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National Review’s Andy McCarthy is a cretinous fool

And I say this because Andy McCarthy has got it all figured out, this whole Afghanistan surge business. You see, Barack Obama is sending additional troops to South Asia because … he wants to lose the war. But he wants to do it without losing elections. It’s all part of some Saul Alinsky radical communist fever dream going on in McCarthy’s termite-ridden noggin.

In reality, however, we’ll be nation-building: the thankless, impossible dream of turning Kabul into Kansas. Our unwavering resolve for this task will last 18 months — during which we will continue solidifying the new narrative that the war is not ours but Afghanistan’s, and that the hapless Karzai isn’t producing results fast enough. That will get Democrats through the midterms.

By that point, it will be the middle of 2011 — and that’s when the “taking into account conditions on the ground” kicks in. If the Left has succeeded in souring the country on the whole enterprise such that Obama’s reelection chances won’t be impaired by a withdrawal, we’ll pull-out.

Now I’m not naive enough to think politics played no part in President Obama’s calculations. But McCarthy’s cynical conspiracy-mongering ought to shame his colleagues in “mainstream” conservatism. McCarthy always starts from the foundation that nobody on the left cares about America or wants to protect American interests, that everybody on the left kinda not-so-secretly hopes that America will lose to whatever rivals are handy. So even when a Democratic administration does what Andy McCarthy wants it to, it’s because the Democrat is even more venal and cunning and treasonous and surrender monkerly than we could possibly have known! It is beneath contempt.

Weirdly, McCarthy manages one moment of lucid intellectual honesty — enjoy it, because you won’t get another one for a year:

Well, the Right has given Obama his escape hatch. Conservatives keep talking about “victory” but they never define it. We keep saying, “Give General McChrystal the troops he needs to win,” but because we’re as vague as Obama when it comes to what “winning” means, no one will really care what the additional troops actually do in Afghanistan.

Well, yeah, what about that? Hey McCarthy: Your guys had seven years to get the job done. They didn’t. By your own admission, they don’t even know what the job is. Maybe you should shut your big, fat, ugly yap and contemplate that a little more carefully before accusing the president of a long-term strategy to lose a war.

Andy McCarthy: President Obama likes Iranian theocracy better than democracy

Andy McCarthy actually gets paid for these opinions at National Review:

The fact is that, as a man of the hard Left, Obama is more comfortable with a totalitarian Islamic regime than he would be with a free Iranian society. In this he is no different from his allies like the Congressional Black Caucus and Bill Ayers, who have shown themselves perfectly comfortable with Castro and Chàvez.  Indeed, he is the product of a hard-Left tradition that apologized for Stalin and was more comfortable with the Soviets than the anti-Communists (and that, in Soros parlance, saw George Bush as a bigger terrorist than bin Laden).

Because of obvious divergences (inequality for women and non-Muslims, hatred of homosexuals) radical Islam and radical Leftism are commonly mistaken to be incompatible. In fact, they have much more in common than not, especially when it comes to suppression of freedom, intrusiveness in all aspects of life, notions of “social justice,” and their economic programs. (On this, as in so many other things, Anthony Daniels should be required reading — see his incisive New English Review essay, ”There Is No God but Politics”, comparing Marx and Muslim Brotherhood theorist Sayyid Qutb.) The divergences between radical Islam and radical Leftism are much overrated — “equal rights” and “social justice” are always more rally-cry propaganda than real.

Obama has a preferred outcome here, one that is more in line with his worldview, and it is not victory for the freedom fighters. He is hanging as tough as political pragmatism allows, and by doing so he is making his preferred outcome more likely.  That’s not weakness, it’s strength — and strength of the sort that ought to frighten us.

I don’t quite know how to rationally respond to this because I don’t think it’s rational. It’s paranoid and delusional — this idea that the president secretly hates freedom and secretly hates democracy and secretly loves Stalin: Basically, that President Obama secretly hates everything that makes America America. In short: President Obama is evil.

