Commentary Magazine


Posts For: October 20, 2008

Obama and the Financial Crisis

I asked, on a media call today with the McCain campaign, about Obama’s protectionist language during the campaign and whether in a world financial recession this posed a risk. Rudy Giuliani, who was in on the call, responded that he had just returned from Amsterdam and Russia and that “there is a great deal of concern.” He invoked the Great Depression, noting that Smoot-Hawley tariffs extended and deepened the recession. He said that this remains “of great concern to countries throughout the world” and that leaders have remarked off the record that it is “very irresponsible.” He went on to observe that it was highly likely that this was a campaign pledge Obama would keep, given his fidelity to Big Labor on other issues, such as school choice and “support for doing away with secret ballot [union] elections.” McCain foreign policy advisor Randy Scheunemann went further, dubbing Obama’s statements on Colombia misstating the ongoing level of violence against union leaders and the failure of the Uribe government to act “completely and utterly ignorant.” He noted that Obama also opposes the South Korean free trade agreement. Scary stuff, considering how things stand right now.

I asked, on a media call today with the McCain campaign, about Obama’s protectionist language during the campaign and whether in a world financial recession this posed a risk. Rudy Giuliani, who was in on the call, responded that he had just returned from Amsterdam and Russia and that “there is a great deal of concern.” He invoked the Great Depression, noting that Smoot-Hawley tariffs extended and deepened the recession. He said that this remains “of great concern to countries throughout the world” and that leaders have remarked off the record that it is “very irresponsible.” He went on to observe that it was highly likely that this was a campaign pledge Obama would keep, given his fidelity to Big Labor on other issues, such as school choice and “support for doing away with secret ballot [union] elections.” McCain foreign policy advisor Randy Scheunemann went further, dubbing Obama’s statements on Colombia misstating the ongoing level of violence against union leaders and the failure of the Uribe government to act “completely and utterly ignorant.” He noted that Obama also opposes the South Korean free trade agreement. Scary stuff, considering how things stand right now.

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Commentary of the Day

Vail Beach, on Abe Greenwald:

It’s funny that no one in Biden’s party made the same claim that the president deserved support despite low approval numbers when the president was somebody else. When it’s a Republican, low approval ratings = failure. We were told by Democrats repeatedly that, based solely on poll numbers, Bush should pull out of Iraq.

But when it’s a Democrat, low approval ratings = voter ignorance. Be patient, you idiots. Remember how excited you were when we told you those comforting lies.

Heads I win…

Vail Beach, on Abe Greenwald:

It’s funny that no one in Biden’s party made the same claim that the president deserved support despite low approval numbers when the president was somebody else. When it’s a Republican, low approval ratings = failure. We were told by Democrats repeatedly that, based solely on poll numbers, Bush should pull out of Iraq.

But when it’s a Democrat, low approval ratings = voter ignorance. Be patient, you idiots. Remember how excited you were when we told you those comforting lies.

Heads I win…

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The Global Significance of Joe the Plumber

The world needs you, Joe:

Installing toilets and ensuring safe water supplies where needed throughout the world would do more to end poverty and improve world health than any other possible measure, according to a new UN study.

“Water problems, caused largely by an appalling absence of adequate toilets in many places, contribute tremendously to some of the world’s most punishing problems, foremost among them the inter-related afflictions of poor health and chronic poverty,” said Zafar Adeel, director of the UN University’s Canadian-based International Network on Water, Environment and Health, which released the study on Sunday.

Governments worldwide spend 6 to 16 percent of GDP on healthcare, while a solid showing of plumbers in the private sector could prevent millions of yearly deaths around the globe. It turns out plumbers can save more lives than spread-the-wealth politicians — which is perhaps why tradesmen and business owners should be free to spread the wealth around in ways of their own choosing.

The world needs you, Joe:

Installing toilets and ensuring safe water supplies where needed throughout the world would do more to end poverty and improve world health than any other possible measure, according to a new UN study.

“Water problems, caused largely by an appalling absence of adequate toilets in many places, contribute tremendously to some of the world’s most punishing problems, foremost among them the inter-related afflictions of poor health and chronic poverty,” said Zafar Adeel, director of the UN University’s Canadian-based International Network on Water, Environment and Health, which released the study on Sunday.

Governments worldwide spend 6 to 16 percent of GDP on healthcare, while a solid showing of plumbers in the private sector could prevent millions of yearly deaths around the globe. It turns out plumbers can save more lives than spread-the-wealth politicians — which is perhaps why tradesmen and business owners should be free to spread the wealth around in ways of their own choosing.

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Pakistan Resorts to Plan C

Today, Asif Ali Zardari met with the “Friends of Pakistan” in Islamabad to discuss the economic crisis in the beleaguered nation. The conclave, the Pakistani president’s Plan B, included representatives of the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Canada, Australia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, the European Union, and the United Nations.

Also attending was China. Yet Beijing’s presence in the Pakistani capital was merely window dressing. Last week Zardari traveled to Beijing to sign up a series of pre-packaged agreements with the Chinese and to receive the usual expressions of China’s devotion for its “all weather” friend. He did obtain a soft loan of about $1 billion, far short of the $3 to $4 billion he needs to stabilize the economy. Unfortunately for Zardari, the Chinese refused to provide a bigger package of assistance. “We have done our due diligence, and it isn’t happening,” said a Chinese diplomat, as reported by a Western official. Plan B–a plea for foreign investment and aid from the countries attending the Friends of Pakistan forum–holds little hope of meeting the country’s immediate needs. Inflation is at 25 percent, and the government is on the edge of default.

And what is Plan C? Plan C is the next-to-last resort of all mismanaged economies: the International Monetary Fund. The IMF will, as a part of its normal prescription, require Pakistan to cut spending and raise taxes. The Zardari government has already undertaken some unpopular moves–such as eliminating oil subsidies–and further measures would undercut the new president’s fragile standing.

We, of course, very much care about how Zardari fares. He is, as they say, a crucial ally in fighting the Taliban and other militants who have found refuge in Pakistan’s tribal areas. Islamabad’s officials, not surprisingly, are making the help-us-or-the-fanatics-will-take-over-our-government argument. “They are saying, ‘We are a strategic country, the world needs to come to our aid,’ ” said a senior IMF official. Unfortunately, the Pakistanis have a point. No one wants to see a nuclear-armed power come apart.

And what is the very last resort for Pakistan? That, of course, is Washington. These days, of course, we do not look so flush. Yet if we could have afforded to support Pervez Musharraf, we can aid his successor, who has far better democracy credentials. By all means, we should get others to contribute to the rescue-Pakistan-now effort, but this is one project that is in our interest to fully support, especially now that China has turned its back on Islamabad.

Today, Asif Ali Zardari met with the “Friends of Pakistan” in Islamabad to discuss the economic crisis in the beleaguered nation. The conclave, the Pakistani president’s Plan B, included representatives of the United States, Britain, France, Germany, Canada, Australia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, the European Union, and the United Nations.

Also attending was China. Yet Beijing’s presence in the Pakistani capital was merely window dressing. Last week Zardari traveled to Beijing to sign up a series of pre-packaged agreements with the Chinese and to receive the usual expressions of China’s devotion for its “all weather” friend. He did obtain a soft loan of about $1 billion, far short of the $3 to $4 billion he needs to stabilize the economy. Unfortunately for Zardari, the Chinese refused to provide a bigger package of assistance. “We have done our due diligence, and it isn’t happening,” said a Chinese diplomat, as reported by a Western official. Plan B–a plea for foreign investment and aid from the countries attending the Friends of Pakistan forum–holds little hope of meeting the country’s immediate needs. Inflation is at 25 percent, and the government is on the edge of default.

