Commentary Magazine


Posts For: May 26, 2010

Throwing Leaves on a Tomb

For someone who ran so successful a campaign, Barack Obama sure seems to have a tin ear for American politics.

How else can one explain his decision to take a vacation rather than attend the annual service at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington on Memorial Day? This will not bother his liberal friends, of course. David Corn asks, “does it matter if Obama throws some leaves on a tomb?” But it is likely to bother millions of average Americans — you know, the ones who cling to God and guns — and it powerfully reinforces Obama’s image as an American president who is fundamentally anti-American.

Obama’s poll numbers are tanking. Rasmussen has him at -22 today, his lowest number to date. Even Democrats like James Carville are beginning to beat up on him for his aloof, often arrogant ways. Doesn’t anybody in the White House notice how the public perception of the president is changing quickly for the worse? As any halfway competent public-relations man can tell you, once a perception gets set, it is awfully hard to change it.

For someone who ran so successful a campaign, Barack Obama sure seems to have a tin ear for American politics.

How else can one explain his decision to take a vacation rather than attend the annual service at the Tomb of the Unknowns at Arlington on Memorial Day? This will not bother his liberal friends, of course. David Corn asks, “does it matter if Obama throws some leaves on a tomb?” But it is likely to bother millions of average Americans — you know, the ones who cling to God and guns — and it powerfully reinforces Obama’s image as an American president who is fundamentally anti-American.

Obama’s poll numbers are tanking. Rasmussen has him at -22 today, his lowest number to date. Even Democrats like James Carville are beginning to beat up on him for his aloof, often arrogant ways. Doesn’t anybody in the White House notice how the public perception of the president is changing quickly for the worse? As any halfway competent public-relations man can tell you, once a perception gets set, it is awfully hard to change it.

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Hezbollah’s Maritime Threat

As Hezbollah’s Nasrallah issues new threats to commercial shipping in the Levant, it’s worth recalling the events of July 2006. During the conflict that summer with Hezbollah in Lebanon, Israel’s INS Hanit, a Saar-V class corvette, was hit by an anti-ship missile launched by Hezbollah from the Lebanese coast. Haaretz reported that a Cambodian-flagged freighter was hit by another missile in the same July 14 attack. The freighter sank afterward; its Egyptian crewmen were rescued from the Mediterranean, but four Israelis were killed in the attack on Hanit.

Austin Bay, who writes frequently on defense matters, posted this excellent analysis of the shipping attacks at his blog. The missiles Hezbollah used were a Chinese-designed C802 cruise missile, which Iran has produced for a number of years as the “Noor” missile, and the Iranian “Kosar” version of the Chinese C701 missile.

No question remains as to whether Iran has supplied anti-ship missiles to Hezbollah. The only question is whether Hezbollah is now being supplied with Iran’s newer anti-ship missiles. China and Iran launched a production facility in March 2010 for the “Nasr” missile, Iran’s version of the Chinese C704, a newer cruise missile with a passive homing capability. Iran’s navy fired the Nasr missile in its Persian Gulf exercise in April, a move similar to the introduction of the Kosar missile in the major naval exercise in April of 2006. Three months after that 2006 exercise, Hezbollah used the Kosar off the coast of Lebanon.

Israeli warships can defend themselves against Hezbollah’s cruise missiles. Hanit’s failure to do so was attributed to the constraints of an Israeli forces operating policy, which had been put in place to prevent unintentional firing on friendly aircraft.

But merchantmen have no defense against such weapons. Nasrallah’s threat is far from empty, as Hezbollah has already proved. The coastal region off Lebanon and Israel, through which ships approach the Suez Canal, is one of the busiest in the world. The likelihood is very real that the U.S. will find it necessary to take action if Hezbollah starts launching missiles at commercial ships. It bears noting that whether that task is approached passively (e.g., with defensive escort) or through active counterattack on Hezbollah’s positions ashore, the weapon systems suitable for the problem are the Aegis warships and aircraft carriers Defense Secretary Gates wants fewer of. No less-capable platform can handle the mission.

As Hezbollah’s Nasrallah issues new threats to commercial shipping in the Levant, it’s worth recalling the events of July 2006. During the conflict that summer with Hezbollah in Lebanon, Israel’s INS Hanit, a Saar-V class corvette, was hit by an anti-ship missile launched by Hezbollah from the Lebanese coast. Haaretz reported that a Cambodian-flagged freighter was hit by another missile in the same July 14 attack. The freighter sank afterward; its Egyptian crewmen were rescued from the Mediterranean, but four Israelis were killed in the attack on Hanit.

Austin Bay, who writes frequently on defense matters, posted this excellent analysis of the shipping attacks at his blog. The missiles Hezbollah used were a Chinese-designed C802 cruise missile, which Iran has produced for a number of years as the “Noor” missile, and the Iranian “Kosar” version of the Chinese C701 missile.

No question remains as to whether Iran has supplied anti-ship missiles to Hezbollah. The only question is whether Hezbollah is now being supplied with Iran’s newer anti-ship missiles. China and Iran launched a production facility in March 2010 for the “Nasr” missile, Iran’s version of the Chinese C704, a newer cruise missile with a passive homing capability. Iran’s navy fired the Nasr missile in its Persian Gulf exercise in April, a move similar to the introduction of the Kosar missile in the major naval exercise in April of 2006. Three months after that 2006 exercise, Hezbollah used the Kosar off the coast of Lebanon.

Israeli warships can defend themselves against Hezbollah’s cruise missiles. Hanit’s failure to do so was attributed to the constraints of an Israeli forces operating policy, which had been put in place to prevent unintentional firing on friendly aircraft.

But merchantmen have no defense against such weapons. Nasrallah’s threat is far from empty, as Hezbollah has already proved. The coastal region off Lebanon and Israel, through which ships approach the Suez Canal, is one of the busiest in the world. The likelihood is very real that the U.S. will find it necessary to take action if Hezbollah starts launching missiles at commercial ships. It bears noting that whether that task is approached passively (e.g., with defensive escort) or through active counterattack on Hezbollah’s positions ashore, the weapon systems suitable for the problem are the Aegis warships and aircraft carriers Defense Secretary Gates wants fewer of. No less-capable platform can handle the mission.

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Is the California Senate Seat in Play?

You betcha! A Democratic polling outfit — Public Policy Polling – shows:

Barbara Boxer, California’s junior senator, leads all three of her potential Republican opponents by single digits a little over five months before the November election. Boxer is ahead of leading Republican candidate Carly Fiorina by the slimmest margin of the three GOP contenders, 45-42.

Tom Campbell does the the worst, trailing Boxer by seven points. Perhaps that is why Obama keeps flying to California to fundraise and cheerlead for Boxer. Even that may not help; the same poll shows that less than a majority of Californians approve of his performance. Yeah, in California.

As Mark Halperin put it, with Dino Rossi now in the race against Patty Murray in Washington and Boxer within the margin of error, a “GOP Senate majority is truly possible on the current trajectory.”

