Wednesday, 02 January 2008

OBAMA ON THE ISSUES

Ken Berwitz

In recent days I've read and heard several so-called analysts claim that Barack Obama is a centrist, someone who appeals to a wide range of people within this country.  Just Monday, for example, Mike Taibbi of NBC Nightly News was talking about his "independent streak" -- the implication being that he is not beholden to one side or the other. 

The problem with this claim is that it is checkable.

There is a wonderful, non-partisan web site, www.vote-smart.org, which provides a wealth of information on just about any elected official of importance.  It compiles information in many areas, but the most valuable (to me, anyway) is how politicians are rated by interest groups of the left and right.  These ratings, based on their actual voting records, are the best indicator of where politicians truly stand that I know of.

How does it work?  Very simply.  The more you vote with an interest group's positions, the higher your rating.  If you vote with a group's position every time, without exception, you get a rating of 100%.  Half the time is 50% and if you never vote on their side of things you get 0%.

So to really and truly know if Senator Obama can be classified as centrist, I checked the ratings given to him from key interest groups. Here are some of the highlights, all from 2006, the latest year for which there are available data:

-Abortion:  NARAL (pro-choice) gives Obama a rating of 100%.  So does Planned Parenthood.  Not surprisingly, therefore the National Right To Life Committee gives him a 0% rating.  

-Taxes:  Americans for Tax Reform (which favors lower taxes) gives Obama a rating of 15%.  The National Taxpayers Union gives him 16%.  But Citizens for Tax Justice (anti-tax cuts) gives Obama a rating of 100%.

-Conservative versus Liberal:  The American Conservative Union gives Senator Obama a rating of 8%.   The Eagle Forum (also conservative) gives 0%.  On the liberal side, the Americans for Democrat Action gives Mr. Obama a 95% rating.

-Civil Liberties and Civil Rights:  The ACLU gives Obama an 83% rating.  Americans United for the Separation of Church and State give him 100% as does the NAACP.

-Education:  The NEA gives Mr. Obama a rating of 100%.   The English First group?  0%.

-Family and Children's Issues:  The Childrens Defense Fund?  100%.  The Family Research Council?  0%

-Labor:  The AFL-CIO give him a rating of 93%.  AFSCME gives him 100%, as do a number of other unions.

-Women's Issues:  Senator Obama voted with the National Organization for Women (NOW)  91% of the time.

There you have it:  Senator Barack Obama's actual record, as evaluated by key left and right organizations. 

So how centrist does he look to you?   A lot?  A little?  How about not at all - is that a bit closer to reality?

Do those ratings indicate Senator Obama has an "independent streak"?

Now, tell me:  If I can find this information so easily, why can't the people who are misinforming their audiences about Senator Obama's "centrism" find it too?

Or is it that they don't want to?


JOHN EDWARDS' LAMB STRATEGY FOR IRAQ

Ken Berwitz

John Edwards, the human oil slick, has come up with a brilliant strategy for Iraq.  One that will certainly make his namesake, John Murtha, proud as can be.

The strategy?  Leave.  Just up and leave in 10 months flat.  Leave on a specific timetable so the enemy has full disclosure regarding how long they should sit back, re-arm and wait. 

But before you yawn and say "so what, lots of Democrats and assorted members of the Lunatic-left And Mega-moonbat Brigade would do the same thing", please note that Edwards' plan has an extra added twist.  He is specifically calling for the removal of troops whose job it is to train the Iraqi army.

I know what you're thinking.  It's something like "No, Ken has to be missing something.  This is impossible even for a LAMB.  This is exactly what al qaeda's wish list would contain and no presidential candidate, no matter how far left his/her posturing, would ever say that.

My answer to you is "Oh yeah?  Well, read this". 

