector of the Palestinians. But since those concessions are more likely to be interpreted by the Arab world as weakness and an incentive for more attacks on Israel, the moment for the Sunni-Jewish alliance may well never come. Goldberg’s heart may be in the right place with this article but, alas, in the Muslim world, the enemy of my enemy is still my enemy if he’s a Jew.

Making common cause with Israel against Iran would be the smart thing for Arab leaders to do. But despite knowing how dangerous Iran is, assuming they have the courage and the foresight to act in their own interest and cooperate with Israel is probably giving them far too much credit.

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Democrats Fold?

Earlier today Senator Lindsay Graham did a great service in posting extracts from declarations provided by Generals David Petraeus and Raymond Odierno in support of the Obama administration’s position not to release detainee abuse photos. They should be read in full, but here’s a sample from General Petraeus:

Newly released photos depicting abuse, or that could be construed as depicting abuse, of Iraqis in U.S. military custody would inflame emotions across Iraq and trigger the same motivations that prompted many young men to respond to calls for jihad following the Abu Ghraib photo release. After the Abu Ghraib photos were publicized in 2004, there was a significant response to the call for jihad, with new extremists committing themselves to violence against U.S. forces. Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) and Sunni insurgents groups in Iraq will likely use any release of detainee abuse images for propaganda purposes, and possibly as an opportunity to widen the call for jihad against U.S. forces, which could result in a near-term increase in recruiting and attacks.

And from Odierno who heads the multi-national force in Iraq:

I strongly believe the release of these photos will endanger the lives of U.S. Soldiers, Airmen, Marines, Sailors and civilians as well as the lives of our Iraqi partners. Certain operating units are at particular risk of harm from release of the photos. One example is our training teams throughout Iraq. These are small elements of between 15 and 30 individuals who live on Iraqi-controlled installations and thus do not have the same protections afforded to many of our service members. In addition, as they assist our Iraqi partners, members of such teams are regularly engaged in small-unit patrols, making them more vulnerable to insurgent attacks or other violence directed at U.S. forces. Accordingly, there is good reason to conclude that the soldiers in those teams and in similarly situated units would face a particularly serious risk to their lives and physical safety.

Well, after threatening to torpedo their own president and dismiss the advice of these generals, it seems the House Democrats have blinked — at least for now. In a  267-152 vote (with 95 Democrats in the majority) the House instructed its conferees in their negotiations with the Senate to retain the Lieberman-Graham amendment barring release of the detainee abuse photos.  I am informed that the instruction is not “binding,” but this is the first indication that perhaps the House Democrats don’t have the stomach to carry through on this sort of wretched grandstanding. It certainly does show once again that those who are serious about national security need to loudly and persistently make their views known.

Earlier today Senator Lindsay Graham did a great service in posting extracts from declarations provided by Generals David Petraeus and Raymond Odierno in support of the Obama administration’s position not to release detainee abuse photos. They should be read in full, but here’s a sample from General Petraeus:

Newly released photos depicting abuse, or that could be construed as depicting abuse, of Iraqis in U.S. military custody would inflame emotions across Iraq and trigger the same motivations that prompted many young men to respond to calls for jihad following the Abu Ghraib photo release. After the Abu Ghraib photos were publicized in 2004, there was a significant response to the call for jihad, with new extremists committing themselves to violence against U.S. forces. Al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) and Sunni insurgents groups in Iraq will likely use any release of detainee abuse images for propaganda purposes, and possibly as an opportunity to widen the call for jihad against U.S. forces, which could result in a near-term increase in recruiting and attacks.

And from Odierno who heads the multi-national force in Iraq:

I strongly believe the release of these photos will endanger the lives of U.S. Soldiers, Airmen, Marines, Sailors and civilians as well as the lives of our Iraqi partners. Certain operating units are at particular risk of harm from release of the photos. One example is our training teams throughout Iraq. These are small elements of between 15 and 30 individuals who live on Iraqi-controlled installations and thus do not have the same protections afforded to many of our service members. In addition, as they assist our Iraqi partners, members of such teams are regularly engaged in small-unit patrols, making them more vulnerable to insurgent attacks or other violence directed at U.S. forces. Accordingly, there is good reason to conclude that the soldiers in those teams and in similarly situated units would face a particularly serious risk to their lives and physical safety.

Well, after threatening to torpedo their own president and dismiss the advice of these generals, it seems the House Democrats have blinked — at least for now. In a  267-152 vote (with 95 Democrats in the majority) the House instructed its conferees in their negotiations with the Senate to retain the Lieberman-Graham amendment barring release of the detainee abuse photos.  I am informed that the instruction is not “binding,” but this is the first indication that perhaps the House Democrats don’t have the stomach to carry through on this sort of wretched grandstanding. It certainly does show once again that those who are serious about national security need to loudly and persistently make their views known.

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WANTED: ONLINE EDITOR

Commentary is seeking an online editor, with extensive copy-editing experience, grounding in Commentary Magazine past and present, and commonality with the institution’s views and mission. Please note: The job is fulltime and the editor will work out of our New York office. Send resume and cover letter to commenart@gmail.com.

Commentary is seeking an online editor, with extensive copy-editing experience, grounding in Commentary Magazine past and present, and commonality with the institution’s views and mission. Please note: The job is fulltime and the editor will work out of our New York office. Send resume and cover letter to commenart@gmail.com.

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The Lone Nuts

There have been three acts of domestic terrorism this month alone. And all have a single, unifying element.

In  Kansas, Dr. George Tiller, a doctor who specialized in late-term abortions, was shot and killed in his church on June 1.

The very next day, in Arkansas, two young soldiers working with Army recruiters were shot. Private William Long was killed, while Private Quinton Ezeagwula was wounded.

And this week, a security guard at the National Holocaust Museum was shot. Stephen Tyrone Johns was fatally wounded by the attacker, who in turn was wounded by John’s fellow guards.

The shooters’ motives all differ. In Kansas, it was apparently done by a radical anti-abortion nutcase. In Arkansas, the accused shooter is proclaiming jihad. And in Washington, D.C. the suspect is an octogenarian with a decades-long background of violence and hatred — of Jews, blacks, “neo-cons,” liberals, those not sufficiently right-wing, and so on.

Two of the suspects were apparently already on the radar of law enforcement. The Arkansas shooter had recently returned from Yemen, where he is suspected of having sought training from Islamic terrorists. And the D.C. shooter had served six years for attempting to kidnap members of the Federal Reserve in 1981.

But the single unifying element of the three is that they all apparently acted alone.

The “lone nuts” are notoriously the hardest to catch. Most conspiracies are broken when one of the conspirators — for whatever reason — lets crucial information slip. It can be an accident, an attack of conscience, or simple self-interest, but it almost always takes an informant to break such cases.

In these three shootings, though, that was never a possibility. Each was a “conspiracy of one,” confiding his plans in no one.

This should come as no great surprise. Often the most successful acts of violence are carried out by a single individual, acting alone. The men who shot Presidents Reagan and Kennedy, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Robert Kennedy, and George Wallace, were acting alone. The Unabomber had no assistant. The Oklahoma City bombing and the D.C. Sniper attacks were carried out by two people each.

There’s a reason government targets groups prone to acts of violence. Intervention among those groups may prevent predictable outbursts of crime.

The Unabomber was caught after a tip from his family. The D.C. Snipers were caught due to the actions of concerned private citizens. And the Oklahoma City bombers were caught by a small-town cop during a traffic stop.

The unlimited access afforded by interconnectivity means that the power of a single individual to affect the course of history has never been greater than it is today. And in these past few weeks, we have been starkly reminded of the fact that the effect can be at least as negative as it can be positive .

