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US-Election 2008
El Semanal Digital, Spain
A False Election: John McCain, the Abortionist and Leftist “Neocon”
By Eduardo Arroyo
Translated by Fortunato Brown
February 08, 2008
Spain – El Semanal Digital - Original Article (Spanish)

An election carried out exclusively by the Party ‘establishment’, not by the citizens: in this way, if caucuses and primaries in general are manipulated, voters will have no choice except to vote for false options, which mean no possibility of authentic change. For example, among Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee and John McCain, the differences in the key subject of foreign policy are minimal or differences only in shade. In the case of McCain, his opinions are not, by far, in line with the principal worries of the Americans who vote republican.

In 1993, senator McCain voted in favor of the leftist pro-abortion judge Ruth Bader Ginsburg for the Supreme Court. In 2006, he was part of the so-called ‘gang of 14’ which sought to prevent the Republican Party from avoiding the obstructionist maneuvers of the democrats who wanted to stop by all means president Bush from appointing conservative Anthony Alito again to the Supreme Court. McCain made it possible for the Democratic Party to block the appointment of conservative judges. With these antecedents, the voters of the Republican Party consider it very very unlikely that McCain would reverse the famous Roe vs. Wade sentence that guarantees abortion in the US.

There is still more. In declarations to The Detroit News on January 3rd this year, John McCain stated: ‘when you analyze history, whenever we have adopted protectionist measures we have paid a high price’. We do not know which History has senator McCain read, but certainly it is not ours. The United States has been a country built on the ‘protectionism’ that has led to the manufacture of 42% of all merchandise in the planet. Now the Asian countries that rival its power are adopting openly ‘protectionist’ economic policies that would be unacceptable to the gurus of “free” trade in the West. How can reality be ignored in this way?

But there is still more. McCain led the republican delegation that opposed the so-called ‘proposal 200’, an initiative of the state of Arizona, approved in November 2004, which required that a person had to demonstrate US citizenship before being eligible for receiving state benefits or to vote. It is not surprising, consequently, that John McCain has been openly favorable to the suicidal policy of ‘amnesty’ that pretends to convert to ‘North Americans’ the 12 million illegals who are in the country in violation of the law.

Lastly, on Youtube, you can find a video in which John McCain, in the style of the old song by the Beach Boys, Barbara Ann, the senator sings in front of the audience ‘Bomb, bomb, bomb—bomb, bomb Iran’. The pun is most telling, and if you listen to McCain in Polk City, Florida, on January 27 in front of CNN cameras stating: ‘I am sorry to tell you but there will be other wars. We will never give up, but there will be other wars’, you know that John McCain has morphed into a good opportunity for the return of the ‘neocon‘ epidemics to the power centers in Washington. Between a president McCain and the Zionist hawks spread all over the world, the West can find itself immersed again in an absurd and unnecessary war against a country three times more populated than Iraq.

In short, a new ‘100-year war’ –but planetary in scope, delocalization and immigration without restrictions and abortion for everybody. Is this representative of the American conservative base? No. Is there any difference with what Hilary Clinton says? Once again, no.

The worst is, however, how the truthful debate has been swindled out of the people. Ron Paul, the only candidate to the presidency who said something different from the other three candidates on the key points of immigration, economic policy and foreign policy has been excluded by the very ‘establishment’ of the Republican Party and especially by the mass media. Fox News vetoed him off the debate, which surprised many, and MSNBC did the same. On the web page of the Ludwig von Mises Institute there is a brilliant article by David J. Heinrich about the candidate’s ostracism.

In Spain, from La Razon to El Pais newspapers, and the same in the rest of Europe, all irreconcilable enemies have coincided in silencing the best kept secret of the American elections: the critical position of a senator from Texas who thinks immigration is destroying his country’s cohesion, ‘free trade’ is not free but the blackmailing of people by big corporations and banks, and that disastrous foreign policy is pushing the country over the abyss.
As ever, you may think what you want about ‘democracy’, but the data once again demonstrate that before being just an idea, democracy is a strategy of power so that those who actually govern may consolidate an indisputable power and push us to decisions that do not reflect public opinion. To that purpose, the media create a virtual reality that helps to elect only and exclusively among what they want.
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->This is not fair comment on blacks. Whatever good Clinton did they ensured him two terms. You can't expect as a group they do same to elect the next Clinton or his kid Chelsea.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
In last two years Clintons Global had spent 50+ millions in Africa. He raised money for New Orleans. His and Her contribution after 2000 is remarkable. Even then 81% + black voters decided to vote for new guy, untested because of Skin color.
He had no slave or underprivileged history etc. but he is able to get all benefits.
Some says he is new Martin Luther King or Black pope.

As Obama sister's says we are hybrid.

Some tidbit about Obama and family
Obama father was Kenyan Muslim, mother White anthropologist from Kansas, he is married to African American, since last 20 years he is practicing Christianity. Before that he was Muslim/ studied Upanishad, bible and Koran
Obama half sister's father was Indonesian Muslim. She is married to Vietnam/Chinese Canadian, she practice Buddhism.
Obama other half sister is Kenyan Muslim.

True international, multi-culture, multi-racial, multi- religion family. <!--emo&Big Grin--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/biggrin.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='biggrin.gif' /><!--endemo-->
Would be a interesting Potomac primary today to watch numbers for McCain. He's been been virtually nominated by now, but his acceptance by conservatives is still a question mark.
Let's see how much lead he's gains over Huckabee.

<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->True international, multi-culture, multi-racial, multi- religion family. <!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
Hence the appeal to <i>'progressive'</i> types, if you catch my drift. Remains to be seen if they'll back him all the way to Nov or they start bailing out once the Republican machinery start swift boating him.
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin-->Hence the appeal to 'progressive' types, if you catch my drift. Remains to be seen if they'll back him all the way to Nov or they start bailing out once the Republican machinery start swift boating him.<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->
I am waiting for swift boat, I suspect it will start very soon.
The dark Clinton vision, with a healthy dose of paranoia
Maureen Dowd
February 7, 2008
Page 1 of 2 | Single page

HILLARY Clinton denounced Dick Cheney as Darth Vader, but she did not absorb the ultimate lesson of the destructive Vice-President: don't become so paranoid that you let yourself be overwhelmed by a dark vision.

I think Hillary truly believes that she and Bill are the only ones tough enough to get to the White House. Jack Nicholson endorsed her as "the best man for the job", and she told David Letterman that "in my White House, we'll know who wears the pantsuits".

But her pitch is the colour of pitch. Because she has absorbed all the hate and body blows from nasty Republicans over the years, she is the best person to absorb more hate and body blows from nasty Republicans.

Darkness seeking darkness. It's an exhausting spectre, and the reason that Tom Daschle, Ted Kennedy, Claire McCaskill and so many other Democrats are dashing for daylight and trying to break away from the pathological Clinton path.

"I think we should never be derisive about somebody who has the ability to inspire," Senator McCaskill told David Gregory on MSNBC on Tuesday. "You know, we've had some dark days in this democracy over the last seven years, and today the sun is out. It is shining brightly. I watch these kids, these old and young, these black and white, 20,000 of them, pour into our dome in St Louis Saturday night, and they feel good about being an American right now. And I think that's something that we have to capture."

Tuesday's voting showed only that the voters, like moviegoers, don't want a pat ending. Hillary and Obama will battle on in chiaroscuro. Her argument to the Democratic base has gone from a subtext of "You owe me," or more precisely, "Bill owes me and you owe him," to a subtext of "Obambi will fold at the first punch from the right."
Hillary's strategist Mark Penn made the argument last week that because the voters have "very limited information" about Obama, the Republican attack machine would tear him down and he would lose the support of independents.</b> Then Penn tried to point the way to negative information on Obama, just to show that Obama wouldn't be able to survive Republicans pointing the way to negative information.

As she talked on Sunday to George Stephanopoulos, a former director of the formidable Clinton war room, Hillary's case boiled down to the fact that she can be Trouble, as they say about hard-boiled dames in film noir, when Republicans make trouble.

"I have been through these Republican attacks over and over and over again, and I believe that I've demonstrated that, much to the dismay of the Republicans, I not only can survive, but thrive," she said, adding that "frankly, in his prior election in Illinois, Senator Obama didn't face anyone who ran attack ads against him".

Better the devil you know than the diffident debutante you don't. Better to go with the Clintons, with all their dysfunction and chaos — the same dysfunction and chaos that fuelled the Republican hate machine — than to risk the chance that Obama would be mauled like a chew toy in the general election.

Better to blow off all the inspiration and the young voters, the independents and the Republicans that Obama is attracting than to take a chance on something as ephemeral as hope. Now that's Cheney-level paranoia.

