Posts Tagged ‘U.S.S.R.’

Joe Biden: “We’re gonna have an international crisis to test the mettle of [Obama]“

October 21, 2008

Yesterday, Biden said the following at a fundraiser in Seattle, Washington.  The first 2 paragraphs are what has gotten the most media attention (and if anybody out there has a full copy of this, post the link, because this is the most complete copy I could find, and even that needed some splicing together parts from other clips I found, so this is a couple of copies fitted together, but I never found the whole thing):

Mark my words.  It will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy.  The world is looking.  We’re about to elect a brilliant 47-year-old senator president of the United States of America.  Remember I said it standing here if you don’t remember anything else I said.  Watch, we’re gonna have an international crisis, a generated crisis, to test the mettle of this guy.  And he’s gonna have to make some really tough — I don’t know what the decision’s gonna be, but I promise you it will occur.  As a student of history and having served with seven presidents, I guarantee you it’s gonna happen.

The interesting thing about that quote is that the part in italics wasn’t talked about by most of the media outlets.  And that’s interesting, because it’s the biggest gaffe in the whole speech.  What Biden should have said was something like, “I may not know what his decision is gonna be, but I know it’ll be a good one” instead of making a statement that comes across as, “I don’t know what he’s going to do, but he’s going to do something!”  It was really dumb wording on Biden’s part, and it didn’t show that Obama has a plan.  I’m not arguing for or against the fact that Obama does or doesn’t have a plan.  I’m just saying that Biden did not portray Obama well here.

I can give you at least four or five scenarios from where it might originate.  [All I could find anywhere that covered his speech was that he mentioned the Middle East and Russia].  And he’s gonna need help.  And the kind of help he’s gonna need is, he’s gonna need you – not financially to help him – we’re gonna need you to use your influence, your influence within the community, to stand with him.  Because it’s not gonna be apparent initially, it’s not gonna be apparent that we’re right.

OK, so he’s making the point that

Gird your loins.  We’re gonna win with your help, God willing, we’re gonna win, but this is not gonna be an easy ride.  This president, the next president, is gonna be left with the most significant task.  It’s like cleaning the Augean stables, man.  This is more than just, this is more than – think about it, literally, think about it – this is more than just a capital crisis, this is more than just markets.  This is a systemic problem we have with this economy.

I’ve forgotten more about foreign policy than most of my colleagues know, so I’m not being falsely humble with you.  I think I can be value added, but this guy has it.  This guy has it.  But he’s gonna need your help.  Because I promise you, you all are gonna be sitting here a year from now going, “Oh my God, why are they there in the polls?  Why is the polling so down?  Why is this thing so tough?”  We’re gonna have to make some incredibly tough decisions in the first two years.  So I’m asking you now, I’m asking you now, be prepared to stick with us.  Remember the faith you had at this point because you’re going to have to reinforce us.

There are gonna be a lot of you who want to go, “Whoa, wait a minute, yo, whoa, whoa, I don’t know about that decision.”  Because if you think the decision is sound when they’re made, which I believe you will when they’re made, they’re not likely to be as popular as they are sound.  Because if they’re popular, they’re probably not sound.

You literally can see what these kids are up against, our kids in that region.  The place is crawling with al Qaeda.  And it’s real.

We do not have the military capacity, nor have we ever, quite frankly, in the last 20 years, to dictate outcomes.  It’s so much more important than that.  It’s so much more complicated than that.  And Barack gets it.

I probably shouldn’t have said all this because it dawned on me that the press is here.  All kidding aside, these guys have left us in a God-awful place.  We have the ability to straighten it out.  It’s gonna take a little bit of time, so I ask you to stay with us.  Stay with us.

Overall, I think the first sentence of that last paragraph was right.  Biden said some stupid stuff in there.  The bolded paragraph at the front is what’ll hurt him the most.

Comparing him to Kennedy was a mistake.  In his first 6 months in office, Kennedy got beat up by Khrushchev, so comparing Obama to Kennedy may be good-looking to the American people, but once the historians get a hold of that quote, they’ll tear down Biden for saying that.

Saying that the polls are going to be bad, but to stick with him and Obama came across to me as essentially giving credit to the Bush administration.  Isn’t this what Bush is saying?  “The polls are down, stick with me?”  That seems to be Bush’s attitude.  I think that statement was another dumb one.

This speech has to be one of the worst things Biden has done this election cycle, but I find it so asinine that the media is censoring out the worst parts.  How is that being impartial!

If Obama is elected and faces an international crisis, I pray that he does better than Kennedy, otherwise Obama too will say, “He just beat the hell out of me.  I’ve got a terrible problem if he thinks I’m inexperienced and have no guts.”

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Live Analysis of the October 7th Presidential Debate

October 7, 2008

Alright, we’re about 3 minutes away from tonight’s Presidential debate.  This one will be held in Belmont University in Nashville, TN.  Tonight, I’ll again be watching CNN and  the focus group will be undecided voters in Ohio (this time it’ll be broken up by men and women).  Tonight’s moderator will be NBC’s Tom Brokaw.

Alright, we’re now starting.

Allen Shaffer: “What’s the fastest solution to bail out” citizens, from economic turmoil?

Obama: We’re in the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, and many of you are worried.  This is the final burden on the failed economic policies of the last 8 years.  McCain agreed with Bush, and stripped regulations, and now we’re paying for it.  Step 1: Make sure last week’s rescue package succeeds.  Come on Obama, it won’t – the package sucked!  The focus group is liking this.  Step 2: Tax cuts for citizens.  Help people stay in their homes.  Help states create jobs.  Health care.  Have politicians thinking about middle class.  Women really loved him, and men were pretty high up there too.

McCain: Americans are angry and upset and fearful.  I have a plan to fix this problem: energy independence.  Don’t send money to countries who don’t like us.  “Let’s not raise taxes on anybody–today.”  What was that – what was that “today” – that sounded bad.  “We’re gonna have to do something about home values.”  People can’t afford mortgage payments (well, that’s mainly their fault).  Have government buy up bad mortgages so people can pay them off – come on McCain – that plan sucks.  People had been liking him a lot there (more men than women), but it dropped down a bit toward the end.

Brokaw: Who would you appoint to Treasury Secretary?

McCain: Not you Tom.

Brokaw: With good reason.

McCain: Somebody who people can connect with.  Meg Whitman – CEO of some company – oh – Ebay.

Obama: Warren Buffett would be a good person, but there are others as well.  McCain said, “The fundamentals of the economy are sound.”  That’s because they are.  The principles of our economy, and the American work ethic is sound.

Oliver Clark: How will the bailout bill help people?

McCain: “You described bailout, I believe it’s rescue.”  I left my campaign to go back to Washington to make sure that there were protections for the taxpayer – oversight and a way to pay back taxpayers.  Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are what lit this thing on fire, and many hadn’t heard of them before this crisis.  Democrats in Congress defended what Fannie and Freddie did while they got money from the two.  Obamagot the second highest amount of money from Fannie and Freddie.  Fannie and Freddie started this forest fire.  And he’s not doing to well with the focus group during that, although it came up toward the end.

Obama: Right now, the credit markets are frozen, so small businesses can’t get loans, and can’t make payroll, so they may have to lay people off.  “That’s why we had to take action.”  The biggest problem in this whole thing was the deregulation of the financial system.  I argued for more regulation, but nothing happened.  I never promotedFannie, but McCain’s somebody on his campaign–was something with Fannie Mae (I didn’t catch the whole statement).  The President has to make sure that the homeowners are protected.  He got pretty good ratings there.

Brokaw: Are you saying it’ll get worse before it gets better?

Obama: No, I am confident in the American economy.  Isn’t that what McCain said when he said the fundamentals are strong?  HYPOCRITE!  He got great ratings there.

McCain: It depends on what we do.  If we stabilize it and buy up bad loans, and get rid of special interests in Washington, we can fix our economy.  Our workers are the best in the world.  They’re the fundamental aspect of our economy.  “We gotta give them a chance to do their best. … They’re the innocent bystanders of” this crisis.

