Al Qaeda and the Election

Al Qaeda and the Election

By Raymond Ibrahim

Is al Qaeda trying to influence the American presidential election?

Former counterterrorism coordinator Richard Clarke recently suggested that al Qaeda may be trying to do so.  After describing al Qaeda’s recent attacks in the Middle East (Yemen, Pakistan), Clarke stated that these strikes may have been primarily geared at aggrandizing al-Qaeda’s capabilities via the media. 

 

He then concluded that “Even more likely is the possibility that al Qaeda would hope the [“media-amplified”] attack would benefit John McCain. Opinion polls, which, as noted above, al Qaeda reads closely, suggest that an attack would help McCain. Polls in Europe and the Middle East also suggest an overwhelming popular support there for Barack Obama. Al Qaeda would not like it if there were a popular American president again.”

 

Clarke does not, however, explain why it is that al-Qaeda eschews a “popular president”or what that even means.  Nor does he explain why al-Qaeda would want McCain, of the two candidates, the one who has been more forthright about associating Islamic ideology with al-Qaeda.

 

Moreover, the recent attacks in Yemen and Pakistan reveal very little: Islamist organizations have been attacking “apostate” governments from the beginning, well before 9/11; there is no reason to tie these events to American elections and certainly not see them as benefiting McCain.

 

That said, there is plenty of evidence that al-Qaeda has long been interested in influencing the outcome of American elections.  Their primary method is propaganda — those many chastising al-Jazeera communiqués by Osama bin Laden and his Second Ayman Zawahiri that have become mainstays over the years.  The most obvious example is when a long bin Laden video surfaced days before the 2004 presidential election (Bush and Kerry).

 

Then, bin Laden repeatedly portrayed Bush as a war-mongering racist (Bin Laden once even managed to sneak in a remark about the treatment of the American natives at the hands of the white man, and Malcolm X-quoting Zawahiri the treatment of his “black brothers” in America). Bin Laden further depicted Bush Sr as a wanna-be “monarch,” who established his sons on “thrones,” and was responsible for “the mass slaughter of [Muslim] children.”

 

Bush Jr was portrayed as being “blinded by the black-gold [oil],” which he killed “millions of children in Iraq” for.  Bin Laden even managed to mock Bush for the now infamous anecdote — thanks to Michael Moore — concerning the president reading a goat-story to children when the strikes of 9/11 commenced.  

 

Bin Laden concluded by saying that peace and security do not revolve around presidential candidates, but are rather in the hands of the people. But he also knew that the people’s will is made manifest in the president they elect.  In other words, by mercilessly bashing Bush, his father, and his party, with nary a word about Kerry, he simultaneously implied that, if anyone, only the latter has a chance of ushering in peace and security.

 

More interestingly, in this same pre-2004 election harangue, bin Laden voiced no complaints or grievances concerning the eight year interval separating the father from the son — the “Clinton era” — further fueling the notion that the liberal Clintonesque Democrats, ever celebrating diversity, tolerance, and equality, will set the world to right. 

 

At any rate, it is important to note that bin Laden’s pre-2004 election message offered nothing new, simply that long list of endless, ever-morphing grievances, with the usual assertion that if only Americans would vote for someone who ameliorates these grievances — not another “war monger” — the war would end. 

 

It should be clear by now (see the AQ documents in The Al Qaeda Reader) that the “grievance-mantra” is simply a smokescreen for a much more existential animus that has little to do with America’s temporal actions.  In other words, all foreign policy aside, bin Laden has made it perfectly clear that nothing less than submission to Islam, what Islamic law demands, will ever guarantee peace between the West and al-Qaedist radicals.  Al-Qaeda has repeatedly stated this in their clandestine writings to Muslims.

 

Even so, being utterly incapable of understanding theological doctrines and motivations, let alone apparently even appreciating textual evidence, the Left seems to still be convinced that the root problem is foreign policy, and that the solution is appeasement and concessions. Ex-Cia analyst Michael Scheuer, for instance, not only willfully chooses to ignore the blatant evidence contained in The Al Qaeda Reader concerning that organization’s ultimate motivations, but he dismisses it, that is, their own words, as a “neo-con” ploy — perpetrated by yours truly — while continuing to characterize bin Laden as, at once, Robin Hood, St. Francis of Assisi, and Thomas Jefferson.

 

Al-Qaeda and Islamists in general know and rely on such unbridled Western liberal guilt.  Indeed, it is not implausible to say that, based on history — from Jimmy Carter to Bill Clinton — al-Qaeda has reasoned that  it is always best to have a Democrat in office, someone who, while not taking radical Islam seriously, that is, not appreciating its metaphysical components, will try to appease by making “physical” concessions.  And above all, someone who will not wage an offensive war against the terrorists, thereby giving al-Qaeda types worldwide that one thing they desperately need: Time.  Time to regroup; time for the Western economy to falter (“We will bleed you like we did Russia”); time for Muslim nations to grow stronger, possibly acquiring nukes. Time to resurrect the caliphate.

 

Based on all this, what can one expect from al-Qaeda in regard to the upcoming presidential elections? 

