Commentary Magazine


Posts For: November 15, 2009

What Are They Thinking?

On Fox News Sunday, Liz Cheney laid into the president and Eric Holder for the decision to move KSM to New York for trial:

You know, I think it is absolutely unconscionable that we are a nation at war and that the president of the United States simultaneously is denying our troops on the ground in Afghanistan the resources that they need to prevail to win that war while he ushers terrorists onto the homeland.

He’s going to put these terrorists in a courthouse that is six blocks from where over 2,000 Americans were killed on the worst attack in history on the American homeland.

He’s going to give them a public platform where they can spew venom, where they can preach jihad, where they can reach out and recruit other terrorists. And it is totally unnecessary.

When the attorney general says that he’s bringing them to justice, he’s ignoring the fact that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed asked 11 months ago to be executed for Allah. He asked to plead guilty and be executed. We should have said, “All right, you’ve got it.” Instead, we’re bringing him and his cohorts to America. We’re giving them the constitutional rights of American citizens. And the attorney general throughout the day on Friday talked about this as a crime.

This, in powerful terms, is the argument against reverting to the 9/11 mentality and treating the attack on America as a mere crime. On the other side is some fuzzy notion, unsubstantiated by any experience or evidence, that we’re going to get “credit” with some groups or individuals or countries, which in turn will make us safer. But not from the U.S.S. Cole terrorists, who aren’t getting a trial. Go figure. As Rudy Giuliani wryly observed on the same program: “Problem is the terrorists aren’t listening to him. They’re continuing to make war on us.”

Alongside the argument against treating this as a criminal proceeding is a brew of misunderstanding and distortion of what is required and what may transpire in a legal forum. As Juan Williams did on Fox News Sunday, the Left likes to throw around lofty phrases (the “rule of law”) and straw men arguments (“If you believe in the Constitution …”). But “the law” and the “Constitution” have real meaning, and nothing in statute or the Constitution requires us to take KSM to New York, douse him with ACLU pixie dust, and give him all the procedural rights and constitutional protections that a domestic criminal would receive. It is poppycock on stilts to argue that the Obama team is simply “following the law.” They are making it up and departing from statute and 200 years of legal tradition.

There are good reasons to deplore a trial in New York. One of which, as Bill Kristol pointed out, is that we might lose. No Miranda rights, no subpoenas, and lots and lots of coercion. Chain of evidence? Good luck with that. And if the jury doesn’t give KSM the death penalty, what then? Holder seems to think he has all the angles covered, but it’s impossible for him to guarantee an outcome in an Article III court with an independent judge and 12 jurors.

The bottom line: the decision is practically unintelligible, and the results may be disastrous.

On Fox News Sunday, Liz Cheney laid into the president and Eric Holder for the decision to move KSM to New York for trial:

You know, I think it is absolutely unconscionable that we are a nation at war and that the president of the United States simultaneously is denying our troops on the ground in Afghanistan the resources that they need to prevail to win that war while he ushers terrorists onto the homeland.

He’s going to put these terrorists in a courthouse that is six blocks from where over 2,000 Americans were killed on the worst attack in history on the American homeland.

He’s going to give them a public platform where they can spew venom, where they can preach jihad, where they can reach out and recruit other terrorists. And it is totally unnecessary.

When the attorney general says that he’s bringing them to justice, he’s ignoring the fact that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed asked 11 months ago to be executed for Allah. He asked to plead guilty and be executed. We should have said, “All right, you’ve got it.” Instead, we’re bringing him and his cohorts to America. We’re giving them the constitutional rights of American citizens. And the attorney general throughout the day on Friday talked about this as a crime.

This, in powerful terms, is the argument against reverting to the 9/11 mentality and treating the attack on America as a mere crime. On the other side is some fuzzy notion, unsubstantiated by any experience or evidence, that we’re going to get “credit” with some groups or individuals or countries, which in turn will make us safer. But not from the U.S.S. Cole terrorists, who aren’t getting a trial. Go figure. As Rudy Giuliani wryly observed on the same program: “Problem is the terrorists aren’t listening to him. They’re continuing to make war on us.”

Alongside the argument against treating this as a criminal proceeding is a brew of misunderstanding and distortion of what is required and what may transpire in a legal forum. As Juan Williams did on Fox News Sunday, the Left likes to throw around lofty phrases (the “rule of law”) and straw men arguments (“If you believe in the Constitution …”). But “the law” and the “Constitution” have real meaning, and nothing in statute or the Constitution requires us to take KSM to New York, douse him with ACLU pixie dust, and give him all the procedural rights and constitutional protections that a domestic criminal would receive. It is poppycock on stilts to argue that the Obama team is simply “following the law.” They are making it up and departing from statute and 200 years of legal tradition.