You betcha! A Democratic polling outfit — Public Policy Polling – shows:

Barbara Boxer, California’s junior senator, leads all three of her potential Republican opponents by single digits a little over five months before the November election. Boxer is ahead of leading Republican candidate Carly Fiorina by the slimmest margin of the three GOP contenders, 45-42.

Tom Campbell does the the worst, trailing Boxer by seven points. Perhaps that is why Obama keeps flying to California to fundraise and cheerlead for Boxer. Even that may not help; the same poll shows that less than a majority of Californians approve of his performance. Yeah, in California.

As Mark Halperin put it, with Dino Rossi now in the race against Patty Murray in Washington and Boxer within the margin of error, a “GOP Senate majority is truly possible on the current trajectory.”

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RE: Sestak Under Fire

Well, this sure won’t help. From the J Street crew — which has opposed stringent sanctions on Iran, wants Israel to unilaterally freeze settlements, hosted a conference with a grab bag of pro-Iranian activists and voracious critics of Israel, doesn’t like being called “pro-Israel” on campuses, and is just fine with the idea of a sliced and diced Jerusalem: “The Pennsylvania Senate race shaping up to be a key national battleground. Joe Sestak, our good friend and champion of pro-Israel pro-peace issues, needs our strong support.” And J Street helpfully solicits funds for Sestak online. Hmm. I wonder whom he would be beholden to if elected.

Pro-Israel, pro-peace issues mean the J Street agenda — which won’t bring peace and isn’t pro-Israel. Well, this will certainly test the electorate as to whether J Street’s brand of appeasement and Israel-bashing is popular. Sestak is their guy — so we’ll find out.

Well, this sure won’t help. From the J Street crew — which has opposed stringent sanctions on Iran, wants Israel to unilaterally freeze settlements, hosted a conference with a grab bag of pro-Iranian activists and voracious critics of Israel, doesn’t like being called “pro-Israel” on campuses, and is just fine with the idea of a sliced and diced Jerusalem: “The Pennsylvania Senate race shaping up to be a key national battleground. Joe Sestak, our good friend and champion of pro-Israel pro-peace issues, needs our strong support.” And J Street helpfully solicits funds for Sestak online. Hmm. I wonder whom he would be beholden to if elected.

Pro-Israel, pro-peace issues mean the J Street agenda — which won’t bring peace and isn’t pro-Israel. Well, this will certainly test the electorate as to whether J Street’s brand of appeasement and Israel-bashing is popular. Sestak is their guy — so we’ll find out.

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How Badly Is Obama Hurting His Party?

Very badly. In a poll that usually leans in favor of Democrats, CBS News finds:

Americans are dissatisfied with both major political parties, but the public’s approval of the Democratic Party is at its lowest level ever, a new CBS News poll shows. Favorable views of the Democratic Party dropped 20 points in the past year to 37 percent, according to the poll, conducted May 20 – 24. Last month, the party’s favorability rating stood at 42 percent. Fifty-four percent of Americans have a negative view of the Democrats, the poll shows. Republicans have a similarly low favorability rating at 33 percent. That figure, however, is up from 28 percent – the historic low the party received last June. Fifty-five percent of Americans have a negative view of the Republican Party.

There is really only one explanation for the opposite trends for the two parties: Obama and his agenda have become politically toxic. It is a remarkable turnaround that the presidential candidate who helped drag many a Democrat into Congress is now undermining the party’s success. It reminds us that “permanent” anything in politics is a misnomer.

Very badly. In a poll that usually leans in favor of Democrats, CBS News finds:

Americans are dissatisfied with both major political parties, but the public’s approval of the Democratic Party is at its lowest level ever, a new CBS News poll shows. Favorable views of the Democratic Party dropped 20 points in the past year to 37 percent, according to the poll, conducted May 20 – 24. Last month, the party’s favorability rating stood at 42 percent. Fifty-four percent of Americans have a negative view of the Democrats, the poll shows. Republicans have a similarly low favorability rating at 33 percent. That figure, however, is up from 28 percent – the historic low the party received last June. Fifty-five percent of Americans have a negative view of the Republican Party.

There is really only one explanation for the opposite trends for the two parties: Obama and his agenda have become politically toxic. It is a remarkable turnaround that the presidential candidate who helped drag many a Democrat into Congress is now undermining the party’s success. It reminds us that “permanent” anything in politics is a misnomer.

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Obama’s Left-Wing Base Flees as Oil Spill Spreads

The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is further eroding President Obama’s standing with the public, faith in his competence, and trust in the federal government. There is even a rupture developing between Obama and his left-wing base. For evidence, watch James Carville here and some of the liberal commentators on MSNBC here. The Obama presidency is struggling badly right now — and things will, I think, get worse rather than better.

Hope and change seem like a lifetime ago, don’t they?

The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico is further eroding President Obama’s standing with the public, faith in his competence, and trust in the federal government. There is even a rupture developing between Obama and his left-wing base. For evidence, watch James Carville here and some of the liberal commentators on MSNBC here. The Obama presidency is struggling badly right now — and things will, I think, get worse rather than better.

Hope and change seem like a lifetime ago, don’t they?

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Obama’s Want of Staying Power

Dion Nissenbaum of McClatchy Newspapers accompanied General Stanley McChrystal to Marjah and filed an outstanding report on the current state of play in that Helmand Province town three months after the Marines went in. There is general agreement that the operation has not gone as well in recent weeks as it did in the beginning:

There aren’t enough U.S. and Afghan forces to provide the security that’s needed to win the loyalty of wary locals. The Taliban have beheaded Afghans who cooperate with foreigners in a creeping intimidation campaign. The Afghan government hasn’t dispatched enough local administrators or trained police to establish credible governance, and now the Taliban have begun their anticipated spring offensive.

Commanders in southern Afghanistan are quoted as telling McChrystal that he needs to be patient. “How many days do you think we have before we run out of support by the international community?” McChrystal replied. Instead, he suggested to Major General Nick Carter, the British officer who planned the operation, that more troops should have been used:

“I think that we’ve done well, but I think that the pace of security has been slower,” McChrystal said in one meeting. “I’m thinking that, had we put more force in there, we could have locked that place down better.”

Of course, McChrystal knows that if you put more troops into Marjah, you risk a decline of security in another area. Now, the imperative is to marshal as many soldiers as possible to retake Kandahar, the most important city in the south.

The Marjah offensive should be a cautionary tale in that regard: yes, troops can enter Taliban strongholds quickly. But no, they can’t reverse years of Taliban gains in a heartbeat. That requires sustained presence. The question is whether the Obama administration will show the patience necessary given the deadline the president has set for starting to withdraw troops next summer. As usual, when it comes to American counterinsurgency, the war will be won or lost in Washington — not on some distant battlefield. I only wish I had more confidence in Obama’s staying power and resolution as commander in chief.

