Monthly Archives: May 2009

Legally Dubious and Extremely Dangerous

The Obama administration is getting us ready for a transfer of Gitmo terrorists to U.S. prisons by pointing out that we already house terrorists in our prisons without any problems and that critics of moving these prisoners to the U.S. are just engaging in more politically motivated fear mongering.

But David Rivkin and Lee Casey, writing on the Wall Street Journal op-ed page, note that the terrorists held in U.S. prisons today are convicted criminals, not enemy combatants who cannot be tried in American courts, and that holding such people in the United States is legally dubious and thus extremely dangerous in that a judge has the power to order their release.

An excerpt:

…the legality of incarcerating captured terrorists in U.S. domestic prisons is far from clear. Today the Guantanamo detainees are held under well-established laws of war permitting belligerents to confine captured enemies until hostilities are over. This detention, without the due process accorded criminal defendants, has always been legally justified because it emphatically is not penal in nature but a simple expedient necessary to keep captives from returning to the fight. It was on this basis that the Supreme Court approved the detention of war-on-terror captives, without trial, in Hamdi v. Rumsfeld (2004).

The Guantanamo detainees are “unlawful” enemy combatants and not “prisoners of war” under the Geneva Conventions. Yet they are still combatants, not convicts. By contrast, the individuals held in the federal prison system, and especially those in the maximum security facilities suggested for the Guantanamo detainees, are convicted criminals.

It is very doubtful that under the customary laws and customs of war, the Hamdi decision, or Common Article 3 of the Geneva Conventions (which the Supreme Court also has applied to the war on terror) the Guantanamo detainees can be treated like convicted criminals and consigned without trial to the genuinely fearsome world of a super-max prison.

Segregating the detainees from the overall prison population — to maintain the “non-penal” character of their confinement as well as to frustrate any recruiting activities or continuing al Qaeda operations — is also legally dubious. Unless a new Guantanamo is to be constructed, this segregation will have to take place in existing isolation wards used to discipline (and sometimes protect) federal inmates.

This could mean solitary confinement, perhaps for 23 hours a day, without regard to a detainee’s conduct or disciplinary status. The chances that courts would consider this to be the “humane” treatment required by the Geneva conventions are not overwhelming.

The Obama administration can be certain these conditions will be challenged in the courts, and it is difficult to see how, in light of current judicial attitudes, the detainees will be denied the entire panoply of constitutional rights claimed by ordinary inmates — including lawsuits challenging their conditions of confinement. If courts conclude that these conditions are unconstitutional, or that they cannot be held indefinitely as enemy combatants, judges could mandate the release of these jihadists into the U.S. …

But what is there to fear from these innocent shepherds?

What About The Richness of Their Experiences?

Kim Strassel sees the Democrats’ hypocrisy in their focus on the “richness of [Sotomayor’s] experiences”:

…perhaps we can expect [Sotomayor] to join in opinions with the wise and richly experienced Clarence Thomas. That would be the same Justice Thomas who lost his father, and was raised by his mother in a rural Georgia town, in a shack without running water, until he was sent to his grandfather. The same Justice Thomas who had to work every day after school, though he was not allowed to study at the Savannah Public Library because he was black. The same Justice Thomas who became the first in his family to go to college and receive a law degree from Yale.

By the president’s measure, the nation couldn’t find a more empathetic referee than Justice Thomas. And yet here’s what Mr. Obama had to say last year when Pastor Rick Warren asked him about the Supreme Court: “I would not have nominated Clarence Thomas. I don’t think that he was a strong enough jurist or legal thinker at the time for that elevation.”

In other words, nine months ago Mr. Obama thought that the primary qualification for the High Court was the soundness of a nominee’s legal thinking, or at least that’s what Democrats have always stressed when working against a conservative judge. Throughout the Bush years, it was standard Democratic senatorial practice to comb through every last opinion, memo, job application and college term paper, all with an aim of creating a nominee “too extreme” or “unqualified” to sit on the federal bench.