There are good reasons to deplore a trial in New York. One of which, as Bill Kristol pointed out, is that we might lose. No Miranda rights, no subpoenas, and lots and lots of coercion. Chain of evidence? Good luck with that. And if the jury doesn’t give KSM the death penalty, what then? Holder seems to think he has all the angles covered, but it’s impossible for him to guarantee an outcome in an Article III court with an independent judge and 12 jurors.

The bottom line: the decision is practically unintelligible, and the results may be disastrous.

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Re: Graham Crumbles for Nothing

When Lindsay Graham decided to support cap-and-trade — a position not even some moderate Democrats can stomach — I observed that this was not only bad policy but also bad politics. And sure enough, moves like that and his support for now Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor have spelled trouble for him. This report explains:

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham’s public support is collapsing in South Carolina — driven by a wholesale revolt among the GOP electorate and a steady erosion of his support amongst independents.

Already consistently loathed by a solid third of GOP voters, Graham’s recent leftward bent — including his co-authoring of a controversial “Cap & Tax” proposal supported by President Barack Obama and liberal Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) — has him locked in a “terminal free fall,” according one prominent Republican consultant.

“A chunk of the GOP has always detested him, but in the last month a damn has broken,” said the consultant, who was granted anonymity to discuss the impact of two recent polls that were conducted in South Carolina (one allegedly by Graham’s own advisors). “More Republicans now oppose Sen. Graham than support him. Independents are also deserting him in huge numbers.”

This contradicts the favorite narrative of Democrats and their media handmaidens, namely that in order to stay relevant, Republicans must compromise with Obama, move leftward, and adopt policies at odds with conservative principles. It turns out that doing so alienates not only Republican voters but also independents, who themselves are not enamored of Obama’s leftist agenda. Graham won’t face the voters until 2014, so he has time to recover. But his example may serve as a warning to other Republicans: mimicking Obamaism is a losing proposition.

When Lindsay Graham decided to support cap-and-trade — a position not even some moderate Democrats can stomach — I observed that this was not only bad policy but also bad politics. And sure enough, moves like that and his support for now Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor have spelled trouble for him. This report explains:

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham’s public support is collapsing in South Carolina — driven by a wholesale revolt among the GOP electorate and a steady erosion of his support amongst independents.

Already consistently loathed by a solid third of GOP voters, Graham’s recent leftward bent — including his co-authoring of a controversial “Cap & Tax” proposal supported by President Barack Obama and liberal Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) — has him locked in a “terminal free fall,” according one prominent Republican consultant.

“A chunk of the GOP has always detested him, but in the last month a damn has broken,” said the consultant, who was granted anonymity to discuss the impact of two recent polls that were conducted in South Carolina (one allegedly by Graham’s own advisors). “More Republicans now oppose Sen. Graham than support him. Independents are also deserting him in huge numbers.”

This contradicts the favorite narrative of Democrats and their media handmaidens, namely that in order to stay relevant, Republicans must compromise with Obama, move leftward, and adopt policies at odds with conservative principles. It turns out that doing so alienates not only Republican voters but also independents, who themselves are not enamored of Obama’s leftist agenda. Graham won’t face the voters until 2014, so he has time to recover. But his example may serve as a warning to other Republicans: mimicking Obamaism is a losing proposition.

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Where’s the Gratitude, Sarah?

One of the most amusing tropes of the past few weeks in relation to the release of Sarah Palin’s book has been the notion that, among everything else that is wrong and terrible about her, Palin should be ashamed of herself for her ingratitude. After all, she was plucked from obscurity and made world famous, and yet she has the nerve in the course of her book to take shots at those she feels didn’t do well by her during the election campaign last year. Evidently, it seems, Palin should have been grateful to “the McCain campaign” for “the McCain campaign’s” supposed kindness toward her. Michiko Kakutani, on the New York Times website this morning, offers the most complete rendition of this:

The most sustained and vehement barbs in this book are directed not at Democrats or liberals or the press, but at the McCain campaign. The very campaign that plucked her out of Alaska, anointed her the Republican vice-presidential nominee and made her one of the most talked about women on the planet — someone who could command a reported $5 million for writing this book. … [She is] thoroughly ungrateful toward the McCain campaign for putting her on the national stage.

The thing is, the “McCain campaign” is not a person; it was a bureaucratic organization, and an uncommonly confused and dysfunctional one at that. Perhaps the greatest mark of that dysfunction was the stream of unnamed McCain advisers who went out of their way to criticize Palin in remarks they were too cowardly to deliver for attribution. It was, to say the least, highly peculiar for them to have acted as they did. The only conceivable defense for it was that some of them might have been working to protect John McCain’s reputation by somehow downgrading Palin by comparison; but of course, political advisers to Republican campaigns do not talk to reporters on background for such selfless reasons. They do so to hedge their own bets, to maintain relationships they want to last after the campaign is over. The best way to do that is to reflect the same cultural and theoretical priorities as the journalists to whom they speak, as a means of distancing themselves from the dysfunction and receiving kind post-mortem treatment.

