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Saturday, October 18, 2008

The Palin Plunge: Voters Sour On McCain VP Pick

The more voters learn about Sarah Palin, the more wary they become. Once the focus of post-convention Republican euphoria, the Alaska Governor is now viewed as a serious liability to the McCain campaign.
As it stands, Palin's polling numbers are daunting: with the unfolding economic crisis, her favorable to unfavorable ratings have switched from a positive 40-30, according to a September 12-16 New York Times survey, to a negative 32-41 in an October 10-13 survey.
Palin is, additionally, costing McCain newspaper endorsements. Editor and Publisher calculated that as of Oct 18, Barack Obama led McCain 58-16 in the competition for the backing of newspapers. Many of the endorsements cited Palin as a factor in their rejection of McCain. The Salt Lake Tribune, which supported George W. Bush in 2004, commented that "out of nowhere, and without proper vetting, the impetuous McCain picked Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate. She quickly proved grievously under-equipped to step into the presidency should McCain, at 72 and with a history of health problems, die in office. More than any single factor, McCain's bad judgment in choosing the inarticulate, insular and ethically challenged Palin disqualifies him for the presidency." The Kansas City Star, in turn, described Palin as "unqualified."
Brookings Senior Fellow Thomas Mann told the Huffington Post that initially, Palin both built conservative enthusiasm for McCain and drew widespread interest among voters who had not been closely following the race. But those benefits soon evanesced:
"Within weeks, she became a liability, primarily as a highly visible indicator of McCain's impulsiveness and recklessness in picking someone who is patently unqualified to serve as president and commander-in-chief. McCain's only chance of making this election competitive was to contrast his readiness to serve with Obama's inexperience and naiveté. The Palin choice was the first clear sign (others followed) that McCain could not win that comparison."

Frank Luntz: Obama will be next president

HBO's Bill Maher talked with Republican pollster Frank Luntz about his prediction for the outcome of the 2008 presidential race.

Grandmother sues McCain for hate speech

A Kansas City grandmother is suing John McCain and Sarah Palin for promoting hate speech. Mary Kay Green told KSHB that some statements at McCain campaign rallies terrify her as much as the assassination of John F. Kennedy. "I know the secret service is on this case, but John McCain and Sarah Palin can stop some of this by a statement that they abhor these death threats and will not tolerate them," said Green. The 66-year-old civil attorney, a lifelong Democrat, claims in the suit that the McCain campaign has intentionally and recklessly portrayed Barack Obama as a terrorist.Green said, "You have to take these things seriously."


So, take it from Joe the plumber, if you want a president who will put middle class families first - join me in voting for Barack Obama

Obama Launches Own Joe-The-Plumber Robocall
Barack Obama's campaign is trotting out its own "Joe the Plumber" to counteract efforts by John McCain to make inroads on the white working class vote.
A reader in Colorado sends over word that the state Democratic Party and the Obama camp are blasting out robocalls from "Joe Martinez," a plumber in Colorado who vouches for the Illinois Democrat's tax plan.
The script goes like this (note: may be an error in transcription):
"...During this week's debate, Barack Obama talked about cutting taxes for middle class families like mine, lowering health care costs for everyone and bringing the change we need in Washington. John McCain ignored the issues and used the debate to launch false attacks against Barack Obama. In fact, McCain - for the third debate in a row - didn't even say the words 'middle class'. So, take it from Joe the plumber, if you want a president who will put middle class families first - join me in voting for Barack Obama. Paid for by the Colorado Democratic Party...."
The calls are noticeably positive in message compared to those currently being made by the RNC and McCain camp tying Obama to former Weather Underground member Bill Ayers. They also reflect the Obama campaign ethos, which dictates that they compete with their opposition on every political front: even if it means matching an opposition plumber with a plumber of your own.
A spokesman for the Colorado Democratic Party confirmed the robocall and said he would try to track down audio.

A profane and crazed tirade using "n***er" and other shock language."

According to the election analysis site FiveThirtyEight.com, some Pennsylvanians have complained about a call that impersonates Barack Obama and includes racial epithets:
"Over in Indiana, PA and Northern Cambria, PA, volunteers fielded complaints of a massive wave of ugly robocalls both paid for by John McCain's campaign and those paid for by third parties. The third party call was interactive, and purported to be from Barack Obama himself. The call starts out reasonably, and then "Obama" asks what the listener thinks is the most important issue. Whatever the response, "Obama" then launches into a profane and crazed tirade using "n***er" and other shock language."
If anyone has received this call, please send us an email so we can follow up.

2004: Bush

** 2008: OBAMA **

The Denver Post, "which had backed George W. Bush in 2004 and is owned by Republican-leaning William Dean Singleton," endorsed Barack Obama for president on Friday. "So did the Chicago Sun-Times, Kansas City Star. Southwest News-Herald (Ill.) and the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. And to top it off: another Bush-backing in 2004, The Salt Lake Tribune."
The Obama campaign has posted excerpts from all the recent endorsements.
Greg Mitchell has more:
In E&P's exclusive count, Obama now leads 58-16 in editorial endorsements. Check out our running list, updated Friday, here.
Colorodo, of course, is a key swing state. Georgia is also now, surprisingly, in play and the Atlanta paper is the state's largest.
The Salt Lake paper complained that "out of nowhere, and without proper vetting, the impetuous McCain picked Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate. She quickly proved grievously underequipped to step into the presidency should McCain, at 72 and with a history of health problems, die in office. More than any single factor, McCain's bad judgment in choosing the inarticulate, insular and ethically challenged Palin disqualifies him for the presidency.
"Still, we have compelling reasons for endorsing Obama on his merits alone. Under the most intense scrutiny and attacks from both parties, Obama has shown the temperament, judgment, intellect and political acumen that are essential in a president that would lead the United States out of the crises created by President Bush, a complicit Congress and our own apathy."
The Kansas City paper also hit McCain hard for choosing an "unqualfied" running mate.
* * *