And what is Plan C? Plan C is the next-to-last resort of all mismanaged economies: the International Monetary Fund. The IMF will, as a part of its normal prescription, require Pakistan to cut spending and raise taxes. The Zardari government has already undertaken some unpopular moves–such as eliminating oil subsidies–and further measures would undercut the new president’s fragile standing.

We, of course, very much care about how Zardari fares. He is, as they say, a crucial ally in fighting the Taliban and other militants who have found refuge in Pakistan’s tribal areas. Islamabad’s officials, not surprisingly, are making the help-us-or-the-fanatics-will-take-over-our-government argument. “They are saying, ‘We are a strategic country, the world needs to come to our aid,’ ” said a senior IMF official. Unfortunately, the Pakistanis have a point. No one wants to see a nuclear-armed power come apart.

And what is the very last resort for Pakistan? That, of course, is Washington. These days, of course, we do not look so flush. Yet if we could have afforded to support Pervez Musharraf, we can aid his successor, who has far better democracy credentials. By all means, we should get others to contribute to the rescue-Pakistan-now effort, but this is one project that is in our interest to fully support, especially now that China has turned its back on Islamabad.

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Re: Re: Don’t Worry

Jen and Noah, the frightening bit comes in here:

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. . . There are gonna be a lot of you who want to go, ‘Whoa, wait a minute, yo, whoa, whoa, I don’t know about that decision.’

The fact that Biden is announcing that an Obama administration will be acting against the will of the American people is not even the scary part. What’s fundamentally unacceptable is the autocratic condescension implicit in the idea that he and Barack Obama know what’s best for us, and we should therefore resist the urge to protest their actions. As Biden said, “I’ve forgotten more about foreign policy than most of my colleagues know, so I’m not being falsely humble with you.” You can say that again! This is so profoundly un-American, and so obviously integral to the Obama ticket’s outlook, we can’t risk labeling it a mere “gaffe.” We’ve seen strains of this throughout the campaign. It’s what Michelle Obama meant when she said her husband “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 yourselves to be better. And that you engage. Barack will never allow you to go back to your lives as usual, uninvolved, uninformed.” The message is: Barack Knows Best, and you can draw a line straight from Michelle’s comments, through Obama’s insistence to Joe the Plumber that he knows how wealth should be spread around, to Joe Biden’s plea to trust them against your own better judgment. It’s getting very stuffy in Obama’s America.

Jen and Noah, the frightening bit comes in here:

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. . . There are gonna be a lot of you who want to go, ‘Whoa, wait a minute, yo, whoa, whoa, I don’t know about that decision.’

The fact that Biden is announcing that an Obama administration will be acting against the will of the American people is not even the scary part. What’s fundamentally unacceptable is the autocratic condescension implicit in the idea that he and Barack Obama know what’s best for us, and we should therefore resist the urge to protest their actions. As Biden said, “I’ve forgotten more about foreign policy than most of my colleagues know, so I’m not being falsely humble with you.” You can say that again! This is so profoundly un-American, and so obviously integral to the Obama ticket’s outlook, we can’t risk labeling it a mere “gaffe.” We’ve seen strains of this throughout the campaign. It’s what Michelle Obama meant when she said her husband “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 yourselves to be better. And that you engage. Barack will never allow you to go back to your lives as usual, uninvolved, uninformed.” The message is: Barack Knows Best, and you can draw a line straight from Michelle’s comments, through Obama’s insistence to Joe the Plumber that he knows how wealth should be spread around, to Joe Biden’s plea to trust them against your own better judgment. It’s getting very stuffy in Obama’s America.

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The Security Tug-of-War

The Associated Press has obtained what it claims are excerpts from the draft of the U.S.-Iraqi security accord, a draft which must still go to the Iraqi cabinet and parliament for approval.

Much of the hullabaloo in Iraq has been about the issue of legal immunity for U.S. forces. On this point, the treaty strikes a fair balance between Iraqi demands for “no immunity” and American demands that service members only be prosecuted by an American court-martial. According to the draft:

The United States has the primary right to exercise judicial jurisdiction over (U.S.) military personnel and civilians (contracted by the U.S. Defense Department) as far as incidents that take place inside the agreed facilities and areas and in the case of missions outside the agreed facilities and areas and under conditions not covered by the text of the second clause of this article.

Since U.S. forces pretty much never leave their bases except on missions (R&R is taken in Kuwait or Qatar or back home-not in Iraq), this effectively ratifies the status quo. That is why some hard-line nationalists in Iraq claim that this provision is inadequate. But it is hard to see how U.S. troops could operate anywhere in the world if they face arrest on possibly trumped-up charges. The Iraqi legal system is still experiencing growing pains, and no responsible American commander could possibly turn over his troops to its tender mercies.

Read the rest of this COMMENTARY web exclusive here.

The Associated Press has obtained what it claims are excerpts from the draft of the U.S.-Iraqi security accord, a draft which must still go to the Iraqi cabinet and parliament for approval.

Much of the hullabaloo in Iraq has been about the issue of legal immunity for U.S. forces. On this point, the treaty strikes a fair balance between Iraqi demands for “no immunity” and American demands that service members only be prosecuted by an American court-martial. According to the draft:

The United States has the primary right to exercise judicial jurisdiction over (U.S.) military personnel and civilians (contracted by the U.S. Defense Department) as far as incidents that take place inside the agreed facilities and areas and in the case of missions outside the agreed facilities and areas and under conditions not covered by the text of the second clause of this article.

Since U.S. forces pretty much never leave their bases except on missions (R&R is taken in Kuwait or Qatar or back home-not in Iraq), this effectively ratifies the status quo. That is why some hard-line nationalists in Iraq claim that this provision is inadequate. But it is hard to see how U.S. troops could operate anywhere in the world if they face arrest on possibly trumped-up charges. The Iraqi legal system is still experiencing growing pains, and no responsible American commander could possibly turn over his troops to its tender mercies.

Read the rest of this COMMENTARY web exclusive here.

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Re: Don’t Worry

Jennifer, the presumptive vice-messiah’s comments at a Seattle fundraiser — he apparently didn’t realize that journalists were present — are very, very interesting. I think that Biden actually said more than a lot of people think he said:

It will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy. The world is looking…Watch, we’re gonna have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy.

It is rather unwise to air such predictions about your running mate’s presidency two weeks before the election, but that’s what you get when you bring Joe Biden onto the campaign. Lawyers call this “assuming the risk.” The really interesting part is what followed:

I can give you at least four or five scenarios from where it might originate… 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.

Biden is saying two things about an Obama presidency: first, that Obama will be tested by America’s rivals; and second, that Obama’s response to such a test will likely be unpopular with the American people. Presumably Biden does not believe that the reason for that unpopularity will be because Obama is too decisive or too tough with our enemies — it will be because Obama is perceived as too soft and indecisive in a crisis.

This is the moment when Biden is asking Obama supporters to “stand with him,” even if he appears to be channeling Jimmy Carter. Biden says that it will not be “apparent initially that we’re right.” But does he think that the passage of time has vindicated Jimmy Carter?

