From November, 2014

I Pity the Fool Who Becomes the Next Secretary of Defense

More evidence–as though any were needed–that while Chuck Hagel is leaving the Pentagon, bad governance practices designed and implemented by the Obama White House will remain. And those practices have been around for a while: On a trip to Afghanistan during President Barack Obama’s first term, Defense Secretary Robert Gates was stunned to find a telephone line at the military’s special operations headquarters that linked directly back to a top White House national security official. “I had them tear it out while I was standing there,” Gates said earlier this month as he recounted his discovery. “I told the commanders,…

In which I Agree with James Stavridis

There are many reasons to support the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership. One such reason is that Vladimir Putin cannot stand the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership: President Barack Obama recently spent some quality time with leaders of Asian nations at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit in Beijing and again at the G20 Leaders summit, where he continued honing trade and diplomatic ties, and made another push for the long-delayed Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact. He also held several tense sideline meetings with Russian President Vladimir Putin without any discernable reduction in the gridlock over Ukraine. Flying under the international radar…

The Ferguson Grand Jury Decision

For those trying to understand why the grand jury in the Michael Brown case came to the decision not to indict Darren Wilson, this appears to be a very good accounting: The most credible eyewitnesses to the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., said he had charged toward Police Officer Darren Wilson just before the final, fatal shots, the St. Louis County prosecutor said Monday night as he sought to explain why a grand jury had not found probable cause to indict the officer. The accounts of several other witnesses from the Ferguson neighborhood where Mr. Brown, 18 and…

Chuck Hagel Is Leaving, But Problems with the Obama Administration’s National Security Apparatus Will Remain

Let there be absolutely no doubt that Chuck Hagel was at best, an inconsequential secretary of defense, and at worst, a terrible one. But while we ought to be relieved that Hagel has been shown the door, we also ought to be concerned that a completely dysfunctional national security apparatus will remain long after Hagel is gone: Two months before he was pushed out as defense secretary, Chuck Hagel penned a private letter to the White House, arguing for new measures to rein in Russian President Vladimir Putin and greater efforts to reassure anxious European allies, according to officials briefed on the…

Charles Schumer Commits a Kinsley Gaffe

And boy, what a Kinsley gaffe it is: Democrats made a strategic mistake by passing the Affordable Care Act, Sen. Charles Schumer (N.Y.), the third-ranking member of the Senate Democratic leadership, said Tuesday. Schumer says Democrats “blew the opportunity the American people gave them” in the 2008 elections, a Democratic landslide, by focusing on healthcare reform instead of legislation to boost the middle class. “After passing the stimulus, Democrats should have continued to propose middle class-oriented programs and built on the partial success of the stimulus,” he said in a speech at the National Press Club. He said the plight…

Meanwhile, Tyranny Continues in Venezuela

I don’t believe for a single moment that there was a plot afoot to kill Nicolás Maduro, but of course, the Venezuelan regime pretends conveniently that there was. This makes it easier for the government to suppress protest and dissent, and allows the government to try to distract Venezuelans from the existence of truly awful economic conditions and living standards. Of course, I am not writing anything that anyone doesn’t know, but it is worth emphasizing that the Venezuelan government’s response to the problems afflicting the country–problems the Venezuelan government itself was responsible for having created–is to constantly exclaim “Squirrel!” No…

Behold the Would-Be Next President of the United States

In all her glory: When officials at the University of California at Los Angeles began negotiating a $300,000 speech appearance by Hillary Rodham Clinton, the school had one request: Could we get a reduced rate for public universities? The answer from Clinton’s representatives: $300,000 is the “special university rate.” That e-mail exchange and other internal communications, obtained this week by The Washington Post under a Freedom of Information Act request, provide a rare glimpse into the complex and meticulous backstage efforts to manage the likely 2016 presidential candidate’s lucrative speaking career. At UCLA, efforts to book Clinton and then prepare for her visit…

I Told You So (Chuck Hagel Edition)

Chuck Hagel was never cut out to be secretary of defense. I wrote as much. Repeatedly (just scroll down, and you will see). Hagel was selected because he was deemed the ideal secretary of defense to preside over declining Pentagon budgets and a declining American presence on the world stage, and astonishingly enough, he was also selected because rabid anti-Israel anti-Semites thought that selecting Hagel as secretary of defense would be a great way to “to pay back Benjamin Netanyahu for all the ‘cooperation’ Obama received from him during the first term, as well as Bibi’s transparent attempt to tip the scale…

Our Very Wise and Poorly Implemented New Immigration Policy

In reacting to President Obama’s recent speech on immigration, I find myself in the same position as Ilya Shapiro; I commend the president on a truly excellent, much-needed policy change, while deploring the way in which the change is being implemented. Like Shapiro, I cannot get past the fact that previously, the president swore up and down that he did not have the authority to put into effect the changes that he is now putting into effect. To be sure, there are legal justifications for the president’s position–see Ilya Somin on that issue. But let there be absolutely no mistake that…

Rebuking Crazy Talk on the Supreme Court

Remember Paul Krugman’s ridiculous comments regarding the Supreme Court’s decision to grant certiorari in King v. Burwell? Justice Elena Kagan–no one’s idea of a right-wing jurist, of course–has something to say about them: Statements such as that of economics professor Paul Krugman’s argument in a New York Times column that the Court is corrupt, which was brought up by Eisgruber, are inaccurate, Kagan said. “That is just ridiculous language,” she said. Justices may agree or disagree, she said, yet they all fulfill their jobs in good faith. “I think [the Supreme Court] is an institution of government that really works,” Kagan…