Commentary Magazine


Topic: Juan Williams

No Good Explanation for Not Taking a Vote

The nearly incomprehensible decision by the Democratic leadership to avoid a vote on the extension of the Bush tax cuts is the latest problem for Democratic incumbents. On Fox News Sunday, Juan Williams tried out a novel defense: Nancy Pelosi couldn’t take a vote, because the mean Republicans would twist the minds of voters and get them all confused. The discussion went as follows:

HUME: So this poor little Speaker of the House presiding over this massive majority has the vote she says to win on this issue and send her members home, having voted to stave off the tax cuts for nearly everybody, and she was afraid of what the minority Republicans were going to say about it? And you seriously — do you believe that?

WILLIAMS: Did you just say stave off tax cuts for everyone?

HUME: Tax increases. I’m sorry.

WILLIAMS: That’s a distortion.

HUME: Tax increases. Read More

The nearly incomprehensible decision by the Democratic leadership to avoid a vote on the extension of the Bush tax cuts is the latest problem for Democratic incumbents. On Fox News Sunday, Juan Williams tried out a novel defense: Nancy Pelosi couldn’t take a vote, because the mean Republicans would twist the minds of voters and get them all confused. The discussion went as follows:

HUME: So this poor little Speaker of the House presiding over this massive majority has the vote she says to win on this issue and send her members home, having voted to stave off the tax cuts for nearly everybody, and she was afraid of what the minority Republicans were going to say about it? And you seriously — do you believe that?

WILLIAMS: Did you just say stave off tax cuts for everyone?

HUME: Tax increases. I’m sorry.

WILLIAMS: That’s a distortion.

HUME: Tax increases.

KRISTOL: The fact is — I was with four Republican Senate candidates this week by chance in New York at a little event. And they said — I asked, “How is the tax debate going?”

And they said, look, until now, it’s been the traditional Democratic/Republican debate. Democrats say they want to cut taxes for the middle class. Republicans say, you don’t want to raise any taxes in a recession. And it was probably kind of a wash politically.

All of that — now, maybe they’re wrong, but all of them were extremely happy. This was the night — the day after Nancy Pelosi adjourned the House without allowing a vote — without allowing a vote on the coming tax increase. Every Republican challenger can now say you have been in charge for two years, you could have dealt with this, you could have cut whatever deals you needed to cut to do as Juan said and bring over some of those moderate Republicans. You could have insisted on an up-or- down vote. You didn’t.

Every American now faces a tax increase in January thanks to this Democratic Congress doing nothing.

LIASSON: … Well, the problem is that they might very well get some kind of a deal, a temporary extension or whatever, in the lame duck.

The problem is that every Democrat now has to go home now without saying, “I voted to continue lower taxes for the middle class.” I do think that the White House and the Democrats overestimated how strong their argument was going to be and how easy it was going to be to keep all the Democrats on one page on this. I mean, I think if they had all their Democrats, they would have brought it up for a vote.

Now, their argument is Republicans are holding the middle class tax cut hostage to continuing the tax cuts for the rich. The problem with that is, if you don’t have a vote and kind of show them holding it hostage, how do you know that they really are?

Yeah, that’s a problem. So the Obama-Pelosi-Reid brain trust has saddled incumbent Democrats with more baggage. OK, but after the deluge that’s about to hit, won’t the Obami have a post-election epiphany, as Bill Clinton did? Don’t be too certain.

Mara Liasson says the White House doesn’t believe in all that moving to the center hooey, but reality is reality: “Look, I think that I can tell you on very good authority that at the White House, they totally reject the idea that he would adopt the Clinton model and move to the center. Now, that being said, everything is going to change in November.” Bill Kristol thinks some personnel changes may help: “I think the president has cleverly and sort of carefully gotten rid of the incredibly arrogant, smart alecks who dominated the White House in the first term — Rahm Emanuel, Larry Summers, Pete Orszag. They knew best. They were so clever. Never let a crisis go to waste. We can jam stuff through. No problem. This president can carry anything off. That is not Pete Rouse’s attitude. Pete Rouse worked for Tom Daschle for 19 years. He cut a lot of deals with Congress.”

But it really is up to Obama — he’s not one for cutting deals, and he certainly isn’t one to admit error. His liberal extremism has imperiled his presidency and sunk his party. His irritation with all but his most fervent supporters has left him alienated from voters and even from his party’s base. The question remains: is he willing and able to shift course? After running on a change theme and trying to radically change America, he is the one who will have to change. Unless, of course, one term is plenty for him.

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Why Does He Look So Uncomfortable?

Forget for a moment the substance of Obama’s Iraq war speech. A number of observers remarked that he looked plain uncomfortable and that his speech was “flat.” (Said one: “Why bother with a speech filled with the same vague generalizations he’s been saying about Iraq for the past nineteen months?”) And Michael Gerson (his excellent critique should be read in full) notes:

Obama’s speeches are oddly lacking in a sense of historical drama. His manner is always impressive and presidential. His words often are not. For the most part, the president’s language last night was flat and over-worn. The middle class is the “bedrock” of prosperity. We need to “shore up the foundation” of the economy. And when the rhetoric tried to rise, it strained — “a new beginning could be born,” “the steel in our ship of state.” Obama has a tendency to celebrate memorable historical moments with unmemorable speeches. There are exceptions — but this was not one of them.

So too with his BP oil spill speech, which was even more somnolent than Tuesday’s offer. Then the left piled on, distressed by the image of a once thrilling (to them) political figure shrunken and fairly dull.

It is no mystery why in the technical aspects of speech-giving Obama’s skills are so diminished, especially in the Oval Office. For starters, things are going poorly. Obama is — and seems — defensive. He is not a man who has shouldered adversity in public life, and it is to be expected that he now is prickly and tense.

Moreover, Obama has already told us, in a 60 Minutes interview, that he disapproves of “triumphalism.” So the speech Tuesday night, which was to recognize the successful conclusion (conservatives like “victory”) of our military operation after enormous adversity, was restrained, if not cramped. He did have words of praise for the troops, but then he demonstrated in his de minimus praise for George W. Bush that this is really not the standard for evaluating a president. Others, like Juan Williams, have conceded that Obama is not good in a crisis. And unfortunately, right now we have nothing but. Neither in war nor oil spills does he enjoy a comfort zone. He is in that regard the anti–Rudy Giuliani, who thrived in a crisis.

And we come back to the central Obama dilemma: he is much better on the stump than in office. When he goes out on the road in campaign-style gatherings, he may not be substantively any more convincing (e.g., no one has bought the “summer of recovery” despite a bazillion speeches), but he certainly is cheerier and more relaxed. Sitting behind that big desk, he is decidedly neither. Ed Morrissey aptly put it this way: “Barack Obama took office as supposedly one of the most well-read, inspirational figures of our time. With each speech, Obama diminishes in stature, essentially mailing in his efforts and seeming to care little if anyone notices it.”

The Obama phenomenon — great candidate/poor executive — can’t be concealed. When he speaks in the very place that personifies executive power, it becomes all too evident. Perhaps he should keep the Oval Office visits to a minimum and spend his time reflecting on why things have gone so badly. Then he might be able to regroup and rescue the final two years of his presidency.

Forget for a moment the substance of Obama’s Iraq war speech. A number of observers remarked that he looked plain uncomfortable and that his speech was “flat.” (Said one: “Why bother with a speech filled with the same vague generalizations he’s been saying about Iraq for the past nineteen months?”) And Michael Gerson (his excellent critique should be read in full) notes:

Obama’s speeches are oddly lacking in a sense of historical drama. His manner is always impressive and presidential. His words often are not. For the most part, the president’s language last night was flat and over-worn. The middle class is the “bedrock” of prosperity. We need to “shore up the foundation” of the economy. And when the rhetoric tried to rise, it strained — “a new beginning could be born,” “the steel in our ship of state.” Obama has a tendency to celebrate memorable historical moments with unmemorable speeches. There are exceptions — but this was not one of them.

So too with his BP oil spill speech, which was even more somnolent than Tuesday’s offer. Then the left piled on, distressed by the image of a once thrilling (to them) political figure shrunken and fairly dull.

It is no mystery why in the technical aspects of speech-giving Obama’s skills are so diminished, especially in the Oval Office. For starters, things are going poorly. Obama is — and seems — defensive. He is not a man who has shouldered adversity in public life, and it is to be expected that he now is prickly and tense.

Moreover, Obama has already told us, in a 60 Minutes interview, that he disapproves of “triumphalism.” So the speech Tuesday night, which was to recognize the successful conclusion (conservatives like “victory”) of our military operation after enormous adversity, was restrained, if not cramped. He did have words of praise for the troops, but then he demonstrated in his de minimus praise for George W. Bush that this is really not the standard for evaluating a president. Others, like Juan Williams, have conceded that Obama is not good in a crisis. And unfortunately, right now we have nothing but. Neither in war nor oil spills does he enjoy a comfort zone. He is in that regard the anti–Rudy Giuliani, who thrived in a crisis.

And we come back to the central Obama dilemma: he is much better on the stump than in office. When he goes out on the road in campaign-style gatherings, he may not be substantively any more convincing (e.g., no one has bought the “summer of recovery” despite a bazillion speeches), but he certainly is cheerier and more relaxed. Sitting behind that big desk, he is decidedly neither. Ed Morrissey aptly put it this way: “Barack Obama took office as supposedly one of the most well-read, inspirational figures of our time. With each speech, Obama diminishes in stature, essentially mailing in his efforts and seeming to care little if anyone notices it.”

The Obama phenomenon — great candidate/poor executive — can’t be concealed. When he speaks in the very place that personifies executive power, it becomes all too evident. Perhaps he should keep the Oval Office visits to a minimum and spend his time reflecting on why things have gone so badly. Then he might be able to regroup and rescue the final two years of his presidency.

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Juan Williams vs. Israel

On Fox News Sunday, Juan Williams had this to say about the upcoming talks between the Palestinian Authority and Israel:

Well, the question is about settlements. I mean, you know, what you hear from Abbas is if they go back into the settlements that he cuts off the talk.

Last time the reason the talks got cut off was because Israel launched an offensive in Gaza. So now we have a break. The question is can Netanyahu hold together as — his forces in Israel in terms of Israeli politics to say, “You know what? We are best served by some sort of peace, despite the pressures,” and I think there are tremendous pressures on Israel, that there has to be a sense that we are about peace first and foremost.

And I think for the — for the last few times that negotiations have taken place, the emphasis has been on asserting that Israel has been victimized by terrorist activities, by Hamas, by the failure of the Palestinians to govern themselves.

This perfectly expresses the views of the left on Israel — and is perfectly wrong. If it were all about the settlements, the Palestinians would have their own state several times over — at Camp David, and on silver platter from former prime minister Ehud Olmert, most recently. We have had an extended “break” not because of Gaza but because Obama spent 18 months dangling the prospect of a settlement freeze before Abbas’s eyes and leading him to believe the Palestinians could get everything their hearts desired from the U.S. administration.

