Contrasting McCain-Obama views on Israel and the Middle East

Contrasting McCain-Obama views on Israel and

the Middle East

Ed Lasky

A week or so ago, Jeff Goldberg had a brief Q and A with Democratic Presidential candidate Barack Obama regarding his views of the Middle East. The interview elicited some controversy. Barack Obama called the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians a “constant sore’ that effected our foreign relations and identified settlements as the key case of that conflict. He ignored the religious and nationalist objections to the state of Israel that is pervasive in the Islamic world, as well as the anti-Semitism that is a regional epidemic.

Senator John McCain has a different and wider view-his lens is larger- as refelcted in his own interveiw with Goldberg published today.  He sees the conflict between Israel and the Palestinian as one front in the conflict between Islamic extremism and the West. Mccain comments on Obama’s changing views regarding negotiations with Iran-a nation that McCain recognizes is “hell bent” on destroying Israel and harming America.


I’m amused by Senator Obama’s dramatic change since he’s gone from a candidate in the primary to a candidate in the general election. I’ve seen him do that on a number of issues that show his naivete and inexperience on national security issues. I believe that the history of the successful conduct of national security policy is that, one, you don’t sit down face-to-face with people who are behave the way they do, who are state sponsors of terrorism.

Senator Obama likes to refer to President Kennedy going to Vienna. Most historians see that as a serious mistake, which encouraged Khrushchev to build the Berlin Wall and to send missiles to Cuba. Another example is Richard Nixon going to China. I’ve forgotten how many visits Henry Kissinger made to China, and how every single word was dictated beforehand. More importantly, he went to China because China was then a counterweight to a greater threat, the Soviet Union. What is a greater threat in the Middle East than Iran today?

Senator Obama is totally lacking in experience, so therefore he makes judgments such as saying he would sit down with someone like Ahmadinejad without comprehending the impact of such a meeting. I know that his naivete and lack of experience is on display when he talks about sitting down opposite Hugo Chavez or Raul Castro or Ahmadinejad.

McCain reflects on his long history of support for Israel. He has had numerous visits (Obama has visited one time). He knows the leaders well, both Palestinian and Israeli, and would have a hands-on approach if conditions warrant. His representatives would hold talks with representatives of nations such as Syria and Iran-but would not agree to meet face to face with their leaders, he notes that such meetings have been going on for quite some time now. He denies the claim that settlements are the stumbling block-stating that they are just one of the issues. He notes that, despite withdrawing from Gaza, Israel has been subject to constant terror from that area which implicitly recognizes that settlements are not the problem but that terrorism and the hate that stokes it are the problems. He expresses empathy for the daily threats Sderot faces.

He further recognizes the geopolitical threat Iran poses to America. He understands that Iran wants to drive American influence from the region to achieve their ultimate goals. He believes that a retreat from Iraq would lead to consequences for American national security that would be profound. He notes that their rhetoric reflects their views: America is the “Great Satan”, that Israel should be wiped from the map. 

Doesn’t Barack Obama believe in the power of words?  

Metaphorically, it seems as if McCain sees things as he would as a Navy flyer (which he was)-a broad view, across borders, always alerts to risks and dangers as well as opportunities.   Finally, but meaningfully, he relates his own experience of torture as a prisoner of war in the hands of the North Vietnamese to the suffering brought upon millions of people during the Holocaust. He has a great deal of empathy for victims of the Holocaust and extends sympathy and support for a nation that , in part , was founded in the wake of those horrors.   McCain’s view is far more compehensive that those of Barack Obama’s; his experience is far more extensive; his understanding is all the greater.


Food Report Critical of Biofuels

Food Report Critical of Biofuels

Rick Moran
A new report out today on the worldwide food shortage castigates the west and especially the United States for their biofuels policies which the report says has exacerbated the crisis without much of a savings in crude oil:

“The energy security, environmental and economic benefits of biofuels production based on agricultural commodity feed stocks are at best modest, and sometimes even negative,” says the report, prepared by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. “Alternative approaches may be considered that offer potentially greater benefits with less of the unintended market impact.”
The Agriculture Department’s own longtime chief economist, Keith Collins, who retired in January, said that ethanol was the “foot on the accelerator” of corn demand – an essential feed for animals, as well as a part of many diets – and merited renewed debate. He said Congressional mandates for ethanol would require farmers to grow more corn for conversion to biofuel, at the expense of feed corn and other food crops.
“You’re building in tremendous increase in demand,” said Mr. Collins, who emphasized that he was not necessarily against ethanol. “It’s an increase that is going to feed into food prices.”
The United Nations report, the global agriculture outlook through 2017, said prices for farm crops will remain substantially higher over the next decade because of fundamental changes in demand, though they will gradually decline from current highs.
Because the recent spike in crop and food prices has been caused in part by temporary factors like drought, the report predicted that prices should decrease as weather conditions return to normal and crop yields improve.

