"As for the enemies of freedom, those who are potential adversaries, they will be reminded that peace is the highest aspiration of the American people. We will negotiate for it, sacrifice for it; we will not surrender for it, now or ever." - Reagan, January 20, 1981

"In Vietnam, we tried and failed in a just cause. No More Vietnams can mean we will not try again. It should mean we will not fail again." - from No More Vietnams by Richard Nixon

Saturday, January 3, 2009

IDF enters Gaza

IDF enters Gaza; dozens of terrorists hurt

Ground incrusion underway: Following heavy artillery bombardment, IDF soldiers enter Gaza Saturday evening; Defense Minister Barak: We won't abandon our citizens, IDF's job is to defend home front
Hanan Greenberg

IDF invades Gaza: IDF ground troops entered the northern Gaza Strip Saturday evening, as the army launched its long anticipated ground operation.

Army officials confirmed that at least 30 terrorists were hurt in clashes with IDF ground troops. In several cases, armed terrorists approached Israeli forces and were shot at by ground troops and IDF gunships. There are no reports of Israeli casualties at this time.

Large infantry, engineering and intelligence forces entered the Strip, accompanied by armored corps and artillery units. Navy vessels and Air Force gunships also played a role in the operation. The troops reportedly entered various areas in northern Gaza and fire exchanges were reported soon after.

IDF ground troops (Photo: Reuters)

"The objective is to destroy the Hamas terror infrastructure in the area of operations," said Major Avital Leibovitch, a military spokeswoman, confirming that incursions were under way. "We are going to take some of the launch areas used by Hamas."

Meanwhile, the IDF has started calling up thousands of reservists in the framework of emergency call-ups approved by the government. The objective of the call-up is to enable the IDF to expand the ground incursion if necessary.

Reservists have started to arrive at their bases Saturday evening and will continue to come in Sunday.

'It won't be easy'
In a statement to the media Saturday night, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said the ground incursion will put Israeli troops in life danger.

"It won't be easy and it won't be brief," he said. 'We're continuing to expand the operation while being well aware that this move will include challenges, difficulties, and also victims. We are doing it because of the faith that at this time this is our duty to citizens of the country."

"Several hours ago, IDF troops entered the Gaza Strip," he said. "So far in the operation, the IDF, the Air Force, and the Intelligence Corps delivered a harsh blow against Hamas.

The defense minister stressed that he debated at length before ordering the ground incursion, adding that Israel was a peace-loving country and pledging that the IDF will have the upper hand by the operation's end.

Troops enter Gaza (Photo: Sky News/AFP)

"The decision to embark on the ground phase of the operation was taken following in depth consideration," he said. "Every alternative was examined thoroughly, while we examined every possible scenario."

"We won't abandon our citizens," Barak said. "The IDF's job is to defend the home front."

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Defense Minister Barak, and Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni met Friday night and approved the ground incursion. The operation was approved in principle in the cabinet session 10 days ago.

Gaza pounded
Earlier in the day, artillery cannons started to shell targets in the Strip. The IDF said that by Saturday evening hundreds of shells had been fired at precise targets in Gaza. Much of Gaza was enveloped by darkness as night fell.

Meanwhile, Air Force aircraft continued to drop leaflets in Gaza, calling on residents to leave their homes in order to avoid injury. The leaflets dropped Saturday read: "Area resident, as result of the acts undertaken by terror activists in your area against Israel, the IDF is forced to respond immediately and operate in this area. For your own safety, you are asked to leave the area immediately."

Earlier Saturday, the Air Force attacked a vehicle in Khan Younis carrying Hamas officer Muhammad Maaruf and another group member. The two were reportedly killed in the strike. Saturday morning, a senior Hamas commander was assassinated.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Holding him accountable - the Obama/O'Reilly interview

"I think Barack Obama--one of the great virtues of Barack Obama is consistency." - David Axelrod, senior adviser and campaign manager for Obama - NBC's Meet The Press, Dec. 28, 2008

He was in the Crossfire, lets see if he sticks to it



O'REILLY: Well, first of all, thanks for being a man of your word.


O'REILLY: But I was worried there for awhile. It's been nine months since we last met in New Hampshire.

OBAMA: It took a little while. I've had a few things to do in between, but I appreciate you having me on the show.

O'REILLY: OK. Let's start with national security. Do you believe we're in the middle of a War on Terror?

OBAMA: Absolutely.

O'REILLY: Who's the enemy?

OBAMA: Al Qaeda, the Taliban, a whole host of networks that are bent on attacking America, who have a distorted ideology, who have perverted the faith of Islam, and so we have to go after them.

O'REILLY: Is Iran part of that component?

OBAMA: Iran is a major threat. Now, I don't think that there is a — the same — they are not part of the same network. You've got Shia, and you've got Sunni. We've got to have the ability to distinguish between these groups, because, for example, the war in Iraq is a good example, where I believe the administration lumped together Saddam Hussein, a terrible guy, with Al Qaeda, which had nothing to do with Saddam Hussein.

O'REILLY: We'll get to that.

OBAMA: And as a consequence, we ended up, I think, misdirecting our resources. So they're all part of various terrorist networks that we have to shut down and we have to destroy, but they may not all be part and parcel of the same ideology.