I don’t want or need Andrew McCarthy to like Barack Obama or his policies. I do think that he has a responsibility to confine his critiques to what is provable and knowable about the president instead of spinning out a crazy fantasy that presumes to know the president’s inner thoughts. He’s got plenty of ground to disagree with Obama on what Obama has done without resorting to feverish speculation.

That’s not really McCarthy’s style.

I should be clear here. These assertions that Obama is a secret communist, secret fascist, secret lover of totalitarianism are gutter talk and gutter thinking on the same level as the “Obama is a secret Muslim” crap. And I’d dismiss it except that National Review is one of the leading organs of mainstream conservative thought. If this is what mainstream conservatives write and think, we can only guess and fear at what’s going on with the extremist loons.

Capping executive pay is the exact same thing as sending millions of people to the gulags to die

The New York Times has a story today about a forthcoming effort by the Obama Administration to more tightly regulate executive pay at big finance companies and perhaps beyond. Over at National Review, Andy McCarthy responds with this little gem:

Welcome to the U.S.S.A.

What an imbecilic and morally repugnant, morally unserious thing to say.

Listen, we’ve got a huge problem in the country: It’s the “too big to fail” problem. Huge companies — in finance and out — stand on the precipice of failure. And they’re so big, so intertwined with the functioning of our broader economy, that the actual failure of those companies could well mean the failure of the American economy as a going concern. This is beyond the “creative destruction” within capitalism that causes some pain in our march to ever greater financial rewards; this about the possible collapse of the entire system. So we’ve been left with two ugly and unpalatable choices: A) the government sweeps in and uses taxpayer dollars (present and future) to keep the system from collapse or B) we let the companies fail and hope the devastation isn’t as bad as it appears it could be. Either way, the citizens of this country through no fault of their own bear the burden of the mistakes made by America’s titans of business.

This is a problem. Conservatives like to critique “big government” as a threat to American prosperity, and to some extent they’ve been correct that excessive regulation and taxation can be a drag on private enterprise. But with a few exceptions — I’m thinking here of Rod Dreher, a “crunchy conservative” blogger and columnist in Dallas — few conservatives seem to acknowledge or recognize that non-government private enterprises can also grow so big and pervasive that they can also threaten the prosperity (and, you could argue, the freedom) of Americans.

The Obama Administration, whatever you think about the solution they’re about to put forward, at least seems to recognize this. (And I’m not endorsing the administration’s moves at this point.) But many conservatives — it appears to me — put their hands over their ears and shout “Free markets! Free markets!” Or worse yet, like Andrew McCarthy they compare the Obama Administration’s policies to a political system that killed millions of its own citizens. This is particularly infuriating coming from a man (McCarthy) and movement that spent the post-9/11 years of the Bush Administration defending torture, warrantless wiretapping and a view of executive power that seemingly shrugged off Constitutional checks and balances. Apparently, the only rights that some mainstream conservatives hold inviolate are the ones that concern the pursuit, acquisition and spending of money.

Many conservatives have spent the post-9/11 years responding to debates about security versus civil rights with an old truism: “The Constitution is not a suicide pact.” Fine. But neither is free-market capitalism. (President Bush, for all his faults, at least seemed to recognize this with his advocacy of the original (and, yes, flawed) bailout.) Conservatives could serve the country and their movement well if they could offer a conservative, market-based method of addressing the “too big to fail” crisis instead of making slanderous assertions and empty paeans to lasseiz-faire economics. They could try to help fix the problem.