There have been three acts of domestic terrorism this month alone. And all have a single, unifying element.

In  Kansas, Dr. George Tiller, a doctor who specialized in late-term abortions, was shot and killed in his church on June 1.

The very next day, in Arkansas, two young soldiers working with Army recruiters were shot. Private William Long was killed, while Private Quinton Ezeagwula was wounded.

And this week, a security guard at the National Holocaust Museum was shot. Stephen Tyrone Johns was fatally wounded by the attacker, who in turn was wounded by John’s fellow guards.

The shooters’ motives all differ. In Kansas, it was apparently done by a radical anti-abortion nutcase. In Arkansas, the accused shooter is proclaiming jihad. And in Washington, D.C. the suspect is an octogenarian with a decades-long background of violence and hatred — of Jews, blacks, “neo-cons,” liberals, those not sufficiently right-wing, and so on.

Two of the suspects were apparently already on the radar of law enforcement. The Arkansas shooter had recently returned from Yemen, where he is suspected of having sought training from Islamic terrorists. And the D.C. shooter had served six years for attempting to kidnap members of the Federal Reserve in 1981.

But the single unifying element of the three is that they all apparently acted alone.

The “lone nuts” are notoriously the hardest to catch. Most conspiracies are broken when one of the conspirators — for whatever reason — lets crucial information slip. It can be an accident, an attack of conscience, or simple self-interest, but it almost always takes an informant to break such cases.

In these three shootings, though, that was never a possibility. Each was a “conspiracy of one,” confiding his plans in no one.

This should come as no great surprise. Often the most successful acts of violence are carried out by a single individual, acting alone. The men who shot Presidents Reagan and Kennedy, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Robert Kennedy, and George Wallace, were acting alone. The Unabomber had no assistant. The Oklahoma City bombing and the D.C. Sniper attacks were carried out by two people each.

There’s a reason government targets groups prone to acts of violence. Intervention among those groups may prevent predictable outbursts of crime.

The Unabomber was caught after a tip from his family. The D.C. Snipers were caught due to the actions of concerned private citizens. And the Oklahoma City bombers were caught by a small-town cop during a traffic stop.

The unlimited access afforded by interconnectivity means that the power of a single individual to affect the course of history has never been greater than it is today. And in these past few weeks, we have been starkly reminded of the fact that the effect can be at least as negative as it can be positive .

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Can Private Healthcare Be Saved?

Karl Rove makes the argument that “public option” healthcare reform would be irreversible and send us on our way “to becoming a European-style welfare state.” He then proceeds to list the key arguments against such a move. It is unnecessary; it will destroy private insurance coverage; it will force us onto a government plan; it is too expensive. And:

[T]he public option puts government firmly in the middle of the relationship between patients and their doctors. If you think insurance companies are bad, imagine what happens when government is the insurance carrier, with little or no competition and no concern you’ll change to another company.

He’s right, but it is not clear how it can be stopped. After all, the Democrats have a lot of votes. And lots of unworkable, expensive, and unwise legislation is getting through these days. It seems that those opposed to the plan have their work cut out for them. But perhaps it’s not such an uphill battle. The three immediate tasks for those opposing a government takeover of healthcare: impress upon lawmakers that the risk of doing nothing is lower than the risk of passing a horrible bill, dissolve the phony coalition in favor of a vague concept of “reform,” and present a viable alternative.

First, it is important to remember that the public isn’t clamoring for what the president and Democratic leaders are pushing. When you look carefully, it is apparent that there is not much of a mandate for universal healthcare coverage. Yes, the vast majority of people want “healthcare reform.” But in a new poll:

Forty-nine percent of voters want to focus on controlling the cost of health care while 35 percent say the priority should be expanding coverage for Americans without health insurance. One of the proposals on ways to pay for a health care overhaul that gets a big thumbs-down is taxing health benefits. That’s opposed by 68 percent of voters while 26 percent support it.

So the first task is to convince lawmakers that there is not much upside to passing something the public doesn’t really want and a huge downside to wrecking a system most voters like just fine. The real risk to their re-election prospects is passing a bunch of taxes to pay for a huge government-run plan.

The next task is to pierce the canard that “everyone” is in favor of this. After a few dog-and-pony shows at the White House it is easy to come away with the impression that everyone is on board. But frankly, there is substantial opposition to what the president and Congress are cooking up. Most noteworthy, the  A.M.A. has come out against a public option:

The A.M.A. does not believe that creating a public health insurance option for non-disabled individuals under age 65 is the best way to expand health insurance coverage and lower costs. The introduction of a new public plan threatens to restrict patient choice by driving out private insurers, which currently provide coverage for nearly 70 percent of Americans.

Is Obama going to get between patients and their doctors? It seems so.

And finally, it is hard to beat something with nothing. But there are plenty of alternatives that get to the heart of the matter — the rising cost of healthcare and the disconnect between purchasers and payers of healthcare insurance. James Capretta has outlined what it might look like: a transition from employer-provided to individually purchased insurance, with no public option but enhanced competition. In May, he and Yuval Levin described what that would entail:

The core of such a reform would involve replacing the tax exemption for employer-based health coverage with a new federal tax credit for everyone. This would convert millions of passive insurance enrollees into cost-conscious consumers shopping in an insurance marketplace. But unlike past iterations of this approach, conservatives should propose to pursue it in stages, beginning with small businesses and the uninsured–groups with poor existing options and thus not averse to change.

Will it “work”? One doesn’t know but counting on the president’s plan to collapse because it is foolhardy, financially disastrous, offensive to free market principles, and bureaucratically unmanageable is a bad bet. The key is getting lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to see it is in their self-interest to find something better.

Karl Rove makes the argument that “public option” healthcare reform would be irreversible and send us on our way “to becoming a European-style welfare state.” He then proceeds to list the key arguments against such a move. It is unnecessary; it will destroy private insurance coverage; it will force us onto a government plan; it is too expensive. And:

[T]he public option puts government firmly in the middle of the relationship between patients and their doctors. If you think insurance companies are bad, imagine what happens when government is the insurance carrier, with little or no competition and no concern you’ll change to another company.

He’s right, but it is not clear how it can be stopped. After all, the Democrats have a lot of votes. And lots of unworkable, expensive, and unwise legislation is getting through these days. It seems that those opposed to the plan have their work cut out for them. But perhaps it’s not such an uphill battle. The three immediate tasks for those opposing a government takeover of healthcare: impress upon lawmakers that the risk of doing nothing is lower than the risk of passing a horrible bill, dissolve the phony coalition in favor of a vague concept of “reform,” and present a viable alternative.

First, it is important to remember that the public isn’t clamoring for what the president and Democratic leaders are pushing. When you look carefully, it is apparent that there is not much of a mandate for universal healthcare coverage. Yes, the vast majority of people want “healthcare reform.” But in a new poll:

Forty-nine percent of voters want to focus on controlling the cost of health care while 35 percent say the priority should be expanding coverage for Americans without health insurance. One of the proposals on ways to pay for a health care overhaul that gets a big thumbs-down is taxing health benefits. That’s opposed by 68 percent of voters while 26 percent support it.

So the first task is to convince lawmakers that there is not much upside to passing something the public doesn’t really want and a huge downside to wrecking a system most voters like just fine. The real risk to their re-election prospects is passing a bunch of taxes to pay for a huge government-run plan.

