Newsweek, Pelosi, and the Loony Left

A letter to Newsweek:

I was reading your article about how Nancy Pelosi’s position of power as Speaker of the House made her a target of satire and I was trying to find the articles of a similar nature about outgoing Speaker Dennis Hastert. I mean, everyone knows how crooked Illinois politics are. His district reaches across the state but it starts in the suburbs of Chicago! Chicago’s one of the crookedest cities in the country! That must have generated some material.

But I can’t find anything. There’s not even a mention about the grand tradition of skewering Speakers. Remember all of the jokes about Newt Gingrich and his affairs? Or the laughs we had about Tom Foley? Jim Wright? And boy, the Tip O’Neill gags still leave me in stitches.

The Will of the People

I was watching an interview by [shudder] Glenn Beck in a post at Belgravia Dispatch, and the interviewee — Michael Rubin of the American Enterprise Institute — spouts a line similar to a lot of the happy-talk that led up to the Iraq war. Speaking about Iran, he cites an incident where a dormitory was attacked by the government and a week of rioting ensued. Despite the Iranian government being able to control that outbreak of violence, his take on it was “Eventually it’s going to spin out of control.”

According to Rubin, Iranian people aren’t “in tune” with the government, they listen to stuff the government doesn’t like, there’s grafitti for 50 Cent on the walls, etc. The people are like a fresh date, ready to be plucked from the hands of the mullahs.

I’d like to direct Mr. Rubin to some histories of the US in the 1960s. After the assassination of Martin Luther King, there were riots in scores of cities across the country: Chicago, Denver, Baltimore. There were days of riots in Chicago outside the Democratic convention. For nearly a decade after the Watts riots of 1965, there were riots, massive demonstrations, and other forms of civil disobedience related to racial relations and the Vietnam War. But the US government didn’t fall. The hippies and the African-Americans didn’t take over.

Forty years later, they still haven’t. Which is maybe something people like Rubin should keep in mind the next time he gets all gooey about the people rising up. Because sometimes it doesn’t work.


The latest issue of The New Republic (Iraq: What Next?) is a perfect example of how the war hawks have managed to paint themselves into several different corners on Iraq. There are seventeen different options/opinions listed on the cover, in a manner that seems more like a bunch of looneys running around with their hands in the air than a coherent debate. That may not have been the intention of the editor who approved the cover or the cover’s designer, but it’s like they were writing their own version of the semi-regular feature at Sadly, No!, the “Two-Minute Townhall”, so with apologies to Travis G., I give you simply the text from the cover:

Two-Minute TNR

Give Politics a Chance
Threaten to Leave
Save Whomever We Can
Admit It’s Over
Bring the Troops Home
Send More Troops
Divide Iraq
Keep It Whole
Force Everyone to the Table
Deal With the Sunnis
Crush the Sunnis
Ally with the Sunnis
Bribe the Insurgents
Talk, Talk, Talk
Ignore James Baker
Try Anything
The Troops and Us

The Free Market of Wikipedia

This is a little late in the posting, but when I heard economist Milton Friedman had died yesterday I popped his name into Wikipedia. Knowing the volatility of the editing there, I took a quick snapshot when I saw this. This is how the entry appeared at about 10:30am Pacific time. According to the edit history, this version only lasted about 4 minutes and the entry is now restricted for editing.

Friedman's death was caused by his not having enough heart.

I didn’t do it.


An unsourced quote from Gary Wills about the 1972 Presidential election — possibly from The New York Review of Books back in the day — quoted in Sen. George McGovern’s autobiography: Grassroots (p. 245):

Vietnam is the shared crime that has turned our country into…a pact of blood. Now patriotism means the complicity of fellows in a crime; if we are all in it, no one is worse than the rest; we excuse each other; we keep the secret. That is why the members of the pact had to re-elect a war criminal as their ruler. Senator George S. McGovern was hysterically feared because he was an accuser.

