US Politics Obama Years Public date: 25.02.2019 20:17:58

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30 Sep 2010

Obama’s pathetic offer to israel

Laura Rozen at Politico reports that President Obama has written a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu offering various "assurances" to Israel if it will extend for two months its moratorium on construction in the West Bank. Her report comes via Middle East specialist David Makovsky, who co-authored a book about the Middle East with Dennis Ross, a top presidential adviser on the Middle East and a veteran "peace" negotiator. Presumably, then, it comes from the White House.
Laura Rozen at Politico reports that President Obama has written a letter to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu offering...

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26 May 2010

Let’s be more like us

Is Red China an economic paper tiger? I doubt it. But I do think China's economic status is vastly overrated, and so does John Pomfret of the Washington Post. The emphasis of his article is on the lack of Chinese "brand names." It also touches on the relatively small amount of Chinese direct investment overseas. But the underlying issue, according to Pomfret, may well be China's lack of successful innovation, which causes it to rely "on stitching and welding together products that are imagined, invented, and designed by others." Its inability to innovate means, among other things, that China is trapped paying enormous amounts in patent royalties and licensing fees to foreigners." Why does it not surprise me that China, with its top-down system that Thomas Friedman so admires, has a problem with innovation? Many of our readers will recall that, 20 years ago, Japan was touted almost universally as the emerging economic superpower. The Tom Friedmans of that era were constantly telling us that we needed to become more like "the Japan that can say no." It was James Fallows (formerly a speechwriter for Jimmy Carter) who led the intellectual charge against this trend. The title of his book -- More Like Us -- presented what proved to be the correct way of coping with Japan's rather meagre threat to our economic dominance. I would submit that the same prescription applies today. We need to be more like us, not more like the Chinese or the Europeans. Unfortunately, the current administration believes that, quite apart from its pragmatic doubts about the effectiveness of our economic system, we have a moral obligation to be less like us. Is Red China an economic paper tiger? I doubt it. But I do think China's economic status is vastly overrated, and so...
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12 May 2010

Diversity, Liberal style, Part Two

Yesterday, I noted that If Elena Kagan is confirmed, all three of the Supreme Court's female Justices will be from New York city. A reader adds that all three will also be former summer associates at the New York city law firm Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison. That firm declined, however, to offer Ruth Bader Ginsburg a job as a regular associate back in the bad old days when law firms discriminated on the basis of gender. To the best of my knowledge, neither Sonia Sotomayor nor Kagan was ever an associate with Paul Weiss either. However, this was by the choice of Sotomayor and Kagan, I assume.
Yesterday, I noted that If Elena Kagan is confirmed, all three of the Supreme Court's female Justices will be from New...

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11 May 2010

The Senate must take its Supreme Court nominees as it finds them

It has been suggested (see for example this post by John Podhoretz citing Kurt Andersen) that It would be problematic for any Republican who was in the Senate in 1999 to attack Elena Kagan's appointment on the grounds that she lacks judicial experience. For Kagan would have more than a decade of such experience if Republicans had not, for partisan reasons, blocked her appointment to the D.C. Circuit towards the end of the Clinton administration. But a nominee must be evaluated based on the credentials she has, not those she would have if she had been treated fairly. State U would not be wrong to refuse to admit an applicant to its law school on the ground that the applicant didn't attend college, even if State U had once unfairly rejected the applicant when she sought admission as an undergraduate. Nor would parents be wrong not to permit their child who just received her license to drive the family Mercedes to the beach, even if, absent their past over-protectiveness, the child would by now be an experienced driver of that car. It's not Kagan's fault that she lacks judicial experience, but every Senator has the right to, and should, consider that shortcoming when deciding whether she should be confirmed. It has been suggested (see for example this post by John Podhoretz citing Kurt Andersen) that It would be problematic...