The surrender to al qaeda is Edwards', the article excerpts are from the New York Times and the bold print is mine:

Edwards calls for pullout of troops training Iraqis

Broader plan would remove virtually all troops within 10 months
By Michael R. Gordon
The New York Times
updated 10:55 p.m. ET, Tues., Jan. 1, 2008

SIOUX CITY, Iowa - John Edwards says that if elected president he would withdraw the American troops who are training the Iraqi army and police as part of a broader plan to remove virtually all American forces within 10 months.

Mr. Edwards, the former senator from North Carolina who is waging a populist campaign for the Democratic nomination, said that extending the American training effort in Iraq into the next presidency would require the deployment of tens of thousands of troops to provide logistical support and protect the advisers.

To me, that is a continuation of the occupation of Iraq, he said in a 40-minute interview on Sunday aboard his campaign bus as it rumbled through western Iowa.

In one of his most detailed discussions to date about how he would handle Iraq as president, Mr. Edwards staked out a position that would lead to a more rapid and complete troop withdrawal than his principal rivals, Senators Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama, who have indicated they are open to keeping American trainers and counterterrorism units in Iraq.

Elizabeth Edwards, his wife and political partner, who listened in on the interview from a seat across the aisle, intervened at the end of the session to underscore that Mr. Edwards did not intend to stop all training and was prepared to train Iraqi forces outside of the country. Mr. Edwards continued the theme while acknowledging that the benefits of such training would be limited.

Mr. Edwards plan, like that of many of his Democratic opponents, is at odds with the strategy developed by American military commanders, who have said the situation is still too fragile to set a timetable for such extensive troop withdrawals and a curtailment of the training effort in Iraq.

Mr. Edwardss plan calls for immediately withdrawing 40,000 to 50,000 troops. Nearly all of the remaining American troops would be removed within 9 or 10 months. The only force that would remain would be a 3,500-to-5,000-strong contingent that would protect the American Embassy and possibly humanitarian workers.

Substantial evolution
Over the past five years, Mr. Edwards position on Iraq has undergone a substantial evolution. In 2002, as a senator, Mr. Edwards was among the Democrats who voted to authorize the use of force in Iraq. Mr. Edwards has said he was convinced by the intelligence that Saddam Hussein controlled stocks of unconventional weapons, but in the Senate speech explaining his vote he also endorsed the Bush administrations argument that a new democratic Iraq could serve as a model for the entire Arab world.

In November 2005, Mr. Edwards wrote an op-ed article for The Washington Post entitled The Right Way in Iraq, in which he argued that his earlier vote to authorize the use of use of force in Iraq was a mistake, while making the point that it was still important to provide American troops with a way to end their mission honorably.

Toward this end, Mr. Edwards called at the time for establishing a more effective program to train Iraqi troops and channeling reconstruction work to Iraqis instead of American contractors. While he called for removing a significant number of American forces, he also stressed that the withdrawals should be a gradual process.

That will still leave us with enough military capability, combined with better-trained Iraqis, to fight terrorists and continue to help the Iraqis develop a stable country, he wrote.

In the interview on Sunday, Mr. Edwards said that he decided on his current plan for a rapid and near-total withdrawal of American troops because of the failure of Iraqi leaders to achieve a political accommodation over the past four years. Eight to 10 brigades, which is likely to be the bulk of the American combat force by the time the next president takes office, would immediately be withdrawn.

I absolutely believe this to my soul: we are there propping up their bad behavior, he said. I mean really, how many American lives and how much American taxpayer money are we going to continue to expend waiting for these political leaders to do something? Because that is precisely what we are doing.

Such a troop withdrawal, he said, might jolt Iraqi leaders into taking action to overcome their sectarian differences. During the 10 months or so while American troops were being withdrawn, Mr. Edwards added, he would also mount an intensive effort to encourage Iraqs leaders to engage in political reconciliation and solicit the cooperation of Iran and Syria, who he argued might be more willing to help once they understood that American troops were on their way out.

