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Obama's plans to appoint neo-cons to cabinet?

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Barnstorming Obama plans to pick Republicans for cabinet

As he jets across two key states whipping up the support that could finish off Hillary Clinton this week, the Democratic frontrunner is already mapping out a government of all the talents. Our writer joins him aboard Obama One

AS Barack Obama enters the final stages of the fight for the Democratic presidential nomination, he is preparing to detach the core voters of John McCain, the likely Republican nominee, with the same ruthless determination with which he has peeled off Hillary Clinton’s supporters.

The scene is set for a tussle between the two candidates for the support of some of the sharpest and most independent minds in politics. Obama is hoping to appoint cross-party figures to his cabinet such as Chuck Hagel, the Republican senator for Nebraska and an opponent of the Iraq war, and Richard Lugar, leader of the Republicans on the Senate foreign relations committee.

Senior advisers confirmed that Hagel, a highly decorated Vietnam war veteran and one of McCain’s closest friends in the Senate, was considered an ideal candidate for defence secretary. Some regard the outspoken Republican as a possible vice-presidential nominee although that might be regarded as a “stretch”....(Click here for remainder of Times UK article).


How to tell Clinton & Obama apart


  • Their positions are often barely indistinguishable from that of the Republicans
  • They have built their campaigns around genetic identity rather than on political principles and issues.
  • They take multiple positions on individual issues such as NAFTA
  • They have produced no interesting new ideas nor promised to fight for any important new programs
  • They have offered no good idea about how to handle the current economic crisis
  • They have gone about their campaigns as though they were leading a cult rather than a political movement
  • Clinton hangs out with a covert group of right wing GOP Christians; Obama would name some of them to his cabinet.
  • They have similar voting records with Progressive Punch ranking Obama 19th and Clinton 24th in Senate
  • The both dissed Nader for daring to run for president again
  • Obama wrote that conservatives and Bill Clinton were right to destroy social welfare, Clinton supported her husband's program
  • Hillary Clinton comes in at 38th and Obama at 48th in the ranking of the League of Conservation Voters
  • Both have hawkish foreign policy advisors involved in past US misdeeds and failures...
(Click here for remainder of Progressive Review article).


POLITICS-US: U.S. Diplomacy Sidelined by Loyalty to Uribe

By Jim Lobe

WASHINGTON, Mar 5 (IPS) - Washington's strong backing for President Alvaro Uribe has all but removed it from playing any significant diplomatic role in defusing the crisis sparked by Saturday's attack by Colombia on anti-government guerrillas on Ecuador's territory, according to analysts here.

The incident, which resulted in the death of at many as 22 members of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), including a top commander, Raul Reyes, provoked Quito to break relations with Bogota and Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez to deploy troops and tanks to the Colombian border in support of his Ecuadorean ally.

President George W. Bush also used the incident to press his case for Congressional approval of a long-pending free trade agreement (FTA) with Colombia, which his administration has increasingly depicted as a bulwark against radical regimes in the region led by Chavez....(Click here for remainder of article).


The Gaza Bombshell

After failing to anticipate Hamas’s victory over Fatah in the 2006 Palestinian election, the White House cooked up yet another scandalously covert and self-defeating Middle East debacle: part Iran-contra, part Bay of Pigs. With confidential documents, corroborated by outraged former and current U.S. officials, David Rose reveals how President Bush, Condoleezza Rice, and Deputy National-Security Adviser Elliott Abrams backed an armed force under Fatah strongman Muhammad Dahlan, touching off a bloody civil war in Gaza and leaving Hamas stronger than ever.

by David Rose | April 2008
The Al Deira Hotel, in Gaza City, is a haven of calm in a land beset by poverty, fear, and violence. In the middle of December 2007, I sit in the hotel’s airy restaurant, its windows open to the Mediterranean, and listen to a slight, bearded man named Mazen Asad abu Dan describe the suffering he endured 11 months before at the hands of his fellow Palestinians. Abu Dan, 28, is a member of Hamas, the Iranian-backed Islamist organization that has been designated a terrorist group by the United States, but I have a good reason for taking him at his word: I’ve seen the video.

It shows abu Dan kneeling, his hands bound behind his back, and screaming as his captors pummel him with a black iron rod. “I lost all the skin on my back from the beatings,” he says. “Instead of medicine, they poured perfume on my wounds. It felt as if they had taken a sword to my injuries.”

