Friday, August 29, 2008

Joe Biden: Obama's Latest Attempt to Lose the Election

Pop quiz: who should a candidate who promotes bipartisan unity and change in Washington pick for Vice President? Apparently, an aging, 3-decade long and bitterly partisan Washington insider, that's who.

If you heard anyone chuckling at the announcement of Obama's pick for veep, it was probably just John McCain and his entire campaign staff. Obama is really showing off his naivety and his lack of commitment to his "unity" and "change" rhetoric. Biden's voting record is almost identical to Obama's (meaning extremely partisan and liberal), and he brings no expertise to the table whatsoever.

Maybe it's because of the lavish praise Biden gave Obama in an interview with Jason Horowitz of the New York Observer: “I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy,” he said. “I mean, that’s a storybook, man.”

And he's not too uppity, either! Classy.

One must wonder what advantage Obama sees in Senator Biden being his Vice Presidential pick; and one can only surmise that it was supposed to make up for Obama's utter lack of experience. In other words; "Joe Biden: Obama's foreign policy."

But he's a poor pick for this end as well. Quick snapshot of his foreign-policy ineptitude:

The Hill reported of Biden’s speech at the Democratic National Convention this week: Biden “got confused about some very simple military terminology” stating that Obama advocated for “two additional battalions in Afghanistan” when “in fact, Obama called for two extra brigades – a small verbal slip, but a significant numerical one. A brigade is composed of a varying number of battalions.” Although an embarrassing mistake for a man hailed for his national security knowledge, that slip of the tongue was probably just that, a verbal slip. The same cannot be said for some of Biden’s past statements.

October 2001: Shortly following the September 11 attacks, Michael Crowley reported of Biden in The New Republic: “At the Tuesday-morning meeting with committee staffers, Biden launches into a stream-of-consciousness monologue about what his committee should be doing, before he finally admits the obvious: ‘I'm groping here.’ Then he hits on an idea: America needs to show the Arab world that we're not bent on its destruction. ‘Seems to me this would be a good time to send, no strings attached, a check for $200 million to Iran,’ Biden declares. He surveys the table with raised eyebrows, a How do ya like that? look on his face.”

And more recently:

April 2007: Biden told reporters “"The surge is not succeeding, and the president refuses to see that."

July 2007: Biden said he had been “shot at” in the Green Zone in Iraq, but later had to “revise” that claim .

September 2007: Just before Gen. David Petraeus was scheduled to report to Congress, Joe Biden said President Bush's war strategy is failing and that Petraeus, the top military commander in Iraq, is "dead flat wrong" for warning against major changes. "The reality is that although there's been some mild security progress, there is in fact no security in Baghdad or Anbar province where I was dealing with the most serious problem, sectarian violence.” Biden claimed that Bush’s purpose for the surge was to buy time long enough to push the burden of the war onto the next president. Biden said, "I will insist on a firm beginning to withdraw the troops and I will insist on a target date to get American combat forces out.”

On the result of Biden’s statements and actions, Michael Rubin recently wrote:

“The November 2007 National Intelligence Estimate …found that Iran had pursued a nuclear weapons program until 2003. Although Biden's embrace of engagement coincided with Iran's nuclear warhead work, he acknowledged no error. He told reporters on Dec. 4 that Bush had "misrepresented" the intelligence in a drive to war and declared the same day, "You cannot trust this president." Such poor judgment was not lost on Iranian leaders. Indeed, one of Khatami's top aides suggested that they came to count on it…Biden’s political games have made him Tehran’s favorite senator. As Gen. David Petraeus struggled to unite Iraqis across the ethnic and sectarian divide, Iran’s Press TV seized on Biden’s plan for partitioning Iraq and featured his statements with the headline “US plans to disintegrate Iraq.” Biden’s attack-dog statements about U.S. policy failures emboldened Iranian hard-liners to defy diplomacy. In the Dec. 7, 2007, official sermon, Ayatollah Mohammad Kashani speaking on behalf of Iran’s supreme leader, declared, “This Senator [Biden] correctly says Israel could not suppress Hizbullah in Lebanon, so how can the U.S. stand face-to-face with a nation of 70 million? This is the blessing of the Guardianship of the Jurists [the theocracy] . . . which plants such thoughts in the hearts of U.S. senators and forces them to make such confessions.” The crowd met his statement with refrains of “Death to America.”

In April 2008 Biden remained convinced the surge was a failure. As an early rebuttal to upcoming testimony by Gen. David Petraeus Biden said, "The purpose of the surge was to bring violence in Iraq down so that its leaders could come together politically… Violence has come down, but the Iraqis have not come together." He later added, "There is little evidence the Iraqis will settle their differences peacefully any time soon."

By July 2008, Iraq had “met all but three of 18 original benchmarks set by Congress last year to measure security, political and economic progress.” According to a report this week, “The U.S. military will hand over responsibility for the security of Anbar Province, once a stronghold of the Sunni insurgency and one of the most violent regions in Iraq, to the Iraqi government as early as Monday, Iraqi and U.S. officials said.”

