July 5, 2010

The New Black Panther Voter Intimidation Case - A Coverup by the Obama Administration?


Here, I believe, is the raw video from election day (Nov 4) 2008. Two members of the New Black Panther Party are engaged in obvious voter intimidation outside a polling location in Philadelphia PA:

The police come and take the Panthers away

Finally here is a news report from shortly afterward in which Fox News interview the cameraman in the first video

This editorial in the Washington Times was what prompted this post:

EDITORIAL: Media blackout for Black Panthers
Explosive racist allegations ignored by poodles in the press
by The Washington Times

Where is the New York Times? Where is The Washington Post? Where are CBS and NBC? A whistleblower makes explosive allegations about the Department of Justice; his story is backed by at least two other witnesses; and the allegations involve the two hot-button issues of race and of blatant politicization of the justice system. A potential constitutional confrontation stemming from the scandal brews between the Justice Department and the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. A congressman highly respected for thoughtfulness and bipartisanship has all but accused the department of serious impropriety. By every standard of objective journalism, this adds up to real news.

Or it would be real news if a Republican Justice Department stood accused. It would be real news if the liberal media weren't mostly in the tank for our celebrated but failing first black president.

Tomorrow, the Civil Rights Commission will hear long-awaited testimony from J. Christian Adams, who resigned from the Voting Section of the Justice Department after the department improperly ordered him to refuse compliance with the commission's lawful subpoena. Mr. Adams first told his story in public in these pages on June 28 and later did two major interviews with Fox News' Megyn Kelly. In those appearances, he flatly accused the Obama Justice Department of adopting an unlawful, immoral policy identified in previous Washington Times editorials - namely, enforcing civil rights laws against white perpetrators who victimized minorities but never against black perpetrators who victimize whites or Asians. If this is indeed the policy, it makes a scandalous mockery of the cherished American principle of "equal justice under the law."

All these allegations stem from what should have been a slam-dunk voter-intimidation case against members of the New Black Panther Party videotaped in menacing behavior outside a Philadelphia polling place in 2008. The Obama Justice Department dropped or seriously reduced all the charges or penalties in the case after it already effectively had been won. Mr. Adams' former colleague, longtime award-winning civil rights lawyer Christopher Coates, has been reported on multiple occasions to have backed Mr. Adams' version of events and of the Obama team's openly discriminatory policy.

If the department's motives are not racial or racist, Justice officials surely appear political. One of the Black Panthers against whom the department declined to press charges was an official poll watcher for the Democratic Party and an elected local party official. The department dropped charges just four days before another election, allowing him again to serve as a poll watcher.

Mr. Adams says the official most directly involved in dropping the case, Steven H. Rosenbaum - whose ethics have been subject to judicial sanction - refused to read his own team's legal briefs before deciding to dismiss the case. Mr. Adams accuses Thomas E. Perez, head of the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division, of providing false answers in testimony to the Civil Rights Commission.

On a parallel track, The Washington Times has reported strong circumstantial evidence suggesting that department officials may have consulted the White House before dismissing the case. That possibility, too, cries out for investigation.

These broad policy questions and suggestions of political chicanery are important. Do we have a nation of laws equally applied to all, or is justice being reduced to raw politics? Investigating such questions is the essence of the news business. Failure to look into such a scandal is evidence of the institutional corruption of the much-ballyhooed "fourth branch of government," a supposedly independent media.

I'm not quite sure who the "congressman highly respected for thoughtfulness and bipartisanship" cited in the first paragraph is, but it could be my own Rep Frank Wolf (R VA-10) is certainly well-respected and has been at the forefront of this issue. He has been pushing for answers from Attorney General Eric Holder's Department of Justice, which has been stonewalling.

This is perhaps the most obvious case of voter intimidation since the end of Jim Crow. Yet the Obama Administration doesn't care. Why? We need answers.

Update

Hans A. von Spakovsky is a former commissioner on the Federal Election Commission and a former counsel to the assistant attorney general for civil rights at the Justice Department. In this post over at NRO he demolishes the excuse some leftists are giving to cover for the Obama Administration; that the Bush Justice Department "downgraded" the original charges so it's all much ado about nothing:

...the latest claim, according to Cynthia Tucker of the Atlanta Journal Constitution and others, is that the "charges against the New Black Panthers were downgraded by the Bush Department of Justice [inasmuch as] the decision not to file a criminal case occurred before Obama was even in office." This "downgrade" talking point is apparently supposed to excuse the Obama administration's decision to dismiss virtually the entire civil voter intimidation case and to neuter the injunction sought against the one remaining defendant so substantially that what was left was little more than a minor annoyance.

These claims by a nonlawyer betray a fundamental ignorance of the difference between civil and criminal prosecutions and a total misunderstanding of how things work at the Justice Department and the Civil Rights Division. First of all, although the Civil Rights Division has a Criminal Section, the vast majority of its voting-rights prosecutions are civil cases conducted by the division's Voting Section. Whenever someone violates the Voting Rights Act and does so in a way that is potentially both a civil and a criminal violation, the division must decide whether to proceed first with a civil or a criminal case. With most voting cases, the decision is usually to go with a civil case, particularly if there are elections coming up in the near future. That is because civil cases have a lower burden of proof and give the government the opportunity to obtain almost immediately a temporary injunction to stop the defendants from engaging in the same wrongful behavior as the case winds its way through the federal courts.
...

Another point: These same liberals are making the false claim that the Bush administration failed to file similar charges against members of the Minutemen, "one of whom allegedly carried a weapon while harassing Hispanic voters in Arizona in 2006." "Allegedly" is the correct term to use: While I was not at the Justice Department in 2006, I have talked to sources inside the Civil Rights Division who were and who have first-hand knowledge of the facts of this matter. The Voting Section sent lawyers to Arizona to investigate these allegations. They were told that the people in question (who were apparently there with some sort of English-only petition) did not enter the polling place and stayed outside the state-imposed limit around polling places where campaigning is forbidden. No one (including Democratic poll watchers) saw them talking to any voters while they were there -- nor could the lawyers find any evidence that they prevented or discouraged anyone from entering the polling place (which is directly contrary to the witnesses in the NBPP case, who testified that they saw voters approaching the polls turn around and leave when they saw the Panthers blocking the entrance to the polling place).

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January 20, 2009

Congratulations to President Barack Obama

Congratulations to President Barack Obama.

I'm sure much will happen today that I could criticize, but I'll resist the urge and not do so. Let the Democrats have their day. Barack Obama won the election fair and square, and he and his followers deserve a day alone to celebrate. Tomorrow we'll get on with the business of blogging as usual.

I'm posting this now, before he's officially sworn in, for two reasons. One is simply that I have to run off to work and want to get this up now. Second, I'm sure he'll sign some executive order today that will annoy me greatly, so I want to post this before I change my mind.

Not really. I'd put it up anyway.

Photobucket


And you know, he does look good there standing in front of the Capitol.

Further, it really is a good thing that we can elect a black person to the presidency of the United States. It wasn't that long ago when it seemed like such a thing would never be possible. Peoples and nations can change.

Obviously I wish that black person wasn't Barack Obama. But it is what it is, and we'll all just have to get on with it.

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November 5, 2008

Congratulations to President-elect Barack Obama

First, my congratulations to President-elect Barack Obama. He and his supporters certainly worked hard for their victory and I hope they enjoyed their celebration last night.

In another post at some point in the future I'll deal with the GOP. I've already written about President Bush and the failures of the GOP and I'm not going to do it again here.

Conservativism wasn't rejected because despite what leftist bloggers may think, because the McCain-Palin ticket did not offer a conservative platform in any meaningful sense. It is simply not factual to say that they, or George W Bush, are "far right-wing extremists."

Sean Hannity today offered his congratulations and then said "we want the new president to succeed." If I could have called, I would have asked him "succeed at what?"

Here is a partial list of some of what Obama wants to do

  • Employee Free Choice Act
  • Fairness Doctrine
  • Freedom of Choice Act
  • Nationalization of health care
  • Estate tax increases
  • "Comprehensive Immigration Reform" (driver's licenses for illegals)
  • Capital gains tax increases
  • Defense cuts
  • Liberal judicial appointments
  • Racial and ethnic preferences
  • Income tax increases
  • Bans on oil drilling
  • Global poverty tax/Kyoto

To which I can add

  • Gay marriage
  • International Criminal Court
  • National "hate speech" legislation
  • Reversal of DC vs.Keller (gun case)
  • National gun control or even confiscation
  • National "volunteer corps whose real function is political agitation
  • Pandering to everything but the most radical forms of Islam
  • Redistribution of wealth
  • A precipitous withdrawal from Iraq
  • Skyrocketing prices for electricity

Less likely, but not impossible, are prosecutions of Bush Administration officials like Don Rumsfeld for "war crimes."

Sorry, but I can't sign on for these things.

Contrary to what some readers might think, I'm not universally critical of recent Democrat presidents.

Sean Hannity seems to assume that he and Obama share the same goals for America, but only have different ways they want to get there. I do not think this is the case. Obama has a radically different idea of what America means, what type of nation we are, and what we should be. I don't even think he thinks of himself as an American in the traditional sense, but more as a "world citizen."

The biggest mistake many people make when thinking about things like retirement benefits or health care is that they see it as a giant math problem. They assume that there is a "solution" that we can discover if only we get enough experts together. This is false because much the issue is values based. I do not think that you have a right to health care coverage from the government.

A Fundamental Change

Make no doubt, whether the people who voted for Obama know it or not, this election represents a fundamental rejection of America as we have known it since colonial times. The damage Obama will do to our country will for the most part be permanent, or at least not fixable for several generations. This is not a question of the economy tanking, although it will. Nor is this an issue of a loss of U.S. power and prestige overseas, although that will happen too. We are on the road to a Western European, or dirigisme style relationship between government and business.

Finally, it's not a question of this or that policy or law being put into place.

The rejection I am talking about is about the relationship between the citizen and the government. It's about how much the government should be involved in the economy. It's about what constitutes a "right," and about what the government owes it's citizens. It's about whether the Constitution means anything other than procedure and the dates when we vote, and whether judges can twist it to suite their political agendas. It's about our role in the world, and whether we will remain truly sovereign or whether we'll cede most of it to international institutions. And of course it's about traditional values or forcing the new values of the radical left on all us whether we like it or not. It's also about free speech, and whether we'll follow the path of Western Europe, most nations of which restrict what their citizens can say to a degree greater than what most Americans realize.

Supreme Court justices are on the bench for decades. Once universal health care is out of the bag, you can't take it back. Once gay marriage is instituted, you can't cancel it. If Ronald Reagan couldn't even keep his campaign promise to eliminate what was then the new pipsqueek Department of Education, what makes anyone think we can dismantle what Obama creates?

Maybe even worse, Obama's election could signal the beginning of the end of the U.S. as a world power. Modern liberals in general don't like U.S. power, and think that we should be more beholden to what agreements we can get from the "international community" before acting. The idea of the U.S. as the leader of the world strikes them as "arrogant." They always want to cut military spending, which is necessary even for "soft power" projection. The war they claim they want to fight is always the one we're not actually engaged in. When we are in one their ability to stick it out is pathetic.

Making It Permanent

Further, conservatives and Republicans need to understand that this is not 1976, and if we only bide our time we can "re-elect" Ronald Reagan in 2012 or a GOP Congress in 2010 as we did in 1994. Neither of these scenarios is as likely to occur now as they did then.

For one thing, Obama might prove just popular enough to get reelected in 2012. He may not totally wreck the economy, or precipitate a foreign policy disaster. More to the point, it just might be that a majority of Americans really do want a socialist cradle-to-grave system.

Further, this time the Democrats will take measures to make their relections permanent too. Groups like ACORN Planned Parenthood, et al will receive a steady stream of federal funding. The left has learned a lot in recent years, and they're not interested in giving up their power. Byron York documented their various organizations in the wake of the 2004 election in his book The Vast Left Wing Conspiracy, and predicted that they would be back the next time with a vengeance. He was right.

The Democrats will encourage more illegal immigration through the promise of benefits, and "amnesty" for illegals already here. They will push through changes in state laws so that felons can vote. A

Remember also that we will have redistricting in 2010. With Democrats in such control everywhere they'll be able to gerrymander districts like never before.

The purpose of all of this is to keep their majority for as long as possible.

I could be wrong about all this, but I don't think I am.

Sarah Palin

Although this post is not per se about the future of conservatism or the GOP, I do want to say a few things about the Governor of Alaska.

Let's get one thing out of the way real fast; Sarah Palin did not "drag down" John McCain. McCain would have done worse had he selected any of the other presidential contenders as his running mate. As someone who is quite active in the local GOP, and who follows these things intimately on a national level, I am telling you that the only reason McCain had much of any support from the party at all was Sarah Palin. Conservatives were decidedly unenthusiastic about his candidacy, and if most of us were going to do anything at all it was because we didn't like Barack Obama, not because we liked John McCain. Sarah Palin fired up the base and at least gave us a fighting chance.

Sarah Palin faced an insanely biased media that treated her as a Dan Quayle from the get go. Barack Obama also faced an insanely biased media, but one that covered for him and his running mate at every turn. That Palin faced this with grace, style, and humor shows her good and steadfast character.

Palin and others like her, such as Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and Senator Tom Coburn (OK) are, I hope, the future of the GOP.

They represent clean government and new ideas. Best of all, all the right people hate them. That they're portrayed as "too religious" or some such means that they must be doing something right.

Stay In the Arena

Not to worry, though, because despite the pessimism of my post, I don't give up. If anything Obama has inspired me to work and fight harder than ever for my ideals.

As such, I think I'll end with the words Theodore Roosevelt that are especially appropriate for this moment

"It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat."

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November 3, 2008

Barack Obama's Energy Plan: "Under my plan... electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket."

If by chance you haven't seen Senator Obama telling the truth about his energy plan, here are the videos that are going viral around the Internet.

Both Obama and McCain want to implement what is called a "cap and trade" system which by definition would set limits on greenhouse gas emissions. The difference is in the details, and where the limits would be set.

In a stunning admission, Obama says that his proposal, "electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket." Listen to him say it yourself:

Unbelievable. Only an envirocrazy could like something like this. Here's the transcript:

The problem is not technical, uh, and the problem is not mastery of the legislative intricacies of Washington. The problem is, uh, can you get the American people to say, "This is really important," and force their representatives to do the right thing? That requires mobilizing a citizenry. That requires them understanding what is at stake. Uh, and climate change is a great example.

You know, when I was asked earlier about the issue of coal, uh, you know -- Under my plan of a cap and trade system, electricity rates would necessarily skyrocket. Even regardless of what I say about whether coal is good or bad. Because I'm capping greenhouse gases, coal power plants, you know, natural gas, you name it -- whatever the plants were, whatever the industry was, uh, they would have to retrofit their operations. That will cost money. They will pass that money on to consumers.

They -- you -- you can already see what the arguments will be during the general election. People will say, "Ah, Obama and Al Gore, these folks, they're going to destroy the economy, this is going to cost us eight trillion dollars," or whatever their number is. Um, if you can't persuade the American people that yes, there is going to be some increase in electricity rates on the front end, but that over the long term, because of combinations of more efficient energy usage, changing lightbulbs and more efficient appliance, but also technology improving how we can produce clean energy, the economy would benefit.

If we can't make that argument persuasively enough, you -- you, uh, can be Lyndon Johnson, you can be the master of Washington. You're not going to get that done.

At least he's finally figured out that corporations simply pass their bills on to consumers. Either that or they cut jobs, salaries, or employee benefits.

I believe this is the reference to being asked earlier about coal that he's talking about:

Here's the transcript:

Let me sort of describe my overall policy.

What I've said is that we would put a cap and trade system in place that is as aggressive, if not more aggressive, than anybody else's out there.

I was the first to call for a 100% auction on the cap and trade system, which means that every unit of carbon or greenhouse gases emitted would be charged to the polluter. That will create a market in which whatever technologies are out there that are being presented, whatever power plants that are being built, that they would have to meet the rigors of that market and the ratcheted down caps that are being placed, imposed every year.

So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can; it's just that it will bankrupt them because they're going to be charged a huge sum for all that greenhouse gas that's being emitted.

That will also generate billions of dollars that we can invest in solar, wind, biodiesel and other alternative energy approaches.

The only thing I've said with respect to coal, I haven't been some coal booster. What I have said is that for us to take coal off the table as a ideological matter as opposed to saying if technology allows us to use coal in a clean way, we should pursue it.

So if somebody wants to build a coal-powered plant, they can.

It's just that it will bankrupt them.

Any other companies you'd like to bankrupt, Senator? Firearms manufacturers, perhaps? Drug companies so that you can take over that business too, perhaps? Petroleum producers? Once the government gets into the business if bankrupting companies, where does it end?

Obama makes clear that he's opposed to coal "as an ideological matter." Politicians who want to help people should rather be in favor of whatever works, regardless of what it is. We should have an open mind and favor whatever brings us the most energy and the lowest cost with the least pollution.

Look, I'm not at all opposed to alternative forms of energy. Yes, let's look into everything. Yes, I realize that we have a limited amount of fossil fuels and no matter what "clean technology" you implement they still pollute. But as of now things like solar and wind are pipe dreams that cannot supply but a small fraction of our needs.

I think we need more nuclear plants, but the left is unalterably opposed to that as well. Barack Obama doesn't even discuss nuclear power on the energy issues page of his website because he knows it would drive his supporters away from him. John McCain, on the other hand, sets the goal of building 100 new nuclear power plants by 2030.

Obama does say that we do need nuclear power, but we know he is not serious because he is opposed to storing the waste at Yucca Mountain. John McCain, however, supports storing our waste there, which is a prerequisite to building any more nuclear power plants.

Just to set some context, here are our current sources of electricity

figes1.jpg

As you can see, "renewable" and "envirofriendly" sources of energy make up a negligible percentage. Further, our electricity needs are going nowhere but up(source)

petawatt-consumption-history-chart.jpg


The bottom line is that demand for electricity is going nowhere but up and coal and nuclear have got to be part of the solution, at least in the short term, which we may define as the next 20-40 years. Barack Obama is opposed to both coal and nuclear power, and will make prices "skyrocket" prices for consumers.

This is not the type of change we need.

Tomorrow we go to the polls. Energy is yet another issue where McCain-Palin have the better plan.

Posted by Tom at 12:15 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

November 2, 2008

More Creepy Obama Supporters

Via Jonah Goldberg at NRO


This is so wrong.

Frighteningly, there are more;



There is something about Obama that attracts this weirdness. As Mark Levin wrote earlier this week;

There is a cult-like atmosphere around Barack Obama, which his campaign has carefully and successfully fabricated, which concerns me. The messiah complex. Fainting audience members at rallies. Special Obama flags and an Obama presidential seal. A graphic with the portrayal of the globe and Obama's name on it, which adorns everything from Obama's plane to his street literature. Young school children singing songs praising Obama. Teenagers wearing camouflage outfits and marching in military order chanting Obama's name and the professions he is going to open to them. An Obama world tour, culminating in a speech in Berlin where Obama proclaims we are all citizens of the world. I dare say, this is ominous stuff.

No kidding.

And yes I know there are a few pro-McCain songs out there but it's not at all the same. I've never seen anything like this Obama cult following for any Republican, even Ronald Reagan.

Previous
The Creepyness of Obamamania


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October 30, 2008

Joe Biden "prohibited from holding news conferences"

Well well. Senator Biden's verbal missteps have gotten so bad that he's not allowed to speak to the press anymore. Don't take it from me, though. Dana Milbank of The Washington Post has the story:

Biden, who once scolded Sarah Palin for ducking reporters, hasn't given a news conference since Sept. 7.....Now even Palin takes questions from reporters on her campaign plane. But the wordiest man in Washington has to make his remarks short, sweet and canned....

Prohibited from holding news conferences, Biden must satisfy his urges in one-on-one interviews with local TV stations. But this, too, carries danger. He got in a tiff with an Orlando reporter who suggested that Obama is a Marxist. Then came an interview in which Biden said Obama's tax cut should go to "people making under $150,000 a year." That didn't match Obama's policy, so McCain pounced, and Biden's spokesman clarified. During satellite television interviews on Tuesday, Biden himself had to explain this and his "gird your loins" mishap.

So much for the benefits of experience. And to think that some people say that John McCain made the wrong choice in a running mate.

So why has Biden been muzzled? Here's one clue:


Here's who he thinks was president when the stock market crashed in 1929:

I'm sure that his "Mark My Words, We Will Face A Major International Crisis" had a lot to do with it:

Here's him telling Joe to "stand up!"

He's had some things to say about who works at 7-11 stores too:

Maybe they're just afraid he'll say this again

"I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy"

I have to admit, though; having Biden as VP for four years could be an awful lot of fun.

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October 28, 2008

Iraq Briefing - 22 October 2008 - Much Progress, but "the situation's certainly fragile"

This briefing is by Col. William Hickman, Commander of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault). They are also known as the Strike Brigade Combat Team. Col. Hickman spoke via satellite with reporters at the Pentagon last Wednesday.

Hickman's 2nd Brigade Combat Team is part of Multinational Division-Baghdad, and have been operating in Northwest Baghdad for the past 11 months.

Hickman reports to Maj. Gen. Jeff Hammond, the commander of MND-Baghdad. Hammond, in turn, reports to Lt. Gen. Lloyd Austin, commander of Multi-National Corps - Iraq. Austin reports to General Odierno, commander of Multi-National Force - Iraq, who on September 16 replaced his one-time boss Gen. David Petraeus in this position. Petraeus, in turn, has been appointed the next commander of CENTCOM.

Lt. Gen. Martin Dempsey is acting commander of CENTCOM until Gen. Petraeus assumes command there soon. Dempsey reports to Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.

This and other videos can be seen at the DODvClips website. The Pentagon Channel also has videos and news stories, so visit it as well.

The transcript is on the DefenseLink site.

As with so many other briefings, there is a message here for our presidential candidates, most particularly Barack Obama.

From his opening comments:

COL. HICKMAN: Okay, thank you.

Good morning. It's a pleasure to spend some time with you today to discuss our operations in Northwest Baghdad. As mentioned, I'm Colonel Bill Hickman. I command the 2nd Brigade Combat Team of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), also known as the Strike Brigade Combat Team.

We're out of Fort Campbell, Kentucky, and currently attached to Multinational Division-Baghdad. Our brigade has been operating in Northwest Baghdad for the past 11 months. And I feel it's important to update you on some of the changes, since our arrival, and entertain any questions that you have.

First, I'd like to comment that the trends you see, on the reduction of violence, across Iraq, are certainly present here in Baghdad and especially visible in our area.

Across the Multinational Division-Baghdad area, there's been an 83 percent decrease in overall attacks from a year ago. Enemy attacks in our area are down more than 62 percent, since our arrival, and over 92 percent since January 2007.
...

With our Iraqi partners, we are fully engaged and committed to the security of the Iraqi people and the reconstruction of northwest Baghdad. It has been a solid year that we -- we think we made a difference in Baghdad. The situation's certainly fragile. We have a critical mission here in the heart of Baghdad.
...

Q Colonel, it's Andrew Gray from Reuters here. You had some pretty dramatic statistics on the decline of violence there. Can you explain why, given that dramatic reduction, you still describe the situation as fragile? What are the factors that mean that you still require substantial presence there? What are the areas that you're concerned about that could reverse those trends?

COL. HICKMAN: Well, I still think there are small very disrupted cells that do not want to -- this to progress forward. And those cells right now we continue to target with the Iraqi army, Iraqi police.

I would tell you what I think, if I could get into it, is -- take that, is the reconciliation that's occurring in northwest Baghdad -- I think that's the key. And I think the key is going to be -- and there are really four areas. I think it goes back to what you asked. It's the resettlement, and I'd like to go into more detail, if you'd like to, in a few minutes on that. It's the election piece. It's integration of the SOIs, the volunteers, into the Iraqi security forces and other ministries. And it's the release of the detainees that the coalition force have. I think those are the four key areas that we have to work in northwest Baghdad. And as we progress down the road and are successful in those areas, I think security then will become more evident as we go forward.

I have heard this in every briefing since Maj. Gen. Joseph Fil (Commanding General of Multi-National Division-Baghdad and First Cavalry Division) gave his final briefing before leaving Iraq in December of 2007. During the briefing Fil said

Now, I want to be absolutely clear that while we have seen significant progress during our tour here, we are very mindful that it is fragile and that there is very tough work ahead. Al Qaeda is down, but it is by no means out.

I have heard a similar theme in almost every briefing since then: "We're making tremendous progress but it could all fall apart if we don't stick with it." This is no doubt a warning and message to the American people and our political leaders that we must not declare victory and withdraw troops too soon.

We made the mistake at the beginning of the war of declaring victory too soon and not sending more troops into Iraq to stabilize the situation. At the time we thought that because we'd defeated the regular Iraqi army the country would be like post-war Germany or Japan and we could get on with rebuilding with minimal attention to security. We were wrong then, so let's not make the same mistake twice.

I've posted dozens of briefings on this website. Go through them and you'll hear time and again our commanders making this point. During these briefings I pay attention to assertions the reporters challenge and what they don't. Mind you the journalists who cover these briefings are knowledgable in military affairs. They're not the big-name stars who talk about everything and anything whether they know anything about it or not. I've come to respect the journalists who cover these briefings. And they seem to accept both that we've made great progress but that it's fragile.

It's not just military leaders making this point, either. Jay Nordlinger of National Review recently returned from Iraq, and posted a five part series on his visit (see the October 2008 listings in his archive). However, he sums it up best in his summary article in the November 3, 2008, print edition of the magazine. It's behind a firewall so you can't get it on-line unless you pay, but here's the beginning:

You hear certain things over and over, as you spend some time in Iraq. You hear them from Iraqis, Americans, and others. What you hear is: We've made great progress in 2008. Al-Qaeda, the militias, and the rest of those lovelies are on the run. But our progress is fragile and reversible. If the coalition leaves too soon -- before Iraq can defend itself -- there will be hell to pay. If we leave too soon, our work will be for nought.

You also hear, Iraqis don't want Americans and other foreigners in their country. (That includes foreign terrorists too, of course.) No one likes to be occupied. At the same time, Iraqis are very, very worried about the American departure: a departure that precedes stabilization. It's "Yankee, go home -- but don't leave us at the mercy of the wolves. Go home at the right time."

What did I tell you?

At the very end of the piece he tells of their interview with General Ray Odierno, commanding general of all coalition forces in Iraq. Odierno was commander of Multi-National Corps-Iraq during the critical days of the surge, and he was the one who implemented Petraeus' vision (Odierno was to Petraeus what Patton was to Eisenhower).

In the Faw Palace, we sit down with Gen. Ray Odierno, who is "CG" -- commanding general -- of coalition forces in Iraq. He gives us an overview. And we question him hard. He has a knack for putting things plain. For example, "In 2006 Iraq was a failed state. Now it is a fragile state." We have not yet reached the point of Iraq's being a "stable state." But that is what we're driving toward. Gradually, we are turning matters over to the Iraqis, alone. "I want our forces to reduce their visibility yet maintain their effectiveness. I tell them I want everything." We have invested so much, over these five and a half years: "I hope we'll be able to finish this and do it right."

I fear that Sen. Obama might win the election and become our next president. He has pledged to immediately withdraw our forces from Iraq. This would be a terrible thing to do and risks losing all that we have gained.

The left talks about our losses in Iraq being in vain. They are wrong now, but it might become a self-fulfilling prophesy if Obama carries through on his promise.

Odierno and the other generals would argue mightily with Obama if he was to give such an order, but of course in the end would either carry out his wishes or resign. This would all be supremely ironic, for in the early days of the way the anti-war liberals castigated Bush for "not listening to his generals." I hope and pray that if Obama wins he listens to our generals and sticks it out until victory is assured. I hope for the best but fear for the worst.

Posted by Tom at 8:45 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

October 27, 2008

At the Palin Rally in Leesburg Virginia

Welcome, "Historic Vienna" readers. See my last comment at bottom

What a thrill! It was well worth it to get up at o'dark-thirty this morning and trek across town to RJ Festival Lakes to see Governor Sarah Palin rally a crowd of supporters. Cold weather and cloudy skies did not dampen enthusiasm as several thousands of people yelled their enthusiasm as she made the case as to why she and Senator John McCain should be elected to the White House next week.

Best of all from my standpoint, I managed to get 30 or 40 feet from the speakers podium! I don't think I've ever been that close to someone running for or elected to the presidency. And let's fact it; Sarah Palin is what is driving this ticket. I respect John McCain immensely and think he would make a fine president, but it's her who enthuses the conservative base.

Me, I absolutely love her.

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You can see all of the photos on my photobucket site. Unfortunately, they're a bit out of order because I goofed up the uploading but I guess it doesn't really matter.

She spoke for 50 minutes, spending most of her time on the economy and taxes. She clearly distinguished her and McCain's plan from Obama's "spread the wealth" philosophy. Energy was also a topic of much discussion, with the crowd chanting "Drill, Baby, Drill! at opportune moments. Corruption and foreign policy rounded it out.

The crowd loved every minute of the rally. It was in the mid 40s before dawn and for awhile seemed like it was going to warm up. However, a front rolled in and temperatures actually dropped as the winds picked up slightly. No one seemed to mind though, as Governor Palin and the other dignitaries rallied the crowd. Todd Palin was there, and beamed proudly as his wife spoke. Everyone in the crowd behaved perfectly and there were no inappropriate comments, so trolls can just go elsewhere.

Mark Levin nailed it the other day when he said that "Obama's entire campaign is built on class warfare and human envy." We believe that the Republican tax plan is built on the idea that no body's taxes should be raised, and everybody's taxes should be cut. As Jack Kemp used to say, "capitalism doesn't work if you don't have capital," and as such raising taxes on businesses only serves to eliminate jobs, not create them. Knowing this, at periodic intervals the crowd chanted

"Have a Brain, Vote McCain!"

Upon hearing that, Palin responded, "You betcha, that's good!"

Silly me, I didn't bring a notepad so I have to go by memory. I've also never gotten around to buying a video camera, so my apologies, but I won't have any of that for you. The good news was that I met up with a friend from our Walter Reed troop support group, and she wrote up her thoughts and observations, which I'll post here shortly.

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As we all know, Obama has been hit hard on taxes since his encounter with "Joe the Plumber." While the left has disgracefully spent it's time investigating and trashing him, we on the right have been focused on the real issue; what Obama's tax plan means for American. And we've come to know that once you get through his smoke and mirrors it's a socialist plan for income redistribution, plain and simple.

Obama and his sort flatter themselves by thinking that their "soak the rich" plans favor "working families" (what is a "non-working family", bty?). This is why they cannot understand why a "Joe the Plumber" could possibly vote for the McCain-Palin ticket.

But Joe the Plumber is not alone in his rejection of Obama's economics. Tito Munoz, aka "Tito the Builder" is an ardent supporter of the McCain-Palin ticket, and he introduced Governor Palin today:

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Tito is a small business owner from Prince William County, which is just south of Loudoun County, where the rally took place.

Here are some of his remarks, taken from the Fox News story linked to below:

"Everything we stand for is in danger by higher taxes and less freedom. Everything we stand for is made stronger by people like you, like John McCain and Sarah Palin. This country has given me so much, but I have not been given much time to do my job. My job today is to stand before you, to stand up for freedom"

With this, let's hear from my co-blogger today, whom we'll call "Albion Wilde":

LEESBURG, October 27, 2008-- Tito Munoz, a dark-haired, muscular contractor in khaki work clothes, steel-toed boots, a yellow hardhat and sunglasses, is striding back and forth, beckoning the crowd to ramp up the cheering. We had been cheering sporadically since before daybreak as we waited for Sarah Palin, scheduled to speak at 10 AM at JR's Festival Lakes. Hours ticked by and volunteers passed out red or white pompoms, small American flags and blue-and-white "Country First" and "Veterans for McCain/Palin" signs. A row of individuals in the VIP seats behind the podium had distributed huge black- on-white letters spelling out "VA [HEART] SARAH" and "I AM JOE." More big letters along the side bleachers spelled "MAVERICK." State and local officials and candidates had spoken, including Chairman of the Loudoun Countyr Board of Supervisors Scott York, Supervisor Lori Waters, candidate for 11th Congressional District Kieth Fimian, and 10th District Congressman Frank Wolf. And now, at last, Tito Munoz takes the microphone to introduce Sarah Palin, Governor of Alaska and Republican candidate for Vice President of the United States.

With the election a scant eight days away, Mrs. Palin and top-of-the-ticket John McCain are fighting a close race against three powerful opponents: the Democrat contender Barack Obama, the mainstream media shamelessly in Obama's pocket, and the last thirty years of revisionist, Marx-influenced education that has corrupted the very fabric of American freedom. Attempting to substitute a socialist politics of class envy. As immigrants form every corner of the world continue to flock to the United States for freedom of opportunity, the historic message of American exceptionalism, in spite of the 2008 Democrat campaign's new depths of socialist-inspired ideological attacks and character assassination. Like the three other moments in American history that radically altered the course of our history, the Civil War, the New Deal and the Great Society, a loss of freedom at this moment may signal the end of the world's longest-lasting democratic republic. Pressure? Plenty; yet as one speaker today said, "Sarah Palin has responded to some of the most outrageous attacks in the history of campaigning with grace and dignity."

Tito Munoz is now shouting to a crowd electrified with anticipation. "I immigrated to this country from Columbia," he says, evidenced by a pleasant Hispanic accent, "for the opportunity that only America can provide - the opportunities entrepreneurs need. In this election, the opportunities only John McCain and Sarah Palin can bring." Suddenly, a platoon of Men in Black file across the dais behind him, and the crowd stops shouting, "Tito, Tito, Tito" and roars, "Sarah! Sarah! Sarah!" - and the occasional "Todd! Todd! Over here, Todd!" Alaska's First Dude accompanies his wife to the podium, then stands behind to her left while Tito stands behind to her right. For the next fifty minutes, Governor Palin's speech leads the crowd to wave after wave of approving roars.

