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Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Desperate, Clinton Allies Consider an Anti-Obama 527

Manchester, N.H. -- A panicked and cash-short Clinton campaign is seriously considering giving up on the Nevada caucuses and on the South Carolina primary in order to regroup and to save resources for the massive 19-state mega-primary on February 5.

At the same time, some top independent expenditure groups supporting Clinton have been exploring the creation of an anti-Obama "527 committee" that would take unlimited contributions from a few of Clinton's super-rich backers and from a handful of unions to finance television ads and direct mail designed to tarnish the Illinois Senator's image.

The Clinton campaign has raised over $100 million, but has "only" $15 to $20 million left. It faces donor reluctance to give more in the face of the Iowa defeat and the prospect of a second loss in New Hampshire today. Even worse, the campaign fears defections among those fundraisers who want to be with a winner and who might be easily persuaded to support Barack Obama.

While the amount of money Clinton has would seem to be more than enough by past standards, the cost of competing in the February 5 states -- including New York, California, Georgia, New Jersey, Minnesota, Colorado, Tennessee, Massachusetts and Arizona - is unprecedented in the history of American primaries. She will face, in turn, an extremely well-funded Obama campaign, whose cash register right now doesn't stop ringing as donations are coming in over the Internet, by mail and in checks handed over in person.

The decision whether to take on Obama in Nevada and South Carolina will likely be made within the next 12 hours.

Both states look like probable defeats for Clinton. South Carolina has a large black electorate that is now likely to back Obama by wide margins, and the Democratic primary is open to all voters, including independents and Republicans, two other groups that in Iowa backed Obama decisively. Clinton had looked fully competitive in Nevada, but Obama's victories have boosted his chances there and now he appears almost certain to get the endorsement of the powerful Culinary Workers Union.

Arguing against pulling out of South Carolina and Nevada are Clinton aides who say that bowing out now would guarantee four defeats in a row - Iowa, N.H. lost at the ballot box, and South Carolina. and Nevada given up by default - would be a disastrous precursor to the February 5 contests. "You've got to put some points on the board. You can't just let the other guys run up the score and expect to come back in the fourth quarter," one Clinton aide said.

Three groups conducting independent expenditure campaigns in behalf of Clinton - Emily's List, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) and the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) - have explored the possibility of trying to put together a multi-million dollar effort privately dubbed the Anybody-But-Obama 527 Committee, but they have run into problems finding any Democratic operative willing to become the director of a campaign against the man who now is the odds-on favorite to become the party's nominee.

"You might make some good money in the short term, but your chances of getting any Democratic contracts in the future, especially if Obama wins, would be zilch," said one operative. "I wouldn't go there." The effectiveness of a 527 that goes negative was demonstrated by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth, which attacked John Kerry's war record in the 2004 campaign.

Spokespersons for both Emily's List and the AFT both adamantly denied to the Huffington Post any involvement with plans to create an anti-Obama 527 group.

But in fact, the complexities of federal election law have made it illegal for them to be involved. The discussions about the possible creation of such a 527 committee were held among people active in the separate independent expenditure (IE) campaigns conducted by AFT, Emily's List and AFSCME. By law, there can be no communication between those working on an IE campaign and officials of the parent organization putting the cash into the campaign. Officials of AFT and Emily's list acknowledged that they have had no contact with the staff members running their IE drives.

AFSCME President Gerald W. McEntee declared: "We're not about the business of swift-boating any Democratic candidate. We will not be party to any kind of effort of this type. Our campaign is about promoting Hillary Clinton - not tearing down any other candidate. Our number one priority is having the strongest Democratic candidate to take back the White House in November."

Sources familiar with the discussions about the creation of an anti-Obama 527 said that some of the Clinton campaign's major fundraisers have separately been exploring another similar proposal, but have not gotten very far yet.

"These things (527s) are not that easy to get rolling. There is a long way between talking and doing," said one source familiar with setting up 527 operations.

Federal tax law requires regular disclosure of both the donors to 527 organizations and the expenditures they make, so it is not possible for such committees to keep secret the identity of supporters and staff.

Why Don't we Start Following Our Hearts and Minds?

On March 17, 2003 President Bush declared that Saddam Hussein had 48 hours to leave Iraq, as we were entering into combat operations. Since that day, when we declared War, we have been occupying a country, with the stated mission of "winning the hearts and minds of the Iraqi people", to "liberate them" and "bring democracy".

Almost 5 years later, we reflect on a brutalized conutry, and a brutalized coalition force. There is now a war being faught directly against the civilian population, after we destroyed their cities, interrogated the people, arrested and detained the people of Iraq for questioning and interrogations. We sent hundreds of people to Guantanamo Bay, many (and in some cases all) of which were unrecorded, unrepresented, held without charge, and withheld the right to contact their families. It is estimated, that between 600,000 and 1,000,000 people have died resulting from the initial war, occupation, and subsequent humanitarian crises that has occured since that day in 2003. After bombing or shooting into the civilian places of gathering such as mosques, hospitals, schools, and homes, it is obvious for anyone to see...that we are not succeeding in winning the hearts and minds, libertaing, and installing our democracy, in Iraq.

There are many reasons that we went to war in Iraq. We have begun, and since increased our country's presence in the Middle East. We have relations with Israel, with Saudi Arabia, with Pakistan, with Iraq, Iran, Kuwait, and Syria. We have friendly relations with some of these countries, and aggressive relations with others. Regardless, we certainly maintain a concrete presence in this region. It is largely known that for decades, we have reinforced our presence for purposes of bartering power, of advancement in mainting a role of holding and maintaining strategic resources, and for the protection of our affiliated countries (allies, if you will), and our interests.

