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 Wednesday, November 19, 2008

DECEPTION or FACT: Was Sarah Palin Really Pregnant with Trig? A Lesson in Biology

 

Sarah Palin had ridiculed the media for insinuating that Trig (who was born with Down Syndrome) was not her child.

But, she was flying across America and attending a conference after her waters broke. If it is true she was pregnant and at the same time travelling from Texas to Alaska when her waters broke, her action was truly irresponsible and silly.

Blogger Audrey, wrote a long piece (read below) on the facts of a pregnancy.


She concluded that she DOESN'T believe Palin was ever PREGNANT with Trig.


A Biology Lesson

by

Audrey

Excerpts: Read here for more

Childbirth is a biology lesson. It involves a lot of, at times, not particularly appetizing details regarding very private parts of the female anatomy.

One reason, I believe, that some of this "deception" has been allowed to go on for so long is that no one will confront Gov. Palin on some of the "private" details, and just how implausible her story is on the specifics.

The single specific piece of information that we have that has caused the most scrutiny of her birth saga is that she traveled back from Texas to Alaska on April 17th leaking amniotic fluid.

Yet, she has never once been asked pointed questions about the very real specifics of this.

It would be a bit like someone calling in sick at work because he has cut his arm very badly, then never showing any physical signs - like blood, or stitches, or going to the doctor, that it ever happened, yet being defensive about having to "prove" it.

The leaking of amniotic fluid is an indisputable, unmistakable sign of the onset of labor. Flying at eight months of pregnancy is ill-advised. Flying at eight months with leaking amniotic fluid is insane, particularly for a woman who has boasted about her easy (past) births.

According to one obstetric source that I found, a woman with Palin's trouble-free history had about a 66% chance of giving birth WITHIN ten hours from the time her membranes ruptured.

I've stated this before, but it bears repeating:

It was NOT possible that Palin would give birth before she got back to Alaska. It was PROBABLE.
What is amniotic fluid?

Most people know it's what surrounds the baby, but where does it come from? It is not something the mother produces, at least later in pregnancy. By the eighth month, the majority of what makes up amniotic fluid is the by-product of the fetus's urinary system; quite bluntly, it's the baby's pee. By 34 weeks, in a normal pregnancy there is about a quart of amniotic fluid. The quantity diminishes a bit by 40 weeks.

Many labors begin with some leaking (or even a large full-blown rupture) of the amniotic sac. For other women, the sac will rupture at some point during labor. If labor is left to progress fully naturally, sometimes the sac never ruptures and the baby is born still encased in it, though most birth attendants now will artificially rupture the sac before this point. (Being born still in the sac (the caul) traditionally was considered good luck, even magical. Here's article from Wikipedia about it. )

When membranes rupture PRIOR to any other signs of labor, what does this mean? What should be done?

I've read some more extreme comments that membrane rupture is an "emergency," and Gov. Palin should have immediately called an ambulance and rushed to the hospital.

It is considered absolutely mandatory that once membranes have ruptured, within a sensible time frame of an hour or two, someone needs to check the baby's heart tones.

Why? Because as soon as there is any leakage of fluid, additional compression can be put on the umbilical cord. It's possible in rare cases for the cord to actually slip down between the baby's head and the side of the uterus, at times even coming out through the cervix. This IS a MAJOR EMERGENCY, and the only way to rule out cord problems is to check the baby - fairly promptly.

However, it's pretty clear that almost twenty four hours passed from the time that Gov. Palin first has stated that she saw some signs of amniotic fluid until she actually saw a physician.

Where did the story come from that her membranes had ruptured?

Interestingly, it seems to have come from her father, Chuck Heath. Let's do a quick review of a timetable.

  1. April 17th - 4 AM Texas time, 1 AM Alaska time
    Gov. Palin calls her doctor to report, "there was AN IDEA there that he might come early." I am not sure exactly what this means.

    Did she have a dream that her baby might come early? A vision from above?

    Did a little bird whisper it into her ear?

    Or did she have some clear physical indications that she might be in labor?

  2. April 17th - Around 11 PM Alaska Time
    Palin arrives at Mat-Su Hospital AFTER remaining in Texas to give a luncheon speech then taking TWO separateFOUR hour flights, and having a TWO hour layover in Seattle.

  3. April 18th - 6:30 A.M.
    Trig is born at Mat-Su Regional Hospital in Palmer.

  4. April 18th - Afternoon
    KTUU (Anchorage NBC Affiliate) goes to Mat-Su in Palmer and does an interview with Sarah Palin's PARENTS. It was at THIS interview that apprently Gov. Palin's FATHER states that her water broke in Texas. So while it seems that Gov. Palin might have wished to be a bit more discreet about the details, her father was not so reticent.

  5. April 19th
    The Palins leave the hospital with Trig.

  6. April 21st
    The Palins, at Sarah's office in Anchorage, give an interview. (This was not published until the NEXT day, the 22nd.)
It was during this interview, that Palin was asked specifically about her water breaking, and was told that her FATHER had said that. She clearly does not want to discuss it, but she DOESN'T deny it.

Why? Because it's true? Or because it is the story that she gave her parents for why she left Texas early, and now can't backpedal or THEY will get suspicious?

Here's the exact quote from the Palin interview:

Reporter:
So did your water break?

Palin:
Well, if you must know more of those type of details, but, um…

Reporter:
Well, your dad said that and I saw him say it so that’s why I asked.

Palin:
Well that was again if, if I must get personal, technical about this at the same time, um, it was one, it was a sign that I knew, um, could lead to uh, labor being uh kind of kicked in there was any kind of, um, amniotic leaking, amniotic fluid leaking, so when, when that happened we decided OK let’s call her.

So, we have it, in Gov. Palin's own (convoluted) words, that her amniotic fluid began leaking at 4 AM in Texas, and they called her doctor.

As has been stated so many other places, it is incomprehensible that a doctor would not have told Gov. Palin to go to a hospital immediately and get checked out.

And it's also interesting to note that Dr. Cathy Baldwin Johnson has NEVER confirmed that the Palins called her at this time. In fact, she stated that that "things" (a precise medical term if I ever heard one) had already "settled down," (more precision) by the time the Palins called. (Or, as my physician husband has quipped: "I must have missed that day in medical school.")

So... someone is lying.

Amniotic fluid "leaking"

What does this mean to the layperson? What it means is that they probably don't want to think about it.

What does it mean to a birth attendant? It means, frankly, a rather untidy mess.

When we would attend a home birth, we would set up in the birthing room a full-sized trash can. (Not the kitchen size, your standard outdoor size.) By the time wee-one came along, it was almost always full.)

Sarah Palin at the Governor's Conference in Texas

  • How did Gov. Palin handle this mess?

  • How did she protect the hotel furniture and bedding, and her business suit DURING her speech?

  • Did Todd promptly call a cab or the hotel car, rush out to the nearest CVS, and buy hospital grade sanitary pads and/or some Surecare or Chux bed underpads at 4 A.M?

When I was still a home birth "helper," we would sit the mom on disposable pads (no panties, and certainly nothing in the vagina like tampons, since that would increase the chances of infection) which were changed scrupulously every half an hour or so.

And once membranes rupture, it's not just a drop or two of clear fluid. Women who are going into labor start losing mucous, also known as "the mucous plug" which has sealed up the cervix. What does this look like? For lack of a better description, it looks like bloody snot.

So, morning in Texas, April 17th, we have the Governor of Alaska, with small gushes of fetal urine and bloody snot leaking out of her vagina putting on her business suit (including pantyhose?) preparing to give a speech... which by all reports, she DID.

(Good God, does anybody still believe this story?)

(And don't forget, this was a conference! Not only was there a luncheon speech, but I imagine there were panels or discussions or workshops during the "morning session."

Never has it been indicated that Palin did not participate... it would have caused comment if she had not. My guess is that she DID participate.

We don't have direct proof for that, but we do have the Governor of Hawaii's statement that “Nobody knew a thing. I only found out from my security detail on the way home that she had gone into labor and that she had gone home to Alaska.”

Only the Governor of Texas suspected that something was up (probably where the rumors later heard by Lingle's security detail came from), and that was only because the Palins had rushed off so quickly after her speech, refusing to confirm either way whether she was in labor.)

And how would she have handled it if the "leak" had become a full-fledged rupture DURING the speech or while sitting in some workshop? "OOOPS. Sorry. My bad."

This has personally happened to me. (Not during a speech at a Governors' Converence, of course.) But I had some leaking which all of a sudden turned into a flood. I "popped." And if you don't think a quart of fluid is a lot, I suggest you all get up from your computers right now, take a quart of water, and dump it on the floor between your legs.

