Commentary Magazine


Posts For: October 26, 2008

What Will Obama Say About Syria?

The news comes today — about five years late, I’d say — that U.S. forces raided a facility inside Syria involved in transferring foreign fighters into Iraq to kill Americans. The strike will likely have the desired effect, whether Bashar is in control of the border region or not (many suspect that even if interested, his regime is not strong enough to stop the cross-border traffic).

If Bashar can exert himself on the border problem, then he has now been given a firm reason to do so — to avoid future humiliations of his sovereignty. And if the situation is beyond his control, then those involved in jihadi smuggling will now understand that they no longer enjoy a safe haven in Syria. It boggles the mind to wonder why such raids weren’t conducted upon the first instance of hard evidence that Assad was aiding the insurgency, but never mind that.

What’s important right now is that both candidates go on record about the raid. Should there be repeat performances — as many as needed to impress Bashar that his days of meddling with impunity are over? Should Iran be targeted for similar strikes? Do you, Mr. Obama, view this news as an unacceptable expansion of the war that will never be countenanced in your administration, or do you believe it a vital component of a winning strategy in Iraq?

I think most people intuitively know how McCain would answer these questions.

The news comes today — about five years late, I’d say — that U.S. forces raided a facility inside Syria involved in transferring foreign fighters into Iraq to kill Americans. The strike will likely have the desired effect, whether Bashar is in control of the border region or not (many suspect that even if interested, his regime is not strong enough to stop the cross-border traffic).

If Bashar can exert himself on the border problem, then he has now been given a firm reason to do so — to avoid future humiliations of his sovereignty. And if the situation is beyond his control, then those involved in jihadi smuggling will now understand that they no longer enjoy a safe haven in Syria. It boggles the mind to wonder why such raids weren’t conducted upon the first instance of hard evidence that Assad was aiding the insurgency, but never mind that.

What’s important right now is that both candidates go on record about the raid. Should there be repeat performances — as many as needed to impress Bashar that his days of meddling with impunity are over? Should Iran be targeted for similar strikes? Do you, Mr. Obama, view this news as an unacceptable expansion of the war that will never be countenanced in your administration, or do you believe it a vital component of a winning strategy in Iraq?

I think most people intuitively know how McCain would answer these questions.

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The Home Stretch

On Fox News Sunday Bill Kristol tears into the McCain-Palin staff on the wardrobe issue:

Why wasn’t a staffer out there saying, “You know what? I made a mistake?” Since when do the staffers go into hiding and let Governor Palin be the one who has to explain it? It’s a total disgrace the way the staff has ducked responsibility for this mistake, which was not her mistake.

No one thinks — whatever people’s criticisms of Governor Palin, no one thinks she lived high off the hog in Alaska and used to go to Neiman Marcus. That wasn’t her decision. So I think the staff has ill-served her.

And he details her efforts to break free of her handlers and her recent very substantive speeches, which haven’t been highlighted by the campaign. I can say from my own conversations with McCain insiders that the aspect of the gossip concerning foreign policy has an air of unreality. Certainly, like any governor she had virtually no hands on experience with national security – similar to the position which Mitt Romney or Barack Obama faced heading into the campaign. But if anyone should have a birds-eye view of her ability to handle national security issues it would be senior national security advisor Randy Scheunemann. Scheunemann has worked on House and Senate committees and with House and Senate leadership since the mid 1980s and certainly has seen his share of politicians. He is known to believe she is as smart, tough and capable of any he has seen.

But whatever you make of her abilities and talents, it seems safe to say that the assigned staffers couldn’t have done a worse job if they tried. And it is now clear that some just aren’t trying.

Beyond that, Mara Liasson has a very fair summation of the campaign as a whole:

Look, there’s no doubt that there’s, I think, at this point, very little that McCain could have done to withstand the political landscaping so tilted against Republicans, the drag that George Bush has had on him, the mortgage meltdown — all of that. But it’s also true that he could have run a better campaign. He could have run a better campaign as a reform Republican. He never — he had all of the parts. They just didn’t add up to a whole.

All of the Fox roundtable participants including Liasson and Juan Williams are candid enough to admit the extent of the press bias.

Well, it’s not a very pretty picture, but with all of that there is some tightening of national polls and many state battleground polls are within the margin of error. Most of all, McCain has found solid economic and national security themes. So the final week of the campaign might be spent by the McCain camp firing away at their opponent instead of each other and reminding voters that an Obama-Pelosi-Reid controlled federal government is unlikely to be the model of restraint or moderation.

In addition to the Presidential race, there are House and Senate races that benefit from a full airing of the issues. Just which Democrats are in favor of the 25% defense cut spending? Who agrees with $4.3 trillion in new spending? And how many Democrats are in favor of the Big Labor wish list including abolition of union secret ballot elections? These are key considerations.  As the election approaches, voters will be reminded  that they don’t just get “change” when they vote out of disgust with the incumbent party — they get a specific ideology and program that the challenger’s party advocates. Everyone should be very clear about just how extreme that program is, not matter how soothing its chief spokesman may be.