100,000 IN ST. LOUIS

Barack Obama drew a crowd of 100,000 at a rally near the Gateway Arch in St. Louis on Saturday, the AP reports. McCain spent the day campaigning in North Carolina.
The focus on the stump Saturday for both Obama and McCain continued to be taxes, and the candidates traded sharp criticisms of each other's plans.
More from the AP:
McCain, trailing in the polls, fired the first volley, likening his rival to the socialist leaders of Europe and saying he wanted to "convert the IRS into a giant welfare agency, redistributing massive amounts of wealth at the direction of politicians in Washington."
McCain added, "Raising taxes on some in order to give checks to others is not a tax cut; it's just another government giveaway."
Obama responded a few hours later in appearance before an enormous crowd, saying his Republican rival "wants to cut taxes for the same people who have already been making out like bandits, in some cases literally."
"John McCain is so out of touch with the struggles you are facing that he must be the first politician in history to call a tax cut for working people 'welfare,'" Obama said.

Thousands march in Baghdad against U.S. pact

Source: Reuters
Thousands march in Baghdad against U.S. pact
By Peter Graff Peter Graff – 25 mins ago

Play Video Video: Packing Up FOX News BAGHDAD (Reuters) – Thousands of followers of anti-American cleric Moqtada al-Sadr took to the streets on Saturday in a demonstration against a pact that would allow U.S. forces to stay in Iraq for three more years.

Marchers waved Iraqi flags and chanted "Yes, yes Iraq! No, no to the occupation!"

"It is a peaceful demonstration, demanding that the occupier leave and the government not sign the pact," Ahmed al-Masoudi, a Sadrist member of parliament, told Reuters.

Demonstrators set fire to a U.S. flag, but the atmosphere appeared mostly peaceful.

Iraqi authorities said the demonstration was authorized and security had been increased to protect the protesters, who were marching from Sadr's stronghold of Sadr City in the east of the capital to a nearby public square at a university. LinkHere

“The stinging accusations like what on our part?” Palin asked.

GOP vice-presidential hopeful Sarah Palin defended John McCain’s economic plan and the overall tone of the campaign in a feisty interview with WMUR in Manchester, N.H.

During the sit-down Wednesday, the Alaska governor wasn’t her perky self while answering several questions, including a discussion of the current market turmoil. WMUR anchor Jennifer Vaughn asked about how the Republican ticket would fund its newly proposed initiatives, given the proposals include tax cuts at a time when revenues already are slowing because of economic conditions. McCain proposed a new set of tax cuts this week totaling $52.8 billion, in addition to the $700 billion federal bailout package.

“The economy is slow and revenue is not coming in like it does during good times,” Vaughn said. “How can you really explain how this plan will work?”

“Really?” asked Palin. She went on to explain that revenue shouldn’t be coming into the government at this time. Rather, she said, that money is better spent by the businesses and individuals themselves. “We shouldn’t worry about government not having enough money. Government’s got plenty of money,” she said. “It’s a matter of how government prioritizes the expenditures of those public dollars.”

Pro-Obama (group of 562) rabbis rip McCain campaign for "hate speech"

Source: JTA

A pro-Obama group of rabbis says recent statements by the McCain-Palin campaign are “creeping toward hate speech.”

In a statement released Thursday, the group of 562 rabbis said that “increasingly those speaking on behalf of the McCain campaign have been demonizing Senator Obama as not being like us.”

As an example, the organization notes that a sherriff recently emphasized Barack Obama’s middle name of Hussein when warming up the crowd at a campaign rally and that Palin recently said Obama has been “palling around with terrorists.”

The statement criticizes the Republican Jewish Coalition for putting “forward a list of people known to be hostile to Israel” and then “dishonestly” suggesting that these people shaped Obama’s views on the subject. “The RJC approach harkens back to the classic Republican red baiting tactics of Joe McCarthy and Richard Nixon from the early fifties,” the group said in a statement.

VA claims found in piles to be shredded

Source: Army Times

VA claims found in piles to be shredded
By Rick Maze - Staff writer
Posted : Friday Oct 17, 2008 5:55:32 EDT

Department of Veterans Affairs regional offices have been ordered to immediately stop shredding documents after an investigation found some benefits claims and supporting documents among piles of papers waiting to be destroyed.

Claims often include personal records supplied by veterans that are not duplicated in government files and might be difficult to replace, such as certificates for births, deaths and marriage.

In a statement, VA Secretary James Peake said only a handful of documents were found among piles of documents set aside to be shredded. But he is not pleased.


“The VA inspector general conducted a routine investigation of Detroit’s mailroom and discovered five documents in the shredder bin, then three pieces are found in St. Louis, two in Waco, and some more in St. Petersburg,” he said. “The question that begs to be asked and answered is how many veterans had their disability and compensation claims disappear down a paper shredder?”

A simple choice: The nation needs Barack Obama in the White House (Salt Lake Tribune)

Tribune Editorial
Article Last Updated: 10/17/2008 08:06:04 PM MDT
The next U.S. president will lead a nation that remains embroiled in two wars and is beset by an economic meltdown more severe than any since the Great Depression.
By necessity, the country's next commander in chief must also be its mender in chief, capable of inspiring his angry and divided constituents to join together in a recovery project to restore the peace, prosperity, and self-confidence we once knew.
We fear that a lesser effort may be insufficient to reverse America's slide toward economic, political and societal chaos. The times require dramatic and comprehensive change.
The presidential candidates know it, and have made it their mantra.
Most Americans know it, and, in growing numbers, are demanding it.
The countries that have long depended upon the United States for enlightened global leadership long for it.
For the sake of all, and for those who follow us, we must have it.
The editorial board of The Salt Lake Tribune believes that Barack Obama can deliver it.
Indeed, we see too many of Bush's failed policies in McCain's recipe for recovery. The country desperately needs a new and well-defined road map for the 21st century and leadership that can unite the country behind it.
We believe that Barack Obama can give us both.

