For all the talk of how classy and elegant the Obamas are, there are times when their status as nouveau richereally shows through.
Taxpayers footed the bill for the big night on the town, which included a total of at least $24,000 for the three aircraft used to ferry the Obamas, aides and reporters to New York and back. Dinner costs and orchestra seat tickets — at $96.50 apiece — were paid by the Obamas.
Please remember this the next time he says that the rich need to pay more in taxes. Before any American citizen is forced to sacrifice anything for government largesses, the president should be forced to foot his own bill to take his wife on a date.
Apollo posted this at 10:20 PM CDT on Sunday, May 31st, 2009 as CHANGE!
“A lot of people in the last couple of days…they’ve mentioned ‘intellect,” Gibbs said. “I’m not sure what number they graduated in their class at Princeton, but my sense is it’s not second.”
Because we should all bow our knees and bang our foreheads when an Ivy League graduate comes near. Frankly, I think we mortals are fortunate that Sonia Sottomayor continues to bless us with her presence in this realm.
I mean, she finished second in her class! Has anyone ever done better than that? Um, well, presumably, if we could find the guy who finished first, he could criticize her. Though we’d migh have to compare SAT scores to determine whom to believe. I’m sure the richness of the experiences of this wise Latina woman would overwhelm whatever that guy had to offer.
Pat Buchanan, a bitter critic of much of the Bush administration’s policies, has surprisingly praised Dick Cheney:
Dick Cheney is giving the Republican Party a demonstration of how to fight a popular president. Stake out defensible high ground, do not surrender an inch, then go onto the attack.
The ground on which Cheney has chosen to stand is the most defensible the Republicans have: homeland security. In seven-and-a-half years after 9-11, not one terrorist attack struck our country.
And, unlike Obama’s position, Cheney’s is 100 percent reality based. He was there. He lived through this. He made the decisions to use the harsher techniques on the worst of the enemy who could yield the greatest intelligence to save American lives.
“The interrogations were used on hardened terrorists after other efforts failed. They were legal, essential, justified, successful and the right thing to do.” And they “prevented the violent deaths of thousands if not hundreds of thousands of innocent people.”
Having defended every decision he took, Cheney then counterattacked. He charged The New York Times with virtual treason in exposing the program to intercept calls from al-Qaida and mocked its Pulitzer Prize. He accused liberals and Speaker Pelosi of “feigned outrage” and “phony moralizing,” asserting they were fully briefed on “the program and the methods.” He charged Obama with endangering national security by “triangulating,” adopting a policy designed less to secure America than to unite and appease his political coalition.
That Cheney is winning seems undeniable.
And the Democrats are losing because, with few exceptions, they have been neither consistent nor honest.
The next big political fight for the right is the Sotomayor nomination. Conservatives might want to ask her the questions that Neomi Rao lists in todays WSJ:
- Do you believe that judges should use “empathy” to decide cases? If so, what’s the difference between empathy and judicial activism? The president has emphasized empathy as a paramount judicial quality. Polls show, however, that Americans want moderate judges who follow the law, not their hearts. Chief Justice John Roberts said in his confirmation hearings that judges should act like umpires — calling the plays, not making them. Mr. Obama has suggested he wants a home-run hitter.
- Do you believe that interpretations of the Constitution should evolve to keep up with the times? If so, how would you decide when the Constitution needs updating? The president has said he believes that the Constitution has to change to keep up with the times, and in Ms. Sotomayor he has probably not chosen a candidate who believes in following the original meaning of the text. Nonetheless, constitutional text and original meaning should provide some constraint on the scope of interpretation. The nominee should be able to state some guidelines and limits for interpretation, including whether and how she would consider international law or the constitutional law of other nations.
Good questions. The right needs to start counterattacking, and this nomination deserves a slugfest.
Hubbard posted this at 8:27 AM CDT on Wednesday, May 27th, 2009 as CHANGE!, Politics
Here are three paragraphs from a speech Judge Sottomayor gave in 2002. The last sentence of the first paragraph has been quoted numerous times, and I presumed that if I read the sentence in context, it would make more sense. I’m not sure it does:
Whether born from experience or inherent physiological or cultural differences, a possibility I abhor less or discount less than my colleague Judge Cedarbaum, our gender and national origins may and will make a difference in our judging. Justice O’Connor has often been cited as saying that a wise old man and wise old woman will reach the same conclusion in deciding cases. I am not so sure Justice O’Connor is the author of that line since Professor Resnik attributes that line to Supreme Court Justice Coyle. I am also not so sure that I agree with the statement. First, as Professor Martha Minnow has noted, there can never be a universal definition of wise. Second, I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.