The only “gratitude” Palin owed to the McCain campaign was to McCain. She owed no gratitude to campaign advisers and employees who threw everything but the kitchen sink at her — quite the opposite, in fact. By naming names and revealing the unprofessional behavior of McCain campaign staffers who were doing his election effort no favors by engaging in Palin-bashing, she has struck a blow for a greater degree of campaign civility in the future, in part by letting future potential employers in the political realm know about the poor behavior of people they might hire to help get them elected. The best way to neutralize a hostile leaker in the world of electoral politics is to let the world know that the leaker is a leaker.

As for the sudden concern about whether Palin was “ungrateful,” what Kakutani and others seem to believe is that she should act like one of those people in a T-shirt two sizes too small for them who are plucked from the audience of The Price is Right to bid on the showcase items. Palin did not have her name plucked from a hat. She was one of 22 Republican governors — and the only woman among them, and someone with a 70 percent approval rating in her home state besides.

But of course the whole ingratitude trope is wildly disingenuous. The fact that Kakutani, and others like her, are suddenly concerned with Sarah Palin’s political manners is another mark of the fact that she is being graded on a reverse curve. If she has done it, by definition, it was done wrong.

One of the most amusing tropes of the past few weeks in relation to the release of Sarah Palin’s book has been the notion that, among everything else that is wrong and terrible about her, Palin should be ashamed of herself for her ingratitude. After all, she was plucked from obscurity and made world famous, and yet she has the nerve in the course of her book to take shots at those she feels didn’t do well by her during the election campaign last year. Evidently, it seems, Palin should have been grateful to “the McCain campaign” for “the McCain campaign’s” supposed kindness toward her. Michiko Kakutani, on the New York Times website this morning, offers the most complete rendition of this:

The most sustained and vehement barbs in this book are directed not at Democrats or liberals or the press, but at the McCain campaign. The very campaign that plucked her out of Alaska, anointed her the Republican vice-presidential nominee and made her one of the most talked about women on the planet — someone who could command a reported $5 million for writing this book. … [She is] thoroughly ungrateful toward the McCain campaign for putting her on the national stage.

The thing is, the “McCain campaign” is not a person; it was a bureaucratic organization, and an uncommonly confused and dysfunctional one at that. Perhaps the greatest mark of that dysfunction was the stream of unnamed McCain advisers who went out of their way to criticize Palin in remarks they were too cowardly to deliver for attribution. It was, to say the least, highly peculiar for them to have acted as they did. The only conceivable defense for it was that some of them might have been working to protect John McCain’s reputation by somehow downgrading Palin by comparison; but of course, political advisers to Republican campaigns do not talk to reporters on background for such selfless reasons. They do so to hedge their own bets, to maintain relationships they want to last after the campaign is over. The best way to do that is to reflect the same cultural and theoretical priorities as the journalists to whom they speak, as a means of distancing themselves from the dysfunction and receiving kind post-mortem treatment.

The only “gratitude” Palin owed to the McCain campaign was to McCain. She owed no gratitude to campaign advisers and employees who threw everything but the kitchen sink at her — quite the opposite, in fact. By naming names and revealing the unprofessional behavior of McCain campaign staffers who were doing his election effort no favors by engaging in Palin-bashing, she has struck a blow for a greater degree of campaign civility in the future, in part by letting future potential employers in the political realm know about the poor behavior of people they might hire to help get them elected. The best way to neutralize a hostile leaker in the world of electoral politics is to let the world know that the leaker is a leaker.

As for the sudden concern about whether Palin was “ungrateful,” what Kakutani and others seem to believe is that she should act like one of those people in a T-shirt two sizes too small for them who are plucked from the audience of The Price is Right to bid on the showcase items. Palin did not have her name plucked from a hat. She was one of 22 Republican governors — and the only woman among them, and someone with a 70 percent approval rating in her home state besides.

But of course the whole ingratitude trope is wildly disingenuous. The fact that Kakutani, and others like her, are suddenly concerned with Sarah Palin’s political manners is another mark of the fact that she is being graded on a reverse curve. If she has done it, by definition, it was done wrong.

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Get On with It

Jackson Diehl points out that the decision on an Afghanistan-war policy isn’t really as difficult as the Iraq challenge that George W. Bush faced when “there was no clear way forward.” For one thing, there was no precedent of an Iraq surge precedent to look at. But Obama has plenty of data, the experience of Iraq, and the best military team ever to wrestle with such issue already in place. For all the whining and protestations from the Obami that this is such a hard decision, it really isn’t. Diehl observes:

On Afghanistan, in contrast, there is unanimity in the Pentagon and considerable agreement in Congress and among the NATO allies. The consensus says that Afghanistan cannot be abandoned anytime soon; that efforts to build up the Afghan army and strengthen both national and local governance must be redoubled; that U.S. forces must aim to ensure security for the Afghan population, at least in the country’s biggest cities. Almost everyone agrees that accomplishing all those aims will require at least some additional American and NATO troops.

