Election ’08 Backgrounder

  

Financial Crisis | Iraq | Defense | Background & Character | Judges & Courts | Energy

 

FINANCIAL CRISIS

Quick Facts:

  • Democrats created the mortgage crisis by forcing banks to give loans to people who couldn’t afford them.
  • In 2006, McCain sponsored a bill to fix the problems with Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.  Barney Frank and other Democrats successfully opposed it.
  • Obama was one of the highest recipients of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac donations in Congress.

Related Editorials

 

IRAQ


Quick Facts:

  • When the U.S. was on the verge of losing in Iraq, McCain chose to stand and fight.  Obama chose retreat.
  • Even after the surge succeeded, Obama told ABC’s Terry Moran he would still oppose it if he had the chance to do it all over again.

Related Editorials

 

DEFENSE

Quick Facts:

  • Obama has promised to significantly cut defense spending, including saying “I will slow our development of future combat systems.”
  • John McCain has vowed: “We must continue to deploy a safe and reliable nuclear deterrent, robust missile defenses and superior conventional forces that are capable of defending the United States and our allies.”

Related Editorials

Obama Video: Watch Now

 

 

BACKGROUND & CHARACTER

Quick Facts:

  • Obama voted “present” 135 times as a state senator, and according to David Ignatius of the Washington Post, “gained a reputation for skipping tough votes.”
  • McCain has taken stances unpopular with his own party and/or the public on controversial issues, including immigration, campaign finance reform, judicial nominations, the Iraq War and more.

Related Editorials

 

 

JUDGES & COURTS


Quick Facts:

  • In a 2001 interview, Obama said he regretted that the Supreme Court “didn’t break free from the essential constraints that were placed by the Founding Fathers in the Constitution.”
  • In the same interview, Obama criticized the Supreme Court because it “never ventured into the issues of redistribution of wealth and sort of more basic issues of political and economic justice in this society.”
  • Obama has focused on empathy, rather than legal reasoning and restraint, as his basis for appointing judges, saying, “We need somebody who’s got the heart, the empathy…to understand what it’s like to be poor, or African-American, or gay, or disabled, or old.”
  • McCain opposes judicial activism, saying, “my nominees will understand that there are clear limits to the scope of judicial power.”

Related Editorials

Obama 2001 Interview: Listen Now

 

ENERGY


Quick Facts:

  • McCain has proposed building 45 new nuclear plants by 2030 and is in favor of drilling in sectors of the Outer Continental Shelf.
  • Obama has refused to take a stand, saying only “we should explore nuclear power as part of the energy mix” and he will “look at” drilling offshore.

Related Editorials

»
McCain: The Energy Candidate

» McCain On Nukes: Yes We Can
» Breaking The Back Of High Oil

 

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Whose obsession?

Whose obsession?

I’ve just been watching the Fox News special called ‘Obsession‘, which is about the threat of ‘radical Islam.’ To tell you the truth, it was too revolting to watch all the way through, but I watched it in part, as much as I could stomach.

The thing I noticed, and which I fully expected, was that throughout, the ‘talking heads,’ the pundits, like Steve Emerson and Daniel Pipes, were very careful to use the PC construction, ‘radical Islam’ or ‘Islamists’, rather than speaking of Islam itself; the point being, of course, that it is just a ‘minority of extremists’, aka ‘Islamists’ who are the threat.

Some of the footage of the various Moslem TV programs and the rabble-rousing speeches by the mullahs and sheiks, was absolutely chilling. There was absolute cold evil in their eyes, the tone of their voices, and of course, most importantly, the words they were speaking. And it’s clear that to them, there are no ‘good Americans’, no decent infidels. They see the world in stark black and white, and they, in their twisted minds, see themselves as ‘good’ and us as ‘evil.’ They don’t trouble themselves with any niceties such as saying that ‘there is only a tiny minority of extremists’ in America who are their enemies; no, they say that America, all of it, is the cause of all evil and trouble.

This is all, of course, not news to anybody who pays attention to recent events in the world and who is semi-educated about Islam; it may, however, open the eyes of some of the more somnolent people who don’t bother themselves to keep up with world events, or who are satisfied with the PC view of the news as fed to us by the old media. I do hope that some people in that category were truly shocked by watching ‘Obsession’ and that they will realize the profound threat we are under, all of us in the West.