"It's not inappropriate to point out things about your opponent that you disagree with," she begins, " - the media certainly won't." (Roar!) Her speech continued at a surprisingly calm and easy pace, especially considering the raves surrounding her every point. This is a woman who knows how to work with the audience, easily moving from one GOP plank to another with an assurance that springs from her well-sprung, classical American principles: the trilogy of hard work, independence and opportunity. She gave shout-outs to the many "Joe the Plumber" signs in the crowd, as well as others who self-identified as practitioners of a variety of trades and professions.

Palin concentrated on the economy and tax cuts as the way to stimulate business and development, energy independence (interspersed with chants of "Drill, Baby, Drill!" from crowd).

She knows how to work with the audience, and neither steps on her applause lines nor waits too long before continuing.

And no one in audience said anything inappropriate. Palin said "socialist" once, but that is a pretty accurate discription of Obama's economic plan.

She won't say so herself, but Albion was quite taken with Todd Palin ;-)

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Here are some of her remarks, taken from the Fox News story linked to below:

"Remember Joe just asked a simple question, and ever since then Joe has been investigated and attacked for asking that question. But Tito now, Tito has a question of his own. And Barack Obama isn't going to like this one either. Tito wants to know, and I quote, he asked, he says, 'Why the heck are you going after Joe The Plumber. Joe The Plumber has an idea. He has a future. He wants to be something else. Why is that so wrong?' Palin said, "Tito loves this country and Tito isn't the only McCain supporter who feels that way. In fact, I know that we have a lot of small business owners here with us today, and they feel just like Tito does."

Here is a view of the reviewing stand directly to the right of the podium

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From the Newsday story linked to below:

Palin portrayed Obama as "on the side of bigger, more controlling government" and warned that an Obama White House would leave the Democratic agenda in Congress unchecked.

"If big government spenders control the House and Senate and, heaven forbid, the White House, they will have a monopoly of power," she said.

"You understand that his plan to redistribute wealth will, ultimately, punish hard work, and it discourages productivity, and it will stifle the entrepreneurial spirit that made this country the greatest country on earth."

After her talk Sarah and Todd came forward, and, flanked by Secret Service, shook hands for maybe 10 minutes or so with all who could reach them. It was fantastic and the crowd loved it whether they got close enough to shake hands or not. After that they went back to the reviewing stand and shook hands before departing. It was hard to get good photos but here are a few of the better ones

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At this point they were no more than 15-20 feet in front of us! My poor old camera does not do the event justice. I've got to splurge for a better one. Trust me when I tell you it was awesome to be there.

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Ok, now that I'm all fired up for the home stretch, it's back to the campaign!

Other Coverage

There's nothing more interesting than reading press coverage of an event that you've attended. From what I've seen so far, most of it seems to be pretty fair. All that is, except for CNN, with their "trots out 'Tito the builder'" headline. Sheesh.

News Outlets

Fox News: Tito the Builder joins Palin on the stump

U.S. News and World Report:
On the Road With Sarah Palin in Leesburg, Va

Newsday:
Palin promises to work with Israeli ambassador, warns of Democratic monopoly in Washington

CNN: Palin trots out 'Tito the builder' at Virginia rally

Washington Post: Palin Seeks to Rouse GOP Voters at Leesburg Rally (includes video of Palin and audio of an interview with a supporter from the crowd

Washington Times: Palin says Democrats will raise taxes

Leesburg Today: Palin Rallies Crowd In Election Day Run-up

Loudoun Times Mirror: Palin stumps for McCain in Leesburg

Bloggers and More

America Needs Sarah Palin:
Leesburg Rally today, with a few photos

Allahpundit, posting at Michelle Malkin's Hot Air now has video of Tito the Builder introducing Palin from CNN:

National Review: The Palins on the Trail

Political Intersection Blog: PI Attends Palin Rally in Leesburg VA :We This This Election is Close Than What Polls Indicate

Posted by Tom at 6:00 PM | Comments (17) | TrackBack

October 26, 2008

"A Cult-like Atmosphere Around Barack Obama"

I'd say that Mark Levin has it just about right in a post over at NRO's The Corner on Saturday:

I've been thinking this for a while so I might as well air it here. I honestly never thought we'd see such a thing in our country - not yet anyway - but I sense what's occurring in this election is a recklessness and abandonment of rationality that has preceded the voluntary surrender of liberty and security in other places. I can't help but observe that even some conservatives are caught in the moment as their attempts at explaining their support for Barack Obama are unpersuasive and even illogical. And the pull appears to be rather strong. Ken Adelman, Doug Kmiec, and others, reach for the usual platitudes in explaining themselves but are utterly incoherent. Even non-conservatives with significant public policy and real world experiences, such as Colin Powell and Charles Fried, find Obama alluring but can't explain themselves in an intelligent way.

There is a cult-like atmosphere around Barack Obama, which his campaign has carefully and successfully fabricated, which concerns me. The messiah complex. Fainting audience members at rallies. Special Obama flags and an Obama presidential seal. A graphic with the portrayal of the globe and Obama's name on it, which adorns everything from Obama's plane to his street literature. Young school children singing songs praising Obama. Teenagers wearing camouflage outfits and marching in military order chanting Obama's name and the professions he is going to open to them. An Obama world tour, culminating in a speech in Berlin where Obama proclaims we are all citizens of the world. I dare say, this is ominous stuff.

Even the media are drawn to the allure that is Obama. Yes, the media are liberal. Even so, it is obvious that this election is different. The media are open and brazen in their attempts to influence the outcome of this election. I've never seen anything like it. Virtually all evidence of Obama's past influences and radicalism -- from Jeremiah Wright to William Ayers -- have been raised by non-traditional news sources. The media's role has been to ignore it as long as possible, then mention it if they must, and finally dismiss it and those who raise it in the first place. It's as if the media use the Obama campaign's talking points -- its preposterous assertions that Obama didn't hear Wright from the pulpit railing about black liberation, whites, Jews, etc., that Obama had no idea Ayers was a domestic terrorist despite their close political, social, and working relationship, etc. -- to protect Obama from legitimate and routine scrutiny. And because journalists have also become commentators, it is hard to miss their almost uniform admiration for Obama and excitement about an Obama presidency. So in the tank are the media for Obama that for months we've read news stories and opinion pieces insisting that if Obama is not elected president it will be due to white racism. And, of course, while experience is crucial in assessing Sarah Palin's qualifications for vice president, no such standard is applied to Obama's qualifications for president. (No longer is it acceptable to minimize the work of a community organizer.) Charles Gibson and Katie Couric sought to humiliate Palin. They would never and have never tried such an approach with Obama.

But beyond the elites and the media, my greatest concern is whether this election will show a majority of the voters susceptible to the appeal of a charismatic demagogue. This may seem a harsh term to some, and no doubt will to Obama supporters, but it is a perfectly appropriate characterization. Obama's entire campaign is built on class warfare and human envy. The "change" he peddles is not new. We've seen it before. It is change that diminishes individual liberty for the soft authoritarianism of socialism. It is a populist appeal that disguises government mandated wealth redistribution as tax cuts for the middle class, falsely blames capitalism for the social policies and government corruption (Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac) that led to the current turmoil in our financial markets, fuels contempt for commerce and trade by stigmatizing those who run successful small and large businesses, and exploits human imperfection as a justification for a massive expansion of centralized government. Obama's appeal to the middle class is an appeal to the "the proletariat," as an infamous philosopher once described it, about which a mythology has been created. Rather than pursue the American Dream, he insists that the American Dream has arbitrary limits, limits Obama would set for the rest of us -- today it's $250,000 for businesses and even less for individuals. If the individual dares to succeed beyond the limits set by Obama, he is punished for he's now officially "rich." The value of his physical and intellectual labor must be confiscated in greater amounts for the good of the proletariat (the middle class). And so it is that the middle class, the birth-child of capitalism, is both celebrated and enslaved -- for its own good and the greater good. The "hope" Obama represents, therefore, is not hope at all. It is the misery of his utopianism imposed on the individual.

Unlike past Democrat presidential candidates, Obama is a hardened ideologue. He's not interested in playing around the edges. He seeks "fundamental change," i.e., to remake society. And if the Democrats control Congress with super-majorities led by Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, he will get much of what he demands.

The question is whether enough Americans understand what's at stake in this election and, if they do, whether they care. Is the allure of a charismatic demagogue so strong that the usually sober American people are willing to risk an Obama presidency? After all, it ensnared Adelman, Kmiec, Powell, Fried, and numerous others. And while America will certainly survive, it will do so, in many respects, as a different place.

And it will be a different place for the worse.

I, too, have never seen anything like this Barack Obama phenomenon, and I've followed politics since 1976, when I watched the Republican National Convention with my parents. Just yesterday another Republican volunteer and myself were visiting one of our supporters to put up one of the large 4'x8' McCain-Palin signs, and the Obama people had a small office in the strip mall. We chanced to walk by it, looked inside, and sure enough, there was this large poster of Obama like this one that must have been 6 feet tall on one of the walls

barack-is-hope.jpg

I'm sorry, but there is just something weird about all this.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that we on the right don't get carried away sometimes too. We are absolutely in love with Ronald Reagan, and at times I think we take it too far. The Republican presidential candidates tried to "out Reagan" each other to the point of ridiculousness during some of the debates. The Heritage Foundation's "What would Reagan do" is a bit much. And much of the hard core McCain following (who are not to be confused with conservatives) is based in part on a semi-cult of personality.

But all of this pales in comparison to what you see with the Obama following.

I don't see conservatives with Obama wrist bracelets. No conservative has made his own presidential seal. No one teaches their children to sing songs to Obama, or does so themselves.

What worries me is what the hard-core Obama followers will do after the election if their candidate wins. Obama himself has called for "Universal Voluntary Public Service." Specifically, he said that

"We cannot continue to rely on our military in order to achieve the national security objectives we've set. We've got to have a civilian national security force that's just as powerful, just as strong, just as well-funded."

Wikipedia puts the size of the U.S. military at 1,436,000 men and women, with an annual budget of $583 billion. Taking Obama at his word, he would create a national service force of equal size in personnel and funding. I can't imagine he'll get full funding for this, at least not immediately, but given that he'll cut the military to the bone I'd imagine he'd use the "savings" to fund his civilian "security force."

Will participation be voluntary? What will this force be used for? Michelle Obama has said that

"Barack Obama will require you to work. He is going to demand that you shed your cynicism. That you come out of your isolation, that you move out of your comfort zone. . . . Barack Obama will never allow you to go back to your lives as usual -- uninvolved, uninformed."

I think that the public justification for any "civilian national security force" would be "social justice" or just to "reduce poverty," in reality it would be political. His activists would spend their time agitating for leftist political goals, all paid for on the public dime. Does anyone doubt that organizations like ACORN would be a recipient of this money?

The damage such an organization could do is tremendous. And it's another reason to work for the defeat of Barack Obama and his cultish followers.

Posted by Tom at 9:25 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 19, 2008

Joe Biden, Sarah Palin, Dan Quayle, and When a Gaffe is not a Gaffe

Oct 20: Updated at bottom with today's Biden gaffe

And to think that they crucified Dan Quayle because he spelled "potato" wrong.

Unless they do the same to Joe Biden, the media and late night talk-show hosts who made so much fun Dan Quayle need to send him a letter of apology.

Anyone who follows politics knows that Senator Biden is a walking gaffe machine. Consider this small collection of his wit and wisdom:

If you're not sure, Roosevelt was not president when the stock market crashed and TV hadn't been invented in 1929.

And then we have his debate with Alaska Governor Sarah Palin:

" When we kicked -- along with France, we kicked Hezbollah out of Lebanon, I said and Barack said, "Move NATO forces in there. Fill the vacuum, because if you don't know -- if you don't, Hezbollah will control it."

Now what's happened? Hezbollah is a legitimate part of the government in the country immediately to the north of Israel."

Huh?

"Pakistan already has nuclear weapons. Pakistan already has deployed nuclear weapons. Pakistan's weapons can already hit Israel and the Mediterranean."

Pakistani missiles barely have the range to get halfway to Israel, much less hit anything in the Mediterranean.

We could go on and on listing Biden's gaffes, see here and here for material. Joe Biden says stupid things every single week. The man is an absolute walking gaffe machine. But listing them is not my purpose, and would take too long.

The True Story of the Potato

Did you know that the reporters who were in the room with Quayle when he misspelled "potato" didn't know how it was spelled either? It's true. Not only that, but the school had prepared flash cards with the words that were used in the spelling exercise, and the one for the word in question had it spelled as "potatoe"

Bet you didn't know that, either.

In fact, when Quayle noticed the discrepancy between the flash card and the way the student spelled it, he showed the card to the other adults standing with him, and they nodded in agreement that the student had spelled it wrong.

That little fact wasn't reported by the media either.

The true story of what happened can be found in many places, but perhaps the most comprehensive is by Quayle himself in his 1994 memoir Standing Firm. He devotes an entire chapter to the incident.

I'm not going to do a book review here, but suffice it to say that if you think that Quayle uses the book as an opportunity to settle scores, lash out at the media, or engage in bitter "I didn't deserve it," you'll be disappointed. Quayle is the opposite of the stereotypical politician; humble, candid, and amazingly hard on himself.

When Is a Gaffe not a Gaffe?

So why is it that Joe Biden does not suffer the same fate as Dan Quayle? Why is it that Sarah Palin is seemingly held to a higher standard than other Biden? These are not easy questions to answer, but let me take a shot at it.

One is simply how you look and come across. Joe Biden looks and sounds like a senator or professor. He also looks his age. Dan Quayle has a boyish look that chronological age will never wear away. Sarah Palin sounds like a midwestern "everywoman," and makes no attempt to act or talk Washingtonese.

Another is how you handle the aftermath. Quayle admits that he screwed up the press briefing that immediately followed the incident. At this point neither Quayle or anyone in his entourage knew anything was amis (recall that no one in the room challenged the "e" and many thought it correct). When a reporter slyly asked "so how do you spell "potato" again?" he should have realized his earlier mistake and made a joke about it. Unfortunately, he was caught off guard and unsure what the reporter was talking about. It was this "deer in the headlights" part of the incident that made a small mistake into a career defining event more than the incident itself.

All this, remember, according to Quayle himself. I told you he was hard on himself in the book.

The media is on the lookout for anything Sarah Palin might say that is slightly wrong. Rest assured that if she said that "jobs" was a three letter word it would be the subject of late-night jokes for the rest of her life.

Biden, on the other hand, seems to skate along making gaffe after gaffe without anyone other than us nasty right-wing bloggers seeming to care. There is no aftermath for him to deal with because most of the press simply ignore his gaffes.

Therefore, another part of the reason for the disparity of treatment is that Joe Biden is a liberal and Dan Quayle and Sarah Palin are conservatives. The media and comics are overwhelmingly liberal and use their platforms to push their cause, and this means highlighting gaffes by people they don't like and ignoring those of people they do like.

So in the end, I conclude that there are three reasons for the disparity in treatment. Not in order of importance, they are: Image and how you present yourself, how you handle the aftermath, and media bias.

Monday Evening Update

No sooner do I write the above post than Senator Biden proves the case. Via ABC News (H/T NRO)

"Mark my words," the Democratic vice presidential nominee said at a Seattle fundraiser Sunday, "it will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy. The world is looking. We're about to elect a brilliant 47-year-old senator president of the United States of America. Remember I said it standing here if you don't remember anything else I said. Watch, we're gonna have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy."

Wait a second. I thought that with the ascendancy of The One the rest of the world would all like us again? Isn't that why we are supposed to elect him?

But now "the world" will test Obama with an "international crisis, a generated crisis"? Why would they generate a crisis, if he's the one we've all been waiting for?

But wait, it gets better. Biden continues:

"I can give you at least four or five scenarios from where it might originate," Biden said, including the Middle East and Russia as possibilities, "and he's gonna need help. And the kind of help he's gonna need is, he's gonna need you - not financially to help him - we're gonna need you to use your influence, your influence within the community, to stand with him. Because it's not gonna be apparent initially, it's not gonna be apparent that we're right."

What in the world does that "not gonna be apparent initially...that we're right" bit mean? That he's going to screw it up initially?

Don't leave me yet, there's more:

"Gird your loins," Biden told the crowd. "We're gonna win with your help, God willing, we're gonna win, but this is not gonna be an easy ride."

Do what?

The garrulous Biden...

or rather, "The blithering idiot"

...said that he's "forgotten more about foreign policy than most of my colleagues know, so I'm not being falsely humble with you."

Oh yes that was certainly humble of you.

"I think I can be value added, but this guy(Obama) has it. This guy has it. But he's gonna need your help. Because I promise you, you all are gonna be sitting here a year from now going, 'Oh my God, why are they there in the polls? Why is the polling so down? Why is this thing so tough?' We're gonna have to make some incredibly tough decisions in the first two years. So I'm asking you now, I'm asking you now, be prepared to stick with us. Remember the faith you had at this point because you're going to have to reinforce us.""

Or maybe he'll be down in the polls because people will come to their senses and realize that he has no idea how to handle international crises, and that his blithering idiot of a vice president is of no help whatsoever.

Posted by Tom at 8:45 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

October 16, 2008

Obama the Pro-Abortion Candidate

First, lets get this out of the way: Ithought that John McCain cleaned the floor with Barack Obama last night. In the first McCain might have won, and in the second he clearly lost.

But in this third McCain wiped the floor with Obama. Far from and "calm, cool and moderate" I've heard some commentators say, Obama was clearly rattled and flustered throughout. He stammered and stuttered his way though his answers. McCain was clearly in command from beginning to end. McCain had all of the good one-liners. He nailed Obama on the facts time and again.

But that's not what I want to talk about in this post. The subject of abortion - finally - came up in last night's debate. Moderator Bob Schieffer had asked about Roe v. Wade. Here's the relevant part:

McCain:... Sen. Obama, as a member of the Illinois State Senate, voted in the Judiciary Committee against a law that would provide immediate medical attention to a child born of a failed abortion. He voted against that.

And then, on the floor of the State Senate, as he did 130 times as a state senator, he voted present.

Then there was another bill before the Senate Judiciary Committee in the state of Illinois not that long ago, where he voted against a ban on partial-birth abortion, one of the late-term abortion, a really -- one of the bad procedures, a terrible. And then, on the floor of the Illinois State Senate, he voted present.

I don't know how you vote "present" on some of that. I don't know how you align yourself with the extreme aspect of the pro- abortion movement in America. And that's his record, and that's a matter of his record.

And he'll say it has something to do with Roe v. Wade, about the Illinois State Senate. It was clear-cut votes that Sen. Obama voted, I think, in direct contradiction to the feelings and views of mainstream America.

Schieffer: Response?

Obama: Yes, let me respond to this. If it sounds incredible that I would vote to withhold lifesaving treatment from an infant, that's because it's not true. The -- here are the facts.

There was a bill that was put forward before the Illinois Senate that said you have to provide lifesaving treatment and that would have helped to undermine Roe v. Wade. The fact is that there was already a law on the books in Illinois that required providing lifesaving treatment, which is why not only myself but pro-choice Republicans and Democrats voted against it.

And the Illinois Medical Society, the organization of doctors in Illinois, voted against it. Their Hippocratic Oath would have required them to provide care, and there was already a law in the books.

With respect to partial-birth abortion, I am completely supportive of a ban on late-term abortions, partial-birth or otherwise, as long as there's an exception for the mother's health and life, and this did not contain that exception.

And I attempted, as many have in the past, of including that so that it is constitutional. And that was rejected, and that's why I voted present, because I'm willing to support a ban on late-term abortions as long as we have that exception..

Unfortunately for Obama, he's not telling the truth.

National Right to Life has the goods. Their article is rather long because Obama told so many lies. Here is the one dealing with the Born-Alive Infants Protection Act that has been the subject of so much controversy:

-- The Illinois Born-Alive Infants Protection Act (BAIPA) was a simple three-sentence bill to establish that every baby who achieved "complete expulsion or extraction" from the mother, and who showed defined signs of life, was to enjoy the legal protections of a "person." As a state senator, Obama led the opposition to this bill in 2001, 2002, and 2003. On March 13, 2003, Obama killed the bill at a committee meeting over which he presided as chairman. In the October 15 debate, Obama said, "The fact is that there was already a law on the books in Illinois that required providing lifesaving treatment." This claim is highly misleading. The law "on the books," 720 ILCS 510.6, on its face, applies only where an abortionist declares before the abortion that there was "a reasonable likelihood of sustained survival of the fetus outside the womb." But humans are often born alive a month or more before they reach the point where such "sustained survival" - that is, long-term survival - is likely or possible (which is often called the point of "viability"). When Obama spoke against the BAIPA on the Illinois Senate floor in 2001 -- the only senator to do so -- he didn't even claim that the BAIPA was duplicative of existing law. Rather, he objected to defining what he called a "previable fetus" as a legal "person" -- even though the bill clearly applied only to fully born infants. These events are detailed in an August 28, 2008 NRLC White Paper titled "Barack Obama's Actions and Shifting Claims on the Protection of Born-Alive Aborted Infants -- and What They Tell Us About His Thinking on Abortion," which contains numerous hyperlinks to primary source

Call the NRLC biased if you wish, but at the end of the day you have to deal with the facts.

As far as the partial-birth abortion excuse goes, the truth is that there is never a reason to do a partial-birth abortion "for the health of the mother." This one is a total fraud.

I'm not at all happy with legal abortion for any reason and at any state of the pregnancy, but if we are going to have them, do we the taxpayers have to pay for them? According to Barack Obama, that would be a "yes". And not only that, but as you'll see, since the culture wars are "so '90s", we can't even argue with him about it

Again, the NRLC has the scoop

-- Obama is a cosponsor of the so-called "Freedom of Choice Act" (FOCA) (S. 1173), which would nullify all state and federal laws that "interfere with" access to abortion before "viability" (as defined by the abortionist). The bill would also nullify all state and federal laws that "interfere with" access to abortion after viability if deemed to enhance "health." Because the term "health" is not qualified in the bill, no state would be allowed to exclude any "health" justification whatever for post-viability abortions, because to do so would impermissibly narrow a federally guaranteed right. In short, the FOCA would establish a federal "abortion right" broader than Roe v. Wade and, in the words of the National Organization for Women, "sweep away hundreds of anti-abortion laws [and] policies." The chief sponsors and advocacy groups backing the legislation have acknowledged that it would make partial-birth abortion legal again, nullify state parental notification laws, and require the state and federal governments to fund abortions.

Wonderful.

No doubt some will object that despite all this, Mr. "I don't want them punished with a baby" is still not "pro-abortion" but is "pro-choice." Robert George, in Obama's Abortion Extremism, compares today's pro-choice crowd to those who "accepted" slavery but would not fight against it. Many, such as Thomas Jefferson, were "personally opposed" to slavery, but also opposed abolition. Roberts asks

Would we describe such people, not as pro-slavery, but as "pro-choice"? Of course we would not. It wouldn't matter to us that they were "personally opposed" to slavery, or that they wished that slavery were "unnecessary," or that they wouldn't dream of forcing anyone to own slaves. We would hoot at the faux sophistication of a placard that said "Against slavery? Don't own one." We would observe that the fundamental divide is between people who believe that law and public power should permit slavery, and those who think that owning slaves is an unjust choice that should be prohibited.

Ouch. Be sure and read the rest of his piece, for he lays out the case that even if we do accept the label of "pro-choice" for most people today, Obama himself is so extreme that he deserves the label of "pro-abortion"

For Additional Reading

True Lives: An abortion survivor takes on Barack Obama. An interview with Jill Stanek, who was a nurse at Christ Hospital in Oak Lawn, Illinois. She was the one who brought to light the horrific practice of how official policy was to let living babies who had survived a botched abortion die - slowly, by simply putting them on a table until the expired.

Life with Obama: Abortion champion

Obama and the Born-Alive Act

Life with Obama: A chronology

Deniers for Obama: Abortions do sometimes produce live births

Rick Warren, Obama and the Born-Alive Act

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October 14, 2008

Obama's Socialist Plan for Income Redistribution

If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it's a duck.

Most Democrats at least hide what they are doing. Not so Senator Barack Obama

Here's what he said if you missed it

Barack Obama told a tax-burdened plumber over the weekend that his economic philosophy is to "spread the wealth around" -- a comment that may only draw fire from riled-up John McCain supporters who have taken to calling Obama a "socialist" at the Republican's rallies.

Obama made the remark, caught on camera, after fielding some tough questions from the plumber Sunday in Ohio, where the Democratic candidate canvassed neighborhoods and encouraged residents to vote early.

"Your new tax plan is going to tax me more, isn't it?" the plumber asked, complaining that he was being taxed "more and more for fulfilling the American dream."

"It's not that I want to punish your success. I just want to make sure that everybody who is behind you, that they've got a chance for success too," Obama responded. "My attitude is that if the economy's good for folks from the bottom up, it's gonna be good for everybody ... I think when you spread the wealth around, it's good for everybody."

This is socialism plain and simple.

But wait, there's more:

This is from one of the debates during the primaries earlier this year

GIBSON: All right. You have, however, said you would favor an increase in the capital gains tax. As a matter of fact, you said on CNBC, and I quote, "I certainly would not go above what existed under Bill Clinton," which was 28 percent. It's now 15 percent. That's almost a doubling, if you went to 28 percent.

But actually, Bill Clinton, in 1997, signed legislation that dropped the capital gains tax to 20 percent.

OBAMA: Right.

GIBSON: And George Bush has taken it down to 15 percent.

OBAMA: Right.

GIBSON: And in each instance, when the rate dropped, revenues from the tax increased; the government took in more money. And in the 1980s, when the tax was increased to 28 percent, the revenues went down.

So why raise it at all, especially given the fact that 100 million people in this country own stock and would be affected?

OBAMA: Well, Charlie, what I've said is that I would look at raising the capital gains tax for purposes of fairness.

Senator Obama does not like the way wealth is distributed the United States. It's not just that he has different ideas on how to jump start the economy, or how to pull us out of our current fiscal difficulties. No, he thinks he knows better.

Tax policy should be used for two things; funding government programs and inciting certain behavior. The first is obvious. An example of the second is the mortgage tax deduction (which somehow is never described as a 'loophole") which was designed to encourage home ownership.

But Obama is not happy with this. To him taxes should be used to punish some and reward others.

This, then, is the real Obama. The one who wants to remake America. And to think that some say that his radical past and associations don't matter.

On Obama's campaign website is this

Obama's Comprehensive Tax Policy Plan for America will:

* Cut taxes for 95 percent of workers and their families with a tax cut of $500 for workers or $1,000 for working couples.

The Wall Street Journal, in an article today titled Obama's 95% Illusion:
It depends on what the meaning of 'tax cut' is
explains why these promises are misleading in some detail, but the bottom line is pretty simple

Somewhere around a third (or here) of all adult Americans pay no income taxes at all. So how can 95% receive a refund? Simple: You just write them a check. This is income redistribution in the name of "fairness."

On the the WSJ:

Here's the political catch. All but the clean car credit would be "refundable," which is Washington-speak for the fact that you can receive these checks even if you have no income-tax liability. In other words, they are an income transfer -- a federal check -- from taxpayers to nontaxpayers. Once upon a time we called this "welfare," or in George McGovern's 1972 campaign a "Demogrant." Mr. Obama's genius is to call it a tax cut.

The Tax Foundation estimates that under the Obama plan 63 million Americans, or 44% of all tax filers, would have no income tax liability and most of those would get a check from the IRS each year. The Heritage Foundation's Center for Data Analysis estimates that by 2011, under the Obama plan, an additional 10 million filers would pay zero taxes while cashing checks from the IRS.

The total annual expenditures on refundable "tax credits" would rise over the next 10 years by $647 billion to $1.054 trillion, according to the Tax Policy Center. This means that the tax-credit welfare state would soon cost four times actual cash welfare. By redefining such income payments as "tax credits," the Obama campaign also redefines them away as a tax share of GDP. Presto, the federal tax burden looks much smaller than it really is.

The political left defends "refundability" on grounds that these payments help to offset the payroll tax. And that was at least plausible when the only major refundable credit was the earned-income tax credit. Taken together, however, these tax credit payments would exceed payroll levies for most low-income workers.
...

There's another catch: Because Mr. Obama's tax credits are phased out as incomes rise, they impose a huge "marginal" tax rate increase on low-income workers. The marginal tax rate refers to the rate on the next dollar of income earned. As the nearby chart illustrates, the marginal rate for millions of low- and middle-income workers would spike as they earn more income.

Some families with an income of $40,000 could lose up to 40 cents in vanishing credits for every additional dollar earned from working overtime or taking a new job. As public policy, this is contradictory. The tax credits are sold in the name of "making work pay," but in practice they can be a disincentive to working harder, especially if you're a lower-income couple getting raises of $1,000 or $2,000 a year. One mystery -- among many -- of the McCain campaign is why it has allowed Mr. Obama's 95% illusion to go unanswered.

I can answer that last one; because his campaign is incompetent, that's why.

Update

Note to any leftist trolls who may happen by; the issue is not "Joe the plumber". His circumstances are not relevant (and most of what the lefties are saying about him are lies). What's relevant is Obama's plan for socialist income redistribution.

10-27 Update

This is incredible. It's Barack Obama in a 2001 interview with Chicago Public Radio station WBEZ discussing how he wants to redistribute wealth in the United States:


Stop the ACLU has a partial transcript:

If you look at the victories and failures of the civil rights movement and its litigation strategy in the court. I think where it succeeded was to invest formal rights in previously dispossessed people, so that now I would have the right to vote. I would now be able to sit at the lunch counter and order as long as I could pay for it I'd be o.k. But, the Supreme Court never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth, and of more basic issues such as political and economic justice in society. To that extent, as radical as I think people try to characterize the Warren Court, it wasn't that radical. It didn't break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the founding fathers in the Constitution, at least as its been interpreted and Warren Court interpreted in the same way, that generally the Constitution is a charter of negative liberties. Says what the states can't do to you. Says what the Federal government can't do to you, but doesn't say what the Federal government or State government must do on your behalf, and that hasn't shifted and one of the, I think, tragedies of the civil rights movement was, um, because the civil rights movement became so court focused I think there was a tendancy to lose track of the political and community organizing and activities on the ground that are able to put together the actual coalition of powers through which you bring about redistributive change. In some ways we still suffer from that.

Posted by Tom at 9:30 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

October 9, 2008

Barack Obama, Sarah Palin, and a Tale of Two Americas

John Edwards gained a lot of political traction with his "Two Americas" schtick. Economics may be one way to divide Americans, but it's not the only way.

For a number of years liberals have told us that we should elect their candidates because they are "smarter" than conservatives. This usually, but not always, takes the form of citing university degrees. They tend to denigrate conservatives, most famously Ronald Reagan and George W Bush as "stupid" and "anti-intellectual.

We see this now with their characterizations of Senator Barack Obama and Governor Sarah Palin.

One argument that Obama's followers make as to why we should elect him is that he was once president of the Harvard Law Review, and later taught constitutional law at the University of Chicago Law School. Palin, on the other hand, is mocked as a rube who "only" has a Bachelor of Science degree in communications-journalism from the University of Idaho.

Imagine, if you will, an audience that consists of two groups of people: One, the faculty of Harvard University. The other, Americans from the small towns of the mid-west. Suppose they hear the following speech given by General of the Army Douglas MacArthur (ret) (originally given to the corps of cadets at West Point). A brief excerpt will make the point:

Duty, Honor, Country: Those three hallowed words reverently dictate what you ought to be, what you can be, what you will be. They are your rallying points: to build courage when courage seems to fail; to regain faith when there seems to be little cause for faith; to create hope when hope becomes forlorn....

But these are some of the things they do. They build your basic character. They mold you for your future roles as the custodians of the nation's defense. They make you strong enough to know when you are weak, and brave enough to face yourself when you are afraid. They teach you to be proud and unbending in honest failure, but humble and gentle in success; not to substitute words for actions, not to seek the path of comfort, but to face the stress and spur of difficulty and challenge; to learn to stand up in the storm but to have compassion on those who fall; to master yourself before you seek to master others; to have a heart that is clean, a goal that is high; to learn to laugh, yet never forget how to weep; to reach into the future yet never neglect the past; to be serious yet never to take yourself too seriously; to be modest so that you will remember the simplicity of true greatness, the open mind of true wisdom, the meekness of true strength. They give you a temper of the will, a quality of the imagination, a vigor of the emotions, a freshness of the deep springs of life, a temperamental predominance of courage over timidity, of an appetite for adventure over love of ease. They create in your heart the sense of wonder, the unfailing hope of what next, and the joy and inspiration of life. They teach you in this way to be an officer and a gentleman.

Upon hearing these words, which group will think "yes, these are ideals to which I aspire but may never reach, and which part will snicker?

And when the audience hears this part...

The unbelievers will say they are but words, but a slogan, but a flamboyant phrase. Every pedant, every demagogue, every cynic, every hypocrite, every troublemaker, and I am sorry to say, some others of an entirely different character, will try to downgrade them even to the extent of mockery and ridicule.

...which group will think "yes, sadly there are those of that type in our country too" and which will sit upright and think "wait, he's talking about me" ?

If later a bugle plays taps for our fallen troops while an honor guard stands erect and proud, which group will salute and put their hand over their hearts, tear in eye, and which will roll their eyes?

And if at the end a flight of F-15s flys overhead in a "missing man" formation, which will thrill at the sight while understanding its meaning, and which, uncomprehending the significance of the maneuver, will simply snear that "it was all just part of the military-industrial complex"?

You ask me, I take the William F. Buckley Jr. approach to government. He famously once said that he'd "rather entrust the government of the United States to the first 400 people listed in the Boston telephone directory than to the faculty of Harvard University."

Before all you liberals get your panties in a wad, no I am not ascribing all of the worst aspects of the Harvard crowd to Barack Obama. If he was in our audience, in good Clintonian fashion he'd put on a good show. Heaven only knows his true feelings, but his radical background and associations are not encouraging.

So go ahead, all you liberals, denigrate Sarah Palin as you wish. Go on, mock her winks, her manner of speaking, her lack of elite eduction, that she has five children, that she - gasp - hunts and fishes, whatever amuses you.