Let us not forget that wise men like Oliver Wendell Holmes and Justice Cardozo voted on cases which upheld both sex and race discrimination in our society. Until 1972, no Supreme Court case ever upheld the claim of a woman in a gender discrimination case. I, like Professor Carter, believe that we should not be so myopic as to believe that others of different experiences or backgrounds are incapable of understanding the values and needs of people from a different group. Many are so capable. As Judge Cedarbaum pointed out to me, nine white men on the Supreme Court in the past have done so on many occasions and on many issues including Brown.
However, to understand takes time and effort, something that not all people are willing to give. For others, their experiences limit their ability to understand the experiences of others. Other simply do not care. Hence, one must accept the proposition that a difference there will be by the presence of women and people of color on the bench. Personal experiences affect the facts that judges choose to see. My hope is that I will take the good from my experiences and extrapolate them further into areas with which I am unfamiliar. I simply do not know exactly what that difference will be in my judging. But I accept there will be some based on my gender and my Latina heritage.
What on earth does she mean by that sentence? 1. Why is there a presumption that “a white male” has less “rich” experiences than a “Latina woman”? 2. Even if she believed it were true that “Latina women” made better judges than “white males” (and should we be elevating people who say such things?), why would she “hope” it were true? I sincerely hope this gets explained during the confirmation hearing, and that it was nothing more than an inappropriate joke.
That hope aside, even though in the speech she makes a couple of statements along the lines of trying not to let her identity affect her judging, the speech as a whole gives the impression that she revels in how her identity shapes her judgement. Like a puppy rolling around in the grass. I think this nomination is a bad regression in the course of American race relations. I hope Justice Sottomayor is a little less obsessed with herself and her identity than is Judge Sottomayor.
The man I call Billy Bob Gasket had been involved in Arkansas politics for thirty years or more. He was used to its homegrown scandals and the mostly harmless diversions enjoyed by members of its ruling class. In this spirit, back in the early 1970s, he became an energetic booster of the young Rhodes Scholar who’d come home from Oxford and Yale with the impressive hair and the glimmering eye and the semi-permanent catch in his voice.
Then, along about Clinton’s first term as governor, Gasket noticed something. Bill Clinton was different. He was not just another in the long line of amiable cads and genial roués who had grasped power in Arkansas since Reconstruction. The new governor was, Gasket came to believe, the least principled, sleaziest politician he had ever seen at work. That the lack of principle and sleaziness were lacquered over with twinkly charm and vaguely progressive politics made the situation, for Gasket, all the more maddening.
And maddening is the word. As Clinton was returned again and again to office, Gasket was at first disbelieving, then agog, and finally crazed. Why couldn’t his fellow Arkansans see the truth? Why couldn’t they penetrate the governor’s sheath of bogus empathy and concern to see the creature of seething ambition and power hunger and raw cynicism that writhed so self-evidently beneath? Gasket became a hair-puller, a lapel-grabber, a mid-sentence interrupter, a nut. When, in the late 1980s, national reporters began trickling into the state to look over the promising young governor with national ambitions, their search for knowledgeable Clinton watchers led them inevitably to Gasket, and they found a madman.
Clinton became president. Gasket Disease trailed him like a cloud. It laid waste to Republican ranks in Washington and far beyond, to vast stretches of the country at large–by the end, if I read the polls correctly, roughly a third of all Americans had succumbed. Those who caught the disease didn’t just dislike Clinton, as, say, they might have disliked Jimmy Carter. The crux of Gasket Disease was not contempt but unendurable frustration. They could not fathom why everyone else didn’t grasp his essential, transparent fraudulence: the phoniness of the lower-lip-bite, the moist insincerity of the smile, the vanity in every tilt of the carefully coifed head. As with syphilis, so with Gasket Disease: Some Republicans recovered, others were driven mad.
It appears that someone has now fallen victim to the Obama version of Billy Bob Gasket disease:
Recently we were uplifted when the president informed Chrysler’s secured creditors that they had agreed to donate their ownership stake in the company to the United Auto Workers. Just last week, we were enthralled to see a group of auto executives beaming with pride as the president announced that in order to reduce gas consumption, they would henceforth be scaling back on all those car lines that consumers actually want to buy.
These events have heralded a new era of partnership between the White House and private companies, one that calls to mind the wonderful partnership Germany formed with France and the Low Countries at the start of World War II. The press conferences and events marking this new spirit of cooperation have been the emotional highlights of the administration so far.
These events usually begin when the executives gather in the Oval Office, where they experience certain Enhanced Negotiating Techniques. I’m not exactly sure what the president does to inspire the business leaders’ cooperation and sense of public service, though those who remember the disembowelment scene in “Braveheart” will have a general idea.
Was this Mark Levin? Ann Coulter? Michael Savage?