There has recently been quite a controversy, although seemingly a contrived one, about the administration’s use of the term ‘Islamofascists’; the quibblers say that the ‘fascist’ part of the term may be an inaccurate usage. That’s as may be, but to me, the problem with the word is, that like the made-up term ‘Islamist /Islamism’, or ‘radical Islam’, it is a way of splitting hairs. It is a way of drawing a distinction which is one of those ‘distinctions without a difference.’ All of the above terms imply that there is an aberrant or mutant form of Islam which is militant, and which preaches violence. And it’s distinguished, supposedly, from generic Islam, or ‘real’ Islam, which is that fabled ‘Religion of Peace’, which has ‘benevolence at its heart’, as Condi Rice said. This may be a convincing line of argument for those who haven’t taken a look at the Koran, or at an honest history book. Simply reading history books shows us that there were what are now termed ‘Islamofascists’ before there was such a thing denoted as ‘fascism.’ And a cursory reading of the Koran shows beyond any doubt that Islam is a violent religion, suffused with incitements to violence, saturated in the idea of killing and butchering the infidel in some instances, subjugating and enslaving him when killing is not prescribed. The Koran as well as the Hadiths, the sayings of Mohammed, are chockfull of violent and hateful rhetoric and dogma.
The fact is, Islam, unlike Christianity, does not posit the existence of a merciful God whose grace gives us a way to salvation; the only sure ‘salvation’ for a Moslem is via martyrdom, via killing infidels and martyring oneself in the process.
And the fact is, jihad is enjoined on all believers. And yes, we have been told that ‘jihad’ merely means ‘inner struggle’, but we also know that there is an Islamic practice called ‘taqiyya’, deceiving and lying to the infidel. So their explaining away the idea of jihad is not terribly convincing.

Still, the official line on Islam is that it is a mild, peaceful religion which is merely misinterpreted by a ‘tiny minority.’ Now the problem remains: how on earth do we infidels discern who is part of that dangerous ‘tiny minority’ who want to kill us, and destroy our country, and the ‘good Moslems’, the peaceful, law-abiding ones? If they present a meek and mild demeanor, does that guarantee they are benign? There have been countless incidents of Moslems who have been law-abiding people until they strap on a bomb belt and kill people, or until they hijack a plane or get into a car and mow down strangers, or get a gun and start shooting at random infidels. It’s happened. Someone, perhaps Robert Spencer, wryly coined the term ‘sudden jihadi syndrome’ for the people who, out of the blue, commit murder and mayhem, and in some cases, martyr themselves in doing so. There is no certain way to predict who among us will suddenly turn murderous in the name of ‘allah.’

As another example of the difficulty of discerning the harmless from the dangerous is the presence of some prominent Moslems who are ‘on our side.’ In the ‘Obsession’ documentary, they were represented by Nonie Darwish and Walid Shoebat, among others. These people are always cited as proof positive that most Moslems are decent, law-abiding people, just like us. They are held up as examples of how Moslems can be exemplary citizens, who assimilate to America or the West.
Many people who seem absolutely desperate to be PC and to appear ‘tolerant’ eagerly seize on the fact that such friendly Moslems exist, and cling to these people to convince themselves, perhaps, that Moslems are basically just like us, and that these Moslems are simply being corrupted by a few evil pied pipers like Abu Hamza, the hook-handed mullah living in the UK, and others like him.

It’s well to remember, on this subject, what the late Oriana Fallaci said:

There is not good Islam or bad Islam. There is just Islam. And Islam is the Qur’an. And the Qur’an is the Mein Kampf of this movement. The Qur’an demands the annihilation or subjugation of the other, and wants to substitute totalitarianism for democracy. Read it over, that Mein Kampf. In whatever version, you will find that all the evil that the sons of Allah commit against themselves and against others is in it.”

Nevertheless, despite the evident threat of Islam, it is obviously all-important to a lot of Americans to show that they are not ‘prejudiced’ against Islam. Even the tough-talking, ex-military pundit Ralph Peters has written a few diatribes defending ‘good’ Islam and lambasting ‘Islamophobes and bigots.’ This idea that we must lean over backwards in order to be ‘fair’ and tolerant has been beaten into our heads for decades now, to the point that we have started to deny the plain evidence of our senses and of common sense itself. We force ourselves to ignore many egregious acts by Moslems and focus on the few rare exceptions, like Nonie Darwish, like Walid Shoebat, like Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and the few others who have denounced the religion of their birth. But the fact is, they are anomalous within Islam; they are not typical, nor should we try to convince ourselves they are. To do so is dangerous self-delusion.

I will go further, and say something which no one seems willing to say: the presence of the few ‘good Moslems’ like Darwish, Shoebat, Ali, or whoever, makes us more vulnerable to the terrorists. The presence of those ‘law-abiding’ peaceful Moslems, that friendly Moslem neighbor or co-worker, enables the presence of the terrorists among us. Now, I am not saying they knowingly enable terror; not at all, but their presence does. The presence of the good, law-abiding Moslem enables us to say, ‘see, they really are just like us, and we can’t condemn them all. Maybe we can bring democracy to the Islamic world after all, and surely they can assimilate to the West. ‘ And thus we close our eyes to the threat of the Abu Hamzas or whoever else is among us fomenting terror. We pretend they don’t exist, or we turn a blind eye to them because of the benign Moslems we respect.