The next task is to pierce the canard that “everyone” is in favor of this. After a few dog-and-pony shows at the White House it is easy to come away with the impression that everyone is on board. But frankly, there is substantial opposition to what the president and Congress are cooking up. Most noteworthy, the  A.M.A. has come out against a public option:

The A.M.A. does not believe that creating a public health insurance option for non-disabled individuals under age 65 is the best way to expand health insurance coverage and lower costs. The introduction of a new public plan threatens to restrict patient choice by driving out private insurers, which currently provide coverage for nearly 70 percent of Americans.

Is Obama going to get between patients and their doctors? It seems so.

And finally, it is hard to beat something with nothing. But there are plenty of alternatives that get to the heart of the matter — the rising cost of healthcare and the disconnect between purchasers and payers of healthcare insurance. James Capretta has outlined what it might look like: a transition from employer-provided to individually purchased insurance, with no public option but enhanced competition. In May, he and Yuval Levin described what that would entail:

The core of such a reform would involve replacing the tax exemption for employer-based health coverage with a new federal tax credit for everyone. This would convert millions of passive insurance enrollees into cost-conscious consumers shopping in an insurance marketplace. But unlike past iterations of this approach, conservatives should propose to pursue it in stages, beginning with small businesses and the uninsured–groups with poor existing options and thus not averse to change.

Will it “work”? One doesn’t know but counting on the president’s plan to collapse because it is foolhardy, financially disastrous, offensive to free market principles, and bureaucratically unmanageable is a bad bet. The key is getting lawmakers on both sides of the aisle to see it is in their self-interest to find something better.

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Okay, Then Be Vigilant

At almost the same moment Barack Obama reminded the nation that “we must remain vigilant against anti-Semitism and prejudice in all its forms,” the president’s ex-pastor and spiritual confidante, Jeremiah Wright, made the point that “them Jews ain’t going to let him talk to me.”

Obama did say anti-Semitism in all its forms, didn’t he? After all, the Jeremiah Wright variety of Jew hatred is far more common than the octogenarian gunman type. Well, this was Obama’s idea of “vigilan[ce]” in March of 2008, after Wright’s radicalism was exposed:

He said Rev. Wright “is like an old uncle who says things I don’t always agree with,” telling a Jewish group that everyone has someone like that in their family.

Does everyone also have someone like James W. von Brunn in their family? Von Brunn is the 88-year-old who walked into the Holocaust Memorial Museum with a rifle yesterday and opened fire, killing the guard Stephen T. Johns. I ask the question because according to Obama’s logic of March 2008 the answer is a simple yes. Obama’s eccentric “uncle” believes that the U.S. government invented the AIDS virus to destroy black people. Von Brunn maintains the mirror-image fiction: the Jews have launched a conspiracy to destroy the “white gene pool.” Von Brunn maintains, “Bit by bit government institutions and Congressmen fell into Jew hands.” Can those be any other than the same hands that Jeremiah Wright sees blocking his path to the president? Wright published a piece in his church newsletter claiming Israelis had devised an “ethnic bomb” capable of killing only Arabs and blacks. Von Brunn wrote a book that “exposes the Jews and explains what you must do to protect your White family.” That bomb was apparently more sophisticated than originally thought.

It’s usually wise to let campaign dogs lie and address matters of governance and policy once the election is over. I re-introduce Wright in part because of his own timing and in part because I fear Obama is currently in the midst of giving a pass to yet another form of anti-Semitism and prejudice. In his speech in Cairo, Obama did assert the factual reality of the Holocaust. This is to be applauded, but he fell short on the “vigilance” scale in his failure to mention the widespread anti-Semitism that infects every aspect of so many Muslim and Arab countries. In fact, immediately after noting that “the aspiration for a Jewish homeland is rooted in a tragic history that cannot be denied,” Obama asserted: “On the other hand, it is also undeniable that the Palestinian people — Muslims and Christians — have suffered in pursuit of a homeland.” The equivalence that Obama chose to traffic in is exactly what today’s most tenacious Jew haters use for perpetual cover. The president’s adoption of that line all but erased what came before it.

Being vigilant about anti-Semitism means a good deal more than issuing statements once prejudice results in murder. It means confronting hatred in one’s intimates and one’s audiences, not excusing it as eccentricity or resistance. It means calling anti-Semitism by its rightful name when staring it in the face — “in all its forms.”

At almost the same moment Barack Obama reminded the nation that “we must remain vigilant against anti-Semitism and prejudice in all its forms,” the president’s ex-pastor and spiritual confidante, Jeremiah Wright, made the point that “them Jews ain’t going to let him talk to me.”

Obama did say anti-Semitism in all its forms, didn’t he? After all, the Jeremiah Wright variety of Jew hatred is far more common than the octogenarian gunman type. Well, this was Obama’s idea of “vigilan[ce]” in March of 2008, after Wright’s radicalism was exposed:

He said Rev. Wright “is like an old uncle who says things I don’t always agree with,” telling a Jewish group that everyone has someone like that in their family.

Does everyone also have someone like James W. von Brunn in their family? Von Brunn is the 88-year-old who walked into the Holocaust Memorial Museum with a rifle yesterday and opened fire, killing the guard Stephen T. Johns. I ask the question because according to Obama’s logic of March 2008 the answer is a simple yes. Obama’s eccentric “uncle” believes that the U.S. government invented the AIDS virus to destroy black people. Von Brunn maintains the mirror-image fiction: the Jews have launched a conspiracy to destroy the “white gene pool.” Von Brunn maintains, “Bit by bit government institutions and Congressmen fell into Jew hands.” Can those be any other than the same hands that Jeremiah Wright sees blocking his path to the president? Wright published a piece in his church newsletter claiming Israelis had devised an “ethnic bomb” capable of killing only Arabs and blacks. Von Brunn wrote a book that “exposes the Jews and explains what you must do to protect your White family.” That bomb was apparently more sophisticated than originally thought.

It’s usually wise to let campaign dogs lie and address matters of governance and policy once the election is over. I re-introduce Wright in part because of his own timing and in part because I fear Obama is currently in the midst of giving a pass to yet another form of anti-Semitism and prejudice. In his speech in Cairo, Obama did assert the factual reality of the Holocaust. This is to be applauded, but he fell short on the “vigilance” scale in his failure to mention the widespread anti-Semitism that infects every aspect of so many Muslim and Arab countries. In fact, immediately after noting that “the aspiration for a Jewish homeland is rooted in a tragic history that cannot be denied,” Obama asserted: “On the other hand, it is also undeniable that the Palestinian people — Muslims and Christians — have suffered in pursuit of a homeland.” The equivalence that Obama chose to traffic in is exactly what today’s most tenacious Jew haters use for perpetual cover. The president’s adoption of that line all but erased what came before it.

Being vigilant about anti-Semitism means a good deal more than issuing statements once prejudice results in murder. It means confronting hatred in one’s intimates and one’s audiences, not excusing it as eccentricity or resistance. It means calling anti-Semitism by its rightful name when staring it in the face — “in all its forms.”

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“Let Them Ride the Bus!”

The House of Representatives has passed a bill they call the “Cash For Clunkers” bill, which will give people who trade in older vehicles that get poor gas mileage up to $4,500 toward a new car purchase. The idea is to get vehicles that use a lot of gas off the road — as part of the bill, the dealer who accepts the old vehicle has to destroy it.

It seems like a good idea, and like most federal laws inspired by “good ideas” and “good intentions,” it’s likely going to come with strings attached.

The major problem is that it is going to pretty much destroy the cheap car market in America.

There are a lot of people who simply can’t afford to spend a lot on a vehicle. Take me, for one. I drive an SUV made in the last century that I picked up for around $2,000. It gets mediocre mileage, but that works out OK for me — I don’t drive a lot, but I prefer the security of the all-wheel drive for New Hampshire winters. I wince whenever I visit the gas pump, but I find the trade-off worthwhile.