On Fox News Sunday Bill Kristol tears into the McCain-Palin staff on the wardrobe issue:

Why wasn’t a staffer out there saying, “You know what? I made a mistake?” Since when do the staffers go into hiding and let Governor Palin be the one who has to explain it? It’s a total disgrace the way the staff has ducked responsibility for this mistake, which was not her mistake.

No one thinks — whatever people’s criticisms of Governor Palin, no one thinks she lived high off the hog in Alaska and used to go to Neiman Marcus. That wasn’t her decision. So I think the staff has ill-served her.

And he details her efforts to break free of her handlers and her recent very substantive speeches, which haven’t been highlighted by the campaign. I can say from my own conversations with McCain insiders that the aspect of the gossip concerning foreign policy has an air of unreality. Certainly, like any governor she had virtually no hands on experience with national security – similar to the position which Mitt Romney or Barack Obama faced heading into the campaign. But if anyone should have a birds-eye view of her ability to handle national security issues it would be senior national security advisor Randy Scheunemann. Scheunemann has worked on House and Senate committees and with House and Senate leadership since the mid 1980s and certainly has seen his share of politicians. He is known to believe she is as smart, tough and capable of any he has seen.

But whatever you make of her abilities and talents, it seems safe to say that the assigned staffers couldn’t have done a worse job if they tried. And it is now clear that some just aren’t trying.

Beyond that, Mara Liasson has a very fair summation of the campaign as a whole:

Look, there’s no doubt that there’s, I think, at this point, very little that McCain could have done to withstand the political landscaping so tilted against Republicans, the drag that George Bush has had on him, the mortgage meltdown — all of that. But it’s also true that he could have run a better campaign. He could have run a better campaign as a reform Republican. He never — he had all of the parts. They just didn’t add up to a whole.

All of the Fox roundtable participants including Liasson and Juan Williams are candid enough to admit the extent of the press bias.

Well, it’s not a very pretty picture, but with all of that there is some tightening of national polls and many state battleground polls are within the margin of error. Most of all, McCain has found solid economic and national security themes. So the final week of the campaign might be spent by the McCain camp firing away at their opponent instead of each other and reminding voters that an Obama-Pelosi-Reid controlled federal government is unlikely to be the model of restraint or moderation.

In addition to the Presidential race, there are House and Senate races that benefit from a full airing of the issues. Just which Democrats are in favor of the 25% defense cut spending? Who agrees with $4.3 trillion in new spending? And how many Democrats are in favor of the Big Labor wish list including abolition of union secret ballot elections? These are key considerations.  As the election approaches, voters will be reminded  that they don’t just get “change” when they vote out of disgust with the incumbent party — they get a specific ideology and program that the challenger’s party advocates. Everyone should be very clear about just how extreme that program is, not matter how soothing its chief spokesman may be.

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G-43

What happens when 43 nations gather in Beijing?  We need to know because China, as the story goes, will be the dominant power this century. Yesterday, the two-day summit of the Asia-Europe Meeting ended in the Chinese capital with calls for greater regulation of the world’s financial system.  “We must use every means to prevent the financial crisis impacting growth of the real economy,” China’s premier, Wen Jiabao, declared at the end of the gathering.  Said Japan’s new prime minister, Taro Aso, “What we have achieved through this meeting and earlier meetings is, we all realize the severity of the problem and are determined to tackle it.”

And this is an accomplishment?  That was just about the only progress at the meeting. Behind the scenes, the Chinese basically made it clear that Europe–and the United States–should not look to Beijing for help.  “There is no reason for Asian countries to foot the bill for America’s and Europe’s mistakes,” said Shi Yinhong, a leading Chinese academic.  “Anyone can talk to anyone they want, but the countries which caused their own mess, especially the U.S., should play a leading role in bailing themselves out.”  Or as Premier Wen more politely said, countries in trouble should “firmly and bravely” face their situations.

These statements ignore the fact that the Chinese were just as responsible for the current global financial crisis as anyone else.  If we learned anything at the Asia-Europe Meeting, however, it is that China’s leaders are more interested in deflecting blame than finding solutions.

So what happens when 43 nations gather in Beijing?  Nothing.  If troubled economies want help, they will have to wait until November 15, when the G-20 meets in Washington.   Am I being too harsh on the 27 European Union members and 16 Asian countries that just met in the Chinese capital?  Perhaps.  After all, they did discuss climate change.  And the Asian nations renewed a pledge to form an $80 billion currency reserve fund by the middle of next year.

“It’s very simple: We swim together, or we sink together,” said European Union Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, the day before the summit began.  If coordinated action is the answer–as analysts keep on insisting–then the message from Beijing is that we’re all sinking.

What happens when 43 nations gather in Beijing?  We need to know because China, as the story goes, will be the dominant power this century. Yesterday, the two-day summit of the Asia-Europe Meeting ended in the Chinese capital with calls for greater regulation of the world’s financial system.  “We must use every means to prevent the financial crisis impacting growth of the real economy,” China’s premier, Wen Jiabao, declared at the end of the gathering.  Said Japan’s new prime minister, Taro Aso, “What we have achieved through this meeting and earlier meetings is, we all realize the severity of the problem and are determined to tackle it.”