Steal Back Your Vote

Iraq Vet With Brain Injury Speaks In Devastating Senate Ad

Tom Udall, the Democratic running for the open U.S Senate seat in New Mexico, released an ad on Thursday that may be remembered as the most poignant and moving of the cycle.
Entitled "Humbled," the spot features the testimony of Army Sergeant Erik Schei, who was gravely injured by in Iraq and is now forced to communicate through a speaking aid. Describing how he was hit by sniper fire, he recounts:
"The doctors said I wouldn't survive. But I am still here. And I am getting better. I want to thank Tom Udall for getting more funding for treatment of brain trauma for veterans. For me, that means...everything."

Biden Blasts Palin's "Pro-America" Comments: "I'm Tired Of Implications About Patriotism"

MESILLA, N.M. — Democratic vice presidential candidate Joe Biden mocked rival Sarah Palin's comment in North Carolina that she loves visiting "pro-America" parts of the country, arguing that the entire nation is patriotic.
"Ladies and gentlemen, I have never been to a state that hasn't sent its sons and daughters to serve its country," Biden said Friday in New Mexico as the crowd booed Palin's reported comments. "It doesn't matter where you live, we all love this country. And I hope it gets through that one of the reasons why Barack (Obama) and I are running is that we know how damaging the policy of division ... has been.
"We are one nation, under God, indivisible," Biden shouted to the crowd. "We are all patriotic, we all love this country."
According to published reports, Palin told a North Carolina fundraiser Thursday that the best of America was not in Washington, D.C., but in small towns like the one in Alaska where she served as mayor.
"Being here with all of you hardworking, very patriotic, um, very, um, pro-America areas of this great nation. This is where we find the kindness and the goodness and the courage of everyday Americans," the Republican vice presidential candidate said.
The Obama campaign issued a news release asking reporters what part of the country isn't pro-America.
While campaigning in New Mexico, Biden said Republican presidential nominee John McCain "has been bequeathed tactics of Karl Rove in the last few weeks" and warned that the final days of the campaign will get ugly.
Addressing a crowd of several hundred in the Old Mesilla plaza, Biden urged supporters to ignore what they hear from McCain and concentrate on the change that the Democratic ticket promises. "You're going to see some really tough stuff," Biden said.
New Mexico has become a critical battleground state where Democrats see a real shot of making up the narrow gap that gave the state to President Bush in 2004.
Biden said fewer than 6,000 votes separated Bush and Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry in the last election, a gap that could easily be made up with a strong showing in early voting.
"Our job isn't going to be done until you cast your ballot," Biden said. "It's going to take all of us here today."

Friday, October 17, 2008

John McCain On Letterman: "I Screwed Up" (VIDEO)

WATCH: GOP Rep. Channels McCarthy: Obama "Very Anti-American," Congressional Witch Hunt Needed

In an television appearance that outraged Democrats are already describing as Joseph McCarthy politics, Minnesota Rep. Michelle Bachmann claimed on Friday that Barack Obama and his wife Michelle held anti-American views and couldn't be trusted in the White House. She even called for the major newspapers of the country to investigate other members of Congress to "find out if they are pro-America or anti-America."
Appearing on MSNBC's Hardball, Bachmann went well off the reservation when it comes to leveling political charges against the Democratic nominee.
"If we look at the collection of friends that Barack Obama has had in his life," she said, "it calls into question what Barack Obama's true beliefs and values and thoughts are. His attitudes, values, and beliefs with Jeremiah Wright on his view of the United States...is negative; Bill Ayers, his negative view of the United States. We have seen one friend after another call into question his judgment -- but also, what it is that Barack Obama really believes?"
Goaded by a Chris Matthews to explain exactly what she was talking about (at one point Bachmann seemed to imply that liberalism was anti-Americanism), the congresswoman waded deeper into the mud.
"Remember it was Michele Obama who said she is only recently proud of her country and so these are very anti-American views," she said. "That's not the way that most Americans feel about our country. Most Americans are wild about America and they are very concerned to have a president who doesn't share those values." LinkHere
Katrina Vanden Heuvel Responds to Bachman's Call for McCarthy like Investigation of Members of Congress


GOP Senator Condemns McCain Robocalls... McCain In 2000: "Hate Calls"

