Archive for the ‘Reagan’ Category

Back biting over Barack Obama’s Treasury Secretary gives him (first? another?) headache

November 9, 2008

Since Tuesday night’s terrific triumph at the polls and the euphoria that followed, Barack Obama has met reality squarely: he accidentally insulted Nancy Reagan, drew condemnation over his comments from Iran and concerned mumblings from Israel, Russia’s Medvedev wants an “early” meeting to discuss planned missile defenses in Poland and the Polish president says Obama promised to finish the missile project while the Obama camp says the President-Elect made “no commitment.”  Now Mr. Obama has to select a Treasury Secretary  and a Secretary of State from among a cast of well qualified and eager experts….


Barack Obama is wrestling with “back biting” and clashing egos as he tries to find a Treasury Secretary to help him pilot the US out of economic meltdown.

By Tim Shipman in Washington
The Telegraph (London)

Disagreements among senior Democrats and members of his team over who he should pick has given the President-Elect a wake up call about the treacherous partisan waters he now has to navigate, according to those familiar with the discussions.

Mr Obama used a national radio address yesterday to reiterate his support for a new $100bn “rescue plan for the middle class” and warned: “We are facing the greatest economic challenge of our lifetime.”

Stacks of U.S. one hundred dollar notes are piled up after counting ... 

But despite the hopes of some aides that he would be able to name a Treasury Secretary in the first few days after the election, Mr Obama has found that he has to spend longer conisdering his decision after being bombarded by aggressive lobbying for the main candidates.

It is the President-Elect’s first taste of real dissent after having his views accepted without equivocation on the campaign trail.

Steven Clemons, senior fellow at the New America Foundation, a centre-left think tank, said “policy and personality battles” have broken out over the Treasury and defence portfolios, as well as selection of a Secretary of State, the senior foreign affairs post.

“Tension, backbiting, and jostling for position is fraying the nerves of many who are highest on the list of candidates Obama is considering for senior positions,” he said.

Time is pressing. The US economy shed another 240,000 jobs in October, the tenth month in a row, and the big three car manufacturers experienced a sales slump of 32 percent, to their lowest level since 1991. Ford, General Motors and Chrysler are now asking for a $25bn government bail out of their own.

But Democrat power brokers are split over the two frontrunners for the Treasury job. Lawrence Summers, who held the post under Bill Clinton, has influential support and is also pushing hard for the job. But he is blamed by many for the financial deregulation which contributed to the recent Wall Street collapse.

Lawrence Summers
Lawrence Summers was Secretary of the Treasury for Bill Clinton for about a year….

Feminist groups are horrified by his record as president of Harvard University, where Mr Summers suggested that women were inherently less good at maths than men.

Kim Gandy, the president of the National Organisation of Women, complained last week: “It’s very important that whoever is in key positions understands the importance of women to this economy.

“I do wonder whether if his had instead been a comment or an opinion about African Americans having less capacity for math and science, would he be on anybody’s short-list.”

Ms Gandy said she is lobbying Mr Obama to choose one of the female economists, Laura D’Andrea Tyson or Sheila Bair.

Read the rest:

Pakistan: Musharraf and the Con Game

November 22, 2007

 By Robert Kagan
The Washington Post
Thursday, November 22, 2007; Page A37

There always seems to be a good reason to support a dictator. In the late 1970s, Jeane Kirkpatrick argued that it was better to support a “right-wing” dictator lest he be replaced by communists. Right-wing dictatorship — today some call it “liberal autocracy” — was in any case a necessary way station on the road to democracy. Communist totalitarians would never give up power and stifled any hope for freedom, but our friendly dictators would eventually give way to liberal politics.

The Reagan administration, and history, actually repudiated both sides of this doctrine. It turned out that right-wing dictators such as Ferdinand Marcos and the South Korean military junta, as other dictators before them, would only leave power if forced. Ironically, a communist leader in the Soviet Union was actually willing to take the steps that ultimately proved his system’s undoing.

During the Cold War, Kirkpatrick and many others, including most leading neoconservatives and many in the American foreign policy establishment, bought the dictator’s self-serving sales pitch. The dictator always argued that the choice was to support him or give the country to the communists. And he always made sure that this was the choice. Anastasio Somoza in Nicaragua systematically eliminated the moderate, democratic alternatives to his rule because he knew that the Americans would support them against him. By the time the Carter administration worked up the gumption to force Somoza out, the Sandinista revolutionaries had helped Somoza squeeze out the middle and put themselves in a position to inherit the country.

Today, Pakistan‘s Gen. Pervez Musharraf is playing the old game, as is Egypt‘s Hosni Mubarak, and it appears to be working. Substitute radical Islamists for communists, and the pitch is the same: Apres moi, le deluge. If you force me out, the radical Islamists will win. And Musharraf is busily trying to ensure that this is the only option. He cracks down on moderates with good democratic credentials, and with far greater zeal than he has cracked down on al-Qaeda. If he can hold on long enough, he may so radicalize the opposition that no reasonably moderate alternative will be available.
Pakistan's purged Supreme Court demolished the final hurdle to President Pervez Musharraf's re-election, paving the way for him to become a civilian leader after eight years of army rule.(AFP/File/Tanveer Mughal)

This is one of the many flaws of “liberal autocracy.” Dictators are not good shepherds, leading their flock Moses-like to the promised land of democracy. When the choice is between the good of the country and continued rule, the autocrat almost always chooses himself. To prove that he is irreplaceable, he must destroy the opportunity to replace him, which means destroying or hobbling independent institutions, undermining the rule of law, pushing the population toward extremism — in short, doing the opposite of what the mythical “liberal autocrat” is supposed to do.

