Commentary Magazine


Posts For: October 6, 2008

Hypocrisy Doesn’t Begin To Describe It

Ross Douthat writes:

Obama’s obfuscation regarding Ayers is, in a sense, the homage that vice pays to virtue – a tacit acknowledgment of the fact that the political culture of Chicago, and especially of Hyde Park, is more accommodating than perhaps it should be to a morally dubious figure like Ayers, and that having accommodated himself to those accommodations Obama now recognizes the need to behave as if he didn’t.

But this is true of Obama’s entire circle of comrades and associates, of course. He didn’t know who they were, or wasn’t all that close to them, or never happened to be there when their life-long habit of excoriating evil America was demonstrated. It is all of a piece.

But more than hypocrisy is at work here. It is not just far Left, American-hating radicals he now disowns. You get the sense that he believes everyone can be played. Rashid Khalidi can believe that Obama finds no one suffers more than the Palestinians. Jews can buy that he was moved by the Holocaust from a summer camp experience. Voters in his Congressional race in 1990 can be told that there is no difference ideologically between him and 100% ADA-rated Bobby Rush, but the rest of the state in 2004 (and eventually the country) can buy that he’s a post-partisan reformer. Terrorists come to believe he shares their scorn for America, but Iowa voters hear him talk about his appreciation that only in America could his story have happened. Primary voters in Ohio are coddled with protectionist promises  – and then privately scorned while he is talking to San Fransciso liberal donors.

There is no end to it — everyone gets the version of Obama that perfectly fits his own world view. It is not hypocrisy. It’s fraud. Whatever he told or shared with Ayers, Dohrn, Wright, or Pfleger counts for no more that what he told or shared with other now inconvenient groups and individuals. He’s sold the same piece of political real estate to multiple buyers for multiple, conflicting uses.

But one thing has been consistent. He has never, ever attacked political corruption, whether in Chicago or Washington. To the contrary, at the Woods Fund, the Annenberg Challenge and the U.S. Senate he’s laddled out earmarks and goodies to a long list of friends and associates — Wright, Pfleger, Will County ( home of FBI target Larry Walsh), Allison S. Davis, ACORN, etc. The one consistency has been his fidelity to political supporters. Everyone else and every political position were disposable.

Now is precisely the time for firm convictions, strict ethical propriety and the firmness to turn away those who put private interests above the public good. We may be on the verge of electing a candidate who lacks all of these traits.

Ross Douthat writes:

Obama’s obfuscation regarding Ayers is, in a sense, the homage that vice pays to virtue – a tacit acknowledgment of the fact that the political culture of Chicago, and especially of Hyde Park, is more accommodating than perhaps it should be to a morally dubious figure like Ayers, and that having accommodated himself to those accommodations Obama now recognizes the need to behave as if he didn’t.

But this is true of Obama’s entire circle of comrades and associates, of course. He didn’t know who they were, or wasn’t all that close to them, or never happened to be there when their life-long habit of excoriating evil America was demonstrated. It is all of a piece.

But more than hypocrisy is at work here. It is not just far Left, American-hating radicals he now disowns. You get the sense that he believes everyone can be played. Rashid Khalidi can believe that Obama finds no one suffers more than the Palestinians. Jews can buy that he was moved by the Holocaust from a summer camp experience. Voters in his Congressional race in 1990 can be told that there is no difference ideologically between him and 100% ADA-rated Bobby Rush, but the rest of the state in 2004 (and eventually the country) can buy that he’s a post-partisan reformer. Terrorists come to believe he shares their scorn for America, but Iowa voters hear him talk about his appreciation that only in America could his story have happened. Primary voters in Ohio are coddled with protectionist promises  – and then privately scorned while he is talking to San Fransciso liberal donors.

There is no end to it — everyone gets the version of Obama that perfectly fits his own world view. It is not hypocrisy. It’s fraud. Whatever he told or shared with Ayers, Dohrn, Wright, or Pfleger counts for no more that what he told or shared with other now inconvenient groups and individuals. He’s sold the same piece of political real estate to multiple buyers for multiple, conflicting uses.

But one thing has been consistent. He has never, ever attacked political corruption, whether in Chicago or Washington. To the contrary, at the Woods Fund, the Annenberg Challenge and the U.S. Senate he’s laddled out earmarks and goodies to a long list of friends and associates — Wright, Pfleger, Will County ( home of FBI target Larry Walsh), Allison S. Davis, ACORN, etc. The one consistency has been his fidelity to political supporters. Everyone else and every political position were disposable.

Now is precisely the time for firm convictions, strict ethical propriety and the firmness to turn away those who put private interests above the public good. We may be on the verge of electing a candidate who lacks all of these traits.

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Commentary of the Day

Sam, on Max Boot:

It’s really moving to read real courage where one’s life and that of his family is at stake as opposed to what many of us in the West consider courage (standing up to Evangelicals, protesting in front of whatever, writing blog posts, engaging in hateful political acts like getting Palin dis-invited from a political rally, being against smoking, etc.).

When I read about men like the Colonel I realize how completely sheltered I and my family are thanks to what they do.

Sam, on Max Boot:

It’s really moving to read real courage where one’s life and that of his family is at stake as opposed to what many of us in the West consider courage (standing up to Evangelicals, protesting in front of whatever, writing blog posts, engaging in hateful political acts like getting Palin dis-invited from a political rally, being against smoking, etc.).

When I read about men like the Colonel I realize how completely sheltered I and my family are thanks to what they do.

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McCain’s Chance

An interesting moment for Barack Obama. Everyone acknowledges he is leading. All the news stories in the past four days seem to indicate an overall national wave toward the Democratic Party may be taking place, with Republican Senate candidates struggling in places they shouldn’t be (like Georgia). And with four weeks to go until Election Day, the same present-ism that has affixed itself to this race at every point is at work. How can McCain possibly win? He needs a game-changer and he doesn’t have one! Americans are making up their minds right now!

Given my own tendency toward present-ism — last year at this time I thought Hillary couldn’t lose and that McCain couldn’t come back from his mid-2007 meltdown — I understand the frenetic quality of all this. But it is beside the point. There is no doubt that this election is what it has always been: Barack Obama’s to lose. But he can lose it. And perversely, he may be most in danger of losing it the way candidates always find themselves in danger of losing — from misplaced confidence and a sense of inevitability that accompanies the healthy ego of anyone vainglorious enough to believe he is deserving of 60-plus million votes and the management of the highest office in the land.

Obama has had a wonderful run these past three weeks by doing nothing. It is, in point of fact, what he does best, aside from speaking. As he did on hundreds of occasions in Illinois, he decided to vote present in the economic crisis — to make it clear he was around but not to get his hair mussed. McCain, by contrast, became so convinced he had to do something that he he either arguably did too much or too little with a bill that finally failed to pass the House at the beginning of last week.

Obama clearly had the better of that, just as he has the better of the economy. But the temptation to continue to vote present — to do as little as possible except electioneer from now until the voting stops — is where McCain may find his opening and his opportunity, in my view.

 The world’s financial and economic realities are not what they were three weeks ago. This affords McCain the chance of rebooting his campaign, to re-engineer his economic policy proposals in light of a prospective recession. I am only a political observer here, not an economist, so I don’t know what that rebooting would or could consist of. But a substantive gamble by McCain, one in which he attempts to change the tone and spirit of the last three weeks by introducing a new approach to a time of crisis, offers the possibility of a new focus to the presidential race — a focus that would allow McCain not merely to spend the next month trying to sow doubts about Obama but also to inspire the sense that McCain is looking forward and has something positive to contribute that will ameliorate the tough times ahead.

This is fraught with risks, to be sure. It would give Obama something to attack. But then, Obama will attack anyway. And it’s doubtful that he will want to risk anything when he thinks he can do better by skating through the next month.

An interesting moment for Barack Obama. Everyone acknowledges he is leading. All the news stories in the past four days seem to indicate an overall national wave toward the Democratic Party may be taking place, with Republican Senate candidates struggling in places they shouldn’t be (like Georgia). And with four weeks to go until Election Day, the same present-ism that has affixed itself to this race at every point is at work. How can McCain possibly win? He needs a game-changer and he doesn’t have one! Americans are making up their minds right now!

Given my own tendency toward present-ism — last year at this time I thought Hillary couldn’t lose and that McCain couldn’t come back from his mid-2007 meltdown — I understand the frenetic quality of all this. But it is beside the point. There is no doubt that this election is what it has always been: Barack Obama’s to lose. But he can lose it. And perversely, he may be most in danger of losing it the way candidates always find themselves in danger of losing — from misplaced confidence and a sense of inevitability that accompanies the healthy ego of anyone vainglorious enough to believe he is deserving of 60-plus million votes and the management of the highest office in the land.

Obama has had a wonderful run these past three weeks by doing nothing. It is, in point of fact, what he does best, aside from speaking. As he did on hundreds of occasions in Illinois, he decided to vote present in the economic crisis — to make it clear he was around but not to get his hair mussed. McCain, by contrast, became so convinced he had to do something that he he either arguably did too much or too little with a bill that finally failed to pass the House at the beginning of last week.