The terrorists surely know this; they know they can effectively hide among the law-abiding Moslems. The presence of large enclaves of Moslems in the West, made up of mostly unthreatening people, provides cover and camouflage for the bad guys. The good guys are essentially the sugar coating on the poison pill of terrorism.

Still, we focus on that sugar coating and deny the harmful ingredients inside the pill.

I am certain that during World War II, there were many decent, law-abiding Germans and Japanese people, yet I don’t think our government insisted that we ignore the threat of the Axis powers because they had good citizens in their midst. Thank goodness we didn’t have the politically correct albatross around our necks then, as we do now. The wartime propaganda was no doubt harsh and tended to caricature (or to ‘demonize’, as the leftists like to say) the enemy. Had we wrung our hands and said, ”but, but the Germans and the Japanese are mostly good, law-abiding people, and their governments have been hijacked by Nazis and ‘extremists’,” no; we recognized a mortal threat and acted on it. There is no way to declare war on just part of a population, when there is no way to distinguish who is dangerous and who is not. One has to act on the presumption that all may be dangerous. Unfair? Probably, but life is not fair. And it would have been unfair to ourselves to be so squeamish that we could not act effectively to win the war as quickly as possible.

Nowadays, we are a different people than our parents and grandparents. ‘The past is another country’, and in the new country that has taken the place of vanished America, we can’t act to protect ourselves by deporting or repatriating people. Niceness and tolerance trump survival. So we accept mass immigration from terrorist-sympathizing countries, with the implicit calculus that we will accept a certain number of terrorists for the sake of being open to the ‘majority’ of law-abiding Moslems. The same bizarre logic is at work with the illegal invasion: the government has all but said that yes, there are and will be a certain number of criminals entering: murderers, rapists, thieves, molesters — but never fear; it’s only a minority of them. The majority are ‘hard-working folks’ so we have to take a few bad apples in order to get those ‘good-hearted folks’ so beloved of our President. And if those bad apples among the Mohammedans or the Mexicans happen to kill or maim Americans, well, that’s just the luck of the draw, and what’s a few thousand lives here and there, as long as we are diverse and tolerant? And if we give up some basic freedoms and conveniences so as to protect our safety while still welcoming the threat among us, then that’s just the price we pay for this wonderful diversity.

I wonder if the title ‘Obsession’ might just as easily describe our current regime’s obsession with ‘tolerance, inclusion and diversity’? What other word describes the willingness to court death and destruction in the name of some goal, if not the word ‘obsession’? We in the West are as obsessed as the Moslems are, in our own way: our obsessive ‘niceness’ and passivity provides the perfect complement to their need to conquer and subjugate. Obsession indeed.

The ‘Obsession’ special ended with the mandatory politically correct disclaimer, spoken by E.D. Hill. I knew it was coming all along; still, I had to groan when she intoned those familiar words, something like ‘We must remember, the majority of our Muslim citizens are peaceful and law-abiding people.’

I mean, what’s up with that disclaimer? Do our elites in the media and government think so little of us that they believe we will take up torches and head towards the nearest mosque, after watching ‘Obsession’? Even though they have just succeeded in showing us just how malevolent Islam can be, we are not supposed to take it to heart. And the implicit message is: ‘yes, Islam is a scary belief system that seriously unhinges many of its followers, who become rabid killers, but don’t fret about it; there’s not a blessed thing you can do anyway. Have a nice day.
Oh, and don’t forget: celebrate diversity, because it’s our strength.’

Dark Ages, Live from the Middle East

Dark Ages, Live from the Middle East
By Victor Davis Hanson
The Washington Times | October 30, 2006

The most frightening aspect of the present war is how easily our premodern enemies from the Middle East have brought a stunned postmodern world back into the Dark Ages.Students of history are sickened when they read of the long-ago, gruesome practice of beheading. How brutal were those societies that chopped off the heads of Cicero, Sir Thomas More and Marie Antoinette. And how lucky we thought we were to have evolved from such elemental barbarity.

Twenty-four hundred years ago, Socrates was executed for unpopular speech. The 18th-century European Enlightenment gave people freedom to express views formerly censored by clerics and the state. Just imagine what life was like once upon a time when no one could write music, compose fiction or paint without court or church approval?

Over 400 years before the birth of Christ, ancient Greek literary characters, from Lysistrata to Antigone, reflected the struggle for sexual equality. The subsequent notion that women could vote, divorce, dress or marry as they pleased was a millennia-long struggle.

It is almost surreal now to read about the elemental hatred of Jews in the Spanish Inquisition, 19th-century Russian pogroms or the Holocaust. Yet here we are revisiting the old horrors of the savage past.

