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Flotsam and Jetsam

Christopher Hitchens makes the case that if you care about the Iranian threat, you should support a robust effort in Afghanistan: “A presence in Iraq and Afghanistan also means that the recent coup by the Revolutionary Guards in the all-important country of Iran is a coup that already faces containment. Just across two of its main frontiers are some pretty formidable contingents that the dictatorship must always keep in mind. This consideration is likely to become ever more important as the crisis of the mullahs deepens. . . . Given the rapid progress that it has made toward nuclear capability, and the no-less-rapid way that it has alienated its own people, the temptation for the Ahmadinejad regime to ‘busy giddy minds with foreign quarrels’ and to appeal to tribal and religious emotions is already fairly great. Now, try to picture the foregoing equation with the U.S. military presence removed, let alone with it having admitted defeat.”

I agree with this take on the president’s speech to schoolchildren: “I think the White House and Obama fouled this up from the beginning, making it look much more political than necessary, and gave their critics a boatload of ammunition with which to attack them. . . [B]y asking teachers to impress upon children the need to ‘help President Obama,’ they made it look blatantly political.” It’s the mark of a White House in trouble that they look like they are being devious when it’s just plain incompetence.

Well here’s an argument against all those czars: Van Jones wasn’t required to fill out the White House questionnaire, because his post wasn’t subject to Senate confirmation.

But he did undergo an FBI background check. So what showed up on that? The most transparent administration in history isn’t saying.

Ilya Somin: “Jones’ ridiculous beliefs probably aren’t typical of those of the administration’s many other czars. However, the fact that a person like him could be appointed to an important czar position does highlight one of the weaknesses of the czar system: by circumventing the normal appointment and confirmation process, it makes it more likely that a poorly qualified person or one with ridiculous policy views will be put in charge of important issues.”

But Obama’s not slowing down. Ron Bloom is the new “manufacturing czar.”

Obama has heard quite enough debate on health-care reform, he tells us. I’m sure he has.

He’s rather nervy to claim we all have “selective amnesia” about the economy. He was the one, you recall, who promised we would keep unemployment at 8 percent if the stimulus passed.

Be thankful for small favors. Jackson Diehl reminds us that Obama hasn’t actually personally met with Castro, Ahmadinejad, Kim Jong-il, and Hugo Chavez as he promised in his campaign.

Joseph Kennedy isn’t giving up his Hugo Chavez‒supported fuel business to run for the Senate seat held by his late uncle.

The latest ObamaCare gimmick is a public option “trigger” which isn’t likely to attract much support from conservatives once they figure out what it is all about. “Liberals should love the idea because a trigger isn’t a substantive concession; it merely ensures that the public option will arrive eventually, instead of immediately. Democrats will goose the tests so that private insurers can’t possibly meet them, mainly by imposing new regulations and other costly burdens.”



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