Members of the pact most fear the man who has not joined in their mystery of communal criminality. When ten men commit a crime, and the eleventh refuses, the ten will turn on him, fear and suspect him. They resent him because he is free, his mouth not gagged by the knowledge of his own guilt.

One-Sided Debate At NPR, Take 25844

In his “Morning Edition” report on Defense Secretary nominee Robert Gates and his options on Iraq, NPR’s Guy Raz interviews four people for their opinions:

  • Gen. Jack Keane (ret.), a former Army vice chief of staff who was involved in the planning of the Iraq war;
  • Richard Perle, the former Pentagon advisor who was one of the chief proponents of the Iraq war;
  • Danielle Pletka, a fellow at the “center-right” American Enterprise Institute who argued in January 2003 that an invasion of Iraq was needed to show al Qaeda that the “U.S. is a power to be reckoned with”; and
  • Gen. Joseph Hoar (ret.), a former CENTCOM chief who — while a critic of the war currently — says “getting out is not the answer”.

Two former military officers, one of whom was involved in planning the war. Two hard-core civilian advocates of the war. That’s some wide-ranging perspective.

Robert Gates Is to DoD What Harriet Miers Is to Supreme Court

Remember Harriet Miers? George Bush’s White House counsel who was nominated last fall to an Associate Supreme Court Justice position, was laughed at by Democrats and forced out by Republicans, and replaced in less than a month as a nominee by Samuel Alito?

The conventional wisdom is that Bush picked Miers as a result of her personal loyalty to him. She was criticized as a political crony without judicial experience or a written record. Conservative commentators came out swinging against her. Despite statements that Democratic Sen. Harry Reid had approved of her nomination, the clamor from the right is credited with forcing her to withdraw her name from consideration. Bush then selected Alito, who seemed to conservatives and moderates a much more sensible choice.

How much of it was real and how much was a game? Was Miers a real choice or was she a sacrificial pawn, meant to make someone like Alito look good?

My question has to be, is the Robert Gates nomination as Secretary of Defense another pawnish move? And who’s the real nominee waiting in the wings until Gates gets shoved out for his 1980s support of people like Osama bin Laden and falsification of intelligence on the Soviet Union?

Two Weeks

Two weeks from today — aka Thansgiving Day — the US will have been in Iraq for a length of time equal to the time between the bombing of Pearl Harbor and the entry of the United States into World War II and V-J Day, when the Japanese surrendered, ending the war.

As one of the many conservative losers said the other day, we haven’t lost nearly as many people in Iraq as in previous wars, but on the other hand those wars tended to end in three or four years. It’s still not over.

Robert Gates and Orrin Hatch are bin Laden’s Buddies

Letter to NPR’s “All Things Considered”:

In John Hernden’s report on the choice of Robert Gates as the new Secretary of Defense, he says that Gates is “theoretically” above politics.

That’s a big theoretical. Anyone who’d done a couple of minutes research about Gates would have known that he admitted during testimony at his CIA confirmation hearing in 1992 that the Agency had exaggerated claims of Soviet military strength to President Reagan and his advisors while he was the deputy chief. He was also involved with some of the key figures in the Iran-contra scandal.

He already has a self-admitted background in — as the British say — “sexing up” intelligence as well as subverting public oversight, which has been one of the problems of the Dept. of Defense throughout the current administration.

Seriously, doesn’t anyone there have “the Google”? Did the Monica Lewinsky thing erase everyone’s memories of previous history?

The article linked above with the paragraph about Gates is from 1998, when al Qaeda bombed US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. It also contained this interesting observation:

Indeed, to this day, those involved in the decision to give the Afghan rebels access to a fortune in covert funding and top-level combat weaponry continue to defend that move in the context of the Cold War. Sen. Orrin Hatch, a senior Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee making those decisions, told my colleague Robert Windrem that he would make the same call again today even knowing what bin Laden would do subsequently. “It was worth it,” he said.