Mr. Edwards, who has never visited Iraq, said that he asked the Pentagon last year to help arrange a visit but was turned down. (Mr. Obama visited Iraq once two years ago, while Mrs. Clinton has made three trips.) Geoff Morrell, the senior Defense Department spokesman, said the Pentagon had turned down all requests to visit Iraqi from politicians who are not currently serving in Congress or as governors, including Rudolph W. Giuliani, a candidate for the Republican nomination.

As you can see, the human oil slick's strategy is to lock up the LAMB segment, the code-pinkers, etc. and hope that Clinton, Obama, etc. will neutralize each other enough for him to win the Iowa caucuses.  Then, he figures, he's on his way.

Never mind that what he proposes would be an absolute catastrophe for the Iraqi people.  That apparently does mean a thing to Edwards. 

John Edwards once won a trial by pretending to channel the thoughts of an unborn baby.  It was one of the most maudlin, disgusting lawyer tricks I have ever heard of.  But since he left us the opening, Let me try to channel his thoughts about leaving 25 million Iraqis (not just the government, the entire population) to the tender mercies of radical muslim terrorists.

In a nutshell, John Edwards' philosophy seems to be "Who cares about those hairy brown sub-humans.  Let al qaeda kill as many of them as they want and take over the country.  I'm looking out for numero uno, baby, and this is my ticket to the oval office".

From the beginning Edwards has tried to carve out a niche among the Democratic party's LAMB contingent; a niche that, if he ever beat all odds and won the nomination, would make him virtually unsalable to the general population. 

It is hard not to conclude that we are seeing the worst parts of Edwards' class-action lawyer mentality.  The idea seems to be that if he can win the nomination by being the single most acceptable suckup to the hard left moveon.org crowd, he can then talk his way out of these positions during the general election campaign. Sort of the way he amassed his fortune;  i.e. by talking juries into multi-million dollar verdicts against doctors and hospitals.

Can it work?  Well, to believe that it can you have to be extremely cynical about the intelligence of the American voter.  While, sadly, there are sometimes reasons to be this cynical, I find it very difficult to believe Edwards can pull off a scam of such magnitude.

In two days we'll know how the John Edwards LAMB strategy panned out.  Then we'll reassess.


REVERSAL OF (POLITICAL) FORTUNES?

Ken Berwitz

In 2006 the Democratic party won both houses of congress and gained a majority of governorships.  You don't need me to tell you that it was a tremendous year for them.

Additionally, after years of the two parties being about even, more and more people started identifying themselves as Democrats and accordingly fewer were calling themselves Republicans.

Not surprisingly, these factors have contributed to a great deal of jubilation among Democrats and a high level of confidence that they can "run the table" in 2008  by winning the presidency, senate and house. 

But how confident should they really be? 

I don't know the answer to that question any more than you do.  But if the latest Rasmussen research data are correct, maybe it's a lot less than they think.  Here's why (pay particular attention to the two paragraphs I've put in bold print):

Partisan Trends
Number of Republicans in U.S. Increases in December to Two-Year High
 Pamela Bone | January 02, 2008

ARE women across the world mourning Benazir Bhutto? They should be. Not because she was a saint; she wasn't. She was at least a beneficiary of the billions stolen by her husband from the people of Pakistan. Nor did she do anything much for Pakistani women during her two periods of leadership, declining even to try to repeal the infamous Hudood laws whereby rape victims can be punished for adultery.

She should be mourned not because of what she was but because of what she symbolised. Her death was a political assassination, not an honour killing, as some have said.

Nevertheless it was a reminder of what we face. Bhutto was murdered because to her enemies she was Westernised, a traitor to her culture and an American stooge. She was murdered because she had vowed to bring secularism and democracy to Pakistan. She was murdered because she was all these things, and a woman.

"I know I am a symbol of what the so-called jihadists, Taliban and al-Qa'ida, most fear," she wrote in her autobiography, Daughter of the East. "I am a female political leader fighting to bring modernity, communication, education and technology to Pakistan."