If you want to know just how the bill will affect the used-car market, head on over to Craig’s List, click on your city or state, choose “cars+trucks,” then search for vehicles for $4,500 or less. In New Hampshire alone, the list of such vehicles posted just today was around 200.

There is definitely a market for such vehicles. And it is a market made up of people who often don’t have a viable alternative, such as public transportation.

And it isn’t just the “clunkers” that will be taken off the road. The indirect effect of this bill will be to artificially inflate the value of all used cars — owners will find themselves asking “do I want to try to sell this perfectly-good car for at least $5,000 to someone who needs it, or should I let it get destroyed for a $4,500 credit?” Many will find the time and hassle in selling it simply not worth the additional money.

In essence, the bill will boost the minimum value of many used cars to $4,500 — out of the reach of many people in need of transportation.

But that won’t matter. We’ll have gotten a bunch of “gas guzzlers” off the road, preventing them from consuming valuable resources and polluting our air.

As for the poor… “get a horse!”

The House of Representatives has passed a bill they call the “Cash For Clunkers” bill, which will give people who trade in older vehicles that get poor gas mileage up to $4,500 toward a new car purchase. The idea is to get vehicles that use a lot of gas off the road — as part of the bill, the dealer who accepts the old vehicle has to destroy it.

It seems like a good idea, and like most federal laws inspired by “good ideas” and “good intentions,” it’s likely going to come with strings attached.

The major problem is that it is going to pretty much destroy the cheap car market in America.

There are a lot of people who simply can’t afford to spend a lot on a vehicle. Take me, for one. I drive an SUV made in the last century that I picked up for around $2,000. It gets mediocre mileage, but that works out OK for me — I don’t drive a lot, but I prefer the security of the all-wheel drive for New Hampshire winters. I wince whenever I visit the gas pump, but I find the trade-off worthwhile.

If you want to know just how the bill will affect the used-car market, head on over to Craig’s List, click on your city or state, choose “cars+trucks,” then search for vehicles for $4,500 or less. In New Hampshire alone, the list of such vehicles posted just today was around 200.

There is definitely a market for such vehicles. And it is a market made up of people who often don’t have a viable alternative, such as public transportation.

And it isn’t just the “clunkers” that will be taken off the road. The indirect effect of this bill will be to artificially inflate the value of all used cars — owners will find themselves asking “do I want to try to sell this perfectly-good car for at least $5,000 to someone who needs it, or should I let it get destroyed for a $4,500 credit?” Many will find the time and hassle in selling it simply not worth the additional money.

In essence, the bill will boost the minimum value of many used cars to $4,500 — out of the reach of many people in need of transportation.

But that won’t matter. We’ll have gotten a bunch of “gas guzzlers” off the road, preventing them from consuming valuable resources and polluting our air.

As for the poor… “get a horse!”

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We’ve Seen This Before

Norman Ornstein tries to warn the Democrats: it’s 1994 all over again. He observes:

The populist anger is back, and not just in the United States–the reaction in Britain to parliamentary expense abuses is directly reminiscent of the reaction to the House Bank. So far, it has not been directed at Congress, in part because the 111th Congress has been so remarkably productive, in part because of the popularity of President Barack Obama, in part because of the ineptitude of the minority party leadership. But one can see the train wreck coming. . .  The leadership needs to avoid any sense that it is protecting Members because of their personal ties to them. And Congress needs to enact further reforms to make the earmarking and contracting process work better.

The list is long and embarrassingly familiar — Chris Dodd, Blago, Charlie Rangel, the PMA Group scandal suspects, and William Jefferson. His concern is this string of scandals. But isn’t there something more to the populist disgust?

The administration and Congress are doing lots of things voters don’t like — taking over car companies, spending and borrowing with no end in sight, and setting up a gargantuan stimulus plan that’s a bust. There is a substantive element to the populist ire bubbling up beneath the president’s lofty personal approval ratings. And this, after all, is how electoral shifts happen — when ethics and policy flubs combine in a perfect storm. Think 2006.

As Ornstein points out, it’s not too late for members of both parties to get their act together. But alas they show not the slightest inclination to do so. They will take their chances that no one is really all that upset.

Norman Ornstein tries to warn the Democrats: it’s 1994 all over again. He observes:

The populist anger is back, and not just in the United States–the reaction in Britain to parliamentary expense abuses is directly reminiscent of the reaction to the House Bank. So far, it has not been directed at Congress, in part because the 111th Congress has been so remarkably productive, in part because of the popularity of President Barack Obama, in part because of the ineptitude of the minority party leadership. But one can see the train wreck coming. . .  The leadership needs to avoid any sense that it is protecting Members because of their personal ties to them. And Congress needs to enact further reforms to make the earmarking and contracting process work better.

The list is long and embarrassingly familiar — Chris Dodd, Blago, Charlie Rangel, the PMA Group scandal suspects, and William Jefferson. His concern is this string of scandals. But isn’t there something more to the populist disgust?

The administration and Congress are doing lots of things voters don’t like — taking over car companies, spending and borrowing with no end in sight, and setting up a gargantuan stimulus plan that’s a bust. There is a substantive element to the populist ire bubbling up beneath the president’s lofty personal approval ratings. And this, after all, is how electoral shifts happen — when ethics and policy flubs combine in a perfect storm. Think 2006.

As Ornstein points out, it’s not too late for members of both parties to get their act together. But alas they show not the slightest inclination to do so. They will take their chances that no one is really all that upset.

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The Gray Lady Gives It Away

Yesterday’s New York Times account of some speeches delivered by Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor should remove any lingering doubt you might have about whether Sotomayor is obsessed with identity politics and has taken on the baggage of the victim-mongering industry that has subsumed the original civil rights movement.

On her own affirmative action experience:

Judge Sonia Sotomayor once described herself as “a product of affirmative action” who was admitted to two Ivy League schools despite scoring lower on standardized tests than many classmates, which she attributed to “cultural biases” that are “built into testing.”

[. . .]

“Since I have difficulty defining merit and what merit alone means, and in any context, whether it’s judicial or otherwise, I accept that different experiences in and of itself, bring merit to the system,” she said, adding, “I think it brings to the system more of a sense of fairness when these litigants see people like myself on the bench.”

You see it’s not her fault she doesn’t match up to other students: merit is just a canard to keep minorities down. The important thing is to get more minorities into elite schools and on the bench to change the system. Got it? (Nary a concern is voiced for the white student with superior test scores whom she bumped out of Yale.) That’s exactly the position she articulated in Ricci and which runs through her “wise Latina” and other speeches. As Stuart Taylor recounts:

In response to Judge Rosemary Pooler’s assertion that “no one was hurt” in the New Haven case, Torre said: “No one was hurt? For heaven’s sakes, judge, if they didn’t refuse to fill the vacancies, these men would be lieutenants and captains. How can you say they weren’t hurt? They’re out $1,000 apiece [for test preparation]…. They spent three months of their lives holed up in a room, like I was and you were when we took the bar exam.”

Both on the bench and in repeated speeches she eschews achievement in favor of ethnic or racial parity. And if one must throw out test scores for lawyers or firefighters to get to the “right” result — numerical parity for minorities — so be it. To this cause she has devoted considerable energy and effort: “Reflecting on her 12 years on the board of the Puerto Rican Legal Defense Fund before she became a judge, she recalled helping change its policy focus from voting rights and bilingual education to economic issues, like ‘cases attacking civil service testing and issues of union admissions.’”

