Monday, July 28, 2008

Obama Finds No Facts on Foreign Trip

Sen. Barack Obama must be very glad to have returned to the United States. After a hero's welcome in Afghanistan and Iraq, at least from the mainstream press, the last few days of his journey have not exactly earned the Senator much praise and may in fact have done damage to his campaign. First, there was the speech in Berlin, in which Obama didn't really say anything of consequence; a fact that did not go unnoticed in the German press even if the American media was too starry-eyed to notice. Then there was Obama's now infamous decision to skip out on a meeting with wounded troops from Iraq and Afghanistan at the U.S. bases at Landstuhl and Ramstein, Germany. That was followed by the shifting explanations for the cancellation, which the campaign ultimately tried to blame on the Pentagon. And just for good measure, Obama hinted on his last day abroad that he may be about to make the mother of all flip-flops and change his position du jour on troop withdrawals from Iraq.

Foreign travel can be so...troublesome.

Better for Obama to come home. It's not like he was learning anything, anyhow. That's according to the Senator himself. It seems that Sen. Obama told Fox News that he mostly had his views on foreign policy "confirmed" by what he saw overseas.
"There was a lot of confirmation of my strategies -- that we need to get more troops into Afghanistan, and that the Iraqis are willing to take more responsibility ... that Iran is a grave threat."
Now we know why Sen. Obama never held a hearing on the situation in Afghanistan. He had all the answers all along.

Sen. Obama went all the way to Afghanistan and Iraq to accomplish nothing more than he could have by looking in his bathroom mirror. That helps explain the stumbles of the second leg of his tour. Obama was bored. It's becoming clear that the Senator from H.O.P.E.™ has an inflated opinion of himself and his abilities. But to come right out and admit in broad daylight that his much hyped foreign mission was a gigantic waste of time for him speaks of a conceit that borders on pathological.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Obama's Judgment Means Longer Wars

The McCain Campaign has been showing signs of life lately.  There is one issue that motivates McCain to go on the offensive, and that is national security in general and the war in Iraq in particular.  Barack Obama is set to travel to Iraq to view firsthand the success of the troop surge that he opposed.  And the McCain campaign isn't about to let him try to share in the credit.

The campaign released a statement yesterday, reacting to the news that the Bush Administration and the Iraqi government have come to an agreement on a "general time horizon" for the continued presence of U.S. troops in Iraq.  To some on the left, the announcement is vindication for Obama's plan to remove troops from Iraq quickly.  For some on the right, the announcement pulls the rug out from under John McCain, who has steadfastly argued that the duration of the U.S. troop presence should be determined by conditions, not politics.  Both are evidence of shallow thinking.

Rather than a defeat for McCain, and evidence of the prescience of the Senator from H.O.P.E., the announcement is a vindication of McCain's call for a surge of troops to begin with.  It is evidence of the correctness of Republican and Administration policies on the war and should be celebrated as such.  It also shows the dangerous irony of Obama's and liberals' timidity in matters of war.  In their zeal to end hostilities and prevent casualties, Democratic policies lead to longer wars and more bloodshed.

McCain's statement hits all those themes and more.
"Progress between the United States and Iraq on a time horizon for American troop presence is further evidence that the surge has succeeded.  Most of the U.S. forces in the surge have already been withdrawn.  When a further conditions-based withdrawal of U.S. forces is possible, it will be because we and our Iraqi partners built on the success of the surge strategy, which Senator Obama opposed, predicted would fail, voted against, and campaigned against in the primary.  When we withdraw, we will withdraw with honor and victory.  An honorable and victorious withdrawal would not be possible if Senator Obama's views had prevailed.  An artificial timetable based on political expediency would have led to disaster and could still turn success into defeat.  If we had followed Senator Obama's policy, Iraq would have descended into chaos, American casualties would be far higher, and the region would be destabilized."
Exactly right.