Next up in the misinformation and outright distortion parade: Bibi is somehow out of step with Israeli public opinion. Yes, the majority of Israelis want talks and a two-state solution, but the infatuation with “land for peace” has dulled considerably in the wake of land-for-war episodes (Lebanon and then Gaza). And Bibi is quite popular. Does Williams expect that some other government could forge a consensus for a peace deal? (Perhaps the 10 percent of Israelis who like Obama would.)

The last is the doozy, and it unfortunately represents the left’s growing indifference to Israel’s security. You see, Williams lectures, we’ve spent altogether too much time talking about terrorism and the Palestinians’ utter failure at self-government. After all, who wants to talk about the refusal of the PA to condemn terrorism? Why do we need to focus on the Palestinians’ ongoing violence and continual calls for incitement (in Arabic) while they talk peace (in English)? And really, what do viable civil institutions — that can enforce the rule of law and a peace deal and develop a productive relationship with Israel — have to do with peace talks?

It is all perfectly foolish and, unfortunately, one suspects, representative of the Obami’s thinking. You can hear the teeth-grinding inside the White House, the impatience with all this concern about defensible borders and an enforceable peace. This is the mindset of the gang that is “affronted” when Israel builds in its own capital and treats the Israeli prime minister as if he were a fly to be swatted away.

As Charles Krauthammer aptly summed up:

The world is tired of these troublesome Jews, 6 million — that number again — hard by the Mediterranean, refusing every invitation to national suicide. For which they are relentlessly demonized, ghettoized and constrained from defending themselves, even as the more committed anti-Zionists — Iranian in particular — openly prepare a more final solution.

The only good news on the horizon is that with Obama’s plummeting popularity and evident nervousness about American Jewish support (otherwise why the charm offensive?), Israel has good reason to wait him out. Go ahead, talk — every two weeks. When the Palestinians are ready to renounce violence and give up the dream of a one-state solution (200 meetings from now? a thousand?), Israel will be waiting.

On Fox News Sunday, Juan Williams had this to say about the upcoming talks between the Palestinian Authority and Israel:

Well, the question is about settlements. I mean, you know, what you hear from Abbas is if they go back into the settlements that he cuts off the talk.

Last time the reason the talks got cut off was because Israel launched an offensive in Gaza. So now we have a break. The question is can Netanyahu hold together as — his forces in Israel in terms of Israeli politics to say, “You know what? We are best served by some sort of peace, despite the pressures,” and I think there are tremendous pressures on Israel, that there has to be a sense that we are about peace first and foremost.

And I think for the — for the last few times that negotiations have taken place, the emphasis has been on asserting that Israel has been victimized by terrorist activities, by Hamas, by the failure of the Palestinians to govern themselves.

This perfectly expresses the views of the left on Israel — and is perfectly wrong. If it were all about the settlements, the Palestinians would have their own state several times over — at Camp David, and on silver platter from former prime minister Ehud Olmert, most recently. We have had an extended “break” not because of Gaza but because Obama spent 18 months dangling the prospect of a settlement freeze before Abbas’s eyes and leading him to believe the Palestinians could get everything their hearts desired from the U.S. administration.

Next up in the misinformation and outright distortion parade: Bibi is somehow out of step with Israeli public opinion. Yes, the majority of Israelis want talks and a two-state solution, but the infatuation with “land for peace” has dulled considerably in the wake of land-for-war episodes (Lebanon and then Gaza). And Bibi is quite popular. Does Williams expect that some other government could forge a consensus for a peace deal? (Perhaps the 10 percent of Israelis who like Obama would.)

The last is the doozy, and it unfortunately represents the left’s growing indifference to Israel’s security. You see, Williams lectures, we’ve spent altogether too much time talking about terrorism and the Palestinians’ utter failure at self-government. After all, who wants to talk about the refusal of the PA to condemn terrorism? Why do we need to focus on the Palestinians’ ongoing violence and continual calls for incitement (in Arabic) while they talk peace (in English)? And really, what do viable civil institutions — that can enforce the rule of law and a peace deal and develop a productive relationship with Israel — have to do with peace talks?

It is all perfectly foolish and, unfortunately, one suspects, representative of the Obami’s thinking. You can hear the teeth-grinding inside the White House, the impatience with all this concern about defensible borders and an enforceable peace. This is the mindset of the gang that is “affronted” when Israel builds in its own capital and treats the Israeli prime minister as if he were a fly to be swatted away.

As Charles Krauthammer aptly summed up:

The world is tired of these troublesome Jews, 6 million — that number again — hard by the Mediterranean, refusing every invitation to national suicide. For which they are relentlessly demonized, ghettoized and constrained from defending themselves, even as the more committed anti-Zionists — Iranian in particular — openly prepare a more final solution.

The only good news on the horizon is that with Obama’s plummeting popularity and evident nervousness about American Jewish support (otherwise why the charm offensive?), Israel has good reason to wait him out. Go ahead, talk — every two weeks. When the Palestinians are ready to renounce violence and give up the dream of a one-state solution (200 meetings from now? a thousand?), Israel will be waiting.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

A nostalgic George W. Bush moment for the left. Nicholas Kristof: “Mr. Obama is presiding over an incoherent, contradictory and apparently failing Sudan policy. There is a growing risk that Sudan will be the site of the world’s bloodiest war in 2011, and perhaps a new round of genocide as well. This isn’t America’s fault, but neither are we using all of our leverage to avert it. … Regular readers know I was not a fan of President George W. Bush. But one of his signal accomplishments, against all odds, was a 2005 peace agreement that ended the last round of that war.”

A stirring story about Iraq. And a reminder of how thoroughly lacking in understanding and empathy this president is when it comes to the reasons so many sacrificed so much.

A “perfect description of the pro-mosque left” from James Taranto: “Oikophobia is fear of the familiar: ‘the disposition, in any conflict, to side with ‘them’ against ‘us’, and the felt need to denigrate the customs, culture and institutions that are identifiably ‘ours.’ … Yet the oiks’ vision of themselves as an intellectual aristocracy violates the first American principle ever articulated: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’ … This cannot be reconciled with the elitist notion that most men are economically insecure bitter clinging intolerant bigots who need to be governed by an educated elite. Marxism Lite is not only false; it is, according to the American creed, self-evidently false. That is why the liberal elite finds Americans revolting.” Did we put an “oik” in the White House?

An angry mob – in Obama’s home state: “Sixty-five percent (65%) of Likely Voters in Illinois are at least somewhat angry at the current policies of the federal government, according to a new Rasmussen Reports statewide telephone survey. That finding matches the level measured nationally, and includes 41% who are Very Angry at the government’s policies.” Who’s funding them, I wonder?

A “bit”? “Democrats are undercutting their campaign message by condemning Republican economic policies while calling for the extension of Bush-era tax cuts. ‘It’s hard to say the Republican economic policies were bad, [and] then continue them,’ Paul Begala, Democratic strategist and former advisor to President Clinton, told The Hill. ‘That is a bit of a mixed message.’”

A forceful objection from Debra Burlingame to Mayor Bloomberg’s claim that 9/11 families support the Ground Zero mosque: “Mr. Bloomberg has now crossed the line from merely supporting the mosque to participating in a public campaign aimed at silencing its critics. He has improperly invoked private conversations of 9/11 family board members who, unfortunately, are all too aware of his power, both as chair of the foundation which will memorialize their loved ones and as mayor of a city where that memorial will be built. He is recklessly wreaking havoc among families, running from media event to radio interview to photo op to Comedy Central gagfest, shamelessly hawking this narrative that we, those whose family members were the true victims of religious intolerance, must also carry the burden of proving we’re not intolerant. He’s a disgrace.”

A sober take from Mara Liasson: “I think there is a lot of gloom and doom among Democrats. And their hope now is that individual races with candidates who have a lot of money and have good get-out-the-vote operations can somehow survive what is looking to be a really big anti-Democratic wave in November.” And from Liasson and Juan Williams on the midterms: “LIASSON: But the fact is it is a referendum. WILLIAMS: If it’s a referendum on Obama, the Democrats lose.” Yup. Big time.

A nostalgic George W. Bush moment for the left. Nicholas Kristof: “Mr. Obama is presiding over an incoherent, contradictory and apparently failing Sudan policy. There is a growing risk that Sudan will be the site of the world’s bloodiest war in 2011, and perhaps a new round of genocide as well. This isn’t America’s fault, but neither are we using all of our leverage to avert it. … Regular readers know I was not a fan of President George W. Bush. But one of his signal accomplishments, against all odds, was a 2005 peace agreement that ended the last round of that war.”

A stirring story about Iraq. And a reminder of how thoroughly lacking in understanding and empathy this president is when it comes to the reasons so many sacrificed so much.

A “perfect description of the pro-mosque left” from James Taranto: “Oikophobia is fear of the familiar: ‘the disposition, in any conflict, to side with ‘them’ against ‘us’, and the felt need to denigrate the customs, culture and institutions that are identifiably ‘ours.’ … Yet the oiks’ vision of themselves as an intellectual aristocracy violates the first American principle ever articulated: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal.’ … This cannot be reconciled with the elitist notion that most men are economically insecure bitter clinging intolerant bigots who need to be governed by an educated elite. Marxism Lite is not only false; it is, according to the American creed, self-evidently false. That is why the liberal elite finds Americans revolting.” Did we put an “oik” in the White House?

An angry mob – in Obama’s home state: “Sixty-five percent (65%) of Likely Voters in Illinois are at least somewhat angry at the current policies of the federal government, according to a new Rasmussen Reports statewide telephone survey. That finding matches the level measured nationally, and includes 41% who are Very Angry at the government’s policies.” Who’s funding them, I wonder?

A “bit”? “Democrats are undercutting their campaign message by condemning Republican economic policies while calling for the extension of Bush-era tax cuts. ‘It’s hard to say the Republican economic policies were bad, [and] then continue them,’ Paul Begala, Democratic strategist and former advisor to President Clinton, told The Hill. ‘That is a bit of a mixed message.’”

A forceful objection from Debra Burlingame to Mayor Bloomberg’s claim that 9/11 families support the Ground Zero mosque: “Mr. Bloomberg has now crossed the line from merely supporting the mosque to participating in a public campaign aimed at silencing its critics. He has improperly invoked private conversations of 9/11 family board members who, unfortunately, are all too aware of his power, both as chair of the foundation which will memorialize their loved ones and as mayor of a city where that memorial will be built. He is recklessly wreaking havoc among families, running from media event to radio interview to photo op to Comedy Central gagfest, shamelessly hawking this narrative that we, those whose family members were the true victims of religious intolerance, must also carry the burden of proving we’re not intolerant. He’s a disgrace.”

A sober take from Mara Liasson: “I think there is a lot of gloom and doom among Democrats. And their hope now is that individual races with candidates who have a lot of money and have good get-out-the-vote operations can somehow survive what is looking to be a really big anti-Democratic wave in November.” And from Liasson and Juan Williams on the midterms: “LIASSON: But the fact is it is a referendum. WILLIAMS: If it’s a referendum on Obama, the Democrats lose.” Yup. Big time.