Mr. Obama knows this, as he took part in it, joining a Senate minority who voted against both Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Sam Alito. Mr. Obama also understands a discussion of Judge Sotomayor’s legal thinking means a discussion about “judicial activism” — a political loser. In a day when voters routinely rise up to rebuke their activist courts on issues ranging from gay marriage to property rights, few red-state Democrats want to go there. Moreover, a number of Judge Sotomayor’s specific legal opinions — whether on racial preferences, or gun restrictions — put her to the left of most Americans.

Which brings us to Ground Rule No. 2, which is that Republicans are not allowed to criticize Judge Sotomayor, for the reason that she is the first Hispanic nominee to the High Court. The Beltway media also dutifully latched on to this White House talking point, reporting threats from leading Democrats, including New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, who intoned that Republicans “oppose her at their peril.”

This would be the same Mr. Schumer who had this to say about Miguel Estrada, President Bush’s Hispanic nominee (who, by the way, came to this country as an immigrant from Honduras) to the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals in 2002: Mr. Estrada “is like a Stealth missile — with a nose cone — coming out of the right wing’s deepest silo.” That would be the same Mr. Schumer who ambushed Mr. Estrada in a Senate hearing, smearing him with allegations made by unnamed former associates. That would be the same Mr. Schumer who sat on the Judiciary Committee, where leaked memos later showed that Democrats feared Mr. Estrada would use a position on the D.C. Circuit as a launching pad to become the nation’s . . . first Hispanic Supreme Court judge. Two tortured years later, Mr. Estrada withdrew, after the Democrats waged seven filibusters against a confirmation vote…

Here’s Charles Krauthammer on another person’s “rich experiences”:

…[Frank] Ricci is a New Haven firefighter stationed seven blocks from where Sotomayor went to law school (Yale). Raised in blue-collar Wallingford, Conn., Ricci struggled as a C and D student in public schools ill-prepared to address his serious learning disabilities. Nonetheless he persevered, becoming a junior firefighter and Connecticut’s youngest certified EMT.

After studying fire science at a community college, he became a New Haven “truckie,” the guy who puts up ladders and breaks holes in burning buildings. When his department announced exams for promotions, he spent $1,000 on books, quit his second job so he could study eight to 13 hours a day, and, because of his dyslexia, hired someone to read him the material.

He placed sixth on the lieutenant’s exam, which qualified him for promotion. Except that the exams were thrown out by the city, and all promotions denied, because no blacks had scored high enough to be promoted.

Ricci (with 19 others) sued.

That’s where these two American stories intersect. Sotomayor was a member of the three-member circuit court panel that upheld the dismissal of his case, thus denying Ricci his promotion.

This summary ruling deeply disturbed fellow members of Sotomayor’s court, including Judge Jose Cabranes (a fellow Clinton appointee) who, writing for five others, criticized the unusual, initially unpublished, single-paragraph dismissal for ignoring the serious constitutional issues at stake.

Two things are sure to happen this summer: The Supreme Court will overturn Sotomayor’s panel’s ruling. And, barring some huge hidden scandal, Sotomayor will be elevated to that same Supreme Court…

On the Ricci case. And on her statements about the inherent differences between groups, and the superior wisdom she believes her Latina physiology, culture and background grant her over a white male judge. They perfectly reflect the Democrats’ enthrallment with identity politics, which assigns free citizens to ethnic and racial groups possessing a hierarchy of wisdom and entitled to a hierarchy of claims upon society…

The Richness of Her Experiences

Vincent Carroll on Sotomayor’s sexism/racism:

If racial and gender bigotry truly have no place in American public life today, then Judge Sonia Sotomayor, during her confirmation hearing for a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court, needs to utterly repudiate her 2001 assertion that “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.”

Putting that statement “in context” or explaining what she “really meant” will not do. Nor can Judge Sotomayor credibly argue that her assertion was an ill-considered mistake, since it was part of a prepared speech at the Berkeley school of law. No, she needs to reject it as the expression of bigotry that it was.