Me? I'll take her alone any day over the entire faculty of Harvard when it comes to running this country.

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October 7, 2008

Why Ayers and Wright Matter

I haven't written very much about Senator Obama's questionable associations, but when I have I've made my thoughts pretty clear. I find it hightly objectionable that we should have a candidate from a major party who consorted with figures such as Jeremiah Wright and William Ayers. That he may well become president is disturbing.

There are two questions; how well did he know these figures, and what does it matter? I've answered the former in previous posts such as this one of a few days ago.

The reason why Obama's association with Ayers and Wright is important is that it goes to his judgment. Obama tells us that we should elect him because of his superior judgment. He bases this largely on one thing; his opposition to invading Iraq. The issue, then, is not Obama's character.

For purposes of argumentation lets ignore whether it was wise to invade Iraq.

What does it say about a man's judgment when he associated with Ayers and Wright? The Obama camp would have us believe that Obama didn't know that Ayers was an unrepentant terrorist, or that it was ok to associate with him because he had denounced Ayers, or that because Ayers' terrorist activities took place when Obama was a child.... I never did get that last one.

Where was Obama's vaunted judgment during all of this? If it was so superior, shouldn't have have caught on quickly as to who and what Ayers was? Why did he praise Ayers book on education, for example?

Lets also get over the notion that Obama is somehow excused because he was a child when Ayers was a terrorist. This is so completely irrelevant that it boggles the mind. The question is not how old Obama was when Ayers was committing his terrorist acts, the question is whether Obama knew, or should have known, of Ayers terrorist past during their relationship.

If Obama wants us to believe that his judgment is so superior then he should have been able to figure out who Ayers was pretty quickly. Either way Obama loses; if he didn't know it exibits bad judgment for not being able to evaluate other people (something critical in a president), and if it did it shows bad judgment because no one in their right mind should associate with an unrepentant ex terrorist.

For example, on his very website it still says that "Obama supports tough, direct presidential diplomacy with Iran without preconditions." If his judgment with Ayers was so poor, why should we believe he will be able to size up Ahmadinejad any better? Recall that Obama actually used the example of the 196_ Kennedy-Khruchshev summit as a reason to meet with foreign dictators. One reason why the summit turned out so disasterously for Kennedy was that he had failed to size Khruchshev up correctly before meeting him, whereas Khruchshev had correctly judged that he would be able to bully Kennedy.

As for Wright, lets be clear what didn't happen. Obama did not attend Trinity United for a short period 10 or 20 years ago. He didn't just start to attend recently. Wright isn't just some preacher who endorsed Obama. Wright is not just a preacher that Obama went out and got his endorsement. Obama went to Trinity United for 20 years, and heard sermon after sermon. He described Wright as his "spiritual mentor." He only left when it became politically inconvenient to stay.

For that matter, what does it say about Obama's judgment that he attended the Million Man March? If his judgment is so superior, why didn't he figure out who and what Louis Farrakhan was before the event?

Finally, let's not pretend that Ayers and Wright were Obama's only questionable associations. The list goes on. Frank Gaffney, writiing in The Washington Times, goes over more, including Frank Marshall Davis, a Stalinist communist who admired the Soviet Union, Madeline Talbott of ACORN, Don Warden, (who converted to Islam and changed his name to Khalid al-Mansour). "Mr. al-Mansour has worked closely to advance the influence operations in America of one of Saudi Arabia's most insidious royal billionaires, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal." Worse still is Rashid Khalidi, who was

...a former colleague of Mr. Obama's at the University of Chicago and now a professor at Columbia. Mr. Khalidi is an enthusiastic supporter of the Palestinians, fervent critic of Israel (which he calls a destructive "racist" state), an admirer of suicide bombers and a driving force behind the Arab American Action Network (AAAN). This so-called pro-Palestinian "community organization" in Chicago is another beneficiary of the largess of the Obama-Ayers team at the Woods Fund and promotes an agenda that would horrify many of Mr. Obama's Jewish supporters.

If you want to question McCain's judgment over the Keating Five scandal, fine. The investigative report showed that McCain portrayed "poor judgment" and it is a mark against him. I do think you're stretching to compare that, though, to association with an unrepentant terrorist and a racist kook preacher. One can even say that McCain tried to make up for the whole affair with his McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform bill. Obama, of course, has no legislation to his name.

A Thought Experiment

To all of you liberals who see no problem with Obama's association with Ayers, or don't even think that he "associated" with him, consider if the shoe was on the other foot.

What would you think if John McCain had had the exact same relationship with abortion-clinic bomber Eric Rudolf? Can you honestly say that you'd have no problem with the situation?

For that matter, consider if John McCain had sat in a church for 20 years and listened to a white supremacist.

I know liberals will scream at this, but I do think in all honesty that if McCain had done either of these things we on the right would have purged him from our ranks long ago.

Update

The invaluable Andy McCarthy discusses Obama's radical past and concludes that

What Obama is about is infiltrating (and training others to infiltrate) bourgeois institutions in order to change them from within -- in essence, using the system to supplant the system. A key requirement of this stealthy approach (very consistent with talking vaporously about "change" but never getting more specific than absolutely necessary) is electability. With an enormous assist from the media, which does not press him for specifics, Obama has walked this line brilliantly. Absent convincing retractions of his prior radical positions, though, we should construe shrewd moves like the ostensibly reasonable Second Amendment position as efforts make him electable.

This is why Ayers is so important: it is a peek behind the curtain of Obama's rhetoric. When he talks about "education reform," that sounds admirable and, given the state of the schools, entirely reasonable. But when you look at what the Obama/Ayers program really tried to do to the schools (see, e.g., Stanley's work on this), it is radical. With a guy who speaks in euphemisms -- "change," "social justice," "due process," etc. -- it is vital to have concrete examples of how these concepts are put into action.

I have spoken with several undecided voters who tell me that they see Obama as a moderate, not much different in his positions than McCain. It's all I can do not to let my jaw hit the floor when I hear this. My conclusion is that one, the McCain campaign in general, and Senator McCain in particular, have done a poor job at communicating who and what Obama is. Two, the media are so in the bag for Obama that they're doing as good a job of investigating him as they did with John Edwards. This does not portend well.

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October 6, 2008

What McCain Can Do To Win

As I think we're all aware, most of the polls show that McCain-Palin is down about 6 points to Obama-Biden. Six points is outside of the margin or error, and even though the election is of course decided in the electoral college I think it's safe to say that right now McCain-Palin has to play catch up.

This is not as hard as it might seem. A month is an eternity, and bigger point spreads have been reversed. I won't go through them but if you know your electoral history you'll know what I'm talking about.

It would seem to me that there are, generally speaking, three courses of action

1) Talk about Obama's questionable associations, in particular Jeremiah Wright and William Ayers.

2) Promote the McCain-Palin economic package as superior to that of Obama-Biden. Make offshore drilling part of this message. While doing this highlight congressional Democrats who are tied to the fiscal crisis.

3) Portray Obama and Biden as so far to the left so as to be completely out of the mainstream. At the same time, promote McCain-Palin as reformers who will take on their own party and who have and are able to work with Democrats.

I think that McCain ought to do a combintion 2 & 3. No one who is not already turned off by Obama's associations will do so now. The mainstream media is completely in the tank for Obama and is simply not interested in doing any serious investigation.

Here is a recent McCain TV commercial of the type that he needs to do more of

This one has gone viral on right-wing blogs, which is great, but needs to be turned into a TV commercial. If the McCain campaign doesn't do it, one of our 527s need to (if they have, it needs to get out more). The video consists of excerpts from a late 2004 hearing that was to investigate Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac's illegal bookkeeping.

If you only watch one video here, watch this one:

Here's some footage of Fannie Mae CEO calling Obama and the Dems the "Family" and the "Conscience" of Fannie Mae that he ought to be using

Here is one from the NRCC that tells the story that McCain needs to get out more

Blame Alone Won't Work

Attacking Democrats along won't work, though, because Obama himself was not a part of the current fiscal crisis. even though as president I can't see Obama challenging his own congressional liberals, too many people will simply buy the Hope! and Change! mantra for this to be effective.

David Gelernter at The Weekly Standard gets it pretty much right, I think

McCain might break through the media fortress that protects independents from the truth if he'd repeat a small packet of information word-for-word at the end of every single speech. Soon crowds would anticipate these words and reporters would know them by heart, and they'd start making an impression on the country. Here are mine; but whatever words he chooses, he must start hammering home some simple truths right now.

1. Mr. Obama is the most liberal senator in Washington.

2. Like other liberal presidents, he'd load the Supreme Court with the most liberal judges he could find.

3. Like other liberal presidents, he'd spend tax dollars like they were going out of style--when the economy must have a steady, experienced, pork-hating hand at the wheel.

4. Like other liberal senators, Mr. Obama was prepared to surrender to terrorists in Iraq.

5. Like other liberal senators, he is the wrong man to protect your children against Russia, Iran, North Korea and al Qaeda in dangerous times.

6. I fought for responsible regulation of the mortgage merchants when the Democrats were against it. I don't just talk, I act.

7. My closest Senate colleague is a Democrat, Joe Lieberman. I don't just talk bipartisanship, I act.

8. I picked Sarah Palin because our country needs young leaders who don't just talk; who act.

9. I'll do what I know is right, no matter what China or Germany or the U.N. thinks. You can't protect this nation by talking. You have to act.

10. Don't judge me as a politician or speech-maker. Judge me as a man who is more than talk. I would lay down my life for this country.

Some will wonder why energy is not a bigger part of this equation. I think it should included, but the fact is that the financial situation is dominating the news and has pushed energy to the sidelines.

In the end, campaigns are like wars, everyone is full of advice and if you lose the people whose advice you didn't take predictably say "if only they'd listened to me", not thinking that their advice might have made the situation worse.

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October 4, 2008

Barack Obama and the Fall of the Democrat Party

If I had lived throughout the latter half of the 20th century, I'd have been a Democrat during most of it. Unlike most conservatives today I admire FDR. I would have liked Eisenhower, I suppose, but found his nuclear weapons policy unacceptable. I like JFK and RFK, and would probably have voted for LBJ because he was a foreign policy hawk and promoted civil rights at a time when such advances were sorely needed. I would have also probably voted for Humphrey in 1968, but that is the last time I can say I would have voted Democrat. With the nomination of George McGovern in 1972 and Jimmy Carter in 1976, I'd have take a turn towards the GOP. I probably just raised a few conservative eyebrows in this paragraph but so be it.

So here is the current nominee of the Democrat Party

The only, and I mean only, reason Ayers isn't in prison is because the government so screwed up the case that all or most all of the evidence was thrown out. Nobody, not even Ayers himself, disputes his guilt.

Whatever happened to the party of Harry Truman, John F Kennedy, or Henry "Scoop" Jackson? They would be spinning in their graves if they knew what was going on today. Zell Miller is another that I miss. The Democrats have even chased away the last decent member of their ranks, Senator Joe Lieberman.

Even Bill Clinton was a moderate by today's standards, he having famously once been chairman of the Democratic Leadership Council. The DLC is the voice of moderation in the party, but has now been reduced to a shell of its former self. The "progressives", most notably Barack Obama now shun all of its positions.

Amazing, isn't it, how far the Democrat Party has fallen?

The Democrats are now the party of the crazy anti-war left, who welcome Moveon.org and Michael Moore into their ranks. Although Barack Obama did not start out as part of this movement, he has certainly embraced it.

In 2004 this party nominated John Kerry, a man who returned from Vietnam to betray his country by his participation in the "Winter Soldier" tribunal/investigation, and the disgraceful group Vietnam Veterans Against the War. His testimony before the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations on April 22, 1971 is positively awful.

And today they've nominated a man who sat at Trinity United Church and listened to a racist kook hatemonger for 20 years and only left when it became politically expedient for him to do so. Say what you want about Sarah Palin's Wasilla Bible Church, there's no comparison. So far I've listened to six sermons from that church, and can find nothing remarkable or out of the ordinary. In fact, they're really quite mainstream and I found them inspirational. So there.

It's also the sheer creepyness of the messianic "Obama worship" that is disturbing. I think that conservatives sometimes go too far with Ronald Reagan, such as when during the primaries the GOP candidates where trying to out-Reagan each other. Commentators fall into this trap too, with Heritage even having a "What Would Reagan Do" section on their website.

Obama's Jimmy Carter foreign policy is grating because it's so naive in irresponsible, but I've already written about that at some length.

Mostly, though, it's Obama's past associations, namely those of Jeremiah Wright and William Ayers, that get me. The Tony Rezko stuff, while bad, is the garden-variety corruption. The man should not be the Democrat candidate.

I've covered the Wright stuff, so now let's talk a bit about his association with the unrepentant 60's terrorist William Ayers.

First, former federal prosecutor Andy McCarthy reminds us in National Review of just who Ayers is and how he is still lying today about what he and his terrorist Weathermen wanted to do:

In (a) Fox interview...Ayers preposterously claimed that he and his fellow Weather Underground terrorists did not really intend to harm any people -- the fact that no one was killed in their 20 or so bombings was, he said, "by design"; they only wanted to cause property damage. ...

First of all, "that moment in the townhouse" he's talking about happened in 1970. Three of his confederates, including his then girlfriend Diana Oughton, were accidentally killed when the explosive they were building to Ayers specifications (Ayers was a bomb designer) went off during construction. As noted in Ayers' Discover the Networks profile, the explosive had been a nail bomb. Back when Ayers was being more honest about his intentions, he admitted that the purpose of that bomb had been to murder United States soldiers
...

In fact, Ayers was a founder of the Weatherman terror group and he defined its purpose as carrying out murder.
...

Now he wants you to think they just wanted to break a few dishes. But in his book Fugitive Days, in which he boasts that he "participated in the bombings of New York City Police Headquarters in 1970, of the Capitol building in 1971, and the Pentagon in 1972," he says of the day that he bombed the Pentagon: "Everything was absolutely ideal. ... The sky was blue. The birds were singing. And the bastards were finally going to get what was coming to them."

And he wasn't singular. As I noted back in April in this article about Obama's motley collection of radical friends, at the Weatherman "War Council" meeting in 1969, Ayers' fellow terrorist and now-wife, Bernadine Dohrn, famously gushed over the barbaric Manson Family murders of the pregnant actress Sharon Tate, coffee heiress Abigail Folger, and three others: "Dig it! First they killed those pigs, then they ate dinner in the same room with them. They even shoved a fork into the victim's stomach! Wild!" And as Jonah recalled yesterday, "In appreciation, her Weather Underground cell made a threefingered 'fork' gesture its official salute." They weren't talking about scratching up the wall-paper.

A Weatherman affiliate group which called itself "the Family" colluded with the Black Liberation Army in the 1981 Brinks robbery in which two police officers and an armed guard were murdered. (Obama would like people to believe all this terrorist activity ended in 1969 when he was eight years old. In fact, it continued well into the eighties.) Afterwards, like Ayers and Dohrn, their friend and fellow terrorist Susan Rosenberg became a fugitive.

On November 29, 1984, Rosenberg and a co-conspirator, Timothy Blunk, were finally apprehended in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. At the time, they were actively planning an unspeakable bombing campaign that would have put at risk the lives of countless innocent people. They also possessed twelve assorted guns (including an Uzi 9 mm. semi-automatic rifle and an Ithaca twelve-gauge shotgun with its barrel sawed off), nearly 200 sticks of dynamite, more than 100 sticks of DuPont Trovex (a high explosive), a wide array of blasting agents and caps, batteries, and switches for explosive devices. Arrayed in disguises and offering multiple false identities to arresting officers, the pair also maintained hundreds of false identification documents, including FBI and DEA badges.

When she was sentenced to 58 years' imprisonment in 1985, the only remorse Rosenberg expressed was over the fact that she and Blunk had allowed themselves to be captured rather than fighting it out with the police. Bernadine Dohrn was jailed for contempt when she refused to testify against Rosenberg. Not to worry, though. On his last day in office, the last Democrat president, Bill Clinton, pardoned Rosenberg -- commuting her 58-year sentence to time-served.

These savages wanted to kill massively. That they killed only a few people owes to our luck and their incompetence, not design. They and the Democrat politicians who now befriend and serve them can rationalize that all they want. But those are the facts.

Going to Tom Maguire at Pajamas Media we now look at Obama and Ayers:

Barack Obama and the unrepentant terrorist Bill Ayers have worked closely together on education reform since 1995, and possibly since 1987. Obama has obfuscated and minimized this association in his public statements and on his website. Why the cover-up? We don't know, since we aren't sure what is being concealed.

It's becoming known as the Annenberg Challenge cover-up and it's become big news since the McCain campaign highlighted it in a press release late Wednesday.
...

This is what we know. Bill Ayers was a leader of the Weather Underground, a violent radical student group of the 1960s. His father, Thomas Ayers, was a prominent Chicago business and philanthropic leader who served as an adviser to Mayor Richard J. Daley, father of the current Chicago mayor. Although he is not apologetic about his terrorist past (and had the bad luck to be quoted as saying, in an interview that ran on Sept 11 2001, that "I don't regret setting bombs. ... I feel we didn't do enough."), Bill Ayers has been accepted back into the Chicago political community and has been an informal adviser to the current Mayor Daley on education reform.

But regardless of his cachet in the liberal circles of Chicago politics, presidential candidate Barack Obama has not been eager to explain his own relationship with Bill Ayers. Published reports from February 2008 gave a glimmer of their ties. In 1995 Ayers hosted a fund-raiser for Obama prior to Obama's run for Alice Palmer's seat in the state Senate; they both served on the board of the charitable Woods Fund of Chicago from 1999 to 2002; and Ayers donated $200 to Obama's state Senate campaign. Other researchers and reporters (for example, Lynn Sweet of the Chicago Sun Times) noted a few joint panel appearances and a favorable review by Obama of a book by Bill Ayers.

But even this was more than Obama was willing to admit. Asked point blank by George Stephanopoulos in the Philadelphia debate preceding the Pennsylvania primary to "explain that relationship for the voters," Obama prevaricated by pretending he scarcely knew Ayers:

This is a guy who lives in my neighborhood, who's a professor of English in Chicago, who I know and who I have not received some official endorsement from. He's not somebody who I exchange ideas from on a regular basis.

Lie.

Stanley Kurtz, writing in National Review, explains why

Although the press has been notably lax about pursuing the matter, the full story of the Obama-Ayers relationship calls the truth of Obama's account seriously into question. When Obama made his first run for political office, articles in both the Chicago Defender and the Hyde Park Herald featured among his qualifications his position as chairman of the board of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, a foundation where Ayers was a founder and guiding force. Obama assumed the Annenberg board chairmanship only months before his first run for office, and almost certainly received the job at the behest of Bill Ayers. During Obama's time as Annenberg board chairman, Ayers's own education projects received substantial funding. Indeed, during its first year, the Chicago Annenberg Challenge struggled with significant concerns about possible conflicts of interest. With a writ to aid Chicago's public schools, the Annenberg challenge played a deeply political role in Chicago's education wars, and as Annenberg board chairman, Obama clearly aligned himself with Ayers's radical views on education issues. With Obama heading up the board and Ayers heading up the other key operating body of the Annenberg Challenge, the two would necessarily have had a close working relationship for years (therefore "exchanging ideas on a regular basis"). So when Ayers and Dorhn hosted that kickoff for the first Obama campaign, it was not a random happenstance, but merely further evidence of a close and ongoing political partnership. Of course, all of this clearly contradicts Obama's dismissal of the significance of his relationship with Ayers.

Unbelievable.

But Obama followers see nothing wrong with this. They're either in denial or don't care.

And what is Ayers doing today? Why, He's a professor in the College of Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago, holding the title of Distinguished Professor.

Which tells you everything you need to know about today's left. The left that makes up the anti-war base of the Democrat Party.

Remember, the only reason Obama has distanced himself from Ayers is the same reason why he distanced himself from Wright; not because he disagrees with them, but because he found it politically inconvenient to remain friends with them. And it's not that Obama agreed with everything Ayers or Wright said or did, that's not the point. The issue is that Obama may not have agreed with everything about them, but was ok enough with them to hang around them. He didn't see them as especially objectionable.

There's nothing to equal any of this on any Republican candidate for president since Watergate, and that happened when Nixon was president, so it's not really the same. The left has nothing like this on John McCain (the Keating five stuff having been thoroughly investigated, and to be sure while he showed "poor judgment it's not like associating with an unrepentant terrorist). They can say what they like about Sarah Palin, most all of it's false and anyway it's all penny-ante stuff compared to this.

Sunday Update

Silly me, I forgot it was racist to bring up Bill Ayers! Or so says Douglass Daniel of the AP.

Shame on you for nominating Barack Obama.

Update

Don't take it from me that Obama knew full well about Ayers, take it from Mark Halperin of Time Magazine (h/t TWS)

Halperin: "Is it fair to say that [Barack Obama] continued to associate with [Bill Ayers] professionally -- and personally on a casual basis -- even after he learned?"

Robert Gibbs: "He continued to serve on a charitable board and an educational grant board with money supplied by Walter Annenberg, a Republican who was an ambassador under Richard Nixon. Yes."

Halperin: "But with the knowledge of Ayers' past?"

Gibbs: "Yes."

Apparently it's ok to associate with unrepentant ex-terrorists as long as you condemn them.

Got it.

Posted by Tom at 10:00 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

October 2, 2008

The Vice-Presidential Debate

Without having checked any of the conservative blogs, and having only see the Fox News all-stars and Frank Luntz' panel of undecided voters, here's my quick take on the debate: It was a qualified "Palin won," and here's why:

She won because she went toe-to-toe with one of the most knowledgeable senators in Washington and not only held her own but won a number of the exchanges.

I qualify this for two reasons.

One, what we saw was two completely different styles. Senator Biden came across as the technocrat in command of the facts and who presented them in a solid manner. He spoke in a perfect east coast/urban/senatorial style. He did not commit any gaffs. Biden also spent much more time attacking McCain than Palen did Obama, which played well to his base but I think may have turned people off.

Governor Palin came across as the person next door who is very informed about matters foreign and domestic. She spoke like a Midwesterner who has stayed in the Midwest her entire life, not counting a few short visits or trips elsewhere. She spoke with confidence in herself and her positions. She didn't spend much time going after Obama, which the hard-core conservative in me saw as missed opportunities. On the other hand, when she go on the attack is was with a smile and almost more in the manner of a good-natured jab, which may have played well with undecideds or those just turned off by Washington partisanship.

So to some extent who won depends on which style you like.

Second, the two did not go into this debate as equals. It was expected that Senator Biden would do well. After 35 years in the Senate, after all, he had better have command of the facts. All he had to do was perform as advertised and avoid major gaffs, which he did.

Sarah Palin was another matter. She has famously not been in politics for very long, and so many people on both sides of the political isle have been wondering if she has what it takes. No one really knew what to expect from her. While she gave a good speech at the convention, her performance in interviews since then has been up and down.

In light of this second qualification, we cannot judge them equally. If Mitt Romney had been the VP nominee we'd have an entirely different scorecard. Palin not only held her own and debated as an equal but did better in many of the exchanges. In light of this, and the fact that I liked her style or at least it did not turn me off, I judge her to have been the winner.

As I mentioned at the start, before I wrote this the only news or commentary I saw was the immediate follow up on Fox News, consisting of the all-star panel and Frank Luntz' panel of undecided voters. The all-stars, moderated by Brit Hume said pretty much what I expected them to say.

The real surprise was panel of undecideds. By an overwhelming margin they were impressed with Palin, and so were now disposed to vote for McCain-Palin. Based on this Luntz predicted that the polls would move their way in the next 48 hours.

I hope he's right.

Posted by Tom at 11:12 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

John McCain At His Best



Do you think that Dear Leader, er, Senator Obama, ever gets hostile questions like these? Or could handle them so well?

Posted by Tom at 5:23 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

October 1, 2008

Barack Obama's Problem with the First Amendment

Given the absolute creepyness of Obamamania as typified by the "Children Sing to Obama" and "Les Misobama videos" that I posted here, I thought it time to revisit this fine statement his wife made

Barack Obama will require you to work. He is going to demand that you shed your cynicism. That you put down your divisions. That you come out of your isolation, that you move out of your comfort zones. That you push yourself to be better. And that you engage. Barack will never allow you to go back to your lives as usual, uninvolved, uninformed.

This "will require you" business is about as disturbing as the videos made by Obama supporters.

All of which made me think of a number of troubling aspects of Senator Obama and his movement. One that we'll look at today is that Obama seems to have a problem with the First Amendment. Consider these incidents, collected by Andrew McCarthy

Item: When the American Issues Project ran political ads calling attention to Obama's extensive ties to Ayers, the Weatherman terrorist who brags about having bombed the Pentagon and the U.S. Capitol, the Obama campaign pressured the Justice Department to launch an absurd criminal prosecution.

Item: When commentator Stanley Kurtz of the Ethics and Public Policy Center was invited on a Chicago radio program to discuss his investigation of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, an "education reform" project in which Obama and Ayers (just "a guy who lives in my neighborhood") collaborated to dole out over $100 million, the Obama campaign issued an Internet action alert. Supporters, armed with the campaign's non-responsive talking points, dutifully flooded the program with calls and emails, protesting Kurtz's appearance and attempting to shout him down.

Item: Both Obama and his running mate, Sen. Joe Biden, have indicated that an Obama administration would use its control of the Justice Department to prosecute its political opponents, including Bush administration officials responsible for the national security policies put in effect after nearly 3000 Americans were killed in the 9/11 attacks.

Item: There is a troubling report that the Justice Department's Civil Rights Section, top officials of which are Obama contributors, has suggested criminal prosecutions against those they anticipate will engage in voter "intimidation" or "oppression" in an election involving a black candidate. (Memo to my former DOJ colleagues: In a system that presumes innocence even after crimes have undeniably been committed, responsible prosecutors don't assume non-suspects will commit future law violations -- especially when doing so necessarily undermines the First Amendment freedoms those prosecutors solemnly swear to uphold.)

As a former federal prosecutor himself, indeed the one who prosecuted the 1993 World Trade Center bombing masterminds, McCarthy knows what he's talking about.

But wait, it gets better

Michelle Malkin links to the American Issues Project, which reports that

Barack Obama is now using local law enforcement officials to carry out his campaign of legal intimidation by assembling a group of high-ranking Missouri police officials and prosecutors - including St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCullough and City of St. Louis Circuit Attorney Jennifer Joyce - to identify and target anyone the campaign determines is producing "misleading" political advertisements.

And just what constitutes "misleading"? Everyone runs adds that are called "misleading" by someone.

Time for the necessary qualifier: As with many conservatives, I believe that McCain-Feingold violates the First Amendment. And, as with many conservatives, I opposed the bill and was and am still mad at McCain over it. But it is nothing compared to what Obama is up to.

Allahpundit was writing about Obama's attorney threatening radio stations over the NRA add and observes that

Usually in cases like this, Obama has his cult followers inundate the offending station with irate, semi-coherent phone calls, like they did recently to try to knock hatemongering smear merchant David Freddoso off the air for the crime of committing journalism critical of The One. For whatever reason they've decided that won't work here, so they're opting for Plan B. Straight out of the Democratic handbook Harry Reid used to threaten ABC's broadcast license for showing the "Path to 9/11," here's Obama lawyer Robert Bauer warning station managers not to air the NRA's new anti-Obama "Hunter" ad if they want to stay in the FCC's good graces.

I don't think this is the change I've been waiting for.

Posted by Tom at 9:45 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 30, 2008

A Childlike View of the World

David Gelernter knocks it out of the park with a piece in The Weekly Standard that will leave youngish yuppie liberal types seething.

His thesis is that the generation who grew up after the 60s Cultural Revolution know little about recent history, and most of what they do know is wrong. Recall Obama actually using the Kennedy-Khrushchev summit as a reason why he should meet with Ahmadinejad.

He calls them "gen-CR", and his indictment is stinging

We know what to expect of gen-CR. Unless they have grown up in regions or families with an unusually strong grasp of tradition, patriotism, and reality, gen-CR'ers tend to have a fuzzy view of history, an unconditional belief in tolerance and diplomacy, and contempt for the military and war-making. Their patriotism (such as it is) tends to focus on the "global community" or "the planet" or some other large, meaningless object. (Beyond a certain point, patriotic devotion spread too thin simply evaporates-which is a good way to get rid of it if you are, say, an English intellectual trusting to the European Union to eradicate this primitive emotion.)

Ouch.

To be sure, not everyone in a particular generation fits to type. After all, not all baby boomers burned their draft cards and protested the war in Vietnam. But there are certain general characteristics (dare we call them "stereotypes"?) of each generation.

On to some history:

His (Obama's) announcement that he would meet Mahmoud Ahmadinejad without preconditions shows exactly why a president must not merely know history but have a decently nuanced view. It was wrong for Chamberlain to meet Hitler and foolish for JFK to meet Khrushchev, but right for Begin to meet Sadat and for Churchill to make repeated long, dangerous journeys to meet Stalin.

We've all read leftie blogs gleefully point out that we were supposedly "allied" with Iraq during the Iraq-Iran war, and how in 1983 Reagan-envoy Donald Rumsfeld traveled to Baghdad and shook hands with Saddam, and how these supposedly illegitimized our 2003 invasion.

Never mind that we weren't really "allied" with Iraq. For awhile I tried to point out that we were very much allied with Stalin's Soviet Union, and yet as soon as the war ended fought a Cold War against them for 40 years, so did our onetime alliance with them illegitimize that too? Eventually I grew weary and gave up. Too many on the left today lack the moral clarity to understand the difference.

But other than racism, sexism, or the new one, "homophobia", Hemingway points out that "Gen-CR recoils from the idea of enemies." Last night I was listening to Dennis Prager on the radio say that when he spoke with Europeans they told him that what they didn't like about America was that we spoke about good and evil. Anecdotal to be sure, but it rings true.

Start with a given: An Obama administration might still bring about defeat in Iraq; speeded-up troop with-drawals might weaken this new democracy and bring on its collapse like a burnt-out log into a blaze of terrorist violence. But if it did-if the left's policies proved tragically mistaken-Obama's supporters would never know it. What would the collapse of America's noble project in Iraq look like in the funhouse mirrors of the New York Times, NBC, Time and Newsweek and NPR and the rest of the establishment media? "In the end, Bush policy plunged Iraq into chaos, but Obama was smart enough to pull out before more American lives were lost." And that's what Democrats would "know" about Iraq.

It would all just be another excuse to blame George W Bush and from which to seek political advantage, the better to put us all under the rule of the EPA.

Members of the CR generation who had mainstream, establishment educations have been trained like pet poodles to understand where romping is allowed and where it is forbidden. The permissible range of thought on such topics as protected minorities, protected species, protected psychosexual deviations, et al. is clearly spelled out from kindergarten onward.

Yup. I see more intolerance among the "tolerance" and "diversity" crowd than anywhere else. The push for gay marriage is about a lot of things, but marriage isn't one of them. Their real agenda is to force everyone to accept and approve of the gay lifestyle whether they want to or not. Anyone who deviates from correct thought will be severely punished.

You doubt me? Consider the fate of Harvard President Harry Summers, and before the incident that got him in trouble he was considered a right-thinking liberal:

To understand this generational shift in the making, consider the resignation of Harvard president Lawrence Summers in 2006, under attack for having said that, just possibly, the far greater number of male than of female scientists might have to do with innate differences between men and women-something that a large majority of working scientists (male and female) almost certainly take for granted (whether or not they are willing to say so). But Summers had expressed a forbidden thought, and (despite his abject confessions and apologies at the Harvard show trials) was duly banished. In the gen-CR age now approaching, such embarrassing accidents will no longer happen. Forbidden ideas simply won't occur to the Harvard presidents of the future.

The Obama generation in action.

Posted by Tom at 9:30 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

The Creepyness of Obamamania


Update - New video below the fold that's very disturbing.

You just can't make this stuff up.


If I hadn't seen the first one at Andrew Sullivan I would have thought it was a spoof.

The second is a perfect example of what Mark Hemingway calls Manipulated Child Syndrome.

My only question for Obama supporters is, if he's elected president, will we have to call him "Great Leader", or will "Dear Leader" suffice?

Update - New video

Newsbusters says this video is very real and is not a spoof.

Posted by Tom at 8:30 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 14, 2008

Why I am Afraid of Barack Obama

John McCain may or not deserve to win the election.

Barack Obama, however, deserves to lose.

Senator Obama would be positively dangerous as president. So yes, in that sense I am afraid of him.

I am afraid of a president who:

- For 20 years sat and listened to a racist kook hatemonger preach "Black Liberation Theology," and only left the church when it became politically expedient for him to do so.

- Associated with an unrepentant ex-terrorist, William Ayers, and when confronted lied about the extend of their friendship (contending that Ayers is a mainstream member of the community).

- Attended the Million Man March, this an event presided over by the anti-Semite race hater Louis Farrakhan.

- Is pro-abortion. That's right, I said pro-abortion, not pro-choice, because he voted against the Born Alive Act (and then lied about why), opposes a ban on partial-birth abortions, and opposes parental notification for minors obtaining abortions(he's got a 100% rating from NARAL). Here, here, here, here, here, and here.

- Will not appoint judges who follow the constitution, but will rather make it up as they go along in order to push their political agendas.

- Supports giving drivers licenses to illegal aliens (here, here, and here).

- Wanted to cut-and-run from Iraq, and then opposed the surge, getting wrong the most important military-political decision he had to make while a U.S. Senator. He still gets it completely wrong as to why Iraq has turned around.

- Said:

"We can't drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times ... and then just expect that other countries are going to say OK."

- Will destroy the armed forces by cutting vitally needed future weapons systems.

- Nominated Joe Biden, the dumbest man in the Senate, to be his Vice-Presidential candidate.

- Is dumb enough to think that talking directly with the Iranians "without preconditions" will lead to anything useful.

- Proclaimed in his Berlin speech that he was a "citizen of the world".

- Is part of the party of Leni Riefenstahl, aka "Michael Moore".

- is part of the party supported by the Hollywood trash.