Bill is propelled by Cheneyesque paranoia, as well. Bill's visceral reaction to Obama — from the "fairy tale" line to the inappropriate Jesse Jackson comparison — is rooted less in his need to see his wife elected than his need to see Obama lose, so that Bill's legacy is protected. If Obama wins, he'll be seen as the closest thing to JFK since JFK. And JFK is Bill's hero.

Even though Obama stopped smoking when he started running for president, he has lost more than 2 kilograms racing around the country. Just like Hollywood starlets, he works out religiously and can make a three-course meal out of a Nicorette.

For much of the year, when matched against Hillary in debates, the Illinois senator seemed out of his weight class. Though he has slimmed down, he has moved up to heavyweight. The big question is: can he go from laconic to iconic to bionic? Will he have the muscle to take on the opposition, from Billary, to the Republican hate machine, to the terrorists overseas?

"I try to explain to people, I may be skinny but I'm tough," he told a crowd of more than 15,000 in Hartford the other night, with the Kennedys looking on. "I'm from Chicago."

The relentless Hillary has been the reticent Obama's tutor in the Political School for Scandal. He is learning how to take a punch and give one back.

When she presents her mythic narrative, the dragon she has slain is the Republican attack machine. Obama told me he doesn't think about mythic narratives. Nonetheless, if he wants to be president, he'll have to slay the Clinton dragon.

Maureen Dowd is a New York Times columnist.

Het Parool, The Netherlands
American Press is Sick of the Clintons
WASINGTON – The American media predict a fierce battle between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. The journalistic sympathy clearly goes out to the black senator.
Translated by Dorian de Wind

February 07, 2008
The Netherlands – Het Parool- Original Article (Dutch)
A battle between “darkness and light.” That is how Maureen Dowd, the popular New York Times columnist, sees the Democratic primaries. “If Obama wants to be president, he has to slay the dragon,” concludes Dowd after Super Tuesday. “His dragon is the Clinton attack machine, which emerged Tuesday night, not invincible but breathing fire.”
It is sometimes not entirely clear who fights harder against Hillary Clinton: Barack Obama or the fine flower of American journalism. If the former first lady wins the democratic nomination, she will in no way have to be thankful to her “friends in the media.” “Hillary has had the whole dinner service thrown at her head,” complains one of her advisors. “It is time that the media also take a look at Obama.”
It is a complaint that continues to be expressed by Clinton supporters: Obama is the darling of the press. News experts almost declared him the winner on Tuesday. According to exit polls, Obama would win New Jersey as well as California. Eventually Clinton won in both states. Some journalists come right out: they want something newsworthy, not the Clintons again. “Obama is a new guy,” said Howard Fineman of Newsweek. “He is an interesting guy, a trendsetter and path breaker. Perhaps it is true that he is not looked at very critically.
Time’s Mark Halperin, who believes that the media are excessively critical of Clinton, was even clearer: “No one hopes that she wins.” Former president Bill Clinton can’t do any more good. “I am sick of him,” wrote Alex Beam, Boston Globe columnist, frankly. Maureen Dowd called Clinton “a narcissist” and her colleague Bob Herbert wrote that Clinton “sometimes comes across as a man who doesn’t take his medication.”
Only a few come to the aid of the Clintons. Columnist Craig Crawford called the criticism “insane.” “The evidence-free bias against the Clintons in the media borders on mental illness." Crawford went on to state, "I mean, we've gotten into a situation where if you try to be fair to the Clintons, if you ask for proof, you're accused of being a naïve shill for the Clintons.”
Sueddeutsche Zeitung, Germany
Back to Ronald Regan
By Christian Wernicke
Translated By Ron Argentati
(Originally written before Romney’s resignation)
Germany - Sueddeutsche Zeitung - Original Article (German)
Despite Mitt Romney’s Michigan victory in the Republican primaries, the party hasn’t smartened up. He’s not a Phoenix rising from the gray ashes of the Republican party. America’s Republicans are as puzzled as ever. They neither know where to go nor whom they want to follow. None of the men aspiring to the presidency fulfills the voters’ longing for new leadership.
It seems that George W. Bush is leaving his party only scorched earth: Eight out of ten American citizens (and one out of two Republicans) think the nation is on the wrong course. At the beginning of the election year 2008, the Grand Old Party lies in rubble and ashes. And nowhere in this gray pile is a Phoenix to be seen.
In its malaise, America’s right-wingers have emerged as an ancestor-worshiping cult. Everyone yearns for the long-departed Ronald Reagan – America’s 40th president – who during the nineteen eighties managed to unite the differing and often contrary wings of his party and forge them into a powerful army for his conservative revolution. None of the current aspirants exudes such an aura.
John McCain, for example, war veteran and aging senator, attracts moderate voters. But he appeals only to that segment of the party that places a strong military and national security above all. Meanwhile, the religious right, until now the most faithful conservative supporters, gathers around former Baptist preacher Mike Huckabee.
Powerful economic conservatives, at the same time, incline toward Mitt Romney, ex-business manager and former governor of Massachusetts, who won the Michigan primary vote. An interim review of Republican self-discovery – three primaries with three winners – reveals there is no leader to bind the party together
In the midst of this emergency, each of the Republican candidates campaigns for the right to the halo pronouncing him the rightful heir to Reagan’s throne. It is precisely this competition that leads the party off the track. Reagan's political mixture - military rearmament, religious renewal, radical tax cuts, including reducing government - is not a cure for current problems: The nation can no longer cope with billions more for the Pentagon, ever more fanatical Christian zeal against abortion and gays, and more tax relief for the wealthy at the expense of already impoverished communities. More of this kind of drastic remedy à la Ronald would drive the country to ruin. The popular desire for change, long rumbling amongst the people, is beginning to rumble in the Republican ranks as well. A good third of party supporters call for a strong state - not only as a guardian of law and order - but also as a guarantor of social and economic security at a time when Americans fear recession more than they fear the situation in Iraq.
These fears are addressed by right-wing candidates with nothing more than cheap populism. While they begin to disengage themselves from Bush, they do not have the courage to break from Reagan’s dusty old recipes.
The Republican renewal must wait until after the election.

Clinton or McCain? That's a tough one
By Shmuel Rosner
Tags: Israel Factor


Analyzing data for The Israel Factor has become a habit in the weeks of every important vote.

Just before the Iowa caucuses our panel concluded that "On just three questions is there something close to a consensus: The panel feels that it doesn't yet know enough about Huckabee, and it also feels that it is familiar enough with Clinton. They are also certain that Clinton is the better Democratic candidate for Israel."

A week later, just after the New Hampshire primaries, the panel responded to our question regarding the Republican candidates and Iran thus:

"McCain, with his relatively measured response ['don't think that this wasn't a serious situation of the utmost seriousness in one of the most important waterways in the world'], was acceptable to all panelists. He got a score of 4 from all of the panelists save two (who gave him a 3 and a 5), showing that they all liked what he said, but weren't completely bowled over."


Before Florida voted, when we realized that Giuliani would probably not be able to stay in the race for long, we indulged in some guess work, to try to understand how the panel would react to a two-way race between Clinton and McCain: "This month, there are three panelists who rank McCain higher than Clinton, two who rank Clinton higher, and three who give them the same mark."

So who would the panel prefer - a President Clinton or a President McCain? Here is your answer, for now:


Understanding how and why the panel is tied regarding such race requires some explaining.

Here are two other questions we asked this week:

The differences are minor, and more importantly, the panel is in agreement: All the panelists but one gave McCain a 4 or a 5 on both questions. All the panelists but two on the first question and one on the second gave Clinton a 4 or a 5 on both.

If you want to see a difference you'd have to turn to the issue of Iran. Clinton got a 3.875 for her policy regarding Iran, McCain a little more, with 4.375. But what's really interesting here is to see the way the panelists who favored each of these candidates differed on the question of Iran.

The figures above in blue are the members of the panel who support Clinton for president and the figures in red represent McCain supporters. As you can see, Clinton supporters scored McCain almost as highly on Iran (two scores of 5, one of 4 and one of 3), while three out of four supporters of McCain for president gave Clinton lower marks (two scores of 4 and two of 3), dragging down her average.

As we argued time and again, for the Israel Factor, Iran has been a very good predictor in this presidential race.


And here is another example. We asked the panel to judge to what extent they trust the candidate not to change their policy positions after the elections. McCain, again, fares better (4.25 to Clinton's 3.75), but look who's dragging her down.

Three out of the four panelists who'd rather have her as president don't see much difference between the two on the question of reliability. But of the four who think McCain is the better candidate for Israel, it's a mirror image: three rank him higher, and only one thinks they are they same.


And there are also things on which Clinton fares better. For example: The question of "emotional attachment". Here, Clinton is definitely the favorite (she gets a 4, McCain a 2.125).

And even more so, as you can see, here even the panelists who generally prefer McCain see Clinton as the one more attached to the Jewish state.

What does it mean?

