When the Washington Post permits one of its writers to reveal the obvious about Obama's tax plan it must be so overwhelmingly convincing even they cannot ignore it. Lori Montgomery writes about "the One's" fiscal sleight of hand.(See 1 below.)
Ross Mackenzie writes one of the most insightful articles about "the One's" playing of the race card and what it may or may not mean to his candidacy. (See 2 below.)
Georgia must be wondering why they were encouraged to join NATO and NATO members must be breathing a sigh of relief because they did not have to do anything but stand aside and watch. Russia presented NATO and the West with a 'fait accomplis.' Now everyone can sit down and discuss the left-overs. (See 3 3a and 3b below.)
More ships. More waste of fuel? (See 4 below.)
Warshawsky walks out on a limb. (See 5 below.)
Saakashvili wants us to pull his chestnut out of the fire and I don't think we will and I suspect Putin and Medveded know this.(See 6 below.)
Georgia does throw cold water on our relationship with Russia for the time being.
1)Obama Tax Plan Would Balloon Deficit, Analysis Finds Democrat's Promise to Cut Taxes Without Adding to Debt Relies on Bush Fiscal Policy
By Lori Montgomery
On the campaign trail, Sen. Barack Obama bashes President Bush for "reckless" economic policies that are "mortgaging our children's future on a mountain of debt." But the Democratic presidential candidate has adopted a key component of Bush's fiscal policy: A novel bookkeeping method that guarantees that the $9.5 trillion national debt will get much bigger.
When Obama promises to cut taxes for the middle class without increasing the deficit, he is measuring his proposals against the large deficits that would result from Bush's plan to extend his signature tax cuts beyond their 2010 expiration date. Because Obama wants to eliminate some of the Bush tax cuts, he would bring more money into the Treasury, permitting him to pay for new programs without increasing the deficit even more.
But under current law, all the tax cuts expire and the deficit disappears completely. Democrats in Congress have vowed to preserve the Bush tax cuts only if they can cover the cost and keep the budget in balance. Measured against current law and against the promises of his fellow Democrats, Obama would rack up huge deficits. According to a recent analysis by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, Obama's tax plan would add $3.4 trillion to the national debt, including interest, by 2018.
"Obama has criticized Bush for his fiscal irresponsibility, and now he's using Bush's baseline as a yardstick by which to measure fiscal responsibility," said Leonard E. Burman, co-director of the Tax Policy Center, a joint project of the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution. "Congress hasn't agreed to extend the Bush tax cuts because they don't have the money to pay for it."
By adopting Bush's bookkeeping system, Obama has frustrated deficit hawks who say government should live within its means, especially given a new White House forecast that the next president will face a record $482 billion deficit during his first year in office. Obama also appears to undercut congressional Democrats who have made pay-as-you-go budgeting a central tenet of their leadership, insisting that new policies should be paid for instead of adding to the nation's debt.
"It's not unreasonable to say, 'We're inheriting a budget that's going to have substantial deficits into the future' . . . But after we've been saying, 'Bush has irresponsible policies we can't afford,' he will be asking us to replace them with different policies we can't afford,' " said a Democratic congressional aide, who spoke on condition of anonymity so he could speak candidly.
Privately, some Democrats acknowledge that they may be forced to follow Obama's lead and abandon their pay-as-you-go pledge if they want to keep the Bush tax cuts that benefit the middle class, including a $1,000 child tax credit, a reduction in the marriage penalty and a new 10 percent tax bracket. Beginning in 2011, those provisions will increase the deficit by at least $100 billion a year unless lawmakers can raise the money elsewhere.
"Leaving some of the tax cuts in place would cost us a small fortune," said Rep. Jim Cooper (D-Tenn.), a member of a group of conservative House Democrats known as the Blue Dogs who have been adamant about following pay-as-you-go rules. "I don't know that any Blue Dog has a good way to pay for that."
Unlike his Democratic colleagues, Obama has never made balancing the budget a priority. He concedes that he would not be able to do it during his first term, and probably not during his second, either.
Obama economic advisor Jason Furman said Obama compares his tax plans to Bush's instead of to current law because it draws a clear distinction with Republican Sen. John McCain, who wants to keep all the Bush tax cuts and add even more. According to the Tax Policy Center, McCain's tax plans would increase the national debt by at least $5 trillion over the next 10 years. McCain has said he would balance the budget through massive spending cuts.
Furman said Obama would consider abandoning Democratic promises to cover the cost of extending the Bush tax cuts if it were part of "a really tough deficit-reduction bill" that significantly improves the nation's grim financial outlook. "President Bush created this problem. We would put in place rules so it never happens again," Furman said. "But a sound budget is based on making realistic promises and sticking to them."
At the heart of the debate is one of the most arcane but fundamentally important concepts in Washington: The budget baseline.
A baseline is an estimate of spending and revenue expected during a fiscal year under current law. The official baseline is calculated by the Congressional Budget Office, which also has the task of "scoring" legislation so lawmakers can see how much a proposal would cost and how it would change the baseline. CBO makes projections 10 years into the future and updates them three times a year. The next update is due Sept. 9.
Thanks to a profusion of budget gimmicks enacted into law in recent years, the CBO baseline is out of step with reality. For example, it assumes that the alternative minimum tax, an expensive parallel tax structure, will grow to strike millions of taxpayers and bring in billions of additional dollars. Congress is never expected to permit that money to be collected, but lawmakers have balked at taking the tax off the books because doing so would dramatically increase projected deficits.
