Contributor Post Created with Sketch. White House Coffee Is a Mess


The New York Times has an interesting story today on the Caribou Cafe, which is just across the street from the West Wing and Eisenhower Executive Office Building where most White House staffers worked. The gist is that they are meeting lobbyists at the cafe rather than having them come through the White House gates, where they would then have to be listed:

WASHINGTON — There are no Secret Service agents posted next to the barista and no presidential seal on the ceiling, but the Caribou Coffee across the street from the White House has become a favorite meeting spot to conduct Obama administration business.


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Obama-Blagojevich


I just love linking those two names…. The Chicago Sun-Times reports today:

A top aide to former Gov. Rod Blagojevich said he believed Barack Obama knew of Blagojevich’s plot to win himself a presidential Cabinet post in exchange for appointing Valerie Jarrett to the U.S. Senate.


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Divorced Because the Neighbors Did It



no family is an island, and by facilitating the divorces of unhappy couples we almost certainly changed the way that happier couples — or couples who had considered themselves happy, at least — thought about their marriages, and the possibility of ending them. ([…] liberalization of divorce laws coincided with an appreciable decline in the percentage of men and women describing their unions as “very happy.”) There’s no escaping peer effects: If your friends or neighbors or relatives get divorced, you’re more likely to get divorced — even if it’s only on the margins — no matter what kind of shape your marriage is in.


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Obama By the Numbers


“For the first time,” the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll finds, “more people disapprove of Mr. Obama’s job performance than approve.”

And 57% of voters would prefer to elect a new person to Congress than re-elect their local representatives, the highest share in 18 years….


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. The Ephemeral “Wal-Mart Republican”


You’ve heard of the Sam’s Club Republican. Maybe you’ve heard of the Whole Foods Republican. But behold the “Wal-Mart Republican.” Polls indicate that Wal-Mart Republicans are actually a subset of Democrats who may be voting for change, come November.

Pollster Neil Newhouse said the [Wal-Mart] moms identified themselves mostly as middle class (38 percent) and lower middle class (55 percent). They are slightly less white and more African-American and Hispanic than the country at large. And they are more moderate (46 percent) than conservative (34 percent), approve of Obama’s job performance (53 percent), and favor more government action to help people (60 percent).


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. From an Officer in the Area of Operations


While we here at home find ourselves fixated on the folly of Gen. McChrystal, an officer making his way from Washington, D.C. to Kabul–who got in touch from the steppes of Central Asia–sends this note:

I’m old [the officer is in his forties] compared to the young and vigorous Americans I see from all the Services. They are motivated and NEVER complain. We owe them a great deal. As Sebastian Junger says in his most excellent new book, War, “No community can protect itself unless a certain portion of its youth decide they are willing to risk their lives in its defense.”


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Latin America Matters More than the Middle East


That’s the provocative contention of the great David Rieff, now posting at The New Republic’s new foreign policy blog Entanglements. By way of a “hyper-realist” thought experiment, Rieff succeeds at a minimum in convincing this reader that, going forward, we’ll pay more and more dearly for devoting resources to the mideast at the expense of a well-conceived and well-executed Latin America policy. Here’s hoping — and claiming — that we can do both. Hat tip Tunku Varadarajan.


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. The Deeper Meaning of McChrystal


Just ran an op-ed today in the Wall Street Journal trying to plumb the more important meaning behind the firing of General McChrystal (I can’t let Robinson hog all the space in the nation’s papers). One issue is that civilian-military relations have been very poor, perhaps even in a crisis (though the media overuse that word these days), since the end of the Cold War. This began with Colin Powell’s time as chairman of the Joint Chiefs and Bill Clinton’s hostile relationship with the military. McChrystal’s alleged misdeeds are nothing compared to Powell’s publishing a New York Times op-ed opposing intervention in Bosnia while the administration was considering it or the open resistance to gays in the military. Clinton’s troubles continued throughout his administration, but I really lay the blame for the poor state of things at the feet of the congressional Democrats, who encouraged the revolt of the generals and other military resistance to the Bush administration’s strategies in Iraq and the war on terrorism. It was predictable that a similar, maybe even worse outbreak, would occur once a Democrat again was President.

There are other important issues worth exploring, such as whether this really compares with MacArthur or McClellan, what this means for the Afghanistan war, how independent we want the military to be in its judgments, whether the military should want generals with political saavy, and so on. It seems to me that Petraeus may be an excellent political general, but do we really want our warfighters to worry about these qualities at the expense of the sheer expertise at killing the enemy brought to the table by a McChrystal?


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Charity or Vanity?


Since when does appearing as a guest star on a television drama pass as an act of charity?

I give Bristol a slide. After all, she’s only 19 years old. Unfortunately, her acting is so wooden I suspect that the show’s producers were happy to see her embarrass herself and her mother (but enough with the conspiracy theories).


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Libs to GOP: Better Empty Symbolism or Else!


Suzy Khimm, at Kevin Drum’s, sums up Ruy Teixeira’s latest “recommendations” for Republicans:

A more moderate approach would help with Millennials […]. The party also needs to make a breakthrough with Hispanics, and that won’t happen unless it shifts its image toward social tolerance, especially on immigration.