As we've seen in the past, this panel never thought of McCain as an emotionally attached friend of Israel. Some panel members think such attachment is critically important. Those are the panelists who'd rather have Clinton as president.


And here is another good predictor of the Clinton-McCain race - but also a confusing one. A couple of months ago we asked the panel what kind of American involvement it wants in the peace process. Five said "like Bill Clinton or more," three said "like George Bush or less." Now look how these panelists voted, taking into account their answers on the current question of whether they prefer Clinton (blue) or McCain (red):

Apparently, the panel thinks Clinton would be more heavily involved in the peace process and don't always like that. Here's proof: When we asked more than a year ago how involved a President Clinton would be, three out of the four who thought she'd be heavily involved now prefer McCain. (The results below show a breakdown of how the panel scored Clinton when we asked this question last year, with those who now prefer McCain shown in red and those who support Clinton in blue).

Does this mean that the panel does not want a peace process? Not at all. As we saw a couple of months ago, it certainly does.


Plenty of new panel data this week.

Yesterday we started with the more entertaining, easy, questions (True or false: Obama is pro-Palestinian, McCain will appoint James Baker).

Today we have Clinton vs. McCain, and later in the week we'll examine Obama vs. McCain.
In my view: Iraqi blogger
As part of Al Jazeera's coverage of the"Super Tuesday" polls, Iraqi blogger Raed Jarrar, who writes the Raed in the Middle weblog and now lives in the US, explains his thoughts on the US political process and why it is in dire need of an overhaul.

When I first immigrated to the US in 2005, I was interested in foreign policy issues and spent most of my time working to end the occupation of Iraq and stop the blind support and unlimited aid to Israel.

Then I had a life-changing incident in 2006, when I was stopped at an airport in New York and prevented from boarding to my airplane because my T-shirt had the words "we will not be silent" in both Arabic and English printed on it.

A TSA [transportation security officer] told me that coming to a US airport with Arabic words on my T-shirt was equivalent to visiting a bank while wearing a shirt that read "I'm a robber".

After making me cover my shirt, the officers changed my seat from the front to the back of the airplane.

A new fight

"I came to realise that the same government that had bombed my neighborhood and destroyed my freedom in Baghdad was now attacking my freedom in New York city"

Raed Jarrar, Iraqi blogger
This incident opened my eyes and led me to learn more about the long history of racial discrimination and about the shrinking space for individual freedom in the US.

I came to realise that the same government that had bombed my neighbourhood and destroyed my freedom in Baghdad was now attacking my freedom in New York City.

It was now my personal responsibility to fight, both for my constitutional rights and to end the illegal US intervention in Iraq.

While I cannot vote - because I am not a US citizen - I can still support the candidates financially and volunteer to help their campaigns.

Therefore, I searched carefully for a presidential candidate who would bring all troops out of Iraq, end the US intervention in the Middle East and the rest of the world and restore individual rights to protect me and everyone else who lives in the US.

An 'open' system?

The first thing that drew my attention while following the primaries was the number of interviews with supposedly "ordinary" citizens who were running to win the nomination for one of the two ruling parties.

External link

Click here to read Raed Jarrar's Raed in the Middle blog
Interviews with the candidates were used by the mainstream media as a joke and invested by the establishment to maintain the "open political system" image.

But studying the record of the US elections' system suggests a different picture.

While polls indicate that around 80 per cent of the US population disapproves of the work of the federal congress, more than nine out of 10 DC officials get re-elected every general election.

In 2006, 94 per cent of house incumbents also won re-election and in 2004 they had a better than 99 per cent success rate.

Debating the debates

I learned a lot of other new things about the US political system during the last two years and, the more I learn about this system, the more I realised how closed and exclusive it is.

In focus

In-depth coverage of the
US presidential election

For example, millions of US tax payers - including myself - spend long hours watching the presidential candidates' debates.

We then watch yet more hours of media pundits debating the debates, then spend even more hours with friends and colleagues debating the media debates on the debates!

But not everyone knows that the US presidential debates are administrated by a corporation called the Commission on Presidential Candidates, which is led by former leaders from the two ruling parties.

And they make sure no third party candidates can ever be admitted to use their megaphone.

They even try their best to exclude Republicans and Democrats who are not parroting the establishment's line.

But even after understanding these and other unfair limitations, I still followed the primaries' debates hoping to find decent candidate.

The 'least evil' candidate

Candidates "fight over different tactics for
the same strategy", Raed says [AFP]
After a few weeks I almost fell in the trap of accepting the "least evil" and "most electable" instead of searching for someone who I agree with, but after more consideration I decided that the "least evil" is not good enough for me.

Although I am not sure what "mainstream" and "electable" exactly mean, I don't think I'm ready to compromise and support a candidate just because he or she fits such categories.

As it stands now, all the "frontrunners" or "mainstream" and "electable" candidates from the two ruling parties have exactly the same interventionist foreign policy and different versions of horrible domestic policies.

They fight over different tactics of the same strategy. Some of them want to stay in Iraq to "kill the bad guys", and others want to stay there to "save Iraqis from themselves".

There is not even minor discussion about restoring the US's deteriorating individual freedoms.

A third way

Unfortunately, the 2008 presidential elections will not bring anything new to US foreign or domestic policy.

"A third party can have a foothold that might be the space for a political revolution to take place, one day in the future"

Raed Jarrar, Iraqi blogger
We will see a continuation of the old strategies, with some minor differences in marketing them.

Someone like me who was in Baghdad while the first Bush, then Clinton, then the second Bush dropped bombs on our neighborhoods realises that there is not a "dime's worth of difference" between the two ruling parties and their one foreign policy.

But in the middle of my frustration, the last few weeks gave me hope that a better future is still possible - should a third party emerge.

The growing support for principled leaders such as Ron Paul and Ralph Nader is a great sign that non-interventionists from the "right" and "left" do exist, and a sign that changing the US regime through a strong third party is possible.

I see light at the end of the tunnel and I see an achievable goal of getting five per cent of the general vote that would qualify the third party for federally distributed public funds in the next general elections.

That way, a third party can have a foothold that might be the space for a political revolution to take place, one day in the future.

Al Jazeera is not responsible for the content of external sites

Wave to end White House family ties <b>
"For the first time in a long time, we are seeing someone who can wash away the cynicism from politics." These words were spoken yesterday by Chris Beutler, the Mayor of Lincoln, the state capital of Nebraska, after watching long lines of men and women, most of them white, wait to vote.</b>

On Saturday, by a decisive majority in three very different states, Democrats voted for the man who may be able to wash away cynicism, Senator Barack Obama, to be their presidential candidate. He won in snow-bound Washington state, he won in Louisiana in the deep south, and he won in the rural heartland of Nebraska. It wasn't close. Obama crushed Senator Hillary Clinton in all three contests.

The status quo fractured at the weekend. Something new is welling up from the body politic. I think it represents the beginning of the end of an era of dynastic politics. Will America vote for Bush, Clinton, Clinton, Bush, Bush, Clinton? Two families that would control the White House for 24 consecutive years? Something stale and static emanates from this possibility and I don't think the American people are going to let it happen.

I think Obama will go to the Democratic convention in Denver in August with the highest number of delegates. He is already raising more money than the Clinton campaign, more momentum, and far more excitement. When Clinton lost in Washington yesterday, she lost in a state where the governor is a woman and both the state's US senators are women. But she lost Washington by a resounding two to one majority.

A year ago, Clinton was the prohibitive favourite to win the Democratic presidential nomination, with a massive war chest, a national organisation, universal brand recognition, the support of the union movement, a strong base in the Senate, and millions of women wanting a woman to be president for the first time.

All this has not proved enough. The only factor that has kept Clinton in the lead has been racial animosity. African-Americans and Latino-Americans do not like each other. Their voting in this campaign has conformed to this reality. While Obama has won the overwhelming majority of the black vote, Clinton has won the overwhelming majority of the Latino vote.

In Washington, the commentariat has attributed the Clinton campaign's dominance of the Latino to the "goodwill factor", a legacy of the presidency of Bill Clinton and his support of the free trade pact with Mexico. This is partly true and mostly rubbish. It is not the goodwill factor but the ill-will factor that has split the Democratic vote so cleanly on racial lines.
McCain and Petraeus: the dream ticket
The (almost certain) Republican nominee owes a huge amount to the author of the “surge” in Iraq
Tim Hames

John Nance Garner, who held the position of vice-president under Franklin Roosevelt, memorably dismissed the job as “not worth a pitcher of warm spit”.

Actually, that is the sanitised version of his comment. There are plenty of people who believe that the original version referred to a different bodily liquid. Put it this way: he might have been taking the spit out of this office.

John McCain, by contrast, has to regard it far more seriously. He is within a few days of becoming the de facto nominee of the Republican Party. Mike Huckabee is enjoying his swansong, but after the primaries in Maryland and Virginia tomorrow this contest will be over.