The CBO baseline also assumes that the Bush tax cuts will expire in December 2010, bringing in even more money. If the law is not changed, the CBO forecasts that the budget will be balanced by 2012.
Four years ago, the Bush administration introduced an alternate baseline that assumes the "extension of all expiring tax provisions" enacted in 2001 and 2003. The tax cuts, the administration wrote, "were clearly not intended to be temporary."
This is not exactly true. Bush never intended the tax cuts to be temporary. But the Republican Congressional leadership couldn't muster the votes to make them permanent because it would have cost far too much money. Even after lawmakers added an expiration date, McCain was one of three GOP senators who voted against the tax cuts.
The expiration date now serves as a trigger that will force Congress to choose among competing priorities: Keep the tax cuts and run up the deficit, or keep the money and raise taxes. It's a wrenching choice that has bedeviled Democrats since they took control of Congress two years ago on a promise to rein in deficit spending.
Changing the baseline to include the tax cuts implies that the decision has already been made. Under the Bush baseline, the White House simply increased its future deficit projections. Both Obama and McCain want to use that standard, and take it a step further by increasing deficit projections to account for a permanent restriction on the alternative minimum tax.
The result would be "deficits far bigger than anything contemplated under current law," said G. William Hoagland, a former budget advisor to GOP Senate leaders.
Robert L. Bixby, executive director of the nonpartisan Concord Coalition, said the Bush baseline may be more realistic politically, but it takes the nation a step away from solving its budget problems.
"We've already got an unsustainable budget situation over the long term. In the short term, we're in a big fiscal hole. So it's really important to hold the line," Bixby said. "The important point is: How much are the policies going to cost? And extending the Bush tax cuts has a cost."
2) Part of the Campaign: the McCain-Obama Kabuki on Race
By ROSS MACKENZIE
It used to be that the conversation about the very difficult subject of race in America was best left to African-Americans, because only they have experienced the active or passive oppression that many whites cannot comprehend.
Let the Walter and Armstrong Williamses, the Thomas Sowells and Floyd Flakes, the Michael and Shelby Steeles, the Larry Elders and Ward Connerlys and Jay Parkers -- the theory went -- haggle it out with the Al Sharptons and Jesse Jacksons, the Carl Rowans and Julian Bonds, the Adam Clayton Powells and (of course) the Martin Luther Kings.
Then came two realizations -- (1) the African-American community is as ideologically divided (between conservatives and liberals) as the white community, and (2) the McCain-Obama campaign is at hand. So now the discussion is open to all.
Rightly or wrongly and largely unspoken, race is a deep-running factor in American culture -- infusing much that it should not but does. Barack Obama is the first African-American with a genuine prospect of becoming president of an electorate that is 11 percent black and 77 percent white. Because of that percentage discrepancy, Obama's chances of winning depend greatly on the extent to which -- in commentator Juan Williams' words -- he can "assure undecided white voters that he shares their [conservative social] values and is worthy of their trust."
SO HOW seemingly odd that Obama should inject race into the campaign. Possibly he did it to build a force field around himself to deflect every criticism of every kind.
During the primaries, he blasted Bill Clinton for allegedly making race an issue in the Carolinas -- implying Clinton was doing it to gin up white turnout for Hillary. Obama also perceived subtle racial undertones in John McCain's first general-election ad -- i.e., its description of McCain as "the American president Americans have been waiting for."
In late June, Obama began mentioning his race (as he frequently had) in combination with dark implications that McCain would deploy race against Obama (as McCain never has): They're going to try to make you afraid. They're going to try to make you afraid of me. "He's young and inexperienced and he's got a funny name. And did I mention he's black?"
Finally on July 31, in Springfield, Mo., Obama dealt down and dirty:
"Nobody really thinks that Bush or McCain have a real answer for the challenges we face. So what they're going to try to do is make you scared of me. You know -- he's not patriotic enough. He's got a funny name. You know, he doesn't look like all those other presidents on those dollar bills. You know. He's risky. That's essentially the argument they're making." [Italics added.]
Properly fed up, the McCain campaign jumped on the "he doesn't look like all those other presidents" comment. Said McCain's campaign manager: "Barack Obama has played the race card, and he played it from the bottom of the deck. It's divisive, negative, shameful, and wrong." Said McCain himself of his campaign manager's comment: "I agree with it, and I'm disappointed that Sen. Obama would say the things he's saying."
Whereupon Obama's campaign manager said the McCain campaign's very mention of the "not like other presidents" remark, combined with a McCain ad depicting Paris Hilton and Britney Spears, are "character attacks." He was echoed by New York Times columnist Bob Herbert, who sees a "venomous McCain campaign" all about "trashing the opposition, Karl Rove-style" -- a campaign "smearing Mr. Obama every which way from sundown."
THIS Kabuki invites the question: What is Obama's rationale?
It's racial politics, and goes like this: Because I'm a minority, you can't use race but I can. If you do, I'll zap you. And if you don't and I do and you call me on it, I'll zap you for even suggesting I'm playing racial games.
But racial politics is loaded with risk.
Obama needs to maximize minority turnout while pulling enough white votes to win. Yet the polls in this campaign are all over the place, meaning there's no telling how Obama's racial games will play out.
