RETIRED MARINE GENERAL QUESTIONS OBAMA

He and others dispute the need to study it any further: the nation will be stronger if its gay and lesbian citizens are allowed to serve openly. (“Dr. Laura Miller, a well-respected military sociologist who co-authored a study with the late Charles Moskos, author of the gay ban, said, ‘you don’t need a commission to tell you that you need to retain every able, trained, experienced and productive member at a time when both the stakes and the manpower needs are high.’”) Five years ago, 91% of people aged 18-29 supported allowing gays to serve openly. The number is likely even higher today.

CONSERVATIVE READER QUESTIONS *ME!*

Matt Sullivan: “I always enjoy, and usually strongly disagree with, your political commentary. I am writing for the first time to ask you a few simple questions: If four of President Bush’s top appointees had failed to pay their taxes properly, would that have been the subject of one of your columns? If following the last election there had been a republican governor of Arizona attempting to sell the very Senate seat that President McCain had vacated, would you have found that to be worthy of a column or two about the obviously corrupt Republican party? If Charles Rangel happened to be a Republican, would his residence shenanigans catch your attention? I suspect that if you honestly considered those questions, your answer would be yes. In some ways, reading your columns all of these years makes me feel as though I know you. If I did know you, I would say to you, ‘Andy, you lose your credibility with reasonable people when you ignore corruption on your side of the aisle.’

☞ Fair questions.

On Blagojevich, it goes without saying (except you’re saying I should say it anyway, so here goes) . . . the guy should be impeached and kicked out and disowned by President Obama and by Democrats everywhere – and he has been. All those things have happened. With alacrity. So I don’t know what I would really be able to add. I assume right-wing radio is skewering him, as it should; but so are John Stewart and Stephen Colbert and Keith Olbermann and everyone else. I don’t see in Blagojevich’s behavior, even added to the behavior of the Louisiana Congressman who a few years ago put $90,000 in his freezer, a “culture of corruption” within our Party.

(Now that we have the White House and Congress, it’s doubtless something to guard against – power corrupts. But I like to think we will do a good job avoiding it, as we did the last time we had the White House. The ethics guidelines President Obama issued his first full day at work set a new standard in that regard. They are significant.)

If Blagojevich had corrupted the Justice Department but we had failed to make it right . . . or if he had held secret energy meetings and we had refused – even under subpoena – to disclose the names of the participants . . . or if he had blown the cover of a CIA agent and we had tried to keep him in office . . . well, in any of those scenarios I hope I would have gotten up on my high horse and railed against the injustice.

But where’s the injustice here? He’s been impeached and faces trial, exactly as should have happened.

As to the four (I thought it was three?) appointees with tax issues, I wouldn’t use the word corruption as you have. I’m corrupt if I accept bribes and let you water down the cement in the footbridge. I’m corrupt if I accept bribes to write you a tax loophole. But am I corrupt if I paid all my income taxes but didn’t realize, when I was employed by the International Monetary Fund, that – for tax purposes – I was self-employed? The Senate seemed to think that, in context, this was excusable.

Am I corrupt – or just negligent – if I failed to pay employment taxes on household help? It’s important to acknowledge that “negligent” isn’t good either. But it’s also important to note that Ms. Killefer withdrew her candidacy.

Similarly, am I corrupt – or just negligent – if I paid all the taxes due on my money income, but failed to realize it would cost me a fortune in taxes to accept the use of a car and driver? Your call; but it’s important to note that Senator Daschle has withdrawn his candidacy . . . and that the President has gone on national TV promptly to say that he – President Obama – screwed up by supporting that candidacy once the tax issue was known.

I don’t see this as a pattern of corruption. I see it as a lot of really good (but human) people trying to do their best for their country. Including Charlie Rangel, who would appear at the very least to owe New York a really big apology, and maybe more.

All that said, there is inevitably a bias in this column. For those just joining us or who’ve never clicked the Bio tab, I am a Democrat.

SWITCH GRASS

Dan Nachbar: “I agree that there is no ‘baby’ with corn-based ethanol. However cellulosic ethanol is a very worthy approach. With cellulosic, fuel can be made from darn near any plant matter – in particular all the leaves and stalks that go to waste today after we’ve harvested the edible bits from crops. So, with ethanol, cellulosic is the baby and corn-based is the bath water. The distinction is key and yet the press almost never manages to grasp it.”

☞ Right you are.

 

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