Beheading? As we saw with Nick Berg and Daniel Pearl, our Neanderthal enemies in the Middle East have resurrected that ancient barbarity — and married it with 21st-century technology to beam the resulting gore instantaneously onto our computer screens. Xerxes and Attila, who stuck their victims’ heads on poles for public display, would’ve been thrilled by such a gruesome show.

Who would have thought centuries after the Enlightenment that sophisticated Europeans — in fear of radical Islamists — would be afraid to write a novel, put on an opera, draw a cartoon, film a documentary or have their pope discuss comparative theology?

The astonishing fact is not just that millions of women worldwide in 2006 are still veiled from head-to-toe, trapped in arranged marriages, subject to polygamy, honor killings and forced circumcision, or lack the right to vote or appear alone in public. What is more baffling is that in the West, liberal Europeans are often wary of protecting female citizens from the excesses of Shariah law — sometimes even fearful of asking women to unveil their faces for purposes of simple identification and official conversation.

Who these days is shocked that Israel is hated by Arab nations and threatened with annihilation by radical Iran? Instead, the surprise is that even in places like Paris or Seattle, Jews are singled out and killed for the apparent crime of being Jewish.

Since September 11, 2001, the West has fought enemies who are determined to bring back the nightmarish world we thought was long past. And there are lessons Westerners can learn from radical Islamists’ ghastly efforts.

• First, the Western liberal tradition is fragile and can still disappear. Just because we have sophisticated cell phones, CAT scanners and jets does not ensure we are permanently civilized or safe. Technology used by the civilized for positive purposes can easily be manipulated by barbarians for destruction.

• Second, the Enlightenment is not always lost on the battlefield. It can be surrendered through either fear or indifference as well. Westerners fearful of terrorist reprisals themselves shut down a production of a Mozart opera in Berlin deemed offensive to Muslims. Few came to the aid of a Salman Rushdie or Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh when their unpopular expression earned death threats from Islamists. Van Gogh, of course, was ultimately killed.

The Goths and Vandals did not sack Rome solely through the power of their hordes; they also relied on the paralysis of Roman elites who no longer knew what it was to be Roman — much less whether it was any better than the alternative.

• Third, civilization is forfeited with a whimper, not a bang. Insidiously, we have allowed radical Islamists to redefine the primordial into the not-so-bad. Perhaps women in head-to-toe burkas in Europe prefer them? Maybe that crass German opera was just too over the top after all? Aren’t both parties equally to blame in the Palestinian, Iraqi and Afghan wars?

To grasp the flavor of our own Civil War, impersonators now don period dress and reconstruct the battles of Shiloh or Gettysburg. But we need no so such historical re-enactment of the Dark Ages. You see, they are back with us — live almost daily from the Middle East.

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Six Arab states join rush to go nuclear The spectre of a nuclear race in the Middle East was raised yesterday when six Arab states announced that they were embarking on programmes to master atomic technology.

Six Arab states join rush to go nuclear

Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, UAE and Saudi Arabia seek atom technology

The spectre of a nuclear race in the Middle East was raised yesterday when six Arab states announced that they were embarking on programmes to master atomic technology.

The move, which follows the failure by the West to curb Iran’s controversial nuclear programme, could see a rapid spread of nuclear reactors in one of the world’s most unstable regions, stretching from the Gulf to the Levant and into North Africa.

The countries involved were named by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as Algeria, Egypt, Morocco and Saudi Arabia. Tunisia and the UAE have also shown interest.

All want to build civilian nuclear energy programmes, as they are permitted to under international law. But the sudden rush to nuclear power has raised suspicions that the real intention is to acquire nuclear technology which could be used for the first Arab atomic bomb.

“Some Middle East states, including Egypt, Morocco, Algeria and Saudi Arabia, have shown initial interest nuclear power primarily for desalination purposes,” Tomihiro Taniguch, the deputy director-general of the IAEA, told the business weekly Middle East Economic Digest. He said that they had held preliminary discussions with the governments and that the IAEA’s technical advisory programme would be offered to them to help with studies into creating power plants.

Mark Fitzpatrick, an expert on nuclear proliferation at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, said that it was clear that the sudden drive for nuclear expertise was to provide the Arabs with a “security hedge”.

“If Iran was not on the path to a nuclear weapons capability you would probably not see this sudden rush [in the Arab world],” he said.

The announcement by the six nations is a stunning reversal of policy in the Arab world, which had until recently been pressing for a nuclear free Middle East, where only Israel has nuclear weapons.

Egypt and other North African states can argue with some justification that they need cheap, safe energy for their expanding economies and growing populations at a time of high oil prices.

The case will be much harder for Saudi Arabia, which sits on the world’s largest oil reserves. Earlier this year Prince Saud al-Faisal, the Foreign Minister, told The Times that his country opposed the spread of nuclear power and weapons in the Arab world.

Since then, however, the Iranians have accelerated their nuclear power and enrichment programmes.