The New York Times article also points out how shockingly deficient her legal reasoning skills are. On the subject of international law in a 2009 speech, she seemed to agree with the Supreme Court’s decision in Medellin v. Texas rejecting imposition of international law. But that’s not all:

Still, Judge Sotomayor also criticized conservative attacks on Supreme Court decisions in recent terms that mentioned foreign law — including decisions striking down the death penalty for juveniles and striking down a Texas law barring sodomy.

“In both those cases the courts were very, very careful to note that they weren’t using that law to decide the American question,” she said. “They were just using that law to help us understand what the concepts meant to other countries, and to help us understand whether our understanding of our own constitutional rights fell into the mainstream of human thinking.”

Huh? What pray tell is “the mainstream of human thinking” and how does it inform what the constitution requires or permits? Leave aside the rambling sentence construction for a moment. Her reasoning is circular and inept. If we aren’t supposed to be applying international law to decide a U.S. legal question why do we care to survey “mainstream human thinking”? (And is there some non-human thinking she feels safe excluding?)

This is not a comforting picture: a self-described affirmative action beneficiary who declares merit to be bunk, looks feverishly for bias rather than individual achievement to explain minority achievement gaps, and whose legal reasoning is mediocre at best. She, among all the judges in the country, was the nominee Obama selected?

Yesterday’s New York Times account of some speeches delivered by Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor should remove any lingering doubt you might have about whether Sotomayor is obsessed with identity politics and has taken on the baggage of the victim-mongering industry that has subsumed the original civil rights movement.

On her own affirmative action experience:

Judge Sonia Sotomayor once described herself as “a product of affirmative action” who was admitted to two Ivy League schools despite scoring lower on standardized tests than many classmates, which she attributed to “cultural biases” that are “built into testing.”

[. . .]

“Since I have difficulty defining merit and what merit alone means, and in any context, whether it’s judicial or otherwise, I accept that different experiences in and of itself, bring merit to the system,” she said, adding, “I think it brings to the system more of a sense of fairness when these litigants see people like myself on the bench.”

You see it’s not her fault she doesn’t match up to other students: merit is just a canard to keep minorities down. The important thing is to get more minorities into elite schools and on the bench to change the system. Got it? (Nary a concern is voiced for the white student with superior test scores whom she bumped out of Yale.) That’s exactly the position she articulated in Ricci and which runs through her “wise Latina” and other speeches. As Stuart Taylor recounts:

In response to Judge Rosemary Pooler’s assertion that “no one was hurt” in the New Haven case, Torre said: “No one was hurt? For heaven’s sakes, judge, if they didn’t refuse to fill the vacancies, these men would be lieutenants and captains. How can you say they weren’t hurt? They’re out $1,000 apiece [for test preparation]…. They spent three months of their lives holed up in a room, like I was and you were when we took the bar exam.”

Both on the bench and in repeated speeches she eschews achievement in favor of ethnic or racial parity. And if one must throw out test scores for lawyers or firefighters to get to the “right” result — numerical parity for minorities — so be it. To this cause she has devoted considerable energy and effort: “Reflecting on her 12 years on the board of the Puerto Rican Legal Defense Fund before she became a judge, she recalled helping change its policy focus from voting rights and bilingual education to economic issues, like ‘cases attacking civil service testing and issues of union admissions.’”

The New York Times article also points out how shockingly deficient her legal reasoning skills are. On the subject of international law in a 2009 speech, she seemed to agree with the Supreme Court’s decision in Medellin v. Texas rejecting imposition of international law. But that’s not all:

Still, Judge Sotomayor also criticized conservative attacks on Supreme Court decisions in recent terms that mentioned foreign law — including decisions striking down the death penalty for juveniles and striking down a Texas law barring sodomy.

“In both those cases the courts were very, very careful to note that they weren’t using that law to decide the American question,” she said. “They were just using that law to help us understand what the concepts meant to other countries, and to help us understand whether our understanding of our own constitutional rights fell into the mainstream of human thinking.”

Huh? What pray tell is “the mainstream of human thinking” and how does it inform what the constitution requires or permits? Leave aside the rambling sentence construction for a moment. Her reasoning is circular and inept. If we aren’t supposed to be applying international law to decide a U.S. legal question why do we care to survey “mainstream human thinking”? (And is there some non-human thinking she feels safe excluding?)

This is not a comforting picture: a self-described affirmative action beneficiary who declares merit to be bunk, looks feverishly for bias rather than individual achievement to explain minority achievement gaps, and whose legal reasoning is mediocre at best. She, among all the judges in the country, was the nominee Obama selected?

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Iran Appeasement Update: Cohen’s Back in Tehran

Roger Cohen is back in Tehran this week but the good news is that, unlike his previous visit, this trip does not find the New York Times columnist harassing the beleaguered remnants of the once great Jewish community of Persia into giving testimonials about the magnanimity of their oppressors. (For a more thorough discussion of Cohen’s earlier visit see my article “An Ominous Turn in Elite Opinion,” in the May issue of COMMENTARY.) Instead, after a refreshing break in Vietnam (where he penned columns whitewashing the communist dictatorship of that country much as he did for the tyrants of Tehran) Cohen has returned to the land of Omar Khayyam for what we may laughably term “coverage” of Iran’s presidential election.

The point of today’s Cohen column (available only in the online edition of the Times), and virtually every other piece he has written about Iran this year, is to knock down the popular and accurate image of the place as a police state run by fanatical mullahs. The election appears to be a lively affair with what may well be a close race between incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and challenger Mir Hussein Moussavi — the man western reporters term a “reformer.” But, as usual, Cohen gets so caught up in the atmosphere into which he has parachuted that he interprets what he’s seeing as the end of the long night of Islamist rule:

For months now, I’ve been urging another look at Iran, beyond dangerous demonization of it as a totalitarian state. Seldom has the country looked less like one than in these giddy June days.

I wandered in a sea of green ribbons, hats, banners and bandannas to a rally at which Ahmadinejad was mocked as “a midget” and Moussavi’s wife, Zahra Rahnavard, sporting a floral hijab that taunted grey-black officialdom, warned the president that: “If there is vote rigging, Iran will rise up.”

A Moussavi kite hovered; a shout went up that “It’s even written in the sky.” I don’t know about that, but something is stirring again in the Islamic Republic, a nation attached to both words in its self-description. … Moussavi is dour but seen as a man of integrity, the anti-Ahmadinejad who can usher back the 1979 revolution’s promise rather than incarnate its repressive turn.”

What’s lacking here is analysis of any real differences between Moussavi and Ahmadinejad. While Moussavi may tone down the outward and obnoxious face of Iran (i.e. Holocaust denial), will he cut off the spigots of aid for Hamas and Hezbollah, the terrorist groups that form the long arm of Iranian foreign policy? Will he end Tehran’s nuclear delusion?

We don’t know the answers to these questions and neither does Cohen. While diving headfirst into the minutia of the feuds between the rival groups of mullahs and their hangers-on that constitute Iranian politics, Cohen doesn’t mention that the Islamist religious figures that run the country (and who vet each potential candidate for president) have no intention of changing course even if a new front man adopts a more civil tone.

The real fallacy in this column is Cohen’s astonishing belief that it was America that created Ahmadinejad: “Why the sudden turbulence? … Radicalism in the Bush White House bred radicalism in Iran, making life easy for Ahmadinejad. President Obama’s outreach, by contrast, has unsettled the regime.”

