On April 1—the same day Justice Richard Goldstone confessed in the Washington Post that “if I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document”—Peter Berkowitz released “The Goldstone Mess,” an article in Policy Review that persuasively debunks the report.
To begin with, Berkowitz’s essay shows decisively that the Goldstone Report was inherently invalid, based on what Goldstone knew at the time.
The election for a seat on the Wisconsin Supreme Court has ended in a dead heat. When John described it as a “photo finish” earlier this morning, Prosser was up by 835. By the time all of the precincts from Milwaukee County belatedly reported later in the day, Kloppenburg had taken a lead of 311 votes out of 1.5 million cast (a huge turnout for such an election). A recount is virtually certain.
The Wisconsin Republicans had better get some very high-powered election lawyers at work on the case and do it now if they hope to win.
Yesterday Representative Paul Ryan put forth a policy blueprint that is intellectually serious and extremely ambitious. Today we learned that Glenn Beck, about whom I’ve had several things to say in the past (see here and here), will be leaving Fox News before the end of the year. Let’s call it a very good 24 hours for conservatism.
Having taken Dana Milbank to task, I must call attention to those who have shown intellectual honesty regarding Representative Paul Ryan’s FY2012 budget, including Andrew Sullivan and Joe Klein, both of whom I have crossed swords with over the years.
Both Sullivan and Klein clearly have their differences with Ryan’s plan. But to their credit they’re dealing with it in a serious, mature manner. If the debate is conducted on this level by people on both sides of the divide—in a way that’s measured, empirical, honest, and when warranted, assumes good will—we’ll all be better off for it.
Well, that didn’t take long. I expected the liberal response to Paul Ryan’s budget proposal to be essentially demagogic. And that has proven to be the case. Peter has already pointed out that Dana Milbank is outraged over the fact that Republicans are doing now what he was outraged they were not doing two months ago—reforming entitlements. Or consider the editorial in today’s New York Times:
The plan would condemn millions to the ranks of the uninsured, raise health costs for seniors and renege on the obligation to keep poor children fed. It envisions lower taxes for the wealthy than even George W. Bush imagined: a permanent extension for his tax cuts, plus large permanent estate-tax cuts, a new business tax cut and a lower top income tax rate for the richest taxpayers.
The Times doesn’t analyze Ryan’s proposal, or even lay out its specific ideas; it merely anathematizes them. You can practically see the editorial board hauling out their garlic and crucifixes to ward off the dreaded conservative vampire that wants—run for your lives!—to reduce marginal rates on the rich. The Times, of course, doesn’t have the intellectual honesty to tell its readers that the reduced rates would be balanced by closing the loopholes that allow the rich and corporations to evade the higher marginal rates the Times would so love to impose.
The New York Times editorial page, once by far the most influential in the country, is now, when it comes to fiscal matters, nothing more than the primary branch from which the liberal parrot endlessly squawks, “Tax the rich! Tax the rich! Arrrrrk! Tax the rich!”
Just a few days ago, the White House griped to Politico that the war in Libya was preventing President Obama from tackling domestic problems, ruining his image as an “economic commander-in-chief fighting a series of new threats to the fragile U.S. recovery.” But now that Obama’s domestic leadership is actually needed, the president apparently can’t get out of D.C. fast enough:
Despite the impasse in Washington over federal spending, the president as of early Wednesday was scheduled to give two speeches outside of Washington: one on energy in the Philadelphia suburbs, then another Wednesday evening to a group of black political activists in New York.
What is it with Obama’s inability to focus on the important issues of the moment? He was absent for the first nine days of the Libya war, and eager to shrink the U.S. role in the mission as quickly as possible. And now he may disappear during a major government crisis in order to hobnob with the Rev. Al Sharpton and friends at a gala in New York. The president often speaks of himself as a leader, but when it comes time to do the actual leading he’s nowhere to be found.
Glenn Beck will transition off his daily show at Fox News, the network announced today. The left is already Tweeting its credit for this “coup,” but Beck’s plummeting ratings probably had more to do with it.
While The Glenn Beck Show remains one of the top-rated shows on cable news, it has been sinking fast. Dave Weigel reports on Beck’s loss of nearly a million viewers over the past year:
Beck’s ratings had been collapsing, even as he remained one of the most popular hosts on TV. In January 2010 he had 2.9 million viewers; in January 2011 he’d fallen to 1.8 million. James Downie wrote a smart piece about why this might have been happening, figuring that Beck’s utility was as the host who will go further in explaining the liberal-socialist conspiracy that was wrecking America, and the need for TV like that fell when the GOP took over the House.
According to a press release on Beck’s website The Blaze, the host will continue to produce shows and content for Fox—a smart move by the network. Beck still has extremely loyal fans, and Fox will need to handle this transition carefully in order to avoid alienating them.
Now comes a test for liberals.
For months it has been their standard fare to attack Republicans for being fiscally unserious. The basis of the charge? The GOP was going after domestic discretionary spending rather than entitlements, which is the real cause of our fiscal crisis. Liberals leveled these charges even after Representative Paul Ryan and Speaker Boehner indicated their FY2012 budget would include entitlement reforms. No matter; the liberals had their talking points and they were sticking to them.
Yesterday the Jerusalem Post reported that Justice Richard Goldstone would ask to UN to nullify his September 2009 report on Israel’s war in Gaza. The promise was reportedly made during a conversation with Israel’s interior minister Eli Yishai. Well, less than 24 hours later, Goldstone is denying that he told Yishai anything of the sort. What is more, he now says the report never even entered their discussion.
