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FrontPageMagazine.com | Monday, June 23, 2008


By John Hinderaker

"Mush From the Wimp" was the title of a Boston Globe editorial about Jimmy Carter in 1980. The title, of course, was a mistake; it had been inserted as a joke by a headline writer who assumed it would be changed when the paper went to print. But it pretty well sums up how the public--even the Boston Globe!--felt about Carter by the last year of his Presidency.

The phrase has passed into immortality; we used it for a post title here. It's worth remembering, though, what the Globe's inadvertently-titled editorial was about: Carter's ineffective, hair-shirt economic policies.

I don't think Barack Obama is a wimp, but, like Carter, when he talks about the economy what he says is mush. The reason, I think, is that Obama shares Carter's surprising ignorance of economic matters. A case in point is Obama's most recent salvo on gas prices: "Obama vows crackdown on energy speculators." Only a very foolish person could believe that the current high price of energy results from the fact that traders are "speculating," and that the solution lies in more government regulation of commodities markets. But that is the theory that Obama is trying to sell to voters:

Sen. Barack Obama on Sunday said as president he would strengthen government oversight of energy traders he blames in large part for the skyrocketing price of oil.

The Democratic candidate's campaign singled out the so-called "Enron loophole" for allowing speculators to run up the cost of fuel by operating outside federal regulation.

As we've said before, if the high price of oil were caused by groundless speculation, like the high price of Yahoo stock in 1999, we could all sit back and wait for the bubble to burst and the speculators to lose their shirts. That, unfortunately, is not the case, and no amount of government regulation is going to magically increase the energy supply. On the contrary.

The foolishness of Obama's energy program does not stop there:

The campaign said Obama's proposal is part of his broader energy strategy that calls for reducing oil consumption by 35 percent by 2030.

Of course, if the price of gasoline continues to rise, as Obama apparently wants and expects, to $7, $12, or $20 a gallon, we will indeed see significantly reduced consumption as the economy craters. But a growing population and growing economy will demand more petroleum consumption over the next 25 years, not less, even if a larger share of our energy needs are met by coal and by nuclear power (neither of which alternative Obama favors, of course). See, for example, this summary by the Energy Information Administration.

Obama apparently thinks he can fool voters even when the policies he proposes lack the barest hint of credibility. He might be right. But the laws of supply and demand are not fooled so easily, and if Obama as President actually tried to implement the policies he now advocates, his administration might well be a worse disaster than Carter's.  Sunday, June 22, 2008




By Chip Bok




By Ken Catalino




By Allahpundit 

A rare piece of good news in an omnibus poll otherwise brimming with bad vibes. Add a grain of salt before consuming, as the sample’s skewed a bit more towards Democrats than in other recent WaPo polls. WaPo’s also naturally more interested in the data on race — three in 10 admit to prejudice, there’s a racial split on whether race relations have improved, etc. — even though McCain’s age proves to be a bigger liability for him than race does for Obama by a 40/23 spread.

Here’s the most surprising find: Obama with a huge lead on “values”? I assume/hope that’s an artifact of the huge Democratic lead on the generic ballot, since the specific “values” questions asked in the poll show little movement over time.


Obama’s dead even with him now too on the question of who the stronger leader is, a category McCain had led by 11 points in March. Also worrisome, over the course of 10 different polls during the last year, a question about “new direction and new ideas” versus “strength and experience” had never seen the former category top 43% (except once) and never seen the latter below 47% (except once). The new data: 50/43 in favor of Hopenchange.

Foreign policy? Here’s the obligatory data showing no shift on Iraq, although in order to stop Karl from yelling at me again, I’ll note that there’s been a nine-point gain in the number who think we’re winning the war since January 2007. (A plurality still think we’re losing, 46/38.)


And here’s an encouraging result. The question: “Some people say a president (should NOT meet with leaders of foreign countries that are hostile toward the United States, because it could reward their behavior and make the U.S. look weak). Others say a president (SHOULD be willing to meet with leaders of foreign countries that are hostile toward the United States because talking can improve relations and avoid confrontation.) Which of these views comes closer to your own?”