The whole point of the Iraq War was to stand up a functioning democracy in the heart of the Middle East.  The point of the surge was to bring down violence so that the Iraqi government could grow.  That it has done so and is looking for the earliest possible date for U.S. withdrawal is the plan working as it was intended.  It is not evidence of some kind of defeat for the Administration or McCain.  Nor is it a chance for Obama to jump on the bandwagon of the strategy that he didn't have the judgment to recognize would succeed.  McCain is correct to hail this development as a defeat for Obama, who sided with those who said Iraq was a hopeless disaster 18 months ago.

Good for Sen. McCain for issuing this statement.  Now he should make it into a television commercial, and run it in every battleground state.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Obama Sells His Soul for a Party

The New York Times has a profile of the man behind the fundraising effort for the Democratic National Convention in Denver next month. His name is Steven Farber, and he just happens to be the head of the law firm Brownstein Hyatt Farber Schreck, which the Times describes as, "one of the fastest-growing lobbying shops in Washington and one of the most powerful firms in the West." Now ordinarily this would not be news, a lobbyist raising money for a politician, political party, or political event. But as is the case with almost everything about the Democratic Party these days, and about its presidential nominee Sen. Barack Obama, it is not quite as simple as it appears.

Obama has made quite a show of his claim to be running a campaign free from special interest money. He claims to take no contributions from lobbyists and hits Sen. John McCain at every opportunity for his alleged ties to lobbyists. Now, as Sen. Obama's fundraising prowess is coming back to Earth a bit, and as the host committee for the Denver convention has fallen $11 million short of its fundraising goals, Sen. Obama prepares to accept the nomination of his party at an event bought and paid for by powerful special interests.

How bad is this turn of events for Obama? Consider that when the New York Times notices that the would-be Democratic president has no clothes, and says so, he must not only be naked, but standing behind a magnifying glass.

Mr. Farber’s vast contact list could prove crucial in raising the millions of dollars needed by the Denver host committee to showcase Senator Barack Obama and the Democratic Party in August in Denver. But Mr. Farber’s activities are a public display of how corporate connections fuel politics — exactly the type of special influence that Mr. Obama had pledged to expunge from politics when he said he would not accept donations from lobbyists. [...]

"Steve Farber is involved with a lot of high-level candidates and ones who have won," said Floyd Ciruli, head of Ciruli Associates, a Denver political consulting firm. "He’s famous for hiring ex-politicians, their children and ex-judges. He’s very good at making connections with people who have access to politicians."
One of those people with "access to politicians" who have worked for Farber's high-powered lobbying firm turns out to be Judy Black. If that name sounds familiar, it's because she is the wife of McCain campaign senior adviser and fundraiser, Charlie Black. Black made news recently with some...inartful comments he made about the potential effect on the election of another terrorist attack on the United States. But Obama has periodically called on McCain to drop Black and has made McCain's alleged ties to lobbyists a feature of his stump speech. How ironic then that Farber, the man who is raising the money to make Obama's coronation and torchlight parade rally possible, has helped put food on the table of a guy Obama considers to be reprehensible. Now which one is the pot and which is the kettle, Senator?

Farber isn't shy about his ability to tap into big special interest money on Obama's behalf. He knows what he is selling, and who he is selling it to, even if he is a bit shy about admitting who benefits from his connections.

"I have my list of companies, not only my client list, but companies throughout Colorado and the Rocky Mountain region," Mr. Farber said in a telephone interview. "We’ve got offices in Las Vegas and California, so I have clients that we can contact, and I have friends of clients that I intend to contact. And if they have given to the convention already, I try to get them to double their contribution." [...]

"The money to the convention doesn’t go to the candidates or the Democratic National Committee, but to the host committee to pay for the cost of the convention," Mr. Farber said. "So what [Obama] has said [about lobbyist connections] doesn’t inhibit it." [...]

"What I am now selling is Senator Obama and the excitement he has created in his candidacy," he added.
Whatever helps you sleep at night, Mr. Farber.

Of course, it's plain that what Farber is selling is access to Obama, wherever the check goes. And its similarly clear that Obama is willing to be sold. That isn't the new kind of politics Obama speaks of, it's the old kind and worse. It's the kind that brazenly and unashamedly lies to the voters for personal gain and the pursuit of power.