Teresa Finch: “How can we trust either of you with our money when both parties got us into this global economic crisis?”

Obama: I understand your crisis and cynicism.  “You’re right, there is a lot of blame to go around. … But remember, when George Bush came into office, we had a surplus … now we have a deficit.”  We’ve almost doubled our deficit.  Nobody is completely innocent.  I’m going to spend money on key issues that we have to work on, health care and energy.  Ratings are really high here.  Invest in college affordability.  “I’m cutting more than I’m spending.”  And men just plummeted in their ratings there.  And what exactly is he planning on cutting?

McCain: “The system in Washington is broken.”  I’ve been a reformer and crossed the aisle, working with Senator Feingold on campaign finance reform.  “The situation today cries out for bipartisanship. … Let’s look at our records as well as our rhetoric.”  Obama is proposing 860 billion dollars of new spending, and voted for every increase of spending that came across the floor.  He voted for nearly a billion dollars in pork barrel spending, including a projector for a planetarium in Illinois.  We need to get Americans working again, and get more jobs for Americans.  We need nuclear power.  We need to stop depending on foreign oil.  Ratings were pretty bad there, but came up at the end.  McCain was right – Obama’s earmarks are just atrocious.

Brokaw: Health care, energy, and entitlement reform – order of priorities?

McCain: Do all 3 at once.  We won’t be able to provide same benefits for future retirees as we are able to today.  I’ve worked across the aisle.  We can work on nuclear power plants, create new jobs.  We need alternative fuels, wind, tide, solar, natural gas, clean coal.  Health care – everyone is struggling to make sure they can afford their premiums.  We can do these all at once, and we have to do them all at once.

Obama: Your list of priorities.  Energy, we have to deal with today.  Gas is expensive, and it may go up.  Some countries like Russia, Venezuela, and Iran are gaining from high oil prices.  In 10 years, we need to be free of foreign oil.  Just like Kennedy said we can go to the moon in 10 years, this can be done.  That was a great analogy!  I missed what he just said.  I want to go line-by-line and eliminate programs in the federal government, and eliminate programs that don’t work, and make others cheaper.  Women are rating him really high now.  Money given to big oil companies, which McCain wants, takes money out of the system.  Don’t mislead, Obama, he wants to give tax cuts to ALL companies, but that doesn’t exclude oil companies.

Brokaw: What are you gonna ask Americans to sacrifice to get out of the depression?

McCain: Talking about defense contracts that were done corruptly.  Get rid of earmarks, and some of those are “good” projects, but they have to be eliminated still.  Except for Defense, Veterans Affairs, and other crucial programs, we will have to have a spending freeze.  Keep everything transparent.  Don’t allow for the government to hide earmarks.

Obama: After September 11, everybody came together, and President Bush did some smart things at the outset.  We need leadership to focus on problems inside and outside of government.  We need to think about how we use energy – we need to tell oil companies to start drilling and invest in clean coal technology.  We need to think of ways that we can conserve energy, and provide incentives to buy American cars that are fuel efficient.  The young people of America want to serve, and we need to increase the Peace Corps.  Ratings were really high there, especially among women.

Brokaw: President Bush last summer said Wall Street got drunk.  Now many think that both Washington and consumers also got drunk.  How do you get people to reduce easy credit and overspending?

Obama: We have to cut spending and increase revenue.  There are $18 billion in earmarks, but McCain wants to give tax cuts to CEOs, and that’s not sharing the burden.  Actually, it IS sharing the burden – it’s sharing it equally.  All of us need to contribute and make sacrifices.  We don’t need an across-the-board freeze.  That way, we only help those who need it.

McCain: Obama wants to raise taxes.  The last President who raised taxes during hard times was Herbert Hoover.  We’ve lost 700,000 jobs in America, but300,000 jobs have been created by small businesses.  Obama’s tax increases will increase taxes on over 50% of small businesses, meaning that jobs will have to be cut.  Obama said he’d fore go his tax increases if the economy was bad.  The economy is bad.  I don’t want to increase tax cuts.  I want to leave tax cuts alone, but give tax credits to people, and give credits for health care.  Let’s get our economy going again.

Obama just tried to keep going and Brokaw shut him up!  YEAH!

Brokaw: Would you tell Congress to do something about Social Security and Medicare within 2 years?

Obama: We won’t solve Social Security and Medicare without solving tax problems.  I want to provide a tax cut for 95% of Americans.  THAT’S A LIE!  ONLY 90% of Americans even make enough money to PAY taxes!  We provide a 50% tax credit to small businesses to buy healthcare.  And the ratings are really high here, again, especially with women.  McCain wants to give tax cuts to large corporations and the rest going to CEOs.  “That is not fair, and it doesn’t work.”  If we reverse the policies of the last 8 years, then we can deal with Social Security and Medicare, because we’ll have a health care plan that works for you.

McCain: “Hey, I’ll answer the question.”  It’s not that tough to fix social security – we have to sit down and fix this together.  Reagan and Tip O’Neill sat down and worked together.  Have a commission come together withrecommendations.  Then have Congress vote up or down, and not fool with it.  Obama has voted to increase taxes and voted against tax cuts.  I have fought to reform government.  “We’ll get our economy going again, and our best days are ahead of us.”

Ingrid Jackson: Congress moved pretty fast with the economic crisis.  How would you make sure they move fast with environmental issues?

McCain: “When we have an issue that we may hand our children a damaged planet–I have disagreed strongly with the Bush Administration.”  We brought this issue to the Senate.  We need nuclear power.  Nuclear power is safe and clean, and creates hundreds of thousands of jobs.  My liberal roommate’s getting mad that the focus group doesn’t like this: “These voters suck.”  And the ratings went up a bit at the end there.

Obama: “It is absolutely critical.”  We need to create a new energy economy.  We need to understand that this is a national security issue.  I favor nuclear power as one component.  OK, the focus group does suck.  They’re now rating him high, and he’s saying basically what McCain said.  The focus group seems kinda biased.  McCain’s problem withenergy is that he hasn’t done anything with alternative fuels.  It’s easy to talk about this stuff, but McCain hasn’t done anything.  McCain talks about drilling, and that’s important, but there’s not enough here at home to “drill our way out of the problem.”

Brokaw: Do we need a Manhattan-like project to deal with the energy crisis?

McCain: We need government involvement initially, and then once it’s started, release it to the private sector.  Obama (this is where he said “that one”) voted for a bill that Bush/Cheney backed with lots of money for oil companies, and I voted against it.

Lindsey Trella: Health care has become a profitable industry.  Should health care be treated as a commodity?

Obama: Health care is a very important issue.  Premiums have doubled over the last 8 years, and co-pays have increased as well.  We have a moral and economic imperative to do something about this.  Here’s what I would do: you can keep your plan if you like it, and we’ll work with your employer to lower your premiums.  We’ll work on making forms electronic, instead of on paper.  You’ll be able to have the same health care plan that Congress gets.  McCain has a different approach.  He’ll give you a $5,000 tax credit, but then tax your employer health care benefits.  He’ll then take out regulations that states have that make sure that you get certain things covered under your insurance.

McCain: You’ve identified one of the major challenges that America faces (directed to the audience member).  We need to impose efficiencies.  There’s a fundamental difference between me and Obama.  Obama will pose mandates.  If you’re a small business owner or parent, and you can’t afford health care for your employees or children, Obama will fine you.  How does that help the situation?  He’s ABSOLUTELY RIGHT!  How will that help you if you can’t afford health care already?  95% of Americans will have increased funds to get health care under my plan, except the really rich people.

Brokaw: Is health care a privilege, right, or responsibility?

McCain: Responsibility.  The government shouldn’t mandate that health care must be provided to all.  There shouldn’t be fines for these companies or parents, and Obama hasn’t said how much the fine is yet.