Andy McCarthy has an opinion that does not make me livid

I think I’ve established the bona fides of my dislike for Andrew McCarthy, the former federal prosecutor turned National Review writer who never met a torture technique or subversion of liberty that he didn’t absolutely love. So it’s only fair that I note that I don’t entirely disagree with his take on a military judge’s refusal of an Obama Administration request to suspend tribunals at Gitmo:

As regards whether to continue with the military commissions of the 21 detainees currently charged with war crimes, Obama may make a terrible decision, he may make a good one, or he may do something in between.  But in any event, it was entirely reasonable for him to ask for a four-month time-out — which was done in a very respectful manner that did not in any way denigrate the dignity of the military tribunals.  He is still getting his national security team in place and getting them the clearances they need to get up to speed on all the relevant facts, many of which are no doubt highly classified.  He is, moreover, the President of the United States and the commander-in-chief of our military forces in a time of war.  These considerations, by themselves, should have been enough for the judge to indulge his request — I can’t think of a single civilian court judge I ever appeared before who would not have respectfully deferred to a reasonable request for delay by the president in similar circumstances.

Now I say I don’t entirely disagree because, at the end of McCarthy’s posting, we see some of what’s motivating his call for deference to the president:

However inadvertently, Col. Pohl is just giving President Obama more reason to think there are better ways to deal with detainees than a system that denies abundantly sensible motions — and in which Osama bin Laden’s personal bodyguard, arrested in possession of missiles intended for shooting at U.S. troops, gets sentenced to a grand total of six months on a war crimes conviction (which is what happened in the first commission trial).

Right. Since the military tribunals have ended up not being entirely the kangaroo courts everybody — including McCarthy — expected them to be, McCarthy is taking a “the hell with ‘em all” approach to matters. It’s not that McCarthy wants the judge to be fair to the new president; he was the judge to simply defer to the president’s judgement in this (and, based on his record of commentary) in all other matters. In that context, a little defiance doesn’t bug me at all.

Once again, loving America means abandoning the American way

Once again, Andy McCarthy trips my trigger in pointing to a Wall Street Journal op-ed today:

Also at the WSJ, our friend Bill McGurn asks why American lawyers always seem to line up with America’s enemies rather than those trying — however imperfectly — to protect American lives.

The op-ed in question bemoans that many private lawyers are offering free legal services to Guantanamo detainees instead of helping out the government. It’s just not fair.

In the popular mind, the 200 or so Guantanamo detainees filing for habeas corpus in federal district courts are up against the full powers of the United States government. And they are. But practically speaking, this means that 60 or so Justice Department lawyers are handling the bulk of that legal load.

Against these 60 attorneys are arrayed some of our nation’s most prestigious private firms. Last year, at a dinner at Washington’s Ritz-Carlton hotel, the National Legal Aide Defender Association bestowed its “Beacon of Justice Award” on 50 law firms for their pro bono work on behalf of the detainees. These firms included WilmerHale; Jenner & Block; Sutherland, Asbill & Brennan; Paul Weiss Rifkin; Mayer Brown; Weil, Gotshal & Manges; Dechert; Pepper Hamilton; Venable; Perkins Coie; Hunton & Williams; and Fulbright Jaworski. These firms in turn are joined by law professors from Stanford, Yale and Northwestern right on down to Fordham.

Some things to unpack here:

• Despite McCarthy’s laments, not everybody at Gitmo has ended up being an “enemy of America.” In fact, the Bush Administration is preparing to release three detainees — after seven years in custody — because a judge ruled the government hadn’t proven the men were enemy combatants. Though it’s certainly not the case that everybody held at Gitmo is innocent, there have been many innocent people held at Gitmo. McCarthy (as he always does) presumes the guilt of anybody who has been accused, which allows him to tar the patriotism and loyalty of any American wants or works for a fair hearing on these cases.

• And McGurn would have you believe that the Justice Department is barely holding its own against an array of high-powered legal firms. This ignores that A) the Justice Department is devoted to prosecuting suspected terrorists, while defending them is a side gig for the firms involved; B) that the government has resisted and delayed holding any hearings on the status of Gitmo detainees, and often made prosecution-friendly rules to govern those hearings when they do happen; and C) it’s the government.

