Thursday, April 03, 2008

Karl's Weekend Reading

All politics this week:

In Monday's Best of the Web, James Taranto comments on something that has been bugging us about the Rev. Wright story. Specifically, our shock that the Rev. Wright sermons are what we would expect to hear in a mosque, not in a church.

...if 1 in 10 Americans mistakenly think Obama is a Muslim, this is a topic on which people are unusually well-informed.

Moreover, does it really make sense to expect that the revelations about Wright would dispel the notion that Obama is Muslim? Consider what we've learned over the past few weeks about Obama's "spiritual mentor": He has a strong antipathy toward America and Israel. He purveys wild conspiracy theories about the American government. He described the 9/11 attacks as "America's chickens coming home to roost." He has bestowed an award on Louis Farrakhan of the Nation of, uh, Islam, and traveled with Farrakhan to visit Libyan dictator Muammar Gadhafi. He has given space in his newsletter to Hamas, an Islamist terror group.

True, Wright and Obama believe that Jesus is the Messiah rather than that Muhammad is God's final prophet. But this seems a minor point of doctrine compared with the litany we've just rehearsed. None of the items in that litany are inherent to Islam, of course, but all are consistent with the form of Islam with which America finds itself in conflict--a "perversion of a great religion," as some have said. If 90% of Americans can keep track of which religion is being perverted, that's pretty impressive.

Is Obama a "liberal"? This question is answered by Peter Wehner in Wednesday's WSJ - Obama and the 'L' Word.

National Journal rated him as the most liberal person in the Senate in 2007, and for good reason. On economic policy, Mr. Obama favors higher income, Social Security and corporate taxes. He supports massive increases in domestic spending and greater government regulation of the economy. He favors a significantly larger role for the federal government in health care. He opposes the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Mr. Obama has criticized the Supreme Court's decision to uphold a partial birth abortion ban, and he wants to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act. He voted against John Roberts and Samuel Alito for the Supreme Court. In Illinois, Mr. Obama supported banning the manufacture, sale and possession of handguns. And he supports granting driver's licenses to illegal immigrants.

On national security matters, Mr. Obama voted to deny legal immunity to telecom companies that have cooperated with the government in warrantless wiretapping of suspected terrorists. He wants to grant habeas corpus rights to detainees held at Guantanamo Bay. He supports a full-scale withdrawal from Iraq. And he says, in his first year in office, he would meet with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea without preconditions.

It's no wonder that Mr. Obama has been endorsed by – one of the most radical groups within the liberal universe.

"Does Obama Understand Defeat?" is Bret Stephens' WSJ article on Tuesday. Several excerpts:

The hawk and the dove are prepared to fly some distance together, particularly on Guantanamo, global warming and the promotion of Islamic moderation.
Where the candidates have real differences is over Iraq. Mr. Obama, as everyone knows, wants to remove American troops at a steady rate of one to two combat brigades a month, until they are all but gone, and "help Iraq reach a meaningful accord on national reconcilation." Mr. McCain, as everyone also knows, will do just about everything it takes to win in Iraq and is prepared, on the Korean, West German or Japanese model, to deploy soldiers to the country for a century to preserve the peace.

Yet what distinguishes Mr. McCain's foreign policy from Mr. Obama's is not about the nature of America's commitments in the Middle East. It is about their understanding of the consequences of defeat. Mr. McCain seems to have some. It's not clear whether Mr. Obama does.
...questions for Mr. Obama: Could there be something worse than the indefinite maintenance of a flawed policy? What if, following a U.S. withdrawal, Iraq collapsed into chaos? What if U.S. embassy personnel have to be helicoptered to safety from the roof of the Baghdad embassy? It's not as if this hasn't happened before.

The WSJ Editorial Board responded to Hillary's comparison of the US economy to that of Japan's last week: "Hillary's Bad History". Hillary's $10 billion "Rebuild America Plan" is an attempt to create jobs and resolve the current economic crisis. As the WSJ states: "Japan also made the mistake of refusing to make banks pay for the mistakes they made during their global lending spree in the late 1980s." The WSJ suggests a different approach:

A better model is the one the late Al Casey put into practice during the savings and loan crisis in the early 1990s. As president of the Resolution Trust Corp., Mr. Casey sold almost $400 billion of bankrupt assets as rapidly as he could. Declaring that his purpose was to "put the RTC out of business," Mr. Casey let investors buy those assets even at "vulture" prices. The real estate market was able to find a bottom, and the recovery came so fast that Bill Clinton inherited an economy that grew by 3.3% in 1992.