Why is Maverick hammering this point if public opinion is so lopsidedly against him? Because the “should not” contingent above probably cares a lot more about this issue than the “should” contingent does, which makes it an easy way to score points with the base. WaPo has a mystifying article out this morning quoting GOP analysts as wondering why McCain seems to oscillate so much between the image of a maverick reformist and a rock-ribbed Republican. Pssst: Because he needs centrists and conservatives to win, which explains the dopey straddle on drilling offshore but not in ANWR and his vow to secure the borders first while also somehow pushing for comprehensive immigration reform on the day after he’s inaugurated.

Exit question: Actually, this constitutes progress, doesn’t it? The “very” spread here is “only” 19%, as opposed to the 30-pointer in Fox News’s latest. Good news!



By Ed Morrissey

The FISA flip-flop just keeps getting better and better for Barack Obama.  After reversing himself and signaling his support for the FISA compromise that passed the House — which included a provision for court-supervised immunity for telecoms — Obama’s base went ballistic.  Obama did a half-flop backwards, promising to try to strip immunity from the bill in the Senate:

“[The bill] does, however, grant retroactive immunity, and I will work in the Senate to remove this provision so that we can seek full accountability for past offenses.”

Obama’s base wants another flip-flop from Obama.  MoveOn has sent out a letter to its members asking them to press Obama to fulfill a campaign pledge not just to oppose FISA reform and telecom immunity, but to filibuster any such bill that comes before the Senate.  The pledge came in October 2007, when Dodd had made a mini-run at Obama’s hard-Left constituency with his activism against FISA reform:

It’s official: Obama will back a filibuster of any Senate FISA legislation containing telecom immunity, his campaign has just told Election Central. The Obama campaign has just sent over the following statement from spokesman Bill Burton:

“To be clear: Barack will support a filibuster of any bill that includes retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies.”

So let’s recap Obama’s positions on this issue:

  1. He opposed the FISA reform bill when it included non-supervised immunity for the telecoms.
  2. He pledged to filibuster any bill that contained retroactive immunity.
  3. When the bill passed the Senate in February with non-supervised immunity, he was glad to stand with Russ Feingold, Chris Dodd, and the “grassroots movement of Americans” opposed to it.
  4. After spending the next three months avoiding the subject, he declares support for the House compromise bill that contains court-supervised retroactive immunity.
  5. But then he says he wants to strip out the immunity in the bill he supports, which would force everyone to start over again from scratch.
  6. And he also stops far short of the filibuster pledge he made when he needed to keep Dodd from stealing his support last fall.

So which is it?  Does Obama support this FISA reform bill or not?  Will he try filibustering a bill that won a large majority in the House and which is even more of a compromise than the bill that won 68 votes in the Senate in February?  Will Obama try to do yet another flip-flop and still convince people that he has any principles at all?  Sunday, June 22, 2008




By Charles Johnson

The antisemitic diaries just keep bubbling up from the base at Daily Kos; most of the Kidz have learned that it really doesn’t make them look very good when this sort of thing happens, so nowadays they jump out and denounce these eruptions of hate speech right away.

But they just keep bubbling up, and most of them aren’t removed.

Daily Kos: Apartheid Israel Trying to Start World War 3.

During the last couple of days, news reports have come out regarding Israel’s recent military exercises preparing for an eventual attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.  Suddenly, Ari Fleischer’s name comes to mind recalling a conversation I had with a friend over a year ago regarding some secret Jewish coalition raising funds in excess of $200 million to wage a propaganda war in America in an attempt to gain American support for another war against Iran. Now that story didn’t seem to hang around for long until recent.  Ari Fleichser aka “Joseph Goebbels” and his Israeli warmongers are testing the waters for a possible attack on Iran in an attempt to drag America in to the fold. Do we just stand by and allow Israel to further incite tensions bringing the world to the brink of WWIII?  