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Department of “Duh”


From this morning’s Washington Post:

The chairman of the Business Roundtable, an association of top corporate executives that has been President Obama‘s closest ally in the business community, accused the president and Democratic lawmakers Tuesday of creating an “increasingly hostile environment for investment and job creation.”


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. We Just Keep Going


The United States, 1, Algeria, 0.

Landon Donovan, the 28-year old American forward, after the United States’ unlikely victory in the World Cup competition today:


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. American Jobs: Worth More Than Chinese Jobs?


Ricochet member Pascal takes on Katherine Mangu-Ward, who’s blogging at Megan’s.

KMW: If anything, jobs are likely to be gained when an industry moves to China, where more aspects of the manufacturing and assembly process are done by hand. They just won’t be created here. If that’s your focus, you have to make the case that American jobs are intrinsically better or more valuable than Chinese jobs. Talking about American jobs lost to trade is like giving casualty stats for a war and only counting dead U.S. soldiers. It’s inaccurate, and it reveals a skewed, provincial view of the world.


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Political Correctness, American Education, and the Roots of Anti-Israel Sentiment


Because I’ve pondered the issue before, Conor, your interesting post on Shelby Steele’s latest made my eyes flash. One line of Steele’s jumped out at you — “we are pained to give Western Civilization primacy in our educational curricula lest we seem supremacist.” You think there’s more to the story. I agree — in a way that challenges your thesis.

Here’s some of what you write:


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. The Most Important Man in the World


In January 2007, when President George W. Bush named Gen. David Petraeus commander of the multi-national forces in Iraq, the war had been going badly for almost four years. Support for the war in Congress had all but collapsed. The Pentagon, unable to win the war, seemed frozen, advising the President merely to pursue the same strategy that was already failing. A small group of officers and civilians—retired Gen. Jack Keane, Frederick Kagan, Vice President Cheney—had urged the President instead to attempt a new strategy, a surge, based largely on the work Gen. Petraeus had published in Field Manual 3-24, Counterinsurgency.

Gen. Petraeus—it all came down to Gen. Petraeus. If he failed, the war in Iraq would be lost—and the prestige and strategic standing of the most powerful nation on earth would be damaged irreparably. From January 2007, when he took command in Iraq, until September 2008, when, having turned around the entire conflict, producing a genuine victory, he stepped down, Gen. David Petraeus was the most important man in the world.


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Spitzer, McChrystal and the dangers of predictions


Looking back at the last 24 hours, I feel good about my prediction that CNN would hire Eliot Spitzer, and not so good about my prediction that Obama would keep General McChrystal.

Oh, wait. I didn’t predict that CNN would hire Spitzer, I read that at TVNewser. So I guess that wasn’t much of a prediction. Still, it was better than my forecast that Obama would keep McChrystal.


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. World Cup Watch


The big game today: Argentina versus Greece. Going into this match, Argentina leads Greece by six points. But if Greece defeats Argentina today, Greece can tie Argentina’s overall score, remaining a contender for the world cup itself.

Scheduled to play for Argentina: the astonishing Lionel Messi (who all by himself–I’ll admit it–has turned even me into a soccer fan). Just look at what Messi can do:


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. CNN Hires Client #9 — Eliot Spitzer


So it’s official: CNN has hired disgraced former governor Eliot Spitzer for its 8 pm ET slot. He and columnist Kathleen Parker will be replacing Campbell Brown.

Spitzer, destined to be remembered as “Client #9,” takes another step in his, uh, comeback.


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Reply to Mark Krikorian


Over on the Corner, Mark Krikorian has posted a response to my Wall Street Journal column last week on Reagan and immigration:

I suspect…[Peter is] right that open immigration appealed to Reagan ideologically….He came of age and was formed intellectually in the post-immigration era; mass immigration came to an end when he was 13 years old. From the time he was 20 until he was 34, annual immigration never exceeded 100,000, and was usually much lower. When he gave his “A Time for Choosing” speech in 1964, total legal immigration was less than 300,000 and Ted Kennedy had not yet laid the statutory groundwork for today’s mass immigration of well over a million a year.


Contributor Post Created with Sketch. Calling Brother Hayes


As Steve argues over at The Weekly Standard, and says in a comment here on Ricochet, “McChrystal Must Go.” The Rolling Stone fiasco, Steve asserts, has weakened McChrystal irreparably, rendering him incapable of standing up to the civilians to whom he reports, including the commander-in-chief. Anyone commanding our troops in Afghanistan, Steve argues, must be in a position to tell Barack Obama things he just won’t want to hear. If the President keeps him in his job, McChrystal will find himself too beholden to the President to stand up to him.

The argument strikes me as entirely compelling–except for one point: Who the heck would replace McChrystal? McChrystal commands the loyalty, even the devotion, of the troops on the ground; he represents perhaps the Pentagon’s leading practitioner of counter-insurgency warfare; and he appears to be very nearly the only American in the military, the state department, the White House or anywhere else who has a good working relationship with Hamid Karzai, the president of Afghanistan. Steve endorses Bill Kristol’s suggestion that the President should ask Gen. Petraeus to lay down his present duties at Central Command in Florida to replace McChrystal. Which leads me to ask two questions of Steve. (And I don’t intend these as in any way tendentious. Steve covers the war beat. He’s a lot more likely to know the answers than is yours truly.)