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Monday, June 2, 2008

Hillary's Supporters at the Meeting are a Disgrace (Updated)

The Clinton campaign and all of her supporters everywhere must be embarrassed and humiliated by the rudeness of her supporters present in the meeting room.

These rude and disgraceful supporters do their candidate no service, indeed, they do her a disservice. If anecdotal reports from the meeting and the protest outside are to be believed, then these supporters are expressing their intention to embrace the Bush Administration and all of their failures and crimes by refusing to support our Party's nominee. If the same anecdotal reports are to be believed, many of the Clinton supporters present are passing out scurrilous flyers telling horrible right wing lies about our nominee, Barack Obama. These flyers are calling him an adulterer and a murderer.

It is inconceivable to me how these Clinton supporters could do such a thing given the fact that the same right wing they now embrace spread the same lies and smears about Bill Clinton during the 1990's. Indeed, the right wing called Bill Clinton a murderer back then. And now the same Clinton supporters are accepting the same lies about Barack Obama.

At the same time, these same supporters pounce on any perceived slight from any minor Obama supporter and demand immediate reparations.

And that is a disgrace and it is hypocritical.

If Hillary's supporters have at any time demanded repudiation and denunciation on the part of the Obama campaign and his supporters, then they now must denounce and repudiate their own supporters who have engaged in the most disgraceful actions today.

And they must do it now.

And if they do not, they are entitled to no consideration by anyone anywhere ever again. If Hillary Clinton does not condemn her own supporters who have acted so rudely and immorally today, then she must be entitled to no further consideration, as a potential Vice Presidential candidate, as a Democratic Senator from the great state of New York, and as a Democrat herself.

I am outraged today by the disgraceful actions of those supporters who have spread such horrible lies. They must be ashamed of themselves if they have any principles or morals.

UPDATE For proof of the ancedotal reports I mention in this diary, please visit this report by Sam Stein at the Huffington Post.

And from Eve Fairbanks at the New Republic:

Howard Dean may hope that the "healing will begin today," but two blocks away from the northwest Washington Marriott where the DNC's Rules and Bylaws Committee is meeting right now to try to figure out Florida and Michigan, the Hillary protesters are occupying an utterly alternate (and healing-free) universe: a universe in which one of the big lawn rally's speakers yells that the Democratic Party no longer is in the business of "promoting equality and fairness for all"; in which a Hillary supporter with two poodles shouts, "Howard Dean is a leftist freak!"; in which a man exhibits a sign that reads "At least slaves were counted as 3/5ths a Citizen" and shows Dean whipping handcuffed people; and in which Larry Sinclair, the Minnesota man who took to YouTube to allege that Barack Obama had oral sex with him in the back of a limousine in 1999, is one of the belles of the ball.

"They almost made me cry this morning when they told me to get out of there," the blond Sinclair--who's looking roly-poly and giddy in a blue-and-white striped shirt with a pack of Marlboros protruding from the breast pocket--says, referring to several nervous protest organizers who tried to evict him when he first showed up at the rally site early this morning carrying a box of "Obama's DIRTY LITTLE SECRETS: Murder, Drugs, Gay Sex" fliers. Since then, though, he goes on, "I have been totally surprised by the reception I have received!"

...Clusters of people in Hillary shirts ask to take their photo with him, one woman covered in Clinton buttons introduces him to Greta Van Susteren, and he estimates he has handed out 500 fliers. "You could improve your credibility if you downplayed the gay sex and focused on the drugs," sagely advises one Hillary supporter with auburn hair and elegant makeup. But in this universe, Sinclair's credibility doesn't seem to be suffering too much. In fact, he's treated nearly as well as he might be at a meeting of the Vast Right-wing Conspiracy. ...

Of the eight Hillary supporters I quiz at the protest (six of them women), only one says she'd even consider voting for Obama in the fall. "It's sad. I'm a lifelong Democrat and the party's been taken over by these Obama people who say they want 'change,'" gripes Linda of Horseheads, New York, outside the Marriott as a honking car decorated with a painting of Hillary, a glued-on bust of Cleopatra, and a tampon drives by. Linda, she says, has already gone to the state Board of Elections to learn how to write Hillary's name in in November. "So much has been stolen from her."

"Would you rather have a president who had an affair [Bill Clinton] or one who was a murderer [Obama]?" Jeannie, the Greensboro Democrat, asks a fellow in a floppy Tilley hat and Hillary buttons. "That's a good point," he replies.

Thank you to the Kossacks who posted these videos in the comments. I hope you do not mind that I add them to the main diary.

And to be fair, my original title was "Hillary Clinton's Supporters are a Disgrace." Of course, that is not the main point of my diary, and indeed many of her supporters, like fellow Kossacks Angry Mouse and others here in the comments, are not disgraces. Indeed, they are very reasonable and enlightened as to the reality of this nominating contest, and they have rejected and denounced those supporters who would peddle in right wing lies.

Original here

Pastor Hagee: The Antichrist Is Gay, "Partially Jewish, As Was Adolph Hitler" (Paging Joe Lieberman!)

On March 16, 2003, on the eve of the United States' invasion of Iraq, Pastor John Hagee took to the pulpit to warn of the coming Antichrist. In his sermon, "The Final Dictator," Hagee described the Antichrist as a seductive figure with "fierce features." He will be "a blasphemer and a homosexual," the pastor announced. Then, Hagee boomed, "There's a phrase in Scripture used solely to identify the Jewish people. It suggests that this man [the Antichrist] is at least going to be partially Jewish, as was Adolph Hitler, as was Karl Marx."

This "fierce" gay Jew, according to Hagee, would "slaughter one-third of the Earth's population" and "make Adolph Hitler look like a choirboy."

Hear Pastor Hagee's latest Judeophobic, anti-gay rant in this video, created by Bruce Wilson of Talk2Action.org

Exposed here for the first time, Hagee's comments identifying the Antichrist as a partly Jewish homosexual arriving in the wake of a furor the pastor provoked by describing the Holocaust as an act of God. Hagee's chilling sermon about the Holocaust prompted Sen. John McCain to reject the preacher's support, an unexpected turnabout after McCain spent over a year soliciting his endorsement.

Days after McCain's rejection, I reported that a key McCain ally, Sen. Joseph Lieberman, planned to deliver the keynote speech at Hagee's upcoming Christians United For Israel (CUFI) summit. As the story exploded into the mainstream press, pressure mounted on Lieberman to withdraw.

But Lieberman stayed the course, declaring in a prepared statement, "Pastor Hagee has devoted much of his life to fighting anti-Semitism and building bridges between Christians and Jews... I will go to the CUFI Summit in July and speak to the people who have come to Washington from all over our country to express their support of America and Israel, based on our shared eternal values and our shared contemporary challenges in the war against terrorism."

Lieberman will be joined at CUFI's conference by Rep. Elliot Engel, a Democratic congressman from New York with a fairly progressive voting record. On Thursday, May 29, I asked Engel's press secretary, Joseph O'Brien, if Engel still planned to attend Hagee's gathering in light of his remarks about the Holocaust. O'Brien told me Engel would respond shortly. So far, Engel has said nothing.

Engel is slated to speak on CUFI's "Middle East Briefing" panel this July. He will be joined on the panel by Republican Rep. Mike Pence, Weekly Standard editor and New York Times columnist Bill Kristol, and Christian right activist Gary Bauer.

