Friday, May 23, 2008

McCain on Obama

U.S. Senator John McCain today issued the following statement:

"After Senator Obama's own advisors and supporters backtracked from his stated desire to hold summit meetings with the leaders of the world's worst regimes, Senator Obama himself has begun to reinterpret his stand. He now claims that some 'fear' to 'negotiate' with the likes of Iranian President Ahmadinejad, who has called Israel a 'stinking corpse' or Ayatollah Khamenei, who called Israel a 'cancerous tumor.'

I have news for Senator Obama: I have met some very bad people before in my life. It is not fear that drives my opposition to unconditional meetings with Ahmadinejad, Khamenei, Kim Jong Il, and Raul Castro; rather it is my clear understanding that such a course will fail to eliminate the threat posed by these rogue regimes. I don't fear to negotiate. Instead I have the knowledge and experience to understand the dangerous consequences of a naive approach to Presidential summits based entirely on emotion.

"The question before the American people is which candidate is best able to secure the peace for the next generation of Americans, a peace that will keep our nation safe, prosperous and free. Senator Obama's desire to meet unconditionally in his first year at the presidential level with Iranian leaders is reckless, and demonstrates poor judgment that will make the world more dangerous.

With respect to Cuba, it is not America that needs to make unilateral concessions to the Castros - a 'gesture of good faith' as Senator Obama said yesterday - it is the Castro brothers who must allow the freedom they have so long denied to the Cuban people. Free the political prisoners, open the media, allow people to worship, schedule free and fair elections, and the United States will be happy to meet and talk. Until then, we cannot compromise our principles.

"Senator Obama has consistently offered his judgment on Iraq, and he has been consistently wrong. He said that General Petraeus' new strategy would not reduce sectarian violence, but would worsen it. He was wrong. He said the dynamics in Iraq would not change as a result of the 'surge.' He was wrong. One year ago, he voted to cut off all funds for our forces fighting extremists in Iraq. He was wrong. Sectarian violence has been dramatically reduced, Sunnis in Anbar province and throughout Iraq are cooperating in fighting al Qaeda in Iraq, and Shi'ite extremist militias no longer control Basra - the Maliki government and its forces do. British and Iraqi forces now move freely in areas that were controlled by Iranian-backed militias. The fight against al Qaeda in Mosul is succeeding in further weakening that deadly terrorist group, and many key leaders have been killed or captured.

As General Petraeus said last month, 'As we combat AQI we must remember that doing so not only reduces a major source of instability in Iraq, it also weakens an organization that Al Qaeda's senior leaders view as a tool to spread its influence and foment regional instability.' Iraqi forces have moved unopposed into Sadr City, a development the New York Times characterized today as a 'dramatic turnaround' as the government of Prime Minister Maliki 'advanced its goal of establishing sovereignty and curtailing the powers of the militias.'

"We continue to face challenges in Iraq, and we have a lot of work ahead. Yet the American people must ask whether we are more or less likely to succeed there if Senator Obama has his way. Each of these positive developments in Iraq is the direct result of the new strategy that Senator Obama opposed. Senator Obama consistently predicted the new strategy would fail, and at every step events have demonstrated his judgment was consistently wrong.

He now says that he intends to withdraw combat troops from Iraq - one to two brigades per month until they are all removed - regardless of the conditions in Iraq, irrespective of the consequences for our national security, and despite the best advice of our commanders on the ground. He is wrong again, and the American people deserve a President who has the strength, judgment and experience to keep our country safe and secure."


Obama already reinforcing A'jad in Iran

As predicted by Ed Lasky, Barack Obama's cozying up to summitry with Ahmedinejad of Iran is damaging our efforts to contain him. Only faster than Ed anticipated. Amir Tehari says Obama is already creating a terrible impact with regard to Iran's nuclear program:
BUOYED by their modest electoral success last month, critics of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's provocative foreign policy were preparing to launch a series of attacks on him in the Islamic Majlis, Iran's ersatz parliament. But then Ahmadinejad got an unexpected boost from Barack Obama.

Ali Larijani, Iran's former nuclear negotiator and now a Majlis member, was arguing that the Islamic Republic would pay a heavy price for Ahmadinejad's rejection of three UN Security Council resolutions on nukes. Then the likely Democratic presidential nominee stepped in.

Obama announced that, if elected, he wouldn't ask Iran to comply with UN resolutions as a precondition for direct talks with Ahmadinejad: "Preconditions, as it applies to a country like Iran, for example, was a term of art. Because this administration has been very clear that it will not have direct negotiations with Iran until Iran has met preconditions that are essentially what Iran views, and many other observers would view, as the subject of the negotiations; for example, their nuclear program."

