Actor James Gandolfini died suddenly of an apparent heart attack while on vacation in Rome. He was 51.
Gandolfini is, of course, best known for portraying Tony Soprano on the HBO series The Sopranos from 1999 to 2007.
Prior to his Sopranos success, Gandolfini appeared in movies such as True Romance, Crimson Tide and Get Shorty. Following the Sopranos, Gandolfini appeared in The Taking of Pelham 123, Where The Wild Things Are and Zero Dark Thirty.
Gandolfini also produced two documentaries - Alive Today:Home from Iraq and Wartorn: 1861 to 2010. The former focused on injured Iraq War veterans while the latter focused on the history of PTSD in the American military from the Civil War through Afghanistan and Iraq.
I leave you with Gandolfini singing Engelbert Humperdinck’s “A Man Without Love”.
Regarding my analysis of Syria, I didn’t want to go off on a long tangent in the piece itself, but it’s worth addressing an objection that I anticipated (and have in fact gotten) from both opponents of intervention and advocates of aiding whichever side is losing: The argument that it’s naive to think there was ever a chance that even the most competently executed policy might have yielded a remotely benign post-Assad political order. (Marco Rubio got a lot of pushback to that effect when he said Sunday on This Week that if he were setting Syria policy “we would never have never gotten to this point.”) It’s impossible to know for sure, of course, but it is possible to speculate.
Imagine a robust intervention in 2011, combining direct US engagement with the secular opposition and the full might of US airpower. Assad might have been toppled in months, and the prestige accrued through their roll in bringing the US into the fight might have given the secularists a political advantage — such prestige was exactly why the pro-Western government in Libya was able to beat the Islamists at the ballot box.
Of course, the analogy to Libya cuts both ways: Our allies in the Libyan government don’t actually have total control over their country, and, as we saw at the consulate in Benghazi last September, the place is crawling with heavily-armed radicals. Losing Assad would not prevent Tehran from making at least some trouble in Syria, and any government in Damascus would likely have to fight to maintain power.
Still, it’s not impossible to imagine that such a fight could be won, or at least contained, by a US client, and with less human cost than the last two years have exacted. At any rate, it’s now moot: Whether or not this counterfactual seems plausible, it’s become almost inconceivable that the future of Syria will bring anything but misery.
Ex-Bush 43 aide Peter Wehner has responded to my criticism of his piece on Sarah Palin and Herman Cain. The link over at Commentary is here and I am happy to repeat his interesting, policy driven beginning. Below. With my answer coming in the near future.
Thanks to Pete. He’s obviously not a happy camper, and I repeat that my criticisms are not personal. They go to a much larger issue and I will respond to him in the near future. But it’s important, in fairness, to make sure he is heard in this corner.
The Shallow Musings of Jeffrey Lord
Peter Wehner | @Peter_Wehner 06.19.2013 - 3:00 PM
Over the years I’ve been involved in a lot of debates and the subject of a fair amount of attacks. But rarely have the attacks been quite as shallow as the one leveled at me by Jeffrey Lord of the American Spectator.
Let’s start with Lord’s suggestion that he should have titled his reply to my post criticizing Herman Cain and Sarah Palin as the “Wimpy Wussings of Wehner.” Perhaps that’s what qualifies for wit these days at the American Spectator. Mr. Lord’s comment qualifies him as the Oscar Wilde of the second grade.
Wehner slides downhill from there. Again, follow the link and smile.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released its reports on the Senate’s immigration reform bill (S. 744) on Wednesday, with several positive predictions for the pro-immigration crowd. For one, the first CBO report said federal budget deficits will be decreased by $197 billion from 2014–2023, due to “changes in direct spending and revenues.”
Specifically this is because of an increase in federal direct spending by $262 billion and an increase in federal revenues by $459 billion – “largely from additional collections of income and payroll taxes, reflecting both an increase in the size of the U.S. labor force and changes in the legal status of some current workers.” In other words, more citizens mean more tax money.
An estimated 8 million illegal immigrants would achieve legal status if S. 744 is passed by 2023 – a number which the CBO says won’t affect the U.S. population much, but will certainly affect the economy. Future population estimates from the CBO show that by 2023 there would be a net increase of 10.4 million residents, which includes the addition of 1.6 million temporary workers and their dependents. Overall, the CBO estimates there will be an increase of 6 million workers (about 3.5 percent) by 2023 and around 9 million workers (about 5 percent) by 2033.