The Democratic dogfight will continue for some weeks yet, with the calendar favouring Barack Obama throughout February then Hillary Clinton in March and probably April. If Democrats are lucky, this race will be settled in Ohio and Texas on March 4. If those states split in their verdicts, then Pennsylvania on April 22 will serve as the Gettysburg.

While all that is going on, the one matter of interest on the Republican side is whom Mr McCain will opt to put forward as vice-president. Ladbrokes has already opened a book on the subject, with Mr Huckabee installed as favourite and Charlie Crist, the Governor of Florida, and Tim Pawlenty, Governor of Minnesota, next. The competition, though, is totally open. No one has a compelling claim.

It is, however, an even more important decision for Mr McCain than usual for presidential candidates for three reasons.

The first is that George W. Bush, via Dick Cheney, has revolutionised the post itself. To be US vice-president was, as Nance Garner implied, to have the largest non-job on the planet. Even when the present President's father was VP under Ronald Reagan, it consisted mostly of attending the funerals of foreign dignitaries (Bush Sr quipped that “you die, I fly” was the vice-presidential motto).

When Dan Quayle was VP he virtually had to beg the White House to provide him with chores to do (this was wisely resisted). Mr Cheney, on the other hand, has shown that the vice-president can be the deputy president and has acted accordingly. It is hard to conceive that this portfolio will retreat to irrelevance again.

Secondly, to put it bluntly, there is Mr McCain's age. He will be 72 come polling day. The chance that he might die in office is there and will be discussed. Whoever he selects to be a potential VP has to be perceived as capable of serving as commander- in-chief at a moment's notice.

Finally, there is the politics of this election. The Democrats have the stardust factor this November. Mrs Clinton and Mr Obama have become huge figures. Their battle will make them seem yet bigger as it intensifies.

If she wins (still the more likely result in my view), Mr Obama will have done well enough to compel her to offer him the No 2 slot in order to preserve party unity (despite their obvious personal animosity and the fact that it does not make much strategic sense) and I suspect that he will accept it. If he wins, the reverse is less likely; but if it is not Mrs Clinton then the temptation to put another woman senator or governor on the ticket will be vast. This is what Mr McCain must assume that he will be facing.

An old-fashioned, tactical vice-presidential pick will not therefore be sufficient. Alighting on a man who rejects the theory of evolution (Mr Huckabee) will not do, nor will taking a Mr Crist or Mr Pawlenty, just because they might help to carry their home state. Seeking to offset a Clinton-Obama duo with either an obscure female such as Sarah Palin (Governor of Alaska) or a black former congressman (J.C.Watts) would seem like a feeble imitation of the genuine item. Condoleezza Rice, meanwhile, has the asset of being female and black but the liability of being tied to the Bush regime.

Mr McCain, who has the advantage of being able to wait until after the Democratic convention before making his move, should be audacious, bold and reach for a man who will reinforce his assertion that national security is the central theme in this election.

That audacious, bold, reinforcing choice would be to nominate General David Petraeus, commanding general of the multinational force in Iraq and the author of the “surge” that has saved the United States in Iraq as well as the Iraqi people (and revived Mr McCain's bid for the presidency in the process). His scheme is now being duplicated successfully in Afghanistan by his disciples in the US Army.

America has a long tradition of looking to military leaders in times of turmoil. This has stretched through Washington to Grant to Eisenhower and might have placed Colin Powell in the Oval Office in 1996 if he had been prepared to stand. General Petraeus, who holds a doctorate from Princeton University, is the greatest military thinker of his generation. He has managed to take a vast army that was effective at conventional fighting but close to useless when confronted with a guerrilla enemy and turn it into an organisation that can today do counter-insurgency superbly. This is an achievement that makes turning a supertanker around on the high seas during inclement weather look as easy as clicking one's fingers. General Petraeus is a genius.

A McCain-Petraeus combination would be a team almost above politics. It would be sensational. It would win. I concede that it is unlikely to materialise. Yet if it did, it would be worth a lot more than a pitcher of warm, er, spit.
President Bush and Lord Jesus' Guerilla Army

The U.S. President will be visiting the region in May, just as Russian celebrates its World War II Victory Day, celebrations two of the thress Baltic countries will eschew due to 'lingering bitterness' over the post-war Soviet occupation.

March, 2005

By Adam Szostkiewicz

George W. Bush owes his election, above all, to the Christian evangelicals. He won by almost four million votes - the same amount that Karl Rove, the president's famous campaign strategist, estimated as the total number of the religious right in the electorate. His electoral mobilization plan worked (though the turnout increase cannot be attributed solely to right-wing Christians, as 15 million more Americans voted this time.) So who are these evangelical Christians?

During the campaign, pollsters asked voters which issues they considered most important: the Iraq War, terrorism, the economy, the environment etc. But according to Dr. Lance Montauk of the San Francisco University Hospital, people don't base their decisions on these issues alone.

"Fewer and fewer people identify with one party or the other, or have clearly formed political convictions. Take for example the southern guy who likes to shoot and is therefore for Bush, because he defends the right to bear arms. That same guy lost his job as a result of the free trade policy of Bush's government. The guy comes home and sees gay marriages on TV. Who do you think he'll vote for?"

Before the November [presidential] election, the Christian Coalition sent out 70 million copies of an electoral guide to all fifty states, in both Spanish and English. It reminded voters of Kerry and Bush's take on abortion, public schools, and tax cuts - but it didn't openly call on them to vote for Bush.

The intention, however, was to make sure that voters had no doubt which of the two candidates cared more about faith, family, and freedom. Immediately after Bush's victory, the Christian Coalition intensified its signature gathering effort for its campaign to "Win Back America." Christian Coalition activists wanted to win America back from the hands of the "judicial tyrants" of the federal Supreme Court.

What's wrong with the [Supreme Court] Justices? They legalized abortion, seek to remove the Ten Commandments from public places, and ban the Pledge of Allegiance, with the excuse that it is contrary to the freedom of religion because it invokes God. "Send us letters of support for congressmen who demand that Congress pass laws in accordance with the will of the nation," say leaders of the Coalition. "Distribute the petition among your friends, families and churches."

Organizations like the Christian Coalition are the motors of the American religious right. Its base is composed of Christians of various denominations and churches. For some, the religious right is a movement that inspires hope for America's moral rebirth, for others it is a dangerous sect of religious bigots.

In San Francisco, once the world capital of hippiedom, it is the latter view that dominates. In this part of the world, political neutrality means supporting the Democrats; if someone dares to back the Republicans, he'll be shouted down as being intolerant, says Dr. Montauk. "Bush supporters either stay silent or get out of the city."

But America is more than just California. In the late nineties when Bill Clinton was president, the Coalition was derided as part of the scrap heap of history. But the Coalition returned. Its founder, the Reverend Pat Robertson, campaigned for the Republican nomination in 1988. But the Republicans, though conservative, weren't eager for an open alliance with the religious right. They were afraid that its social radicalism would frighten away moderate and secular voters.

But in the end, the voices of those who saw the radicals' votes as necessary for Republicans and who supported a tactical alliance with them, came to dominate the Party. They tried to downplay or ignore controversial issues like school prayer, abortion or the rights of sexual minorities, while pushing slogans about the war on crime and the growing problem of unwed mothers.


Leaders of the Christian Right for their part soon learned the art of electoral politics. Ralph Reed, one of the Coalition's strategists and Pat Robertson's successor, forced the organization to moderate its tone: Do what you want, but quietly; speak up only after you've achieved power. Political struggle is like guerilla warfare - don't betray your positions to the enemy.

Leaders of the Christian Right for their part soon learned the art of electoral politics. Ralph Reed, one of the Coalition's strategists and Pat Robertson's successor, forced the organization to moderate its tone: Do what you want, but quietly; speak up only after you've achieved power. Political struggle is like guerilla warfare - don't betray your positions to the enemy.

The Coalition succeeded and incorporated the earlier conservative Christian movement - the Moral Majority. The name is significant. It was meant to be a movement bringing together all Americans who felt they were being discriminated against in their own country, even though they formed the majority. The Moral Majority fought against legalized abortion, homosexuality, and the undermining of traditional family values in the media. It had supporters among both Republican and Democratic voters. Officially at least, it kept its distance from partisan politics.

Falwell and Robinson, both idols of America's faithful, became famous again after 9/11. Along with the Islamic terrorists, they also blamed godless Americans - "pagans, abortionists, feminists, gays and lesbians, the ACLU, and all those who provoke God's anger." Three days before the 2004 presidential election, the 71-year-old Reverend Falwell attacked John Kerry for his opposition to a ban on gay marriage. "It's as if 150 years ago someone said, personally I'm against slavery but if my neighbor wants to have two slaves, go ahead."