 

For starters, it must be understood that al-Qaeda’s 9/11 attack, followed by their many grievance-filled communiqués — which have only received more credence by the liberal Left’s assent — have already taken a toll on American society, mostly by making widespread the notion that “more of the same,” that is, another Republican WASP president, will only lead to more of the same strife and terrorism.  Hence that profound Democrat slogan: “Change.”

 

This may be precisely what al-Qaeda hoped for with the 9/11 strikes — to convince Americans that Muslims are really angry, and to reinforce this fact with a barrage of indoctrinating communiqués insisting that this anger is entirely related to US foreign policy.  Thus the need for “change,” the need to break away from Bush and his party, a popular if unconscious position that an increasing number of Americans from across the political divide seem to be taking.  And while al-Qaeda may have planted this seed, the Left has run with it.

 

Enter Barack Hussein Obama, the ultimate representation of change, literally and figuratively: not only is he a liberal Democrat (i.e., “tolerant,” “peace-minded,” even “enlightened”); he is black (i.e., understands what it means to be a minority, to be the “other”); and his name is Barack Hussein Obama (i.e., as opposed to yet another George or John — very Christian names — he has a decidedly Arab/Muslim name that will surely endear Muslims to America). Who better to make peace with the rest of the, especially Muslim, world? Who better to make them like us?

 

This notion was most recently articulated by Jesse Jackson who “promised ‘fundamental changes’ in US foreign policy [if Obama wins], saying America must ‘heal wounds’ it has caused to other nations, revive its alliances and apologize for the ‘arrogance of the Bush administration.”’  Concluded Jackson: “Barack is determined to repair our relations with the world of Islam and Muslims. Thanks to his background and ecumenical approach, he knows how Muslims feel while remaining committed to his own faith.”

 

Lest anyone assume that al-Qaeda is not sophisticated enough to connive such a feat of reverse psychology to their benefit, the Madrid bombings of 2004 should be recalled: three days before Spain’s general elections, explosions in Madrid commuter trains planted by al-Qaeda operatives killed 191 people and injured approximately 1,460.Three days later, Jose Zapatero and his ultra-liberal Socialist party — which also went on to legitimize gay-marriage in Spain — won the election.  There is good reason to believe that the Socialist party received a big boost in votes precisely because of the Madrid bombings, as many people were convinced the attack came in response to their involvement in Iraq.

 

The very day after winning the elections, Zapatero promised to withdraw Spain’s 1,300 troops from Iraq, saying, “The war [in Iraq] has been a disaster [and] the occupation continues to be a disaster. It has only generated violence.” One month later the last of Spain’s troops left Iraq. Bin laden must have been delighted, evinced by the fact that he often indicated this Spanish response as a step in the right direction. More telling is the fact that the first question Jamal Zougam (one of the arrested suspects of the Madrid bombings) asked upon arriving at the Courthouse on 15 March 2004: “Who won the election?’ He must’ve been pleased to know that the terrorist attack achieved the desired result.

 

Yet while bin Laden’s 2004 “political campaigning” worked in Spain, it failed in the US.  (After all, Kerry — not to mention Obama’s running mates — were all white.) Will al-Qaeda try again to influence this year’s elections?  It may well have reasoned that it’s not necessary; the leftist media has already done the job.

 

Bottom line: without 9/11, the meteoric rise of Senator Obama would have been inconceivable.  In this sense, then, Osama paved the way for Obama.

Raymond Ibrahim is the translator and editor of The Al Qaeda Reader.

Barney Frank: Plenty of rich people that we can tax

Obama Wants to Be the Tooth Fairy

Obama Wants to Be the Tooth Fairy


If he is elected, Senator Barack Obama wants to be the Tooth Fairy. Going to all the houses of the people who don’t pay taxes to leave money under their pillows. The problem is, there is no real tooth fairy. It doesn’t work. As “tooth fairy” Obama first wants to take the money from under the tax payers pillows. Especially those tax payers that create Jobs and keep the economy running. Beyond what Obama will do to OUR pockets is the fact that he will suppress tax revenue because of the slower economy, increasing the deficit.

Yes America There is no tooth fairy, but Obama’s tax program will make us wish there was:

Obama’s New Tax Welfare
Behind the 95.

By Peter Ferrara

Barack Obama says he plans to cut taxes for 95 percent of American workers. That sounds terrific, but there are three problems. One, it is meant to draw attention from the real core of the Obama tax plan: proposed increases in every major federal tax. Two, the structure of the cuts will create perverse incentives. And three, many of the people receiving “tax cuts” don’t pay taxes to begin with, meaning they’ll be in effect getting welfare.

The first point requires but a simple list. Obama proposes to raise the top two individual income tax rates by 25 percent or more, through both explicit rate increases and the phaseout of personal exemptions and all itemized deductions for upper-income earners. He’ll increase the capital-gains tax rate by 33 percent, the tax rate on dividends by 33 percent, and the top payroll-tax rate by 16 to 32 percent. He’ll create a new payroll tax for national health insurance, estimated at 7 percent. He’ll reinstate the death/inheritance tax, which is being phased out under current law, with a new top marginal rate of 45 percent. He’ll increase the corporate tax burden by 25 percent “by closing corporate loopholes and tax havens.” He’ll even increase tariffs through his protectionist trade policies.

