Good News on Al Qaeda

These type of intelligence assessments are always changing, but this report from the Washington Post is quite encouraging:

Less than a year after his agency warned of new threats from a resurgent al-Qaeda, CIA Director Michael V. Hayden now portrays the terrorist movement as essentially defeated in Iraq and Saudi Arabia and on the defensive throughout much of the rest of the world, including in its presumed haven along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

The most positive development in the War on Terror over the past year and a half or so, has been the utter rejection of Al Qaeda’s vision for the world within the Islamic community, as evidenced most dramatically by the willingness of Iraqi Sunnis to ally themselves with the U.S. over Al Qaeda.

Obama Uses Bush and McCain Fundraiser In $ Appeal

This just hit my inbox:

Philip —

Right now you have a unique opportunity to go head-to-head with George W. Bush.

This week, John McCain and George Bush gathered behind closed doors, away from the cameras, to raise money for McCain’s campaign.

McCain used Bush to raise a reported $3.5 million from a group of about 500 Republican contributors.

That’s a lot of money that will undoubtedly be used to attack us and make the case to continue George Bush’s failed policies.

But I have an idea about how we can match it. And we don’t need George Bush.

Right now, someone who has already given once to the campaign is ready to give again — but only if you make your first donation right now.

If you take the next step and decide to own a piece of this campaign, that supporter will double your gift.

You’ll see the name and hometown of the person who matched your donation. And you can even choose to exchange a personal note about why you’ve decided to support a different kind of politics…

Hillary Responds to Bobby Kennedy Remark

Her campaign just released this statement:

“Earlier today I was discussing the Democratic primary history and in the course of that discussion mentioned the campaigns that both my husband and Senator Kennedy waged in California in June 1992 and 1968 and I was referencing those to make the point that we have had nomination primary contests that go into June. That’s a historic fact. The Kennedys have been much on my mind the last days because of Senator Kennedy and I regret that if my referencing that moment of trauma for our entire nation, and particularly for the Kennedy family was in any way offensive. I certainly had no intention of that, whatsoever. My view is that we have to look to the past and to our leaders who have inspired us and give us a lot to live up to, and I’m honored to hold Senator Kennedy’s seat in the United States Senate from the state of New York and have the highest regard for the entire Kennedy family.”

The Other Klein Is At It Again on Obama and Iran

On Tuesday, I mocked Time‘s Joe Klein for suggesting that Barack Obama didn’t necessarily want to meet with with Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and I noted a video in which Obama mentions Ahmadinejad within the context of negotiations. J. Klein also insisted that Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, who Obama may have really meant, wasn’t as much of a “flagrant anti-Semite.” But as I pointed out, Khamenei called Israel a “cancerous tumor” that “should be removed from the region…”

Now, in a column, he says that the Obama position is “fuzzy” so that McCain should stop linking him to Ahmadinejad to scare up Jewish votes. And in a blog post, J. Klein writes, “Obama’s position on talking to Ahmadinejad, which is muddy, to say the least, but has never included the following statement, ‘I will meet unconditionally with Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.'”

This a ridiculous standard. Go back and watch the video from the YouTube debate in which Obama answered affirmatively that he would meet with the leaders of a number of rogue states, without preconditions, within a first year of his administration. Closely watch the amateur video when the question is being posed, and you will see that when Iran is mentioned, a photo of Ahmadinejad pops on the screen. All summer, Obama had the opportunity to correct news reports on him vowing to meet with Ahmadinejad, but he didn’t. During the controversy over Ahmadinejad’s visit last fall, he was again given a chance to backtrack, but reiterated his willingness to meet with Ahmadinejad. J. Klein’s sister company, CNN, reported, “Obama stands ground on meeting with Ahmadinejad.” He once again didn’t correct the record.

I might add that not only did Obama not run away from the idea of meeting with Ahmadinejad, he embraced it. He used the controversy as an example of how he represented a break from the “conventional Washington thinking” on foreign policy. This whole stunt by J. Klein is outrageous.

Re: So, About that Kiddie Porn Question

I find it pretty amusing that Balko would accuse me of some sort of “smear” of Libertarians. I mean, I voted for Harry Browne in 2000 because I couldn’t stomach Bush’s big government conservatism, and I also favor legalizing drugs and believe that states should have the right to allow gay marriage. I wouldn’t consider myself a Libertarian these days due to my fierce disagreements over foreign policy, and because in my view Libertarians’ obsession with silly purity tests on side issues marginalize them and hinder their ability to actually advance the cause of limiting the size of government. But to think I’m out to “smear” Libertarians is quite absurd. Does Balko not see humor in the fact that the first audience question at a presidential debate would be over whether the candidates believe in a person’s right to possess and distribute child pornography?

