Posts Tagged ‘Weekly Standard’
May 14th, 2013 at 5:10 pm
DeMint Supports Defense

Newly installed Heritage Foundation President Jim DeMint, former senator from South Carolina and favorite of conservatives just about everywhere, was in Mobile, AL last week to give  a speech for the superb Alabama Policy Institute. I wrote about it here.

But one part of my interview I did not write about last week (because it didn’t fit the main theme I was writing about) should give pause to those so-called conservatives, mostly younger ones, who seem blithely unconcerned (or at least only marginally concerned) with the continuing cutbacks in the U.S. defense budget.

I asked DeMint if he was more or less satisfied with how the battle over the budget “sequester” had played out. Frankly, I was not even thinking about defense, even though I have written that Republicans should have moved heaven and earth to protect defense from most of the effects of sequestration. When I asked the question, my assumption was that he would say he was largely satisfied with this interim step in the ongoing budget battles; my idea was to ask a follow-up question, based on the details of his response, about the bigger pictures of the larger, long-term budget problem.

I give that context only to show that I did not prompt DeMint in the slightest about defense. But here’s what he said, with his first words in response to my question:

“No, I’m not happy because so much was taken out of defense.” Then, after about three sentences to say he also didn’t think sequestration did enough to restrain spending on matters other than defense, he returned to his original point: “We do need to go back and figure out if we have enough money for modernization of our defense forces. I don’t think we do.”

This is significant. DeMint is well-known as a spending cutter, a hero to small-government advocates, a budget balancer extraordinaire. Yet, given the chance to crow about how Republicans had won a political skirmish against Obama with regard to sequestration, DeMint’s first thought instead turned toward protecting our nation from foreign threats. Tea Partiers, younger conservatives, and the increasing strain of conservatives who tend toward isolationism all should pay heed.

The fact of the matter, as Frederick W. Kagan wrote in the May 6 National Review (and as the good folks at The Weekly Standard have repeatedly argued in theme if not in the following specific examples), the sequester directly has caused “the cancellation of scheduled deployments of eight U.S. Navy ships, including an aircraft carrier destined for the Persian Gulf, and the grounding of 17 U.S. Air Force squadrons,” resulting in “a devastating blow to American global credibility just when our enemies and friends are watching most closely.” We thus have “created a window in 2013 during which the United States will have no aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf,” thus leading the Iranian Revolutionary Guard publication Mashregh to exult that this move gives the lie to any perceived threat of American military force (if Iran suddenly brings to full fruition a nuclear weapons program).

Kagan described plenty of other dangerous effects on our defense forces as a result of sequestration, and explained why it is that President Obama has far less ability to move funds among Pentagon accounts (and thus to avoid some of these ill effects) than is widely assumed.

Kagan is correct, as is DeMint. It’s long past time for conservatives to start again recalling, and acting on, those once-prominent parts of our beliefs, growing from our Goldwater-Reagan roots, that always have placed a strong national defense posture front and center among public-policy imperatives.

February 20th, 2013 at 11:32 am
Hagel’s Archives Should Be Opened Now

I’ll have more to say shortly about the broader topic of the nomination of Chuck Hagel to be Defense Secretary and about the use of the filibuster to stop him. But for now, this is really important: Daniel Halper of The Weekly Standard has been denied access to records of Hagel that are intended to be public, that will be public in the long run (within about 2 1/2 years) anyway, and that therefore obviously contain no information that Hagel himself intended to be kept private.

For the good of the public, on such an important nomination, these records should be made available now, before any final vote on Hagel’s nomination. It’s not even a close call. Nobody can claim that these records are either irrelevant or of either a classified nature or of a too-personal nature — because Hagel himself donated them to a university for the purpose of public records.

Even the New York Times should be compelled to support any request to delay the vote on Hagel until Senators can review the records.

January 7th, 2012 at 1:29 pm
A Plethora of Great Political Analyses

I’ve been so busy this week that I missed the chance to link to a host of excellent pieces as they came out. So now here’s some one-stop-shopping for wonderful political pieces.

First, Jennifer Rubin was on fire this week. She still is bedeviling Newt Gingrich. And she hits Gingrich yet again here. She continues to praise Rick Santorum, this time for running a “thinking person’s race.” (She was one of the only columnists to take Santorum seriously as a candidate as early as late summer.) She defends Santorum from the charge from Rick Perry — whom he continues to criticize — that the Pennsylvanian is somehow a “big government conservative.” (For that matter, I have a new piece answering that same charge, here at National Review Online.) On that same general topic, she blasts “the screechy voices in the blogosphere, the perfectionist pundits…,” those who demand philosophical purity without any political context. (This last was a particularly well argued piece.) She closes a piece analyzing Santorum’s big remaining challenges with a great paragraph: “Republicans can get awfully theoretical and sterile in their approach. Santorum can remind the entire field that politics is also about emotion, connection, inspiration and faith.” And she provides a moving portrayal of Santorum’s wife, Karen.

Whew! That was just in three days.