Obama argues that only higher-income workers and rich corporations will suffer these tax increases, and they can afford it. But tax and economic policy is not about who “can afford it.” Increasing these marginal tax rates greatly harms the economy — when more of the money earned goes to the government, there’s less incentive for “the rich” to work, save, invest, and create and expand businesses. This affects people trying to start businesses with investment money from wealthy folks. Not to mention people looking for jobs, which usually come from businesspeople with money.

This isn’t just a theory. Ireland adopted a 12.5 percent corporate tax rate 20 years ago, when it suffered the second-lowest per capita GDP in the European Union (EU). Its economy boomed as a result, and today Ireland enjoys the second highest per-capita GDP in the EU. Ireland, with its 12.5-percent rate, raises 50 percent more corporate-tax revenue as a percent of GDP than the U.S. does with its 35 percent rate. Yet Barack Obama laughs at McCain’s proposal to reduce that corporate rate to 25 percent, the minimum needed to restore international competitiveness for U.S. companies and employers, mocking it as still more tax cuts for rich corporate fat cats.

Obama’s tax plan is exactly the opposite of the supply-side economics that Reagan adopted, which produced the astounding boom of the 1980s. That boom, in fact, lasted 25 years, from 1982 to 2007, as Art Laffer and Steve Moore discuss in their new book, The End of Prosperity. Laffer and Moore explain that more wealth was produced during those 25 years than in the previous 200 years of American history.

Obama’s tax plan is also exactly the opposite of President Kennedy’s, which produced another astounding boom in the 1960s. Pursuing the exact opposite policies from Kennedy and Reagan will produce exactly the opposite results.

(Note also that Obama’s tax increases will not produce nearly enough revenue to finance all his lavish spending proposals, as shown by a brilliant new paper from Alan Reynolds of the Cato Institute. And by the way, Bill Clinton campaigned in 1992 promising a tax cut for the middle class — after he was elected he dropped that idea, adopting tax increases for people making as little as $20,000 per year.)

Finally, Obama’s “tax cut,” if he follows through with it, will often be a simple giveaway. As it stand right now, roughly one-third of income earners pay no federal income taxes. Many actually receive payments from the income-tax system — these payments total 3.8 percent of all federal taxes paid. Simple arithmetic holds that if one-third of earners don’t pay income tax, it’s impossible to cut taxes for 95 percent of earners.

Obama’s “tax cut” is, in reality, a $500-per-worker refundable income-tax credit for workers making up to $75,000 per year, and for families making up to $150,000. The term “refundable” means that if the worker does not have enough tax liability to take advantage of the credit, the government sends the worker a check to cover the full amount of the credit anyway. It is like George McGovern’s 1972 promise of a $1,000 check for everyone, which the American people rejected as a crass vote-buying scheme.

Besides the $500-per-worker credit, Obama proposes a slew of income-tax credits targeted toward low- and moderate-income people, also refundable. Obama proposes such tax credits for child care, education, housing, retirement, health care, welfare, etc.

Though the people receiving these credits will spend the money, the programs will probably hurt the economy on net, because the credits will be phased out at higher income levels. This, in effect, constitutes yet another marginal tax on high-income earners, and thus another blow to their incentives to be productive.

These programs alone would cost $1.3 trillion over ten years. I call it The New Tax Welfare.

— Peter Ferrara is director of entitlement and budget policy for the Institute for Policy Innovation, and general counsel of the American Civil Rights Union. He formerly served in President Reagan’s White Office of Policy Development, and as associate deputy attorney general of the United States under the first President Bush.

Iran’s Parliament Speaker Turns Against Ahmadinejad

Iran’s Parliament Speaker Turns Against Ahmadinejad

October 21, 2008 – by Meir Javedanfar

When it comes to education and familiarity with Western philosophy, there are few right-wing politicians in Iran who can match Ali Ardeshir Larijani.

Holding a Ph.D. in Western philosophy from Tehran University, amongst other things he has written four books on Immanuel Kant and is one of the leading intellectuals in the field.

These days he is serving as the speaker of the Iranian parliament (Majlis). The members of parliament whom he oversees are in charge of reviewing and passing Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s policies. With eight months to go before the presidential elections, the Iranian president desperately needs his economic plans to be passed by the Majlis. Otherwise, he may fall from favor with the supreme leader.

To Ahmadinejad’s dismay, Larijani has openly [1] declared that no economic plans or projects will be passed by the Majlis if they contribute to the country’s inflationary problems. The problem for Ahmadinejad is that the majority of his economic plans, which consist of injecting cash into the economy, add to the inflationary problems. In fact, populist spending policies without any consideration for inflationary impact are the linchpin of “Ahmadinejad-onomics.”

In the previous Majlis, Ahmadinejad got away with this policy because Hadad Adel, the previous speaker, was relatively close to him. On one scandalous occasion, Hadad Adel even allowed Ahmadinejad to [2] break the law by allowing him extra time past his deadline to present justification for his economic plans. The extra time was given for no reason and without any promises from the president as to when he would present the mandatory report on his economic plans. This is one of the reasons why Hadad Adel lost his position. Majlis members were tired of his unwarranted leniency towards Ahmadinejad.

But with Larijani it is different. First and foremost, he does not have Hadad Adel’s connections. The previous Majlis speaker’s daughter is [3] married to Khamenei’s son. Larijani, although well connected, does not have such a close family connection to the most powerful man in Iran.