his efforts to attack Barack Obama, John McCain appears to have turned to the same political consulting firm that was responsible for spreading vicious smears about the Senator during the 2000 South Carolina GOP primary.
In recent days, the Huffington Post and other outlets have reported on the McCain-funded nationwide robocall campaign charging that Barack Obama "worked closely with" former 60s radical William Ayers. Another RNC/McCain campaign call states that Obama is a "celebrity" politician who was fundraising in Hollywood during the financial crisis.
On Friday, a recipient of one of those calls, Chris Shoff of Minnesota, said that he had tied the origins of the campaign to the St. Paul-based firm FLS-Connect, run by prominent GOP figure Jeff Larson.
This past week, Shoff, a Freeborn, Minnesota Democratic County Commissioner, received the Hollywood call while at work. Because state law dictates that any such calls be made by an actual human, Shoff demanded that he be connected to the supervisor. That official, who worked at the robocall shop King TeleServices in Brooklyn, New York, said that they had been contracted out by FLS-Connect.
Officials with King TeleServices did not respond to messages seeking comment.
Asked about the connection to King TeleServices, a receptionist for FLS relayed a message from her supervisors that implicitly acknowledged that they have been working on behalf of the Arizona Republican: "If it is having to do with the McCain campaign or the RNC, you will have to direct your question to them."
According to campaign finance reports, the RNC has paid the firm more than $8 million this cycle. On Friday, Minnesota Democrats stated in a press release that FLS-Connect "may be behind the [RNC/McCain phone campaign]."
Any tie between the McCain campaign and FLS represents an ironic twist of fate and a reflection of just how far the Arizona Republican has moved politically in the last eight years. During the 2000 election, FLS and Larson helped then-presidential candidate George W. Bush smear McCain during the now-infamous South Carolina primary. As the Washington Post reported in April 30, 2000:
"The advocacy calls for George W. Bush's campaign that became an issue in this year's South Carolina GOP primary were developed by Feather, Hodges, Larson & Synhorst [FLS]. The firm maintains seven phone banks and 500 phones scattered from Phoenix to Minnesota. South Carolina, home of the Bush blitz, is one of the firm's "best" phone centers, said partner Jeff Larson. "Military wives from all over the country make calls for us there." "Phones are great," he said, "because you can change your message right away." With better voter lists and a new trend toward recorded messages, today's political calls are "narrowcast"--antiabortion activists will hear one script, voters in one small area will hear directly from a local pol. "It's a blossoming business." LinkHere

Palin Explains What Parts Of Country Not "Pro-America"

The McCain campaign is seeking to clarify a remark reported from a Sarah Palin fundraiser in North Carolina yesterday in which the Alaska Governor declared that she loved to visit the "pro-America" areas of the country -- implying, implicitly, that there were some parts of the United States she viewed as not pro-America.

Palin's 'One of You' Pretense Insults Voters' Intelligence

Palin's 'One of You' Pretense Insults Voters' Intelligence
Molly Green, 10.17.2008
Should Palin be elected, she, like President Bush, would be used as a blank page to serve the purposes of those in power behind the scenes, those upon whom she is totally dependent for counsel.

An internal investigation by the popular online market Intrade has revealed that an investor’s purchases prompted “unusual” price swings that boosted the prediction that Sen. John McCain will become president.
Over the past several weeks, the investor has pushed hundreds of thousands of dollars into one of Intrade’s predictive markets for the presidential election, the company said.
“The trading that caused the unusual price movements and discrepancies was principally due to a single ‘institutional’ member on Intrade,” said the company’s chief executive, John Delaney, in a statement released Thursday. “We have been in contact with the firm on a number of occasions. I have spoken to those involved personally.”
After the internal investigation into the trading patterns, Intrade found no wrongdoing or violation of its exchange rules, according to the company.
Citing privacy policies, Delaney would not disclose the investor’s identity or whether the investor was affiliated with any political campaign.
According to Delaney the investor was using “increased depth” in the Intrade market “to manage certain risks.” The action boosted the McCain prediction over its previous market value and above the levels of competing predictive-market Web sites.
Pundits and politicians have used Intrade to track the fortunes of the two presidential candidates. Through the site, begun in 1999 and incorporated in Ireland, traders buy and sell “contracts” that function as stocks, allowing investors to gamble on the outcome of political, cultural, or even geological events such as the weather.
The company asserts and experts have found that the Intrade market is generally more accurate in predicting the outcome of major events than other leading indicators, including public opinion polls. But the relatively small scale of the market and its lack of outside regulation could leave the system vulnerable to unscrupulous investors, scholars of predictive markets say.
Justin Wolfers, an associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, said the trades in question do not follow any logical investment strategy.
“Who knows who’s doing it, it’s obviously someone who wants good news for McCain,” said Wolfers, who has been following the situation closely.
McCain campaign spokesman Michael Goldfarb said: “It’s always a good time to buy McCain.”
Ripple Effects
Intrade users first noticed something amiss when a series of large purchases running counter to market predictions sparked volatility in the prices of John McCain and Barack Obama contracts.
Trader Drove Up Price of McCain ‘Stock’ in Online Market
The investor under scrutiny purchased large blocks of McCain futures at once, boosting their price and increasing the prediction that McCain had a greater chance of winning the presidential election. At other times, according to Intrade’s online records, blocks of Obama futures were sold — lowering the market’s prediction about Obama’s standing in the race.
According to Intrade bulletin boards and market histories, smaller investors swept in to take advantage of what they saw as price discrepancies caused by the market shifts — quickly returning the Obama and McCain futures prices to their previous value.
This resulted in losses for the investor and profits for the small investors who followed the patterns to take maximum advantage.
The activities of the trader, dubbed the “rogue trader” on Intrade’s message boards, raised several questions.
For example, the trader purchased large contracts named specifically after McCain and Obama. There were no similar-sized investments, however, in separate instruments that predict a generic Republican or Democratic presidential win — even though both sets of contracts apply to the same event, prices show.
Some political news sites, such as realclearpolitics.org, prominently display Intrade’s McCain contract value but do not display the corresponding value for a Republican presidential win.
Similar trading patterns were not found in competing predictive market Web sites betting on John McCain , such as the Iowa Electronic Markets or Betfair. This means the trader was paying thousands of dollars more than necessary to purchase McCain contracts on Intrade, where the price of betting on McCain was much higher.
On Sept. 24, for example, Obama contracts were trading on Intrade at a price that predicts a 52 percent chance of an Obama victory. At the same time, Betfair and IEM contracts equated to about a 62 percent chance of an Obama victory, according to the political site fivethirtyeight.com.
Intrade records show the trader often purchased tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars of contracts in the middle of the night, when activity was at its lowest, and in large bursts.
In a three-day period from Sept. 30 through Oct. 2, four separate flurries of buying drove the price of the McCain contracts up by 3 to 5 points each. Those numbers eventually settled when the market compensated.
“These movements over McCain largely occurred at time when there was no way that any useful information came out that was pro-McCain,” Wolfers said. “A profit-motivated guy wants to buy his stock in a way that would minimize his impact on the price, a manipulator wants to maximize it.”
Rogue Tactics
According to Intrade, the company contacted the investor and used public and private data held by the company as part of its investigation. That included an analysis of the trades made by the investor, tracking of Internet addresses, checking physical addresses and other information.
Trader Drove Up Price of McCain ‘Stock’ in Online Market
Intrade released details about its investigation in a statement on its Web site.
Some Intrade users commented on the company’s message board that the trader may believe in McCain’s chances for victory, despite trends in recent public opinion polls. Indeed, bucking conventional wisdom can be a profit-making strategy.
For example, David Rothschild, a researcher and Ph.D. candidate at the Wharton School, said that during the first two presidential debates, the trader bet thousands of dollars on a McCain electoral victory at the same moment that instant polls were suggesting that Obama would win.
“That’s equivalent to buying a company’s stock just as negative earning reports come out,” Rothschild said. “It is a bad investment, but may make some observers think that Mr. McCain won the debate, which, again would be the goal of market manipulation.”
Also, the trader paid a premium of 10 percent to 20 percent on every dollar traded by not placing similar bets on other Web sites, according to Rothschild’s calculations.
Overall, if the trader’s motive was to influence the Intrade market, he was remarkably successful, Rothschild said. The trader’s actions help keep the probability of Obama winning the election on Intrade about 10 percent lower than Betfair and IEM for more than a month.
“If the investor did this as investment, not to manipulate Intrade, he is one of the most foolish investors in the world,” Rothschild said.
Drew Armstrong contributed to this story.
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Ali Velshi Speaks About CNN's Business Coverage, The American Job Market, And Why Barack Obama Is Stronger On The Economy Than John McCain

