Commentary Magazine


Posts For: December 28, 2009

In a Nutshell

Notice the language the president employs to describe an act of terrorism on the homeland:

On Christmas Day, Northwest Airlines Flight 253 was en route from Amsterdam, Netherlands, to Detroit. As the plane made its final approach to Detroit Metropolitan Airport, a passenger allegedly tried to ignite an explosive device on his body, setting off a fire.

Thanks to the quick and heroic actions of passengers and crew, the suspect was immediately subdued, the fire was put out, and the plane landed safely. The suspect is now in custody and has been charged with attempting to destroy an aircraft.

Allegedly. Suspect. Charged with attempting to destroy an aircraft. Would one ever guess this is anything but a routine criminal escapade? Of course not. We have Mirandized the “suspect” who is lawyered up. We can look forward to the civilian trial — if we can be so bold as to assume there is sufficient evidence to indict him — and if convicted (after a full trial  complete with the defendant’s explanation of his “justification” for his “crime”) he will be incarcerated in a U.S. prison where he can share his views on Islamic fundamentalism with its entire population, to which he will have full access after objecting (as did Richard Reid) to any unusual restrictions on contact with fellow prisoners or with his comrades on the outside. Feel safer yet?

Notice the language the president employs to describe an act of terrorism on the homeland:

On Christmas Day, Northwest Airlines Flight 253 was en route from Amsterdam, Netherlands, to Detroit. As the plane made its final approach to Detroit Metropolitan Airport, a passenger allegedly tried to ignite an explosive device on his body, setting off a fire.

Thanks to the quick and heroic actions of passengers and crew, the suspect was immediately subdued, the fire was put out, and the plane landed safely. The suspect is now in custody and has been charged with attempting to destroy an aircraft.

Allegedly. Suspect. Charged with attempting to destroy an aircraft. Would one ever guess this is anything but a routine criminal escapade? Of course not. We have Mirandized the “suspect” who is lawyered up. We can look forward to the civilian trial — if we can be so bold as to assume there is sufficient evidence to indict him — and if convicted (after a full trial  complete with the defendant’s explanation of his “justification” for his “crime”) he will be incarcerated in a U.S. prison where he can share his views on Islamic fundamentalism with its entire population, to which he will have full access after objecting (as did Richard Reid) to any unusual restrictions on contact with fellow prisoners or with his comrades on the outside. Feel safer yet?

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Do You Feel Safer?

Americans aren’t feeling safer these days:

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 79% of U.S. voters now think it is likely there will be another terrorist attack in the United States in the next year. That’s a 30-point jump from the end of August when just 49% of Americans felt that way.

Didn’t they hear? We’re closing Guantanamo, giving KSM a civil trial, stopping enhanced interrogation techniques and re-investigating the CIA. All that and yet 70 percent think we’re going to be hit again.

Meanwhile, three days after the Christmas Day bombing was thwarted by a combination of luck and alert passengers, the Saudi arm of al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for the attack. And Obama? Oh, yes, he, as the New York Times indelicately put it, “emerged from seclusion” to tell us he’s being briefed, everyone should be “vigilant but confident” (Who comes up with this stuff?) and that he really gets it that there are terrorists in a bunch of places who want to kill us. Sounding oddly like OJ Simpson, he vowed, “We will not rest until we find all who were involved and hold them accountable.” (Yes, it’s apparently just a giant manhunt for the culprits, in the parlance of the criminal-justice perspective to which the administration clings so dearly.) He took no questions. After all, someone might ask a sticky one, such as “Why Janet Napolitano is still working for you?” or “Why did you think it advisable to release Guantanamo detainees to Yemen?”

Even the Times reporter could not conceal his disdain for the president’s shabby handing of the terror attack:

Pictures of passengers enduring tougher security screening at the airport were juxtaposed against images of the president soaking in the sun and surf of this tropical getaway. Mr. Obama, who put on a suit though no tie for his statement Monday, has ordered a review of the two major planks of the aviation security system — watch lists and detection equipment at air — port checkpoints. Some members of Congress urgently questioned why, more than eight years after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, security measures could not keep makeshift bombs off airliners.

This eerily brings to mind Obama’s campaign hideout when Russia invaded Georgia. For days he remained secluded then too, only to emerge from the palm trees when his then-opponent John McCain had issued multiple statements. But Obama is president now and the public is increasingly concerned about his ability to protect them. We really could use a commander in chief who understands the nature of the enemy and who can do better than a belated statement days after the third domestic terror attack of his presidency.

Americans aren’t feeling safer these days:

A new Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that 79% of U.S. voters now think it is likely there will be another terrorist attack in the United States in the next year. That’s a 30-point jump from the end of August when just 49% of Americans felt that way.

Didn’t they hear? We’re closing Guantanamo, giving KSM a civil trial, stopping enhanced interrogation techniques and re-investigating the CIA. All that and yet 70 percent think we’re going to be hit again.

Meanwhile, three days after the Christmas Day bombing was thwarted by a combination of luck and alert passengers, the Saudi arm of al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for the attack. And Obama? Oh, yes, he, as the New York Times indelicately put it, “emerged from seclusion” to tell us he’s being briefed, everyone should be “vigilant but confident” (Who comes up with this stuff?) and that he really gets it that there are terrorists in a bunch of places who want to kill us. Sounding oddly like OJ Simpson, he vowed, “We will not rest until we find all who were involved and hold them accountable.” (Yes, it’s apparently just a giant manhunt for the culprits, in the parlance of the criminal-justice perspective to which the administration clings so dearly.) He took no questions. After all, someone might ask a sticky one, such as “Why Janet Napolitano is still working for you?” or “Why did you think it advisable to release Guantanamo detainees to Yemen?”

Even the Times reporter could not conceal his disdain for the president’s shabby handing of the terror attack:

Pictures of passengers enduring tougher security screening at the airport were juxtaposed against images of the president soaking in the sun and surf of this tropical getaway. Mr. Obama, who put on a suit though no tie for his statement Monday, has ordered a review of the two major planks of the aviation security system — watch lists and detection equipment at air — port checkpoints. Some members of Congress urgently questioned why, more than eight years after the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, security measures could not keep makeshift bombs off airliners.

This eerily brings to mind Obama’s campaign hideout when Russia invaded Georgia. For days he remained secluded then too, only to emerge from the palm trees when his then-opponent John McCain had issued multiple statements. But Obama is president now and the public is increasingly concerned about his ability to protect them. We really could use a commander in chief who understands the nature of the enemy and who can do better than a belated statement days after the third domestic terror attack of his presidency.

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Iranian Dissidents Show Courage—Can Obama Do the Same?

The unstable situation in Iran is clearly escalating, as the Islamist regime has not been able to intimidate anti-government protesters, who keep returning to the streets despite the state-sponsored violence intended to keep them quiet. Yesterday, 10 dissidents were reportedly killed, including the nephew of opposition presidential candidate Mir Hussein Moussavi, who was reportedly assassinated outside his home. Yet, despite the attempts to repress dissent, demonstrations and clashes with government forces have apparently spread from Tehran to Isfahan, Mashhad, Shiraz, Arak, Tabriz, Najafabad, Babol, Ardebil, and Orumieh.