Obama clearly had the better of that, just as he has the better of the economy. But the temptation to continue to vote present — to do as little as possible except electioneer from now until the voting stops — is where McCain may find his opening and his opportunity, in my view.

 The world’s financial and economic realities are not what they were three weeks ago. This affords McCain the chance of rebooting his campaign, to re-engineer his economic policy proposals in light of a prospective recession. I am only a political observer here, not an economist, so I don’t know what that rebooting would or could consist of. But a substantive gamble by McCain, one in which he attempts to change the tone and spirit of the last three weeks by introducing a new approach to a time of crisis, offers the possibility of a new focus to the presidential race — a focus that would allow McCain not merely to spend the next month trying to sow doubts about Obama but also to inspire the sense that McCain is looking forward and has something positive to contribute that will ameliorate the tough times ahead.

This is fraught with risks, to be sure. It would give Obama something to attack. But then, Obama will attack anyway. And it’s doubtful that he will want to risk anything when he thinks he can do better by skating through the next month.

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Re: Re: He Had No Idea

The “I had no idea” excuse isn’t working out so well for Barack Obama. Even CNN admits Bill Ayers was quite open about who he was and what he did. Aside from the national notoriety of Bernadine Dohrn, which John points to, Ayers was quite a topic of conversation in Chicago where Obama lived and worked. It’s just inconceivable that Obama was surprised to learn that Ayers was a Weather Underground member. Not even usually sympathetic reporters are buying this.

Will this matter? With the stock market tanking and the economic crisis transcending all other issues it may not. But getting the attention of the voters and convincing media outlets that Obama is lying about his relationship with the terrorist couple isn’t a bad first step.

The “I had no idea” excuse isn’t working out so well for Barack Obama. Even CNN admits Bill Ayers was quite open about who he was and what he did. Aside from the national notoriety of Bernadine Dohrn, which John points to, Ayers was quite a topic of conversation in Chicago where Obama lived and worked. It’s just inconceivable that Obama was surprised to learn that Ayers was a Weather Underground member. Not even usually sympathetic reporters are buying this.

Will this matter? With the stock market tanking and the economic crisis transcending all other issues it may not. But getting the attention of the voters and convincing media outlets that Obama is lying about his relationship with the terrorist couple isn’t a bad first step.

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At Least He’s Honest . . .

We’ve all seen a ton of these global polls showing that the rest of the world would pick Barack Obama over John McCain in a landslide. But a detail in this one, just conducted by Reader’s Digest, is well worth sharing:

“Obama represents something different,” says Klas Bergman, director of communications for the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. “He seems ready to listen rather than dictate. That he’s African American only adds to the mystique.”

So: Europe likes Obama because they think they can push him around while pondering the novelty his exoticism. Considering the frightening rightward shift underway in Europe right now, is this really an opinion we’re supposed to find reassuring?

We’ve all seen a ton of these global polls showing that the rest of the world would pick Barack Obama over John McCain in a landslide. But a detail in this one, just conducted by Reader’s Digest, is well worth sharing:

“Obama represents something different,” says Klas Bergman, director of communications for the Parliamentary Assembly of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. “He seems ready to listen rather than dictate. That he’s African American only adds to the mystique.”

So: Europe likes Obama because they think they can push him around while pondering the novelty his exoticism. Considering the frightening rightward shift underway in Europe right now, is this really an opinion we’re supposed to find reassuring?

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Which McCain Will Show Up?

That is what many Republicans are asking about tomorrow’s debate. Will it be the John McCain we saw in New Mexico today? This extremely hard-hitting speech is what many McCain supporters have been looking for: an attack on Democrats’ responsibility for neglecting oversight of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae and for Barack Obama’s go-alongism with a system in which Democrats raked in campaign donations and neglected their responsibilities to the taxpayers.

Or will it be the McCain who, according to this report, seems more intent on being “liked” than on going after Obama’s problematic connections and associations (which Sarah Palin has finally carried into the MSM coverage)? This one sounds like the McCain of 2000 who believed the MSM’s and not the voters’ approval was what mattered most.

Well, might he split the difference and talk about the Washington Connection (that would be Freddie-Fannie-Barney Frank-Nancy Pelosi-James Johnson nexus) but not delve into the Chicago connection (that would be Ayers-Wright-Pfleger-Walsh-Pritzker-Davis nexus)? He could, but why would he not want to do both? There is a common thread after all. He flourished in a corrupt Chicago machine and feathered the nests of his allies and friends using other people’s money (the Woods Fund and later public money from the state house and the U.S. Capitol). That same pattern of placing personal connections and party affiliations above the public good is exactly what is now at issue in Washington with the financial meltdown and what the campaign of New Politics and “change” was supposed to be about. If Obama’s entire career is a refutation of the reform and change theme he is advocating, why not talk about his entire career?

And, yes, as Abe noted, the people have a right to know why he traveled with former terrorists and a hate-spewing preacher (more than one actually) and then tried at every turn to minimize, obfuscate, and downright lie about it.

If McCain can’t put all those pieces together and explain it to the voters, then he really has no chance of pulling this out. And that reality is quickly sinking in for many Republicans. It can be done, but it is not at all clear McCain wants to do or at this late date it would make much difference.

That is what many Republicans are asking about tomorrow’s debate. Will it be the John McCain we saw in New Mexico today? This extremely hard-hitting speech is what many McCain supporters have been looking for: an attack on Democrats’ responsibility for neglecting oversight of Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae and for Barack Obama’s go-alongism with a system in which Democrats raked in campaign donations and neglected their responsibilities to the taxpayers.

Or will it be the McCain who, according to this report, seems more intent on being “liked” than on going after Obama’s problematic connections and associations (which Sarah Palin has finally carried into the MSM coverage)? This one sounds like the McCain of 2000 who believed the MSM’s and not the voters’ approval was what mattered most.

Well, might he split the difference and talk about the Washington Connection (that would be Freddie-Fannie-Barney Frank-Nancy Pelosi-James Johnson nexus) but not delve into the Chicago connection (that would be Ayers-Wright-Pfleger-Walsh-Pritzker-Davis nexus)? He could, but why would he not want to do both? There is a common thread after all. He flourished in a corrupt Chicago machine and feathered the nests of his allies and friends using other people’s money (the Woods Fund and later public money from the state house and the U.S. Capitol). That same pattern of placing personal connections and party affiliations above the public good is exactly what is now at issue in Washington with the financial meltdown and what the campaign of New Politics and “change” was supposed to be about. If Obama’s entire career is a refutation of the reform and change theme he is advocating, why not talk about his entire career?

And, yes, as Abe noted, the people have a right to know why he traveled with former terrorists and a hate-spewing preacher (more than one actually) and then tried at every turn to minimize, obfuscate, and downright lie about it.

If McCain can’t put all those pieces together and explain it to the voters, then he really has no chance of pulling this out. And that reality is quickly sinking in for many Republicans. It can be done, but it is not at all clear McCain wants to do or at this late date it would make much difference.

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An Iraqi Message to Obama

I have been in Iraq the past few days, along with three other writers, visiting with Iraqi and American soldiers on the front-lines of the increasingly successful battle against Shiite and Sunni extremists. But along with tales of success we have also heard repeated cautions about how fragile and easily reversible the gains of the past 18 months remain. One of the questions that my colleagues and I have asked is what would happen if the next U.S. administration were to decide on a precipitous pullout–perhaps even, let us say for the sake of argument, on a 16-month timetable? What would be the consequence?

I wish those who favor such a pullout–in particular a certain junior senator from Illinois–would visit the Besmaya army training range east of Baghdad to hear the answer offered by its commander, Colonel Abbas Fadhil. I first met Colonel Abbas, as he is universally known, in January and learned his extraordinary personal story: A soldier under Saddam’s army, he refused to fight the Americans in 2003 and was one of the first volunteers for the new Iraqi army. He paid a price for his courage when Moqtada al Sadr’s thugs attacked his home and killed his daughter, but he remains undaunted in his determination to get Iraq back on its feet.

In my description of my first meeting with Colonel Abbas, I had quoted his gratitude to American soldiers (whom he always calls his “brothers”) and to their commander in chief, President Bush (“the hero man of the world”), for liberating his country from a monstrous tyrant who had killed two members of his family. Today I’d like to quote his response to suggestions that Iraq would be better off if U.S. troops withdraw soon–a suggestion made not only by many American politicians but also by some of their Iraqi counterparts, at least in public:

Anyone who asks American soldiers to leave Iraq is an agent of Al Qaeda, Iran, or the militias. His agenda is not a pro-Iraq agenda. It is some other country’s agenda. Anyone who supports this plan wants Iran to control Iraq and the Persian Gulf. . . . It will be a big mistake if your soldiers leave Iraq. We will be like Lebanon. American troops should be here a long time.

If Americans leave Iraq I will have to leave with my entire family. I will be killed. I can’t stay here. . . . We need you to stay here at least 20 years before we can protect ourselves against Iran and other countries.