And this is an accomplishment?  That was just about the only progress at the meeting. Behind the scenes, the Chinese basically made it clear that Europe–and the United States–should not look to Beijing for help.  “There is no reason for Asian countries to foot the bill for America’s and Europe’s mistakes,” said Shi Yinhong, a leading Chinese academic.  “Anyone can talk to anyone they want, but the countries which caused their own mess, especially the U.S., should play a leading role in bailing themselves out.”  Or as Premier Wen more politely said, countries in trouble should “firmly and bravely” face their situations.

These statements ignore the fact that the Chinese were just as responsible for the current global financial crisis as anyone else.  If we learned anything at the Asia-Europe Meeting, however, it is that China’s leaders are more interested in deflecting blame than finding solutions.

So what happens when 43 nations gather in Beijing?  Nothing.  If troubled economies want help, they will have to wait until November 15, when the G-20 meets in Washington.   Am I being too harsh on the 27 European Union members and 16 Asian countries that just met in the Chinese capital?  Perhaps.  After all, they did discuss climate change.  And the Asian nations renewed a pledge to form an $80 billion currency reserve fund by the middle of next year.

“It’s very simple: We swim together, or we sink together,” said European Union Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso, the day before the summit began.  If coordinated action is the answer–as analysts keep on insisting–then the message from Beijing is that we’re all sinking.

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Do Nothing on Iran

With infinite wisdom, Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, gives advice to the next President in a long Newsweek article. Among other things, he writes about Iran. Haas, apparently, believes that if the President has to choose between two bad options, he should choose . . . neither:

Iran constitutes another challenge where the campaign generated more heat than light. If Tehran continues its current progress in enriching uranium, early on in your presidency you will be presented with the choice of attacking Iran (or greenlighting an Israeli attack) or living with a nuclear Iran. Yogi Berra said that when you approach a fork in the road, take it. I respectfully disagree. Neither option is attractive. A military strike may buy some time, but it won’t solve the problem. It will, however, lead to Iranian retaliation against U.S. personnel and interests in Iraq and Afghanistan, and much higher oil prices-the last thing the world needs, given the financial crisis. An Iran with nuclear weapons or the capacity to produce them quickly would place the Middle East on a hair trigger and lead several Arab states to embark on nuclear programs of their own.

Of course, Haass can’t say that not making a decision is the right thing to do. So he produces some diplomacy-speak:

I would suggest that we work with the Europeans, Russia and China to cobble together a new diplomatic package to present to the Iranians. Ideally, Iran would be persuaded to give up its independent enrichment capability or, if it refused, to consider accepting clear limits on enrichment and intrusive inspections so that the threat is clearly bounded. We should be prepared to have face-to-face talks with the Iranians, without preconditions. In general, it is wiser to see negotiations not as a reward but as a tool of national security.

This is the way we should go, according to Haass: Start by asking the Iranians to give up their independent enrichment capability. But since we know there’s no way they will accede to that demand, we are already preparing a better option for them. That is, for them to consider “accepting clear limits on enrichment.” (Why the Iranians would go for the first option when they already know they can get a better deal is beyond me). And of course, we should talk, no preconditions, face to face, etc., etc.

But here’s a question: what happens if the Iranians will don’t buy the first OR second deal? What if, after spending yet another six or eight or twelve months talking, we reach again (as can reasonably be expected) this “fork in the road”?

What Yogi Berra would do we already know. But I think we also know what Haass will do. “Respectfully,” he’ll find yet another excuse for inaction. We know–and more importantly, Tehran knows.

With infinite wisdom, Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations, gives advice to the next President in a long Newsweek article. Among other things, he writes about Iran. Haas, apparently, believes that if the President has to choose between two bad options, he should choose . . . neither:

Iran constitutes another challenge where the campaign generated more heat than light. If Tehran continues its current progress in enriching uranium, early on in your presidency you will be presented with the choice of attacking Iran (or greenlighting an Israeli attack) or living with a nuclear Iran. Yogi Berra said that when you approach a fork in the road, take it. I respectfully disagree. Neither option is attractive. A military strike may buy some time, but it won’t solve the problem. It will, however, lead to Iranian retaliation against U.S. personnel and interests in Iraq and Afghanistan, and much higher oil prices-the last thing the world needs, given the financial crisis. An Iran with nuclear weapons or the capacity to produce them quickly would place the Middle East on a hair trigger and lead several Arab states to embark on nuclear programs of their own.

Of course, Haass can’t say that not making a decision is the right thing to do. So he produces some diplomacy-speak:

I would suggest that we work with the Europeans, Russia and China to cobble together a new diplomatic package to present to the Iranians. Ideally, Iran would be persuaded to give up its independent enrichment capability or, if it refused, to consider accepting clear limits on enrichment and intrusive inspections so that the threat is clearly bounded. We should be prepared to have face-to-face talks with the Iranians, without preconditions. In general, it is wiser to see negotiations not as a reward but as a tool of national security.

This is the way we should go, according to Haass: Start by asking the Iranians to give up their independent enrichment capability. But since we know there’s no way they will accede to that demand, we are already preparing a better option for them. That is, for them to consider “accepting clear limits on enrichment.” (Why the Iranians would go for the first option when they already know they can get a better deal is beyond me). And of course, we should talk, no preconditions, face to face, etc., etc.