Yet while the people of Iran are taking to the streets to show they want to oust the Khamenei/Ahmadinejad despotism, we must ask where is the voice of the leader of the free world? President Barack Obama is a noted orator but, as has been the case throughout his first year in office, his rhetorical talents have not been put to use when it comes to Iran. Obsessed with the notion that engagement with Iran’s tyrants can resolve our concerns over their drive for nuclear weapons as well as Tehran’s support for terrorist groups elsewhere in the region, Obama has consistently downplayed America’s concerns about the need for change in Iran.

Yes, the White House did issue a statement about events in Iran and rightly condemned the “unjust oppression” being conducted there. But if the administration thinks a mere quote attributed to National Security Council spokesman Mike Hammer is enough, they clearly don’t understand the seriousness of the situation.

What then can the West do? Last week the editorial page of the Jerusalem Post suggested that “to signal support for the Iranian opposition, countries which value liberty should opt to indefinitely extend the vacations of their ambassadors now on home-leave for the Christmas and New Year holidays.” It’s a modest suggestion that unfortunately was not taken up by any nation, not even the United States.

Even better would be a personal statement of outrage that came directly from the mouth of Barack Obama,  followed by an announcement that on January 1, the West will begin to enact the “crippling” sanctions they have occasionally threatened throughout the year. Unfortunately the various deadlines for Iran to respond to Western entreaties to play nice on nukes have been ignored and there is little reason to believe that the administration takes this most recent date to be a signal for action. The administration’s passion for “engagement”—despite the fact that the Iranians have shown they have no interest in diplomacy other than as an effective delaying tactic—and the growing conviction among some elites that we can live with an Iranian bomb have resulted in the current stalemate that works well for Tehran.

Defenders of appeasement of Iran have told us that a strong stand will only hurt the dissidents and spur the regime to greater violence. But as recent events illustrate, Khamenei and Ahmadinejad have no compunction about unleashing their thugs on their own people. With so many willing to risk death to oppose the Islamist tyranny, now is the time for Barack Obama to find both his courage and his voice. If instead he continues the current path of engagement, it will inevitably mean a delay of tough sanctions and a sign that the world doesn’t care about the blood shed in the streets of Iran. Such a double betrayal would be an especially inauspicious way to begin his second year in office.

The unstable situation in Iran is clearly escalating, as the Islamist regime has not been able to intimidate anti-government protesters, who keep returning to the streets despite the state-sponsored violence intended to keep them quiet. Yesterday, 10 dissidents were reportedly killed, including the nephew of opposition presidential candidate Mir Hussein Moussavi, who was reportedly assassinated outside his home. Yet, despite the attempts to repress dissent, demonstrations and clashes with government forces have apparently spread from Tehran to Isfahan, Mashhad, Shiraz, Arak, Tabriz, Najafabad, Babol, Ardebil, and Orumieh.

Yet while the people of Iran are taking to the streets to show they want to oust the Khamenei/Ahmadinejad despotism, we must ask where is the voice of the leader of the free world? President Barack Obama is a noted orator but, as has been the case throughout his first year in office, his rhetorical talents have not been put to use when it comes to Iran. Obsessed with the notion that engagement with Iran’s tyrants can resolve our concerns over their drive for nuclear weapons as well as Tehran’s support for terrorist groups elsewhere in the region, Obama has consistently downplayed America’s concerns about the need for change in Iran.

Yes, the White House did issue a statement about events in Iran and rightly condemned the “unjust oppression” being conducted there. But if the administration thinks a mere quote attributed to National Security Council spokesman Mike Hammer is enough, they clearly don’t understand the seriousness of the situation.

What then can the West do? Last week the editorial page of the Jerusalem Post suggested that “to signal support for the Iranian opposition, countries which value liberty should opt to indefinitely extend the vacations of their ambassadors now on home-leave for the Christmas and New Year holidays.” It’s a modest suggestion that unfortunately was not taken up by any nation, not even the United States.

Even better would be a personal statement of outrage that came directly from the mouth of Barack Obama,  followed by an announcement that on January 1, the West will begin to enact the “crippling” sanctions they have occasionally threatened throughout the year. Unfortunately the various deadlines for Iran to respond to Western entreaties to play nice on nukes have been ignored and there is little reason to believe that the administration takes this most recent date to be a signal for action. The administration’s passion for “engagement”—despite the fact that the Iranians have shown they have no interest in diplomacy other than as an effective delaying tactic—and the growing conviction among some elites that we can live with an Iranian bomb have resulted in the current stalemate that works well for Tehran.

Defenders of appeasement of Iran have told us that a strong stand will only hurt the dissidents and spur the regime to greater violence. But as recent events illustrate, Khamenei and Ahmadinejad have no compunction about unleashing their thugs on their own people. With so many willing to risk death to oppose the Islamist tyranny, now is the time for Barack Obama to find both his courage and his voice. If instead he continues the current path of engagement, it will inevitably mean a delay of tough sanctions and a sign that the world doesn’t care about the blood shed in the streets of Iran. Such a double betrayal would be an especially inauspicious way to begin his second year in office.

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She’s Not the Real Problem

Janet Napolitano’s the “system worked” remark is going to go down as one of those memorably idiotic statements that for better or worse become forever associated with an official’s name. It will be up there with Dan Quayle’s spelling “potatoe” and Al Haig’s assertion that “I am in control here” (following the shooting of President Ronald Reagan). But of course, hers is worse, because it is more than a personal gaffe. It reveals a fundamental policy cluelessness and sense of denial that we have learned, unfortunately, permeates the entire Obama administration. (She subsequently has tried to say that her words were taken out of context and that, of course, the administration isn’t pleased with how the system worked, but as Tom Bevan rightly points out “Again, the DHS Secretary appears to believe the American public are a bunch of morons.”)

The notion that the “system worked” is being widely ridiculed. This report provides a sample:

“Security failed,” said Doron Bergerbest-Eilon, Israel’s senior-ranking counterterrorism officer from 1997 to 2000 and a former national regulator for aviation security. It is of little comfort that Abdulmutallab was stopped only after he allegedly failed to properly detonate the bomb, instead igniting a fire that alerted fellow passengers, Bergerbest-Eilon said.”The system repeatedly fails to prevent attacks and protect passengers when challenged,” he said, adding that, in the minds of security experts, “for all intents and purposes, Northwest Flight 253 exploded in midair.”

A Georgetown University terrorism  expert added, “This incident was a compound failure of both intelligence and physical security, leaving prevention to the last line of defense — the passengers themselves.” But the smartest observation comes from Ken Dunlap, security director of the International Air Transport Association: “We’ve spent eight years looking for little scissors and toenail clippers. . . Perhaps the emphasis should be looking for bad people.” But that would entail being candid about who the “bad people” are. I would venture a guess that 90 percent of the public would agree with this sentiment:

Jacques Duchesneau, head of Canada’s Air Transport Security Authority from 2002 to 2008, and Bergerbest-Eilon said that instead of trying to push virtually all travelers through similar screening processes, authorities should improve and expand the use of intelligence and behavioral assessments to cull out those deemed to pose the greatest risk, and target improved technology to find them.