When Kirkpatrick outlined her case for supporting right-wing dictatorship, her prime example was the overthrow of the shah of Iran. Almost three decades later, this is still the example people point to. It is as if we learned nothing in the 1980s and 1990s, when the timely removal of right-wing dictatorships produced not radicalism but democratic moderation in the Philippines, El Salvador, South Korea and elsewhere.

Musharraf is not even like the shah of Iran. He is not the living embodiment of a regime, as the shah was. He is not irreplaceable. He is not the lone savior of a whole way of governance. He is but a general, and not an especially effective one at that.

There are other generals. With all the billions of dollars in aid the United States provides to Pakistan, it ought to be possible to discuss with the Pakistani military alternatives to the man who so poorly serves their interests. Musharraf may be willing to lose American aid in order to remain in power, but that is unlikely to seem attractive to the men who work for him. It ought to be possible to find a general who is willing to let Pakistan return to a democratic path and meanwhile do a better job of fighting Pakistan’s real enemies.

Much is riding on the Bush administration’s ability to steer its way through this transition in Pakistan. President Bush‘s claim that Musharaf can be trusted to lead Pakistan toward democracy is not credible. In its better moments, the United States has known when to tell such leaders that their time was up. If the administration cannot muster the courage or skill to replace this eminently replaceable man in the name of Pakistani democracy, all because it fears the alternative, then it had better cease the absurd rhetoric about democracy promotion. It had also better get used to a greater Middle East and Muslim world where there are only two types of regimes: radical Islamists and stubborn dictatorships. That, presumably, is not the legacy Bush wants to bequeath to his successor.

Robert Kagan, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and transatlantic fellow at the German Marshall Fund, writes a monthly column for The Post.

A Navy LOST?

October 9, 2007

Frank J. Gaffney Jr.
October 9, 2007

Irony of ironies: The principal champion of the Law of the Sea Treaty (LOST) is the United States Navy. Yet predictably few organizations would suffer more than America’s naval forces from a supranational government of the oceans empowered by U.S. accession to that treaty.

The absurdity of this situation was on display last week as the Navy’s former senior officer, retired Chief of Naval Operations Vernon Clark, testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Adm. Clark waxed on about LOST as “a Magna Carta for the oceans that guarantees navigation freedoms throughout the world’s largest maneuver space.” The committee’s ranking Republican, Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana, declared in about as many words that, if the Navy wants the treaty, the Senate should give it to them. Period.

Fortunately, a necessary corrective was offered the next day by another distinguished retired four-star, Adm. James “Ace” Lyons.

What would Reagan do? Reject LOST

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Excellent Gingrich Speech, National Press Club, Aug. 7, 2007

August 9, 2007

The speech below is mainly a proposal to reform the way we in the United States discuss major issues and choose our president.   But Mr. Gingrich has thoughtful things to say on a wide variety of our nation’s issues.

Peace and Freedom sincerely thanks Mr. Rick Tyler of Mr. Gingrich’s staff who worked so hard to get us this transcript.  Mr. Gingrich gave this speech from notes (not text) and a transcript had to be made.  Since the text of the speech is so long we added some headers so readers can scan don and find the areas that interest them the most.  The headers are:

Mr. Gingrich Begins
Lincoln-Douglas Debates
Current System Not Working
Strategy and Reality Not Connected
Challenges Are Immense
UPS and FedEx Superior to Federal Bureaucracy
The Scale of  Change
Britain’s Phoney War
Our Phony War: The Scale of the Challenge
Conversations About Our Future: Better Debates
Questions and Answers
—Proposal Favors Good Debaters
—How to Handle 3rd Party Candidates
—How to Engage The Public
—Revising Primary Debates
—Reforming The Overall Primary Process
—Campaign Financing
—Fred Thompson
—Gingrich’s Own Plan to Run
—2008 a Democratic Year
—Are The Candidates Up To The Task
—Near Future of the War On Terror

We had a lot of formatting trouble with this document and we are sorry for its porr appearance.  We think you’ll find that the content is excellent.All the best to everyone,
John E. Carey
******************* IntroductionMR. ZREMSKI: (Sounds gavel.) Good afternoon, and welcome to the National Press Club. My name is Jerry Zremski, and I’m the Washington bureau chief for the Buffalo News and president of the Press Club.I’d like to welcome our club members and their guests who are with this today, as well as those of you who are watching on C-SPAN. We’re looking forward to today’s speech, and afterwards, I’ll ask as many questions as time permits.Please hold your applause during the speech so that we have as much time for questions as possible.

Link to the entire speech text at:

Daguerreotype of Lincoln c. 1846

Daguerreotype of Lincoln c. 1846

What in the world could the Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858 POSSIBLY teach us today?  Newt knows.  This is why everyone needs to understand history….