Obama: Right, for every American.  Talking about his mother dying at 53, and arguing with insurance companies.  He’s really rating high right now.  If you have a plan that you like, you can keep it, I’ll just help lower the premium.  Small businesses won’t have a mandate, they’ll get a 50% tax credit.  We don’t want kids going to ERs for treatable illnesses like asthma.  McCain voted against (something dealing with children and health care).  Crack down on insurance companies cheating their companies.  The problem with going across state lines is that companies will go to states that have laxed laws and cheat their customers, like banks do in Delaware.  DID HE JUST USE HIS RUNNING MATE’S STATE AS A BAD EXAMPLE!!!

Phil Elliot: How will our economic distress affect our position in the standing of the world militarily?

McCain: Much of the criticism of our foreign policy is justified.  We are peace makers and keepers.  We need to know when to go in and when not.  That question can only be answered by someone who understands these things.  We need to prevent the spread of genocide.  He’s rating really high here.  My opposition to sending Marines to Lebanon, and my stance on Bosnia, Russia, and others show that I understand these things.  Obama has been on the wrong side of some of these issues.

Obama: I don’t understand how we invaded Iraq when bin Laden is still free.  McCain said that Iraq would be quick and easy.  We’re spending money in Iraq when Iraq has a surplus.  We need that money more than them, and they have a surplus.  We are the greatest nation in the world, but we can’t maintain our military superiority if our economy continues to decline.  He is right about that.  We need to fundamentally change our foreign policy.

Brokaw: Let’s establish doctrines for using force when national security isn’t at stake, but in humanitarian issues?

Obama: Would’ve stopped Rwanda and the Holocaust.  When we stand idly by as genocide occurs, that diminishes us.  We should intervene when possible, but we can’t be everywhere all the time.  We need to work in concert with our allies, such as in Darfur.  We need to lead the international community.

McCain: If we had withdrawn from Iraq when Obama wanted to, it would have been a travesty.  Genocide is terrible, and we never want it to happen again.  We need a person who understands the limits of our capabilities.  We went into Somalia being peace makers, but had to withdraw in humiliation.  I stood up against Reagan with Lebanon.  We have to be able to beneficially affect the situation, realizing that we’re sending Americans into harm’s way.  I won’t make these decisions lightly.  We can’t have another Holocaust or Rwanda, but we can’t make the situation worse.

Katie Hamm: Should we respect Pakistani sovereignty and allow terrorists to stay there or invade like we did with Cambodia during Vietnam?

Obama: We got distracted from Afghanistan and Al Qaeda, and went to Iraq.  They’re now stronger now than any time since 2001.  They’re plotting to kill Americans right now.  We need to end the war in Iraq, put troops into Afghanistan, eliminate drug trafficking, and change policies with Pakistan.  We need to encourage democracy, and if we have bin Laden in our sights, and Pakistan won’t or can’t take him out, we will take him out.  That’s our number 1 national security priority.

McCain: Obamawants to announce when we’re going to attack Pakistan.  It’ll turn public opinion against us.  We drove Russians out of Afghanistan with Afghani freedom fighters, and that led to bin Laden coming to power.  General Petraeushad a strategy of getting the support of the Pakistani people, and working with them to get Al Qaeda.  Don’t threaten to attack them, but talk with them.

Obama: Nobody called for the invasion of Pakistan, but to strike inside of Pakistan if bin Laden is available to be taken out.  And I agree with Obama here on this one.  McCain IS twisting his words, and not taking bin Laden out when Clinton happened is one of the things that led to September 11th.  Pakistan was not promoting democracy, and it undermined our fight on the war on terrorism.

McCain: I have supported efforts that the U.S. had to go in militarily, but opposed it when it wasn’t necessary.  I was joking with a veteran about Iran (Obama used McCains “Bomb bomb bomb, bomb bomb Iran” quote).  I will act responsibly as I have through my military career.

Brokaw: In Afghanistan, the senior British Commander has said that we’re failing in Afghanistan.  The Afghans need to take over.  We need an acceptable dictator.  What’s your opinion?

Obama: We need to withdraw from Iraq responsibly, and make the Iraqis take control so that we can put more troops into Afghanistan.

McCain: The same overall strategies between Afghansitan and Iraq are the same.  We need more troops, like Obama is saying.  Obama still won’t admit that the surge worked, and that’s the same strategy that we will need in Afghanistan.  Once they feel secure, they can lead normal lives, the same thing that’s happening in Iraq today.  And he’s absolutely right here.

Brokaw: How can we get Russia to behave better without starting another Cold War?

McCain: We won’t have another Cold War.  I warned about Vladimir Putin a long time ago – I saw a “K,” a “G,” and a “B.”  He was wrong with Georgia.  Ukraine is in Russia’s sights now (it’s in the sights of the Somalians too – that whole pirate thing is just weird).  We need to talk, such as in the G8 summits.  Russia must realize that this is not acceptable, and we need economic and diplomatic means to show that that this is not acceptable.  Really high ratings there, and he’s absolutely right.

Obama: Russia will be an issue that we’ll have to deal within the next 4 years.  I agree with Senator McCain on most of that.  We can’t just have diplomacy.  We need to support, financially, former U.S.S.R. countries, such as Georgia, Estonia, Latvia, etc.  Georgia is suffering, and that’s probably what Putin wanted to happen.  Russia was trying to obtain territories, and this is unacceptable.  We need to be proactive, not reactive.  He is right here - we have to be a step or 2 ahead of Russia.  Energy will be key in dealing with Russia, that’s one of the things that happened in Georgia’s situation.

Brokaw: Is Russia under Putin an evil empire?

Obama: No, but their actions are sometimes.

McCain: If I say yes, it reignites the Cold War.  If I say no, it seems like I’m ignoring it.  Energy is a key issue.  My liberal roommate just said that both want to say yes, but it’d be political suicide to do so.

Terry Shirey: If McCain attacks Israel, would you send troops or wait for UN Security Council approval?

McCain: We wouldn’t wait, because Russia and China would pose obstacles to sending troops.  Iran with nukes is a threat to the stability of the Middle East – other countries would acquire nukes.  Obama would meet with them without preconditions.  I would impose tough sanctions, and we can abridge their behavior, and hopefully they’ll abandon this quest for nukes.  We can never allow a second Holocaust to take place.

Obama: We cannot a nuclear Iran.  “It would be a game changer in the region.”  It would threaten Israel – one of our strongest allies.  As well, it would lead to nukes in the hands of terrorists.  I will never take military action off the table.  If we can work more effectively with more other countries to tighten sanctions, we should.  He’s getting rated higher, but said the same things as McCain – the focus group is biased folks.  Neither of them answered the question about if Iran ATTACKED Israel.  When we stopped talkingwith Iran, their nuclear pursuance increased, as did North Korea’s when we stopped talking.

Brokaw: What don’t you know, and how will you learn it?

Obama: It’s the challenges that we don’t expect that consume most of our time.  I wouldn’t be standing here if my country hadn’t given me great opportunity.  The question in this election is will we pass on this same American dream?  That dream has diminished – people are losing health care and going bankrupt.  Kids can’t afford college.  We can’t keep doing the same for the next 8 years.  We need fundamental change.  Really good ratings there!

McCain: I think what I don’t know is what’s gonna happen both here at home and overseas.  What I don’t know is what the expected will be.  I know what it’s like in dark times.  I know what it’s like to fight and hope through dark times.  “I know what it’s like to have your comrades and neighbors reach out to you and put you back in the fight.  That’s what America’s all about.”  It’s been my privilege to serve this country, and I’m asking for an opportunity to serve you more.  I’ve always put my country first.  Good ratings at the end, but not as good as Obama’s.

Brokaw, thank you… “You’re in the way of my script.”  Thank you, and goodnight from Nashville.