Perhaps these Hagee allies could not fathom that a zealous "supporter" of Israel like Hagee could also be an anti-Semite. They may have believed, as conservative Jewish columnist Jeff Jacoby apparently did, that Hagee's remarks on the Holocaust, as jarring as they were, were theologically correct, and therefore excusable. "As anyone even fleetingly familiar with the Hebrew Bible knows," Jacoby wrote, "it is not 'crazy,' let alone anti-Semitic, to believe that Jewish suffering can be a punishment from God."

But now...

But now that Hagee's political allies have listened to the preacher's sermon identifying the Antichrist as a homosexual Jew, how can they still share a stage with him? Is attributing Jewish ancestry to the Man of Sin not anti-Semitism in its most classical form? Are the conspiratorial screeds of Nesta Webster,Henry Ford, and David Duke not replete with passages disturbingly similar to this most recently revealed jeremiad of Hagee and to many of his past sermons?

Hagee's allies must ask themselves what price they are willing to pay for the backing of his political empire. All of them diminish themselves by standing by side. But those who are Jewish like Lieberman, and who have highlighted their faith to enhance their moral authority, must know now that the price of entering Hagee's kingdom is their soul.

No more excuses. All elected officials must withdraw from Hagee's upcoming summit.

Original here

Clinton's dishonest popular vote claim has a new caveat


Hillary Clinton's "primary" qualifier

Hillary Clinton claims to have won the so-called popular vote, but if you pay close attention to her words she is now using a critical qualifier: "in presidential primaries."

Many people won't notice Clinton's caveat, but the meaning of her carefully chosen words could not be more clear: her definition of "popular vote" now includes only primary states. In the past, she excluded four caucus states that did not report vote totals: Iowa, Maine, Nevada, and Washington. Now she's excluding all of them.

By excluding caucus states, Clinton is dismissing the preferences of voters in fourteen states, home to more than 56 million Americans and nearly one in five voters. And by Clinton's new rules, they might as well have never voted.

As she might say, how can you win in November if you don't count one-fifth of the Electoral College?

For Hillary Clinton, this has nothing principle. It's a simple math problem: the only way she can claim any sort of "popular vote" victory is by refusing to count all the votes.

The fact is that Barack Obama wins the so-called "popular vote" if you count every vote in every contest with delegates at stake (whether or not you include the Texas caucuses, which some say would be double-counting). Moreover, if you expand the vote total to include all contests, whether or not they had any bearing on the selection of delegates (Michigan, including votes cast for Hillary Clinton and by supporters of Barack Obama, and the unsanctioned contests in Nebraska, Washington, and Idaho), Obama still leads.

The only scenarios under which Barack Obama trails are ones in which Clinton arbitrarily excludes caucuses and refuses to recognize that a substantial share of Michigan's uncommitted and write-in voters were Barack Obama supporters, a fact which is universally recognized outside of Clinton-land.

:: ::

Despite Barack Obama's popular vote lead, these statistics are wildly misleading; you simply can't add together the results of so many different contests, each run under a different set of rules, and expect the sum total to express any true sense of the popular will. You need a common denominator to make sure every state has a fair say. That's why we have pledged delegates.

Those who persist in advancing this idea of a "national popular vote" are, in my view, pushing a fundamentally dishonest concept. But now Hillary Clinton has taken the dishonesty to an entirely new level -- even if you reject my underlying premise.

Hillary Clinton is certainly entitled to dispute my view on the relevance of the popular vote. She is not, however, entitled to a different set of facts; if she insists on the "popular vote" metric, she should be congratulating Barack Obama for his victory.

The fact that she is claiming the victory for herself, and that she is choosing her words so carefully, using the word "primary" to exclude one-fifth of Americans, speaks clearly to the deliberate nature of her deceptive claim.

:: ::

Update at 9:09PM: Here are the actual vote totals to support the assertions I made in this post. The methodology is explained in the chart itself. For reasons I stated in the article, none of these are good measures of the overall popular will. I think the most accurate one is probably the "Sanctioned, excluding Texas caucuses line." It's also important to note that at least 362,000 of Clinton's votes (and about 121,000 of Obama's) were cast by McCainiacs -- McCain supporters with no intention of voting Democratic in the fall.

Original here

Entitled to Their Opinions, Yes. But Their Facts?

ON May 12, The Times published an Op-Ed article by Edward N. Luttwak, a military historian, who argued that any hopes that a President Barack Obama might improve relations with the Muslim world were unrealistic because Muslims would be “horrified” once they learned that Obama had abandoned the Islam of his father and embraced Christianity as a young adult.

Chuck Kennedy/McClatchy-Tribune

Clark Hoyt

Under “Muslim law as it is universally understood,” Luttwak wrote, Obama was born a Muslim, and his “conversion” to Christianity was an act of apostasy, a capital offense and “the worst of all crimes that a Muslim can commit.” While no Muslim country would be likely to prosecute him, Luttwak said, a state visit to such a nation would present serious security challenges “because the very act of protecting him would be sinful for Islamic security guards.”

At a time when fears about Obama’s security keep bubbling to the surface and an online whispering campaign suggests that he is secretly a Muslim — call him by his full name, Barack Hussein Obama, some Times readers demand — the Luttwak thesis was a double whammy: Obama cannot escape his Muslim history, and a lot of Muslims might want to kill him for trying.

Many Times readers saw the article as irresponsible (“gasoline on the fire,” said Paul Trachtman of Tierra Amarilla, N.M.) or false (“Islam is not like our hair or the color of our skin, which we inherited from our parents,” said Ali Kamel of Rio de Janeiro). The blogosphere lit up with assertions that Luttwak did not know what he was talking about.

The Times Op-Ed page, quite properly, is home to a lot of provocative opinions. But all are supposed to be grounded on the bedrock of fact. Op-Ed writers are entitled to emphasize facts that support their arguments and minimize others that don’t. But they are not entitled to get the facts wrong or to so mangle them that they present a false picture.

Did Luttwak cross the line from fair argument to falsehood? Did Times editors fail to adequately check his facts before publishing his article? Did The Times owe readers a contrasting point of view?

I interviewed five Islamic scholars, at five American universities, recommended by a variety of sources as experts in the field. All of them said that Luttwak’s interpretation of Islamic law was wrong.

David Shipley, the editor of the Op-Ed page, said Luttwak’s article was vetted by editors who consulted the Koran, associated text, newspaper articles and authoritative histories of Islam. No scholars of Islam were consulted because “we do not customarily call experts to invite them to weigh in on the work of our contributors,” he said.

That’s a pity in this case, because it might have sparked a discussion about whether Luttwak’s categorical language was misleading, at best.

Interestingly, in defense of his own article, Luttwak sent me an analysis of it by a scholar of Muslim law whom he did not identify. That scholar also did not agree with Luttwak that Obama was an apostate or that Muslim law would prohibit punishment for any Muslim who killed an apostate. He wrote, “You seem to be describing some anarcho-utopian version of Islamic legalism, which has never existed, and after the birth of the modern nation state will never exist.”

Luttwak made several sweeping statements that the scholars I interviewed said were incorrect or highly debatable, including assertions that in Islam a father’s religion always determines a child’s, regardless of the facts of his upbringing; that Obama’s “conversion” to Christianity was apostasy; that apostasy is, with few exceptions, a capital crime; and that a Muslim could not be punished for killing an apostate.