Even then she’d be getting off easy. After all, as Stuart Taylor wrote last weekend in the National Journal, “Any prominent white male would be instantly and properly banished from polite society as a racist and a sexist for making an analogous claim of ethnic and gender superiority or inferiority.”

Sotomayor, by contrast, is on the verge of a lifetime post on the most powerful court in the land.

While Sotomayor’s comparison of the relative wisdom of Latina women and white men has garnered most of the attention in her Berkeley speech, it was hardly her only eyebrow-raising remark that day. After wondering “whether by ignoring our differences as women or men of color we do a disservice both to the law and society,” she then added, “Whatever the reasons why we may have different perspectives, either as some theorists suggest because of our cultural experiences or as others postulate because we have basic differences in logic and reasoning, are in many respects a small part of a larger practical question we as women and minority judges in society in general must address.”

Is she really suggesting that men and women, as well as people of different races, “have basic differences in logic and reasoning” in approaching legal issues? Once again, can you imagine a prominent white male saying such a thing without a legion of critics demanding that he do public penance?

Why, when Larry Summers was Harvard president, his claim that the distribution of innate aptitude might partly explain the ratio of men and women in science careers provoked such a furor that he was forced to backtrack, grovel and eventually resign (although as director of the White House’s National Economic Council, he certainly landed on his feet).

Sotomayor’s statement was far less nuanced than Summers’, and yet was obviously deliberate, since she restated it within minutes.

“Whether born from experience or inherent physiological or cultural differences . . .,” she declared, “our gender and national origins may and will make a difference in our judging.”…

And in a news article in today’s Wall Street Journal, we read this item which was curiously omitted from the online version:

…[Manhattan District Attorney Robert] Morgenthau says [Sotomayor] told him she nearly flunked out her first year at Princeton because her essay-writing skills were poor. A professor took her in over the summer, he says, nearly every day to hone her writing…

Is it safe to assume that Ms. Sotomayor would not have been admitted to one of the most selective universities in the world if it weren’t for her being born a Puerto Rican? Is it also safe to assume that Princeton professors don’t routinely take in students over the summer and teach them stuff they should have learned in junior and senior high school?

And is it rude of me to wonder why, given the special treatment she received, she had no “empathy” for the New Haven fire fighters who were denied promotions because of their race (Caucasian) and whose case she summarily dismissed when she was on the appeals court?

Just asking.

The Justice From ACORN?

Not that it makes any difference since the identity politicians in the Democratic Party have the votes and few (if any) politicians have the guts to vote against an Hispanic woman (who isn’t a conservative), but it seems clear to me that Barry’s Supreme Court nominee is an angry racist.

Jennifer Rubin explains:

…What one shouldn’t expect is a justice who doesn’t believe in judging per se and, even more troubling, doesn’t believe in racial equality, at least not as most Americans understand it.

This is what should be the focus of her confirmation hearings.

On the judging front, the president let it be known he’s out for empathy — that is, the business (one supposes) of picking the “deserving” litigant and then finding the legal hook to justify the decision (because of course judges really aren’t supposed to do that sort of thing.) In what will be “Exhibit A” on the list of things a Supreme Court aspirant doesn’t want to say, Sotomayor was captured on tape with these morsels of wisdom:

Um, all of the legal defense funds out there, um, they’re looking for people out there with court of appeals experience, because court of appeals is where policy is made. And I know, I know this is on tape and I should never say that because we don’t make law, I know. Um, um — [laughter] — I know. I’m not promoting it, I’m not advocating it, and, I’m … you know. [laughter]

The Senate might wonder whether this is a glimpse into her theory of jurisprudence or simply an example of poor judgment and taste.

In either case, one wonders what she thinks her job entails. The president is clear: it’s about fishing out the neediest, the most downtrodden, and the least powerful. The Supreme Court is composed, in his view, of nine community organizers who are out to right wrongs, regardless of their assigned task. (That task, for those who have forgotten, is to interpret the statutes and constitutional provisions which are before the Supreme Court and to render justice equally and impartially to all who come before it.) Does Sotomayor share Obama’s view, while intending to deceive litigants and the country about her legal reasoning which always (wow, like magic!) arrives at the “right” result?