No, this was David Brooks, once Obama’s biggest quasi-right supporter. Brooks is certainly right that Obama is abusing government power, but just about any undecided moderate who doesn’t follow politics too closely will take a look at Brooks’s column, smell the Billy Bob Gasket, and write him off.
Billy Bob Gasket disease is striking the right, and it needs to be contained quickly, so four years of Obama don’t become eight.
Mark Levin is the author of the #2 book on Amazon, the host of a popular radio show, and a contributor to NRO’s the Corner. After Rush and Dick Cheney, he’s probably the most important conservative thinker today.
CALLER: I just wanna say, Obama is a lot smarter than you folks give him credit for. You guys were on a roll, I have to admit, with all those tea parties. Everything was rolling along, the Republicans were gaining momentum. And he managed to change your entire conversational focus. And you let those three hundred thousand people —
LEVIN: My God. He’s so smart. His own party voted against him on Guantanamo Bay. How stupid was that, Cindy? His own party refused to fund the closing of Guantanamo Bay.
CALLER: Yeah but you know he can just move those people over here anyway. He’s already doing it with the one guy.
LEVIN: Yeah, sure, he can do whatever he wants. Let me ask you a question. Why do you hate this country?
CALLER: No, I love this country.
LEVIN: (angrily shouting) I SAIDWHY DO YOUHATE MY COUNTRY! WHY DO YOUHATE MY CONSTITUTION? WHY DO YOUHATE MY DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE?
You just said it. He can blow off Congress. He can do whatever he wants, right?
CALLER: Well, he seems to, he just moved (inaudible).
LEVIN: Answer me this, are you a married woman? Yes or no?
LEVIN: Well I don’t know why your husband doesn’t put a gun to his temple. Get the hell out of here.
We will not win so long as this kind of rhetoric is tolerated; on the off chance that I am wrong about that, will will not have deserved to win. Levin’s bullying and tantrums — here’s another examples — toward anyone who disagrees with him are more emblematic of the Savage Nation than the conservative movement and certainly unworthy of an institution like National Review. For God’s sake, don’t buy his books, don’t buy products from his sponsors, write National Review and ask them to stop buying his writing. I am.
The chairman of the Texas State Board of Education is a Creationist. Not an IDer who accepts the basic outlines of evolution with insistence that God has nudged things along, but someone who thinks the evidence for common descent is too shaky to be taught in public schools. Wowzers.
The idea that we cannot find a place to securely house 250-plus detainees within the United States is not rational.
Fascinating thought, dude. Since it is now two and a half years since he declared his candidacy to be president, with the goal of shutting down Guantanamo Bay, since it is four months since, on his second day in office, he declared that he would shut down Guantanamo Bay within a year (we’re 1/3 of the way there), and since just this week the Senate rejected, 90-5, closing down Guantanamo Bay until, at the very least, the president submits a plan on what to do with the people presently housed there, you’d think, in giving a “major address” on the subject, the president would have proposed some place to put the people presently in Gitmo.
But you’d be wrong. Why? Because we elected as president a two-bit ham-and-egger whose only positive attribute is that his voice causes David Brooks to zone out and become semi-orgasmic. And now that he’s faced with one of the absolute simplest tasks to follow through on – close one prison and open another – all he can do is stand there preaching about how George Bush sucks for having opened the first prison. It’s not only that the emperor has no clothes, it’s that he’s a terrible emperor to boot.
Apollo posted this at 6:34 PM CDT on Thursday, May 21st, 2009 as CHANGE!
It’s really quite impressive how Dick Cheney is determining Obama’s agenda these days. It’s fantastic that we have a man as articulate, as intelligent, and, traveling in the Wayback Machine to 2000, with such gravitas as Cheney engaging Obama where the public can see him. When Republican congressional leaders appear as little more than impotent whiners, Cheney really is the most valuable Republican.
Whatever negative poll numbers Cheney and Bush may have had leaving office, the American public originally liked Cheney. And seeing him out there, speaking his mind and engaging the president on substantive issues – in a way that no one else is challenging Obama on substance - I can’t help but believe that we’re putting our best foot forward. We’re never going to beat Obama by trying to put forward someone hipper and cooler; the way we must beat Obama is by pointing out that he’s nothing more than a an attractive vessel to carry Leftist dreams. The elder statesmen of conservatism, Cheney or *cough* FRED THOMPSON *cough* are the way to point out to the American public that Leftist dreams are not their dreams.
Apollo posted this at 11:37 PM CDT on Wednesday, May 20th, 2009 as Conservatism
Bill Kristol hypothesizes that Rahm Emmanuel is nudging the CIA in its grudge match against Speaker Pelosi:
But did Panetta simply decide on his own to send this letter? It’s almost inconceivable. Panetta is a former member of Congress and a former White House chief of staff. President Obama made him CIA director only four months ago. Even if his motivation for the letter was in part driven by an institutional imperative to defend his agency, Panetta would have understood the political implications of humiliating a House speaker of his own party. He surely at least ran the letter by White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel to get clearance. It’s also possible that Panetta was encouraged to send the letter by Emanuel.