Many sufferers of white guilt want desperately to vote for an African-American to prove to themselves -- if to no one else -- that they are not racist. Still, the extremist views of Obama's preacher Jeremiah Wright, and now the playing of the race card by Obama himself, may combine to generate in guilt sufferers the sentiment, not this time.
Nor dare we forget ideology. Liberalism bears its own heavy racial/ethnic burdens: Liberal college administrators imposed Ivy League admission quotas on Asians and Jews. And liberals of various professional stripe turned to Anita Hill in their efforts to stop the confirmation of the conservative Clarence Thomas, who writes eloquently (in My Grandfather's Son) about the extent to which the leftist concept of affirmative action robs blacks of their dignity.
Obama's shameless playing of the race card -- his combining of race with liberal ideology -- might prove his undoing in what remains a deeply conservative culture. It raises profound questions about his judgment and leadership, and may leave him in voters' minds precisely the inexperienced, insubstantial, immature celebrity of John McCain's description.
3)Georgia cracks under Moscow’s military pressure as Russian planes bomb Tbilisi international airport
Russian planes bombed Tbilisi international airport and a military airfield near the capital Sunday evening Aug. 10, after Georgia handed the Russian embassy in Tbilisi a desperate message offering to halt military action in South Ossetia and withdraw its troops from the region. Russian forces were then reported to be on the way to invading the Georgian town of Gori after moving in on the second Georgian breakaway province of Abkhazia.
The Russian president Dimitry Medvedev rejected the Georgian appeal and said the war would go on until Tbilisi withdrew its forces unconditionally from South Ossetia and pledged never to attack the region again. This is tantamount to Georgia accepting its truncation and surrender to Russian hegemony.
Reports that the Russian jets pulverized Gori, leaving hundreds dead, to punish Georgian for invading the South Ossetian capital of Tskhvingali last Thursday.
The air raids of the two Georgian airports took place as the US began flying hundreds of Georgian troops home from Iraq, leaving them nowhere to land.
During the day, Russian soldiers and marines entered Abkhazia, Georgia's second breakaway province, by land and from Russian Black Sea naval vessels, which were ordered to block Georgian ports against arms delivery by sea. This opened a third front in Russia’s war with Georgia on Day Three of the armed conflict.
At midday, Ukrainian military circles indicated the possibility of closing Russia’s main Black Sea base of Sevastopol to naval ships on their way back from blockading Georgian ports.
The US has drafted a resolution condemning Russia in third UN Security Council session later Sunday.
In the face of President George W. Bush’s demand for an immediate withdrawal of Russian troops and support for international mediation, Moscow poured an additional 10,000 men and armor into South Ossetia Sunday as well - and Russian jets bombed a military airfield outside the Georgian capital of Tbilisi.
Under heavy fire, Georgia “temporarily” pulled its soldiers from the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali, but stayed in the region and denied it was surrendering. President Mikhail Saakashvili asked the United States to act as mediator with Moscow and appealed to the Russians to stop “this madness.”
That was Sunday morning.
Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin, for his part, accused Georgia of ethnic cleansing. As disputed casualty figures climbed, civilians were increasingly bearing the brunt of the bloodshed and hardship.
Two Georgian towns, Gori and the Black Sea naval, military and oil port of Poti, also took casualties and heavy damage from Russian air strikes. A third town, Zugdidi on Abkhazian border, was targeted Sunday.
Military analysts: By flouting US demands to accept mediation, Moscow highlights America’s lack of leverage for helping its embattled Georgian ally. The Bush administration has trapped itself in its foreign policy commitment to dialogue and international diplomacy for solving world disputes but is short of willing opposite numbers.
Russia is following Iran’s example in exploiting Washington's inhibition to advance its goals by force. Therefore, the Caucasian standoff has profound ramifications for the Middle East and Persian Gulf. Moscow’s disdain for Washington’s lack of muscle will further encourage Tehran and its terrorist proxies to defy the international community and the United States in particular.
Military analysts reported Saturday: Tiny Georgia with an army of less than 18,000, having been roundly defeated in South Ossetia, cannot hope to withstand the mighty Russian army in Abkhazia.Therefore, President Saakashvili, who had bid to join NATO, must consider both breakaway regions lost to Georgia and gained by Russia.
This is Moscow's payback for the US-NATO success in detaching Kosovo from Serbia and approving its independence. It is also a warning to Ukraine, the Caucasus and Central Asia against joining up with the United States and the NATO bloc in areas which Moscow deems part of its strategic sphere of influence
After seizing South Ossetia and Abkhazia from Georgia, four follow-up Russian steps may be postulated:
1. The two separatist provinces will proclaim their independence, just like Kosovo.
2. Russia will continue to exercise its overwhelming military and air might to force the pro-American Saakashvili’s capitulation.
3. The Georgian president will not survive in office long after losing two regions of his country and national humiliation. Moscow aims to make Washington swallow a pro-Russian successor.
4. Moscow’s trampling of Georgia will serve as an object lesson for Russia’s own secessionist provinces such as Chechnya, Dagestan and Ingushettia not to risk defying Russian armed might.
3a) Putin slams US for airlifting Georgian troops from Iraq
Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin criticized the United States Monday for airlifting Georgian troops from Iraq.
An unidentified fighter jet...
Putin said that the US move would hamper efforts to solve Russia's conflict with Georgia over the breakaway province of South Ossetia.
The US military has started flying 2,000 Georgian troops home from Iraq after Georgia recalled them.
