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FrontPageMagazine.com | Wednesday, October 15, 2008


By Eric Allie

Political Cartoons by Eric Allie




By Allahpundit

The unweighted sample: 38.2 D, 30.3 R. Weighted: 37.4 D, 29.2 R. The overall margin is a hefty outlier, five points more than Gallup and fully nine points more than Rasmussen, but that’s about the only good news here.

Last week it was 48/45.

Judging by those numbers, I’m guessing the Ayers attacks aren’t helping much. The columns here are Total Voters, Republicans, Democrats, and Independents, respectively:

Almost as many GOPers say they’re unbothered by Obama’s associations as those who say they’re bothered by Wright or Ayers. As for independents, The One leads by 18 points now — a 28-point swing in just one week. Part of that’s due to the debate, which registered voters say he won, 48/14, but part of it’s probably also due to the negativity backfiring.

The unkindest cut of all:

I think that’s the first time I’ve seen her net favorables negative. (McCain’s are also negative, at -5.)

Exit quotation from Team Maverick: “The financial tsunami has produced one of the most difficult and volatile times to conduct polling in modern times. During these uniquely volatile last few weeks, I have seen as much day-to-day movement as I have witnessed in my 20 plus year career as a pollster.”


By Ed Morrissey

IAEA inspectors returned to the job at the Yongbyon nuclear reactor in North Korea after Washington backed down in the standoff over Pyongyang’s listing as a terror-supporting nation.  The DPRK agreed to more verification steps at all suspected nuclear sites, even those that Kim Jong-Il has not declared, in exchange for the delisting.  Disablement activities have recommenced:

“Disablement work has resumed as was promised yesterday. We’re back to the previous status quo,” an official at the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency said.

North Korea readmitted IAEA monitors to its Yongbyon nuclear complex on Monday and pledged to restart measures to eliminate its atom bomb program, following a pact with Washington that defused rows over how to verify the process. North Korea reinstated U.N. monitoring of the reactor as well as a mothballed nuclear fuel-fabrication facility and reprocessing plant that had produced weapons-grade plutonium. …

The U.S. State Department announced on Saturday that it had delisted the reclusive Stalinist state after Pyongyang agreed to a series of verification steps.

North Korea agreed to access for experts to all declared nuclear facilities and, based on “mutual consent,” undeclared sites.

Anne Applebaum underscores the unreal aspects of this Kabuki dance:

This isn’t a new revelation, of course; Panmunjom has been a monument to the creepiness of North Korea for more than five decades. But in the week when the Bush administration announced its decision to remove North Korea from its list of “terrorist” nations, it’s worth focusing again on the strange, ritualistic nature of the relationship between North Korea and the outside world: In its way, after all, the administration’s announcement was strange and ritualistic, too.

For the record, North Korea has sold missile technology to Syria and Libya, has assassinated diplomats, and has kidnapped Japanese and South Korean citizens and refuses to give a full accounting of their fate. North Korea also keeps untold numbers of its own citizens in concentration camps, which are direct copies of those built by Stalin, and knowingly starves many of its citizens to death as well. By any normal definition, North Korea is still a “terrorist” state, and everyone knows it. The administration’s decision was thus not a recognition of any change in North Korean behavior. It was, rather, a negotiated exchange of one set of words for another: We withdraw terrorist—and, in exchange, they offer a “promise,” once again, to dismantle their nuclear facilities. Ritual favors were bestowed as well: Presumably as a sign of the respect in which they hold him, the U.S. official negotiating these terms was, on his last visit to the north, ceremonially allowed to travel by car through Panmunjom instead of being forced to fly in from Beijing.

There may, of course, eventually be more “real” elements to the deal. There is probably more aid money in the offing, though no one really believes it will go to those who are once again starving. There is talk of more advanced verification systems as well, though it’s widely assumed the North Koreans will again try to cheat. Still, how this White House, which so long opposed any negotiations with North Korea, rationalizes these talks to itself is anyone’s guess. Perhaps this is some kind of holding pattern. Maybe they think the almost-invisible dictator, Kim Jong-il, is really dead. Or maybe they fear that Pyongyang will otherwise detonate another surprise nuclear device on, say, the day of the U.S. elections.

On the one hand, as Winston Churchill once said, jaw-jaw is preferable to war-war.  That only holds true, however, when both sides want to avoid the latter.  Otherwise, one risks conceding the initiative to the enemy.  So far, Kim has shown no such preference, and the concessions made to North Korean sensibilities this week underscores the one-sidedness in which these negotiations have been conducted.