Alright, overall, I thnk that both candidates performed pretty poorly.  Overall, I can’t really pick a winner.  I hate doing this again, like I did after the last debate, but I’m going to have to call this one a tie.  McCain wasn’t as strong on foreign policy as he could’ve been (and that’s his strong point).  On economic issues, he had some good plans but he didn’t seem to appeal to the average Joe citizens.  The media has been commenting on McCain calling Obama “That one” when he was talking about Obama voting for money given to oil companies (and I’ve put it in italics in the text above).  Apparently it caught some people as awkward.  The consensus on CNN was that it was intended as “that one” versus “this one” (meaning “me” from McCain’s stand point).  Sure it was maybe bad wording, but I don’t think it was anything to get worked up about (and again, my liberal roommate agrees here).  Look, politicians use poor choices of words all the time.  I’m not saying McCain should’ve said it, but it’s nothing that people need to complain about.

Also, Obama seemed to get a little overconfident at the end, and he was stuttery at times.

Both candidates wanted to violate the rules of the debate, and just keep talking.  I think Brokaw needed to do a better job of moderating.  Instead of just saying, “You didn’t stop when the red light turned on,” he should’ve said, “Your time is up.”

At some points, some of McCain’s humor was just sucky (kinda like my fathers at times – he’ll tell these lame jokes when he’s doing announcements at church that he’s got this reputation, and people just kinda laugh to humor him, and the fact that he’s tried to tell a joke becomes the joke – it’s not always a bad thing, but it was with McCain).

Again, I do think that this was a tie, and this was one that McCain could not afford to lose.  McCain is going to need a couple small miracles to actually come back from where he’s at now.  I’m not giving up hope, but it’s definitely Obama’s race to lose at this point.

CNN just released a poll – Obama gained favoribility and lost unfavorability, but McCain stayed the same on both.  Overall, those polled thought Obama won (56%-30%).

Done Analyzing,

Ranting Republican
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Henry Kissinger Says that Obama Lied About His Views on Iran

September 29, 2008

I know that this has been raised in the media quite a bit, but I just wanted to comment briefly on this.  During the debate, the following exchange took place (transcript courtesy of CNN) (bolded areas are the parts that relate directly to Dr. Henry Kissinger (Fmr. Secretary of State), but I always put things in context, so here’s the whole segment:

LEHRER: Two minutes on Iran, Senator Obama.

OBAMA: Well, let me just correct something very quickly. I believe the Republican Guard of Iran is a terrorist organization. I’ve consistently said so. What Senator McCain refers to is a measure in the Senate that would try to broaden the mandate inside of Iraq. To deal with Iran.

And ironically, the single thing that has strengthened Iran over the last several years has been the war in Iraq. Iraq was Iran’s mortal enemy. That was cleared away. And what we’ve seen over the last several years is Iran’s influence grow. They have funded Hezbollah, they have funded Hamas, they have gone from zero centrifuges to 4,000 centrifuges to develop a nuclear weapon.

So obviously, our policy over the last eight years has not worked. Senator McCain is absolutely right, we cannot tolerate a nuclear Iran. It would be a game changer. Not only would it threaten Israel, a country that is our stalwart ally, but it would also create an environment in which you could set off an arms race in this Middle East.

Now here’s what we need to do. We do need tougher sanctions. I do not agree with Senator McCain that we’re going to be able to execute the kind of sanctions we need without some cooperation with some countries like Russia and China that are, I think Senator McCain would agree, not democracies, but have extensive trade with Iran but potentially have an interest in making sure Iran doesn’t have a nuclear weapon.

But we are also going to have to, I believe, engage in tough direct diplomacy with Iran and this is a major difference I have with Senator McCain, this notion by not talking to people we are punishing them has not worked. It has not worked in Iran, it has not worked in North Korea. In each instance, our efforts of isolation have actually accelerated their efforts to get nuclear weapons. That will change when I’m president of the United States.

LEHRER: Senator, what about talking?

MCCAIN: Senator Obama twice said in debates he would sit down with Ahmadinejad, Chavez and Raul Castro without precondition. Without precondition. Here is Ahmadinenene [mispronunciation], Ahmadinejad, who is, Ahmadinejad, who is now in New York, talking about the extermination of the State of Israel, of wiping Israel off the map, and we’re going to sit down, without precondition, across the table, to legitimize and give a propaganda platform to a person that is espousing the extermination of the state of Israel, and therefore then giving them more credence in the world arena and therefore saying, they’ve probably been doing the right thing, because you will sit down across the table from them and that will legitimize their illegal behavior.

The point is that throughout history, whether it be Ronald Reagan, who wouldn’t sit down with Brezhnev, Andropov or Chernenko until Gorbachev was ready with glasnost and perestroika.

Or whether it be Nixon’s trip to China, which was preceded by Henry Kissinger, many times before he went. Look, I’ll sit down with anybody, but there’s got to be pre-conditions. Those pre-conditions would apply that we wouldn’t legitimize with a face to face meeting, a person like Ahmadinejad. Now, Senator Obama said, without preconditions.

OBAMA: So let’s talk about this. First of all, Ahmadinejad is not the most powerful person in Iran. So he may not be the right person to talk to. But I reserve the right, as president of the United States to meet with anybody at a time and place of my choosing if I think it’s going to keep America safe.

And I’m glad that Senator McCain brought up the history, the bipartisan history of us engaging in direct diplomacy.

Senator McCain mentioned Henry Kissinger, who’s one of his advisers, who, along with five recent secretaries of state, just said that we should meet with Iran — guess what — without precondition. This is one of your own advisers.

Now, understand what this means “without preconditions.” It doesn’t mean that you invite them over for tea one day. What it means is that we don’t do what we’ve been doing, which is to say, “Until you agree to do exactly what we say, we won’t have direct contacts with you.”

There’s a difference between preconditions and preparation. Of course we’ve got to do preparations, starting with low-level diplomatic talks, and it may not work, because Iran is a rogue regime.

But I will point out that I was called naive when I suggested that we need to look at exploring contacts with Iran. And you know what? President Bush recently sent a senior ambassador, Bill Burns, to participate in talks with the Europeans around the issue of nuclear weapons.

Again, it may not work, but if it doesn’t work, then we have strengthened our ability to form alliances to impose the tough sanctions that Senator McCain just mentioned.

And when we haven’t done it, as in North Korea — let me just take one more example — in North Korea, we cut off talks. They’re a member of the axis of evil. We can’t deal with them.

And you know what happened? They went — they quadrupled their nuclear capacity. They tested a nuke. They tested missiles. They pulled out of the nonproliferation agreement. And they sent nuclear secrets, potentially, to countries like Syria.

When we re-engaged — because, again, the Bush administration reversed course on this — then we have at least made some progress, although right now, because of the problems in North Korea, we are seeing it on shaky ground.

And — and I just — so I just have to make this general point that the Bush administration, some of Senator McCain’s own advisers all think this is important, and Senator McCain appears resistant.

He even said the other day that he would not meet potentially with the prime minister of Spain, because he — you know, he wasn’t sure whether they were aligned with us. I mean, Spain? Spain is a NATO ally.

MCCAIN: Of course.

OBAMA: If we can’t meet with our friends, I don’t know how we’re going to lead the world in terms of dealing with critical issues like terrorism.

MCCAIN: I’m not going to set the White House visitors schedule before I’m president of the United States. I don’t even have a seal yet.

Look, Dr. Kissinger did not say that he would approve of face-to- face meetings between the president of the United States and the president — and Ahmadinejad. He did not say that.

OBAMA: Of course not.

MCCAIN: He said that there could be secretary-level and lower level meetings. I’ve always encouraged them. The Iranians have met with Ambassador Crocker in Baghdad.

What Senator Obama doesn’t seem to understand that if without precondition you sit down across the table from someone who has called Israel a “stinking corpse,” and wants to destroy that country and wipe it off the map, you legitimize those comments.

This is dangerous. It isn’t just naive; it’s dangerous. And so we just have a fundamental difference of opinion.

As far as North Korea is concerned, our secretary of state, Madeleine Albright, went to North Korea. By the way, North Korea, most repressive and brutal regime probably on Earth. The average South Korean is three inches taller than the average North Korean, a huge gulag.

We don’t know what the status of the dear leader’s health is today, but we know this, that the North Koreans have broken every agreement that they’ve entered into.