On January 26, 2007, abu Dan, a student at the Islamic University of Gaza, had gone to a local cemetery with his father and five others to erect a headstone for his grandmother. When they arrived, however, they found themselves surrounded by 30 armed men from Hamas’s rival, Fatah, the party of Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas. “They took us to a house in north Gaza,” abu Dan says. “They covered our eyes and took us to a room on the sixth floor.”...(Click here for remainder of Vanity Fair article).


The $3 Trillion War

After wildly lowballing the cost of the Iraq conflict at a mere $50 to $60 billion, the Bush administration has been concealing the full economic toll. The spending on military operations is merely the tip of a vast fiscal iceberg. In an excerpt from their new book, the authors calculate the grim bottom line.

by Joseph E. Stiglitz and Linda J. Bilmes April 2008

On March 19, 2008, the U.S. will have been in Iraq for five years. The Bush administration was wrong about the need for the Iraq war and about the benefits the war would bring to Iraq, to the region, and to America. It has also been wrong about the full cost of the war, and it continues to take steps to conceal that cost.

In the run-up to the war there were few public discussions of the likely price tag. When Lawrence Lindsey, President Bush’s economic adviser, suggested that it might reach $200 billion all told, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld dismissed the estimate as “baloney.” Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz went as far as to suggest that Iraq’s postwar reconstruction would pay for itself through increased oil revenues. Rumsfeld and Office of Management and Budget Director Mitch Daniels estimated the total cost of the war in the range of $50 to $60 billion, some of which they believed would be financed by other countries....(Click here for remainder of Vanity Fair article).


The Man Between War and Peace

By Thomas P.M. Barnett

As head of U. S. Central Command, Admiral William "Fox" Fallon is in charge of American military strategy for the most troubled parts of the world. Now, as the White House has been escalating the war of words with Iran, and seeming ever more determined to strike militarily before the end of this presidency, the admiral has urged restraint and diplomacy. Who will prevail, the president or the admiral?

1. If, in the dying light of the Bush administration, we go to war with Iran, it'll all come down to one man. If we do not go to war with Iran, it'll come down to the same man. He is that rarest of creatures in the Bush universe: the good cop on Iran, and a man of strategic brilliance. His name is William Fallon, although all of his friends call him "Fox," which was his fighter-pilot call sign decades ago. Forty years into a military career that has seen this admiral rule over America's two most important combatant commands, Pacific Command and now United States Central Command, it's impossible to make this guy--as he likes to say--"nervous in the service." Past American governments have used saber rattling as a useful tactic to get some bad actor on the world stage to fall in line. This government hasn't mastered that kind of subtlety. When Dick Cheney has rattled his saber, it has generally meant that he intends to use it. And in spite of recent war spasms aimed at Iran from this sclerotic administration, Fallon is in no hurry to pick up any campaign medals for Iran. And therein lies the rub for the hard-liners led by Cheney. Army General David Petraeus, commanding America's forces in Iraq, may say, "You cannot win in Iraq solely in Iraq," but Fox Fallon is Petraeus's boss, and he is the commander of United States Central Command, and Fallon doesn't extend Petraeus's logic to mean war against Iran.

So while Admiral Fallon's boss, President George W. Bush, regularly trash-talks his way to World War III and his administration casually casts Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as this century's Hitler (a crown it has awarded once before, to deadly effect), it's left to Fallon--and apparently Fallon alone--to argue that, as he told Al Jazeera last fall: "This constant drumbeat of conflict . . . is not helpful and not useful. I expect that there will be no war, and that is what we ought to be working for. We ought to try to do our utmost to create different conditions."

What America needs, Fallon says, is a "combination of strength and willingness to engage."

Those are fighting words to your average neocon--not to mention your average supporter of Israel, a good many of whom in Washington seem never to have served a minute in uniform. But utter those words for print and you can easily find yourself defending your indifference to "nuclear holocaust."

How does Fallon get away with so brazenly challenging his commander in chief?...(Click here for the remainder of the Esquire article).


Primary Night in San Antonio, TX


FCC to Ask TV Station Why It Halted Program

March 5, 2008; Page B4

Federal Communications Commission Chairman Kevin Martin said he had instructed staff to send a letter to an Alabama television station affiliated with CBS Corp., seeking information about a "blacking-out" incident last month.

The Huntsville station stopped airing a signal Feb. 24 during a CBS News "60 Minutes" program that suggested the conviction of a former governor of Alabama was politically motivated. For eight minutes of the 12-minute segment, the channel didn't broadcast, resuming only toward the end of the report.

Monday, the two Democrats on the five-member panel that directs the agency called on Mr. Martin to send a formal letter to the station asking for information about what happened. The Democrats, Michael Copps and Jonathan Adelstein, said it was imperative the FCC look into the matter.