He ended with a message for Senator Obama: “I want to meet Obama and give him a reality picture. If he takes American forces out of Iraq, he will be supporting Al Qaeda. If he wants to support freedom for the world he should keep American forces here. My message to Obama is to continue what George Bush started–complete his mission.”

Colonel Abbas mentioned that he had never been to America–a land he greatly admires. (He and his officers have even passed the hat to raise funds which they have sent to the United States to help victims of hurricanes and other natural disasters.) Perhaps some generous individual or foundation can arrange a visit. His English may be imperfect, but there is no more eloquent spokesman to alert Americans and their leaders to the stakes involved in Iraq and the willingness of Iraqis to stand alongside us to fight our mutual enemies.

I have been in Iraq the past few days, along with three other writers, visiting with Iraqi and American soldiers on the front-lines of the increasingly successful battle against Shiite and Sunni extremists. But along with tales of success we have also heard repeated cautions about how fragile and easily reversible the gains of the past 18 months remain. One of the questions that my colleagues and I have asked is what would happen if the next U.S. administration were to decide on a precipitous pullout–perhaps even, let us say for the sake of argument, on a 16-month timetable? What would be the consequence?

I wish those who favor such a pullout–in particular a certain junior senator from Illinois–would visit the Besmaya army training range east of Baghdad to hear the answer offered by its commander, Colonel Abbas Fadhil. I first met Colonel Abbas, as he is universally known, in January and learned his extraordinary personal story: A soldier under Saddam’s army, he refused to fight the Americans in 2003 and was one of the first volunteers for the new Iraqi army. He paid a price for his courage when Moqtada al Sadr’s thugs attacked his home and killed his daughter, but he remains undaunted in his determination to get Iraq back on its feet.

In my description of my first meeting with Colonel Abbas, I had quoted his gratitude to American soldiers (whom he always calls his “brothers”) and to their commander in chief, President Bush (“the hero man of the world”), for liberating his country from a monstrous tyrant who had killed two members of his family. Today I’d like to quote his response to suggestions that Iraq would be better off if U.S. troops withdraw soon–a suggestion made not only by many American politicians but also by some of their Iraqi counterparts, at least in public:

Anyone who asks American soldiers to leave Iraq is an agent of Al Qaeda, Iran, or the militias. His agenda is not a pro-Iraq agenda. It is some other country’s agenda. Anyone who supports this plan wants Iran to control Iraq and the Persian Gulf. . . . It will be a big mistake if your soldiers leave Iraq. We will be like Lebanon. American troops should be here a long time.

If Americans leave Iraq I will have to leave with my entire family. I will be killed. I can’t stay here. . . . We need you to stay here at least 20 years before we can protect ourselves against Iran and other countries.

He ended with a message for Senator Obama: “I want to meet Obama and give him a reality picture. If he takes American forces out of Iraq, he will be supporting Al Qaeda. If he wants to support freedom for the world he should keep American forces here. My message to Obama is to continue what George Bush started–complete his mission.”

Colonel Abbas mentioned that he had never been to America–a land he greatly admires. (He and his officers have even passed the hat to raise funds which they have sent to the United States to help victims of hurricanes and other natural disasters.) Perhaps some generous individual or foundation can arrange a visit. His English may be imperfect, but there is no more eloquent spokesman to alert Americans and their leaders to the stakes involved in Iraq and the willingness of Iraqis to stand alongside us to fight our mutual enemies.

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Buried Treasure

In case anyone thought that perhaps it was only the New York Times‘ political coverage that had become unprecedentedly hacky, it appears that the cancer has spread to the obituary page as well. A renowned Israeli archaeologist named Avraham Biran died recently, aged 98, and today the Times got around to publishing an obit.

In writing a few words about a great man, the Times manages to re-write the history of the region as well:

Before beginning his work at Tel Dan, Dr. Biran had been a diplomat and government official and had nearly died when he was working for the Palestinian government in 1938.

Wow — there was a Palestinian state even before an Israeli one! (On planet reality, Biran in 1938 was working for the British Mandate government, at the behest of the Jewish Agency.)

In case anyone thought that perhaps it was only the New York Times‘ political coverage that had become unprecedentedly hacky, it appears that the cancer has spread to the obituary page as well. A renowned Israeli archaeologist named Avraham Biran died recently, aged 98, and today the Times got around to publishing an obit.

In writing a few words about a great man, the Times manages to re-write the history of the region as well:

Before beginning his work at Tel Dan, Dr. Biran had been a diplomat and government official and had nearly died when he was working for the Palestinian government in 1938.

Wow — there was a Palestinian state even before an Israeli one! (On planet reality, Biran in 1938 was working for the British Mandate government, at the behest of the Jewish Agency.)

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Card? No. Fear? Yes.

Sarah Palin has gone from speaking gibberish with Katie Couric, to speaking substantively during the VP debate, to speaking with exacting truth out on the campaign trail. Here is what she said about Barack Obama to a crowd of 2,000 in Clearwater, Florida this morning:

I am just so fearful that this is not a man who sees America the way that you and I see America — as the greatest source for good in this world. I’m afraid this someone who sees America as imperfect enough to work with a former domestic terrorist who had targeted his own country. This, ladies and gentlemen, has nothing to do with the kind of change that anyone can believe in, not my kids, not for your kids.

Critics are calling this bull’s-eye the “fear card,” but what reasonable person wouldn’t be afraid of a presidential candidate who’s logged more time as a collaborator with an anti-American terrorist than in the Senate? If concerns are supposed to be assuaged by the fact that Obama worked with Bill Ayers when he was merely regretting the limited damage done by his bombs instead of when he was exploding them, then it’s really time to panic.

The big complaint about Sarah Palin has to do with John McCain. “A question of judgment,” people say. How could McCain pick a running mate who–gasp–is a pretty Pentecostal! Okay, let’s go with that judgment thing, shall we. Barack Obama served on the board of an educational organization headed by a terrorist bomber. He launched his political career in said bomber’s home. He then went on to serve two years alongside said bomber on the board of a “charitable” organization. Not quite done, Obama gave the bomber the gift of an enthusiastic blurb for the bomber’s book jacket. Even if Obama’s preposterous new claim about not knowing who Bill Ayers was was true in 1995, was it true in 1997 when Obama, then state senator, endorsed Ayers’s book? Had he not yet found out the identity of his buddy by 2000, when he took the position serving with Ayers on the board of the Woods Fund? Did no one slip him a note over the next two years reading, “Don’t indicate that you’re reading this note, but the guy next to you is a terrorist”? Frankly, if Obama didn’t find out that Bill Ayers is a terrorist until it came up during the primary, then there’s more to worry about than the candidate’s political leanings.

You don’t need some cynical “card” to be afraid of a presidential front-runner who’s had a long-standing collaborative relationship with an anti-American terrorist. And if you’re not afraid, you’re too brave for your own good.

Sarah Palin has gone from speaking gibberish with Katie Couric, to speaking substantively during the VP debate, to speaking with exacting truth out on the campaign trail. Here is what she said about Barack Obama to a crowd of 2,000 in Clearwater, Florida this morning:

I am just so fearful that this is not a man who sees America the way that you and I see America — as the greatest source for good in this world. I’m afraid this someone who sees America as imperfect enough to work with a former domestic terrorist who had targeted his own country. This, ladies and gentlemen, has nothing to do with the kind of change that anyone can believe in, not my kids, not for your kids.

Critics are calling this bull’s-eye the “fear card,” but what reasonable person wouldn’t be afraid of a presidential candidate who’s logged more time as a collaborator with an anti-American terrorist than in the Senate? If concerns are supposed to be assuaged by the fact that Obama worked with Bill Ayers when he was merely regretting the limited damage done by his bombs instead of when he was exploding them, then it’s really time to panic.

The big complaint about Sarah Palin has to do with John McCain. “A question of judgment,” people say. How could McCain pick a running mate who–gasp–is a pretty Pentecostal! Okay, let’s go with that judgment thing, shall we. Barack Obama served on the board of an educational organization headed by a terrorist bomber. He launched his political career in said bomber’s home. He then went on to serve two years alongside said bomber on the board of a “charitable” organization. Not quite done, Obama gave the bomber the gift of an enthusiastic blurb for the bomber’s book jacket. Even if Obama’s preposterous new claim about not knowing who Bill Ayers was was true in 1995, was it true in 1997 when Obama, then state senator, endorsed Ayers’s book? Had he not yet found out the identity of his buddy by 2000, when he took the position serving with Ayers on the board of the Woods Fund? Did no one slip him a note over the next two years reading, “Don’t indicate that you’re reading this note, but the guy next to you is a terrorist”? Frankly, if Obama didn’t find out that Bill Ayers is a terrorist until it came up during the primary, then there’s more to worry about than the candidate’s political leanings.

You don’t need some cynical “card” to be afraid of a presidential front-runner who’s had a long-standing collaborative relationship with an anti-American terrorist. And if you’re not afraid, you’re too brave for your own good.