Now picture that happening up on a podium in front of the other Governors. It would have been the most memorable Republican Governor speech on record, I promise you that.

That anyone would have taken this risk is so implausible it is ludicrous. But no one really wants to "go there" in terms of confronting Palin. (Not that anyone has really been given the chance!)

No one really wants to confront her with questions like:

  • How DID you protect your clothing, Gov. Palin?

  • What WOULD you have done had you started leaking a lot of fluid on the floor during the speech?

  • Did you need to call housekeeping and have your bed changed in the middle of the night?

Birth is not a tidy process.

Gov. Palin has given, as "proof" of her labor, information that she was in the midst of one of the more untidy parts, yet has given no indication that she behaved in such a way that would support her own contention. And, because it's "private," we're not allowed to ask.

Sarah Palin on the Air Plane Returning to Alaska

But... of course... the adventure is just beginning, because we are now supposed to believe that she sat on airplane seats for EIGHT additional hours, all the while the flight attendants NOT noticing anything out of order.

People in Alaska knew she was pregnant. The flight attendants certainly should have been aware of it, though they may not have realized the exact due date.

If Gov. Palin had been getting up and going to the bathroom every few minutes (clutching her carry-on bag, because of course she would have needed her bag to carry into the restroom the hospital grade sanitary pads she should have been changing), you don't think the flight attendants would have noticed?

They would not only have noticed, they would have been worried. But no one observed anything unusual in her behavior during TWO four hour flights.

This is completely inconsistent with someone whose "membranes are leaking."

Precautions Against "Infection" After Membrane Rupture

And a note about infection: once it's been determined that there's no compression of the umbillical cord after membrane rupture, the next worry is infection, that because the sterile sac is now compromised, bacteria can enter and begin to grow.

It's why most midwives in a home birth setting will not even do an internal exam on a woman whose membranes are leaking until labor is well-established; you do not want to do anything to risk introducing infection. You don't bathe (you shower) and observe very careful hygiene while using the bathroom. You keep everything as clean and dry as possible.

(Now... think about airplane toilets.)

Or Was It Urine, Not Amniotic Fluid

I've read other places that perhaps the logical explanation was that it was not amniotic fluid at all; it was just a bit of urine. We should leave Gov. Palin alone because none of us know for sure. Certainly urine leakage can happen. You sit a six plus pound kicking baby on top of a woman's bladder and, yeah, you betchya, there can be "mishaps."

But there are several arguments against this.

  1. First, Trig Palin was born at 6:30 a.m.(MORNING) on April 18th. (Sarah Palin returned from Texas on April 17th) If Gov. Palin had arrived at Mat-Su with no signs of labor (considering that she was just 35-36 weeks) they would have sent her home.

    There are easy tests that can detect the presence of amniotic fluid in the vagina. The physician would have performed the test and if none had been detected, they would have sent her home.

    The fact that a baby was born the NEXT morning indicates that someone was in labor that night.

  2. The second thing is that she DIDN'T deny it. She was asked specifically about the "water breaking" on 4/21 and she confirmed her story.
She could have told the interviewer on April 21st that her impression in Texas that she was leaking fluid turned out to be wrong; that she'd been mistaken. But she didn't.

That she was leaking amniotic fluid in Texas is HER story and she is sticking by it. This is not something "bloggers" have fabricated out of nowhere.

So what do we conclude from all this?


  • IF Palin's story is COMPLETELY true, if she is Trig's mother, and everything happened the way she has claimed, she took utterly unacceptable medical risks with her infant's life.

  • She did not have him checked when her membranes ruptured, to rule out the possibility of cord prolapse.

  • She would have had to be dressed and to comport herself in a way that would have increased the chances of infection for almost 24 hours.

  • She risked having to give birth with no medical assistance in the aisle of an airplane.

  • She risked disrupting the travel plans of hundreds of other people.

  • And, if Palin's story is completely true, Cathy Baldwin-Johnson should lose her medical license.
If Palin's story is PARTIALLY true, what parts are a LIE?

  • My guess would be that she had NO contact at all with Baldwin-Johnson, at least prior to their layover in Seattle. It's a complete fabrication that she called her doctor from Texas. She took utterly reckless chances with her baby's safety as well as the comfort of everyone else on the airplane... and she beat the odds. And THIS is why Cathy Baldwin Johnson has appeared to cut off most contact with Palin and her crazy birth story... because Palin's lies have actually jeopardized Balwin-Johnson's professional reputation. She can't come clean about the birth without telling the world that Palin is a liar. She's reluctant to do that. While I admire loyalty, in this case I would say it's misplaced.

If Palin's story is ENTIRELY a lie, and the physical realities of membrane rupture which I have seen and dealt with countless times make me lean very strongly in that direction, then the only answer is she was NEVER pregnant at all.


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 Monday, November 10, 2008

Rahm Emanuel, an Israeli Citizen as Obama's Chief of Staff: Middle East Conflict Will Not be Resolved

 






Read here article by John Whitbeck and here by Alexander Cockburn for more

Excerpts:

In the first major appointment of his administration, President-elect Barack Obama has named as his chief of staff Congressman Rahm Emanuel, an Israeli citizen and Israeli army veteran. This is the man who arranges the President's schedule, staffs out the agenda, includes, excludes.

Rahm Emanuel volunteered to serve in Israel in 1991 and who made brisk millions in Wall Street. He is a super-Likudnik hawk, whose father was in the fascist Irgun in the late Forties, responsible for cold-blooded massacres of Palestinians.

Emanuel's father’s unreconstructed ethnic outlook has been memorably embodied in his recent remark to the Ma’ariv newspaper that

"Obviously he [Rahm] will influence the president to be pro-Israel… Why wouldn't he be [influential]?

What is he, an Arab? He's not going to clean the floors of the White House."

He favored the war in Iraq, and when he was chairing the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee in 2006 he made great efforts to knock out antiwar Democratic candidates

Emanuel's father, according to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, was a member of Menachem Begin's Irgun forces during the Nakba.

He named his son after "a Lehi combatant who was killed" -- i.e., a member of Yitzhak Shamir's terrorist Stern Gang, responsible for, in addition to other atrocities against Palestinians, the more famous bombing of the King David Hotel and assassination of the UN peace envoy Count Folke Bernadotte.

The editorial in the next day's Arab News (Jeddah) was entitled "Don't pin much hope on Obama -- Emanuel is his chief of staff and that sends a message". This editorial referred to the Irgun as a "terror organization" (a judgment call) and concluded:

"Far from challenging Israel, the new (Obama) team may turn out to be as pro-Israel as the one it is replacing."

Obama repeatedly pledged unconditional allegiance to Israel during his campaign, most memorably in an address to the AIPAC national convention which Israeli peace activist Uri Avnery characterized as "a speech that broke all records for obsequiousness and fawning", and America's electing a black president has always been more easily imagined than any American president's declaring his country's independence from Israeli domination.

Why would Obama, a man of unquested brilliance, have chosen to send such a contemptuous message to the Muslim world with his first major appointment?

Why would he wish to disabuse the Muslim world of its hopes (however modest) and slap it across the face at the ealiest opportunity?

A further contemptuous message is widely rumored to be forthcoming -- the naming as "Special Envoy for Middle East Peace" of Dennis Ross, the notorious Israel-Firster who, throughout the 12 years of the Bush the First and Clinton administrations, ensured that American policy toward the Palestinians did not deviate one millimeter from Israeli policy and that no progress toward peace could be made and who has since headed the AIPAC spin-off "think tank", the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
For decades, the Palestinian leadership has been "waiting for Godot" -- waiting for the U.S. Government to finally do the right thing (if only in its own obvious self-interest) and to force Israel to comply with international law and UN Resolutions and permit them to have a decent mini-state on a tiny portion of the land that once was theirs.

This was never a realistic hope. It has not happened, and it will never happen.

So it may well be salutary not to waste eight more days (let alone eight more years) playing along and playing the fool while more Palestinian lands are confiscated and more Jewish colonies and Jews-only bypass roads are built on them, clinging to the delusion that the charming Mr. Obama, admirable though he may be in so many other respects, will eventually (if only in a second term, when he no longer has to worry about reelection) see the light and do the right thing.

It is long overdue for the Palestinians themselves to seize the initiative, to reset the agenda and to declare a new "only game in town".

No American president -- least of all Barack Obama -- could easily support racism and apartheid and oppose democracy and equal rights, particularly if democracy and equal rights were being pursued by nonviolent means.