As to Balko’s sarcastic rejoinder, “And no doubt to the disappointment of some conservatives, all of the major GOP candidates for president this year opposed bombing abortion clinics and lynching black people,” I’d really like for him to point me to a similar forum involving Republican candidates in which a conservative audience member asked such a question. Or to a Republican candidate with a serious shot of winning the nomination who advocated it.

The Failure of RomneyCare

Via Jennifer Rubin, I see this excellent WSJ editorial exposing what a catastrophe Romney’s universal health care reform has been for Massachusetts, which should be another lesson to all conservatives that supporting statist public policy initiatives and calling them “free market” does not change economic reality.

But I’ll give Romney credit on one thing. He showed us what happens when government shifts citizens onto heavily subsidized public plans:

One lesson here is that while pledging “universal” coverage is easy, the harder problem is paying for it. This year’s appropriation for Commonwealth Care was $472 million, but officials have asked for an add-on that will bring it to $625 million. For 2009, Governor Deval Patrick requested $869 million but has already conceded that even that huge figure is too low. Over the coming decade, the expected overruns float in as much as $4 billion over budget. It’s too early to tell how much is new coverage or if state programs are displacing private insurance.

Staggering, but totally unsurprising.

And people wonder why I’ve been so bearish on Romney as the leader of the conservative future, and why I think it would be a disaster for McCain to pick him as VP.

Obama, Kennedy and Khrushchev

Boy am I glad that somebody finally wrote this. And in the New York Times, no less: “Kennedy’s one presidential meeting with Nikita Khrushchev, the Soviet premier, suggests that there are legitimate reasons to fear negotiating with one’s adversaries.” The whole thing is well worth a read.

McCain To Meet With Three Lousy VP Choices

The NY Times reports that John McCain is planning to meet with three potential running mates at his Arizona ranch this weekend: Charlie Crist, Bobby Jindal, and Mitt Romney. None of them would be wise choices for VP. Let me approach this one at a time.

Clearly, McCain owes a favor to Crist, who no doubt helped put him over the top in the crucial Florida primary, so this very well could be who McCain ends up choosing. The problem is he isn’t particularly liked by conservatives. I also think McCain should be able to win the Sunshine State without him on the ticket.

Jindal would, without a doubt, add instant conservative appeal to his ticket, as well as youth, and a brilliant mastery of policy. But the problem is that at 36, he’s still quite inexperienced, and thus picking him to be a heartbeat away from the presidency will undercut the central argument McCain is making against Obama. And I know this is a factor more for the future of conservative politics in general than for McCain specifically, but after years of the Bush administration, conservatives are in desperate need of a strong story of successul governance. In eight years, Jindal will still be young, but he could have a Giuliani-type turnaround story in Lousiana–only without the personal bagage or problems with social conservatives. Nominating him as VP would be like when a baseball team trades away its top pitiching prospect midseason in hopes of winning now.

The same commentators who spent all of last year trying, without success, to convince the grassroots that Romney was the candidate for conservatives, are now arguing that McCain can instantly win over conservatives by picking Romney. That is ludicrous. If Romney had truly closed the deal with conservatives, he would have captured the nomination. Instead, he was chased out of South Carolina after spending millions there running ads and building an organization, and finished a distant fourth. He couldn’t consolidate conservatives in Florida after Fred Thompson dropped out of the race, even as talk radio and conservative pundits rallied around him. And then he got crushed on Super Tuesday.

Also, good luck running a “Straight Talk” campaign with Romney on the ticket. On top of the fact that he wouldn’t win over conservatives, Romney would be an absolute albatross on nationally, because in the process of twisting himself in a pretzel on issue after issue in the primaries, the general public came to see him as a phony. In the most recent Gallup poll to ask about Romney, around the time he dropped out of the race in February, he came away with a net unfavorable rating of 12 points. And having run the most negative campaign of any Republican, the Democrats can spend all fall running ads of Romney attacking McCain, especially on economics. Furthermore, Romney’s actual strengths as an organizer and executive will not be very relevant in the number two slot.