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Free the Uighurs

Yesterday, the Washington Post reported that a federal judge is considering the fate of a small group of Uighurs, Chinese Muslims, held at Guantanamo Bay. In June, the Federal Court of Appeals in Washington ruled that Huzaifa Parhat, one of them, was not an enemy combatant and had to be released, transferred, or given a new hearing. The government chose not to retry him and subsequently announced that sixteen other Uighurs at Gitmo were also innocent of crimes against the United States.

The Uighurs at Gitmo were captured in Afghanistan or Pakistan after fleeing China. Beijing suppresses religion throughout the country, but its acts are particularly brutal in the Uighur homeland in the northwest. Uighurs, consequently, have taken refuge throughout central Asia. The U.S. has linked the 17 Uighurs to a separatist group, the East Turkistan Islamic Movement, that it has designated a terrorist organization. The designation, made at the behest of Beijing, has been subject to criticism here and abroad as factually incorrect. “East Turkistan” is the name the Uighurs use for their homeland in China.

The Bush administration, to its credit, has not returned the Gitmo Uighurs to China, which wants them back so it can imprison and torture them. In 2006, the U.S. released five Uighurs for resettlement in Albania, the only nation that risked angering Beijing by taking them in.

The United States, at a minimum, should not be indefinitely holding innocent people in prison. If no other nation will take the Uighurs, the Bush administration has an obligation to give them residency in America. They have been detained for up to seven years for no crime against the United States. It’s time to set them free. As one of their lawyers told the Washington Post, “You can’t hold people just because it’s politically expedient.”

Yesterday, the Washington Post reported that a federal judge is considering the fate of a small group of Uighurs, Chinese Muslims, held at Guantanamo Bay. In June, the Federal Court of Appeals in Washington ruled that Huzaifa Parhat, one of them, was not an enemy combatant and had to be released, transferred, or given a new hearing. The government chose not to retry him and subsequently announced that sixteen other Uighurs at Gitmo were also innocent of crimes against the United States.

The Uighurs at Gitmo were captured in Afghanistan or Pakistan after fleeing China. Beijing suppresses religion throughout the country, but its acts are particularly brutal in the Uighur homeland in the northwest. Uighurs, consequently, have taken refuge throughout central Asia. The U.S. has linked the 17 Uighurs to a separatist group, the East Turkistan Islamic Movement, that it has designated a terrorist organization. The designation, made at the behest of Beijing, has been subject to criticism here and abroad as factually incorrect. “East Turkistan” is the name the Uighurs use for their homeland in China.

The Bush administration, to its credit, has not returned the Gitmo Uighurs to China, which wants them back so it can imprison and torture them. In 2006, the U.S. released five Uighurs for resettlement in Albania, the only nation that risked angering Beijing by taking them in.

The United States, at a minimum, should not be indefinitely holding innocent people in prison. If no other nation will take the Uighurs, the Bush administration has an obligation to give them residency in America. They have been detained for up to seven years for no crime against the United States. It’s time to set them free. As one of their lawyers told the Washington Post, “You can’t hold people just because it’s politically expedient.”

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Bad Habits

This report tells the story of Barack Obama carrying water for the Chicago Housing Authority seeking a $20M grant for a project that just happened to involve his longtime political ally and supporter Allison S. Davis. And the Chairman of the Chicago Housing Authority, Martin Nesbitt, is an Obama “bundler,” to boot.

But here is where the media might have done well to do its research on Obama’s past. This pattern of doling out favors to this particular supporter regardless of apparent conflicts of interest is nothing new. One only need to look at the history of the Woods Fund. Obama has been doing this for years:

According to a November 29, 2007 report from the Chicago Sun-Times, “Sen. Barack Obama was on the board of a Chicago charity when his former boss, Allison S. Davis, came looking for money. At the time, Davis was a developer represented by the law firm where Obama worked, as well as a small contributor to Obama’s political campaign funds. He wanted the charity to help fund his plans to build housing for low-income Chicagoans.”

When Davis approached the Woods Fund, he was building another apartment building with now convicted felon and Obama friend/fundraiser Tony Rezko. The Chicago Sun-Times recounts: “Obama agreed. He voted with other directors of the Woods Fund of Chicago to invest $1 million with Neighborhood Rejuvenation Partners L.P., a $17-million partnership that Davis still operates.” To date the Obama campaign has refused to comment on whether Obama disclosed his ties to Davis when he voted on the project. Another Woods Board Fund member with ties to Davis did abstain on the vote.

If the MSM had done a modicum of research on Obama’s Chicago past they would not only have learned how he operated then, but they would now be able to spot the patterns he continued as a U.S. Senator and explain them to the voters. Having ignored his past, they are in a poor position now to tell the voters that if they are looking for someone who is immune to special pleading and does not use public friends to feather his pals’ nests, The One might not be the one, after all.

This report tells the story of Barack Obama carrying water for the Chicago Housing Authority seeking a $20M grant for a project that just happened to involve his longtime political ally and supporter Allison S. Davis. And the Chairman of the Chicago Housing Authority, Martin Nesbitt, is an Obama “bundler,” to boot.

But here is where the media might have done well to do its research on Obama’s past. This pattern of doling out favors to this particular supporter regardless of apparent conflicts of interest is nothing new. One only need to look at the history of the Woods Fund. Obama has been doing this for years:

According to a November 29, 2007 report from the Chicago Sun-Times, “Sen. Barack Obama was on the board of a Chicago charity when his former boss, Allison S. Davis, came looking for money. At the time, Davis was a developer represented by the law firm where Obama worked, as well as a small contributor to Obama’s political campaign funds. He wanted the charity to help fund his plans to build housing for low-income Chicagoans.”

When Davis approached the Woods Fund, he was building another apartment building with now convicted felon and Obama friend/fundraiser Tony Rezko. The Chicago Sun-Times recounts: “Obama agreed. He voted with other directors of the Woods Fund of Chicago to invest $1 million with Neighborhood Rejuvenation Partners L.P., a $17-million partnership that Davis still operates.” To date the Obama campaign has refused to comment on whether Obama disclosed his ties to Davis when he voted on the project. Another Woods Board Fund member with ties to Davis did abstain on the vote.

If the MSM had done a modicum of research on Obama’s Chicago past they would not only have learned how he operated then, but they would now be able to spot the patterns he continued as a U.S. Senator and explain them to the voters. Having ignored his past, they are in a poor position now to tell the voters that if they are looking for someone who is immune to special pleading and does not use public friends to feather his pals’ nests, The One might not be the one, after all.

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How Green Was My Germany

According to Der Spiegel, when Barack Obama made his Berlin speech last July, the following line “drew the greatest applause of any other sentence he delivered in his speech:”

Let us resolve that all nations, including my own, will act with the same seriousness of purpose as has your nation, and reduce the carbon we send into our atmosphere.

It turns out that Germany is not feeling quite as serious about that purpose after all. Today, the EU “instantly rebuffed” requests from European automakers for a 40 billion euro loan aimed at developing greener cars that would reduce CO2 emissions by 18 percent by 2012.

This next part in particular should come as a surprise to Obama:

Auto-making nations led by Germany, which specializes in powerful, heavy luxury vehicles such as Mercedes and BMW, which emit the most greenhouse gases, have pressed for a softening of [the emission-reduction plan's] terms.

Meanwhile, back in arrogant and rapacious America, George W. Bush agreed to a $25 billion loan to U.S. automakers that requires them to improve fuel efficiency by 40 percent by 2020.

I guess when Barack Obama told us, “We can’t drive our SUVs . . . and then just expect that other countries are going to say OK,” he meant they wouldn’t say okay unless they were leading the way in big dirty cars. As someone who thinks the whole CO2 panic is absurd, I’d like to second Obama’s pledge. Let us please act with the same level of commitment to emissions reduction as Germany!

According to Der Spiegel, when Barack Obama made his Berlin speech last July, the following line “drew the greatest applause of any other sentence he delivered in his speech:”

Let us resolve that all nations, including my own, will act with the same seriousness of purpose as has your nation, and reduce the carbon we send into our atmosphere.

It turns out that Germany is not feeling quite as serious about that purpose after all. Today, the EU “instantly rebuffed” requests from European automakers for a 40 billion euro loan aimed at developing greener cars that would reduce CO2 emissions by 18 percent by 2012.

This next part in particular should come as a surprise to Obama:

Auto-making nations led by Germany, which specializes in powerful, heavy luxury vehicles such as Mercedes and BMW, which emit the most greenhouse gases, have pressed for a softening of [the emission-reduction plan's] terms.

Meanwhile, back in arrogant and rapacious America, George W. Bush agreed to a $25 billion loan to U.S. automakers that requires them to improve fuel efficiency by 40 percent by 2020.

I guess when Barack Obama told us, “We can’t drive our SUVs . . . and then just expect that other countries are going to say OK,” he meant they wouldn’t say okay unless they were leading the way in big dirty cars. As someone who thinks the whole CO2 panic is absurd, I’d like to second Obama’s pledge. Let us please act with the same level of commitment to emissions reduction as Germany!