And that brings us to the second substantial concern about Sotomayor. Stuart Taylor writes:

“I would hope that a wise Latina woman with the richness of her experiences would more often than not reach a better conclusion [as a judge] than a white male who hasn’t lived that life.” — Judge Sonia Sotomayor, in her Judge Mario G. Olmos Law and Cultural Diversity Lecture at the University of California (Berkeley) School of Law in 2001.

The above assertion and the rest of a remarkable speech to a Hispanic group by Sotomayor — widely touted as a possible Obama nominee to the Supreme Court — has drawn very little attention in the mainstream media since it was quoted deep inside the New York Times on May 15.

It deserves more scrutiny, because apart from Sotomayor’s Supreme Court prospects, her thinking is representative of the Democratic Party’s powerful identity-politics wing.

Sotomayor also referred to the cardinal duty of judges to be impartial as a mere “aspiration because it denies the fact that we are by our experiences making different choices than others.” And she suggested that “inherent physiological or cultural differences” may help explain why “our gender and national origins may and will make a difference in our judging.”

We are thus presented with a Supreme Court nominee who seems to doubt her own ability to render impartial decisions (must she recuse herself on a regular basis, then?) and the fundamental premise of our government — the part about “all men are created equal.” (Does she, like Reverend Wright, also believe “African and African-American children have a different way of learning”?) One wonders what candidate Obama would have said during the campaign about such a stark repudiation of the inherent intellectual equality of Sotomayor’s fellow citizens.

Give 'Em Hell, Dick

A terrific retort to Barry and his naive (or anti-American) apostles by Dick Cheney:

An excerpt:

…The United States of America was a good country before 9/11, just as we are today. List all the things that make us a force for good in the world – for liberty, for human rights, for the rational, peaceful resolution of differences – and what you end up with is a list of the reasons why the terrorists hate America. If fine speech-making, appeals to reason, or pleas for compassion had the power to move them, the terrorists would long ago have abandoned the field. And when they see the American government caught up in arguments about interrogations, or whether foreign terrorists have constitutional rights, they don’t stand back in awe of our legal system and wonder whether they had misjudged us all along. Instead the terrorists see just what they were hoping for – our unity gone, our resolve shaken, our leaders distracted. In short, they see weakness and opportunity…

Ain't Happenin'

Jeff Jacoby, Boston Globe columnist, tells us why a “two-state solution” ain’t happenin'”:

…The consensus, it would seem, is overwhelming. As Henri Guaino, a senior adviser to French President Nicolas Sarkozy, put it on Sunday: “Everyone wants peace. The whole world wants a Palestinian state.”

It isn’t going to happen.

International consensus or no, the two-state solution is a chimera. Peace will not be achieved by granting sovereignty to the Palestinians, because Palestinian sovereignty has never been the Arabs’ goal. Time and time again, a two-state solution has been proposed. Time and time again, the Arabs have turned it down.

In 1936, when Palestine was still under British rule, a royal commission headed by Lord Peel was sent to investigate the steadily worsening Arab violence. After a detailed inquiry, the Peel Commission concluded that “an irrepressible conflict has arisen between two national communities within the narrow bounds of one small country.” It recommended a two-state solution – a partition of the land into separate Arab and Jewish states. “Partition offers a chance of ultimate peace,” the commission reported. “No other plan does.”

But the Arab leaders, more intent on preventing Jewish sovereignty in Palestine than in achieving a state for themselves, rejected the Peel plan out of hand. The foremost Palestinian leader, Haj Amin al-Husseini, actively supported the Nazi regime in Germany. In return, Husseini wrote in his memoirs, Hitler promised him “a free hand to eradicate every last Jew from Palestine and the Arab world.”