She’s not the only one writing with eloquence and perspicacity. Two new pieces at The Weekly Standard make the case (as William Kristol has made for months) that it is foolish to anoint a nomination winner prematurely and that “moderate” or “establishment” or “safe” choices are often less likely to win than are candidates the establishment sees as risky.

A note about Bill Kristol: For much of 2011, I repeatedly contended in private conversations with very smart Washington people (along wit columns here and elsewhere)  that Santorum, though a long shot, had a real chance to become a finalist or winner in the GOP nomination sweepstakes. For most of that time, everybody airily dismissed the idea out of hand. Only one conversation went differently. Over coffee in downtown DC with Kristol in early May, Kristol said he doubted Santorum could do it, but that he thought highly of him… AND that, considering what he, Kristol, already recognized as the weaknesses and volatility of this year’s apparent field (this was before the polls themselves became volatile), that he wouldn’t write Santorum off, because he could see a “path to victory” for Santorum, albeit a remote one. He then gave a quick “for instance” hypothetical situation (for just about 45 seconds of our discussion), whose details I don’t remember other than that he was the only person to even suggest Santorum could find such a path. Later in the summer, Jen Rubin started covering Santorum seriously, with the same insight Kristol had, and in the fall blogger R.S. McCain did as well. That was it. Nobody else. So a hat tip to the three of them….

Now, back to good pieces this week. I think the most remarkable piece of the week came from former U.S. Rep. Artur Davis of Alabama, a thoughtful, moderate, black Democrat whose insights are usually worthwhile. He wrote at NRO that Santorum’s Iowa caucus-night speech was superb — “the best Republican rhetoric in the last decade” —  and offered a real political threat to Democrats. Along those same lines, two OTHER new pieces at the Weekly Standard pick up on some of the same themes: “the neglected substance of the Santorum campaign,” and that “Santorum has the potential to be a formidable opponent to Obama.” As Jonathan Last noted — and this is a theme first seriously highlighted a couple of weeks back by NRO’s Rich Lowry, “It’s an interesting bridge, from economic to moral issues, that Santorum constructs.”

At NRO, Robert Costa called Santorum “a blue collar candidate,” and at the Telegraph in Great Britain, a columnist made Rocky Balboa comparisons in calling him a “working class hero.”

Meanwhile, turning to Mitt Romney, Deroy Murdock penned this absolutely devastating examination of Romney’s record as a tax hiker and a big burdener of business. Particularly of interest this week, Romney even taxes New Hampshireites: ”

As if impoverishing his own taxpayers were not bad enough, Romney’s March 5, 2003 signature raised taxes on non-residents retroactive to that January 1. Perpetrating taxation without representation, Romney’s law declared that, “gross income derived from… any trade or business, including any employment,” would be taxable, “regardless of the taxpayer’s residence or domicile in the year it is received.”

Consequently, according to data furnished by the Massachusetts Department of Revenue, between 2002 and 2006, New Hampshire residents who work or do business in the Bay State shipped Massachusetts $95 million above what they paid when Romney arrived. The average tax paid by New Hampshirities to Massachusetts grew by 19.1 percent, from $2,392 in 2002 to $2,850 in 2006.

This is the sort of thing that Newt Gingrich is flinging at Romney. As Murdock shows, there is real substance behind it.

There…. that’s more than enough for now. I think there were others I wanted to highlight, but if I remember them, I’ll do so in another post.

May 31st, 2011 at 5:02 pm
Update on Wasserman Schultz

Now The Weekly Standard’s John McCormack has gotten into the fray on the DNC Chair’s false claims that the Ryan Medicare plan could deny seniors coverage of pre-existing conditions. He goes even further in tracking down the supposed source of the claims, and in definitively refuting them. Good stuff.

January 22nd, 2011 at 6:13 pm
In Defense of Presidential Political Markets

The Weekly Standard’s Bill Kristol writes a terrific defense of market forces in selecting the next Republican presidential nominee.

Here are two choice paragraphs:

This vision should be easy for conservatives to embrace. Believers in the free market understand the virtues of competition, of low barriers to entry, and of lots of opportunities for (so to speak) price discovery. We know the superiority of spontaneous order to central planning. But too many GOP bigwigs in Washington who claim to have read Hayek have succumbed to the fatal conceit. They’re meeting nonstop trying to determine for us all now, a year before the first primary—with limited information as to relevant candidate skills and almost no knowledge of next year’s political environment—who the best presidential candidate would be.

Democratic capitalists admire Schumpeter for explaining the virtues of creative destruction. But too many donors to the party of democratic capitalism are huddling in New York this winter figuring out if there isn’t some way to short-circuit this kind of healthy—if messy, to be sure—competition among entrepreneurial candidates testing their skills and their messages. Wealthy individuals who made their fortunes by defying the odds are trying to figure out who’s the odds-on favorite to win the GOP nomination so they can cluster behind him. Businessmen who swear by the virtues of competition decry the fact that there will be lots of competition for the GOP nomination. Shouldn’t they instead welcome the competition, even encourage it by putting a little venture capital behind several nominees to see how they do? Markets work, and political markets work too. At least, they’re better than the alternative.

Read all of Kristol’s argument for robust political competition here as an antidote for the establishment and media’s tendency to call results much too early.