Archive for Politics

No on Eric Holder

For years, the New York Times and others of its ilk have been complaining that President Bush’s Attorneys-General have been too loyal to the White House, and not sufficiently independent.

How ironic then that some of the Administration’s angriest critics are supportive of the nomination of Eric Holder, a man best known for his inexcusable acquiescence to Bill Clinton’s inexcusable granting (or should I say selling?) of a pardon to fugitive Marc Rich. Even the Times called the pardon “indefensible.”

In a letter published this week, the prosecutor who pursued Rich, former U.S. Attorney James Comey actually expressed support for Holder’s nomination. Here is how he addressed Holder’s actions in the Rich matter:

“I was stunned when President Clinton pardoned [Rich in 2001]. I have come to believe that Mr. Holder’s role…was a huge misjudgment, one for which he has, appropriately, paid dearly in reputation…Yet I hope very much he is confirmed.”

A huge misjudgment? Well, there we agree. But given that Holder has been making millions since then, and has been nominated for Attorney General, it seems to me he has not “paid dearly”, or at all.

With a “huge misjudgment” already under his belt, Mr. Holder can’t possibly be the best we can find.


My Thoughts on the Rick Warren Controversy

I couldn’t care less.


I Have The Power

Ask and ye shall receive.

In my previous post I stated:

I want all the people who knocked Sarah Palin’s credentials to now apply the same skepticism to Ms. Kennedy.

And sure enough, Rep. Gary Ackerman according to the Associated Press, made the comparison yesterday. Well, sort of. Here is how the AP described Ackerman’s comments:

A Democratic congressman compared Caroline Kennedy to Sarah Palin, saying the wannabe senator hasn’t proved she has the “guts and the gumption” to succeed Hillary Clinton.

If you read the full article, it seems Ackerman was comparing their handling and not their credentials. But Ackerman did throw in this nugget on the importance of genetics:

Rembrandt was a great artist. His brother Murray, on the other hand, Murray Rembrandt wouldn’t paint a house.

The criticism seems to be bi-partisan. Republican Rep. Peter King, who is considering running for the seat in 2010, offered his own take on Kennedy:

The last thing we need is a People magazine celebrity as our United States senator, especially someone who has no experience, who as far as I know has never held a real job, and now we’ve found that she hasn’t even voted half the time. She hasn’t voted in any of the Democratic mayoral primaries, she didn’t even vote the last time that Pat Moynihan ran for the seat that she’s looking for now, or when Mario Cuomo was running the race of his life and lost. She wasn’t there for that…How can the average New Yorker identify with Caroline Kennedy? She comes from an outstanding family, I’m sure she’s a wonderful parent, but she’s never taken a stand on any public issue. She’s never even held one news conference. She hasn’t gone to one American Legion hall or Knights of Columbus hall or Masonic temple, or one synagogue to answer questions. When she does go on her so-called listening tour upstate, she’s, like, running from city hall into the car to avoid reporters.


Oh, and She Didn’t Vote

I don’t think it’s a big deal when a candidate has a spotty record of showing up at the polls over the years. But in the case of Caroline Kennedy, who is making the argument that her civic involvement somehow makes up for her total lack of experience in public office, this looks especially bad.

I want all the people who knocked Sarah Palin’s credentials to now apply the same skepticism to Ms. Kennedy.


Quick Question

If you drew up a list of the 50 New Yorkers who are most qualified to serve in the United States Senate, would Caroline Kennedy’s name be anywhere on that list?


From the Inbox

Several friends of StillRight have been kind enough to email on a variety of issues…

Regarding my recent missive blasting the New York Times, a friend takes me to task for being too harsh. He writes:

Of course, the odds of terrorist in Mumbai hitting the Chabbad House by accident and/or thinking that an identifiably Jewish building was an “unlikely” target displays both stupidity and naiveté. Nonetheless, I think you and Hitchens are a bit unfair here. The article you and Hitchens cite was written early in the Mumbai crisis when things were still very unclear. The Times’ subsequent coverage never denied, and in fact asserted, that the Chabbad House was a deliberate target of a vicious terrorist attack. The Times’ coverage re: the Chabbad House was extremely sympathetic. I have a LOT of problems with the Times’ coverage of Israel, the Arab world, Iran, Venezuela, and much of the rest of the world and here at home. But in this instance I think your criticism is a bit unfair. It just seems to me that fair criticism should at least place the timing of the Times’ article in context (I know you gave the date) and mention the Times’ subsequent coverage.