The "60 Minutes" story investigated claims the prosecution of the former governor, Don Siegelman, a Democrat, was politically motivated. He was convicted in 2006 on federal corruption charges and is in prison. The piece suggested that Karl Rove, a former key adviser to President Bush, intervened in the case....(Click here for remainder of Wall Street Journal article).


Florida, Michigan seek exit from Democratic penalty box

From John Zarrella and Patrick Oppmann


MIAMI, Florida (CNN) -- Will the recount state become the re-primary state? And will voters in Michigan have their say in picking a Democratic candidate for president?

Political leaders from Florida and Michigan were busy Wednesday talking about plans to make sure that voters in their states are heard in picking a Democratic nominee.

The discussions unfolded amid a grueling, delegate-by-delegate fight between Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York and Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois.

The national Democratic Party stripped Florida and Michigan of their delegates to the national convention after the states moved up the dates of their primary elections.

That means votes that were cast in primaries in those states will not translate into delegates awarded to one candidate or the other in the contest for the Democratic nomination for president....(Click here for remainder of CNN article).


Pa.: Biggest prize left for Democrats


HARRISBURG, Pa. -- Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama: Welcome to Pennsylvania, a sprawling state with two large cities and a farm region larger than Massachusetts.

Its 12.4 million diverse residents like the kind of face-to-face interaction with candidates more often seen in small caucus states such as Iowa and they're likely to get just that during the seven weeks until they vote in a primary to allocate 158 delegates to the Democratic national convention.

Thanks to Clinton's wins in Ohio, Texas and Rhode Island on Tuesday, Pennsylvania has gone from political afterthought to must-win state for the Democratic presidential contenders.

With just two much smaller contests between now and the state's April 22 primary - in Wyoming and Mississippi - Pennsylvania is in for a marathon of rallies, town-hall meetings, television ads and high stakes get-out-the-vote efforts....(Click here for remainder of Seattle Post Intelligencer article).


Thom Hartmann: Crazy Alert


Bush's "Stagflation" Economy


Clinton campaign making Obama "blacker"

Or maybe more Muslim? The sordid details are in this diary by Troutnut, but it can be distilled down to this:

As you can see, the campaign ad has darkened Obama's skin tone, while stretching the video horizontally to give Obama a wider nose....(Click here for remainder of Daily Kos post).


SUPER TUESDAY III: Dear Governors Crist & Granholm

By Mark Green on March 5, 2008 - 2:43pm

While the Obama campaign stresses math and Clinton momentum post-Ohio/Texas -- and some journalists can't resist predicting who will win, should win, should quit -- the fact is that many voters haven't yet effectively spoken. Including all Democrats in your two states of Florida and Michigan because of your controversy with the DNC.

So as Obama now leads 51%-49% in votes cast and 52% to 48% in presumed delegates, I have a suggestion that could help launch one into a commanding position as we approach the Denver Convention: your two states should legislate a new primary day and it should be April 22, the day of the scheduled Pennsylvania primary.

Then we would have a final Super Tuesday involving some 5 million voters and 518 delegates. And the Democrat who wins a majority of the votes and delegates in these three states -- all of which would be in play in a competitive general election -- would have real and important momentum with undecided superdelegates. Not quite winner-take-all but close to winning the fifth set in the Wimbleton final....(Click here for remainder of Air America Radio post).

Mark Green is the former New York City Public Advocate and President of Air America Radio.


Many Iraqis grow distrustful of Iran's intentions in their country

Los Angeles Times

BAGHDAD | Hussein Athab visited Iran three times after the fall of Saddam Hussein in 2003. The political science professor took in Iran’s religious sites and admired Iraq’s bigger, richer and stronger Shiite Muslim neighbor to the east.

But his esteem for Iran’s government has since plummeted due to what he and many others in Iraq view as Iranian meddling and subversion in his native city of Basra.

“We thought Iran would extend the hand of friendship,” said Athab, himself a Shiite. “But it looks like Iran considers Iraq a playing card, and we don’t want to be used as a playing card.”

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad travels today to an Iraq far more leery of his country than in the period soon after the collapse of Hussein’s vehemently anti-Iranian regime.

Publicly, Iraq’s politicians welcome the firebrand president’s arrival. But privately, Iraqi officials say Ahmadinejad and the adventurous clique surrounding him are part of the problem....(Click here for remainder of Kansas City Star article).


Vermont towns indict Bush and Cheney for 'crimes against our Constitution'

Elana Schor in Washington, Wednesday March 5 2008

Despite George Bush's rock-bottom approval ratings and his status as a favourite target of Democrats, the president has eluded attempts to hold him accountable for alleged misdeeds — except in Vermont.