Dion Nissenbaum of McClatchy Newspapers accompanied General Stanley McChrystal to Marjah and filed an outstanding report on the current state of play in that Helmand Province town three months after the Marines went in. There is general agreement that the operation has not gone as well in recent weeks as it did in the beginning:

There aren’t enough U.S. and Afghan forces to provide the security that’s needed to win the loyalty of wary locals. The Taliban have beheaded Afghans who cooperate with foreigners in a creeping intimidation campaign. The Afghan government hasn’t dispatched enough local administrators or trained police to establish credible governance, and now the Taliban have begun their anticipated spring offensive.

Commanders in southern Afghanistan are quoted as telling McChrystal that he needs to be patient. “How many days do you think we have before we run out of support by the international community?” McChrystal replied. Instead, he suggested to Major General Nick Carter, the British officer who planned the operation, that more troops should have been used:

“I think that we’ve done well, but I think that the pace of security has been slower,” McChrystal said in one meeting. “I’m thinking that, had we put more force in there, we could have locked that place down better.”

Of course, McChrystal knows that if you put more troops into Marjah, you risk a decline of security in another area. Now, the imperative is to marshal as many soldiers as possible to retake Kandahar, the most important city in the south.

The Marjah offensive should be a cautionary tale in that regard: yes, troops can enter Taliban strongholds quickly. But no, they can’t reverse years of Taliban gains in a heartbeat. That requires sustained presence. The question is whether the Obama administration will show the patience necessary given the deadline the president has set for starting to withdraw troops next summer. As usual, when it comes to American counterinsurgency, the war will be won or lost in Washington — not on some distant battlefield. I only wish I had more confidence in Obama’s staying power and resolution as commander in chief.

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Sestak Under Fire

Rep. Joe Sestak is under fire from all quarters. First, this boffo ad from Keep Israel Safe slams him for his record on Israel and on terrorism:

Then the Philly media gets on his case for JobsGate (the alleged job offer to get out of the primary race):

When asked about the accusation, as he was again Sunday on NBC’s Meet the Press, Sestak says, yes, the offer was made. But he won’t say what it was, or who made it.

This too-cute-by-half stance may allow him to tout his independence and outsider credentials — important in an anti-incumbent year like this one. But by not being specific, Sestak is covering up what appears to be the ultimate insider deal — and a potential crime.

His opponent, Pat Toomey, has every reason to capitalize on both of these points of weakness. First, Toomey has been a strong critic of Obama’s policies with respect to Iran and Israel. Second, although he previously served in Congress, in this race he’s the outsider (and former Club for Growth president) who can take on Washington’s backroom dealing and spend-a-thon. In Pennsylvania, both of those themes may be winners. And if they are, the 2012 GOP presidential contenders will take note.

UPDATE: Gov. Ed Rendell is now calling for Sestak to cough up more facts. I suspect he wouldn’t have done so if the White House was not on board. Is Obama hanging Sestak out to dry or coming up with a cover story? Stay tuned.

Rep. Joe Sestak is under fire from all quarters. First, this boffo ad from Keep Israel Safe slams him for his record on Israel and on terrorism:

Then the Philly media gets on his case for JobsGate (the alleged job offer to get out of the primary race):

When asked about the accusation, as he was again Sunday on NBC’s Meet the Press, Sestak says, yes, the offer was made. But he won’t say what it was, or who made it.

This too-cute-by-half stance may allow him to tout his independence and outsider credentials — important in an anti-incumbent year like this one. But by not being specific, Sestak is covering up what appears to be the ultimate insider deal — and a potential crime.

His opponent, Pat Toomey, has every reason to capitalize on both of these points of weakness. First, Toomey has been a strong critic of Obama’s policies with respect to Iran and Israel. Second, although he previously served in Congress, in this race he’s the outsider (and former Club for Growth president) who can take on Washington’s backroom dealing and spend-a-thon. In Pennsylvania, both of those themes may be winners. And if they are, the 2012 GOP presidential contenders will take note.

UPDATE: Gov. Ed Rendell is now calling for Sestak to cough up more facts. I suspect he wouldn’t have done so if the White House was not on board. Is Obama hanging Sestak out to dry or coming up with a cover story? Stay tuned.

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WEB EXCLUSIVE: Peter Beinart and the Destruction of Liberal Zionism

In political debates, it remains true that the messenger usually matters more than the message. I say this because Peter Beinart’s much-discussed essay in the New York Review of Books and the reaction to it has been in substance merely a procession of the kind of cliches on liberal disaffection with Israel that anyone who has been paying attention became familiar with years ago. But because Beinart is a Jewish former editor of a steadfastly pro-Israel magazine, the New Republic, his public apostasy has garnered attention in great disproportion to the quality or originality of his complaints.

The most important requirement for joining the Israel-bashers is to charge Israel with bad faith in the course of the effort to bring peace to the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean, which is the glue that holds the narrative together and makes the recriminations seem warranted. This charge has two subordinate tenets: revisionism for dealing with the past, and conspiracy theory for dealing with the present. Thus, in Beinart’s telling, large numbers of Israelis are racists and authoritarians who never really wanted peace, and their political leaders are fanatics manipulating guileless Americans and Palestinians while mainstream American Jewish organizations enable them from the sidelines.

To read the rest of this COMMENTARY Web Exclusive, click here.

In political debates, it remains true that the messenger usually matters more than the message. I say this because Peter Beinart’s much-discussed essay in the New York Review of Books and the reaction to it has been in substance merely a procession of the kind of cliches on liberal disaffection with Israel that anyone who has been paying attention became familiar with years ago. But because Beinart is a Jewish former editor of a steadfastly pro-Israel magazine, the New Republic, his public apostasy has garnered attention in great disproportion to the quality or originality of his complaints.

The most important requirement for joining the Israel-bashers is to charge Israel with bad faith in the course of the effort to bring peace to the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean, which is the glue that holds the narrative together and makes the recriminations seem warranted. This charge has two subordinate tenets: revisionism for dealing with the past, and conspiracy theory for dealing with the present. Thus, in Beinart’s telling, large numbers of Israelis are racists and authoritarians who never really wanted peace, and their political leaders are fanatics manipulating guileless Americans and Palestinians while mainstream American Jewish organizations enable them from the sidelines.

To read the rest of this COMMENTARY Web Exclusive, click here.

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Bibi Gets Another Meeting with Obama

The White House must be very nervous. There was no way it could excuse Obama’s serial rudeness to Bibi, so it’s trying a do-over:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will hold another White House meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama next Tuesday, Israeli officials said yesterday. … Israeli officials said that Obama wanted to meet with Netanyahu soon, before Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas arrives in Washington for his White House meeting in another few weeks, due to the crisis in relations between Israel and the U.S. and the substantial criticism Obama has taken over it, both from congressmen and from American Jewish leaders.

We’ll see if it is followed by a nice photo-op and press conference.