But here’s a question: what happens if the Iranians will don’t buy the first OR second deal? What if, after spending yet another six or eight or twelve months talking, we reach again (as can reasonably be expected) this “fork in the road”?

What Yogi Berra would do we already know. But I think we also know what Haass will do. “Respectfully,” he’ll find yet another excuse for inaction. We know–and more importantly, Tehran knows.

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Losing the Genius Vote

In today’s New York Times, Timothy Egan declares the GOP the party of yesterday because it has lost all support among America’s brilliant metropolitan set:

Two years ago, a list of the nation’s brainiest cities was put together from Census Bureau reports – that is, cities with the highest percentage of college graduates, which is not the same as smart, of course.

These are vibrant, prosperous places where a knowledge economy and cool things to do after hours attract people from all over the country. Among the top 10, only two of those metro areas – Raleigh, N.C., and Lexington, Ky. – voted Republican in the 2004 presidential election.

This year, all 10 are likely to go Democratic. What’s more, with Colorado, New Hampshire and Virginia now trending blue, Republicans stand to lose the nation’s 10 best-educated states as well.

This is hardly news, considering “best-educated” simply means most saturated in the ideologies of today’s Democratic Party: multiculturalism, paternal governance, climate fetishization, and pacifism. The university is the number-one recruiting ground for the Democratic Party, and when college graduates settle alongside the like-minded in Seattle and New York and San Francisco, they’re well fortified against the forces of critical thought.

One would think such safety in numbers might calm the “best-educated” as they collect their paychecks and raise the next enlightened generation. But mass-psychology is a funny thing and instead of finding comfort among their kind, liberal city dwellers have found enclaves in which they can share hysteria.

Egan writes:

Brainy cities have low divorce rates, low crime, high job creation, ethnic diversity and creative capitalism. They’re places like Pittsburgh, with its top-notch universities; Albuquerque, with its surging Latino middle class; and Denver, with its outdoor-loving young people. They grow good people in the smart cities.

They also grow people like this: [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nQalRPQ8stI[/youtube]

When Barack Obama comes through a small town well off the brainy cities list, he’s met by a concerned plumber with a well-articulated question; when a contingent of Republican voters walk down a street in the second smartest city in America, the educated mob curse and scream. If Obama wins next week, it won’t be because of the audacity of hope in America’s cities, but the unearned euphoria of pooled outrage.

In today’s New York Times, Timothy Egan declares the GOP the party of yesterday because it has lost all support among America’s brilliant metropolitan set:

Two years ago, a list of the nation’s brainiest cities was put together from Census Bureau reports – that is, cities with the highest percentage of college graduates, which is not the same as smart, of course.

These are vibrant, prosperous places where a knowledge economy and cool things to do after hours attract people from all over the country. Among the top 10, only two of those metro areas – Raleigh, N.C., and Lexington, Ky. – voted Republican in the 2004 presidential election.

This year, all 10 are likely to go Democratic. What’s more, with Colorado, New Hampshire and Virginia now trending blue, Republicans stand to lose the nation’s 10 best-educated states as well.

This is hardly news, considering “best-educated” simply means most saturated in the ideologies of today’s Democratic Party: multiculturalism, paternal governance, climate fetishization, and pacifism. The university is the number-one recruiting ground for the Democratic Party, and when college graduates settle alongside the like-minded in Seattle and New York and San Francisco, they’re well fortified against the forces of critical thought.

One would think such safety in numbers might calm the “best-educated” as they collect their paychecks and raise the next enlightened generation. But mass-psychology is a funny thing and instead of finding comfort among their kind, liberal city dwellers have found enclaves in which they can share hysteria.

Egan writes:

Brainy cities have low divorce rates, low crime, high job creation, ethnic diversity and creative capitalism. They’re places like Pittsburgh, with its top-notch universities; Albuquerque, with its surging Latino middle class; and Denver, with its outdoor-loving young people. They grow good people in the smart cities.

They also grow people like this: [youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nQalRPQ8stI[/youtube]

When Barack Obama comes through a small town well off the brainy cities list, he’s met by a concerned plumber with a well-articulated question; when a contingent of Republican voters walk down a street in the second smartest city in America, the educated mob curse and scream. If Obama wins next week, it won’t be because of the audacity of hope in America’s cities, but the unearned euphoria of pooled outrage.

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The Return of the Peace Processors

Dennis Ross, who is expected to occupy a high station in an Obama administration, gave an interview to the Israeli daily Haaretz and provided a best-case argument for peace-process fetishism. On Iran:

Obama wants to use our willingness to talk as a means to get others to actually apply more pressure on the Iranians, as a way to ensure the talks’ success, but also because the talks themselves send a signal [to] those who fear [that] applying more pressure means you’re descending toward a slippery slope of confrontation.

On Syria:

I believe we should try it, too. I think it’s a mistake not to. Too often when you don’t talk – as I said before – you create a self-fulfilling prophecy. Just because you make the effort doesn’t mean you’ll succeed. But at least you ought to see if you can do it, you ought to do it with your eyes open, without illusions, without naivete, but it’s worth probing and testing.