While such methods have been “wrongly perceived as racial profiling,” Bergerbest-Eilon said, “past events have taught us that we cannot rely on intelligence alone to thwart major terror attacks.”

Some are calling for Napolitano to resign. Granted that a randomly picked name from the phone book would probably be an improvement, but she is not the problem. The problem comes from the president and the perspective he has instilled in his entire administration. The Obami refuse to adopt a war mentality in the midst of a war on western civilization, and they eschew common-sense efforts to raise the alert on “bad people.” They insist that we treat those we catch after the fact as common criminals and that intelligence operatives behave like cops on the beat, ever-conscious of the legal peril they face if they ruffle the feathers of terrorists who may possess life-saving information. Unless Obama changes his perception and approach to terrorism, the American people may well demand, as Max points out, a more capable commander in chief to conduct the war against Islamic fanatics.

Janet Napolitano’s the “system worked” remark is going to go down as one of those memorably idiotic statements that for better or worse become forever associated with an official’s name. It will be up there with Dan Quayle’s spelling “potatoe” and Al Haig’s assertion that “I am in control here” (following the shooting of President Ronald Reagan). But of course, hers is worse, because it is more than a personal gaffe. It reveals a fundamental policy cluelessness and sense of denial that we have learned, unfortunately, permeates the entire Obama administration. (She subsequently has tried to say that her words were taken out of context and that, of course, the administration isn’t pleased with how the system worked, but as Tom Bevan rightly points out “Again, the DHS Secretary appears to believe the American public are a bunch of morons.”)

The notion that the “system worked” is being widely ridiculed. This report provides a sample:

“Security failed,” said Doron Bergerbest-Eilon, Israel’s senior-ranking counterterrorism officer from 1997 to 2000 and a former national regulator for aviation security. It is of little comfort that Abdulmutallab was stopped only after he allegedly failed to properly detonate the bomb, instead igniting a fire that alerted fellow passengers, Bergerbest-Eilon said.”The system repeatedly fails to prevent attacks and protect passengers when challenged,” he said, adding that, in the minds of security experts, “for all intents and purposes, Northwest Flight 253 exploded in midair.”

A Georgetown University terrorism  expert added, “This incident was a compound failure of both intelligence and physical security, leaving prevention to the last line of defense — the passengers themselves.” But the smartest observation comes from Ken Dunlap, security director of the International Air Transport Association: “We’ve spent eight years looking for little scissors and toenail clippers. . . Perhaps the emphasis should be looking for bad people.” But that would entail being candid about who the “bad people” are. I would venture a guess that 90 percent of the public would agree with this sentiment:

Jacques Duchesneau, head of Canada’s Air Transport Security Authority from 2002 to 2008, and Bergerbest-Eilon said that instead of trying to push virtually all travelers through similar screening processes, authorities should improve and expand the use of intelligence and behavioral assessments to cull out those deemed to pose the greatest risk, and target improved technology to find them.

While such methods have been “wrongly perceived as racial profiling,” Bergerbest-Eilon said, “past events have taught us that we cannot rely on intelligence alone to thwart major terror attacks.”

Some are calling for Napolitano to resign. Granted that a randomly picked name from the phone book would probably be an improvement, but she is not the problem. The problem comes from the president and the perspective he has instilled in his entire administration. The Obami refuse to adopt a war mentality in the midst of a war on western civilization, and they eschew common-sense efforts to raise the alert on “bad people.” They insist that we treat those we catch after the fact as common criminals and that intelligence operatives behave like cops on the beat, ever-conscious of the legal peril they face if they ruffle the feathers of terrorists who may possess life-saving information. Unless Obama changes his perception and approach to terrorism, the American people may well demand, as Max points out, a more capable commander in chief to conduct the war against Islamic fanatics.

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Yemen — the New “Good War”?

Yemen’s importance as a terrorist base appears to be growing. It is the place where Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab (the Nigerian airline bomber) was radicalized and where Major Nidal Malik Hasan’s spiritual guide, Anwar al-‘Awlaki, lives. This chilling warning reads entirely plausible: “Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, charged with the attempted Christmas Day bombing of Northwest Airlines flight 253, told FBI agents there were more just like him in Yemen who would strike soon.”

No doubt this will cause the usual chorus to chant that Afghanistan is the “wrong war” (remember when Iraq was the “wrong war” and Afghanistan was the “right one”?) and that we should really be focused on Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia–all those countries where we don’t currently have ground troops. This critique has a certain plausibility but it is not clear what its implications are. Those who make these arguments are not advocating that we invade Yemen, Pakistan, or Somalia. So what, precisely, do they want us to do? Pretty much what we’re already doing: providing aid to the governments in question in fighting the jihadists while also conducting a few covert strikes of our own.

The question is whether drawing down in Afghanistan would make it easier or harder to prosecute the war on terrorism on other fronts. On the plus side, there is no denying that certain ISR assets (intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance) are tied up in Afghanistan (and Iraq) that could be useful elsewhere–although there are sharp limitations to how much intelligence gathering we can do over the sovereign territory of other states. But this marginal advantage is more than counterbalanced by the larger consequences of defeat in Afghanistan, which would have devastating implications not only for the poor people of Afghanistan but also for the wide struggle against violent extremism.

Having (in their own minds at least) already defeated one superpower in Afghanistan, Osama bin Laden and his confederates would be immeasurably boosted if they were able to claim that they had then defeated the sole remaining superpower too. Such a victory for the jihadists would undoubtedly help recruiting all over the world and make states like Pakistan and Yemen even less likely to cooperate with the United States because they would be in mortal fear of al Qaeda and other radical jihadists. A defeat for the Taliban in Afghanistan would by no means make the wider terrorist threat disappear but it would certainly decrease its magnitude. Assuming that the Karzai government can stabilize its control over Afghanistan, this will deny the terrorists a huge staging ground for attacks elsewhere. In the process of defeating the terrorists, we will also wind up killing or incarcerating a lot of them. It’s true that terrorists are replaceable, but still it will be a setback for them to lose so many hardened operatives–and not only in Afghanistan. One of the key advantages gained by our presence in Afghanistan is that it makes it easier to target terrorist lairs in Pakistan. If we scuttle out of Afghanistan, it is doubtful that the government of Pakistan will extend the same kind of anti-terrorist cooperation we receive today.

We cannot ignore the terrorist threat emanating from Yemen or other states but nor should we use this undoubted danger as an excuse to lose the war of the moment–the one NATO troops are fighting in Afghanistan. Winning the “war on terror” will require prevailing on multiple battlefields–Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, the Philippines, and a host of other countries, including, for that matter, Western Europe and the United States. The methods and techniques we will use in each place have to be tailored to the individual circumstances. Few countries will require the kind of massive troop presence needed in Afghanistan or Iraq. In most places we will fight on a lesser scale, using Special Forces and security assistance programs. But because a lower-profile presence may work elsewhere doesn’t mean that it will work in Afghanistan–or would have worked in Iraq. We know this because the Bush administration already tried the small-footprint strategy in Afghanistan. It is this strategy that allowed the Taliban to recover so much ground lost after 9/11–territory that can only be retaken by an influx of additional Western troops. There is no reason why we can’t fight and prevail in Afghanistan even as we are fighting in different ways in different countries.