Now, after Bush's second victory, Falwell wants to resurrect the Moral Majority for the twenty first century. It is to be called the Faith and Values Coalition. Like the Christian Coalition, it is meant to help the president appoint anti-abortion judges to the Supreme Court and to seek a candidate who could be the next Bush.

Under Clinton, the opponents of the Christian fundamentalists joked that the Moral Majority was a double myth - neither moral nor a majority. Today the Democrats and the religious left (which of course exist in the U.S. as well) aren't laughing. Even the very liberal representative of the latter, Bishop John Shelby Spong, admits that the political map of America after the elections illustrates the social consequences of "the death of God."


As a left-wing cleric, Spong is mourning the recent electoral results. According to Spong, the red states were not capable of coming to terms with the end of the traditional understanding of God and the place of religion. That's why they are defending obsolete ideas and a stale vision of the world. In the blue states on the other hand - in places where the spirit of modernity is triumphant, places that cannot be forced into the old framework of religious faith - we are witnessing the birth pangs of a new vision of God.

"As long as childbirth has not been successfully completed, America will remain torn into two camps which symbolize contrasting responses to the same very real spiritual crisis." How accurate is this diagnosis? Well the fact is, there's a lot less blue than red on the map of America.

Not all Christian evangelicals are fundamentalists seeking to remove evolution from the educational system and murdering doctors at abortion clinics. Many of them, probably a large majority, are simply traditionalists attached to two very American ideals - a personal faith in Christ and working for the local community in that spirit. They aren't politically active on a daily basis. Instead, they occupy themselves with bible studies, prayer and help their fellow citizens and try to convert their fellow citizens' (normally, the two activities are linked) in jails, retirement homes, educational and cultural institutions, or simply on the street.

Under Clinton, that sort of religious-social activity was not supported by government funds. Under Bush, the situation has changed radically, which of course provokes the left to protest that this is the favoring of organized religion at the cost of religious neutrality.

Critics have also highlighted the names of evangelical activists - defenders of life and family - who Bush has nominated to represent the U.S. in the U.N. and other international forums. There they have allied themselves with the Vatican and delegates of Muslim states. But the greatest tension comes from the constant desire of evangelicals to mount campaigns aimed at American liberals


Probably the most famous Christian evangelical in the world is the Reverend Billy Graham. Like many Christians like him, he belongs to the powerful Southern Baptist Church. Like almost all Southern Baptist's, he underwent a spiritual rebirth - "he accepted Christ into his personal life," and accepted the Bible as the one and only infallible guide. From that point on, his sermons have drawn crowds in the U.S. and around the world.

His wife Ruth is a daughter of American missionaries who went to China. The couple has five children, nineteen grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren. She took care of the home and brought up the children, he occupied himself with preaching the gospel and earning money for his family and his missionary organization (he made an enormous fortune which he uses to finance his religious-charitable activities). Ruth went to school in what is now North Korea, winning the Reverend Graham friends even among the Communist authorities. He also served the North's former dictator Kim il-Sung as a diplomatic mailman.

When President Reagan invited him to a reception for the Gorbachevs former leader of the Soviet Union and his wife, the Reverend amused Mrs. Gorbachev with a discussion of the bible. "When one begins to seriously talk with people who call themselves atheists, it becomes clear that they have inside them a hunger for truth and the purpose of life," reminisces Graham. Asked what advice he would give his eldest son, he responded "Study the Word, follow the Bible in your life and spend time with your family." That is the credo of the evangelicals.

But even Dr.Graham has had his problems. He was accused of using his influence on President Nixon to remove journalists of Jewish origin from the media. He was angry that they criticized the Vietnam War. The Reverend had long denied this, but two years ago, recordings of one of his conversations with Nixon became public: "I have many friends among the Jews because they know I'm a friend of Israel, but they don't know what I think of what they're doing to our country." Graham apologized and said he didn't remember the conversation.

He isn't the only leader of Christian America who flirts with anti-Semitism. In one of his many books, Reverend Pat Robertson spoke of a conspiracy of Jewish bankers seeking to rule the world. That doesn't stop some of Christian evangelicals from supporting the Israeli state. That gives them the support of religious conservatives, and pro-Israeli American Jews. Conservative Catholics are another group of allies, who in practice are almost the same as evangelicals, even though the latter are almost all Protestants. American Catholics are on the defensive after a series of sex scandals in the Church. Anger and bitterness push them in the direction of the evangelicals, who mistrust elites.

If this story of America's right-wing Christians reminds anyone of the Radio Maryja movement and its role in Polish politics, I recommend caution. the "Radio Maryja" movement is shorthand for Poland's Catholic extreme right. Radio Maryja is their very popular radio station.]The similarities are at times striking but can also be quite misleading - A farmer from the middle of nowhere [in the U.S.] gets up early in the morning and checks the futures market and his e-mail - only then does he go pray. And the cities [in the U.S.] where people of color are moving are also strongholds of the conservative Christians. The Christian Right occupies a different social class than the Catholic one in Poland.

The Reverend Graham, old and suffering from Parkinson's [disease] is now turning things over to a new generation of preachers. Perhaps the most talented is the Reverend Rick Warren. He's a prophet of the 21st century mega-church. Twenty years ago he started from nothing. Together with his future wife, he founded a seven-person bible discussion group in California. Two hundred people attended his church's first service. Today he has tens of thousands of faithful and millions of readers - he also writes spiritual bestsellers. Republican politicians give them to each other as presents. Warren's community is made up of modern looking people - clean, relaxed, and well dressed - no depressing hicks.

You can see the same thing in Colorado Springs, near Denver, at the headquarters of the New Live Church, another powerful Christian-Right organization. Houses of Christian businessmen who give large amounts of money to the church surround its prayer center. No one here wastes time singing hymns. The activists are active - they organize campaigns against abortion and homosexuals. And with all of the moral slogans, they enlarge the president's political base. The head of the Church, Ted Brendle, was a guest of President Bush at the White House. That's how American Christians do politics these days.

This Christian infantry and its leaders are full of energy. But if this army gets out in front of the civilians (i.e. most of the Republican electorate, which is far less religious and less interested in social issues) and forces its extreme right-wing program on Bush, the pendulum of public opinion will swing in the opposite direction. If Bush becomes hostage to the religious-right, he'll lose moderate Republicans and that will increase the chances for a Democratic victory in four years. In a deeply divided America you can't push too hard - even under Jesus' command.
February 12, 2008, 7:44 pm
Bush Denounces Noose Displays

John D. McKinnon reports on the White House

In his final year in office, President Bush keeps going back to the well of compassionate conservatism. Today, he denounced recent displays of nooses as a racist symbol, citing “disturbing reports” around the country that have “heightened racial tensions in many communities.”

The comments follow a new round of minority-friendly proposals in Bush’s State of the Union, including private-school scholarships for inner-city students. Later this week, the president goes on a week-long tour of Africa, to celebrate his successful campaigns against AIDS and malaria. While Bush has long been sympathetic to nonwhites, his latest outreach could also be aimed at smoothing some of the rough edges of his controversial image.

“Our nation has come a long way toward building a more perfect union,” Bush said in remarks at the White House on Black History Month. “Yet as past injustices have become distant memories, there’s a risk that our society may lose sight of the real suffering that took place. One symbol of that suffering is the noose….As a civil society, we must understand that noose displays and lynching jokes are deeply offensive. They are wrong. And they have no place in America today.”

If the American public needed reminding, many in Bush’s audience didn’t. It included Rep. John Lewis (D., Ga.), a hero of the 1960s civil rights movement, and William Coleman, an African-American lawyer who was President Ford’s transportation secretary.

The best-known recent noose display occurred in late 2006 in Jena, La., where several white students hung nooses at a tree at the mostly white Jena High School. The tree had been a hangout for white students, but a black student had asked a school administrator’s permission to sit under it. A group of black teenagers — the “Jena Six” — were charged with beating a white teenager in connection with the incident. The case against the black teenagers became the subject of a huge demonstration last September by thousands of marchers, who viewed the charges — which included attempted murder — as excessive.

Some critics see noose displays as one example of a broader surge of various forms of “stealth” racism in the U.S. The White House on Tuesday pointed to statistics showing that reports of hate-crime incidents in the U.S. rose by almost 8% in 2006.
Spokeswoman Dana Perino said Bush “was deeply disturbed” by the media reports of noose displays and similar incidents. “He felt it was important that as president of the U.S. he very publicly remind the world about the history of that symbol — and why as he said, so many people have a visceral reaction to it.”
<!--QuoteBegin-Mudy+Feb 12 2008, 12:08 PM-->QUOTE(Mudy @ Feb 12 2008, 12:08 PM)<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>In last two years Clintons Global had spent 50+ millions in Africa.</b> He raised money for New Orleans. His and Her contribution after 2000 is remarkable. [right][snapback]78398[/snapback][/right]<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->Must be their lingering guilt over Rwanda. Theirs was a nice manual on how to sit in the white house and do nothing. <!--emo&:angry:--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/mad.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='mad.gif' /><!--endemo-->
I suppose the Rwandans are not quite so bitter as the Serbians, though - the former got hit with US govt's indifference, while the latter got to face active scheming from the US govt which carefully arranged the board against them.
Huzay for Bill clinton's reign... Three cheers... No?