No one anywhere could easily do so. The writing would be on the wall, and the clock would be running out on the tired game of using a perpetual "peace process" as an excuse to delay decisions (while building more "facts on the ground") forever.

Democracy and equal rights would not come quickly or easily.

Forty years passed between when, on the night before his assassination, Dr. Martin Luther King cried out that he had been to the mountain top and had seen the promised land and when Barack Obama was elected as president of the United States. (The Bible suggests a similar waiting period in the wilderness for Moses.)

Forty-six years passed between the installation of a formal apartheid regime in South Africa and the election of Nelson Mandela as president of a fully democratic and nonracist "rainbow nation".
While it may be be hoped that the transformation would be significantly quicker in Israel/Palestine, it is clear that many who already qualify as "senior citizens" will not live to see the promised land.

However, if the promised land of a democratic state with equal rights for all is correctly and clearly perceived and persistently and peacefully pursued, there is ample reason for confidence that Israel/Palestine will one day experience the tearful exaltation of a "Mandela Moment" or an "Obama Moment", restoring hope in the moral potential both of a nation and of mankind, and that the Jews, Muslims and Christians who live there will finally reach their promised land.

Rahm Emanuel - Background
Read here for more

Rahm Israel Emanuel (Hebrew: רם ישראל עמנואל‎) was born in Chicago, Illinois. His first name, Rahm, means "high" or "lofty" in Hebrew, while his last name, Emanuel, means "God is with us."

According to his father, his son is the namesake of Rahamim, a Lehi paramilitary group combatant who was killed. Rahm’s surname was adopted by his family in 1933, after Rahm’s paternal uncle, Emanuel Auerbach, was killed in a skirmish with Arabs in Jerusalem.

Emanuel's father, Benjamin M. Emanuel, is a pediatrician who was born in Jerusalem and was a member of the Irgun, a Jewish militia which operated from 1931 to 1948 during the British Mandate of Palestine.

His mother, Martha Smulevitz, workedText Colour as an X-ray technician and was the daughter of a local union organizer. She became a civil rights activist; she was also once the owner of a Chicago-area rock and roll club. The two met in Chicago in the 1950s.

Emanuel's older brother, Ezekiel, is an oncologist and bioethicist, and his brother Ari is a talent agent in Los Angeles who inspired Jeremy Piven's character Ari Gold on the HBO series Entourage. Emanuel himself is the inspiration for the character Josh Lyman on The West Wing. Emanuel is a first cousin of Howard Stern Show writer Benjy Bronk. Emanuel also has a younger adopted sister named Shoshanna, 14 years his junior.

When his family lived in Chicago, Emanuel attended Bernard Zell Anshe Emet Day School, a Jewish day school. After his family moved to Wilmette, he attended public school: Romona School, Wilmette Junior High School, and New Trier West High School.

He and his brothers attended summer camp in Israel. At some point during his high school years, while working at an Arby's restaurant, Emanuel severely cut his right middle finger. He sought medical attention only after suffering severe infection as a result of the wound, resulting in the partial amputation of the finger. The story of this event has changed over time - it was once rumored that he lost it in combat for the Israeli army, when it was blown off by a Syrian tank.

He graduated from Sarah Lawrence College in 1981, and went on to receive a master's degree in Speech and Communication from Northwestern University in 1985. While still an undergraduate, he joined the congressional campaign of David Robinson of Chicago.

Emanuel was a civilian volunteer in the Israel Defense Forces during the 1991 Persian Gulf War, repairing truck brakes in one of Israel's northern bases.

Emanuel's wife, Amy Rule, converted to Judaism shortly before her wedding.They are members of Anshe Sholom B'nai Israel, a Modern Orthodox congregation in Chicago.They have three children, son Zachariah and daughters Ilana and Leah.

Emanuel is a close friend of fellow Chicagoan David Axelrod, Chief Strategist for the 2008 Barack Obama presidential campaign. Axelrod signed the ketuba, a Jewish marriage contract, at Emanuel's wedding, an honor that goes to a family friend or distant relative.

Rabbi Asher Lopatin of Anshe Sholom B'nai Israel Congregation is quoted as saying: "It's a very involved Jewish family"; "Amy was one of the teachers for a class for children during the High Holidays two years ago."

Emanuel has said of his Judaism: "I am proud of my heritage and treasure the values it has taught me." Emanuel's family lives on the North Side of Chicago, in the North Center neighborhood.

RELATED ARTICLE

A Plea from Israel :Come, Obama, Change My Life

by

Edna Canetti

(Edna Canetti wrote this for MachsomWatch. The piece was translated from Hebrew by George Malent)

Read here

Obama my dear, they tell me that you are going to change the world. Do me a favor, come and change my life personally.

Come to Israel, grab its stupid leadership by the throat and take its foot off the neck of another people. Come and force us to do what is clear, and written, and fitting, and necessary, come and get us out of the Territories, if necessary do it with a smile that reveals million-dollar teeth. If necessary bare your teeth and force us to do it.

Make it so that I don’t have to get up in the morning – I who hate to get up early, to go to the checkpoints, to watch and to weep. Make it so I will not have to see 19-year-old children who have been duped into believing that they are defending the home front by pointing rifles at five-year-old children.

Make it so that when my daughters take a shower for half an hour I don’t have to think about Ayad’s family from Awarta that puts buckets under all the washbasins in order to reuse the water which is more precious than gold. Because the settlements need the West Bank’s water more than the Palestinians do.

Make it so that when I sit in a traffic jam I don’t have to think about the vast numbers of cars that are standing at the entrance to Tul Karem while each one is checked by soldiers and dogs because there has been a warning that they’re about to blow up Tul Karem.

Make it so that when my sister urgently rushes to the hospital to give birth and when I rush my husband to the hospital practically with red lights flashing, I don’t have to think about the women giving birth and the heart patients and the wounded people who are stopped at the entrance to Nablus because their vehicle has no permit to enter.

Make it so that when I see a soldier in uniform on the street I do not wonder what he did last night. What house he entered in a “Straw Widow procedure”,* what boy he beat up in the alleys of Hawara because he smiled the wrong way.

Make it so that in the morning I don’t hear the satisfaction in the voice of the radio newsreader who relates that the IDF has killed six terrorists.

Obama my dear, this autumn I did not go to the olive harvest. It didn’t work out. Please make it so that I will not suffer from pangs of conscience because I am not doing enough. That I am living my own good life, pursuing my career, while for the other people just to get home safely is a career in itself.

Please relieve me of this pain that I have all the time deep in my belly. It never lets up, I can never really enjoy life, children, friends or work, because my mind is preoccupied with the image of the shepherd in Baq’a standing by the locked gate and shivering with cold because the redhead with the key has not showed up, and the bound blindfolded boy, and the three-year-old girl who got hit on the head by the carousel at the checkpoint, and the barriers of dirt and the concrete blocks that stop the lives of so many people from flowing smoothly.

Come, Obama, come and save us from ourselves.

And if that is what they mean when they say you are not a friend of Israel, then don’t be a friend. We have already had friends who arm us and justify every horror we carry out and save us from the international courts. Be a true friend. Save us from ourselves. And don’t do it for the world, do it only for me, so I can have peace. You owe it to me. I do not believe in God but still I prayed for you.
-Edna Canetti

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 Sunday, November 09, 2008

Sarah Palin blamed by the US Secret Service over death threats against Barack Obama

  Read here

The Republican vice presidential candidate attracted criticism for accusing Mr Obama of "palling around with terrorists", citing his association with the sixties radical William Ayers.

The attacks provoked a near lynch mob atmosphere at her rallies, with supporters yelling "terrorist" and "kill him" until the McCain campaign ordered her to tone down the rhetoric.

But it has now emerged that her demagogic tone may have unintentionally encouraged white supremacists to go even further.

The Secret Service warned the Obama family in mid October that they had seen a dramatic increase in the number of threats against the Democratic candidate, coinciding with Mrs Palin's attacks.

Michelle Obama, the future First Lady, was so upset that she turned to her friend and campaign adviser Valerie Jarrett and said: "Why would they try to make people hate us?"

The revelations, contained in a Newsweek history of the campaign, are likely to further damage Mrs Palin's credentials as a future presidential candidate. She is already a frontrunner, with Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal, to take on Mr Obama in four years time.

Details of the spike in threats to Mr Obama come as a report last week by security and intelligence analysts Stratfor, warned that he is a high risk target for racist gunmen. It concluded: "Two plots to assassinate Obama were broken up during the campaign season, and several more remain under investigation. We would expect federal authorities to uncover many more plots to attack the president that have been hatched by white supremacist ideologues."