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Re: He Had No Idea

Jen, the low comedy of the spin you mention — that Barack Obama didn’t know about Ayers’s past as a Weatherman — is beyond absurd for a reason you don’t mention. Ayers is married to a woman named Bernardine Dohrn. She, too, was a Weather Underground monster. She, too, was present at a party in Hyde Park in 1995 where Obama met Ayers — indeed, she was one of the party’s hosts, given that the party took place in the Ayers-Dohrn family manse. Owing to the fact that she was a pretty half-Jewish girl from a nice family with a respectable education, she became an iconographic figure when she turned terrorist in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Indeed, she was, throughout the 1970s, perhaps the most famous fugitive in the United States, so much so that in 1987, her life underground with Ayers became the fictionalized subject of the highly praised movie Running on Empty. Her surrender to authorities in the fall of 1980, when Obama was 19 years old, was a huge story. If there is any conceivable way that Obama might not have known about Ayers’s past to begin with, it is inconceivable that a person as culturally literate as Barack Obama would not have known who Bernardine Dohrn was — mere fact that he was married to Bernardine Dohrn would have given the game away to anyone who had been paying even the slightest attention to the world around him. And Obama pays attention.

Jen, the low comedy of the spin you mention — that Barack Obama didn’t know about Ayers’s past as a Weatherman — is beyond absurd for a reason you don’t mention. Ayers is married to a woman named Bernardine Dohrn. She, too, was a Weather Underground monster. She, too, was present at a party in Hyde Park in 1995 where Obama met Ayers — indeed, she was one of the party’s hosts, given that the party took place in the Ayers-Dohrn family manse. Owing to the fact that she was a pretty half-Jewish girl from a nice family with a respectable education, she became an iconographic figure when she turned terrorist in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Indeed, she was, throughout the 1970s, perhaps the most famous fugitive in the United States, so much so that in 1987, her life underground with Ayers became the fictionalized subject of the highly praised movie Running on Empty. Her surrender to authorities in the fall of 1980, when Obama was 19 years old, was a huge story. If there is any conceivable way that Obama might not have known about Ayers’s past to begin with, it is inconceivable that a person as culturally literate as Barack Obama would not have known who Bernardine Dohrn was — mere fact that he was married to Bernardine Dohrn would have given the game away to anyone who had been paying even the slightest attention to the world around him. And Obama pays attention.

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John McCain’s Act III

A month and a day away from the election, John McCain’s task, never easy, is more daunting than ever.

The financial crisis that overwhelmed us a few weeks ago has set in motion economic problems that will be with us for some time to come. It also turned out to be the best possible political gift for the Obama campaign. It has dominated the news for weeks now, deepened the public’s mistrust of Republicans (which was beginning to abate), arrested and reversed the momentum the McCain campaign had skillfully achieved, and shifted the election onto terrain that most favors Obama.

The financial meltdown was bound to hurt Republicans no matter what; the way McCain and members of the GOP handled it has made things worse. And so we are essentially where we were several months ago, with Obama in possession of a sizable lead. The difference now is that there are less than 30 days left before the votes are cast, the number of states McCain has a realistic chance of picking off (like Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and New Hampshire) are dwindling by the day, some states that should be safe McCain states (like Florida, North Carolina, and even Indiana) are in play, and states McCain has to have–like Ohio and Virginia–are up for grabs.

It’s true enough that the pendulum of public opinion has swung widely in the last several seven weeks, moving from an Obama lead, to a slight McCain lead, and back again. It’s also true that Obama is still a question mark in many people’s minds. But a strong wind is now at Obama’s back. And the issue that will almost surely dominate the public mind between now and the election, the economy, plays to Obama’s strength and McCain’s weakness.

What this means is that Senator McCain now has to turn in two superb debate performances. He has no margin for error on any front. And he has to hope for either a dramatic external event to alter the trajectory of the race, or a significant slip up by the well-disciplined Obama campaign. That’s a lot to hope for in the next four weeks.

This past weekend has made it clear that Obama’s unremittingly liberal voting record, as well as some of his past associations (weirdly excluding the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, which is the association that deeply troubled a lot of us), will be an issue during what I have called Act III of the McCain campaign.

What remains to be seen is whether this line of criticism will succeed given the current environment. If so, the case McCain makes needs to be powerful and precise, accurate and believable. He must convince a large segment of the public that his argument is not backward-looking but is instead intensely practical. To be more specific, McCain need to demonstrate to voters why Obama’s past record and associations will shape, in important and harmful ways, how Obama would govern as president. To invoke a line used by Senator Biden during last Thursday’s debate, McCain needs to explain why “past is prologue.”

There are possible pitfalls for Senator McCain to be sure. He needs to be careful not to come across looking like Bob “Where’s the outrage?” Dole near the end of the 1996 campaign. There will be a relentless effort by Democrats, and many political commentators, to portray McCain as petty, desperate, and small-minded. And with the American economy adrift and heading toward a recession, it will be a challenge not to make his criticisms appear to be out of sync with the main issue on people’s mind. Nor is it as if McCain will be aiming his fire against a passive figure; Obama and his campaign will fight back and make a series of counter-attacks.

The thing that McCain has in his favor is that Obama is in fact deeply liberal. That judgment is beyond dispute, at least if voting records have any relevance. In a center-right nation, that is a problem. The task for McCain has always been to do more than shout “liberal, liberal, liberal” in a crowded political theater; he has to show that Obama’s liberalism, especially combined with a Pelosi-and-Reid led Congress, will have real world consequences. He has to demonstrate, in a way that’s accessible and relevant, why one’s political philosophy serves as a reliable guide to one’s political actions.

Barack Obama will do what he has done from the outset: deny the charge and insist that such labels are passé, a political artifact from 1988, a page from the GOP’s book of “old politics.” In fact, in this election, as in all elections, ideas and political ideology ought to matter. Whether John McCain – a man who over the years has prided himself on being non-ideological, a “maverick,” and a deal-maker – can make that case at all, let alone in the current environment, is very much of an open question. But he really has no other choice than to try, starting tomorrow night in Nashville.

A month and a day away from the election, John McCain’s task, never easy, is more daunting than ever.

The financial crisis that overwhelmed us a few weeks ago has set in motion economic problems that will be with us for some time to come. It also turned out to be the best possible political gift for the Obama campaign. It has dominated the news for weeks now, deepened the public’s mistrust of Republicans (which was beginning to abate), arrested and reversed the momentum the McCain campaign had skillfully achieved, and shifted the election onto terrain that most favors Obama.

The financial meltdown was bound to hurt Republicans no matter what; the way McCain and members of the GOP handled it has made things worse. And so we are essentially where we were several months ago, with Obama in possession of a sizable lead. The difference now is that there are less than 30 days left before the votes are cast, the number of states McCain has a realistic chance of picking off (like Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, and New Hampshire) are dwindling by the day, some states that should be safe McCain states (like Florida, North Carolina, and even Indiana) are in play, and states McCain has to have–like Ohio and Virginia–are up for grabs.

It’s true enough that the pendulum of public opinion has swung widely in the last several seven weeks, moving from an Obama lead, to a slight McCain lead, and back again. It’s also true that Obama is still a question mark in many people’s minds. But a strong wind is now at Obama’s back. And the issue that will almost surely dominate the public mind between now and the election, the economy, plays to Obama’s strength and McCain’s weakness.

What this means is that Senator McCain now has to turn in two superb debate performances. He has no margin for error on any front. And he has to hope for either a dramatic external event to alter the trajectory of the race, or a significant slip up by the well-disciplined Obama campaign. That’s a lot to hope for in the next four weeks.

This past weekend has made it clear that Obama’s unremittingly liberal voting record, as well as some of his past associations (weirdly excluding the Reverend Jeremiah Wright, which is the association that deeply troubled a lot of us), will be an issue during what I have called Act III of the McCain campaign.

What remains to be seen is whether this line of criticism will succeed given the current environment. If so, the case McCain makes needs to be powerful and precise, accurate and believable. He must convince a large segment of the public that his argument is not backward-looking but is instead intensely practical. To be more specific, McCain need to demonstrate to voters why Obama’s past record and associations will shape, in important and harmful ways, how Obama would govern as president. To invoke a line used by Senator Biden during last Thursday’s debate, McCain needs to explain why “past is prologue.”

There are possible pitfalls for Senator McCain to be sure. He needs to be careful not to come across looking like Bob “Where’s the outrage?” Dole near the end of the 1996 campaign. There will be a relentless effort by Democrats, and many political commentators, to portray McCain as petty, desperate, and small-minded. And with the American economy adrift and heading toward a recession, it will be a challenge not to make his criticisms appear to be out of sync with the main issue on people’s mind. Nor is it as if McCain will be aiming his fire against a passive figure; Obama and his campaign will fight back and make a series of counter-attacks.

The thing that McCain has in his favor is that Obama is in fact deeply liberal. That judgment is beyond dispute, at least if voting records have any relevance. In a center-right nation, that is a problem. The task for McCain has always been to do more than shout “liberal, liberal, liberal” in a crowded political theater; he has to show that Obama’s liberalism, especially combined with a Pelosi-and-Reid led Congress, will have real world consequences. He has to demonstrate, in a way that’s accessible and relevant, why one’s political philosophy serves as a reliable guide to one’s political actions.