On Thursday, I talked to Velshi and asked him about his exchange with Zurawik, his thoughts on the coverage of the financial crisis, and which candidate he thought was stronger on the economy. He said that it's "absolutely true" that Barack Obama is stronger on the economy than John McCain and criticized McCain's inability to "come out with a cohesive message about how it is he's going to fix the economy":
Huffington Post: Can you evaluate the candidates' job creation proposals? Is one candidate stronger on the economy than the other? I know people seem to think that Obama is, but I'm not sure if that's necessarily objective.
Ali Velshi: Oh, it's absolutely true. It was sort of true the whole way along.
I'm completely stymied by how it is that John McCain continues to drop crumbs - and some of them are very smart crumbs - about what he plans to do. He did this with respect to what he wants to do with mortgages, he sort of dropped a crumb in the second debate and then somewhere along the line in a speech he said something about not penalizing people for having to withdraw money from their IRAs because they turned 70-and a half. It cannot come together as a total plan. It is quite remarkable. He's not been able to adjust in particular his health care stance.
Paper's first WH nod since '72, first Dem ever; Wash. Post backs Obama too.

On Friday, two dependable conservative organs backed Democrat Barack Obama for president.

I've decided," he said. "My conclusion comes after reading the candidates' memoirs and campaign platforms, attending both party conventions, interviewing both men multiple times, and watching all primary and general election debates.
"John McCain is an honorable man who has served his country well. But he will not get my vote. For the first time since registering as a Republican 28 years ago, I'm voting for a Democrat for president.
"I may have been an appointee in the George H.W. Bush administration, and master of ceremonies for George W. Bush in 2004, but last Saturday I stood amidst the crowd at an Obama event in North Philadelphia," says the Republican.
Then, the Chicago Tribune, a newspaper that has not endorsed a Democrat for president since it was founded in 1847, followed suit. From their editorial:
Many Americans say they're uneasy about Obama. He's pretty new to them.
We can provide some assurance. We have known Obama since he entered politics a dozen years ago. We have watched him, worked with him, argued with him as he rose from an effective state senator to an inspiring U.S. senator to the Democratic Party's nominee for president.
We have tremendous confidence in his intellectual rigor, his moral compass and his ability to make sound, thoughtful, careful decisions. He is ready.
It may have seemed audacious for Obama to start his campaign in Springfield, invoking Lincoln. We think, given the opportunity to hold this nation's most powerful office, he will prove it wasn't so audacious after all. We are proud to add Barack Obama's name to Lincoln's in the list of people the Tribune has endorsed for president of the United States. LinkHere

Supreme Court Rejects GOP's Ohio Voter Challenge

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court sided Friday with Ohio's top elections official in a dispute with the state Republican Party over voter registrations.
The justices overruled a federal appeals court that had ordered Ohio's top elections official to do more to help counties verify voter eligibility.
Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, a Democrat, faced a deadline of Friday to set up a system to provide local officials with names of newly registered voters whose driver's license numbers or Social Security numbers on voter registration forms don't match records in other government databases.
Ohio Republicans contended the information for counties would help prevent fraud. Brunner said the GOP is trying to disenfranchise voters.
In a brief unsigned opinion, the justices said they were not commenting on whether Ohio is complying with a provision of the Help America Vote Act of 2002 that lays out requirements for verifying voter eligibility.
Instead, they said they were granting Brunner's request because it appears that the law does not allow private entities, like the Ohio GOP, to file suit to enforce the provision of the law at issue.
"They didn't deal with the merits of the case," said Ohio GOP Chairman Bob Bennett. "What they dealt with was a technicality on whether we had standing or not to bring the action."
About 200,000 of 666,000 voters who have registered in Ohio since Jan. 1 have records that don't match. Brunner has said the discrepancies most likely stem from innocent clerical errors rather than fraud but has set up a verification plan. LinkHere