So, you go, Sen. Obama. Have that coronation party in Denver. Just know that when you sell your soul to the Devil, you never really get what you expect. And the Devil has a long memory.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Obama Will Sell Anything

The Obama campaign officially announced yesterday that Sen. Obama will accept the Democratic presidential nomination in an open air event expected to draw 75,000 people. The campaign takes pains to point out that free tickets will be available for the torchlight rally acceptance speech, but...

If you make a donation of $5 or more between now and midnight on July 31st, you could be one of 10 supporters chosen to fly to Denver and spend two days and nights at the convention, meet Barack backstage, and watch his acceptance speech in person. Each of the ten supporters who are selected will be able to bring one guest to join them.
This guy will sell anything. So much for the new politics. Obama's campaign is more motivated by money and fundraising than any campaign in recent memory. One wonders if this will continue into an Obama presidency.

"For a donation of $25 dollars or more, you could be one of 10 lucky people to be flown to Washington D.C. to sit in on an exciting intelligence briefing in the White House Situation Room. Afterwards, you'll be given an exclusive tour of the Oval Office and get to listen in on a secure phone call between President Obama and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez. Your whirlwind day will conclude with a special de-briefing by the president and the opportunity to personally sign one letter of President Obama's signature to the official roll back of the Bush Tax Cuts."
Apparently "fixing a broken public finance system" means "sell anything that isn't nailed down including my dignity and the dignity of the office in order to out raise my opponents" in Obama's language.

Monday, July 7, 2008

The Baracklaration of Obamdependence

Sen. Barack Obama spent the week leading up to the Fourth of July changing just about every campaign position he has taken to date. As the nation prepared to celebrate its independence from tyranny, Sen. Obama was declaring his independence from another kind of oppression-the oppression of principle and intellectual honesty. Sen. Obama, therefore, may find much to agree with in the following, with apologies to Mr. Jefferson and the Founders.

The unanimous Declaration of the democratic candidate for president of the united States of America

When in the Course of a presidential campaign it becomes necessary for one candidate to dissolve the political bands which have connected him with his previous positions and to assume for the electorate, the separate and equal station of general election candidate to which the Laws of Electoral Campaigning and Campaign Managers entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of average voters is unnecessary, lest that require that he should declare the causes which impel them to hold to principle.

I hold these truths to be self-evident, that all political positions are created equal, that they are endowed by their Holder with certain unalienable Principles, that among these are Votes, Control and the pursuit of Power. — That to secure said principles, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the will of the governors, — That whenever any Political Opponent becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the Candidate to alter or to abolish his positions, and to institute new Policies, laying their foundation on such principles and organizing them in such form, as to him shall seem most likely to effect his Image and Election. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Principles long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn that mankind are more disposed to be fooled, while fools are sufferable than to bother themselves by taking account of the positions to which they have been accustomed. But when a long train of mistakes and untenable positions, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to prevent his election, it is his right, it is his duty, to throw off such Policies, and to provide new Beliefs for his electoral security. — Such has been the patient sufferance of my Campaign; and such is now the necessity which constrains me to alter my former Systems of Belief. The history of the present Campaign is a history of repeated missteps and misjudgments, all having in direct object the establishment of a McCain presidency over these States. To prove this, let Facts be submitted to a candid world.

I have declared my intention to redefine my Assent to the War In Iraq, the most wholesome and necessary for my public image.

I have adjusted my beliefs with respect to abortion, to secure votes among the less nuanced masses of the general public concerned with such trivialities.

I have made plain my embrace of the right to bear arms, except in my home city, and except under such circumstances as to make it practical for the public to avail itself of said right.

I have announced my intent to enshrine the policy of George W. Bush to eavesdrop on those terrorists and criminals of an international character in law, so that the public might see me as its protector.

I have sought to take credit for welfare reform, which I oppose, but nonetheless support the implementation of the same in any locale in which it may gain me votes.