O'REILLY: But I still don't understand — and I'm asking this as an American as well as a journalist — how threatening you feel Iran is? Look, if Iran gets a nuclear weapon, OK, to me, they're going to give it to Hezbollah if they can develop the technology. Why not? And they'll say, "Well, we didn't have anything to do with it."

So therefore, the next president of the United States is going to have to make a decision about Iran, whether to stop them militarily, because I don't believe — if diplomacy works, fine, but you've got to have a Plan B, and a lot of people say, "Look, Barack Obama is not going to attack Iran."

OBAMA: Here's where you and I agree. It is unacceptable for Iran to possess a nuclear weapon. It would be a game changer, and I've said that repeatedly. I've also said I would never take a military option off the table.

O'REILLY: But would you prepare for one?

OBAMA: Well, listen...

O'REILLY: That's the question though, senator. Anybody can say option. Would you prepare for it?

OBAMA: Look, it is not appropriate for somebody who is one of two people who can be the president of the United States to start tipping their hand in terms of what their plans might be with respect to Iran. It's sufficient to say I would not take the military option off the table and that I will never hesitate to use our military force in order to protect the homeland and United States' interests.

But where I disagree with you is the notion that we've exhausted every other resource, because the fact of the matter is that, for six, seven years, during this administration, we weren't working as closely as we needed to do with the Europeans to create...

O'REILLY: Diplomacy might work. You might be able to sanction economically.

OBAMA: …sanctions.

O'REILLY: Maybe.

OBAMA: Maybe.

O'REILLY: But that's all hypothetical.

OBAMA: Everything is hypothetical, but the question is, are we trying to do what we need to do to ratchet up the pressure on them, to change their...

O'REILLY: OK. We'll assume you're going to ratchet everything you can ratchet. But I'm going to assume that Iran is going to say, "Blank you. We're going to do what we want." And I want a president, whether it's you or McCain, who says, "You ain't doing that."

All right. Let's go to Iraq. I think history will show it's the wrong battlefield, OK? And I think that you were perspicacious in your original assessment of the battlefield.

OBAMA: I appreciate that.

O'REILLY: I think you were desperately wrong on the surge, and I think you should admit it to the nation that now we have defeated the terrorists in Iraq, and the Al Qaeda came there after we invaded, as you know. We defeated them.

OBAMA: Right.

O'REILLY: If we didn't, they would have used it as a staging ground. We've also inhibited Iran from controlling the southern part of Iraq by the surge, which you did not support. So why won't you say, "I was right in the beginning. I was wrong about that"?

OBAMA: If you listen to what I've said, and I'll repeat it right here on this show, I think that there's no doubt that the violence is down. I believe that that is a testimony to the troops that were sent and General Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker. I think that the surge has succeeded in ways that nobody anticipated, by the way, including President Bush and the other supporters. It has gone very well, partly because of the Anbar situation and the Sunni awakening, partly because of the Shia military. Look...

O'REILLY: But if it were up to you, there wouldn't have been a surge.

OBAMA: Look...

O'REILLY: No, no, no, no.

OBAMA: No, no, no...

O'REILLY: If it were up to you, there wouldn't have been a surge.

OBAMA: No, no, no.

O'REILLY: You and Joe Biden, no surge.

OBAMA: Hold on a second, Bill. If you look at the debate that was taking place, we had gone through five years of mismanagement of this war that I thought was disastrous. And the president wanted to double down and continue on an open-ended policy that did not create the kinds of pressure on the Iraqis to take responsibility and reconcile.

O'REILLY: But it worked. It worked. Come on.

OBAMA: Bill, what I've said is — I've already said it succeed beyond our wildest dreams.

O'REILLY: Why can't you say, "I was right in the beginning, and I was wrong about the surge"?

OBAMA: Because there's an underlying problem where what have we done. We have reduced the violence.


OBAMA: But the Iraqis still haven't taken responsibility, and we still don't have the kind of political reconciliation. We are still spending, Bill, $10 to $12 billion a month.

O'REILLY: And I hope if you're president, you can get them to kick in and pay us back.

OBAMA: They've got $79 billion.

O'REILLY: I'll go with you.

OBAMA: Let's go.

O'REILLY: We'll get some of that money back.

All right. Let's go to Afghanistan. Look, there's no winning the Taliban war unless Pakistan cracks down on the guys that are in Pakistan.

OBAMA: You and I agree completely. Right.

O'REILLY: We all know that.

OBAMA: Right.

O'REILLY: You gave a speech in Denver — good speech, by the way.

OBAMA: Thank you.

O'REILLY: But you bloviated about McCain not following him to the cave. You're not going to invade Pakistan, senator, if you're president. You're not going to send ground troops in there. You know it.

OBAMA: Here's the problem. John McCain loves to say, "I would follow them to the gates of Hell."

O'REILLY: But he's not going to invade either.

OBAMA: And the point is what we could have done...

O'REILLY: No, not could. Let's stay in now.

OBAMA: What we can do...


OBAMA: ...is stay focused on Afghanistan and put more pressure on the Pakistanis.

O'REILLY: Like what?