Obama was born in Hawaii to a mother from Kansas with Christian roots and a Kenyan father whose own father had converted to Islam. When Obama was a toddler, his father left the family. His mother later married an Indonesian Muslim, and Obama spent five years in Jakarta, where he attended Catholic and Muslim schools and, according to The Los Angeles Times, was enrolled in the third and fourth grades as a Muslim.

Luttwak wrote that given those facts, Obama was a Muslim and his mother’s Christian background was irrelevant. But Sherman A. Jackson, a professor of Arabic and Islamic studies at the University of Michigan, cited an ancient Islamic jurist, Ibn al-Qasim, who said, “If you divorce a Christian woman and ignore your child from her to the point that the child grows up to be a Christian, the child is to be left,” meaning left to make his own choice. Jackson said that there was not total agreement among Islamic jurists on the point, but Luttwak’s assertion to the contrary was wrong.

Khaled Abou El Fadl, a professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Law, said the majority opinion among Islamic jurists is that the law of apostasy can apply only to individuals who knowingly decide to be Muslims and later renege. One school of thought, he said, is that an individual must be at least a teenager to make the choice. Obama’s campaign told The Los Angeles Times last year that he “has never been a practicing Muslim.” As a young adult, he chose to be baptized as a Christian.

Abdullahi Ahmed An-Na’im, a professor of law at Emory University, said that Sharia, or Islamic law, including the law of apostasy, does not apply to an American or anyone outside the Muslim world. Of the more than 40 countries where Muslims are the majority, he said, Sharia is the official legal system only in Saudi Arabia and Iran, and even there apostasy is unevenly prosecuted, and apostates often wind up in prison, not executed.

Several of the scholars agreed that, in classical Sharia, apostasy is a capital crime, but they said that Islamic thinking is evolving. Mahmoud Ayoub, a professor of Islamic studies and comparative religion at the Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, Calif., said, “Whether (apostasy) is punishable by death or not, there are different opinions.”

Last year, Egypt’s highest Islamic cleric, Sheik Ali Gomaa, the grand mufti, spoke out against killing apostates. He said punishment for those abandoning the religion would come in the afterlife.

All the scholars argued that Luttwak had a rigid, simplistic view of Islam that failed to take into account its many strains and the subtleties of its religious law, which is separate from the secular laws in almost all Islamic nations. The Islamic press and television have reported extensively on the United States presidential election, they said, and Obama’s Muslim roots and his Christian religion are well known, yet there have been no suggestions in the Islamic world that he is an apostate.

Luttwak said the scholars with whom I spoke were guilty of “gross misrepresentation” of Islam, which he said they portrayed as “a tolerant religion of peace;” he called it “intolerant.” He said he was not out to attack Obama and regretted that, in the editing, a paragraph saying that an Obama presidency could be “beneficial” was cut for space.

Shipley, the Op-Ed editor, said he regretted not urging Luttwak to soften his language about possible assassination, given how sensitive the subject is. But he said he did not think the Op-Ed page was under any obligation to present an alternative view, beyond some letters to the editor.

I do not agree. With a subject this charged, readers would have been far better served with more than a single, extreme point of view. When writers purport to educate readers about complex matters, and they are arguably wrong, I think The Times cannot label it opinion and let it go at that.

Original here

My Math Beats Up Clinton Math.

(Promoted from the diaries by kos)

I'm sorry. I simply can't take some of what I'm hearing on cable news as they cover the Clinton win in Puerto Rico and continue to repeat Clinton campaign talking points in her "rationale" to secure the Democratic Presidential nomination.

In the past three or four hours I have heard Harold Ickes, Terry McAuliffe, and Bill Schneider (CNN political analyst) repeatedly assert that Clinton is winning the popular vote. I have further heard each refer to the 1972 Democratic nominating process, where Humphrey won the popular vote yet McGovern won the delegates, and McGovern was resoundingly shellacked by Nixon (what that has to do with anything, I don't know, but they're saying it). Yet there was only one caution, from Anderson Cooper, that Clinton's popular vote "lead" over Obama comes with substantial caveats on the part of the Clinton campaign. So I've done my own math.
Up-Front Disclosures

First, it's important that I clearly spell out what I am and am NOT counting in the math I've done. I've based my calculations on two basic arguments the Clinton campaign is making:

  1. That she is more electable in November;
  1. That the popular vote she claims to lead is indicative of electability.

So here is what I have excluded from MY math:

Democrats Abroad
Guam
Puerto Rico
American Samoa
Virgin Islands

None of these groups/Commonwealths/territories are afforded electors in a general Presidential election. So going with Clinton argument #1 above, they are excluded as electors are not assigned.

The Clinton Math

Here's what the Clinton camp is basing their assertion on. With the exception of PR, all vote totals were taken from CNN's Election Center. Use the drop-down box to scroll through each state's primary to confirm totals.



NOTE: The Puerto Rico estimate is precisely that right now - an estimate. I heard on both CNN and MSNBC that the highest estimated level of turnout was 435,000. I've been VERY generous in this assessment and have given Clinton a 70%-30% victory. This is what the vote totals in PR are based on.

CNN reported as well that Clinton is waiting, after the PR vote totals are finalized, to release two new ads touting having gone over 17,000,000 total votes. Her surrogates will continue to push the "Clinton Math", which is now clearly outlined above.

Just for giggles, here's what is excluded from the Clinton Math:

Alaska
Colorado
Hawaii
Idaho
Iowa
Kansas
Maine
Minnesota
Nebraska
Nevada
North Dakota
Texas (Caucus only)
Washington
Wyoming

ANY popular votes for Obama in Michigan

MY Math

Again - my math is based on the two core assertions of the Clinton campaign (electability and popular vote lead). First the primary states:

You'll note that I gave "Uncommitted's" popular vote back to Obama because it's ludicrous to assume that NO ONE showed up to vote for Obama (eye roll). Yesterday's ruling regarding Michigan in the Democratic Rules and Bylaws Committee backs me up on this.

Under MY primary math, Obama is still slightly behind Clinton in popular votes. But remember - there are FOURTEEN states that held caucuses which are NOT included in any of the math so far. So I went out and did some estimating. Democratic caucus turnout estimates for Alaska, Colorado, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Minnesota, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, and Wyoming were found here. I had to stretch on estimates for the remaining three caucus states. I used this mention for Hawaii's turnout estimate, this mention for Texas' caucus turnout, and this mention for Washington's turnout estimate. I recognize that this is imperfect on my part - but at least I'm WAY ahead of Clinton's campaign in that at least I'm trying to base my estimate on some objective, fair fact.

So here's my chart:

The key thing to look at on this chart is the percentage won by each of Clinton and Obama (pulled from CNN's Election Center) and the estimate of turnout. The "popular votes" (e.g., people who showed up) assigned to each candidate is simply the total turnout estimate multiplied by the percentage won in each caucus state.

So you can see, in MY math, the totals for the primary contests and then the totals for the caucus contests. So pulling it ALL together (drumroll please):

When you use Clinton's own criteria and apply that criteria fairly, Obama clearly wins the so-called "popular vote".

A Closing Note

Of course, there's only ONE math that matters:

But as long as her campaign wants to distribute misleading (and frankly dishonest), cherry-picked "popular vote" figures, I wanted to set the record straight.

Enjoy your Sunday!