We’ve seen what complacency gets us with regard to Israel’s foreign policy. It got us attacked on 911. We have stood by and watched Israel steal land and occupy it and build illegal settlements on it. The U.N. has consistently condemend Israel for it’s illegal occupation, and the U.S. has failed to act. America’s inaction with regard to Apartheid Israel’s human rights abuses is proof of condonation. But wait a minute, as an American I don’t condone these human rights abuses or this apartheid system that exists in Israel where people live separate and unequal lives.  Russia has made comments in the past several days warning of the impact an attack could have.  Complacency got us attacked because of Israel. Complaceny has made us one of the most hated nations in the world because of Israel. In fact, I can’t think of one positive thing Israel has done for America in the past 3 decades.  We must inform Israel that any military strikes will not be tolerated by the U.S. and will only lead to isolation. We must demand that Israel end it’s apartheid system of government! We must also demand that Israel discontinue building illegal settlements and return the stolen lands in the West Bank, The Golan Heights and Gaza without the constant military occupation.  Otherwise, we will boycott Israel, much like we did South Africa, Israeli products and any American company that does business with Israel. It must be an American led boycott. In fact the boycott should have been initiated long ago because of the repressive an apartheid system alone that exists in Israel. Israel is not and never has been a true democratic nation. Boycott Israel Now!  Saturday, June 21, 2008




By Michael Ramirez




By Ed Morrissey

One might think that Europe would welcome Barack Obama with open arms, but according to Glenn Kessler at the Washington Post, Obama has them worried.  Key European allies fear a rupture between the US and the Continent if Obama attempts to waive the precondition of enrichment cessation in dealing with Iran.  While they would like to see a heavier emphasis on team play rather than American hegemony, Obama’s insistence on cozying up to Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is far out of step with the rest of the West:

European officials are increasingly concerned that Sen. Barack Obama’s campaign pledge to begin direct talks with Iran on its nuclear program without preconditions could potentially rupture U.S. relations with key European allies early in a potential Obama administration.

The U.N. Security Council has passed four resolutions demanding that Iran stop enriching uranium, each time highlighting the offer of financial and diplomatic incentives from a European-led coalition if Tehran suspends enrichment, a route to producing fuel for nuclear weapons. But Obama, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, has said he would make such suspension a topic for discussion with Iran, rather than a precondition for any negotiations to take place.

European officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity, said they are wary of giving up a demand that has been so enshrined in U.N. resolutions, particularly without any corresponding concessions by Iran. Although European officials are eager to welcome a U.S. president promising renewed diplomacy and multilateralism after years of tensions with the Bush administration, they feel strongly about continuing on the current path.

Obama’s response?  Dr. Susan Rice told the Post that Europe has failed, and a new approach was needed.   That ought to kick-start a new era in American diplomacy, eh?

While Europe may not care for the Bush administration’s tendency towards saber-rattling, they do not prescribe to the nonsense that dropping the precondition for ending enrichment would somehow make the Iranians more likely to stop.  The EU has been on the front line of this issue for several years, and they have first-hand experience with Iranian lies and double-dealing.  They understand that it will take a strong, united, and dominant front to force the Iranians into retreat on uranium enrichment.

At the moment, Europe has its hands full in pushing Russia and China into recognizing this, even with the US on board.  An Obama presidency would put the US in a position even softer than that of Russia and China and give the Iranians a breath of fresh air.   Obama’s team says such talks would provide the US with more leverage against Iran, but never quite explain how that would work.  Supposedly, failed talks at the presidential level would prompt tougher sanctions from Russia and China, but why would they agree to that when their own failed talks with their own client did not?  Why would they act tougher when the West acts weaker?

What Europe fears is the Chamberlain effect.  When a leader of a democracy gets elected on a peace platform and then meets with the head of hostile states, a tremendous pressure for success grows until the democratic leader starts bargaining to show some kind of victory.  After all, if Obama walked away from Ahmadinejad empty handed, he’d look like a buffoon.   Ahmadinejad would have little pressure to produce anything from such a meeting, except to remain obstinate.