On the Palestinians:

I think this is an issue where engagement is also crucial, but, much like Iran, it is an engagement without illusions. When you engage, you do so without illusions. But when you don’t engage, you leave the way open for your adversaries to actually gain more. The Bush administration wanted to disengage for its first six years in office. [By doing so] they actually strengthened Hamas’ hand, because Hamas’ argument is [that] there is no possibility for peace. The least you want to do is show that there could be an alternative answer.

In Dennis Ross’ imagination, peace-processing is a risk-free proposition. This is astonishing coming from a man whose last peace process culminated in a four-year Palestinian terror onslaught. There might be little hope that talking will accomplish anything, Ross argues, but non-processing will not accomplish anything, plus it has downsides: it vindicates radicals, whose greatest fear is the “alternative answer” of peace.

Ross still can’t come to terms with the Palestinian polling data, which indicate that those he defines as extremists — those who reject the two-state solution — are in fact a majority of Palestinians. Maybe we should call them mainstreamists. Peace-process critics believe that Ross has it backwards: it is the radicals that the peace process in fact vindicates, because it provides them a fragile initiative to destroy at a time of their choosing, humiliating Palestinian moderates and embarrassing the United States. If you want to ensure the continued relevance of the “extremists,” hold a peace process. They love peace processes. They’re a growth opportunity for terrorists.

Ross sees the peace process as a permanent comfort, regardless of circumstances. This is the foreign policy version of the Motel 6 slogan: we’ll leave the light on for you. Except the people he’s leaving the light on for are going to come to your motel room in the middle of night, trash the place, steal the television, and murder your family.

When you negotiate peace with people who do not actually want peace, you give them something important while gaining nothing for yourself. Syria would love a peace process, because it would exculpate Syria’s gangster regime from its assassination of the Lebanese prime minister in 2005 and allow Assad to emerge from the isolation he has suffered since that appalling act. The Palestinian terror organizations would still be headquartered in Damascus, Hezbollah’s armaments would still flow across the Syrian border, and the killers of American soldiers would still be welcome to use Syria as a transfer point to Iraq. Dennis Ross’ talks will reinforce a lesson that the United States has unfortunately been teaching Middle East thugs for a long time: there will always be an expiration date, very soon in the future, for U.S. outrage at their behavior, if they just wait us out.

Dennis Ross, who is expected to occupy a high station in an Obama administration, gave an interview to the Israeli daily Haaretz and provided a best-case argument for peace-process fetishism. On Iran:

Obama wants to use our willingness to talk as a means to get others to actually apply more pressure on the Iranians, as a way to ensure the talks’ success, but also because the talks themselves send a signal [to] those who fear [that] applying more pressure means you’re descending toward a slippery slope of confrontation.

On Syria:

I believe we should try it, too. I think it’s a mistake not to. Too often when you don’t talk – as I said before – you create a self-fulfilling prophecy. Just because you make the effort doesn’t mean you’ll succeed. But at least you ought to see if you can do it, you ought to do it with your eyes open, without illusions, without naivete, but it’s worth probing and testing.

On the Palestinians:

I think this is an issue where engagement is also crucial, but, much like Iran, it is an engagement without illusions. When you engage, you do so without illusions. But when you don’t engage, you leave the way open for your adversaries to actually gain more. The Bush administration wanted to disengage for its first six years in office. [By doing so] they actually strengthened Hamas’ hand, because Hamas’ argument is [that] there is no possibility for peace. The least you want to do is show that there could be an alternative answer.

In Dennis Ross’ imagination, peace-processing is a risk-free proposition. This is astonishing coming from a man whose last peace process culminated in a four-year Palestinian terror onslaught. There might be little hope that talking will accomplish anything, Ross argues, but non-processing will not accomplish anything, plus it has downsides: it vindicates radicals, whose greatest fear is the “alternative answer” of peace.

Ross still can’t come to terms with the Palestinian polling data, which indicate that those he defines as extremists — those who reject the two-state solution — are in fact a majority of Palestinians. Maybe we should call them mainstreamists. Peace-process critics believe that Ross has it backwards: it is the radicals that the peace process in fact vindicates, because it provides them a fragile initiative to destroy at a time of their choosing, humiliating Palestinian moderates and embarrassing the United States. If you want to ensure the continued relevance of the “extremists,” hold a peace process. They love peace processes. They’re a growth opportunity for terrorists.

Ross sees the peace process as a permanent comfort, regardless of circumstances. This is the foreign policy version of the Motel 6 slogan: we’ll leave the light on for you. Except the people he’s leaving the light on for are going to come to your motel room in the middle of night, trash the place, steal the television, and murder your family.

When you negotiate peace with people who do not actually want peace, you give them something important while gaining nothing for yourself. Syria would love a peace process, because it would exculpate Syria’s gangster regime from its assassination of the Lebanese prime minister in 2005 and allow Assad to emerge from the isolation he has suffered since that appalling act. The Palestinian terror organizations would still be headquartered in Damascus, Hezbollah’s armaments would still flow across the Syrian border, and the killers of American soldiers would still be welcome to use Syria as a transfer point to Iraq. Dennis Ross’ talks will reinforce a lesson that the United States has unfortunately been teaching Middle East thugs for a long time: there will always be an expiration date, very soon in the future, for U.S. outrage at their behavior, if they just wait us out.