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The Left Defends Ground Zero Mosque

The left continues to feign confusion (it is hard to believe its pundits are really this muddled) as to the reasons why conservatives (and a majority of fellow citizens) oppose the Ground Zero mosque. No, it’s not about “religious freedom” — we’re talking about the location of the mosque on the ash-strewn site of 3,000 dead Americans. The J Street crowd and the liberal defenders of the mosque seem very bent out of shape when Americans want to defend the sensibilities of their fellow citizens and when they look askance at an imam whose funding appears to come from those whose goal is anything but religious reconciliation. Again, no one is telling Muslims not to build or pray in mosques; we on the right are simply asking them not to do it in the location where Islam was the inspiration for mass murder.

It is interesting that the word mosque is not employed by those excoriating the mosque opponents. As a smart reader highlights, why is it described as a “cultural center”? Pretty dicey to articulate exactly what position the left clings to — namely, that we must allow a mosque at Ground Zero. Well, when you are that precise, it does highlight the vast gulf between the left’s perspective and that of average Americans.  (And for the record, my objections to J Street obviously aren’t limited to the Ground Zero mosque. And I certainly do believe “you are either for us or you are for them” — when it comes to Israel and to America. That this notion disturbs the left tells you precisely why it is estranged from the vast majority of Israelis and Americans.)

Dan Senor is not confused in the least. He pens an open letter to the Ground Zero mosque imam, which gets to the heart of the matter. Recalling the 9/11 attack “committed in the name of Islam,” he explains:

We applaud and thank every Muslim throughout the world who has rejected and denounced this association. But the fact remains that in the minds of many who are swayed by the most radical interpretations of Islam, the Cordoba House will not be seen as a center for peace and reconciliation. It will rather be celebrated as a Muslim monument erected on the site of a great Muslim “military” victory—a milestone on the path to the further spread of Islam throughout the world. …

Rather than furthering cross-cultural and interfaith understanding, a Cordoba House located near Ground Zero would undermine them. Rather that serving as a bridge between Muslim and non-Muslim peoples, it would function as a divide. Your expressed hopes for the center not only would never be realized, they would be undermined from the start. Insisting on this particular site on Park Place can only reinforce this counterproductive dynamic.

This is not some right-wing, extremist view. It represents the views of a large majority of Americans and of mainstream Jewish leaders like Malcolm Hoenlein — as well as Juan Williams. But the left – which has become obsessed with universalism and finds particularism and nationalism noxious – thinks it unseemly for Americans to look after the interests of Americans, and Jews to look after Jews (as to the latter, we can only be grateful that so many pro-Zionist Christians do as well).

Or is it just the Muslim element that has so paralyzed the liberal intelligentsia? After all, as Bill McGurn reminds us, everyone cheered when Pope John Paul II told the Carmelite nuns to pick a spot other than Auschwitz to pray for the conversion of the Jews. Maybe the left is simply being oppositional — i.e., whatever the right believes is wrong. But if not, it is, quite vividly, advertising its own intellectual crack-up and unfitness to govern.

The left continues to feign confusion (it is hard to believe its pundits are really this muddled) as to the reasons why conservatives (and a majority of fellow citizens) oppose the Ground Zero mosque. No, it’s not about “religious freedom” — we’re talking about the location of the mosque on the ash-strewn site of 3,000 dead Americans. The J Street crowd and the liberal defenders of the mosque seem very bent out of shape when Americans want to defend the sensibilities of their fellow citizens and when they look askance at an imam whose funding appears to come from those whose goal is anything but religious reconciliation. Again, no one is telling Muslims not to build or pray in mosques; we on the right are simply asking them not to do it in the location where Islam was the inspiration for mass murder.

It is interesting that the word mosque is not employed by those excoriating the mosque opponents. As a smart reader highlights, why is it described as a “cultural center”? Pretty dicey to articulate exactly what position the left clings to — namely, that we must allow a mosque at Ground Zero. Well, when you are that precise, it does highlight the vast gulf between the left’s perspective and that of average Americans.  (And for the record, my objections to J Street obviously aren’t limited to the Ground Zero mosque. And I certainly do believe “you are either for us or you are for them” — when it comes to Israel and to America. That this notion disturbs the left tells you precisely why it is estranged from the vast majority of Israelis and Americans.)

Dan Senor is not confused in the least. He pens an open letter to the Ground Zero mosque imam, which gets to the heart of the matter. Recalling the 9/11 attack “committed in the name of Islam,” he explains:

We applaud and thank every Muslim throughout the world who has rejected and denounced this association. But the fact remains that in the minds of many who are swayed by the most radical interpretations of Islam, the Cordoba House will not be seen as a center for peace and reconciliation. It will rather be celebrated as a Muslim monument erected on the site of a great Muslim “military” victory—a milestone on the path to the further spread of Islam throughout the world. …

Rather than furthering cross-cultural and interfaith understanding, a Cordoba House located near Ground Zero would undermine them. Rather that serving as a bridge between Muslim and non-Muslim peoples, it would function as a divide. Your expressed hopes for the center not only would never be realized, they would be undermined from the start. Insisting on this particular site on Park Place can only reinforce this counterproductive dynamic.

This is not some right-wing, extremist view. It represents the views of a large majority of Americans and of mainstream Jewish leaders like Malcolm Hoenlein — as well as Juan Williams. But the left – which has become obsessed with universalism and finds particularism and nationalism noxious – thinks it unseemly for Americans to look after the interests of Americans, and Jews to look after Jews (as to the latter, we can only be grateful that so many pro-Zionist Christians do as well).

Or is it just the Muslim element that has so paralyzed the liberal intelligentsia? After all, as Bill McGurn reminds us, everyone cheered when Pope John Paul II told the Carmelite nuns to pick a spot other than Auschwitz to pray for the conversion of the Jews. Maybe the left is simply being oppositional — i.e., whatever the right believes is wrong. But if not, it is, quite vividly, advertising its own intellectual crack-up and unfitness to govern.

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Juan Williams vs. the Ground Zero Mosque

On Fox News Sunday, the panelists discussed the Ground Zero mosque. Ceci Connolly supplied the standard liberal line: freedom of religion requires that we allow the mosque to be constructed on the site where the ashes of 3,000 Americans blew through the air like confetti. Bill Kristol and Liz Cheney took the opposite view; Cheney was most concerned about the shadowy funding and the imam’s connection to jihadists (“the same groups that attacked us on 9-11″), while Kristol urged that out of “decency and propriety,” we shouldn’t allow a mosque to “tower over” Ground Zero.

The real surprise in the discussion was Juan Williams, who one expected to take Connolly’s side. Williams, however, didn’t parrot the left’s “tolerance” line. Instead, like Cheney, he criticized the lack of “transparency” in funding. But he did not stop there. He called building the mosque a “thumb in the eye” of those who lost their lives and suffered trauma. He concluded that, contrary to the imam’s claimed intention, the construction is “not promoting dialogue or understanding; in fact it is polarizing.”

Well bravo, Juan! This is the proper and entirely compelling rebuttal to liberals’ fixation with “tolerance.” Liberals assume that we must respect the Muslim group’s sensibilities and refrain from denying them their monument to Islam. (And we certainly can’t question their motives or associations.) But Williams quite rightly doesn’t take the imam’s argument at face value. What about the mosque builders’ tolerance and respect for others? Quite obviously, it is entirely absent.

And there’s the rub. In the left’s vision, “tolerance” and indulgence of aberrant conduct is our burden and obligation, and ours alone. That not only leads to cultural surrender; it also infantilizes Muslims. They can’t be expected  to exercise restraint or respect or even decency, it seems.

The mosque controversy is fascinating not because of what it reveals about radical Muslims. We — or at least those not practicing willful ignorance — have long since figured out what they are up to. No, what’s intriguing, and to a degree horrifying, is what it tells us about the left’s cockeyed view of “tolerance” and its inability to engage and refute the arguments of those who wish to destroy our society and murder our fellow citizens.

On Fox News Sunday, the panelists discussed the Ground Zero mosque. Ceci Connolly supplied the standard liberal line: freedom of religion requires that we allow the mosque to be constructed on the site where the ashes of 3,000 Americans blew through the air like confetti. Bill Kristol and Liz Cheney took the opposite view; Cheney was most concerned about the shadowy funding and the imam’s connection to jihadists (“the same groups that attacked us on 9-11″), while Kristol urged that out of “decency and propriety,” we shouldn’t allow a mosque to “tower over” Ground Zero.

The real surprise in the discussion was Juan Williams, who one expected to take Connolly’s side. Williams, however, didn’t parrot the left’s “tolerance” line. Instead, like Cheney, he criticized the lack of “transparency” in funding. But he did not stop there. He called building the mosque a “thumb in the eye” of those who lost their lives and suffered trauma. He concluded that, contrary to the imam’s claimed intention, the construction is “not promoting dialogue or understanding; in fact it is polarizing.”

Well bravo, Juan! This is the proper and entirely compelling rebuttal to liberals’ fixation with “tolerance.” Liberals assume that we must respect the Muslim group’s sensibilities and refrain from denying them their monument to Islam. (And we certainly can’t question their motives or associations.) But Williams quite rightly doesn’t take the imam’s argument at face value. What about the mosque builders’ tolerance and respect for others? Quite obviously, it is entirely absent.

And there’s the rub. In the left’s vision, “tolerance” and indulgence of aberrant conduct is our burden and obligation, and ours alone. That not only leads to cultural surrender; it also infantilizes Muslims. They can’t be expected  to exercise restraint or respect or even decency, it seems.

The mosque controversy is fascinating not because of what it reveals about radical Muslims. We — or at least those not practicing willful ignorance — have long since figured out what they are up to. No, what’s intriguing, and to a degree horrifying, is what it tells us about the left’s cockeyed view of “tolerance” and its inability to engage and refute the arguments of those who wish to destroy our society and murder our fellow citizens.

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It’s the Taxes

On Fox News Sunday and on This Week, the expiration of the Bush tax cuts was much discussed. Under the incredulous questioning of Jake Tapper, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner claimed the economy wouldn’t be hurt by an enormous hike in tax rates, which will hit small businesses as well as “the rich” (who are also the investors, the employers, and the consumers needed to jump-start the economy). When Geithner says that growth has been “pretty good” and that employers are going to start hiring soon, you wonder if the Obami are delusional. But when Geithner says — after a spending spree to end all spending sprees — that the tax hike is needed to “make sure we can show the world that they’re willing as a country now to start to make some progress bringing down our long — our long-term deficits,” you see that the Obami really are rather deeply cynical. (The contrast with the show’s other guest, Chris Christie, who talked about cutting spending and taxes, could not have been more stark.)

On Fox, Brit Hume tried, without much success, to explain to Juan Williams why hiking taxes is a bad idea:

WILLIAMS: Let me finish this point. President Obama has already cut taxes…

HUME: When’s the last…

WILLIAMS: … as he points out for 95 percent of working people by cutting payroll taxes.

HUME: Well, that — just let me ask you this question. When’s the last time one of these poor people offered you a job?