Not that I like obama any better. Everytime I see him, I keep thinking how ignorant he is. I don't know that he's not worse than merely ignorant.
America is faced with the devil and the deep blue sea. So they should find the third option.

The US needs someone like Thomas Paine - someone who intrinsically believes in all people. Someone who doesn't pretend to be 'colour-blind' to win votes, but someone who is innately beyond bothering about ethnicity or gender or other petty nonsense.

Thomas Paine was someone who was for the French Revolution, yet stood up valiantly to save the life of the French royals (he was obviously against taking revenge on the French aristocracy) with his own life in the balance.

This <b>Deist</b> wrote the <i>Rights of Man</i> that sent the castaist christo Brits shrieking in fear. He started the abolition that sent the christos in two continents into hysteria. He also wrote the <i>Age of Reason</i> which scared the living daylights of the christian meme, as he exposed its hollow lies and frauds.

If the US still has another person like this, (s)he should be the president:

http://www.cygnus-study.com/ (section "Learn", subsection "Thomas Paine")
<!--QuoteBegin-->QUOTE<!--QuoteEBegin--><b>Thomas Paine: A Hero for the World</b>

Every once in a while, the world is fortunate to have a great person come to edify. Generally the person is completely ignored or disdained by their own generation but increasingly valued by subsequent ones. Such is the case for the greatest American hero, Thomas Paine.

Thomas Paine came to live in the United States in 1774 at the invitation of Benjamin Franklin. Soon after his arrival, he began to speak his mind and was both hated and loved by many.

<b>Paine was the greatest defender of the disenfranchised that this country has ever known. He was a prolific writer and the first piece that he ever had published was against slavery in America. He pled for the rights of black people, and stated that it was an offense to all humanity that they should be imprisoned and forced into submission. A few short days after the publishing of this article, the American Anti-Slavery Society was formed. Some 90 years later the Emancipation Proclomation finished the job that Thomas Paine got started.</b>  <!--emo&:clapping--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/clap.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='clap.gif' /><!--endemo-->

Paine continued to fight for rights. He fought against the practice of dueling, claiming that it was a "barbarous act" that did not solve the right/wrong issue. <b>He fought against the mistreatment of animals with, "A Protest Against Cruelty to Animals." He fought for equal rights for women with, "A plea for the Rights of Women," one of the earliest documents of it's kind in the New World.</b>  <!--emo&:clapping--><img src='style_emoticons/<#EMO_DIR#>/clap.gif' border='0' style='vertical-align:middle' alt='clap.gif' /><!--endemo-->

Thomas Paine was the first to coin the phrase "The United States of America". He was the first to suggest that colonies become united. He was the first to suggest separation from Great Britain.

The United States of America was born as much from the pen of Thomas Paine as it was from the sword of George Washington.

For the next decade or so, Thomas Paine set about making the newly founded nation as strong as possible. He sailed to France with Ben Franklin in order to secure six million silvers for a loan, as well as clothing and military stores. He raised 1.5 million dollars in 1780 to pay the army which had been considering mutiny.

At the end of all of this, he knew that his work had been done in America. Being a man not prone to idleness, he set out for England to educate the people there.

<b>Once in England, Thomas Paine wrote the well known book, "Rights of Man". In the book he wrote that all people were of the same mother and as such deserved the same equal treatment. He wrote that the upper ruling class was there by birth and not through some feat or divine placement. Needless to say, this text caused BIG trouble in the monarchy of England.</b> (Remember, christo-castaism was ingrained in England. Christoism's castaism was <i>factually</i> everything that they can only ever <i>accuse</i> Hinduism of.)

Immediately upon publication in England, the Rights of Man was suppressed. The author was indicted. Those who published it and those who sold it were arrested. To avoid arrest and probable death, Paine left England. However, his ideas had left their mark on the nation and the English people today enjoy a freedom that stems back to those who rallied around Paine's text.

After leaving England, Paine went to France where he had become widely famous. His actions in America were well known.The pamphlet "Common Sense" had been published in French and was having an immense effect. The French knew of the "Rights of Man". Paine was so popular in France that he was elected to the National Convention by three political parties. Once in government, he founded the first Republican Society in France and wrote their manifesto. These actions helped to give Paine the reputation as the "defender of popular rights" throughout America, England, Scotland, Ireland and France.

Despite his popularity, trouble soon found Thomas Paine in France. After the French Revolution, the king of France was to be executed as a traitor. The National Convention wanted the King dead. But Thomas Paine, being the great humanist that he was, made a plea to the Convention to spare the king's life. He asked that the king be exiled to the United States. He asked not only as a citizen of the United States but also as a member of the Convention. This action of asking for sparing the king's life was, at that time, a request to also be executed.

Robert Ingersoll, a widely published Agnostic, wrote of Paine, "From the moment that Paine cast his vote in favor of mercy - in favor of life - the shadow of the guillotine was on him. He knew that when he voted for the King's life, he voted for his own death."

<b>Paine recognized his predicament, and knew that his time on Earth could be very short. Knowing that there was no time to lose, he set out to write "The Age of Reason". The book contained Paine's thoughts on "revealed religions" and the Bible. This writing was as threatening to the church as "The Rights of Man" had been to the monarchy. In writing "Age of Reason," Paine sought to break the bonds that the church held on the common man. The book is as powerful a source of revelation today as it was when it was written some two hundred years ago.

Ingersoll again points out, "Not one argument that Paine urged against the inspiration of the Bible, against the truth of miracles, against the barbarities and infamies of the Old Testament, against the pretensions of priests and the claims of kings, has ever been answered." And it is true even 100 years after Ingersoll wrote that.

In 200 years, no one has been able to disprove the points that Paine made against the Bible. What are we to make of this?</b>
(Thomas Paine was not an atheist, nor was he a christian disapproving of the church. He was a Deist. His God comes across to me like the Grand Spirit of the native Americans.)

Thomas Paine was arrested just a few short hours after completing the first part of the Age of Reason in December, 1793. He was forgotten by almost everyone but not the future American president, James Monroe. Monroe wrote in Paine's behalf and won his release in November of the following year. While in prison, Paine finished his work on part II of "Age of Reason".

After his release, Paine remained in France for some time before returning to America, expecting to live out his days among those he had helped to gain their independence. What he got was widespread hatred. The Federalists hated him because of how he fought for the rights of the people. The slave-traders hated him for trying to ruin their business. The clergy hated him for his work, and he was labeled an atheist, a blasphemer, a hater and enemy of God and men, alike.

I leave the end of Thomas Paine's life to the words of Robert Ingersoll:

"Thomas Paine had passed the legendary limit of life. One by one most of his old friends and acquaintances had deserted him. Maligned on every side, execrated, shunned and abhorred -- his virtues denounced as vices -- his services forgotten -- his character blackened, he preserved the poise and balance of his soul. He was a victim of the people, but his convictions remained unshaken. He was still a soldier in the army of freedom, and still tried to enlighten and civilize those who were impatiently waiting for his death, Even those who loved their enemies hated him, their friend -- the friend of the whole world -- with all their hearts.

On the 8th of June, 1809, death came -- Death, almost his only friend.

At his funeral no pomp, no pageantry, no civic procession, no military display. In a carriage, a woman and her son who had lived on the bounty of the dead -- on horseback, a Quaker, the humanity of whose heart dominated the creed of his head -- and, following on foot, two negroes filled with gratitude -- constituted the funeral cortege of Thomas Paine."<!--QuoteEnd--><!--QuoteEEnd-->This is the sort of person Americans should find amidst themselves and elect. Anyone less is a waste of time.
Assessing the GOP's Chances
February 13, 2008

The political stars are aligned for Democrats to capture the White House in 2008. The idea of change is in the air. Grass-roots Democrats are more enthusiastic than they've been in decades, and are voting in record numbers in primaries and caucuses. Democratic candidates are rolling in money. What this means is unmistakable: There are legitimate grounds for Republican pessimism.

But Republicans should not despair or feel defeatist about the general election in November. They can win. True, the outcome isn't entirely in their hands. But Republicans can significantly improve their chances of winning by making smart campaign decisions. And events must also go their way, just as they did for John McCain, now the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.
[Assessing the GOP's Chances]

Let's start with what Republicans need to retain the presidency. Mr. McCain has the biggest role, but other Republicans must help, including President Bush.