Meanwhile, Georgia asked the European Union to freeze strategic partnership talks with Russia unless Moscow halts its military campaign against its small neighbor.
Georgia's EU envoy Salome Samadashvili said the 27-nation bloc must make clear to Moscow there is a price to pay for attacking Georgia. She said the EU should tell the Russians "they risk their future relationship with the European Union."
She said that the EU should halt negotiations on a "strategic partnership deal" with Russia if the country does not stop its military campaign.
EU foreign ministers plan to meet Wednesday. They may also meet with Georgian counterpart Ekaterina Tkeshelashvili, who was due to meet NATO officials Tuesday in Brussels.
Earlier, Russia rejected a cease-fire pledge signed by Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili and proposed by envoys from the European Union.
Saakashvili said he signed the document together with French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner and his Finnish counterpart, Alexander Stubb.
Nevertheless, a senior general said Russia had no plans to move its troops from Georgia's two breakaway provinces further into Georgian territory.
Deputy chief of General Staff Col.-Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn said Russia had no intention of moving deeper into Georgian territory.
It came after swarms of Russian jets launched new raids on Georgian territory and Russia demanded Georgia disarm troops near the breakaway province of Abkhazia.
Georgia had said a Russian general's ultimatum to disarm carried the threat of a Russian offensive in the Abkhazia region. That would be a major escalation in the Russian-Georgian conflict that blew up after a Georgian offensive to regain control of the other breakaway province of South Ossetia.
Georgian troops fled South Ossetia on Sunday, yielding to superior Russian firepower, and Georgian leaders pleaded for a cease-fire. Moscow responded that Georgia was not observing its cease-fire pledge.
International envoys flew into the region late Sunday in an effort to end the conflict before it spreads throughout the Caucasus. French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, representing the European Union, said Monday he met Saakashvili and found him "determined to make peace."
Russia's deputy chief of General Staff Col.-Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn said on Russian television that Russia demanded Georgia disarm police in Zugdidi, adjoining Abkhazia, but did not say what would happen if they do not.
Georgian Security Council chief Alexander Lomaia said earlier that Gen. Sergei Chaban, in charge of Russian peacekeepers in Abkhazia, conveyed a Russian ultimatum for Georgia to disarm via UN military observers in the area.
With most Georgian forces concentrated near South Ossetia, it could be hard for Georgia to repel an Abkhazian offensive.
Abkhazia's Russian-supported separatist government called out the army and reservists on Sunday and declared it would push Georgian forces out of the northern part of the Kodori Gorge, the only area of Abkhazia still under Georgian control.
Chaban said 9,000 additional Russian troops and 350 armored vehicles had arrived in Abkhazia to support Russian peacekeepers there, Russian news reports said. He said Russian forces were also preparing to help disarm Georgian forces in the gorge.
Russian jets hit a radar on the outskirts of the Georgian capital on Monday, bombed an airfield and also targeted the Black Sea port of Poti, inflicting no casualties, Georgian officials said.
Georgian Security Council chief Alexander Lomaia said that up to 50 Russian jets were roaming Georgian skies all at once as of Monday morning.
Russian officials said the air raids targeted supply lines and military facilities and were not directed at civilians, but one Russian raid on the town of Gori killed over 20 and wounded scores of others Saturday.
Georgia's Interior Ministry spokesman Shota Utiashvili said Russian tanks attempted to advance in the direction of the town of Gori outside South Ossetia, but were turned back by Georgian forces.
Russia struck the town of 50,000, which sits on Georgia's only significant east-west highway, over the weekend.
Georgia began an offensive to regain control over South Ossetia overnight Friday with heavy rocket and artillery fire and air strikes that ravaged the provincial capital, Tskhinvali.
Russia, which has developed close ties with the region and granted passports to most of its residents, sent in thousands of troops who launched overwhelming artillery barrage and air attacks on Georgian troops. Heavy Russian shelling drove the Georgian forces out of the provincial capital of Tskhinvali on Sunday.
Saakashvili declared a cease-fire around South Ossetia on Sunday, but Russian officials said Monday that Georgian forces were not observing it.
Russian Maj.-Gen. Marat Kulakhmetov said that Georgian forces continued shelling Russian positions overnight and conducted a bombing run in the area.
Russian Navy spokesman Igor Dygalo said Russian ships deployed to Georgia's Black Sea coast on Sunday sank one of four Georgian patrol boats that dangerously approached them and refused to stop, and turned the others back. Georgian Coast Guard chief David Golua dismissed the Russian claim.
US President George W. Bush on Monday sharply criticized Moscow's military crackdown on Georgia, saying the violence is unacceptable and Russia's response is disproportionate. "I've expressed my grave concern about the disproportionate response of Russia and that we strongly condemn the bombing outside of South Ossetia," Bush said in an interview with NBC Sports.
The violence appeared to show Russian determination to subdue small, US-backed Georgia, even at the risk of international reproach. Russia fended off a wave of international calls to observe Georgia's cease-fire, saying it must first be assured that Georgian forces pull out of the region.
"We know they haven't left and are continuing to shoot at our peacekeepers," Russia's UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said during Sunday's debates at the UN Security Council.
An unidentified fighter jet...
The council met for the fourth time in four days to discuss the crisis; US Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad accused Moscow of seeking "regime change" in Georgia and resisting attempts to make peace. Churkin said Russians don't use the expression, but acknowledged there were occasions when elected leaders "become an obstacle."
Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin said more than 2,000 people had been killed in South Ossetia since Friday, most of them Ossetians with Russian passports. The figures could not be independently confirmed, but refugees who fled the city said hundreds were killed.
Moscow accused Saakashvili of breaking his own truce hours after he announced it and launching a rocket and artillery barrage on civilians and Russian peacekeepers in the province. Russian leaders accused Georgians of genocide against South Ossetians and vowed to bring those responsible to justice.
Georgia said it launched the attack on South Ossetia in response to separatists firing at Georgian villages, and accused Russia of aggression.
Russian jets raided Georgian air bases, communications lines and other facilities, including the areas near key Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline, which carries Caspian crude to the West. No supply interruptions have been reported.
Georgia said it has shot down 10 Russian planes, but Russia acknowledged the loss of only two.
Saakashvili said one of the Russian raids on the Tbilisi airport area came a half hour before the arrival of the foreign ministers of France and Finland - in the country to try to mediate. Other Georgian officials said, however, the airport had not been hit.
France's Kouchner called the hostilities in South Ossetia "massacres," hours before he and Finnish counterpart Alexander Stubb left for Tbilisi and a meeting with Saakashvili.
South Ossetia broke away from Georgian control in 1992. Russia granted passports to most of its residents, and the region's separatist leaders sought absorption of the region into Russia.
Georgia borders the Black Sea between Turkey and Russia and was ruled by Moscow for most of the two centuries preceding the 1991 breakup of the Soviet Union. Both South Ossetia and Abkhazia have run their own affairs without international recognition since fighting to split from Georgia in the early 1990s.
Both separatist provinces have close ties with Moscow, while Georgia has deeply angered Russia by wanting to join NATO.
3b) For the last quarter, Stratfor has been warning its Members that a resurgent Russia would have to act soon to "remind" the West that the decrepit days are over. Russia is back and is a force to reckon with.
All our hints over the last few months came bursting out Thursday night with Russian military forces rolling into Georgia.
4)Three major US naval strike forces due this week in Persian Gulf
Military sources note that the arrival of the three new American flotillas will raise to five the number of US strike forces in Middle East waters – an unprecedented build-up since the crisis erupted over Iran’s nuclear program.
This vast naval and air strength consists of more than 40 carriers, warships and submarines, some of the last nuclear-armed, opposite the Islamic Republic, a concentration last seen just before the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003.
Our military sources postulate five objects of this show of American muscle:
1. The US, aided also by France, Britain and Canada, is finalizing preparations for a partial naval blockade to deny Iran imports of benzene and other refined oil products. This action would indicate that the Bush administration had thrown in the towel on stiff United Nations sanctions and decided to take matters in its own hands.
2. Iran, which imports 40 percent of its refined fuel products from Gulf neighbors, will retaliate for the embargo by shutting the Strait of Hormuz oil route chokepoint, in which case the US naval and air force stand ready to reopen the Strait and fight back any Iranian attempt to break through the blockade.
3. Washington is deploying forces as back-up for a possible Israeli military attack on Iran’s nuclear installations.
4. A potential rush of events in which a US-led blockade, Israeli attack and Iranian reprisals pile up in a very short time and precipitate a major military crisis.
5. While a massive deployment of this nature calls for long planning, its occurrence at this time cannot be divorced from the flare-up of the Caucasian war between Russia and Georgia. While Russia has strengthened its stake in Caspian oil resources by its overwhelming military intervention against Georgia, the Americans are investing might in defending the primary Persian Gulf oil sources of the West and the Far East.
Military sources name the three US strike forces en route to the Gulf as the USS Theodore Roosevelt , the USS Ronald Reagan and the USS Iwo Jima . Already in place are the USS Abraham Lincoln in the Arabian Sea opposite Iranian shores and the USS Peleliu which is cruising in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden.
5)Why Barack Obama Will Not Win
By Steven M. Warshawsky
There is palpable anxiety, even despair, among many Republicans and conservatives over the possibility that Barack Obama will be elected president this November. This anxiety is being fueled by the mainstream media's fawning coverage of Obama's every word, while shamelessly downplaying John McCain's campaign; by public opinion polls that purport to show Obama "leading" the race over McCain; and by political commentators, on both sides of the aisle, who believe this is the Democrats' "election to lose," based on historical cycles, an uneven economy, high gas prices, continuing opposition to the Iraq War, and President Bush's dismal approval ratings.
I don't share this anxiety. For months now, I have been reassuring my right-leaning friends that Barack Obama will not be elected president. If I were a gambling man, I would buy lots of McCain stock on Intrade. Why am I so confident that John McCain is going to win the election? In short, because Barack Obama is not an acceptable choice to lead the country. Let me explain.
Obama is too young and inexperienced.
One of Obama's most striking characteristics is how "green" he is compared to previous presidential candidates. Obama was born on August 4, 1961. He just turned 47 years old. The average age of elected presidents since 1952 (the era of televised politics) is 56.
If elected president, Obama would be the fifth youngest president in U.S. history. The only younger presidents would be Teddy Roosevelt, John F. Kennedy, Bill Clinton, and Ulysses S. Grant, all of whom were much more accomplished than Obama. Grant, Roosevelt, and Kennedy were war heroes. (Not Clinton, notoriously.) Roosevelt and Clinton had served as state governors. Grant had been the general-in-chief of the Union Army during the Civil War. The least experienced of the four, Kennedy, had served twelve years in Congress, six in the House of Representatives and six in the Senate, and had been a serious candidate for vice-president in 1956.