The people who are the job creators, the people who have money to invest, capital to put at risk, to build enterprises and, they hope, make more money are people that have some money to begin with.

WILLIAMS: And God bless them. They’re important.

HUME: And if you — if you…

WILLIAMS: But don’t you have to have consumers?

HUME: … if you diminish, A, the amount of money they have on hand by taxing it away and the incentive they have to make more because they know a larger portion of it’s going to be taxed away, you are — you are dampening the impulse to grow the economy which is…

WALLACE: Mr. Williams, you get the final 20 seconds.

HUME: … in the hearts of business men across — and women…

WALLACE: Go.

HUME: … across the country.

WILLIAMS: I appreciate it. Consumers are the heart and soul of this economy. You’ve got to have people who are willing to go in…

(CROSSTALK)

WILLIAMS: … and spend money in order that small business will be in a position, then, to do the hiring. But you can’t have banks and small business saying…

WALLACE: OK.

WILLIAMS: … “You know what? We’re sitting on…”

WALLACE: All right.

WILLIAMS: “… our money because we’re worried about risk.” That’s ridiculous when they have the money.

So the way to get banks to loan more money is to raise taxes? It is hopeless, it seems, to explain it to the left, which simply cannot countenance letting investors, consumers, and employers keep more of their money.

One thing is certain: the voters will have a clear choice between tax cutters and tax hikers. There isn’t any way to fudge the answer for those on the ballot. For or against a big tax increase? If Americans at this point think that the economy is sagging and that tax hikes will hardly help matters, the Democrats are going to face some hostile audiences on the campaign trail.

On Fox News Sunday and on This Week, the expiration of the Bush tax cuts was much discussed. Under the incredulous questioning of Jake Tapper, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner claimed the economy wouldn’t be hurt by an enormous hike in tax rates, which will hit small businesses as well as “the rich” (who are also the investors, the employers, and the consumers needed to jump-start the economy). When Geithner says that growth has been “pretty good” and that employers are going to start hiring soon, you wonder if the Obami are delusional. But when Geithner says — after a spending spree to end all spending sprees — that the tax hike is needed to “make sure we can show the world that they’re willing as a country now to start to make some progress bringing down our long — our long-term deficits,” you see that the Obami really are rather deeply cynical. (The contrast with the show’s other guest, Chris Christie, who talked about cutting spending and taxes, could not have been more stark.)

On Fox, Brit Hume tried, without much success, to explain to Juan Williams why hiking taxes is a bad idea:

WILLIAMS: Let me finish this point. President Obama has already cut taxes…

HUME: When’s the last…

WILLIAMS: … as he points out for 95 percent of working people by cutting payroll taxes.

HUME: Well, that — just let me ask you this question. When’s the last time one of these poor people offered you a job?

The people who are the job creators, the people who have money to invest, capital to put at risk, to build enterprises and, they hope, make more money are people that have some money to begin with.

WILLIAMS: And God bless them. They’re important.

HUME: And if you — if you…

WILLIAMS: But don’t you have to have consumers?

HUME: … if you diminish, A, the amount of money they have on hand by taxing it away and the incentive they have to make more because they know a larger portion of it’s going to be taxed away, you are — you are dampening the impulse to grow the economy which is…

WALLACE: Mr. Williams, you get the final 20 seconds.

HUME: … in the hearts of business men across — and women…

WALLACE: Go.

HUME: … across the country.

WILLIAMS: I appreciate it. Consumers are the heart and soul of this economy. You’ve got to have people who are willing to go in…

(CROSSTALK)

WILLIAMS: … and spend money in order that small business will be in a position, then, to do the hiring. But you can’t have banks and small business saying…

WALLACE: OK.

WILLIAMS: … “You know what? We’re sitting on…”

WALLACE: All right.

WILLIAMS: “… our money because we’re worried about risk.” That’s ridiculous when they have the money.

So the way to get banks to loan more money is to raise taxes? It is hopeless, it seems, to explain it to the left, which simply cannot countenance letting investors, consumers, and employers keep more of their money.

One thing is certain: the voters will have a clear choice between tax cutters and tax hikers. There isn’t any way to fudge the answer for those on the ballot. For or against a big tax increase? If Americans at this point think that the economy is sagging and that tax hikes will hardly help matters, the Democrats are going to face some hostile audiences on the campaign trail.

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You Don’t Want Him in a Foxhole with You

Juan Williams — to the amazement of some of his co-panelists — let it rip on Fox News Sunday. The subject was nominally the Sestak and Romanoff scandals, but Williams found the bigger theme:

I think the problem here is this is an administration that, as Hillary Clinton famously pointed out, you may not want to have answer the 3:00 a.m. call.

These are guys who have tremendous vision about legislative achievements and specific things like health care, going forward on immigration, those difficult issues for America that America so far has failed to deal with.

But when it comes to the crisis, when it comes to the gulf oil spill, the wars, the recession, they feel as if it’s being imposed upon them, rather than taking the helm. I think that’s what Americans are sensing right here. And I think it’s the source of their problem at the moment. Are you able to handle a crisis in a convincing way that inspires confidence? And so far, the president hasn’t done that.

Now, some say he should just go into a rage. I don’t think that’s who Barack Obama is. I think he’s a pretty cool character, fairly analytical, and I think we all admire as part of the meritocracy in America. Those are people who are really smart. But you know what? They don’t know how to deal with this crisis, and I think lots of Americans therefore are blaming the president, fairly or unfairly.

Well, that’s sort of a problem, since we live in a world filled with crises. Frankly, that’s what being president is all about. The day-to-day issues and the mundane problems don’t make it to the president’s desk. And the crises that have occurred during this administration and with the president front and center — bombing attempts, incidents in the Middle East, a popular revolt in Honduras, the gulf spill — have been bungled.

Even when the time frame for decision-making is not that tight, Obama has agonized and made things far worse. Recall the interminable Afghanistan seminars at the White House. Delay created the appearance of indecision, and the final announcement was a mishmash of the useful (more troops) and the destructive (a timeline). Then on the job scandal, Mara Liasson commented:

But the fact is that was a kind of ham-handed political act. It’s something that’s been done by every single administration in the past, to clear the field for an incumbent or a favored candidate. Then they proceeded to wait a very long time, an inexplicably long time, to explain what happened. And then when they did explain what happened, at least in Sestak, they didn’t answer all the questions. And it’s morphed — and we’ve all seen this movie before. It’s now morphed into this call for an investigation. And this is what happens in Washington.

Obama was comfortable when running for office, when he could get by on rhetoric and as a legislator — where no one is really responsible for anything. What he’s ill-equipped to do is govern and lead. Plenty of people are hired for jobs beyond their abilities and outside their areas of competence. Unfortunately, the damage done by placing someone of that ilk in the White House is grievous and in some cases irreversible.

Juan Williams — to the amazement of some of his co-panelists — let it rip on Fox News Sunday. The subject was nominally the Sestak and Romanoff scandals, but Williams found the bigger theme:

I think the problem here is this is an administration that, as Hillary Clinton famously pointed out, you may not want to have answer the 3:00 a.m. call.

These are guys who have tremendous vision about legislative achievements and specific things like health care, going forward on immigration, those difficult issues for America that America so far has failed to deal with.

But when it comes to the crisis, when it comes to the gulf oil spill, the wars, the recession, they feel as if it’s being imposed upon them, rather than taking the helm. I think that’s what Americans are sensing right here. And I think it’s the source of their problem at the moment. Are you able to handle a crisis in a convincing way that inspires confidence? And so far, the president hasn’t done that.

Now, some say he should just go into a rage. I don’t think that’s who Barack Obama is. I think he’s a pretty cool character, fairly analytical, and I think we all admire as part of the meritocracy in America. Those are people who are really smart. But you know what? They don’t know how to deal with this crisis, and I think lots of Americans therefore are blaming the president, fairly or unfairly.

Well, that’s sort of a problem, since we live in a world filled with crises. Frankly, that’s what being president is all about. The day-to-day issues and the mundane problems don’t make it to the president’s desk. And the crises that have occurred during this administration and with the president front and center — bombing attempts, incidents in the Middle East, a popular revolt in Honduras, the gulf spill — have been bungled.

Even when the time frame for decision-making is not that tight, Obama has agonized and made things far worse. Recall the interminable Afghanistan seminars at the White House. Delay created the appearance of indecision, and the final announcement was a mishmash of the useful (more troops) and the destructive (a timeline). Then on the job scandal, Mara Liasson commented:

But the fact is that was a kind of ham-handed political act. It’s something that’s been done by every single administration in the past, to clear the field for an incumbent or a favored candidate. Then they proceeded to wait a very long time, an inexplicably long time, to explain what happened. And then when they did explain what happened, at least in Sestak, they didn’t answer all the questions. And it’s morphed — and we’ve all seen this movie before. It’s now morphed into this call for an investigation. And this is what happens in Washington.

Obama was comfortable when running for office, when he could get by on rhetoric and as a legislator — where no one is really responsible for anything. What he’s ill-equipped to do is govern and lead. Plenty of people are hired for jobs beyond their abilities and outside their areas of competence. Unfortunately, the damage done by placing someone of that ilk in the White House is grievous and in some cases irreversible.

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Refuse to Vote Until Kagan Shows Her Cards

On Fox News Sunday, Juan Williams underscored the buyer’s remorse that some on the left are experiencing over Elena Kagan’s nomination:

I think they are worried. I think they’re — they feel, in part because she doesn’t have a record as a judge, that there’s no way to say that she’s predictable and that she will be a stalwart in terms of liberal positions and values and a counterweight to Chief Justice Roberts, Justice Scalia, Justice Thomas, which is what the left really wants. They want somebody who’s going to make the case for that liberal position.

So if you look at issues ranging from death penalty, to the Citizens United case on campaign finance, the sense is, “You know, are we sure where Elena Kagan stands?”

There are a few possibilities here. One is that Obama “knows” her better than the rest of the left and is convinced she’s a dependable vote (i.e., the left is in a tizzy for nothing). Another is that Obama doesn’t know any more than his base and assumed that her moderate demeanor — like his own — was a cover for radical views (i.e., the left is in a tizzy for good reason). A third is that Obama and the left are in some choreographed dance to make her seem moderate but have no real qualms about her (i.e., the left’s tizzy is fake). The latter is a bit hard to buy given the blogospheric semi-meltdown over her non-record.

What we do have is a joint interest by the right and the left in forcing Kagan to be candid — and in voting no, or delaying her nomination, if she is not. Listing the litany of hot-button issues now in the purview of the Supreme Court, Ezra Klein writes:

So where does Elena Kagan fit into all this? You’ll have to ask her. Or, more to the point, the Senate will have to ask her. And hope she’ll answer. John Roberts’s famous “umpire speech” showed the appeal of a nonphilosophical judicial philosophy, but his unexpected activist streak on the bench has shown how little we actually learned from his confirmation process. In reality, the world is made of players, not umpires, and we deserve to know whom we’re drafting.