Jennifer, the presumptive vice-messiah’s comments at a Seattle fundraiser — he apparently didn’t realize that journalists were present — are very, very interesting. I think that Biden actually said more than a lot of people think he said:

It will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy. The world is looking…Watch, we’re gonna have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy.

It is rather unwise to air such predictions about your running mate’s presidency two weeks before the election, but that’s what you get when you bring Joe Biden onto the campaign. Lawyers call this “assuming the risk.” The really interesting part is what followed:

I can give you at least four or five scenarios from where it might originate… 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.

Biden is saying two things about an Obama presidency: first, that Obama will be tested by America’s rivals; and second, that Obama’s response to such a test will likely be unpopular with the American people. Presumably Biden does not believe that the reason for that unpopularity will be because Obama is too decisive or too tough with our enemies — it will be because Obama is perceived as too soft and indecisive in a crisis.

This is the moment when Biden is asking Obama supporters to “stand with him,” even if he appears to be channeling Jimmy Carter. Biden says that it will not be “apparent initially that we’re right.” But does he think that the passage of time has vindicated Jimmy Carter?

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Ed the Governor

Guys with simple first names may be the best advocates for John McCain. I’m reminded about this comment from this summer from Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell:

“With people who have a lot of gifts, it’s hard for people to identify with them,” the governor said. “Barack Obama is handsome. He’s incredibly bright. He’s incredibly well spoken, and he’s incredibly successful — not exactly the easiest guy in the world to identify with.”

. . .

“He is a little like Adlai Stevenson,” Rendell mused. “You ask him a question, and he gives you a six-minute answer. And the six-minute answer is smart as all get out. It’s intellectual. It’s well framed. It takes care of all the contingencies. But it’s a lousy soundbite.”

Rendell’s Adlai Stevenson is a devastatingly accurate take. Stevenson was a man who sent intellectuals and pseudo-intellectuals swooning. He was a candidate who disdained the average guy. (Told by a supporter he would get every “thinking man’s” vote, Stevenson famously replied, “Thank you, but I need a majority.”) And voters ultimately concluded that Stevenson was precisely the wrong sort (despite or because of his intellectualism) to stand up to the Soviets in the Cold War.

Sure, it is a different era, with different circumstances. But if given his druthers, John McCain would be hard pressed to come up with a better election analogy than Stevenson vs. Ike (the latter another war hero, coincidentally). Unless, of course, it’s every conservative’s favorite comeback election (1948).

Guys with simple first names may be the best advocates for John McCain. I’m reminded about this comment from this summer from Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell:

“With people who have a lot of gifts, it’s hard for people to identify with them,” the governor said. “Barack Obama is handsome. He’s incredibly bright. He’s incredibly well spoken, and he’s incredibly successful — not exactly the easiest guy in the world to identify with.”

. . .

“He is a little like Adlai Stevenson,” Rendell mused. “You ask him a question, and he gives you a six-minute answer. And the six-minute answer is smart as all get out. It’s intellectual. It’s well framed. It takes care of all the contingencies. But it’s a lousy soundbite.”

Rendell’s Adlai Stevenson is a devastatingly accurate take. Stevenson was a man who sent intellectuals and pseudo-intellectuals swooning. He was a candidate who disdained the average guy. (Told by a supporter he would get every “thinking man’s” vote, Stevenson famously replied, “Thank you, but I need a majority.”) And voters ultimately concluded that Stevenson was precisely the wrong sort (despite or because of his intellectualism) to stand up to the Soviets in the Cold War.

Sure, it is a different era, with different circumstances. But if given his druthers, John McCain would be hard pressed to come up with a better election analogy than Stevenson vs. Ike (the latter another war hero, coincidentally). Unless, of course, it’s every conservative’s favorite comeback election (1948).

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Tito the Construction Worker

Joe the Plumber has competition. Tito the Construction Worker, as related by Byron The Journalist, had this to say about and to the MSM at a McCain rally:

“I support McCain, but I’ve come to face you guys because I’m disgusted with you guys,” he said. “Why the hell 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 wrong? Everything is possible in America. I made it. Joe the Plumber could make it even better than me. . . . I was born in Colombia, but I was made in the U.S.A.”

My earlier comments about the press becoming participants rather than recorders of the campaign is aptly illustrated in the piece by David Corn who thinks it’s his job to grill Tito on his tax status and argue about the media’s bias. (I had a similar experience at another McCain rally earlier in the year, in which an MSM scribe believed her job there was to argue with voters’ about press bias. Don’t MSM reporters cover the news any more?)

Aside from the amusement factor, there is something entirely heartwarming and encouraging about both average Americans’ willingness to fight back against the MSM attack machine and their traditional faith in hard work, capitalism, and plain old fair play. Elections come and go, and candidates are sometimes their own worst enemies. But there is a reservoir of common sense and toughness in Americans that will ensure we survive almost anything — even the horrid tag team of MSM harpies and liberal economic theory.

Joe the Plumber has competition. Tito the Construction Worker, as related by Byron The Journalist, had this to say about and to the MSM at a McCain rally:

“I support McCain, but I’ve come to face you guys because I’m disgusted with you guys,” he said. “Why the hell 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 wrong? Everything is possible in America. I made it. Joe the Plumber could make it even better than me. . . . I was born in Colombia, but I was made in the U.S.A.”

My earlier comments about the press becoming participants rather than recorders of the campaign is aptly illustrated in the piece by David Corn who thinks it’s his job to grill Tito on his tax status and argue about the media’s bias. (I had a similar experience at another McCain rally earlier in the year, in which an MSM scribe believed her job there was to argue with voters’ about press bias. Don’t MSM reporters cover the news any more?)

Aside from the amusement factor, there is something entirely heartwarming and encouraging about both average Americans’ willingness to fight back against the MSM attack machine and their traditional faith in hard work, capitalism, and plain old fair play. Elections come and go, and candidates are sometimes their own worst enemies. But there is a reservoir of common sense and toughness in Americans that will ensure we survive almost anything — even the horrid tag team of MSM harpies and liberal economic theory.

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Private Pirate Disposal

The growing threat of piracy off the coast of Africa has been highlighted recently by the seizure of a Ukrainian freighter filled with tanks and other weapons. The U.S. Navy has responded to this crisis, but with fewer than 300 ships, it lacks the resources to police pirate-infested waters consistently. Local governments are even more helpless, especially when the greatest danger is off the coast of Somalia, which doesn’t have a “government” in the accepted sense of the term, much less a navy.

What to do? The U.S. Navy has had grand hopes of mobilizing a “thousand ship navy” for such tasks made up of all the world’s maritime forces working together. But our European allies are downsizing their fleets so rapidly–the Royal Navy is reaching its lowest level since the 18th century–that this remains more a hope than a reality.

There may be no practical solution except to turn to the private sector. Enter Blackwater, which has had a flourishing, if controversial business: providing armed guards for the State Department in Iraq. It has also provided lots of training for various military commando units and police SWAT teams. Now it has purchased and refurbished a 183-foot cutter called the McArthur, which it is offering to rent out to shipping lines or governments interested in combating piracy. The company, run by former SEAL officer Erik Prince, could fill the ship with former SEALs who would no doubt make short work of the motley bandits who raid merchant shipping.

There is nothing new about the idea of hiring mercenaries to take on pirates. In fact, it harks back to “letters of marque,” which were routinely issued by Western governments until the mid-19th century to give legal authority to private ships to seize enemy vessels, including those engaged in piracy. In days past, privateers could auction off their seized assets and make a bundle. That part of the tradition is unlikely to be revived but the notion of hiring private security forces for the seas should be no more controversial in principle than hiring private security forces to protect, say, gated communities.