This raises the question: Does Emanuel (and, presumably, President Obama) want a chastened Pelosi to remain speaker?
It’s a clever theory, but seems too cute by half. Why would the White House use so potentially dangerous a tool as the CIA to oust a Speaker of the House from its own party? Particularly when they must surely have other weapons that are less likely to backfire? The pseudonymous Ishmael Jones thinks that the CIA is simply defending its own turf:
In recent years, CIA bureaucracy has appeared to favor the Left, while in the early decades of its existence it was perceived as a group of right-wingers dedicated to toppling communist dictators. In reality the CIA is loyal only to itself. As long as Mrs. Pelosi supported its bureaucratic lifestyle, it supported her, but when she attacked it, it fought back. The CIA may not be able to conduct efficient intelligence operations, but it knows how to survive.
I might be biased towards Mr. Jones because his thoughts parallel my own, but I also think that his is the simpler explanation—and, following Occam’s razor, more likely to be correct. Pelosi’s likely successor as Speaker, should she be pushed aside, would be Majority Leader Steny Hoyer. Pelosi’s politics are probably closer to Obama’s than the more moderate Hoyer’s are. Back in the day, Pelosi beat Hoyer for minority whip because she was a better vote counter, so losing her would probably hurt the Obama-Emmanuel agenda. Further, while Presidents have attempted to abuse the CIA’s powers in the past (see Nixon, Richard M.), Obama and Emmanuel must surely know how explosive that would be if word ever got out that they’d used the CIA against a member of their own party. An abuse like that would almost certainly unite The Daily Kos with National Review against the Obama White House.
I really hope Kristol is just playing around and not basing this speculation on inside knowledge. It’s bad enough if Langley is playing games on its own, but if Obama is using the CIA against domestic opponents, the country is really in trouble.
The running down of Gitmo involves its reputation with the Left — not with “the international community” — because it’s a symbol of America defending herself by military force.
What!? Of all the possible symbols for American strength and resolve in the past few years, Gitmo would never even have crossed my mind. How about a dishevelled KMS trussed-up and staring down at the floor in sadness? How about American tanks driving under the statue of Saddam’s sword-weilding arms? There are so many tangeable symbols of our power, why is this one singled out?
I think the claim that you need to close what everyone now concedes is a first rate facility because it is a symbol of wickedness and a blight on our “reputation in the world” is about the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard. First, our reputation with whom? Europe with its savage legacy? China? Russia? And the Muslim world? I always wonder how that conversation goes: Ahmed and Nidal are on their way home from the Friday stonings when Ahmed turns and says, “You know, these Americans really offend me. They’re so insensitive to human rights …”
So is Gitmo a source of fear and awe for terrorists, or is a comfy place that no Euro-weenie could possibly object to? I’m honestly confused.
[L]et’s remember why we chose Gitmo in the first place. The thought was that if they were outside sovereign U.S. territory, the alien combatants would be outside the jurisdiction of the courts, so federal judges couldn’t interfere with and micromanage this aspect of warfare. It was a good idea, but then the Supreme Court changed the rules. If we’d known the Supremes would reverse precedents and say federal judges have just as much power at Gitmo as they have in Hoboken, I doubt we’d have put the jihadists there in the first place. Then most of them would already be in federal prisons and military brigs in the U.S. Again, had that happened, we’d now just be arguing over releasing them here — which would be worse than our present posture, in which transferring them here is still proving to be a big headache for the Obama administration. But we’d already have been holding them here for several years, the prison system would have done a good job, and that aspect of the security issue wouldn’t have much resonance.
McCarthy — and, here, I am not being snarky — deserves credit for saying this so clearly: we chose Gitmo as our prison site because it’s a legal black hole where the president could act with neither oversight nor intervention. I’m perfectly willing to accept this this might have been the least of all possible evils during the rough-and-tumble years immediately following 9/11. But nearly eight years after the Twin Towers fell, I am deeply, deeply uncomfortable with America running an island prison because it’s too frightened to bring a couple of hundred prisoners to its own soil under military auspice.
McCarthy worries that legal shenanigans by activist courts will inevitably lead to the Gitmo prisoners being released into the general prison population and, possibly, the general populace if we move them state-side. If this worry is justified, then perhaps we should keep them in Gitmo, despite all my other objections. But if our judicial system is truly that broken, then we’ve got bigger problems than I ever imagined.
NB In answer to the old canard of “If not Gitmo, then what?” I retort “I would do whatever your second choice is after Gitmo.”