And really, are we to believe that Obama knows that the “right” number is 34,500 troops and not 40,000? We are down to quibbling about specific numbers, a matter on which the president possesses no particular expertise or insight. One comes away with the sense that either Obama’s arrogance knows no bounds (he alone can determine the precise number of troops) or he is incapable of firm decision-making and oblivious to his being perceived as a vacillator. As Diehl notes: “It’s an image that risks undermining any commitment Obama eventually makes. In the end, it’s not enough for a president to be seen as having thought through a decision to send more troops to war. Enemies, allies and the country also need to be convinced that he believes in it.” Right now, it’s hard to discern what Obama believes.

Jackson Diehl points out that the decision on an Afghanistan-war policy isn’t really as difficult as the Iraq challenge that George W. Bush faced when “there was no clear way forward.” For one thing, there was no precedent of an Iraq surge precedent to look at. But Obama has plenty of data, the experience of Iraq, and the best military team ever to wrestle with such issue already in place. For all the whining and protestations from the Obami that this is such a hard decision, it really isn’t. Diehl observes:

On Afghanistan, in contrast, there is unanimity in the Pentagon and considerable agreement in Congress and among the NATO allies. The consensus says that Afghanistan cannot be abandoned anytime soon; that efforts to build up the Afghan army and strengthen both national and local governance must be redoubled; that U.S. forces must aim to ensure security for the Afghan population, at least in the country’s biggest cities. Almost everyone agrees that accomplishing all those aims will require at least some additional American and NATO troops.

And really, are we to believe that Obama knows that the “right” number is 34,500 troops and not 40,000? We are down to quibbling about specific numbers, a matter on which the president possesses no particular expertise or insight. One comes away with the sense that either Obama’s arrogance knows no bounds (he alone can determine the precise number of troops) or he is incapable of firm decision-making and oblivious to his being perceived as a vacillator. As Diehl notes: “It’s an image that risks undermining any commitment Obama eventually makes. In the end, it’s not enough for a president to be seen as having thought through a decision to send more troops to war. Enemies, allies and the country also need to be convinced that he believes in it.” Right now, it’s hard to discern what Obama believes.

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The Real Problem with U.S. Involvement

Writing in today’s Jerusalem Post, Liat Collins offers a pertinent observation on Thomas Friedman’s proposal that America stop pushing Israeli-Palestinian peace. Friedman argued that American intervention functions as “Novocain” for the parties: “We relieve all the political pain from the Arab and Israeli decision-makers by creating the impression in the minds of their publics that something serious is happening.”

But as Collins noted, “the pain, however, has tended to come with the peace process itself. … No Israeli — Left, Right or Center — can forget the exploding buses and cafes causing the sort of pain that Novocaine can never cure. … And the consequences of pulling out from Gaza and the security zone in Lebanon can, of course, still be felt today: No other country has had to resort to creating a rocket-proof indoor playground a la Sderot or a missile-proof emergency room such as was recently inaugurated at Haifa’s Rambam Hospital.”

And that is the real problem with U.S. involvement in the “peace process”: not only, as Friedman correctly noted, has it wasted time, energy, and diplomatic capital that could have been better employed elsewhere; it has actually made peace less likely.

Clearly, the terror produced by every territorial concession since 1993 has decreased the Israelis’ appetite for such concessions. But even more important, U.S. involvement has reduced Palestinian willingness to make necessary concessions.

Over the past 16 years, “U.S. involvement” has largely become synonymous with pressing Israel for more concessions — both because Israel is seen as “the stronger party,” with more to give, and because it is far more vulnerable than are the Palestinians to U.S. pressure, given America’s status as Israel’s only ally. Palestinians have thus become convinced that they don’t need to make concessions; they can wait for Washington to deliver Israel on a platter.

For instance, Palestinians would be more likely to fight terror if they thought future withdrawals depended on it. But they don’t, and for good reason: the world has never demanded an end to terror as the price of further withdrawals; instead, it has consistently pressed Israel to keep withdrawing despite the terror. Under those circumstances, why bother fighting terror?

Similarly, Israel is routinely pressed to make upfront negotiating concessions: just last week, for instance, Hillary Clinton reportedly demanded that guidelines for renewed Israeli-Palestinian talks promise “a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders and in Jerusalem,” meaning that Israel would have to fully concede two of the three core issues before talks can even begin (Jerusalem declined). But Washington has never demanded that Palestinians cede even an obvious deal breaker like the “right of return” upfront; this is always left to future negotiations.

As long as the Palestinians think they can rely on Washington to “deliver” Israel, they will never feel a need to make concessions themselves. And until they do, no deal will be possible.

Barack Obama isn’t likely to heed Friedman’s advice, but perhaps his successor will be wiser. The “peace process” will undoubtedly still be around.