Another friend and regular contributor, in response to my post about my recent visit to England, asks if I noticed a more receptive environment during my visit, to wit:

You forgot to mention the reception you got in England as it relates to the recent election outcome. Were the British buying you drinks, shaking your hand, and congratulating you? Did you disappoint them by revealing that you supported the confused and cranky old rightist and his eye candy sidekick? I hope not. Here’s what Stanley Bing had to say about England and the election results after his trip to Europe:

I will report to you that I believe it is FAR more pleasant to have visited Europe after the election of Barack Obama than it is before. There are two headlines that leapt out at me from the vast newsstands covered with Obamamania of one sort or another. One was from a British paper, and simply said: “THANKS, YANKS.” The other was also in English, but looked local. It said: “Welcome back, America.” During the conference, at which there were but two other Americans among a crowd of some 1,500, a number of folks came up to me and congratulated me on our new president. The only one who expressed serious reservations, quite interestingly, I think, was a pleasant, very thin, very gray Russian fellow. Shades of the Cold War. I don’t think they like us very much. Again.

I know, you likely view European ecstasy at the casting off of one of the most unpopular regimes in the history of the United States, both here and abroad, as proof that we made the wrong choice, since in your view the rest of the world are crazy, socialist, terrorist coddling wimps. And it is indeed true that a huge outpouring of domestic and international support does not always into a successful administration. But surely you must concede that, as we move forward in this hour of desperate need for international cooperation to combat the global economic crisis and the international terrorist threat, we will be on far stronger footing when Obama asks our allies for help than were we to continue Bush and McCain’s “my way or the highway” republican strategies of the past eight years.

Another friend shares his thoughts about the recent news that President-Elect Obama plans to offer Israel a kind of “nuclear umbrella” against a nuclear Iran. He writes:

A nuclear umbrella. How wonderful Israeli’s must feel, knowing that they will all be posthumously avenged – and they don’t need to waste anything from their own nuclear arsenal because it’s on us, their good buddies in the good ‘ole US of A.

Let’s all applaud the President elect, not only for his unwavering support for Israel (well for its charred remains at least), but for the new efficiency he is bringing to Foggy Bottom and the Pentagon. With this wonderful nuclear umbrella, our diplomats and military leaders no longer need to worry about preventing Iran from finishing up their nukes. With that nagging issue off their plates, they can turn to matters more important to the Obama administration and its grateful nation.

Thanks, and keep ‘em coming.

You can share your thoughts by posting a comment or emailing me at


Backpedaling 101

The way this is going, by the end of the day, I’m sure we’ll be told that Barack Obama and Rod Blagojevich have never even met. Look at this backpedaling:

Emanuel told the New Yorker earlier this year that he and Obama “participated in a small group that met weekly when Rod was running for governor. We basically laid out the general election, Barack and I and these two.”

Wilhelm said that Emanuel had overstated Obama’s role. “There was an advisory council that was inclusive of Rahm and Barack but not limited to them,” Wilhelm said, and he disputed the notion that Obama was “an architect or one of the principal strategists.”

An Obama Transition Team aide emails to note that Emanuel later changed his recollection of this story to Rich Miller’s “CAPITOL FAX,” saying, “David [Wilhelm] and I have worked together on campaigns for decades. Like always, he’s right and I’m wrong.”

Rod who?


Change He Believed In

From Jake Tapper of ABC News:

On June 27, 2002, state Sen. Obama said, “Right now, my main focus is to make sure that we elect Rod Blagojevich as Governor, we…”

“You working hard for Rod?” interrupted Berkowitz.