- Independent voters. Conservatives unhappy over Mr. McCain's emergence as the Republican nominee have gotten lavish media coverage. But while they love to grumble and grouse, conservatives tend to be loyal Republicans who wind up voting for their party's candidates.

It was the defection of independents, not conservatives, that caused the Democratic landslide in the congressional elections in 2006. Their preference for Democrats jumped to 57% in 2006 from 49% in 2004. Mr. McCain must win many of them back, since independents constitute roughly one-third of the overall electorate.

Mr. McCain is well-positioned to do this, but it won't be easy. What independents like about Mr. McCain -- his maverick style and willingness to deal with Democrats -- is exactly what infuriates conservatives. He must walk a fine line, emphasizing issues like spending cuts and entitlement reform that appeal to both independents and conservatives.

- A volunteer army. Mr. McCain needs one at least as large and powerful as President Bush's was in 2004. Against all odds, Mr. Bush's army of over more than two million volunteers overwhelmed the aggressive, well-financed Democratic effort to drive up voter turnout.

But 2008 is different story. Democrats relied on paid workers in 2004 and can do the same this year so long as rich liberals like George Soros are willing to foot the bill again. The Bush volunteers were motivated by a strong commitment to the president -- a commitment that doesn't extend to Mr. McCain. He'll have to recruit his own army, perhaps by enlisting veterans.

- The right vice president. If elected, John McCain will be 72 when he takes office. (Ronald Reagan was a mere 69 on his first inauguration.) For obvious reasons, this makes Mr. McCain's choice of a vice presidential running mate all the more important.

His pick must not only be credible as a possible president, but also someone viewed by Republicans as a successor should Mr. McCain decide to serve only one term. And that's not all. His running mate must connect with economic and foreign policy conservatives -- and especially with social conservatives. In all likelihood, Mr. McCain will concentrate on attracting independents and downplay issues such as abortion and gay rights. Social conservatives, for whom these issues are crucial, will need a champion.

- President Bush. Given his unpopularity, Republicans don't want the election to be a referendum on the Bush administration. In fact, one of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush's reasons for staying out of the 2008 race is to prevent Democrats, just because a Bush is on the ticket, from doing exactly that.

But the president does have an important campaign role. On national security issues, he speaks with considerable authority and with a big megaphone. And there are bound to be opportunities for him to criticize or correct the Democratic nominee on the war on terrorism, terrorist surveillance, Iran, Iraq and the surge, Russia, and much else. The trick will be for Mr. Bush to pick his spots wisely (and infrequently) and not overplay his hand.

Now let's turn to matters that neither Mr. McCain nor Republicans can control. But if they break Mr. McCain's way, he'll have a better chance of becoming America's 44th president.

- Iraq. Even on its worst days, the war was backed by a majority of Republicans, a few independents, and practically no Democrats. The success of the surge of additional troops and the counterinsurgency strategy pursued by Gen. David Petraeus has changed that, at least marginally. Republican support is up, independents are increasingly favorable, and Democrats remain solidly anti-war.

Iraq won't be a good Republican issue in 2008. But if it's a wash, Democrats will lose an issue that spurred their victory in 2006. And a wash is quite possible. Further gains on the ground in Iraq are likely, though hardly guaranteed. American and Iraqi troops have routed al Qaeda, pacified most of Baghdad, and have embarked on securing Mosul, the last urban enclave of insurgents and al Qaeda terrorists.

On the other hand, the Iraqi government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki has been painfully slow to act. So Democrats argue that despite the surge's success, a troop pullout is necessary because the Maliki government hasn't brought about reconciliation of Shiites and Sunnis. Mr. McCain needs Mr. Maliki to move faster on reconciliation.

- Recession. The good news for Republicans is that few predicted recessions actually occur. A recession would make economic security a bigger issue than economic growth, thus aiding Democrats. That may be illogical, but it's true. A recession has the potential for killing any chance of electing Mr. McCain and retaining a Republican presidency. Mr. McCain should pray for no recession.

- Democratic ham-handedness. Aside from the surge, the best thing that happened for Republicans in 2007 was the performance of congressional Democrats. They were hyper-partisan, yet unsuccessful in achieving anything of lasting importance. This didn't improve Republican popularity, but it did drive down Democratic favorability. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi appears to have figured out what Democrats were doing wrong. Fortunately for Republicans, Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid doesn't have a clue. The more ham-handed Democrats are, the better for Republicans in 2008.

- Hillary Clinton. No Democratic presidential candidate would be a pushover in 2008, save Dennis Kucinich. But the conventional wisdom in the political community is correct in regarding Mrs. Clinton as an easier opponent for Mr. McCain than Barack Obama. Half of America already dislikes her. That's a pretty good starting point for a winning Republican campaign.

Of course, Mr. McCain and Republicans can't affect the outcome of the Democratic race. Then again, Mr. McCain has a lucky streak going. Things had to break his way, opponents had to flop, the surge had to work, and earned media had to trump paid media for him to get this far. Maybe his luck will hold. Winning the White House may depend on it.

Mr. Barnes is executive editor of the Weekly Standard and a commentator on Fox News Channel.

<b>Zalaznick: War will come back to haunt GOP</b>
Matt Zalaznick
Vail, CO Colorado
February 13, 2008
When we tire of hearing how crummy our economy is and the Democrats pick their historic nominee, John McCain and his Republican Party’s hopes of hanging onto the White House are going to get walloped.

By their own war.


Oh yeah — the war, or wars.

There are two underway right now, remember? And who knows? Maybe Halliburton, expecting lean years during the coming Democratic administration, will demand another slew of reconstruction contracts. Maybe W. will start one more military fiasco — in Iran? North Korea? China? Aruba? — before history spits him out in Crawford.
And even though W. has demolished his party’s reputation for fiscal responsibility, the Republicans — and Hillary, too — should be thanking their lucky stars for the so-called subprime mortgage crisis and the recession that’s supposedly just over the horizon.

Our national depression has been redirected from bloodshed to financial anxieties that, though they’re a lot closer to home, are not as a scary as murder and mayhem and suicide bombers and religious fanaticism and intractable ethnic hatred.

But Iraq will be back, and if the Democrats aren’t a bunch of morons, they’ll nominate the candidate who has a clear record against a war that’s so unpopular most of us have just stopped talking about its tremendous cost and horrible repercussions.
So security’s a little tighter in Baghdad and death is down. Mission accomplished! A country that was not a threat has been pulverized into a slightly bigger threat. The nukes Saddam was never going to launch at us (because he didn’t have them) have been replaced by tens of thousands of civilian casualties and terrorists who are eager to kill our troops.

A new generation of Arab children, rather than pledging allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, have been given a reason to despise Uncle Sam.

This fiasco has had McCain’s unflagging support. Hillary’s position has been at times calculating, at times Kerryesque. Obama, on the other hand, pretty much told us what was going to happen before it happened.

After eight years of Rambo foreign policy, Americans deserve someone in the White House who isn’t going to be as shocked and awed as W. was by cool explosions and embedded correspondents reporting hysterically from military convoys on how thick the dust is in the desert.

But perhaps Republicans shouldn’t kick themselves over the war. Their president will be leaving so many other failures behind that the GOP won’t be able to say, “Gee, if we’d just gotten the war right we might still be in charge.”

The GOP can look back on two-terms-worth of aiding and abetting and enabling the disaster that was George W. Bush. Instead of Karl Rove’s 1,000-year Republican Reich, the GOP can blame its demise on not improving education, not improving the economy; not showing any leadership on the environment or health care or civil rights or gay rights; for trying to solve social problems like teen pregnancy with unrealistic, 1950s ideas like celibacy.

Republicans can blame their collapse on devaluing American life by co-opting the barbaric, intolerant values of the religious right; and for then demoralizing the nation with Larry Craig’s, David Vitters’, Bob Ney’s, Duke Cunningham’s, Scooter Libby’s and Mark Foley’s inability to live up to GOP’s own strict moral code.
Republicans can blame their fade into irrelevancy on letting W. and thugs like Rudy Giuliani and Darth Cheney use 9/11 as a political sledgehammer to scare America into stupidity while they pillaged and plundered from the Potomac to Pyongyang.</b>

And on top of all that, we’re no closer to Mars today than we were when, in 2004, W. vowed to put an American on the red planet. But perhaps that was just symbolic — W.’s been in outer space for most of his presidency.

Assistant Managing Editor Matt Zalaznick can be reached at 748-2926, or mzalaznick@vaildaily.com.

Time to Look Ahead in Iraq
February 12, 2008; Page A2

Finally, the right kind of campaign debate over Iraq is beginning.

That is to say, the debate has turned toward where the U.S. is going in Iraq, rather than where it has been. The catalyst for the change has been the emergence of Sen. John McCain as the presumptive Republican nominee for president.