The growing threat of piracy off the coast of Africa has been highlighted recently by the seizure of a Ukrainian freighter filled with tanks and other weapons. The U.S. Navy has responded to this crisis, but with fewer than 300 ships, it lacks the resources to police pirate-infested waters consistently. Local governments are even more helpless, especially when the greatest danger is off the coast of Somalia, which doesn’t have a “government” in the accepted sense of the term, much less a navy.

What to do? The U.S. Navy has had grand hopes of mobilizing a “thousand ship navy” for such tasks made up of all the world’s maritime forces working together. But our European allies are downsizing their fleets so rapidly–the Royal Navy is reaching its lowest level since the 18th century–that this remains more a hope than a reality.

There may be no practical solution except to turn to the private sector. Enter Blackwater, which has had a flourishing, if controversial business: providing armed guards for the State Department in Iraq. It has also provided lots of training for various military commando units and police SWAT teams. Now it has purchased and refurbished a 183-foot cutter called the McArthur, which it is offering to rent out to shipping lines or governments interested in combating piracy. The company, run by former SEAL officer Erik Prince, could fill the ship with former SEALs who would no doubt make short work of the motley bandits who raid merchant shipping.

There is nothing new about the idea of hiring mercenaries to take on pirates. In fact, it harks back to “letters of marque,” which were routinely issued by Western governments until the mid-19th century to give legal authority to private ships to seize enemy vessels, including those engaged in piracy. In days past, privateers could auction off their seized assets and make a bundle. That part of the tradition is unlikely to be revived but the notion of hiring private security forces for the seas should be no more controversial in principle than hiring private security forces to protect, say, gated communities.

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Denied = Debunked

In the unlikely event that truth is relevant in this campaign, consider (for a laugh) the Guardian’s take on the new GOP robocalls [emphasis added]:

Three pre-recorded phone calls are making the rounds in swing states such as Missouri and Ohio. One chides Obama for holding a Hollywood fundraiser during the economic crisis, another attacks his abortion record, and a third says ominously that Obama has “worked closely” with Ayers – a claim debunked widely in the press.

What’s been debunked is the charge that the McCain campaign stokes racism at campaign rallies; as well as Sarah Palin’s secessionist record, along with her book-banning predilection, allegiance to Pat Buchanan, penchant for a creationist curriculum, and intra-familial baby swap. That Obama “worked closely” with Bill Ayers is a matter of public record, and could no sooner be debunked than could Obama’s history of worship in Jeremiah Wright’s church or his funneling large sums to questionable organizations such as Rashid Khalidi’s Arab American Action Network. Obama’s record of achievements is so tiny that, if you deny his professional ties to unrepentant radicals, you’d practically leave him with the resume of a fresh law school graduate.

What can be done–and is being done–is to ignore Obama’s unsavory associations. And it’s being done “widely.” Should Obama make it into the White House, ignoring his troubling sympathies will be considerably harder.

In the unlikely event that truth is relevant in this campaign, consider (for a laugh) the Guardian’s take on the new GOP robocalls [emphasis added]:

Three pre-recorded phone calls are making the rounds in swing states such as Missouri and Ohio. One chides Obama for holding a Hollywood fundraiser during the economic crisis, another attacks his abortion record, and a third says ominously that Obama has “worked closely” with Ayers – a claim debunked widely in the press.

What’s been debunked is the charge that the McCain campaign stokes racism at campaign rallies; as well as Sarah Palin’s secessionist record, along with her book-banning predilection, allegiance to Pat Buchanan, penchant for a creationist curriculum, and intra-familial baby swap. That Obama “worked closely” with Bill Ayers is a matter of public record, and could no sooner be debunked than could Obama’s history of worship in Jeremiah Wright’s church or his funneling large sums to questionable organizations such as Rashid Khalidi’s Arab American Action Network. Obama’s record of achievements is so tiny that, if you deny his professional ties to unrepentant radicals, you’d practically leave him with the resume of a fresh law school graduate.

What can be done–and is being done–is to ignore Obama’s unsavory associations. And it’s being done “widely.” Should Obama make it into the White House, ignoring his troubling sympathies will be considerably harder.

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Re: Re: Re: Colin Powell Endorses Obama

In his endorsement of Barack Obama, Colin Powell offered, among other reasons, this explanation for his decision:

And I’ve also been disappointed, frankly, by some of the approaches that Senator McCain has taken recently, or his campaign ads, on issues that are not really central to the problems that the American people are worried about. This Bill Ayers situation that’s been going on for weeks became something of a central point of the campaign.  But Mr. McCain says that he’s a washed-out terrorist.  Well, then, why do we keep talking about him?  And why do we have these robocalls going on around the country trying to suggest that, because of this very, very limited relationship that Senator Obama has had with Mr. Ayers, somehow, Mr. Obama is tainted.  What they’re trying to connect him to is some kind of terrorist feelings.  And I think that’s inappropriate. Now, I understand what politics is all about.  I know how you can go after one another, and that’s good.  But I think this goes too far.

General Powell went on to insist that McCain’s attempt to tie Obama to Ayers was “demagoguery.”

For the sake of the argument, let’s stipulate that Powell’s views are correct that raising the matter of William Ayers is a distraction and, in the way the McCain and some Republicans have done it, is inappropriate and even demagogic.

What I wonder, then, is where the moral consternation of Colin Powell was in other recent episodes that might have caught his attention? I have two in mind.

The first has to do with the effort by liberals and leading Democrats to smear General David Petraeus, then the commanding general in Iraq. General Powell will recall that Petraeus was in the midst of engineering a remarkable, even miraculous, turnabout in Iraq. He is a man of sterling character and extraordinary skill. Yet around the time that General Petraeus testified before Congress in September 2007, Senator Dick Durbin, the Democratic majority whip, said, “By carefully manipulating the statistics, the Bush-Petraeus report will try to persuade us that violence in Iraq is decreasing and thus the surge is working.” Rep. Rahm Emanuel said Petraeus’ report deserved to win “the Nobel Prize for creative statistics or the Pulitzer for fiction,” while Representative Edward Markey of Massachusetts insisted Petraeus’ testimony was “just a façade to hide from view the continuing failure of the Bush administration’s strategy.” All of this occurred during the time in which MoveOn.org ran a full-page ad referring to General Petraeus as “General Betray Us.”

Yet I don’t recall General Powell making a high-profile effort to counter these smears by influential Democrats of a man whose only “sin” appears to be that he was taking a war that America was losing — and which General Powell was a prominent advocate for – and transforming it in our favor.

The other example I have in mind has to do with some of the charges made against President Bush. Among the things said by leading Democrats against the President was that (according to Senator Kennedy) the Iraq war was a political plot hatched in Texas and that “week after week after week after week we were told [by Bush] lie after lie after lie.” Howard Dean hinted that President Bush knew in advance about the attacks on September 11. Former Vice President Al Gore charged that President Bush had brought “deep dishonor to our country and built a durable reputation as the most dishonest President since Richard Nixon.” Gore said the President had “betrayed this country,” he called Bush a “moral coward,” and he said the Bush Administration was allied with “digital brown shirts.” Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid said the President was a “loser” and Speaker Nancy Pelosi accused the President of stooping to a level that is “beneath the dignity of the office that he holds.”