OBAMA: For example, we are providing them military aid without having enough strings attached. So they're using the military aid that we use to Pakistan, they're preparing for a war against India.

O'REILLY: So you're going to pull it out and let the Islamic fundamentalists take them over?

OBAMA: No, no, no, no. What we say is, look, we're going to provide them with additional military support targeted at terrorists, and we're going to help build their democracy and provide...

O'REILLY: We're doing that now. Negroponte's over there, and he's doing that.

OBAMA: That is not what we've been doing, Bill. We've wasted $10 billion with Musharraf without holding him accountable for knocking out those safe havens.

O'REILLY: So you are going to — again, more diplomacy, and we need it, absolutely, trying to convince the Pakistan government to take a more aggressive approach. If you don't, we're going to pull…

OBAMA: And what I will do is, if we have bin Laden in our sights...


OBAMA: ...we target him, and we knock him out.

O'REILLY: But everybody would do that. I mean, that would be the biggest win Bush could have.

OBAMA: Of course.

O'REILLY: If you send ground troops in, all hell breaks loose.

OBAMA: We can't — we can't have — and nobody talked about some full-blown invasion of Pakistan, but the simple point that I made was we've got to put more pressure on Pakistan to do what they need to do.

O'REILLY: I want you to react to a couple of stats that I pulled out of here. You are a big tax the rich guy, aren't you?


O'REILLY: I know…

OBAMA: I think you're making too much money, man.

O'REILLY: You and Hillary both, you just want to take my money, and you can have it. I mean, I don't care if I live in a hut. Under President Bush, the federal government derived 20 percent more revenue than under President Clinton. Did you know that?

OBAMA: Well…

O'REILLY: Did you know that?

OBAMA: ...the economy grew, Bill.

O'REILLY: It grew, that's right.

OBAMA: The economy grew, so of course, the…

O'REILLY: Under President Bush, the economy grew 19 percent more than Clinton. See, this is what I'm not getting with you Democrats.

OBAMA: No, no, no. Hold on a second, Bill. Wait, Bill, hold on a second now. I mean, you know the famous saying about there are lies, damn lies, and statistics?


OBAMA: Well, you and I can — we can play a statistics game.

O'REILLY: I know it's bull. I know it is.

OBAMA: So let's be clear on the record, OK? The — during the Bush administration…


OBAMA: ...there was economic growth. Not as fast as during the 1990s, OK, but there was growth during the Bush administration. But what happened was that wages and incomes for ordinary Americans, the guys who watch your show…


OBAMA: …the guys who you advocate for and you speak for on this show…

O'REILLY: Right.

OBAMA: …their wages and incomes did not go up.


OBAMA: They went down.

O'REILLY: Do you know why?

OBAMA: And the reason they went down…


OBAMA: ...is because most of the corporate profits and increased productivity went to the top, not just one percent, but the top one-tenth of a percent.

O'REILLY: Well, let me submit to you that you're wrong.

OBAMA: And part of…

O'REILLY: OK. We've been studying this issue because we want to be fair and balanced and give all sides.

OBAMA: Right.

O'REILLY: T he reason that wages have been depressed — and they're not that much. It's about $400 or $500 for the Bush administration, real wages up, and about $2,000 under the Clinton administration — is because there are 10 million immigrants, new immigrants in the workforce, most of whom are illegal aliens.

OBAMA: Bill…

O'REILLY: Those 10 million…

OBAMA: I totally disagree.

O'REILLY: ...with their salaries.


O'REILLY: ...have brought down — but again, that's statistics. Let's get back to taxing the rich.

OBAMA: So let me just finish making my point.

O'REILLY: All right.

OBAMA: The fact is for people in your income bracket and mine…

O'REILLY: Right.

OBAMA: ...now, we both come from humble beginnings. And we were talking before the show that the fact that only in America could we have this success.

O'REILLY: Absolutely.

OBAMA: And I am not somebody who begrudges that success. I want people…

O'REILLY: But you want 50 percent of my success.

OBAMA: No, I don't. No, I don't.

O'REILLY: That's your tax rate, 50.

OBAMA: What I…

O'REILLY: ...if you get elected…

OBAMA: What I have said is that I would take your marginal rate back to what it was under Bill Clinton.

O'REILLY: Yes, 39.

OBAMA: You go back to 39.

O'REILLY: Right.

OBAMA: You can afford that. That's point No. 1. In exchange, I'm cutting taxes for 95 percent of Americans. 95 percent.

O'REILLY: That's swell, but that's class warfare.

OBAMA: It's not. Ninety-five percent is not class warfare.

O'REILLY: And then — whoa, whoa, whoa.

OBAMA: What I'm saying is that 95 percent of the American people are getting a tax break three times the amount of tax relief under my plan than John McCain's — and that's not my statistic.

O'REILLY: Here's where I got a problem.

OBAMA: That's from independent analysts.

O'REILLY: And it's not all about me, believe me.

OBAMA: Go ahead.

O'REILLY: Twenty percent more revenue coming in under Bush than Clinton, all right? He cuts taxes, people invest more. He cuts the capital gains. The government gets 20 percent more than under Clinton. You want to raise it back up. It doesn't make sense.