The problem with this, is that our country, because it is the largest superpower in the world, and because for decades, it has held the largest amount of incfluence throughout the world, is playing a game of Risk with the rest of the world. These are not countries that need to fall under one. What we need to remember, is that instead of it being about strategy, and accomplishment, and power, and acquirements; this is about people.

This is about human beings; you, me, our families, our friends, this is about everyone.

When our diplomats talk sternly to one another at UN meetings, when we make threats of violence against a country for not bending to what we think is best for them, and when we attack another country because they adamantly refuse to cooperate, we are dealing with people. We are killing them. We are destroying their comfortable ways of life, their routines, their communities.

Indeed, Emma Goldman once said (I believe she quoted Carlyle): "War is a quarrel between two thieves too cowardly to fight their own battle; therefore they take boys from one village and another village; stick them into uniforms, equip them with guns, and let them loose like wild beasts against each other."

My question is, instead of trying to win their hearts and minds, why don't we follow our hearts and minds?

Let's follow the hearts and minds of our people who are stuck over there. These are our friends, our brothers, sisters, and partners. These are not pawns in an elaborate game of world domination. Let's follow the hearts and minds of the people who live in the countries we have dominated. They are not to be forgotten, in the game of conquest. When we invade a country, we must take care of the innocent population who gets caught in the crossfire.

We are the wealthiest country in the world right now. We spend 452 Billion dollars per year on this war. Why don't we cut the payroll, bring most of the soldiers and most of the equipment home, and spend a significant amount on paying reparations to the Iraqi people. We wouldn't even have to spend all of the difference. We could use even 100, or 200 billion a year for this, and spend the rest on domestic issues like health care, education, transportation, and other social, civillian plans. The people who remain there, can be available to work with the Iraqi government (all of the Iraqi government, the parliament, the council, the prime minister), as well as within the International Community (as to build support, as to participate on a positive note, in world affairs, and to work together), to rebuild the infrastructure of Iraq.

Above all, we must give up on "Winning the Hearts and Minds". Why should we have to win them over to somewhere they clearly do not wish to be? It obviously isn't working, and quite frankly, it's turned into a complete disaster.

I believe that it is time for a change. We as a nation are very frustrated about where we've been led in this war, the neglect on our domestic front, our lack of preparedess for disaster, and our lack of adequate representation by the people we voted into office. Maybe it's time we start following the hearts and minds of the people, here, and abroad, and start working to affect a positive change in this world, and in how we look at it. We should think long and hard about this, and make sure that the people we vote for in office this time around are held accountable for the decisions they make, and ensure that we, as a people, can go along with these decisions, that we know the facts, and we actually start helping people instead of hurting them.

Israel to brief Bush on options for Iran strike

Israel still doesn't have 'smoking gun'

In the midst of a highly competitive US presidential race, events occurring in the Middle East are threatening to take center stage.

As CNN reported Monday, a US Navy vessel was given orders to fire on an Iranian ship which purportedly threatened to "explode" it and was dropping white boxes in the water. Meanwhile, a little noticed report in the UK press gives new fears to those who believe the US is still considering mounting an attack on Iran.

Israel security officials are set to brief President Bush on their "Iran file" regarding the country's alleged nuclear weapons program "and how it could be destroyed - when he begins a tour of the Middle East in Jerusalem this week," the UK Times Uzi Mahnaimi reported Sunday.

"Ehud Barak, the defence minister, is said to want to convince him that an Israeli military strike against uranium enrichment facilities in Iran would be feasible if diplomatic efforts failed to halt nuclear operations," the paper added. "A range of military options has been prepared."

Despite a US National Intelligence Estimate last month which asserted that Iran abandoned a secret nuclear weapons program in 2003, Israel believes the program has been restarted. Still, the evidence largely matches the US estimate.

Today, an Israeli news service reported that Israel "does not have any evidence which could turn the tables on a recent US intelligence report which concluded that Iran has stopped developing nuclear weapons."

A secret cabinet discussion at the "Prime Minister's Office [yesterday] was aimed at examining whether Israel had different evidence than the Americans," YNetNews reported. During the discussion it was made clear that more than 90% of the intelligence information possessed by Israel was identical to the information presented to the American president.

"Nonetheless, the additional information does not confirm that Tehran resumed its secret activity to create military nuclear capabilities after 2003," the publication added. "Although the Israeli information points to suspicions that this is in fact Iran's intention, its does not contain enough evidence which will allow Bush to return to Washington with information which will lead to firm action by the international community."

"While security officials are reluctant to reveal all their intelligence, fearing that leaks could jeopardise [sic] the element of surprise in any future attack, they are expected to present the president with fresh details of Iran’s enrichment of uranium - which could be used for civil or military purposes - and the development of missiles that could carry nuclear warheads," Mahnaimi wrote.

He added, "In an interview with the Israeli newspaper Yediot Aharonot this weekend, Bush argued that in spite of the US intelligence assessment, Iran still posed a threat."

Israeli president says war unlikely

Two weeks ago, however, Israeli President Shimon Peres said he did not believe a war with Iran would be necessary but called for the end of the current government in Tehran.

Peres told the German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was dangerous for Israel and the region but that other means could be used to contain the threat.

"I do not think that a war with Iran is necessary," he said when asked if he supported a military strike against the country.

"Ahmadinejad can be deposed by other means. Sanctions have revealed themselves to be a very effective instrument. Sanctions, not war, did away with North Korea's nuclear weapons."

He said he did not believe the Iranian people wanted to destroy Israel or develop nuclear arms.

"The majority is not ready to trade Allah and Mohammed for enriched uranium. Those that, like Iran, threaten the future of humanity have no future themselves. We will survive Ahmadinejad."