Irate John McCain aides, who blame Mrs Palin for losing the election, claim Mrs Palin took it upon herself to question Mr Obama's patriotism, before the line of attack had been cleared by Mr McCain.

That claim is part of a campaign of targeted leaks designed to torpedo her ambitions, with claims that she did not know that Africawas a continent rather than a country.

The advisers have branded her a "diva" and a "whack job" and claimed that she did not know which other countries are in the North American Free Trade Area, (Canada and Mexico). They say she spent more than $150,000 on designer clothes, including $40,000 on her husband Todd and that she refused to prepare for the disastrous series of interviews with CBS's Katie Couric.

In a bid to salvage her reputation Mrs Palin came out firing in an interview with CNN, dismissing the anonymous leakers in unpresidential language as "jerks" who had taken "questions or comments I made in debate prep out of context."

She said: "I consider it cowardly. It's not true. That's cruel, it's mean-spirited, it's immature, it's unprofessional and those guys are jerks if they came away taking things out of context and then tried to spread something on national news that's not fair and not right."

She was not asked about her incendiary rhetoric against Mr Obama. But she did deny the spending spree claims, saying the clothes in question had been returned to the Republican National Committee. "Those are the RNC's clothes, they're not my clothes. I asked for anything more than maybe a diet Dr Pepper once in a while. These are false allegations."

Speaking as she returned to her native Alaska, Mrs Palin claimed to be baffled by what she claims was sexism on the national stage. "Here in Alaska that double standard isn't applied because these guys know that Alaskan women are pretty tough, on a par with the men in terms of being outdoors, working hard," she said.

"They're commercial fishermen, they're pilots, they're working up on the North slopein the oil fields. You see equality in Alaska. I think that was a bit of as surprise on the national level."

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 Thursday, November 06, 2008

Rahm Emanuel as Chief of Staff to Play Bad Cop to Obama as Good Cop

  Rep. Rahm Emanuel might not appear to be the obvious choice for White House chief of staff for a president-elect who speaks eloquently of setting aside partisan differences and bringing the country together.

The Illinois congressman, after all, is best known as something of a Democratic political assassin. From his days as a top aide to President Clinton to his recent role leading the Democrats to a House majority, Emanuel has relentlessly attacked his foes and gone ruthlessly after anyone who stood in his way.

Read here


Perhaps precisely because Obama seems likely to adopt a unifying posture as president, Obama may need someone practiced in the art of political hardball.

Republican strategist John Feehery -- who worked for former House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert and former House Minority Leader Robert H. Michel as well as former House Majority Leader Tom DeLay -- said Emanuel could help prevent House Democrats from overreaching.

"He understands that if Obama goes too far to the left, it's not going to be good for the Democrats," Feehery said. "I think he's the kind of guy who can knock some heads and help Obama guide the Congress toward the middle. . . . You will need a bad cop to Obama's good cop, and Rahm will fill that role quite nicely."




Emanuel's policies, unlike his politics, have always been centrist, in the Bill Clinton mold. In addition, a different Emanuel has emerged in recent years, one who has forged friendships with Republicans and shown an ability to work with them on occasion.

Emanuel was born in Chicago and kicked off his political career working for such powerhouses as Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley and former Sen. Paul Simon of Illinois before joining Clinton's 1992 presidential run.

Along the way, Emanuel earned a reputation for a colorful intensity unusual even in the hard-hitting world of politics. His profanity is legendary and seems designed in part to throw his interlocutors off-balance.

Emanuel excelled at fundraising, sometimes screaming and shouting at donors until they agreed to contribute -- generously -- to his candidate. He threatened to tear up checks if he considered them too small.

"Congressional Republicans respect what he has been able to do," Feehery said. "They think he's a formidable opponent. They think he works his butt off. They won't particularly love him, but if he's smart, they will respect him."

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Revealed: Sarah Palin is Ignorant, Annoying and Tantrum-Prone

 



Tensions between McCain and Palin camps

Read here

Sarah Palin left the national stage Wednesday, but the controversy over her role on the ticket flared as aides to John McCain disclosed new details about her expensive wardrobe purchases and revealed that a Republican Party lawyer would be dispatched to Alaska to inventory and retrieve the clothes still in her possession.

Tensions have simmered for much of the last month between aides loyal to McCain and those loyal to Palin, but they boiled over after the Republican nominee's defeat, as both sides spoke freely -- though anonymously -- about the wardrobe controversy and other conflicts.


Two aides to McCain and two to Palin discussed the tensions but asked that their names not be revealed, saying they were not comfortable speaking openly about internal operations.

The miscommunication and quarrels between the two camps lasted into Tuesday night, said McCain aides familiar with the situation. Palin arrived at the Arizona Biltmore planning to deliver a speech before McCain's concession speech, they said, but was told by senior McCain aides Steve Schmidt and Mark Salter that it would not be appropriate.

Fox News reported Wednesday that Palin's lack of knowledge on some topics also strained relations. Carl Cameron reported that campaign sources told him Palin had resisted coaching before her faltering Katie Couric interviews; did not understand that Africa was a continent rather than a country; and could not name the three nations that are part of the North American Free Trade Agreement -- the United States, Canada and Mexico.


For weeks, the McCain-Palin campaign has dealt with the fallout from the disclosure that the Republican National Committee was billed for $150,000 in wardrobe purchases for the Palin family -- a discovery that was widely ridiculed and undercut Palin's hockey mom appeal.

Several McCain aides said they had recently discovered that Palin's traveling staff had used personal credit cards to spend as much as $20,000 to $30,000 on additional wardrobe items for Palin.

Palin and her press aides were traveling back to Alaska on Wednesday and could not be reached for comment. But one aide earlier told Newsweek: "Gov. Palin was not directing staffers to put anything on their personal credit cards, and anything that staffers put on their credit cards has been reimbursed, like an expense."

The original $150,000 in purchases was revealed in late October after the release of the September and October Federal Election Commission filings by the Republican National Committee. Those reports revealed that more than $75,062.63 was spent at Neiman Marcus, $49,425.74 at Saks Fifth Avenue and $5,102.71 at Bloomingdale's around the time of the Republican National Convention in early September.

The campaign has said that many of those clothes were returned.

But McCain aides said Wednesday that spending on Palin's wardrobe continued well after the convention, with one custom-made outfit showing up around the time of her "Saturday Night Live" appearance on Oct. 18.

As first reported by Newsweek on Wednesday, McCain aides said some of that money was spent on clothing for Palin's children and husband, Todd, who may have received between $20,000 and $40,000 in wardrobe purchases. The money also included thousands of dollars in shoes. Several aides also said the items included jewelry, but a Palin aide disputed that.

Top McCain aides Schmidt, Rick Davis and Nicolle Wallace were flabbergasted by the magnitude of the spending as the receipts began trickling into the Republican National Committee, aides said.

Wallace had arranged for a stylist to shop for Palin before the convention because the Alaska governor did not have a chance to return home after she was selected as McCain's running mate.

Aides familiar with the campaign's internal discussions said Wallace and other top aides authorized the purchase of three outfits for Palin to wear during convention week and three ensembles for the campaign trail. But cost was to be kept to no more than $25,000 to $35,000.

When Schmidt learned that Palin's staff was putting clothing purchases on personal credit cards, aides said he called them to stop it.

Palin aides tell a different story. Several close to the governor said Wednesday that Palin was outraged by the amount of money being spent on her clothing and that she was naive about what the clothes cost.

"The very first day of shopping, there was a $14,000 price tag and . . . she was absolutely shocked," one of the Palin aides said.

Palin was not pleased by what had been selected for her, the aide said, adding that "a lot of that stuff that was purchased was never worn by her -- that was by her choice."

When the shopping spree hit the press, she appeared frustrated, telling audiences that she wears a lot of her own clothing and hadn't asked for the lavish purchases.

Resentments had started to brew earlier. Palin was not comfortable with the team of handlers sent by party headquarters to manage her appearances, and there were frequent conflicts between the staff at headquarters and her traveling staff. Palin felt constrained by the fact that she had little decision-making power, and questioned the directions being given to her by the campaign, an aide said.

In an interview with CNN on Wednesday, Palin denied that there were tensions with the McCain camp. But that is at odds with accounts from aides on both sides. The strain worsened, the aides said, after Palin was recorded talking to a Canadian comedian who pretended to be French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

Campaign staffers said McCain's top aides were blindsided by the call, which they said was approved by Palin foreign policy aide Steve Biegun.