What has Obama accomplished to date? In truth, not very much -- except to master the art of self-promotion.
Obama has written two best-selling autobiographies: Dreams From My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance (1995) and The Audacity of Hope (2006). Yet he has never served in an important leadership position in government, business, or the military. His ability to perform as a chief executive officer is completely untested.
Obama has prestigious degrees from Columbia University and Harvard Law School, but no significant professional achievements to his name. No businesses or organizations he has founded or managed. No law firm partnerships. No important cases he has tried. Not a single work of legal scholarship he has authored, despite having been Editor-in-Chief of the Harvard Law Review and a part-time law professor at the University of Chicago for twelve years. (This is unheard of in the elite ranks of the legal profession, and calls into question the bona fides of Obama's professorship.)
Obama's principal occupation before entering politics was as a "community organizer" in Chicago. By his own admission, these efforts achieved only "some success," and none worthy of highlighting on his campaign website. Obama then served eight unexceptional years in the Illinois Senate, and was elected to the U.S. Senate in 2004, where he is not even considered one of the Democratic Party's legislative leaders.
And this man believes he is "the one we have been waiting for"?
Obama may be considered a "rock star" by his supporters, but the kind of superficial glamour and excitement that this terminology suggests is not what most voters are looking for in a president. Heartland values, not Hollywood values, still define what most voters want in a president. Most voters want a president whom they perceive as loyal, courageous, hardworking, and fair. Someone who commands the respect of others through the strength of his character and the wisdom of his actions. Someone who is prepared to fight to protect his home and country from invaders. In other words, someone who appeals to voters, on a psychological or emotional level, as the kind of person they would want for a father, husband, boss, or comrade-in-arms.
Rock stars may be fun, but they do not fit this image. Neither does Obama. His life story, while unique and interesting, bespeaks little more than an ambitious and opportunistic young man, still wet behind the ears, with an unhealthy fascination with his own ego - and potentially unreliable when the chips are down.
The American people are not going to entrust the security and prosperity of the country to such an immature and unproven man.
Obama is too liberal.
The last Democratic presidential candidate who garnered more than 50% of the popular vote was Jimmy Carter in 1976 - and Carter received only 51% of the vote in a political environment marked by defeat in Vietnam, the Watergate scandal, an energy crisis, and stagflation. There has been only one other Democratic president in the past 40 years: Bill Clinton. Despite campaigning as "New Democrat," Clinton received only 43% of the popular vote in 1992 (his victory was due to the third-party candidacy of Ross Perot) and 49% of the popular vote in 1996. Significantly, the Democratic candidate's share of the popular vote has gone down the last two elections. Al Gore received 48.4% of the popular vote in 2000, and John Kerry received 48.3% in 2004.
The Democratic Party has a terrible track record at the presidential level since the 1960s because it consistently nominates far left presidential candidates who do not represent the values, interests, and aspirations of most Americans. See McGovern, Carter, Mondale, Dukakis, Kerry. Even Gore, who was considered a "moderate" Democratic (no longer), lost to the uninspiring George W. Bush in 2000.
Barack Obama is no exception. In his brief tenure in the U.S. Senate, Obama has compiled a consistently liberal voting record, and was named the Most Liberal Senator for 2007 by the National Journal . This distinction does not augur well for Obama. John Kerry was named the Most Liberal Senator for 2003 -- the year before he lost the 2004 presidential contest to Bush.
As a U.S. Senator, Obama has voted along Democratic Party lines 97 percent of the time, almost 10 percentage points higher than the average for Senate Democrats. So much for his "bipartisan" image. He opposed funding for the War on Terror that was not tied to a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq. He opposed strengthening the ability of the federal government to monitor terrorist communications. He voted in favor of providing habeas corpus rights to detainees at Guantanamo Bay. He supported the failed "comprehensive immigration reform" bills. He voted against the Federal Marriage Amendment. He opposed a bill that would have reduced the federal estate tax. He voted against the confirmations of John Roberts and Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court.
For his efforts, Obama has received "100" ratings from Americans for Democratic Action, Planned Parenthood, the AFL-CIO, the American Federation of Government Workers, Citizens for Tax Justice (i.e., for raising taxes on the "rich"), Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, the National Education Association, and the National Organization for Women. He has received "F" grades from the National Taxpayers Union, the National Rifle Association, and U.S. English, a 13 rating from Citizens Against Government Waste, 7 ratings from the Club for Growth, the American Conservative Union, and the Eagle Forum, and zero ratings from the Family Research Council, the National Right to Life Committee, and Americans for Tax Reform.
Obama's voting record as a state senator reflected the same left-wing agenda: He opposed restrictions on partial birth abortion and requiring medical care for fetuses who are born alive during an abortion. He opposed requiring school officials to install pornography-blocking software on public computers accessible to minors. He opposed a $500 income tax credit for parents who send their children to private schools. He supported restrictions on gun ownership, and opposed a bill that permitted the owner of an unregistered handgun to claim self-defense if he used the gun in his own home. He consistently voted in favor of higher taxes.