Europe likes to remind people that the preconditions of cessation are European demands, not American, although the US has supported it wholeheartedly.  Obama’s insistence on dropping this precondition in order to score PR points with MoveOn and Ahmadinejad looks a lot less like multilateralism and much more like cowboy diplomacy than anything Bush has done on Iran thus far.  If Obama is to Europe’s left on Iran, what does that say about his foreign policy?  Sunday, June 22, 2008




By Charles Johnson

Israel’s unsurprising experience in their negotiations with the terrorist group Hizballah shows what we can expect from an Obama presidency that believes in diplomacy above all else: Hizbullah backtracks in negotiations.

Hizbullah has returned to its original demand that Israel release not only several Lebanese prisoners but also hundreds of Palestinian ones in exchange for kidnapped soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev, Ynet has learned.  Sunday, June 22, 2008



BAGHDAD, IRAQ: Iraqi and Coalition forces in and around Baghdad captured more than 100 insurgents and defused 147 improved explosive devices during the past week as part of continued security operations, according to Iraqi and Coalition spokesmen. One insurgent was killed, six kidnap victims liberated and about 700 kilograms of TNT discovered during security sweeps in the past seven days, said Iraqi Army spokesman Major General Qassim Atta during a press conference in Baghdad today.

The current security plan, called Fardh al-Qanoon, or 'Enforcing the Law,’ has been in place since early 2007, when U.S. planners began implementing a U.S. troop surge and divided Baghdad into separate security districts. Iraq forces now lead operations in all three of Iraq’s major cities, Baghdad, Basrah and Mosul and are operating in Amarah, where the Iraqi Army is currently battle elements of the Mahdi Army, said U.S. Rear Admiral Patrick Driscoll at the same press conference.

"So far in Amarah, there has been little resistance to the extension of the rule of law," Driscoll said. "There are still foreign terrorists who want to reconstitute their forces. Elements of Al-Qaeda’’ and Iranian-supported "Special Groups are still in Baghdad, but they are under pressure.’’

Iraqi forces kicked off a security operation last week in the southern province of Maysan, arresting the mayor of Amarah, Rafeaa Jabar, who also acted as Maysan’s deputy governor. Amarah, the provincial capital of Maysan, serves as the one of the major distribution points for weapons entering into southern Iraq from Iran and was the most significant Mahdi-controlled area in Iraq after control of Basrah and Sadr City were taken by Iraqi national forces.

As Iraqi government control over Baghdad solidifies, ministries are attempting to return families displaced from their homes during the past five years of conflict. In July, a national list of homes occupied illegally by people will be published by the government, allowing more than 100,000 displaced families from around the country to move back into homes they previously occupied.

'"The success of Fardh al-Qanoon is connected with the return of displaced families in Iraq,’" said General Atta. "Forces will raid the homes and remove occupants" if they do not leave voluntarily. About 20,000 families have returned to their former homes and about $140 million has been allocated as compensation, Atta said.

An increase in public events such as wedding receptions at hotels and the opening of national embassies is anecdotal evidence of improving security in Baghdad, Atta said. In May, the Sadrist movement and the Iraqi government signed a cease-fire that allowed the military to enter the Mahdi Army stronghold of Sadr City uncontested.


Iraqi security forces continue to target the Sadrist movement and the Mahdi Army in the southern provinces of Maysan, Dhi Qhar, and Wasit over the weekend. More than 113 Mahdi Army fighters and Sadrists were detained since Friday, including a senior Sadrist leader in the city of Al Kut. The arrests come as a major operation was launched in the former Mahdi Army stronghold in Maysan province.

On Saturday, Iraqi forces detained Sayyid Tahseen, a senior member of Muqtada al Sadr's political movement, in Al Kut in Wasit province. Iraqi police described Tahseen as "one of the most important individual wanted by security forces" who is "wanted for more than 45 cases, including armed operations against security forces, in addition to killing and abduction of innocent people."

Police seized "quantities of arms" from Tahseen's home after a gun battle erupted during efforts to detain him. Tahseen was wounded during the battle.