The overall GDP of the U.S. will be 3.3 percent higher by 2023 and 5.4 percent higher by 2033 if the law passes (compare that to a decrease of 0.7 percent in 2023 if the status quo remains), according to the CBO’s estimates in the second report. These estimates are based on the assumption of increased population. Average wages, however, will decrease by .1 percent in 2023, but be .5 percent higher in 2033. The reason for this, according to the CBO’s analysis, is because the “new workers would be less skilled and have lower wages, on average,” but would develop their skills over time.
Overall, the CBO found that S. 744 would “increase the size of the labor force and employment, increase average wages in 2025 and later years (but decrease them before that), slightly raise the unemployment rate through 2020, boost the amount of capital investment, raise the productivity of labor and of capital, and result in higher interest rates.”
It’s a very straightforward concept: By increasing the number of working-age citizens by naturalizing those here illegally, those citizens will in turn pay taxes and increase federal revenue, while injecting fresh capital into the economy.
However, although the CBO found that “unauthorized residents [will] find it harder both to enter the country and to find employment while unauthorized,” the decrease in illegal immigrants will only be around 25 percent (page 23 of the first report). This would be due to “other aspects of the bill [that] would probably increase the number of unauthorized residents – in particular, people overstaying their visas issued under the new programs for temporary workers.”
While the fiscal outlook of the report will give momentum to the pro-immigration side, the fact that the CBO is estimating only a 25 percent decrease of the net annual flow of illegal immigrants will not sit well with the anti-immigration reform side. And that matters, especially after Speaker John Boehner’s plan to enforce the Hastert Rule, the House’s disregard of the Senate’s bill, and the Senate’s own internal struggles over border security.
President Obama reaffirmed his desire to reduce nuclear weapon stockpiles in the U.S. and Russia, and to combat climate change in a speech in Berlin on Wednesday. He also said he hoped to rekindle the spirit Berliners showed when they fought to be reunited during the Cold War.
“Today’s threats are not as stark as they were half a century ago, but the struggle for freedom and security and human dignity, that struggle goes on,” Obama said at Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate. “And I come here for this city of hope because the test of our time demands the same fighting spirit that defined Berlin a half-century ago.”
Obama is calling for a one-third reduction of both American and Russian nuclear stockpiles, arguing that it is necessary to strengthen American security and operate as a deterrent.
The president discussed the issue with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday as an aside to the Group of 8 Summit in Northern Ireland. During Obama’s first term, due to the START treaty, the U.S. and Russia consented to limiting their stockpiles to 1,550.
“Complacency is not the character of great nations,” Obama said. “Today, people often come together in places like this to remember history, not to make it. Today we face no concrete walls or barbed wire.”
Obama paid tribute to President Kennedy’s famous speech condemning communism, nearly 50 years ago.
“If we lift our eyes as President Kennedy calls us to do, then we’ll recognize that our work is not yet done. So we are not only citizens of America or Germany, we are also citizens of the world,” the president said.
Obama also promised to focus on tackling climate change. He called for more action on the issue from other countries, and said that without it the world will face more severe storms, famine, and eroding coastlines.
“Peace with justice means refusing to condemn our children to a harsher, less hospitable planet,” he said.
Obama’s wishes for collaboration come at a time of tension between the U.S. and Russia. The countries hold opposing positions on Syria’s civil war, and Russia is wary of American missile defense plans in Europe.
If immigration reform passes, in the 1,000 page bill now before Congress, get ready for a one-party state. Red states will turn purple, purple states will turn blue, and federal politics will resemble the single-hued state politics of California. Oh, there will be subtle differences between moderate liberals and hard core progressives (“liberals in a hurry”), but there won’t be anything we’d recognize as a real opposition. Oversight hearings will be a love fest, rumors of corruption will be confined to a few blogs, congressionally appointed Inspectors General will be selected for their ability to go with the flow. We’ll see politicians with the smarts of Chuck Schumer but the ethics of Marion Barry. We’ll end up looking a lot more like Argentina.