Until now, for a campaign in which the word "Iraq" has been used so often, the conversation surrounding that word has been distressingly backward-looking. Among Democrats, the questions were who opposed the war, and when, and by how much. Among Republicans the questions were who supported the war, and who embraced the troop surge, and by how much.

Now, though, the Iraq debate is taking the shape it will have in the general election. To step back from campaign rhetoric for a moment, the country faces three sets of decisions on Iraq: near-term, medium-term and long-term. The near-term ones will have to be made by President Bush in his remaining time in office. The medium-term and long-term ones will face the next president, whoever that might be, and they are the real subjects to discuss.

[Go to forum]
How much longer do you think a significant number of U.S. troops will remain in Iraq? Share your thoughts.

The main near-term decision is whether to have another set of troop withdrawals starting this summer, continuing the modest drawdown now under way. That's President Bush's call, and just yesterday, it became clear that neither a decision nor further withdrawals will come as fast as some expected.

At the moment, five of the 20 American brigades now in Iraq are being taken out. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, on a visit to Iraq yesterday, endorsed a "pause" this summer before deciding whether to take out additional American troops. Gen. David Petraeus, the top American commander, has been advocating such a pause after the initial five brigades leave before deciding whether to shrink the American force further. Now Mr. Gates has sided with him on that plan.

Gen. Petraeus is due in Washington in April to discuss next steps with President Bush, and it now appears it will be late summer or, more likely, the fall before Mr. Bush makes his last big tactical decision on Iraq, which is whether to take American troop strength down another notch starting late this year.

However that decision comes out, it's clear that the next president will inherit more than 100,000 American troops in Iraq, which will bring the new commander in chief face-to-face with the medium-term decisions.

The most obvious of those decisions is determining how low American troop levels should go in 2009. That will be a huge decision, but hardly the only one. Equally tricky will be the medium-term decision about what shape and role the American force assumes in 2009.

Does it remain largely dispersed in Baghdad's outlying neighborhoods and cities around in the country, doing the work of stabilization at the grass roots? Do American troops dramatically reduce their presence on daily patrols and turn them over largely to Iraqis? Or do American troops begin to pull back into bases and move out from there only when they are needed to help Iraqi forces quell violence?

More fundamentally, does the U.S. military mission begin to evolve away from front-line engagement at all and toward training Iraqi troops? Alternately, do American forces become a kind of antiterrorism strike force designed to fight al Qaeda in Iraq, while leaving domestic insurgents to the Iraqis?

The more profound questions are the long-term ones. Regardless of how things evolve in a new president's first year, the U.S. needs to decide what its lasting role should be in Iraq. Is Iraq to be a permanent American military outpost, and will American troops need to be on hand in some fashion to help defend Iraq's borders for a decade or more, as some Iraqi officials themselves have suggested? Will the U.S. see Iraq more broadly as a base for exerting American political and diplomatic influence in the broader Middle East, or is that a mistake? Is it better to have American troops just over the horizon, in Kuwait or ships in the Persian Gulf?

Driving these military considerations is the political question of what kind of government the U.S. can accept in Iraq. Creating and stabilizing a multiethnic democracy with a strong central government may take longer than simply accepting a balkanized nation with a weak central government and independent ethnic enclaves separated from one another.

In its early stages, even this new phase of the Iraq debate is taking on cartoon-like characteristics, as the two sides shape it for political advantage. Republicans are pretending that either Sen. Hillary Clinton or Sen. Barack Obama would cut and run in Iraq. That isn't really correct. Sen. Obama has endorsed a harder deadline for getting combat troops out of Iraq -- 16 months -- than has Sen. Clinton. But both favor leaving what he calls a "residual force" in the region to maintain Iraqi stability. The issue is how big that force will be, and what exact assignment it will be given.

Democrats are pretending that Sen. McCain wants U.S. troops to stay in Iraq for a century to come. The assertion is based largely on an offhand remark Sen. McCain made in New Hampshire in early January. A voter noted that President Bush said the U.S. might be in Iraq for 50 years to come. Sen. McCain shot back, "Make it a hundred," but followed with a more sober explanation that he wouldn't mind the kind of stabilizing, long-term military commitment the U.S. has made to South Korea and Japan provided American forces weren't taking casualties.

So both sides are stretching a bit -- but at least they're joining the right issue.

Write to Gerald Seib at jerry.seib@wsj.com

Evangelical Power Revives
January 4, 2008; Page A8

So much for the idea that evangelical Christians are a dispirited and declining force in the Republican party.

Last night they showed up in force -- in stunning force, actually -- in Iowa's caucuses. They were the power that made a winner of former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee. And they now pose a challenge for Mitt Romney, Rudy Giuliani and John McCain -- for every other serious contender, in other words.

Some six in 10 Republican caucus-goers described themselves as born-again or evangelical Christians, entrance polls showed. Almost half of them voted for Mr. Huckabee. Just two in 10 voted for former Massachusetts Gov. Romney. In a very real sense, evangelical voters, as much as Mr. Huckabee, won Iowa's caucuses on the Republican side.

Evangelicals probably have had an outsize impact in Iowa. It is a state with a strong streak of Christian conservative activism, and support from such a committed group matters more in a caucus state, where turnout is lower and the impact of those who are organized and resolved to turn out on a subfreezing night is greater than in states with primary elections.

Still, the Iowa results suggest that evangelicals, and Christian conservatives more broadly, retain the same kind of potency they have held for the past two decades in Republican politics. "Values voters spoke loudly tonight in Iowa through Gov. Huckabee's candidacy," said Greg Mueller, a conservative Republican activist who is neutral in the race.

The question is whether those "values voters" will be available to other candidates as the primary calendar now unfolds.

The answer for now is yes. Iowa isn't the entire country, the evangelical movement's priorities are changing, and evangelicals and Christian conservatives more broadly already have shown that they are hardly moving in lock step this year. But the opportunity for other candidates to tap into their power may be limited. The longer Mr. Huckabee looks like a legitimate candidate, the greater his opportunity to lock up the power of evangelicals.

At a minimum, the Iowa results change the conventional wisdom about the power of Christian conservatives in 2008. With no obvious Christian conservative darling among the early leading candidates, the predictions of their demise as a power were widely disseminated: Conservative Christians were too dispirited to get engaged, they might sit on their hands, they might even look for a third-party candidate of their own.

The movement's old leadership, which looked as tired and confused as the conventional wisdom suggested, splintered. Pat Robertson stunned some in the movement by endorsing Mr. Giuliani, despite his three marriages and support for abortion rights. Paul Weyrich and Bob Jones III, both leaders among Christian conservatives, endorsed Mr. Romney, a Mormon. Sen. Sam Brownback, a Christian conservative favorite, endorsed Sen. McCain after his own candidacy flamed out.

And when former Sen. Fred Thompson entered the race, much of the punditry world figured he would be the man to consolidate conservative Christian support.

But what happened in Iowa was that the foot soldiers moved out on their own, without regard to where their leaders were heading. They singled out Mr. Huckabee, and turned him from afterthought to front-runner.

And in so doing, they have changed the character of the Republican contest from here on out. But the point is that the conservative Christian vote is important, not that it is locked up.

The Christian conservative vote is evolving. No longer is it fixated on two issues -- abortion and gay rights. Younger evangelicals are more inclined to worry about global warming, about poverty. Their willingness to consider support for Mr. Giuliani suggests a deep concern about Islamist extremism and terrorism.

Mr. Huckabee succeeded in Iowa in part because he tapped into this new and broader evangelical thinking. "He's more in line with where I think a lot of the more conservative evangelicals are, which is that they care about a lot more than a few issues," says Mara Vanderslice, a Democratic religious activist who has closely followed evangelical thinking.

There are some in the movement who aren't entirely thrilled with the Huckabee candidacy. Pete Wehner, a former Bush aide and Christian activist, wrote in the Washington Post just a few days ago that Mr. Huckabee "is edging close" to being too crass in using his religious beliefs in pursuit of votes in recent weeks.

The task now -- for Messrs. McCain, Giuliani and Romney -- is to tap into the power of Christian conservatism, and soon. Last night, the National Association of Evangelicals Web site featured a summary of a recent survey it did of the group's top leaders, which praised Mr. Huckabee but added: "There is no groundswell support for any Republican or Democratic candidate. Huckabee is a clear first choice but there is concern that he is too far behind in the polls to catch up. If he does well in the Iowa caucuses or early primaries then evangelicals may suddenly rally to his support."

He now has done well, fabulously well, in Iowa. The race for that evangelical support is now under way in full force.

Write to Gerald F. Seib at jerry.seib@wsj.com
Webster Tarpley:Zbignew Brzienzki leading Obama campaign PT1

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yfip0k2Oit8 (Part 1)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MvozpwYKuJs (Part 2)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nu_t9UkLobA (Part 3)

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