Goldstone now claims that Yishai had merely phoned to thank him for his op-ed last Friday in the Washington Post. The two never discussed the report itself, he says. He responded to Yishai by saying that his primary concern remains “truth, justice, and human rights.” Not one part of the report needs reconsideration at the present time, Goldstone maintains.
Did Yishai misinterpret Goldstone’s comments? Or was the interior minister misquoted in the press? Whatever the reason, Yishai needs to clarify why his account is the opposite of Goldstone’s.
Apparently the interior minister was already facing criticism from other members of the Israeli government yesterday, even before Goldstone contradicted him.
“The Foreign Ministry and the Prime Minister’s Office have been working on plans to address Goldstone’s recent retraction of war crimes accusations against Israel,” Ynet reported. “Yishai did not coordinate his invitation with any political element dealing with the Goldstone issue and has not discussed the matter with the prime minister or foreign minister.”
Many Americans are mystified by the Libya war strategy, and apparently the Libyan rebels feel the same way. Forced into retreat by Qadaffi’s forces yesterday, the top opposition general lashed out at NATO during a press conference.
“I would like to say to you people that NATO did not provide to us what we need,” said Abdul Fatah Younis. “NATO should be with us or we will ask the [Transitional National Council, the rebel government] to raise this to the Security Council. This is a dangerous situation.”
Younis seemed frustrated about what he sees as a lack of support from the allied forces. NATO takes up to eight hours to respond to calls for help from the ground, the rebels said.
“If NATO wanted to remove the siege on Misurata, they would have done so days ago,” Younis said. “And they’re using the excuse that ‘we don’t want to kill civilians.’ Every day, women, children and seniors are being killed. This crime will be hanging from the necks of the international community until the end of days.”
The rebels’ complaints appear to confirm concerns that the NATO handover could slow down the mission. NATO’s leadership structure reportedly makes it difficult to reach a cohesive decision. Adding to the problem, U.S. warplanes were pulled from the combat mission earlier this week.
Oddly timed off-year elections have become, in the past 20 years, the American version of local by-elections in European parliamentary systems—a glimpse into the national political future. In 1991, a little-known Pennsylvania Democrat named Harris Wofford scored a shocking upset in a special Senate election over the state’s wildly popular former Republican governor, Richard Thornburgh—a harbinger of the the Clinton victory in 1992 (not least because it was the race that put James Carville, who ran Wofford’s campaign, on the map). And, of course, in early 2010, came the early sign of the coming Democratic debacle when Republican Scott Brown came out of nowhere to win Teddy Kennedy’s Senate seat by 5 percentage points.
No one could have expected, however, that a state-level race for a judicial post with a 10-year term with an election in the first week of April 2011 would become the first battleground of 2012. But with the political explosion in Wisconsin following its newly elected Republican governor’s effort to end collective-bargaining privileges for state employees, that is exactly what happened. Nobody in America should have any idea who David Prosser and Joanne Klopperberg are; indeed, no political wonk outside of Madison ought to have any idea who they are. But the race between them for the Wisconsin Supreme Court, held yesterday, has turned them into canaries in the 2012 coal mine. More money was spent on this race, surely, than on any judicial election outside California in American history, with more outside agitation than any judicial race in American history.
So who shall live, and who shall die?
The photo finish—as this writing, 835 votes separate the Republican Prosser and the Democrat Klopperberg out of nearly 1.5 million cast—is very telling precisely because it is a photo finish. Both ideological camps revved up for this one; they raised comparable amounts of money; they succeeded in generating a turnout that has to be judged spectacular given the fact that the election was held on a Tuesday in April; and they basically tied. If there is any lesson to be drawn as we look ahead to 2012, and I suspect there is, it is that after Obama’s amazing victory in 2008 with a margin of nearly 7 points and the Republican comeback of 2010 with the GOP winning nationally by 6, the parties are naturally at parity.
Something pretty extraordinary is happening in Africa. Libya may get all the headlines, but with little notice, another U.N.-backed intervention is taking place in the Ivory Coast, with French aircraft bombing the presidential palace to force out strongman Laurent Gbagbo who insisted on staying in power despite losing the 2010 election. In both cases international intervention has been explicitly premised on the doctrine of “responsibility to protect” (R2P)—the notion, which arose after the massacres in Rwanda and Bosnia in the 1990s, that the international community has a right, indeed a responsibility, to intervene in other nations’ internal affairs to stop the most egregious human rights abuses.
The doctrine has raised understandable concern among some American conservatives, and no doubt, like any other doctrine, it is subject to abuse. On the whole, though, it is a salutary step forward for individual rights and human dignity. No longer can dictators claim the privilege to abuse their populations any way they see fit; now there is at least a chance that outside powers will intervene to stop the bloodshed and bring the perpetrators to justice.
True, the rule is hardly universal.
It is often said, by those who oppose the counterinsurgency campaign in Afghanistan, that we have nothing to fear from a Taliban takeover—this time the Taliban will be smart enough to sever all links with al-Qaeda and to prevent their country from becoming a safe haven for terrorists. The evidence suggests otherwise. This morning the Wall Street Journal reports that al-Qaeda had managed to establish a base in a remote region of Afghanistan—the Korengal Valley—which had been evacuated by U.S. troops. Reporters Matthew Rosenberg and Julian Barnes interviewed “several Taliban commanders” who
say the al Qaeda facilities in northeastern Afghanistan are tightly tied to the Afghan Taliban leadership. “In these bases, fighters from around the world get training. We are training suicide bombers, [improvised explosive device] experts and guerrilla fighters,” said an insurgent commander in Nuristan who goes by the nom de guerre Agha Saib and who was reached by telephone.
So is the heavy expenditure of American blood and treasure in Afghanistan useless if al-Qaeda is able to establish bases under our noses?