Commentary Magazine


Topic: defense lawyer

Ezra Klein: The Foreclosure Made Him Do It

Ezra Klein is one of the lefty horde of bloggers the Washington Post has taken on board in an effort to remain relevant. Or get eyeballs on the Internet. Or something. Anyway, he writes mostly on domestic policy. I think that’s a good idea, if his latest offering is any indication.

It is, in a few short graphs, the perfect distillation of the left’s cockeyed take on terrorism, the nature of man, and evil. (I will assume Klein is not a clever comic out to skewer his ilk.) He writes: “The arrested subject of last weekend’s Times Square bomb plot is a homeowner in the midst of foreclosure.” Citing an MSNBC story, he notes that Faisal Shahzad bought a house in 2004 and was foreclosed.” (He leaves out the part that the home was abandoned “months ago.” More on why he actually stopped paying his mortgage later.) And what conclusion does Klein reach?

This guy is like string theory for the media: He brings together the seemingly incompatible stories that drove the past decade. That said, you of course don’t want to speculate on why someone “really” did something. The hearts of men are opaque, and motives are complex. But it’s a reminder that foreclosures generate an enormous amount of misery and anxiety and depression that can tip people into all sorts of dangerous behaviors that don’t make headlines but do ruin lives. And for all that we’ve done to save the financial sector, we’ve not done nearly enough to help struggling homeowners.

Thunk. Where to begin — how about the explanation for why he quit his job, stopped paying his mortgage, and started buying propane tanks, wires, and such? He stopped living a normal life — and paying his mortgage — to become a terrorist and train in Pakistan. Oh, yes. That. (His own paper has a fairly good account of the sequence of events, as does the Wall Street Journal, which notes that he hated Preisdent George W. Bush. I await his column excoriating Keith Olbermann for fomenting violence.)

But the disinclination to accept the obvious — as we saw in the Fort Hood shooting — is strong. “The hearts of men are opaque, and motives are complex,” Klein waxes lyrical. Do we really think a man who travels to Pakistan to get bomb training has an opaque heart? Really, maybe he was upset about global warming. Animal rights?

And the defense lawyer should take note. Klein presents the closing summation for the jury: “It’s a reminder that foreclosures generate an enormous amount of misery and anxiety and depression that can tip people into all sorts of dangerous behaviors that don’t make headlines but do ruin lives.” (Who knew that all those risky Fannie and Freddie loans to uncreditworthy buyers were breeding terrorists?)

This is the mentality that cheers ideas like closing Guantanamo, eschewing enhanced interrogation (if they had captured the suspect and the location of the bomb had been unknown, would the administration have stuck to the Army Field Manual?), Mirandizing terrorists, and tying ourselves in knots to avoid identifying the enemy as Islamic fundamentalists out to butcher Americans. Nothing opaque about that.

Ezra Klein is one of the lefty horde of bloggers the Washington Post has taken on board in an effort to remain relevant. Or get eyeballs on the Internet. Or something. Anyway, he writes mostly on domestic policy. I think that’s a good idea, if his latest offering is any indication.

It is, in a few short graphs, the perfect distillation of the left’s cockeyed take on terrorism, the nature of man, and evil. (I will assume Klein is not a clever comic out to skewer his ilk.) He writes: “The arrested subject of last weekend’s Times Square bomb plot is a homeowner in the midst of foreclosure.” Citing an MSNBC story, he notes that Faisal Shahzad bought a house in 2004 and was foreclosed.” (He leaves out the part that the home was abandoned “months ago.” More on why he actually stopped paying his mortgage later.) And what conclusion does Klein reach?

This guy is like string theory for the media: He brings together the seemingly incompatible stories that drove the past decade. That said, you of course don’t want to speculate on why someone “really” did something. The hearts of men are opaque, and motives are complex. But it’s a reminder that foreclosures generate an enormous amount of misery and anxiety and depression that can tip people into all sorts of dangerous behaviors that don’t make headlines but do ruin lives. And for all that we’ve done to save the financial sector, we’ve not done nearly enough to help struggling homeowners.