Iraqi security forces detained 65 Mahdi Army fighters and seized weapons caches during operations north of the city of Nasiriyah in Dhi Qhar province. "These raids coincide with military operations carried out by Iraqi forces to impose order and law in Maysan province," Major Nasser Majidi told Voices of Iraq.

In Maysan province, Iraqi security forces detained 61 Mahdi Army fighters and raided a Sadrist headquarters in and around Amarah.

Twenty policemen accused of being part of a kidnapping and extra judicial killing squad were arrested on June 20.

On June 21, fourteen "important wanted people" were captured and a major roadside bomb factory was found. The factory was said to make "sticky improvised explosive devices," which likely are limpet mines that are attached to vehicles.

On June 22, security forces conducted two major sweeps inside Amarah. Sixteen Mahdi Army fighters were detained and a roadside bomb factory was found after police received intelligence on the presence of Mahdi Army leaders in the area. A large weapons cache was found "in the office of a representative for Shiite cleric Muqtada al Sadr." A second raid netted 11 "dangerous" Mahdi Army fighters and seven large weapons caches.

Sadrists continue to complain about raids

The Iraqi security forces have conducted operations in the South with little to no opposition from the Mahdi Army. The gunfight during the detention of Sadrist leader Sayyid Tahseen was the only reported incident since the operation went into full swing last Thursday.

The Sadrist political leaders continue to complain about the tactics used by the Iraqi government and the security forces.

"The security plan in Maysan province was shifted from security targets to political targets," said Sadrists Member of Parliament Amira al Atabi during a press conference in Baghdad. "Anyone who has ties with the Sadr movement was arrested including the chief of the local council, council members, and head of the council's integrity committee."

Iraqi security forces detained the mayor of Amarah, a senior Sadrist leader who also served as the deputy governor, and at least five other Sadrist members of the provincial council after the operation began. The Sadrists closed down their office in Amarah and the senior political leader in the province is on the run.

Atabi and other Sadrist leaders have said Iraqi forces are conducting human rights violations and illegal arrests. Atabi also accused the Iraqi forces of "tearing up Martyr al Sadr [Muqtada's father] and Sayyid Muqtada's photos."

But other than Sadrist claims of human rights violation, there have been no reports of abuse in the press. The Iraqi security forces said they have issued warrants for the arrests of Sadrist leaders and Mahdi Army fighters. Police and military officers have said those captured were "wanted" individuals.

Amarah is a strategic hub for Iranian operations in southern Iraq

Maysan province is a strategic link for the Ramazan Corps, the Iranian military command set up by Qods Force to direct operations inside Iraq. Amarah serves as the Qods Force—Ramazan Corps forward command and control center inside Iraq as well as one of the major distribution points for weapons in southern Iraq.

The Iraqi security forces have stepped up operations against the Ramazan Corps and the Mahdi Army in the southern provinces over the past several months. Operation Knights' Assault was launched against the Mahdi Army in Basrah on March 25. After six days of heavy fighting, the Mahdi Army pushed for a cease-fire. The Iraqi security forces also dealt the Mahdi Army a heavy blow in the southern provinces of Najaf, Karbala, Qassadiyah, and Wasit during that timeframe.

The Iraqi security forces and the US military also confronted the Mahdi Army in Sadr City in Baghdad. After six weeks of heavy fighting, the Mahdi Army and the Iraqi government signed a cease-fire that allowed the military to enter Sadr City uncontested.

During the month of May, the Iraqi security forces expanded operations throughout Basrah province in Az Zubayr, Al Qurnah, and Abu Al Khasib along the Iranian border. Last week, an operation kicked off in Dhi Qhar province, which borders Maysan to the southeast. The Mahdi Army has not fought back as the Iraqi secuirty forces are moving into their strongholds in the South.  Sunday, June 22, 2008

For background on the Maysan security operation, see:

Report: Iraqi security forces preparing operation against Mahdi Army in Maysan
Iraqi offensive underway against the Mahdi Army in Maysan
Iraqi security forces ramp up for Maysan operation
Iraqi security forces detain senior Sadrist during Maysan operation
Maysan operation continues to target Sadrist leaders


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