True to form, in his campaign for president, Obama advocates a dizzying array of hyper-liberal policies, including: "equal pay" laws, expanded federal leave laws, expanded "hate crime" laws, a panoply of social services for convicted criminals, increasing foreign aid spending by tens of billions of dollars with the goal of "cutting extreme poverty around the world in half by 2015" (pure utopianism paid for by the American taxpayer), requiring 25 percent of U.S. electricity come from "renewable" sources by 2025 (an impossible goal without drastically shrinking the economy), spending tens of billions of dollars on an FDR-style array of federal economic programs, further raising the minimum wage, and providing "affordable" and "comprehensive" health insurance to all Americans (aka socialized medicine). Naturally, he proposes to pay for all these programs by raising taxes on "the wealthiest taxpayers" and imposing a "windfall profits tax" on oil companies.
With the sole (and misguided) exception of "universal health care," there is little popular demand in this country for the kind of soak-the-rich, tax-and-spend politics that Obama is offering. This is not 1932 or 1965. The American people are not interested in another round of top-down social engineering by the federal government. If anything, the nation's political leaders need to catch up to the waves of conservative and populist impulses spreading throughout the country. See, for example, the grassroots movement to limit the eminent domain power of state and local governments and the nationwide revolt against "comprehensive Immigration reform."
Obama's dissolutely liberal politics will sink him in the general election, just as it torpedoed previous Democratic candidates.
Obama is too race-conscious.
Finally, we come to the "hot button" issue in this election: Obama's black racial consciousness.
Contrary to what Obama and his supporters want the American people to believe, Obama is not a "post-racial" politician. As abundantly demonstrated in his two autobiographies, his 20-year membership in Rev. Jeremiah Wright's "unashamedly black" Trinity United Church of Christ, and his "intensely race-conscious approach" to politics as an Illinois state senator (see here), Obama is deeply committed to his "black" identity -- despite having a white mother and being raised for much of his childhood by his white grandparents. Furthermore, Obama built his political career on promoting the interests of the black urban community. Right or wrong, fair or unfair, Obama's black racial consciousness is going to have a negative effect on his campaign for president by undermining his appeal among white working- and middle-class voters.
Let's look at some numbers. According to the CNN exit poll, in the 2004 presidential election, the electorate was composed of 77% whites, 11% blacks, 8% Latinos, 2% Asian, and 2% other. They voted as follows: whites 58-41 for Bush; blacks 88-11 for Kerry; Latinos 53-44 for Kerry; Asians 56-44 for Kerry.
I see little reason to believe that the Latino or Asian votes will change substantially in 2008. (Some analysts are predicting that McCain will do better than Bush among Latinos.) Clearly, the black vote will shift even more strongly in favor of the Democratic candidate. However, the white voting population is seven times larger than the black voting population. Consequently, a shift in the black vote of seven percentage points is roughly equivalent to a shift in the white vote of one point. Even if Obama were to receive essentially all black votes, which is unlikely, a loss of less than two percentage points of the white vote would be enough to offset these gains.
So the key to the upcoming election is whether white voters will be more, less, or equally likely to vote for Obama as for Kerry. I believe the answer is less likely.
Interestingly, commentators on the left tend to agree with this prediction, because they believe that many white voters are "racists"; commentators on the right usually ignore the race issue altogether, because they fear that any discussion of white voting preferences will support the "racism" charge. I disagree that "racism" is the explanation. Rather, it is Obama's history of race-based politics and his membership in a militant black church - which places him in opposition to most white voters on such emotional issues as welfare, crime, and affirmative action, and casts doubt on his ability and commitment to represent the interests of the entire nation.
To develop a profile of Obama's electoral strengths and weaknesses, I examined the CNN entrance and exit polls for the 2008 Democratic primaries in Iowa, New Mexico, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Wisconsin. These were the states in which the spread between Bush and Kerry in 2004 was three percentage points or less (in either direction). (New Hampshire also belongs on this list, but I could not find polling data for the 2008 primaries in that state.) I selected these states because they are likely to be the critical battlegrounds this fall.
The polls show that, in general, Obama did especially well among black voters, younger voters (under 45), voters who earn more than $100,000 per year, voters with college and postgraduate degrees, non-religious voters, and self-described liberal voters. In other words, the core constituencies of the Democratic Party. On the other hand, he demonstrated much less appeal to white voters, older voters (ages 45 and up), voters who earn less than $50,000 per year, voters with some or no college education, Catholic voters, and self-described moderate voters. In other words, white working- and middle-class voters -- so-called Reagan Democrats. These voters strongly preferred Hillary Clinton.
Significantly, in the 2004 election, John Kerry performed reasonably well among this group. He won 55 percent of voters who earn less than $50,000. He won 47 percent of voters ages 45 and up. He won 47 percent of voters with no college degree. He won 47 percent of Catholic voters. He won 55 percent of self-described moderate voters. Nevertheless, Kerry lost. If only a few percent of these voters switch to McCain, as I believe they will, Obama cannot win. Yes, tens of millions of Americans (of all colors) will vote for Obama; but more will vote for McCain.
Overall, I predict Obama will receive even less of the popular vote than John Kerry in 2004 (48.3%), and perhaps as little as Michael Dukakis in 1988 (45.7%).
As I wrote last December, "[t]he pundits can talk until they are blue in the face about Obama's charisma and eloquence and cross-racial appeal. The fact of the matter is that Obama has no chance of being elected president in 2008." I am more convinced of this conclusion than ever.
6) OPINION: The War in Georgia Is a War for the West
By MIKHEIL SAAKASHVILI
As I write, Russia is waging war on my country.