Thunk. Where to begin — how about the explanation for why he quit his job, stopped paying his mortgage, and started buying propane tanks, wires, and such? He stopped living a normal life — and paying his mortgage — to become a terrorist and train in Pakistan. Oh, yes. That. (His own paper has a fairly good account of the sequence of events, as does the Wall Street Journal, which notes that he hated Preisdent George W. Bush. I await his column excoriating Keith Olbermann for fomenting violence.)

But the disinclination to accept the obvious — as we saw in the Fort Hood shooting — is strong. “The hearts of men are opaque, and motives are complex,” Klein waxes lyrical. Do we really think a man who travels to Pakistan to get bomb training has an opaque heart? Really, maybe he was upset about global warming. Animal rights?

And the defense lawyer should take note. Klein presents the closing summation for the jury: “It’s a reminder that foreclosures generate an enormous amount of misery and anxiety and depression that can tip people into all sorts of dangerous behaviors that don’t make headlines but do ruin lives.” (Who knew that all those risky Fannie and Freddie loans to uncreditworthy buyers were breeding terrorists?)

This is the mentality that cheers ideas like closing Guantanamo, eschewing enhanced interrogation (if they had captured the suspect and the location of the bomb had been unknown, would the administration have stuck to the Army Field Manual?), Mirandizing terrorists, and tying ourselves in knots to avoid identifying the enemy as Islamic fundamentalists out to butcher Americans. Nothing opaque about that.

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Where Is the Secretary of 19 Million Cracks?

Hillary Clinton periodically expresses a spasm of concern that her reputation and legacy are going down the drain with the Obami. She trotted out a defense lawyer’s case at AIPAC for her own pro-Israel credentials. She gives a human-rights speech now and then. But largely she dutifully follows the administration’s line — which is to strongarm Israel and shove human rights under the bus. It must be particularly galling to her feminist admirers to watch her passivity in the face of outrage after outrage perpetrated by the “Muslim World” against women and girls. She is seemingly unmoved to do much of anything about what one sharp commentator described as the “dual impulses to demonize and dehumanize females” that is not merely tolerated, but codified in the “Muslim World,” which Hillary and her boss so ardently suck up to.

The latest comes to us from Foreign Policy:

The sad case of Elham Assi, a 13-year old Yemeni girl who died from internal hemorrhaging after being raped by her 23-year-old husband, has certainly sparked conversation in Yemen over the longstanding practice of child marriage. But the conversations — taking place everywhere from Sanaa kitchens to the parliament building — aren’t exactly what you’d expect.

Instead of addressing the question of children’s rights in a country where a quarter of all girls are married before they’re 15 and half before they’re 18, some Yemenis are treating Elham Assi’sdeath as a rallying point against the so-called imposition of a Western agenda. Instead of catalyzing protective legislation for children in Yemen, as the tragic 1911 Triangle Factory fire did for industrial laborers in the United States, her death may actually make it more likely that others will share her fate.

Rather than rush to raise the legal age of marriage and unburden their shame — well, that would mean they experienced shame — the Yemenis take umbrage at the notion that NGOs should press them to outlaw child brides:

Over the past few months, Sheikh Mohammed Hamzi, an official in the powerful Islamist party, al-Islaah, along with hundreds of other conservative lawmakers and clerics, has issued a clarion call to “true believers” to oppose the law, arguing that it is a first step toward allowing the West to take over Yemeni affairs. “We will not bend to the demands of Western NGOs. We have our own laws, our own values,” said Hamzi, who made headlines again this week when a coalition of Yemeni rights groups announced it would take legal action against the sheikh for maligning activists as infidels and agents of the West during his regular sermons at a Sanaa mosque.