McCain aides said the Palin camp did notify McCain's senior staff or the State Department about the supposed contact. Outraged, Schmidt organized a conference call. He demanded to know who had arranged the call, and questioned why anyone would have agreed to such an unusual request and then failed to clear it with top staff, McCain aides said.

Biegun immediately took responsibility. In an interview Wednesday, he said some aides at McCain headquarters were in fact aware of the call, and that it had been on the schedule for "a couple days."

"I was fooled," he said. "No one's going to beat me up more than I beat myself up for setting up the governor like that."


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The World Sighs With Relief: Barack Obama Elected 44th President

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The United States has seen the biggest transformation in its standing in the world since the election of John Fitzgerald Kennedy in November 1960.

The world's expectations of an Obama administration are high

This is a country which has habitually, sometimes irritatingly, regarded itself as young and vibrant, the envy of the world. Often this is merely hype. But there are times when it is entirely true.

With Barack Obama's victory, one of these moments has arrived.

The US has never been so unpopular, so derided, and so dismissed by the outside world as it has in the latter stages of George W Bush's presidency. The other day I asked Madeleine Albright, President Clinton's formidable secretary of state, if she could remember a time when people hated America so much.

Expectations abroad

"Not in my lifetime," she answered. "I feel very strongly about this country, and what an exceptional, amazing country it is. But I honestly think this is about as bad as I've seen it."

Opinion polls around the world have confirmed America's unpopularity. And the chance that a young, apparently pleasant and modest black man might become its president was greeted favourably everywhere.

Last summer a poll for the BBC World Service, conducted in 22 countries, indicated that people preferred Barack Obama to John McCain by four to one. Almost half said that if Senator Obama were elected, it would change their view of the United States completely.

America is no longer the power it was. It can still lead, but it is no longer in a position to dictate to the wider world

For eight years the word that people around the world have used again and again to describe the approach of George W Bush's presidency is "arrogance". The tone in Washington seemed to be one of superiority amounting almost to contempt.

Think of the speeches by men like Donald Rumsfeld, Paul Wolfowitz or Paul Bremer. All were closely concerned with the occupation of Iraq, which was carried out in defiance of opinion in most of the rest of the world.

Why did the US invade Iraq? "Because we are America," said another leading figure in the enterprise, famously. "We can."

Outside this country, most people would probably agree with Madeleine Albright's judgement when she spoke to me: "I think Iraq will go down in history as the greatest disaster of American foreign policy - worse than Vietnam."

In the rush to war in 2003, when many American politicians were frightened to stand out against the crowd, Barack Obama condemned the invasion loudly and publicly.

No guarantee

The fact that he has been elected president is his reward for that. And everyone around the world who felt that the Iraq war was wrong will feel that America has now chosen a different path - a path that leads away from extraordinary rendition, Guantanamo, Abu Ghraib, waterboarding and all the rest of it.

America is no longer the power it was. Without meaning to, President Bush demonstrated that. It can still lead, but it is no longer in a position to dictate to the wider world.

A black family in the White House will change America's image abroad.

Barack Obama clearly understands this. As an African-American (literally, since his father was from Kenya) his background is not one of privilege and superiority. He will be open to the world in a way President Bush never was. And he will show once again the value of the American dream.

This is no guarantee that he will be a success as president. Jimmy Carter understood the US's reduced position in the post-Vietnam world, and he refused to dictate to the world. Nowadays most Americans regard him as a failure.

But the outside world is set to be delighted by Barack Obama's victory. And its view of America will change accordingly.

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 Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Howard Dean: DON'T BLOW IT ! GO OUT AND VOTE


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 Tuesday, November 04, 2008

New York Daily News says: Vote for Obama & Seismic Change

  Read here

Tuesday, November 4th 2008

Let us make history today.

Let us vote for seismic change. Let us choose as President a man who holds great promise to restore America's stride.

Let us vote for Barack Obama.

The most expensive, most closely followed presidential campaign is done. Fully 633 grueling days have passed since Obama - then 45, now 47 - began a candidacy remarkable in the annals of U.S. politics.

He and the country have come a long way on a trail marked by the unpredictable - and never more so than with the eruption of a global financial crisis and the hobbling of the economy. The nation reaches the end of the contest facing challenges of a very different nature than it did when prosperity seemed secure, the war in Afghanistan appeared on track and violence raged in Iraq.

The dislocations in the waning days of the race confirmed that Obama must be the choice over John McCain, a terrific public servant but not the man for this hour of lost jobs, lost savings and lost homes.

Obama's bent toward the working and middle classes would rebuild confidence that the White House has the public's interests at heart as a new government gets to work repairing awful wreckage left by the old.

The cool he displayed while leading a nearly flawless campaign signals that he would bring to the Oval Office a steadiness under pressure far greater than might be expected of a leader of his limited seasoning.

And there is no question that he would set standards for communicating with the country and the world, no small gift.

With polls showing that 90% of Americans believe the country is headed in the wrong direction, Obama is harvesting justified anger at the failures of President Bush. But now his all-too-effective indictment of the Bush record is of no further use. Come tomorrow, it would be the Obama record that counts.

He has advanced proposals that stretch from the conduct of two wars to energy independence to universal health coverage to an overhaul of the tax code that shifts breaks from the wealthy to those at the bottom and in the middle.

Each has merits and demerits, but collectively they represent an agenda devised under very different circumstances.

Substantial adjustments will be necessary.

If Obama is elected, he must apply clear-eyed pragmatism to pressing issues that demand action. Promises that have been overtaken by new realities must give way to results-oriented governing. Political dogma must bow to the truth that ideology will not spur job creation or stabilize housing prices.

There is a world of difference, for example, in marching through Iowa and New Hampshire as an armchair general and serving as commander in chief. There is no position on this planet in which facts matter more.

Obama's vow to bring combat troops home from Iraq within 16 months is, in the most favorable light, a best guess at a plan - utterly divorced from the strategic analysis that produced the troop surge he opposed.

Starting tomorrow, best guesses will not suffice, nor will holding to a timetable that risks a rise in violence with the consequences of empowering Iran to meddle in Iraq's internal affairs, alienating Sunni-led countries of the Mideast and undermining America's credibility in Afghanistan.

A President Obama will have to keep combat forces in Iraq until the Iraqis are fully prepared to stand on their own.

Similarly, Obama's signature plan for the home front - tax cuts for 95% of families - is about to crash into a recession and a deficit that has grown from huge to astronomical. The plan can't survive the concussions.

The revenue gained from rescinding Bush's excessive breaks for the wealthy would be better spent on infrastructure projects, like mass transit, that stimulate the economy than on benefits for those in the lowest brackets. And raising capital-gains taxes now would impede recovery, nowhere more so than in New York.

In sum, as we said in endorsing him two weeks ago, Obama will need wisdom and flexibility to repair a damaged economy, restore faith in government and return competence to the White House.

While winding down the war in Iraq, developing strategies for Afghanistan and preventing a recurrence of terror.

But there are good grounds to believe that the hopes of millions of Americans have not been misplaced in rallying to the flag of a man likely to break a racial barrier that most expected to last for generations more.

Obama is a person of high intellect and political perception. He would not be approaching the pinnacle of power with but 12 years in government under his belt without these qualities.

He has shown the sense to assemble smart advisers - of which he will need more - and he appears to have the even greater sense to take their counsel. And, of top importance, he has promised to return bipartisanship to
Washington.

So, let us make history today.

Let us vote for Barack Obama.


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Sarah Palin implies Democrats like terrorists

  Read here

Stumping in bellwether Missouri on Monday, Sarah Palin implied that a vote for Barack Obama would support terrorists.

What a desperate and reprehensible ploy.

Do they think that terrorists have all of a sudden become the good guys?” she said in Jefferson City, according to CNN.

Palin continued: "No, the terrorists still seek to destroy America and her allies and all that it is that we stand for: freedom, tolerance, equality. The terrorists have not changed their minds.”

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Obama's grandmother dies of cancer in Hawaii

 


Obama with his maternal grandparents

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama's grandmother died of cancer, he said in a statement on Monday, a little more than a week after he interrupted the White House campaign to say goodbye to her in Hawaii.

"It is with great sadness that we announce that our grandmother, Madelyn Dunham, has died peacefully after a battle with cancer," Obama said in a joint statement with his sister, Maya Soetoro-Ng. "She was the cornerstone of our family, and a woman of extraordinary accomplishment, strength and humility."

Dunham, 86, helped raise Obama from the age of 10 while his mother was working in Indonesia, and Obama took an emotional 22-hour trip to Hawaii to visit her on October 23 and 24.