The only way to force her to live up to her own self-proclaimed standard for candor (she previously wrote that it “is an embarrassment that Senators do not insist that any nominee reveal what kind of Justice she would make, by disclosing her views on important legal issues”) is to refrain from confirming her until she puts her cards on the table. Otherwise, both the left and the right are guessing blind on a critical, lifetime appointment.

On Fox News Sunday, Juan Williams underscored the buyer’s remorse that some on the left are experiencing over Elena Kagan’s nomination:

I think they are worried. I think they’re — they feel, in part because she doesn’t have a record as a judge, that there’s no way to say that she’s predictable and that she will be a stalwart in terms of liberal positions and values and a counterweight to Chief Justice Roberts, Justice Scalia, Justice Thomas, which is what the left really wants. They want somebody who’s going to make the case for that liberal position.

So if you look at issues ranging from death penalty, to the Citizens United case on campaign finance, the sense is, “You know, are we sure where Elena Kagan stands?”

There are a few possibilities here. One is that Obama “knows” her better than the rest of the left and is convinced she’s a dependable vote (i.e., the left is in a tizzy for nothing). Another is that Obama doesn’t know any more than his base and assumed that her moderate demeanor — like his own — was a cover for radical views (i.e., the left is in a tizzy for good reason). A third is that Obama and the left are in some choreographed dance to make her seem moderate but have no real qualms about her (i.e., the left’s tizzy is fake). The latter is a bit hard to buy given the blogospheric semi-meltdown over her non-record.

What we do have is a joint interest by the right and the left in forcing Kagan to be candid — and in voting no, or delaying her nomination, if she is not. Listing the litany of hot-button issues now in the purview of the Supreme Court, Ezra Klein writes:

So where does Elena Kagan fit into all this? You’ll have to ask her. Or, more to the point, the Senate will have to ask her. And hope she’ll answer. John Roberts’s famous “umpire speech” showed the appeal of a nonphilosophical judicial philosophy, but his unexpected activist streak on the bench has shown how little we actually learned from his confirmation process. In reality, the world is made of players, not umpires, and we deserve to know whom we’re drafting.

The only way to force her to live up to her own self-proclaimed standard for candor (she previously wrote that it “is an embarrassment that Senators do not insist that any nominee reveal what kind of Justice she would make, by disclosing her views on important legal issues”) is to refrain from confirming her until she puts her cards on the table. Otherwise, both the left and the right are guessing blind on a critical, lifetime appointment.

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Bullying in the Name of Financial Reform

In the frenzy to prove their populist bona fides, Sen. Carl Levin’s committee demanded and then leaked out a handful of Goldman Sachs e-mails. This led to a plethora of supposedly shocked mainstream reporters who were aghast to learn that there are times when one side profits by others’ losses. We do, after all, allow “selling short” in the U.S. Yes, it’s perfectly legal (not in Britain, however, so I suppose Levin could try to outlaw it here too). The issue with Goldman is whether fraud was committed in a deal with extremely sophisticated investors who understood all too well that others might gain from their losses. But that real case may be hard to prove and is not so politically attractive as the Wall Street “greed” story line.

The liberal spasm of outrage reached its low point on Fox News Sunday when Juan Williams went around the bend. The relevant exchange is comic but also instructive as to how liberals think of private industry, the rule of law, and government:

KRISTOL: Senator Levin’s committee — I’m sorry. Senator Levin authorized his staff to release e-mails that were provided to this investigation (inaudible) on the committee, ostensibly on the grounds that the committee was doing a serious investigation. Then they release e-mails that are simply, they say, embarrassing.

It’s an outrage, actually. What is — this is — now any business in the United States has to worry that any e-mail sent anywhere, at some point, if you — three years later, that could be made to look embarrassing to a chief executive who’s testifying on Tuesday.

And I say this as no fan of Goldman Sachs. But Lloyd Blankfein’s testifying Tuesday and they want to embarrass him or put him on the spot, and they release these e-mails.

KRISTOL: But the core issue here is the issue of rule of law and this notion that this bill increases executive authority discretion so much as opposed to other ways of fixing the financial crisis because of the bankruptcy code and the like, that it’s bad to increase the authority of the discretion of the big government in Washington this much. That is the core objection to the bill, the core dispute over the bill. For President Obama to pretend that the only reason you might not like this bill is if you were interested in bilking people as he said, that’s really ridiculous.

WILLIAMS: It’s not ridiculous when you read the e-mail. The core here is not the release of the e-mail but the content of the e- mail. The e-mails reveal that they are saying that people at Goldman Sachs are saying, you know what? We’re going to make money while investors are losing money. In fact, we’re going to have a windfall they say in the e- mail. That is the outrage in case you missed it. That’s why public outrage over the behavior by these Wall Street titans is over the top. And I might add, you know what else?

(CROSSTALK)

KRISTOL: Shouldn’t Senator Levin’s e-mails be released? He’s the public official. I mean, if he believes that everything should be transparent, let’s see the e-mail to his staff when he discussed whether to embarrass Lloyd Blankfein or not.

WILLIAMS: Listen, you are lost in the weeds on this. It doesn’t matter who released –

KRISTOL: It doesn’t matter what the rule of law in Washington?

WILLIAMS: Of course it matters, rule of law. But let me just say, you sit at your desk at your corporation, guess what? Your boss can read your e-mail. That is not the issue.

KRISTOL: You know what?

WILLIAMS: The issue is the government of these people –

KRISTOL: The Senate of the United States is not the boss of every employee at Goldman Sachs. That is a very revealing statement, Juan. Let me tell you something, we all work for Carl Levin. That is the future — what about the investors, the people who are putting money in these Wall Street firms and being gyped?

So the Democrats’ view of private industry is that there is no private industry. There is no better argument against the ever-expanding reach of the federal government in the name of “financial reform” than this sort of devil-may-care attitude about the right of politicians to peer into every nook and cranny of a business, read every e-mail, and haul executives before the glare of the cameras and then harangue them for devising transactions that the politicians only dimly understand. With the power to regulate goes the power to snoop, harass, and bully. We should be very wary of giving government officials too much leeway; they are certain to abuse it.

In the frenzy to prove their populist bona fides, Sen. Carl Levin’s committee demanded and then leaked out a handful of Goldman Sachs e-mails. This led to a plethora of supposedly shocked mainstream reporters who were aghast to learn that there are times when one side profits by others’ losses. We do, after all, allow “selling short” in the U.S. Yes, it’s perfectly legal (not in Britain, however, so I suppose Levin could try to outlaw it here too). The issue with Goldman is whether fraud was committed in a deal with extremely sophisticated investors who understood all too well that others might gain from their losses. But that real case may be hard to prove and is not so politically attractive as the Wall Street “greed” story line.

The liberal spasm of outrage reached its low point on Fox News Sunday when Juan Williams went around the bend. The relevant exchange is comic but also instructive as to how liberals think of private industry, the rule of law, and government:

KRISTOL: Senator Levin’s committee — I’m sorry. Senator Levin authorized his staff to release e-mails that were provided to this investigation (inaudible) on the committee, ostensibly on the grounds that the committee was doing a serious investigation. Then they release e-mails that are simply, they say, embarrassing.

It’s an outrage, actually. What is — this is — now any business in the United States has to worry that any e-mail sent anywhere, at some point, if you — three years later, that could be made to look embarrassing to a chief executive who’s testifying on Tuesday.

And I say this as no fan of Goldman Sachs. But Lloyd Blankfein’s testifying Tuesday and they want to embarrass him or put him on the spot, and they release these e-mails.

KRISTOL: But the core issue here is the issue of rule of law and this notion that this bill increases executive authority discretion so much as opposed to other ways of fixing the financial crisis because of the bankruptcy code and the like, that it’s bad to increase the authority of the discretion of the big government in Washington this much. That is the core objection to the bill, the core dispute over the bill. For President Obama to pretend that the only reason you might not like this bill is if you were interested in bilking people as he said, that’s really ridiculous.

WILLIAMS: It’s not ridiculous when you read the e-mail. The core here is not the release of the e-mail but the content of the e- mail. The e-mails reveal that they are saying that people at Goldman Sachs are saying, you know what? We’re going to make money while investors are losing money. In fact, we’re going to have a windfall they say in the e- mail. That is the outrage in case you missed it. That’s why public outrage over the behavior by these Wall Street titans is over the top. And I might add, you know what else?

(CROSSTALK)

KRISTOL: Shouldn’t Senator Levin’s e-mails be released? He’s the public official. I mean, if he believes that everything should be transparent, let’s see the e-mail to his staff when he discussed whether to embarrass Lloyd Blankfein or not.

WILLIAMS: Listen, you are lost in the weeds on this. It doesn’t matter who released –

KRISTOL: It doesn’t matter what the rule of law in Washington?

WILLIAMS: Of course it matters, rule of law. But let me just say, you sit at your desk at your corporation, guess what? Your boss can read your e-mail. That is not the issue.

KRISTOL: You know what?

WILLIAMS: The issue is the government of these people –

KRISTOL: The Senate of the United States is not the boss of every employee at Goldman Sachs. That is a very revealing statement, Juan. Let me tell you something, we all work for Carl Levin. That is the future — what about the investors, the people who are putting money in these Wall Street firms and being gyped?

So the Democrats’ view of private industry is that there is no private industry. There is no better argument against the ever-expanding reach of the federal government in the name of “financial reform” than this sort of devil-may-care attitude about the right of politicians to peer into every nook and cranny of a business, read every e-mail, and haul executives before the glare of the cameras and then harangue them for devising transactions that the politicians only dimly understand. With the power to regulate goes the power to snoop, harass, and bully. We should be very wary of giving government officials too much leeway; they are certain to abuse it.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Not what the Obami were spinning to AIPAC: “Well the Obama administration’s leverage is beginning to sound like ‘hard power’ — brutal even — to get Israel to toe the line. I have no doubt that in President Obama’s eyes, this is the way to promote U.S. interests. As non-objective as I am, I have the impression that it is not only a mistaken policy, but one that isn’t advancing the peace process. In effect, it is making it almost impossible for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to come to the negotiating table, because he has to insist he has no choice but to wait until the conditions that the U.S. is setting are met by Israel before he does,” says Moshe Arens, former Knesset member, defense minister, foreign minister, and ambassador to the United States. (Read the rest of the revealing interview.)

Not what any clear-eyed pro-Israel activist is going to buy from the Obami’s furious spin on their assault on Israel : “‘No crisis. Media reports are wrong. More agreement than disagreement’ inside the administration, regarding how to advance the Middle East peace process. [The administration’s] ‘hand was forced [with regard to] Jerusalem by circumstances during Biden’s trip,’ the source said, referring to the Israeli government’s announcement last month during Vice President Joe Biden’s good-will trip to Israel that it had approved construction of another 1,600 homes to be built in the Ramat Shlomo neighborhood.” This is simply pathetic.

Not what the Democrats were selling us for over a year (from Howard Fineman): “A Democratic senator I can’t name, who reluctantly voted for the health-care bill out of loyalty to his party and his admiration for Barack Obama, privately complained to me that the measure was political folly, in part because of the way it goes into effect: some taxes first, most benefits later, and rate hikes by insurance companies in between.”