Secondly, the payroll tax. Over $250, you are going to hike it to infinity.

OBAMA: I am not.

O'REILLY: What's the cap?

OBAMA: That's not true.

O'REILLY: Whoa, whoa, whoa. What's the cap?

OBAMA: All I've said is that after $250…


OBAMA: ...right, then we could raise the cap. Not…

O'REILLY: We could or we will?

OBAMA: What I have said is that if we've got a set of options to stabilize Social Security, which I think is important, and I think you do, too.

O'REILLY: Right.

OBAMA: Because there are millions of seniors out there who depend on it. And we've got a couple of options. We could raise the retirement age or No. 2, we could cut benefits. Try living on Social Security right now. That's no fun if you're a senior. No. 3, we could just do nothing, in which case in the out years, Social Security will be — let me finish my point, Bill. In the out years, it's going to be essentially a reduction in benefits. We could raise the payroll tax on everybody.

O'REILLY: Don't do that. I don't mind you...

OBAMA: There is no free lunch. So my only point is…

O'REILLY: No, there is a free lunch.

OBAMA: What is the free lunch?

O'REILLY: The free lunch is that you're taking the wealthy in America and the big earners, OK, you're taking money away from them and you're giving it to people who don't. That's called income redistribution. It's a socialist tenant. Come on, you know that. You went to Harvard.

OBAMA: Teddy Roosevelt supported a progressive income tax.

O'REILLY: Not at the level you do.

OBAMA: Bill, I don't like paying taxes. You think I like writing a check? What I believe is that there's certain things we've got to do. And we've got to help people who are having a tough time affording college so they can benefit like we benefited from this great country. People who are have having a tough time; they don't have health care. People who are trying to figure out how they are going to pay the bills. And there are certain things we've got to do. Our infrastructure — look what happened in Beijing. You go to the Olympics and these folks are building, and we've got sewer lines that are crumbling.


OBAMA: And at a certain point, we've got to pay for it.

O'REILLY: You're not across the board-ing it. You're going, I'm taking from the rich. I'm Robin Hood Obama.

OBAMA: Bill…

O'REILLY: And I'm giving to everybody else.

OBAMA: All I'm saying is…

O'REILLY: And then you want to raise corporate taxes.

OBAMA: No, I don't. That's not true.

O'REILLY: You want — you don't want…

OBAMA: All I'm saying is, if we've got something that we've got to pay for — under George Bush, the debt has gone up $4 trillion. Right? So that's a credit card we're taking out on our kids from the Bank of China that they're going to have to pay.

O'REILLY: War on Terror, though, come on.

OBAMA: Well, no, no, no, that's not true. That has to do in part with the Bush tax cuts and no cuts in spending.

O'REILLY: All right. You can't — Bush tax cuts generated more income. The spending is out of control.

OBAMA: The Bush record, the numbers are what they are. $4 trillion. Now we've got a choice. We can keep on just borrowing and dump it on our kids. That's option No. 1.

O'REILLY: You can take it from the wealthy and give it to everybody else.

OBAMA: Or we could have across the board tax hikes, what you just talked about.

O'REILLY: It's not income redistribution.

OBAMA: Well, but the problem is, if I am sitting pretty, and you've got a waitress who is making minimum wage plus tips, and I can afford it if she can't, what's the big deal for me to say I'm going to pay a little bit more?

O'REILLY: Because it inhibits…

OBAMA: That is neighborliness.

O'REILLY: Listen, if you raise the cap gains tax, that's going to inhibit investment. I won't buy as many stocks. And many, many, more people won't, OK, that's…

OBAMA: If we went up…

O'REILLY: It's going to come back to bite you, senator.

OBAMA: If we went up to a prohibitive rate, you're right. But look…

O'REILLY: Thirty percent on — that's Vegas, man. I'm not going with those odds. Fifteen I'll pay. Not 30.

OBAMA: I didn't do to — I didn't say we would go to that.

O'REILLY: You said between 25 and 28.

OBAMA: No, what we said is let's say we go up to 20. I've talked to…

O'REILLY: Twenty is OK, not 25.

OBAMA: Well, you and I agree.

O'REILLY: All right.

O'REILLY: I'm sitting here and I'm an American. I'm sitting there in Bismarck, North Dakota, I'm sitting there in Coral Springs, Florida, and I'm seeing Reverend Wright, I'm seeing Father Pfleger, who thinks Louie Farrakhan's a great guy, I'm seeing Bernadette Dohrn and Bill Ayers, Weather Underground radicals, who don't think they bombed enough, I'm seeing MoveOn.org, who says "General Betray Us," and I'm seeing you go to a Daily Kos convention. And this week Daily Kos came out and said that Sarah Palin's Down syndrome baby was birthed by her 15-year-old with no proof. They put that on there. And I'm going, gee, that Barack Obama, he's got some pretty bad friends.


O'REILLY: Am I wrong?

OBAMA: You are wrong. Let's start from scratch. No. 1, I know thousands of people, right? And so, understandably, people will pick out folks who they think they can…

O'REILLY: I don't know anybody like that, and I know thousands of people. I don't know anybody like that.