Yemen’s importance as a terrorist base appears to be growing. It is the place where Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab (the Nigerian airline bomber) was radicalized and where Major Nidal Malik Hasan’s spiritual guide, Anwar al-‘Awlaki, lives. This chilling warning reads entirely plausible: “Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, charged with the attempted Christmas Day bombing of Northwest Airlines flight 253, told FBI agents there were more just like him in Yemen who would strike soon.”

No doubt this will cause the usual chorus to chant that Afghanistan is the “wrong war” (remember when Iraq was the “wrong war” and Afghanistan was the “right one”?) and that we should really be focused on Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia–all those countries where we don’t currently have ground troops. This critique has a certain plausibility but it is not clear what its implications are. Those who make these arguments are not advocating that we invade Yemen, Pakistan, or Somalia. So what, precisely, do they want us to do? Pretty much what we’re already doing: providing aid to the governments in question in fighting the jihadists while also conducting a few covert strikes of our own.

The question is whether drawing down in Afghanistan would make it easier or harder to prosecute the war on terrorism on other fronts. On the plus side, there is no denying that certain ISR assets (intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance) are tied up in Afghanistan (and Iraq) that could be useful elsewhere–although there are sharp limitations to how much intelligence gathering we can do over the sovereign territory of other states. But this marginal advantage is more than counterbalanced by the larger consequences of defeat in Afghanistan, which would have devastating implications not only for the poor people of Afghanistan but also for the wide struggle against violent extremism.

Having (in their own minds at least) already defeated one superpower in Afghanistan, Osama bin Laden and his confederates would be immeasurably boosted if they were able to claim that they had then defeated the sole remaining superpower too. Such a victory for the jihadists would undoubtedly help recruiting all over the world and make states like Pakistan and Yemen even less likely to cooperate with the United States because they would be in mortal fear of al Qaeda and other radical jihadists. A defeat for the Taliban in Afghanistan would by no means make the wider terrorist threat disappear but it would certainly decrease its magnitude. Assuming that the Karzai government can stabilize its control over Afghanistan, this will deny the terrorists a huge staging ground for attacks elsewhere. In the process of defeating the terrorists, we will also wind up killing or incarcerating a lot of them. It’s true that terrorists are replaceable, but still it will be a setback for them to lose so many hardened operatives–and not only in Afghanistan. One of the key advantages gained by our presence in Afghanistan is that it makes it easier to target terrorist lairs in Pakistan. If we scuttle out of Afghanistan, it is doubtful that the government of Pakistan will extend the same kind of anti-terrorist cooperation we receive today.

We cannot ignore the terrorist threat emanating from Yemen or other states but nor should we use this undoubted danger as an excuse to lose the war of the moment–the one NATO troops are fighting in Afghanistan. Winning the “war on terror” will require prevailing on multiple battlefields–Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, the Philippines, and a host of other countries, including, for that matter, Western Europe and the United States. The methods and techniques we will use in each place have to be tailored to the individual circumstances. Few countries will require the kind of massive troop presence needed in Afghanistan or Iraq. In most places we will fight on a lesser scale, using Special Forces and security assistance programs. But because a lower-profile presence may work elsewhere doesn’t mean that it will work in Afghanistan–or would have worked in Iraq. We know this because the Bush administration already tried the small-footprint strategy in Afghanistan. It is this strategy that allowed the Taliban to recover so much ground lost after 9/11–territory that can only be retaken by an influx of additional Western troops. There is no reason why we can’t fight and prevail in Afghanistan even as we are fighting in different ways in different countries.

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Needed: Wartime Commander in Chief

If nothing else, the case of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab should remind us that the “war on terror” (oh, that now banished phrase!) was not dreamed up by some neocon conspiracy bent on curtailing Americans’ civil liberties and on colonizing poor defenseless countries. It is nothing but a simple, accurate description of the threat we face from Islamist extremists bent on mass murder to advance their deranged worldview.

It is not only luck that has kept us (relatively) safe since 9/11, aside from a few random nuts like the Beltway sniper (John Allen Muhammad) and the Fort Hood shooter (Major Malik Nadal Hasan). There has been no lack of larger plots against American targets here and abroad. A few, such as the attempted bombings by Richard Reid and Umar Farouk Abdulmuttalab, have been foiled by a combination of bad planning on the part of the terrorists and active resistance by airline passengers. Many more plots, such as the attempt to blow up airliners flying across the Atlantic by using liquid explosives, have been defeated by active intelligence and law enforcement work. A vital contribution to that work has been made by the Patriot Act and other post-9/11 changes, which have made it easier to wiretap suspects, share intelligence, and (don’t forget) aggressively interrogate captured terrorists and keep them in custody even if they cannot be convicted beyond a shadow of a doubt in a civil court.

Unfortunately all too many people have drawn the wrong lesson from these post-9/11 successes, concluding that we are so safe that we can go back to the pre-9/11 status quo, back when we treated terrorism as a law-enforcement problem and nothing more. This has become the conventional wisdom of the mainstream, left-wing of the Democratic Party and a tiny, right-wing fringe of the Republican Party (Ron Paul and Pat Buchanan), which see the U.S. government as the biggest threat we face—not al-Qaeda and its fellow travelers.

It would be unfair to say that President Obama has bought into this worldview. To his credit, he has continued an active program of using drones and Special Forces to assassinate terrorist kingpins from Pakistan to Somalia; has ramped up our military efforts in Afghanistan; and has continued an active program of intelligence and military cooperation designed to allow states such as Yemen and the Philippines to fight their own wars on terror. Moreover, he has signed off on wider wiretapping and intelligence-gathering authority than the ACLU is comfortable with. But there are certainly some worrisome trends evident from this administration, which insists on trying Khalid Sheikh Muhammad in a civilian court, which has banned the use of all stress techniques in interrogation, and which continues releasing detainees from Guantanamo, many of whom go right back to the sorts of activities that got them interred in the first place. And let us not forget the president’s unwillingness to get tough with Iran, whose nuclear-weapons program could before long radically increase the chances of our allies’ suffering a nuclear terrorist attack.

Obama has actually been a little tougher on terrorism (and Iraq and Afghanistan) than his record as an ultra-liberal senator would have led us to expect; certainly a lot tougher than Michael Moore or his ilk would like him to be. But not perhaps as tough as the situation demands. If there is any good that comes out of the attempted bombing of the Detroit flight, or the Iranians’ rejections of his naive overtures, it is that he may finally shed some of his remaining illusions about the world and start acting more as a wartime commander in chief should.

If nothing else, the case of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab should remind us that the “war on terror” (oh, that now banished phrase!) was not dreamed up by some neocon conspiracy bent on curtailing Americans’ civil liberties and on colonizing poor defenseless countries. It is nothing but a simple, accurate description of the threat we face from Islamist extremists bent on mass murder to advance their deranged worldview.