As a colleague wryly remarks: “Wow—the fundraising must really be in catastrophic condition.” Yes, one suspects that has a role in the “charm offensive.” Here’s the thing, though: for Obama to really repair the damage he has done, he’d have to make dramatic changes in policy (e.g., give a speech saying military force remains an option, give Israel the same pledge of full support he extended to South Korea, cease the demands for unilateral concessions from Israel, loudly condemn continuing instances of Palestinian incitement, block Iran’s participation in UN committees and commissions, walk out of the UN Human Rights Council). Or maybe he figures he can avoid any substantive change in policy and get back in the good graces of American Jewry. It may be a savvy calculation.

The White House must be very nervous. There was no way it could excuse Obama’s serial rudeness to Bibi, so it’s trying a do-over:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will hold another White House meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama next Tuesday, Israeli officials said yesterday. … Israeli officials said that Obama wanted to meet with Netanyahu soon, before Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas arrives in Washington for his White House meeting in another few weeks, due to the crisis in relations between Israel and the U.S. and the substantial criticism Obama has taken over it, both from congressmen and from American Jewish leaders.

We’ll see if it is followed by a nice photo-op and press conference.

As a colleague wryly remarks: “Wow—the fundraising must really be in catastrophic condition.” Yes, one suspects that has a role in the “charm offensive.” Here’s the thing, though: for Obama to really repair the damage he has done, he’d have to make dramatic changes in policy (e.g., give a speech saying military force remains an option, give Israel the same pledge of full support he extended to South Korea, cease the demands for unilateral concessions from Israel, loudly condemn continuing instances of Palestinian incitement, block Iran’s participation in UN committees and commissions, walk out of the UN Human Rights Council). Or maybe he figures he can avoid any substantive change in policy and get back in the good graces of American Jewry. It may be a savvy calculation.

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Justice Department Sued Over Black Panther Documents

The Justice Department has been stonewalling individual members of Congress and the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights in their efforts to get to the bottom of the Obama-Holder Justice Department’s decision to abandon a default judgment against the New Black Panther Party and multiple individual defendants in a case of blatant voter intimidation. Now the conservative legal watchdog Judicial Watch is going to court to pry the documents loose:

Judicial Watch filed its original FOIA request on May 29, 2009. The Justice Department acknowledged receiving the request on June 18, 2009, but then referred the request to the Office of Information Policy (OIP) and the Civil Rights Division. On January 15, 2010, the OIP notified Judicial Watch that it would be responding to the request on behalf of the Offices of the Attorney General, the Deputy Attorney General, Associate Attorney General, Public Affairs, Legislative Affairs, Legal Policy, and Intergovernmental and Public Liaison.

On January 15, the OIP also indicated that the Office of the Associate Attorney General found 135 pages of records responsive to Judicial Watch’s request, but that all records would be withheld in full. On January 26, the OIP advised Judicial Watch that the Office of Public Affairs and Office of Legal Policy completed their searches and found no responsive documents. On February 10, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division indicated that after an extensive search it had located “numerous responsive records” but determined that “access to the majority of the records” should be denied. On March 26, the OIP indicated that the Office of Legislative Affairs and the Office of Intergovernmental and Public Liaison completed searches and found no documents.

It’s about time the courts rule on the panoply of made-up defenses and fake privileges that Holder has cooked up to avoid turning over these documents. Let the courts decide if the Obama administration can have it both ways — declining to invoke executive privilege but relying on the privilege under other names (“deliberative privilege”).

A knowledgeable lawyer e-mails me: “Notice DOJ revealed nothing about the number of panther documents in the AG and deputy AG office. Even for  the associate attorney general they revealed there were 135 but they weren’t going to turn them over. Failing to even name a number is extremely suspicious because those units can be searched quicker and easier for compliant documents. It leads one to conclude any number would be an embarrassment, and a high number would be a catastrophe. So, don’t reveal a number. Typical of this non-transparent operation.”

And now we’re going to see the administration’s true colors played out in open court. As a Judicial Watch spokesman said: “If there is nothing to hide, then Eric Holder should release this information as the law requires. And this is just one more example of how Obama’s promises of transparency are a big lie.”

But the Obama team may have a different problem: if either or both houses of Congress flip to Republican control, new chairmen will populate key committees and subpoenas will begin to fly. Congress is in an even better position to get access to the documents, as attorney-client privilege doesn’t work against a co-equal branch of government. In sum, Holder is running out of room to hide, finally.

The Justice Department has been stonewalling individual members of Congress and the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights in their efforts to get to the bottom of the Obama-Holder Justice Department’s decision to abandon a default judgment against the New Black Panther Party and multiple individual defendants in a case of blatant voter intimidation. Now the conservative legal watchdog Judicial Watch is going to court to pry the documents loose:

Judicial Watch filed its original FOIA request on May 29, 2009. The Justice Department acknowledged receiving the request on June 18, 2009, but then referred the request to the Office of Information Policy (OIP) and the Civil Rights Division. On January 15, 2010, the OIP notified Judicial Watch that it would be responding to the request on behalf of the Offices of the Attorney General, the Deputy Attorney General, Associate Attorney General, Public Affairs, Legislative Affairs, Legal Policy, and Intergovernmental and Public Liaison.

On January 15, the OIP also indicated that the Office of the Associate Attorney General found 135 pages of records responsive to Judicial Watch’s request, but that all records would be withheld in full. On January 26, the OIP advised Judicial Watch that the Office of Public Affairs and Office of Legal Policy completed their searches and found no responsive documents. On February 10, the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division indicated that after an extensive search it had located “numerous responsive records” but determined that “access to the majority of the records” should be denied. On March 26, the OIP indicated that the Office of Legislative Affairs and the Office of Intergovernmental and Public Liaison completed searches and found no documents.

It’s about time the courts rule on the panoply of made-up defenses and fake privileges that Holder has cooked up to avoid turning over these documents. Let the courts decide if the Obama administration can have it both ways — declining to invoke executive privilege but relying on the privilege under other names (“deliberative privilege”).

A knowledgeable lawyer e-mails me: “Notice DOJ revealed nothing about the number of panther documents in the AG and deputy AG office. Even for  the associate attorney general they revealed there were 135 but they weren’t going to turn them over. Failing to even name a number is extremely suspicious because those units can be searched quicker and easier for compliant documents. It leads one to conclude any number would be an embarrassment, and a high number would be a catastrophe. So, don’t reveal a number. Typical of this non-transparent operation.”

And now we’re going to see the administration’s true colors played out in open court. As a Judicial Watch spokesman said: “If there is nothing to hide, then Eric Holder should release this information as the law requires. And this is just one more example of how Obama’s promises of transparency are a big lie.”

But the Obama team may have a different problem: if either or both houses of Congress flip to Republican control, new chairmen will populate key committees and subpoenas will begin to fly. Congress is in an even better position to get access to the documents, as attorney-client privilege doesn’t work against a co-equal branch of government. In sum, Holder is running out of room to hide, finally.

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There Is No Santa Claus for Health Care

A sharp reader points me to this:

The official projections for health-care reform, which show it greatly reducing the number of uninsured and also reducing the budget deficit, are simply not credible. There are three basic issues. The cost and revenue projections rely on unrealistic assumptions and accounting tricks. If you make some adjustments for these, the cost of the plan is much higher. The so-called “individual mandate” isn’t really a mandate at all. Under the new system, many young and healthy people will still have a strong incentive to go uninsured. Once the reforms are up and running, some employers will have a big incentive to end their group coverage plans and dump their employees onto the taxpayer-subsidized individual plans, greatly adding to their cost.