BREAKING: U.S. Supreme Court throws out largest GOP "voter fraud" case involving ACORN, others

Well, isn't that interesting. The biggest Republican "voter fraud" cause, involving ACORN among others, just got thrown out by George Bush's conservative Republican US Supreme Court. And make no mistake - as one of the leading conservative publications, Human Events, pointed out yesterday, this case was all about ACORN:
The full 6th Circuit Court on Tuesday night decided in favor of the Ohio Republican Party in their suit requiring the use of government records to verify the identities and validity of the thousands of newly-registered voters by outside groups such as ACORN. Ohio’s Secretary of State, Democrat Jennifer Brunner, had previously refused that standard stating that she didn’t believe it was required by Ohio law. Brunner was also recently required by a federal court to turn over new voter registration data from county boards of elections for identity verification. The Ohio GOP tried to take away the voting rights of 200,000 voters in that state, after ACORN and others registered voters with misspelled names. George Bush's conservative Republican U.S. Supreme Court just took the side of Democrats in Ohio, and ACORN, and overturned a lower court's decision which took the side of the GOP. Ohio's Secretary of State appealed that earlier ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court -- and won:
The Supreme Court is siding with Ohio's top elections official in a dispute with the state Republican Party over voter registrations.The justices on Friday overruled a federal appeals court that had ordered Ohio's top elections official to do more to help counties verify voter eligibility.Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner, a Democrat, faced a deadline of Friday to set up a system to provide local officials with names of newly registered voters whose driver's license numbers or Social Security numbers on voter registration forms don't match records in other government databases.Nice work by the Ohio Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner. The GOP does everything possible to suppress the vote. Today, the George Bush's conservative Republican U.S. Supreme Court suppressed the GOP and told the nation, the only fraud is the Republican party. LinkHere
The current spate of trumped-up allegations of "voter fraud" coming from John McCain's campaign and his Republican allies and the FBI's decision to investigate represents exactly the same sort of politicization of justice that is at the root of an ongoing investigation into the firing of federal prosecutors, Barack Obama's campaign alleges.Obama attorney Bob Bauer has asked Attorney General Michael Mukasey to expand the authority of the special prosecutor appointed to investigate the US Attorney firings to also include the fraud allegations. The campaign released a seven-page letter (.pdf) Bauer wrote to Mukasey on Friday requesting the investigation."Now, on the emerging evidence of recent conduct undertaken by Bush Administration officials, Republican Party officials, and representatives of the McCain-Palin campaign," he wrote, "it appears that further misconduct of the same nature, directly relevant to the work of the Special Prosecutor, requires that the scope of the Special Prosecutor's assignment be expanded."Bauer cites the case of former US Attorney David Iglesias, who represented the District of New Mexico until 2006. Bush administration officials reportedly conspired to sack Iglesias in part because of his unwillingness to bring specious voter-fraud charges before an election. Iglesias this week called the voter fraud investigations a scare tactic and said he was shocked to see the FBI was pursuing an investigation based on similarly unmerited accusations of fraud. On a conference call with reporters Friday, Bauer slammed the "illicit involvement of senior law enforcement officials" in leaking the details of the so-called fraud investigation. The Obama lawyer noted that the leak came "literally within 24 hours" of McCain's statement at Wednesday night's debate that ACORN was threatening the "fabric of our democracy."The McCain campaign has turned attacking ACORN into a central theme of its campaign in recent weeks, with vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin continuing the assault at a rally in Ohio on Friday. The community organization, witch which Obama has previously been involved, has produced a relatively small number of inaccurate registration forms in connection with its drive to sign up a million new voters, but it has not been registering voters directly on Obama's behalf and there's no evidence that it's actions in this or any previous election cycle have led to widespread voter fraud.Bauer said the "reckless and incendiary" attacks from the McCain campaign were aimed more at intimidating voters than at ferreting out fraud. ACORN primarily registered low-income and minority voters, and voting rights advocates fear those voters might not turn out on Election Day to avoid potential harassment at the polls.The Supreme Court also delivered a setback to the GOP on Friday, ruling against Ohio Republicans who have been feuding with the Secretary of State over registration rules.

Bill Kristol: Elizabeth Dole Is Going To Lose

Bill Kristol basically treats as fact an incumbent Republican Senator's defeat, saying that "just because Elizabeth Dole is going to lose in North Carolina" doesn't mean McCain will. Watch:

Bill Kristol on Elizabeth Dole


AIG to continue lobbying lawmakers despite bail-out

Source: Financial Times

AIG to continue lobbying lawmakers despite bail-out
By Stephanie Kirchgaessner in Washington and Francesco,Guerrera and Saskia Scholtes in New York

Published: October 13 2008 03:00 Last updated: October 13 2008 03:00

AIG has no plans to suspend lobbying activities in Washington, in spite of the US government's unprecedented $85bn bail-out of the insurance group.

The company, which is coming under intense pressure in Congress to rein in excessive spending, said it would continue to lobby members of Congress because it was important for the company and its shareholders to keep tabs on legislative activities in Washington.

"We will still operate our government affairs activity, watching the legislative process to figure out what the impact on our business will be," AIG said.

AIG has spent more than $16m since January 2007 lobbying the government on issues ranging from housing laws to financial regulation.

While the bulk of its -lobbying activity has been performed in-house, the -company has also spent millions of dollars on outside lobbyists. Wayne Berman, the veteran lobbyist and -fundraiser who serves as -co-chair to presidential -candidate John McCain's finance committee, served as a lobbyist for AIG as late as June of this year, generating $50,000 in fees for Ogilvy, his lobbying company.