Also, Larijani is less confident when it comes to domestic politics. He does not have a lot of experience in this sphere, which is crucial for aspiring presidents. This is why it is very important to him that the Majlis under his term does not add to the country’s economic problems. This is one reason why he has decided to stand up to Ahmadinejad’s damaging economic policies.

The other reason why Larijani has decided to take a stance against Ahmadinejad — and probably a bigger one — is revenge. Larijani has been waiting a long time to settle scores after the president, with his belligerent behavior, forced him to [4] resign as Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator in October 2007. This came at a cost to Larijani: before this event, he was Iran’s top diplomat. In fact, he carried more weight and credibility than Iran’s foreign minister, Manuchehr Mottaki. In important foreign circles such as the European Union, there was more appreciation for Larijani than Ahmadinejad, who was seen as a loose cannon.

Therefore, Ahmadinejad has good reason to be concerned about the new internal challenge facing him.

Meanwhile, for Larijani and his presidential ambitions, making Ahmadinejad’s life difficult will help, but it will not automatically turn him into the most popular candidate for the presidency. In the last presidential elections, Larijani only received five percent of the vote. With candidates such as Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf, who is the mayor of Tehran, and Hassan [5] Rowhani, who was Larijani’s predecessor as Iran’s chief nuclear negotiator and is expected to run for the presidency, Larijani will have his work cut out.

Iran’s deteriorating economic situation will be one area where Larijani will have to prove his mettle. How does he plan to get Iran out of the current mess, which is about to become worse with the current global crisis?

As Larijani knows and has publicly [6] stated, Iran is not immune to the downturn. One area which is already showing an impact is oil prices. Reaching $70 per barrel, this is $30 lower than the $100 per barrel mark which Iran has set as the minimum “[7] suitable” price for its economy. So how does Larijani plan to make up for the expected shortfall?

Also, during the last elections Larijani promised expansion and jobs through increased foreign investment. This is going to be a more difficult goal to achieve for the next, due to Iran’s isolation. Therefore this time Larijani will have to come up with broad-ranging economic reform programs, otherwise the Iranian voter may cast him aside.

If he realizes that he has no chance to win, that will not stop the Iraqi-born Ali Ardeshir Larijani from making life difficult for Ahmadinejad. Iranian politics is full of stories about how one politician turned against another and how the victim settled scores with him later on. Except the supreme leader, no Iranian politician is immune to this.

The president of Iran won the last elections by cheating, which was allowed by Ayatollah Khamenei. This, plus Ahmadinejad’s belligerent economic and foreign policy, has made him many enemies. The current presidential campaign is when many of them will want to get back at the president. This is why the upcoming race is expected to be one of the most entertaining ever.


Article printed from Pajamas Media: http://pajamasmedia.com

URL to article: http://pajamasmedia.com/blog/irans-parliament-speaker-turns-against-ahmadinejad/

Colin Powell vs. Joe the Plumber

Colin Powell vs. Joe the Plumber

October 21, 2008 – by Jennifer Rubin

The presidential debates are behind us and two of the most revered figures in American politics — Joe the Plumber and Colin Powell — have split on their choice of candidates. The race has narrowed, but Barack Obama remains in the lead. Is there time for John McCain to catch him? And more importantly, do American care more about what Joe or Colin has to say?

The [1] national polls show a spread in [2] five percentage point range. That’s a significant improvement for McCain from earlier in the month when Obama’s lead was over eight percent. Some [3] combination of the final presidential debate, the settling of the financial markets to their new “normal” low, and the heightened contrast between the candidates’ economic messages has assisted John McCain.

As for the economy, Joe the Plumber has greatly aided the McCain campaign, which on its own had been struggling to transform this into an election about “choice” rather than an election about “change or four more years of George W. Bush.” McCain is now clearly sounding the [4] message: Barack Obama is about wealth re-distribution (”spreading the wealth”) while he is about wealth creation. So long as Obama maintains a tax hike as part of his agenda — even in a recession — this is a potent theme, especially for voters who recall that [5] Bill Clinton promised, but never delivered on, a middle class tax cut.

Moreover, the media treatment of Joe the Plumber has rekindled the same anger and hostility toward the media first seen when Sarah Palin received the once over from the mainstream media and the Democrats. It’s the same sneering at the little guy, the same dismissive attitude, and the same effort to throw every bit of dirt they can dig up — all on full display.

As [6] Byron York noted, at a weekend McCain campaign event in Virginia: “There was real anger at this rally, but it wasn’t, as some erroneous press reports from other McCain rallies have suggested, aimed at Obama. It was aimed at the press.” That anger is a powerful motivator for many conservatives to get to the polls.

As for the Powell endorsement, the media swooned and assured us that this was a significant development. Among conservative commentators, it did not escape notice that Powell [7] praised the surge (”We now see that things are a lot better in Iraq. Maybe if we had put a surge in in the beginning, it would’ve been a lot better,”) just after he endorsed its most virulent critic. (Powell himself had [8] criticized the surge in December 2006, so in that regard McCain is the only one of the three to get that decision right.)