Not what the Obami had in mind when they took their victory lap: “President Obama’s overall job approval rating has fallen to an alltime low of 44%, down five points from late March, just before the bill’s passage in the House of Representatives. It is down 24 points since his all-time high last April. 41% now disapprove. . . . When it comes to health care, the President’s approval rating is even lower – and is also a new all-time low. Only 34% approve, while a majority of 55% disapprove.”

Not what you’d expect from the “most transparent administration in history” (unless you didn’t buy the label in the first place): “Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), the ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee, is accusing Deputy National Security Adviser John Brennan of interfering with Congress’s oversight on key intelligence matters. King’s latest frustration came Friday morning when he read news accounts about the new Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) aviation security measures before being briefed on the program from anyone in the administration.”

Not what “bringing us all together” was supposed to mean: “The perplexing irony of Barack Obama’s presidency is that even as conservatives attack him as a crazed socialist, many on the left are frustrated with what they see as the president’s accommodationist backtracking from campaign promises.”

Not what is going to help the Democrats retain control over the Senate: “The family bank of Democratic Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias loaned a pair of Chicago crime figures about $20 million during a 14-month period when Giannoulias was a senior loan officer, according to a Tribune examination that provides new details about the bank’s relationship with the convicted felons.”

Not what the Obami and their elite media handmaidens want us to hear (especially from Juan Williams): “There is danger for Democrats in recent attempts to dismiss the tea party movement as violent racists deserving of contempt. Demonizing these folks may energize the Democrats’ left-wing base. But it is a big turnoff to voters who have problems with the Democratic agenda that have nothing to do with racism.”

Not what the Obami were spinning to AIPAC: “Well the Obama administration’s leverage is beginning to sound like ‘hard power’ — brutal even — to get Israel to toe the line. I have no doubt that in President Obama’s eyes, this is the way to promote U.S. interests. As non-objective as I am, I have the impression that it is not only a mistaken policy, but one that isn’t advancing the peace process. In effect, it is making it almost impossible for Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas to come to the negotiating table, because he has to insist he has no choice but to wait until the conditions that the U.S. is setting are met by Israel before he does,” says Moshe Arens, former Knesset member, defense minister, foreign minister, and ambassador to the United States. (Read the rest of the revealing interview.)

Not what any clear-eyed pro-Israel activist is going to buy from the Obami’s furious spin on their assault on Israel : “‘No crisis. Media reports are wrong. More agreement than disagreement’ inside the administration, regarding how to advance the Middle East peace process. [The administration’s] ‘hand was forced [with regard to] Jerusalem by circumstances during Biden’s trip,’ the source said, referring to the Israeli government’s announcement last month during Vice President Joe Biden’s good-will trip to Israel that it had approved construction of another 1,600 homes to be built in the Ramat Shlomo neighborhood.” This is simply pathetic.

Not what the Democrats were selling us for over a year (from Howard Fineman): “A Democratic senator I can’t name, who reluctantly voted for the health-care bill out of loyalty to his party and his admiration for Barack Obama, privately complained to me that the measure was political folly, in part because of the way it goes into effect: some taxes first, most benefits later, and rate hikes by insurance companies in between.”

Not what the Obami had in mind when they took their victory lap: “President Obama’s overall job approval rating has fallen to an alltime low of 44%, down five points from late March, just before the bill’s passage in the House of Representatives. It is down 24 points since his all-time high last April. 41% now disapprove. . . . When it comes to health care, the President’s approval rating is even lower – and is also a new all-time low. Only 34% approve, while a majority of 55% disapprove.”

Not what you’d expect from the “most transparent administration in history” (unless you didn’t buy the label in the first place): “Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.), the ranking member of the House Homeland Security Committee, is accusing Deputy National Security Adviser John Brennan of interfering with Congress’s oversight on key intelligence matters. King’s latest frustration came Friday morning when he read news accounts about the new Transportation Security Administration’s (TSA) aviation security measures before being briefed on the program from anyone in the administration.”

Not what “bringing us all together” was supposed to mean: “The perplexing irony of Barack Obama’s presidency is that even as conservatives attack him as a crazed socialist, many on the left are frustrated with what they see as the president’s accommodationist backtracking from campaign promises.”

Not what is going to help the Democrats retain control over the Senate: “The family bank of Democratic Senate candidate Alexi Giannoulias loaned a pair of Chicago crime figures about $20 million during a 14-month period when Giannoulias was a senior loan officer, according to a Tribune examination that provides new details about the bank’s relationship with the convicted felons.”

Not what the Obami and their elite media handmaidens want us to hear (especially from Juan Williams): “There is danger for Democrats in recent attempts to dismiss the tea party movement as violent racists deserving of contempt. Demonizing these folks may energize the Democrats’ left-wing base. But it is a big turnoff to voters who have problems with the Democratic agenda that have nothing to do with racism.”

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Looks Like a Trend

Martha Coakley has conceded. The comfortable margin of victory is nothing less than a landslide. A remarkable result, following results in New Jersey and Virginia, which were themselves extraordinary. Coakley will be blamed, vilified, and sneered at by establishment Democrats. But make no mistake: this is a “stunner,” as Juan Williams put it. The series of drubbings in states hardly considered conservative strongholds is a signal that the country a year after electing Obama has had enough. Democrats can double-down, as Williams said, or save themselves and their party. The determination of the White House and congressional leaders to throw themselves over the political cliff may be undiminished. Obama’s Democratic troops may not, however, go willingly to their political deaths.

Martha Coakley has conceded. The comfortable margin of victory is nothing less than a landslide. A remarkable result, following results in New Jersey and Virginia, which were themselves extraordinary. Coakley will be blamed, vilified, and sneered at by establishment Democrats. But make no mistake: this is a “stunner,” as Juan Williams put it. The series of drubbings in states hardly considered conservative strongholds is a signal that the country a year after electing Obama has had enough. Democrats can double-down, as Williams said, or save themselves and their party. The determination of the White House and congressional leaders to throw themselves over the political cliff may be undiminished. Obama’s Democratic troops may not, however, go willingly to their political deaths.

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Wait Till the ObamaCare “Selling” Starts

Juan Williams says of ObamaCare, which contains, at least in the Senate version, the Cadillac tax on generous benefits that’s likely to smack many union workers, who certainly aren’t rich:

I think it passes, and, it’s interesting, the Democrats are the ones at this point who can stop it, and this kind of discussion doesn’t help. And the question is do the unions get so mad at President Obama and say you didn’t live up to the promises you made to us on the campaign trail. You said this would help the working man, and in fact, this may in a very obvious way penalize working people in the country.

Whoa! I thought that as soon as this thing passes, the Democrats are going to be able to explain what’s in it and “sell” Americans on the wonders of ObamaCare. If discussion about what’s in the bill — an excise tax on those making less than $250,ooo, for example – isn’t helpful, then how’s the sales job going to work? Well, they can tout the millions who are going to be insured. But some of those soon-to-be-insured are young voters who don’t want to buy insurance or are principled liberals and conservatives who don’t think we should be marched into the arms of  big insurance companies to buy something under government coercion. Well, they could talk about all those Medicare “savings.” Oh, yikes — seniors might get the idea that their Medicare benefits are getting slashed. It gets tricky, as you can see.

Simply telling voters that something “historic” has been passed isn’t going to wash with most of them. The Reid-Obama-Pelosi triumvirate has convinced itself that Americans will learn to love the bill once they learn what’s in it. But what if they already know, and that’s why they so dislike it and Obama’s handling of the issue?

Juan Williams says of ObamaCare, which contains, at least in the Senate version, the Cadillac tax on generous benefits that’s likely to smack many union workers, who certainly aren’t rich:

I think it passes, and, it’s interesting, the Democrats are the ones at this point who can stop it, and this kind of discussion doesn’t help. And the question is do the unions get so mad at President Obama and say you didn’t live up to the promises you made to us on the campaign trail. You said this would help the working man, and in fact, this may in a very obvious way penalize working people in the country.

Whoa! I thought that as soon as this thing passes, the Democrats are going to be able to explain what’s in it and “sell” Americans on the wonders of ObamaCare. If discussion about what’s in the bill — an excise tax on those making less than $250,ooo, for example – isn’t helpful, then how’s the sales job going to work? Well, they can tout the millions who are going to be insured. But some of those soon-to-be-insured are young voters who don’t want to buy insurance or are principled liberals and conservatives who don’t think we should be marched into the arms of  big insurance companies to buy something under government coercion. Well, they could talk about all those Medicare “savings.” Oh, yikes — seniors might get the idea that their Medicare benefits are getting slashed. It gets tricky, as you can see.

Simply telling voters that something “historic” has been passed isn’t going to wash with most of them. The Reid-Obama-Pelosi triumvirate has convinced itself that Americans will learn to love the bill once they learn what’s in it. But what if they already know, and that’s why they so dislike it and Obama’s handling of the issue?

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Free Mara and Juan!

It seems that the lively but unanimous conclusion (Let her stay!) of those in Politico’s discussion about NPR’s Mara Liasson appearing on Fox News was duplicated by NPR’s own listeners. NPR’s ombuds-gal Alicia Shepard (h/t Michael Calderone) tells us that she was flooded with calls and messages pleading: Let her stay! There was this one:

“I am outraged that NPR would try to control the appearances of Mara Liasson and Juan Williams on Fox News,” wrote Anna Moore of Amherst, VA. “You are now (and have been for a long time) guilty of the very thing you are accusing Fox News of–bias. Mara and Juan bring a different perspective to the discussions on Fox News, something all the media should welcome instead of stifle. Leave Mara and Juan alone!”

Hmm. So Shepard, being the good ombuds-gal (the primary qualification for which is to deflect real scrutiny from the people who sign your paycheck), pronounces that no one ever “ordered” Liasson off the air. Well, no. The original story didn’t say that, only that she was cajoled and pressured and that Liasson pushed back, noting that she actually had a contract with Fox.

Next straw man: there was no actual conversation between NPR and the White House, which started the anti-Fox crusade:

“NPR has not had any communication of any kind with the White House regarding the status of any of our reporters or their work for anyone outside of NPR,” said Dick Meyer, executive editor for news, in an email. “Any suggestion to the contrary is simply false. Internal discussions about the application of NPR policy to each NPR reporter are just that, internal discussions. That is why we do not comment on them publicly.”

Again, no one ever said that NPR’s execs got on the phone with David Axelrod. The sharp cookies at government-subsidized NPR didn’t need to have a conversation with the Obami to understand that Fox was the target and that the name of the game here was to delegitimize, disassociate, and shun the Fox network. Really, Axelrod’s and Anita Dunn’s comments were quite clear about what was afoot. It was in the news and everything.

Sheppard is plainly irritated with NPR’s fickle audience, however. She sniffs: “It appears ironic that some folks are coming to Liasson’s rescue and defending her right to appear on Fox when I have hundreds of previous emails suggesting she shouldn’t.” Really, can’t these people make up their minds? Well, all’s well that end’s well. Mara — and Juan Williams too! — gets to stay. Fox gets more publicity. Conservatives have newfound allies in the NPR listening audience. And NPR winds up with egg on its face. What could be better?