OBAMA: But well, hold on a second. Let me make my point now. The Wright thing we've talked about. I joined a church to worship God, not a pastor. This whole notion that he was my spiritual mentor and all this stuff, this is something that I've consistently discussed. I had not heard him make the offensive comments that ended up being looped on this show constantly. And I was offended by them and ultimately…

O'REILLY: So you'd never heard those comments?

OBAMA: I hadn't heard those comments.

O'REILLY: He was selling them in the lobby of the church.

OBAMA: What can I tell you?

O'REILLY: How many times did you go to church a month?

OBAMA: You know, I probably go twice a month sometimes.

O'REILLY: And he never said inflammatory stuff?

OBAMA: He didn't say stuff like that, all right, so…

O'REILLY: Did he say white people were bad?


O'REILLY: Never?

OBAMA: What he said was racism was bad, and…

O'REILLY: But not white people are bad?

OBAMA: There was no doubt that what he said was racism was bad. The relationship was ruptured. I'm not a member of the church.

O'REILLY: Right.

OBAMA: In both his case and Father Pfleger's case, they've done great work in the community, and I worked in some very poor communities. That's how I got to know these folks because I was working in these neighborhoods. Now, on this Ayers thing, would you — you know, you've been hyping, Bill, pretty good.

O'REILLY: Not that much. You know, you were on the Woods Foundation.

OBAMA: Well, but here's the bottom line.


OBAMA: This guy did something despicable 40 years ago.

O'REILLY: You know, he did something despicable last week. He said he didn't do enough bombings. That's last week.

OBAMA: I haven't seen the guy in a year-and-a-half. But…

O'REILLY: But you know who he was. He's on the Woods Foundation board. You know he…

OBAMA: Let me finish my point, all right? Here's a guy who does something despicable when I'm 8 years old.


OBAMA: All right? I come to Chicago. He's working with Mayor Richard Daley, not known to be a radical. So, he and I know each other as a consequence of work he's doing on education. That is not an endorsement of his views. That's not…

O'REILLY: Yes, but you guys partnered up on a youth crime bill. Do you remember that?

OBAMA: And it was a good bill.

O'REILLY: No, it wasn't. That bill said that if a youth commits a second violent felony, he does time in an adult prison. That's two shots. You said no. You know the Southside of Chicago. You know how many people are hurt.

OBAMA: Listen, you're absolutely right. My community gets hit by crime more than…

O'REILLY: And I'm right on that bill. You were wrong on that bill.

OBAMA: Well, I disagree with you on that bill. We're getting too far afield here.

O'REILLY: That's important though. You and Ayers were allied on that bill.

OBAMA: No, no. Look, he didn't write that bill.

O'REILLY: No, he was supporting it, and so were you.

OBAMA: Well…

O'REILLY: But you guys were together on it.

OBAMA: Hold on a second. Now we're getting…

O'REILLY: All right. If that's unfair, I'm sorry.

OBAMA: That's pretty flimsy. Here's the point, right? This guy is not part of my campaign. He's not some adviser of mine. He is somebody who worked on education issues in Chicago that I know.

The problem that your viewers, your guys that — your folks, the folks you champion, the problem you're going through, the problems they're going through with trying to pay their bills, trying to keep their job, trying to move up in this world, their problem isn't Bill Ayers. It was Bill Ayers 40 years ago when he was blowing stuff up.

O'REILLY: They want a president who they can identify with.

OBAMA: They want a president…

O'REILLY: Who they can identify with.

OBAMA: And they should be able to identify with me because my story is your story. My story is your story.

O'REILLY: But your associations are not my associations.


O'REILLY: MoveOn, "General Betray Us," the Daily Kos.

OBAMA: I was offended by that.

O'REILLY: Come on.

OBAMA: And I said I was offended by it.

O'REILLY: But you said good things about them. You showed up to the Kos convention.

OBAMA: But look…

O'REILLY: You don't get worse than these.

OBAMA: Hold on a second. I mean, there's a whole bunch of stuff said on FOX about me that is completely…

O'REILLY: Correct the record.

OBAMA: ...biased. Well, but I still don't mind coming on your show. Just because there are a whole bunch of things that may be said on this network that I completely disagree with, I don't sort of assume that you have to take responsibility for everything that is said on FOX News, any more than I would expect you to take responsibility for everything that's said on Daily Kos. Think about it.

O'REILLY: That's a hateful thing.


O'REILLY: FOX News is not hateful.

OBAMA: They're…

O'REILLY: Oh, it isn't. Some of those — some of our commentators…

OBAMA: If you were watching Sean Hannity consistently…

O'REILLY: He's a commentator though.

OBAMA: Well, but that's all these bloggers are. I'm not making excuses for them. Listen, they…

O'REILLY: No, Hannity's never said he wants…

OBAMA: They've gone…

O'REILLY: ...Dick Cheney to die of cancer.

OBAMA: Hold on, hold on a second. Hold on a second. All I'm saying is these guys, they've given me a hard time. You know one of the times they gave me a hard time?

O'REILLY: They're raising a ton of money for you.

OBAMA: You know one of the times they gave me a hard time? Was when I went to campaign for Joe Lieberman. Now, Joe didn't mention that in his speech the other night.