Original here

"Barack Obama's Party Now": AP

Democratic presidential hopeful, Sen. Barack Obama D-Ill., speaks during a town hall meeting at the Aberdeen Civic Arena in Aberdeen, S.D. Saturday, May 31, 2008. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — It's Barack Obama's party now. He beat the ultimate insider at the insider's game. And he's already turned his full-bore attention to the general election contest against Republican John McCain.

During a weekend in which Hillary Rodham Clinton mounted a likely last hurrah in Puerto Rico and national Democrats resolved the sticky issue of seating Florida and Michigan delegates under a formula favorable to Obama, the Illinois senator took a series of bold steps to signal his focus was riveted on the fall campaign:

_ He severed all remaining ties with his Chicago church and politically meddlesome pastors who have preached from its pulpit.

_ His campaign announced he would go to the lion's den, the site of this summer's GOP convention in St. Paul, Minn., for a rally this Tuesday marking the end of the primary season.

_ He stepped up his criticism of McCain, pummeling him on Iraq, Iran and veterans matters.

Former Democratic Sen. Tom Daschle, Obama's top supporter here in South Dakota and leader of the effort to round up superdelegates, on Sunday predicted the floodgates would open this week as remaining superdelegates jump on the Obama bandwagon.

"I think we're going to have a nominee before the end of this week," Daschle said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

The primary season ends Tuesday, with contests here and in Montana. Obama was spending Sunday, and all of Saturday, campaigning here.

Obama's complete break with Trinity United Church of Christ will provide a degree of cover for superdelegates poised to endorse him but possibly still uncomfortable about some of his entanglements.

And the same things that make it easier for Obama to cement his victory among superdelegates will help him coax independents to swing his way in the fall.

Obama hasn't yet declared that his nomination is inevitable. But he's on the very edge.

"We are getting very close to the number, the new number, now that Michigan and Florida have been added," he told reporters traveling with him.

"We are getting close to the number that will give us the nomination. And if we've hit that number on Tuesday night we will announce that _ and I think even if we don't, this is the end of the primary season," he said. Thus the in-your face decision to hold Tuesday night's primary season wrap-up rally at the Xcel Energy Center, site of the GOP convention beginning Sept. 1.

"I think it's very important for us to pivot and focus on the clear contrast that will exist between Democrats and Republicans in this election," Obama said.

Contributing to the dynamic as Obama heads toward the general election is that he has been painted so poorly by the Clinton campaign _ from first portraying him as another manifestation of civil rights leader Jesse Jackson to suggesting her rival could be in the same line as other Democratic nominees who lost badly, including George McGovern, the 1972 candidate defeated by President Nixon in a landslide.

Clinton once worked for McGovern's candidacy. McGovern, also of South Dakota, earlier supported Clinton but switched his allegiance to Obama in May and urged her to drop out of the race. He described Obama's lead as "insurmountable" and argued "Democrats need to be gathering in a united way behind him."

Despite continued defiant assertions by Clinton that she would be a better candidate against McCain, particularly in industrial swing states, even some of her most ardent supporters are now subdued, perhaps resigned to the inevitability of an Obama candidacy.

"He would make a good president, and we're not saying he can't get elected," top Clinton strategist Harold Ickes said Sunday.

Clearly, there are some big general election challenges ahead for Obama.

"Obama has to deal with the issue of white working-class reservations about him, highly social conservative attitudes," said Andrew Kohut, president of the independent Pew Research Center.

In many ways, Obama's resignation from the church and repudiation of ministers who made inflammatory racial comments from its pulpit should help with this group.

But more important, said Kohut, Obama needs to strongly reach out to independents. "Right now, they're breaking for Obama. All elections are about how independent voters break."

Plus, Obama is the first one to acknowledge that things happen, and that in a YouTube world, anything can rear up instantly and come close to destroying your political career _ like the sermons of two preachers who are among his longtime acquaintances and supporters.

Remarks by his former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, inflamed racial tensions. These were reinforced by recent comments from the same pulpit by a visiting pastor, the Rev. Michael Pfleger, that raised racial issues and mocked Clinton. Clips of both were circulated extensively on YouTube and shown on television.

"I have to say this was one I didn't see coming. We knew there were going to be some things we didn't see coming. This was one," Obama said. "I didn't anticipate my fairly conventional Christian faith being subject to such challenge and such scrutiny. Initially with e-mails suggesting I was a Muslim, later with the controversy that Trinity generated."

Original here


Clinton Demonstrators Threaten to Vote for McCain

This is exactly the wrong sentiment to be spreading for the national news media to grab onto.

Regardless of your support for either of the Democratic candidates, it is unhelpful for the Democrats' changes in November to be repeating the wounded "I'll take my toys and go home" canard that if someone can't have their candidate nominated, they'll go vote for the other party.

I have seen this sentiment echoed on sites like MyDD.com for months. And now, a bunch of Clinton supporters demonstrating outside the DNC Rules & Bylaws Committee meeting are continuing and heightening the threat:

"We are all a nation together, there are 50 states, not 48," said Constanta Nour-Hinkle, 35, who traveled by train from Reading, Pa. today to attend the rally. "I felt I needed to make my voice hear and I wanted to show solidarity with the 2.3 million voters [in Florida and Michigan] whose voices were not heard."

Mrs. Nour-Hinkle said she would rather vote for Arizona Sen. John McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, than for Mrs. Clinton's rival, Sen. Barack Obama -- echoing the sentiments of many protesters.

"It would be the first time in my life I would vote Republican for president," said Mrs. Nour-Hinkle, 35. "I think Obama is an empty shirt, the same as [President] George W. Bush but only a Democrat."

John Overton, who shouted pro-Clinton slogans outside the hotel, said he would leave the party if Obama receives the Democratic nomination for president.

"I can't stand for the Democratic Party if they don't stand for voters' rights," said Mr. Overton, who traveled from his home in Chapel Hill, N.C., to attend the rally. The party "would no longer exist to me as a party."

"I don't scream like this normally, I'm a rational guy, but I've never felt like this before," he added. "This had been a travesty of democracy."


Look, I know a lot of bad things have been said and done by supporters of both candidates in this campaign.

But, the simple fact is that Clinton OR Obama would do a LOT more for progressive issues, like ending the war in Iraq, universal health care and reversing the Bush tax cuts on the wealthy, than John McCain and the Republican Party ever would.

We really need to stop this madness. The race will be decided soon, the RBC will make their decision, and the last primaries will be held. We will have a nominee and we need to focus on unity, not childish threats.


Update
: Here's more commentary on the insanity:

Howard Dean may hope that the "healing will begin today," but two blocks away from the northwest Washington Marriott where the DNC's Rules and Bylaws Committee is meeting right now to try to figure out Florida and Michigan, the Hillary protesters are occupying an utterly alternate (and healing-free) universe: a universe in which one of the big lawn rally's speakers yells that the Democratic Party no longer is in the business of "promoting equality and fairness for all"; in which a Hillary supporter with two poodles shouts, "Howard Dean is a leftist freak!"; in which a man exhibits a sign that reads "At least slaves were counted as 3/5ths a Citizen" and shows Dean whipping handcuffed people; and in which Larry Sinclair, the Minnesota man who took to YouTube to allege that Barack Obama had oral sex with him in the back of a limousine in 1999, is one of the belles of the ball.

Snip.

