Jimmy had Billie and Obama has Jeremiah. You could laugh off Billie but Jeremiah is scary and so are his disciples - Michelle and Obama.
Rev. Wright, like his young disciple Obama, is most capable of deflecting attention away from the issue at hand. Wright asserts media and press attacks are not personal but are aimed at the Black church. That elevates the matter by some 20 or more million and allows Wright to defend a large number of folks who he has chosen to suck in by his own inflammatory demagoguery. Whatever attacking is occurring in not against the Black Church. It is simply a revulsion against Rev. Wright's over the hill comments. The fact that Obama has chosen to defend his minister is admirable but what Obama has been saying, or failing to say, in defense of his minister comes across as disingenuous.
Rev. Wright is enjoying the limelight. He is intoxicated by it no less than Jimmy by going to Meshaal and laying a wreath at Arafat's tomb. Meanwhile, the Senator from Illinois is probably chugging Pepto Bismo, because his minister is surely giving him and his campaign staff serious heartburn. Wright is making it increasingly difficult for Obama's healing message to hold traction and it is probably giving many white voters, who were pre-disposed towards Obama, to re-think.
Why? Simply because the race issue has swamped the Democrats' nominating effort, the remarks of Michelle and Wright are like salt thrown into a re-opened wound and Obama has waffled in his various renunciations. Most Americans are genuinely fair minded, most Americans are sloppy sentimentalists but most Americans do not like hearing their nation damned and blamed for past ills which they have worked hard at putting behind them. Most importantly of all, Americans understand there are inconsistencies and economic stratification among various ethnic groups but they reject wholesale blame and for sure think better of their nation than Rev. Wright and Michelle.
Hillary received a second wind from her Pennsylvania vote and Rev. Wright is sucking the air out of Obama's hot air balloon. Both happenings must be giving super-delegates extreme discomfort.
Is a cease fire going to be implemented? If so, is it for real or an opportunity for Hamas to re-arm? Also, Israel will never win a propaganda war but it seems no longer to care. (See 1 below.)
CIA Director,Hayden, asserts Syria would have been capable of making enough Plutonium for several weapons (not bombs) in a short period of time. (See 2 below.)
Karl Rove gives Sen. Obama some free advice. Was it well intended or was it a clever way of reinforcing, in the minds of voters, that the wheels are coming off the Obama train and he is not up to the task of being president? You decide!(See 3 below.)
Dean throws down the gauntlet and says either Obama and Hillary must quit after the last June vote. In fact, Dean should be the one resigning for having structured a nominating strategy that made a fool of his party. (See 4 below.)
Tom Sowell, sees an old newness as I pointed out months ago , ie "Everything old is New Again." Sowell believes we are approaching Obama as if we were engaged in the show game of in "Trivial Pursuit." (See 5 below.)
1) ANALYSIS / Hurry up and shoot before the cease-fire
By Amos Harel
The Israel Defense Forces avoided accepting any form of responsibility for the death of Miyasar Abu Muatak and her four young children in a shanty neighborhood of Beit Hanun Monday. According to the army's version, the mother and children were not killed by two missiles fired from an aircraft, as the Palestinians maintain, but as a result of "secondary explosions." The missiles were aimed at two Islamic Jihad militants that had been identified carrying large bags, which are believed to have included explosive devices. As a result of the blast, the shed which was the family's home was destroyed. Defense Minister Ehud Barak did not bother with the details. As far as he was concerned, he said Monday, only Hamas - whose gunmen operate among civilians - are responsible for the death of "uninvolved civilians."
The Israeli version relies on descriptions by Givati Brigade officers, who called in the aircraft, and on photos of the damage. Also important is the type of munitions that Israel has deployed in recent years in the Gaza Strip. They are lethal, but more precise, so their collateral damage is relatively limited. The damage evident at the site of the killing is much more like that caused by the detonation of a large explosive device.
It is hard to imagine that the army, after seven and a half years of the second intifada, does not appreciate the need to immediately respond in the media. Most likely is that photos, if it has them, do not provide unequivocal evidence to boost the IDF's claims.
It is also doubtful whether the release of photographs will make a difference. The Hamas media warned Monday of an Israeli "campaign to exterminate the Palestinian people." The scenes from Beit Hanun offered perfect proof as far as the radical Islamic group is concerned. The foreign media, who only emerge from their slumber after scenes like this, are also certain who is responsible for the killing of women and children: Israel.
Even if the Palestinian version is debatable, there have been plenty of precedents in the Strip: from the killing of the seven members of the Ghalia family on the Gaza beach in June 2006 (responsibility for which Israel denied), to the artillery barrage that killed 19 civilians in Beit Hanun in November that year.