It seems that the lively but unanimous conclusion (Let her stay!) of those in Politico’s discussion about NPR’s Mara Liasson appearing on Fox News was duplicated by NPR’s own listeners. NPR’s ombuds-gal Alicia Shepard (h/t Michael Calderone) tells us that she was flooded with calls and messages pleading: Let her stay! There was this one:

“I am outraged that NPR would try to control the appearances of Mara Liasson and Juan Williams on Fox News,” wrote Anna Moore of Amherst, VA. “You are now (and have been for a long time) guilty of the very thing you are accusing Fox News of–bias. Mara and Juan bring a different perspective to the discussions on Fox News, something all the media should welcome instead of stifle. Leave Mara and Juan alone!”

Hmm. So Shepard, being the good ombuds-gal (the primary qualification for which is to deflect real scrutiny from the people who sign your paycheck), pronounces that no one ever “ordered” Liasson off the air. Well, no. The original story didn’t say that, only that she was cajoled and pressured and that Liasson pushed back, noting that she actually had a contract with Fox.

Next straw man: there was no actual conversation between NPR and the White House, which started the anti-Fox crusade:

“NPR has not had any communication of any kind with the White House regarding the status of any of our reporters or their work for anyone outside of NPR,” said Dick Meyer, executive editor for news, in an email. “Any suggestion to the contrary is simply false. Internal discussions about the application of NPR policy to each NPR reporter are just that, internal discussions. That is why we do not comment on them publicly.”

Again, no one ever said that NPR’s execs got on the phone with David Axelrod. The sharp cookies at government-subsidized NPR didn’t need to have a conversation with the Obami to understand that Fox was the target and that the name of the game here was to delegitimize, disassociate, and shun the Fox network. Really, Axelrod’s and Anita Dunn’s comments were quite clear about what was afoot. It was in the news and everything.

Sheppard is plainly irritated with NPR’s fickle audience, however. She sniffs: “It appears ironic that some folks are coming to Liasson’s rescue and defending her right to appear on Fox when I have hundreds of previous emails suggesting she shouldn’t.” Really, can’t these people make up their minds? Well, all’s well that end’s well. Mara — and Juan Williams too! — gets to stay. Fox gets more publicity. Conservatives have newfound allies in the NPR listening audience. And NPR winds up with egg on its face. What could be better?

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RE: They’ve Got a Friend

Free Mara and Juan! That seems to be the consensus among some politically diverse voices in Politico’s forum discussing NPR’s me-too effort to delegitimize Fox News.

Liberals who appear on Fox don’t like NPR’s gambit and warn that Fox has a pretty big audience: “I don’t always agree with FOX’s reporting, and I certainly don’t ever agree with the ideological rantings of some of the network’s commentary hosts. Having said that, however, FOX has become a permanent part of the cable news landscape. Those of us on the left should continue to challenge the network’s reporting when we find it unfair, but we all need to recognize that FOX is here to stay.” (Well, not if David Axelrod and Obama’s wish comes true, but grown-ups generally agree that Fox will remain a dominant force in TV news for a long time to come.)

To their delight, conservatives think NPR has goofed by letting its biases hang out. (“It’s a playpen for the left, subsidized by the American taxpayer, exceeded in its biases only by Pacifica Radio, another tax subsidized playpen straight out of the late ’60s.”) They are only too happy to point out that the Left is never so unappealing as when their revulsion at true diversity — the diversity of opinion — is showing. (Bradley Smith: “This episode is also part of the disturbing pattern of intolerance on the left to any differing views.”)

But Diane Ravitch of Brookings and NYU (not exactly a card-carrying member of the vast right-wing conspiracy) puts her finger on why the story is really so amusing and quite relevant: it confirms just how absurd was the White House’s anti-Fox crusade, which kicked this all off:

The efforts by NPR to persuade Mara Liasson and Juan Williams to stay away from Fox News is as ridiculous as the White House’s campaign to delegitimate the network as the propaganda wing of the Republican party. … These efforts to castigate, isolate, and stigmatize Fox News must surely have a chilling effect on the free flow of information and opinion. The American public does not need either the White House or NPR to censor what it hears.

There is nothing so farcical as “open-minded” liberals trying to squelch opposing views, and frankly nothing quite so unhelpful to their own cause. Really, what better proof is there of Fox’s journalistic bona fides and NPR’s lack of the same than this episode? (Without Roger Ailes, how many people would even know who Mara Liasson is?) And once again, Fox — thanks to the White House and the liberal shushers over at NPR – gets another round of free publicity. Remarkable.

Free Mara and Juan! That seems to be the consensus among some politically diverse voices in Politico’s forum discussing NPR’s me-too effort to delegitimize Fox News.

Liberals who appear on Fox don’t like NPR’s gambit and warn that Fox has a pretty big audience: “I don’t always agree with FOX’s reporting, and I certainly don’t ever agree with the ideological rantings of some of the network’s commentary hosts. Having said that, however, FOX has become a permanent part of the cable news landscape. Those of us on the left should continue to challenge the network’s reporting when we find it unfair, but we all need to recognize that FOX is here to stay.” (Well, not if David Axelrod and Obama’s wish comes true, but grown-ups generally agree that Fox will remain a dominant force in TV news for a long time to come.)

To their delight, conservatives think NPR has goofed by letting its biases hang out. (“It’s a playpen for the left, subsidized by the American taxpayer, exceeded in its biases only by Pacifica Radio, another tax subsidized playpen straight out of the late ’60s.”) They are only too happy to point out that the Left is never so unappealing as when their revulsion at true diversity — the diversity of opinion — is showing. (Bradley Smith: “This episode is also part of the disturbing pattern of intolerance on the left to any differing views.”)

But Diane Ravitch of Brookings and NYU (not exactly a card-carrying member of the vast right-wing conspiracy) puts her finger on why the story is really so amusing and quite relevant: it confirms just how absurd was the White House’s anti-Fox crusade, which kicked this all off:

The efforts by NPR to persuade Mara Liasson and Juan Williams to stay away from Fox News is as ridiculous as the White House’s campaign to delegitimate the network as the propaganda wing of the Republican party. … These efforts to castigate, isolate, and stigmatize Fox News must surely have a chilling effect on the free flow of information and opinion. The American public does not need either the White House or NPR to censor what it hears.

There is nothing so farcical as “open-minded” liberals trying to squelch opposing views, and frankly nothing quite so unhelpful to their own cause. Really, what better proof is there of Fox’s journalistic bona fides and NPR’s lack of the same than this episode? (Without Roger Ailes, how many people would even know who Mara Liasson is?) And once again, Fox — thanks to the White House and the liberal shushers over at NPR – gets another round of free publicity. Remarkable.

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They’ve Got a Friend

Josh Gerstein reports that NPR, the bastion of lefty radio where nary a conservative thought is heard that isn’t misrepresented or mocked, wanted its reporter Mara Liasson off Fox News. The reason? Well, get it out of your head that this had anything to do with the Obami’s crusade to delegitimize Fox. It was because those people at Fox are so darned biased that the mere appearance of their reporter on the Fox news shows might sully NPR’s reputation for journalistic purity. Hmm. But it seems the White House’s gripes did come up:

One source said the White House’s criticism of Fox was raised during the discussions with Liasson. However, an NPR spokeswoman told POLITICO that the Obama administration’s attempts to discourage other news outlets from treating Fox as a peer had no impact on any internal discussions at NPR.

Liasson defended her work for Fox by saying that she appears on two of the network’s news programs, not on commentary programs with conservative hosts, the source said. She has also told colleagues that she’s under contract to Fox, so it would be difficult for her to sever her ties with the network, which she has appeared on for more than a decade.

Apparently NPR has had a problem with Liasson and Juan Williams appearing on Fox for some time. For one thing, NPR’s liberal audience complains a lot. And for another, people might get the wrong idea, you see:

One complaint from NPR executives is that this very perception that Liasson and Williams serve as ideological counterweights reinforces feelings among some members of the public that NPR tilts to the left. “NPR has its own issues in trying to convince people that, ‘Look, we’re down the middle,’” the source said. “This is a public and institutional problem that has nothing to do with Mara. Obviously, you can’t give Mara a hard time for what’s coming out of her mouth. … She’s very careful. She isn’t trashing anybody.”

Well, I think it’s fair to say that NPR’s biases are well-known and that its liberal listeners object to their favorite NPR stars going into the “enemy camp.” But it’s also interesting that NPR’s newly heightened concern about Fox coincides so precisely with the White House’s media agenda. David Axelrod and Anita Dunn are no doubt delighted to have the helping hand from the eager beavers at NPR who are subsidized by your tax dollars.

Josh Gerstein reports that NPR, the bastion of lefty radio where nary a conservative thought is heard that isn’t misrepresented or mocked, wanted its reporter Mara Liasson off Fox News. The reason? Well, get it out of your head that this had anything to do with the Obami’s crusade to delegitimize Fox. It was because those people at Fox are so darned biased that the mere appearance of their reporter on the Fox news shows might sully NPR’s reputation for journalistic purity. Hmm. But it seems the White House’s gripes did come up:

One source said the White House’s criticism of Fox was raised during the discussions with Liasson. However, an NPR spokeswoman told POLITICO that the Obama administration’s attempts to discourage other news outlets from treating Fox as a peer had no impact on any internal discussions at NPR.

Liasson defended her work for Fox by saying that she appears on two of the network’s news programs, not on commentary programs with conservative hosts, the source said. She has also told colleagues that she’s under contract to Fox, so it would be difficult for her to sever her ties with the network, which she has appeared on for more than a decade.

Apparently NPR has had a problem with Liasson and Juan Williams appearing on Fox for some time. For one thing, NPR’s liberal audience complains a lot. And for another, people might get the wrong idea, you see:

One complaint from NPR executives is that this very perception that Liasson and Williams serve as ideological counterweights reinforces feelings among some members of the public that NPR tilts to the left. “NPR has its own issues in trying to convince people that, ‘Look, we’re down the middle,’” the source said. “This is a public and institutional problem that has nothing to do with Mara. Obviously, you can’t give Mara a hard time for what’s coming out of her mouth. … She’s very careful. She isn’t trashing anybody.”

Well, I think it’s fair to say that NPR’s biases are well-known and that its liberal listeners object to their favorite NPR stars going into the “enemy camp.” But it’s also interesting that NPR’s newly heightened concern about Fox coincides so precisely with the White House’s media agenda. David Axelrod and Anita Dunn are no doubt delighted to have the helping hand from the eager beavers at NPR who are subsidized by your tax dollars.

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What Are They Thinking?

On Fox News Sunday, Liz Cheney laid into the president and Eric Holder for the decision to move KSM to New York for trial:

You know, I think it is absolutely unconscionable that we are a nation at war and that the president of the United States simultaneously is denying our troops on the ground in Afghanistan the resources that they need to prevail to win that war while he ushers terrorists onto the homeland.

He’s going to put these terrorists in a courthouse that is six blocks from where over 2,000 Americans were killed on the worst attack in history on the American homeland.

