March 04, 2009

Schmitt Redux
12:00 AM

My thanks go to Damon Linker for his concise thoughts on why I was correct to write about Carl Schmitt, the Nazi political philosopher, in my book The Future of Liberalism. I too have wondered why conservative sensibilities are so easily offended on this point. Reading John Yoo is like overhearing Schmitt translated into English. Pride of place for taking offense goes to Jonah Goldberg. I hope Jonah decides to read my book rather than rely on reviews.

The Wrong Envoy To Syria?
12:00 AM

I was surprised to see Jeffrey Feltman as one of the two envoys Obama is sending to Syria to begin talks with President Bashir Al-Asad. Feltman, currently the acting assistant secretary of state for Near East affairs (he is rumored to be keeping the job), was formerly the U.S. ambassador to Lebanon, where he cultivated a staunchly anti-Syrian reputation. Hearing his name still reminds me of the banner that used to hang across downtown Beirut: "Topple the Feltman Government," it read--a reference to his staunch support for the pro-West and anti-Syrian March 14 coalition.

Martin Wolf Is Making Sense
12:00 AM

....as usual. Today's effort: This [the current approach], then, is loss-socialisation in action – it guarantees a public buffer to protect creditors. This could end up giving the government a controlling shareholding in some institutions: Citigroup, for example. But, say the quibblers, this is not nationalisation. What then are the pros and cons of this approach, compared with taking institutions over outright? Douglas Elliott of the Brookings Institution analyses this question in an intriguing paper. Part of the answer, he suggests, is that it is unclear whether banks are insolvent.

Iran Watch: Obama=bush?
12:00 AM

  Still not much thaw, publicly at least. From Ha'aretz: Meanwhile Wednesday, Iran's top authority said that U.S. President Barack Obama was pursuing the same "wrong path" as George W. Bush in supporting Israel, which he called a "cancerous tumor." The comments by Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who has the final say on policy in the Islamic Republic, are likely to disappoint the new U.S.

Operation Rushbo
12:00 AM

Jonathan Martin has a good piece reporting out how and when Democrats realized Rush Limbaugh was their perfect foil. The thing that makes Rush different from past GOP boogeymen--such as Newt and Bush--is that, because his bottom line is ratings (rather than votes), the Dems' demonization of him is actually kind of good for him: Limbaugh is embracing the line of attack, suggesting a certain symbiosis between him and his political adversaries.

March 03, 2009

Smear Itself
12:00 AM

Ever since he co-authored the wildly hyperbolic tome The Israel Lobby, Stephen Walt has been on his best behavior. He has authored a lot of staid hard-realist commentary about foreign policy and kept his fulminations about "The Lobby," as he liked to call it, more restrained--all the better to project his favored self-image as a thoughtful academic beset by agenda-driven ideologues.But every once in a while, Walt lets his inner paranoid slip loose. One such moment occurred last weekend.

Newt. Again. (And Again. And Again.)
12:00 AM

I don't want to say Matt Bai got sold a bill goods for his NYT Magazine cover story on Newt Gingrich--especially since I myself bought the same bill of goods not so long ago--but I don't think Newt is "back." Or at least he's not "back" any more than he was "back" a couple years ago. The Congressmen taking advice from Newt today and the Republican operatives touting him as a potential presidential candidate in 2012 are the same Congressmen who were taking advice from him in 2006 and the same operatives who were touting him as a potential presidential candidate in 2008.

Carl Schmitt And The American Right
12:00 AM

Over at NRO's The Corner, Jonah "Liberals Were Fascists Before They Were Socialists" Goldberg joins with the conservative movement's house comedian Mark Steyn in ridiculing a book he hasn't read -- Alan Wolfe's The Future of Liberalism:  Mark - James Piereson reviews Wolfe's book in the latest issue of Commentary (which, readers may like to know, has a fantastic essay by none other than Mark Steyn in it). I can't get behind the firewall, even though I'm a print subscriber, but Piereson's review is sober and contemptuous at the same time.

Obama's New Gay Rights Crusader
12:00 AM

Alyssa Rosenberg is a staff correspondent at Government Executive and a regular contributor to National Journal. President Obama has just made John Berry, the current director of the National Zoo, the highest-ranking openly gay appointee ever by tapping him to head the Office of Personnel Management (pending Congressional approval).

More Skepticism Of Obama's Farm-subsidy Reforms
12:00 AM

As we noted last week, the new White House budget contains a proposal to end "direct payment" subsidies to commodity-crop farmers who have more than $500,000 per year in sales. As I noted in an earlier post, it’s a good proposal, but it only marks a small step in the right direction on farm subsidies.