[9] Rush Limbaugh and [10] others were more biting and suggested the endorsement was a function of identity politics. Still other observers suggested Powell’s move was either sweet revenge directed at the [11] GOP or a play for the accolades of [12] elite opinion makers.

Whatever the rationale for Powell’s endorsement, it remains to be seen if there is some segment of the undecided electorate (generally white working-class voters) that will respond to this move, or alternatively some portion of McCain voters who will be so assured by Powell’s endorsement that they feel comfortable switching sides.

The last two weeks of the race come down to message and turnout. On the message front (George H.W. called it “the vision thing”), McCain seems finally to have hit his stride. His pitch is simple: the recession will get worse with an Obama agenda of higher taxes, big spending, protectionism, and at best lukewarm interest in domestic oil and gas development. He even uses the “s” word — socialism.  Conversely, he presents himself as the reformer with a low tax, budget freezing, and pro-drilling agenda.

Almost as noteworthy is what isn’t on the McCain radar screen. McCain has, for all intents and purposes, abandoned any serious effort to go after Obama on his bizarre associations with leftwing groups, convicted felons and ex-terrorists, although his campaign continues to send out press releases and conduct media calls on ACORN’s involvement in coast-to-coast voter registration fraud. Foreign policy had likewise receded from the scene, a remarkable turnabout from earlier in the campaign, until Joe Biden’s mega-gaffe on Sunday suggesting that Obama supporters should be prepared not only for the new president to have his “mettle” tested but for the situation where it is “not gonna be apparent that we’re right.”

Meanwhile, Palin continues to thrill the base. She talks about social issues and ACORN and makes the pitch that small town and rural voters have been overlooked and scorned by the Democrats and their elite MSM allies. And instead of trying to work with the enemy, the McCain camp is now showing her off to that constituency via the [13] conservative media.

Between now and election day Obama’s task is simple: guard against complacency and continue to bang the drum that McCain=Bush. In this he is greatly aided by a phenomenal, record-breaking fundraising haul of $150M in September. Only a few [14] MSM pundits dared remark that if it had been a Republican reneging on his promise to accept public financing and then tried to “buy the election,’ the backlash would be fierce.

Judging from the last couple of days, the MSM media seems more impressed by the Powell endorsement than voters do. The “Joe the Plumber” bump in the polls for McCain which began in earnest with last week’s debate seems, for now, to have exceeded the Powell bump.

But the challenge remains a daunting one for McCain. He trails in national polls and a series of state polls and is being vastly outspent on last minute campaign ads. Is there time for him to pull it out?

[15] Nancy Pelosi says the election is over.

[16] Conservatives beg to [17] differ. The voters will settle the matter in two weeks. One surprising ray of hope for McCain: with the most unpopular president and the worst economy in generations he remains in the thick of the race. That alone tells us something about voters’ comfort level with his opponent.

Colin Powell vs. Joe the Plumber

Colin Powell vs. Joe the Plumber

October 21, 2008 – by Jennifer Rubin

The presidential debates are behind us and two of the most revered figures in American politics — Joe the Plumber and Colin Powell — have split on their choice of candidates. The race has narrowed, but Barack Obama remains in the lead. Is there time for John McCain to catch him? And more importantly, do American care more about what Joe or Colin has to say?

The [1] national polls show a spread in [2] five percentage point range. That’s a significant improvement for McCain from earlier in the month when Obama’s lead was over eight percent. Some [3] combination of the final presidential debate, the settling of the financial markets to their new “normal” low, and the heightened contrast between the candidates’ economic messages has assisted John McCain.

As for the economy, Joe the Plumber has greatly aided the McCain campaign, which on its own had been struggling to transform this into an election about “choice” rather than an election about “change or four more years of George W. Bush.” McCain is now clearly sounding the [4] message: Barack Obama is about wealth re-distribution (”spreading the wealth”) while he is about wealth creation. So long as Obama maintains a tax hike as part of his agenda — even in a recession — this is a potent theme, especially for voters who recall that [5] Bill Clinton promised, but never delivered on, a middle class tax cut.

Moreover, the media treatment of Joe the Plumber has rekindled the same anger and hostility toward the media first seen when Sarah Palin received the once over from the mainstream media and the Democrats. It’s the same sneering at the little guy, the same dismissive attitude, and the same effort to throw every bit of dirt they can dig up — all on full display.

As [6] Byron York noted, at a weekend McCain campaign event in Virginia: “There was real anger at this rally, but it wasn’t, as some erroneous press reports from other McCain rallies have suggested, aimed at Obama. It was aimed at the press.” That anger is a powerful motivator for many conservatives to get to the polls.

As for the Powell endorsement, the media swooned and assured us that this was a significant development. Among conservative commentators, it did not escape notice that Powell [7] praised the surge (”We now see that things are a lot better in Iraq. Maybe if we had put a surge in in the beginning, it would’ve been a lot better,”) just after he endorsed its most virulent critic. (Powell himself had [8] criticized the surge in December 2006, so in that regard McCain is the only one of the three to get that decision right.)

[9] Rush Limbaugh and [10] others were more biting and suggested the endorsement was a function of identity politics. Still other observers suggested Powell’s move was either sweet revenge directed at the [11] GOP or a play for the accolades of [12] elite opinion makers.