The lack of historical perspective in this sentence is breathtaking. George W. Bush created Iranian radicalism? The Iranian regime created by the Ayatollah Khomeini and perpetuated by his followers after his death has never ceased being a radical revolutionary movement aimed at oppressing its own people and spreading its vision of Islam and hatred for the West elsewhere. Iranian support for terror and its hopes for a nuclear option didn’t begin with Ahmadinejad and, it is fairly easy to surmise, won’t end without him.

Roger Cohen may actually believe that Obama and Moussavi will together usher in an era of “rapprochement with the United States that will at the same time preserve a modified regime.” But, even if that happens, why will the preservation of an Islamist regime that will, no doubt, keep its nuclear options as well as its terrorist satraps, be something that the United States would desire? The only thing that Obama’s appeasement of a more moderate-sounding Tehran would accomplish would be to further isolate a still threatened State of Israel and undermine any hope of genuine reform in Iran. But anyone who has been reading Roger Cohen’s columns this year will understand that it is precisely this outcome the columnist desires.

Roger Cohen is back in Tehran this week but the good news is that, unlike his previous visit, this trip does not find the New York Times columnist harassing the beleaguered remnants of the once great Jewish community of Persia into giving testimonials about the magnanimity of their oppressors. (For a more thorough discussion of Cohen’s earlier visit see my article “An Ominous Turn in Elite Opinion,” in the May issue of COMMENTARY.) Instead, after a refreshing break in Vietnam (where he penned columns whitewashing the communist dictatorship of that country much as he did for the tyrants of Tehran) Cohen has returned to the land of Omar Khayyam for what we may laughably term “coverage” of Iran’s presidential election.

The point of today’s Cohen column (available only in the online edition of the Times), and virtually every other piece he has written about Iran this year, is to knock down the popular and accurate image of the place as a police state run by fanatical mullahs. The election appears to be a lively affair with what may well be a close race between incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and challenger Mir Hussein Moussavi — the man western reporters term a “reformer.” But, as usual, Cohen gets so caught up in the atmosphere into which he has parachuted that he interprets what he’s seeing as the end of the long night of Islamist rule:

For months now, I’ve been urging another look at Iran, beyond dangerous demonization of it as a totalitarian state. Seldom has the country looked less like one than in these giddy June days.

I wandered in a sea of green ribbons, hats, banners and bandannas to a rally at which Ahmadinejad was mocked as “a midget” and Moussavi’s wife, Zahra Rahnavard, sporting a floral hijab that taunted grey-black officialdom, warned the president that: “If there is vote rigging, Iran will rise up.”

A Moussavi kite hovered; a shout went up that “It’s even written in the sky.” I don’t know about that, but something is stirring again in the Islamic Republic, a nation attached to both words in its self-description. … Moussavi is dour but seen as a man of integrity, the anti-Ahmadinejad who can usher back the 1979 revolution’s promise rather than incarnate its repressive turn.”

What’s lacking here is analysis of any real differences between Moussavi and Ahmadinejad. While Moussavi may tone down the outward and obnoxious face of Iran (i.e. Holocaust denial), will he cut off the spigots of aid for Hamas and Hezbollah, the terrorist groups that form the long arm of Iranian foreign policy? Will he end Tehran’s nuclear delusion?

We don’t know the answers to these questions and neither does Cohen. While diving headfirst into the minutia of the feuds between the rival groups of mullahs and their hangers-on that constitute Iranian politics, Cohen doesn’t mention that the Islamist religious figures that run the country (and who vet each potential candidate for president) have no intention of changing course even if a new front man adopts a more civil tone.

The real fallacy in this column is Cohen’s astonishing belief that it was America that created Ahmadinejad: “Why the sudden turbulence? … Radicalism in the Bush White House bred radicalism in Iran, making life easy for Ahmadinejad. President Obama’s outreach, by contrast, has unsettled the regime.”

The lack of historical perspective in this sentence is breathtaking. George W. Bush created Iranian radicalism? The Iranian regime created by the Ayatollah Khomeini and perpetuated by his followers after his death has never ceased being a radical revolutionary movement aimed at oppressing its own people and spreading its vision of Islam and hatred for the West elsewhere. Iranian support for terror and its hopes for a nuclear option didn’t begin with Ahmadinejad and, it is fairly easy to surmise, won’t end without him.

Roger Cohen may actually believe that Obama and Moussavi will together usher in an era of “rapprochement with the United States that will at the same time preserve a modified regime.” But, even if that happens, why will the preservation of an Islamist regime that will, no doubt, keep its nuclear options as well as its terrorist satraps, be something that the United States would desire? The only thing that Obama’s appeasement of a more moderate-sounding Tehran would accomplish would be to further isolate a still threatened State of Israel and undermine any hope of genuine reform in Iran. But anyone who has been reading Roger Cohen’s columns this year will understand that it is precisely this outcome the columnist desires.

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A Plan Everyone Hates

Mort Kondracke makes a powerful case that the model for healthcare reform should be the much-criticized Medicare Part D drug plan, and not a public option model or another individual-mandate plan. He explains:

The Medicare Part D program is based on competition among private insurance plans, whereas they are determined to model health reform on government-run, price-controlled Medicare Parts A and B or on Massachusetts’ individual-mandate plan.

But, as the latest Medicare trustees report warned, Medicare’s hospital insurance plan (Part A) is scheduled to go bankrupt in 2017. And Part B, which pays doctor bills, is experiencing “steep cost increases” for taxpayers and will demand “unusually large premium increases” for seniors who can afford to pay.

Meanwhile, Massachusetts’ heavily regulated plan, while covering 355,000 previously uninsured residents, is costing much more than expected – 32 percent more in its first year and an anticipated 20 percent more this year.

Many conservatives think of Medicare Part D as a disaster, a Republican-conceived entitlement plan. But it is one that actually works and is popular:

That’s partly because premiums are lower than expected. The monthly average for this year originally was expected to be $44. It’s actually $28, up just $3 from 2008.

The secret of Part D is that private insurance companies are competing for customers and offering them a wide array of choices. Seniors can switch plans once a year.

Some conservatives think they can stop ObamaCare simply by saying “no.” But if they want to maximize their chances of derailing a government-run nationalized and rationed healthcare system, then Medicare Part D offers the “compromise.” Liberals hate it because there is no price-fixing and it is fraught with competition. But that’s precisely why it works and why, if critics of Obama’s approach were smart, they’d take another look at the most effectively run and popular healthcare legislation we have.

Mort Kondracke makes a powerful case that the model for healthcare reform should be the much-criticized Medicare Part D drug plan, and not a public option model or another individual-mandate plan. He explains:

The Medicare Part D program is based on competition among private insurance plans, whereas they are determined to model health reform on government-run, price-controlled Medicare Parts A and B or on Massachusetts’ individual-mandate plan.

But, as the latest Medicare trustees report warned, Medicare’s hospital insurance plan (Part A) is scheduled to go bankrupt in 2017. And Part B, which pays doctor bills, is experiencing “steep cost increases” for taxpayers and will demand “unusually large premium increases” for seniors who can afford to pay.

Meanwhile, Massachusetts’ heavily regulated plan, while covering 355,000 previously uninsured residents, is costing much more than expected – 32 percent more in its first year and an anticipated 20 percent more this year.

Many conservatives think of Medicare Part D as a disaster, a Republican-conceived entitlement plan. But it is one that actually works and is popular:

That’s partly because premiums are lower than expected. The monthly average for this year originally was expected to be $44. It’s actually $28, up just $3 from 2008.

The secret of Part D is that private insurance companies are competing for customers and offering them a wide array of choices. Seniors can switch plans once a year.