Applebaum may be right when she speculates that the Bush administration wants to maintain the status quo and wait for whatever follows Kim.  That may be a good strategy, if we have a good grasp on the power players and the likely successors in the regime.  I’ve never had the impression that anyone really knows this, not even the Chinese, who are Kim’s closest significant allies.

Disablement is a positive step, as long as we can verify that we’re disabling all of Kim’s nuclear assets.  If we can get more verification teams on the ground to confirm that, then that’s a positive step forward.  I’d feel more optimistic if it didn’t appear that our team is simply reacting to Kim’s provocations rather than pressing a comprehensive disarmament strategy.  Tuesday, October 14, 2008




By Michael Ramirez

Political Cartoons by Michael Ramirez




By Paul Mirengoff

I've written several times about the "Employee Free Choice Act." Far from promoting employee free choice, this legislation would enable a union to be certified as the bargaining representative of employees merely by presenting to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) cards executed by a majority of employees in the bargaining unit. The presentation of cards would mean no election. Thus, instead of making the decision about whether to be represented by a union in private and in secret, employees could be subjected to all manner of coercion to sign a card.

Barack Obama supports this legislation. As ever, though, he and his campaign are dishonest about what his position entails. As I noted here, the campaign claims that if workers "wish to vote by secret ballot instead of a card-check process, they can; the law does not strip them of that right." In truth, however, if the union, under unsupervised conditions, can browbeat more than half of the employees into signing cards, there is no election. Employees, in other words, are stripped of the right to vote.

This reality is sufficiently obvious that CNN's "fact-checkers" have affirmed it. CNN examined a statement by John McCain that "Senator Obama is. . .planning with Speaker Pelosi and Senator Reid to … take away your right to vote by secret ballot in labor elections." In one of the no-brainers of this election, CNN concluded that McCain's claim is "true."

Obama's low regard for free elections can be attributed, in this context, to his desire to placate organized labor. Increasingly, though, there is reason to wonder whether it is also connected to a more general disregard for democratic freedoms and a willingness to rely on (or at least tolerate) organized thuggery to promote his purposes. Tuesday, October 14, 2008




By Charles Johnson

Amir Taheri talks with Jesse Jackson at the World Policy Forum in Evian, France: The O Jesse Knows.

Jesse says Barack Obama is going to really change things in America.

PREPARE for a new America: That’s the message that the Rev. Jesse Jackson conveyed to participants in the first World Policy Forum, held at this French lakeside resort last week.

He promised “fundamental changes” in US foreign policy - saying America must “heal wounds” it has caused to other nations, revive its alliances and apologize for the “arrogance of the Bush administration.”

The most important change would occur in the Middle East, where “decades of putting Israel’s interests first” would end.

Jackson believes that, although “Zionists who have controlled American policy for decades” remain strong, they’ll lose a great deal of their clout when Barack Obama enters the White House.

“Obama is about change,” Jackson told me in a wide-ranging conversation. “And the change that Obama promises is not limited to what we do in America itself. It is a change of the way America looks at the world and its place in it.”


By Charles Johnson

This is where the mainstream media has been headed ever since the nomination of Barack Obama as the Democratic candidate; E. J. Dionne is the latest journalist to claim that any and all criticism of Obama is by definition racist. But he takes it an extra step, saying that John McCain represents the reemergence of the far right.

Yes, really. John McCain, far right extremist. Wow. Meanwhile, Barack Obama associates with people who scream “God damn America,” and with people who are guilty of bombing the US Capitol, and gets a complete pass.

Are we witnessing the reemergence of the far right as a power in American politics? Has John McCain, inadvertently perhaps, become the midwife of a new movement built around fear, xenophobia, racism and anger?

McCain has clearly become uneasy with some of the forces that have gathered around him. He has begun to insist, against the sometimes loud protests from his crowds, that Barack Obama is, among things, a “decent person.”

Yet McCain’s own campaign is playing with powerful extremist themes to denigrate Obama. When his running mate, Sarah Palin, first brought up Obama’s association with 1960s radical Bill Ayers, who has become a centerpiece of McCain’s attacks, she accused Obama of “palling around with terrorists.” What other “terrorists” was she thinking about?

Since Obama was a child when Ayers was part of the Weather Underground, and since even Republicans have served on boards with Ayers, this is classic guilt by association.

Notice how many mainstream journalists shamelessly parrot Obama’s talking points about William Ayers, word for word.


By Charles Johnson

Article after article today denouncing Sarah Palin and John McCain, but especially Sarah Palin, for “injecting race” into the campaign.