What the Republicans missed, in their grand bargains, was the opportunity to shut the door on family preferences. That’s the only kind of bargain that made sense for them, and for the country as well. Sure, immigrants are important. But why force good ones to go to other countries that pay attention to the economic benefits they confer on natives?
Are you more optimistic than I about the proposed legislation? I may be wrong. But here in Washington that’s exactly what Democrats privately tell you they expect to result from the bill.
The Ranking Democrat of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee tried to disrupt the committee’s investigation of the IRS scandal last night by releasing the full transcript of a single investigative interview onto the Internet, according to Committee Chairman, Republican Darrell Issa. Issa has launched a forceful attack on Maryland Democrat Elijah Cummings, accusing Cummings of providing a “roadmap” to IRS officials seeking to “navigate” the investigation. The full text of Issa’s statement is below:
Issa Statement on Cummings’ Decision to Post IRS Investigative Interview Transcript on the Internet
June 18, 2013
WASHINGTON – House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) issued the following statement on Ranking Member Elijah Cummings’ announced intention to post the full investigative interview of IRS employee John Shafer on the Internet in the middle of an ongoing investigation into the facts and origins of IRS efforts to target Tea Party groups:
“I am deeply disappointed that Ranking Member Cummings has decided to broadly disseminate and post online a 205 page transcript that will serve as a roadmap for IRS officials to navigate investigative interviews with Congress. After unsuccessfully trying to convince the American people that IRS officials in Washington did not play a role in inappropriate scrutiny of Tea Party groups and declaring on national television that the case of IRS targeting was ‘solved’ and Congress should ‘move on,’ this looks like flailing. Americans who think Congress should investigate IRS misconduct should be outraged by Mr. Cummings’ efforts to obstruct needed oversight.
“In the course of this fact based inquiry, Ranking Member Cummings has wrongly argued that questions about IRS conduct are somehow not legitimate. His own previous release of excerpts from this very same transcript undermines his claims that the Committee is somehow trying to keep some specific revelation from public view.”
I am a baseball fan who enjoys a well pitched game, especially shutouts. But I rarely see them because managers won’t let their starters go nine innings.
Case in point. Felix Doubront pitched an absolutely beautiful game for the Red Sox tonight against the Tampa Bay Rays. Usually, Doubront struggles to get through five innings. I think he’s better suited out of the bullpen. But tonight, Doubront was in total command.
In eight innings, Doubront gave up only three hits, struck out six and did not issue a walk. Doubront retired the last 17 batters he faced. In all, he threw 93 pitches and had plenty left to pitch the ninth inning. The Sox had a narrow 1-0 lead on a solo homerun by Daniel Nava.
At the very least, Doubront earned the opportunity at earning the complete game shutout. In 43 big league starts prior to tonight, Doubront had never thrown a complete game.
And he still hasn’t. Sox manager John Farrell had closer Andrew Bailey warming up in the bullpen in the bottom of the 8th. As soon I saw Bailey, I emphatically told my roommate Christopher, “This is not good. Bailey’s gonna blow it.” I felt it in my bones.
Sure enough, Rays outfielder Kelly Johnson promptly took Bailey deep to tie the game at 1-1. Despite pitching the best game of his career, Doubront would not be credited with the win.
At no point, did Sox announcers Don Orsillo or Peter Gammons question the wisdom of Farrell taking Doubront out of the game. That astounded me.
But in the bottom of the ninth, Red Sox outfielder Jonny Gomes launched a walk off two-run homerun into the Monster Seats to give the Sox a 3-1 victory with Bailey getting a vulture win.
Now everything turned out well for the Red Sox, but I am still annoyed. Under normal circumstances if a team has a one run lead in the ninth, they bring in their closer. But if a pitcher is working on a shutout and is dominating the opposing team there is no reason to take him out. Too many teams are preoccupied with pitch counts. It’s not like Doubront’s arm would have fallen off if he had pitched one more inning.
I understand the Red Sox want to protect their investment, but pitch counts don’t prevent arm injuries. Show me a starting rotation on a pitch limit and I’ll show you an overtaxed bullpen. If there was a night for Farrell to give the bullpen off, tonight was it. In 73 games this season, the Sox have a grand total of two complete games. That’s good enough for 4th place in the American League.