In 1947, the Palestinians were again presented with a two-state proposal. Again they spurned it. Like the Peel Commission, the United Nations concluded that only a division of the land into adjacent states, one Arab and one Jewish, could put an end to the conflict. On Nov. 29, 1947, by a vote of 33-13, the UN General Assembly adopted Resolution 181, partitioning Palestine on the basis of population. Had the Arabs accepted the UN decision, the Palestinian state that “the whole world wants” would today be 61 years old. Instead, the Arab League vowed to block Jewish sovereignty by waging “a war of extermination and a momentous massacre.”

Over and over, the pattern has been repeated. Following its stunning victory in the 1967 Six Day War, Israel offered to exchange the land it had won for permanent peace with its neighbors. From their summit in Khartoum came the Arabs’ notorious response: “No peace with Israel, no negotiations with Israel, no recognition of Israel.”

At Camp David in 2000, Ehud Barak offered the Palestinians virtually everything they claimed to be seeking – a sovereign state with its capital in East Jerusalem, 97 percent of the West Bank and Gaza Strip, tens of billions of dollars in “compensation” for the plight of Palestinian refugees. Yasser Arafat refused the offer, and launched the bloodiest wave of terrorism in Israel’s history.

To this day, the charters of Hamas and Fatah, the two main Palestinian factions, call for Israel’s liquidation. “The whole world” may want peace and a Palestinian state, but the Palestinians want something very different. Until that changes, there is no two-state solution.

Defining Deviancy Down for Non-Jews

Former CIA director in the Clinton administration James Woolsey offers a modest proposal as quoted by Frank Gaffney:

…Regrettably, as Director Woolsey notes, the world has a tendency to “define deviancy down for non-Jews.” As a result, governments around the world, including the Obama administration, never even mention the possibility that Jews should be able to enjoy the same rights and privileges in any future Palestinian polity that Israeli Arabs exercise today in the Jewish state.

So, instead of what amounts to a Hitlerian program of Judenrein in any prospective Palestinian state – meaning, as a practical matter, if not a de jure one, that no Jews can reside or work there, there could be approximately twice the number of Israeli Jews as currently reside in so-called “settlements” on the West Bank. They should be free to build synagogues and Jewish schools. And newspapers that serve the Jewish population in any future state of “Palestine” should be permitted to flourish there.

Jews should also have a chance to elect representatives to a future Palestinian legislature. They should be able to expect to have representation as well in other governing institutions, like the executive and judicial branches.

In order for the foregoing to operate, Jews in the Palestinian state must be able to live without fearing every day for their lives. In Mr. Woolsey`s view, “Once Palestinians are behaving that way, they deserve a state.”

In other words, Jews in a “Palestinian” state should have the same rights Arabs have in Israel. Don’t hold your breath.

Dick Prejean and Nancy Obama

Mark Steyn: the antidote to Modo/Frank Rich poisoning:

…Question: What does Dick Cheney think of waterboarding?

He’s in favor of it. He was in favor of it then, he’s in favor of it now. He doesn’t think it’s torture, and he supports having it on the books as a vital option. On his recent TV appearances, he sometimes gives the impression he would not be entirely averse to performing a demonstration on his interviewers, but generally he believes its use should be a tad more circumscribed. He is entirely consistent.

Question: What does Nancy Pelosi think of waterboarding?

No, I mean really. Away from the cameras, away from the Capitol, in the deepest recesses of her (if she’ll forgive my naïveté) soul. Sitting on a mountaintop, contemplating the distant horizon, chewing thoughtfully on a cranberry-almond granola bar, what does she truly believe about waterboarding?

Does she support it? Well, according to the CIA, she did way back when, over six years ago.

Does she oppose it? According to Speaker Pelosi, yes. In her varying accounts, she’s (a) accused the CIA of consciously “misleading the Congress of the United States” as to what they were doing; (b) admitted to having been briefed that waterboarding was in the playbook but that “we were not – I repeat – were not told that waterboarding or any of these other enhanced interrogation methods were used”; (c) belatedly conceded that she’d known back in February 2003 that waterboarding was being used but had been apprised of the fact by “a member of my staff”. As she said on Thursday, instead of doing anything about it, she decided to focus on getting more Democrats elected to the House.

