links for 2009-09-23

  • Many have asked to see my remarks as presented in Hong Kong. Here is an excerpt:

    So far, I’ve given you the view from Main Street, USA. But now I’d like to share with you how a Common Sense Conservative sees the world at large.

    Later this year, we will celebrate the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall – an event that changed not just Europe but the entire world. In a matter of months, millions of people in formerly captive nations were freed to pursue their individual and national ambitions.

    The competition that defined the post World War II era was suddenly over. What was once called “the free world” had so much to celebrate – the peaceful end to a great power rivalry and the liberation of so many from tyranny’s grip.

    (tags: sarah_palin)
  • This last passage might be the most important. Palin is an authentic, powerful voice of the populist right and in the speech she implicitly connects its call for limited government and sensible fiscal policy with America's role as a world power. Palin can play a very important role in channeling the inchoate populist anger out there in a responsible direction, which makes it all the more important that she engage on the issues in a serious way and avoid rhetorical over-kill. The speech, judging from what we've seen of it so far, is a big step in the right direction.
    (tags: sarah_palin)
  • Gordon Brown lurched from being hailed as a global statesman to intense embarrassment tonight, after it emerged US President Barack Obama had turned down no fewer than five requests from Downing Street to hold a bilateral meeting at the United Nations in New York or at the G20 summit starting in Pittsburgh today.

    The prime minister, eager to portray himself as a leading player on the international stage in America this week, was also forced to play down suggestions from inside his own party that he might step down early, either due to ill health or deteriorating eyesight.

    There have been tensions between the White House and No 10 for weeks over Brown's handling of the Scottish government's decision to release the man convicted of the Lockerbie bombing, Abdelbaset al-Megrahi.

  • But on foreign policy as his record emerges — as he reverses himself on missile defense and perhaps on Afghanistan — his motivating principle seems rooted in an analysis, common in his formative university years, that America has too often been on the side of the bad guys. The response has been to disrespect those who have been our friends and to bow to our enemies.
  • In the UN speech earlier today, President Obama once again succumbed to what has become almost a clinical addiction: criticizing the United States in front of an international audience.
    Obama not only fails to strongly defend the United States; he is actually adding brush strokes to a portrait of our country that diminishes its achievements and standing. He seems unable or unwilling to speak out—in a heartfelt and passionate way—on its behalf. He is, of course, too clever not to ever say a word of praise for America; no, this sophisticated wordsmith and smooth politician, this cool customer ever in search of The Golden Mean, can speak in both text and subtext. He says just enough to deny the charge that he is not a strong defender of the country he leads. But by now we’re on to the game.
  • Would 53% of the popular vote be enough for the Republicans to win a House majority? A quick look, based on my analysis with John Kastellec and Jamie Chandler of seats and votes in Congress, suggests yes.

    It's still early–and there's a lot of scatter in those scatterplots–but if the generic polls remain this close, the Republican Party looks to be in good shape in the 2010.

    P.S. Is there any hope for the Democrats? Sure. Beyond the general uncertainty in prediction, there is the general unpopularity of Republicans; also, it will be year 2 of the presidential term, not year 6 which is historically the really bad year for the incumbent party. Still and all, the numbers now definitely do not look good for the Democrats.

    (tags: democrats GOP)
  • "You never heard of that before. David's the first African-American governor in the state of New York and he's being asked to get out of the race. It's very unusual and it seems very unfair."

    "I never heard of a president asking a governor not to run … so I thought it was very unusual that this would be asked of David and I don't think it's right."

    On what her husband thinks: "I think he was stunned. Like I said this is very unusual," adding that Obama told her husband while in upstate New York this week he was "a little chagrined about how the White House handled the message."

  • The new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll asked respondents whether they would prefer to see next year's elections result in a Congress controlled by Democrats or a Congress controlled by Republicans. The result: 48 percent say they would prefer Democrats in control, and 45 percent say Republicans. That three-point Democratic lead is down from seven points lead in July and nine points in April.

    It's also far smaller than the massive 19-point lead Democrats held over Republicans in June 2008. So in less than a year and a half, the Democratic margin has fallen from 19 points to 3.