Clusters of people in Hillary shirts ask to take their photo with him, one woman covered in Clinton buttons introduces him to Greta Van Susteren, and he estimates he has handed out 500 fliers. "You could improve your credibility if you downplayed the gay sex and focused on the drugs," sagely advises one Hillary supporter with auburn hair and elegant makeup. But in this universe, Sinclair's credibility doesn't seem to be suffering too much. In fact, he's treated nearly as well as he might be at a meeting of the Vast Right-wing Conspiracy. In the thirty minutes I stand with him, only one woman expresses disgust at his fliers and his willingness to chattily discourse on whether Obama is "good in bed."

Snip.

It's easy to sink into despair here. Standing and watching all these Democrats chat up Sinclair--who's retained Montgomery Blair Sibley as his lawyer and says the Republican National Committee has also been in touch with him--makes me want to fall to my knees, rend my garments, and start insanely screaming, "Wake up! Wake up! You'll hate a President John McCain!" But the rhetoric from the top has imparted its poison below, and the bitterest criticisms of Obama gain traction as they circulate through the virulently-pro-Hillary echo chamber. "Would you rather have a president who had an affair [Bill Clinton] or one who was a murderer [Obama]?" Jeannie, the Greensboro Democrat, asks a fellow in a floppy Tilley hat and Hillary buttons. "That's a good point," he replies.

Original here

DNC's Brazile Says Clinton Camp Refused Obama 'Olive Branch'

On today's This Week, Donna Brazile, fresh from yesterday's DNC Rules and Bylaws Tango at the Marriott Wardman Park, broke a little bit of a bombshell whilst paneling. According to Brazile, the Obama campaign had enough votes to get a fifty-fifty split of the Michigan delegation, a result that would have greatly advantaged the Obama campaign and minimized the delegate gains Clinton garnered from Florida. However, the Obama camp passed on pulling the trigger on that deal in favor of the less favorable 69-59 split that the Michigan delegation was proposing.

Brazile, who was taken aback at the lack of effort made by the Clinton campaign to "cut a deal" or otherwise "come to the uncommitted superdelegates" in the room, said: "He also could have won on a crucial vote on this Michigan proposal to split the delegation 50-50. And rather than cause a ruckus they gave in. He had the votes. and the Clinton campaign never took the olive branch."

Naturally, George Stephanopoulos immediately interrupted Brazile and changed the subject, because he has the worst news instincts of any carbon-based lifeform walking the face of the Earth.

[WATCH.]

STEPHANPOULOS: But Donna, you were one of that 219 undeclared superdelegates left. First of all, I'll give you the opportunity, you can declare right now.


BRAZILE: Look, in 72 hours I'm sure many of us will declare because there's no question that the pressure is on to end this nomination fight. The battle's over. We know the victor. And I learned a great deal sitting in a room, on some of the struggles we did in the middle of the night. Of course, we were drinking fresh water. I kept waiting to see if the Clinton campaign would go over to the Obama campaign or the undeclared superdelegates and cut a deal. And there was no effort whatsoever to come to the undeclared superdelegates. Remember, we're a bunch of superdelegates. The Clinton campaign went in with 13 declared superdelegates. Obama had nine. He walked away yesterday, if you look at the final vote, with 19 people taking his position. He also could have won on a crucial vote on this Michigan proposal to split the delegation 50-50. And rather than cause a ruckus they gave in. He had the votes. and the Clinton campaign never took the olive branch. Instead they wanted to come out and --

Original here

No Road Map for Democrats as Race Ends

Supporters of Hillary Rodham Clinton protested Saturday as the Democratic Party’s Rules and Bylaws Committee met in Washington to discuss seating the Michigan and Florida delegations.

The big drama now facing the Democratic Party in the presidential contest is how, when and even whether Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton will depart the race.

The contest is coming to a close as Puerto Rico votes on Sunday and Montana and South Dakota on Tuesday, finishing a process that began five months ago in Iowa. Even if those results do not put Senator Barack Obama over the top, aides to both Mr. Obama and Mrs. Clinton said they expected enough superdelegates to rally behind Mr. Obama in the 48 hours after the final primaries to allow him to proclaim himself the nominee.

In many ways, Mr. Obama is wheezing across the finish line after making a strong start: He has won only 6 of the 13 Democratic contests held since March 4, drawing 6.1 million votes, compared with 6.6 million for Mrs. Clinton.

Mrs. Clinton has kept her counsel about what she might do to draw her campaign to a close. But when the rules committee of the Democratic Party divided up delegates from Michigan and Florida on Saturday night, Harold Ickes, a committee member and Clinton adviser, said she was reserving the right to contest the decision into the summer.

Still, despite the fireworks, Mrs. Clinton’s associates said she seemed to have come to terms over the last week with the near certainty that she would not win the nomination, even as she continued to assert, with what one associate described as subdued resignation, that the Democrats are making a mistake in sending Mr. Obama up against Senator John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee.

Her associates said the most likely outcome was that she would end her bid with a speech, probably back home in New York, in which she would endorse Mr. Obama. Mrs. Clinton herself suggested on Friday that the contest would end sometime next week.

But that is not a certainty; Mr. Obama’s announcement on Saturday that he would leave his church was just another reminder of how events continue to unfold in the race. She has signaled her ambivalence about the outcome, continuing to urge superdelegates to keep an open mind and consider, for example, the number of popular votes she has won. Gov. Phil Bredesen of Tennessee, a superdelegate who has been at the forefront of calling for uncommitted Democrats to make a choice soon after the last vote, said in an interview that Mrs. Clinton called him last week and urged him to “keep an open mind until the convention.”

Assuming Mr. Obama reaches the number of delegates and superdelegates he needs to secure the nomination in the coming week, Mrs. Clinton will be faced with three options, associates said: to suspend her campaign and endorse Mr. Obama; to suspend her campaign without making an endorsement; or to press the fight through the convention. Several of Mrs. Clinton’s associates said it was unlikely she would fight through the convention, given the potential damage it would do to her standing in the party, which is increasingly eager to unify and turn to the battle against Mr. McCain.

Mrs. Clinton would almost surely face the defection of some of her highest-profile supporters, as well as some members of her staff. She would no doubt also face anger from Democratic leaders.

“In order for us to be successful in November, the runner-up is going to have to go all out in support of the nominee,” said Representative Chris Van Hollen of Maryland, chairman of the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee. “The runner-up is going to have to be there from Day One. The support is going to have to be more than just lip service.”

Mr. Obama’s associates calculate he will need the votes of probably just 30 more superdelegates — elected Democrats and party leaders — to claim a majority of delegates after the last primary vote is counted, assuming expected outcomes in Puerto Rico, South Dakota and Montana.

With approval Saturday by the Democratic Party’s rules committee to seat Florida’s and Michigan’s delegates, though with a half vote each, Mr. Obama had secured 2,047.5 delegates, according to a count by The New York Times, leaving him 70.5 delegates short of what he needs to win the nomination. Eighty-six delegates are going to be allocated in Puerto Rico, Montana and South Dakota, and Mr. Obama is likely to get at least half of them.

As of Saturday, about 150 superdelegates remained officially uncommitted. Mr. Obama’s supporters have been hammering away at them, urging them to move quickly to his camp.

“A number of people have reported that various members intend to endorse AFTER the last primary,” said one e-mail message to wavering delegates from Mr. Obama’s supporters, its warning barely couched. “Those members need to understand that they won’t get any visibility from that.”