Writing in today’s Jerusalem Post, Liat Collins offers a pertinent observation on Thomas Friedman’s proposal that America stop pushing Israeli-Palestinian peace. Friedman argued that American intervention functions as “Novocain” for the parties: “We relieve all the political pain from the Arab and Israeli decision-makers by creating the impression in the minds of their publics that something serious is happening.”

But as Collins noted, “the pain, however, has tended to come with the peace process itself. … No Israeli — Left, Right or Center — can forget the exploding buses and cafes causing the sort of pain that Novocaine can never cure. … And the consequences of pulling out from Gaza and the security zone in Lebanon can, of course, still be felt today: No other country has had to resort to creating a rocket-proof indoor playground a la Sderot or a missile-proof emergency room such as was recently inaugurated at Haifa’s Rambam Hospital.”

And that is the real problem with U.S. involvement in the “peace process”: not only, as Friedman correctly noted, has it wasted time, energy, and diplomatic capital that could have been better employed elsewhere; it has actually made peace less likely.

Clearly, the terror produced by every territorial concession since 1993 has decreased the Israelis’ appetite for such concessions. But even more important, U.S. involvement has reduced Palestinian willingness to make necessary concessions.

Over the past 16 years, “U.S. involvement” has largely become synonymous with pressing Israel for more concessions — both because Israel is seen as “the stronger party,” with more to give, and because it is far more vulnerable than are the Palestinians to U.S. pressure, given America’s status as Israel’s only ally. Palestinians have thus become convinced that they don’t need to make concessions; they can wait for Washington to deliver Israel on a platter.

For instance, Palestinians would be more likely to fight terror if they thought future withdrawals depended on it. But they don’t, and for good reason: the world has never demanded an end to terror as the price of further withdrawals; instead, it has consistently pressed Israel to keep withdrawing despite the terror. Under those circumstances, why bother fighting terror?

Similarly, Israel is routinely pressed to make upfront negotiating concessions: just last week, for instance, Hillary Clinton reportedly demanded that guidelines for renewed Israeli-Palestinian talks promise “a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders and in Jerusalem,” meaning that Israel would have to fully concede two of the three core issues before talks can even begin (Jerusalem declined). But Washington has never demanded that Palestinians cede even an obvious deal breaker like the “right of return” upfront; this is always left to future negotiations.

As long as the Palestinians think they can rely on Washington to “deliver” Israel, they will never feel a need to make concessions themselves. And until they do, no deal will be possible.

Barack Obama isn’t likely to heed Friedman’s advice, but perhaps his successor will be wiser. The “peace process” will undoubtedly still be around.

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Like It’s Still 2008

The unhinged Palin haters are back. And they haven’t deviated from the familiar plotlines. She’s a sexed-up tabloid star, you see. (“Why be Evita, when you can be Madonna?’) Get it ? She’s a slutty celebrity. And she’s a Christian whack job with no public-policy views: “Sarah Palin appears to have no testable core conviction except the belief (which none of her defenders denies that she holds, or at least has held and not yet repudiated) that the end of days and the Second Coming will occur in her lifetime.”

Yes, this is where they left off when Palin was still running for office and Joe Biden was regarded as the serious vice-presidential candidate. It matters not if much of the claptrap (she banned books, she doesn’t want evolution taught, etc.) has been debunked by the meticulous work of Matthew Continetti (whose book about Sarah Palin is actually a devastating critique of the mainstream media and the very people who are now back frothing at the mouth). It matters not that she seized the floor in the health-care debate and has a million followers on Facebook who can read her views on energy policy and other issues without the media filter. The Palin-attack machine is good business and earns the approving nods of cable-news-show bookers and magazine editors.

We left the realm of facts and decency many, many months ago when it came to coverage of Palin. The question now remains whether once again the Palin haters will manage only to endear her to the conservative base — and even those not entirely sold on her political prospects.

The unhinged Palin haters are back. And they haven’t deviated from the familiar plotlines. She’s a sexed-up tabloid star, you see. (“Why be Evita, when you can be Madonna?’) Get it ? She’s a slutty celebrity. And she’s a Christian whack job with no public-policy views: “Sarah Palin appears to have no testable core conviction except the belief (which none of her defenders denies that she holds, or at least has held and not yet repudiated) that the end of days and the Second Coming will occur in her lifetime.”

Yes, this is where they left off when Palin was still running for office and Joe Biden was regarded as the serious vice-presidential candidate. It matters not if much of the claptrap (she banned books, she doesn’t want evolution taught, etc.) has been debunked by the meticulous work of Matthew Continetti (whose book about Sarah Palin is actually a devastating critique of the mainstream media and the very people who are now back frothing at the mouth). It matters not that she seized the floor in the health-care debate and has a million followers on Facebook who can read her views on energy policy and other issues without the media filter. The Palin-attack machine is good business and earns the approving nods of cable-news-show bookers and magazine editors.

We left the realm of facts and decency many, many months ago when it came to coverage of Palin. The question now remains whether once again the Palin haters will manage only to endear her to the conservative base — and even those not entirely sold on her political prospects.