By which they invariably mean: bringing up Barack Obama’s troubling long-term associations with hardcore radicals of one type or another.

Germany’s Spiegel Online gets into the act too with a venomous article by former TIME reporter Peter Ross Range: The Lone Ranger: Is Sarah Palin Playing with Fire?

In her witless way, Sarah Palin has re-injected race into the presidential campaign at just the time when it seemed to be sliding into insignificance. After all, you can hardly attach a racial narrative to the global financial crisis. Furthermore, polls have been suggesting a surprisingly high degree of acceptance by whites of a black in the White House.

Some commentators think “brownness” (immigrants) has replaced blackness as the new racial scarecrow in American politics. I think it is also true that as people have gotten used to Obama, they increasingly see not a black man, but a post-racial person (white and black, by birth) who calmly and coolly embodies the swirling ethnic mix that is modern America.

But Palin, with plenty of abetment from McCain, has gotten it going again with the theme that Obama “is not a man who sees America like you and I see America." She’s selling Obama not as the black, but as the other. This obviously can appeal to racial fears and antagonisms.  Tuesday, October 14, 2008




By Ed Morrissey

In a season of crazy polls, one in New Jersey stands out for its revelation of obtuseness.  The Monmouth University/Gannett New Jersey poll shows that almost a majority of adults want to leave the Garden State, thanks to the high cost of living and government.  Apparently the 49% who object to these costs don’t realize that they can vote for a more responsive — and less costly — state government:

Even New Jerseyans can’t stand living in New Jersey, according to a new poll that said nearly half of adults residing in the Garden State want to pull up stakes.

The Monmouth University/Gannett New Jersey Poll, released Wednesday, found 49 percent of those polled would rather live somewhere else.

New Jersey already is suffering from an image problem and bears the brunt of jokes because of its corruption and pollution problems. But 58 percent of those residents polled said the heavy financial burden of just living in the state is no laughing matter, and that’s why they want to leave.

Poll participants cited high property taxes (28 percent), the cost of living (19 percent), state taxes (5 percent) and housing costs (6 percent) as the main reasons they want out. The poll also found that 51 percent of those who expressed a desire to leave planned to do so, with adults under the age of 50 making between $50,000 and $100,000 the most likely to flee.

“If you have the ability to leave and you don’t see any possibility for change with the way the state is run — and that’s the No. 1 issue here — you have to vote with your feet,” said Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute.

That’s simply not true.  In places like the old Soviet Union, Zimbabwe, and the DPRK, people have to vote with their feet because they don’t have a meaningful vote otherwise.  In America, people can vote with their ballots.

If New Jersey government has gotten so out of control that a majority of adults no longer want to live there, the less costly alternative would be to vote out the current government and try a new direction.  Organize for different candidates.  Try a couple of recall petitions to get the attention of the political class.  Start pushing back on tax hikes and bond issues.

I’m actually sympathetic to the impulse.  I left California for a better job opportunity eleven years ago and managed to avoid the debacle of the current budget deficit, which is three times greater than Minnesota’s entire annual state budget.  However, I also know people who leave here for less-costly states, and at least some of them are the people who sported “Happy to Pay for a Better Minnesota” bumper stickers on their cars.  If people want less-costly living, then they need to recognize that government isn’t a charity organization and push for smaller, less costly government instead of demanding government solutions to every problem and then getting itchy feet when the costs hit home.  Pretty soon, there won’t be any place to run.


By Allahpundit

Specifically, why isn’t he backing him “in light of what’s happened” to the campaign’s tone? Is he really going to tolerate McCain reminding America that The One had no moral objection to associating with domestic terrorists? According to the media, that’s practically race treason.

In case you don’t know who Harris is, you’ll find an explanation below the clip. Exit question: Did CNN pause, even for a moment, while sifting those e-mails Lemon reads at the beginning to savor the irony of complaining about conservatives’ tone here?

Buzz up


By Ed Morrissey 

The little ACORN just keeps growing.  Now Minnesota becomes the latest state to suspect that the organization has committed fraud in its voter-registration efforts.  Hennepin County, home to Minneapolis, will consider whether to file criminal charges, although in this case the review sounds a bit puzzling:

The Hennepin County Attorney’s office said today it is investigating whether a voter registration processing lapse at the Minnesota ACORN office falls within guidelines for criminal prosecution.

A malfunctioning scanner at ACORN’s St. Paul offices in August created a backlog that caused a batch of cards to be submitted late to the Hennepin County Elections Board.