  • A Washington Times editorial makes the case that Obama administration foreign policy is the worst foreign policy ever. It's an impressive indictment, and I happen to agree with it. Making the necessary changes, American foreign policy in the Age of Obama is what it would be if Alger Hiss or Advise and Consent's Robert Leffingwell were president. Michael Barone appropriately finds Obama caught in a time warp.

    Stephen Hayes recites the Obama administration's repeated capitulations to Iran in "Obama caves to Iran." That's a lot of bowing and scraping to a remarkably unsavory regime over a period of only eight months. Consider also John Bolton's "Erring on the side of incaution."
    Nile Gardiner adds that "the president is perfectly happy to undermine America's allies and gut its strategic defences while currying favour with enemies and strategic competitors."

    (tags: barack_obama)
  • What do you think about the current fight over health care reform?
    Well, it's going down heavily. Obama's not going to get a public option. By the time the thousand-page monstrosity of complexity and ambiguity gets to his desk, it's going to be a shred of what the majority of doctors, nurses and the people in this country want — which is full Medicare for all.

    What's your take on Obama so far?
    Weak. Waffling, wavering, ambiguous and overwhelmingly concessionary.

  • Speaker Pelosi is backing away from a deal she cut with centrists to advance health reform, said a source familiar with talks.

    Pelosi’s decision to move away from the agreement that was made with a group of Blue Dogs to get the bill out of committee would steer the healthcare legislation back to the left as she prepares for a floor vote.

  • John McCain's campaign foreign policy advisor, Randy Scheunemann, has emerged as an advisor to former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as she attempts to build a serious public profile and begins to build a network of aides and advisors typical of a national politician.

    Scheunemann confirmed this evening that he's with Palin in Hong Kong, where she is delivering a paid speech at a conference hosted by the brokerage house CLSA, which has in the past heard keynotes from Bill Clinton and Al Gore.

    (tags: sarah_palin)
  • Sarah Palin, in what was billed as her first speech overseas, spoke on Wednesday to Asian bankers, investors and fund managers.
    A number of people who heard the speech in a packed hotel ballroom, which was closed to the media, said Mrs. Palin spoke from notes for 90 minutes and that she was articulate, well-prepared and even compelling.

    “The speech was wide-ranging, very balanced, and she beat all expectations,” said Doug A. Coulter, head of private equity in the Asia-Pacific region for LGT Capital Partners.

    “She didn’t sound at all like a far-right-wing conservative. She seemed to be positioning herself as a libertarian or a small-c conservative,” he said, adding that she mentioned both Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher. “She brought up both those names.”

  • President Obama is exploring alternatives to a major troop increase in Afghanistan, including a plan advocated by Vice President Joseph R. Biden Jr. to scale back American forces and focus more on rooting out Al Qaeda there and in Pakistan, officials said Tuesday.
    The options under review are part of what administration officials described as a wholesale reconsideration of a strategy the president announced with fanfare just six months ago. Two new intelligence reports are being conducted to evaluate Afghanistan and Pakistan, officials said.

    The sweeping reassessment has been prompted by deteriorating conditions on the ground, the messy and still unsettled outcome of the Afghan elections and a dire report by Mr. Obama’s new commander, Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal.

  • Former US vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin said the US government was wasting taxpayers' money and could aggravate poverty, said delegates at her first speech outside North America on Wednesday.

    Palin, the former governor of Alaska, gave hundreds of financial big-hitters at the CLSA Investors' Forum in Hong Kong a wide-ranging speech that covered Alaska, international terrorism, US economic policy and trade with China.

    (tags: sarah_palin)
  • Sure, San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom may have been pandering a bit to the social networking-crazed crowd at 140: The Twitter Conference in Santa Monica.

    But in Newsom's brief webcast that was broadcast Tuesday afternoon on the main stage projector, the Democratic contender for the 2010 California gubernatorial election professed an undying love for Twitter.

    "I'm here because I have great expectations in terms of what this technology is going to mean in terms of changing the world," Newsom said from his mayoral headquarters in San Francisco.

    To back up his earth-transforming claim, he pointed to the role the service played in the Mumbai terrorist attacks, Iranian revolts and the case of a University of California Berkeley student who was released from an Egyptian jail thanks to Twitter friends.

    (tags: gavin_newsom)