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Why Are We Doing This?

Former Attorney General Michael Mukasey had tough words for the mind-numbingly misguided decision to move KSM to New York for trial. For starters, he thinks Obama has increased the danger of a terror incident in New York:

“The question is not whether they’re going to escape. The question is whether, not only that particular facility, but the city [at] large, will then become the focus for mischief in the form of murder by adherents of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed — whether this raises the odds that it will. I would suggest to you that it raises them very high.”

And as for the rationale for moving the 9/11 mastermind to a civilian court, Mukasey explains:

“The plan seems to be to abandon the view that we’re in a war,” Mukasey said. “I can’t see anything good coming out of this. I certainly can’t see anything good coming out of it very quickly. And it think it would have been far preferable to try these case[s] in the venue that Congress created for trying and where they were about to be tried.”

Mukasey, a former federal judge who oversaw cases relating to the 1993 World Trade Center attacks, warned that a civilian court trial for the Sept. 11 plotters could produce “a cornucopia of information for those still at large and a circus for those still in custody.”

Mukasey is no political partisan. What he is, however, is the most experienced and knowledgeable judge in America on trying terrorists in civilian court. Perhaps the Obami should have sought out and listened to his counsel. Instead, they’ve come to believe the claptrap of the ACLU and the leftist lawyers who now populate the Justice Department.

They are out to prove a point about our traditions or legal system, or something. But wait. We didn’t try German soldiers in federal court, nor combatants in any other war. And our legal system currently provides for military tribunals, where the U.S.S. Cole terrorists will be tried. So what exactly is the reason for all this? When he returns from bowing to the emperor of Japan, the president, we suppose, can opine on American traditions and historical precedent.

Former Attorney General Michael Mukasey had tough words for the mind-numbingly misguided decision to move KSM to New York for trial. For starters, he thinks Obama has increased the danger of a terror incident in New York:

“The question is not whether they’re going to escape. The question is whether, not only that particular facility, but the city [at] large, will then become the focus for mischief in the form of murder by adherents of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed — whether this raises the odds that it will. I would suggest to you that it raises them very high.”

And as for the rationale for moving the 9/11 mastermind to a civilian court, Mukasey explains:

“The plan seems to be to abandon the view that we’re in a war,” Mukasey said. “I can’t see anything good coming out of this. I certainly can’t see anything good coming out of it very quickly. And it think it would have been far preferable to try these case[s] in the venue that Congress created for trying and where they were about to be tried.”

Mukasey, a former federal judge who oversaw cases relating to the 1993 World Trade Center attacks, warned that a civilian court trial for the Sept. 11 plotters could produce “a cornucopia of information for those still at large and a circus for those still in custody.”

Mukasey is no political partisan. What he is, however, is the most experienced and knowledgeable judge in America on trying terrorists in civilian court. Perhaps the Obami should have sought out and listened to his counsel. Instead, they’ve come to believe the claptrap of the ACLU and the leftist lawyers who now populate the Justice Department.

They are out to prove a point about our traditions or legal system, or something. But wait. We didn’t try German soldiers in federal court, nor combatants in any other war. And our legal system currently provides for military tribunals, where the U.S.S. Cole terrorists will be tried. So what exactly is the reason for all this? When he returns from bowing to the emperor of Japan, the president, we suppose, can opine on American traditions and historical precedent.

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Maybe Doing Nothing Is More Popular After All

The Hill reports:

As Democrats in Congress struggle with a healthcare bill, Democrats running for office are treating it as a political hot potato.

Few Democrats in big races are jumping headlong into supporting the healthcare bill the House passed last weekend. While those running in blue areas or in tough Democratic primaries quibble with its abortion-funding restrictions, those running in red areas worry about the cost of the package.

Has anyone told Harry Reid or Nancy Pelosi? They, of course, are operating under the premise that it’s political death for the Democrats to do nothing; fellow Democrats, however, who are facing the wrath of voters see things differently. Democratic candidates are “expressing reservations” or “keeping their powder dry.” They like health-care reform in theory, but few are jumping on the bandwagon. So what then is a Democrat in the Senate or House who doesn’t have a slam-dunk election less than a year from now to do?

We’ve been told for months that health care was building momentum, that with each vote or procedural hurdle we were getting closer to passage of ObamaCare. But is that right? There’s been no rush to embrace it. Quite the opposite. Voters remain opposed to a government takeover of health care and are getting more skeptical of the notion that this is government’s responsibility. As Fred Barnes notes:

What if an undecided Democratic senator, in a private chat with the president, asks about the public’s distaste for liberal health care reform? “Mr. President, how will it help you and Democrats to pass an unpopular bill?” Obama may have a persuasive answer, but I can’t imagine what it might be.

Until Democrats are convinced that the public won’t punish them for ramming through a raft of new taxes and huge Medicare cuts and calling it health-care reform, I would suggest that at least the Obama version is not going to get past the “greatest deliberative body.” The Senate has a way of mulling these things over for a good long time when enough members would rather do nothing at all.