James Capretta? Yuval Levin? Rep. Paul Ryan? No — John Cassidy of the New Yorker. It does of course raise the question as to why these warning flares didn’t go up from liberal publications before ObamaCare passed, but it’s nice to know there is broad opposition to it now across the ideological spectrum.

Cassidy’s  entire piece is well worth a read, but his takedown of the cost numbers is especially helpful and echoes what conservative critics have been saying for months:

Does Santa Claus live after all? According to the C.B.O., between now and 2019 the net cost of insuring new enrollees in Medicaid and private insurance plans will be $788 billion, but other provisions in the legislation will generate revenues and cost savings of $933 billion. Subtract the first figure from the second and—voila!—you get $143 billion in deficit reduction. …

The first objection to these figures is that the great bulk of the cost savings—more than $450 billion—comes from cuts in Medicare payments to doctors and other health-care providers. If you are vaguely familiar with Washington politics and the letters A.A.R.P. you might suspect that at least some of these cuts will fail to materialize. … The second problem is accounting gimmickry.

Cassidy, who favors “Romney-ObamaCare” instead, may not have the right solution. (Massachusetts is not exactly a smashing success.) But his analysis is dead-on and may show up in more than a few political ads this season.

A sharp reader points me to this:

The official projections for health-care reform, which show it greatly reducing the number of uninsured and also reducing the budget deficit, are simply not credible. There are three basic issues. The cost and revenue projections rely on unrealistic assumptions and accounting tricks. If you make some adjustments for these, the cost of the plan is much higher. The so-called “individual mandate” isn’t really a mandate at all. Under the new system, many young and healthy people will still have a strong incentive to go uninsured. Once the reforms are up and running, some employers will have a big incentive to end their group coverage plans and dump their employees onto the taxpayer-subsidized individual plans, greatly adding to their cost.

James Capretta? Yuval Levin? Rep. Paul Ryan? No — John Cassidy of the New Yorker. It does of course raise the question as to why these warning flares didn’t go up from liberal publications before ObamaCare passed, but it’s nice to know there is broad opposition to it now across the ideological spectrum.

Cassidy’s  entire piece is well worth a read, but his takedown of the cost numbers is especially helpful and echoes what conservative critics have been saying for months:

Does Santa Claus live after all? According to the C.B.O., between now and 2019 the net cost of insuring new enrollees in Medicaid and private insurance plans will be $788 billion, but other provisions in the legislation will generate revenues and cost savings of $933 billion. Subtract the first figure from the second and—voila!—you get $143 billion in deficit reduction. …

The first objection to these figures is that the great bulk of the cost savings—more than $450 billion—comes from cuts in Medicare payments to doctors and other health-care providers. If you are vaguely familiar with Washington politics and the letters A.A.R.P. you might suspect that at least some of these cuts will fail to materialize. … The second problem is accounting gimmickry.

Cassidy, who favors “Romney-ObamaCare” instead, may not have the right solution. (Massachusetts is not exactly a smashing success.) But his analysis is dead-on and may show up in more than a few political ads this season.

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GOP Senators Stand Up to Obama

Unlike the cooing Jews who are selected to meet with Obama and can’t muster a robust debate, Senate Republicans weren’t shy about voicing their complaints about Obama at a lunch:

Senators and other sources inside the meeting described the gathering as “testy” and “direct” — and Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) accused Obama of acting two-faced by asking for GOP support on regulatory reform only to push forward with a bill supported mainly by Democrats. Others felt that the meeting may have made already tense relations between the two parties even worse.

Corker let it rip:

In one of the most heated exchanges of the lunch, Corker accused Obama of acting “duplicitous” in his calls for bipartisanship, saying that he was trying to cut a deal on regulatory reform only to see the rug pulled out from underneath him. At one point, Corker said Obama was using lunch with Republicans as a “prop.”

“I told him I thought there was a degree of audacity in him even showing up today after what had happened with financial regulation,” Corker told reporters after Republicans met with Obama.

I believe it is called “speaking truth to power.”

And one more thing — when the Democrats were buying into Obama’s elongated timetable and phony sanctions, the Senate minority leader “urged the president to back a more forceful Iran sanctions bill.” Not everyone is buying into the Obama sanctions charade.

Here’s the lesson for American Jewish “leaders”: it’s better to stand up to the president and register principled opposition than to soft-pedal disagreement or worse, cheerlead for a policy with which you disagree. The president will still talk to you. Just as he must deal with the GOP senators, Obama still needs the support — financial and otherwise — of American Jews.

Yes, Obama is remarkably thin-skinned, but the notion (as some officials in Jewish mainstream groups have voiced to me) that you therefore dare not criticize him is unhelpful and counterproductive. It’s never a good idea to give in to a bully or a petulant child. He will only get worse.

Unlike the cooing Jews who are selected to meet with Obama and can’t muster a robust debate, Senate Republicans weren’t shy about voicing their complaints about Obama at a lunch:

Senators and other sources inside the meeting described the gathering as “testy” and “direct” — and Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) accused Obama of acting two-faced by asking for GOP support on regulatory reform only to push forward with a bill supported mainly by Democrats. Others felt that the meeting may have made already tense relations between the two parties even worse.

Corker let it rip:

In one of the most heated exchanges of the lunch, Corker accused Obama of acting “duplicitous” in his calls for bipartisanship, saying that he was trying to cut a deal on regulatory reform only to see the rug pulled out from underneath him. At one point, Corker said Obama was using lunch with Republicans as a “prop.”

“I told him I thought there was a degree of audacity in him even showing up today after what had happened with financial regulation,” Corker told reporters after Republicans met with Obama.

I believe it is called “speaking truth to power.”

And one more thing — when the Democrats were buying into Obama’s elongated timetable and phony sanctions, the Senate minority leader “urged the president to back a more forceful Iran sanctions bill.” Not everyone is buying into the Obama sanctions charade.

Here’s the lesson for American Jewish “leaders”: it’s better to stand up to the president and register principled opposition than to soft-pedal disagreement or worse, cheerlead for a policy with which you disagree. The president will still talk to you. Just as he must deal with the GOP senators, Obama still needs the support — financial and otherwise — of American Jews.

Yes, Obama is remarkably thin-skinned, but the notion (as some officials in Jewish mainstream groups have voiced to me) that you therefore dare not criticize him is unhelpful and counterproductive. It’s never a good idea to give in to a bully or a petulant child. He will only get worse.