- Wrote an autobiography while still in his 30s. I mean, who does that?

Posted by Tom at 9:00 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

September 7, 2008

Proving Malkin Right

Michelle Malkin calls it like it is in her editorial today. Here's an excerpt:

There's something about outspoken conservative women that drives the left mad. It's a peculiar pathology I've reported on for more than 15 years, both as a witness and a target. Thus, the onset of Palin Derangement Syndrome in the media, Democratic circles and the cesspools of the blogosphere came as no surprise. They just can't help themselves.

Liberals hold a special animus for constituencies they deem traitors. Minorities who identify as social and economic conservatives have left the plantation and sold out their people. Women who put an "R" by their name have abandoned their ovaries and betrayed their gender. As female Republican officeholders and female conservative public figures have grown in number and visibility, so has the progression of Conservative Female Abuse. The astonishing vitriol and virulent hatred directed at Alaska's Republican Gov. Sarah Palin is the most severe manifestation to date.

As if to prove her right, several liberals left some rather unhinged comments. Here are a few

By: petemurray

1. Ms. Palin has rushed to make political capital from her Down's syndrome child. However, as Alaskan writer and herself a mother of a Down's syndrome daughter, and Democrat, Mary Mullen points out, all the programmes onwhich Alaskan parents of special needs children depend to assist them in helping their children maximize their potential were put in place under Democrat administrations and were opposed tooth and nail by the Republicans.
2. The political wedding of her pregnant 17 year old daughter is nothing less than child-abuse in the cause of political respectability. To pressurize this pregnant child into marriage at this age is to ignore the statistical fact that 95% of such marriages fail with sad personal consequences to all concerned. This child was impregnated when she was 16 and in most advanced societies "Levi" would not be preparing for marriage. He would be preparing his defence to charges of statutory rape.
3. Imagine what a field day Ms. Malkin and the other attack-dogs of the extreme right-wing press would have had if Chelsea Clinton had got herself pregnant at 16 rather than exercsing restraint and growing up a credit to herself and her parents.
4. Is feckless teenage parenting and the equally feckless failure of parents to inculcate decent values in their teenage children now off the agenda for conservative pundits?

September 7, 2008 at 3:35 p.m. | Mark as Offensive


By: SDindependent

It is Sunday, McBush has Palin sequestered, she is not allowed to take a singe question from anyone. According to the lobbyist that runs his campaign, Rick Davis she will not be interviewed until she is ready..... "READY". What the hell is this. She is not READY to answer a question from a reporter but she is READY to step in and take over the presidency.

This has got to be the most ominous scam on the American public since the Bush-Cheny Iraq War on WMD's claim.

September 7, 2008 at 2:18 p.m. | Mark as Offensive


By: kc

More spittle for Cons to lick up. Ms.hatelibs selling some of her wonder spittle for the gullible Cons to swill down. Drink it up and feel empowered by hate. Nothing more liberating in the world then being given permission to hate. Lick it up. Feel the power.
September 6, 2008 at 9:52 p.m. | Mark as Offensive

You can see that when Malkin wrote Unhinged: Exposing Liberals Gone Wild, she had no lack of material to draw from.

Posted by Tom at 8:29 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

September 4, 2008

Gov. Sarah Palin at the RNC

Can we flip the ticket?

Gov. Sarah Palin was devastatingly effective last night.

Here's the video of her speech via C-Span:

She was positive and upbeat, and even delivered her barbs with a smile. Style and grace were the hallmarks of her address. Not a trace of bitterness that I could detect, despite unrelenting horribly negative coverage from most of the media and all of the left-wing blogosphere.

She and her family are ordinary people, not Ivy-league elitists who pander to the Washington press corps. No Harvard Law School, so sorry. She came across as "one of us" as it were. Someone who shares middle-class values, but clearly an extraordinary woman.

I was nervous before she went on. As she started, I could barely watch. Will she flop? Will she show nervousness and flub her lines? As it was, I needn't have worried. She was fabulous.

For the first time there's energy in this campaign. Gov Sarah Palin wowed the delegates at the RNC and has rallied conservatives nationwide.

For awhile now we've needed a Republican who is not afraid to go after corruption and pork-barrel politics in our own party. She went after them in Alaska, and succeeded.

Conservatives now have a real reason to vote for McCain, not just against Obama.

She could well be the face of the new Republican party.

She is the Democrats worst nightmare.

Also, did you see Rudy Giuliani, who went right before her and served as her warm up? He was incredibly effective. She couldn't have asked for a better lead-in.

Media attacks on Sarah Palin will only serve to rally conservatives, even, yes, social conservatives, around her. When will the media understand that if they want to destroy a Republican or conservative they should praise him or her? When will they understand that all these attacks only generate support?

Further, the withering media attacks and insinuations that she must be an idiot because she was only the governor for a short time made her speech all the better. Yes I know, "lowering expectations" and all that, but that's the point. When will the media learn that such attacks only make people look better when they end up performing well?

As always Mark Steyn said it better than I ever could:

I would like to thank the US media for doing such a grand job this last week of lowering expectations by portraying Governor Palin - whoops, I mean Hick-Burg Mayor Palin - as a hillbilly know-nothing permapregnant ditz, half of whose 27 kids are the spawn of a stump-toothed uncle who hasn't worked since he was an extra in Deliverance.

How's that narrative holding up, geniuses? Almost as good as your "devoted husband John Edwards" routine?

Heh heh.

The left hates her because she is a huge threat to them. Smart, attractive, articulate, a winning personality, an effective leader, and and most of all a pro-life conservative. In other words, everything that scares them.

No I don't know everything about her policy positions. But I do know that she is pro-life, pro-gun, pro-traditional family, small government, and with a son headed to Iraq must think right on foreign policy. Sounds like a winner to me.

Let's not have any nonsense about how "anyone can give a good speech that someone else writes" or that "well she didn't write the speech did she?" Ted Sorensen wrote John F Kennedy's speeches, and no one complains about that. Barack Obama has a speechwriter, and his name is Jon Favreau. No politician writes all of their own speeches. But by the same token all politicians do contribute or partially write their speeches. And if you think delivering them is easy, think again. Further, we now know that as with Rudy Giuliani who went just before her, the guy running the teleprompted messed up and got ahead of the speachgiver, so that at least for awhile both had to go it alone. And if you saw the governor of Hawaii, who went before Giuliani, well, she was awful, and not because of content but because of delivery.

Let's also not have any nonsense about how poor Obama has been savaged by the right so there's an equivalency. Please. Most all of the traditional media is in the tank for Obama, to the point where during the primaries Saturday Night Live felt compelled to do a skit about it. The media is in full attack mode against Sarah Palin, not to mention the left-wing blogosphere. I don't recall the media caring to investigate about Jeremiah Wright, William Ayers, or Edwards' extramarital affairs. All those stories were broke by the non-traditional media. But Sarah Palin? Suddenly everything about her and her family is fair game and a "teachable moment."

All this and she came through with style, grace, and humor last night. Surely she hit it out of the park.

But all these great things said about Sarah Palin said we shouldn't get too carried away. Sarah Palin has been at this for less than a week, and hasn't yet directly faced a hostile press or hit the campaign trail. And of course the debate with Joe Biden will be a huge test. So far so good, though.

She certainly wowed me last night and I am ready to go out and do more campaigning.

Onward to victory for McCain-Palin!
___________________________________________________

The text of her convention speech can be found here and here, and probably a hundred other places as well.

Here's the Youtube video of her address if for some reason the first doesn't work

Here's her bio video, which was aired at the RNC last night

Posted by Tom at 9:00 PM | Comments (7) | TrackBack

August 30, 2008

The Vice-Presidential Selections

They're both in now:

Senator John McCain has chosen Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate

McCain_Palin2.jpg

And Senator Barack Obama has chosen Delaware Senator Joe Biden as his.

Obama_Biden1.jpg

Here's what I think about each:

First, unless you've never been to this blog you should know that I'm a conservative Republican. So of course I'm not going to pretend that I'm some neutral observer. I couldn't imagine voting for Obama no matter who he picked, and I would end up voting for McCain no matter who he picked. Further, since so much has been said elsewhere I'm not going to go into the respective nominees backgrounds or accomplishments.

That said...

Gov. Sarah Palin

Palin was an inspired if risky choice. She brings energy and enthusiasm to the conservative base of the party, which was much needed. There was a lot of nervousness that McCain was going to pick someone who was pro-choice, and indeed according to one report that I deem fairly reliable, almost did pick Joe Lieberman. The word from my family as well as local party members has been one of universal acclaim.

On the upside, she is a no-nonsense conservative; pro-life, pro-gun (lifetime NRA member!), small government, pro-drilling, and from what I can tell so far, hawkish on foreign policy. Best of all she is a genuine reformer who challenged her own party on issues of corruption and spending and won her battles hands down. She is immensely popular in Alaska. She is a governor, which means executive experience.

Selecting her means that McCain can still credibly to be more about change than Obama and Biden. He has a record of "reaching across the isle" while Obama has none, and Palin has a record of fighting corruption within her own party, while neither Obama or Biden have any accomplishments here either.

She's the one selection that can bring over disaffected Hillary supporters, and women in general who were unsure about McCain (having "old white guy" syndrome).

On the personal side, she doesn't just talk the talk, she walks the walk. She hunts and fishes ("baits her own hook" as we guys like to say), has a large family and refused to abort a child with Down syndrome. One of her sons is in the Army and is schedule to be deployed to Iraq this Sept 11. So far, she comes across as smart and articulate.

The choice also buried Obama's convention speech, something that a less-inspired choice would not have done.

On the downside, she's only been in office since 2006. That's less time than Sen Obama, who won his seat in the 2004 elections (taking office then in January of 2005). The Obama camp is gleefully throwing the "no experience" charge back at John McCain. We can point out that she has more executive experience than Obama and Biden combined (as does McCain, from his time in the Navy). We can also say that she has actual accomplishments under her belt, which again is more than Obama can say (whose only "accomplishment" is the self-glorification of getting himself nominated). But the fact is that she's not been in office even two years.

We also have to hold our breath that there is nothing in her closet that will come out to haunt us. The last thing John McCain needs is a Thomas Eagleton affair. I don't think it's very likely, but it is a risk.

Let's also face it; it's hard to imagine her being selected if she was a white male. But if the liberals want to pick that fight, we'll just point out that it's hard to imagine Obama being selected if he was a white guy. I think Geraldine Ferraro was mostly correct with her controversial comments of earlier this year.

Most importantly, she has to perform on the stump and her margin for error is paper-thin. A few gaffs and the media will tag her as "the new Dan Quayle."

Sen. Joe Biden

If Palin was "inspired but risky", then Biden is "boring but safe." Joe Biden is a Washington fixture that is known to everyone. There is nothing in his background that we don't know.

On the upside for the Democrats, Biden has experience. He's been a U.S. Senator since 1973, and as such has dealt with every issue under the sun. He's also smart and articulate, and will make the case well for himself and Obama.

On the downside, he's a walking gaff machine. He has foot-in-mouth disease and will no doubt provide much fodder this campaign. Further, he is another senator, which means no executive experience. He is just as liberal as Obama, and it's hard if not impossible for them to argue that they represent anything other than the most left part of the Democrat party line. Neither have much if any record of "reaching across the isle." Lastly, as the ultimate Washington insider, Biden can hardly preach much about change or reform (though he will try).

All in All

All choices have their upsides and their downsides. No one in either party is completely happy with their candidate. Democrats surely wish that Obama had more experience, and had never gone to Trinity United or knew William Ayers. Most also probably wish that he'd made a more inspired choice than Joe Biden. Republicans wish that McCain was more of a mainstream conservative and that Palin was a second term governor.

But we have what we have. Palin will prove to be either a brilliant choice or a complete flop. I doubt there will be much middle ground. I think it'll be the former, but am holding my breath against the latter. She could be the half of the ticket that propels him to victory.

Posted by Tom at 9:00 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

August 3, 2008

"Campaign is no place for religious bigotry"

Earlier this week I wrote a post in which I expressed disdain for some evangelical leaders who "warned" Sen. McCain against selecting Mitt Romney as his running mate, saying that their flocks will "abandon the Republican ticket on Election Day if that happens." The post garnered several comments from pro-Huckabee people taking me to task for my comments.

If they didn't like that one, they really won't like today's editorial from The Washington Times titled "Campaign is no place for religious bigotry":

He flip-flopped on abortion and same-sex marriage; he is now pro-life and opposes both same-sex marriage and civil unions. However, much of the white evangelical opposition to Mr. Romney is not based on principle. It is simply old-fashioned bigotry - a discomfort with Mr. Romney's Mormon faith. White evangelicals need to be reminded that this is America - a republic where neither religious convictions nor the lack thereof disqualifies a politician from office.

As Ralph Hallow, in collaboration with Don Lambro, reported in the July 29 editions of The Washington Times, white evangelicals prefer former Gov. of Arkansas Mike Huckabee as Mr. McCain's running mate. In a tight contest with Barack Obama, a white evangelical revolt might harm Mr. McCain's prospects. White evangelicals are the base of the Republican Party: 70 percent voted for the Republican Party in 2006. Also, President Bush won 68 percent of the white evangelical vote in 2000 and 78 percent in 2004, according to the Pew Research Center. Placing Mr. Romney on the ticket might lead to a drop of 7 percent to 10 percent of the white evangelical vote. It may also lead to a de-energized base. On the other hand, Mr. Romney would inspire fiscal conservatives to support Mr. McCain.

Rather than kowtowing to evangelical pressure, Mr. McCain should declare that he will not make a candidate's faith a factor in his deliberations. This will reinforce the Republican nominee's image as a man who marches to the beat of his own drum and is not a Party puppet. If Mr. McCain chooses Mr. Romney as his running mate, this will also help re-brand the Republican Party as one that can break down barriers.

White evangelicals need a history lesson. Protestants began to flee religious persecution in England in droves in the 16th and 17th centuries; they were especially victimized by the provision that there was a religious test in order to hold office. Evangelicals in America would do well to rise above the same kind of discrimination their ancestors were once victimized by.

Mr. Romney has a long record of serving America. If his service has been good enough for Massachusetts, why is it not good enough for white evangelicals across America? Also, in the battle to win more and more adherents to the social conservative causes they hold dear, it is in the interest of white evangelicals to recruit as many allies as possible - regardless of their religious convictions. Thus, these evangelicals would do well to be tolerant and work toward broadening the conservative base, rather than upholding barriers based on religious bigotry.

Exactly right. If you really can't take Mitt Romney because he changed his position on some issues, fine. But don't embarrass yourself by calling Mike Huckabee a conservative. He's not. The truth is that most evangelicals who support Huckabee are doing so because they want an evangelical Christian in or near the White House. And religion is not a reason to vote for, or against, anyone.

Posted by Tom at 8:00 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

July 29, 2008

Not Mike Huckabee

I found this story in today's Washington Times irritating

Prominent evangelical leaders are warning Sen. John McCain against picking former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney as his running mate, saying their troops will abandon the Republican ticket on Election Day if that happens.

They say Mr. Romney lacks trust on issues such as outlawing abortion and opposing same-sex marriage and because he is a Mormon. Opposition is particularly powerful among those who supported former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee in the Republican presidential primaries earlier this year.

"McCain and Romney would be like oil and water," said evangelical novelist Tim LaHaye, who supported Mr. Huckabee. "We aren't against Mormonism, but Romney is not a thoroughgoing evangelical and his flip-flopping on issues is understandable in a liberal state like Massachusetts, but our people won't understand that."

The Rev. Rob McCoy, pastor of Calvary Chapel in Thousand Oaks, Calif., who speaks at evangelical events across the country, told The Washington Times, "I will vote for McCain unless he does one thing. You know what that is? If he puts Romney on the ticket as veep.

"It will alienate the entire evangelical community - 62 million self-professing evangelicals in this country, half of them registered to vote, are going to be deeply saddened," Mr. McCoy added.

Grrrr

The idea that these evangelicals would sabotoge the election by not voting for McCain is infuriating.

They can claim all they want that Mormonism is not an issue, but I think that it plays a role whether they want to admit it or not.

I'm not happy with Romney's recent conversion to the conservative side of the social issues either. But the real question in any "flip" is whether the conversion is real or whether it is done for political reasons. From what I've read Romney has offered genuine reasons for changing his mind that makes sense.

If people don't like Mitt Romney, fine. I like him and have never made any secret of it. Of all the Republican candidates he was the most reliably conservative on the most issues (once you got past the flips, anyway), and had experience to credibly claim he could put words to action. He's got more business and management experience than any of the other presidential candidates in either party.

There seems to be a segment who won't trust anyone who hasn't been a conservative their whole life. Kathryn Jean Lopez dealt with this pretty well, I think, over at The Corner earlier today:

Mitt Romney -- is an example of someone who came to the wisdom of conservatism through practical experience. He saw its reasonableness in the face of liberal overreach. We should want to embrace such conversions. We should want to encourage people to get Right.

Or we can fervently close the door to them and their contributions and fresh blood. What a good move for a movement that needs re-energization and recruits.

Maybe it's just me, but the Democrats never seem to undergo such angst when one of their own flips to a more liberal position. Al Gore was famously pro-life while a senator, and underwent miraculous conversion when he decided to run for his party's nomination. Joe Lieberman became more liberal when Gore selected him for the veep spot. But too many on the right almost seem not to want anyone to come round to our point of view.

But all this said we have to admit that there is a lot of opposition to Mitt ROmney. If you still want to not trust him because of his flips, fine. But to say you won't vote Republican if he's on the ticket is madness.

Frankly, it goes to show how narrow-minded some of these evangelicals really are.

Not that this trait is unique to them; far from it. The Democrats have their own problems with their own special interest groups, many of whom exhibit the same attitude on their own issues as do the evangelicals in this article.

How Meaningful is the Article?

Before we go too far we need to evaluate the article itself. I haven't studied the issue so only have the polls cited in the article to go on. I am not certain how much influence the evangelical leaders cited in this article really have.

My own church is affiliated with the Calvary Chapel cited in the article (rather than a traditional protestant denomination where all churches are part of the same organization, each church in the Calvary network is an independent entity). I listen to a few preachers on the radio such as Charles Stanley and Greg Laurie, and I like James Dobson, but while I enjoy their message of personal salvation there's no way I'm going to pay attention to what any of them say about whom I should vote for.

The question is, how many evangelicals will?

Some really do take the advice of leaders such as Rob McCoy. Evangelicals like Pat Robertson have more support than we upper-middle class suburbanites like to admit. In the end, though, I think that most will get over their inhibitions and vote for a McCain/Romney ticket.

I even have to wonder how many people who attend an evangelical church have even heard of the leaders cited in this article. I hadn't.

All this said, I'm not necessarily advocating Romney for the veep spot. He would bring a lot to the ticket, but I'm not sure if such a high-profile selection would gain McCain more than he'd lose. McCain desperately needs someone who can talk economics, but it may be safer to pick a relative unknown.

The Problem With Huckabee

The worst person McCain could pick is Mike Huckabee. For starters, Huckabee is or at least was a Babtist pastor, and I want to keep my pastors in the pulpit and out of politics.

The religion issue also makes him easy to attack. It'd be easy to paint him as a religious extremist.

McCain would lose far more votes by choosing Huckabee than he would gain. In order to win this election we need to solidify the conservative base but also to win the middle. Huckabee would lose the middle. Hillary supporters who might under the right circumstances support McCain will flee from a ticket that includes Huckabee.

Huckabee fails two legs of the three-legged conservative stool. He is right on the social issues, which is why the evangelicals love him. But he fails the other two; economics and foreign policy. The Cato Institute gave him a "D" for his fiscal policy while governor of Little Rock. From what I recall him saying during the primaries, his foreign policy would be closer to Carter than to Reagan.

Then there's the issue of his one-liners. Huckabee fancies himself a comedian, and is known for his clever quips. The problem with this is that all it takes is one inappropriate comment to land you in hot water, and Huckabee already has a few of those under his belt. A few more and Republicans would be in the embarrassing position of watching McCain disavow his own vice presidential selection.

So it's accurate to say I've taken a strong dislike to Mike Huckabee. That said, I'd vote for McCain if he chose him.

Conclusion

I doubt that McCain will select either Mike Huckabee or Mitt Romney. While each would bring a particular strength to the ticket, each is controversial, and would alienate certain voters. The last thing McCain needs is that sort of controversy. I think he'll pick a relative no name who can talk economics and doesn't have a controversial background.

Posted by Tom at 8:45 PM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

July 23, 2008

Obama Wrong On Anbar

Senator Barack Obama wants us to believe that he would have been right about Iraq if only the Anbar Awakening had not occurred. Really.

I think that, I did not anticipate, and I think that this is a fair characterization, the convergence of not only the surge but the Sunni awakening in which a whole host of Sunni tribal leaders decided that they had had enough with Al Qaeda, in the Shii'a community the militias standing down to some degrees. So what you had is a combination of political factors inside of Iraq that then came right at the same time as terrific work by our troops. Had those political factors not occurred, I think that my assessment would have been correct.

Unfortunately for him, we have Steve Shippert of Threatswatch to explain what really happened. I had the pleasure once of meeting Steve, and have followed his work over at NRO's The Tank, and believe he knows what he's talking about. Here's Steve, (h/t The Corner):

Presidential Candidate Obama's statements in and about Iraq in the past 24 hours have been nothing less than shameless and disgraceful. While we strive to avoid political discussion at ThreatsWatch, criticism of his words transcends rank political partisanship if for no other reason than his claims are simply and flatly untrue, made in a war zone, during a time of war and while running to become the Commander in Chief of US Military Forces. This simply cannot stand unchallenged.

Not only does Senator Obama apparently think the Anbar Awakening and the Shi'a militia stand-downs that have occurred are somehow separate developments from the surge, which is a remarkable feat of logic in and of itself, but he is implying that they are part and parcel indigenous to what his 'plan' for 'political progress' would have afforded.
...

I would remind the candidate that the Anbar Salvation Council (which later grew exponentially and developed into al-Sahwa al-Iraq - the Iraq Awakening) started with one man, Sheikh Abdul Sattar Abu al-Risha, and seventy men fighting al-Qaeda in defense of their families, not in pursuit of a 'political' anything. They simply wanted to live and end al-Qaeda's assassination and murdering spree against their families and tribe. Sheikh Abdul Sattar, later assassinated by al-Qaeda in Iraq, had seen 10 family members, including 4 brothers, killed by al-Qaeda for their cooperation with US forces. He had had enough.

Obama's plan - unoriginal and pieced together like a quilt from others against the Iraq war - was entirely Baghdad-centric, about laws and revenue sharing and conferences. The Anbar Awakening had nothing to do with Baghdad when they began and when they turned the neighborhood tides in Ramadi and elsewhere in Anbar province. It was about killing the terrorists before the terrorists killed them. One must, after all, live to ultimately see progress on any scale beyond one's neighborhoods.

Obama wanted laws written, press conferences, and an immediate pull back of US troops. As Senator Chuck Schumer so brilliantly said at the time about 'the plan,' US forces were to withdraw post-haste to the periphery "in more of a counterterrorism role." This would have abandoned the Anbar Salvation Council - and Anbar Sunnis and Shi'a alike - entirely. It would have been feeding them to the bloodthirsty wolves of al-Qaeda so that domestic American political figures could champion themselves as 'ending a war' and conducting business "in more of a counterterrorism role."

This is precisely what I tried to scream when I wrote "This Is Counterterrorism, Senator" over a year ago for National Review Online. And winning the counterinsurgency is about aligning a population with us. Neither of these, counterterrorism nor counterinsurgency, could have been successfully addressed by 'The Plan' put forth by Obama and others in opposition to The Surge. The Surge was all about protecting the population within their own neighborhoods, while 'The Plan' was about abandoning said population to complete animals unassisted. Yet Obama - and surely others - would oppose it all over again.

The Iraqis have done what they have done for themselves in spite of the likes of Obama, Schumer, Pelosi and all the rest. What's more, now that The Surge has accomplished much of what it set out to do to help the Iraqis - again in spite of Obama, Schumer, Pelosi and the rest - a presidential candidate who opposed the surge, would still oppose The Surge and had absolutely no clue about the Anbar Salvation Council when it was pleading and begging for US support (since at least September of 2006) wants to champion their success as somehow his brainchild and a sign of the political development he envisioned?

One is left to suppose that he overlooks the fact that so many in Anbar and throughout Iraq are alive in spite of attempts to push such a sacrificial 'Plan.' There's no other way to describe it. Dead people - crucified, baked and beheaded - do not live to contribute to 'political progress.' Sheikh Abdul Sattar - and today, his brother Sheikh Ahmed al-Rishawi - understood this. Too many Americans seem flip to dismiss this comfortably from afar.

The Anbar Salvation Council didn't have a damn thing to do with political resolution. It needed to simply survive first; family by family, town by town, tribe by tribe. The movement that eventually saved Iraq laid ignored and unsupported until General David Petraeus changed that when he arrived to command The Surge that Obama said he would still oppose.

Obama's (et al) 'plan' and 'political' demands would have fed them to the wolves, slaughtered with their families while we were to have breathed a sigh of relief that the war was finally over. Funny thing about the Iraqis: They want to live, no matter what our politicians profess.

Today's remarks simply could not be left to stand unchallenged.

An excellent history lesson. It's obvious Obama has no idea what he's talking about. Like someone who's spent his entire life pursuing politics, he doesn't understand anything that's not political. Like his fellow Democrats (and some Republicans), the military is a strange and alien thing that he cannot get his arms around. All he gets is big-government deal making and legislation.

What proved successful was not political deal making but securing the population. Security first, politics second. This is the lesson of counterinsurgency that Gen Petraeus and Lt. Gen. Odierno understood and implemented. It's the thesis of the U.S. Army / Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual 3-24; the one written by the team led by then Lt. Gen Petraeus in 2006 and is the basis for everything we've done in Iraq since then. You'd think that by this time Obama would get it.

Laid out more formally, let's once again go over the factors that have led to our success. In the February 11, 2008, print edition of National Review, Wesley Morgan identified four interconnected efforts:

  1. The adoption of classic counterinsurgency tactics, with U.S. battalions spreading out among the population and earning their trust;
  2. The grassroots reconciliation of many Sunni and some Shiite communities;
  3. A series of meticulously planned corps-level offensives across Baghdad and its surrounding areas. All of these efforts have hinged on one major change:
  4. During 2007, every echelon of the U.S. command -- from the four-star headquarters down through the critical corps and division levels to the brigades and battalions in the field -- was closely integrated into a cohesive whole. Without this integration, none of the four efforts that have brought Iraq forward would have made much difference.

Last December VOA reporter Al Pessin asked Maj Gen Walter Gaskin, the USMC commander in Anbar, about why the Anbar Awakening occurred and whether it would have occured without US troops and the Surge:

Q General, it's Al Pessin from Voice of America. I wanted to ask you about the Awakening, and you talked a little bit about how there's this blood feud, and how the Anbaris have rejected the brutality of al Qaeda. Would you say that the progress that we've seen this year in Anbar had to do with something that MNF-I did? Or was it entirely indigenous to the inner workings of the people who live in the province?

GEN. GASKIN: I think it's a combination. You know, you can't separate the fact that this multinational corps and force out here was designed to eliminate al Qaeda.

And al Qaeda is a part of why the Awakening came about, is to awake and see that you can have self-reliance. We can join with the coalition forces and rid ourselves of the brutality and the caliphate and the just plain disregard for how the Anbaris live.

Now, it kind of manifests itself out here in Anbar because these were Sunnis -- (audio break) -- and therefore, they resisted the Taliban-like life -- the life and ideology that al Qaeda was bringing to this area. But it did not come without a cost. Al Qaeda was very brutal to the sheikhs, and this is a very tribal society. As a matter of fact, the sheikhs often say that we were tribal before we were Muslim, and therefore, this is a(n) anchor point within our society. And so when al Qaeda attacked that, they did some very brutal things to the sheikhs, did not follow customs allowing the sheikhs to die in the desert and not burying them within 24 hours. That's what I mean by the blood feud and that they have created a schism that I don't think will ever be repaired.

And because they really want to return to a life where they can have control of their own destiny, I see this as an opportunity since -- (audio break) -- have joined with al Qaeda -- with the sheikhs and the people against al Qaeda. This is going to work, and I think it's enduring.

Q But General, might that not have happened anyway without MNF-I, without the surge, without the new counterinsurgency strategy?

GEN. GASKIN: I doubt it. I think if you -- if you look at the history of the fighting here, you will see that several times the sheikhs have attempted to rid themselves of al Qaeda.

They started in about 2005 out in al Qaim, where the sheikhs raised up, calling themselves the Desert Protectors, put down brutally by al Qaeda. It started again in and around Ramadi, where 11 sheikhs raised up to try to rid themselves of al Qaeda and its caliphate and shura law. And 11 of -- of those 11 -- (audio break) -- were put down brutally.

And so again, in Ramadi with Sheikhs Sattar Abu Risi (ph) who started the Sahwa Allah Iraq, which is the Awakening movement. He had lost two brothers and a father in that fight. So he realized, too, that the joining of the coalition who had there to aid them in getting rid of al Qaeda, that we were better equipped, better trained and had a better principle (sic) of what was happening to them and all of that. This joining of us with them would not have happened -- it definitely would not have happened in the time frame for which we are experiencing now because al Qaeda was better organized, better financed and a lot more brutal than the Anbaris ever expected in dealing with them.

And so I think this was a -- (audio break) -- and it's proved to be ridding them of al
Qaeda and allow them to get on with their economic development and governance of this province.

I rather take Maj Gen Gaskin's word over that of Sen Obama.

Posted by Tom at 9:00 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

July 16, 2008

Obama Wrong on Iraq - Again

Senator Barack Obama gave us his plan for Iraq in Monday's New York Times

In the 18 months since President Bush announced the surge, our troops have performed heroically in bringing down the level of violence. New tactics have protected the Iraqi population, and the Sunni tribes have rejected Al Qaeda -- greatly weakening its effectiveness.

Nice of you to finally admit the truth. In January of 2007 you said that "I am not persuaded that 20,000 additional troops in Iraq is going to solve the sectarian violence there." He also said that

We can send 15,000 more troops, 20,000 more troops, 30,000 more troops: I don't know any expert on the region or any military officer that I've spoken to privately that believes that that is going to make a substantial difference on the situation on the ground.

Barack Obama was dead wrong on the most important military decision of the Iraq War since the invasion. Why should anyone believe him now when he was so wrong then?

Back to his Op-Ed in the Times:

But the same factors that led me to oppose the surge still hold true. The strain on our military has grown, the situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated and we've spent nearly $200 billion more in Iraq than we had budgeted. Iraq's leaders have failed to invest tens of billions of dollars in oil revenues in rebuilding their own country, and they have not reached the political accommodation that was the stated purpose of the surge.

So even though the surge worked he would still have opposed it. In other words, he is invested in defeat. He opposed a strategy that by his own admission would have led to victory.

"The strain on our military has grown..." Then vote more money for a larger military. Let's reconstitute some of the units that Bush41 and Clinton deactivated. In World War II we fought two high-intensity wars on opposite sides of the planet at the same time. Now we're told that we can't even fight two low-intensity wars at the same time when they are a stones throw away from each other?

"(Iraq's leaders) have not reached the political accommodation..." False. 15 of the 18 benchmarks have been met, twice that of a year ago.

There's more, but eventually Obama gets to what his supporters want to hear about:

We can safely redeploy our combat brigades at a pace that would remove them in 16 months. That would be the summer of 2010 -- two years from now, and more than seven years after the war began. After this redeployment, a residual force in Iraq would perform limited missions: going after any remnants of Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia, protecting American service members and, so long as the Iraqis make political progress, training Iraqi security forces. That would not be a precipitous withdrawal.
Unfortunately for Obama, the people who would know about "redeployment" don't think he knows what he's talking about

Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Hammond is commander of Multi-National Division Baghdad, which is headquartered by his 4th Infantry Division. Lt. Gen. Lloyd Austin is commander of Multi-National Corps - Iraq (Austin is #2 in Iraq. The divisional commanders report to him). (For more on each commander, here is Hammond's last press briefing (June 3), and here is Austin's last press briefing (June 23)).

Here's the same ABC news report in written form. Maj. Gen. Hammond:

"Instead of any time-based approach to any decision for withdrawal, it's got to be conditions-based, with the starting point being an intelligence analysis of what might be here today, and what might lie ahead in the future. I still think we still have work that remains to be done before I can really answer that question," Hammond said when asked how he would feel about an order to start drawing down two combat brigades a month.

Asked if he considered it dangerous to pull out if the withdrawal is not based on "conditions," Hammond said, "It's very dangerous. I'll speak for the coalition forces, men and women of character and moral courage; we have a mission, and it's not until the mission is done that I can look my leader in the eye and say, 'Sir, Ma'am, mission accomplished,' and I think it is dangerous to leave anything a little early."

But it's not just the fact that leaving on a timetable is militarily stupid. It's not as if we can just neatly pack our bags and catch the next flight out. We've got all sorts of, you know, things that have to be brought out. More from the ABC News report

Success on the battlefield is not the only complication with Obama's plan.

Physically removing the combat brigades within that kind of time frame would be difficult, as well.

The military has been redeploying troops for years, and Maj. Gen. Charles Anderson, who would help with the withdrawal, told us as we toured Camp Arifjan in Kuwait, "We have the capacity to do a minimum of two-and-a-half brigade combat teams a month -- can we expand that capacity? Sure. Can we accelerate? It depends. It depends on the amount of equipment that we bring back. And it's going to depend on how fast we bring them out...several commanders who looked at the Obama plan told ABC News, on background, that there was "no way" it could work logistically.

One wonders, can Obama not fine anyone competent to advise him on military matters?