Obama said afterward his grandmother had been flooded with cards, flowers and well-wishes from around the country, and he regularly thanked crowds at his campaign rallies for their prayers.

"Our family wants to thank all of those who sent flowers, cards, well-wishes and prayers during this difficult time," the statement said.

"It brought our grandmother and us great comfort. Our grandmother was a private woman, and we will respect her wish for a small private ceremony to be held at a later date," the statement said.

Dunham had followed Obama's presidential bid with great interest, and her death comes one day before U.S. voters will render their verdict in the race between Obama and Republican John McCain.

Obama affectionately called her "Toot" -- short for "tutu," the Hawaiian word for grandmother -- and frequently spoke of her on the campaign trail.

Dunham had recently broken her hip but the campaign had refused to comment on reports she was suffering from cancer.

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 Monday, November 03, 2008

A Vote for McCain is a Vote for Palin

  Read here

Most people chosen to run and serve as Vice President cannot expect to be the next President in the succeeding election. Even in the corporate world, a long-serving VP cannot think for one moment that she is next in line for the highest position in the company.

The U.S. Vice-President is simply that – to take over in case the President is incapacitated, dies or cannot further serve.

Sarah Palin as the Republican Vice Presidential candidate is a very different political animal.

It would seem that voting for John McCain this Tuesday is voting for Palin in 2012.

Of course, there is no absolute certainty of this happening. But the great likelihood of this should send shivers or at least create some hesitation in voters.

Assuming McCain wins, to believe that Palin will sit idly by and perform traditional vice presidential functions of supporting the President in a wait-and-see attitude is naïve.

Palin will most likely promote herself as the next Commander in Chief, especially if McCain fumbles. She is using this election, win or lose, as an ultimate play for an even greater election in the coming years.

Women voters who might have felt disenfranchised or betrayed when the Democrats chose Barack Obama over Hillary Clinton may have initially jumped with joy when a woman was tasked to run for Vice President. As a class they may have felt elated, justified and vindicated that a lady governor was picked by McCain to run by his side. This was the trick in the McCain’s sleeve to woe Hillary Democrats.

The truth is that Sarah Palin is no Hillary Clinton – not by a very long mile.

To say that, if one can’t vote for Hillary because the Democrats chose Obama, then just vote for McCain since Palin is his VP pick, is totally absurd. Clinton is in a league of her own; Palin is an untested, media-dodging and seemingly vindictive political leader from the isolated state of Alaska.

It cannot be denied that when Palin hit the political scene two months ago, Hillary loyalists were presented with an amazing opportunity. To dramatize their point that Hillary should have been chosen by the party over Obama, they could side with McCain since he chose a female running mate. This is what McCain had been hoping for. The choice of Palin indeed brought a sense of uneasiness in the Obama political camp.

But after the political dust had settled, Hillary loyalists didn’t see much of Clinton in Palin.

She wasn’t the exact opposite but there were many issues on which they strongly differed. Sure, they’re both women but the comparison seems to end there. Palin was seen as ultra-conservative, a fanatic gun supporter, and with a drill-baby-drill philosophy. She’s starkly different from Hillary in terms of attitude, political experience, and fundamental beliefs.

In the weeks that followed her grand entry into mainstream politics, media cut Palin down and exposed her for who she truly is. From the tall image she initially projected as a reformer, foe of the status quo and independent-minded maverick, she was trimmed down to size. Media exposed her flaws, her vindictive side in the Troopergate scandal, her being an anti-maverick, and recently her wardrobe affairs.

It seems that being the “hottest governor from the coldest state” wasn’t good enough. In the Katie Couric interview she was discovered to be unprepared, unfit and uneducated about foreign policy and world affairs. In two other interviews she appeared strong on energy and on children with disabilities, but weak on other important topics like the economy and Wall Street meltdown, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Twice in a row, she misrepresented the official duties of the Vice President. She has been caught exaggerating claims on Obama such as his alleged “palling around with terrorists” and mouthing rhetoric without factual or substantial basis. She was found by the Alaska legislature to have dealt an unethical hand in the firing of the State Trooper. She was a prior supporter of the ‘Bridge to Nowhere’ before it became the object of a national lampoon, and is convinced that drilling Alaska's protected Arctic National Wildlife Refuge for oil is a great idea.

Palin is now both media’s darling and its favorite castaway. She successfully used the media by to launch her as a future Presidential prospect; it was also media that exposed her lack of experience and vulnerability. Tina Fey can make a good living impersonating her every week and talk show hosts can make constant headlines by interviewing her on important political matters that she hardly knows about.

Media made her an overnight star; the same media is trying to undo her now. That may be difficult. She can use the spotlight and celebrity glow she has attained anytime, anywhere. If Obama wins this Tuesday, perhaps media can cast her away and treat her as a one-hit wonder. But the star power she has initially drawn may still turn some heads.

There’s an age factor to consider when voting for McCain. At 72 he will be the oldest American to be sworn in as President if he wins. Assuming he is able to finish a four-year term given his health and ripe age, it’s possible that he will either not run for reelection in 2012 or the Republican Party might anoint Palin as the party’s standard bearer.

That’s a frightening possibility.

There’s a rumor in the media that the McCain and Palin camps are arguing and blaming each other. McCain’s camp, it is said, has tried to mold and manage Palin to make her more appealing to the voters and help the Republican ticket. Palin’s camp has argued that she was mismanaged, quartered off from the media, and pigeonholed. McCain’s camp denies this, saying that it’s hard to oversee a candidate clearly unprepared for the White House, who acts like a diva to boot.

Whatever the truth, there’s friction within the Republican Party today. If McCain wins, there would even be more friction in the White House. McCain is the strong, domineering type of leader who tells people what to do. Palin is the free-spirited youthful voice whose exuberance and smile always catch attention. She is also someone who can’t be told to just sit down and listen. She is indubitably ambitious and is ably making her own play for a future election.

Given the friction in the last few days to election, it would be an all-out war from 2009 until 2012 between McCain and Palin if the Republicans win. It wouldn’t be a surprise if Palin seeks the party’s nomination in 2012. And it wouldn’t be much of a surprise if the Republicans handily give her that nomination, whether McCain is still strong, polls well, or wants to run for a second term.

Thus, a vote for McCain now is a vote for Palin in 2012. Given how media was able to expose her for what she truly represents, Republican diehards and McCain enthusiasts, even Hillary Democrats, should think long and hard before Tuesday’s election where a lot is at stake.

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War Monger Dick Cheney Endorses John McCain and Sarah Palin

  Read here




Barack Obama Congratulates John McCain
on Cheney's Endorsement of McCain and Palin



Dick Cheney flew to his home state, Wyoming, to speak at the Laramie rally in support of the Republican ticket.

Dick Cheney told a rally in Laramie on Saturday:

"He's a man who has looked into the face of evil and not flinched, he's a man who is comfortable with responsibility, and has been since he joined the armed forces at the age of 17.

He has earned our support and confidence, and the time is now to make him commander in chief.

I'm pleased that he has chosen a running mate (Sarah Palin) with executive talent, toughness and common sense."

The endorsement may help McCain among loyal Republicans, but not with Americans disenchanted with the Bush-Cheney administration, or among independents angry over the stewardship of the past eight years.

McCain has been at pains to distance himself from the administration, pointedly saying in the final presidential debate that he was not Bush.

Obama's team, whose campaign theme is that McCain would represent a continuation of the Bush-Cheney administration, put out an ad within 90 minutes of Cheney's endorsement, as well as placing a clip of Cheney's speech on YouTube. The 30-second ad says:
"Barack Obama. Endorsed by Warren Buffett and Colin Powell. And John McCain's latest endorsement?"
Cheney had announced his endorsement for McCain before, but, like Bush, had been largely absent from the campaign trail during the past two months. His decision to participate in the Laramie rally at the weekend was prompted partly by a desire to speak on behalf of Republican congressional candidates and to deliver what amounted to an emotional look back on his career. He will retire from politics on inauguration day, January 20.

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 Sunday, November 02, 2008

The Triumph of Ignorance: How Morons Succeed in U.S. Politics

  Read here article by George Monbiot or here

by

George Monbiot

George Monbiot is the author of the best selling books Heat: how to stop the planet burning; The Age of Consent: a manifesto for a new world order and Captive State: the corporate takeover of Britain; as well as the investigative travel books Poisoned Arrows, Amazon Watershed and No Man’s Land. He writes a weekly column for the Guardian newspaper.