In the meantime, we are driving up the cost of grain by feeding our cars rather than feeding people.

There are alternatives to using grain in biofuels. Switchgrass is increasingly being adopted by some countries who are seeing less acreage devoted to growing grains. However, the amount of energy per unit compared to grain is not as great for switchgrass so it is likely that the bulk of biofuels will still come from corn.


No, You Can’t

No, You Can’t
By John Samples
Published 5/30/2008 12:08:15 AM

Much has been made about Barack Obama’s difficulties attracting the votes of conservative Democrats. Some say his problems go back to his race. Others cite his comments about guns and religion. Still others say his social liberalism turns off conservatives in both parties. Obama, and liberal Democrats in general, do have a cultural problem with conservative Democrats. But the problem goes well beyond guns and God.

Americans on the whole are optimistic and expect their elected leaders to promise a better future. Americans are generally optimistic because they believe in personal responsibility and the rewards of work. Individuals are in charge of their fates and not the victims of impersonal forces.

In 2005, the Pew Research Center for the People and the Press found that 68 percent of the general population agreed that “Most people who want to get ahead can make it if they’re willing to work hard.” They also found that about 80 percent of Americans agree that “everyone has it in their own power to succeed.”

Some Americans, however, are not optimistic. In 2005, the Pew Research Center identified a group called Disadvantaged Democrats. This group is important to Democratic presidential candidates. Voters from this group made up 22 percent of John Kerry’s total vote in 2004.

DISADVANTAGED DEMOCRATS differ from most Americans on personal responsibility. Only 14 percent think that people can get ahead by working hard. Seventy-nine percent say that hard work does not guarantee success, and 76 percent hold that view strongly.

The Pew researchers also note that only 44 percent of Disadvantaged Democrats say that everyone has the power to succeed, while 47 percent take the fatalistic view that success in life is determined by forces outside one’s own control. Not surprisingly, this group strongly supports more government spending on the poor. For these voters, wealth comes from government largesse rather than individual effort.

Disadvantaged Democrats may not have read John Rawls, but their attitudes are quintessentially liberal. The poor are victims of society, and government does justice by redistributing wealth from the rich (who don’t deserve it) to the poor (who do). Hope for a better future comes from the tax man, the social worker, and the guaranteed income.

Culturally Conservative Democrats do not buy this part of liberalism. Pew found that 83 percent of conservative Democrats believe that most people can get ahead if they are willing to work. About 68 percent of the general population shares that view.

The attitudes of Conservative Democrats on personal responsibility are the mirror image of those espoused by Disadvantaged Democrats, even though both groups have similar economic situations. Conservative Democrats are also no more likely than the average person to think government should increase welfare spending.

CONSERVATIVE DEMOCRATS are also important to Barack Obama’s presidential effort. Pew reports such Democrats compose 15 percent of registered voters. Sixty-five percent of Conservative Democrats voted for John Kerry.

John McCain may appeal to Conservative Democrats. Conservative Democrats may see in McCain a fellow traveler on the question of personal responsibility.

Barack Obama has tried hard to avoid being labeled a liberal. However, he has also continually blamed Republicans and business corporations for all the economic challenges faced by voters.

In part, Obama is just running against the status quo like every challenger. But he is also seems to say Americans are victims of the fates and that hope comes from the government. “Yes, we can” is becoming “No, you can’t” followed by “here’s a program.” That inclination could be fatal in the fall.

Yet another path lies open to Sen. Obama who has promised a new politics that transcends the failed ideologies of the past. His claim to be the harbinger of a new politics would be more credible if he jettisoned the liberal shibboleths of victimhood and dependence, a change that would appeal to the culture of Conservative Democrats.

In doing well in this way, Obama might also do good. His endorsement of work, optimism and personal responsibility might encourage Disadvantaged Democrats to adopt the dominant culture of work, success, and real hope.

A politics of “Yes, you can” from the Democratic presidential candidate would be change everyone can believe in, conservatives included.

John Samples is the director of the Center for Representative Government at the Cato Institute and author of The Fallacy of Campaign Finance Reform.