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Europeans Miss Cowboy Diplomacy

Fred Hiatt writes that Obama isn’t making friends in Europe. In fact, the Europeans are on to what many on the right in the U.S. have already figured out: Obama spends more time tending to our foes than cementing relationships with our friends. He notes that Alexandr Vondra (a former dissident and later the Czech Republic’s ambassador to Washington and then foreign minister and deputy prime minister) spoke to the Atlantic Council and declared that “President Obama’s ‘cool realism’ is putting long-standing ties at risk.” Hiatt explains:

Vondra said that the Obama administration rewards rivals — notably Russia and China — with “carrots” while handing out only “tasks” to its allies. He said the U.S. agenda with its allies seems to be driven by U.S. domestic needs and U.S. priorities, especially nuclear disarmament, Iran and Afghanistan, while neglecting the priorities of its allies.

Vondra said that the United States is actively approaching Russia with its offer to “reset” relations. Meanwhile Russia is assertively approaching the Czech Republic and other nations, driven by its enmity to NATO and its belief that it is entitled to hold sway in its own sphere of influence. But the third side of that triangle — between the United States and allies — is inactive, Vondra said, creating a danger that nations and policies less amenable to U.S. values will fill the vacuum.

Ah, one longs for the days when the much vilified George W. Bush was cheered in the Knesset, welcomed warmly in Britain, and enjoyed a productive relationship with India. The about-face in the Obama administration is not going unnoticed among our allies and our enemies. The latter are learning to play us — as Russia did in extracting a free pass on UN sanctions. Our friends (Israel, Eastern Europe) are learning not to trust us. And those despotic states like Syria, China, and Iran realize that it’s not such a bad thing to be a foe of the U.S. — you get lots of inducements, endless offers to negotiate, and a hear-no-evil/see-no-evil stance toward, well, evil. Obama thinks everything is going swimmingly, so there is little chance he will change. But that, as he says, is what elections are for.

Fred Hiatt writes that Obama isn’t making friends in Europe. In fact, the Europeans are on to what many on the right in the U.S. have already figured out: Obama spends more time tending to our foes than cementing relationships with our friends. He notes that Alexandr Vondra (a former dissident and later the Czech Republic’s ambassador to Washington and then foreign minister and deputy prime minister) spoke to the Atlantic Council and declared that “President Obama’s ‘cool realism’ is putting long-standing ties at risk.” Hiatt explains:

Vondra said that the Obama administration rewards rivals — notably Russia and China — with “carrots” while handing out only “tasks” to its allies. He said the U.S. agenda with its allies seems to be driven by U.S. domestic needs and U.S. priorities, especially nuclear disarmament, Iran and Afghanistan, while neglecting the priorities of its allies.

Vondra said that the United States is actively approaching Russia with its offer to “reset” relations. Meanwhile Russia is assertively approaching the Czech Republic and other nations, driven by its enmity to NATO and its belief that it is entitled to hold sway in its own sphere of influence. But the third side of that triangle — between the United States and allies — is inactive, Vondra said, creating a danger that nations and policies less amenable to U.S. values will fill the vacuum.

Ah, one longs for the days when the much vilified George W. Bush was cheered in the Knesset, welcomed warmly in Britain, and enjoyed a productive relationship with India. The about-face in the Obama administration is not going unnoticed among our allies and our enemies. The latter are learning to play us — as Russia did in extracting a free pass on UN sanctions. Our friends (Israel, Eastern Europe) are learning not to trust us. And those despotic states like Syria, China, and Iran realize that it’s not such a bad thing to be a foe of the U.S. — you get lots of inducements, endless offers to negotiate, and a hear-no-evil/see-no-evil stance toward, well, evil. Obama thinks everything is going swimmingly, so there is little chance he will change. But that, as he says, is what elections are for.

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She’s a Liberal Jew and She Can’t Manage to Defend Israel

I thought this piece might have been a clever parody of American Jewry. (Not as clever as this one, but it’s a hard standard to meet.) But it’s for real and appears in the lefty Tablet magazine, home to many a whimpering, indecisive, and guilt-ridden liberal Jew who can’t quite manage to defend the Jewish state. (I use that phrase intentionally since they no doubt bristle at it.)

One Marjorie Ingall writes:

I am deeply ambivalent about Israel. Modern-day Israel, as opposed to historical Israel, is a subject I avoid with my children. Yes, of course I believe the state should exist, but the word “Zionist” makes me skittish. (I understand that I may be the Jewish equivalent of all the twentysomething women I want to smack for saying, “I’m not a feminist, but I believe in equal rights.”) I shy away from conversations about Israeli politics. I feel no stirring in my heart when I see the Israeli flag. I would no sooner attend an Israel Day parade than a Justin Bieber concert. Neither Abe Foxman nor AIPAC speaks for me. I am a liberal, and I am deeply troubled by the Matzav, Israeli shorthand for tension with the Palestinians, and I do not have answers, and I do not know what to do about it, and I do not know what to tell my children.

From her stack of books, her eight-year-old daughter chose one and came to her mother for advice:

I stumbled desperately through an explanation of why two peoples feel they have a legitimate claim to the same land.

“But having land is like having a seat on a bus,” Josie replied. “You can’t just push someone out of their seat, and you can’t just leave your seat and then come back to it after a long time and just expect the person who is sitting there now to give it to you.” [Smart child!]

My panicked reaction to her words surprised me. I found myself trying to convince her that Israel did have that right. But that’s not what I believe. But I’m not sure what I believe. I want my children to love Israel, but I don’t want them to identify with bullies. I was spinning in my own head like the desperate, overwhelmed woman in the Calgon commercial: J Street, take me away! . . .

Baby-boomer Jews seem wedded to a sepia-toned image of Jews as victims—in the shtetl, in the Holocaust, in Israel’s early wars. But in real life, victims can turn into bullies. Perhaps being the parent to girls, rather than boys, helps me see this—in Mean Girl dynamics, the power shifts back and forth almost every day. We want a bright clear line, but heroes and villains in the real world are much fuzzier.

You get the picture. (And you wonder why American Jewry is in trouble?) But there is good news: she confesses, “I’ve taught my children about Jewish identity through ancient history, through food, through songs and prayers, through the story of American immigration. I’ve left any Israel talk to their teachers.” Still, it gives her angst to know her child might be a — you know (and lower your voice) — Zionist!

But the better news comes in the comments, where a few less-confused Jews try to set her straight:

You’re just confused. You can’t imagine that anyone would want to spend the past 110 years wanting you and your people dead. Once you wrap your mind around that idea, you’ll stop being confused. As far as two people wanting the same piece of land, I suggest you go live on an Indian reservation in Oklahoma if you feel so strongly about the dispossessed.

Another advises: “Please don’t talk to your kids about Israel. Hopefully they will find out the truth from other more knowledgeable, less neurotic people or perhaps go to Israel on a Birthright trip and see it for themselves.” These and others restore some confidence that the wider Jewish community (even liberals reading that publication) is not completely out to lunch.

Well, Ingall is certainly ready for J Street membership — maybe a board post. And it is a reminder, as Bibi Netanyahu said in a recent AIPAC  speech, that the “future of the Jewish state can never depend on the goodwill of even the greatest of men. Israel must always reserve the right to defend itself.” He was referring to Churchill and FDR, but how much more true it is given the current White House occupant and the performance to date of mainstream Jewish organizations.