Whatever the rationale for Powell’s endorsement, it remains to be seen if there is some segment of the undecided electorate (generally white working-class voters) that will respond to this move, or alternatively some portion of McCain voters who will be so assured by Powell’s endorsement that they feel comfortable switching sides.

The last two weeks of the race come down to message and turnout. On the message front (George H.W. called it “the vision thing”), McCain seems finally to have hit his stride. His pitch is simple: the recession will get worse with an Obama agenda of higher taxes, big spending, protectionism, and at best lukewarm interest in domestic oil and gas development. He even uses the “s” word — socialism.  Conversely, he presents himself as the reformer with a low tax, budget freezing, and pro-drilling agenda.

Almost as noteworthy is what isn’t on the McCain radar screen. McCain has, for all intents and purposes, abandoned any serious effort to go after Obama on his bizarre associations with leftwing groups, convicted felons and ex-terrorists, although his campaign continues to send out press releases and conduct media calls on ACORN’s involvement in coast-to-coast voter registration fraud. Foreign policy had likewise receded from the scene, a remarkable turnabout from earlier in the campaign, until Joe Biden’s mega-gaffe on Sunday suggesting that Obama supporters should be prepared not only for the new president to have his “mettle” tested but for the situation where it is “not gonna be apparent that we’re right.”

Meanwhile, Palin continues to thrill the base. She talks about social issues and ACORN and makes the pitch that small town and rural voters have been overlooked and scorned by the Democrats and their elite MSM allies. And instead of trying to work with the enemy, the McCain camp is now showing her off to that constituency via the [13] conservative media.

Between now and election day Obama’s task is simple: guard against complacency and continue to bang the drum that McCain=Bush. In this he is greatly aided by a phenomenal, record-breaking fundraising haul of $150M in September. Only a few [14] MSM pundits dared remark that if it had been a Republican reneging on his promise to accept public financing and then tried to “buy the election,’ the backlash would be fierce.

Judging from the last couple of days, the MSM media seems more impressed by the Powell endorsement than voters do. The “Joe the Plumber” bump in the polls for McCain which began in earnest with last week’s debate seems, for now, to have exceeded the Powell bump.

But the challenge remains a daunting one for McCain. He trails in national polls and a series of state polls and is being vastly outspent on last minute campaign ads. Is there time for him to pull it out?

[15] Nancy Pelosi says the election is over.

[16] Conservatives beg to [17] differ. The voters will settle the matter in two weeks. One surprising ray of hope for McCain: with the most unpopular president and the worst economy in generations he remains in the thick of the race. That alone tells us something about voters’ comfort level with his opponent.

The Bottom Line on November 4

The Bottom Line on November 4

by Bill Levinson

“It will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy.” –Joe Biden

October Surprise: Clinton Campaign Drops a Dime on Barack Obama

October Surprise: Clinton Campaign Drops a Dime on Barack Obama

Clinton campaign alleges “voter suppression, intimidation and harassment systematically engaged in by the Obama campaign.” It’s not just about ACORN any more.

When Hillary Clinton conceded the Democratic nomination to Barack Obama–possibly under duress from Obama’s cohorts and party leaders–she was probably supposed to have removed from the Internet all damning statements that she and her campaign had made about Barack Obama. Unfortunately for Barry, a letter from her campaign counsel, which is still online at http://i.a.cnn.net/cnn/2008/images/01/23/nv.state.letter.1.23.08.pdf, is about to become the dreaded October Surprise. (A backup copy is now at http://www.stentorian.com/Obama/clinton_complaint.pdf). This extremely damning letter not only reinforces what is being said about ACORN, but extends allegations of election irregularities to Barack Obama’s own campaign.

    There is no place in the American electoral process for the types of voter suppression, intimidation, and harassment systematically engaged in by the Obama campaign, its allies and supporters.

 

    RYAN, PHILLIPS, UTRECHT 5. MACKINNON
    ATTORNEYS AT LAW
    ’ Nonlawyer Partner
    1133 Connecticut Avenue, N.W. Suite 300 Washington, D.C. 20036
     (202) 293-1177  Facsimile (202) 293-3411January 23, 2008
    Jill Derby, Chair Nevada State Democratic Party 1210 South Valley View Road Suite 114 Las Vegas, NV 89102

    Dear Chair Derby:
    I write on behalf of Hillary Clinton for President (”the Committee”) in regard to the January 19, 2008 Nevada Democ-ratic Caucus. The Committee is aware of a letter addressed to you today from the Obama for America campaign requesting an inquiry into the conduct of the caucuses. The Committee shares the Obama campaign’s concern that full participation in the democratic process may have been compromised by the substantial number of irregularities occurring at the caucuses, and we fully support a complete inquiry by the Nevada State Democratic Party (the ”Party”) into all caucus improprieties.

    This letter is not intended as a response to the Obama campaign’s letter. However, in the interest of a complete record, and in contrast to the alleged minor procedural problems noted by the Obama campaign, the Committee wishes to bring to your attention information we have received evidencing a premeditated and predesigned plan by the Obama campaign to engage in systematic corruption of the Party’s caucus procedures. Compounding this blatant distortion of the caucus rules was an egregious effort by the Obama campaign to manipulate the voter registration process in its own favor, thereby disenfranchising countless voters. Finally, the Committee has received a vast number of reliable reports of voter suppression and intimidation by the Obama campaign or its allies.