Greatest hits: All of Barack Obama’s men of bad faith

Soros Publisher ‘Shaped’ McClellan’s Hit Job: Other publishers don’t recognize it as the same book

Soros Publisher ‘Shaped’ McClellan’s Hit Job: Other publishers don’t recognize it as the same book

By William Tate

An examination of published reports reveals that Scott McClellan’s kiss-and-smell betrayal of George W. Bush is a far cry from the book McClellan started out to write and was shaped into an offensive tome by a publisher with close ties to George Soros.


To understand how McClellan’s literary knife-in-the-back evolved, one has to know something about the book industry.


Unlike fiction, a non-fiction book usually hasn’t been written before it’s sold to a publisher. The author normally puts together an outline and/or synopsis detailing what the book will be about and how it will be structured, and writes 1-3 sample chapters to show the author’s writing ability. The author’s agent then shops the proposal around to prospective publishing houses.


The agent actually lands the deal, so the choice of agents is crucial. Any author normally starts at the top of the A list and works his or her way down until–or if–they find an agent with whom they can work. According to an Associated Press article,




“McClellan’s book does not fit the pattern of Washington megadeals. He was not represented by Washington, D.C., attorney Bob Barnett, whose clients include Tenet and countless political leaders, but by the much less known Craig Wiley, whose most famous client is actor Ron Silver.”


Not to slight Mr. Silver, a gifted talent, but that’s hardly the reaction one would expect to a proposal promising the kind of sensational accusations which have created a media furor and catapulted McClellan’s book to the top of Amazon’s charts. Oh, and put quite a bit of coin in Messrs. McClellan and Wiley’s pockets. Agents are paid on a percentage of sales basis. The more controversial and sellable they think the book will be, the more likely they are to take it on.




Nor did publishers see enough in the proposal to jump at the chance to publish it.




“It was shopped around but, like others who publish in the category, we didn’t even take a meeting….” said Steve Ross, who was head of the Crown Publishing Group at Random House Inc. at the time McClellan was offering his manuscript. This in an industry that, just like newspapers, appears to be dying a slow death at the hands of new media, print-on-demand, and other modern technologies, and is desperate for books that can add substantial numbers to the bottom line.


Again, agents start at the tope of the food chain and work their way down. McClellan finally reached a deal with PublicAffairs, which according to the AP “specializes in policy books by billionaire George Soros” and others.




Further, the unwritten book wasn’t published based upon McClellan’s proposal. “(Public Affairs founder Peter) Osnos said he didn’t even read the proposal” the article reports. Instead, Osnos “sought out people who knew McClellan and said they regarded him as an honest man unhappy in his job.”




In other words, Osnos didn’t look at the proposal of the book McClellan wanted to write; he was more interested in confirming that McClellan was disgruntled with the White House.




PublicAffairs editor Lisa Kaufman confirmed to the AP that the proposal McClellan shopped around was nothing like the book that plunges the knife into his benefactor’s back. “The original proposal was somewhat general,” Kaufman admits, “so before making an offer on the book we talked to Scott at some length.”




It takes little imagination to gather how the conversation between George Soros’s publisher and a disgruntled former Bush administration official hawking his unwritten memoirs, still unsold after having gone through the tope tier of publishers, went.




But imagination isn’t needed.




A book’s editor and its author work extremely closely–with the author sweating over every word, every detail, and the editor helping shape the pacing and overall tone of the manuscript. Kaufman told the AP that as McClellan wrote the book the “tone began to be directed toward issues and events that some people would rather he not be straightforward and candid about.” (Emphasis added.)




PublicAffairs reportedly paid McClellan a $75,000 advance. An advance is the only part of an author’s financial deal with a publisher that’s guaranteed. It is literally an advance on the author’s royalties. If the book sells enough copies that the author’s royalties exceed the advance, the author will make more money.




Some have argued that McClellan’s small advance negates the financial incentive as a reason for McClellan to bring forward these charges, when the opposite is true. When George Tenet or Bill Clinton are offered millions in advances, they’ve already made their money. The books will probably not “earn out” (pay the author more than the advance) no matter how many copies are sold. With a small advance, the author is under pressure to sell as many copies as possible.




With only a $75,000 advance, and working with a publisher and editor who were more interested in producing a book written by a disgruntled former Bush staffer than they were in the book McClellan had proposed, McClellan had every financial incentive to give them exactly the book they wanted.




And he apparently did.




According to the AP article, “Rival publishers say they had no sense that McClellan would make such explosive observations.”




Could that be because the proposal McClellan presented them, the book he set out to write before financial pressures and a left-wing publisher took over, didn’t contain them? And how is the public now expected to believe them?




-Wm Tate is the author of the political novel, A Time Like This