And we ought to go back to a little bit of Ronald Reagan’s “trust, but verify,” and certainly not sit down across the table from — without precondition, as Senator Obama said he did twice, I mean, it’s just dangerous.

OBAMA: Look, I mean, Senator McCain keeps on using this example that suddenly the president would just meet with somebody without doing any preparation, without having low-level talks. Nobody’s been talking about that, and Senator McCain knows it. This is a mischaracterization of my position.

When we talk about preconditions — and Henry Kissinger did say we should have contacts without preconditions — the idea is that we do not expect to solve every problem before we initiate talks.

And, you know, the Bush administration has come to recognize that it hasn’t worked, this notion that we are simply silent when it comes to our enemies. And the notion that we would sit with Ahmadinejad and not say anything while he’s spewing his nonsense and his vile comments is ridiculous. Nobody is even talking about that.

MCCAIN: So let me get this right. We sit down with Ahmadinejad, and he says, “We’re going to wipe Israel off the face of the Earth,” and we say, “No, you’re not”? Oh, please.

OBAMA: No, let me tell…

MCCAIN: By the way, my friend, Dr. Kissinger, who’s been my friend for 35 years, would be interested to hear this conversation and Senator Obama’s depiction of his — of his positions on the issue. I’ve known him for 35 years.

OBAMA: We will take a look.

MCCAIN: And I guarantee you he would not — he would not say that presidential top level.

OBAMA: Nobody’s talking about that.

MCCAIN: Of course he encourages and other people encourage contacts, and negotiations, and all other things. We do that all the time.

LEHRER: We’re going to go to a new…

MCCAIN: And Senator Obama is parsing words when he says precondition means preparation.

OBAMA: I am not parsing words.

MCCAIN: He’s parsing words, my friends.

OBAMA: I’m using the same words that your advisers use.

Please, go ahead.

Alright, so again, I bolded the parts relevant to Dr. Kissinger.

Obama is arguing that Kissinger said that we should meet with Iran without preconditions.  McCain has taken this to say that Obama is saying that we should have the President meet with President Ahmadinejad without preconditions.  Personally, I didn’t get that strong of a statement from this debate; HOWEVER, he did say (back in the Youtube primary debate) that HE would meet with Iran (and other nations) without preconditions in his first year of office.  He also said (in this debate), “I reserve the right, as president of the United States to meet with anybody at a time and place of my choosing if I think it’s going to keep America safe.” So although Obama may only be arguing for lower-level negotiations now, he HAS in the past said HE HIMSELF would meet without preconditions.  To me, it seems like McCain is making Obama’s statements from this debate seem a little more extreme than they necessarily are, but Obama is clearly changing his stance on the issues.

But we have one other thing:

Dr. Kissinger released the following statement:

Senator McCain is right. I would not recommend the next president of the United States engage in talks with Iran at the presidential level. My views on this issue are entirely compatible with the views of my friend Sen. John McCain. We do not agree on everything, but we do agree that any negotiations with Iran must be geared to reality.

So, although McCain may have stretched Obama’s statements a bit, Obama took Dr. Kissinger’s comments farther than Dr. Kissinger intended, and Obama has flip-flopped on the issue.  The greater fault definitely lies with Obama here, who is just being completely dishonest.

Kissinger did say that “I do not believe that we can make conditions for the opening of negotiations.”  Personally, I disagree with that - I will note that we have NEVER successfully met with a hostile country without preconditions at the Presidential level.  Nixon and Mao met with preconditions after years of other lower-level talks.  The same with Gorbachev and Reagan.  And the one time we did meet without preconditions, was when Kennedy met with Khrushchev and Kennedy admits that “He just beat the hell out of me.  I’ve got a terrible problem if he thinks I’m inexperienced and have no guts.  Until we remove those ideas we won’t get anywhere with him.”

That, my friends, would be Barack Obama.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Live Analysis of the September 26 Presidential Debate on Foreign Policy

September 26, 2008

**My apologies for any typos – I tried to catch all of them, but live blogging a debate is hard, and my keyboard acts up from time to time (especially the space bar), so if you see a typo, just leave a comment and I’ll fix it.**

We’re about a minute out, I’ll be live blogging the whole event.  Jim Lehrer (PBS) is the moderator.  I’ll be watching CNN (it would be FOX, but they weren’t ready on time).

The Ku Klux Klan is in the audience, we’ve heard, but not in robes and not protesting.

First question, “Where do you stand on the financial recovery plan?”

Obama: Thank you to everybody – the usual beginning.  “Worst financial crisis since the great depression. … We have to move swiftly and we have to move wisely.”  Talking about oversight, since it’s a lot of money.  Taxpayers need to be able to get the money back.  Shouldn’t be padding CEO bank accounts.  Talking about trickle down economics not working.  That’s not going to help him win over any Republicans.

McCain: Senator Kennedy is in the hospital.  Thank you to the sponsors, etc.  Talking about seeing Democrats and Republicans sitting down and working together, and the magnitude of the crisis.  Emphasizing that we have to work together, something that Obama didn’t mention – that was good from McCain.  Talking about having options for loans for businesses, not the government taking over those loans.  GOOD – not a pure bailout!  CNN has an audience  reaction, and McCain is getting a pretty good response from the Independents (must be some keypad rating system or something).  Talking about a lot of work to do if this will work.  Eliminate dependence on foreign oil – good.

Lehrer: Do you favor this plan?

Obama: I “haven’t seen the language yet.”  “How did we get in this situation in the first place?”  Talking about him warning 2 years ago that mortgage abuse would lead us down a trail we can’t afford to go down.  “Yes, we have to solve this problem short term, … but … look at how we shredded so many regulations … and that has … to do with an economic philosophy that says regulation is bad.”

Lehrer: “Will you vote for the plan?”

McCain: “Sure.”  Talking about warning about Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae.  Talking about getting flack for calling for resignation of Securities and Exchange Commission.  And the Independents’ rating has skyrocketed.  Republicans increased too.  It was good – him calling for the resignation, and people like that.

Obama: Talking about people struggling before this crisis.  It’s interesting – the Dems are rating Obama higher than the Indies, but the Indies rated McCain higher than the Reps.  Talking about holding ourselves accountable, all the time, talking about nurses and teachers, and politicians not paying attention to them.  Good – he’s appealing to the average Americans here, and that’s who he needs to win over.

McCain: “We have a long way to go.”  Need consolidation of regulatory agencies who failed and let us slip into this crisis.  Talking about the greatness of the American worker, and the Republicans like it, but it’s not that appealing to Independents, but it will appeal to a lot of average Joe Americans, as long as they believe he’s sincere (and the audience must not have).

Lehrer: How do we get out of the crisis?

McCain: Spending control.  And the Reps and Inds, liked it – and this is one of McCain biggest points, and now he’s talking about Senator Tom Coburn (R-OK), a huge anti-earmark politician.  Talking about the DNA testing of bears.  I LOVE McCain saying he’ll veto earmarked bills.  It’s one of his best stances.  He’s talking about Obama asking for earmark spending.  Talking about not being able to rein in spending with a plan like Obama’s.

Obama: The earmark process has been abused.  Lobbyists and special interests introduce these things, often times.  Contrasting the cost of earmarks against tax cuts (by allegedly McCain) for CEOs and big companies.  “Grow the economy for the bottom up.”  Tax cut for 95% of working families.  HOLD IT!  Only 90% of working families even PAY taxes!!!!  Come on Obama, don’t lie.

McCain: Obama suspended those earmarks after he started running for Congress.  YOU TELL ‘EM MCCAIN!  He’s saying that earmarks have tripled in 5 years, even though “it’s only $18 billion” (as pro-earmarkers say).  He was called the Sheriff.  That’s pretty sweet.  As I was saying before, we need to take Coburn’s example and STOP EARMARKS!

Obama: Interrupted McCain (must be kinda less formal).  Talking about priorities, and shipping, and I missed the rest.  Saying he’ll keep us from spending unwisely.  Earmarks alone won’t get us back on track.  The Democrats are loving this, but the Independents, aren’t really liking it.