It’s entirely possible that tonight was a turning point for Doubront. He could rattle off a string of wins and perhaps one of those wins will be a complete game shutout. But there are no guarantees in baseball. It is quite possible that Doubront might never have another night like tonight. He might never pitch this great again. To paraphrase Jimmy Webb, the cake might have been left out in the rain and he’ll never have that recipe again.
So here’s my advice to big league managers. If your starter has pitched eight scoreless innings, give him a chance to pitch the in the ninth. Let him try to finish what he started.
I realize that with the amount of blood and treasure expended by this country in Afghanistan for more than a decade that the resumption of peace talks with the Taliban is viewed as good news.
The Taliban has pledged to not to use Afghanistan as a base to threaten other countries. Although, at this point, they have not denounced al Qaeda.
When the Obama Administration begins talks with the Taliban in Qatar later this week, it should keep in mind that this is an entity that only a few days ago beheaded two boys, aged 10 and 16.
Now one can argue that the fate of two Afghan boys is not our concern. But keep in mind that old habits die hard. If the Taliban has no qualms about beheading children then who can say that the Taliban would have any qualms about breaking any agreement in enters into with the United States? Who can say the Taliban wouldn’t give al Qaeda or any other Islamic terrorist organization safe harbor from which to launch attacks against this country and our allies? Who can say the Taliban wouldn’t help facilitate an attack that results in the deaths of our children?
The Louisiana governor’s latest op-ed gives the Republican Party a much-needed shot in the arm:
At present it looks as if the entire Republican party needs to go to counseling. It’s really getting embarrassing, all these public professions of feelings of inadequacy. Every day it seems another jilted high-placed Republican in Washington is confessing to the voters; “It’s not you, it’s me…”
Republican political correctness is all the rage, and it’s all roughly the same: we need to stop being conservative… we need to abandon our principles (at least the ones that don’t poll well)… we need to let the smart guys in Washington pick our candidates…we need big data and analytics so we can optimize… we need to be more libertarian…we need to endorse abortion…we need fewer debates…and the list goes on.
The overall level of panic and apology from the operative class in our party is absurd and unmerited. It’s time to stop the bedwetting.
Jindal goes on to explain why Republicans should be optimistic for a change, including their success at the gubernatorial level, their beachhead in the House of Representatives, and the centrifugal nature of popular opinion.
But Jindal forgets one thing: There’s a class of Washington pundit that’s built a cottage industry around tut-tutting the modern Republican Party. Thus the commentariat fired up its cliche machines. Jindal is “the Republican Party’s problem,” has “completely lost touch with reality,” and is “attack[ing] a bunch of straw men.”
Perhaps the most hilarious response comes from the New Republic, which is feeling snarky because one of Jindal’s paragraphs violates some dictum pronounced out by prose stylist William Strunk, Jr., of Strunk and White style-guide fame. Is there a better encapsulation of the modern, staid, technocratic left than smirking at a governor for breaking the clearly promulgated rules of writing? Tom Wolfe must give these people heart attacks. Which, of course, drives up our health insurance premiums. Someone get an armchair and a chart!
Jindal himself has critiqued the GOP before, including earlier this year when he denounced “dumbed-down conservatism” and worried that Republicans were becoming the “stupid party.” But he always made it clear that ameliorating these problems didn’t mean casting out principles. Today that advice is being taken to heart by Republican governors across the country, who have applied conservatism in innovative ways to bring about success in states from Texas to New Jersey. And they’ve done it confidently, without blinking in the face of the mindless finger-wagging.
Politics should consist of clashes between competing ideas, not endless self-flagellation after a single lost election. So quit moaning.
It seems like all of those llama slideshows might be coming back to bite BuzzFeed.
The website, which is known for aggregating images from other sources, is being sued by a professional photographer whose photo was used in a typical BuzzFeed post called “The 30 Funniest Header Faces.”
But in a lawsuit filed in New York, Eiselein accused Buzzfeed of “direct and contributory infringement” and claims he is owed $3.6m after his work was shared widely across the web.
He wants Buzzfeed to pay $150,000 in damages for each of the 23 sites that used his picture after the initial post, plus a further $150,000 for “contributory infringement” by another site, luuux.com.
Copyright law hasn’t caught up with the way images move around the Internet, where credit for the original image is often lost.