Top GOP Fund-Raiser Tied to Iraq Fuel Contract

Source: NYT

The Democratic chairman of a House investigative committee presented documents to the Pentagon on Thursday alleging that a top Republican fund-raiser, Harry Sargeant III, has made tens of millions of dollars in profits over the last four years because his contracting company vastly overcharged for deliveries of fuel to American air bases in Iraq.

Mr. Sargeant, who is the finance chairman of the Florida Republican Party and a major fund-raiser for Senator John McCain, did not immediately return several messages left for him on Thursday, but in the past he has denied any improprieties on the part of the the company, International Oil Trading Company, known as I.O.T.C.

The company was briefly in the news over the summer when a former partner filed a lawsuit against Mr. Sargeant in a Florida circuit court. The former partner, a Jordanian named Mohammad al-Saleh, is the brother-in-law of the King of Jordan, and the court papers laid out what Mr. Saleh claimed was a seamy tale in which he obtained special governmental authorizations for the company to transport the fuel through Jordan and was then unlawfully forced out by Mr. Sargeant, who strongly disputed those allegations.

But the latest claims of impropriety by the company go much further. In a letter addressed to Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, by Henry A. Waxman, the California Democrat who is chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, Mr. Waxman uses emails, company documents, Pentagon reports and other information to make the case that Mr. Sargeant repeatedly received contracts to deliver the fuel even though his company was never the lowest bidder for the work.

In one case, Mr. Waxman’s letter asserts, Mr. Sargeant’s company was actually the highest of six bids but received the contract anyway. In fact, Pentagon contracting officers complained that the company’s prices were unreasonably high and initially said they could not justify giving the work to Mr. Sargeant. But for reasons the company was never able to explain, Mr. Waxman’s letter indicates, no other American company was given an authorization to transport the fuel through Jordan. And when United States Central Command declared that the need for the fuel was urgent, the Pentagon was forced to award the contract to Mr. Sargeant’s company.

Fox News' Kelly mocked ACORN for accurate statement about Florida registration law

Uneducated Dumb Blond, typical Faux mouth piece

Summary: Fox News' Megyn Kelly mocked ACORN's statement that it was required under Florida law to submit a voter registration form filed under the name "Mickey Mouse" to the Orange County, Florida, board of elections. In fact, Florida law calls for entities withholding voter registration forms to face a fine of $1,000 for each registration they withhold.


GOP Site Endorses E-mail Smears, Said 'Waterboard Obama'

The website of a local California Republican party has posted a message openly calling for the torture of Barack Obama, while reporting as fact a slew of long-ago debunked smears targeting the Democratic presidential candidate.
The Sacramento County Republican Party hosted a graphic this week comparing Obama to Osama bin Laden, with the caption "The only difference between Obama and Osama is BS,"The Sacramento Bee reports. The text of the graphic adds, "Waterboard Barack Obama."
That image was removed Tuesday in response to inquiries from the newspaper, but the site continues to report false claims, quotes and images about Obama, including the assertion that he snubbed troops on a visit to the Middle East, and that he refuses to say the Pledge of Allegiance.
E-mail smears have targeted Obama's patriotism since his presidential run began, but the Sacramento website appears to be the first case of the smears being openly adopted by an official GOP organization. The attacks come as polling shows voters growing increasingly impatient with the perceived negative tone of Obama rival John McCain's campaign, following attacks seeking to link Obama to a former 1960's radical.
Hitting the patriotism button is a time-honored political tactic to undermine support for the other side among Republican party professionals, says Stefan Forbes, a moviemaker who recently completed "Boogieman: The Lee Atwater Story," a film that documents such tactics. "But this time around, it may be that the global meltdown might overcome that, and that's the interesting thing," says Forbes.

Joe “the Plumber” Wurzelbacher related to Charles “the Crook” Keating. Oops.

October 15th, 2008 . by Marty
John McCain did great tonight in the debate. But every time John mentioned “Joe the Plumber,” some of us in the campaign banged our heads against the wall. If Steve Schmidt had any hair left, I hear he would have been pulling it out tonight. He reportedly screamed at John’s debate prep team tonight (out of earshot of reporters, of course). “You idiots - he’s related to Charles Keating… of the Keating Five scandal!” They thought they had a real live Joe Six-Pack who’s spurned Barack Obama’s tax plan. But what they forgot to do was check on Joe Wurzelbacher’s background.
Turns out that Joe Wurzelbacher from the Toledo event is a close relative of Robert Wurzelbacher of Milford, Ohio. Who’s Robert Wurzelbacher? Only Charles Keating’s son-in-law and the former senior vice president of American Continental, the parent company of the infamous Lincoln Savings and Loan. The now retired elder Wurzelbacher is also a major contributor to Republican causes giving well over $10,000 in the last few years.
Does any of this make Joe the Plumber a bad guy? Of course not. In fact, after that ill-fated night at the Watergate, he may finally be giving plumbers a good name. But at a debate where John goes full bore on Obama for guilt-by-association with William Ayers (and dodges a bullet by Obama not mentioning Keating Five), the press is going to bring it back front and center by midday tomorrow once they delve deeper into the most popular plumber in America.