It is not only luck that has kept us (relatively) safe since 9/11, aside from a few random nuts like the Beltway sniper (John Allen Muhammad) and the Fort Hood shooter (Major Malik Nadal Hasan). There has been no lack of larger plots against American targets here and abroad. A few, such as the attempted bombings by Richard Reid and Umar Farouk Abdulmuttalab, have been foiled by a combination of bad planning on the part of the terrorists and active resistance by airline passengers. Many more plots, such as the attempt to blow up airliners flying across the Atlantic by using liquid explosives, have been defeated by active intelligence and law enforcement work. A vital contribution to that work has been made by the Patriot Act and other post-9/11 changes, which have made it easier to wiretap suspects, share intelligence, and (don’t forget) aggressively interrogate captured terrorists and keep them in custody even if they cannot be convicted beyond a shadow of a doubt in a civil court.

Unfortunately all too many people have drawn the wrong lesson from these post-9/11 successes, concluding that we are so safe that we can go back to the pre-9/11 status quo, back when we treated terrorism as a law-enforcement problem and nothing more. This has become the conventional wisdom of the mainstream, left-wing of the Democratic Party and a tiny, right-wing fringe of the Republican Party (Ron Paul and Pat Buchanan), which see the U.S. government as the biggest threat we face—not al-Qaeda and its fellow travelers.

It would be unfair to say that President Obama has bought into this worldview. To his credit, he has continued an active program of using drones and Special Forces to assassinate terrorist kingpins from Pakistan to Somalia; has ramped up our military efforts in Afghanistan; and has continued an active program of intelligence and military cooperation designed to allow states such as Yemen and the Philippines to fight their own wars on terror. Moreover, he has signed off on wider wiretapping and intelligence-gathering authority than the ACLU is comfortable with. But there are certainly some worrisome trends evident from this administration, which insists on trying Khalid Sheikh Muhammad in a civilian court, which has banned the use of all stress techniques in interrogation, and which continues releasing detainees from Guantanamo, many of whom go right back to the sorts of activities that got them interred in the first place. And let us not forget the president’s unwillingness to get tough with Iran, whose nuclear-weapons program could before long radically increase the chances of our allies’ suffering a nuclear terrorist attack.

Obama has actually been a little tougher on terrorism (and Iraq and Afghanistan) than his record as an ultra-liberal senator would have led us to expect; certainly a lot tougher than Michael Moore or his ilk would like him to be. But not perhaps as tough as the situation demands. If there is any good that comes out of the attempted bombing of the Detroit flight, or the Iranians’ rejections of his naive overtures, it is that he may finally shed some of his remaining illusions about the world and start acting more as a wartime commander in chief should.

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Forget the Democracy, They Have a Planet to Save

Diane Ravitch of NYU and Brookings writes that she is bothered by “the idea that President Obama has pledged to join the other advanced nations in paying billions to corrupt and despotic regimes to help them become green. Will he borrow billions from China so we can afford to pay China to become green? Will we finance the kleptocrats in Zimbabwe, Somalia, Sudan and other regimes? How much of the billions will go for greenness and how much for Mercedes, BMWs, and other baubles for the despots?”

Well, that’s unfortunately what the Green agenda looks like — a racket for the third world, which now uses questionable science to advance its money-grabbing schemes. And with the $100 billion in funding the Obama team was willing to pony up in Copenhagen, it seems as though they have a friend in the White House amenable to this sort of thing. It also is likely to further turn off the American public, which already was not too keen on the hysterical Green agenda.

But watch out: the Green racket is about to get serious. The trial lawyers are now moving in to get their share of the scam. No, really. This is no joke:

Across the country, trial lawyers and green pressure groups—if that’s not redundant—are teaming up to sue electric utilities for carbon emissions under “nuisance” laws. A group of 12 Gulf Coast residents whose homes were damaged by Katrina are suing 33 energy companies for greenhouse gas emissions that allegedly contributed to the global warming that allegedly made the hurricane worse. Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and seven state AG allies plus New York City are suing American Electric Power and other utilities for a host of supposed eco-maladies. A native village in Alaska is suing Exxon and 23 oil and energy companies for coastal erosion.

At least the states’ lawyers are candidly revealing that they are in the hold-up game, seeking to “compel measures that will stem global warming regardless of what happens in the legislature.” Just in case you thought that important policy decisions had to be passed by elected leaders. (“The nuisance suits ask the courts to make such fundamentally political decisions themselves, with judges substituting their views for those of the elected branches.”)

All of this is refreshing, in a sense, to those who have been skeptical all along as to the motives and tactics of the environmental busybodies. Cold hard cash seems to be a big objective here — moving it from the private to public sector and from developed to third-world countries. And as the public’s resistance mounts, those peddling the agenda are showing their true, quite anti-democratic tendencies. International deals (which the president hoped would box in the U.S. Congress), an EPA edict on carbon emissions, and a barrage of lawsuits all aim to one degree or another to evade the normal process of lawmaking and the sticky business of gaining popular consent for radical policy initiatives. Makes one miss the days when the Green hysterics felt compelled to scare the public into supporting their agenda.

Diane Ravitch of NYU and Brookings writes that she is bothered by “the idea that President Obama has pledged to join the other advanced nations in paying billions to corrupt and despotic regimes to help them become green. Will he borrow billions from China so we can afford to pay China to become green? Will we finance the kleptocrats in Zimbabwe, Somalia, Sudan and other regimes? How much of the billions will go for greenness and how much for Mercedes, BMWs, and other baubles for the despots?”

Well, that’s unfortunately what the Green agenda looks like — a racket for the third world, which now uses questionable science to advance its money-grabbing schemes. And with the $100 billion in funding the Obama team was willing to pony up in Copenhagen, it seems as though they have a friend in the White House amenable to this sort of thing. It also is likely to further turn off the American public, which already was not too keen on the hysterical Green agenda.

But watch out: the Green racket is about to get serious. The trial lawyers are now moving in to get their share of the scam. No, really. This is no joke:

Across the country, trial lawyers and green pressure groups—if that’s not redundant—are teaming up to sue electric utilities for carbon emissions under “nuisance” laws. A group of 12 Gulf Coast residents whose homes were damaged by Katrina are suing 33 energy companies for greenhouse gas emissions that allegedly contributed to the global warming that allegedly made the hurricane worse. Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal and seven state AG allies plus New York City are suing American Electric Power and other utilities for a host of supposed eco-maladies. A native village in Alaska is suing Exxon and 23 oil and energy companies for coastal erosion.

At least the states’ lawyers are candidly revealing that they are in the hold-up game, seeking to “compel measures that will stem global warming regardless of what happens in the legislature.” Just in case you thought that important policy decisions had to be passed by elected leaders. (“The nuisance suits ask the courts to make such fundamentally political decisions themselves, with judges substituting their views for those of the elected branches.”)