He’s going to give them a public platform where they can spew venom, where they can preach jihad, where they can reach out and recruit other terrorists. And it is totally unnecessary.

When the attorney general says that he’s bringing them to justice, he’s ignoring the fact that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed asked 11 months ago to be executed for Allah. He asked to plead guilty and be executed. We should have said, “All right, you’ve got it.” Instead, we’re bringing him and his cohorts to America. We’re giving them the constitutional rights of American citizens. And the attorney general throughout the day on Friday talked about this as a crime.

This, in powerful terms, is the argument against reverting to the 9/11 mentality and treating the attack on America as a mere crime. On the other side is some fuzzy notion, unsubstantiated by any experience or evidence, that we’re going to get “credit” with some groups or individuals or countries, which in turn will make us safer. But not from the U.S.S. Cole terrorists, who aren’t getting a trial. Go figure. As Rudy Giuliani wryly observed on the same program: “Problem is the terrorists aren’t listening to him. They’re continuing to make war on us.”

Alongside the argument against treating this as a criminal proceeding is a brew of misunderstanding and distortion of what is required and what may transpire in a legal forum. As Juan Williams did on Fox News Sunday, the Left likes to throw around lofty phrases (the “rule of law”) and straw men arguments (“If you believe in the Constitution …”). But “the law” and the “Constitution” have real meaning, and nothing in statute or the Constitution requires us to take KSM to New York, douse him with ACLU pixie dust, and give him all the procedural rights and constitutional protections that a domestic criminal would receive. It is poppycock on stilts to argue that the Obama team is simply “following the law.” They are making it up and departing from statute and 200 years of legal tradition.

There are good reasons to deplore a trial in New York. One of which, as Bill Kristol pointed out, is that we might lose. No Miranda rights, no subpoenas, and lots and lots of coercion. Chain of evidence? Good luck with that. And if the jury doesn’t give KSM the death penalty, what then? Holder seems to think he has all the angles covered, but it’s impossible for him to guarantee an outcome in an Article III court with an independent judge and 12 jurors.

The bottom line: the decision is practically unintelligible, and the results may be disastrous.

On Fox News Sunday, Liz Cheney laid into the president and Eric Holder for the decision to move KSM to New York for trial:

You know, I think it is absolutely unconscionable that we are a nation at war and that the president of the United States simultaneously is denying our troops on the ground in Afghanistan the resources that they need to prevail to win that war while he ushers terrorists onto the homeland.

He’s going to put these terrorists in a courthouse that is six blocks from where over 2,000 Americans were killed on the worst attack in history on the American homeland.

He’s going to give them a public platform where they can spew venom, where they can preach jihad, where they can reach out and recruit other terrorists. And it is totally unnecessary.

When the attorney general says that he’s bringing them to justice, he’s ignoring the fact that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed asked 11 months ago to be executed for Allah. He asked to plead guilty and be executed. We should have said, “All right, you’ve got it.” Instead, we’re bringing him and his cohorts to America. We’re giving them the constitutional rights of American citizens. And the attorney general throughout the day on Friday talked about this as a crime.

This, in powerful terms, is the argument against reverting to the 9/11 mentality and treating the attack on America as a mere crime. On the other side is some fuzzy notion, unsubstantiated by any experience or evidence, that we’re going to get “credit” with some groups or individuals or countries, which in turn will make us safer. But not from the U.S.S. Cole terrorists, who aren’t getting a trial. Go figure. As Rudy Giuliani wryly observed on the same program: “Problem is the terrorists aren’t listening to him. They’re continuing to make war on us.”

Alongside the argument against treating this as a criminal proceeding is a brew of misunderstanding and distortion of what is required and what may transpire in a legal forum. As Juan Williams did on Fox News Sunday, the Left likes to throw around lofty phrases (the “rule of law”) and straw men arguments (“If you believe in the Constitution …”). But “the law” and the “Constitution” have real meaning, and nothing in statute or the Constitution requires us to take KSM to New York, douse him with ACLU pixie dust, and give him all the procedural rights and constitutional protections that a domestic criminal would receive. It is poppycock on stilts to argue that the Obama team is simply “following the law.” They are making it up and departing from statute and 200 years of legal tradition.

There are good reasons to deplore a trial in New York. One of which, as Bill Kristol pointed out, is that we might lose. No Miranda rights, no subpoenas, and lots and lots of coercion. Chain of evidence? Good luck with that. And if the jury doesn’t give KSM the death penalty, what then? Holder seems to think he has all the angles covered, but it’s impossible for him to guarantee an outcome in an Article III court with an independent judge and 12 jurors.

The bottom line: the decision is practically unintelligible, and the results may be disastrous.

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The Lady Is Not For Turning. . . Yet

She isn’t Margaret Thatcher, but Hillary Clinton is not “for turning”–that is, she is not going anywhere. At least not yet. If the speech last night did not convince you, her interview with The Washington Post should. Not until the final vote is cast on Tuesday, and maybe not even then, will she exit. Why should she, after all? Superdelegates could still change their minds, so there is no reason to depart quite yet. Does she know something, does she “have” something or is she just hoping against all odds at this point that her vaunted research team will turn up something or that some unforseen event will fundamentally alter the race?

Well, many eyes are turned toward Trinity United–actually toward YouTube–to see what else shows up. Obama’s resignation is unlikely to remove the doubts and concerns perculating even among Democrats. As a Baptist minister quoted in the Wall Street Journal put it:

The fact is he benefited from his relationship with that church early on and he talked about it a lot. When the same church becomes somewhat of a burden, rather than a blessing, he decides to separate himself from it.

It is not as if Obama has improved over the last few months or solved these nagging issues; Clinton just fell too far behind before the public learned of the Trinity Church cast of characters and Bittergate. As Juan Williams explained:

It seems to me that the problem is people coming to know Senator Obama at this point — and you know, when Father Pfleger goes off about, you know, white people this, and Hillary Clinton is this kind of white person, and white — she’s crying and he’s mocking her, and it’s not just her crying, it’s white people all over the country are crying — you know, Nina, I hope that Christ is a liberation figure for black people, for white people, for everybody. He should stand for the oppressed. But when it’s put in these terms, it’s divisive and it suggests that Barack Obama for 20 years was willing, out of political expedience, to embrace that kind of talk. And then it says, “Well, what kind of guy is he? Is this really the guy?” . . . I think the New York Times this morning said he’s wheezing to the finish line. He’s had less votes. He’s won only, I think, less than half of the most recent primaries. And he’s won less in terms of the popular vote.

But none of this in and of itself is likely sufficient to deprive Obama of the nomination, absent some major new event. The general election is another matter, however. And if he falters and fritters away the Democrats’ “no way we can lose” 2008 election Clinton will certainly say, “It’s not like I didn’t warn you.” (That’ll fit on her 2012 bumper sticker.)

She isn’t Margaret Thatcher, but Hillary Clinton is not “for turning”–that is, she is not going anywhere. At least not yet. If the speech last night did not convince you, her interview with The Washington Post should. Not until the final vote is cast on Tuesday, and maybe not even then, will she exit. Why should she, after all? Superdelegates could still change their minds, so there is no reason to depart quite yet. Does she know something, does she “have” something or is she just hoping against all odds at this point that her vaunted research team will turn up something or that some unforseen event will fundamentally alter the race?

Well, many eyes are turned toward Trinity United–actually toward YouTube–to see what else shows up. Obama’s resignation is unlikely to remove the doubts and concerns perculating even among Democrats. As a Baptist minister quoted in the Wall Street Journal put it:

The fact is he benefited from his relationship with that church early on and he talked about it a lot. When the same church becomes somewhat of a burden, rather than a blessing, he decides to separate himself from it.

It is not as if Obama has improved over the last few months or solved these nagging issues; Clinton just fell too far behind before the public learned of the Trinity Church cast of characters and Bittergate. As Juan Williams explained:

It seems to me that the problem is people coming to know Senator Obama at this point — and you know, when Father Pfleger goes off about, you know, white people this, and Hillary Clinton is this kind of white person, and white — she’s crying and he’s mocking her, and it’s not just her crying, it’s white people all over the country are crying — you know, Nina, I hope that Christ is a liberation figure for black people, for white people, for everybody. He should stand for the oppressed. But when it’s put in these terms, it’s divisive and it suggests that Barack Obama for 20 years was willing, out of political expedience, to embrace that kind of talk. And then it says, “Well, what kind of guy is he? Is this really the guy?” . . . I think the New York Times this morning said he’s wheezing to the finish line. He’s had less votes. He’s won only, I think, less than half of the most recent primaries. And he’s won less in terms of the popular vote.

But none of this in and of itself is likely sufficient to deprive Obama of the nomination, absent some major new event. The general election is another matter, however. And if he falters and fritters away the Democrats’ “no way we can lose” 2008 election Clinton will certainly say, “It’s not like I didn’t warn you.” (That’ll fit on her 2012 bumper sticker.)

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Blame The Voter

We will hear plenty about the racist, poor West Virginia voters from the punditocracy. Apparently these voters don’t think “they (or is it he?) are the change they have been waiting for.” Juan Williams says: “It is not just race. It is this man and his vulnerabilities.” But it’s so much more satisfying for pundits to blame the voters. They really don’t appreciate his greatness, do they? And West Virginians- who’s like those people, after all? Well, no one except a bunch of people in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, and a few others.

We will hear plenty about the racist, poor West Virginia voters from the punditocracy. Apparently these voters don’t think “they (or is it he?) are the change they have been waiting for.” Juan Williams says: “It is not just race. It is this man and his vulnerabilities.” But it’s so much more satisfying for pundits to blame the voters. They really don’t appreciate his greatness, do they? And West Virginians- who’s like those people, after all? Well, no one except a bunch of people in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky, and a few others.

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Hillary Wins, According To Fox

Based on minimal returns and whatever exit polling they have, Fox calls it for Hillary Clinton. But that is the beginning, not the end, of the spin wars. Juan Williams, looking at the exit polls showing Obama lost the white vote 60-40%, says, “Reverend Wright is not behind us.” Clearly, there will be room for Clinton to make her argument that Obama is not moving in the right direction to consolidate the party and present a challenge to John McCain. So far those key Reagan Democrats don’t seem to have been sold on Obama. And one other note: commentators note that Clinton is doing extremely well in Montgomery County with a large Jewish population. Could it be they care about Reverend Wright, Iran and Hamas? Who would have thought?

Based on minimal returns and whatever exit polling they have, Fox calls it for Hillary Clinton. But that is the beginning, not the end, of the spin wars. Juan Williams, looking at the exit polls showing Obama lost the white vote 60-40%, says, “Reverend Wright is not behind us.” Clearly, there will be room for Clinton to make her argument that Obama is not moving in the right direction to consolidate the party and present a challenge to John McCain. So far those key Reagan Democrats don’t seem to have been sold on Obama. And one other note: commentators note that Clinton is doing extremely well in Montgomery County with a large Jewish population. Could it be they care about Reverend Wright, Iran and Hamas? Who would have thought?

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