McCain: Talking about the business tax, that we pay the 2nd highest in the world, 35%.  “I want to cut that business tax.  I want to cut it.”  “It’s a lot more than $18 billion in pork barrel spending.”  And he’s right, it’s SO much more than that, and it’s hidden in so many bills.  The Independents are liking this.  “I want every family to have a $5,000 refundable tax credit” for healthcare.  Double the dependent amount refund for children.

Obama: “Here’s what I can tell America 95% of you will get a tax cut.”  LIAR.  10% don’t even PAY taxes.  And another 5% make over $200,000, and he won’t give them a tax cut.  LIAR!  Saying McCain wants to add an additional tax cut over the loopholes.  Talking about McCain’s health care tax credit.  Saying McCain wants to tax health benefits.  That’s not true.

McCain: Talking about an energy bill with breaks for oil companies, and McCain voted against it, but Obama voted for it.”  Obama tried to interrupt – that just looks tacky when he keeps doing it.  Saying that Obama has shifted on a number of occasions.

Obama: Talking about Obama lying about the oil companies.  “I was opposed to those tax breaks … tried to strip them out.”

Lehrer: “As President … what are you going to have to give up … as a result of having to pay for the financial rescue plan?”

Obama: “Right now, it’s hard to anticipate what the budget is going to look like next year.”  He’s right about that.  “Energy independence.”  Talking about solar, wind, biodiesel here at home.  And the Independents REALLY loved that – highest rating I’ve seen all night.  Fix our healthcare system.  Compete in education – science and technology.  “Make sure our children are keeping pace in math and in science.”  Make college affordable for all.  That’s not even useful.  Not EVERYBODY needs college.  America needs plumbers and other basic labor workers too.

McCain: “No matter what, we have got to cut spending.”  Obama has most liberal rating.  “It’s hard to reach across the aisle from that far to the left.”  Do away with cost-plus contracts.  Talking about defense contracts and needing fixed-cost contracts.  And he’s absolutely right.  One of the big areas we need to save money is in defense contracts.  Talking about fixing a contract with Boeing, and people ending up in prison because of it, but hte Independents didn’t like that too much.

Lehrer: Neither of you are really going to have big changes?

Obama: “I want to make sure that we are investing in energy in order to [break off from] foreign oil.”  Right now, even the Democrats aren’t giving him a good audience reaction.  The Republicans are giving him a higher rating!  Saying that him being wildly liberal is just him opposing George Bush.  And that spiked the Dems’ rating.  Saying that he’s worked with Coburn so that taxpayers can see who’s promoting spending projects.

Lehrer: “How [will] this effect you in the approach you will take to the Presidency.”

McCain: Spending freeze on all but Veterans, defense, and I forget what else.

Obama: You’re using a hatchet where you need a scalpel.  But heck, that’d have to be a big scalpel.  But he does have a point here.

McCain: We’re sending money overseas, and some of that goes eventually to terrorists (through oil).  We need nuclear, solar, wind, offshore drilling, etc…  Get 70,000 (?) jobs by building nuclear plants throughout the country.  And Obama is against this.  And that’s one thing that really angers me about Obama – WE NEED NUCLEAR!

Obama: “There is not fact that it [economic crisis] will affect our budgets” even if we get the $700 billion back.  “If we’re lucky and do it right, that could potentially happen.”  “We can expect less tax revenue.”  And he’s really not getting a good audience response here.  Talking about not being able to leave out healthcare, and the Independents’ and Republicans’ approval just dropped.

McCain: Families should make decisions between themselves and doctors, not federal government.  “I have fought to cut spending.”  “Obama needs to cancel new spending programs.”  Talking about taking care of veterans.  Healthy economy, lowering, not raising taxes, with spending restraint.  And the independents liked that.  Talking about owing China money, and saying he’s fought against excessive spending.  And the ratings are skyrocketing – and again, I LOVE his stance on spending!

Obama: It’s been your President who presided over this spending.  But Bush and McCain aren’t the same.  Stop pretending they are.  That still got a good reply from the Independents.

McCain: I have opposed the President on spending, torture, Guantanamo, climate change.  Talking about being an Independent and Maverick, and having Sarah Palin as the same.  His ratings stunk right there.  He lost Dems, Reps, and Inds.

Lehrer: On to Iraq.

McCain: “Our initial military success … Baghdad, and everybody celebrated.”  Then the war was mishandled.  Came up with a new strategy.  It’s succeeding.  The Inds and Dems rating has fallen a lot, but hte Reps are rating him high.  Talking about the consequences of defeat being Iranian influence higher, more sectarian violence, and U.S. having to come back (referring to defeat before the surge).  And the Inds just started to rate him a lot better.  I think he did as good as he could back there.

Obama: I would’ve voted against it.  “We hadn’t finished the job in Afghanistan … caught bin Laden … and put Al Qaeda to rest.”  Talking about soon to be a trillion dollars spent, plus 4,000 lives lost.  Saying that Al Qaeda is stronger than ever.  “We took our eye off the ball.”  Talking about Iraq having a surplus while we’re losing money.  He’s bringing up a LOT of good points that I thought would appeal to people, but he’s not rating THAT great, although the Dems really like him.  Now it’s peaked a bit more.

McCain: President will have to decide how and when we leave and what we leave behind.  He’s absolutely right.  Obama saying surge worked, but he’d still oppose it.  And he lost a lot of Indy rating points just back there.  But he’s right.  Obama is simply sticking by what he said even though what he said was WRONG!

Obama: Talking about McCain being right about reduced violence.  Saying troops and Petraeus doing a good job.  But that made up for mismanagement before that.  War started in 2003, not 2007.  Saying McCain said it’d be quick and easy, but he was wrong.  Saying we’d be greeted as liberators, but we weren’t.  And he lost a lot of support from Inds, but he’s still doing better than McCain has on Iraq.

McCain: Saying Obama doesn’t have military experience, he’s got some better support form Inds and Reps now.  Saying that this strategy and general are winning, but Obama refuses to acknowledge this.  (Obama: “That’s not true.”)  Talking about elections and peace coming to Iraq, and the strategy will be employed in Afghanistan in a McCain administration, and the Inds went up a bit there.  Talking about Obama voting against troop funding.

Obama: McCain opposed funding for troops in a timetable bill.  Had a difference on timetables, not funding.  And Obama’s right.  It always looks bad on paper when you vote against funding, but if you don’t agree with the overall bill, don’t vote for it.  I have to side with Obama here, and the Inds liked that a lot, and even the Republicans aren’t that negatively rating him.  Reduce combat troops in Iraq.  “Capture and kill bin Laden.”  We don’t have enough troops to deal with Afghanistan.

McCain: Saying that military leaders saying that Obama’s plan would be bad for the troops.  Talking about Petraeus praising the progress we’ve made.  Saying that under Obama’s plan, we’d have been out before the surge could have even succeeded.  Saying that Obama’s plan will “snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.”

Lehrer: How many and when (if more troops in Afghanistan)?

Obama: As soon as possible.  Saying that this year has been the year for highest troop fatalities.  Can’t separate Afghanistan from Iraq.  And the Independents are rating him lower than the Repubs now – that’s surprising.  Saying that Al Qaeda is the greatest threat against us, and that we have to deal with them in Afghanistan and Pakistan, not Iraq.  Press the Afghan government to make sure that they’re working for their people.  And he’s absolutely right – we need to press the Afghani government.  Talking about needing to reduce the poppy trade over there.  And that’s another area we need to work on.

McCain: Talking about not being ready to threaten Pakistan, because that’d be dangerous.  We need to get support of the people of Pakistan.  And the Independents are rating him pretty high here.  Saying that Obama doesn’t understand that we need a new strategy.  Saying that Pakistani terrorists are married to Al Qaeda and Taliban.  Ratings are very high from Reps and Inds.  Although it’s dropped now.  Saying we need more troops in Afghanistan, but saying that we have put more in already.  Talking about Obama publicly saying he’d attack Pakistan.