    The Committee had 30 phone lines on Saturday to receive calls in its Las Vegas offices. These lines rang continuously from early morning until well after the caucuses concluded with reports from people who were victimized and who observed irregularities. The phone lines were so over-whelmed that many callers resorted to calling individual Committee staff cell phones to report that they could not get through. The Committee also received many similar calls at its national headquarters.

    The Committee is confident that any investigation into the conduct of the caucuses will be thorough, fair and in the interest of insuring that future Party caucuses will be as open and democratic as possible.

    Systematic Corruption of the Party’s Caucus Procedures
    The Committee received substantially similar reports of improprieties of such a number as to leave no conclusion but that the Obama campaign and its allies and supporters engaged in a planned effort to subvert the Party’s caucus procedures to its advantage. For example:

    þ Preference cards were premarked for Obama.

    þ Clinton supporters were denied preference cards on the basis that none were left, while Obama supporters at the same caucus sites were given preference cards.

    þ Caucus chairs obviously supporting Obama:
    o Deliberately miscounted votes to favor Senator Obama.
    o Deliberately counted unregistered persons as Obama votes.
    o Deliberately counted young children as Obama votes.

    o Refused to accept preference cards from Clinton supporters who were at the caucus site by noon on the ground that the cards were not filled out fast enough.
    o Told Clinton supporters to leave prior to electing delegates.

    þ Clinton supporters who arrived late were turned away from the caucus, while late Obama supporters were admitted to the caucus.

    Manipulation of the Voter Registration Process
    Numerous reports received by the Committee demonstrate a concerted effort on the part of the Obama campaign and its supporters to prevent eligible voters supporting a candidate other than Senator Obama from caucusing. The Obama supporters complained of were acting in positions of authority at the caucus sites. Some of these reports are as follows:

    þ Obama supporters wrongly informed Clinton supporters that they were not allowed to participate in the caucus if their names were not on the voter rolls. However, Obama supporters whose names did not appear on the voter rolls were permitted to register at the caucus site.

    þ Obama supporters falsely informed Clinton supporters that no registration forms were available for them to register to vote at the caucus site.

    þ Obama supporters wrongly told Clinton supporters who were attempting to caucus at the wrong precinct that they could not caucus at that site, while simultaneously permitting Obama supporters at the wrong precinct to participate.

    þ Obama supporters were allowed to move to the front of the registration and sign-in line.

    Voter Suppression and Intimidation
    The Committee received a substantial number of disturbing reports from voters that they had been subject to harassment, intimidation or efforts to prevent them from voting. Some of the most egregious of these complaints are described below:

    þ Voters at at-large caucus sites were informed that those sites were for Obama supporters only.

    þ Clinton supporters at at-large caucus sites were told that their managers would be watching them while they caucused.

    þ Workers were informed that their supervisors kept lists of Clinton and Obama supporters, and were told that they could not caucus unless their name was on the list of Obama supporters.

    þ Many Clinton supporters were threatened with employment termination or other discipline if they caucused for Senator Clinton.

    þ Workers were required to sign a pledge card to support Obama if they wanted time off to participate in the caucus.
    þ Workers at one casino were offered a lavish lunch and permitted to attend and register to vote only if they agree to support Obama.

    The complaints summarized above represent only a small sample of the complaints received by the Committee. With respect to each of these complaints and many more, the Committee has the names and phone numbers of those reporting these incidents and the specific precinct numbers where the incidents occurred. Upon request the Committee will share these with the Party with appropriate safeguards to protect these individuals from reprisal. On the whole, these reports show a troubling effort by the Obama campaign and its allies and supporters to advance their own campaign at the expense of the right of all Nevada Democrats to participate in the democratic process in a free, fair and open manner.

    Senator Clinton and the Committee are wholly committed to ensuring that every eligible voter has his or her vote cast and counted. There is no place in the American electoral process for the types of voter suppression, intimidation and harassment systematically engaged in by the Obama campaign, its allies and supporters.
    Sincerely,
    /v
    Lyn Utrecht Counsel Hillary Clinton for President

Strange Economic News

Strange Economic News

Randall Hoven
Every breaking story about the economy is just chock full of bad news.  Or should I say bad speculations?  When it comes to real data, the bad news would rather play hide and seek.

The last quarter we have real data for was the second quarter — the one that ended in June.  And GDP growth then was 2.8%.  In fact, it was positive for the first two quarters this year (January through June), and the only two quarters we have real data on so far.  That, my friend, is not a recession — yet.

 

And the latest unemployment report?  Unchanged in September .  At 6.1%, not great, but it could be worse and at least it didn’t go up.  Also, oil prices are falling, almost like a bubble popping.

 

And now what do we hear?  The latest leading economic indicators went up when they were expected to go down.  The AP reported that the Conference Board’s monthly forecast of future economic activity rose 0.3 percent, a better reading than the 0.2 percent drop expected by Wall Street economists surveyed by Thomson/IF.

 

It sure seems like every time a stock index goes up it is attributed to something the government did — bail somebody out, buy some private assets, ease some rate, etc.  But every time it goes down it is attributed to something in the real economy — the unemployment report, for example.