All of this is refreshing, in a sense, to those who have been skeptical all along as to the motives and tactics of the environmental busybodies. Cold hard cash seems to be a big objective here — moving it from the private to public sector and from developed to third-world countries. And as the public’s resistance mounts, those peddling the agenda are showing their true, quite anti-democratic tendencies. International deals (which the president hoped would box in the U.S. Congress), an EPA edict on carbon emissions, and a barrage of lawsuits all aim to one degree or another to evade the normal process of lawmaking and the sticky business of gaining popular consent for radical policy initiatives. Makes one miss the days when the Green hysterics felt compelled to scare the public into supporting their agenda.

Read Less

The Obama Administration Pipes Up — Finally

In the wake of the deaths of ten Iranian protesters, the Obama administration has pepped up its rhetoric, declaring via a spokesman:

We strongly condemn the violent and unjust suppression of civilians in Iran seeking to exercise their universal rights. Hope and history are on the side of those who peacefully seek their universal rights, and so is the United States. Governing through fear and violence is never just, and as President Obama said in Oslo – it is telling when governments fear the aspirations of their own people more than the power of any other nation.

Well, perhaps Sen. John Kerry can stay home now, rather than reward the latest murderers with an unofficial/official visit from the engagement-happy Obami. But one wonders whether this means anything beyond a holiday weekend statement issued by an NSC spokesman. Are we going to do anything — prevail upon Obama’s cherished “international community” to take action against the regime? (This would require a suspension of the UN’s “only Israel is condemned for human rights violations” rule.) Will Obama relent and authorize assistance to previously defunded democracy activists or lend help to their new media efforts, upon which the Obama team previously frowned? Could we hear some talk that a military option remains on the table if the regime persists in pursuing its nuclear program in violation of international agreements?

It seems that in lieu of the farcical engagement policy, a policy of regime change — a serious and concerted effort to assist the protesters when it mattered most — would have been a good idea after all. Then, the NSC’s statements would now ring less hypocritically and might reasonably portend that some action will follow our pretty statements.

In late October, Robert Kagan asked the key question: can Obama play hardball with Iran? We’ve seen no sign he can so far. We can only hope that the tyrannical Islamofascist Iranian regime has finally provoked Obama to do just that.

In the wake of the deaths of ten Iranian protesters, the Obama administration has pepped up its rhetoric, declaring via a spokesman:

We strongly condemn the violent and unjust suppression of civilians in Iran seeking to exercise their universal rights. Hope and history are on the side of those who peacefully seek their universal rights, and so is the United States. Governing through fear and violence is never just, and as President Obama said in Oslo – it is telling when governments fear the aspirations of their own people more than the power of any other nation.

Well, perhaps Sen. John Kerry can stay home now, rather than reward the latest murderers with an unofficial/official visit from the engagement-happy Obami. But one wonders whether this means anything beyond a holiday weekend statement issued by an NSC spokesman. Are we going to do anything — prevail upon Obama’s cherished “international community” to take action against the regime? (This would require a suspension of the UN’s “only Israel is condemned for human rights violations” rule.) Will Obama relent and authorize assistance to previously defunded democracy activists or lend help to their new media efforts, upon which the Obama team previously frowned? Could we hear some talk that a military option remains on the table if the regime persists in pursuing its nuclear program in violation of international agreements?

It seems that in lieu of the farcical engagement policy, a policy of regime change — a serious and concerted effort to assist the protesters when it mattered most — would have been a good idea after all. Then, the NSC’s statements would now ring less hypocritically and might reasonably portend that some action will follow our pretty statements.

In late October, Robert Kagan asked the key question: can Obama play hardball with Iran? We’ve seen no sign he can so far. We can only hope that the tyrannical Islamofascist Iranian regime has finally provoked Obama to do just that.

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Read Him His Rights?

The Wall Street Journal editors note that the Obama administration is up to its sickeningly familiar pre-9/11 tactics in handling the Christmas Day terrorist bombing plot:

It immediately indicted Mr. Abdulmutallab on criminal charges of trying to destroy an aircraft, despite reports that he told officials he had ties to al Qaeda and had picked up his PETN explosive in Yemen. The charges mean the Nigerian can only be interrogated like any other defendant in a criminal case, subject to having a lawyer present and his Miranda rights read.

Yet he is precisely the kind of illegal enemy combatant who should be interrogated first with the goal of preventing future attacks and learning more about terror networks rather than gaining a single conviction. We now have to hope he cooperates voluntarily.

And if the administration is following the same criminal justice script, one wonders how the Bush-bashing Left will fare in sticking to theirs. Like Major Nadal Hassan, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab does not follow the Left’s fantasy that terrorists are driven to kill by poverty or lack of education or post-traumatic stress. To the contrary, “Like many of the 9/11 murderers, he came from an affluent family and was highly educated.” He just wanted to kill people, it seems.

We are seeing the same inconvenient facts and remarkably similar pattern of malfeasance by our government. We didn’t catch the warning calls (e.g., Hassan’s bizarre behavior, Abdulmutallab’s father’s warning), one portion of the government didn’t or wouldn’t coordinate with another, the administration proceeds in criminal-justice mode rather than war mode and no one ever seems to be held responsible in the Obama national security apparatus.

Ordinary people, I suspect, are increasingly appalled by all this. And if we are not so lucky next time, the Obama administration’s sloth in conducting the war on terror will result in tragedy and their own political ruin.

The Wall Street Journal editors note that the Obama administration is up to its sickeningly familiar pre-9/11 tactics in handling the Christmas Day terrorist bombing plot:

It immediately indicted Mr. Abdulmutallab on criminal charges of trying to destroy an aircraft, despite reports that he told officials he had ties to al Qaeda and had picked up his PETN explosive in Yemen. The charges mean the Nigerian can only be interrogated like any other defendant in a criminal case, subject to having a lawyer present and his Miranda rights read.

Yet he is precisely the kind of illegal enemy combatant who should be interrogated first with the goal of preventing future attacks and learning more about terror networks rather than gaining a single conviction. We now have to hope he cooperates voluntarily.

And if the administration is following the same criminal justice script, one wonders how the Bush-bashing Left will fare in sticking to theirs. Like Major Nadal Hassan, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab does not follow the Left’s fantasy that terrorists are driven to kill by poverty or lack of education or post-traumatic stress. To the contrary, “Like many of the 9/11 murderers, he came from an affluent family and was highly educated.” He just wanted to kill people, it seems.

We are seeing the same inconvenient facts and remarkably similar pattern of malfeasance by our government. We didn’t catch the warning calls (e.g., Hassan’s bizarre behavior, Abdulmutallab’s father’s warning), one portion of the government didn’t or wouldn’t coordinate with another, the administration proceeds in criminal-justice mode rather than war mode and no one ever seems to be held responsible in the Obama national security apparatus.

Ordinary people, I suspect, are increasingly appalled by all this. And if we are not so lucky next time, the Obama administration’s sloth in conducting the war on terror will result in tragedy and their own political ruin.