Barack Obama will do what he has done from the outset: deny the charge and insist that such labels are passé, a political artifact from 1988, a page from the GOP’s book of “old politics.” In fact, in this election, as in all elections, ideas and political ideology ought to matter. Whether John McCain – a man who over the years has prided himself on being non-ideological, a “maverick,” and a deal-maker – can make that case at all, let alone in the current environment, is very much of an open question. But he really has no other choice than to try, starting tomorrow night in Nashville.

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He Had No Idea?

Well, the Obama campaign spinners have a new one: Barack Obama had no idea Bill Ayers and his wife were former terrorists. This is just plain silly and–even worse–very, very counterproductive for Obama’s electoral prospects.

First, since Obama himself never used the ignorance excuse, it is not going to be believed by anyone but the most adoring Obama-philes. Second, the way this issue becomes problematic for otherwise forgiving, apolitical voters is precisely by becoming an issue of credibility. Bluntly put, it’s one thing to hang out with former terrorists who conspired to kill Americans and avowed a hatred for America, it is quite another to lie to voters now. The “just a guy in the neighborhood” excuse was not quite flying–the “I didn’t know he was a terrorist” hooey sure isn’t.

Obama’s all too-helpful un-truth squad may yet convince the voters that not only is this something Obama must hide but that he is lying to them. As bonehead moves in this campaign go, this will rank near the top.

Well, the Obama campaign spinners have a new one: Barack Obama had no idea Bill Ayers and his wife were former terrorists. This is just plain silly and–even worse–very, very counterproductive for Obama’s electoral prospects.

First, since Obama himself never used the ignorance excuse, it is not going to be believed by anyone but the most adoring Obama-philes. Second, the way this issue becomes problematic for otherwise forgiving, apolitical voters is precisely by becoming an issue of credibility. Bluntly put, it’s one thing to hang out with former terrorists who conspired to kill Americans and avowed a hatred for America, it is quite another to lie to voters now. The “just a guy in the neighborhood” excuse was not quite flying–the “I didn’t know he was a terrorist” hooey sure isn’t.

Obama’s all too-helpful un-truth squad may yet convince the voters that not only is this something Obama must hide but that he is lying to them. As bonehead moves in this campaign go, this will rank near the top.

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Cyclops Fatwa

Now I am convinced of it: Modesty truly has no bounds. Consider, for example, this latest fatwa. (Please note: I am using the term literally, since I am writing about Muslims in Saudi Arabia, not ultra-Orthodox Jews.) A new ruling by one of Saudi Arabia’s top clerics, Sheikh Muhammad al-Habadan, rules that women who leave the home must not only cover their entire bodies including their faces, but also one of their eyes. According to al-Habadan, “revelation of both eyes behind the veil is likely to encourage women to put make-up on and accentuate their eyes. This is corrupt behavior which conflicts with Islamic principles.” What happens when they need to use both eyes when, say, they go out? “When a woman goes out into the street or to a public place she will wear a veil and cover one eye with a piece of cloth. When she goes shopping and wants to assess a product, she will completely remove the piece of cloth and will be able to use both eyes for a limited amount of time.”

I think that’s rather generous. Don’t you?

Now I am convinced of it: Modesty truly has no bounds. Consider, for example, this latest fatwa. (Please note: I am using the term literally, since I am writing about Muslims in Saudi Arabia, not ultra-Orthodox Jews.) A new ruling by one of Saudi Arabia’s top clerics, Sheikh Muhammad al-Habadan, rules that women who leave the home must not only cover their entire bodies including their faces, but also one of their eyes. According to al-Habadan, “revelation of both eyes behind the veil is likely to encourage women to put make-up on and accentuate their eyes. This is corrupt behavior which conflicts with Islamic principles.” What happens when they need to use both eyes when, say, they go out? “When a woman goes out into the street or to a public place she will wear a veil and cover one eye with a piece of cloth. When she goes shopping and wants to assess a product, she will completely remove the piece of cloth and will be able to use both eyes for a limited amount of time.”

I think that’s rather generous. Don’t you?

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Stephen Hayes holds out hope for John McCain with an analogy to 1976: Gerald Ford closed thirty points in the polls in a few months by arguing that Jimmy Carter was a risky, unknown quantity. But keep in mind: Ford still lost.

The sad thing is that this SNL skit has more accurate information on the subprime mortgage crisis than you would get from either presidential campaign and most MSM reports.

This new McCain campaign ad “Dangerous” doesn’t leave much to the imagination.

Via Drudge another instance in which Barack Obama and Bill Ayers “crossed paths.”

Brit Hume says it all: “And the behavior of the congressional leadership was not inspiring. The behavior of the House Republicans was, quite frankly, appalling, or at least some of them, and yet — and the behavior of the media in distributing misinformation — to cite one conspicuous example, the treatment of the tax extenders that were added to the package — a package, by the way, that had already passed the Senate by a vote of 93-2; had yet to clear the house — as pork was particularly atrocious. But in spite of the wall of information that everybody had to climb, the thing passed in the end, and it passed by large bipartisan majorities. And I think that’s something to take heart from and, in fact, be proud of.”

An informative CNN story from earlier in the year details Barack Obama’s old-style “dirty” political tactics. If this got a few minutes when few were paying attention, don’t Bill Ayers and Tony Rezko deserve an hour or two now?

A military analyst takes issue with Obama’s assertion that Al Qaeda is stronger than ever, concluding: “It is clear that Obama wants to make it look like the Bush administration has lost to al Qaeda and the only one who can beat al Qaeda is Obama. I find it dispiriting that the Democratic Party’s candidate is so willing to twist the truth and run down the accomplishments of our soldiers just to score a cheap political shot. Really, he could surely win the presidency without making up this nonsense.” As for the last point, Obama isn’t taking any chances.

As dumb lists of “most important” people in the race go — this is one of the dumber ones. Please, at least two of them wouldn’t make the top hundred. This sort of thing just perpetuates the image of irritating know-it-all-ism ( and lack of real insight) which characterizes much of MSM punditry.

While combing through all the gaffes and untruths in Joe Biden’s debate performance, we also assume that the guy who lives in a $3M house and hasn’t lived in Scranton in decades probably doesn’t frequent Home Depot very much. In a normal election we tolerate such abject phoniness but with the Palins around, the pretense of “averageness” seem particularly glaring.

The RNC complaint against the Obama fundraising antics gets some press. I’m sure the FEC investigation will reach a prompt resolution by the end of the year — that year would be 2010.

Stephen Hayes holds out hope for John McCain with an analogy to 1976: Gerald Ford closed thirty points in the polls in a few months by arguing that Jimmy Carter was a risky, unknown quantity. But keep in mind: Ford still lost.

The sad thing is that this SNL skit has more accurate information on the subprime mortgage crisis than you would get from either presidential campaign and most MSM reports.

This new McCain campaign ad “Dangerous” doesn’t leave much to the imagination.

Via Drudge another instance in which Barack Obama and Bill Ayers “crossed paths.”

Brit Hume says it all: “And the behavior of the congressional leadership was not inspiring. The behavior of the House Republicans was, quite frankly, appalling, or at least some of them, and yet — and the behavior of the media in distributing misinformation — to cite one conspicuous example, the treatment of the tax extenders that were added to the package — a package, by the way, that had already passed the Senate by a vote of 93-2; had yet to clear the house — as pork was particularly atrocious. But in spite of the wall of information that everybody had to climb, the thing passed in the end, and it passed by large bipartisan majorities. And I think that’s something to take heart from and, in fact, be proud of.”

An informative CNN story from earlier in the year details Barack Obama’s old-style “dirty” political tactics. If this got a few minutes when few were paying attention, don’t Bill Ayers and Tony Rezko deserve an hour or two now?

A military analyst takes issue with Obama’s assertion that Al Qaeda is stronger than ever, concluding: “It is clear that Obama wants to make it look like the Bush administration has lost to al Qaeda and the only one who can beat al Qaeda is Obama. I find it dispiriting that the Democratic Party’s candidate is so willing to twist the truth and run down the accomplishments of our soldiers just to score a cheap political shot. Really, he could surely win the presidency without making up this nonsense.” As for the last point, Obama isn’t taking any chances.

As dumb lists of “most important” people in the race go — this is one of the dumber ones. Please, at least two of them wouldn’t make the top hundred. This sort of thing just perpetuates the image of irritating know-it-all-ism ( and lack of real insight) which characterizes much of MSM punditry.

While combing through all the gaffes and untruths in Joe Biden’s debate performance, we also assume that the guy who lives in a $3M house and hasn’t lived in Scranton in decades probably doesn’t frequent Home Depot very much. In a normal election we tolerate such abject phoniness but with the Palins around, the pretense of “averageness” seem particularly glaring.

The RNC complaint against the Obama fundraising antics gets some press. I’m sure the FEC investigation will reach a prompt resolution by the end of the year — that year would be 2010.