He has held visiting fellowships or professorships at the universities of Oxford (environmental policy), Bristol (philosophy), Keele (politics), Oxford Brookes (planning) and East London (environmental science). He has honorary doctorates from the University of St Andrews and the University of Essex and an Honorary Fellowship from Cardiff University. In 1995 Nelson Mandela presented him with a United Nations Global 500 Award for outstanding environmental achievement. He has also won the Lloyds National Screenwriting Prize for his screenplay The Norwegian, a Sony Award for radio production, the Sir Peter Kent Award and the OneWorld National Press Award.


McCain Supporter REFUSES Halloween
Treats To Kids Supporting Obama




How was it allowed to happen? How did politics in the US come to be dominated by people who make a virtue out of ignorance? Was it charity that has permitted mankind’s closest living relative to spend two terms as president?

How did Sarah Palin, Dan Quayle and other such gibbering numbskulls get to where they are?

How could Republican rallies in 2008 be drowned out by screaming ignoramuses insisting that Barack Obama is a Muslim and a terrorist? (1)

Like most people on this side of the Atlantic I have spent my adult life mystified by American politics. The US has the world’s best universities and attracts the world’s finest minds. It dominates discoveries in science and medicine. Its wealth and power depend on the application of knowledge. Yet, uniquely among the developed nations (with the possible exception of Australia), learning is a grave political disadvantage.

There have been exceptions over the past century: Franklin Roosevelt, Kennedy and Clinton tempered their intellectualism with the common touch and survived; but Adlai Stevenson, Al Gore and John Kerry were successfully tarred by their opponents as members of a cerebral elite (as if this were not a qualification for the presidency).

Perhaps the defining moment in the collapse of intelligent politics was Ronald Reagan’s response to Jimmy Carter during the 1980 presidential debate. Carter - stumbling a little, using long words - carefully enumerated the benefits of national health insurance. Reagan smiled and said “there you go again” (2). His own health programme would have appalled most Americans, had he explained it as carefully as Carter had done, but he had found a formula for avoiding tough political issues and making his opponents look like wonks.

It wasn’t always like this. The founding fathers of the republic - men like Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, John Adams and Alexander Hamilton - were among the greatest thinkers of their age. They felt no need to make a secret of it. How did the project they launched degenerate into George W Bush and Sarah Palin?

On one level this is easy to answer. Ignorant politicians are elected by ignorant people.

US education, like the US health system, is notorious for its failures. In the most powerful nation on earth:

  • one adult in five believes the sun revolves around the earth;

  • only 26% accept that evolution takes place by means of natural selection;

  • two-thirds of young adults are unable to find Iraq on a map;

  • two-thirds of US voters cannot name the three branches of government;

  • the maths skills of 15 year-olds in the US are ranked 24th out of the 29 countries of the OECD (3).
But this merely extends the mystery:
How did so many US citizens become so dumb, and so suspicious of intelligence?
Susan Jacoby’s book The Age of American Unreason provides the fullest explanation I have read so far. She shows that the degradation of US politics results from a series of interlocking tragedies.

One theme is both familiar and clear: RELIGION - in particular fundamentalist religion - makes you STUPID.

The US is the only rich country in which Christian fundamentalism is vast and growing. Jacoby shows that there was once a certain logic to its anti-rationalism.

During the first few decades after the publication of The Origin of Species, for example, Americans had good reason to reject the theory of natural selection and to treat public intellectuals with suspicion. From the beginning, Darwin’s theory was mixed up in the US with the brutal philosophy - now known as Social Darwinism - of the British writer Herbert Spencer. Spencer’s doctrine, promoted in the popular press with the help of funding from Andrew Carnegie, John D. Rockefeller and Thomas Edison, suggested that millionaires stood at the top of a scala natura established by evolution. By preventing unfit people from being weeded out, government intervention weakened the nation. Gross economic inequalities were both justifiable and necessary (4).

Darwinism, in other words, became indistinguishable to the public from the most bestial form of laissez-faire economics. Many Christians responded with revulsion. It is profoundly ironic that the doctrine rejected a century ago by such prominent fundamentalists as William Jennings Bryan is now central to the economic thinking of the Christian right. Modern fundamentalists reject the science of Darwinian evolution and accept the pseudoscience of Social Darwinism.

But there were other, more powerful, reasons for the intellectual isolation of the fundamentalists. The US is peculiar in devolving the control of education to local authorities. Teaching in the southern states was dominated by the views of an ignorant aristocracy of planters, and a great educational gulf opened up. “In the South”, Jacoby writes, “what can only be described as an intellectual blockade was imposed in order to keep out any ideas that might threaten the social order.” (5)

The Southern Baptist Convention, now the biggest Protestant denomination in the US, was to slavery and segregation what the Dutch Reformed Church was to apartheid in South Africa. It has done more than any other force to keep the South stupid. In the 1960s it tried to stave off desegregation by establishing a system of private Christian schools and universities. A student can now progress from kindergarten to a higher degree without any exposure to secular teaching. Southern Baptist beliefs pass intact through the public school system as well. A survey by researchers at the University of Texas in 1998 found that one in four of the state’s public school biology teachers believed that humans and dinosaurs lived on earth at the same time(6).

This tragedy has been assisted by the American fetishisation of self-education. Though he greatly regretted his lack of formal teaching, Abraham Lincoln’s career is repeatedly cited as evidence that good education, provided by the state, is unnecessary: all that is required to succeed is determination and rugged individualism. This might have served people well when genuine self-education movements, like the one built around the Little Blue Books in the first half of the 20th century, were in vogue. In the age of infotainment it is a recipe for confusion.

Besides fundamentalist religion, perhaps the most potent reason why intellectuals struggle in elections is that intellectualism has been equated with subversion. The brief flirtation of some thinkers with communism a long time ago has been used to create an impression in the public mind that all intellectuals are communists.

Almost every day men like Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly rage against the “liberal elites” destroying America. The spectre of pointy-headed alien subversives was crucial to the election of Reagan and Bush. A genuine intellectual elite - like the neocons (some of them former communists) surrounding Bush - has managed to pitch the political conflict as a battle between ordinary Americans and an over-educated pinko establishment. Any attempt to challenge the ideas of the rightwing elite has been successfully branded as elitism.

Obama has a good deal to offer America, but none of this will come to an end if he wins.

Until the great failures of the US education system are reversed or religious fundamentalism withers there will be political opportunities for people, like Bush and Palin, who flaunt their ignorance.

References:

1. For a staggering display of ignorance and bigotry, see HERE

2. You can see this exchange at HERE

3. All these facts are contained in Susan Jacoby, 2008. The Age of American Unreason: dumbing down and the future of democracy. Old Street Publishing, London.

4. Susan Jacoby, ibid. Chapter 3.

5. Susan Jacoby, ibid. Page 57.

6. Susan Jacoby, ibid. Page 25.


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An Interview with General Colin Powell

 

Associate Editor of Jamaican Gleaner News, Byron Buckley last week interviewed former United States (US) Secretary of State Colin Powell, who has Jamaican roots, about his views on the US presidential election.

Barack Obama has commander-in-chief quality, says Powell

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Byron Buckley

To what extent is your endorsement of presidential candidate Barack Obama likely to encourage active military personnel or veterans to vote for him?

Because I was a soldier, military personnel and veterans will take my view into account, but I find that so many of our soldiers now are exceptionally well informed through the Internet and television that they can make informed judgements. I hope they will look at my judgement and compare it to the judgement of others and make an informed choice. I cannot tell you how many people I may have influenced or caused to move in the other direction, but I am confident that our soldiers are dedicated citizens and they will examine both candidates and make an informed judgement.

How do you respond to the view that your endorsement of Senator Obama has shored up his image as commander-in-chief while undercutting that image of your Republican and military colleague John McCain?

I don't think I have undercut John McCain, who, as I said, is a distinguished American individual in both war and peace. He certainly is qualified to be commander-in-chief, so I don't think I have undercut that. But, at the same time, I think my endorsement of Senator Obama says that I believe he has demonstrated in this campaign that he understands the issues that we face and he brings the leadership and organisational abilities that one needs to be a good commander-in-chief. If you look at the campaign that he has run, it has been almost perfect, and it has been run almost like a military operation. So, I believe he has the leadership and management skills as well as the substance and the style, frankly, to be a good commander-in-chief and a good leader of foreign policy for the American people.

You opted out of running for the US presidency in the past. So, why do you think a young, black and politically inexperienced Barack Obama can now be successful in his bid to become president of the USA?