“You betcha,” said Obama.

“Hot Rod?” asked the host.

“That’s exactly right,” Obama said.



Barack Obama, December 9, 2008:

“I had no contact with the governor or his office and so we were not… uh… I was not aware of what was happening”

Obama senior advisor David Axelrod, November 23, 2008:

“I know he [Obama] has talked to the governor and there are a whole range of names that have surfaced. He has a fondness for a lot of them.”


Obama: Only the Best for My Family, Tough Luck for the Rest…

The Wall Street Journal and Jonah Goldberg discuss the Obamas’ decision to send their daughters to the expensive private Sidwell Friends school, even as the President-elect opposes school vouchers that would allow some poorer families to take their children out of the atrocious DC public schools and provide the same opportunity to their children.

Of course this hypocrisy comes as no surprise. The teachers’ unions are the biggest guardians of the status quo, and they also provided important financial support to the Democratic party and the Obama campaign. Do you really think public education is going to significantly improve when there is a president and a congressional majority beholden to the teachers’ union?


Dissent of the Day

A reader shares his thoughts on my earlier post about the Supreme Court and its recent decision in Winter v. Natural Resources Defense Council. Here is an excerpt:

The issue in Winter was not, as you so colorfully frame it – safety of people or safety of fish – but whether environmental groups were entitled to a preliminary injunction due to the Navy’s failure to adhere to the requirements of the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA). To make it even more complicated, the analysis involved the standards for a preliminary injunction and balancing potential equities. What is clear, however, is that Justice Ginsburg’s dissent had very little to do with the ultimate issue of whether the naval exercises should trump environmental concerns. Rather, she focused on the legal requirement that the Navy was required to prepare an environmental impact statement prior to taking action that would jeopardize marine life.
So, even on the most basic level, Justice Ginsburg’s dissent was not about balancing whether fish or people were more important, but whether the Navy should be required to follow the law. The dissent cites that the NEPA legislation was designed to force administrative agencies to consider environmental concerns as part of their decision making process. It does not mean that these environmental concerns will trump. As Judge Ginsburg pointed out, nothing in the law would have prevented the Navy from conducting its exercises because the NEPA statute does not mandate any particular result – only that the study be performed.
I do not know enough about the case or the various procedural issues to opine whether Justice Ginsburg’s dissent was correct, but I do know that the issue was not at all as you framed it. Moreover, if the issue truly were as you framed it – rule of law v. conducting the war on terror – contrary to your conclusion, the Court should have certainly favored upholding the law, and I hope that President Obama will select Justices with that first and foremost in their mind. Indeed, it is hard to argue for a judicial nominee who says, “I will not permit the law or the constitution to impede the war on terror!” although that seems to be your point.

You can read his commentary in its entirety after the jump (click on “Read the rest of this entry”)

Read the rest of this entry »


Obama and the Supreme Court

What do you think is more important- helping the Navy detect potential attacks by terrorists and hostile countries, or saving a couple of dolphins?

Hmmm…. preventing attacks… or protecting a sea otter?

If you think it’s a silly question, guess again. It’s exactly the question that the Supreme Court grappled with in a recent decision, Winter v. Natural Resources Defense Council. The case arose from a suit whereby some environmental advocacy groups sought to prevent the Navy from using Sonar equipment because, the groups claimed, the use of this equipment could harm sea mammals off the San Diego coast.

I find it mind-boggling, but four judges in California (all Democrat appointees) and two members of the Supreme Court, David Souter and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, sided with the fish. As the National Journal’s Stuart Taylor explains here:

Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and David Souter … In their dissenting opinion blew off in a single sentence the government’s hundreds of pages of evidence that the lower courts’ injunction could place at risk the lives of thousands of sailors and marines. It may seem far-fetched to worry that enemy submarines might someday sink an aircraft carrier with 5,000 sailors and marines aboard. But no more far-fetched than it would have seemed on September 10, 2001, to worry that terrorists might murder in a single day more Americans than died in the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

Ginsburg and Souter are (along with Justice Stevens) the most liberal members of the court – and when I say many people “just don’t get it” about the terrorist threat, this is what I’m talking about, dear readers.