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Obama, Ads, and Israel

The airwaves have been filled recently with video clips showing Israelis supporting of Barack Obama. I guess this is part of the ongoing campaign–spearheaded by comedian Sarah Silverman–to convince the pro-Israel Jewish voters (and maybe some non-Jewish voters, too) that Obama will be as good for Israel as the other candidate, maybe even better.

While I do believe that Obama is a genuine supporter of Israel (and if there’s any reason to question him on this, it’s because of policies, not bad intentions), the notion behind those clips is laughable.

Take a look at this one. The producers will tell you: look, many Israelis support Obama. But how many? And whom? They’ll tell you these are Israelis on both Left and Right. Not true. They say supporters of Obama are both secular and observant. I think they’ll have a huge problem on their hands if they try to prove that point. All this does not mean that Obama is problematic–but it does mean that the clip is misleading. I wrote about it last week, at the request of France-24′s “The Observers”: “finding five or six or even 20 Israelis supporting Obama is easy, but the truth of the matter is quite simple – those are mostly left-wing Israelis, representing a small minority of the Jewish population.”

But this is not the end of the story. The video uses various tricks to create a false impression that people from all quarters support Obama. Thus, it contains footage from a TV show in which Nathan Diament of the Orthodox Union (and, let’s admit it right here, they wanted his black yarmulke on screen) are shown. Diament felt the need to release a statement saying that “The footage and identification may mislead some viewers to think that the OU or Nathan Diament are endorsing Barack Obama for president. This is not the case. The OU is a tax-exempt, non-partisan organization and does not endorse or oppose candidates for elective office.”

The clip also presents “Former Deputy Speaker of the Knesset, Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee” Naomi Chasan, an Obama supporter. Conveniently enough–and I don’t think is sheer forgetfulness–the producers do not mention Chasan’s party affiliation. Not that there’s anything wrong with it, but she’s a member of Meretz, Israel’s party on the far Left – not exactly a representative of mainstream Israeli public opinion (my larger take on the Israeli Left’s fascination with Obama is here).

Whatever flaws it has, I guess this clip has created an appetite for more such videos (next time someone blames Israelis for meddling in U.S. affairs, these clips–using Israelis in U.S. election–will become handy). As a result, we now have “Israel’s Generals Speak“, in which “Retired Generals of the Israeli Defense Forces and high-ranking Mossad officials praise Barack Obama”. The ad has already gotten its share of attention, and is circulating with the help of Jewish Obama supporters all around the U.S.

Again, the problem with this clip is not that it gives a misleading impression of Obama. It’s the impression it gives about Israel that’s wrong. Yes, one can find some Obama supporters among the ex-officials of the Israeli Defense forces, but they will be in the minority. One of them, Amnon Shahak, is shown in both clips. Shlomo Brom, Yossi Alpher and Shaul Arieli – names most Israelis (and surely Americans) will not recognize – are all knowledgeable, respectable people, but can be usually counted on to be in opposition to most things the Israeli defense establishment believes.

But that’s not the end of it. Ex-Mossad chief Ephraim Halevi has already complained that he had said nice things both about Obama and McCain, but only the part on Obama was shown in the clip. I’d suspect Halevi really likes Obama, but this is beside the point. The point is that the producers of this clip weren’t honest about what they were doing. General Uzi Dayan, a former Duputy Chief of Staff and a member of the Likud Party, called the clip–in which he appears, supposedly as another Obama supporter–a “lie.”

In short: some genuine supporters, some not even that. If one is after proof that in Israel–a lively democracy–one can find all opinions and all political tendencies provided one looks hard enough, the proof is right here. However, interpreting these clips as proof that Israelis prefer Obama over McCain will be a mistake. Israelis might not be terrified by Obama, as some were a year ago (he did a good job convincing them that he will be a friend). They might be getting used to the idea that an Obama presidency is possible–and this makes them even more prone to try and find the positive sides of such a selection. They generally believe that an American president–no matter whom–will be a friend until proven otherwise. Obama included.

Having said that, Israelis can be divided into three major groups as far as American politics is concerned: Most of them just don’t know enough, or don’t care enough, to have real opinion. If they say that they like McCain–as they did in a couple of polls–it is because Israelis are generally more hawkish than Obama. If they say they support Obama, it is because they believe he will win, or because he is good looking, or because they deem it more fashionable to support him. Among those with an educated opinion–especially in the Israeli establishment–many more are supportive of McCain (but these are also start getting used to the idea of President Obama–and hope for the best).

The smallest group is the one of knowledgeable Israelis genuinely supportive of Obama. People who would have voted for him, had they had a vote to cast. But truth must be told–even this smallest of groups is large enough for a four-minute clip.

The airwaves have been filled recently with video clips showing Israelis supporting of Barack Obama. I guess this is part of the ongoing campaign–spearheaded by comedian Sarah Silverman–to convince the pro-Israel Jewish voters (and maybe some non-Jewish voters, too) that Obama will be as good for Israel as the other candidate, maybe even better.

While I do believe that Obama is a genuine supporter of Israel (and if there’s any reason to question him on this, it’s because of policies, not bad intentions), the notion behind those clips is laughable.

Take a look at this one. The producers will tell you: look, many Israelis support Obama. But how many? And whom? They’ll tell you these are Israelis on both Left and Right. Not true. They say supporters of Obama are both secular and observant. I think they’ll have a huge problem on their hands if they try to prove that point. All this does not mean that Obama is problematic–but it does mean that the clip is misleading. I wrote about it last week, at the request of France-24′s “The Observers”: “finding five or six or even 20 Israelis supporting Obama is easy, but the truth of the matter is quite simple – those are mostly left-wing Israelis, representing a small minority of the Jewish population.”

But this is not the end of the story. The video uses various tricks to create a false impression that people from all quarters support Obama. Thus, it contains footage from a TV show in which Nathan Diament of the Orthodox Union (and, let’s admit it right here, they wanted his black yarmulke on screen) are shown. Diament felt the need to release a statement saying that “The footage and identification may mislead some viewers to think that the OU or Nathan Diament are endorsing Barack Obama for president. This is not the case. The OU is a tax-exempt, non-partisan organization and does not endorse or oppose candidates for elective office.”

The clip also presents “Former Deputy Speaker of the Knesset, Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee” Naomi Chasan, an Obama supporter. Conveniently enough–and I don’t think is sheer forgetfulness–the producers do not mention Chasan’s party affiliation. Not that there’s anything wrong with it, but she’s a member of Meretz, Israel’s party on the far Left – not exactly a representative of mainstream Israeli public opinion (my larger take on the Israeli Left’s fascination with Obama is here).

Whatever flaws it has, I guess this clip has created an appetite for more such videos (next time someone blames Israelis for meddling in U.S. affairs, these clips–using Israelis in U.S. election–will become handy). As a result, we now have “Israel’s Generals Speak“, in which “Retired Generals of the Israeli Defense Forces and high-ranking Mossad officials praise Barack Obama”. The ad has already gotten its share of attention, and is circulating with the help of Jewish Obama supporters all around the U.S.

Again, the problem with this clip is not that it gives a misleading impression of Obama. It’s the impression it gives about Israel that’s wrong. Yes, one can find some Obama supporters among the ex-officials of the Israeli Defense forces, but they will be in the minority. One of them, Amnon Shahak, is shown in both clips. Shlomo Brom, Yossi Alpher and Shaul Arieli – names most Israelis (and surely Americans) will not recognize – are all knowledgeable, respectable people, but can be usually counted on to be in opposition to most things the Israeli defense establishment believes.

But that’s not the end of it. Ex-Mossad chief Ephraim Halevi has already complained that he had said nice things both about Obama and McCain, but only the part on Obama was shown in the clip. I’d suspect Halevi really likes Obama, but this is beside the point. The point is that the producers of this clip weren’t honest about what they were doing. General Uzi Dayan, a former Duputy Chief of Staff and a member of the Likud Party, called the clip–in which he appears, supposedly as another Obama supporter–a “lie.”

In short: some genuine supporters, some not even that. If one is after proof that in Israel–a lively democracy–one can find all opinions and all political tendencies provided one looks hard enough, the proof is right here. However, interpreting these clips as proof that Israelis prefer Obama over McCain will be a mistake. Israelis might not be terrified by Obama, as some were a year ago (he did a good job convincing them that he will be a friend). They might be getting used to the idea that an Obama presidency is possible–and this makes them even more prone to try and find the positive sides of such a selection. They generally believe that an American president–no matter whom–will be a friend until proven otherwise. Obama included.

Having said that, Israelis can be divided into three major groups as far as American politics is concerned: Most of them just don’t know enough, or don’t care enough, to have real opinion. If they say that they like McCain–as they did in a couple of polls–it is because Israelis are generally more hawkish than Obama. If they say they support Obama, it is because they believe he will win, or because he is good looking, or because they deem it more fashionable to support him. Among those with an educated opinion–especially in the Israeli establishment–many more are supportive of McCain (but these are also start getting used to the idea of President Obama–and hope for the best).

The smallest group is the one of knowledgeable Israelis genuinely supportive of Obama. People who would have voted for him, had they had a vote to cast. But truth must be told–even this smallest of groups is large enough for a four-minute clip.