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Half A Race

Columnist Michael Malone in a piece at ABC.com unloads on the MSM:

The traditional media are playing a very, very dangerous game — with their readers, with the Constitution and with their own fates. The sheer bias in the print and television coverage of this election campaign is not just bewildering, but appalling. And over the last few months I’ve found myself slowly moving from shaking my head at the obvious one-sided reporting, to actually shouting at the screen of my television and my laptop computer.

He contends the coverage of the Republicans isn’t the problem:

No, what I object to (and I think most other Americans do as well) is the lack of equivalent hardball coverage of the other side — or worse, actively serving as attack dogs for the presidential ticket of Sens. Barack Obama, D-Ill., and Joe Biden, D-Del. If the current polls are correct, we are about to elect as president of the United States a man who is essentially a cipher, who has left almost no paper trail, seems to have few friends (that at least will talk) and has entire years missing out of his biography. That isn’t Sen. Obama’s fault: His job is to put his best face forward. No, it is the traditional media’s fault, for it alone (unlike the alternative media) has had the resources to cover this story properly, and has systematically refused to do so. Why, for example to quote the lawyer for Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., haven’t we seen an interview with Sen. Obama’s grad school drug dealer — when we know all about Mrs. McCain’s addiction? Are Bill Ayers and Tony Rezko that hard to interview? All those phony voter registrations that hard to scrutinize? And why are Sen. Biden’s endless gaffes almost always covered up, or rationalized, by the traditional media?

ABC includes a disclaimer that Malone’s views are not their own,  but I give them credit for running the piece. And ironically, ABC News’ Jake Tapper has been one of the few mainstream reporters to fairly cover and question the Obama-Biden ticket.

But the central point is well taken. A list of stories barely covered by the MSM: the Woods Fund, Obama’s state senate voting record, the details of his “95% of Americans” tax cut and his $4.3 trillion spending plans,  the misrepresentation of his Infant Born Alive voting record, the Obama team credit card fraud scandal, Obama’s extensive ties with ACORN, the agenda of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, Obama’s receipt of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac donations, the earmarks of both Democratic candidates, the cozy relationship between Joe Biden and his homestate credit card company, the thugocracy (e.g. St Louis “truth squads” and requests for the Justice Department to investigate Obama’s political opponents), and the credibility of Obama’s claim to have sat in Reverend Wright’s pews for twenty years without hearing his inflammatory language language.

If you know the details of these stories, it more than likely is from new and conservative media, not the MSM. Moreover, the MSM hasn’t grilled Obama or Biden on their gaffes (e.g. spreading the wealth, testing Obama’s mettle) or taken issue with the utter lack of transparency by the Obama camp (e.g. no Obama medical records, no state senate voting records).

In essence, the MSM covered one campaign and served as the PR department for the other. It is an embarassing display, one which will convince more and more viewers and readers to look elsewhere for news. That’s exactly what they had to do this election if they wanted to learn something about Obama that wasn’t campaign-approved spin.

Columnist Michael Malone in a piece at ABC.com unloads on the MSM:

The traditional media are playing a very, very dangerous game — with their readers, with the Constitution and with their own fates. The sheer bias in the print and television coverage of this election campaign is not just bewildering, but appalling. And over the last few months I’ve found myself slowly moving from shaking my head at the obvious one-sided reporting, to actually shouting at the screen of my television and my laptop computer.

He contends the coverage of the Republicans isn’t the problem:

No, what I object to (and I think most other Americans do as well) is the lack of equivalent hardball coverage of the other side — or worse, actively serving as attack dogs for the presidential ticket of Sens. Barack Obama, D-Ill., and Joe Biden, D-Del. If the current polls are correct, we are about to elect as president of the United States a man who is essentially a cipher, who has left almost no paper trail, seems to have few friends (that at least will talk) and has entire years missing out of his biography. That isn’t Sen. Obama’s fault: His job is to put his best face forward. No, it is the traditional media’s fault, for it alone (unlike the alternative media) has had the resources to cover this story properly, and has systematically refused to do so. Why, for example to quote the lawyer for Republican presidential nominee Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., haven’t we seen an interview with Sen. Obama’s grad school drug dealer — when we know all about Mrs. McCain’s addiction? Are Bill Ayers and Tony Rezko that hard to interview? All those phony voter registrations that hard to scrutinize? And why are Sen. Biden’s endless gaffes almost always covered up, or rationalized, by the traditional media?

ABC includes a disclaimer that Malone’s views are not their own,  but I give them credit for running the piece. And ironically, ABC News’ Jake Tapper has been one of the few mainstream reporters to fairly cover and question the Obama-Biden ticket.