"Talking without preconditions" would require America to ignore three unanimous Security Council resolutions. Before starting his unconditional talks, would Obama present a new resolution at the Security Council to cancel the three that Ahmadinejad doesn't like? Or would the new US president act in defiance of the United Nations - further weakening the Security Council's authority?

If Obama can do this harm before he takes office, imagine what kind of presidency he would run.


If We Could Talk to the Animals

by Ann Coulter

You always know you've struck gold when liberals react with hysteria and rage to something you've said. So I knew President Bush's speech at the Knesset last week was a barn burner before even I read it. Liberals haven't been this worked up since Rev. Jerry Falwell criticized a cartoon sponge. Calling the fight against terrorism "the defining challenge of our time" -- which already confused liberals who think the defining struggle of our time is against Wal-Mart -- Bush said:

"Some seem to believe that we should negotiate with the terrorists and radicals, as if some ingenious argument will persuade them they have been wrong all along. We have heard this foolish delusion before. As Nazi tanks crossed into Poland in 1939, an American senator declared: 'Lord, if I could only have talked to Hitler, all this might have been avoided.' We have an obligation to call this what it is -- the false comfort of appeasement, which has been repeatedly discredited by history."

The way liberals squealed, you'd think someone had mentioned Obama's ears. Summoning all their womanly anger, today's Neville Chamberlains denounced Bush, saying this was an unjustified attack on Obambi and, furthermore, that it's absurd to compare B. Hussein Obama's willingness to "talk" to Ahmadinejad to Neville Chamberlain's capitulation to Hitler.

Unlike liberals, I will honestly report their point before I attack it. The New York Times editorialized: "Sen. Obama has called for talking with Iran and Syria," but has not "suggested surrendering to these countries' demands, which is, after all, what appeasement is."

"Hardball's" Chris Matthews gloated all week about nailing a conservative talk radio host with this brilliant riposte: "You don't understand there's a difference between talking to the enemy and appeasing. What Neville Chamberlain did wrong ... is not talking to Hitler, but giving him half of Czechoslovakia."

Liberals think all real tyrants ended with Hitler and act as if they would have known all along not to appease him. Next time is always different for people who refuse to learn from history. As Air America's Mark Green said: "Look, Hitler was Hitler." (Which, I admit, threw me for a loop: I thought Air America's position is that Bush is Hitler.)

This is nonsense. Ahmadinejad looks a lot like Hitler did when Chamberlain agreed to meet with him at Munich, except that Hitler didn't buy his suits from ratty thrift shops. Much of England reacted just as today's Democrats would because, like today's Democrats, they feared nothing more than another war. (Lloyd George lied, kids died!) Lots of Britons cheered when Chamberlain returned from Munich and announced "peace in our time." Without the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, what on earth makes Chris Matthews think he would not be among them?

As Bush said at the Knesset, "There are good and decent people who cannot fathom the darkness in these men and try to explain away their words." That was Chamberlain. And that is today's Democratic Party.

What Matthews and the Times are saying is this: We can have a Munich, but we promise to be tougher than Chamberlain was. Therein lies the flaw in their logic. Yes, in the abstract, it is technically possible to "talk" without giving up Czechoslovakia (or in today's case, Iraq or Israel). But in reality, when talking to a lunatic without having first bombed him into submission, the only possible result is appeasement. Any talk with Hitler, or a McHitler like Ahmadinejad, that does not include handing over Czechoslovakia or Israel, like a game show parting gift, is going to be a relatively brief chat. Churchill knew that before Chamberlain went to Munich. But a lot of Britons then, like a lot of Americans today, refused to see that blindingly obvious point.

Liberals think the way to deal with dangerous tyrants is to send in a sensitive president who will make Ahmadinejad fall in love with him. They imagine Obama becoming Ahmadinejad's psychotherapist, like Barbra Streisand in "The Prince of Tides."

President Bush described such people perfectly with his reference to Sen. William Edgar Borah, the one who said World War II could have been avoided if only he could have talked to Hitler. Liberals refuse to learn from history because they put their hands over their ears and tell themselves over and over again: "Hitler was different."


Linda Douglass Joins Obama

By Byron York

Marc Ambinder reports the National Journal's Linda Douglass, the former CBS and ABC News correspondent, is joining the Obama campaign as a senior strategist and spokeswoman. Ben Smith suggests that "the Clinton campaign - and Fox News - is going to have a field day with this."

At the risk of having a field day myself, Douglass' move brings to mind a story I did about her for the American Spectator back in 1998. (Not available on the web, as far as I know.) It seems she sometimes found it difficult to draw the line between reporter and source back then:
On March 14, 1994, the CBS Evening News began with word of a big shake- up in the Clinton administration. "Another high-ranking member of the Clinton team was pulled down tonight in the spreading undertow of Whitewater," anchorwoman Connie Chung announced. "The latest to resign: Webster Hubbell, a high-ranking official at the Justice Department with close ties to the president and Mrs. Clinton." Chung tossed to correspondent Rita Braver, who reported the story from Detroit, where President Clinton was attending a jobs conference; then to Bob Schieffer, who covered reaction on Capitol Hill, and finally to Linda Douglass, who was traveling with First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton in Colorado.