Gov. Bill Richardson of New Mexico, who endorsed Mr. Obama nearly two months ago, recently called Gov. Bill Ritter Jr. of Colorado, who has yet to endorse a candidate. “Hey, Ritter!” Mr. Richardson said. “After June 3, it means nothing. Those who take a little bit of a risk, he’ll remember you.”

On the other end of the line, Mr. Ritter demurred, saying he had pledged to remain neutral until the primary season ends.

Mr. Obama has already turned his campaign away from Mrs. Clinton to face Mr. McCain. Mrs. Clinton is barely mentioned by Mr. Obama anymore, and his schedule is now focused as much on general election battlegrounds as it is on the remaining primaries. Mr. Obama is planning to mark the final election night of this primary season in St. Paul.

“That’s where the Republican convention is going to be,” said David Axelrod, the campaign’s chief strategist. “It seems like a good place to start the discussion about which direction we’re going to go as a country.”

Similarly, Mrs. Clinton and her aides have all but stopped their attacks on Mr. Obama, and the once vigorous Clinton war room has gone into a slumber.

Indeed, the talk in Mrs. Clinton’s headquarters has turned from the primary to more mundane matters: the next job, whom Mr. Obama might hire from the Clinton campaign, and even where to go on vacation.

The question in the weeks ahead is the extent to which the bitterness between these two candidates, both historic figures, can be erased. Two associates who spoke to Mrs. Clinton said they had no doubt that she would campaign for Mr. Obama without ambivalence, whether or not they end up as a ticket, one of the big questions lingering.

One of Mrs. Clinton’s chief strategists, Howard Wolfson, hinted that she was not inclined to carry the battle to the convention.

“Our focus is on securing the nomination for ourselves in the near term,” he said. “I don’t think anybody is looking toward the convention to end this process.”

While there are sore feelings on both sides, Mr. Obama has directed his aides to begin reaching out to their counterparts in the Clinton camp.

Mr. Obama’s advisers said he would make no formal statement of victory, with the assumption that the moment would be elaborately marked by the media.

At least a dozen uncommitted delegates are viewed by both camps as almost certain to side with Mr. Obama once the primary season ends. But there are dozens of uncommitted superdelegates who resisted endorsements for reasons that are personal, political and pragmatic — ranging from a fear of alienating contributors to reluctance among lawmakers from relatively conservative districts to be identified with either Mr. Obama or Mrs. Clinton.

Original here

More Headaches for McCain’s Camp

For weeks now, John McCain's presidential campaign has faced awkward questions about the outside activities of several top advisers. Add one more name to the list: former Texas senator Phil Gramm, McCain's longtime friend and one of his five campaign co-chairs. (A sixth, former congressman Tom Loeffler, quit recently after NEWSWEEK reported on his lobbying work for Saudi Arabia.) According to McCain spokeswoman Jill Hazelbaker, the co-chair position affords Gramm "broad input into the structure, financing and conduct of the campaign." She added that Gramm, who has a doctorate in economics, is also "a valued voice on economic policy." Gramm is not a paid McCain adviser, but his day job—vice chairman of a U.S. division of Zurich-based financial giant UBS—could pose new tests for a candidate who has promised high ethics standards and ditched advisers who failed to meet them.

UBS has recently written off huge losses in subprime-mortgage-based securities, and last week liberal bloggers noted that Gramm was a registered UBS lobbyist on mortgage-securities issues until at least December 2007.

NEWSWEEK has learned that UBS is also currently the focus of congressional and Justice Department investigations into schemes that allegedly enabled wealthy Americans to evade income taxes by stashing their money in overseas havens, according to several law-enforcement and banking officials in both the United States and Europe, who all asked for anonymity when discussing ongoing investigations. In April, UBS withdrew Gramm's lobbying registration, but one of his former congressional aides, John Savercool, is still registered to lobby legislators for UBS on numerous issues, including a bill cosponsored by Sen. Barack Obama that would crack down on foreign tax havens. "UBS is treating these investigations with the utmost seriousness and has committed substantial resources to cooperate," a UBS spokesman told NEWSWEEK, adding that Gramm was deregistered as a lobbyist because he spends less than 20 percent of his time on such activity. Hazelbaker said the McCain campaign "will not comment on the details … of ongoing investigations and legal charges not yet proved in court."

McCain's campaign is already distancing itself from some of Gramm's other work for UBS: his involvement in attempts to sell financial products known as "death bonds," which BusinessWeek described last summer as one of "the most macabre investment scheme[s] ever devised by Wall Street." Not long after joining UBS, the Houston Chronicle reported, Gramm helped lobby Texas officials, including Gov. Rick Perry, to sign on to a UBS proposal in which revenue would be generated for a state teachers' retirement fund by selling bonds, whose proceeds would in turn be used to buy annuities and life-insurance policies on retired teachers. UBS would advance money to the retirement fund, then repay itself, compensate bondholders and pocket profits when insurance companies paid off on retirees who died. According to a banking-industry source, who asked for anonymity when discussing a sensitive matter, Gramm was involved in efforts to pitch similar UBS products to other financial institutions.

Gramm's office declined NEWSWEEK's request for comment. A source familiar with the bank's current business, who also asked for anonymity, said UBS no longer markets the kind of plan that Gramm was allegedly trying to sell to Texas. Hazelbaker said that McCain, who has been critical of the financial industry's performance in the subprime market, disapproves of death bonds and "supports increased accountability, transparency and capital backing in our financial markets as a solution to these problems." Death bonds, she continued, "move markets away [from]—not toward—these goals."

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Hillary Gets Ruled and Bylawed

The Democratic Rules and Bylaws Committee decision on Saturday to seat the Florida and Michigan delegations to the Democratic conventions with their voting strength cut in half is a major boost for Barack Obama, and a clear signal that the long and bitter fight for the nomination is on the verge of ending.

With the deck stacked against them, the Clinton forces may have had no choice but to abandon their demand that every Michigan and Florida delegate be seated with a full vote for each. In making the concession, the New York Senator not only settled for a net gain of just 26.5 delegate votes instead of 56, but gave up a crucial issue to take to the August convention in Denver.

"The Clinton campaign lost their biggest rationale for staying in the race," said California-based Democratic consultant Bill Carrick. "Any potential for Senator Clinton to pick up a large block of delegates is gone and the superdelegates will likely move to Senator Obama and end the race."

Jim Jordan, who managed John Kerry's 2004 presidential bid during its preliminary stages, was more explicit. "Even the Clinton folks acknowledged that this was their last gasp. So that's it. Time to turn to what matters, winning in November. And it's time for Senator Clinton herself to start salving the party's wounds."

Officially, the Clinton campaign declared that it was not giving up its right to appeal the decision of the Democratic Rules and Bylaws Committee (RBC) to the full convention over a relatively minor issue - four Michigan delegates given to Obama -- but, by accepting the resolution of the Florida seating issue without dissent, the campaign lost its strongest case.

Obama emerged from the RBC proceedings with a grand total of 2,052 delegates, just 66 short of the 2,118 required to win the nomination. Clinton has 1,877.5 delegates, 240.5 short of the number needed to win.

There are still three primaries to go -- in Puerto Rico, South Dakota and Montana. Polling shows Clinton holding a double digit lead in Puerto Rico, while Obama holds a comparable lead in South Dakota and Montana. The three jurisdictions will send a total of 111 delegates to the convention, so that it is possible Obama could reach the magic 2,118 by the end of the day Tuesday, but he is likely to also need additional support from superdelegates who are free to make their own choice of a candidate.