Some conservatives think they can stop ObamaCare simply by saying “no.” But if they want to maximize their chances of derailing a government-run nationalized and rationed healthcare system, then Medicare Part D offers the “compromise.” Liberals hate it because there is no price-fixing and it is fraught with competition. But that’s precisely why it works and why, if critics of Obama’s approach were smart, they’d take another look at the most effectively run and popular healthcare legislation we have.

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Father and Son at the Holocaust Museum

Pollster.com is usually just a solid site for those interested in politics. Today, it is also home of the most moving response I’ve yet seen to yesterday’s Holocaust Museum attack.

Here is Mark Blumenthal, writing about an experience he had at the museum last summer:

He walked away from me and wandered up to the museum staffer standing at the head of the long line leading to the elevators that takes all visitors to the museum exhibits. I thought for a moment that Pop was going to ask directions. I was wrong.

He thrust out his arm in the direction of the staffer, displaying the number the Nazis tattooed on his arm at Auschwitz just a few inches from her face. Without making eye-contact and barely breaking stride, Pop kept walking. Understandably, the staffer barely blinked. She didn’t make a move to stop him.

Pop kept walking right into the elevator that had just filled with the visitors that had been waiting in that long line. And even though the elevator was already quite crowded, he walked right in. Jake and I had to run past the guard to catch up. “Pop, Pop,” I said, feeling a little embarrassed, hoping to talk him into at least waiting for the next elevator.

The staffer inside the elevator must have heard me, because he smiled, held the door and said with smile, “We have room for Pop. You guys too. C’mon in.”

Go ahead, and keep reading

Pollster.com is usually just a solid site for those interested in politics. Today, it is also home of the most moving response I’ve yet seen to yesterday’s Holocaust Museum attack.

Here is Mark Blumenthal, writing about an experience he had at the museum last summer:

He walked away from me and wandered up to the museum staffer standing at the head of the long line leading to the elevators that takes all visitors to the museum exhibits. I thought for a moment that Pop was going to ask directions. I was wrong.

He thrust out his arm in the direction of the staffer, displaying the number the Nazis tattooed on his arm at Auschwitz just a few inches from her face. Without making eye-contact and barely breaking stride, Pop kept walking. Understandably, the staffer barely blinked. She didn’t make a move to stop him.

Pop kept walking right into the elevator that had just filled with the visitors that had been waiting in that long line. And even though the elevator was already quite crowded, he walked right in. Jake and I had to run past the guard to catch up. “Pop, Pop,” I said, feeling a little embarrassed, hoping to talk him into at least waiting for the next elevator.

The staffer inside the elevator must have heard me, because he smiled, held the door and said with smile, “We have room for Pop. You guys too. C’mon in.”

Go ahead, and keep reading

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Re: Crazy Uncle Sam

In a blogger conference call yesterday Sen. Lamar Alexander explained his “Auto Stock for Every Taxpayer” plan that seeks, within a year of GM’s emergence from bankruptcy, to distribute the GM stock held by the government to the 120 million individuals who pay taxes. His aim, he explained, is to end the “political meddling” from Washington and also give GM a Green Bay Packer base of “interested fans.” He also announced he’ll be passing “a couple of times a week” Car Czar Award for political interference. The first winner: Rep. Barney Frank, who called up GM to prevent a warehouse closing in his state. (“There will be a never-ending supply of stories and I’ll have to pick and choose who to honor,” he explained in deadpan fashion.)

I asked about his reaction to the Supreme Court’s lifting of its stay on the Chrysler bankruptcy. He replied, “Private property and the rule of law are essential to the American character. And we have damaged both. Without both private property and the rule of law our system won’t function.” Later in the call he sounded a theme I expect we will hear more of from those trying to slow down the Obama juggernaut. He described “a troubling pattern of government take-overs” and then proceeded to tick them off: from banks to insurance firms to student loans to pay czars to car companies. And he warned: next up is healthcare.

What reaction has he gotten to his stock give-back plan from his Democratic colleagues? Why, they’ve been very quiet, he observed. Indeed, the Beltway politicians and bureaucrats are having way too much fun designing the cars of the future and telling the companies where to put their plants. Why stop now?

In a blogger conference call yesterday Sen. Lamar Alexander explained his “Auto Stock for Every Taxpayer” plan that seeks, within a year of GM’s emergence from bankruptcy, to distribute the GM stock held by the government to the 120 million individuals who pay taxes. His aim, he explained, is to end the “political meddling” from Washington and also give GM a Green Bay Packer base of “interested fans.” He also announced he’ll be passing “a couple of times a week” Car Czar Award for political interference. The first winner: Rep. Barney Frank, who called up GM to prevent a warehouse closing in his state. (“There will be a never-ending supply of stories and I’ll have to pick and choose who to honor,” he explained in deadpan fashion.)

I asked about his reaction to the Supreme Court’s lifting of its stay on the Chrysler bankruptcy. He replied, “Private property and the rule of law are essential to the American character. And we have damaged both. Without both private property and the rule of law our system won’t function.” Later in the call he sounded a theme I expect we will hear more of from those trying to slow down the Obama juggernaut. He described “a troubling pattern of government take-overs” and then proceeded to tick them off: from banks to insurance firms to student loans to pay czars to car companies. And he warned: next up is healthcare.

What reaction has he gotten to his stock give-back plan from his Democratic colleagues? Why, they’ve been very quiet, he observed. Indeed, the Beltway politicians and bureaucrats are having way too much fun designing the cars of the future and telling the companies where to put their plants. Why stop now?

Read Less

The Other Symbolism

A few days ago I mentioned the Washington Holocaust Museum in a post in which I raised the two different Holocaust narratives that Jews carried in their hearts. According to one, the Holocaust teaches us to reject violence, embrace tolerance, and learn to get along. According to the other, the Jewish people learned the absolute necessity of defense — including a sovereign state and an army — in order to survive in the real world. How do we react now, to a tragedy that cries out to be read in its own symbolic context?

The alleged attacker, Von Brunn, was a vicious anti-Semite who was not looking to kill a security guard. He was looking to kill Jews. In this he failed, and he failed only because of the heroic acts of Stephen Tyrone Johns, who sacrificed his life, and of the other guards who opened fire and took him out.

The event is tragic in anyone’s eyes, but only ironic according to the first Holocaust narrative. The Washington Post’s editorial this morning talks about how the museum is ” a place where visitors go to confront hatred, learn the danger of prejudice and promote human dignity… Such a reminder was delivered yesterday, in a most unexpected place.” The editors continue:

Several Holocaust visitors described the incident as “unbelievable” because it occurred in a place that, by memorializing the near-extinction of a people, is designed to prevent violence. One woman, the daughter of a Holocaust survivor, said the shooting demonstrates that hatred and prejudice are never-ending. Given the vile beliefs that news accounts have ascribed to the suspect, that view is understandable. But the hope that was enshrined in the Holocaust Museum when it opened in 1993 is that exposing the horrors of hate and prejudice will move people to tolerance.

From the perspective of the other narrative, however, the tragic events yesterday were anything but ironic. Indeed, they seem to prove the very lesson its proponents have been trying to teach us. The fact is that neither Johns nor his compatriots represent a rejection of violence. They represent the enlistment of force to protecting liberty — including the liberty of Jews to commemorate their past and celebrate their present. What is horribly clear today is that if not for their swift, heroic, and effective actions — indeed, were it not for the wisdom of whoever insisted on having well-trained armed guards protecting the place — we all know how much worse yesterday’s attack would have turned out.