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28 Apr 2010

The front-runner among front-runners

Tom Goldstein takes an in-depth look at the three apparent front-runners for nomination to the Supreme Court -- Elena Kagan, Diane Wood, and Merrick Garland. He concludes that Kagan is likely to emerge as the nominee. Although I originally viewed Kagan as the front-runner, recently I suggested that Wood might have a slight edge. Tom is much more knowledgeable and sophisticated in these matters than I am. In addition, my track record when it comes to predicting Supreme Court nominees is poor. I will say, however, that Tom analyzes most of the subsidiary questions surrounding the selection -- likely magnitude of Republican opposition, perceptions of the left-liberal base, etc. -- about the same way I did. Tom Goldstein takes an in-depth look at the three apparent front-runners for nomination to the Supreme Court -- Elena...

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28 Apr 2010

Wag the dog

Earlier this week, I noted that PA President Abbas was in the process of deciding whether to engage in "proximity talks" with Israel, and would consult with Arab states about the matter this week. However, I neglected to emphasize the sad fact that Abbas thinks he needs approval from Arab leaders before he can engage in non-talk talks with Israel. That fact is not lost on Elliott Abrams. In a column called "Who Speaks for the Palestinians?" he presents a compelling case that the answer is not the hapless Abbas. According to Haaretz, the PA president will dutifully await a Saturday vote by the Arab League's "Monitoring Committee for the Arab Peace Initiative" and is unlikely to accept any offer for peace talks that does not meet the panel's approval. This means that Israel cannot truly engage in a "peace process" with the Palestinians (a foolish enough errand under current circumstances), but instead will ultimately be negotiating with the Arab states, including the likes of Syria which is currently supplying Hezbollah with Scud missiles. Abbas is scheduled to visit the White House in mid-May. But, other than conferring undeserved prestige on the PA president, Obama's goals would be better served by inviting Bashar al Assad and eliminating the middle man. As Abrams concludes, "once again the Arab states intrude deeply into the 'peace process,' and as always they will have their own national interests at heart--not the fate of the Palestinians." Moreover, "it is a keen measure of the fall of American influence in the region when a Palestinian leader responds to intense American pressure to go to the negotiating table by waiting to see if Arab League foreign ministers will let him take that step." Earlier this week, I noted that PA President Abbas was in the process of deciding whether to engage in "proximity talks"...
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28 Apr 2010

Is sexual sadism a mitigating factor in a rape and murder case?

The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold hearings this afternoon on the nomination of Judge Robert Chatigny to the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. Judge Chatigny can expect plenty of skepticism about his suitability, given his handling of a case involving Michael Ross, a Connecticut serial killer who raped and murdered at least eight women and girls. The facts are summarized in this article in the American Spectator. Chatigny found that the sexual sadism of Ross -- known as the Roadside Strangler -- was a mitigating factor in his case. He went so far as to state that, given his sadism, Ross "never should have been convicted, or if convicted, he never should have been sentenced to death." Ross himself had finally decided to accept his execution after 20 years of appeals. However, his family and former defense counsel brought a series of "next friend" actions claiming that Ross was incompetent to make this decision. Chatigny twice ordered the execution postponed, but his rulings were overturned by the Second Circuit. Chatigny then tried to browbeat Ross' lawyer into mounting another challenge to the death sentence. He even threatened the law license of that lawyer. In addition to urging sexual sadism as a mitigating factor, Chatigny argued that Ross could not knowingly have decided to stop appealing given the conditions of the prison where he was being held. Chatigny showed himself to be quite the internationalist, telling Ross' lawyer that he should enlist "an expert who knows why the courts of Europe will not extradite someone to a place like [the prison in question]." In the end, Ross was executed and State attorneys in Connecticut filed a complaint with the Second Circuit alleging judicial misconduct. Chatigny avoided sanctions but, absent a satisfactory explanation of his conduct in the Ross case, Republican Senators (and maybe even the odd Democrat) will likely have serious reservations about whether
The Senate Judiciary Committee will hold hearings this afternoon on the nomination of Judge Robert Chatigny to the...

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