Commentary Magazine


Flotsam and Jetsam

Uh oh: “Initial claims for unemployment benefits shot up by 25,000 to 471,000 last week. Economists had expected claims to drop to 440,000. ‘This is horrible,’ Ian Shepherdson, chief U.S. economist at High Frequency Economics, wrote in a note to clients. ‘The Labor Dept told the press that there are no special factors lifting claims, so we are left with the uncomfortable possibility that the trend in claims has not only stopped falling, but may be turning higher.’”

Yikes: “It’s true that Obama ‘encouraged’ Turkey and Brazil to hold discussions with Iran, a White House official tells The Cable, but he never indicated that a deal like the one announced this week would be sufficient to alleviate international concerns or stave off sanctions.”

Panic (for Democratic incumbents): “So far in 2010, an average of 23% of Americans have been satisfied with the way things are going in the United States. That is well below the 40% historical average Gallup has measured since 1979, when it began asking this question. The 2010 average is also the lowest Gallup has measured in a midterm election year, dating to 1982. … Democrats are clearly vulnerable to losing their majority this year.”

Nervous (Republicans) as Rand Paul gets snared on the race issue. “Several senior Senate Republicans seem to be taken aback by Rand Paul’s pronouncements on the 1964 Civil Rights Act. The GOP’s Kentucky Senate nominee has suggested that he doesn’t believe the federal government has a role in preventing private businesses from discriminating against racial minorities, and he dodged Wednesday night when MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow asked him whether he would have supported the landmark 1964 act.” Paul then went into damage-control mode. But if this keeps up, Mitch McConnell’s going to look very smart for backing the other guy.

Scary (especially with Iran about to join the nuclear club): ”The delicate standoff on the Korean peninsula over charges that North Korea sank a South Korean ship — killing 46 sailors — stands as a compelling example of why rogue states want nuclear weapons. Nobody wants to mess with them.”

Grim (for Obama sycophants): “For the first time since he emerged as a national political figure six years ago, Obama finds himself on the wrong side of the change equation — the status quo side — with challengers in both parties running against him, his policies or his handpicked candidates.”

Defiance: “The House Armed Services Committee’s approval of a $726 billion defense authorization bill sets the stage for a clash with the Obama administration. A veto threat has loomed since defense authorizers started writing the legislation, and now that the bill is headed to the House floor, the question is whether President Barack Obama will follow through.”

Five is the current tally of the times Richard Blumenthal lied about serving in Vietnam. This one is as bad as you can get: “I wore the uniform in Vietnam and many came back to all kinds of disrespect. Whatever we think of war, we owe the men and women of the armed forces our unconditional support.” When we get to 10, will he resign?

Vile: I wonder if the moral preeners in Hollywood have read “[Roman] Polanski’s probation officer’s report — an extraordinarily revealing document which records in grim and forensic detail how the then 43-year-old went about seducing a girl 30 years his junior with the aid of a good deal of alcohol and a drug that would have rendered her almost incapable of resisting.”

Pathetic: Maureen Dowd writes an entire column on “When does a woman go from being single to unmarried?” Maureen, whatever it is, you’re past it. Which is why she whines: “For some reason, Kagan’s depressing narrative is even more depressing because it’s cast in the past tense, as if, at 50, Kagan has resigned herself to a cloistered, asexual existence ruling in cases that touch on the private lives of all Americans.”