It’s worth noting that, by most if not all of her multiple accounts, Nancy Pelosi is as guilty of torture as anybody else. That’s not an airy rhetorical flourish but a statement of law. As National Review’s Andy McCarthy points out, under Section 2340A(c) of the relevant statute, a person who conspires to torture is subject to the same penalties as the actual torturer. Once Speaker Pelosi was informed that waterboarding was part of the plan and that it was actually being used, she was in on the conspiracy, and as up to her neck in it as whoever it was who was actually sticking it to poor old Abu Zubaydah and the other blameless lads.

That is, if you believe waterboarding is “torture.”

I don’t believe it’s torture. Nor does Dick Cheney. But Nancy Pelosi does. Or so she has said, latterly.

Alarmed by her erratic public performance, the Speaker’s fellow San Francisco Democrat Dianne Feinstein attempted to put an end to Nancy’s self-torture session. “I don’t want to make an apology for anybody,” said Senator Feinstein, “but in 2002, it wasn’t 2006, ’07, ’08 or ’09. It was right after 9/11, and there were in fact discussions about a second wave of attacks.”

Indeed. In effect, the senator is saying waterboarding was acceptable in 2002, but not by 2009. The waterboarding didn’t change, but the country did. It was no longer America’s war but Bush’s war. And it was no longer a bipartisan interrogation technique that enjoyed the explicit approval of both parties’ leaderships, but a grubby Bush-Cheney-Rummy war crime.

Dianne Feinstein has provided the least worst explanation for her colleague’s behavior. The alternative – that Speaker Pelosi is a contemptible opportunist hack playing the cheapest but most destructive kind of politics with key elements of national security – is, of course, unthinkable. Senator Feinstein says airily that no reasonable person would hold dear Nancy to account for what she supported all those years ago. But it’s OK to hold Cheney or some no-name Justice Department backroom boy to account?

Well, sure. It’s the Miss USA standard of political integrity: Carrie Prejean and Barack Obama have the same publicly stated views on gay marriage. But the politically correct enforcers know that Barack doesn’t mean it, so that’s okay, whereas Carrie does, so that’s a hate crime. In the torture debate, Pelosi is Obama and Dick Cheney is Carrie Prejean. Dick means it, because to him this is an issue of national security. Nancy doesn’t, because to her it’s about the shifting breezes of political viability.

But it does make you wonder whether a superpower with this kind of leadership class should really be going to war at all. Over at The New York Times, the elderly schoolgirl Maureen Dowd riffed off Cheney’s defense of waterboarding and argued that, no matter when the next terrorist attack comes, the former vice-president would be the one primarily responsible. He is, she said, “a force multiplier for Muslims who hate America”.

Really? Last week, while Speaker Pelosi was preoccupied with her what-did-I-know-and-when-did-I-know-that-I-knew-it routine,The Daily Telegraph in London reported what is believed to be the second mass poisoning of Afghan schoolgirls, this time at Ura Jalili High School for Girls in Charikar. Fifty students had to be hospitalized after a mysterious “poison gas” infected the classrooms. As you may recall, under the Taliban it was illegal for girls to attend school, and Afghan insurgents have made a sustained effort to make the price of female education too high. So, in an effort to identify the poison, blood samples have been taken to Bagram air base to be analyzed by the U.S. military, taking time off its hectic schedule of mass torture.

Does waterboarding so outrage the Muslim world that it drives millions of young men into the dark embrace of al-Qaida? No. But the media fetishization of U.S. “torture” is certainly “a force multiplier” for Muslims who don’t so much “hate” as despise America, not least for its self-loathing.