Obama: Saying that if we have Al Qaeda in sights, and Pakistan won’t help us take them out, then we need to take them out.  Again, I have to side with Obama here.  Talking about McCain singing “Bomb Iran.”  And that was so stupid of McCain, and really makes him look like a hypocrite a bit here.  Although he lost a lot of ratings there surprisingly.  Talking about not going after Al Qaeda, and they’re more powerful than ever.

McCain: Talking about him being a new Congressman – Reagan wanting to send Marines into Lebanon, and McCain voting against it, because he didn’t think that 300 Marines could make a difference, and saying that he was right – many Marines were killed in the bombing.  Talking about voting for going into Bosnia, when it wasn’t popular.  Saying that we need more than a peace-keeping force in Somalia.  And he’s right.  We need to do what’s RIGHT, not what’s popular!  Saying that our mission NEEDS to succeed.  And he’s absolutely right.  We don’t want defeat, and we cannot afford defeat!  “We won’t come home in defeat and dishonor and probably have to go back if we fail.”

Obama: “No U.S. soldier ever dies in vain. … We honor the service they’ve provided. … Are we making good judgments” for keeping America safe, because sending troops is such a huge issue.  “We are having enormous problems in Afghanistan.”  Saying it’s not true that McCain has consistently cared about Afghanistan.  Saying McCain said we could “muddle through” Afghanistan.

McCain: “I’ve visited Afghanistan … and I know what our needs are.  We will prevail … and we need a new strategy.”  If we adopt Obama’s plan, we’ll fail in Iraq, and that will have a great effect on Afghanistan.  Obama fails to see that the 2 are connected.

Lehrer: “What is your reading from the threat from Iran?”

McCain: If Iran acquires nukes, it’s a threat to Israel and other countries.  Others will feel the need to get nukes.  “We can’t afford a second holocaust.”  Proposing a league of Democracies who would impose sanctions on Iranians, since the Russians won’t do it.  “The Iranians have a lousy government, so their economy is lousy, even though they have significant oil revenues.”  A nuclear Iran is a threat to the world.  They’re putting IEDs in Iraq.  They’re a sponsor of terror.  And he’s getting some pretty good ratings right now, from both Indeps and Repubs.

Obama: Talking about the thing that strengthened Iran was the War in Iraq.  Their involvement has grown.  They’ve tried harder to get nukes.  “We cannot tolerate a nuclear Iran.”  It would threaten Israel, and “create an environment [that would] set off an arms race in the Middle East.”  We can’t have sanctions without Russia and China.  Well Obama, you’re not going to get Russia OR China to side with you!  You’re dreaming if you think you will.  Saying we need to talk to leaders in Iran and North Korea, and he as President will.

McCain: Senator Obama twice said he’d sit down with Ahmadinejad, Chavez, and Castro.  Ahmadinejad is in New York now talking about extermination of Israel.  Saying that we can’t sit down without preconditions.  And he’s right.  NO President has ever sat down without preconditions (Reagan didn’t, JFK didn’t, and Nixon didn’t).  And now McCain is using examples that I just gave.  “I’ll sit down with anybody, but there’s gotta be preconditions.”  GOOD job McCain!  You’re absolutely right.

Obama: Ahmadinejad isn’t the most powerful person in Iran.  Saying as President, he can sit down with whoever he wants if it keeps America safe.  Saying that we CAN meet without preconditions, but not do with what we’ve been doing where we say you must do X or we won’t meet with you.  “Of course we need preparations.”  “It may not work.  Iran is a rogue regime.”  Obama is getting pretty much the same ratings now as McCain was getting a minute ago (about a third of the way between neutral and as positive as you can go).  “The Bush Administration and McCain’s advisors (Kissinger)” think we should meet without preconditions.  Saying McCain said we can’t meet with Spain, a NATO ally.

McCain: “Kissinger never said that the President could meet with Ahmadinejad.”  “Obama doesn’t understand that without precondition … you legitimize those comments [against Israel]. … It’s dangerous.”  Talking about North Koreans breaking everything they’ve ever said they’d do.

Obama: McCain keeps saying that I’ll meet with somebody without preparing – this isn’t true.  “We do not expect to solve every problem before we initiate talks.”  The Bush administration realized this doesn’t work.  “The notion that we’d meet with Ahmadinejad as he spews his comments is” wrong.

McCain: Kissinger would not say “that Presidential, top level” communications should be made without preconditions.

The two are going back and forth, and ratings are dropping a lot.

Lehrer: How do you see the relationship with Russia?

Obama: “Our entire Russian approach needs to be reevaluated. … Actions in Georgia were unacceptable and unwarranted.”  They need to get out of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.  The Democrats really aren’t liking what he’s saying here.  The Inds are rating him higher than Dems are.  We can’t go back to a Cold War status with Russia.  We need to deal with loose nuclear weapons when it comes to Russia.  “Deal with Russia based on [our] national security interests.”

McCain: Obama doesn’t understand that Russia committed aggression against Georgia when he said that both sides need to back down a bit.  He’s compared Putin to the KGB.  We can’t go back to the Cold War.  The Georgian War “had everything to do with energy.”  McCain’s rating a bit better than Obama, but neither are performing well right now with the audience.  “The Russians ought to understand that we’ll support … the inclusion of Georgia, and Ukraine … into inclusion of NATO.”  The Russians violated their cease fire agreement.  Saying that Russian intentions toward Georgia – just waiting to cease the opportunity.  Expecting Russians to behave as a country who will respect boundaries.  And he’s right – Russia can’t be left to keep doing what it’s been doing.  It HAS to respect the sovereignty of other countries.  McCain rating pretty decent now, compared to an average rating before.

Obama: McCain and I agree for the most part on these issues.  Says he disagrees with McCain a bit on Georgia.  I don’t think the Dems liked that – Obama is doing a decent amount worse than McCain was doing.  Talking about Russian peace keepers in Georgia not making sense and that we needed international peace keepers there, and that might have avoided the situation.  And Obama is right there.  Talking about energy.  We need to increase offshore drilling.  “We can’t drill our way out of the problem.”  Talking about needing wind, solar, and nuclear.  And now he’s rating higher than McCain was at the end of McCain’s last statement.  Saying McCain voted against alternative energy 23 times.

McCain: Saying that Obama is really against nuclear, and that offshore drilling would help more than Obama says it would.  McCain is getting pretty low ratings now, especially from Dems.

Obama: I have never said that I object to nuclear waste, but I’d store it safely.

McCain: I’ve always been for alternative energy.

Lehrer: What do you think the likelihood is of another 9/11 attack?

McCain: Much less than the day after 9/11, but we’re not safe yet.  Talking about working across the aisle to establish the investigation commission.  Saying we need interrogators who won’t use torture.  Saying that we are safer now.

Obama: We need to do more in terms of securing transit and ports.  Biggest issue is not missiles coming over skies, but from a suitcase.  Spending billions on missile defense, which we need because of Iran/Korea, but we need more for other areas as well.  Ratings are pretty high for him here.  We need more cooperation with allies.  “The way we are perceived in the world” will affect the cooperation we get.  He’s right here.  We have slipped in terms of how we’re viewed by the world.  McCain has a good stance on terror.  And the ratings right there are the highest they’ve been at any time during the debate, even Reps rated him decently high.

McCain: If we fail in Iraq, Al Qaeda will establish a base in Iraq.  McCain isn’t rating too good right now, especially with Inds and Dems.  We can’t have specific dates for withdrawal.  We’ve had great success, but it’s fragile.

Obama: Saying that this administration has been solely focused on Iraq, and we haven’t captured bin Laden.  Talking about borrowing from China, and they’ve been active around the world, while we’ve been focused on Iraq.  We’re spending so much money, we can’t invest in health care or science/technology.  “We’ve never seen a nation who has a failing economy but maintains military strength, so this is a national security issue.”  The next President has to have better strategy for all the challenges we face.  Pretty good ratings there

McCain: Saying he’s been around involved in challenges.  Saying Obama doesn’t have  experience, but he does.  Talking about Obama failing to admit the success of the surge.  McCain is right here.  Obama is just being stubborn.  Saying that he’ll take care of veterans, that he has right judgment to keep nation safe and secure.  “I don’t need any on the job training.  I’m ready to go right now.”