Senator John McCain has a devastating take down of Obama's Op-Ed on his campaign website. Read the whole thing, but here are some of the highlights:

MYTH: Barack Obama Writes That He Opposed The Surge Because Of The Military Strain, Afghanistan Situation And The War's Monetary Cost. "But the same factors that led me to oppose the surge still hold true. The strain on our military has grown, the situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated and we've spent nearly $200 billion more in Iraq than we had budgeted. Iraq's leaders have failed to invest tens of billions of dollars in oil revenues in rebuilding their own country, and they have not reached the political accommodation that was the stated purpose of the surge." (Barack Obama, Op-Ed, "My Plan For Iraq," The New York Times, 7/14/08)

FACT: Barack Obama Said He Opposed The Surge In Iraq Because It Would Not Work Or Reduce Violence.

* October 2006: Barack Obama Says We Cannot "Through Putting In More Troops Or Maintaining The Presence That We Have, Expect That Somehow The Situation Is Going To Improve." Obama: "Given the deteriorating situation, it is clear at this point that we cannot, through putting in more troops or maintaining the presence that we have, expect that somehow the situation is going to improve, and we have to do something significant to break the pattern that we've been in right now." (NBC's "Meet The Press," 10/22/06)

* July 2007: Barack Obama Says The Surge Had Not Worked In Iraq. Obama: "My assessment is that the surge has not worked and we will not see a different report eight weeks from now." (NBC's "The Today Show," 7/18/07)

* November 2007: Barack Obama Says The Surge Has Not Worked, And Had Potentially Worsened The Situation In Iraq. Obama: "Finally, in 2006-2007, we started to see that, even after an election, George Bush continued to want to pursue a course that didn't withdraw troops from Iraq but actually doubled them and initiated a search and at that stage I said very clearly, not only have we not seen improvements, but we're actually worsening, potentially, a situation there." (NBC's "Meet The Press," 11/11/07)
...


MYTH #3: Barack Obama Claimed Iraq "Never Has Been" The Central Front In The War On Terrorism

MYTH: Barack Obama Writes That "Iraq Is Not The Central Front In The War On Terrorism, And It Never Has Been." (Barack Obama, Op-Ed, "My Plan For Iraq," The New York Times, 7/14/08)

FACT: Iraq Has Been Called "The Most Important And Serious Issue Today" By Al Qaeda And "The Central Front" By Our Commanding General.

* Osama Bin Laden: "The Most Important And Serious Issue Today For The Whole World Is This Third World War ... Raging In [Iraq]." BIN LADEN: "I now address my speech to the whole of the Islamic nation: Listen and understand. The issue is big and the misfortune is momentous. The most important and serious issue today for the whole world is this Third World War, which the Crusader-Zionist coalition began against the Islamic nation. It is raging in the land of the two rivers. The world's millstone and pillar is in Baghdad, the capital of the caliphate." (Text Of Bin Laden's Audio Message To Muslims In Iraq, Posted On Jihadist Websites, 12/28/04)

* General Petraeus: "Iraq is, in fact, the central front of al Qaeda's global campaign and we devote considerable resources to the fight against al Qaeda Iraq." (Gen. David Petraeus, Press Briefing, Arlintong, VA, 4/26/07)

Down the Memory Hole

Perhaps in an attempt to escape scrutiny, the Daily News reports that Obama has purged his campaign website of his criticism of the surge plan:

Barack Obama's campaign scrubbed his presidential Web site over the weekend to remove criticism of the U.S. troop "surge" in Iraq, the Daily News has learned.

The presumed Democratic nominee replaced his Iraq issue Web page, which had described the surge as a "problem" that had barely reduced violence.

Thankfully, NRO's Media Blog provides a link to his original plan.

Via the McCain blog, Update: there's even a website with before and after screen shots

The Politics

Obama has a problem; on the one hand his base is hard left and hard antiwar. They will tolerate nothing less than an immediate withdrawal regardless of circumstances. They don't care what happens in Iraq, or if they do see any breakdown and civil war as something else they can pin on Bush and the evil neocons.

On the other hand he can't win with them alone, and must find some way to appeal to the center, or at least center-left. He's busy changing his positions on a number of issues, Iraq included. What's happening though is that he's tying himself in knots.

Obama is scheduled to go to Iraq very soon, in just a few weeks I think. He will meet with Petreaus, Austin, and probably Hammond and the other divisional commanders. They're all going to tell him the same thing; that his plan is whacked. What will he do then?

McCain has a problem of his own; he must hold onto his base, which wants to win, while appealing to the center, which wants to win but also get out. They want, I think, a sort of "withdrawal with victory." McCain's advantage is that he was right on the surge, and as such can claim that his plan to withdraw troops does so only because we have won or are winning.

"But We'll Fight in Afghanistan! Really!"

From Obama's Op-Ed in the Times

Ending the war is essential to meeting our broader strategic goals, starting in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where the Taliban is resurgent and Al Qaeda has a safe haven. Iraq is not the central front in the war on terrorism, and it never has been. As Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recently pointed out, we won't have sufficient resources to finish the job in Afghanistan until we reduce our commitment to Iraq.

As president, I would pursue a new strategy, and begin by providing at least two additional combat brigades to support our effort in Afghanistan. We need more troops, more helicopters, better intelligence-gathering and more nonmilitary assistance to accomplish the mission there. I would not hold our military, our resources and our foreign policy hostage to a misguided desire to maintain permanent bases in Iraq.

Again, if we need more resources let's increase defense spending. The idea that we cannot fight two counterinsurgencies at the same time is ludicrous.

But what about the notion that Obama is a hawk on Afghanistan?

John McCain's campaign website throws doubt on the entire notion that Obama even cares about Afghanistan

MYTH #4: Barack Obama Says He Is Concerned About The Situation In Afghanistan

MYTH: Barack Obama Writes That We Must "Pursue A New Strategy" In Afghanistan. "As president, I would pursue a new strategy, and begin by providing at least two additional combat brigades to support our effort in Afghanistan. We need more troops, more helicopters, better intelligence-gathering and more nonmilitary assistance to accomplish the mission there." (Barack Obama, Op-Ed, "My Plan For Iraq," The New York Times, 7/14/08)

FACT: As Chairman Of The Subcommittee On European Affairs, Barack Obama Has Failed To Hold Any Hearings On Afghanistan.
...

FACT: Barack Obama Has Never Been To Afghanistan; Skipped The Opportunity To Go In 2006.
...

FACT: Barack Obama Voted Against Providing Funding For Operations In Afghanistan.

* Barack Obama Voted Against Providing $94.4 Billion In Critical Funding For The Troops In Iraq And Afghanistan. (H.R. 2206, CQ Vote #181: Passed 80-14: R 42-3; D 37-10; I 1-1, 5/24/07, Obama Voted Nay)

I don't know the details on the funding bill and my guess is there's more to it than the McCain site is revealing, but you get the idea.

I think that if Obama gets his way and we abandon Iraq and "redeploy" troops to Afghanistan, the left will see how difficult that war really is. Afghanistan is larger, harder to get to, has less infrastructure (roads etc needed for moving troops), has a weaker national army, and has even less of a central government than Iraq. Add to this more ethnic groups and the fact that Afghanistan has never really been a centrally-controlled country. As if all this was not enough our enemy has a sanctuary in the Waziristan province of Pakistan, and you've got a real conundrum.

There also seems to be the idea that Afghanistan is "safer" than Iraq, but the truth is that on a per-soldier basis as many of our troops are killed and wounded there as in Iraq.

Further, if Obama thinks that more troops will help in Afghanistan, why did he say they wouldn't help in Iraq? How is Afghanistan different?

How badly will Obama's antiwar base really want to fight for Afghanistan once it is the war story in the news every day?

How long before they declare that the Afghan government isn't "stepping up to the plate" and that unless it meets certain benchmarks we're going to "redeploy?"

I think that (assuming again that Obama gets his way) once the left sees how difficult Afghanistan is they'll give up on it too. The excuse will likely be something along the lines of "the money is needed here at home for a badly needed school lunch program."

Posted by Tom at 8:30 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

July 10, 2008

The Iranian Missile Tests and the Presidential Candidates

As I think we all know, yesterday and today Iran "tested" a series of missiles. The ones today were apparently anti-ship missiles, but yesterday's involved the Shahab 3, a weapon capable of hitting Israel.

It is important to note that the missiles were fired by Iran's Revolutionary Guard Corps, not their normal military. The IRGC is somewhat analogous to the Schutzstaffel; the Nazi SS.

Just as interesting as the tests themselves was the reaction to them by the presidential candidates.

First up is Barack Obama. I went to his website but cannot find anything there that directly addresses them. There's absolutely nothing about Iran on the "ObamaNews" tab. Regarding Iran, we have this

* Diplomacy: Obama is the only major candidate who supports tough, direct presidential diplomacy with Iran without preconditions. Now is the time to pressure Iran directly to change their troubling behavior. Obama would offer the Iranian regime a choice. If Iran abandons its nuclear program and support for terrorism, we will offer incentives like membership in the World Trade Organization, economic investments, and a move toward normal diplomatic relations. If Iran continues its troubling behavior, we will step up our economic pressure and political isolation. Seeking this kind of comprehensive settlement with Iran is our best way to make progress.

I cannot believe that he still has on his website that he wants "diplomacy with Iran without preconditions." Didn't he just go though this process of "clarification" in which he said that he wanted "preparations"?

And for those of you who think that Obama will rally Europe to our side, think again. They think that his position on Iran undermines them. From The Washington Post

European officials are increasingly concerned that Sen. Barack Obama's campaign pledge to begin direct talks with Iran on its nuclear program without preconditions could potentially rupture U.S. relations with key European allies early in a potential Obama administration.


Contrast this with John McCain. Yesterday he issued this press release, which you can find on his website:

"Iran's most recent missile tests demonstrate again the dangers it poses to its neighbors and to the wider region, especially Israel. Ballistic missile testing coupled with Iran's continued refusal to cease its nuclear activities should unite the international community in efforts to counter Iran's dangerous ambitions. Iran's missile tests also demonstrate the need for effective missile defense now and in the future, and this includes missile defense in Europe as is planned with the Czech Republic and Poland. Working with our European and regional allies is the best way to meet the threat posed by Iran, not unilateral concessions that undermine multilateral diplomacy."

Guess what? Obama is against missile defense. Oh, he says on his website he's for it

National Missile Defense: An Obama administration will support missile defense, but ensure that it is developed in a way that is pragmatic and cost-effective; and, most importantly, does not divert resources from other national security priorities until we are positive the technology will protect the American public.

But there are so many weasel words in there it's clear he'd never allow anything to be built.

Regarding the Iranian Republican Guards, McCain voted in favor of a Kyle-Lieberman designating Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps as a foreign terrorist organization, and Obama voted against it.

But today he says that the missile tests demonstrate the need for sanctions. But wait, the Kyle-Lieberman would have imposted sanctions on the IRGC. Which is it?

Here's McCain

"It's my understanding that this missile test was conducted by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard. This is the same organization that I voted to condemn as a terrorist organization when an amendment was on the floor of the United States Senate. Senator Obama refused to vote, called it a provocative step."


Obama is also a mind-reader

"It's in nobody's interest, including Iran's, I believe, to have a nuclear weapon that could trigger a nuclear arms race in the region."

I rather think that it's the Iranians who will decide what's in their best interests. And they've said about a thousand times that they'd like to wipe Israel off the face of the earth. What better to do that with than nuclear weapons?

Obama wants more sanctions and apparently endless diplomacy.

And it's part of the reason why it's so important for us to have a coherent policy with respect to Iran. It has to combine much tougher threats of economic sanctions with direct diplomacy, opening up channels of communication so that we avoid provocation but we give strong incentives to the Iranians to change their behavior.

I think we're already trying that, Senator. We are speaking with the Iranians. We do have sanctions. It's hard to imagine either doing much good. As I've said time and again, what we need is a policy of regime removal.

Here's McCain's take

Diplomacy plays a key role. There have been negotiations. There have been discussions. There have been packages of incentives offered to the Iranians which have been rejected time after time. There has been intense negotiations and diplomacy and there continues to be a role for it, but history shows us that when nations are embarked on paths that can jeopardize the security of the region and the world, then other actions besides diplomacy have to be contemplated and taken. That's why meaningful and impactful sanctions are called for at this time, and again, our European allies are ready to do that. President Sarkozy has indicated that. Prime Minister Brown has indicated that. Chancellor Merkel, and others have clearly indicated that they are ready to act, but it's time for action, and it's time to make the Iranians understand that this kind of violation of international treaties, this kind of threatening of their neighbors, this kind of continued military activity is not without cost, and those costs I think can be impactful."

So you can't paint him as a warmonger. But he's not a negotiations-forever military-strike-never guy. He seems to recognize that the the point of no return is approaching.


Posted by Tom at 8:57 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

June 26, 2008

District of Columbia v. Heller - A Victory for Civil Rights

That's right, a victory for civil rights. I know that most liberals don't see gun rights as having anything to do with civil rights. They mostly see guns as "scary" things, and the idea that individuals should have them is a relic of a bygone age. In most discussions about the Bill of Rights, the Second Amendment is either ignored, or interpreted in weird and bizarre ways.

The most bizarre of these is the notion that the purpose of the Second Amendment is to grant the states the right to establish their own armies, which is today the National Guard. The right to bear arms is a "collective" right, not one held by individuals. This despite that no one doubts that the rest of the Bill or Rights applies to individuals.

Today's decision by the U.S. Supreme Court in District of Columbia v. Heller changed all that. In a 5-4 decision, the court ruled that it was in fact an individual right. It also struck down the District of Columbia's handgun ban as unconstitutional, as well as the D.C. provision that all long guns be kept disassembled and with a trigger lock in place. There was more,but that's the essence.

This is very good news. All in all, I rate the decision as 80% positive.

Here's the Court's syllabus of the decision, as posted by Ed Whelen over at Bench Memos over at NRO

(a) The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense at home.

(b) The Second Amendment right is not unlimited. The Court's opinion should not cast doubt on concealed-weapons prohibitions, laws barring possession of firearms by felons and the mentally ill, laws barring firearms in sensitive places like schools and government buildings, and laws imposing conditions on commercial sale of arms.

(c) D.C.'s handgun ban and trigger-lock requirement violate the Second Amendment. The total ban on handgun possession prohibits an entire class of arms that Americans overwhelmingly choose for the lawful purpose of self-defense. Under any standard of scrutiny, that ban falls. The trigger-lock requirement makes self-defense impossible. D.C. may use a licensing scheme.

The decision can be downloaded from the SCOTUSblog here.

Ed Whelen has much more information and commentary on the decision here, and Tom Goldstein (SCOTUSblog.com) has a must-read post here. More from the SCOTUSblog here, here, and here.

I'm not a lawyer, nor do I play on on TV. Here then are some observations from an NRA member who believes strongly in the individual right to own firearms:

The Good News

Justice Scalia, writing for the majority, says outright that "The Second Amendment protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia and to use that arm for traditionally lawful purposes, such as self-defense at home." This in and of itself is a huge victory.

Scalia also knocks down the notion that the Second Amendment was meant to protect the "right" of the states to have their own militias, ie National Guard.

Also, as mentioned above, the court declared that "D.C.'s ban on handgun possession violates the Second Amendment." and that "The "inherent right of self-defense has been central to the Second Amendment right." This last one is big, because the anti-gunners want us to rely on the government for protection.

And lastly, the total ban on handguns was struck down: "The handgun ban amounts to a prohibition of an entire class of 'arms' that is overwhelmingly chosen by American society for that lawful purpose....banning from the home 'the most preferred firearm in the nation to 'keep' and use for protection of one's home and family,' would fail constitutional muster."" Take that, you liberal anti-gunners!

The Bad News

While a victory is a victory, I wish it had been by a lot more than 5-4. That 4 justices see the Second Amendment as a "collective" right is disturbing.

The decision left the door open to gun bans beyond automatic weapons ("machine guns" for you non-gun types). "We do not cast doubt on concealed-weapons prohibitions...the sorts of weapons protected are the sorts of small arms that were lawfully possessed at home at the time of the Second Amendment's ratification, not those most useful in military service today, so "M-16 rifles and the like" may be banned"

So there's still going to be much fighting in legislatures. The anti-gunners can still ban "scary" guns.

Finally, the "licensing scheme" business is troubling. The court said that "Respondent conceded at oral argument that he does not 'have a problem with . . . licensing' and that the District's law is permissible so long as it is 'not enforced in an arbitrary and capricious manner.'" which seems to mean that jurisdictions may require a license to own a firearm, but can't be used in a manner to as to create a de facto firearms ban. This, too, opens the door to many court cases.

The Dangers

A change of one justice and a 5-4 decision is reversed. For all the liberals talk about stare decisis with regard to Roe v. Wade, you can bet you'll never hear the term if they think they can reverse this decision.

The bottom line is that a president Obama will appoint liberals to the court who will want to overturn today's decision, and McCain will appoint conservatives who will uphold it. The choice couldn't be clearer.

Update

I've noticed around the Internet that some on the left are decrying this as an "activist" decision, and thus conservatives are hypocrites. I'm not sure if the people making this argument really believe what they are saying of whether they're being disingenuous, but I'll take it on.

No serious person on the right believes that the Supreme Court should not strike down unconstitutional laws, as long as the reasoning is solidly based on what the Constitution actually says, and what the founders (or those who wrote the various amendments) intended. What we object to is "making it up as you go along", ie rulings that are social engineering disguised as constitutional law. Whenever someone starts talking about a "living Constitution" or "penumbras", you know they're making it up to suit their political agendas.

So when Senator Obama said during the Roberts confirmation hearings that

Both a [conservative Justice Antonin] Scalia and a Ginsburg will arrive at the same place most of the time. What matters at the Supreme Court is those 5% of cases that are truly difficult. In those cases, adherence to precedent and rules of construction will only get you through 25 miles of the marathon. That last mile can only be determined on the basis of one's deepest values, one's core concerns, one's broader perspectives on how the world works and the depth and breadth of one's empathy.

In those difficult cases, the critical ingredient is supplied by what is in the judge's heart.

and during a town hall meeting

What I really believe is that the Supreme Court has to be first and foremost thinking about and looking out for those who are vulnerable. People who are minorities, people who have historically been discriminated against. People who are poor. People who have been cheated. People who are being taken advantage of. People who have unpopular opinions. People who are outsiders.

and to CNN's Wolf Blitzer

...what I do want is a judge who's sympathetic enough to those who are on the outside, those who are vulnerable, those who are powerless, those who can't have access to political power, and, as a consequence, can't protect themselves from being -- from being dealt with sometimes unfairly, that the courts become a refuge for judges.

That's been its historic role. That was its role in Brown vs. Board of Education.

...you know you're dealing with someone who sees the Supreme Court as a second legislature, who's purpose is to enact whatever laws the Democrats can't get through the regular legislature. And bty, he's wrong about Brown v Board of Education. Nothing other than the plain reading of Section One the Fourteenth Amendment was needed to decide that case.

Contrast this with Senator John McCain, who says he is a "Strict Constructionist" on his campaign website

John McCain believes that one of the greatest threats to our liberty and the Constitutional framework that safeguards our freedoms are willful judges who usurp the role of the people and their representatives and legislate from the bench. As President, John McCain will nominate judges who understand that their role is to faithfully apply the law as written, not impose their opinions through judicial fiat.

As I said, the choice couldn't be clearer. You have Senator Obama, who wants to use the courts as a second legislature, and Senator McCain, who wants the courts to make rulings based on the law.

Update II Sunday June 29

This letter to the editor today in The Washington Times exposes the liberal mindset perfectly:

The Supreme Court's decision in District of Columbia v. Heller ("The gun ban ends," Editorial, Friday). leaves me with a disturbing realization that our society is strangely wedded to words written in a profoundly different era. While your editorial praises the importance of this ruling on the District's gun ban and the protection of the rights of its citizens, Associate Justice Antonin Scalia's majority opinion was not about what is right, nor about what is smart, nor about the best interests of the District. Justice Scalia's grammar lesson on the relationship between prefatory clauses and objective clauses is hardly worthy of the sheer importance of such landmark decisions for our society. The District of Columbia and the United States do not need a long and winding recitation of the tyrannies of King George III that led to the formation of militias.

Were Justice Scalia and the others in the majority to have argued why the Second Amendment, as interpreted, is relevant today, this decision might not seem so anachronistic. On the contrary, Associate Justice John Paul Stevens' dissenting opinion smartly ignores such irrelevant history lessons and argues with the realities of the present era in mind. We need a justice system that lives in the 21st century, not one beholden to the myth that words written in 1791 about men carrying muskets have any bearing today.

ANDREW CORSO
Arlington

If you don't like a law, just have some judge declare it irrelevant and put something different in its place. Those legislatures and referrendums can be so pesky!


Posted by Tom at 9:30 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

June 20, 2008

Obama too Good for Public Financing

Sen. Barack Obama has rejected public financing of his campaign, and did so in a manner so holier-than thou that as Dean Barnett says "it has to be seen to be believed"

Here's the transcript, if you can't stand to watch the whole thing

It's not an easy decision, and especially because I support a robust system of public financing of elections. But the public financing of presidential elections as it exists today is broken, and we face opponents who've become masters at gaming this broken system. John McCain's campaign and the Republican National Committee are fueled by contributions from Washington lobbyists and special interest PACs. And we've already seen that he's not going to stop the smears and attacks from his allies running so-called 527 groups, who will spend millions and millions of dollars in unlimited donations.

From the very beginning of this campaign, I have asked my supporters to avoid that kind of unregulated activity and join us in building a new kind of politics and you have. Instead of forcing us to rely on millions from Washington lobbyists and special interest PACs, you've fueled this campaign with donations of $5, $10, $20, whatever you can afford. And because you did, we've built a grass-roots movement of over 1.5 million Americans. We've won the Democratic nomination by relying on ordinary people coming together to achieve extraordinary things.

If you're going to reject public financing, Senator, you don't have to be so sanctimonious about it. And stop acting like a victim, please, with your "smears and attacks" line.

Obama's never faced any serious scrutiny before as a candidate, and it shows. You simply don't get a whole lot of media attention when you're running for state senate. His campaign for the U.S. Senate was a cakewalk once Jack Ryan withdrew, and the media stopped paying attention. Obama's other problem is he's so used to being surrounded by and at rallies attended by nothing but sycophantic fawning admirers who do nothing but drool over him that when he's criticized he sees it as a "smear". The situation with the press got so bad that Saturday Night Live did a skit about the media bias.

Jim Geraghty at NRO points out that it was only last November that The Washington Post Obama said that he would take public financing, and was pretty darn certain about it

AS RECENTLY as November, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) was unequivocal about whether he would agree to take public financing for the general election if his Republican opponent pledged to do the same. "If you are nominated for president in 2008 and your major opponents agree to forgo private funding in the general election campaign, will you participate in the presidential public financing system?" the Midwest Democracy Network asked in a questionnaire. Mr. Obama's answer was clear. "Yes," he wrote. "If I am the Democratic nominee, I will aggressively pursue an agreement with the Republican nominee to preserve a publicly financed general election."

Well, Sen. McCain is going to take public money. He's upheld his end of the bargain. The Post story makes clear that Obama changed his mind because he started raking in lots of money from donations. Apparently his high principle went out the window. And this is the guy who says he's going to bring forth a "new type of politics"? Sounds like he's as beholden to money as anyone else.

I've said it before on this blog, but I've done a 180 on Obama. As late as the Florida primary in January I was writing that "You're an awfully nice guy, sincere, and decent man. Too bad you have to go up against the Clinton machine. They're trying to drag you down into the mud with them. Don't take the bait."

This was before Jeremiah Wright. Before I knew the truth about Trinity United. Before I knew that he was associated with William Ayers, the unrepentant terrorist (if it had been McCain and Eric Rudolph McCain would have been thrown out of the Senate by now). Before the Tony Rezko trial and Obama's lame "this isn't the Tony Rezko that I knew" routine. Obama is not who I thought he was. To be sure, I'd have never voted for him based on his policy positions, and that he was a lightweight who padded his resume, but I never guessed that he was a total fraud. Obama is not who he said he was

Obama sat in that church and listened to a racist hatemongering preacher for 20 years and only left when it became politically expedient to do so. Now he rejects public financing of campaigns when it's politically expedient to do so.

Posted by Tom at 7:54 AM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 15, 2008

Krauthammer Hits a Homer

Once again, Charles Krauthammer hits it out of the park. I'm just going to reprint the whole thing

In his St. Paul victory speech, Barack Obama pledged again to pull out of Iraq. Rather than "continue a policy in Iraq that asks everything of our brave men and women in uniform and nothing of Iraqi politicians. . . . It's time for Iraqis to take responsibility for their future."

We know Obama hasn't been to Iraq in more than two years, but does he not read the papers? Does he not know anything about developments on the ground? Here is the "nothing" that Iraqis have been doing in the last few months:

1. Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki sent the Iraqi army into Basra. It achieved in a few weeks what the British had failed to do in four years: take the city, drive out the Mahdi army, and seize the ports from Iranian-backed militias.

2. When Mahdi fighters rose up in support of their Basra brethren, the Iraqi army at Maliki's direction confronted them and prevailed in every town -- Najaf, Karbala, Hilla, Kut, Nasiriyah, and Diwaniyah -- from Basra to Baghdad.

3. Without any American ground forces, the Iraqi army entered and occupied Sadr City, the Mahdi army stronghold.

4. Maliki flew to Mosul, directing a joint Iraqi-U.S. offensive against the last redoubt of al-Qaeda, which had already been driven out of Anbar, Baghdad, and Diyala provinces.

5. The Iraqi parliament enacted a de-Baathification law, a major Democratic benchmark for political reconciliation.

6. Parliament also passed the other reconciliation benchmarks -- a pension law, an amnesty law, and a provincial elections and powers law. Oil revenues are being distributed to the provinces through the annual budget.

7. With Maliki having demonstrated that he would fight not just Sunni insurgents (e.g., in Mosul) but Shiite militias (e.g., the Mahdi army), the Sunni parliamentary bloc began negotiations to join the Shiite-led government. (The final sticking point is a squabble over a sixth Cabinet position.)

The disconnect between what Democrats are saying about Iraq and what is actually happening there has reached grotesque proportions. Democrats won an exhilarating electoral victory in 2006 pledging withdrawal at a time when conditions in Iraq were dire and we were indeed losing the war. Two years later, when everything is changed, they continue to reflexively repeat their "narrative of defeat and retreat" (as Joe Lieberman so memorably called it) as if nothing has changed.

It is a position so utterly untenable that John McCain must seize the opportunity and, contrary to conventional wisdom, make the Iraq War the central winning plank of his campaign. Yes, Americans are war-weary. Yes, most think we should not have engaged in the first place. Yes, Obama will keep pulling out his 2002 speech opposing the war.

But McCain's case is simple. Is not Obama's central mantra that this election is about the future not the past? It is about 2009, not 2002. Obama promises that upon his inauguration, he will order the Joint Chiefs to bring him a plan for withdrawal from Iraq within 16 months. McCain says that upon his inauguration, he'll ask the Joint Chiefs for a plan for continued and ultimate success.

The choice could not be more clearly drawn. The Democrats' one objective in Iraq is withdrawal. McCain's one objective is victory.

McCain's case is not hard to make. Iraq is a three-front war -- against Sunni al-Qaeda, against Shiite militias, and against Iranian hegemony -- and we are winning on every front:

We did not go into Iraq to fight al-Qaeda. The war had other purposes. But al-Qaeda chose to turn it into the central front in its war against America. That choice turned into an al-Qaeda fiasco: Al-Qaeda in Iraq is now on the run and in the midst of stunning and humiliating defeat.

As for the Shiite extremists, the Mahdi army is isolated and at its weakest point in years.

Its sponsor, Iran, has suffered major setbacks, not just in Basra, but in Iraqi public opinion, which has rallied to the Maliki government and against Iranian interference through its Sadrist proxy.

Even the most expansive American objective -- establishing a representative government that is an ally against jihadists, both Sunni and Shiite -- is within sight.

Obama and the Democrats would forfeit every one of these successes to a declared policy of fixed and unconditional withdrawal. If McCain cannot take to the American people the case for the folly of that policy, he will not be president. Nor should he be.

Give the speech, senator. Give it now.

Indeed. McCain needs to get in front of this issue and define himself before the Democrats do it for him. He also needs to hammer on Obama's many liabilities before the Democrats manage to re-define him, but that's another story.

The fact is, every single one of the left's talking points about Iraq is in shatters. But to Obama, it doesn't matter. For him to now concede that we are winning (I said winning, not won), would be to anger the nutroots base of his party. It would risk his "aura" of being larger-than-life-Obama, and might force his followers to actually confront the reality of the situation, rather than simply spout warmed-over MoveOn.org talking points. Too many Democrats are invested in a U.S. defeat.

As I have said many times on this blog, President Bush has done a miserable job of presenting the case for Iraq to the American people. Secretary of State Rice has served him poorly, both at NSC and now at State, and ought to be fired. The American people will listen to a new voice, but only if he speaks. Of all the Republican candidates he was always the one with the strongest national security credentials. He needs to speak forcefully and often about Iraq. Krauthammer is right; McCain needs to give this speech.

Posted by Tom at 8:30 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 1, 2008

Strategic Defeat for al Qaeda in Iraq...

It's too early to say for certain, but signs everywhere point to a strategic defeat for al Qaeda in Iraq. You know we're winning when The Washington Post admits it

THERE'S BEEN a relative lull in news coverage and debate about Iraq in recent weeks -- which is odd, because May could turn out to have been one of the most important months of the war. While Washington's attention has been fixed elsewhere, military analysts have watched with astonishment as the Iraqi government and army have gained control for the first time of the port city of Basra and the sprawling Baghdad neighborhood of Sadr City, routing the Shiite militias that have ruled them for years and sending key militants scurrying to Iran. At the same time, Iraqi and U.S. forces have pushed forward with a long-promised offensive in Mosul, the last urban refuge of al-Qaeda. So many of its leaders have now been captured or killed that U.S. Ambassador Ryan C. Crocker, renowned for his cautious assessments, said that the terrorists have "never been closer to defeat than they are now."

Iraq passed a turning point last fall when the U.S. counterinsurgency campaign launched in early 2007 produced a dramatic drop in violence and quelled the incipient sectarian war between Sunnis and Shiites. Now, another tipping point may be near, one that sees the Iraqi government and army restoring order in almost all of the country, dispersing both rival militias and the Iranian-trained "special groups" that have used them as cover to wage war against Americans. ...

If the positive trends continue, proponents of withdrawing most U.S. troops, such as Mr. Obama, might be able to responsibly carry out further pullouts next year. Still, the likely Democratic nominee needs a plan for Iraq based on sustaining an improving situation, rather than abandoning a failed enterprise. That will mean tying withdrawals to the evolution of the Iraqi army and government, rather than an arbitrary timetable; Iraq's 2009 elections will be crucial. It also should mean providing enough troops and air power to continue backing up Iraqi army operations such as those in Basra and Sadr City. When Mr. Obama floated his strategy for Iraq last year, the United States appeared doomed to defeat. Now he needs a plan for success.

Unfortunately for the nation, I wouldn't count on Senator Obama changing his tune

A Strategic Victory

In another Washington Post story ouCIA Director Michael V. Hayden outlines the larger implications

CIA Director Michael V. Hayden now portrays the terrorist movement as essentially defeated in Iraq and Saudi Arabia and on the defensive throughout much of the rest of the world, including in its presumed haven along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

In a strikingly upbeat assessment, the CIA chief cited major gains against al-Qaeda's allies in the Middle East and an increasingly successful campaign to destabilize the group's core leadership.

While cautioning that al-Qaeda remains a serious threat, Hayden said Osama bin Laden is losing the battle for hearts and minds in the Islamic world and has largely forfeited his ability to exploit the Iraq war to recruit adherents. Two years ago, a CIA study concluded that the U.S.-led war had become a propaganda and marketing bonanza for al-Qaeda, generating cash donations and legions of volunteers.

All that has changed, Hayden said in an interview with The Washington Post this week that coincided with the start of his third year at the helm of the CIA.

"On balance, we are doing pretty well," he said, ticking down a list of accomplishments: "Near strategic defeat of al-Qaeda in Iraq. Near strategic defeat for al-Qaeda in Saudi Arabia. Significant setbacks for al-Qaeda globally -- and here I'm going to use the word 'ideologically' -- as a lot of the Islamic world pushes back on their form of Islam," he said.

The sense of shifting tides in the terrorism fight is shared by a number of terrorism experts, though some caution that it is too early to tell whether the gains are permanent. Some credit Hayden and other U.S. intelligence leaders for going on the offensive against al-Qaeda in the area along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border, where the tempo of Predator strikes has dramatically increased from previous years. But analysts say the United States has caught some breaks in the past year, benefiting from improved conditions in Iraq, as well as strategic blunders by al-Qaeda that have cut into its support base.

"benefited from improved conditions in Iraq" And how did that occur? Not, as Speaker Pelosi says, because of the good graces of Iraq, but because of the surge. It was the right thing to do and it worked.

The Domestic Political Implications

Obama is to wedded to the leftist mantra that we've lost in Iraq and that nothing can salvage the situation. Since the forced exit of the last hawkish Democrat, Senator Joe Lieberman, I don't think there are any members of his party left to whom Obama could turn to for support should he decide on a "plan for success." The entire Democrat party is too tied to the Movon.org and Daily Kos version of events.

The Republican Bush Administration may have screwed up the war in it's early stages, but Senator McCain can claim to have recognized this early on and called for changes. Obama opposed the war from the start, something he trumpets on the campaign trail. Now that the evidence of both military and political success are impossible to ignore, he is reduced to claiming that a trip to Iraq would be a "stunt". The truth, as everyone knows, is that Petraeus and his generals will present him with so much evidence of success that denial will make him look silly.

In short, if current trends continue, McCain will look better but Obama will have some 'splaining to do.

What it All Means

The Wall Street Journal summed it up nicely

Zawahiri himself last month repeated his claim that (Iraq) "is now the most important arena in which our Muslim nation is waging the battle against the forces of the Crusader-Zionist campaign." So it's all the more significant that on this crucial battleground, al Qaeda has been decimated by the surge of U.S. forces into Baghdad. The surge, in turn, gave confidence to the Sunni tribes that this was a fight they could win. For Zawahiri, losing the battles you say you need to win is not a way to collect new recruits.