And the list goes on and on and on.

My point is a simple one: John McCain is not accusing Senator Obama of being a domestic terrorist; what he is saying is that Obama hasn’t been forthcoming in telling us the extent of that relationship, and that the relationship itself is troubling. That doesn’t seem to me to approach the calumny that was directed against either General Petraeus or President Bush. Add to that the fact that McCain’s comments about Ayers have come in the course of a presidential campaign, which are normally thought to be more rambunctious and the rhetoric more heated than during  non-campaign periods.

Colin Powell is obviously free to endorse Senator Obama, and if his reasons have to do with differences on policy (Powell said in his Meet the Press interview yesterday that he fears having more conservative appointed to the Supreme Court), that’s fair enough. But to pretend that the GOP and the McCain campaign has somehow crossed a line in raising the issues of William Ayers when Powell himself did not take a high profile in criticizing Democrats who said, even by the low standards of political discourse, fairly vicious things about General Petraeus and President Bush, borders on being unserious.

In his endorsement of Barack Obama, Colin Powell offered, among other reasons, this explanation for his decision:

And I’ve also been disappointed, frankly, by some of the approaches that Senator McCain has taken recently, or his campaign ads, on issues that are not really central to the problems that the American people are worried about. This Bill Ayers situation that’s been going on for weeks became something of a central point of the campaign.  But Mr. McCain says that he’s a washed-out terrorist.  Well, then, why do we keep talking about him?  And why do we have these robocalls going on around the country trying to suggest that, because of this very, very limited relationship that Senator Obama has had with Mr. Ayers, somehow, Mr. Obama is tainted.  What they’re trying to connect him to is some kind of terrorist feelings.  And I think that’s inappropriate. Now, I understand what politics is all about.  I know how you can go after one another, and that’s good.  But I think this goes too far.

General Powell went on to insist that McCain’s attempt to tie Obama to Ayers was “demagoguery.”

For the sake of the argument, let’s stipulate that Powell’s views are correct that raising the matter of William Ayers is a distraction and, in the way the McCain and some Republicans have done it, is inappropriate and even demagogic.

What I wonder, then, is where the moral consternation of Colin Powell was in other recent episodes that might have caught his attention? I have two in mind.

The first has to do with the effort by liberals and leading Democrats to smear General David Petraeus, then the commanding general in Iraq. General Powell will recall that Petraeus was in the midst of engineering a remarkable, even miraculous, turnabout in Iraq. He is a man of sterling character and extraordinary skill. Yet around the time that General Petraeus testified before Congress in September 2007, Senator Dick Durbin, the Democratic majority whip, said, “By carefully manipulating the statistics, the Bush-Petraeus report will try to persuade us that violence in Iraq is decreasing and thus the surge is working.” Rep. Rahm Emanuel said Petraeus’ report deserved to win “the Nobel Prize for creative statistics or the Pulitzer for fiction,” while Representative Edward Markey of Massachusetts insisted Petraeus’ testimony was “just a façade to hide from view the continuing failure of the Bush administration’s strategy.” All of this occurred during the time in which MoveOn.org ran a full-page ad referring to General Petraeus as “General Betray Us.”

Yet I don’t recall General Powell making a high-profile effort to counter these smears by influential Democrats of a man whose only “sin” appears to be that he was taking a war that America was losing — and which General Powell was a prominent advocate for – and transforming it in our favor.

The other example I have in mind has to do with some of the charges made against President Bush. Among the things said by leading Democrats against the President was that (according to Senator Kennedy) the Iraq war was a political plot hatched in Texas and that “week after week after week after week we were told [by Bush] lie after lie after lie.” Howard Dean hinted that President Bush knew in advance about the attacks on September 11. Former Vice President Al Gore charged that President Bush had brought “deep dishonor to our country and built a durable reputation as the most dishonest President since Richard Nixon.” Gore said the President had “betrayed this country,” he called Bush a “moral coward,” and he said the Bush Administration was allied with “digital brown shirts.” Senator Majority Leader Harry Reid said the President was a “loser” and Speaker Nancy Pelosi accused the President of stooping to a level that is “beneath the dignity of the office that he holds.”

And the list goes on and on and on.

My point is a simple one: John McCain is not accusing Senator Obama of being a domestic terrorist; what he is saying is that Obama hasn’t been forthcoming in telling us the extent of that relationship, and that the relationship itself is troubling. That doesn’t seem to me to approach the calumny that was directed against either General Petraeus or President Bush. Add to that the fact that McCain’s comments about Ayers have come in the course of a presidential campaign, which are normally thought to be more rambunctious and the rhetoric more heated than during  non-campaign periods.

Colin Powell is obviously free to endorse Senator Obama, and if his reasons have to do with differences on policy (Powell said in his Meet the Press interview yesterday that he fears having more conservative appointed to the Supreme Court), that’s fair enough. But to pretend that the GOP and the McCain campaign has somehow crossed a line in raising the issues of William Ayers when Powell himself did not take a high profile in criticizing Democrats who said, even by the low standards of political discourse, fairly vicious things about General Petraeus and President Bush, borders on being unserious.

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Debating Shalit

The debate that’s been going on in Israel in recent days–regarding the right way for the public to improve the chances for the release of the captured soldier, Gilead Shalit–has many political undertones, but is nonetheless a debate worth having.

Simply put: there are those who believe that Israelis should have demonstrations and rallies demanding the release of Schalit, captured by a Hamas faction in Gaza three years ago. And there are those saying that a public outcry makes it more difficult for the government to deal successfully with this delicate topic.

A new component added to the debate this week was the somewhat courageous move by (first) Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai, and (second) Defense Minister Ehud Barak. Both took to the airwaves to say that a rally calling the government to “do more” for the release of Shalit was not the smartest of moves:

Hours before the rally, Barak said that whilst he understood the protesters, he cautioned against sending any signals or taking any action that would cause Hamas to raise its asking price in the negotiations for Schalit’s release.

“I hope [the demonstration], God forbid, will not disrupt anything… we are doing everything possible to bring about Gilad’s release,” he told Army Radio.

His words echoed those of Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilna’i, who last week told The Jerusalem Post that events such as Sunday’s rally only harm the negotiations for Gilad’s release.

Barak’s argument is quite simple: If Hamas sees an Israeli society that is desperate, impatient, it will raise the price for Shalit’s release. But another Labor Party ex-general, former Shin-Bet head Ami Ayalon, was actually one of the speakers in the rally. Barak, he said, can’t be more wrong:

According to Ayalon, “Barak’s position brings a simple perspective of the democratic discussion that needs to take place among the leadership and their constituency. A strong democracy is one in which the public tells their decision-makers what they think.”

Ayalon added, “We sent Shalit into battle and we must bring him home. Our obligation – the Israeli government, the IDF, and the Israeli people’s obligation – is not to abandon Gilad and to fight for his release. Every day that passes without his return is not only a wasted day, but time that works against us.”

The problem with Ayalon’s position, though, is that the Israeli public wants the impossible. True, they want Shalit free, and are ready to pressure the government to do more, whatever that means. But as was painfully learned in previous cases, such mood can instantly change if the public feels that a government paid an unreasonable price in a prisoner swap deal.