Between Obama's spineless response to the Russia/Georgia conflict and both his and Biden's refusal to acknowledge that the surge has been a smashing success, their combined foreign policy ineptitude gives McCain an amazingly good opening as the real presidential battle begins. Hopefully his campaign sees this gift that Obama has offered them and takes advantage of it to its fullest.

Monday, August 25, 2008

The Essence of Patriotism

There is a lot of strife in our country right now about who's a patriot and who's not; and what actions constitute the accusation of a lack of patriotism. I should know, I've accused certain members of the liberal establishment of not being patriotic (and sometimes downright treasonous) myself. However, I think that maybe I can help shed a little light into this important discussion (instead of throw gasoline onto the fire) if I can give a very specific, well-reasoned view of what I believe patriotism to be.

There are those who believe that this world should be perfect. They will not even vote because neither candidate will be able to achieve their notion of perfection. They, admirably enough; want everyone on earth to be equal and happy and believe that they are entitled to zero violence, equality of property and wealth, and no suffering anywhere in the world. Surely this is a noble desire, there's no one who could complain if that happened. But their worldview incorporates America as a facilitator of this; and if we are not causing a perfect world, then we are still a nation of "evil."

They look at these things with a sense of entitlement. That they're a given, and since America is not delivering them, America is thus "evil" and not good.

I see differently.

I look at my nation and feel gratitude, not entitlement. I look at it as something that could of course use refining, but the idea in actualized form is great and just. I look at the sacrifice of my country- how much bled we have shed for the idea that men everywhere should be free. I start from a position of "my country is the greatest...and here's how I can make it better."

Since its founding, no country has ever done more good in the world; we have sacrificed American blood on foreign ground, fully believing the principle that as a shining example to the world; we will not only be proof that democracy works and is empowering; but that we believe it should be so for ALL people of all nations- we will not let stand tyranny or oppression of free people. People complain about us being "the world's police"- since when is backing up your ideas of freedom and democracy a bad thing? Why should we not dedicate our very lives to the freedom of others?

One thing I am simply incapable of understanding is that we should be donating more money to poorer countries- but war is never an option. Military action is never an option. If we donated supplies and money to places like Africa, and don't back it up- the strong take from the weak, they never get to where they were meant to go. We are only empowering the oppressors; giving them more leverage. It's happened before, what makes us think it will not happen again; either there or elsewhere? When it comes down to it; nothing is so effective as force when it comes to dealing with tyranny. All the prettily-spoken words in the world would not have brought foreign-owned colonies to the independent world superpower we are today. Ideas must be reinforced with sacrifice, not more ideas. Not even money is always the best option. To say that drastically reducing our expenditure on national defense and the military in general is not in our best interests whatsoever- especially since our "allies" use as little money on military as possible. We only spend 4% of our GDP on national defense, they spend even less. With Russia and China both bulking up as quickly as possible, as well as terrorist-sympathizing countries and leaders trying to attain nuclear weaponry; with what reason can someone suggest this?

Instead of looking to America and our government to solve all of our problems; we need to be grateful that our country gives us the opportunity to solve them ourselves. We need to take real pride in our country's history and ideals, starting from the position of gratitude towards our forefathers.

We also need to be aware that we're not perfect of course (though easily the greatest nation in the history of nations); and need to be trying to improve America. Be that as it may we must never think of our own country as evil in itself- because of what it is; we can always change it to be better. It is our own actions that guide this country's course throughout history, it is our responsibility to both take pride in our country and to ensure that it stays the course the Founding Fathers set for it so long ago. Is it too much to ask to unite over one common thing, to each say "America is great. America is a source of good. I love my country." Because if you believe that, if we all start from that position and then let our passions and ideas roam free; then we can finally accomplish something. If NOTHING else, those of you who disagree with loving your country from default should at LEAST love it for the fact that you don't have to. You can change America yourself, so there is no reason to be calling it "evil."

So, I'm going to start. I love my country. I am grateful for it, and for its founders. I am grateful for my freedom to love it and disagree with others and to state my own ideas in whatever form I wish. America is the closest humanity has ever come to spreading the idea that all men are free.

In short: I am a patriot.

Who is with me?

Saturday, August 23, 2008

My Take on the Saddleback Forum...and My Relief

I'll tell you; few conservatives were so concerned about John McCain being the Republican nominee than I. His track record of reaching across the aisle might be refreshing to some; but as someone who believes that no quarter should be given to liberals in any policy issue I viewed it as a detriment. However, I have been bracing myself to vote for him anyway with a sinking feeling, mostly because I wanted to still have a country in four years- something not possible under the alternative to McCain.

Then, I watched the Saddleback Civic Forum on the Presidency- the famed pastor Rick Warren interviewing both political candidates. By virtue of a coin toss, Obama went first while McCain was placed in an area where he could not hear the questions being asked, then McCain took the stage with Warren to field the same questions.