• Finally, back to McCarthy. The right to have your guilt or innocence fairly judged is deeply embedded in American DNA and law: That’s why safeguards for habeas corpus and speedy trials by jury are in the Constitution — as is the right to counsel. When American lawyers volunteer their time to suspected terrorists, it’s not because they believe in terrorism. It’s because they believe in the American system of law. They’re heroes, undeserving of Andy McCarthy’s all-too-characteristic petty slanders.

The suggestion that it’s ok to crush the testicles of a child? A close second

Andy McCarthy — forgive me — is the gift that keeps on giving. Today, he’s opposed to the attorney general nomination of Eric Holder for all the usual reasons:

Let’s be blunt here: The Marc Rich pardon was one of the most disgraceful chapters in the history of the Justice Department. Not the modern history, the entire history.

Fair enough. I’ll even agree with McCarthy that the Rich pardon was certainly one of the more wrongheaded moments of the Clinton presidency.

But it was the Justice Department under the Bush Administration that gave legal cover to illegal acts like ignoring the Geneva Conventions, warrantless wiretapping and torture. It was the Bush Administration’s Justice Department that employed John Yoo, who provided us with the following moment:

Cassel: If the President deems that he’s got to torture somebody, including by crushing the testicles of the person’s child, there is no law that can stop him?

Yoo: No treaty.

Cassel: Also no law by Congress. That is what you wrote in the August 2002 memo.

Yoo: I think it depends on why the President thinks he needs to do that.>

He’s wrong, of course, but the Bush Administration wanted him to be right. And McCarthy has spent the last eight years publicly defending the Bush Administration’s conduct in all of this.

Here’s a prediction for Andy McCarthy: 50 years from now, nobody will give a damn about Marc Rich. But they’ll still be talking about the Justice Department’s failures the way we talk about McCarthyism — the old kind, not your kind — now. And deservedly so.

The terrorists have won

The New York Times reports:

In the first hearing on the government’s justification for holding detainees at the Guantánamo Bay detention camp, a federal judge ruled Thursday that five Algerian men were held unlawfully for nearly seven years and ordered their release.

Judge Leon, in a ruling from the bench, said that the information gathered on the men had been sufficient to hold them for intelligence purposes, but was not strong enough in court.

“To rest on so thin a reed would be inconsistent with this court’s obligation,” he said. He directed that the five men be released “forthwith” and urged the government not to appeal.

Judge Leon, who was appointed by President Bush, had been expected to be sympathetic to the government. In 2005, he ruled that the men had no habeas corpus rights.

Guess who is angry? National Review’s Andy McCarthy, of course:

All that said, though, Judge Leon concluded that “[t]o rest [combatant detention] on so thin a reed would be inconsistent with this court’s obligation.”  That is puzzling.  There is nothing in the training of a judge that makes him an expert in military matters.  In our system of divided government, the question of who is an enemy combatant should be committed to the executive brach — specifically, to the military professionals waging the war.

No it shouldn’t — at least, not exclusively. The Bush Administration has proven it’s more interested in preserving the power of the executive branch than it is of actually assessing the innocence, guilt or intelligence value of prisoners at Guantanamo. In her book, “The Dark Side,” New Yorker writer Jane Mayer tells the story of a CIA officer who determined many Gitmo detainees were, in fact, innocent of terrorism.

After completing his survey in Guantanamo, the CIA officer wrote up a detailed report describing his findings. He mentioned specific detainees by name, so there was no confusion about whom the United States was wrongly holding. He made clear that he believed the United States was committing war crimes by holding and questioning innocent people in such inhumane ways.

(Condi Rice’s legal counsel, John Bellinger, read the report and tried to set up a meeting to address the problem. There he ran into opposition from Dick Cheney’s counsel, David Addington.)

“No, there will be no review. The President has determined that they are ALL enemy combatants. We are not going to revisit it!” Addington said, according to two sources.

“This is a violation of basic notions of American fairness,” Gordon and Bellinger argued back. “Isn’t that what we’re about as a country?”