O'REILLY: Then they gave you a hard time about voting for the…


O'REILLY: ...the FISA thing.

OBAMA: Exactly. So it's not — all I'm saying is I expect to be held responsible for the things I say and do. And one of the things that's happened in this campaign, and I think that you have the power to help correct the record on this, is not to put me in a position where every tangential relationship…

O'REILLY: It isn't. There's a pattern of behavior here.

OBAMA: No, there is not a pattern of behavior. It is guilt — it is classic guilt by association.

O'REILLY: The pattern of behavior is that you feel very comfortable, for some reason, in far-left precincts. That's the pattern of behavior that I see.

OBAMA: But Bill, I've got friends who are on the far right.


OBAMA: They're — I've got colleagues in the Senate.

O'REILLY: Who? Give me a name.

OBAMA: Well, no, no, no.

O'REILLY: I always do that.

OBAMA: No, no, no.

O'REILLY: I'm sorry.

OBAMA: But here's what happens is if I give a name, then people — then the next thing I know is people will say they're comparing this friend of his to Bill Ayers.

O'REILLY: You know what I wanted to hear? I go golfing with Rush Limbaugh. That's what I wanted to hear there.

O'REILLY: $150 billion to alternative energy in the Obama administration.


O'REILLY: OK, over 10 years.


O'REILLY: To what? What's it going to be?

OBAMA: Let me give you some examples. We have to extend tax credits for solar, wind, hydro. We just visited a hydro plant…

O'REILLY: We just got our shot at it though. What if solar, wind and hydro don't work?

OBAMA: But that was true for the space program. Kennedy didn't know how we were going to go to the moon. The nature of discovery and research and innovation is you put money into a whole bunch of promising pots. It's like venture capital, and you figure out what works. And some things are going to work, and some things are not.

Look, I had a meeting with T. Boone Pickens.

O'REILLY: I'm with you. I'm with you.

OBAMA: Here's an example. He is absolutely right that we can't sustain importing 70 percent of our oil.

O'REILLY: Everybody knows that. But you've got to have a plan.

OBAMA: And I do have a plan.

O'REILLY: You should get nukes involved. Why are you against nuclear energy?

OBAMA: I am not.

O'REILLY: France and Sweden do it.

OBAMA: I am not against nuclear energy.

O'REILLY: Well, let's get the plants up.

OBAMA: Well, OK, why not?

O'REILLY: Let's start drilling in ANWR. What are you…

OBAMA: Who's arguing with you?

O'REILLY: Are you afraid it's…

OBAMA: ANWR, I think, is a problem.

O'REILLY: What, a caribou is going to be scared? Come on. You're with the folks that can't pay their heating bill and you're worried about a caribou going, what's that pipeline doing?

OBAMA: No, but I tell you — listen.

O'REILLY: What? What?

OBAMA: One of the great things about this country, we've got some beautiful real estate here.

O'REILLY: Oh, come on, nobody goes to ANWR. Nobody runs shuttles up there.

OBAMA: We are lucky to have some of the most beautiful real estate on earth. And we want to make sure that…

O'REILLY: You're making me cry here.

OBAMA: We want to make sure we're passing it on to the next generation. But this notion that I'm opposed to nuclear power, it's just not true.

O'REILLY: I don't want to hear pristine. I don't want to hear caribou.

OBAMA: It's not…

O'REILLY: I want to hear…

OBAMA: ...that hard to understand.

O'REILLY: …we're going to get this many new plants, we're going to put this much into solar. We're going to get this, this, this. And that would drive down the price of oil.

OBAMA: I'll help you.

O'REILLY: No, it's your deal. I'm not running for anything.

OBAMA: No, no, no. I'll make sure to send that plan so that you can start advertising it for us.

O'REILLY: Well, you can come back on and tell me.

OBAMA: I look forward to it.

O'REILLY: All right. Now, NATO doesn't fight in Afghanistan. I don't know whether you know that or not. The Germans won't fight. The French will, because they — Sarkozy.

OBAMA: They lost 10 of their troops.

O'REILLY: Right. But the Germans won't. A lot of the others won't.

OBAMA: Right.

O'REILLY: So it's all on us again. Why won't the Germans fight against the Taliban?

OBAMA: You know part of the reason?


OBAMA: Part of the reason is, is that we soured our relationship with the Europeans after Iraq. And, you know, when I went over to Europe, and if you listened to that speech in Berlin, which you know, a lot of your buddies had a good time making fun of.

O'REILLY: I don't have any buddies.

OBAMA: But if you listened to what I said, one of the things I said in that speech is you cannot think that the Americans are going to just carry all the freight on this thing. You guys have to step up to the plate.

O'REILLY: So when you're president…

OBAMA: But Bob Gates, the Secretary of Defense – who, by the way, I think is a serious guy in this administration and has helped…

O'REILLY: Good guy.

OBAMA: …helped straighten out some of the foreign policy problems — he himself has acknowledged that part of the problem is, politically, there is enough anti-Iraq sentiment in there, in Europe…

O'REILLY: To poison the well for Afghanistan.

OBAMA: To poison the well for Afghanistan.

O'REILLY: So you're going to change all that with a magic wand?