Read Less

Tell the Passengers “the System Worked”

Roey Rosenblith, one of the passengers of the Christmas-Day-bombing targeted Delta Flight 253, writes a detailed column on his experience. It is worth reading in full, but there are two especially noteworthy points. First, this is what terror is:

I was filled with an intense sense of trepidation, the instinct to run was overwhelming, but there was nowhere to run to in this metal tube filled with almost 300 people. All you could do was look around at your fellow travelers, who were doing just what you were doing: trying not to panic, looking around for some clue in the eyes and faces of other passengers if anyone knew what was happening.

After the flight he learned the details of the plot, that the bomber had real explosives and was associated with al-Qaeda. He tells us that “a harsh and frightening reality suddenly set in as my suspicions were confirmed. I and everyone on that flight had come very close to being nothing but pieces of charred bone and fragments of flesh, identifiable only by DNA testing and dental records.”

When the Obama administration flacks tell us this was only an “attempt” or that it was “foiled,” they should tell that to the passengers on that flight and to their loved ones. The Obama team is now seemingly in the business of defining terrorism downward. We are supposed to celebrate and think that the “system worked” because 300 poor souls were traumatized rather than incinerated on Christmas Day.

Rosenblith also observes:

Most people seemed to be in denial of what I saw was evident. This guy wanted to kill all of us, he had wanted to blow up the plane. When I said this, they would just shake their heads; even those that had seen it happen didn’t want to believe it.

He is right, of course. The desire to not believe there are jihadist fanatics determined to kill us — organized in multiple international venues, not amenable to reason or persuasion, and only stoppable if captured or killed — is so intense that it still ensnares elite sophisticates and those who are charged with keeping us safe. Perhaps the president would do well to get off the golf course and explain that he finally gets it and plans to begin a top-to-bottom review of his approach to domestic terror attacks (not merely our “aviation protocols”). Unless, of course, he still doesn’t get it and intends to keep on doing exactly what we’ve been doing — avoiding labeling the nature of our enemy and treating these incidents as discrete, criminal acts.

Roey Rosenblith, one of the passengers of the Christmas-Day-bombing targeted Delta Flight 253, writes a detailed column on his experience. It is worth reading in full, but there are two especially noteworthy points. First, this is what terror is:

I was filled with an intense sense of trepidation, the instinct to run was overwhelming, but there was nowhere to run to in this metal tube filled with almost 300 people. All you could do was look around at your fellow travelers, who were doing just what you were doing: trying not to panic, looking around for some clue in the eyes and faces of other passengers if anyone knew what was happening.

After the flight he learned the details of the plot, that the bomber had real explosives and was associated with al-Qaeda. He tells us that “a harsh and frightening reality suddenly set in as my suspicions were confirmed. I and everyone on that flight had come very close to being nothing but pieces of charred bone and fragments of flesh, identifiable only by DNA testing and dental records.”

When the Obama administration flacks tell us this was only an “attempt” or that it was “foiled,” they should tell that to the passengers on that flight and to their loved ones. The Obama team is now seemingly in the business of defining terrorism downward. We are supposed to celebrate and think that the “system worked” because 300 poor souls were traumatized rather than incinerated on Christmas Day.

Rosenblith also observes:

Most people seemed to be in denial of what I saw was evident. This guy wanted to kill all of us, he had wanted to blow up the plane. When I said this, they would just shake their heads; even those that had seen it happen didn’t want to believe it.

He is right, of course. The desire to not believe there are jihadist fanatics determined to kill us — organized in multiple international venues, not amenable to reason or persuasion, and only stoppable if captured or killed — is so intense that it still ensnares elite sophisticates and those who are charged with keeping us safe. Perhaps the president would do well to get off the golf course and explain that he finally gets it and plans to begin a top-to-bottom review of his approach to domestic terror attacks (not merely our “aviation protocols”). Unless, of course, he still doesn’t get it and intends to keep on doing exactly what we’ve been doing — avoiding labeling the nature of our enemy and treating these incidents as discrete, criminal acts.

Read Less

No Partisan, Controversial Legislation for Them!

Senate Democrats are crying out  for help:

Bruised by the health care debate and worried about what 2010 will bring, moderate Senate Democrats are urging the White House to give up now on any effort to pass a cap-and-trade bill next year. “I am communicating that in every way I know how,” says Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), one of at least half a dozen Democrats who’ve told the White House or their own leaders that it’s time to jettison the centerpiece of their party’s plan to curb global warming.

So if health care is so toxic, why did they all cast the decisive votes in its favor? It seems as though it has unnerved those Democrats who were essential to its passage, before it has even become law. But you have to marvel at the lack of self-awareness:

“I’d just as soon see that set aside until we work through the economy,” said Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.). ?“What we don’t want to do is have anything get in the way of working to resolve the problems with the economy.”

Because we wouldn’t want a massive tax-and-spend plan unsettling a sixth of the economy to pass before we get the economy back on track, right? Oh, wait. No, Nelson sold his vote already on that one.

But on the bright side, the persistent lack of enthusiasm for the Democrats’ handiwork has now perhaps stymied the rest of the Obama agenda. Suddenly, they realize the peril of passing highly controversial legislation on party-line votes: “After the tough health care fight, Democratic leadership believes a climate bill must pass with significant bipartisan support or risk leaving the party open to attack during the midterm elections.” Because if you pass something with little public enthusiasm, job-killing taxes and no support from the minority the voters might get really, really mad.

If you think this has the air of unreality, as if the last weeks of hyper-partisan, hurry-up-and-pass-partisan-health-care-“reform” never occured, you are right. We can only hope that in the weeks that follow Democrats can listen to their own rhetoric and rethink not only cap-and-trade but the legislation which has now spooked their most vulnerable lawmakers. It isn’t too late to dump ObamaCare, you know.

Senate Democrats are crying out  for help:

Bruised by the health care debate and worried about what 2010 will bring, moderate Senate Democrats are urging the White House to give up now on any effort to pass a cap-and-trade bill next year. “I am communicating that in every way I know how,” says Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-La.), one of at least half a dozen Democrats who’ve told the White House or their own leaders that it’s time to jettison the centerpiece of their party’s plan to curb global warming.

So if health care is so toxic, why did they all cast the decisive votes in its favor? It seems as though it has unnerved those Democrats who were essential to its passage, before it has even become law. But you have to marvel at the lack of self-awareness:

“I’d just as soon see that set aside until we work through the economy,” said Sen. Ben Nelson (D-Neb.). ?“What we don’t want to do is have anything get in the way of working to resolve the problems with the economy.”

Because we wouldn’t want a massive tax-and-spend plan unsettling a sixth of the economy to pass before we get the economy back on track, right? Oh, wait. No, Nelson sold his vote already on that one.

But on the bright side, the persistent lack of enthusiasm for the Democrats’ handiwork has now perhaps stymied the rest of the Obama agenda. Suddenly, they realize the peril of passing highly controversial legislation on party-line votes: “After the tough health care fight, Democratic leadership believes a climate bill must pass with significant bipartisan support or risk leaving the party open to attack during the midterm elections.” Because if you pass something with little public enthusiasm, job-killing taxes and no support from the minority the voters might get really, really mad.