Obama: Talking about his father being from Kenya, and that there’s not nation like America, where you can become so successful.  “Part of what we need to do … is to send a message to the world that we’ll invest in issues like education … how ordinary people can live out there dreams.”

McCain: Talking about coming home from prison and seeing veterans treated poorly, and working on bipartisan bills to see our veterans treated better.  I know how to deal with our adversaries and how to deal with our friends.

Lehrer: We’re done.  “Thank you and good night.”

McCain/Obama: “Good job.”

And there you have it – the wives are coming out and kissing each other.  A little more than the 90 minutes scheduled, but that’s ok.

OK, so who won?  Both Obama and McCain had some pretty good moments, but I don’t think there was a clear cut winner here.  I think both performed pretty much on the same level.  I’m not saying that the two were identical in debating, but I don’t think one did better than the other.  I absolutely hate saying this, because I love objectivity and clear cut answers, but I really do think it was a tie.

I’d love to go on more and more, but my hands are just killing me right now (hey – it was a lot of typing), so I think I’ve said most all of what I wanted to say.

By the way – a big thanks to my roommate who helped with correcting quotes and what was said.  It’s hard to keep up with typing and trying to listen, so a huge thanks to him for helping me out with this!

Done Analyzing,

Ranting Republican
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Russia Is Overstepping It’s Bounds by Invading Georgia

August 11, 2008

Alright, I have to admit, I was a little behind in this story – I don’t know why, I just hadn’t heard anything about it until Saturday, and this is my first opportunity to post about it.

Brief overview (for a really good, but still short overview, see Wikipedia’s page):

  1. August 1st – Georgian and paramilitary South Ossetian soldiers begin fighting, causing several deaths and injuries.  Fighting continues.
  2. August 7th – Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili makes a statement: “A sniper war is ongoing against residents of the villages in the South Ossetian conflict zone and as I speak now intensive fire is ongoing from artillery, from tanks, from self-propelled artillery systems – which have been brought in the conflict zone illegally – and from other types of weaponry, including mortars and grenade launchers.”
  3. August 8th:
    1. Georgia attacks the city of Tskhinvali.
    2. The UN meets and expresses “serious concerns at the escalation of violence.”
    3. Russia attacks Georgian forces in cities in South Ossetia, and attacks the Georgian city of Gori.
  4. August 9th:
    1. Georgian/Russian fighting continues.
    2. Georigian South Ossetian fighitng continues.
    3. Abkhazian separatists bomb the Kodori Valley.
  5. August 10th – Georgia withdraws from Tskhinvali and other parts of South Ossetia.
  6. August 11th:
    1. Russia invade Georgia.
    2. Russia captures Gori.
    3. Georgian forces retreat to protect the capital, Tbilisi.

This is absolutely uncalled for.  It doesn’t matter WHO started this, either Georgia or the separatists, but Russia has NO RIGHT to invade Georgia.  President Bush said in a speech, “The United States takes this matter very seriously [...] Georgia is a sovereign nation and its territorial integrity must be respected.”

And that’s absolutely true – like I said, Russia has NO RIGHT to get involved here, especially not to the level of invading somebody who may not even be the aggressor.  And why is Russia helping separatists here, when they continue to oppress the Chechnya?

Personally, I think the U.S. should stay out of this, other than helping with talks and the UN.  But we ALL have to be careful here.  Making Russia angry is not a wise move.  The only countries capable of militarily stopping Russia are America and China.  I don’t think America is stupid enough to get involved militarily, and I doubt China is either.

This being said, Russia should not be allowed to continue their invasion in Georgia.  The UN and countries must step in and persuade (through sanctions and other non-military actions) Russia to stop.

Everybody was happy when the USSR ended, but all that really happened was a smaller giant emerged, a very dangerous giant named Russia.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican
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Analysis of Kosovo’s Declaration of Independence from Serbia

February 23, 2008

OK, so election stuff plus a research paper kept me from talking about this as it happened, but now let’s take a look back on all that’s happened.  On February 17th, 2008, the Autonomous Province of Kosovo declared their independence from Serbia.  Since then, some countries have weighed in (see below for the map).  Some Serbians rioted (1 assumed protester was found dead); our embassy in Belgrade got torched a little bit, causing all non-essential personnel to have to be evacuated to Agence France-Presse (apparently the world’s oldest news agency) – no biggie.

So, who recognizes the Republic of Kosovo as it’s own sovereign nation?  And should we?

Well, I say we absolutely should!  They were an oppressed region who the UN put under its control after the 1999 Kosovo War.  I think that for the people of Kosovo to be treated fairly, they HAD to secede.

According to a poll an unscientific ABC News poll on Facebook, 79% of people agree with me, 12% disagree, and 9% are unsure.  Some of the arguments I’ve heard are “What if Texas seceded?”  Well that’s different – Texas isn’t being oppressed.  (Not to mention that Texas could probably put up a heck of a fight.)

So, who says what about Kosovo?  Well, here’s a map from Wikipedia:

Admin edit – apparently Wikipedia updated it to just a recognizes / doesn’t recognize map. So here’s an updated version (this will update automatically as wikipedia updates it, so if you’ve visited this page and are coming back to it now, refresh [F5] to make sure that this map is up to date). The map above is the map version from when I originally posted this post, and the map below is the current map:

██ Kosovo

██ States which formally recognize Kosovo as independent.

██ States which have stated they intend to recognize formally Kosovo as independent.

██ States which have delayed or have expressed neutrality on recognition of Kosovo’s independence.

██ States which have expressed concern over unilateral moves or expressed wish for further negotiations.

██ States which have stated they will not recognize Kosovo as independent.

██ States with no reported position at present.

Now, let’s highlight some key countries:

  • The U.S. obviously supports it.
  • Essentially the entire former U.S.S.R. opposes it, and Russia is blocking its entry into the UN.
  • Costa Rica was the first (by local time) to recognize it – kinda odd.
  • Afghanistan was the first (by international time) to recognize it – again, seemed kinda odd.
  • Taiwan recognizes it, but Kosovo may not recognize them, in order to get China to side with them – this angered me a little, as I’ve always been a HUGE supporter of Taiwan, the TRUE China!  Here’s a quote from the Foreign Ministry: “We congratulate the Kosovo people on their winning independence and hope they enjoy the fruits of democracy and freedom. [...] Democracy and self-determination are the rights endorsed by the United Nations. The Republic of China always supports sovereign countries’ seeking democracy, sovereignty and independence through peaceful means.”
  • The British Kingdom (with the exception of Canada and South Africa) seems to have supported Kosovo.
  • Obviously Serbia doesn’t.
  • Oddly, Bosnia says not in the near future – most other countries who have seceded or are trying to have sided with Kosovo, so I thought they would.
  • Vietnam doesn’t – who didn’t guess that one.
  • China expressed “grave concern” (thus Kosovo’s reluctance to acknowledge Taiwan, since China is also a member of the UN Security Council).
  • South Korea is in favor of recognition, but still somewhat skeptical.
  • The Organization of the Islamic Conference backs Kosovo.
  • The International Olympic Committee does not plan on recognizing them.
  • The Basque Country, Catalan Government, Chechnya, Crimea, and Transnistria (at least their minister) all support Kosovo.
  • Western Sahara is bitter, because Kosovo was so quickly recognized and they weren’t.
  • Canada is in a pickle.  Their motherland, England has sided with Kosovo, but if they side with Kosovo, that sends a HUGE message to Quebec which has been trying to break free from the U.S. state of (I’m kidding – it’s a joke, so don’t get all offended about it) Canada for quite a while now.

So, go Kosovo! (and they’d better not change the name to Kosova – I’ve heard rumors and that’d be stupid).

 

Done Supporting FREEDOM,

Ranting Republican
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