I don't know that there is any reason to compare my experience with his experience. I opted out because I did not wish to run for political office. I didn't think it was the right thing for me and I didn't have the kind of passion one needs. Now, 13 years later, a young, black man has come along, who has been passionate and who has demonstrated to the American people that he has the gifts necessary to be a successful president. Why do I think he can do it? Well look what he has done so far. He has pushed aside all his competitors to win the Democratic Party's nomination. And now as we enter into the last few days of the campaign, he is ahead in most of the polls. So, it is not so much a comparison to what I was thinking of 13 years ago, but it's the way in which he has presented himself to the American people, and he has won their support.

Now it's still a close race and we don't know who will prevail, but you have to say the American people have given Mr Obama a great deal of support and Mr McCain is receiving a great deal of support too. We will know next Tuesday which of them had the greatest support of the American people.

And so we should be very proud of what we have done in this campaign - brought along two candidates from two different parties with two philosophies, both of them as dedicated, committed Americans who will reach out to the international community, and it is now up to the American people to make their choice.

Former Jamaican Prime Minister Edward Seaga says regardless of who assumes the US presidency, there is unlikely to be any real change in US-Jamaica relations. As a former US secretary of state, do you agree?

I agree with what my good friend Mr Seaga has said. There is no reason to believe there will be any change. We have good relations with Jamaica; we want to help Jamaica. There is a very active diaspora here in the United States, starting with me, and some of the other Jamaican Americans. There is no reason to believe that either one of the two candidates would fundamentally change the relationship we have with Jamaica.

Do you agree with Senators Obama's proposal to hold talks with Cuba's Raúl Castro without conditions?

I don't know if he has said that directly. I think what he has said is let's examine each of those situations where we haven't been talking to people. That includes places like Syria, Iran and Cuba.

Let me rephrase. Regardless of who wins, what will US-Cuba relations be like going forward?

I don't know that there is going to be significant change until there is a change in the leadership in Cuba. There are still strong political feelings in the United States about the kind of regime that Mr Castro has led for many decades. So, I would not expect a significant change until there is a change in the political leadership in Cuba.

In your view, how would an Obama or McCain victory impact race relations and immigration issues in the USA?

I think if Mr Obama wins it will be a very exciting thing here in the United States, and around the world as well, with respect to race relations. If Mr McCain wins, I know him very well, I know that his heart is in the right place and there isn't anything the slightest bit discriminatory about him. So, I think he would be a leader who would try to improve race relations as well, although clearly, Mr Obama, because he is African American, might have the most immediate effect. But things aren't going to deteriorate because Mr McCain is president; I know the man well.

With respect to immigration, I think both of them have forward-leaning policies and perspectives. America is an immigrant country; we touch every nation, every nation touches us. Immigration has kept us alive and well and inspiring over these many years. We have a problem right now, that in the aftermath of 9/11, the American people wanted to make sure our borders were secure. So, we spend a lot of time on increasing the strength of the border along our southern boundary; and we have done a lot of things with respect to visas and access to the country, because the American people wanted to make sure that they were being protected, which is the first responsibility of a government.

But at the same time, we have to encourage immigration. We have to encourage people to come to the United States, and we have to do something about all of those individuals in the United States who are undocumented, mostly Mexicans. As they are contributing to our economy we have to find a way to regularise them; in other words, bring them out of this undocumented status to some kind of documented status, even though they may have to be penalised in some way for being undocumented, but let's bring them out. That was the position of President Bush, but the political difficulties that came into play after 9/11 made it hard to pursue that goal, and I hope that either Mr McCain or Mr Obama would pursue that goal. Senator McCain has been very strong on this issue in previous years.

Which of the two candidates' economic policies do you believe will get America through this current financial crisis faster?

It's hard to say right now because I don't know what our economic situation would be like on January 20 next year. Things are moving so rapidly and changing right now, with the actions of the current administration and the actions of our Federal Reserve banks and (Treasury Secretary Henry) Paulson, that I would really have to demure and say we have a president now and we will have to see where the country is on January 21 to see which of the economic policies (of Obama or McCain) are most useful. However, I am more inclined to the economic policies of Senator Obama.

Which of the two candidates' policies do you think is more realistic in addressing the war on terror being waged in Iraq and Afghanistan?

With respect to Iraq, the policy is norma-lising. The Iraqis have said that they are increasingly capable of handling security and they are going through their political reconciliation. And so it is the Iraqis who are setting timelines as to when we should leave. I think that whoever becomes president will be faced with the need to continue the troop drawdown because the Iraqis have indicated they wish the drawdown to continue.

The challenge is going to be in Afghanistan. I think both candidates realise that is going to be the major theatre of action and they will have to figure out whether more troops should be added, and if so, how many, what we should do about the drug problem in Afghanistan and how to shore up the government so it does a better job.

Do you think it is fair for Obama's opponents to use his relations with Rev Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayers against him on the campaign trail?

This is politics and people always try to use these kinds of arguments. I think they are flawed arguments, both Jeremiah Wright and Mr Ayers. But politics isn't always fair. I just don't think these tactics will work on the American people. We will see on Tuesday whether I am right or whether I am wrong.


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Sarah Palin Duped by Prank Call: How Could She and her Aides be So Naive and Stupid!!!

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By CHARMAINE NORONHA

TORONTO (AP) — Sarah Palin unwittingly took a prank call Saturday from a Canadian comedian posing as French President Nicolas Sarkozy and telling her she would make a good president someday.

"Maybe in eight years," replies a laughing Palin.

The Republican vice presidential nominee discusses politics, the perils of hunting with Vice President Dick Cheney, and Sarkozy's "beautiful wife," in a recording of the six-minute call released Saturday and set to air Monday on a Quebec radio station.

Palin campaign spokeswoman Tracey Schmitt confirmed she had received the prank call.

"Governor Palin was mildly amused to learn that she had joined the ranks of heads of state, including President Sarkozy and other celebrities, in being targeted by these pranksters. C'est la vie," she said.

The call was made by a well-known Montreal comedy duo Marc-Antoine Audette and Sebastien Trudel. Known as the Masked Avengers, the two are notorious for prank calls to celebrities and heads of state.

Audette, posing as Sarkozy, speaks in an exaggerated French accent and drops ample hints that the conversation is a joke. But Palin seemingly does NOT pick up on them.

He tells Palin one of his favorite pastimes is hunting, also a passion of the 44-year-old Alaska governor.

"I just love killing those animals. Mmm, mmm, take away life, that is so fun," the fake Sarkozy says.

He proposes they go hunting together by helicopter, something he says he has never done.

"Well, I think we could have a lot of fun together while we're getting work done," Palin counters. "We can kill two birds with one stone that way."

The comedian jokes that they shouldn't bring Cheney along on the hunt, referring to the 2006 incident in which the vice-president shot and injured a friend while hunting quail.

"I'll be a careful shot," responds Palin.

Playing off the governor's much-mocked comment in an early television interview that she had insights into foreign policy because "you can actually see Russia from land here in Alaska," the caller tells her: "You know we have a lot in common also, because ... from my house I can see Belgium."

She replies: "Well, see, we're right next door to different countries that we all need to be working with, yes."

When Audette refers to Canadian singer Steph Carse as Canada's prime minister, Palin replies: "Well, he's doing fine and yeah, when you come into a position underestimated it gives you an opportunity to prove the pundits and the critics wrong. You work that much harder."

Canada's prime minister is Stephen Harper.

Palin praises Sarkozy throughout the call and also mentions his wife Carla Bruni, a model-turned-songwriter.

"You know, I look forward to working with you and getting to meet you personally and your beautiful wife," Palin says. "Oh my goodness, you've added a lot of energy to your country with that beautiful family of yours."

The Sarkozy impersonator tells Palin his wife is "so hot in bed" and then informs her that Bruni has written a song for her about Joe the Plumber entitled "Du rouge a levres sur une cochonne" — which translates as "Lipstick on a Pig."

Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama derided his Republican challenger John McCain's call for change in Washington as "lipstick on a pig," days after Palin made a lipstick joke at the Republican convention. The McCain-Palin campaign then released an ad implying Obama was calling Palin a pig with that remark.

The caller asks Palin if Joe the Plumber is her husband and adds: "We have the equivalent of Joe the Plumber in France. It's called Marcel, the guy with bread under his armpit."

He also tells the Alaska governor that he loved the "documentary" made about her and referred to a pornographic film with a Palin look-alike made by Hustler founder Larry Flynt.

She answers tentatively, "Ohh, good, thank you, yes."

The callers then reveal the prank and identify themselves and their radio station.

"Ohhh, have we been pranked?" Palin asks before handing the phone to an aide who ends the call.

Obama's campaign spokesman Robert Gibbs, commenting on the prank, said: "I'm glad we check out our calls before we hand the phone to Barack Obama."

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