I thought this piece might have been a clever parody of American Jewry. (Not as clever as this one, but it’s a hard standard to meet.) But it’s for real and appears in the lefty Tablet magazine, home to many a whimpering, indecisive, and guilt-ridden liberal Jew who can’t quite manage to defend the Jewish state. (I use that phrase intentionally since they no doubt bristle at it.)

One Marjorie Ingall writes:

I am deeply ambivalent about Israel. Modern-day Israel, as opposed to historical Israel, is a subject I avoid with my children. Yes, of course I believe the state should exist, but the word “Zionist” makes me skittish. (I understand that I may be the Jewish equivalent of all the twentysomething women I want to smack for saying, “I’m not a feminist, but I believe in equal rights.”) I shy away from conversations about Israeli politics. I feel no stirring in my heart when I see the Israeli flag. I would no sooner attend an Israel Day parade than a Justin Bieber concert. Neither Abe Foxman nor AIPAC speaks for me. I am a liberal, and I am deeply troubled by the Matzav, Israeli shorthand for tension with the Palestinians, and I do not have answers, and I do not know what to do about it, and I do not know what to tell my children.

From her stack of books, her eight-year-old daughter chose one and came to her mother for advice:

I stumbled desperately through an explanation of why two peoples feel they have a legitimate claim to the same land.

“But having land is like having a seat on a bus,” Josie replied. “You can’t just push someone out of their seat, and you can’t just leave your seat and then come back to it after a long time and just expect the person who is sitting there now to give it to you.” [Smart child!]

My panicked reaction to her words surprised me. I found myself trying to convince her that Israel did have that right. But that’s not what I believe. But I’m not sure what I believe. I want my children to love Israel, but I don’t want them to identify with bullies. I was spinning in my own head like the desperate, overwhelmed woman in the Calgon commercial: J Street, take me away! . . .

Baby-boomer Jews seem wedded to a sepia-toned image of Jews as victims—in the shtetl, in the Holocaust, in Israel’s early wars. But in real life, victims can turn into bullies. Perhaps being the parent to girls, rather than boys, helps me see this—in Mean Girl dynamics, the power shifts back and forth almost every day. We want a bright clear line, but heroes and villains in the real world are much fuzzier.

You get the picture. (And you wonder why American Jewry is in trouble?) But there is good news: she confesses, “I’ve taught my children about Jewish identity through ancient history, through food, through songs and prayers, through the story of American immigration. I’ve left any Israel talk to their teachers.” Still, it gives her angst to know her child might be a — you know (and lower your voice) — Zionist!

But the better news comes in the comments, where a few less-confused Jews try to set her straight:

You’re just confused. You can’t imagine that anyone would want to spend the past 110 years wanting you and your people dead. Once you wrap your mind around that idea, you’ll stop being confused. As far as two people wanting the same piece of land, I suggest you go live on an Indian reservation in Oklahoma if you feel so strongly about the dispossessed.

Another advises: “Please don’t talk to your kids about Israel. Hopefully they will find out the truth from other more knowledgeable, less neurotic people or perhaps go to Israel on a Birthright trip and see it for themselves.” These and others restore some confidence that the wider Jewish community (even liberals reading that publication) is not completely out to lunch.

Well, Ingall is certainly ready for J Street membership — maybe a board post. And it is a reminder, as Bibi Netanyahu said in a recent AIPAC  speech, that the “future of the Jewish state can never depend on the goodwill of even the greatest of men. Israel must always reserve the right to defend itself.” He was referring to Churchill and FDR, but how much more true it is given the current White House occupant and the performance to date of mainstream Jewish organizations.

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Obama Slows Sanctions Bill

You knew this was coming:

Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) and Rep. Howard Berman (D-Ca.), the co-chairs of the Iran sanctions conference committee, have agreed to slow down Congressional Iran sanctions until the end of June, given the progress the Obama administration has shown getting consensus from all the permanent members for a new United Nations Security Council resolution sanctioning Iran.

Despite the carve-outs and the thin gruel in the UN sanctions resolution, the two self-described friends of Israel are just delighted with the result:

Dodd and Berman added: “With the progress in negotiations at the Security Council, we believe that our overriding goal of preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability is best served by providing a limited amount of time for those efforts — and expected follow-on action by the EU at its mid-June summit — to reach a successful conclusion before we send our bill to the President.”

AIPAC has applauded the slowdown. Maybe they all know something the rest of us don’t; maybe there’s some other sanctions proposal floating around the UN, because this sure doesn’t sound like anything we’ve seen already:

AIPAC also calls for quick U.N. Security Council passage of tough sanctions, and calls on our government and our European allies — individually and collectively thru the European Union — to press ahead urgently and immediately with complementary and crippling sanctions to stop Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability before it is too late.

But the UN sanctions aren’t tough, and the sanctions under consideration in the U.S. Congress need carve-outs for China and Russia, the Obama team argues. So where are we heading? And why is AIPAC cheering?

There are two possibilities. One is that there’s a game plan for super-duper EU sanctions and a commitment by the administration to use force to stop Iran from going nuclear if that fails. Doesn’t sound like what we’ve been hearing for a year and a half, but we can hope. The other is that this is another dangerous stall and a slow walk to containment, and the Obama team has successfully snowed Congress and pro-Israel groups into playing along with the charade. I sure hope I’m wrong about which it is.

You knew this was coming:

Sen. Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) and Rep. Howard Berman (D-Ca.), the co-chairs of the Iran sanctions conference committee, have agreed to slow down Congressional Iran sanctions until the end of June, given the progress the Obama administration has shown getting consensus from all the permanent members for a new United Nations Security Council resolution sanctioning Iran.

Despite the carve-outs and the thin gruel in the UN sanctions resolution, the two self-described friends of Israel are just delighted with the result:

Dodd and Berman added: “With the progress in negotiations at the Security Council, we believe that our overriding goal of preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability is best served by providing a limited amount of time for those efforts — and expected follow-on action by the EU at its mid-June summit — to reach a successful conclusion before we send our bill to the President.”

AIPAC has applauded the slowdown. Maybe they all know something the rest of us don’t; maybe there’s some other sanctions proposal floating around the UN, because this sure doesn’t sound like anything we’ve seen already:

AIPAC also calls for quick U.N. Security Council passage of tough sanctions, and calls on our government and our European allies — individually and collectively thru the European Union — to press ahead urgently and immediately with complementary and crippling sanctions to stop Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability before it is too late.

But the UN sanctions aren’t tough, and the sanctions under consideration in the U.S. Congress need carve-outs for China and Russia, the Obama team argues. So where are we heading? And why is AIPAC cheering?

There are two possibilities. One is that there’s a game plan for super-duper EU sanctions and a commitment by the administration to use force to stop Iran from going nuclear if that fails. Doesn’t sound like what we’ve been hearing for a year and a half, but we can hope. The other is that this is another dangerous stall and a slow walk to containment, and the Obama team has successfully snowed Congress and pro-Israel groups into playing along with the charade. I sure hope I’m wrong about which it is.