General Hayden was careful to say the threat continues, and he warned specifically about those in Congress and the media who "[focus] less on the threat and more on the tactics the nation has chosen to deal with the threat." This refers to the political campaign to restrict wiretapping and aggressive interrogation, both of which the CIA director says have been crucial to gathering intelligence that has blocked further terrorist spectaculars that would have burnished al Qaeda's prestige.

One irony here is that Barack Obama is promising a rapid withdrawal from Iraq on grounds that we can't defeat al Qaeda unless we focus on Afghanistan. He opposed the Iraq surge on similar grounds. Yet it is the surge, and the destruction of al Qaeda in Iraq, that has helped to demoralize al Qaeda around the world. Nothing would more embolden Zawahiri now than a U.S. retreat from Iraq, which al Qaeda would see as the U.S. version of the Soviet defeat in Afghanistan.

Those who claim that Iraq has nothing to do with the war on terror miss these last points entirely. Winning in Iraq helps defeat al Qaeda around the world, whereby a cut-and-run would embolden them around the world. This is why a victory in Iraq constitutes a strategic defeat for al Qaeda, and not just a tactical setback in one place. Likewise, it would be a strategic victory for us, and not just a tactical achievement in one place with no larger meaning.

Posted by Tom at 8:30 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

May 20, 2008

Obama Tries To Spin His Way Out

Now Obama tries to tell us there's a difference between meeting "without preconditions" but with "preparation" (h/t TWS)

TAPPER: In recent days, it has seemed that some of your staffers and supporters have walked back from your statement that you would be willing to meet with the leaders of rogue nations, countries hostile to the U.S., without preconditions. Your foreign policy adviser Susan Rice said you wouldn't necessarily meet with Ahmadinejad, Sen. Daschle said of course there would be conditions -- (Obama interrupts)

OBAMA: You know, Jake, I have to say I completely disagree that people have been walking back from anything. They may be correcting the characterizations or distortions of John McCain or others of what I said. What I said was I would meet with our adversaries including Iran, including Venezula, including Cuba, including North Korea, without preconditions but that does not mean without preparation.

TAPPER: Well, what's the difference?

OBAMA: There's a huge difference. When you talk about Iran, for example, the Bush administration's position has been we won't have talks with Iran until they agree to everything we want to them to agree to. That's not diplomacy. That's asking them to do what they say and then acknowledge we are willing to meet with them. That's not how diplomacy works. That's not how Ronald Reagan operated with Gorbachev or Kennedy with Khruschev or Nixon with Mao.

His advisor, Susan E. Rice, is also trying to spin the "preparations" angle. From The New York Times (via LGF)

Susan E. Rice, a former State Department and National Security Council official who is a foreign policy adviser to the Democratic candidate, said that "for political purposes, Senator Obama's opponents on the right have distorted and reframed" his views. Mr. McCain and his surrogates have repeatedly stated that Mr. Obama would be willing to meet "unconditionally" with Mr. Ahmadinejad. But Dr. Rice said that this was not the case for Iran or any other so-called "rogue" state. Mr. Obama believes "that engagement at the presidential level, at the appropriate time and with the appropriate preparation, can be used to leverage the change we need," Dr. Rice said. "But nobody said he would initiate contacts at the presidential level; that requires due preparation and advance work."

Now, that last bit about "nobody said" there would be contacts at the presidential level without "preparation and advance work" is recently added spin, as we shall see.

Obama is talking out of both sides of his mouth. Nothing in his (new) "preparations" spin suggest that he'd require a darn thing from any of these dictators before meeting with them. Iran would still be killing American troops in Iraq as a President Obama met with President Ahmadinejad. Wonderful.

He's spinning in circles and he knows it. The bottom line is that he has said nothing to indicate that he'd be less than willing to meet with dictators who are working toward our demise without their agreeing to anything beforehand.

And of course his implication that what he wants to do is similar to how "Ronald Reagan operated with Gorbachev or Kennedy with Khruschev or Nixon with Mao" is ridiculous, and here's why

First up, Rich Lowry on Kennedy and Khrushchev

The earnest, young American president wanted to forestall any possibility of misunderstanding and to win Khrushchev's commitment to the international status quo. The blustery, risk-taking Soviet premier wanted to bludgeon Kennedy into making concessions that would further the Soviet goal of global revolution. With such clashing objectives, the two leaders didn't exactly hit it off.

When Kennedy thought he was being accommodating, Khrushchev thought he was being weak. He pocketed rhetorical concessions by Kennedy and demanded more. Afterward, Kennedy called it "the roughest thing in my life." Kennedy adviser George Ball later said that Khrushchev had perceived Kennedy as "young and weak," and Kennedy confidant Gen. Maxwell Taylor thought Khrushchev concluded he could "shove this young man around." Vienna was the backdrop for Soviet assertion in the Cold War flash points to come.

Not exactly the type of meeting we want to repeat, Senator Obama. Best you bone up on your history before talking about diplomacy again.

Obama partisans will claim that he will do better than Kennedy. Perhaps. But nothing he says shows that he understands just how risky these unscripted meetings are. What is striking about his statements is that he shows no knowledge of what actually happened at these summits. He just keeps repeating the mantra that "Kennedy met with Khrushchev, and Reagan with Gorbachev," as if that alone settles it.

Further, what exactly does he plan on saying to these dictators that will persuade them to change their policies? He never says. All we hear about from his partisans is the mantra about the "need for talk" and "aggressive personal diplomacy", but never a word about what he will actually say

Apparently we are to simply believe that the magic of Obama will be enough to carry the day, because he is, well, Obama. Details are not necessary.

Lowry then take on Reagan-Gorbachev

Reagan believed in personal diplomacy, but concluded upon taking office that it was pointless to talk to Soviet hard-liner Leonid Brezhnev. In stiffening U.S. defenses and pursuing the Strategic Defense Initiative, his administration sought to convince Moscow, in the words of Secretary of State George Shultz, that restraint "was its most attractive, or only, option," while pressuring the tottering Soviet economic system.

When Mikhail Gorbachev came to power, the administration thought it had the strategic upper hand, and a man it could work with. Reagan met with his counterpart in Geneva and Reykjavik. Keenly aware of his inability to keep pace in a high-tech arms race, Gorbachev wanted any deal contingent on prohibiting SDI. Reagan said "no." Out of his weakness, Gorbachev eventually gave the Reagan administration the kinds of arms cuts it wanted and openings in the Soviet system. The Cold War was about to end.

Note also that Reagan never met with Leonid Brezhnev, Yuri Andropov, or Konstantin Chernenko believe he did not believe it to be worth doing so. So he didn't just rush off and meet with every Soviet leader, as Obama implies.

Lastly, if you need it here he is actually saying he'd meet with Ahmadinejad

And from last year's YouTube debate, he said he'd meet without preconditions.

QUESTION: In 1982, Anwar Sadat traveled to Israel, a trip that resulted in a peace agreement that has lasted ever since.

In the spirit of that type of bold leadership, would you be willing to meet separately, without precondition, during the first year of your administration, in Washington or anywhere else, with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea, in order to bridge the gap that divides our countries?

OBAMA: I would. And the reason is this, that the notion that somehow not talking to countries is punishment to them -- which has been the guiding diplomatic principle of this administration -- is ridiculous.

And here's the video (h/t LGF)

Go and read the whole transcript if you want context. Nothing else he says changes the fact that he said that he'd meet with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea without preconditions. He didn't say anything about "preparations". That's all just recently added spin.

Oh, and it's also on his website

Diplomacy: Obama is the only major candidate who supports tough, direct presidential diplomacy with Iran without preconditions. Now is the time to pressure Iran directly to change their troubling behavior. Obama would offer the Iranian regime a choice. If Iran abandons its nuclear program and support for terrorism, we will offer incentives like membership in the World Trade Organization, economic investments, and a move toward normal diplomatic relations. If Iran continues its troubling behavior, we will step up our economic pressure and political isolation. Seeking this kind of comprehensive settlement with Iran is our best way to make progress.

Again, nothing about "preparations".

Update

From an article last year by Frank Gaffney on why negotiating with Iran is a bad idea

First, such negotiations will legitimate one of the most dangerous regimes on the planet. By acceding to the pressure to accord the mullahocracy in Tehran the status of equal partners and members in good standing of the "community of nations" -- especially against the backdrop of its increasing aggressiveness, we reward that bad behavior. It should come as no surprise that there will be more of it in the future.

Second, embracing Ahmadinejad and his mullahs in this way can only alienate our natural allies: the people of Iran. They have lately been demonstrating a growing willingness to challenge the Islamofascists who have oppressed them for so long. The intensifying economic pressure of recent months -- a product of efforts to divest the stocks of publicly traded companies doing business with Tehran, the declining price of oil and international economic sanctions (such as they are) -- has helped make the Iranian regime even more unpopular at home. Now, it is inevitable that such pressure will be alleviated, as governments and businesses seize on the new diplomatic opening to rush in and prop up Ahmadinejad.

Third, the adoption of the negotiating track effectively forecloses other options for dealing with the danger posed by the Iranian regime. In particular, efforts to bring about its downfall will be precluded. Diplomats predictably will insist that nothing be done -- for example, through covert operations, more far-reaching and effective economic sanctions, military preparations, or political warfare -- that will jeopardize the prospects for successful negotiations.

The cumulative effect of these three repercussions will be to buy more time for the mullahs in Iran. They will use this time not to slacken their efforts to destabilize Iraq and hand the United States an epic defeat there, to suspend (let alone dismantle) their nuclear-weapons programs or to terminate their active and generous support for terrorist organizations like Hezbollah, Hamas, and al Qaeda.

Posted by Tom at 10:30 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 19, 2008

Obama's "Global Test"?

Now Senator Obama wants to hand over our energy and environmental policies to other nations.

"We can't drive our SUVs and eat as much as we want and keep our homes on 72 degrees at all times ... and then just expect that other countries are going to say OK," Obama said.

"That's not leadership. That's not going to happen," he added.

So... it's "leadership" to ask other countries to approve the temperature we set our thermostats at, or what size cars we buy and how often we drive them?

Talk about nanny-state government.

And to think that this is coming from a guy who's party accuses the right of wanting to "impose your values" on everybody.

These liberals want to tell you where to set your thermostat. Don't think it can happen? They proposed just that in California last year. Regulators wanted to mandate installation of a radio-controlled thermostat in everybody's house that they could control. Yes I know it didn't pass, but one thing's for certain, these liberals are nothing if not determined. And it looks like Obama may have bought into their plan as well.

Posted by Tom at 9:36 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

More Obama Follies on Iran

Not only is his idea of dealing with Iran to engage in "aggressive personal diplomacy", but he doesn't even think them to be a threat.

First, the Kennedy-Khruchshev talks were a disaster; for President Kennedy. The Soviet leader sized him up as a weakling and concluded that he could put nuclear missiles in Cuba, an event that almost brought about a war.

Reagan's meetings with Gorbachev are also problematic. The two met four times, and all but one were carefully scripted affairs. The one time they met without a prior agreement was in October of 1986 at Reykjavik, Iceland. This was a risky meeting for both leaders, and was widely viewed as a failure at the time, and is controversial to this day.

So previous presidents just didn't meet willy nilly with "our enemies". Most of their meetings were pre-planned events where they confirmed the results of months of behind-the-scenes negotiations. Further, Ahmadinejad is no Gorbachev or Brezhnev. He's more like Khruchshev, and unpredictable bully who can say just about anything, and for whom it's just about impossible to really prepare.

But the most silly part was when he said that "Iran may spend 1/100th of what we spend on the military," and that "If Iran ever tried to pose a serious threat to us, they wouldn't stand a chance."

And to think that this man might just become president.

Apparently the term "asymmetrical warfare" has never entered Obama's lexicon. Can he truly be unaware that Iran is killing our soldiers in Iraq? That they have sent in Quds Force agents and EFPs and do so to this day?

And outside of Iraq, does he imagine that Iran will only attack us in a traditional manner? Perhaps he's never heard of Operation Praying Mantis, the 1988 event in which the U.S. Navy sank half the Iranian fleet, an embarrassment they are wise enough not to repeat? If they do go after Navy again, it will be with unconventional tactics like the "swarm", which they practiced on three U.S. warships this past January.

And if Iran hits us around the globe, it will be through their terrorist proxies, making tracing difficult and time-consuming.

But suppose they do hit us directly with one or more nuclear weapons. Suppose that they don't hit the U.S., but one of our military installations in the region.

Would Obama respond? Would the liberal peace-at-any-price-nutroots-Movon.org crowd let him?

But don't just take it from me. The invaluable Victor Davis Hanson nails it

Talking with an Iranian theocrat like Mahmoud Ahmadinejad per se might not necessarily constitute appeasement. But continuing such talks without preconditions that made no progress in curbing Iranian nuclear agendas, or support for Hezbollah terrorists and Shiite militias in Iraq would not only be futile, but encourage further Iranian adventurism -- by the assurance that negotiations were infinite and there would be few lines in the sand and little chance of military opposition to follow. In our era, the locus classicus of appeasement is the near decade of negotiations, empty threats, and drawnout diplomacy with Slobodan Milosevic, in which with virtual impunity he butchered thousands of Croats, Kosovars, and Bosnians -- until a belated bombing war forced him to capitulate.

I'd say that's just about right.

Posted by Tom at 9:07 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 16, 2008

Bush in Israel and the Democrat Melt Down

Well well, so Senator Obama and a whole slew of Democrats are all bent out of shape over what President Bush said in Israel. Here's the part of his speech before the Knesset yesterday that has them all in a tizzy:

Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along. We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: "Lord, if I could only have talked to Hitler, all this might have been avoided." We have an obligation to call this what it is -- the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history. (Applause.)

Note, of course, that no Democrat is actually named. If the currently outraged Democrats had been thinking, they would have issued statements that went something like this:

"One thing all Americans agree on is that appeasement doesn't work. As president, I will engage in tough, principled, and direct diplomacy just like Kennedy, Nixon and Reagan before me. And of course, no American president will engage with terrorists, least of all those who seek to destroy our stalwart ally, Israel. I look forward to celebrating the 65th anniversary of Israel's independence."

But nooooo, they had to all go off and through a big hissy fit.

Senator Obama showed why he'll never be qualified to be president:

I'm a strong believer in civility and I'm a strong believer in a bipartisan foreign policy, but that cause is not served with dishonest, divisive attacks of the sort that we've seen out of George Bush and John McCain over the last couple days

and

That's exactly the kind of appalling attack that's divided our country and that alienates us from the world

"Divisive"? This from a senator who's party wants to force "gay marriage" on us through the courts; the most undemocratic branch of government? That is in bed with Movon.org, one of the most "divisive" groups out there? That panders to the nutroots crowd who regularly deride Bush and Cheney in the most vile terms?

Mark Salter nails Obama's M.O.

We have all become familiar with Senator Obama's new brand of politics. First, you demand civility from your opponent, then you attack him, distort his record and send out surrogates to question his integrity. It is called hypocrisy, and it is the oldest kind of politics there is.

Rich Lowry lists Obama's "rules", and what is "off limits"

He can't be called a "liberal" ("the same names and labels they pin on everyone," as Obama puts it); his toughness on the war on terror can't be questioned ("attempts to play on our fears"); his extreme positions on social issues can't be exposed ("the same efforts to distract us from the issues that affect our lives" and "turn us against each other"); and his Chicago background too is off-limits ("pouncing on every gaffe and association and fake controversy").

Should we on the right take Obama up on his stated desire to have an oh-so-clean campaign?

We could take Obama's rules in good faith if he never calls John McCain a "conservative" or labels him in any other way. If he never criticizes him for his association with George Bush. If he doesn't jump on his gaffes (like McCain's 100-years-in-Iraq comment that Obama distorted and harped on for weeks). And if he never says anything that would tend to make Americans fearful about the future or divide them (i.e., say things that some people agree with and others don't).

Oh, and he would have to stop lying about the meaning of Senator McCain's "100 years in Iraq" statement.

Obama's not alone, though, in his whining. Michael Goldfarb, blogging at The Weekly Standard, has usefully compiled a list of reactions. Here's one

(Senator Joe) Biden again did not mince words when discussing Bush's remarks, accusing the president of engaging in "long-distance swiftboating" with his speech in Israel. Biden also cited numerous examples of the Bush Administration reaching out to unfriendly regimes in Libya, North Korea and Iran, arguing that Bush's insinuation that the Democrats were soft on terrorism was "truly delusional ... and truly disgraceful."

The Democrats can sure dish it out but they can't take it.

So What of Appeasement?

The Democrats claim that they're not appeasers of dictators and terrorists. Are they?

Since Senator Obama is the one in the limelight, let's look briefly at his record:

Senator Obama: yesterday "George Bush knows that I have never supported engagement with terrorists..."

Senator Obama November 1, 2007: "I would meet directly with Iranian leaders. I would meet directly with Syrian leaders. "

A quick look at the relevant website for the State Department confirms what we already know

Iran remained the most active state sponsor of terrorism....

Since Syria's 1979 designation as a state sponsor of terrorism, it has continued to provide political support to Palestinian terrorist groups.....

What really is the difference between meeting with Hamas, Hezbollah, and the leaders of those who sponsor them? Neither group could survive were it not for their sponsors.

Want more? Here's Obama at one of the Democrat debates last year:

Asked if he would be willing to meet separately "without precondition" during the first year of his administration with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba, and North Korea, Obama said, "I would."

Here he is again:

"The notion that somehow not talking to countries is punishment to them...is ridiculous," Sen. Obama said in a debate last year. "One of the first things that I would do in terms of moving a diplomatic effort in the region forward is to send a signal that we need to talk to Iran and Syria."

What's ridiculous is the notion that such a meeting will not be trumpeted as a victory by the Jihadists. What Obama does not seem to realize is that the United States is not just an average run-of-the-mill nation. The President, Democrat or Republican, is not called "the leader of the free world" for nothing. Simply meeting with the President will be interpreted as lending legitimacy to regimes that are illegitimate and worried about it. Dictators, by their very nature, have no real legitimacy. The pseudo-elections in Iran and Venezuela (they probably have them in Syria, Cuba, and North Korea too) change this not at all.

So even if nothing is decided at these "talks", they will be portrayed as a victory by the other side. We can say all we want that no, they're not a victory for Iran/Syria/Cuba/North Korea/Venezuela, but it won't matter. The propaganda organs of our opponents will be out in full force, and in one of Bush's biggest failings he hasn't beefed up ours, so there won't be much of a response.

Not Just Obama

It's not just Sen. Obama who is an appeaser. Kathryn Jean Lopez has helpfully compiled a list of other Democrats the President could have been talking about, such as

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, freelance diplomat, who in December 2007 said: "the road to Damascus is a road to peace."

Or, perhaps he meant Speaker Pelosi in April 2007: "I believe in dialogue. As my colleagues have said over and over again, unless you communicate, you cannot understand each other. You cannot reach agreement."

Or maybe he meant recent Obama endorser and former North Carolina senator John Edwards, who, according to his own press release in February of last year, believes "the U.S. should step up our diplomatic efforts by engaging in direct talks with all the nations in the region, including Iran and Syria."
...

Or former Democratic presidential candidates and senators Chris Dodd and John Kerry, who met with Syria's al-Assad and said: "As senior Democrats on the Foreign Relations Committee, we felt it was important to make clear that while we believe in resuming dialogue, our message is no different: Syria can and should play a more constructive role in the region ...


Liberals typically bring up the fact that U.S. presidents from Roosevelt to Reagan met with Soviet leaders. This is true, but misleading. These were meetings well scripted out in advance, with little being left to chance. Reykjavik in 1986 was the exception, not the rule.

Further, Obama seems blissfully unaware that unscripted high-level meetings are highly risky. As often as not they backfire. Reykjavik backfired on Gorbachev. Khrushchev sized up Kennedy as a "weakling" in their initial meeting, prompting the former to believe he could get away with sneaking nuclear-armed missiles into Cuba. It's widely thought that Stalin snookered Roosevelt at Yalta. If nothing else, Obama should read Khrushchev's rants at Eisenhower or Nixon during some of their meetings. That alone would give him second thoughts.

So should we not "talk" with these regimes? I hate to sound Clintonian, but it depends on what you mean by "talk". A meeting with an Iranian representative in the back room of the Canadian embassy in Madrid? No problem. President-to-President talks surrounded by thousands of reporters? Hold your horses.

Lastly, in fairness I will say that President Bush's tough talk hasn't extended to the Saudis, who's export of Wahhabism is designed to destroy the West. Also, our dopey Secretary of State has been "pressuring Israel to meet with Hamas representatives". Side

On the upside, Senator John McCain tells it like it is

If Senator Obama wants to sit down across the table with the leader of a nation that calls Israel a stinking corpse--what is it that he wants to talk about with him?

Nothing.

Meaningful negotiations could take place if they stop sponsoring terrorist organizations...those are the preconditions for sitting down with the Iranians.

Exactly right.

Update

This is the guy who wants to negotiate with the dictators of Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, and Cuba (h/t Dagney's Rant)


I'm sure they'll all take him very seriously after he destroys our ability to respond to anything militarily.

What we need to do is spend more money on weapons, not less.


Posted by Tom at 8:00 PM | Comments (8) | TrackBack

April 23, 2008

Hurray for Hillary

Yes, I actually wrote "Hurray for Hillary" as the title to this piece. What's more, I meant it.

It's hard to believe that it's come to this, but I am actually rooting for Hillary Clinton to win the Democratic primary. And it's not because I think she's the easier candidate to beat. At one time I thought she'd be the easier one to beat, but now I'm not so sure.

No, the reason I say "Hurray for Hillary" is that if a Democrat does get elected in November, I want it to be her. Or more precisely, I really don't want it to be Barack Obama. As such, I'm happy that she won big in Pennsylvania yesterday.

My opinion on Obama has changed considerably over the past several months.

On August 14th of last year, after he said something I disagreed with I wrote that

I almost hate writing these posts about Obama because I do like the guy. He's the only one of the Democrat candicates that I can imagine having a beer with and discussing politics. Hillary is the ice queen, Edwards is a phony, Dodd is too old, and Kucinich is too nutty. Obama seems like a genuinely nice guy, and sincere in what he says.

On January 8 of this year, after the "Hawkeye Caukeye", I wrote that

Obama is an awfully nice guy, and comes across as genuine, as I think he is. He's the only one of the Democrats that I can imagine having a real conversation with. Too bad he's completely wrong on all of the issues.

All that seems like ancient history now.

I'm sure you've already seen them, but if not here are the results from yesterday's primary in Pennsylvania

Candidate____total votes___%____Delegates

Sen Clinton __1,260,208 ___ 55% ___ 81

Sen Obama _ 1,045,444 ___ 45% ___ 69


If you calculate it out, Clinton really got about 54.6% and Obama 45.4%, so technically she didn't quite win by double digits. But everyone rounds these things, and so she can claim a double digit victory, and in a way perceptions count.

However, she still trails in committed delegates 1331 to Obama's 1487, with 2025 needed to win. Although she looks close, in reality their proportional system of awarding delegates means it'll be almost impossible for her to win in a straight-out manner.

As such, what she's no doubt hoping for is to convince the superdelegates that Obama can't win the general, and as such to support her. Given recent events, this is not an implausible scenario. Unlikely, but not implausible. For the superdelegates to give her the nomination would create civil war in the party. A delicious thought for Republicans, but Chairman Howard Dean will move heaven and earth to keep that from happening.

How Did We Get To This Point?

Barack Obama came out of nowhere. One day he's a state senator in Illinois, and the next he's running for U.S. Senate. When his Republican opponent, Jack Ryan, dropped out, leaving the gadfly Alan Keys to run in his place, most of us tuned out. I remember hearing that this Obama fellow gave a good speech but I didn't give him much thought. The next thing, though, I hear he's running for President. "Awfully presumptuous", I think, given his inexperience, but whatever. Lo and behold, the guy takes off like a bat out of hades. He beats Hillary Clinton time and again in the primaries.

But we hardly knew anything about him. As I wrote above, he seemed like a nice guy, if wrong on the issues.

Then the wheels started to come loose; his bizarre pastor Jeremiah Wright, associations with the terrorist William Ayers, we find out he attended at the Million Man March, various utterances of his wife, and finally his own remarks about "bitter" Americans "clinging to their God and guns"

But Obama cannot close the deal with Democrat voters.

The thing is, there's hardly a dime's worth of differences between Obama and Clinton. The issues are that 1) each side had built-up a base of hard-core supporters before the primary even began, and these supporters are not willing to give up. 2) There are grave doubts about Obama based on his past associations and statements. He is charismatically shallow and people are beginning to see this.

The problem with Obama is both that his associations are so questionable and that he thinks it beneath himself to have to defend against these charges. At the last debate, he reacted to questions from George Stephanopoulos and Charlie Gibson with an attitude of "how dare you ask me these questions". You wouldn't know it given the whining from the left, but Stephanopoulos and Gibson are hardly right-wingers. And at least with Stephanopoulos, his questions to Obama on William Ayers were so gentle as to be almost softballs. Yet the left has gone into fits of rage over even this. It's one thing to say that you will be above gutter politics, another to be so arrogant and elitist to think that you don't have to answer questions about your past associations.

If you're against Obama you're against "hope" and "change".

Obama and his defenders claim that Clinton is simply engaged in "negative politics". In other words, they don't like any criticism of their candidate. Obama supporters can dish it out but can't take it. We all know that if McCain had sat in a church for 20 years listening to a racial hate-monger, or had known an abortion-clinic bomber, he'd be booted out of the Senate, let alone the presidential race.

Obama thinks that he can simply slough off talk about his associations and comments and only discuss the issues he wants to discuss. But to voters, and not just Republican ones, character matters. People don't like what they see in Obama. They're increasingly uncomfortable with him. There's a sneaking suspicion that "he's not who we thought he was". Worse, if you're a Democrat, you can hardly switch to Hillary if character is your main issue. They're caught in a bind.

Obama says that he doesn't take money from "lobbyists". But that's almost false advertising. It's been illegal for 100 years to take money directly from oil companies. Also, his definition of "lobbyist" is pretty narrow. Will he take money and support from civil rights and environmental groups? Why don't they count as "lobbyists"? The ACLU and GreenPeace don't represent anyone but their own members.

In the wake of all this new criticism, he's off his game. His concession speech last night sounded bitter to some. He flubs answers in press conferences and debates. It seems that he's only comfortable when he's on top, but can't handle stress or dissension. He only looks good in staged appearances where he's got a teleprompter and thousands of adoring fans.

If he's flustered so easily by a campaign, how can he possibly handle the the everyday events that come with the presidency, let alone a world crisis?

He also abandoned his "new style" politics. He lies about McCain's "100 years in Iraq". He said to The Washington Post today that he was going to bring up the old Clinton Scandals. The magic, it seems, is gone.

Obama doesn't realize that the problem is with Hillary Clinton, or with bitter middle Americans clinging to their Bibles and guns. The problem is that people are not comfortable with him. There are questions about his associations and positions, and worse he doesn't appear to want to address them.

As for McCain, he's following the old aphorism of "when your opponents are in the process of destroying themselves, get out of the way". I say, let them continue to destroy themselves.

Posted by Tom at 8:11 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

April 14, 2008

Obama and Clinton at the Compassion Forum

Yesterday evening presidential candidates and Senators Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton participated in a "Compassion Forum" at Messiah College in Grantham Pennsylania. Messiah College is a private Christian institution. CNN broadcast the event. Here's what amounts to a mission statement from the website

Now more than ever, Americans motivated by faith are bridging ideological divides to address domestic and international poverty, global AIDS, climate change, genocide in Darfur, and human rights and torture. The Compassion Forum will provide the opportunity for candidates to discuss how their faith and moral convictions bear on their positions on these important issues.

The Compassion Forum will be a unique and unprecedented event. Each candidate will participate in a separate substantive conversation. This will not be a debate. Questions will be posed by co-moderators Jon Meacham, editor of "Newsweek," and Campbell Brown, anchor of CNN's Election Center.

This is not the first time the Democrats have openly discussed religion in such a forum. Last June, Obama, Clinton, and Edwards participated in a "Presidential Forum on Faith, Values and Poverty" that was sponsored by the Sojourners, a very liberal Christian group. I thought that Clinton and Obama did well in that one, but didn't much care for what Edwards had to say.

Let's see how the Democrat candidates did this time.

But first, let's state the obvious:

If Republicans did this the left would scream that they were "pushing their religion" on the country, and that if elected they would declare a theocracy and (somehow) force everyone to be a Christian. Yet in this presidential season the Democrats have participated in not one but two faith-based forums, and I haven't heard boo about it. If you think that these forums are an aberration and that it is only the right that "mixes politics with religion", just do some basic research on churches and associations like the Sojourners, the World Council of Churches, National Council of Churches, Presbyterian Church USA, Episcopalian Church USA, The Unitarian Universalist Association, Christian Peacemaker Teams.... and there are many more.

As I said in my post on the Democrats first forum, I was glad to see that they are not afraid of talking about faith. This is good. What we now have to do is get people to recognize that yes Republicans can and should talk about it too, and no, doing so does not portend the coming of a theocracy.

Both the religious left and religions right think that faith should play a role in public life, and that it should influence what you think about matters of public policy, and thus how you vote. The left is primarily concerned with what they call "social justice", and the right social conservatism (I can't think of an equivalent term so if you have an honest suggestion please leave it in the comments). This is how it should be.

Ok now that I've said that let's move on to the forum. CNN has helpfully posted a transcript.

Read the whole thing, but the parts about abortion are the parts I found the most interesting

MEACHAM: Senator, do you believe personally that life begins at conception?

CLINTON: I believe that the potential for life begins at conception. I am a Methodist, as you know. My church has struggled with this issue. In fact, you can look at the Methodist Book of Discipline and see the contradiction and the challenge of trying to sort that very profound question out.

But for me, it is also not only about a potential life; it is about the other lives involved. And, therefore, I have concluded, after great, you know, concern and searching my own mind and heart over many years, that our task should be in this pluralistic, diverse life of ours in this nation that individuals must be entrusted to make this profound decision, because the alternative would be such an intrusion of government authority that it would be very difficult to sustain in our kind of open society.

And as some of you've heard me discuss before, I think abortion should remain legal, but it needs to be safe and rare.

And I have spent many years now, as a private citizen, as first lady, and now as senator, trying to make it rare, trying to create the conditions where women had other choices.

I have supported adoption, foster care. I helped to create the campaign against teenage pregnancy, which fulfilled our original goal 10 years ago of reducing teenage pregnancies by about a third.

And I am committed to doing that. And I guess I would just add from my own personal experience, I have been in countries that have taken very different views about this profoundly challenging question.

Some of you know, I went to China in 1995 and spoke out against the Chinese government's one child policy, which led to forced abortions and forced sterilization because I believed that we needed to bear witness against what was an intrusive, abusive, dehumanizing effort to dictate how women and men would proceed with respect to the children they wished to have....

On to the other senator

REV. SAMUEL RODRIGUEZ, PRESIDENT, NATIONAL HISPANIC LEADERSHIP CONFERENCE: Senator Obama, the vast majority of Americans believe that abortion is a decision to be made by a woman, her family and her doctors. However, the vast majority of Americans similarly believe that abortion is the taking of a human life.

The terms pro-choice and pro-life, do they encapsulate that reality in our 21st Century setting and can we find common ground?

OBAMA: I absolutely think we can find common ground. And it requires a couple of things. Number one, it requires us to acknowledge that there is a moral dimension to abortion, which I think that all too often those of us who are pro-choice have not talked about or tried to tamp down. I think that's a mistake because I think all of us understand that it is a wrenching choice for anybody to think about.

The second thing, once we acknowledge that, is to recognize that people of good will can exist on both sides. That nobody wishes to be placed in a circumstance where they are even confronted with the choice of abortion. How we determine what's right at that moment, I think, people of good will can differ.

And if we can acknowledge that much, then we can certainly agree on the fact that we should be doing everything we can to avoid unwanted pregnancies that might even lead somebody to consider having an abortion.

And we've actually made progress over the last several years in reducing teen pregnancies, for example. And what I have consistently talked about is to take a comprehensive approach where we focus on abstinence, where we are teaching the sacredness of sexuality to our children.

But we also recognize the importance of good medical care for women, that we're also recognizing the importance of age-appropriate education to reduce risks. I do believe that contraception has to be part of that education process.

And if we do those things, then I think that we can reduce abortions and I think we should make sure that adoption is an option for people out there....

MEACHAM: Senator, do you personally believe that life begins at conception? And if not, when does it begin?

OBAMA: This is something that I have not, I think, come to a firm resolution on. I think it's very hard to know what that means, when life begins. Is it when a cell separates? Is it when the soul stirs? So I don't presume to know the answer to that question. What I know, as I've said before, is that there is something extraordinarily powerful about potential life and that that has a moral weight to it that we take into consideration when we're having these debates.

Oh please.

Both of these Democrats talk in circles and split hairs. Obama's fine words can't hide his radical left voting record on the issue. Clinton is no better. Both claim to want to reduce the incidence of abortion but their records say just the opposite. To them it's all a matter of providing enough condoms and "eduction" and maybe the pesky right-wingers will go away. Their real audience is the abortionist crowd who doesn't want the slightest restriction on their activities. Judging from this forum, they got what they wanted.

Tuesday Update

Some commentary I was reading today over at The Weekly Standard brought up this exchange

MEACHAM: Senator, we've heard about HIV/AIDS. Many people here are concerned about Darfur and a number of other humanitarian issues. Why do you think it is that a loving God allows innocent people to suffer?

CLINTON: Well...

(LAUGHTER)

MEACHAM: And we just have 30 seconds.

CLINTON: Yes. You know, that is the subject of generations of commentary and debate. And I don't know. I can't wait to ask him. Because I have...

(LAUGHTER)

CLINTON: I have just pondered it endless endlessly.

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: But I do want to just add that what that means to me is that in the face of suffering, there is no doubt in my mind that God calls us to respond. You know, that's part of what we are expected to do.