Unlike any other political debate I've seen, the questions were extremely pointed and revealing. There was almost no "wiggle room" in most of them, even the most blase questions were ones you'd probably not hear at a presidential debate. It was by far the most helpful and interesting debate I've ever seen, and I highly recommend it. I will be posting the videos for it to my profile in a few minutes; and I HIGHLY recommend that you watch them.

The forum contrasted the two candidates mightily- it was incredible seeing how they were not only polar opposites on the issues, but also in their worldviews and manner of speaking. Both appealed to their respective bases- Obama was thoughtful and looked at every side of the issue, while McCain was very direct and straightforward. To liberals, Obama's performance was more or less what they're looking for (I couldn't really tell you; I don't have the necessary brain damage to understand liberalism); while conservatives were reassured by McCain's directness and exactly what actions he'd take.

One of the most revealing questions was one you almost never hear answered by a politician- "At what point do you believe life begins?", referring of course to the abortion issue. Obama waffled, saying the question was "above his paygrade." To be frank, considering how he has rabidly promoted abortion- including killing a bill (more than 6 versions) that would have given the rights to care for babies who survived an abortion in the Illinois state senate- one would assume he'd better believe that the right to life is not granted until a natural birth. To say that he doesn't know; but still be supporting what amounts to infanticide (killing that bill repulses most supporters of abortion) is more than heinous; it's barbaric.

On the flip side, McCain unequivocally stated that the right to life begins at the moment of conception, of course much appreciated by normal Americans. One of my favorite things that he did say was "I don't want to tax the rich, I want everyone to GET rich." He also qualified this statement by saying he does not believe in wealth redistribution through taxes- a HUGE relief for me. One thing I've never had an issue with him on is his rabid opposition of pork-barrel spending; he again stated that he opposes and would kill any bills which included pork; citing a case where the federal government spent over $3 million to study bear DNA...not exactly in their job description. Between him lowering taxes and eliminating pork-barrel spending; it would force Congress to use our money wisely or risk losing their next election- and we all know they won't do that.

Other comments that assuaged my doubts about John McCain- his promotion of school choice, and firing bad teachers; his promise to be strong on national defense, and his statement that we should be drilling now. This is a switch from his past, since a reason that we conservatives have been wary of him was his opposition to drilling in ANWR- but not all "flip-flops" are bad ones. Hopefully he comes through- with the American public greatly favoring an increase in domestic oil production; I'd imagine he barely has a choice in the matter.

Obama, meanwhile, came off as practically socialist (actually, scratch the "practically"). Even his supposed "strength" (him being a unifier of the country) turned out to be a falsehood when questioned about his ability to reach across the aisle. The Atlantic magazine's September cover held a story called "Who's the Real Unifier?" The entire piece could have been two sentences long. “Since arriving in the Senate, in 2005, [Obama] has voted with a majority of Senate Democrats almost 97 percent of the time, according to Congressional Quarterly,” writes longtime political commentator Ronald Brownstein. Meanwhile, “McCain has voted with a majority of Republicans 85 percent of the time since entering the Senate, in 1987.” Due to his long-winded non-answers to questions, and his apparent hesitancy to offend ANYONE by giving a straight answer to something, he came off more the politician than McCain did. The Great Orator Obama was considered to have been beaten soundly by almost every source or commentator.

So, of course; Obama did what all Democrats do when they lose: accuse their opponent of cheating. His campaign sent a letter to two news networks saying that McCain was not in the "cone of silence" after all; and could hear the question and thus give quicker answers. Of course it couldn't simply be because McCain has been doing townhall-style forums since the beginning of his campaign and is much more used to such bold and straightforward questions about such things. This could also possibly explain why Obama refuses to meet McCain in a townhall-style debate: without a prompter, Obama stutters and gives very ambiguous answers to confuse voters- he's no longer the great orator he's promoted to be. He looks unsure of himself and inexperienced, while McCain comes off as confident and with a optimism that America can overcome its troubles.

Which reminds me of another problem for Obama- when asked if there was evil in the world, he surprised the attending crowd and Americans everywhere by saying America was a source of evil- a pessimistic and traitorous-sounding position that doesn't ring well with most Americans. Perhaps this kind of rhetoric works well among the Treason Lobby (read: Democrats); but the evangelicals in the crowd sat silent and dumbfounded- no applause.

All in all; this was a huge break for McCain- not only did Obama politically impale himself on a few points, but he most certainly reassured true conservatives like me that we could do much worse.

So, finally; the McCain campaign has the coveted Thomas Stone Endorsement.

Vote McCain!

Update: In case you need more than my own word to know that McCain won the Saddleback Forum and that it was important; consider: John McCain; who'd been tied with or trailing Obama by a few points in most polls, is now either tied with or ahead a few points in these same polls. Of course; his decisive response to Russian aggression in Georgia probably also had a factor in this (as opposed to Obama's expected waffling); but I'm sure the Forum didn't hurt a thing for him.