Addington’s response was adamant and imperious. “We are not second-guessing the President’s decision. These are ‘enemy combatants.’ Please use that phrase,” he said. “They’ve all been through a screening process. There’s nothing to talk about.” The President had made a group-status identification, as far as he was concerned. To Addington, it was a matter of presidential power, not a question of individual guilt or innocence.”

That’s morally repugnant. It is, in fact, evil.

And though I generallly disdain shrillness in politics, I don’t think you can be shrill enough in the face of the attitudes of David Addington or Andy McCarthy. These attitudes need loud and even angry pushback every time they’re encountered, because it’s obvious these men have had the ears of people in power. And someday, they will again.

A nation that declares itself dedicated to the notions of freedom and justice — a nation like ours, in other words — cannot let the executive have the last and only word in who is free and who is imprisoned for life. That should be just as true under an Obama Administration as under Bush’s.

Iraqis are “ingrates” for failing to love our invasion

Probably nobody but me cares how much I dislike the thinking of National Review’s Andy McCarthy, but man that guy bugs me. Take his latest:

Thousands of American lives and hundreds of billions in taxpayer funds have been expended to provide Iraqis the opportunity to live freely. And this despite the facts that (a) the U.S. interest in Iraqi democracy remains tenuous (our interest was the elimination of Saddam’s terror-mongering, weapons-proliferating regime), and (b) Americans were assured, when the nation-building enterprise commenced, that oil-rich Iraq would underwrite our sacrifices on its behalf. Yet, to be blunt, the Iraqis remain ingrates. (Emphasis added.)

What arrogance. Not everybody who advocated for the invasion of Iraq was an imperialist, of course, but it’s clear that Andy McCarthy is. You’ll take our invasion, you’ll help us pay for it, and you’ll like it!

This paragraph breaks down under the weight of its own internal contradictions. McCarthy wants Iraqis to be grateful to us for spending blood and treasure in the cause of Iraqi freedom — only he admits that wasn’t really our cause. Andy McCarthy is morally blind, and he’s got the perch of conservatism’s leading magazine from which to spread that blindness.

Is Obama a Leftist revolutionary?

The Andy McCarthy Award for Silliest Comment in Politics today goes to … Andy McCarthy, who deserves to be quoted at length:

Is Obama a Leftist revolutionary? He denies ideological mooring, insisting he is a pragmatist. That should bring some comfort, but it doesn’t really. In his formative community-organizer days, our new president mastered the groundbreaking work of Saul Alinsky, who made pragmatism the clarion call of a systematized, disciplined radicalism.

Alinsky, too, rejected ideological dogmatism. He taught that the successful radical is the wolf in sheep’s clothing: burrowing into the institutions of Western capitalism, altering their character from within, seducing the society with a high-minded summons to “social justice,” “participatory democracy,” and, yes, “change.” Is Obama following this stealthy roadmap? If that is his intention, it’s hard to imagine how he could have done so more perfectly.

Just to be clear, this is what a Leftist revolutionary looks like:

…and that ain’t Obama.

What’s interesting about this is that McCarthy is suggesting there’s something radical about … politics. Working in the system. Trying to convince people of your views. Compromising where necessary. Sure: Obama’s going to use those techniques to pull the country to the left. And he’s probably going to be defeated when he goes too far for Americans’ comfort. But there’s nothing particularly underhanded about this: It’s democracy.

Sad thing is, McCarthy was actually kinda trying to be gracious in defeat:

Yet for one night, I was impressed. Impressed most by the dignity with which he bore the weight of his historic achievement: satisfied but not gloating, victorious but magnanimous, gratified by what he has accomplished and what it so obviously means to African Americans, but mindful of the enormous burdens he has assumed and the duties he now owes to all Americans, including the loyal opposition.

Emphasis here on loyal. President-Elect Obama correctly but no less honorably said he still needed to earn our support. For our part, we need to offer our support earnestly.

But he just can’t seem to avoid suggesting that Obama has some dark secrets that will harm the country. Back off, Andy. You lost.