During yesterday's Vermont presidential primary, two small towns in the famously liberal state also approved resolutions indicting Bush and vice president Dick Cheney for "crimes against our Constitution".

No specific crimes are mentioned, but organisers of the anti-Bush effort have referred to perjury, obstruction of justice and war crimes related to the Iraq conflict. The resolutions ask town attorneys in Brattleboro and Marlboro to draft indictments without outlining how to enforce them, giving the charges little practical consequence.

"I have not seen the proposal, and I've done no legal research on any of the issues," Vermont attorney general William Sorrell told the Associated Press before yesterday's vote....(Click here for remainder of Guardian UK article).


Republican McCain trails Clinton and Obama: poll

Wed Mar 5, 2008 11:16pm EST

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Presumptive Republican presidential nominee John McCain trails Democrats Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama in hypothetical matchups, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll released on Wednesday.

Illinois Sen. Obama leads McCain by 12 percentage points -- 52 percent to 40 percent; New York Sen. Clinton leads McCain by 6 points -- 50 percent to 44 percent, the poll found.

McCain, an Arizona senator, has turned his attention to the November 4 general election after clinching his party's nomination on Tuesday night. Clinton and Obama are still locked in a close battle for the Democratic nomination.

McCain, endorsed by U.S. President George W. Bush, fares poorly against Clinton and Obama among Americans who disapprove of the president and Americans opposing the war, The Washington Post said.

About two-thirds of Americans disapprove of the way Bush is handling his job and think the war was not worth fighting, the newspaper said....(Click here for remainder of Reuters article).


Fresh off defeat, Obama plans counterattack

New York Times

CHICAGO — Sen. Barack Obama woke up Wednesday talking of his delegate lead and of taking the fight to Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton. But in the wake of defeats in two of the most populous states, he also sounded like a chastened candidate in search of his lost moment.

Obama again failed to administer an electoral coup de grace, and so allowed a tenacious rival to elude his grasp. Now, after appearing nearly invincible just last week, he faces questions about his toughness and vulnerabilities — never mind seven weeks of tramping across Pennsylvania, the site of the next big primary showdown. His goal is to prove that he can win states vital to a Democratic victory in November.

In Ohio and Texas, he drew vast and adoring crowds, yet he came up short on primary day, just as he did in New Hampshire in early January. Clinton's attack on his readiness to serve as commander in chief seemed to resonate with some Texas voters....(Click here for remainder of Houston Chronicle article).


Pennsylvanians Get Set for 'Iowa on Steroids'

By Krissah Williams

PHILADELPHIA -- Pennsylvania State Democratic Party Chairman T.J. Rooney sipped a cocktail in the Vesper Club off Walnut Street, ready for the political tsunami about to overtake his state.

"I don't think most people know what we're in for," Rooney said, smiling. "And I mean that as a good thing."

His Blackberry buzzed, probably another reporter. It was not yet 5 p.m. and the longtime local politician was on about his 30th interview of the day, as the full attention of the national press corps turns to Pennsylvania, which will now play an outsize role in deciding the Democratic primary.

"It's Iowa on steroids," he said told the Trail, repeating the phrase for the umpteenth time.

Rooney is personally backing Sen. Hillary Clinton, though the state party is staying out of the fray. She's also lined up the majority of the congressional delegation, Philadelphia's Mayor Michael Nutter and -- most importantly popular -- Gov. Ed Rendell and his political machine....(Click here for remainder of Washington Post article).



From NBC/NJ's Aswini Anburajan and Domenico Montanaro

The Obama campaign is stepping up the rhetoric. Campaign Manager David Plouffe went so far as to call Hillary Clinton the "most secretive politician in America today."

The tough talk underscored not only the negative shift in tone of the Obama campaign in the past 24 hours, but just how contentious this fight for the nomination is becoming.

Part of what the Obama campaign would like the focus to be on is ethics -- something adviser David Axelrod said they would be glad to have a debate over. But the Obama campaign may be a victim of time, since an argument on ethics could be tough to steer with the ongoing Rezko trial.

"I think that you know Sen. Clinton has talked a lot about disclosure in the last few days,” Plouffe told reporters. “Sen. Clinton is the most secretive politician in America today. This has been a pattern throughout her career of the lack of disclosure.”...(Click here for remainder of MSNBC article).


In Ohio, Kucinich Survives Challenge

By Paul Kane
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, March 6, 2008; Page A04

Rep. Dennis J. Kucinich (D-Ohio), a two-time presidential candidate, survived a challenge from several Democrats on Tuesday in his Cleveland-based district, becoming one of several incumbents to defeat primary challengers in Ohio and Texas.