Shortly after the RBC completed deliberations, Clinton's chief strategists on the committee, Harold Ickes and Tina Flournoy, declared that they may still fight over four delegates from Michigan:

Today's results are a victory for the people of Florida who will have a voice in selecting our Party's nominee and will see its delegates seated at our party's convention. The decision by the Rules and Bylaws Committee honors the votes that were cast by the people of Florida and allocates the delegates accordingly.


We strongly object to the Committee's decision to undercut its own rules in seating Michigan's delegates without reflecting the votes of the people of Michigan. The Committee awarded to Senator Obama not only the delegates won by Uncommitted, but four of the delegates won by Senator Clinton. This decision violates the bedrock principles of our democracy and our Party.

We reserve the right to challenge this decision before the Credentials Committee and appeal for a fair allocation of Michigan's delegates that actually reflect the votes as they were cast.

A credentials fight over four delegates would be just a blip on the screen compared to what could have been a convention floor battle over the seating of 210 Florida and 156 Michigan delegates.

Robert Bauer, counsel to the Obama campaign, noted that the committee decision "does remove one obstacle. It is not clear she [Clinton] will see it that way."

Jonathan M. Prince, deputy manager of John Edwards' failed presidential bid, said "everything that's going on now is (and should be) about dignified closure....there's no good guy and no bad guy and it's in everyone's interest for both candidates to leave the field with their heads held high - one having run a historic race and winning, ready to unite the party and move on to the real fight, the other having run a historic race and almost winning."

Similarly, Robert Borosage, president of the Institute for America's Future and co-director of the Campaign for America's Future, said "This is all but over." He predicted a scenario of, "the Clintons accept the inevitable. The convention is unified. Hillary Clinton works harder than any other surrogate to elect the ticket."

"There is a new sheriff in town, [House Speaker] Nancy Pelosi," said Democratic media specialist James Duffy. "In my mind she is driving the bus, and she will drive it right over the Clintons and if they miss the fact they got run over, she will back up and run over them again."

Original here

US accused of holding terror suspects on prison ships

· Report says 17 boats used
· MPs seek details of UK role
· Europe attacks 42-day plan


An amphibious assault vehicle leaves the USS Peleliu, which was used to detain prisoners, according to the human rights group Reprieve. Photograph: Zack Baddor/AP

The United States is operating "floating prisons" to house those arrested in its war on terror, according to human rights lawyers, who claim there has been an attempt to conceal the numbers and whereabouts of detainees.

Details of ships where detainees have been held and sites allegedly being used in countries across the world have been compiled as the debate over detention without trial intensifies on both sides of the Atlantic. The US government was yesterday urged to list the names and whereabouts of all those detained.

Information about the operation of prison ships has emerged through a number of sources, including statements from the US military, the Council of Europe and related parliamentary bodies, and the testimonies of prisoners.

The analysis, due to be published this year by the human rights organisation Reprieve, also claims there have been more than 200 new cases of rendition since 2006, when President George Bush declared that the practice had stopped.

It is the use of ships to detain prisoners, however, that is raising fresh concern and demands for inquiries in Britain and the US.

According to research carried out by Reprieve, the US may have used as many as 17 ships as "floating prisons" since 2001. Detainees are interrogated aboard the vessels and then rendered to other, often undisclosed, locations, it is claimed.

Ships that are understood to have held prisoners include the USS Bataan and USS Peleliu. A further 15 ships are suspected of having operated around the British territory of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, which has been used as a military base by the UK and the Americans.

Reprieve will raise particular concerns over the activities of the USS Ashland and the time it spent off Somalia in early 2007 conducting maritime security operations in an effort to capture al-Qaida terrorists.

At this time many people were abducted by Somali, Kenyan and Ethiopian forces in a systematic operation involving regular interrogations by individuals believed to be members of the FBI and CIA. Ultimately more than 100 individuals were "disappeared" to prisons in locations including Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Guantánamo Bay.

Reprieve believes prisoners may have also been held for interrogation on the USS Ashland and other ships in the Gulf of Aden during this time.

The Reprieve study includes the account of a prisoner released from Guantánamo Bay, who described a fellow inmate's story of detention on an amphibious assault ship. "One of my fellow prisoners in Guantánamo was at sea on an American ship with about 50 others before coming to Guantánamo ... he was in the cage next to me. He told me that there were about 50 other people on the ship. They were all closed off in the bottom of the ship. The prisoner commented to me that it was like something you see on TV. The people held on the ship were beaten even more severely than in Guantánamo."

Clive Stafford Smith, Reprieve's legal director, said: "They choose ships to try to keep their misconduct as far as possible from the prying eyes of the media and lawyers. We will eventually reunite these ghost prisoners with their legal rights.

"By its own admission, the US government is currently detaining at least 26,000 people without trial in secret prisons, and information suggests up to 80,000 have been 'through the system' since 2001. The US government must show a commitment to rights and basic humanity by immediately revealing who these people are, where they are, and what has been done to them."

Andrew Tyrie, the Conservative MP who chairs the all-party parliamentary group on extraordinary rendition, called for the US and UK governments to come clean over the holding of detainees.

"Little by little, the truth is coming out on extraordinary rendition. The rest will come, in time. Better for governments to be candid now, rather than later. Greater transparency will provide increased confidence that President Bush's departure from justice and the rule of law in the aftermath of September 11 is being reversed, and can help to win back the confidence of moderate Muslim communities, whose support is crucial in tackling dangerous extremism."

The Liberal Democrat's foreign affairs spokesman, Edward Davey, said: "If the Bush administration is using British territories to aid and abet illegal state abduction, it would amount to a huge breach of trust with the British government. Ministers must make absolutely clear that they would not support such illegal activity, either directly or indirectly."

A US navy spokesman, Commander Jeffrey Gordon, told the Guardian: "There are no detention facilities on US navy ships." However, he added that it was a matter of public record that some individuals had been put on ships "for a few days" during what he called the initial days of detention. He declined to comment on reports that US naval vessels stationed in or near Diego Garcia had been used as "prison ships".

The Foreign Office referred to David Miliband's statement last February admitting to MPs that, despite previous assurances to the contrary, US rendition flights had twice landed on Diego Garcia. He said he had asked his officials to compile a list of all flights on which rendition had been alleged.

CIA "black sites" are also believed to have operated in Thailand, Afghanistan, Poland and Romania.

In addition, numerous prisoners have been "extraordinarily rendered" to US allies and are alleged to have been tortured in secret prisons in countries such as Syria, Jordan, Morocco and Egypt.

Original here

Barack Obama Is a Muslim

Netlore Archive: Email rumor alleges that U.S. presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama is a Muslim who has lied about his religious background, including his claim to being a devout Christian

Description: Email rumor
Circulating since: January 2007
Status: False


Variant #1:
Email example contributed by Bill W., Jan. 15, 2007:

Subject:Fwd: Be careful, be very careful.

Barack Hussein Obama was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, to Barack Hussein Obama Sr. (black muslim) of Nyangoma-Kogelo, Siaya District, Kenya, and Ann Dunham of Wichita, Kansas. (white atheist ).