Four months ago, I wrote an article dealing with the previous prisoner-swap deal. It was different kind of swap, certainly: live terrorists for bodies of Israeli soldiers. But in some aspects it was also similar:

When it comes to the return of hostages, Israel tends to throw all strategic considerations out of the window. The famous example of Entebbe – when Israeli commandos raided a Ugandan airport 32 years ago and liberated dozens of hostages in one of the most heroic forays of the Israel Defense Forces – was the exception, not the rule. The truth is that in most cases, Israel will pay any price to get its soldiers back.

With Shalit, the same formula is now at play. Strategic considerations aside, the public is sick and tired of hearing excuses as to why Shalit is still in Gaza. Since it has no way of demonstrating effectively against Hamas, it goes after the Israeli government. Problematic–but also encouraging, because means that Israelis still care for the soldiers they send to battle, that there’s still a sense of responsibility for their fate. Calculating the advantages of such public sentiment against the strategic drawbacks caused by openly airing public frustrations is a complicated thing to do. Thus, the debate continues.

The debate that’s been going on in Israel in recent days–regarding the right way for the public to improve the chances for the release of the captured soldier, Gilead Shalit–has many political undertones, but is nonetheless a debate worth having.

Simply put: there are those who believe that Israelis should have demonstrations and rallies demanding the release of Schalit, captured by a Hamas faction in Gaza three years ago. And there are those saying that a public outcry makes it more difficult for the government to deal successfully with this delicate topic.

A new component added to the debate this week was the somewhat courageous move by (first) Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai, and (second) Defense Minister Ehud Barak. Both took to the airwaves to say that a rally calling the government to “do more” for the release of Shalit was not the smartest of moves:

Hours before the rally, Barak said that whilst he understood the protesters, he cautioned against sending any signals or taking any action that would cause Hamas to raise its asking price in the negotiations for Schalit’s release.

“I hope [the demonstration], God forbid, will not disrupt anything… we are doing everything possible to bring about Gilad’s release,” he told Army Radio.

His words echoed those of Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilna’i, who last week told The Jerusalem Post that events such as Sunday’s rally only harm the negotiations for Gilad’s release.

Barak’s argument is quite simple: If Hamas sees an Israeli society that is desperate, impatient, it will raise the price for Shalit’s release. But another Labor Party ex-general, former Shin-Bet head Ami Ayalon, was actually one of the speakers in the rally. Barak, he said, can’t be more wrong:

According to Ayalon, “Barak’s position brings a simple perspective of the democratic discussion that needs to take place among the leadership and their constituency. A strong democracy is one in which the public tells their decision-makers what they think.”

Ayalon added, “We sent Shalit into battle and we must bring him home. Our obligation – the Israeli government, the IDF, and the Israeli people’s obligation – is not to abandon Gilad and to fight for his release. Every day that passes without his return is not only a wasted day, but time that works against us.”

The problem with Ayalon’s position, though, is that the Israeli public wants the impossible. True, they want Shalit free, and are ready to pressure the government to do more, whatever that means. But as was painfully learned in previous cases, such mood can instantly change if the public feels that a government paid an unreasonable price in a prisoner swap deal.

Four months ago, I wrote an article dealing with the previous prisoner-swap deal. It was different kind of swap, certainly: live terrorists for bodies of Israeli soldiers. But in some aspects it was also similar:

When it comes to the return of hostages, Israel tends to throw all strategic considerations out of the window. The famous example of Entebbe – when Israeli commandos raided a Ugandan airport 32 years ago and liberated dozens of hostages in one of the most heroic forays of the Israel Defense Forces – was the exception, not the rule. The truth is that in most cases, Israel will pay any price to get its soldiers back.

With Shalit, the same formula is now at play. Strategic considerations aside, the public is sick and tired of hearing excuses as to why Shalit is still in Gaza. Since it has no way of demonstrating effectively against Hamas, it goes after the Israeli government. Problematic–but also encouraging, because means that Israelis still care for the soldiers they send to battle, that there’s still a sense of responsibility for their fate. Calculating the advantages of such public sentiment against the strategic drawbacks caused by openly airing public frustrations is a complicated thing to do. Thus, the debate continues.

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Don’t Worry–We Survived the Cuban Missile Crisis

On the very same day he told us that Colin Powell should have ended all questions about Barack Obama’s national security bona fides, Joe Biden comes along to tell us precisely why we should be scared of Obama as commander-in-chief:

“Mark my words,” the Democratic vice presidential nominee warned at the second of his two Seattle fundraisers 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.”

“I can give you at least four or five scenarios from where it might originate,” Biden said to Emerald City supporters, mentioning 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.”

Well, golly, if Obama is so untested that we will have a series of international crises — at the very time we are in a financial meltdown — which will make the Cuban Missille Crisis look like a walk in the park, shouldn’t we vote for the other guy who will keep all the miscreants in their place? Now, maybe we should rest easy because, according to Biden, “I’ve forgotten more about foreign policy than most of my colleagues know, so I’m not being falsely humble with you.” (Maybe Hezbollah’s occupation of Lebanaon was one of the things he forgot.)

Something tells me this is material for an ad that’s a lot more credible than Hillary Clinton’s “3 a.m.” ad. That one came from his arguably frantic opponent–this one is from his running mate.

UPDATE:

Rudy Giuliani and Randy Scheunemann, McCain-Palin Foreign Policy Adviser, just completed a media call on the Joe Biden comments. Scheunemann invoked Michael Kinsley — a gaffe is when a politician is caught speaking the truth. Giuliani dubbed the remarks “extraordinary” and said that he never recalled a VP candidate announcing that electing his candidate would provoke multiple challeneges to test his mettle. Giuliani suggested that Biden must “continue to harbor serious doubts” about Barack Obama’s readiness to be commander-in-chief.

At the conclusion of the call, both McCain surrogates urged the press to start asking Biden what he meant. Giuliani remarked that only Biden knows for sure what he meant, but that Biden’s remarks that the Obama camp would need the support of the top donors because they might not “get it right in a crisis. . . totally baffles me.” They both observed that, had a Republican made the remarks, it would be on the front page of the New York Times.

Bottom line: the mega-gaffe came at a remarkably good moment for McCain. The McCain camp certainly hopes it will have as great or greater an impact as the Colin Powell endorsement. But given the MSM declared priority–getting The One elected–I suspect they won’t be staying up late to check the Gray Lady’s front page for Tuesday.

On the very same day he told us that Colin Powell should have ended all questions about Barack Obama’s national security bona fides, Joe Biden comes along to tell us precisely why we should be scared of Obama as commander-in-chief:

“Mark my words,” the Democratic vice presidential nominee warned at the second of his two Seattle fundraisers 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.”

“I can give you at least four or five scenarios from where it might originate,” Biden said to Emerald City supporters, mentioning 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.”

Well, golly, if Obama is so untested that we will have a series of international crises — at the very time we are in a financial meltdown — which will make the Cuban Missille Crisis look like a walk in the park, shouldn’t we vote for the other guy who will keep all the miscreants in their place? Now, maybe we should rest easy because, according to Biden, “I’ve forgotten more about foreign policy than most of my colleagues know, so I’m not being falsely humble with you.” (Maybe Hezbollah’s occupation of Lebanaon was one of the things he forgot.)

Something tells me this is material for an ad that’s a lot more credible than Hillary Clinton’s “3 a.m.” ad. That one came from his arguably frantic opponent–this one is from his running mate.