BuzzFeed defends its use of others’ images without licenses under the Fair Use exception to copyright. By putting images in lists, BuzzFeed argues that its use of these images is transformative, not derivative, so they are not violating the rights of copyright holders by using them on their website.
The site’s founder, Jonah Peretti, explained the argument to The Atlantic last year:
So, Peretti told me that he considers a BuzzFeed list — its sequencing, framing, etc — to be a transformative use of photos. That is to say, including that unattributed photo of the otter in that list was OK because its inclusion as an “extremely disappointed” animal transformed the nature of the photo.
“It’s a question,” Peretti said, “of when lots of little things add up to a transformation as opposed to a copyright violation.”
Most publications do not construe the Fair Use exception in that way and rely on images that they have paid licenses to use or on images that are free to use under Creative Commons licensing. Critics argue that the act of compiling these images to a list is not transformative and is, in fact, a violation of the law, as Eiselein claims.
There are plenty of other sites that rely on others’ images—often without licensing or even giving credit—such as Pinterest and Tumblr. However, these sites are not subject to copyright lawsuits due to the safe harbor provision of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act. DMCA protects sites whose users upload images they did not create—including Pinterest and Tumblr—but not sites whose staff upload those images, including BuzzFeed.
BuzzFeed’s business model is relatively new and it is unclear how copyright law will be applied. This is one of many examples of current law being inadequate for new situations that come up as the Internet continues to permeate our lives. The decision in this case is likely to have a major effect on image sharing on the Internet and the way new sites develop their business models.
Lori Brasnahan was trying to save her daughter’s life when she was stabbed to death in March, prosecutors say. Branashan and her daughter were abducted from the parking lot of Great Northern Mall near Syracuse by a man who brutally raped the 10-year-old girl before murdering Brasnahan, a 47-year-old school librarian.
Prosecutors in Onondaga County, N.Y., say the man responsible for that atrocity, David Renz, 29, had been released from federal custody in January, two days after the FBI arrested Renz on a child pornography charge. Renz reportedly had thousands of illegal sexual images of children on his computer, and also had a juvenile record for a 1999 incident in which Renz, then 15, molested a 9-year-old girl. Nevertheless, U.S. Magistrate Andrew T. Baxter released Renz, ordering him to wear a GPS tracking bracelet.
Barely two months later, Renz managed to remove the tracking device and went to the mall, where prosecutors say he ambushed Brasnahan and her daughter in the parking lot after following them out of a gymnastics class the girl was attending. And for this crime, a Justice Department official and a Democrat member of Congress are blaming budget cuts:
The top official supervising the federal court system, Judge Thomas Hogan, wrote in a letter to the local congressman that the suspect in the March 14 crime, David Renz, “was not supervised in a manner typical of federal probation and pretrial services practices.”
Hogan also blamed federal budget reductions for the carjacking murder of a school librarian, who police say was stabbed to death after trying to save her daughter from Renz.
“Funding for salaries and operations in the probation and pretrial services system has been reduced 14 percent this fiscal year,” Hogan wrote in his letter to Rep. Dan Maffei, New York Democrat, adding that “resources for monitoring, mental health and substance abuse treatment have been cut 20 percent.”
Officials in the Syracuse office charged with supervising Renz after he was released by a federal magistrate in January “have denied that personnel shortages played any role in the Renz case,” according to the Syracuse Post Standard. However, Maffei cited the case Monday in a speech on the House floor, saying that “an innocent woman was stabbed to death [and] an innocent child was sexually assaulted” and that the ability of federal courts “to keep this from happening again is limited because their funding was cut.” …
Monday, the congressman who represents the upstate New York district blamed federal spending cuts for the crime, saying that ending the curent budget sequester — implemented to reduce the federal deficit — is an obligation Congress owes to Renz’s victims. “We owe them a guarantee that this cannot happen again,” Maffei said in his House floor speech. “We owe them an end to sequester cuts affecting our federal probation system.”
So, according to Dan Maffei, congressmen who voted for budget cuts to reduce the deficit are now unindicted co-conspirators in David Renz’s crimes.