If you think this has the air of unreality, as if the last weeks of hyper-partisan, hurry-up-and-pass-partisan-health-care-“reform” never occured, you are right. We can only hope that in the weeks that follow Democrats can listen to their own rhetoric and rethink not only cap-and-trade but the legislation which has now spooked their most vulnerable lawmakers. It isn’t too late to dump ObamaCare, you know.

Read Less

Flotsam and Jetsam

Sen. Mitch McConnell sounds the theme for Republicans in 2010: “Every single Democrat in the Senate provided the one vote that passed this 2,700-page monstrosity. It cuts Medicare by half a trillion dollars, raises taxes by half a trillion dollars, and instead of curbing the rate of increase of insurance premiums, most Americans’ insurance premiums are going to go up. This bill is a colossal failure, and that’s why the American people were literally screaming at us, you know, please, don’t pass this bill.”

Even the New York Times figured it out: a lot of Blue State senators blew it in the health-care bill by agreeing to help fund other states’ Medicaid obligations and doing little or nothing for their own states. Perhaps if they hadn’t been in such a mad rush, the Democrats wouldn’t have missed an issue worth billions to their states.

The White House, according to A.P.’s Jennifer Loven, is worried about “getting ahead of the criticism” on the handling of our terrorist watch lists. (By the way, it seems that the “Free Mara!” campaign has plowed new ground, opening up Fox New Sunday to the A.P.’s White House reporter.) One senses that the Obami only perk up about the nature of the international threats we face after the fact, when the political fall-out mounts. And Bill Kristol points out that we are treating the bomber as a “one-off, law enforcement case.”

It is reapportionment time: “The Constitution requires, every decade, the redistribution of congressional districts to account for changes in the country’s population. The projections offer some long-term encouragement for Republicans. President Barack Obama won nine of the 10 states slated to lose seats, and Democrats hold congressional delegation majorities in all but one (Louisiana).”

Jonah Goldberg on the ever-hapless Secretary of Homeland Security: “I watched her on three shows and each time she was more annoying, maddening and absurd than the previous appearance. It is her basic position that the ‘system worked’ because the bureaucrats responded properly after the attack. That the attack was ‘foiled’ by a bad detonator and some civilian passengers is proof, she claims, that her agency is doing everything right. That is just about the dumbest thing she could say, on the merits and politically.” If not for Eric Holder, she’d be the worst cabinet secretary — by far.

Rep. Peter King doesn’t think the system worked: “One thing is clear about the attempted terror attack on Christmas Day — we need answers. There is obviously going to be a full-scale congressional investigation into how Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was allowed to board Flight 253 and head to the United States with plans to incinerate 300 innocent people. Mere hours after it happened, I was told that this man was known to our government, and that there was a classified file on him that said he definitely was involved in terrorist activity. The exact words the authorities used when they told me were ‘terrorist nexus.'”

Undoing himself in the sycophantic spinning department, Marc Ambinder praises Obama for golfing the day after the Christmas bombing. It’s all part of a strategery. . .  er. . .  strategy, he says.

From Maureen Dowd’s column: “In dismissing the tea parties and pushing through plans the American people obviously don’t want, they have made the fatal disconnect between the representatives and the represented.” Okay, she subcontracted her column to her conservative brother, who apparently is the savvy political analyst in the family.

Noemie Emery explains: “The Left, which invented first ‘hate speech’ (opinions they didn’t like) and then ‘hate crimes’ (crimes judged less on the criminal’s actions than on what he was presumed to be thinking), has now gone on to its epiphany, which is “hate” defined not by your words or deeds but by what other people have decided you really think. ‘Hate’ is no longer what you do or say, but what a liberal says that you think and projects on to you. You are punished for what someone else claims you were thinking. It hardly makes sense, but it does serve a political purpose. You could call it Secondhand Hate.” And it’s all the rage, so to speak, in the Obama era.

Sen. Mitch McConnell sounds the theme for Republicans in 2010: “Every single Democrat in the Senate provided the one vote that passed this 2,700-page monstrosity. It cuts Medicare by half a trillion dollars, raises taxes by half a trillion dollars, and instead of curbing the rate of increase of insurance premiums, most Americans’ insurance premiums are going to go up. This bill is a colossal failure, and that’s why the American people were literally screaming at us, you know, please, don’t pass this bill.”

Even the New York Times figured it out: a lot of Blue State senators blew it in the health-care bill by agreeing to help fund other states’ Medicaid obligations and doing little or nothing for their own states. Perhaps if they hadn’t been in such a mad rush, the Democrats wouldn’t have missed an issue worth billions to their states.

The White House, according to A.P.’s Jennifer Loven, is worried about “getting ahead of the criticism” on the handling of our terrorist watch lists. (By the way, it seems that the “Free Mara!” campaign has plowed new ground, opening up Fox New Sunday to the A.P.’s White House reporter.) One senses that the Obami only perk up about the nature of the international threats we face after the fact, when the political fall-out mounts. And Bill Kristol points out that we are treating the bomber as a “one-off, law enforcement case.”

It is reapportionment time: “The Constitution requires, every decade, the redistribution of congressional districts to account for changes in the country’s population. The projections offer some long-term encouragement for Republicans. President Barack Obama won nine of the 10 states slated to lose seats, and Democrats hold congressional delegation majorities in all but one (Louisiana).”

Jonah Goldberg on the ever-hapless Secretary of Homeland Security: “I watched her on three shows and each time she was more annoying, maddening and absurd than the previous appearance. It is her basic position that the ‘system worked’ because the bureaucrats responded properly after the attack. That the attack was ‘foiled’ by a bad detonator and some civilian passengers is proof, she claims, that her agency is doing everything right. That is just about the dumbest thing she could say, on the merits and politically.” If not for Eric Holder, she’d be the worst cabinet secretary — by far.

Rep. Peter King doesn’t think the system worked: “One thing is clear about the attempted terror attack on Christmas Day — we need answers. There is obviously going to be a full-scale congressional investigation into how Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was allowed to board Flight 253 and head to the United States with plans to incinerate 300 innocent people. Mere hours after it happened, I was told that this man was known to our government, and that there was a classified file on him that said he definitely was involved in terrorist activity. The exact words the authorities used when they told me were ‘terrorist nexus.'”

Undoing himself in the sycophantic spinning department, Marc Ambinder praises Obama for golfing the day after the Christmas bombing. It’s all part of a strategery. . .  er. . .  strategy, he says.

From Maureen Dowd’s column: “In dismissing the tea parties and pushing through plans the American people obviously don’t want, they have made the fatal disconnect between the representatives and the represented.” Okay, she subcontracted her column to her conservative brother, who apparently is the savvy political analyst in the family.

Noemie Emery explains: “The Left, which invented first ‘hate speech’ (opinions they didn’t like) and then ‘hate crimes’ (crimes judged less on the criminal’s actions than on what he was presumed to be thinking), has now gone on to its epiphany, which is “hate” defined not by your words or deeds but by what other people have decided you really think. ‘Hate’ is no longer what you do or say, but what a liberal says that you think and projects on to you. You are punished for what someone else claims you were thinking. It hardly makes sense, but it does serve a political purpose. You could call it Secondhand Hate.” And it’s all the rage, so to speak, in the Obama era.

Read Less




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