Yes, fear is the right word. The fear of women, of women's freedom, and most of all, of women's sexuality, runs through Islamism. It is a large part of Islamist hatred of the West. "The issue of women is not marginal," writes the Dutch scholar Ian Buruma. "It lies at the heart of Islamic occidentalism (anti-Westernism)."

It is the "deep, ignored issue", writes Paul Berman, author of Terror and Liberalism. Why, I wonder, is it mainly men who are making these points?

To call these warriors for God sexually repressed is to absurdly understate it. Consider Mohammad Atta, one of the September 11 hijackers who -- despite having spent his last nights in the US going to strip clubs -- wrote in his will that no pregnant woman or other "unclean person" should come to his funeral and that no woman should visit his grave.

Or Sayyid Qutb, the Egyptian philosopher, one of the chief inspirations for al-Qa'ida, who, during a visit to the US in 1948, wrote home about the "seductiveness' of young women he saw dancing at a church hall (to the song, Baby It's Cold Outside), about the "shocking sensuality" of women everywhere he went in the country.

Consider that in parts of Afghanistan still controlled by the Taliban, so great is the need to keep women powerless, silent and invisible that girls' schools are burned down and a male schoolteacher who defied an order to stop educating girls was last year killed and dismembered.

No wonder they hated Bhutto, the first woman to lead a Muslim country, who was not only brave and strong but physically beautiful, her loosely draped Islamic headscarf more an object of adornment than of modesty. No wonder Islamist militants had been trying to kill her for more than a decade.

(Ramzi Yousef, now in prison in the US for his part in the first attempt to blow up the twin towers in 1993, had earlier attempted to assassinate her.)

Now they have succeeded. Her murder is most likely the work of al-Qa'ida or its allies inside Pakistan. Certainly, they've expressed glee at her death.

If the fact that she was a Western-educated woman seeking power in lands they claim as their own was not reason enough, killing her meant they could disrupt the scheduled elections and maintain instability in Pakistan, which would allow them to continue using that country's territory to train the increasing numbers of willing martyrs, funded by trillions of dollars from opium sales.

One wonders why the Western powers don't make a co-ordinated effort to defoliate Afghanistan's opium fields.

Al-Qa'ida has made it perfectly clear that its aim is an Islamic caliphate, first in all nominally Muslim countries and ultimately in the whole world. The jihadis would, if they could, impose the same rampant misogyny on women worldwide as was, and still is to a large extent, imposed on the women of Afghanistan.

They can't win. No one, apart from extremists like themselves, wants the kind of society they envisage. But they could, if the West fails in its determination, win enough to make life very unpleasant for millions of women for a generation or more.

The best hope is that Bhutto's assassination will galvanise opposition to Islamism in Pakistan and elsewhere. It is a small hope. At present, the Islamists are triumphant and energised.

Meanwhile, in Australia, the very people who once would have fought against everything the Islamists stand for are instead obsessed with showing their support for David Hicks, that very stupid young man who once trained on the Islamists' side.

Could the murder of Bhutto be enough to wake up Western women to the fact that the war being waged by the Islamists is very much about them? Could the modern Left be persuaded that the people who killed Bhutto are the ones we are fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq and other places across the world? Can we, in our niceness, stop telling ourselves they are justified in their hatred of us?

Maybe they are. God knows the West has made more than enough blunders, supporting corrupt dictators wherever it deemed it suitable. But as British writer Nick Cohen notes, what the Islamists hate is not the worst of us but the best of us: human rights, the rule of law, the equality of women and all those other freedoms we take so much for granted.

If you are a woman, or care about women, the prospect of these people making any headway anywhere should make you shudder.  Unless, of course, you are a member of the Lunatic-left And Mega-moonbat Brigade, in which case you may be more invested in finding a way for them to make a comeback in Iraq.

Incidentally, if you're wondering about Ms. Bone's reference to David Hicks, you can read all about him at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/3044386.stm.  Don't expect to like what you find out.


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