The Hill reports:

As Democrats in Congress struggle with a healthcare bill, Democrats running for office are treating it as a political hot potato.

Few Democrats in big races are jumping headlong into supporting the healthcare bill the House passed last weekend. While those running in blue areas or in tough Democratic primaries quibble with its abortion-funding restrictions, those running in red areas worry about the cost of the package.

Has anyone told Harry Reid or Nancy Pelosi? They, of course, are operating under the premise that it’s political death for the Democrats to do nothing; fellow Democrats, however, who are facing the wrath of voters see things differently. Democratic candidates are “expressing reservations” or “keeping their powder dry.” They like health-care reform in theory, but few are jumping on the bandwagon. So what then is a Democrat in the Senate or House who doesn’t have a slam-dunk election less than a year from now to do?

We’ve been told for months that health care was building momentum, that with each vote or procedural hurdle we were getting closer to passage of ObamaCare. But is that right? There’s been no rush to embrace it. Quite the opposite. Voters remain opposed to a government takeover of health care and are getting more skeptical of the notion that this is government’s responsibility. As Fred Barnes notes:

What if an undecided Democratic senator, in a private chat with the president, asks about the public’s distaste for liberal health care reform? “Mr. President, how will it help you and Democrats to pass an unpopular bill?” Obama may have a persuasive answer, but I can’t imagine what it might be.

Until Democrats are convinced that the public won’t punish them for ramming through a raft of new taxes and huge Medicare cuts and calling it health-care reform, I would suggest that at least the Obama version is not going to get past the “greatest deliberative body.” The Senate has a way of mulling these things over for a good long time when enough members would rather do nothing at all.

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Should We Be Surprised?

Obama, fleeing from the fallout of the decision to ship KSM to New York for trial and taking a break from the White House Afghanistan-war seminars, is heading for China. This is how they greet him:

China has detained several dissidents and campaigners ahead of US President Barack Obama’s much-anticipated first visit to the country, their relatives and close contacts told AFP Saturday. Obama arrives in Shanghai on Sunday and moves onto Beijing the next day for a four-day maiden presidential trip during which he has been urged to raise human rights with the Asian giant’s top leadership. But as the visit drew close, the head of an activist group for parents whose children were sickened by tainted milk in China had been detained, his wife told AFP.

Now where could the Chinese have gotten the idea that they could get away with such a stunt, making clear to internal dissidents just how impervious they are to outside pressure? Well, could be the snubbing of the Dalai Lama and the Obami’s systematic downgrading of human rights and support for democracy around the world. Could be that the Chinese, and every other totalitarian regime, have figured out that it’s open season on democracy and human-rights advocates. They have sized up Obama, concluded he is indifferent to human rights, and now won’t hesitate to bully their own people and, in effect, humiliate the American president by flaunting their own despotic behavior when he visits.

This is what comes from prostrating ourselves before thuggish regimes and signaling that human rights and democracy don’t rate high on our list of priorities. We will see more stunts like the round-up in China in the future. After all, we’ve already let everyone know that no adverse consequences will flow from this sort of behavior. And the Chinese dissidents — what do they think? One supposes they finally realize that hope and change don’t apply to them.

Obama, fleeing from the fallout of the decision to ship KSM to New York for trial and taking a break from the White House Afghanistan-war seminars, is heading for China. This is how they greet him:

China has detained several dissidents and campaigners ahead of US President Barack Obama’s much-anticipated first visit to the country, their relatives and close contacts told AFP Saturday. Obama arrives in Shanghai on Sunday and moves onto Beijing the next day for a four-day maiden presidential trip during which he has been urged to raise human rights with the Asian giant’s top leadership. But as the visit drew close, the head of an activist group for parents whose children were sickened by tainted milk in China had been detained, his wife told AFP.

Now where could the Chinese have gotten the idea that they could get away with such a stunt, making clear to internal dissidents just how impervious they are to outside pressure? Well, could be the snubbing of the Dalai Lama and the Obami’s systematic downgrading of human rights and support for democracy around the world. Could be that the Chinese, and every other totalitarian regime, have figured out that it’s open season on democracy and human-rights advocates. They have sized up Obama, concluded he is indifferent to human rights, and now won’t hesitate to bully their own people and, in effect, humiliate the American president by flaunting their own despotic behavior when he visits.

This is what comes from prostrating ourselves before thuggish regimes and signaling that human rights and democracy don’t rate high on our list of priorities. We will see more stunts like the round-up in China in the future. After all, we’ve already let everyone know that no adverse consequences will flow from this sort of behavior. And the Chinese dissidents — what do they think? One supposes they finally realize that hope and change don’t apply to them.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

The guru of conventional Beltway wisdom, David Broder, has had enough: “The more President Obama examines our options in Afghanistan, the less he likes the choices he sees. But, as the old saying goes, to govern is to choose — and he has stretched the internal debate to the breaking point. … The cost of indecision is growing every day. Americans, our allies who have contributed their own troops to the struggle against al-Qaeda and the Taliban, and the Afghans and their government are waiting impatiently, while the challenge is getting worse.”