Read Less

Flotsam and Jetsam

But they are supposed to go into harm’s way for their country: the Navy takes away the lard and water hoses from a 60-year tradition in which plebes climb a greased 21-foot monument. Why? They might get hurt. A former Naval Academy graduate chimes in: “We’re going to send these guys to war but they can’t climb a monument because they might get hurt? Come on.” Next thing you know, they’ll be allowing proper names in Scrabble.

But don’t we have a First Amendment or something? “Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin accused the president of being in the pocket of Big Oil, a charge usually leveled by Democrats at the GOP. ‘You’ve got to have a license to drive a car in this country, but, regrettably, you can get on a TV show and say virtually anything,’ White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said.” Gosh, if we only licensed talking heads.

But he’s a “genius”! “Millions of Americans are out of work, the budget deficit is in the trillions and Europe is flirting with economic collapse. Fear not, says Larry Summers, the chief economic adviser to President Obama. It is merely a ‘fluctuation.’” His long-winded gobbledygook about moving from the G-7 to the G-20 “was vintage Summers: smart, esoteric — and utterly unhelpful.”

But isn’t it like allowing Keith Olbermann to review a George W. Bush biography? The Washington Post has David Frum (who’s carved out a niche in Limbaugh-bashing for the mainstream media) review the latest biography of Rush Limbaugh. Surprise, surprise, he concludes: “It might seem ominous for an intellectual movement to be led by a man who does not think creatively, who does not respect the other side of the argument and who frequently says things that are not intended as truth.”

But you didn’t really buy all that “transparency” jazz did you? “The Justice Department has rejected a Republican request to appoint a special counsel to investigate allegations that the White House offered a job to Rep. Joe Sestak if he would drop out of the Pennsylvania Senate Democratic primary. … In the letter to [Rep. Darrell] Issa, Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich wrote that the DOJ could handle the allegations without creating a special counsel. But Weich gave no indication that the department was looking into the Sestak matter.”

But if David Axelrod is right about there being “no evidence” of a deal, then Sestak is lying. Mark Hemingway: “There’s no good outcome here for the White House. Either the White House did something illegal here or their party’s Senate candidate in Pennsylvania is a delusional fabulist. But regardless, their prolonged foot-dragging here only appears to be making things worse.”

But the White House said, “Trust us”: “The number two Democrat in the Senate, who has close ties to the White House, is urging Rep. Joe Sestak to come clean. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin told CNN Tuesday that the Pennsylvania Democrat should fully explain whether Obama administration officials pressed him to drop his Democratic primary challenge to Sen. Arlen Specter in exchange for a job.”

But Democrats insisted we needed a humungous new uber-department! James Carafano on the BP response: “Explain to me why nine years after 9/11 we struggle with disasters. Well, the answer is easy. Homeland Security wastes its time on routine disaster; the secretary worries more about how to grant amnesty to illegals than battling terrorists and preparing for catastrophes. Congress dumps money in wasteful programs and uses 108 committees, sub-committees, and commissions to provide chaotic and incoherent oversight to the department.”

But (as a sharp colleague suggested) couldn’t we work out a deal where Richard Blumenthal and Rand Paul both exit their races? Jonah Goldberg sums up why conservatives should carry no water for Paul: “[I]t’s certainly repugnant and bizarre for libertarians like Paul to lament the lost rights of bigots rather than to rejoice at the restored rights of integrationists.” (By the way, would Paul commend Obama for doing nothing at all about the BP spill?)

But they are supposed to go into harm’s way for their country: the Navy takes away the lard and water hoses from a 60-year tradition in which plebes climb a greased 21-foot monument. Why? They might get hurt. A former Naval Academy graduate chimes in: “We’re going to send these guys to war but they can’t climb a monument because they might get hurt? Come on.” Next thing you know, they’ll be allowing proper names in Scrabble.

But don’t we have a First Amendment or something? “Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin accused the president of being in the pocket of Big Oil, a charge usually leveled by Democrats at the GOP. ‘You’ve got to have a license to drive a car in this country, but, regrettably, you can get on a TV show and say virtually anything,’ White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said.” Gosh, if we only licensed talking heads.

But he’s a “genius”! “Millions of Americans are out of work, the budget deficit is in the trillions and Europe is flirting with economic collapse. Fear not, says Larry Summers, the chief economic adviser to President Obama. It is merely a ‘fluctuation.’” His long-winded gobbledygook about moving from the G-7 to the G-20 “was vintage Summers: smart, esoteric — and utterly unhelpful.”

But isn’t it like allowing Keith Olbermann to review a George W. Bush biography? The Washington Post has David Frum (who’s carved out a niche in Limbaugh-bashing for the mainstream media) review the latest biography of Rush Limbaugh. Surprise, surprise, he concludes: “It might seem ominous for an intellectual movement to be led by a man who does not think creatively, who does not respect the other side of the argument and who frequently says things that are not intended as truth.”

But you didn’t really buy all that “transparency” jazz did you? “The Justice Department has rejected a Republican request to appoint a special counsel to investigate allegations that the White House offered a job to Rep. Joe Sestak if he would drop out of the Pennsylvania Senate Democratic primary. … In the letter to [Rep. Darrell] Issa, Assistant Attorney General Ronald Weich wrote that the DOJ could handle the allegations without creating a special counsel. But Weich gave no indication that the department was looking into the Sestak matter.”

But if David Axelrod is right about there being “no evidence” of a deal, then Sestak is lying. Mark Hemingway: “There’s no good outcome here for the White House. Either the White House did something illegal here or their party’s Senate candidate in Pennsylvania is a delusional fabulist. But regardless, their prolonged foot-dragging here only appears to be making things worse.”

But the White House said, “Trust us”: “The number two Democrat in the Senate, who has close ties to the White House, is urging Rep. Joe Sestak to come clean. Senate Majority Whip Dick Durbin told CNN Tuesday that the Pennsylvania Democrat should fully explain whether Obama administration officials pressed him to drop his Democratic primary challenge to Sen. Arlen Specter in exchange for a job.”

But Democrats insisted we needed a humungous new uber-department! James Carafano on the BP response: “Explain to me why nine years after 9/11 we struggle with disasters. Well, the answer is easy. Homeland Security wastes its time on routine disaster; the secretary worries more about how to grant amnesty to illegals than battling terrorists and preparing for catastrophes. Congress dumps money in wasteful programs and uses 108 committees, sub-committees, and commissions to provide chaotic and incoherent oversight to the department.”

But (as a sharp colleague suggested) couldn’t we work out a deal where Richard Blumenthal and Rand Paul both exit their races? Jonah Goldberg sums up why conservatives should carry no water for Paul: “[I]t’s certainly repugnant and bizarre for libertarians like Paul to lament the lost rights of bigots rather than to rejoice at the restored rights of integrationists.” (By the way, would Paul commend Obama for doing nothing at all about the BP spill?)

Read Less




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