Nonetheless, it is not at all certain that Monday's killing will affect the cease-fire negotiations. The Hamas political leadership is very keen to achieve a hudna, a cease-fire, even though the group's military wing has reservations. It is possible that Hamas will make do with the Qassam barrages it fired Monday as the appropriate Palestinian response to the incident. Its real test will be its ability to impose its will on the smaller factions, and Tuesday will be critical in signaling which way the situation may go. Representatives of Hamas and the smaller Palestinian factions are scheduled to meet in Cairo with representatives of Egyptian intelligence.
For the time being the IDF is behaving as if there is no hudna on the horizon. The attacks inside the Strip continue as usual, based on the argument that a cease-fire is not effective and the "ticking bombs" - imminent terrorist attacks - are still ticking. Intelligence seems to back this position. But from a diplomatic point of view, it is difficult to comprehend Israel's stance: Even if a cease-fire collapses, as the senior officers argue, why not allow the Palestinians to be the ones who break it?
Israel was drawn into a hudna after Egyptian pressure and the government's concerns that a major ground operation in Gaza would result in heavy IDF casualties. But the government is not pleased with the idea of a cease-fire: It seems there is a zero-sum game mentality dominating the political leadership. After all, they argue, if Hamas is so desperate for a cease-fire, it can't be a good thing for Israel. Khaled Meshal, the head of the Hamas politburo in Damascus, did nothing to assuage Israel's concerns on Sunday, when he declared that any cease-fire will be a temporary hiatus in the fighting, which will allow Hamas to strengthen its ranks for the next confrontation. It is therefore no wonder that the IDF is pushing to carry out as many strikes as possible before a cease-fire
2) Hayden: Syria was close to getting nukes
CIA Director Michael Hayden said Monday the alleged Syrian nuclear reactor destroyed by an Israeli air strike in September would have produced enough plutonium for one or two bombs within a year of becoming operational.
US intelligence and administration officials publicly disclosed last week their assessment that Syria was building a covert nuclear reactor with North Korean assistance. They said it was modeled on the shuttered North Korean reactor at Yongbyon, which produced a small amount of plutonium, and was within weeks or months of being operational.
"In the course of a year after they got full up they would have produced enough plutonium for one or two weapons," Hayden told reporters after a speech at Georgetown University.
Neither the United States nor Israel told the International Atomic Energy Agency about the Syrian site until last week, about a year after they obtained what they considered to be decisive intelligence: Dozens of photographs from a handheld camera that showed both the interior and exterior of the mysterious compound in Syria's eastern desert.
From the CIA's perspective, that intelligence was not the United States' to share with the UN nuclear watchdog, Hayden said.
"We've made it clear we did not have complete control over the totality of the information because obviously it was the result of a team effort," he said. "One has to respect the origin of the information in terms of how it is used."
The head of the UN nuclear watchdog agency chastised the United States on Friday for withholding information on the alleged Syrian reactor. One of the IAEA's missions is to try to prevent nuclear proliferation, and it depends on member states for information to carry out that task.
A senior administration official told reporters last week that the United States kept the information secret after the Israeli strike because it feared revealing it might provoke Syria to strike back at Israel.
3)Dear Senator Obama ...
President Bush's former senior adviser offers advice for fighting the 'elitist' label.
By Karl Rove
Four months ago, you took the political world by storm in Iowa. The media were agog. They called your words "gorgeous," your victory "a message to the world." You "made history" and Americans could "look at ourselves with pride" in "a moment to marvel."
Times change. The six weeks leading into Pennsylvania were difficult. You excelled at raising money and gaining endorsements, but got weaker as big problems emerged. Before you can fix them, you must understand them. In Pennsylvania, you won only 30 percent among Catholics and 29 percent among white working-class voters. Defections like this elect Republicans.
Even liberal commentators who adore you warn you can't win with a McGovern coalition of college students and white-wine sippers from the party's left wing. Saying small-town voters cling to guns, faith and xenophobia because of economic bitterness hurt you; it reinforced the growing sense you don't share Middle America's values. So did asking about the price of arugula in Iowa, dismissing the "true" patriotism of people who wear a flag lapel pin, being "friendly" (as your chief strategist, David Axelrod, put it) with a violent, unrepentant '60s radical and having a close relationship with an angry pastor who expressed anti-American sentiments.
You argue the son of a single working mom can't be an elitist. But it's not where you start in life; it's where you end up. After a prestigious prep school, Columbia and Harvard, you've ended up with the values of Cambridge, San Francisco and Hyde Park. So you're doing badly in Scranton, Youngstown and Erie, where ordinary Americans live.
HERE ARE SIX SUGGESTIONS FOR WHAT TO DO.
1. Your stump speech is sounding old and out of touch. You made a mistake by not giving the bored press (and voters) something new last Tuesday when you lost Pennsylvania. Come up with something fresh that's focused on the general election. Recapture the optimistic tone of your start and discard the weary, prickly and distracted tone you've taken on.