Douglass reported that Mrs. Clinton was trying to keep the focus on her health care initiative-and away from Whitewater. But she wasn't having much luck; everywhere she turned, journalists seemed more interested in her role in the Arkansas land deal. The experience was clearly troubling for the first lady, Douglass reported, and Douglass herself seemed almost saddened by the turn of events in Washington. She concluded her report on a faintly elegiac note: "This was a difficult day for Mrs. Clinton as she watched another close friend, Webster Hubbell, forced from public life," Douglass said. "She had urged him and other friends to join her to serve in Washington; yet despite her power, she's had to watch some of them fall and has been unable to protect them. Linda Douglass, CBS News, Denver."

What CBS viewers could not have known was that Webb Hubbell- who later pleaded guilty to stealing $400,000 from his old law firm and cheating on his taxes-was not just the first lady's friend. He was also a friend of Linda Douglass. From the earliest days of the Clinton administration, Douglass and her husband, an influential public interest lawyer named John Phillips, socialized often with Hubbell and his wife Suzy. Within weeks of Hubbell's resignation, Phillips put together a deal by which a California non-profit group paid Hubbell $45,000 to write a series of articles on the idea of public service. Later, Phillips and Douglass picked up much of the tab when they and the Hubbells flew to Greece for a ten-day vacation cruising the Aegean Sea. They stayed in touch after Hubbell pleaded guilty-and even after Hubbell went to prison..

Douglass says she told network management about the friendship and recused herself from covering matters involving Hubbell (as she had done earlier with respect to her friend Mickey Kantor). "I am absolutely scrupulous on this issue," Douglass says. "I pride myself on taking great care to try to avoid those situations." Once she became close to Hubbell, Douglass says, "I certainly never covered anything having to do with Webb, never covered anything having to do with his problems. I recused myself from that whole story."


Stockmarkets Don't Like Obama

One of the things we've learned during the Democratic primary battle is that Hillary's victories are bullish for stocks and Obama's wins are bearish.

The clearest example was Hillary's massive West Virginia victory. Stocks opened strong the following day. But after Obama's big North Carolina win, a night he nearly carried Indiana, stocks opened way down.

Even though Hillary clocked Obama in Kentucky, since Obama took Oregon convincingly, he really carried last night's elections and now stands on the verge of gaining the Democratic nomination. Not surprisingly, stocks opened down 80 points this morning.

Markets don't like Obama. If he wins alongside Democratic gains in the House and Senate, taxes are going up big time. This is especially true for the capital-gains tax, which is the single most important levy on assets of all kind, including stocks. (One wonders if Obama's cap-gains tax hike will apply to housing, which obviously is in no need of higher taxes right now.)

Then there was Obama's Des Moines, Iowa, speech last evening. Lots of class warfare: "The Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans that once bothered Sen. McCain's conscience are now his only economic policy." Obama went on, "Change is a tax code that rewards work instead of wealth . . . a tax code that rewards businesses that create good jobs here in America instead of corporations that ship them overseas." Obama then repeated his usual litany: big-government health care, an attack on oil companies, a big spending plan for education, big bailouts for housing, and a pension assault on corporations.

This idea of rewarding work instead of wealth is just insane. Capital needs labor and labor needs capital. You can't create a new job without a thriving business. But if corporate and investment taxes are going up, how will these businesses be funded? And attacking corporations that work partly overseas is pure protectionism and isolationism. It's as bad as Obama's antipathy towards trade deals with South Korea and Colombia, as well as his Carter-like diplomatic initiatives toward Iran and other rogue states.

The stock market is a barometer of the economic health of the nation. It doesn't like these Obama statements one bit. It sees the handwriting on the wall: an attack on investors, an attack on capital, an attack on business, and an attack on trade. Most of all, higher taxes are anathema to the equity markets.

Interestingly, stocks have preferred Hillary in the Democratic fight a) because she was roughing up Obama for the general-election fight against McCain and b) because markets believe they can do business with Hillary in a way they can't with Obama.

Last night's results position Obama on the very edge of the nomination. The Intrade betting-parlor prediction markets give Obama a very strong chance of winning in November. Coupled with expected Democratic gains in Congress, we're looking at anti-growth policies that could do great damage to the stock market and the economy.

Of course, I am not counting John McCain out. He's got some important openings that could carry him to the White House. But right now I'm not surprised the stock market is going through a downward correction after the big run-up that followed the McCain surge and the Fed rescue of the banking system.



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