But the central point is well taken. A list of stories barely covered by the MSM: the Woods Fund, Obama’s state senate voting record, the details of his “95% of Americans” tax cut and his $4.3 trillion spending plans,  the misrepresentation of his Infant Born Alive voting record, the Obama team credit card fraud scandal, Obama’s extensive ties with ACORN, the agenda of the Chicago Annenberg Challenge, Obama’s receipt of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac donations, the earmarks of both Democratic candidates, the cozy relationship between Joe Biden and his homestate credit card company, the thugocracy (e.g. St Louis “truth squads” and requests for the Justice Department to investigate Obama’s political opponents), and the credibility of Obama’s claim to have sat in Reverend Wright’s pews for twenty years without hearing his inflammatory language language.

If you know the details of these stories, it more than likely is from new and conservative media, not the MSM. Moreover, the MSM hasn’t grilled Obama or Biden on their gaffes (e.g. spreading the wealth, testing Obama’s mettle) or taken issue with the utter lack of transparency by the Obama camp (e.g. no Obama medical records, no state senate voting records).

In essence, the MSM covered one campaign and served as the PR department for the other. It is an embarassing display, one which will convince more and more viewers and readers to look elsewhere for news. That’s exactly what they had to do this election if they wanted to learn something about Obama that wasn’t campaign-approved spin.

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The Worst

There is bad behavior in every campaign and then there is awful, embarassing behavior. This account evidences plenty of the latter as McCain aides openly ridicule and insult Sarah Palin. The upshot, of course, is that they are disparaging John McCain, who selected her, and Steve Schmidt, who recommended her. But no where is the weaselly conduct more in evidence that in this self-serving remark from Nicolle Wallace, one of the aides responsible for Palin’s spectacularly unsuccessful roll out:

If people want to throw me under the bus, my personal belief is that the most honorable thing to do is to lie there.

No, there is nothing honorable in announcing that you are being unfairly blamed. That would be the same as fingering the candidate for the mistakes.  The appropriate comment from a loyal and competent staffer would have been something like this:

We made errors and didn’t show Governor Palin off to the nation in the way she deserved and which would have allowed her many attributes to shine through.

I am sure future campaigns and candidates will take note. Try to find the advisors who know it’s their job to take the blame, boost the candidate, and avoid damaging the people for whom they work. And if they can’t, at least be quiet.

There is bad behavior in every campaign and then there is awful, embarassing behavior. This account evidences plenty of the latter as McCain aides openly ridicule and insult Sarah Palin. The upshot, of course, is that they are disparaging John McCain, who selected her, and Steve Schmidt, who recommended her. But no where is the weaselly conduct more in evidence that in this self-serving remark from Nicolle Wallace, one of the aides responsible for Palin’s spectacularly unsuccessful roll out:

If people want to throw me under the bus, my personal belief is that the most honorable thing to do is to lie there.

No, there is nothing honorable in announcing that you are being unfairly blamed. That would be the same as fingering the candidate for the mistakes.  The appropriate comment from a loyal and competent staffer would have been something like this:

We made errors and didn’t show Governor Palin off to the nation in the way she deserved and which would have allowed her many attributes to shine through.

I am sure future campaigns and candidates will take note. Try to find the advisors who know it’s their job to take the blame, boost the candidate, and avoid damaging the people for whom they work. And if they can’t, at least be quiet.

Read Less

Flotsam and Jetsam

When Barack Obama’s passport records were accessed, it was front page news. But when an ordinary citizen’s private records are tapped after he makes problems for The One, no one seems to care. Rudy Giuliani warns about the coming thugocracy.

Stephen Green on Rep. John Murtha: “Sixty-five million years ago, Murtha was first elected to Congress. Er, excuse me, that was when the dinosaurs went extinct, probably after a meteor strike. If Murtha goes out into the dark on election day, it won’t be by accident. It will be because he’s spent his entire career tempting fate, throwing rocks into the air — and having them barely miss.” Saturday Night Live does its part.

More on the thugocracy from Stanley Kurtz.

ACORN allegations get some traction.

Yes, yes, David Frum, we get that you loathe Sarah Palin. But it’s utterly illogical and a-factual to assert that she is “bleeding” votes from the Senate GOP candidates. If they turn out for her, there’ll be more downticket votes for the latter. However, declaring that the top of the ticket is kaput is a sure-fire way to keep the base home, and make certain those Republicans stay home. Remember Jimmy Carter prematurely declaring the race over in 1980? Lots of western state Democrats do. ( I do agree on the more mild step of shifting resources, which can be done without declaring the top of the ticket dead.)

David Broder describes the tough race facing New Hampshire Senator John Sununu — and some less-than-classy behavior by his opponent.

A gracious take on the McCain camp from Mark McKinnon. Unlike other ex-advisors, McKinnon appears to grasp that there is something unseemly about kicking the campaign you left and the candidate you served, even before election day.

Joe Biden doesn’t like a tough interview – goodness knows they don’t come that often. (He also lies, saying that Obama didn’t give any money to ACORN. He gave $800,000.)

Step away from the polls. Really.

This interesting interview, with Fed Ex’s Fred Smith, provides a wealth of sage analysis on the economy and trade. Perhaps we should start looking at business leaders for high office — they might be more knowledge and have better leadership skills than many recycled politicians.