On Friday, hundreds of Russian tanks crossed into Georgian territory, and Russian air force jets bombed Georgian airports, bases, ports and public markets. Many are dead, many more wounded. This invasion, which echoes Afghanistan in 1979 and the Prague Spring of 1968, threatens to undermine the stability of the international security system.
[The War in Georgia Is a War for the West]
An apartment building, damaged by a Russian air strike, in the northern Georgian town of Gori, Saturday, Aug. 9.
Why this war? This is the question my people are asking. This war is not of Georgia's making, nor is it Georgia's choice.
The Kremlin designed this war. Earlier this year, Russia tried to provoke Georgia by effectively annexing another of our separatist territories, Abkhazia. When we responded with restraint, Moscow brought the fight to South Ossetia.
Ostensibly, this war is about an unresolved separatist conflict. Yet in reality, it is a war about the independence and the future of Georgia. And above all, it is a war over the kind of Europe our children will live in. Let us be frank: This conflict is about the future of freedom in Europe.
No country of the former Soviet Union has made more progress toward consolidating democracy, eradicating corruption and building an independent foreign policy than Georgia. This is precisely what Russia seeks to crush.
This conflict is therefore about our common trans-Atlantic values of liberty and democracy. It is about the right of small nations to live freely and determine their own future. It is about the great power struggles for influence of the 20th century, versus the path of integration and unity defined by the European Union of the 21st. Georgia has made its choice.
When my government was swept into power by a peaceful revolution in 2004, we inherited a dysfunctional state plagued by two unresolved conflicts dating to the early 1990s. I pledged to reunify my country -- not by the force of arms, but by making Georgia a pole of attraction. I wanted the people living in the conflict zones to share in the prosperous, democratic country that Georgia could -- and has -- become.
In a similar spirit, we sought friendly relations with Russia, which is and always will be Georgia's neighbor. We sought deep ties built on mutual respect for each other's independence and interests. While we heeded Russia's interests, we also made it clear that our independence and sovereignty were not negotiable. As such, we felt we could freely pursue the sovereign choice of the Georgian nation -- to seek deeper integration into European economic and security institutions.
We have worked hard to peacefully bring Abkhazia and South Ossetia back into the Georgian fold, on terms that would fully protect the rights and interests of the residents of these territories. For years, we have offered direct talks with the leaders of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, so that we could discuss our plan to grant them the broadest possible autonomy within the internationally recognized borders of Georgia.
But Russia, which effectively controls the separatists, responded to our efforts with a policy of outright annexation. While we appealed to residents of Abkhazia and South Ossetia with our vision of a common future, Moscow increasingly took control of the separatist regimes. The Kremlin even appointed Russian security officers to arm and administer the self-styled separatist governments.
Under any circumstances, Russia's meddling in our domestic affairs would have constituted a gross violation of international norms. But its actions were made more egregious by the fact that Russia, since the 1990s, has been entrusted with the responsibility of peacekeeping and mediating in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Rather than serve as honest broker, Russia became a direct party to the conflicts, and now an open aggressor.
As Europe expanded its security institutions to the Black Sea, my government appealed to the Western community of nations -- particularly European governments and institutions -- to play a leading role in resolving our separatist conflicts. The key to any resolution was to replace the outdated peacekeeping and negotiating structures created almost two decades ago, and dominated by Russia, with a genuine international effort.
But Europe kept its distance and, predictably, Russia escalated its provocations. Our friends in Europe counseled restraint, arguing that diplomacy would take its course. We followed their advice and took it one step further, by constantly proposing new ideas to resolve the conflicts. Just this past spring, we offered the separatist leaders sweeping autonomy, international guarantees and broad representation in our government.
Our offers of peace were rejected. Moscow sought war. In April, Russia began treating the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as Russian provinces. Again, our friends in the West asked us to show restraint, and we did. But under the guise of peacekeeping, Russia sent paratroopers and heavy artillery into Abkhazia. Repeated provocations were designed to bring Georgia to the brink of war.
When this failed, the Kremlin turned its attention to South Ossetia, ordering its proxies there to escalate attacks on Georgian positions. My government answered with a unilateral cease-fire; the separatists began attacking civilians and Russian tanks pierced the Georgian border. We had no choice but to protect our civilians and restore our constitutional order. Moscow then used this as pretext for a full-scale military invasion of Georgia.
Over the past days, Russia has waged an all-out attack on Georgia. Its tanks have been pouring into South Ossetia. Its jets have bombed not only Georgian military bases, but also civilian and economic infrastructure, including demolishing the port of Poti on the Black Sea coast. Its Black Sea fleet is now massing on our shores and an attack is under way in Abkhazia.
What is at stake in this war?
Most obviously, the future of my country is at stake. The people of Georgia have spoken with a loud and clear voice: They see their future in Europe. Georgia is an ancient European nation, tied to Europe by culture, civilization and values. In January, three in four Georgians voted in a referendum to support membership in NATO. These aims are not negotiable; now, we are paying the price for our democratic ambitions.
Second, Russia's future is at stake. Can a Russia that wages aggressive war on its neighbors be a partner for Europe? It is clear that Russia's current leadership is bent on restoring a neocolonial form of control over the entire space once governed by Moscow.
If Georgia falls, this will also mean the fall of the West in the entire former Soviet Union and beyond. Leaders in neighboring states -- whether in Ukraine, in other Caucasian states or in Central Asia -- will have to consider whether the price of freedom and independence is indeed too high.
Mr. Saakashvili is president of Georgia.