UPDATE:

Rudy Giuliani and Randy Scheunemann, McCain-Palin Foreign Policy Adviser, just completed a media call on the Joe Biden comments. Scheunemann invoked Michael Kinsley — a gaffe is when a politician is caught speaking the truth. Giuliani dubbed the remarks “extraordinary” and said that he never recalled a VP candidate announcing that electing his candidate would provoke multiple challeneges to test his mettle. Giuliani suggested that Biden must “continue to harbor serious doubts” about Barack Obama’s readiness to be commander-in-chief.

At the conclusion of the call, both McCain surrogates urged the press to start asking Biden what he meant. Giuliani remarked that only Biden knows for sure what he meant, but that Biden’s remarks that the Obama camp would need the support of the top donors because they might not “get it right in a crisis. . . totally baffles me.” They both observed that, had a Republican made the remarks, it would be on the front page of the New York Times.

Bottom line: the mega-gaffe came at a remarkably good moment for McCain. The McCain camp certainly hopes it will have as great or greater an impact as the Colin Powell endorsement. But given the MSM declared priority–getting The One elected–I suspect they won’t be staying up late to check the Gray Lady’s front page for Tuesday.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Mary Katherine Ham doesn’t see much new, or at least desirable about the politics of Barack Obama: “He is a man who endorses raising the cost of free speech for everyone who disagrees with him. He is a man who sends out Action Wire alerts to mobilize voters to shout down detractors who appear on the radio. He is a man who sends letters to the Department of Justice to ask it to investigate political ads that aren’t even inaccurate, much less criminal.”

ACORN abuses and bullies its employees. Someone should call a community organizer to stand up for those people.

The Washington Post editors have a very sound analysis of the financial meltdown — with proper blame apportioned to misguided government regulation. Wouldn’t it have been nice to have seen John McCain explain it as coherently in the debates?

I think it’s actually helpful to John McCain to remind us that Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts and the philosophy of judicial restraint which he represents are antithetical to Barack Obama’s vision of the judiciary. In fact, McCain might be wise to start talking more about this.

But on that score it seems especially odd for Colin Powell to have singled out the Supreme Court as a rationale for opposing John McCain. Remember in 2000 Powell vigorously supported George W. Bush who expressed admiration for Justice Scalia. It was fine in 2000 to appoint strict constructionist judges but not in 2008? One imagines this was either a rationale suggested by the Obama camp or evidence that Powell was looking for any available justification for supporting Obama.

If “Secretary of State John Kerry” and “Attorney General Eric Holder” (who has an understanding of ethics matched only by Bill Clinton) aren’t enough to give you second thoughts about an Obama presidency, nothing will. Yikes.

Denver Roman Catholic Archbishop Charles Chaput: “To suggest–as some Catholics do–that Senator Obama is this year’s ‘real’ pro-life candidate requires a peculiar kind of self-hypnosis, or moral confusion, or worse.” I’m not sure what he means by “worse,” but whether you are pro-choice or pro-life it’s hard to quibble with Chaput’s statement if you know anything about Obama voting record as a state and federal lawmaker. Why are pro-choice voters and interest groups (e.g. NARAL, Planned Parenthood) so much more clear-eyed than ostensibly pro-life advocates like Doug Kmiec?

The MSM never likes conservatives quite so much as when they are getting mocked – or when they dreaming up alternative careers for them.

Has Mason-Dixon picked up on a major shift in Ohio? Stay tuned.

Was the Bradley Effect really about race? Maybe we should call it the Kerry Effect.

It is absurd that we don’t have full medical records from either Joe Biden or Obama. The impact of the biased media unfortunately isn’t limited to depriving the public of information on just the health of the candidates.

Maybe Joe the Plumber does matter. From Rasmussen: “Eighty-five percent (85%) of Republicans say either McCain or Joe the Plumber best understands the realities they face. Seventy-nine percent (79%) of Democrats say Obama does. Among those not affiliated with either major party, 50% pick McCain or Joe while 38% name Obama.” Wow.

Mary Katherine Ham doesn’t see much new, or at least desirable about the politics of Barack Obama: “He is a man who endorses raising the cost of free speech for everyone who disagrees with him. He is a man who sends out Action Wire alerts to mobilize voters to shout down detractors who appear on the radio. He is a man who sends letters to the Department of Justice to ask it to investigate political ads that aren’t even inaccurate, much less criminal.”

ACORN abuses and bullies its employees. Someone should call a community organizer to stand up for those people.

The Washington Post editors have a very sound analysis of the financial meltdown — with proper blame apportioned to misguided government regulation. Wouldn’t it have been nice to have seen John McCain explain it as coherently in the debates?

I think it’s actually helpful to John McCain to remind us that Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts and the philosophy of judicial restraint which he represents are antithetical to Barack Obama’s vision of the judiciary. In fact, McCain might be wise to start talking more about this.

But on that score it seems especially odd for Colin Powell to have singled out the Supreme Court as a rationale for opposing John McCain. Remember in 2000 Powell vigorously supported George W. Bush who expressed admiration for Justice Scalia. It was fine in 2000 to appoint strict constructionist judges but not in 2008? One imagines this was either a rationale suggested by the Obama camp or evidence that Powell was looking for any available justification for supporting Obama.

If “Secretary of State John Kerry” and “Attorney General Eric Holder” (who has an understanding of ethics matched only by Bill Clinton) aren’t enough to give you second thoughts about an Obama presidency, nothing will. Yikes.

Denver Roman Catholic Archbishop Charles Chaput: “To suggest–as some Catholics do–that Senator Obama is this year’s ‘real’ pro-life candidate requires a peculiar kind of self-hypnosis, or moral confusion, or worse.” I’m not sure what he means by “worse,” but whether you are pro-choice or pro-life it’s hard to quibble with Chaput’s statement if you know anything about Obama voting record as a state and federal lawmaker. Why are pro-choice voters and interest groups (e.g. NARAL, Planned Parenthood) so much more clear-eyed than ostensibly pro-life advocates like Doug Kmiec?

The MSM never likes conservatives quite so much as when they are getting mocked – or when they dreaming up alternative careers for them.

Has Mason-Dixon picked up on a major shift in Ohio? Stay tuned.

Was the Bradley Effect really about race? Maybe we should call it the Kerry Effect.

It is absurd that we don’t have full medical records from either Joe Biden or Obama. The impact of the biased media unfortunately isn’t limited to depriving the public of information on just the health of the candidates.

Maybe Joe the Plumber does matter. From Rasmussen: “Eighty-five percent (85%) of Republicans say either McCain or Joe the Plumber best understands the realities they face. Seventy-nine percent (79%) of Democrats say Obama does. Among those not affiliated with either major party, 50% pick McCain or Joe while 38% name Obama.” Wow.

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All It Took Was Joe the Plumber?

In the spring all the McCain camp could talk about was his biography. In the summer it was energy policy and national security and the clever “celebrity” ad attack. All along conservative pundits pleaded, prodded, and urged the the McCain campaign to spell out an economic vision. He needed a big picture,  an appealing explanation of where he stood on domestic policy. Many urged a middle class tax cut. Nothing. The Convention came and went and still nothing. When you spoke with the campaign there was never any sense of urgency or any inkling really that they needed a overarching economic theme.

Then the economic meltdown occured, there was his dash to D.C. (doesn’t that seem like last year already?) and a series of ad hoc ideas capped with the $300B “I’m here from the government to help you with your mortgage” plan. The stock market and McCain’s poll numbers cratered.