A few days ago I mentioned the Washington Holocaust Museum in a post in which I raised the two different Holocaust narratives that Jews carried in their hearts. According to one, the Holocaust teaches us to reject violence, embrace tolerance, and learn to get along. According to the other, the Jewish people learned the absolute necessity of defense — including a sovereign state and an army — in order to survive in the real world. How do we react now, to a tragedy that cries out to be read in its own symbolic context?

The alleged attacker, Von Brunn, was a vicious anti-Semite who was not looking to kill a security guard. He was looking to kill Jews. In this he failed, and he failed only because of the heroic acts of Stephen Tyrone Johns, who sacrificed his life, and of the other guards who opened fire and took him out.

The event is tragic in anyone’s eyes, but only ironic according to the first Holocaust narrative. The Washington Post’s editorial this morning talks about how the museum is ” a place where visitors go to confront hatred, learn the danger of prejudice and promote human dignity… Such a reminder was delivered yesterday, in a most unexpected place.” The editors continue:

Several Holocaust visitors described the incident as “unbelievable” because it occurred in a place that, by memorializing the near-extinction of a people, is designed to prevent violence. One woman, the daughter of a Holocaust survivor, said the shooting demonstrates that hatred and prejudice are never-ending. Given the vile beliefs that news accounts have ascribed to the suspect, that view is understandable. But the hope that was enshrined in the Holocaust Museum when it opened in 1993 is that exposing the horrors of hate and prejudice will move people to tolerance.

From the perspective of the other narrative, however, the tragic events yesterday were anything but ironic. Indeed, they seem to prove the very lesson its proponents have been trying to teach us. The fact is that neither Johns nor his compatriots represent a rejection of violence. They represent the enlistment of force to protecting liberty — including the liberty of Jews to commemorate their past and celebrate their present. What is horribly clear today is that if not for their swift, heroic, and effective actions — indeed, were it not for the wisdom of whoever insisted on having well-trained armed guards protecting the place — we all know how much worse yesterday’s attack would have turned out.

Read Less

Flotsam and Jetsam

Michael Barone thinks the story of the Virginia Democratic primary is the very low turnout.

David Broder says Obama will eventually have to give up on the public option for healthcare reform. “[T]the Republican members of the Senate Finance Committee, where a bill will be written this month, said almost unanimously that the government plan was a nonstarter. [Sen.Bob] Bennett, who is not on the committee, underlined that determination, telling me ‘we will fight almost to the last man and woman against a government-run plan, and not a few Democrats will join us.’ . . .The time may come — either before or after the House votes on its bill — when Obama may have to demonstrate his flexibility on the issue of a government-run option.” Well, if Bennett is right then it’s the only way he’ll get his bill.

From the “not news anymore” file: Joe Biden says something dumb. This time saying Sotomayor has the “back” of law enforcement. But really, why is that any worse than giving assurances to pro-choice groups that Sotomayor is “solid” on abortion?

Republicans are complaining about the rush to the Sotomayor confirmation hearings. Listen, if you had a nominee who espoused views that 70% of Americans opposed you’d want to rush too.

Republicans turn the heat up a notch, demanding to know why Sotomayor’s answers to the written questionnaire are “incomplete.”

We are reading terrorists their Miranda rights in Afghanistan (imagine if they did this in WWII) and shipping the Uighurs off to a South Pacific Island. At some point our enemies will think we’re not serious about this.

Gail Collins writes that “New Yorkers believe they have the worst state government in the nation.” Oh, puleez. I know they have to be No. 1 in everything but New York’s not in the same league as California when it comes to rotten, mismanaged government.

Robert Gibbs won’t tell us what happens if Ahmed Ghailani is acquitted. And Sen. Mitch McConnell takes to the Senate floor to demand answers.

Funny how the Washington Post editors wag their fingers at those who want to nationalize the Virginia gubernatorial race. What, aren’t Obama and his bailouts, stimulus, and domestic agenda popular? We’re told that’s off bounds. Hmm.

A quintessentially conservative sentiment from George Will: “What the country needs today to shrink its problems is not presidential greatness. Rather, it needs individuals to do what they know they ought to do, and government to stop doing what it should know causes or prolongs problems.” Conservative, but perhaps not politically realistic, at least before the next election.

A must-read John Bolton piece on the risks associated with an Israeli strike on Iran. His analysis show why “Israel’s military option against Iran’s nuclear program is so unattractive, but also why failing to act is even worse. All these scenarios become infinitely more dangerous once Iran has deliverable nuclear weapons. So does daily life in Israel, elsewhere in the region and globally.” What is more: “Although there is no profit now in complaining that Israel should have struck during the Bush years, the missed opportunity is palpable. For the remainder of Mr. Obama’s term, uncertainty about his administration’s support for Israel will continue to dog Israeli governments and complicate their calculations. Iran will see that as well, and play it for all it’s worth.” And what is Obama’s viable alternative? He doesn’t have one.

Michael Barone thinks the story of the Virginia Democratic primary is the very low turnout.

David Broder says Obama will eventually have to give up on the public option for healthcare reform. “[T]the Republican members of the Senate Finance Committee, where a bill will be written this month, said almost unanimously that the government plan was a nonstarter. [Sen.Bob] Bennett, who is not on the committee, underlined that determination, telling me ‘we will fight almost to the last man and woman against a government-run plan, and not a few Democrats will join us.’ . . .The time may come — either before or after the House votes on its bill — when Obama may have to demonstrate his flexibility on the issue of a government-run option.” Well, if Bennett is right then it’s the only way he’ll get his bill.

From the “not news anymore” file: Joe Biden says something dumb. This time saying Sotomayor has the “back” of law enforcement. But really, why is that any worse than giving assurances to pro-choice groups that Sotomayor is “solid” on abortion?

Republicans are complaining about the rush to the Sotomayor confirmation hearings. Listen, if you had a nominee who espoused views that 70% of Americans opposed you’d want to rush too.

Republicans turn the heat up a notch, demanding to know why Sotomayor’s answers to the written questionnaire are “incomplete.”

We are reading terrorists their Miranda rights in Afghanistan (imagine if they did this in WWII) and shipping the Uighurs off to a South Pacific Island. At some point our enemies will think we’re not serious about this.

Gail Collins writes that “New Yorkers believe they have the worst state government in the nation.” Oh, puleez. I know they have to be No. 1 in everything but New York’s not in the same league as California when it comes to rotten, mismanaged government.

Robert Gibbs won’t tell us what happens if Ahmed Ghailani is acquitted. And Sen. Mitch McConnell takes to the Senate floor to demand answers.

Funny how the Washington Post editors wag their fingers at those who want to nationalize the Virginia gubernatorial race. What, aren’t Obama and his bailouts, stimulus, and domestic agenda popular? We’re told that’s off bounds. Hmm.

A quintessentially conservative sentiment from George Will: “What the country needs today to shrink its problems is not presidential greatness. Rather, it needs individuals to do what they know they ought to do, and government to stop doing what it should know causes or prolongs problems.” Conservative, but perhaps not politically realistic, at least before the next election.

A must-read John Bolton piece on the risks associated with an Israeli strike on Iran. His analysis show why “Israel’s military option against Iran’s nuclear program is so unattractive, but also why failing to act is even worse. All these scenarios become infinitely more dangerous once Iran has deliverable nuclear weapons. So does daily life in Israel, elsewhere in the region and globally.” What is more: “Although there is no profit now in complaining that Israel should have struck during the Bush years, the missed opportunity is palpable. For the remainder of Mr. Obama’s term, uncertainty about his administration’s support for Israel will continue to dog Israeli governments and complicate their calculations. Iran will see that as well, and play it for all it’s worth.” And what is Obama’s viable alternative? He doesn’t have one.

Read Less




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