Where is our secretary of state? Why do we allow brutalizers of women to assume spots on the UN Commission on the Status of Women? Well, Hillary is now in the service of an administration which seeks to ingratiate itself with regimes whose laws and “values” include the notion that “to deprive little girls of conjugation with men old enough to be their grandfathers is to treat them ‘unfairly.’” For those who imagined Hillary — who never tires of counting the votes she achieved on the way to losing the Democratic presidential nomination — was a great defender of women and children, it must come as a great shock that they rank so low on her list of priorities.

Hillary Clinton periodically expresses a spasm of concern that her reputation and legacy are going down the drain with the Obami. She trotted out a defense lawyer’s case at AIPAC for her own pro-Israel credentials. She gives a human-rights speech now and then. But largely she dutifully follows the administration’s line — which is to strongarm Israel and shove human rights under the bus. It must be particularly galling to her feminist admirers to watch her passivity in the face of outrage after outrage perpetrated by the “Muslim World” against women and girls. She is seemingly unmoved to do much of anything about what one sharp commentator described as the “dual impulses to demonize and dehumanize females” that is not merely tolerated, but codified in the “Muslim World,” which Hillary and her boss so ardently suck up to.

The latest comes to us from Foreign Policy:

The sad case of Elham Assi, a 13-year old Yemeni girl who died from internal hemorrhaging after being raped by her 23-year-old husband, has certainly sparked conversation in Yemen over the longstanding practice of child marriage. But the conversations — taking place everywhere from Sanaa kitchens to the parliament building — aren’t exactly what you’d expect.

Instead of addressing the question of children’s rights in a country where a quarter of all girls are married before they’re 15 and half before they’re 18, some Yemenis are treating Elham Assi’sdeath as a rallying point against the so-called imposition of a Western agenda. Instead of catalyzing protective legislation for children in Yemen, as the tragic 1911 Triangle Factory fire did for industrial laborers in the United States, her death may actually make it more likely that others will share her fate.

Rather than rush to raise the legal age of marriage and unburden their shame — well, that would mean they experienced shame — the Yemenis take umbrage at the notion that NGOs should press them to outlaw child brides:

Over the past few months, Sheikh Mohammed Hamzi, an official in the powerful Islamist party, al-Islaah, along with hundreds of other conservative lawmakers and clerics, has issued a clarion call to “true believers” to oppose the law, arguing that it is a first step toward allowing the West to take over Yemeni affairs. “We will not bend to the demands of Western NGOs. We have our own laws, our own values,” said Hamzi, who made headlines again this week when a coalition of Yemeni rights groups announced it would take legal action against the sheikh for maligning activists as infidels and agents of the West during his regular sermons at a Sanaa mosque.

Where is our secretary of state? Why do we allow brutalizers of women to assume spots on the UN Commission on the Status of Women? Well, Hillary is now in the service of an administration which seeks to ingratiate itself with regimes whose laws and “values” include the notion that “to deprive little girls of conjugation with men old enough to be their grandfathers is to treat them ‘unfairly.’” For those who imagined Hillary — who never tires of counting the votes she achieved on the way to losing the Democratic presidential nomination — was a great defender of women and children, it must come as a great shock that they rank so low on her list of priorities.

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More on Obama Becoming More Transparent Every Day

As Pete and I compile what seems like a very long list of “things wrong with Obama,” we should include the descent in tone and the crumbling of Obama’s inspirational rhetoric that characterized his campaign. Many conservatives (including me) didn’t care much for the somewhat inane “we are the world” campaign talk. How could we really be the change we were waiting for? Did he really think oceans would fall once he was in office? But at least he was aiming high and talking in sweeping terms meant to uplift the public. And lots of people felt good about politics. It was something.

Now we get bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo. Here is what Charles Krauthammer observed of the president’s appearance yesterday afternoon:

I find it mind-numbingly bureaucratic, flat, bloodless. It was almost inside baseball describing how bureaucracies work. And his conclusions? Directive # 1 is: High-priority intelligence will now have to be treated urgently not just some of the time, but all of the time. That’s a remarkable advance!! … A, he said the buck stops here, because it looked as if he was detached and blaming everybody else. Secondly, he said we are at war, which is a concession, because people are complaining about the fact, rightly so, that he gave the bomber over Detroit a defense lawyer and treated him as a civilian defendant.