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Does The Senator Want To Revise And Extend?

The Wall Street Journal’s editors rip into Joe Biden for several of his gross misstatements in last week’s debate:

The U.S. never kicked Hezbollah out of Lebanon, and no one else has either. Perhaps Mr. Biden meant to say Syria, except that the U.S. also didn’t do that. The Lebanese ousted Syria’s military in 2005. As for NATO, Messrs. Biden and Obama may have proposed sending alliance troops in, but if they did that was also a fantasy. The U.S. has had all it can handle trying to convince NATO countries to deploy to Afghanistan.

Speaking of which, Mr. Biden also averred that “Our commanding general in Afghanistan said the surge principle in Iraq will not work in Afghanistan.” In trying to correct him, Mrs. Palin mispronounced the general’s name — saying “General McClellan” instead of General David McKiernan. But Mr. Biden’s claim was the bigger error, because General McKiernan said that while “Afghanistan is not Iraq,” he also said a “sustained commitment” to counterinsurgency would be required. That is consistent with Mr. McCain’s point that the “surge principles” of Iraq could work in Afghanistan.

Then there’s the Senator’s astonishing claim that Mr. Obama “did not say he’d sit down with Ahmadinejad” without preconditions. Yet Mr. Biden himself criticized Mr. Obama on this point in 2007 at the National Press Club: “Would I make a blanket commitment to meet unconditionally with the leaders of each of those countries within the first year I was elected President? Absolutely, positively no.”

Or how about his rewriting of Bosnia history to assert that John McCain didn’t support President Clinton in the 1990s. “My recommendations on Bosnia, I admit I was the first one to recommend it. They saved tens of thousands of lives. And initially John McCain opposed it along with a lot of other people. But the end result was it worked.” Mr. Biden’s immodesty aside, Mr. McCain supported Mr. Clinton on Bosnia, as did Bob Dole even as he was running against him for President in 1996 — in contrast to the way Mr. Biden and Democratic leaders have tried to undermine President Bush on Iraq.

Closer to home, the Delaware blarney stone also invited Americans to join him at “Katie’s restaurant” in Wilmington to witness middle-class struggles. Just one problem: Katie’s closed in the 1980s. The mistake is more than a memory lapse because it exposes how phony is Mr. Biden’s attempt to pose for this campaign as Lunchbucket Joe.

While declining to label him a liar, the Journal’s editors conclude: “Mrs. Palin may not know as much about the world as Mr. Biden does, but at least most of what she knows is true.”

Biden won’t get a do-over but McCain has a couple of more swings at bat in the two remaining debates. It may be worthwhile to bring up some of these and to make the point: Barack Obama is so inexperienced that he is in no position to figure out that most of what Biden tells him is hooey. Seriously, if this is the man Obama chooses to rely on for sage foreign policy advice won’t we all be in a heap of trouble?

And, yes, Sarah Palin should ask for a rematch. Since last time we had as a moderator the author of a fawning tribute to Barack Obama the next one should be moderated by Mark Salter. Fair is fair, right?

The Wall Street Journal’s editors rip into Joe Biden for several of his gross misstatements in last week’s debate:

The U.S. never kicked Hezbollah out of Lebanon, and no one else has either. Perhaps Mr. Biden meant to say Syria, except that the U.S. also didn’t do that. The Lebanese ousted Syria’s military in 2005. As for NATO, Messrs. Biden and Obama may have proposed sending alliance troops in, but if they did that was also a fantasy. The U.S. has had all it can handle trying to convince NATO countries to deploy to Afghanistan.

Speaking of which, Mr. Biden also averred that “Our commanding general in Afghanistan said the surge principle in Iraq will not work in Afghanistan.” In trying to correct him, Mrs. Palin mispronounced the general’s name — saying “General McClellan” instead of General David McKiernan. But Mr. Biden’s claim was the bigger error, because General McKiernan said that while “Afghanistan is not Iraq,” he also said a “sustained commitment” to counterinsurgency would be required. That is consistent with Mr. McCain’s point that the “surge principles” of Iraq could work in Afghanistan.

Then there’s the Senator’s astonishing claim that Mr. Obama “did not say he’d sit down with Ahmadinejad” without preconditions. Yet Mr. Biden himself criticized Mr. Obama on this point in 2007 at the National Press Club: “Would I make a blanket commitment to meet unconditionally with the leaders of each of those countries within the first year I was elected President? Absolutely, positively no.”

Or how about his rewriting of Bosnia history to assert that John McCain didn’t support President Clinton in the 1990s. “My recommendations on Bosnia, I admit I was the first one to recommend it. They saved tens of thousands of lives. And initially John McCain opposed it along with a lot of other people. But the end result was it worked.” Mr. Biden’s immodesty aside, Mr. McCain supported Mr. Clinton on Bosnia, as did Bob Dole even as he was running against him for President in 1996 — in contrast to the way Mr. Biden and Democratic leaders have tried to undermine President Bush on Iraq.

Closer to home, the Delaware blarney stone also invited Americans to join him at “Katie’s restaurant” in Wilmington to witness middle-class struggles. Just one problem: Katie’s closed in the 1980s. The mistake is more than a memory lapse because it exposes how phony is Mr. Biden’s attempt to pose for this campaign as Lunchbucket Joe.

While declining to label him a liar, the Journal’s editors conclude: “Mrs. Palin may not know as much about the world as Mr. Biden does, but at least most of what she knows is true.”

Biden won’t get a do-over but McCain has a couple of more swings at bat in the two remaining debates. It may be worthwhile to bring up some of these and to make the point: Barack Obama is so inexperienced that he is in no position to figure out that most of what Biden tells him is hooey. Seriously, if this is the man Obama chooses to rely on for sage foreign policy advice won’t we all be in a heap of trouble?

And, yes, Sarah Palin should ask for a rematch. Since last time we had as a moderator the author of a fawning tribute to Barack Obama the next one should be moderated by Mark Salter. Fair is fair, right?

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Shifting The Focus

Wherever you look, Sarah Palin is there — in key states, on magazine covers, and in the headlines. This is to some extent a function of the recent debate and her elevation as the prime attacker of Barack Obama’s past affiliations. But to some extent she has become the emotional center of the McCain-Palin ticket. She’s the best answer John McCain has in the “Who’s more outsider-ish?” battle. She’s the excitement for the base. And she’s the one who seems most willing to take a swing at the Democrats in Congress. Oh, and in an interview with Bill Kristol she’s the only one with a clue — or the nerve to express — how important it is to discuss Reverend Wright:

To tell you the truth, Bill, I don’t know why that association isn’t discussed more, because those were appalling things that that pastor had said about our great country, and to have sat in the pews for 20 years and listened to that — with, I don’t know, a sense of condoning it, I guess, because he didn’t get up and leave — to me, that does say something about character. But, you know, I guess that would be a John McCain call on whether he wants to bring that up.

Certainly, some of this attention also stems from her newness in the race and on the national scene. People are still intrigued by her. But part of this is unfortunately a sense that voters and the media have heard just about everything McCain has to say and are a little bored. It doesn’t mean the McCain-Palin ticket is kaput — just that its hopes of a comeback rely increasingly on the freshest and funnest messenger. More and more, the burden falls to her to convince voters that Obama is too risky and McCain-Palin is innovative enough to fufill the desire of Americans for a clean break with the past.

That’s a tall order for any VP, let alone one so new to national politics. Some may suspect it’s all a dry run for the next presidential race — which, if the current crazed political environment is any guide, will start in about six months.

Wherever you look, Sarah Palin is there — in key states, on magazine covers, and in the headlines. This is to some extent a function of the recent debate and her elevation as the prime attacker of Barack Obama’s past affiliations. But to some extent she has become the emotional center of the McCain-Palin ticket. She’s the best answer John McCain has in the “Who’s more outsider-ish?” battle. She’s the excitement for the base. And she’s the one who seems most willing to take a swing at the Democrats in Congress. Oh, and in an interview with Bill Kristol she’s the only one with a clue — or the nerve to express — how important it is to discuss Reverend Wright:

To tell you the truth, Bill, I don’t know why that association isn’t discussed more, because those were appalling things that that pastor had said about our great country, and to have sat in the pews for 20 years and listened to that — with, I don’t know, a sense of condoning it, I guess, because he didn’t get up and leave — to me, that does say something about character. But, you know, I guess that would be a John McCain call on whether he wants to bring that up.

Certainly, some of this attention also stems from her newness in the race and on the national scene. People are still intrigued by her. But part of this is unfortunately a sense that voters and the media have heard just about everything McCain has to say and are a little bored. It doesn’t mean the McCain-Palin ticket is kaput — just that its hopes of a comeback rely increasingly on the freshest and funnest messenger. More and more, the burden falls to her to convince voters that Obama is too risky and McCain-Palin is innovative enough to fufill the desire of Americans for a clean break with the past.

That’s a tall order for any VP, let alone one so new to national politics. Some may suspect it’s all a dry run for the next presidential race — which, if the current crazed political environment is any guide, will start in about six months.

Read Less




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