Commentary Magazine


Flotsam and Jetsam

Shimon Peres explains Gaza like no one else (beginning at 39 minutes). Watch the body language of the other panelists — it is indeed hard to face the truth.

President Obama’s approval numbers are heading south (55% in the Democracy Corps poll). Could it be the spend-a-thon non-stimulus bill? The ethics problems?

Noted and oft-quoted economist Allen Sinai “discovered some surprising things” about the stimulus plan. What unearthed gems? “First, even a very large stimulus doesn’t help the economy a lot. . . Furthermore the larger the budget deficit, from tax cuts and spending, the bigger the bounce in expected future inflation and long-term interest rates. That will take the edge off future growth.” Who knew? Just about every fiscal conservative economist, think tank, columnist, and organization.

Mark McKinnon on the stimulus plan: “This bill is like a rotting corpse. Every day this thing sits out in the sunlight, it starts to stink more. Public support has already dropped below 50 percent. It’s impossible to get everyone to salute an omnibus bill like this, but as the details get more examination, there seems to be growing evidence that there’s not all that much stimulus in the stimulus. ”

This looks promising: “The Senate’s No. 2 Republican warned on Sunday his party’s support for President Barack Obama’s economic stimulus bill was eroding and ‘major structural changes’ were needed to win Republican support.’You have to start from scratch and reconstruct this,’ Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona told ‘Fox News Sunday.'”

And sounds like the President is shifting gears as well.

Oh my, E.J. Dionne has discovered what bipartisanship is: “If achieving bipartisanship takes priority over the actual content of policy, Republicans are handed a powerful weapon.” Well, yeah. Bipartisanship means the other side gets to decide some things. Dionne is having none of it — keep all that spending and forget the Republicans! Well, I suspect the Republicans might not mind that one bit.

The GOP candidate for Virginia Governor will have to save up this gem from the Washington Post, relating the comments of one of Terry McAuliff’s Democratic opponents: “‘There’s some folks out there who think they can just stroll into Virginia without knowing about how this government works,’ he says. That would be McAuliffe, the Mr. Moneybags who has turned his nationally admired fundraising machine into a cannon shooting dollars into the governor’s race. ‘Somebody has boned him up on his facts about the number of hours people waste commuting, but that doesn’t mean he knows where the restroom is on the third floor of the Capitol.'” Aren’t primary races grand?

Observing Michael Steele’s election as RNC Chair, Ben Smith writes: “There is a serious question of whether this could push real committed racists, a small, but real and voting, minority, away from the GOP.” Serious question by whom? And what “small, but real and voting, minority”? Hmm, he doesn’t provide any statistical or anecdotal information to support such a view. (Didn’t Politico used to have a blog that covered the GOP with real sources and facts, sort of actual reporting?)

While Senators may be wishy-washy, Glenn Greenwald (how often do I agree with him?) gets it right: “But there’s no need to withhold judgment on Daschle himself.  He embodies everything that is sleazy, sickly, and soul-less about Washington.  It’s probably impossible for Obama to fill his cabinet with individuals entirely free of Beltway filth — it’s extremely rare to get anywhere near that system without being infected by it — but Daschle oozes Beltway slime from every pore.” Dare I say it: read the whole thing.

Something is up when there is agreement between Glenn Greenwald and the Wall Street Journal editors, who conclude: “If Mr. Daschle were the stand-up guy his fellow Democrats say he is, he’d withdraw his nomination and spare them the embarrassment of confirming someone who thinks the tax laws apply only to other people.”

From the roundtable on Fox News Sunday on the Iraqi elections: “I think it puts the lie to those so- called realists who always mocked the notion that — ‘Can you believe it, democracy in the Middle East, voting?’ This is actually — democracy is actually the thing that’s been best for Iraq. And if they can be a stable, representative government, it really offers the prospect of a happy outcome to this very difficult war.” Funny how no MSM reporters thought to get comment from George W. Bush (or others in his administration like Stephen Hadley) who were responsible for the decision not to abandon Iraq to chaos, despotism, and genocide.

The Obama team is not just maintaining the Bush terrorist rendition program — they are expanding it. “Current and former U.S. intelligence officials said that the rendition program might be poised to play an expanded role going forward because it was the main remaining mechanism — aside from Predator missile strikes — for taking suspected terrorists off the street.” So I suppose the the Obama team made the same choice “between our safety and our ideals” as the Bush administration.

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