Minox GT-E 35mm Film Camera

Peter Wehner, the former aide to Karl Rove and Minister of Propaganda for the Bush administration, likes a good feud as much as I do, and since I’ve been poking fun at him sporadically for months, I’ve been eagerly awaiting his response. It has finally arrived, and the Wall Street Journal editorial page, another favorite punching bag of mine, has deemed the occasion sufficiently exciting to warrant an extended editorial page excerpt.

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The complaint of the Jewish Republican is a small but hardy feature of our political discourse. The complaint runs as follows: Jews are foolishly ignoring their self-interest by voting for Democrats on the basis of sentimental concerns (secularism, concern for the poor) rather than pursuing their true self interest (maximal hawkishness on the Middle East, low tax rates on the rich) as represented by the GOP. Occasionally these arguments take the form of gloating predictions that Jews will soon join other white ethnics in abandoning their hoary Democratic loyalties.

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Manzi Revisionism

Jim Manzi and his friends are trying to reframe the argument about Western European social democracy into something other than the one he originally made. To review: Manzi’s essay – which, again, isn’t all bad – hinges upon the premise that the United States must navigate between economic growth-destroying social democracy and social cohesion-destroying Reaganism.

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I have made my own criticisms of President Obama and his administration's perspectives on the etiology of terrorism in the world. And the truth is that it is not yet clear in the president's head--or he is not yet being candid (which is my substitute for "frank" and "honest")--that you can't have a true view of routine mass murder in the contemporary world without having quite a harsh view of Islam today.

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Against the Green

As President Obama arrives empty-handed at the end of his year-long attempt to persuade Iran to address the international community’s concerns about its nuclear program, a curious paradox has emerged. Even if intensified--and highly costly--sanctions were to force the regime to comply with Western demands, an agreement between Tehran and Washington would benefit one party above all: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and the illegitimate government that he now leads.

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I got the following phone message today, in response to my article on the GOP's lack of relevant policy ideas: Jonathan, I work for a major Republican office holder-a Governor. (Not in a cabinet, but in a sub-cabinet level) and I'm reading your article, 'What happened to all those GOP ideas?' I understand polemics and the whole game and all that stuff, but do you really have to have your head that far up the ass of Communism in this country? Your article is stupid. I don't think putting people in jail for not having health insurance is a great public policy idea.

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TNR published a piece I did the other day examining the ideological underpinnings of the left/center split in the Democratic Party over the propriety of a universal health care system based on regulated and subsidized private health insurers. I suggested there was a burgeoning, if questionably workable, tactical alliance between “social-democratic” progressives and some conservatives to derail much of the Obama overall agenda.

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 In a dramatic vote of confidence, Howard Dean—who as recently as last week said a bill without the public option “should be defeated”—helped broker and strongly endorsed the current Senate health care compromise yesterday, calling the Medicare buy-in proposal a “big step forward.” "There had to be a public option because the private sector doesn't work,” Dean told the Huffington Post. “And if they can make it work [without a public option], then let's see." That’s probably as far as Dean has ever strayed on this issue from his netroots base, which is irate over the current state of affairs.

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I’m not a big fan of political speeches in general, but I thought President Obama’s Nobel acceptance speech today was unusually good. (If I were a speech-y kind of writer, like Rick Hertzberg, I’d have used a better adjective in the last sentence than “good.”) After again acknowledging that he doesn’t really deserve the award--“I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the considerable controversy that your generous decision has generated. In part, this is because I am at the beginning, and not the end, of my labors on the world stage.

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For all of the aching desire a certain crowd have had in 2009 to show that America post-Obama isn’t “post-racial” – and golly, I wonder if anybody really ever thought we were – the Tiger Woods business of late is a ringing indication that we’re well on our way to it. To wit, what we have seen lately is a golfer who has turned out to be a philanderer. What we are not seeing is a Black Athlete who has turned out to be a philanderer.

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