2. When you get into trouble, pick one, simple explanation. And stay with it. Take the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr. You said you weren't sitting in church when he said those ugly things. Two days later, you excused him, saying his comments didn't give "a well-rounded portrait" of him. Two days after that, you condemned his statements as "not only wrong but divisive" but still couldn't "disavow him" any more than you could your grandmother. Ten days later, you implied if Wright hadn't retired, you might have left his church. It would have been better to say from the start that Wright's words were wrong and offensive and you should have spoken out earlier. The applause would have been deafening.
3. Your lack of achievements undercuts your core themes. It's powerful when you say America is not "Red States or Blue States but the United States." The problem is, you don't have a long Senate record of working across party lines. So build one. In the coming months, say that you'll appoint Republicans to your cabinet and get a couple to say they'd serve. Highlight initiatives Republicans can agree on. Most importantly, push for a bipartisan issue now before Congress.
4. You speak of the "fierce urgency of now" that calls leaders to confront important challenges. Sounds good, but people are asking, what urgent issues have drawn your enormous talents? It's counterintuitive, but spend less time campaigning and more time working the Senate. Pick a big issue and fight hard for it. Win or lose, you'll give your argument substance.
5. Stop the attacks. They undermine your claim to a post-partisan new politics. You soared when you seemed above politics, lost altitude when you did what you criticize. Attacks are momentarily satisfying but ultimately corrode your appeal.
6. To answer growing questions about your inexperience, people need to know, in concrete and credible ways, what they can expect from you as president. That's missing now. And don't think those position papers written by academics and posted on the Web do the job. They have a check-the-box quality to them. Americans want to see your passion and commitment to things they care about, in ways that give them confidence you're up to the job. They can smell when something is poll-tested and focus-grouped, not from the heart. Also, you can't bluff anymore like you did on "Meet the Press" in October 2006. (You weren't officially running for president yet, but it's still telling.) Tim Russert pointed to the passage in "The Audacity of Hope" that says "no small number of government programs don't work as advertised," and he asked for an example. You cited Medicaid and Medicare, saying: "I think that there's no doubt that we could squeeze more efficiencies out of those systems there. Simple example, we don't use electronic billing for Medicare and Medicaid providers. Now there's no other business on earth that still has people filling out paper forms to get reimbursed, especially for a system that large. We could drastically reduce the costs of those systems."
The only problem is, the Bush administration, building on the good work of the Clinton administration, already put in place in 2003 a regulation that requires electronic billing of Medicaid and Medicare. Since then, all but a handful have been electronic. You won't get a pass on bluffing anymore. You'll have to do both your homework and occasionally something that's difficult for you (and most other politicians): admit you don't know.
You have talent, intelligence and tapped into something powerful early in your campaign. But running for president is unlike anything you've ever done. You're making mistakes and making people worry that you're an elitist. So while you'll almost certainly win the nomination, Democrats are nervous about the fall. You've given them reasons to be.
4) One candidate must quit in June, Democratic chairman says
By Lisa Tozzi and Brian Knowlton
WASHINGTON: Raising the pressure to avoid a cripplingly drawn-out selection process, the chairman of the Democratic National Committee said Monday that either Hillary Rodham Clinton or Barack Obama needed to drop out of the presidential race in June for the party to win the White House in November.
"We really can't have a divided convention," Howard Dean said on ABC. "If we do, it's going to be very hard to heal the party afterward."
Also Monday, Obama's former pastor, whose words rocked the campaign for weeks, spoke at length in Washington, and far from retracting any earlier comments, he added fuel to the fire.
With the two Democratic senators locked in a bruising battle - one that could easily extend until the Democrats meet in Denver in late August to select a nominee - party activists increasingly fear that whoever ultimately prevails will emerge seriously weakened.
Dean did not say who should drop out, only that it should happen after the voters had their say in the primaries, which end June 3.
"This is not about Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama," Dean said. "This is about our country."
He added: "If it's time for them to go, they'll know it."
In an interview with NBC, referring to the presumptive Republican nominee, Dean said, "The only way John McCain wins this race is if Democrats are not united."
Obama retains a lead in committed delegates and popular votes, but Clinton's hopes were raised by a 9-point victory in Pennsylvania on April 22. Both candidates see the Indiana primary on Tuesday as potentially decisive. North Carolina also votes that day.
As Obama struggles to fend off Clinton's repeated charges, she has been helped by a firestorm surrounding Obama's former pastor, the Reverend Jeremiah Wright Jr. Wright's exhortation "God damn America" has been particularly damaging.
On Monday, at a time when the Wright controversy had receded a bit, the minister thrust himself back into the spotlight in an appearance at the National Press Club in Washington. Wright was funny, entertaining and provocative - but clearly not inclined to apologize or retreat.