Over the past few days, pro-choice commentary on the GOP’s ostensible obstinacy on the issue of abortion has ramped up. “Haven’t they learned from the 2012 election to steer clear of the social issues?” “That’s why women don’t vote for them.” “If they keep talking about these things, they’re just going to keep losing!”
Or so they say.
These criticisms have mounted as Congress prepares to vote on a bill later this week that would ban abortions after 20 weeks. (To clarify, that’s toward the end of the second trimester.) Recent examples include yesterday’s NYT article that unfoundedly asserted that the bill’s purpose is just to “satisfy vocal elements of their base who have renewed a push for greater restrictions on reproductive rights, even if those issues harmed the party’s reputation with women in 2012.” And Irin Carmon over at Salon called this bill a mere “charade, one that turns women’s lives into ritualistic political football.” She also called the whole thing “political theater.”
What the “enlightened” totally gloss over (perhaps willfully) is the glaring fact that abortion is actually a long-term winning issue for the GOP. To use leftist parlance: Republicans are “on the right side of history” on this one, as “progress marches on” for the pro-life position, at least according to statistics.
As has been well-reported, abortion is not in fact the leading cause of the existing gender gap—the reason why more women vote Democrat than Republican. Such a theory is insulting to women by degrading them to a block of voters who all think the same way and who all care about only abortion. What’s more, the numbers just don’t add up. In fact, Gallup polling shows women and men to be about equal in their views on the matter: From 2001-2008, 49% of women and 48% of men self-identified as pro-choice; from 2009-2012, those numbers went down to 45% and 43%, respectively.
These numbers indicate something else that’s important: Self-identified pro-choicers are being chipped away by the increasing palatability of the pro-life position.
Perhaps increased technology has something to do with this shifting trend, as Matt Purple has pointed out in the past. But what’s even more staggering are the numbers on second- and third-trimester abortions. According to Gallup’s latest numbers, sizable majorities think both should be illegal: 64% for the former, 80% for the latter. The bill before consideration in Congress—which only affects third- and some second-trimester abortions—should be therefore be really popular. If the bill does not end up passing, it will only be due to left-wing propaganda labeling it as a set of supposedly “radical” restrictions on reproductive rights.
So it’s a mistake to say that Republicans need to keep away from the cultural crusades. Perhaps on gay marriage, but definitely not on abortion. The mistake runs deep into our language: The entire political class — left, right, and center — engages in this vocabulary of “social issues,” placing gay marriage and abortion in the same boat. The problem is that these are separate campaigns that have taken on separate courses. Their differing trends and divergent trajectories indicate as such, thus defying the accepted notion of there being a box of “social issues.” There are now many people who support gay marriage but who also identify as pro-life.
And Republican leaders are fully aware of this phenomenon. Take, for example, last week’s conference put on by the Faith and Freedom Coalition. Senators Rand Paul and Marco Rubio, considered potential candidates for 2016, both doubled down on their commitment to the unborn, but neither mentioned gay marriage.
To be perfectly clear, even in the hypothetical case in which being pro-life were politically unwise, that still wouldn’t be enough to change course on abortion. It is a matter of life and death, after all. And as Yuval Levin at NRO puts it, it would be as if “the people struggling to save the lives of innocent children … should be ‘fazed’ into inaction by the 2012 election.”
But the fact is that pro-life GOP leaders have nothing to fear on the matter. For being pro-life is now the politically intelligent choice.
The media would do well to remember that fact.
It is remarkable to read pieces like these.
Time after time moderate Republicanism loses the presidency or wins by the skin of the Supreme Court’s teeth or 100,000 votes in Ohio – and this is held up as a successful way to run a political party.
Gerson, who holds the distinction of boasting that “the Bush (2000) campaign was purposely attempting to alter the image of the Republican Party. And the party — rendered more open to change by eight years in the presidential wilderness — gave Bush the leeway to make necessary ideological adjustments.”
So again: How exactly did this disavowal of Reagan and conservatism work out for the Republican Party? Obviously, to say not well is a laughable understatement. Bush’s own narrow re-election in 2004 over John Kerry, his departure from the White House with an approval rating hovering in the frigid 30’s, and his inability to elect his successor—the similarly moderate John McCain—should in fact serve as an object lesson of what the GOP should not do.