 

But funny thing, after the big $850 billion bailout was signed into law, the S&P 500 index fell every single day for five days straight, for a cumulative loss of 18% in just one week.  But news reports didn’t blame it on the bailout.  The losses were attributed to this or that piece of economic data, like unemployment holding steady.  Huh?  Talk about an elephant in the room.

 

On this Monday, the market was up 4.8% in one day.  The reasons given were the prospect of another government stimulus package, that the bailout was reviving credit markets, or that the Federal Reserve was fixing to do some more good stuff.

 

But something else happened on Monday: the latest economic indicators were released, showing positive and better than expected numbers.

 

I’m beginning to suspect something:  there ain’t no damn recession.

 

I could be wrong, of course. But now, after the government has signed onto $1.8 trillion worth of bailouts, announces some new government goodie almost every day, and all but ushered Barack Obama into the White House, it’s no longer the same ball game.

 

If I didn’t know better, I’d say we just handed a trillion bucks of fun-money to Hank Paulson and his successor for no good reason.

America the weak

America the weak

By RALPH PETERS, NY POST

IF Sen. Barack Obama is elected president, our re public will survive, but our international strategy and some of our allies may not. His first year in office would conjure globe-spanning challenges as our enemies piled on to exploit his weakness. Add in Sen. Joe Biden – with his track record of calling every major foreign-policy crisis wrong for 35 years – as vice president and de facto secretary of State, and we’d face a formula for strategic disaster. Where would the avalanche of confrontations come from?

* Al Qaeda. Pandering to his extreme base, Obama has projected an image of being soft on terror. Toss in his promise to abandon Iraq, and you can be sure that al Qaeda will pull out all the stops to kill as many Americans as possible – in Iraq, Afghanistan and, if they can, here at home – hoping that America will throw away the victories our troops bought with their blood.

* Pakistan. As this nuclear-armed country of 170 million anti-American Muslims grows more fragile by the day, the save-the-Taliban elements in the Pakistani intelligence services and body politic will avoid taking serious action against “their” terrorists (while theatrically annoying Taliban elements they can’t control). The Pakistanis think Obama would lose Afghanistan – and they believe they can reap the subsequent whirlwind.

* Iran. Got nukes? If the Iranians are as far along with their nuclear program as some reports insist, expect a mushroom cloud above an Iranian test range next year. Even without nukes, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad would try the new administration’s temper in Iraq, Afghanistan and the Persian Gulf.

* Israel. In the Middle East, Obama’s election would be read as the end of staunch US support for Israel. Backed by Syria and Iran, Hezbollah would provoke another, far-bloodier war with Israel. Lebanon would disintegrate.

* Saudi Arabia. Post-9/11 attention to poisonous Saudi proselytizing forced the kingdom to be more discreet in fomenting terrorism and religious hatred abroad. Convinced that Obama will be more “tolerant” toward militant Islam, the Saudis would redouble their funding of bigotry and butchery-for-Allah – in the US, too.

* Russia. Got Ukraine? Not for long, slabiye Amerikantsi. Russia’s new czar, Vladimir Putin, intends to gobble Ukraine next year, assured that NATO will be divided and the US can be derided. Aided by the treasonous Kiev politico Yulia Timoshenko – a patriot when it suited her ambition, but now a Russian collaborator – the Kremlin is set to reclaim the most important state it still regards as its property. Overall, 2009 may see the starkest repression of freedom since Stalin seized Eastern Europe.

* Georgia. Our Georgian allies should dust off their Russian dictionaries.

* Venezuela. Hugo Chavez will intensify the rape of his country’s hemorrhaging democracy and, despite any drop in oil revenue, he’ll do all he can to export his megalomaniacal version of gun-barrel socialism. He’ll seek a hug-for-the-cameras meet with President Obama as early as possible.

* Bolivia. Chavez client President Evo Morales could order his military to seize control of his country’s dissident eastern provinces, whose citizens resist his repression, extortion and semi-literate Leninism. President Obama would do nothing as yet another democracy toppled and bled.

* North Korea. North Korea will expect a much more generous deal from the West for annulling its pursuit of nuclear weapons. And it will regard an Obama administration as a green light to cheat.

* NATO. The brave young democracies of Central and Eastern Europe will be gravely discouraged, while the appeasers in Western Europe will again have the upper hand. Putin will be allowed to do what he wants.

* The Kurds. An Obama administration will abandon our only true allies between Tel Aviv and Tokyo.

* Democracy activists. Around the world, regressive regimes will intensify their suppression – and outright murder – of dissidents who risk their lives for freedom and justice. An Obama administration will say all the right things, but do nothing.

* Women’s rights. If you can’t vote in US elections, sister, you’re screwed. Being stoned to death or buried alive is just a cultural thing.

* Journalists. American journalists who’ve done everything they can to elect Barack Obama can watch as regimes around the world imprison, torture and murder their foreign colleagues, confident that the US has entered an era of impotence. The crocodile tears in newsrooms will provide drought relief to the entire southeastern US. Sen. John McCain’s campaign has allowed a great man to be maligned as a mere successor to George W. Bush. The truth is that an Obama administration would be a second Carter presidency – only far worse. Think Bush weakened America? Just wait.

Ralph Peters’ latest book is “Looking for Trouble: Adventures in a Broken World.”