Asked about his comment after the Sept. 11 terror attacks that the "chickens have come home to roost," he said, "You cannot do terrorism on other people and expect it never to come back on you."
He rejected suggestions that his association with Louis Farrakhan, the head of the Nation of Islam, meant he was anti-Semitic by association, but he also said Farrakhan was a black leader who could not be ignored.
When Farrakhan speaks, Wright added: "All black America listens. Whether they agree with him or not, they listen."
Asked about remarks that some critics have called unpatriotic, Wright bristled. He noted that he had spent six years in the military, then added, with a reference to the vice president: "How many years did Cheney serve?" Asked whether he might owe the American people an apology for his "God damn America" comment, Wright retorted simply, "No!" His disagreement, he said, was with governmental policies, not the American people.
Obama has denounced many of Wright's more controversial comments.
If Obama is elected, Wright said Monday, he himself would hold no mystical powers over the country's first black president. "I'm not a 'spiritual mentor' - hoodoo," he said. "I'm his pastor. And I said to Barack Obama last year, 'If you get elected, November the 5th I'm coming after you, because you'll be representing a government whose policies grind under people.' All right?"
Wright also said he hoped that the controversy over his relationship with Obama would help the country move toward more enlightened attitudes.
Centuries of slavery and discrimination have given black churches a special focus on the themes of liberation and transformation, he said, and forced them to do so largely out of view of white Americans. Thus, he said, some whites might find his sermons unsettling.
But perhaps, he said, "this dialogue on race can move the people of faith in this country from various stages of alienation and marginalization to the exciting possibility of reconciliation."
5) An Old Newness
By Thomas Sowell
Many years ago, a great hitter named Paul Warner was nearing the end of his long career. He entered a ballgame with 2,999 hits -- one hit away from the landmark total of 3,000, which so many hitters want to reach, but which relatively few actually do reach.
Warner hit a ball that the fielder did not handle cleanly but the official scorer called it a hit, making it Warner's 3,000th. Paul Warner then sent word to the official scorer that he did not want that questionable hit to be the one that put him over the top.
The official scorer reversed himself and called it an error. Later Paul Warner got a clean hit for number 3,000.
What reminded me of this is the great fervor that many seem to feel over the prospect of the first black President of the United States.
No doubt it is only a matter of time before there is a black president, just as it was only a matter of time before Paul Warner got his 3,000th hit. The issue is whether we want to reach that landmark so badly that we are willing to overlook how questionably that landmark is reached.
Paul Warner had too much pride to accept a scratch hit. Choosing a President of the United States is a lot more momentous than a baseball record. We the voters need to have far more concern about who we put in that office that holds the destiny of a nation and of generations yet unborn.
There is no reason why someone as arrogant, foolishly clever and ultimately dangerous as Barack Obama should become president -- especially not at a time when the threat of international terrorists with nuclear weapons looms over 300 million Americans.
Many people seem to regard elections as occasions for venting emotions, like cheering for your favorite team or choosing a Homecoming Queen.
The three leading candidates for their party's nomination are being discussed in terms of their demographics -- race, sex and age -- as if that is what the job is about.
One of the painful aspects of studying great catastrophes of the past is discovering how many times people were preoccupied with trivialities when they were teetering on the edge of doom. The demographics of the presidency are far less important than the momentous weight of responsibility that office carries.
Just the power to nominate federal judges to trial courts and appellate courts across the country, including the Supreme Court, can have an enormous impact for decades to come. There is no point feeling outraged by things done by federal judges, if you vote on the basis of emotion for those who appoint them.
Barack Obama has already indicated that he wants judges who make social policy instead of just applying the law. He has already tried to stop young violent criminals from being tried as adults.
Although Senator Obama has presented himself as the candidate of new things -- using the mantra of "change" endlessly -- the cold fact is that virtually everything he says about domestic policy is straight out of the 1960s and virtually everything he says about foreign policy is straight out of the 1930s.
Protecting criminals, attacking business, increasing government spending, promoting a sense of envy and grievance, raising taxes on people who are productive and subsidizing those who are not -- all this is a re-run of the 1960s.
We paid a terrible price for such 1960s notions in the years that followed, in the form of soaring crime rates, double-digit inflation and double-digit unemployment. During the 1960s, ghettos across the countries were ravaged by riots from which many have not fully recovered to this day.
The violence and destruction were concentrated not where there was the greatest poverty or injustice but where there were the most liberal politicians, promoting grievances and hamstringing the police.
Internationally, the approach that Senator Obama proposes -- including the media magic of meetings between heads of state -- was tried during the 1930s. That approach, in the name of peace, is what led to the most catastrophic war in human history.
Everything seems new to those too young to remember the old and too ignorant of history to have heard about it.