When Obama was two years old, his parents divorced and his father returned to Kenya. His mother married Lolo Soetoro -- a Muslim -- moving to Jakarta with Obama when he was six years old. Within six months he had learned to speak the Indonesian language. Obama spent "two years in a Muslim school, then two more in a Catholic school" in Jakarta. Obama takes great care to conceal the fact that he is a Muslim while admitting that he was once a Muslim, mitigating that damning information by saying that, for two years, he also attended a Catholic school.

Obama's father, Barack Hussein Obama, Sr. was a radical Muslim who migrated from Kenya to Jakarta, Indonesia. He met Obama's mother, Ann Dunham-a white atheist from Wichita, Kansas-at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Obama, Sr. and Dunham divorced when Barack, Jr. was two.

Obama's spinmeisters are now attempting to make it appear that Obama's introduction to Islam came from his father and that influence was temporary at best.

In reality, the senior Obama returned to Kenya immediately following the divorce and never again had any direct influence over his son's education.

Dunham married another Muslim, Lolo Soetoro who educated his stepson as a good Muslim by enrolling him in one of Jakarta's Wahabbi schools. Wahabbism is the radical teaching that created the Muslim terrorists who are now waging Jihad on the industrialized world.

Since it is politically expedient to be a Christian when you are seeking political office in the United States, Obama joined the United Church of Christ to help purge any notion that he is still a Muslim.

Handsome . . . Charming . . . Winsome . . . Dangerous . . . Deceptive . . . Determined


Variant #2:
Email example contributed by Ron P., July 8, 2007:

Subject: Who is Barack Obama?

Probable Democrat presidential candidate, Barack Hussein Obama was born in Honolulu, Hawaii, to Barack Hussein Obama, Sr., a black MUSLIM from Nyangoma-Kogel, Kenya and Ann Dunham, a white ATHIEST from Wichita, Kansas.

Obama's parents met at the University of Hawaii. When Obama was two years old, his parents divorced. His father returned to Kenya. His mother then married Lolo Soetoro, a RADICAL Muslim from Indonesia. When Obama was 6 years old, the family relocated to Indonesia. Obama attended a MUSLIM school in Jakarta. He also spent two years in a Catholic school.

Obama takes great care to conceal the fact that he is a Muslim. He is quick to point out that, 'He was once a Muslim, but that he also attended Catholic school.'

Obama's political handlers are attempting to make it appear that Obama's introduction to Islam came via his father, and that this influence was temporary at best. In reality, the senior Obama returned to Kenya soon after the divorce, and never again had any direct influence over his son's education.

Lolo Soetoro, the second husband of Obama's mother, Ann Dunham, introduced his stepson to Islam. Obama was enrolled in a Wahabi school in Jakarta.

Wahabism is the RADICAL teaching that is followed by the Muslim terrorists who are now waging Jihad against the western world.

Since it is politically expedient to be a CHRISTIAN when seeking Major public office in the United States, Barack Hussein Obama has joined the United Church of Christ in an attempt to downplay his Muslim background.

Let us all remain alert concerning Obama's expected presidential candidacy.

The Muslims have said they plan on destroying the US from the inside out, what better way to start than at the highest level - through the President of the United States, one of their own!!!!

ALSO, keep in mind that when he was sworn into office - he DID NOT use the Holy Bible, but instead the Kuran (Their equevelancy to our Bible, but very different beliefs)

Please forward to everyone you know. Would you want this man leading our country?...... NOT ME!!!


Comments: We are asked to believe that Senator Barack Obama, who for 20 years has professed to be a practicing Christian and has spoken publicly of his "personal relationship with Jesus Christ," is in fact secretly a Muslim and has lied all along about his true religious affiliation.

No proof is offered by those who make these claims -- no sightings of Barack Obama attending a mosque, no pictures of him reading the Koran, praying to Mecca, or observing Islamic holidays with his family. The entire case, such as it is, rests on a confused and error-ridden recitation of Obama's upbringing and purported childhood influences. It also rests on -- or exploits -- a deep fear and mistrust of the Muslim faith.

Virtually everything we do know about Obama's parentage and upbringing, it should be stipulated, comes from the senator himself. Obama told the story of his search to uncover his African heritage in Dreams from My Father (Three Rivers Press, 2004), and shared further autobiographical details in The Audacity of Hope (Crown Publishers, 2006). He spoke at length about his Christian beliefs in a 2004 Chicago Sun Times interview with Cathleen Falsani. Must we take his word for all of it? Not necessarily. But in the absence of contrary evidence we have no reason to doubt Obama's own candid account of his life story.

Was Obama's father, Barack Hussein Obama, Sr., a "radical Muslim who migrated from Kenya to Jakarta, Indonesia?"

No. Though Barack Hussein Obama, Sr. was raised a Muslim, he had lost his faith and become a "confirmed atheist" by the time he attended college, according to his son. Obama's parents separated when Barack was two, his father moving not to Jakarta, but to the United States, where he attended Harvard. Eventually he returned to Kenya.

Please note: This is not a scientific poll. It exists so readers have an opportunity to express themselves. Results have likely been skewed by incoming partisan links.
About Poll
Do you believe Barack Obama could really be a 'stealth' Muslim?
Yes, I don't trust him.
No, that's a kooky idea.
I can't decide.
Current Results

Did Obama's mother go on to marry another Muslim named Lolo Soetoro who "educated his stepson as a good Muslim by enrolling him in one of Jakarta's Wahabbi schools?"

Yes and no. When Obama's mother remarried, it was indeed to an Indonesian man named Lolo Soetoro, whom his stepson describes as a "non-practicing" Muslim. But it was his "secular" mother who supervised his education, Obama has written, sending him to both Catholic and Muslim primary schools after the family moved to Jakarta. There is nothing on record to indicate Obama attended a madrassa (Muslim religious school) run by Wahabbists, and in any case it's unlikely his mother would have chosen to expose him to such an extreme form of Islam given her stated abhorrence of religious closed-mindedness and her stated goal of giving him a well-rounded education, including in matters of faith.

(Update: CNN has tracked down the school in question, the Basuki School in Jakarta, which a deputy headmaster described as a "public school" with no particular religious agenda. "In our daily lives, we try to respect religion, but we don't give preferential treatment," he told CNN. A classmate of Obama's described the school as "general," with students of many religious backgrounds attending. Obama entered the school at the age of 8 and attended for two years.)

Is it true that "Obama takes great care to conceal the fact that he is a Muslim while admitting that he was once a Muslim?"

Once a Muslim? When? Unless I missed it while skimming Obama's two books and sundry news interviews, the senator has never mentioned being a Muslim at any point in his life. Yes, he lived in a Muslim country during part of his childhood and briefly attended a Muslim school there, but he certainly wasn't raised a Muslim and has never been, so far as I have been able to determine, a practitioner of that faith.

That anyone, let alone a sitting U.S. senator with designs on the highest office in the land, would conceal being a Muslim for twenty-odd years while going through the outward motions of practicing Christianity (or vice-versa, for that matter) is a bizarre accusation. I would be tempted to dismiss it as paranoid lunacy if it weren't so obviously a crass, politically-motivated smear.

Is it true that when Obama was sworn into office he used the Koran (Qur'an) instead of the Bible?

No. According to news accounts Barack Obama placed his right hand on his personal Bible during his Senate swearing-in ceremony, which was conducted by Vice-President Dick Cheney. Those making this allegation have apparently confused Obama with Congressman Keith Ellison, who actually is a Muslim and was sworn in on January 4, 2007 using a copy of the Koran.

Original here