A devastating portrait of Eric Holder: “The dispassion, the self-reverence, the blindness of the man, are marvelous to behold, and so perfectly reflect the president he so perfectly serves. ‘Neutral and detached’ people shall ‘understand the reasons why’ he made those decisions, shall see he has left ‘the politics out of it,’ and shall recognize what’s right — something the rest of us, benighted and bellicose souls that we are, have never managed to do with respect to the disposition of those committing mass murders of Americans in their ongoing war against our civilization.”

Another nail in the coffin of PelosiCare: “The House-approved healthcare overhaul would raise the costs of healthcare by $289 billion over the next 10 years, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan, independent Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).”

And that’s not all: “A plan to slash more than $500 billion from future Medicare spending — one of the biggest sources of funding for President Obama’s proposed overhaul of the nation’s health-care system — would sharply reduce benefits for some senior citizens and could jeopardize access to care for millions of others, according to a government evaluation released Saturday.”

Surprise, surprise: the Obami are bothered by the cost of winning the war in Afghanistan.

Rep. Peter King: “Like many New Yorkers and members of the families of the nearly 3,000 innocent Americans murdered on that horrific Tuesday morning eight years ago, I’m outraged and insulted by President Obama’s decision to transfer Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the admitted mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, to New York City for trial in civilian federal court. The decision will go down in history as one of the worst made by any US president. While it may be hailed by Europeans, the ACLU and the far-left-wing of the Democratic Party, the president’s action actually threatens American lives and weakens US national security.” I wonder what Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand will say.

Enough is enough, says Secretary of Defense Robert Gates: “Defense Secretary Robert Gates has blocked the public release of any more pictures of foreign detainees abused by their U.S. captors, saying their release would endanger American soldiers. The Obama administration filed a brief with the Supreme Court late Friday saying that Mr. Gates has invoked new powers blocking the release of the photos.”

Steve Schmidt vs. Sarah Palin. Hmm. Is there any doubt who’s got a better chance of being on a 2012 campaign? It’s one thing to lose a campaign, quite another to go down as the perpetual bad-mouther of your VP candidate.

The guru of conventional Beltway wisdom, David Broder, has had enough: “The more President Obama examines our options in Afghanistan, the less he likes the choices he sees. But, as the old saying goes, to govern is to choose — and he has stretched the internal debate to the breaking point. … The cost of indecision is growing every day. Americans, our allies who have contributed their own troops to the struggle against al-Qaeda and the Taliban, and the Afghans and their government are waiting impatiently, while the challenge is getting worse.”

A devastating portrait of Eric Holder: “The dispassion, the self-reverence, the blindness of the man, are marvelous to behold, and so perfectly reflect the president he so perfectly serves. ‘Neutral and detached’ people shall ‘understand the reasons why’ he made those decisions, shall see he has left ‘the politics out of it,’ and shall recognize what’s right — something the rest of us, benighted and bellicose souls that we are, have never managed to do with respect to the disposition of those committing mass murders of Americans in their ongoing war against our civilization.”

Another nail in the coffin of PelosiCare: “The House-approved healthcare overhaul would raise the costs of healthcare by $289 billion over the next 10 years, according to an analysis by the nonpartisan, independent Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).”

And that’s not all: “A plan to slash more than $500 billion from future Medicare spending — one of the biggest sources of funding for President Obama’s proposed overhaul of the nation’s health-care system — would sharply reduce benefits for some senior citizens and could jeopardize access to care for millions of others, according to a government evaluation released Saturday.”

Surprise, surprise: the Obami are bothered by the cost of winning the war in Afghanistan.

Rep. Peter King: “Like many New Yorkers and members of the families of the nearly 3,000 innocent Americans murdered on that horrific Tuesday morning eight years ago, I’m outraged and insulted by President Obama’s decision to transfer Khalid Sheik Mohammed, the admitted mastermind of the 9/11 attacks, to New York City for trial in civilian federal court. The decision will go down in history as one of the worst made by any US president. While it may be hailed by Europeans, the ACLU and the far-left-wing of the Democratic Party, the president’s action actually threatens American lives and weakens US national security.” I wonder what Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand will say.

Enough is enough, says Secretary of Defense Robert Gates: “Defense Secretary Robert Gates has blocked the public release of any more pictures of foreign detainees abused by their U.S. captors, saying their release would endanger American soldiers. The Obama administration filed a brief with the Supreme Court late Friday saying that Mr. Gates has invoked new powers blocking the release of the photos.”

Steve Schmidt vs. Sarah Palin. Hmm. Is there any doubt who’s got a better chance of being on a 2012 campaign? It’s one thing to lose a campaign, quite another to go down as the perpetual bad-mouther of your VP candidate.

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