I have reversed my abhorrence of capital punishment and endorsed the free exercise thereof in any case as the States may see fit, such that I may properly claim to be a man of the people in all matters of life and death, except in such cases as abortion, which I both oppose and support conditional on that issue's ability to win me favor in the press.

I have established a new precedent of funding my campaign from private donations and tributes, so as not to allocate such public monies as may be necessary to gain high office for myself and my associates.

I have steadfastly avoided any opportunity to present myself for debate with my opponent, obstructing the electorate from exposing my principles and positions, on any given day, to scrutiny.

I have affirmed my fidelity and brotherhood with innumerable campaign associates and employees, who being solely concerned with my election, have made inartful statements or been proved to have been in inconvenient connections, and have disowned same as the time and occasion required.

I, therefore, the Democratic candidate for president of the united States of America, in Chicago and Denver, Affirmed, appealing to the general election voter for the rectitude of my intentions, do, in the Name, and by Authority of the Rules and Bylaws Committee of the Democratic Party, solemnly publish and declare, That this Campaign is, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent, that the candidate is Absolved from all Allegiance to Principle, and that all political connection between him and any previously stated Position, on any issue as he may see fit, is and ought to be totally dissolved; and that as a Free and Independent Campaign, shall have full Power to Vacillate, Equivocate, Prevaricate, establish New Principles, and to do all other Acts and Things which Politicians may of right do. — And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of the Mainstream Press, I pledge to each voter my Lies, your Fortunes, and my sacred Office.

Barack Obama, Illinois

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

A New Kind of Sleaze

The Obama campaign officially says that Gen. Wesley Clark was not officially speaking for Obama when on CBS's Face the Nation this past Sunday, he denigrated Sen. John McCain's military experience. "I don't think that riding in a fighter plane and getting shot down is a qualification to become president, " Clark sniffed. Besides hinting that McCain was a substandard pilot-good ones do not get shot down-that remark necessarily discounts everything that came afterwards, McCain's five and a half years of voluntary confinement. Voluntary because the North Vietnamese, after learning that McCain was the son of a top U.S. Admiral, offered him early release, ahead of others who had been captured before McCain. McCain refused, not wanting to hand his captors a propaganda victory and undermine the morale of his co-prisoners. McCain never had to endure the debilitating torture, the beatings, the psychological torment, and the spirit-breaking confinement. He did it out of love of country and dedication to duty.

This is not to try and make McCain into a Christ-like figure, willingly suffering for the nation's sins. But it does illuminate just how egregious and despicable Clark's comments were. To boil McCain's entire military record down to the singular event of the loss of his plane while flying bombing missions over Hanoi, the most dangerous duty for an aviator in the Vietnam War, is so callous and dismissive that it had to have been intentional. Clark's defenders, and Clark himself, have said that he was merely responding to a question from host Bob Schieffer. But this only underscores the point that Clark was deliberately taking a shot at McCain's military experience. Schieffer's question pointed to the fact the Obama has no military or comparable executive experience that approaches McCain's. Clark had to diminish McCain in order to build up Obama.

But Clark was not the first, nor will he be the last, Obama surrogate to question McCain's military service. Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV) have both made comments questioning McCain's service, the latter going so far as to say that McCain does not understand the human cost of war because he was a pilot that dropped bombs on targets from high above. In each instance, the Obama campaign has refused to denounce the smears against McCain. In Clark's case, Sen. Obama made an oblique reference to the comments in his grand speech on patriotism, but did not denounce Clark by name.

This is not the "new kind of politics" that Sen. Obama plans to bring to America, it is the new kind of sleaze: send out surrogates to make baseless and despicable charges against your opponent all the while keeping the candidate above the fray by refusing to address or acknowledge the statements made on the campaign's behalf. Trouble is for Sen. Obama, as with almost everything else about him, this isn't really new. It is easily recognizable by the American people as the same kind of partisan politics that has so turned them off to politicians. Whatever short-term gain Obama may think he is getting from taking McCain's experience and qualifications for office down a notch will be more than outweighed by the disappointment many will come to feel when they realize that Obama isn't a new kind of politician after all.