But more importantly, when I say the direction of the Supreme Court was the biggest reason why I voted for McCain, this is a perfect illustration.

And of course, Barack Obama now will decide the direction of the Court.

We simply will not win the Global War on Terror if the Supreme Court uses its unfettered power to restrict the activities of the military, intelligence and law enforcement communities. The Court has the ability to tie both our hands behind our back, while the Jihadists will forever do as they wish. That is a fight we cannot win.

When people in New York City (and I assume this applies in other liberal bastions) discuss the Supreme Court, the conversation usually centers on Roe v. Wade and other decisions relating to hot button social issues like gay marriage and affirmative action. The focus on Roe v. Wade is much ado about nothing- the fact is that even if Roe were overturned, abortion would remain legal throughout the United States. Anyone who tells you that overturning Roe would cause abortion to be banned is either ignorant or just trying to scare you. Want proof? South Dakota is among the most conservative states in the country, and even there a proposed ban on abortion was soundly defeated in 2006 and again in 2008. Other attempts to limit abortion were voted down in California and Colorado.

The “abortion-will-be-outlawed” claim is bunk, a scare tactic with no basis in reality.

But the Supreme Court’s impact on the War on Terror is immediate and real. As Justice Antonin Scalia observed in his dissent in Boumediene v. Bush concerning the right of Habeas Corpus for prisoners held at Guantanamo:

At least 30 of those prisoners hitherto released from Guantanamo Bay have returned to the battlefield…Some have been captured or killed. But others have succeeded in carrying out their atrocities against innocent civilians. In one case, a detainee released from Guantanamo Bay masterminded the kidnapping of two Chinese dam workers, one of whom was later shot to death when used as a human shield against Pakistani commandos. Another former detainee promptly resumed his post as a senior Taliban commander and murdered a United Nations engineer and three Afghan soldiers. Still another murdered an Afghan judge. It was reported only last month that a released detainee carried out a suicide bombing against Iraqi soldiers in Mosul, Iraq…[The majority decision] will almost certainly cause more Americans to be killed

The recent decision on the use of sonar is surely the first of many of its kind.

In then end, it’s about priorities- protect a few dolphins, or defeat the terrorists?


Mitt On The Auto Bailout

I’ve blogged before about Mitt Romney’s authoritative voice on the economy. Today he has an outstanding op-ed in the New York Times about the proposed bailout of the American auto industry. Key quote:

Without that bailout, Detroit will need to drastically restructure itself. With it, the automakers will stay the course — the suicidal course of declining market shares, insurmountable labor and retiree burdens, technology atrophy, product inferiority and never-ending job losses. Detroit needs a turnaround, not a check.

As an aside, but relating to a debate we’ve been having here at Stillright, I will observe that it’s hard to imagine Sarah Palin or any other leading Republican addressing this issue with the same authority.


Dissent of the Day

In response to my previous post, a fellow traveler sees Sarah Palin in a different light:

Why do female politicians have to be frumpy, dour, harpies? The media is too used to good looking women being vacuous air heads in the Hollywood celebrity mold. Along comes a woman who has conservative credentials, but above all has challenged a major party (and her party at that) for the corruption that is endemic in politics, and she is rebuffed because she is not an “intellectual” heavyweight. Perhaps she was pulled too soon from the remoteness of Alaskan politics and thrust on the national stage, but if we wait for someone who has the national experience that everyone wants, we will simply be training another politician to follow in the corrupt footsteps of his or her Washington forebearers. Send in a strong fresh face the way they are, and give them the advice of the political gurus to chose from and let them make the hard decisions. At least you know that the decision is not backed by the guile of a megalomaniac who has planned to be president since he was in high school, or schemed to be president as part of the “Rules for Radicals” playbook. I am against “intellectualism”. I am a realist. Intellectuals see a goal and reason their way to the realization of that goal. A realist does the same thing but considers the collateral consequences of the methods used to achieve the goal and also considers what will happen after the goal is realized. I see Sarah Palin as a realist. Her only drawback is the same one that any new rising star in the conservative sphere will face, ridicule from the mainstream media. We should stop allowing liberals to choose who represents our movement by mocking them so harshly that we shun our own. You don’t need to be an intellectual to thoughtfully consider an issue and make a decision. I’ve decided. If Palin runs again I’m voting for her, and lending her my wife’s Saks Fifth Avenue charge card as a campaign contribution.