For whatever reason it exists, it's very existence is a call to action. Certainly in, you know, our...

There's no need to "ponder" the matter, Senator Clinton. The Bible is very clear on the subject, and it says that there are three reasons why God allows suffering:

1) The original sin of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden as told in Genesis 3

2) Heavenly events about which we know nothing about, as told in Job 1-2

3) Punishment for sin, much of the OT, but the book of Lamentations spells it out best

The catch is that we humans can never know which of the three applies to any given situation. Only a prophet can tell us such things, and there are no living prophets.


Posted by Tom at 9:00 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

March 22, 2008

"The Speech: A Brilliant Fraud"

Of all the editorials I've seen on Senator Barack Obama's recent speech, Charles Krauthammer's is the best. Writing on The Washington Post on Thursday:

The beauty of a speech is that you don't just give the answers, you provide your own questions. "Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in church? Yes." So said Barack Obama, in his Philadelphia speech about his pastor, friend, mentor and spiritual adviser of 20 years, Jeremiah Wright.

An interesting, if belated, admission. But the more important question is: which"controversial" remarks?

Wright's assertion from the pulpit that the U.S. government invented HIV "as a means of genocide against people of color"? Wright's claim that America was morally responsible for Sept. 11 -- "chickens coming home to roost" -- because of, among other crimes, Hiroshima and Nagasaki? (Obama says he missed church that day. Had he never heard about it?) What about the charge that the U.S. government (of Franklin Roosevelt, mind you) knew about Pearl Harbor, but lied about it? Or that the government gives drugs to black people, presumably to enslave and imprison them?

Obama condemns such statements as wrong and divisive, then frames the next question: "There will no doubt be those for whom my statements of condemnation are not enough. Why associate myself with Reverend Wright in the first place, they may ask? Why not join another church?"

But that is not the question. The question is why didn't he leave that church? Why didn't he leave -- why doesn't he leave even today -- a pastor who thundered not once but three times from the pulpit (on a DVD the church proudly sells) "God damn America"? Obama's 5,000-word speech, fawned over as a great meditation on race, is little more than an elegantly crafted, brilliantly sophistic justification of that scandalous dereliction.

His defense rests on two central propositions: (a) moral equivalence and (b) white guilt.

(a) Moral equivalence. Sure, says Obama, there's Wright, but at the other "end of the spectrum" there's Geraldine Ferraro, opponents of affirmative action and his own white grandmother, "who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe." But did she shout them in a crowded theater to incite, enrage and poison others?

"I can no more disown [Wright] than I can my white grandmother." What exactly was Grandma's offense? Jesse Jackson himself once admitted to the fear he feels from the footsteps of black men on the street. And Harry Truman was known to use epithets for blacks and Jews in private, yet is revered for desegregating the armed forces and recognizing the first Jewish state since Jesus's time. He never spread racial hatred. Nor did Grandma.

Yet Obama compares her to Wright. Does he not see the moral difference between the occasional private expression of the prejudices of one's time and the use of a public stage to spread racial lies and race hatred?

(b) White guilt. Obama's purpose in the speech was to put Wright's outrages in context. By context, Obama means history. And by history, he means the history of white racism. Obama says, "We do not need to recite here the history of racial injustice in this country," and then he proceeds to do precisely that. What lies at the end of his recital of the long train of white racial assaults from slavery to employment discrimination? Jeremiah Wright, of course.

This contextual analysis of Wright's venom, this extenuation of black hate speech as a product of white racism, is not new. It's the Jesse Jackson politics of racial grievance, expressed in Ivy League diction and Harvard Law nuance. That's why the speech made so many liberal commentators swoon: It bathed them in racial guilt while flattering their intellectual pretensions. An unbeatable combination.

But Obama was supposed to be new. He flatters himself as a man of the future transcending the anger of the past as represented by his beloved pastor. Obama then waxes rhapsodic about the hope brought by the new consciousness of the young people in his campaign. Then answer this, Senator: If Wright is a man of the past, why would you expose your children to his vitriolic divisiveness? This is a man who curses America and who proclaimed moral satisfaction in the deaths of 3,000 innocents at a time when their bodies were still being sought at Ground Zero. It is not just the older congregants who stand and cheer and roar in wild approval of Wright's rants, but young people as well. Why did you give $22,500 just two years ago to a church run by a man of the past who infects the younger generation with precisely the racial attitudes and animus you say you have come unto us to transcend?

Exactly right.

Posted by Tom at 9:08 AM | Comments (9) | TrackBack

March 18, 2008

Obama's Big Speech

So Senator Obama gave a speech today in an attempt to do some damage control. The Senator, you see, has a "pastor problem", and the situation is threatening to get out of hand.

A few months ago I could not have imagined this would have happened. I figured that he might get tripped up saying something stupid about foreign policy, or that Sen McCain would best him in a debate. At most there will be a few controversial people on his staff, and there would be the usual story of the week but that would be that. I did not imagine that it would be revealed that for 20 years he sat in the pews of a church listening to a pastor saying the types of things that we have heard his pastor say.

I used to like Barack Obama, and have said so several times on this blog. He seemed like a decent enough fellow, sincere if wrong. But with this incident I now see him in a different light, and it's not a good one.

I think at this point we've all seen or heard the good Rev. Jeremiah Wright, recently retired as pastor of Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago, in action. If not, you can start here and here.

Some months ago Mitt Romney gave a speech in which he addressed the issue of religion. Some will try and draw a comparison between Romney's speech and Obama's, but it's a false one. Romney's issue was akin to that of then-Senator John F Kennedy; there were and are people out there who didn't like him simply because he chose a religion different than there own. There was some "aren't Mormon's kind of weird?" stuff out there and he had to show otherwise.

But this was different. What Rev Wright said was downright hateful. The man spewed forth one nutty conspiracy theory after another. He went on and on and on. And the crowd loved it.

In his speech today Senator Obama somehow needed to convince us that 1) What Rev Wright said was a one-time thing, and/or that 2) he managed to attend this church for 20 years without knowing about Wright's true beliefs. Did he succeed?

I'm not going to go through his entire speech, but there are a few key parts that caught my attention.

First, though, what is notable is that Obama spent most of the speech not discussing the subject at hand; his relationship with Rev. Jeremiah Wright. He goes on and on about the subject of race, slavery, the founders, poverty, economic opportunity or the lack thereof, the immigrant experience, and of course, "change". All in all, he spends very little time discussing Wright. I think what he tried to do is hide the issue of Wright in the midst of all a lot of rhetoric and hope that we forget about him.

As such, most of the speech was simply irrelevant. Apparently we're all supposed to be so impressed with his soaring rhetoric that we just won't worry about who he's been listening to for 20 years.

Cutting out all of the fluff here are some of the critical parts

...we've heard my former pastor, Rev. Jeremiah Wright, use incendiary language to express views that have the potential not only to widen the racial divide, but views that denigrate both the greatness and the goodness of our nation -- that rightly offend white and black alike.

I have already condemned, in unequivocal terms, the statements of Rev. Wright that have caused such controversy. For some, nagging questions remain.

Did I know him to be an occasionally fierce critic of American domestic and foreign policy? Of course. Did I ever hear him make remarks that could be considered controversial while I sat in church? Yes. Did I strongly disagree with many of his political views? Absolutely -- just as I'm sure many of you have heard remarks from your pastors, priests or rabbis with which you strongly disagreed.

But the remarks that have caused this recent firestorm weren't simply controversial. They weren't simply a religious leader's effort to speak out against perceived injustice.

Instead, they expressed a profoundly distorted view of this country -- a view that sees white racism as endemic, and that elevates what is wrong with America above all that we know is right with America, a view that sees the conflicts in the Middle East as rooted primarily in the actions of stalwart allies like Israel, instead of emanating from the perverse and hateful ideologies of radical Islam.

He says he's condemned the views of Rev Wright. Ok, I accept that. I'll take him at his word here. And he's certainly right that the Rev Wright's views are "profoundly distorted".

The attempt at equivalence, though, "just as I'm sure many of you have heard remarks from your pastors, priests or rabbis with which you strongly disagreed." is absurd. We're not talking about how to fund social security, or your views on abortion, Senator Obama.

As such, Rev. Wright's comments were not only wrong but divisive...

Ah "divisiveness". I've noticed that this is a favorite of liberals, to claim that people who disagree with them are "divisive". And in this sentence Obama seems to be saying that being "divisive" is worse than being wrong.

Why associate myself with Rev. Wright in the first place, they may ask? Why not join another church?

Finally, the real question gets asked. Let's see what he has to say.

And I confess that if all that I knew of Rev. Wright were the snippets of those sermons that have run in an endless loop on the television and YouTube, or if Trinity United Church of Christ conformed to the caricatures being peddled by some commentators, there is no doubt that I would react in much the same way

That's where he lost me. I don't buy the notion that he sat in those pews for 20 years and never heard Wright say the things he has said in the videos in question.

And of course the videos are played a lot, Senator. If the left had equivalent video or audio about a Republican running for president, don't you think they'd play it over and over too?

Next we have the "but Mussolini makes the trains run on time" justification.

But the truth is, that isn't all that I know of the man. The man I met more than 20 years ago is a man who helped introduce me to my Christian faith, a man who spoke to me about our obligations to love one another; to care for the sick and lift up the poor.

He is a man who served his country as a U.S. Marine, who has studied and lectured at some of the finest universities and seminaries in the country, and who for over thirty years led a church that serves the community by doing God's work here on Earth -- by housing the homeless, ministering to the needy, providing day care services and scholarships and prison ministries, and reaching out to those suffering from HIV/AIDS.

It is invalid to justify what Wright said because he did good elsewhere. It doesn't work that way.

Like other black churches, Trinity's services are full of raucous laughter and sometimes bawdy humor. They are full of dancing, clapping, screaming and shouting that may seem jarring to the untrained ear.

Uh, that wasn't the issue, Obama. I think we all know that religious worship in most black churches is different than that in most white churches. We all accept cultural differences. But once again Obama is trying to hide. The issue is that the audience was cheering Wright on as he said awful things. What he said was no surprise to them, because they've heard it before.

I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community. I can no more disown him than I can my white grandmother -- a woman who helped raise me, a woman who sacrificed again and again for me, a woman who loves me as much as she loves anything in this world, but a woman who once confessed her fear of black men who passed by her on the street, and who on more than one occasion has uttered racial or ethnic stereotypes that made me cringe.

If he had disowned Wright he could have gotten at least a partial approval from me and others. But despite all of his soaring rhetoric, in the end he couldn't do it. And why not?

Shelby Steele, writing in the Wall Street Journal, has the best take, I think, on Obama and the issue of race. Be sure to read the whole thing, but here's a snippet

The fact is that Barack Obama has fellow-traveled with a hate-filled, anti-American black nationalism all his adult life, failing to stand and challenge an ideology that would have no place for his own mother. And what portent of presidential judgment is it to have exposed his two daughters for their entire lives to what is, at the very least, a subtext of anti-white vitriol?

What could he have been thinking? Of course he wasn't thinking. He was driven by insecurity, by a need to "be black" despite his biracial background. And so fellow-traveling with a little race hatred seemed a small price to pay for a more secure racial identity. And anyway, wasn't this hatred more rhetorical than real?

But now the floodlight of a presidential campaign has trained on this usually hidden corner of contemporary black life: a mindless indulgence in a rhetorical anti-Americanism as a way of bonding and of asserting one's blackness. Yet Jeremiah Wright, splashed across America's television screens, has shown us that there is no real difference between rhetorical hatred and real hatred.

The invaluable Victor Davis Hanson, writing at National Review, also, echoing my theme at top that Obama spent most of his time not talking about the issue at hand.

Obama chose not to review what Wright, now deemed the "occasionally fierce critic." said in detail, condemn it unequivocally, apologize, and then resign from such a Sunday venue of intolerance -- the now accustomed American remedy to racism in the public realm that we saw in the Imus and other recent controversies.

Instead, to Obama, the postmodernist, context is everything. We all have eccentric and flamboyant pastors like Wright with whom we disagree. And words, in his case, don't quite mean what we think; unspoken intent and angst, not voiced hatred, are what matters more.

Rather than account for his relationship with a hate-monger, Obama will enlighten you, as your teacher, why you are either confused or too ill-intended to ask him to disassociate himself from Wright.



Here's the bottom line

We are not talking about a few offhand comments that Rev Wright made during a sermon. Nor are we talking about a simple lament over the plight of black people in the United States. This man has gone off on a long-winded rants in which he espoused one crackpot left and right-wing conspiracy after another.

There is no way that for 20 years he preached the love of Jesus and then one fine day changed his tune and decided to talk about other matters.

Let's also be clear that we're not talking about a minister somewhere who happened to endorse Sen. Obama. We're not even talking about someone who's endorsement Obama went after, or about someone he had recently hired for his staff. All of this is forgivable. If Obama had recently hired Wright without vetting him, that may open him up to the charge of incompetence, but that's about it. You can't be held responsible for what all of your advisors and supporters say.

But the facts as I understand them are that Barack Obama went to this church for 20 years. Wright married him and Michelle. He baptized their children. Obama's book, The Audacity of Hope, is taken from a Wright sermon. Wright is (or was, I'm not sure if he's resigned or not) Sen Obama's spiritual advisor for the campaign.

There is no way he was unaware all these years of Rev. Wright's views.

Therefore, most of his speech today was simply irrelevant. At this point I'm not interested in hearing from him about the history of race relations in this country or what he thinks we need to do to make them better. And no we can't simply "move on". I am interested in hearing how he went to a church for 20 years and did not know the views of the pastor.

He did not answer that question today, nor did he even seriously try. The reason he didn't is that he can't. He knew.

Let's also get this out of the way; two wrongs don't make a right. This affair is not what some white minister said somewhere, so let's not try and use that as an excuse. Obama has held himself up as a new type of politician. He's the one who put himself on the pedistal.

We'll end with Juan Williams lowering the boom on Obama.



Posted by Tom at 10:00 PM | Comments (4) | TrackBack

February 6, 2008

Super Tuesday

The results are in, and while it's all pretty much over on the GOP side, the Democrats are in a dead heat.

The Republicans

1,191 delegates are needed to win. Here is what each candidate has so far

680 McCain
270 Romney
176 Huckabee

Even though McCain barely has half the delegates he needs to win, he has all the momentum and unless a miracle occurs will win the nomination.

By all rights McCain should not by the Republican candidate. That he did speaks volumes about the weakness of the Republican field. There was simply not a single viable conservative with broad national appeal in the bunch.

Once Thompson dropped out, conservatives spent a lot of time pushing Mitt Romney. It should be clear by now that he can't win in November. That he lost the south on Super Tuesday proves it. Whether this was due to the presence of Huckabee, anti-Mormonism, or lack of "authenticity" on his part is irrelevant. Romney simply couldn't connect with voters. He came across as a programmed ken doll who would say whatever it took to get elected.

By the same token, however, McCain didn't win the south either. The big states that he won (CA, NY, IL, NY & NJ) were those that will go Democrat anyway. He could pick Huckabee as his veep to try and shore up his support in the south, but Huckabee would be the wrong guy to pick. He needs a solid conservative, one without Huckabee's baggage (preacher, one-liners, "too christian").

The problem conservatives have with McCain isn't so much his overall record, which is more conservative than many are now giving him credit for. He has an 82% lifetime rating from the American Conservative Union, which has to count for something. It's more his attitude towards us than anything else. He enjoys being a "maverick"; i.e. unpredictable. He seems to enjoy sticking it to us, and abandoning us on hot-button issues like immigration. It's not that he "reaches out to the other side", it's that he does so gleefully and as if he likes working with Ted Kennedy more than his fellow Republicans. He glows in the media spotlight, which fawns over him.

Further, the hard truth is that McCain's appeal is mostly based on a cult of personality. His persona is the war hero, the guy who endured 5 1/2 years in the Hanoi Hilton. He has exploited this more than any other politician I can think of, and that even includes John Kerry. While George McGovern and Bob Dole famously refused to use their war records in their presidential campaigns, John McCain uses his relentlessly. Yet is is far from clear that military service makes for a better president, even a wartime one. Our two best wartime presidents, Lincoln and FDR, never served.

McCain now has an obligation to reach out to conservatives, and to make a herculean effort to unify the party. When I got home tonight I listened to a robocall on my answering maching from Senator McCain. He spoke about "securing the border first" and appointing Supreme Court justices "like John Roberts and Samuel Alito", as well as the "right to life". These are all important issues for conservatives, and I for one appreciate this first step he took to getting us on board.

The question now is whether conservatives will come together and support McCain if he wins the nomination. If we do, then we stand a chance, at least against Clinton. If not, we're doomed. Conservatives can either pout, sit at home, and put a Democrat in the
White House, or they can grow up and accept that even though McCain leaves a lot to be desired he's much better than any Democrat.

If conservatives want to hold out until the next round of primaries, hoping against hope that Romney (or even Huckabee) can stage an upset that's fine. But the time is fast approaching when it'll all be over.

The Democrats

2,035 delegates are needed to win. Here is what each candidate has so far

818 Clinton
730 Obama

Unlike the situation in the GOP, this race is far from settled.

My heart says that I want the Democrats to keep fighting it out as long as possible. I'de love a brokered convention in which nasty barbs were traded. I'd love to see liberals spend all their money on the primaries.

My head, however, tells me that the infighting among the Democrats is something of an illusion. The Democrats had a huge turnout in their primaries. The Republicans had low turnout. This speaks volumes about how the Democrats are excited about their candidates while the Republicans are not thrilled about any of theirs.

Despite the sniping between Obama and Clinton, the reality is that ideologically there's not a dimes worth of difference between them. Their differences are simply the result of identity politics. In all likelihood they'll unit once they choose their candidate.

On the other hand, there were and are bigger ideological differences between the GOP candidates. There also seems to be more animosity between the various camps. This means that conservatives will have a hard time accepting McCain, whereas ideologically liberals can accept Obama or Clinton.

Conclusion

This race is the Democrats to lose. They can, however be beaten. Despite the undeniable excitement among Democrat voters, both Obama and Clinton have serious libabilities that, if properly exploited, could prove fatal.

But this will only occur if the Republican party units. Conservatives can pout for a time, but sooner or later will have to decide if putting Obama or Clinton in the White House is worth sitting this election out. I think such a decision to be absolutely nuts, and will explore why in future posts. For now we are still in the primary season.

Posted by Tom at 7:00 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack

January 29, 2008

The Florida Primary

At 10:30 PM EST, both CNN and Fox are reporting that McCain and Clinton have won Florida

The Republicans

36% McCain
31% Romney
15% Guiliani
13% Huckabee
3% Paul

What I'd say to each of them:

John McCain: Congratulations on your victory. Half of me loves you, and half irritates me. When it comes to Iraq and foreign policy you stand tall. When it comes to many domestic issues I cringe. You alienate conservatives so much I suspect that if you win the nomination half the time I'll cheering you and half the time cursing you. Ditto if you win the White House. You also seem to have a temper, which you better learn to keep under control, especially if you win the nomination and go up against Barack Obama. You'll come off as old and cranky against a guy who's new and fresh.

Mitt Romney: You are the one I'll vote for if you survive long enough for the Virginia primary on Feb 12. You are right on all the issues, and I believe your reasons for changing what you did are sincere. You are the most knowledgeable of all the GOP leaders, and can hit the "competence" ball out of the park. You're well spoken without any personal blemishes. Yet you seem to have trouble connecting with voters. Rich Lowry wrote about this in the January 28 print edition of National Review (digital subscription required). You just need to warm up to people personally instead of immediately leaping into the technicalities. The good news is that this is easily curable, the bad news is that it might be too late. I certainly hope you can pull it off on Super Tuesday.

Rudy Giuliani: You've got a lot of strengths and in many ways would make a fine president. That you cleaned up New York City alone puts you head and shoulders above most politicians, never mind your leadership on and after 9-11. However, you needed to make a strong showing in Florida, and you didn't. It's looking like your strategy of waiting for the late primaries didn't work.

Mike Huckabee: Hopefully you've figured out by now that being the "Christian candidate" isn't enough to get you the nomination. Heck, many evangelicals, myself included, aren't comfortable with you.

Ron Paul: You're in this for the same reason that Dennis Kucinich is; because you believe so strongly in your cause that you just want to make a point. I can respect that. Your supporters, though, are an embarrassment.

The Democrats

50% Clinton
33% Obama
15% Edwards

What I'd say to each of them:

Hillary Clinton: So you won. Was it worth it? You and your husband have disgraced yourselves once again. Democrats are just now figuring out that you'll do and say anything to win, something we on the right have known for 15 years.

Barack Obama: You're an awfully nice guy, sincere, and decent man. Too bad you have to go up against the Clinton machine. They're trying to drag you down into the mud with them. Don't take the bait. You're only 47, so if you lose this time you can run again in 4, 8, or even 16 years.

John Edwards: Sorry, but I think you're a phony and the worst of the bunch. Your advocacy of using Memorial Day as an opportunity to spread your "end the war" gospel was beyond disgraceful.

Dennis Kucinich: Are you still in this race? Your website indicates that you are yet I can't find you in any election results. Are you really below 1%?

Lastly, CNN, I think, has the best guide to the primary process.

Posted by Tom at 10:30 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

January 9, 2008

The New Hampshire Primary

From Fox, here's how it turned out

Republicans

37% McCain
32% Romney
11% Huckabee
9% Giuliani
8% Paul
1% Thompson

What I'd say to each of them:

John McCain: This is a big boost to your campaign, of that there is no doubt. But New Hampshire voters are mavericks like you are, and this does not prove you can win over mainstream Republican voters. Michigan, Nevada, and South Carolina will determine whether you have staying power. I can live with you as our candidate, although I have reservations.

Mitt Romney: My favorite. You've spent a ton of money for two silver medals. You need to win in Michigan, but I think can stay alive if you get another second there, as long as it's a close one, and preferably if it's not McCain who wins (unfortunately, though, it looks like he will). If you do come in second, though, however, is fine as long as you win at least two of the next three states; Nevada, South Carolina, and Florida. If you can do that then you'll look good going into Super Tuesday.

Mike Huckabee: If you fail to win Michigan, Nevada, or South Carolina, then we'll know that Iowa was a fluke. My guessing is that you won't be in the race for long.

Rudy Giuliani: If your "late primary" strategy pays off, we'll all say you're clever as a fox. Of course, if it doesn't we'll be saying you're dumb as a rock.

Ron Paul: You're not going to win, and you must know it. At this point I can only assume that you're just in it to make a point. You'll probably get 5 - 10% in each primary, which I guess is enough to convince you to soldier on. What you really need to do is tell your supporters to cool it. They're an embarrassment.

Fred Thompson: It's got to be embarrasing to finish behind Ron Paul. I'll give you one more primary, but if you can't finish strong in Michigan it's time to get out.

Duncan Hunter: It's time to get out. You're a great congressman, but it's just too difficult to run from the House. Please go back to doing what you do best.


Democrats

39% Clinton
36% Obama
17% Edwards
5% Richardson
1% Kucinich

What I'd say to each of them:

Hillary Clinton: Whew, that was a relief, wasn't it? After Iowa you could see your political life flashing before your eyes. Now you've eaked out a victory, however narrowly. Nevertheless, it's painfully obvious that this isn't going to be the cakewalk you'd assumed. You made it through the granite state because you finally appear human. Those manufactured tears didn't hurt, either. My question is; when are you going to unleash all that dirt you've been gathering about Obama?

Barack Obama: You didn't lose by much, and Hillary is still scared of you (truth be told, so am I). You've got much of the Democrat establishment against you, but if you win or at least do well in Nevada, and win either South Carolina or Florida, you're in excellent shape for Super Tuesday. Your message is mostly yourself, and the compressed primarys this time are good news for you because most people won't take time to really examine your record or positions. astly, are you ready to get hit by the full force of the Clinton machine?

John Edwards: Despite your apparent strong finish in Iowa and New Hampshire, this race is between Obama and Hillary. You'll always hit the high teens or maybe higher, but you're not going to win a single primary. You really should get out, but I know you won't.

Bill Richardson: Smart decision to get out of the race.

Dennis Kucinich: You've had fun, but now it's time to get out.

Posted by Tom at 8:30 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

January 3, 2008

The Hawkeye Caukeye

At 7:30am EST Friday, the latest from Fox

Republicans

93 percent of precincts reporting

34% Huckabee
25% Romney
13% Thompson
13% McCain
10% Paul
3 % Guiliani
1 % Hunter

In brief, my take on each:

Mike Huckabee: If Huckabee wins the nomination we can kiss the election goodbye. He's "too Christian", or at least perceived that way, and his "compassionate" stances seem like the path to big government spending. I also don't trust him on foreign policy. Being good on the social issues isn't good enough.

Mitt Romney: My favorite, though I'll admit that it would be hard for him to get elected. I was happy to see that the editors of National Review endorsed him. I think that his conversion on social issues is sincere, but I won't blame you if you think otherwise. He's got executive experience that noone can match, even Giuliani. He's right on all of the other issues, too. I think that his speech last month on faith and values was right on the money. It should have cleared up any "Mormon" isues.

Fred Thompson: Nice guy, and right on all of the issues. No executive experience, and early misteps by his campaign show it. His problem is that he just doesn't stir excitement, and whether anyone likes it or not, this counts. Nevertheless, he's tied with McCain as my #2 choice.

John McCain: I never thought I'd say it, but McCain is tied for my #2 with Thompson. I can't think of anyone better on foreign policy and military issues, he'd be a fiscal hawk, and good on social issues too. Immigration and McCain-Feingold are obvious problems, as is the lack of executive experience. It also seems that at times he's gone out of his way to annoy conservatives. All this said, from the polls I've seen he has the best chance of any of the GOP candidates, I think, of winning the general.

Ron Paul: A nut. His supporters are worse.

Rudy Giuliani: In October I wrote a piece called "Rudy Can't Win", and I don't see any reason to change that assessment. He's good on foreign policy and fiscal matters, but I don't trust him on the social issues, and worst of all, his personal life is full of problems. He's my #3 choice (remember there's a tie for #2).

Duncan Hunter: Great guy, but not going anywhere. You just can't win by running from the House.

The good news from the GOP side is that the Iowa caucuses are overrated in terms of their importance in propelling a candidate to the nomination. New Hampshire, Michigan, South Carolina, and Florida, are far better barometers of how a candidate will ultimately do. Wyoming and Nevada, probably don't count as much, though. "Super Tuesday", is, of course, the untimate test, especially since this one (Feb 5) will be the largest yet. In short, Iowa doesn't provide much momentum, as the real primaries do.


Democrats

100 percent of the precincts reporting:

38% Obama
30% Edwards
29% Clinton
2 % Richardson
1 % Biden
0 % Dodd
0 % Kucinich

Barack Obama: Obama is an awfully nice guy, and comes across as genuine, as I think he is. He's the only one of the Democrats that I can imagine having a real conversation with. Too bad he's completely wrong on all of the issues.

John Edwards: The worse of the bunch. His class warfare rhetoric is just about hate speech, and his foreign policy prescriptions make the other Democrats look like hawks.

Hillary Clinton: Oddly, perhaps, she's the Democrat I would vote for if Ron Paul magically got the GOP nomination and no viable third party candidate appeared. Sure, she's manipulative and everything she does is calculated. I don't think she's honest (we never did get a satisfactory answer as to how she made $100.000 on those cattle futures). And of course she'd socialize the country in a way no one else would. Nevertheless, if some pipsqueek dictator like Kim iL Sung of Ahmadinejad got out of line, she'd nuke them off the face of the earth. And that's got to count for something.

Posted by Tom at 11:00 PM | Comments (10) | TrackBack

December 6, 2007

The Mitt Romney Speech

Today Mitt Romney gave THE SPEECH (transcript). The one that everyone has been waiting for, wondering if he'd really give it.

I think that he hit it out of the park. He said all of the right things and avoided all the things he shouldn't have spoken about. That said, he only gave it because he's down in the polls, especially in Iowa. If you're 4 runs behind in a ballgame, and you hit a homer with noone on base, you give yourself a boost but it doesn't win you the game. This is what Romney did for himself today.

Sean Hannity had it right when he said on his radio show today "I wish he hadn't had to give the speech. " Romney's been attacked by many people from all sides; the media, the liberals, and sadly, even from Republicals and Christians. His religion shouldn't even be an issue, but unfortunately it is to some people. Everyone draws the obvious parallel with John F Kennedy in the 1960 campaign, and it's an apt comparison; Catholicism then is what Mormonism is today.

What Romney spoke about today are things that make America great. I found it an inspiring speech, and he delivered it well.

It would have been wrong for him to get into matters of theology or doctrine. The most he got into it was when he said "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God and the Savior of mankind." That was it, and it was enough. Going any farther would have ben to open up a can or worms that was irrelevant to whether he'd be a good president.

While the speech included something for everybody, it was definately a speech meant to reach out to the religious right. This is the group he most needs to win over in order to win the nomination. He (rightly, I think) criticized those who "seek to remove from the public domain any acknowledgment of God." He also spoke about the empty cathedrals of Europe. I noticed the same thing every time I've been there.

But let me cut to the chase: No Mormonism is not a "cult", and it is disgraceful to say that it is. If you want to think that the book of Mormon is wrong or was invented by Joseph Smith, then fine. But the word "cult" is a loaded term, and must be used very sparingly, if at all. One might even say that "cult" is defined as "someone else's religion". I don't want to get into theology here, but I am an independent evangelical Christian. I attend a church that can fairly be described as conservative, but I but don't really consider myself a member of any church. Ask me my denomination and I'll say "Christian". I think that Mormonism is a variant of Christianity, but who really cares? The question here is whether Mitt Romney is fit for public office. And that he is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints doesn't matter one whit.

We've all seen the young Mormon men and women as they go through a neighborhood, two by two, knocking on doors. Apparently it's a rite of passage that they go through on their way from adolescence to adulthood. Some people laugh at them, others are
annoyed, and some offended. I admire them. I've done evangelical work, and find it difficult to approach strangers and speak with them about faith. I've had several young Mormons come to my door over the years, and they're always polite and nice when I tell them I've got my faith so no thank you, but "best wishes and God be with you." They like that and are always polite in return. Christians (or people of any faith, for that matter) who proclaim themselves offended by Mormons coming to their door ought to get out and try it themselves.

On another note, did you notice he actually used the word "jihad" during the speech? He said it to describe our enemies in this war. That our president could only do as much.

No matter what Mitt Romney said or didn't say he will not make everyone happy. So let's not quibble over this or that or pick the speech apart. He was ecumenical, mentioning other faiths. No you can't fit them all in, but he did a good job at mentioning enough to get the point across.

I'm not 100% satisfied with any of the Republican candidates. I'd like to do what Glenn Beck suggested today, and that was play Dr Frankenstein and take one part for each and stich them all together. There are definately things I like about Mitt Romney. If he wins the nomination, I'll campaign hard for him.

Posted by Tom at 8:41 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

October 3, 2007

Rudy Can't Win

Events this past week have convinced me that Rudy Guiliani cannot win the White House, and I am not talking about his position on the social issues or gun control.

I'm talking about his personal life.

As I think we all know, two weeks ago Rudy Guiliani answered a call on his cell phone during a speech to the NRA. The call was brief, he told his wife that he was speaking with members of the NRA and had to go. "I love you" he said and ended the call.

When I heard about this I didn't know what to make. Maybe it was some kind of planned stunt to make him look like a family guy or something, someone who loves his wife and is not afraid to say so in front of an audience.

Then I read John Fund in the OpinionJournal that this happens all the time. He has a history of taking calls from his wife while in meetings, giving speeches, at all sorts of public appearances. Aides have warned him that no matter what excuse he gives it looks bad and to stop it, but he won't. He's even taken calls during meetings with important GOP donors, who have not been shy about expressing their annoyance.

The problem seems to be with his wife, Judith Giuliani. Lisa Schiffren writes on The Corner that "She is vulgar, uneducated, grasping and insecure — and has failed to keep those attributes hidden. She offends major donors right and left by being rude — especially to their wives, especially the attractive wives." Ouch.

This is weird, but not insurmountably so. That problem is that Rudy's personal history is a class-A disaster. He is not on speaking terms with any of his children. Not only is he on his third marriage, but he apparently began "dating" wives two and three before the official divorce from one and two.

Couple all this with Rudy's own penchant "for making fun of constituents who called him with what he thought were petty problems." (John Fund) and I do not see how he can win the White House.

All this might be forgivable for a Democrat. They are, after all, the party of Bill Clinton and Ted Kennedy, and apparently proud of it. But Republicans are the home of social conservatives, who will forgive one or maybe two things if the person in question is repentant, but not this many things.

Evangelicals have made it clear that they will desert Rudy for his position on social issues alone. All these things about Rudy and people who otherwise wouldn't vote for Hillary will give her a second look, and here's why:

Hillary Clinton will most likely be the Democrat nominee. Sure, Obama might pull a surprise win in a primary and upset things, but Hillary will not implode as Howard Dean did. In all probability she will be their candidate.

She has come this far without the anti-war left. This is important because Democrat candidates typically run left during the primaries, then tack right for the general (GOP candidates doing the mirror opposite). Being this far right (for a Democrat) at this point leaves her plenty of room to move even farther right during the general. This means that she can undercut Rudy on his one real strength; national security.

Couple this with Rudy's problems, and he's got an uphill battle as the GOP candidate.

Dennis Miller says that if it's Rudy vs Hillary it will be a battle of the negatives; who can lose the fewest votes from their party. This sounds pretty accurate to me. A Rudy vs Hillary contest might mean two serious third party candidates, something unprecedented in modern American history.

From where I sit, Rudy will lose far more votes on the right than Hillary will on the left. If it's Rudy vs Hillary, Hillary wins.

Posted by Tom at 8:08 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 14, 2007

"just air-raiding villages and killing civilians"

I almost hate writing these posts about Obama because I do like the guy. He's the only one of the Democrat candicates that I can imagine having a beer with and discussing politics. Hillary is the ice queen, Edwards is a phony, Dodd is too old, and Kucinich is too nutty. Obama seems like a genuinely nice guy, and sincere in what he says.