Others have picked up on it too. Politico’s report explains:

In the case of terrorism, Obama recognizes too that he must be more out front, responding to the public’s gut fears and anger after the attempted attack on a U.S. airliner Christmas Day. “Ultimately, the buck stops with me,” he said. As a candidate, Obama’s cool was never fatal because so many voters simply imposed their own dreams on him. But wrapped in the bubble of the Oval Office and surrounded by Ivy-educated budget and economic advisers, this detachment is magnified and hurts him with lawmakers and voters alike, looking for more of a connection amid tough times.

Think about that: he realizes he has to be more out front when it comes to responding to a terror attack. It doesn’t apparently come instinctively to jump to the fore and rally the crowd. He doesn’t have anything he really wants to say to us? Indeed, he suggests that all that emotion and all the press conferences (the 24/7 news cycle he disparages) are beneath him. Suddenly it’s ice-water-in-the-veins time.

That inspirational candidate from 2008 is nowhere to be found now. He’s reduced to mouthing bureaucratic platitudes. Is it part of the gambit to de-escalate, once again, the war on Islamic terrorists? Or has he simply lost the rhetorical touch, run out of things to say? Maybe his “eloquence” wasn’t eloquence at all but a short list of buzzwords and New Age window dressing meant to disguise a candidate with a thin resume and limited repertoire of executive skills. Just wondering.

As Pete and I compile what seems like a very long list of “things wrong with Obama,” we should include the descent in tone and the crumbling of Obama’s inspirational rhetoric that characterized his campaign. Many conservatives (including me) didn’t care much for the somewhat inane “we are the world” campaign talk. How could we really be the change we were waiting for? Did he really think oceans would fall once he was in office? But at least he was aiming high and talking in sweeping terms meant to uplift the public. And lots of people felt good about politics. It was something.

Now we get bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo. Here is what Charles Krauthammer observed of the president’s appearance yesterday afternoon:

I find it mind-numbingly bureaucratic, flat, bloodless. It was almost inside baseball describing how bureaucracies work. And his conclusions? Directive # 1 is: High-priority intelligence will now have to be treated urgently not just some of the time, but all of the time. That’s a remarkable advance!! … A, he said the buck stops here, because it looked as if he was detached and blaming everybody else. Secondly, he said we are at war, which is a concession, because people are complaining about the fact, rightly so, that he gave the bomber over Detroit a defense lawyer and treated him as a civilian defendant.

Others have picked up on it too. Politico’s report explains:

In the case of terrorism, Obama recognizes too that he must be more out front, responding to the public’s gut fears and anger after the attempted attack on a U.S. airliner Christmas Day. “Ultimately, the buck stops with me,” he said. As a candidate, Obama’s cool was never fatal because so many voters simply imposed their own dreams on him. But wrapped in the bubble of the Oval Office and surrounded by Ivy-educated budget and economic advisers, this detachment is magnified and hurts him with lawmakers and voters alike, looking for more of a connection amid tough times.

Think about that: he realizes he has to be more out front when it comes to responding to a terror attack. It doesn’t apparently come instinctively to jump to the fore and rally the crowd. He doesn’t have anything he really wants to say to us? Indeed, he suggests that all that emotion and all the press conferences (the 24/7 news cycle he disparages) are beneath him. Suddenly it’s ice-water-in-the-veins time.

That inspirational candidate from 2008 is nowhere to be found now. He’s reduced to mouthing bureaucratic platitudes. Is it part of the gambit to de-escalate, once again, the war on Islamic terrorists? Or has he simply lost the rhetorical touch, run out of things to say? Maybe his “eloquence” wasn’t eloquence at all but a short list of buzzwords and New Age window dressing meant to disguise a candidate with a thin resume and limited repertoire of executive skills. Just wondering.

Read Less




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