January 13, 2010

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Scott Brown, running for the senate in MA is fast on his feet. The Corner has the story.

David Warren says that left-leaning lawyers make for dangerous politicians.

…And this is the wisdom of all the policy czars that President Obama has appointed — his commando team of lawyers, many with highly controversial, radical left pasts. Superficially, they could be removed from office tomorrow. But if they can rewrite enough laws and regulations, in the smoke and confusion of brief moments in power, they will, in a deeper sense, remain in office for generations to come.

I was writing last Sunday in general opposition to the concept of “reform.” It is a lawyerly concept, which has narrowed in our time to the tactics of “legislation by litigation,” and should be profoundly anathematic to a free society. By increments, the need for lawyers has been extended to every aspect of human life, and the law schools themselves have metastatically expanded.

In a sense, our entire society has been criminalized, by lawyers adding to myriad laws that impinge not only on criminals, but on everybody. And by increments, we must find some way to reverse that parasitical growth, which threatens to choke even our humanity.

John Bolton has an article in the WSJ on how to increase the effectiveness of the intelligence community.

…The problem is often not the intelligence we collect, but assessing its implications. Solving that problem requires not the mind-deadening exercise of achieving bureaucratic consensus, but creating a culture that rewards insight and decisiveness. To create that culture we should abolish the DNI office and NIEs.

Eliminating the DNI should be accompanied by reversing decades of inadequate National Security Council supervision of the intelligence function. The council is an awesome instrument for presidential control over the IC, but only if the national security adviser and others exercise direction and control. Sloughing off responsibility to the bureaucracy embodying the problem is a failure of presidential leadership, and unfortunately gives us exactly the IC we deserve.

Contemporary NIEs (and other IC products) reflect the bureaucracy’s lowest-common-denominator tendencies and should be abolished. Each intelligence agency should be able to place its analysis of data into a competitive marketplace of classified ideas—this will help determine which is the superior product. …

Mark Steyn suggests that Great Britain should be on the list of countries requiring extra airport screening.

…On the other hand, the threat posed by Yemen and Pakistan is not confined to those who travel on Yemeni and Pakistani passports. There are many Muslims with Western passports who shuttle back and forth between their countries and ours. Indeed, the flight routes between Britain and Pakistan are some of the busiest in the world — a lot of innocent stuff like picking up the child bride, but some trips whose purposes are not so clear.

Come to think of it, if we’re profiling, why not the Brits? Americans do the shoeless shuffle for every 40-minute puddlejump because of one British subject — Richard Reid, the shoe bomber. Americans dutifully put their restricted quantities of shampoo and cough medicine in approved plastic sacks because of more British subjects — the Heathrow plotters. And now Americans will be forbidden to go to the bathroom or read a paperback book or whatever halfwit stricture the TSA has settled on this week because of a British university student, Mr. Abdulmutallab.

Obviously — although less obviously than a decade ago — not every Briton is a terrorist risk: One would probably not need to screen David Beckham, Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, Rod Stewart . . . Nevertheless, according to the New York Times, of Britain’s half million university students, one-fifth are Muslim. And, according to a poll by the Centre for Social Cohesion, one-third of British Muslim students favor a global caliphate and believe killing in the name of religion is justified. Presumably only a small percentage are so gung-ho that they’d be willing to stuff the explosives in their briefs. But they provide a large comfort zone for the jihad to operate in.  …

In the Daily Beast, Tunku Varadarajan comments on the superficial criticisms of the Tea Party.

…Put to one side, for the moment, David’s (David Brooks) exaggeratedly Hamiltonian belief in the natural leadership abilities of people like him, and ask this: What exactly is this “educated class,” and what leads him to think that those who oppose it are not, somehow, sophisticated? Forgive me, here, for bringing to the discussion a personal note. I have a cousin who is a Wellesley graduate, a widely traveled, thirty-something, multilingual daughter of Indian immigrants who lives in that most redneck of territories…Union Square, in Manhattan. She is a Tea Party supporter, and she wrote me these words in an email:

“I laugh, but also feel indignant, when I read that the tea parties are filled with angry white men, because it’s obvious that reporters are not attending the same tea parties I attended. The events were a mix of young and old, VERY mixed ethnicities (but yes, a majority white). Everyone to a person was courteous and polite, and the best part was the signs, which were funny and clever. It did feel very grassroots and very much a movement fueled by the people rather than by shadowy party apparatchiks. It felt cool to think that we were not going to be taken in by government and be told what was good for us. (Does that sound really hokey?) It felt good to be a part of a group of people who were saying “enough!” I’m a huge supporter of the tea party movement because I think it exists outside of the traditional parties and is a true manifestation of the voice of the citizen.