Yet here is Gerson blithely saying that “the GOP needs its own Bill Clinton or Tony Blair — a leader to reposition the party and reinvigorate its political appeal.” He adds that the GOP should resist what he strangely calls “an oversimplified Reaganism.”
What needs to be said here is that, when all is said and done, Gerson is busy advocating the same old moderate Republicanism that has been losing elections since the Days of Dewey. In point of fact, were time travel available, we could pack Michael Gerson off to 1948 and he could write the same things for Dewey that he wrote for Bush and now writes for the Washington Post, and no one would notice the difference.
The GOP needs “its own Bill Clinton and Tony Blair”? You’ve got to be kidding. The reason Bill Clinton and Tony Blair were successful in the first place is because they convinced their respective parties – the American Democrats and the British Laborites – that they had to adapt to the huge successes of conservatives Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher respectively. Who in turn had successfully led the GOP to smashing successes by steering their respective parties away from “Me-Too” Republicanism and “Wet” Toryism. It would seem obvious, then, that the route to political success – the real “modernization” of the GOP – is to go back to future: to the conservative principles of Reagan and Thatcher. It was Reagan and Thatcher who succeeded – not their respective moderate successors George H.W. Bush and John Major, both of who followed precisely the Gerson path and wound up being humiliatingly dumped from office.
Then there’s Mr. Wehner, who has penned a piece titled “The Reckless Rhetoric of Palin and Cain.”
Perhaps I should have titled this reply the “Wimpy Wussings of Wehner”?
But some of us also believe that those who claim to be conservative need to be held to certain standards as well; that to berate only the left for rhetorical overkill is to employ a double standard; and that irresponsible and careless language used by former governors and vice presidential candidates like Sarah Palin and former presidential candidates like Herman Cain helps discredit conservatism and the GOP. It is prima facie evidence of intemperate minds. And it actually helps Mr. Obama when his critics sound apocalyptically detached from reality…..
I’d add one other point: What Cain and Palin are doing damages public debate because it corrupts language and thought. Thinking clearly, George Orwell wrote in his classic essay on the debasement of our language, “is a necessary step toward political regeneration.”
This is amazing.
Once again a reminder that this is precisely the kind of accusation that was routinely thrown at Ronald Reagan is necessary. Reagan was called an “extremist” with regularity, and not simply because of his conservative views (views, as Gerson correctly notes, not shared by the Bushes). Whether giving his famous 1964 televised speech for Barry Goldwater (in which he bluntly referred to the Soviet Union as a “dangerous enemy” and accused liberals of the day of dragging America “down to the ant heap of totalitarianism”), or his various speeches or remarks as president (in which he said of Soviet leaders – to gasps from reporters at a press conference – that “they reserve unto themselves the right to commit any crime, to lie, to cheat,” and called the Soviet Union an “evil empire”), Reagan was regularly pictured exactly as Wehner describes Palin and Cain. Reagan was regularly depicted…and I’m quoting here…as “deeply reactionary…negative…mean-spirted” (The Nation), a man who was leading the American equivalent of “Nazi nationalism and militarism” (a Claremont College professor). Los Angeles Times cartoonist Paul Conrad depicted Reagan, according to one biographer, as “plotting a fascist putsch in a darkened Munich beer hall.” No less than Gerald Ford told a reporter in the New York Times that Reagan was too “extreme” to even be elected in the first place. (No word on whether Gerson was writing Ford’s speeches.)
In short, both Gerson and Wehner are doing the same-old, same-old moderate Republican schtick. There is not a thing new in their criticisms of the GOP or conservatives in general or, in this latest case, Palin and Cain in particular. Change their names and decades and they could have been right at home in the campaigns of – pick one or any – the vast majority of losing Republican nominees from Dewey to Dole or, yes, unpopular presidencies from Bush to Bush.
There’s nothing personal here. I’m sure both men love their wives, kids, dogs, and the flag. The point is that they are but two of what seems to be an eternal chorus inside the GOP of what one of Margaret Thatcher’s colleagues referred to as “collectivist conservatives.”
They struggle with principle and positively get the vapors over Reaganesque rhetoric. Just as the moderate Republicans – not to mention the liberals – of Reagan’s day did.
Which, not to put too fine a point on it, is why the GOP loses so many presidential elections with moderates or wins by the skin of the Supreme Court’s teeth.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?