But he's losing me and fast. Here's his latest

Grrrrr

" just air raiding villages and killing civilians", eh?

Either he mispoke, in which he shouldn't get the nomination, or he means it, in which case he's a dope.

No I'm not going to spend this post "debunking" his claim, because it's self-evident nonsense on its face.

But Wait, There's More

Senator Obama made his remarks before a crowd of 600 at a Nashua, New Hampshire, park yesterday, according to the Nashua Telegraph. The Telegraph also reports this

Obama pledged to engage China and Saudi Arabia in supporting a permanent, peaceful political solution in post-war Iraq and communicate with sectarian factions in that country.

Oh heavens.

I can't imagine why in the world China would help us anywhere in the Middle East, and Saudi Arabia is "the mother ship of the jihad", as Walid Phares puts it.

Why is it that the left wants to talk to our enemies and snub or attack our friends? Speaker Pelosi just about sat in Bashir Assad's lap during her trip to Damascus. Liberals opine about how we must, must, talk to Iran. But we must give ultimatums to Pakistan, and attack it's territory if they can't or won't take action themselves. This last apparently without the UN authorizations so necessary everywhere else.

President Carter's human rights campaign, laudable though it was in theory, always seemed more aimed at our friends than at our enemies. It resulted in Iran going from the Shah to Khumeini, and Nicaragua from Somoza to the Sandinistas. Surely the former in each case were bad, but so is Musharraf if you get down to it. But as with Iran and Nicragua, were Pakistan to fall into the hands of Islamists we'd all be much worse off.

Note that I'm no fan of our policies towards Saudi Arabia. And note also that Clinton was no better in this regard than Bush 41, 43, or any other American president, for that matter.

Moving along, Victor Davis Hanson slaps Obama down, and asks the pertinent question

Sen. Obama's remarks on foreign policy sound like, well, someone who just a few months ago was a local official of some sort....

Why do Democratic presidential candidates (cf. Kerry's 2005 remarks about U.S. troops: "And there is no reason, ... that young American soldiers need to be going into the homes of Iraqis in the dead of night, terrorizing kids and children, you know, women, breaking sort of the customs of the — of — the historical customs, religious customs.") seem to assume that our soldiers are serially killing or terrorizing civilians, rather than protecting them from terrorists while killing the latter?

Because they've got Vietnam on the brain, that's why.

Posted by Tom at 9:13 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

August 1, 2007

Here's an Idea Guaranteed to Stir Up Trouble

Let's invade Pakistan.

So says Barack Obama in a speech to the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars this morning

...let me make this clear. There are terrorists holed up in those mountains who murdered 3,000 Americans. They are plotting to strike again. It was a terrible mistake to fail to act when we had a chance to take out an al Qaeda leadership meeting in 2005. If we have actionable intelligence about high-value terrorist targets and President Musharraf won't act, we will.

What exactly Obama means by "act" he doesn't actually say. Maybe he just means a strike with a Hellfire missile from a Preditor drone, maybe special forces lifted in by helicoper, maybe an invasion by the 10th Mountain Division... who knows.

Either way, Obama seems not to understand the import of his words.

The speech is full of tough talk. Obama sounds like a regular warmongering conservative through most of it, full of threats and intimidating talk. It's also full of several outright lies, such as his claiming that the Bush Administration followed a "a deliberate strategy to misrepresent 9/11 to sell a war against a country that had nothing to do with 9/11." But never mind that for now. Jim Geraghty "Fisks" the speech brilliantly over at NRO. I don't have the time tonight to go through it line-by-line.

The main thing that strikes me about the speech is that typical of the left these days it's always to fight another war, to send troops to another location, to talk tough to someone else. Wherever it is we're fighing, he's against it. But boy he's tough when it comes to doing something else. Call me cynical, but I rather think that this speech today is more a response to Hillary's criticsm than anything else. If by some accident he does become president something tells me that the Democrat left will make sure that none of these strong words become action.

It all reminds me of the latter stages of the Cold War, when most Democrats could be counted on to oppose whatever weapons system was currently being proposed by the Pengagon; but in favor of something that was safely years down the road.

Instead of going on, I think that John Podhoretz has it about right so I'll just quote him

Obama is full of it. This country is never — never — going to stage a major military action against Pakistan. Pakistan is a nation of 170 million people that has nuclear weapons and whose admittedly problematic and troublesome regime has, to some extent, cooperated with the United States in the war against Al Qaeda both in ways we know and ways we have no idea about. The concern that this strategically vital county might become an Islamic fundamentalist state is, should be, and will be paramount in every and all discussions about how to conduct the fight against Al Qaeda.

What's more, every serious person knows the United States won't invade Pakistan, even with Special Forces — since the reason we cancelled the proposed action against Al Qaeda in 2005 is that it was going to take many hundreds of American troops to do it. This isn't 15 people dropping like ninjas in the darkness. It's an invasion, with helicopters and supply lines and routes of ingress and escape. It would have had unforseen and unforeseeable consequences, but it would have been reasonable to assume the Pakistanis would have turned violently against the United States and hurtled toward Islamic fundamentalist control.

If the evil Bushitler Cheney Rumsfeld Monster wouldn't do it, nobody will do it. And you can bet there isn't a single person in line to run a Democratic State Department or Democratic Defense Department who would give the idea three seconds of thought. Obama is using Pakistan to talk tough, in the full knowledge that he will never actually pull the trigger.

Pakistani President Pervez Musharaff is hanging on by a thread. An attack into Pakistan would stir up an already unsettled hornets nest. If he were to be overthrown it is possible that radical Islamists would fill the void. This would be sending us from the frying pan into the fire. Just as the Shah was bad but Khumeini worse, it's hard to see a good outcome to a revolution in Pakistan.

For some reason I can't upload a map of the region tonight, but if you go and find one you'll discover that we can't get to Afghanistan without flying over Pakistan. Close that route off and we're screwed. The only other route from the Persion Gulf is over Iran, and I rather doubt they'll grant permission.

What I Would Do

There is no doubt that al Qaeda and the Taliban are in the Waziristan section of Pakistan, that this is a problem, and that as such we need to do something. That Obama doesn't seem to get that it's not so simple as making aid to Musharraf contingent on acting in the region, he is right that it is a problem we need to deal with.

I think that David Ignatius, writing in the Washington Post, has found the best idea

The best answer I've heard comes from Henry Crumpton, a former CIA officer who was one of the heroes of the agency's campaign to destroy al-Qaeda's haven in Afghanistan in late 2001. After retiring from the CIA in 2005, he served as the State Department's coordinator for counterterrorism. He resigned from State in February and is now a fellow at the EastWest Institute and a private consultant.

Crumpton argues that the United States must take preventive action but that it should do so carefully, through proxies wherever possible. The right model for a Waziristan campaign is the CIA-led operation in Afghanistan, not the U.S. military invasion of Iraq. Teams of CIA officers and Special Forces soldiers are best suited to work with tribal leaders, providing them weapons and money to fight an al-Qaeda network that has implanted itself brutally in Waziristan through the assassination of more than 100 tribal leaders during the past six years. It would be better to conduct such operations jointly with Pakistan, but if the government of Gen. Pervez Musharraf can't or won't cooperate, the United States should be prepared to go it alone, Crumpton argues.

"The United States has an obligation to defend itself and its citizens," says Crumpton. "We either do it now, or we do it after the next attack."

Crumpton proposed a detailed plan last year for rolling up these sanctuaries, which he called the Regional Strategic Initiative. It would combine economic assistance and paramilitary operations in a broad counterinsurgency campaign. In Waziristan, U.S. and Pakistani operatives would give tribal warlords guns and money, to be sure, but they would coordinate this covert action with economic aid to help tribal leaders operate their local stone quarries more efficiently, say, or install windmills and solar panels to generate electricity for their remote mountain villages.

This is a long-term plan but makes a lot of sense to me. CIA paramilitaries, mostly made up of ex-Special Forces and SEAL veterans, could do a lot of damage to al Qaeda and the Taliban. Crumpton's plan seems loosely modeled on the Vietnam-era SOG ("Studies and Observation Group") and other such operations.

So let's go get al Qaeda and the Taliban in Pakistan, but let's do so as quietly as possible.

Update

Looks like Obama's stirred up trouble in Pakistan with his comments. Nice guy, but not ready for prime-time.

Posted by Tom at 8:12 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

June 11, 2007

The Democrats Get Religion

Last week Democrat candidates John Edwards, Barak Obama, and Hillary Clinton participated in discussion on an Presidential Forum on Faith, Values and Poverty. The event was hosted by the Sojourners, and was broadcast on CNN (transcript here).

First, about the Soujourners. Their mission statement on their website reads

Founded in 1971, our mission is to articulate the biblical call to social justice, inspiring hope and building a movement to transform individuals, communities, the church, and the world.

Their founder and leader is Jim Wallis. He is the author of numerous books and articles, many of which are on the Sojourners website. As you may suspect from the call to "social justice" in their mission statement, he adopts many or most of the standard positions of the religious left.

The Sojourners are members of United for Peace and Justice. Guess who else are members of UPJ? Code Pink, the Communist Party USA, and the Young Communist League. If you don't believe me go to the UPJ website and take a look for yourself. No I am not calling the Sojourners communists, but they obviously have no problem associating with them.

On To The Forum

Enough about the Sojourners. The forum was about faith, and the candidates were not shy; all of them took Christ as their savior.

Let's get a few things out of the way up front; far be it from me to question anyone's personal relationship with the almighty. If you say you take Christ as your saviour, that's good enough for me.

Second, I am happy that the Democrat candidates are discussion religion and their faith. I want to live in a country where members of both parties can openly discuss these matters. I don't want us to become like Europe, where most candidates distance themselves from any discussion about their personal beliefs. I also don't want us to become like Iran, but that's hardly something to worry about.

CNN anchor Soledad O'Brien let the forum, though other panelists asked questions also. Here are some of the more interesting exchanges, I thought. You'll want to read the whole thing.

John Edwards

O'BRIEN: Do you think homosexuals have the right to be married?

EDWARDS: No. Not personally. Now you're asking about me personally. But I think there's a difference between my belief system and what the responsibilities of the president of the United States are. It is the reason we have separation of church and state. And there are very good people, including some people that I'm very close to me, my daughter who is sitting in the front row here tonight, feels very differently about this issue. And I have huge respect for those who have a different view about this.

So I think we have to be very careful about ensuring that the president of the United States is not using his belief system and imposing that belief system on the rest of the country. So what that... O'BRIEN: But if it's...

EDWARDS: So what that -- I'm sorry. All I was going to say is I think what that means in this case is the substantive rights that go with partnerships, civil unions, for example, and all the subsequent rights that go with that, should be recognized in this country, at least in my judgment, should be recognized. And I think it is not the role of the federal government to tell either faith-based institutions, churches, synagogues, what they should or should not recognize. Nor should the federal government be telling states what they should recognize.

O'BRIEN: If you think something is morally wrong, though, you morally disagree with it, as president of the United States, don't you have a duty to go with your moral belief?

EDWARDS: No, I think that, first of all, my faith, my belief in Christ plays an enormous role in the way I view the world. But I think I also understand the distinction between my job as president of the United States, my responsibility to be respectful of and to embrace all faith beliefs in this country because we have many faith beliefs in America. And for that matter we have many faith beliefs in the world. And I think one of the problems that we've gotten into is some identification of the president of the United States with a particular faith belief as opposed to showing great respect for all faith beliefs.

The entire issue of faith and governance is complicated, and I'm not going to attempt a full discussion here. On the one hand there is no doubt that one does not and should not desire to put all concepts of morality into law. And no Christian that I know of wants to import Leviticus or Deuteronomy into the U.S. Code. That said, it does seem rather disturbing that Edwards would so quickly and definitively answer "no" to O'Brien's questions.

It's not that I'm advocating "imposing" all concepts of morality from the Bible into law, but isn't there some point at which we say "the Bible teaches that x and such is immoral to the point where it ought to be illegal"?

Now contrast what Edwards says above to this interview he gave to Beliefnet just this past March

BELIEFNET: What parts of American life do you think would most outrage Jesus?

EDWARDS; Our selfishness. Our resort to war when it's not necessary. I think that Jesus would be disappointed in our ignoring the plight of those around us who are suffering and our focus on our own selfish short-term needs. I think he would be appalled, actually.
...

BELIEFNET; Does your concern for the poor come mostly from your own background, or does it come from your faith?

EDWARDS; Both. It comes from both.

My own personal experience has been that I came from a very poor background when I was young. But, by the time I was in middle school/high school, we were solidly in the middle class. And now I've had everything you could ever have financially in this country. And so, I feel some responsibility myself to help and give back, to give that opportunity to lots of people who I don't think have it today. That's part of it. And it also comes from my faith. If you took every reference to taking care of the least of these out of the Bible, there would be a pretty skinny Bible. And I think I as a Christian, and we as a nation, have a moral responsibility to do something about this.

So in the case of gay marriage "there's a difference between my belief system and what the responsibilities of the president of the United States are" but his concern for the poor comes - partly - from his faith.

Maybe it's just me but I see a contradiction here. He uses religion to advocate some policy prescriptions but on others we have to keep our personal beliefes separate from governance.

Bty I'm well aware that some Republicans probably contradict themselves also. It just seems more obvious with Edwards.

Barak Obama

O'BRIEN: We'll start by tackling a big topic, God.

(LAUGHTER)

Do you think that God takes sides in a war? For example, in the war on terror, is God on the side of U.S. troops, would you say?

OBAMA: Well, you know, I always remember Abraham Lincoln, when, during the Civil War, he said, "We shouldn't be asking whose side God is on, but whether we're on his side." And I think that's the question that all of us have to ask ourselves during any battle that's taking place, whether it's political or military, is, are we following his dictates? Are we advancing the causes of justice and freedom? Are we our brother's keeper, our sister's keeper? And that's how I measure whether what we're doing is right.

O'BRIEN: The president talks a lot, as you know, about sort of good versus evil in war. Do you agree with that?

OBAMA:Well, I do think there's evil in the world. I think that, when planes crash into buildings and kill innocents, there's evil there. I think violence and cruelty, wherever it's perpetrated, expresses evil in the world. And I think that all of us have an obligation to speak to that and act against that forcefully.

I pretty good answer, I think. About what I would have said, in fact. Here's something else he said that I liked

OBAMA: And I have to -- I have to say that I'm very proud of the fact that we've seen some of my Republican colleagues informed by the evangelical movement embrace this notion of providing second chances. And they're to be applauded. This is an area where I think we can get past the left and right divide.

Hmmm. We shall see, but reading the rest of what he said during this forum he might not be an empty suit after all. He's a liberal and unashamed of it, and to be sure I disagree with him on a host of policy issues. But his answers in this forum made sense to me. And unlike Edwards or Clinton, he is a likeable fellow.

Hillary Clinton

O'BRIEN: You don't talk a lot about your faith, truly. I -- I know because I have Googled everything you have ever said, actually.

(LAUGHTER)

O'BRIEN: But I'm going to ask you a delicate question. Infidelity in your marriage was very public. And I have to imagine it was incredibly difficult to deal with. And I would like to know how your faith helped you get through it.

CLINTON: Well, I'm not sure I would have gotten through it without my faith.

And, you know, I take my faith very seriously and very personally. And I come from a tradition that is perhaps a little too suspicious of people who wear their faith on their sleeves, so, that a lot of the...

(APPLAUSE)

CLINTON: ... a lot of the talk about and advertising about faith doesn't come naturally to me. It is something that -- you know, I keep thinking of the Pharisees and all of Sunday school lessons and readings that I had as a child.

But I think your -- your faith guides you every day. Certainly, mine does. But, at those moments in time when you're tested, it -- it is absolutely essential that you be grounded in your faith.

For some people, being tested leads them to faith. For some people, being tested in cruel and tragic ways leads them away from faith. For me, because I have been tested in ways that are both publicly known and those that are not so well known or not known at all, my faith and the support of my extended faith family, people whom I knew who were literally praying for me in prayer chains, who were prayer warriors for me, and people whom I didn't know, who I would meet or get a letter from, sustained me through a very difficult time.

But I -- I am very grateful that I had a grounding in faith that gave me the courage and the strength to do what I thought was right, regardless of what the world thought. And that's all one can expect or hope for.

On a personal level she seemed the most open of the three. I can certainly imagine that life with Bill must have been taxing, and if faith got her through it then God bless her.

All in all, the forum revealed that Edwards is a dope (no surprise there). Obama gave substantive answers and made a lot of sense at times. Hillary revealed a personal side we haven't seen before.

Posted by Tom at 9:00 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

June 10, 2007

Edwards Peace Corps Military Strategy

Hillary, I'm sure, will blow the terrorists to kingdom come if they attack our homeland again. She may do it to them even if they don't. I'm not sure about Obama, but at least he's not pandering to the loony left, at least not yet.

John Edwards, on the other hand, is quickly becomming an embarassment. He is clearly pandering to the most extreme of the anti-war left.

The latest is his Peace Corps-type terrorist strategy. From last week's New York Sun

Senator Edwards is outlining a new national security strategy that includes the creation of a 10,000-person civilian peace corps to stem the tide of terrorism in weak and unstable countries. ...

The plan Mr. Edwards presented yesterday — which he dubbed "A Strategy to Shut Down Terrorists and Stop Terrorism Before It Starts" — calls for a 10,000-person "Marshall Corps" to deal with issues ranging from worldwide poverty and economic development to clean drinking water and micro-lending. He said investing in those areas would shore up weak nations and help ensure that terrorism does not take root there. That, he said, would allow the country to stop potential terrorists before they even join the ranks.

There are "thousands committed to violence" today, he said, and America needs to use all of its tools to go after them. But he said millions more people are "sitting on the fence" about whether to join those ranks. "We have to offer them a hand to our side instead of a shove to the other side of that fence," he said.

Mr. Edwards proposed creating a Cabinet-level position to oversee the initiative, which he said would require international allies.

Now, I agree with Frank Gaffney that President Bush has done a terrible job at projecting the immense "soft power" that our country posesses.

But as Cliff May observes, ""Humanitarian aid ... doesn't really have much to do with the causes of terrorism" (as quoted in the Sun article).

Edwards' full plan is posted on his website. Much is sensible, but it's all 101 level stuff:

Ensure our intelligence strategy adheres to proven and effective methods and avoids actions that will give terrorists or even other nations an excuse to abandon international law.

Hold regular meetings with top military leadership. Edwards will also reinstate a basic doctrine of national security management—military professionals will have primary responsibility in matters of tactics and operations, while civilian leadership will have authority in all matters of broad strategy and political decisions.

I'm certainly relieved to hear he'll be meeting with the military leadership. Was I supposed to be worried that he wouldn't be?

Unfortunately, the fact sheet that accompanies the plan isn't any better.

John Edwards has a long way to go before he convinces me he's serious about national security.

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John Edwards - Inappropriate Actions for Memorial Day
Edwards Shows His Colors

Posted by Tom at 8:44 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

May 27, 2007

John Edwards - Inappropriate Actions for Memorial Day

Of the three front runners for the Democratic party's nomination for president, there are two I can tolerate, and one I cannot.

I like Barak Obama. He seems to be a genuinely nice guy and decent fellow. He's the type of person I can imagine going out for a beer with. If we talked about politics we'd disagree about virtually everything, but it'd be a conversation without acrimony. He might turn out to be an empty suit policy wise, but I can very much understand why people are attracted to him.

Hillary is someone I could never imagine socializing with. Any conversation with her would be stilted and awkward. Her domestic policy is just about socialist. I don't care for her much at all, in fact. But of all the Democrats she is the one who would do the best job fighting the jihadists. I do think that if Iran got seriously out of line she'd have no problem bombing them back to the stone age. I want our enemies to fear our president, and she may well fit that bill.

The final front runner is John Edwards, and at this point I have nothing but contempt for him.

John Edwards, you see, wants his followers to use this Memorial Day to protest the war in Iraq.

Really.

Here he is, if you can stand to watch it

(h/t NRO

He's got this absurdity posted on a website of his called Support the troops. End the War. I kid you not. Here's their message

This Memorial Day weekend, we will all take responsibility for the country we love and the men and women who protect it. We will volunteer, we will pray, and we will speak out. In the days leading up to Memorial Day, we will take action to support our troops, end the war, and bring them home to the heroes' welcome they deserve. And on Memorial Day, we will honor and remember all those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom.

Each of us has a responsibility to act, a duty to our troops and to each other. Support the troops. End the war.

Farther down, under the heading "Reclaiming Patriotism", they list "10 Things You Can Do Over Memorial Weekend to Support the Troops and End the War" Among them is this

Gather in public. On Memorial Day weekend, get your friends, kids, co-workers, neighbors, aunts, uncles, grandfathers, grandmothers, and anyone and everyone you know together to publicly support the troops and end the war. If you hold an event on Memorial Day itself, please make sure that everyone you gather knows it is a day for honoring the fallen only. Be sure to check with your local authority for any permits you need for public gatherings. Contact local media to publicize your event. Before you get started, please take a moment of silence to honor the fallen. And during your event, make sure you conduct yourself respectfully—both for those serving in Iraq and the memory of the brave servicemen and women that Memorial Day honors.

If this isn't a recipe for an anti-war protest I don't know what is.

There are appropriate and inappropriate ways to observe Memorial Day. There are many things one might do that are appropriate; gather with friends and family, visit a military cemetary, and attend a local memorial service come to mind.

What would be inappropriate would be to use a day meant to honor military veterans as a day to stage a war protest. Lie and call it a "vigil", "raising awareness", or whatever you want, but a war protest is a war protest, and it is flat out wrong to hold one on Memorial Day.

For John Edwards to encourage war protests on Memorial Day is disgraceful.

Likewise, it is also inappropriate to hold a war protest outside of a military hospital (more here).

Tomorrow I'll have something posted here that's much more appropriate for Memorial Day.

Finally, in case this whole thing doesn't creep you out about Edwards, this story will.

Posted by Tom at 8:06 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 26, 2007

"If you really want to fight al Qaeda, you stay in Iraq."

Andy McCarthy nails it yesterday over at The Corner (h/t TigerHawk)

Good for Senator McCain on his sharp rebuttal to Senator Obama. May I add one point, though, that continues to make me nuts?

Senator Obama says: " It is time to end this war so that we can redeploy our forces to focus on the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11 and all those who plan to do us harm."

Senator Obama, are you proposing that we move U.S. troops from Iraq to Afghanistan, where you guys keep saying the "real" War on Terror is?

There is also a very good chance that bin Laden and some al Qaeda hierarchy are in Pakistan. When you say "redeploy," are you suggesting that we invade Pakistan?

Folks, let's not let these guys get away with this. By "redeploy," they don't really mean move the troops to where they say al Qaeda is. They don't want to fight al Qaeda. If they wanted to fight al Qaeda, al Qaeda is in Iraq — that is indisputable. Bin Laden has said repeatedly that Iraq is the central battle. You can argue about whether al Qaeda has been in Iraq all along or whether they are there only because we've drawn them there. Reasonable minds differ on that. But however they got there, they're there.

If you really want to fight al Qaeda, you stay in Iraq.

If you really believe al Qaeda is not in Iraq — that the real al Qaeda is only in Afghanistan and its environs — then you're on drugs. But, sure, fine, "redeploy" our troops ... to Afghanistan. But can we please have five seconds of honesty? You guys don't have the slightest intention of doing that. You don't want to go to Afghanistan. You want to go home.

When you say redeploy, you mean withdraw. You don't actually want to "focus on the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11." You are content to bring the troops home and leave "the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11" to build a safe-haven in Iraq even as they continue to make mayhem in Afghanistan.

You think Bush is incompetent and "his" war in Iraq is a terrible mistake? Fine. You think the price of that is that we should pull everyone out of Iraq even though we all know that will be a monumental victory for al Qaeda — geometrically abetting its future fundraising and recruiting for future terrorist attacks on America? Fine.

But have the good grace to say so. Don't give us this BS that you want to redeploy to fight al Qaeda, when the truth is that you want to "redeploy" to NOT fight al Qaeda.

Ditto that.

Posted by Tom at 7:25 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 24, 2007

Edwards Shows His Colors

On the one hand this is really no big surprise, but it's interesting to hear him say so plainly that he doesn't believe that there's any jihadist or Islamist threat to the West (h/t NRO)

The war on terror is a slogan designed only for politics, not a strategy to make America safe. It's a bumper sticker, not a plan. It has damaged our alliances and weakened our standing in the world. As a political "frame," it's been used to justify everything from the Iraq War to Guantanamo to illegal spying on the American people. It's even been used by this White House as a partisan weapon to bludgeon their political opponents. Whether by manipulating threat levels leading up to elections, or by deeming opponents "weak on terror," they have shown no hesitation whatsoever about using fear to divide.

But the worst thing about this slogan is that it hasn't worked. The so-called "war" has created even more terrorism—as we have seen so tragically in Iraq. The State Department itself recently released a study showing that worldwide terrorism has increased 25% in 2006, including a 40% surge in civilian fatalities.

By framing this as a "war," we have walked right into the trap that terrorists have set—that we are engaged in some kind of clash of civilizations and a war against Islam.

There are so many things wrong in this it's hard do know where to start.

First, there's the big lie that the Bush Administration is manipulating threat levels for political purposes. Where's the proof, John? None, of course, is offered, because there is none to be had. Just because a threat level is turned up before an election doesn't mean that it was done for political reasons. One of the most basic tenants of logic and statistics is that association is not causation.

One thing that amazes me about the anti-war left is that they tend to assume that all of our intelligence findings about the enemy must be made public, and that anyting that is not public doesn't exist. The have no understanding that so much happens behind the scenes, things that won't and shouldn't be made public for dozens of years. The public actions officials take are but the tip of the iceberg, and the public sees only a bit of what is going on.

Judith Coplon

One example should suffice.

In 1949 an employee at the Justice Department named Judith Coplon was arrested in the act of handing top-secret documents to a known KGB agent. FBI agents had been following her for some time, and as she was handing the documents to the Russian agent the FBI swooped in and arrested them both. Coplon was caught red handed, as it were.

Newspaper reporters asked FBI officials how it was that they suspected her. They told some story about how they watched everyone in the DOJ records department, and discovered that Coplon was pilfering documents.

Coplon was convicted in two separate trials, but each time an appeals court ruled that certain evidence the government presented was inadmissable, and nullified the convictions. Eventually the government gave up and she was let free.

Fast forward to 1994. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan's (D-NY) Commission on Government Secrecy has the job of deciding which old covert programs can safely be made public. There is, after all, no reason to keep things classified forever, and the public should know about the successful efforts of our clandestine services.

One of the programs that Moynihan's commission decides to make public was project Venona. During project Venona, the Signals Intelligence Service (the precursor to today's NSA) intercepted and decrypted hundreds of cables sent from the Soviet embassy in Washington DC to Moscow during 1942-45. They were not able to decrypt all cables, and some were only partially decrypted, but the intelligence haul was monumental nonetheless.

In the cables some 349 American agents working for one or another Soviet intelligence service were identified by code name. Of these, American intelligence was able to identify by name 171, leaving 178 unidentified to this day.

Among those identified in the cables was Judith Coplon.

At Coplon's trial, government prosecutors had a problem. If they revealed the existance of project Venona, the KGB would be alerted to the fact that many of it's agents had been compromised, and the Soviets would redouble their efforts to secure their codes. On the other hand, by not revealing Venona, much of the government evidence that was presented might get thrown out (you'll have to read the details of the trials yourself if you want to know why, because the technicalities would time some time to explain and I'm not a lawyer anyway).

In the end, the prosecution took the only decision they could; they kept Venona secret. Partially as a result of this decision, Coplon's two convictions were overturned and she walked.

Back to Edwards

In case it's not blindingly obvious by the example above, project Venona also revealed that Alger Hiss and Julius Rosenberg were Soviet spys. Yet for decades the far left claimed that they were innocent victims of McCarthyism.

No I am not saying that we should blindly trust whatever the Bush Administration tells us. What I am saying is that people need to be aware that when they turn up the terrorist threat level and only issue vague justifications we need to understand that there is a lot going on that we don't know about, and won't for decades.

So when Edwards talks about the Bush Administration "manipulating threat levels leading up to elections" he sounds like a complete idiot.

War on Terror?

In a way, Edwards is right when he says that there is no War on Terror. Unfortunately, his reason is completely wrong.

The correct answer would have been to say that we're in a War on Terror makes about as much sense as describing World War II as a War on Blitzkreig. It wasn't about fighting a tactic, but rather about fighting an ideology.

As such, as I've said many times, we're really in a "War on Jihadism". Our enemies, in their videos, pamphlets, and communications, call themselves "men of jihad". We ought to do them the favor of taking seriously what they say.

But is it a war? Edwards thinks not. Like most liberals, he distrusts and dislikes military action, and any military action is usually characterized as "an over reliance" on it.

The jihadists have been saying for decades that they are in a war against us. When Osama bin Laden issued his famous 1998 Fatwa declaring war against the United States, neither Republicans nor Democrats took them seriously, to say nothing of the major media. Stunned by this non-reaction, bin Laden took it as a sign from Allah that the United States was ready to be attacked. We paid the deadly consequences on September 11.

Of course we're in a war. Using this term does not, as Edwards supposes, mean that military action is our predominant method of fighting it. For over 40 years we fought what was properly called the "Cold War" against the Soviet Union, yet employed many methods other than military action to win it. Does he want us to rename that time period also?

For that matter President Johnson and other liberals declared a "War on Poverty" in the 1960s. The plain fact is that applying the term "war" to something does not mean that those involved necessarily see military action as the prime or only method of fighting it.

Playing Defense

Much else that Edwards says in the speech is silly as well. Consider this passage

We must be clear about when it is appropriate for a commander-in-chief to use force. As president, I will only use offensive force after all other options including diplomacy have been exhausted, and after we have made efforts to bring as many countries as possible to our side. However, there are times when force is justified: to protect our vital national interests... to respond to acts of aggression by other nations and non-state actors... to protect treaty allies and alliance commitments... to prevent terrorists from acquiring nuclear weapons... and to prevent or stop genocide.

Sorry, but no it isn't clear at all as to when you'd use military force. As Jim Geraghty comments, "Okay, but how would he, or any other President, know that all other options have been exhausted? How do you know with 100 percent certainty that no additional efforts, concessions, negotiations, requests, or efforts at persuasion will bring on additional allies? When is it considered enough?"

Recall that in 1991 a majority of Democrats in the House and Senate voted against the resolution authorizing President George H.W. Bush to eject Saddam from Kuwait. Yet the Bush Administration had garnered worldwide support, and had all of the necessary Security Council resolutions in place. If that wasn't enough, what was?

It would seem, therefore, that Edwards is setting up a series of conditions that he know cannot be met. No matter how much failed negotiation takes place, he can always say that we ought to give it "another chance".

This is nothing new from the Democrats. Some time ago I reflected on all of the little conditions they were setting up and drafted some new rules for going go war Democrat-style.

And Finally

One of two more points and I'll let this go. Edwards again

But I will also remove any civilian or military officer who stifles debate or simply tells me what I want to hear.

What does this even mean? That he's going to fire anyone who agrees with him? This is the sort of pap that gets applause from the crowd but doesn't really mean anything. I t sounds good in theory but would be hard to actually enforce.

These troops are exhausted and overworked, and we have been forced to dig deeper and deeper to find ground forces for Iraq and Afghanistan. This leaves us ill-prepared for the future. Today, every available combat active-duty Army combat brigade has been to Iraq or Afghanistan for at least one 12-month tour. We are sending some troops back to Iraq with less than a year's rest. To make matters worse, the Secretary of Defense just extended tours from 12 to 15 months, which is unconscionable.

The proper response, of course, would be to rebuild our armed forces, which have fallen disasterously in size since the end of the Cold War.

Last month the editors of National Review provided some facts that shows just how small our military has become compared to the force that ejected Saddam from Kuwait.

From 1974 to 1989, the Army had 770,000 to 780,000 active troops (all of them volunteers). Today, we have around 508,000. The Navy had 568 ships in the late 1980s; today it has 276, and its manpower is so reduced that it often has to helicopter sailors from homebound ships to outbound ones in order to keep them staffed. The Air Force’s number of tactical air wings has shrunk from 37 to 20, and the average age of its aircraft is 24 years (as compared with nine years in 1973).

In addition (sorry but I can't find the link just now to prove it) during most of the Cold War we spent about 8% of GDP on defense. Today it's under 4%. For a time we spent about 50% of the federal budget on defense, today I believe it's under 20%. One of the biggest failures of the Bush Administration has been to not increase the size of our armed forces.

Edwards gives a positively Clintonian response as to whether he'd increase the size of our military

The problem of our force structure is not best dealt with by a numbers game. It is tempting for politicians to try and "out-bid" each other on the number of troops they would add. Some politicians have fallen right in line behind President Bush's recent proposal to add 92,000 troops between now and 2012, with little rationale given for exactly why we need this many troops—particularly with a likely withdrawal from Iraq.

The numbers game only gets us into the same problems as the president's approach. We must be more thoughtful about what the troops will actually be used for. Any troops we add today would take a number of years to recruit and train, and so will not help us today in Iraq.

We might need a substantial increase of troops in the Army, Marine Corps, and Special Forces for four reasons: to rebuild from Iraq; to bolster deterrence; to decrease our heavy reliance on Guard and Reserve members in military operations; and to deploy in Afghanistan and any other trouble spots that could develop.

So does this mean he would or wouldn't increase the size of the military? I can't tell. 5 1/2 years from 9/11 and 4 years after the start of OIF and the best he tell us is that he "might" substantially increase the size of the military?

What he's doing is trying to have it both ways. In the first paragraph of the quoted secrion he's playing to the Kos kids, and in the last to whatever hawks are left in the Democrat party. In coming months he'll point to whichever paragraph suits him depending on his audience.

In short, Edwards gives us no reason to think that he would be a competent commander in chief. He is clueless as to the threat our nation faces, and has no serious plans to defeat the jihadists.

Posted by Tom at 12:30 PM | Comments (5) | TrackBack