OBAMA: I'm not going to — no, I'm not going to change all that with a magic wand. I'm not going to change anything with a magic wand. What I'm going to do is I'm going to engage in the kind of deliberate diplomacy and change our policy in Iraq to send a signal to the world, the central front on terror right now is in Afghanistan and the hills between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

O'REILLY: But you can't change things in Iraq if it's going to benefit Iran. And that's going to be…

OBAMA: Well, that I agree with.

O'REILLY: ...that's going to be your minefield that you're walking on.

OBAMA: But Bill, you and I probably agree on the fact that Iran's one of the biggest beneficiaries of us going into Iraq in the first place.

O'REILLY: Has been, but not now. Now they're paying a big price for miscalculating the resolve of our country.

OBAMA: I will say the fact that the Shia militias have folded up right now is a good thing. Now you've got these special groups in the south…

O'REILLY: And it hurt Iran.

OBAMA: …which is still a problem. And we've got to deal with this.

O'REILLY: OK. The United States and Poland putting a missile shield in Poland, all right? Putin doesn't like it.

OBAMA: Right.

O'REILLY: Are you going to keep that missile shield in there?

OBAMA: I think that we have to make sure that — I've said this before. The Russians are playing a game when they pretend that this missile shield is directed against all their ICBMs.

O'REILLY: Yes, it's ridiculous. It's a defensive thing.

OBAMA: It's a defensive thing. And we…

O'REILLY: So you're going to keep it there, then?

OBAMA: And given what has happened in Georgia, I think that we have to send a clear signal that Poland and other countries in that region are not going to be subject to intimidation and aggression.

O'REILLY: OK, now I just want to get this on the record. You're elected president, you're keeping the missile shield in Poland.

OBAMA: I believe that the missile shield is appropriate. I want to make sure it works though. I want to make sure it works.

O'REILLY: We'll test it. All right.

OBAMA: Which is one of the problems that we've got.

O'REILLY: So Putin comes out last week and he says hey, look, we're going to reimpose our dominance on all of the countries that surround us. We don't care whether you like it or not because you're tied down in Iraq and Afghanistan. We're going to do what we want to do.

OBAMA: Right.

O'REILLY: Putin, nasty little guy, No. 1. Would you agree with that assessment?

OBAMA: Well, I'll agree with the assessment that I wouldn't look into his soul and…


OBAMA: ...think I know him.

O'REILLY: I'll put a cowboy hat on the guy.


O'REILLY: This is going to be a problem, all right?

OBAMA: It's a huge problem.


OBAMA: It's one of our biggest problems.

O'REILLY: So you're going to have to confront Putin.

OBAMA: That's exactly right.

O'REILLY: Maybe not militarily. Maybe you can do it other ways. But Europe is weak, and Europe is cowardly.

OBAMA: Right.

O'REILLY: You know, what are they going to have, another meeting? Yes, Putin's quaking, aren't they? Isn't Putin quaking about…

OBAMA: Well, you know, here's the one thing I've said.

O'REILLY: I know you're going to rally them all. They're going to be terror warriors, right…

OBAMA: No, no, no, no.

O'REILLY: …right after you get elected. I know, I know.

OBAMA: Look, I mean, there are two things where we can have some leverage over Russia. No. 1 is that commercially, they are tied up with Europe, and they're increasingly integrated. Their stock market has taken a beating since they went into Georgia.

O'REILLY: Yes, but Putin does not care.

OBAMA: Well, Putin may not care, but there are a whole bunch of folks that…

O'REILLY: That do?

OBAMA: ...a whole bunch of billionaires in Moscow who do care, right. So that's a leverage point. And the Europeans can be helpful in applying that leverage point. That's point No. 1.

The second thing that we have to do is actually defensive. We've got to get our energy policies straight.

O'REILLY: Now, final question for you. I think I can kick your butt in one-on-one basketball.

OBAMA: You've got height.


OBAMA: But I think I've got speed.

O'REILLY: But you've got youth. I'm an old guy. I'm 73 years old.

OBAMA: Are you 73?

O'REILLY: Yes, this is Botox.

OBAMA: Is that right? You look good, man.

O'REILLY: How many are you going spot me?

OBAMA: What are you eating, looking like that at 73?

O'REILLY: I don't eat anything special. How many are you going to spot me on a one-on-one game? Because I think…

OBAMA: Game to 11?


OBAMA: I'd spot you 10.

O'REILLY: All right, you'd spot me 10. That's pretty cocky. That's pretty cocky. So now, I win, all right, I want to be secretary of state.

OBAMA: Now I hear you're…

O'REILLY: No, no, if I win, I want to be secretary of state.

OBAMA: I hear you're a pretty good athlete, but your game was football and baseball, right?

O'REILLY: Right. Senator, a pleasure.

OBAMA: I enjoyed it.

O'REILLY: All right. I enjoyed it, too.

OBAMA: Thank you so much.

O'REILLY: I hope you come back.

OBAMA: We'll be back.

O'REILLY: And good luck in the campaign.

OBAMA: Thank you so much. Appreciate it.

Jan. 1 - 50 years of Communist Cuba



For exiled Cubans, a mix of pain, nostalgia, hope

For Cuban exiles, people who left it all behind and started their lives anew, el exilio is a foster fatherland, a waiting room and safe haven to collectively yearn for a free Cuba.