The Sarah Palin Show

Wow, it just keeps going. Has a losing Vice Presidential candidate ever kept the spotlight for this long? She lost, and still seems to be getting far more coverage than Joe Biden. Aren’t losing candidates supposed to disappear, if not forever then at least for a while?

On some level, the media remain fascinated with her. She makes for good tv and good ratings, as was proven during the campaign. But she’s obviously milking it for all that it’s worth- no one is forcing her to have Matt Lauer and The Today Show crew in her kitchen.

Sarah hearts the spotlight. Fame really is addictive.

But the real question is this: Does she have a future?

My take: the concept of Sarah Palin turned out to be far better than the reality. What I mean by that is the following- in concept, I love the idea of nominating a young, attractive, solid-conservative mom for president or vice president. What could be better than a candidate who would fire up the base and at the same time pick up some female and younger voters who don’t usually vote Republican? What better way to spruce up the party’s old-white-guy image?

And for the first two weeks after her nomination, this formula seemed to be working. McCain moved ahead in all the polls in the days after her nomination, and he stayed ahead until around September 12.

Then the financial markets collapsed, and that probably was the fatal blow to the McCain campaign.

But something else also happened- Palin performed terribly in that Katie Couric interview, she never held a press conference, and by the end of the campaign she seemed unprepared to become President.

Yes, she did get shabby treatment from the media. Three front-page stories in the New York Times about her daughter’s pregnancy was simply ridiculous- contrast that with the minimal coverage given, for example, to the endless legal escapades of Al Gore’s son. The stories about her wardrobe- like the stories about McCain’s houses- were quite a contrast to the limited coverage devoted in 2004 to the vast wealth of the John Kerry/ Theresa Heinz family. The same reporters who bashed conservatives for teasing John Edwards about his expensive haircuts had no problem bashing Sarah Palin for her alleged vanity. I love it when the same people who say campaigns should be “issue-oriented” start talking about candidates’ wardrobes or homes.

But I can’t get away from the main problem for Palin- she had an opportunity to overcome the doubts about her lack of experience and lack of preparation. And she failed to do so.

Obama’s election proves that voters have no problem overlooking a thin resume. George Bush himself had a pretty thin resume prior to becoming President (though not as thin as Obama’s).

So Palin could have reassured voters. Instead, she only heightened their concerns.

My one gripe with the media and the NewYork/DC/LA spin is the claim that somehow Palin was too conservative and that’s what doomed her. Nonsense. Republicans have won five of the last eight presidential elections by running conservative candidates with conservative platforms. On all the key issues, she was no more conservative than any of those winning candidates (Reagan, Bush I, Bush II). And her conservatism was immediately known, and as noted, the ticket moved ahead for about two weeks after she was nominated.

So her problem was not her conservatism. And let’s be honest, no moderate Republican could ever get 60,000 people to show up at a campaign rally. Remember, we Republicans don’t really go to rallies- I doubt Joe Lieberman or Tom Ridge could have drawn more than 500 people to an event. Many of those 60,000 who showed up for a Palin rally also undoubtedly gave money, made phone calls, and drove people to the polls. And the fact that liberal California voted to ban gay marriage is proof-positive that our country has not turned hard-left.

So the concept was right- but Sarah Palin ultimately was the wrong person to turn the concept into reality.

And so if it were up to me, I would look elsewhere for the next great Republican leader. We can find a different young, articulate, conservative star who can take the spotlight, and reassure voters that he or she has the gravitas to be president.

I hear Bobby Jindal is giving a speech in Iowa next week. Hmmm……


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