One of the few U.S. commentators to pick up on the Afghan schoolgirls story was Phyllis Chesler, who wrote about it under the headline “The High Cost Of Western Idealism.” America and its few real allies fight under the most constrained and self-imposed rules of engagement ever devised, and against an enemy that rejects every basic element of the Geneva Conventions. Perhaps we are so rich, so smart, so advanced that we can fight with one arm and both legs tied behind out back and still win – eventually. Along the way many innocents will suffer. But better that than that a Gitmo detainee with a fear of insects should have a caterpillar put in his cell.

Watching the Democrats champing at the bit last week, I thought perhaps we could cut to the chase and handcuff Cheney and Pelosi to a radiator in the basement of a CIA safe house somewhere. But on reflection this would be an unacceptable level of torture. It would be ungallant to say for whom.

The Goose

The recently conflicted-about-Barry Peggy Noonan has a moment of brilliant clarity:

…Lately it is as if the American government, having decided in its programs, assumptions and philosophy to become more European, has at the same time decided it would be amusing to speak to the American people only in French.

Which would give rise to a simple and wholly understandable suspicion that the government doesn’t speak clearly about what it’s doing for the reason that they know that if people fully understood they would say, “Oh that’s not a good idea,” or, “The cost of that will kill us.”

I think there are two major but not fully formed or fully articulated fears among thinking Americans right now, and the deliberate obscurity of official language only intensifies those fears.

The first is that Mr. Obama’s government, in all its flurry of activism, may kill the goose that laid the golden egg. This is as dreadful and obvious a cliché as they come, but too bad, it’s what people fear. They see the spending plans and tax plans, the regulation and reform hunger, the energy proposals and health-care ambitions, and they—we—wonder if the men and women doing all this, working in their separate and discrete areas, are being overseen by anyone saying, “By the way, don’t kill the goose.”

The goose of course is the big, messy, spirited, inspiring, and sometimes in some respects damaging but on the whole brilliant and productive wealth-generator known as the free-market capitalist system. People do want things cleaned up and needed regulations instituted, and they don’t mind at all if the very wealthy are more heavily taxed, but they greatly fear a goose killing. Economic freedom in all its chaos and disorder has kept us rich for 200 years, and allowed us as a nation to be generous and strong at home and in the world. But the goose can be killed—by carelessness, hostility, incrementalism, paralysis, and by no one saying, “Don’t kill the goose.”

Complicating all this is the fact that so many of the Obama people seem to be extremely bright and pleasant academic types with no particular and personal knowledge of business in America. They are not messy businessmen with a love for the system that lifted them. Mr. Obama himself, like John McCain, has shown no particular interest in making money in his life, with the latter preferring military and then political glory, and the former preferring political power.

The second great fear is that the balance between those who pay taxes and those who need benefits will be left, after the great flurry, all out of whack. When this balance is deeply disturbed or distorted, when the number of those who need to take truly overwhelms those who need to make, a tipping point occurs. People become disheartened. Generations become resigned. Tiredness steps in. We will miss irrational exuberance.

Is anyone in the Obama administration watching this? If they are, they’re not saying, certainly not clearly…

Decisions Today, Crisis Tomorrow

David Frum looks at Barry’s new America:

…In barely four months, Barack Obama has nudged the United States toward a future in which government will be bigger and more assertive — where taxes will be higher and government unions more powerful — where legal rights are less secure and contracts more uncertain.

In California, he is pushing a state toward the fiscal edge in order to favour a union ally. At Chrysler, he has put at risk the security of every contract in the country to please another union.

Meanwhile, his administration is planning changes to the regulation of finance that are likely to leave the United States less dynamic and less innovative in the years ahead — at the same time as taxes rise and educational levels decline. (Already the Educational Testing Service– the people who run America’s SAT exam — predicts a less skilled U. S. workforce in 2030 than today, with literacy rates declining by an average of 5% as unskilled immigration and rising rates of single parenthood take their toll.)

It’s easy to lose sight of these wrong and costly choices in the turmoil of the immediate crisis. But it is these decisions of today that are preparing the crisis of tomorrow.

Please read the entire piece for more examples of what Michael Barone has called Obama’s “gangster government.”