Not everyone in the movement is a Wellesley graduate, and I bring my cousin into the story only as a forensic counterpoint to David’s fixation with the “educated class.” America doesn’t really have a class system, but that fact makes it tough for people like David, who sometimes seem to wish it did. The traditional solution has been to attend an Ivy League school if possible—or just cop an “intellectual” attitude if not—and then look down on the rest of America. When America was less of a meritocracy (and that was not so long ago), this solution was less damaging. Now that the country is run mostly by graduates of Ivy League schools, however, that they look down on the electorate is becoming not only vastly irritating to the electorate but also rather dangerous. Elitism, now, might have adverse political consequences—and a backlash. …

Would you believe that the AP is reporting that the stimulus has not helped the economy? Jennifer Rubin fills us in.

The stimulus money to be spent on infrastructure really did nothing to save or create jobs. That’s not a conservative talking point; that’s the AP:

Ten months into President Barack Obama’s first economic stimulus plan, a surge in spending on roads and bridges has had no effect on local unemployment and only barely helped the beleaguered construction industry, an Associated Press analysis has found. …

Obama wants a second stimulus, but what would be the point? (”AP’s analysis, which was reviewed by independent economists at five universities, showed that strategy hasn’t affected unemployment rates so far. And there’s concern it won’t work the second time.”) The reaction of economists is instructive …

…Even within the construction industry, which stood to benefit most from transportation money, the AP’s analysis found there was nearly no connection between stimulus money and the number of construction workers hired or fired since Congress passed the recovery program. The effect was so small, one economist compared it to trying to move the Empire State Building by pushing against it. …

Jennifer Rubin also blogs about how lying is part of the Washington, DC job description.

You wonder how government officials do it. Self-respecting professionals who enjoyed a good reputation and seem like decent types come to Washington, go to work for an administration, and are required, as part of their job, to propound nonsense. More than nonsense, really — lies. A case in point is Christina Romer’s appearance on State of the Union. John King played for her a tape of then candidate Barack Obama, declaring: “I can make a firm pledge: Under my plan, no family making less than $250,000 a year will see any form of tax increase, not your income tax, not your payroll tax, not your capital gains taxes, not any of your taxes.” King and Romer then had this exchange:

KING: Does that stand as we head into year two of the Obama administration and you try to make the difficult choices to start to bring the deficit under control? Does that promise still stand, not any of your taxes if you’re under $250,000?

ROMER: I mean, yes. And let me talk, though, about the — the bigger issue, which is, you know, even — to the degree that we, of course, care deeply about the deficit, and you’re right. In 2010, that is going to be something very much that the president is focusing on and talking about. …

Gerald Warner posts on more green insanity in Telegraph Blogs, UK.

…The whole “climate change” scenario has now assumed such Disneyland characteristics, it is impossible to keep pace with the escalating extravagance of the global warmists’ fantasies. We truly are in the territory where the lunatics have taken over the asylum.

For those who missed it, I feel obliged to share the following gem from Dominic Lawson’s excellent piece on the Sunday Times Online yesterday. It provides a unique insight into the extent to which the Met Office, in its crusade to support the global warming scam, has lost touch with any sense of reality. Lawson quotes from a Met Office staffer’s internet posting to a newspaper last week:

“This will be the warmest winter in living memory, the data has already been recorded. For your information, we take the highest 15 readings between November and March and then produce an average. As November was a very seasonally warm month, then all the data will come from those readings.”

Beam me up, Scottie! …

The NYTimes had an interesting piece on the life of a person with autism. Saki Knafo writes about George Kramer, 73.

George Kramer sat hunched on his stool behind the counter of the small hardware store on Coney Island Avenue, gazing out the window at the passing traffic. He was bundled up in a heavy sweater, a maroon wool cap folded above his ears. Toward the back of the store, beyond Mr. Kramer’s field of vision, Isaac Abraham was rifling through a cabinet. Mr. Abraham, the store’s owner for many years, knows Mr. Kramer about as well as anybody, and he was about to give a demonstration.

Quietly, he removed a faucet knob from the cabinet and hid it behind his back. Then he approached the counter and clapped it down with a flourish.

Mr. Kramer gave it a perfunctory glance. “Gerber,” he said.

“Gerber what?” asked Mr. Abraham.

“Ninety-nine, eleven fifty-one.”

Mr. Abraham turned over the package to show the catalog number: 99-1151. Mr. Kramer — George to me — is my second cousin, and he has worked at Kramer’s Hardware, in Flatbush, Brooklyn, for 58 years. He has a developmental disability, which is obvious to people who meet him, but he also has a rare and less apparent ability: Like the late Kim Peek, the inspiration for the film “Rain Man,” George, 71, has a powerful memory for dates and numbers and facts. If you tell him your birthday, he can tell you what day it will fall on two years in the future. He studies phone directories and atlases in his spare time. …

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