Kucinich, who opponents criticized for spending too much time running quixotic campaigns for the White House, received strong support from local labor unions who backed the incumbent because of his anti-trade positions and longtime support of a single-payer health-care system.

After pulling out of this year's presidential campaign in late January, Kucinich also raised about $850,000 in just a few weeks from donors who had supported his White House bids....(Click here for remainder of Washington Post article).


A Democratic Dream Ticket?

March 05, 2008 10:15 AM ET | Bonnie Erbe

You may have heard it here first, folks. Early last month, I touted the possibility of a Clinton-Obama or Obama-Clinton ticket.

This morning on the commercial networks, Hillary Clinton was asked about the possibility and seemed to open the way for talks to begin.

The big question, of course, is who is at the top and who is at the bottom of a possible Democratic dream ticket.

Again, I would argue that because of age, Clinton should be at the top but with a big giveback—to serve only one term. With that magic number of 2,025 (the Democratic delegates needed to clinch the nomination) still far off for either candidate, the last thing the party needs is a bruising, expensive, nasty fight between two candidates appealing to different segments of the party's coalition....(Click here for remainder of post).


The Math

Our projections show the most likely outcome of yesterday's elections will be that Hillary Clinton gained 187 delegates, and we gained 183.

That's a net gain of 4 delegates out of more than 370 delegates available from all the states that voted.

For comparison, that's less than half our net gain of 9 delegates from the District of Columbia alone. It's also less than our net gain of 8 from Nebraska, or 12 from Washington State. And it's considerably less than our net gain of 33 delegates from Georgia.

The task for the Clinton campaign yesterday was clear. In order to have a plausible path to the nomination, they needed to score huge delegate victories and cut into our lead.

They failed.

It's clear, though, that Senator Clinton wants to continue an increasingly desperate, increasingly negative -- and increasingly expensive -- campaign to tear us down.

That's her decision. But it's not stopping John McCain, who clinched the Republican nomination last night, from going on the offensive. He's already made news attacking Barack, and that will only become more frequent in the coming days.

Right now, it's essential for every single supporter of Barack Obama to step up and help fight this two-front battle. In the face of attacks from Hillary Clinton and John McCain, we need to be ready to take them on.

Will you make an online donation of $25 right now?

The chatter among pundits may have gotten better for the Clinton campaign after last night, but by failing to cut into our lead, the math -- and their chances of winning -- got considerably worse.

Today, we still have a lead of more than 150 delegates, and there are only 611 pledged delegates left to win in the upcoming contests.

By a week from today, we will have competed in Wyoming and Mississippi. Two more states and 45 more delegates will be off the table.

But if Senator Clinton wants to continue this, let's show that we're ready.

Make an online donation of $25 now to show you're willing to fight for this:

This nomination process is an opportunity to decide what our party needs to stand for in this election.

We can either take on John McCain with a candidate who's already united Republicans and Independents against us, or we can do it with a campaign that's united Americans from all parties around a common purpose.

We can debate John McCain about who can clean up Washington by nominating a candidate who's taken more money from lobbyists than he has, or we can do it with a campaign that hasn't taken a dime of their money because we've been funded by you.

We can present the American people with a candidate who stood shoulder-to-shoulder with McCain on the worst foreign policy disaster of our generation, and agrees with him that George Bush deserves the benefit of the doubt on Iran, or we can nominate someone who opposed the war in Iraq from the beginning and will not support a march to war with Iran.

John McCain may have a long history of straight talk and independent thinking, but he has made the decision in this campaign to offer four more years of the very same policies that have failed us for the last eight.

We need a Democratic candidate who will present the starkest contrast to those failed policies of the past.

And that candidate is Barack Obama.

Please make a donation of $25 now:

Thank you,


David Plouffe
Campaign Manager
Obama for America



Obama says he will sharpen criticism

Aides distribute memo, hold call on why Clinton won't release tax returns

CHICAGO - Democratic Sen. Barack Obama on Wednesday blamed his primary defeats in Ohio and Texas on rival Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton's criticism and news coverage that he argued benefited her at his expense.

The presidential candidate said he planned to do more in the days ahead to raise doubts about his opponent's claims to foreign policy and other Washington experience. In a television ad that her campaign credits with helping her win, she portrayed herself as most prepared to handle an international crisis.

"What exactly is this foreign policy experience?" Obama asked mockingly. "Was she negotiating treaties? Was she handling crises? The answer is no."...(Click here for remainder of article).



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