With a widening gap in the polls staring him in the face McCain rolled out a series of more ambitious tax cuts. And then the McCain team found Joe the Plumber. He showed that it really didn’t take a genius — just common sense — to sniff out what Barack Obama was up to. Obama, even in a recession, prefers wealth redistribution to wealth creation. Obama let it slip out with not much concern he was giving away the best kept secret in the campaign. And Joe got creamed by the MSM, the Lefty bloggers and irate Democrats.

But what Joe did was give McCain his contrast: socialism vs. market capitalism, high vs. low taxes, Hoover vs. Reagan. How could all those “smart” McCain political advisors have missed this? Well, let’s just say in the midst of a campaign, it’s easy to get lost in the trees. They missed the entire forest: the election is about whether we’re going to veer Left, really Left on taxes, trade, spending, health care and the like. (Really Left because Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid have their hands on the wheel and there’s no brake.)

So after all of this (two years of campaigning) McCain is finally focused on the economy with a rather compelling message. We will have plenty of time to argue if he loses whether a quicker realization and better articulation of this mega-contrast between the candidates’ economic views would have helped. But two weeks these days is an eternity in politics — and that’s especially true if your opponent doesn’t really dispute the premise of your contrast argument.

In the spring all the McCain camp could talk about was his biography. In the summer it was energy policy and national security and the clever “celebrity” ad attack. All along conservative pundits pleaded, prodded, and urged the the McCain campaign to spell out an economic vision. He needed a big picture,  an appealing explanation of where he stood on domestic policy. Many urged a middle class tax cut. Nothing. The Convention came and went and still nothing. When you spoke with the campaign there was never any sense of urgency or any inkling really that they needed a overarching economic theme.

Then the economic meltdown occured, there was his dash to D.C. (doesn’t that seem like last year already?) and a series of ad hoc ideas capped with the $300B “I’m here from the government to help you with your mortgage” plan. The stock market and McCain’s poll numbers cratered.

With a widening gap in the polls staring him in the face McCain rolled out a series of more ambitious tax cuts. And then the McCain team found Joe the Plumber. He showed that it really didn’t take a genius — just common sense — to sniff out what Barack Obama was up to. Obama, even in a recession, prefers wealth redistribution to wealth creation. Obama let it slip out with not much concern he was giving away the best kept secret in the campaign. And Joe got creamed by the MSM, the Lefty bloggers and irate Democrats.

But what Joe did was give McCain his contrast: socialism vs. market capitalism, high vs. low taxes, Hoover vs. Reagan. How could all those “smart” McCain political advisors have missed this? Well, let’s just say in the midst of a campaign, it’s easy to get lost in the trees. They missed the entire forest: the election is about whether we’re going to veer Left, really Left on taxes, trade, spending, health care and the like. (Really Left because Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid have their hands on the wheel and there’s no brake.)

So after all of this (two years of campaigning) McCain is finally focused on the economy with a rather compelling message. We will have plenty of time to argue if he loses whether a quicker realization and better articulation of this mega-contrast between the candidates’ economic views would have helped. But two weeks these days is an eternity in politics — and that’s especially true if your opponent doesn’t really dispute the premise of your contrast argument.

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So Certain, Are They?

I’ll go out on a limb and say Nancy Pelosi is wrong when she says Barack Obama’s chance of winning are “100%.” I hold this funny notion that voters still get to decide elections, that if Obama hasn’t closed the sale yet there are enough persuadable people to tip the election to John McCain  and that polls are less accurate and more volatile than ever, in part, because we don’t know what the make up of the electorate will look like. But you wouldn’t get that from reading or viewing MSM outlets.

As Bill Kristol points out:

The media elites really hate that idea. Not just because so many of them prefer Obama. But because they like telling us what’s going to happen. They’re always annoyed when the people cross them up. . . Why do elites like to proclaim premature closure — not just in elections, but also in wars and in social struggles? Because it makes them the imperial arbiters, or at least the perspicacious announcers, of what history is going to bring. This puts the elite prognosticators ahead of the curve, ahead of the simple-minded people who might entertain the delusion that they still have a choice.

Howard Kurtz also notices the rash of certain-itis sweeping the MSM.

In this election more than most, the MSM has become trapped by their own narrative. After all, if the MSM barons have intoned that Joe the Plumber is a dolt, Sarah Palin was a tragic error and Barack Obama won every debate, it simply isn’t possible that Obama could lose, is it? Well, aside from the potential for secretive racism – which is trotted out at every turn — there’s nothing to prevent Obama from sailing to victory.

What’s worse, if the incredibly biased media swarm and the ridicule of Joe and Sarah actually offended enough conservatives to get them to the polls and change the pre-ordained outcome, that must mean the media mavens  are hopelessly out of touch with a huge chunk of Americans. That can’t be, can it?

Now I’m not suggesting Obama isn’t in the lead or isn’t the favorite at this point. But the certainty that pervades the media coverage is symptomatic of the degree to which they have become participants in, rather than scribes of, the election. It’s unimportant, apparently, for MSM reporters to investigate Obama’s voting record or too mundane to recount accurately what the crowd really did and said at a McCain rally. Far more fun to tell us what is sure will occur.

Maybe the race will turn out just as they hope, but the MSM has no business assuring us it will. They should go back to –or rediscover rather – their real job. (For those who have forgotten : that would be covering events and ferreting out information about both candidates. Fairly.)

I’ll go out on a limb and say Nancy Pelosi is wrong when she says Barack Obama’s chance of winning are “100%.” I hold this funny notion that voters still get to decide elections, that if Obama hasn’t closed the sale yet there are enough persuadable people to tip the election to John McCain  and that polls are less accurate and more volatile than ever, in part, because we don’t know what the make up of the electorate will look like. But you wouldn’t get that from reading or viewing MSM outlets.

As Bill Kristol points out:

The media elites really hate that idea. Not just because so many of them prefer Obama. But because they like telling us what’s going to happen. They’re always annoyed when the people cross them up. . . Why do elites like to proclaim premature closure — not just in elections, but also in wars and in social struggles? Because it makes them the imperial arbiters, or at least the perspicacious announcers, of what history is going to bring. This puts the elite prognosticators ahead of the curve, ahead of the simple-minded people who might entertain the delusion that they still have a choice.

Howard Kurtz also notices the rash of certain-itis sweeping the MSM.

In this election more than most, the MSM has become trapped by their own narrative. After all, if the MSM barons have intoned that Joe the Plumber is a dolt, Sarah Palin was a tragic error and Barack Obama won every debate, it simply isn’t possible that Obama could lose, is it? Well, aside from the potential for secretive racism – which is trotted out at every turn — there’s nothing to prevent Obama from sailing to victory.

What’s worse, if the incredibly biased media swarm and the ridicule of Joe and Sarah actually offended enough conservatives to get them to the polls and change the pre-ordained outcome, that must mean the media mavens  are hopelessly out of touch with a huge chunk of Americans. That can’t be, can it?

Now I’m not suggesting Obama isn’t in the lead or isn’t the favorite at this point. But the certainty that pervades the media coverage is symptomatic of the degree to which they have become participants in, rather than scribes of, the election. It’s unimportant, apparently, for MSM reporters to investigate Obama’s voting record or too mundane to recount accurately what the crowd really did and said at a McCain rally. Far more fun to tell us what is sure will occur.

Maybe the race will turn out just as they hope, but the MSM has no business assuring us it will. They should go back to –or rediscover rather – their real job. (For those who have forgotten : that would be covering events and ferreting out information about both candidates. Fairly.)

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