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Bleeping William Kristol

William Kristol in The New York Times (my comments in red):

[C]onsider this exchange with Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday”:

WALLACE: Did you really tell Senator Leahy, bleep yourself? (I wonder if Wallace really said “bleep” or if his question was bleeped.)

CHENEY: I did.

WALLACE: Any qualms, or second thoughts, or embarrassment? (Really – this is what you’re asking him if he has had second thoughts about – not torture? not his pushing of domestic wiretapping so radical it almost forced the entire top levels of law enforcement to resign in protest before Bush intervened? this?)

CHENEY: No, I thought he merited it at the time. (Laughter.) And we’ve since, I think, patched over that wound and we’re civil to one another now.

No spin. No doubletalk. (I’ll grant Kristol this. This exchange seems franks, even if Cheney was known as someone who could manipulate and spin with the best of them – just ask Dick Armey who still regrets that Cheney convinced him to support the Iraq war.) A cogent defense of his action — and one that shows a well-considered sense of justice. (“I thought he merited it.”) (WTF? How does this exchange demonstrate that Cheney has a “well-considered sense of justice” – because he thought that guy deserved it? Please! Kids use that as their justification – and now Kristol is trying to make Cheney’s “I thought he deserved to be told to fuck himsel” into some koan-like mastery of justice! This is worse than spin by Kristol – it’s just plain silly.) Indeed, if justice is seeking to give each his due, one might say that Dick Cheney aspires to being a just man. And a thoughtful one, because he knows that justice is sometimes too harsh, and should be tempered by civility. (This whole conversation is about how Cheney told Patrick Leahy to “Go fuck himself” on the floor of the Senate. I can accept that Cheney might think Leahy deserved it. But to say that it proves Cheney aspires to be a just man? And a thoughtful one??!? And that justice must be tempered by civility. It’s like Kristol is talking about an entirely different incident and the facts are mere props that sometimes get in the way. Kristol’s editor shouldn’t publish this bullshit. He should tell him to – in the words of our Vice President – go fuck himself. Because Kristol deserves it.)

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Hitler took on the special interests too

I refer you to Matt Yglesias’s rebuke of Bill Kristol.

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The Price of Panic


Seeing this headline in the New York Post made me furious. The Democrats – and a number of Republicans – are insisting on some basic accountability measures and a pledge that they will be able to pass some sort of relief for those affected by the crisis who aren’t millionaires. Each of these requests is reasonable. The first request is absolutely essential. The Post‘s attempts to “stampede the herd” into accepting whatever it is Paulson wants are dangerous.

Everyone from Newt Gingrich to Paul Krugman to William Kristol to Matt Yglesias to NRO’s Yuval Levin has urged caution and some sort of oversight mechanism as the least.

The proposed bill would give Secretary Paulson authority to “take such actions as the Secretary deems necessary to carry out the authorities in this Act,” giving him extremely broad powers to unilaterally control the market in addition to the $700 billion. In addition to these dictatorial powers, Paulson would be granted legal immunity for all of his actions:

Decisions by the Secretary pursuant to the authority of this Act are non-reviewable and committed to agency discretion, and may not be reviewed by any court of law or any administrative agency.

Although I doubt Paulson would use this crisis to personally profit – nothing in the law would prevent him. And if he did, no action could be taken against him. This is incredibly reckless.

This law would remain in effect for two years – which would allow Obama’s Secretary of the Treasury as well as Paulson to, in exercising authority under this law, do virtually anything and be immune from any consequences.

This is how the Patriot Act was pushed through Congress in the dead of night, with no one reading the weighty tome. This is how democracies are given away in a moment of crisis, in that Roman tradition of granting a temporary dictatorship over Rome until a crisis passes. Power is never given away easily – and so, in the end, the democracy with temporary dictators became a permanent dictatorship. In this age of terrorism and globalization, the crisis is never fully past us; and a new one is always on the horizon.

I don’t think anyone has any definite idea about what will work in this situation. And this is a time for pragmatism, not ideology. But even – and especially – in a crisis, there must be accountability and limits. This fear-mongering by the Post and other Republican puppets represents the worst impulse we can have at this time. We must act quickly but deliberately – because in our understandable haste, we might accidentally give away more than we intend.