All of the registrations were processed in time to allow voters to participate in both the primary and general elections. None was discarded for fraud or ineligibility.

So what’s the problem?  The backlog itself, apparently.  It caused ACORN to dump its registrations on the county board after the deadline, perhaps as many as 1,000 or more.  While the county didn’t disqualify any of the applications, one has to wonder why they delayed.  Did they want to flood the office at the last moment and keep them from validating the registrations, or was it just a malfunction?

Normally, one would figure that this would result in nothing more than a civil fine if it was just a malfunction.  Why, then, is Hennepin talking about criminal charges?  Sounds like something more than a bad scanner is going on in Minnesota ACORN.  Tuesday, October 14, 2008




Multimedia presentation of the senior Taliban commanders in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Click to view.

The Taliban have seized on what US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates described as "defeatist" comments made by Western officials on the ability to succeed in Afghanistan to score a propaganda victory.

In a press release issued on Oct. 10 at Voice of Jehad, the Taliban's official website, the group described the recent statements that that war in Afghanistan is unwinnable as “a hue and cry” and reiterated their terms of peace are complete and unconditional withdrawal.

"The Islamic Emirate wants to make it clear that the only solution and the most successful path for resolving the Afghanistan problem is for the foreign forces to leave Afghanistan unconditionally and to respect Afghanistan's national independence and Islamic faith," the statement, issued in English, read. "Surely it is only then that peace, stability and prosperity would return to Afghanistan, otherwise all hue and cry and slogans will be empty, fruitless and ineffective."

"If the Americans, British, and at their behest the United Nations wish to keep the invading forces of 38 countries in Afghanistan, and at the same time ensure peace and reconciliation to their liking, they are dreaming an immature and empty fantasy."

The Taliban said the al Qaeda-linked group is "on the verge of victory" while the West is engaged in "a series of artificial gestures and a hue and cry about talks."

The Taliban issued three prior statements on the reports of negotiations between the Taliban and Western and Afghan officials. The statements derided the negotiations and said the Taliban would only settle for a complete withdrawal of foreign forces. One of the statements was issued by Taliban leader Mullah Omar.

The first statement, issued by the Taliban on Sept. 28, rejected any idea of a peace agreement. "The Shura Council of the Islamic Emriate of Afghanistan considers such baseless rumors as part of the failed efforts by our enemies to create distrust and doubts among Afghans, other nations, and the mujahideed," the statement read. "No official member of the Taliban--now or in the past--has ever negotiated with the US or the puppet Afghan government... A handful of former Taliban officials who are under house arrest or who have surrendered do not represent the Islamic Emirate."

The second statement, signed by Mullah Omar on Sept. 30, made it clear the Taliban believed it was close to victory. Omar offered the West harsh terms for peace. "If you demonstrate an intention of withdrawing your forces, we once again will demonstrate our principles by giving you the right of safe passage, in order to show that we never harm anyone maliciously," Omar said.

The third statement was made by Taliban military commander Mullah Baradar on Oct. 3. "We reject an offer for negotiation by the Afghan's puppet and slave President Hamid Karzai," Baradar said. "[Karzai] only says and does what he is told by America."

Over the last week, several senior Western officials have said the International Security Assistance Forces could not win the war militarily and that negotiations with the Taliban were necessary to secure the peace. Brigadier Richard Blanchette, a British general who serves as the spokesman for the International Security Assistance Force, advocated negotiations with the Taliban and said no military solution was possible in Afghanistan.

Kai Eide, the United Nation's Special Representative in Afghanistan, echoed Blanchette's statements. "I've always said to those that talk about the military surge ... what we need most of all is a political surge, more political energy," Eide said on Oct. 6. "We all know that we cannot win it militarily. It has to be won through political means. That means political engagement."

Brigadier Mark Carleton-Smith, the outgoing commander of British forces in Afghanistan, said winning the war was “neither feasible nor supportable” and the West should work to reduce the level of violence in the country.

US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates described these comments as "defeatist" during a recent interview with the press. "While we face significant challenges in Afghanistan, there certainly is no reason to be defeatist or to underestimate the opportunities to be successful in the long run," Gates said on Oct. 7.

Western officials, led by Britain, have pushed for negotiations with the Taliban in recent weeks after the violence in Afghanistan has reached a seven-year high. Some officials claim Mullah Omar and the Taliban have split from al Qaeda, but US military and intelligence officials told The Long War Journal they see no evidence of such a splitTuesday, October 14, 2008


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