Ben Smith may be on the Democratic beat, but he gets the inside story on Sarah Palin and the McCain team exactly right.

Tony Rezko is back in an RNC website ad, but you get the sense someone found this at the bottom of a drawer. Where was this three months ago?

Fred Barnes goes after the Palin critics who never met her: “A good example is Ken Adelman, who headed the arms control agency in the Reagan administration. Adelman recently endorsed Obama and said he ‘would not have hired [Palin] for even a mid-level post in the arms control agency.’ Well, I know both Palin and Adelman. And Ken, I’m sorry to tell you, but I think there are an awful lot of jobs in Washington that Palin would get before you.” Ouch. (As for two the female pundits Barnes cites who criticize Palin–one, for peddling in identity politics and the other, for elevating cheap emotion over intellect–their arguments would have more weight if the former did not peddle bizarre sexual innuendo and the latter did not suffer from the same malady she detects in Palin.)

Along similar lines Victor Davis Hanson asks: “So why would any conservative think that Obama—friend of Ayers, Khalidi, Meeks, Pfleger, and Wright, veteran of mysterious campaigns in which rivals in 1996 and 2004 simply dropped out or were forced out, erstwhile advocate of repealing NAFTA, controlling guns, stopping new drilling and nuclear plants, zealot for bringing all troops home by March 2008, advocate of a trillion dollars in new spending, and raising the tax burden on the 5% who now pay 60% of the aggregate income taxes, supporter of more oppression studies and racial reparations—would not likewise try to govern as he has lived the last 20 years?”

Even the ultra-liberal Star-Tribune can’t stomach the idea of Al Franken in the Senate.

When Barack Obama’s passport records were accessed, it was front page news. But when an ordinary citizen’s private records are tapped after he makes problems for The One, no one seems to care. Rudy Giuliani warns about the coming thugocracy.

Stephen Green on Rep. John Murtha: “Sixty-five million years ago, Murtha was first elected to Congress. Er, excuse me, that was when the dinosaurs went extinct, probably after a meteor strike. If Murtha goes out into the dark on election day, it won’t be by accident. It will be because he’s spent his entire career tempting fate, throwing rocks into the air — and having them barely miss.” Saturday Night Live does its part.

More on the thugocracy from Stanley Kurtz.

ACORN allegations get some traction.

Yes, yes, David Frum, we get that you loathe Sarah Palin. But it’s utterly illogical and a-factual to assert that she is “bleeding” votes from the Senate GOP candidates. If they turn out for her, there’ll be more downticket votes for the latter. However, declaring that the top of the ticket is kaput is a sure-fire way to keep the base home, and make certain those Republicans stay home. Remember Jimmy Carter prematurely declaring the race over in 1980? Lots of western state Democrats do. ( I do agree on the more mild step of shifting resources, which can be done without declaring the top of the ticket dead.)

David Broder describes the tough race facing New Hampshire Senator John Sununu — and some less-than-classy behavior by his opponent.

A gracious take on the McCain camp from Mark McKinnon. Unlike other ex-advisors, McKinnon appears to grasp that there is something unseemly about kicking the campaign you left and the candidate you served, even before election day.

Joe Biden doesn’t like a tough interview – goodness knows they don’t come that often. (He also lies, saying that Obama didn’t give any money to ACORN. He gave $800,000.)

Step away from the polls. Really.

This interesting interview, with Fed Ex’s Fred Smith, provides a wealth of sage analysis on the economy and trade. Perhaps we should start looking at business leaders for high office — they might be more knowledge and have better leadership skills than many recycled politicians.

Ben Smith may be on the Democratic beat, but he gets the inside story on Sarah Palin and the McCain team exactly right.

Tony Rezko is back in an RNC website ad, but you get the sense someone found this at the bottom of a drawer. Where was this three months ago?

Fred Barnes goes after the Palin critics who never met her: “A good example is Ken Adelman, who headed the arms control agency in the Reagan administration. Adelman recently endorsed Obama and said he ‘would not have hired [Palin] for even a mid-level post in the arms control agency.’ Well, I know both Palin and Adelman. And Ken, I’m sorry to tell you, but I think there are an awful lot of jobs in Washington that Palin would get before you.” Ouch. (As for two the female pundits Barnes cites who criticize Palin–one, for peddling in identity politics and the other, for elevating cheap emotion over intellect–their arguments would have more weight if the former did not peddle bizarre sexual innuendo and the latter did not suffer from the same malady she detects in Palin.)

Along similar lines Victor Davis Hanson asks: “So why would any conservative think that Obama—friend of Ayers, Khalidi, Meeks, Pfleger, and Wright, veteran of mysterious campaigns in which rivals in 1996 and 2004 simply dropped out or were forced out, erstwhile advocate of repealing NAFTA, controlling guns, stopping new drilling and nuclear plants, zealot for bringing all troops home by March 2008, advocate of a trillion dollars in new spending, and raising the tax burden on the 5% who now pay 60% of the aggregate income taxes, supporter of more oppression studies and racial reparations—would not likewise try to govern as he has lived the last 20 years?”

Even the ultra-liberal Star-Tribune can’t stomach the idea of Al Franken in the Senate.

Read Less




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