The wait for the end of Fidel Castro's regime stretched into a half century in which Cuban exiles built a city with the blueprint of their transplanted memories. They couldn't carry Havana, Varadero or Pinar del Río in their sparse luggage, but they could replicate their essence in virtually every corner of a sleepy tourist town ripe for the makeover.

El exilio became synonymous with Miami, the undisputed capital of the Cuban exile, the largest Cuban enclave outside of Havana. It's a bittersweet story of sorrow and triumph, a catalog of obstacles and accomplishments in the shadow of a homeland that is only about a 30-minute plane ride from Miami, yet so far from reach. It makes the Cuban exodus an immigrant experience like no other in America.

Nearly two million Cubans have fled the island since Castro's revolution triumphed in 1959. More than 850,000 Cubans now live in Greater Miami and Broward County. About 250,000 live in the New Jersey/New York area, the second largest U.S. enclave. Thousands more are scattered throughout the United States and Puerto Rico. The rest settled in Latin America and Europe.

For most, el exilio has been a never-ending chain of family separation and reunion, a symphony of pain, nostalgia and esperanza, hope.

Every exodus -- Operation Pedro Pan in the early 1960s, the Camarioca boatlift in 1965, the Freedom Flights from 1965 through 1973, the Mariel boatlift of 1980, the thousands of rafters who risked their lives on the Florida Straits in the summer of 1994, the defectors, the artists and intellectuals and the visiting relatives who stayed, the immigration agreements and lottery that provided visas, the cigarette boats overloaded by smugglers so prevalent today -- set in motion the next wave.

One relative brought another and another in a sequence of tearful goodbyes on one side of the Florida Straits and tearful reunions on the other.

Industrial and entrepreneurial, the early exiles began to set down roots after the defeat of the Bay of Pigs invasion of 1961. From their efforts to rebuild rose Calle Ocho and southwest Miami, nicknamed la sagüesera, a Cuban flair that later extended throughout South Florida. Their economic success was unprecedented, and today, Cuban Americans are among the wealthiest Hispanics in the United States.

''Most of the Cuban exiles who came to the United States in the 1960s had skills and qualifications, which made it easier for them to adapt economically,'' says Lisandro Pérez, a Cuban-American sociologist at Florida International University.

``It was a migration of the country's elite. Those who left were already very successful; they had experience with the capitalist system in prerevolutionary Cuba and had already conducted trade with the United States. Also, the dynamics of Miami played an important role in the Cuban immigrant experience. It was a relatively small town, and there were plenty of opportunities for entrepreneurs.''


Other waves of exiles built upon that success.

Although at first the more than 125,000 refugees who arrived during the five-month Mariel boatlift of 1980 sent an already beleaguered Miami into a social and economic crisis, they also adapted and infused the region with an added layer of Cuban culture.

So did the 35,000 balseros -- rafters -- who left Cuba during the 1990s, and the scores of intellectuals who fled in more recent years with work contracts via Madrid, Mexico, Paris and Buenos Aires and eventually ended up here.

Out of the exiles' sense of loss, a tapestry of all things Cuban was draped over Greater Miami. Cuban culture is thickest in municipalities like Hialeah, where West 46th Place is Cuban Cultural Heritage Boulevard and West 47th Place proclaims ''Añorada Cuba Boulevard,'' Cuba of Our Yearning Boulevard.

It's shared over a cup of café cubano in places like the restaurant Versailles, where the Castro regime is scorned by the knots of Cubans who mill there well into the dawn hours. The restaurant is a hub of cubanía where you find shoulder-to-shoulder former batistianos -- who once supported dictator Fulgencia Batista -- disenchanted fidelistas and recently arrived dissidents.

''El exilio is a land that exists in Miami. The rest of us live as Cubans in the United States,'' says Silvia Pedraza, a Michigan sociologist who left Cuba as a child in 1961. She spends some summers in Miami, nurturing her intellectual interest in exile as well as getting ''my dose of culture,'' which remains fresh because every wave brings to Miami new art, new literature, new slang, an updated version of cubanía.

Through it all, there has been but one hope -- a free Cuba. Each New Year's Eve, while in Havana the government hailed another year of the Castros in power, in Miami's Cuban-exile homes a toast was made, a pledge renewed: ``El año que viene en Cuba.''

Next year in Cuba.

The next year often brought new upheaval on the island -- but not its democratization. More often than not, after an economic crisis threatened the end of the Castros' regime, the new year brought another exodus.


After the fall of communism in Europe in 1989, singer Willy Chirino summed up the exiles' euphoric hopes in a song that trumpeted ``nuestro día viene llegando'' -- our day is coming.

Some exiles packed their bags; some even put their houses up for sale. But the years passed and brought not the end of Castro's rule, but more refugees, another wave of people who left it all behind to start all over again -- in Miami, city of exiles, city of one dream, one longing.

Today, another Castro is in power. Still, Miami's Cubans never give up their stubborn hope. Chirino's song never goes out of style, and to this day, Miami sings: ``Ya viene llegando'' -- the day is coming.