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Inside Politics

- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 27, 2009

LASHING OUT

"With the political prognosis for health care reform turning from poor to likely terminal, many of my fellow Democrats are grieving through grievance," Dan Gerstein writes at www.forbes.com.

"They're lashing out at friends and foes alike, blaming everyone from Sarah Palin to the nutty Nazi lady from Barney Frank's town hall to President Obama for sabotaging the best opportunity in a generation to realize the liberal dream of universal health care. Everyone, that is, except themselves, the people who controlled Congress, set the agenda, wrote the legislation and developed the strategy for pushing it.

"Consider it a case of admittance avoidance," Mr. Gerstein said. "Our party and the liberal activists who drive it can't stomach the fact that we are blowing this debate. So they have manufactured a convenient, simplistic narrative of villains and victims, where right-wing extremists and special interests are conspiring to stop progress through a cynical fear-mongering misinformation campaign. To hear them tell it, the Democrats' main mistake has been not fighting back hard and soon enough against the exaggerations and fabrications (which, no doubt, have been manifold and damaging).

"But much as the Republicans have gamed the issue, the reality is that the first and worst deception was the Democrats' own. Step back for a second, listen to what the nonscreaming skeptics are saying, and it's clear the party severely overestimated its mandate and underestimated the public's growing unease with the government's massive growth over the last year."

JOIN THE TEAM

"I recently wrote a critique of the art community's lack of dissent in the face of many controversial decisions made by the current administration," Patrick Courrielche writes at http://bighollywood .breitbart.com.

In "The Artist Formerly Known As Dissident," "one of the key points argued in the article was the potential danger associated with the use of the art community as a tool of the state. Little did I know how quickly this concern would be elevated to an outright probability," Mr. Courrielche said.

"Sometime between when I finished the critique and when it went live online, I was invited by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) to take part in a conference call that invited a group of rising artists and art community luminaries 'to help lay a new foundation for growth, focusing on core areas of the recovery agenda - health care, energy and environment, safety and security, education, community renewal.' ...

"Could the National Endowment for the Arts be looking to the art community to create an environment amenable to the administration's positions?"

THEN AND NOW

"It was a dozen years ago when Eric Holder began his first tour of duty at the Justice Department, as deputy attorney general. At the time, DOJ had a major hot potato on its hands: Al Gore, the vice president of the United States, had engaged in a clear, black-and-white felony violation of campaign-finance laws," Andrew C. McCarthy writes at www.nationalreview.com.

"Gore made phone calls soliciting campaign contributions from his White House office. As Charles Krauthammer wrote at the time, 'Section 607 of Title 18 of the U.S. Criminal Code states very clearly there is to be no solicitation of campaign funds in federal government offices. Gore broke the law as written, as understood and as practiced.' Violations of Section 607 called for a penalty of up to three years in prison.

"Gore had no real defense, so he trotted out a phony one: There was, he infamously claimed, 'no controlling legal authority.' What he meant was that there weren't many court decisions interpreting the meaning of Section 607. It was laughable. The rule of thumb for judges, as for the rest of us, is that laws are construed to mean what they say, the ordinary, everyday understanding of the words," Mr. McCarthy said.

"Most statutes are not 1,000 pages of health care arcana. When they are succinct and clear, we don't need judicial opinions to divine their meaning. No solicitation of campaign funds in federal government offices means: No solicitation of campaign funds in federal government offices.

"But Gore was the heir apparent to President Bill Clinton, and the deputy attorney general was very much hoping to become the attorney general in a Gore administration. So Holder found it within himself to oppose the appointment of a prosecutor. Gore was in the clear.

"The CIA did not make out so well. Holder, having finally become attorney general eight years later than planned, has just appointed a prosecutor to investigate the agency's interrogators, which really means to investigate the Bush administration's interrogation practices.

"Thus does Holder begin delivering on the 'reckoning' he promised the hard Left as an Obama political spokesman during the 2008 campaign. The attorney general has plunged into this crassly partisan adventure even though, this time around, the controlling legal authority says there is no case and, therefore, no ethical basis for conducting an investigation."

LATEST AFFRONT

"Eleven and a half days. That's how much prison time the American commentator Charles Krauthammer reckons [Abdel Baset al-Megrahi] served for each of the 270 people he murdered when he planted the bomb that blew Pan Am Flight 103 out of the skies," Irwin Stelzer writes in the London Telegraph.

"Alex Salmond is wrong when he says that Scotland's relationship with the U.S. will be unaffected by the decision, and will remain 'strong and enduring.' It won't, at least not just now," Mr. Stelzer said.

"Congress is more than a little annoyed. Senators Joe Lieberman (Independent, Connecticut) and Chuck Schumer (Democrat, New York) have asked Gordon Brown to mount an inquiry to determine the facts surrounding al-Megrahi's release. That won't happen.

"More important, the American security services are re-examining their relationship with their counterparts in Scotland and England, since the decision to release al-Megrahi is only the latest thumb in their eye. The British government has refused on human rights grounds to extradite six suspected terrorists wanted by American authorities, including a Saudi sought in connection with bomb attacks on U.S. embassies.

"Remember: this is the same government that raised no objection when British businessmen were extradited to face trial in the United States on various charges. Apparently, the Scottish desire to show compassion to a mass murderer is matched by a British desire to keep suspected terrorists from facing justice in U.S. courts."

Greg Pierce can be reached at 202/636-3285 or gpierce@washingtontimes .com.