Obama Explains His Tax Cut Plans To Plumbing Business Owner


ACORN Fires Back, Claims McCain Ignored Impending Crisis

FBI: McCain Camp ACORN Statement "Too Political For Us To Be Involved"
Late Thursday afternoon, McCain campaign manager Rick Davis sent out a statement seeking to piggy-back on the news that the FBI has opened a nationwide investigation into the voter registration fraud allegedly committed by the community organizing group ACORN.
"Given the fact the FBI has launched a nationwide investigation into the questionable voter registration practices of ACORN, it is imperative that Barack Obama's campaign cooperate fully with this important investigation," Davis wrote in the email, which was blasted out to reporters. Declaring that Obama should "fully disclose the true nature of his association" with the group, Davis went on to cite a familiar trope: the $832,000 paid by Obama's campaign to an ACORN affiliate for "get out the vote" operations during the primary season. Though the Obama campaign originally mis-reported some of its payments to Citizens Services, the ACORN affiliate in question, it already amended its Federal Elections Commission filings in August and September.
Davis's memo also appeared to go on a fishing expedition, as it demanded that Obama provide "total disclosure" of "any and all" information the Obama campaign may have related to ACORN's database of registered voters compiled during this election cycle -- something it's not clear the Obama campaign would have any working knowledge about.
So we wondered, how interested is the FBI in acquiring information about the Obama campaign's payments to an ACORN affiliate that no one has accused of being connected to the fraudulent voter registrations?
The Huffington Post reached FBI spokesman Richard Kalko by phone, who at first said he would have no comment about the ACORN investigation. (No surprise.)
But when told that the McCain campaign had sent out a memo alleging that Barack Obama had critical information to the case, Kalko asked for more details.
"When did they send that out?" he asked. When told it was a fresh release, Kalko asked the Huffington Post to forward him Davis's statement. "I'd like to take a look at that," Kalko said. "Though I don't want to get your hopes up that I'll comment."
Moments later, Kalko emailed back, writing: "We have no comment on this issue."
Reached again by phone and asked whether Davis's release would be taken seriously as an investigatory matter, Kalko merely said: "It's just too political for us to be involved. We're just going to hide under our desks over here. Sorry."

McCain Defends His Own Association With Unrepentant Criminal: It's Ok, He Went To Jail

After weeks of hammering Barack Obama for having an association with a former Weather Undergound member, John McCain was asked Thursday afternoon about his own connections to a past felon: G. Gordon Liddy.
The question came, of all places, from late night comedian David Letterman, who pressed the Senator to explain why he was friendly with the man who was convicted in the Watergate scandal of conspiracy, burglary, and illegal wiretapping. McCain - according to an advanced report of the show - initially said that he "met" Liddy before adding, "He paid his debt, he went to prison, he paid his debt."
Later in the segment, McCain praised Liddy's "adherence to the principles and philosophies that keep our nation great," said he was "proud" of Liddy, before chiding Letterman: "it's always a pleasure for me to come on your program."
And yet, important to note in all of this, is that Liddy has been publicly unrepentant for his actions, much like Ayers. In an interview with the UK Independent Liddy said he didn't regret burglarizing the offices of the Democratic National Committee.
In addition to the burglary - for which he served a four-and-a-half year sentence - Liddy broke into the office of Daniel Ellsberg, the military analyst who leaked the Pentagon Papers. He also admitted to plotting both the murder of journalist Jack Anderson - a harsh Nixon critic - and the firebombing of the Brookings Institute.

Hell!!!!!and I thought the last eight years were bad, God Help us all

Crazy McCain Rally Lady Skit On SNL (VIDEO)

Playing off the recent outburst against Obama at a McCain-Palin rally by Gayle Quinnell, who said she's read of Obama "that he was an Arab," Thursday night's edition of "Saturday Night Live," featured a skit in which a crazy McCain-Palin supporter in a red t-shirt wandered onto the set of "Weekend Update" to proclaim such things as Barack Obama "is 50% Egyptian, he's going to change the White House to a pyramid."
Watch the skit:

Barack Obama for President

Friday, October 17, 2008; Page A24
THE NOMINATING process this year produced two unusually talented and qualified presidential candidates. There are few public figures we have respected more over the years than Sen. John McCain. Yet it is without ambivalence that we endorse Sen. Barack Obama for president.
The choice is made easy in part by Mr. McCain's disappointing campaign, above all his irresponsible selection of a running mate who is not ready to be president. It is made easy in larger part, though, because of our admiration for Mr. Obama and the impressive qualities he has shown during this long race. Yes, we have reservations and concerns, almost inevitably, given Mr. Obama's relatively brief experience in national politics. But we also have enormous hopes.
Mr. Obama is a man of supple intelligence, with a nuanced grasp of complex issues and evident skill at conciliation and consensus-building. At home, we believe, he would respond to the economic crisis with a healthy respect for markets tempered by justified dismay over rising inequality and an understanding of the need for focused regulation. Abroad, the best evidence suggests that he would seek to maintain U.S. leadership and engagement, continue the fight against terrorists, and wage vigorous diplomacy on behalf of U.S. values and interests. Mr. Obama has the potential to become a great president. Given the enormous problems he would confront from his first day in office, and the damage wrought over the past eight years, we would settle for very good.

Joe Biden On "Tonight Show"

Democratic vice presidential nominee Joe Biden calls McCain a longtime friend, but he said Thursday the Republican presidential candidate just isn't himself at this stage of the campaign.
"He seems a little more angry than he usually is," Biden told Jay Leno on NBC's "The Tonight Show," after Leno said McCain was making odd facial expressions during his debate Wednesday night with Democrat Barack Obama.
"John doesn't seem comfortable right now," Biden added.
"I don't think John is comfortable with the negative stuff in the advertising" being run by his campaign, Biden said at another point.
Biden, a Delaware senator, made a brief stop on Leno's stage in Burbank on his way to a fundraiser in Los Angeles. The two chatted about the economic crisis, the Iraq war and developments on the campaign trail as Nov. 4 closes in.
Biden has a reputation for verbal gaffes, and he assured Leno he'd be providing more fodder for late-night talk shows. Leno ribbed him about a slip-up at a rally in Ohio on Wednesday, when Biden referred to "a three-letter word: jobs. J-O-B-S."
"I suspect I'll make a whole lot more," Biden said.
He credited Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin with driving up viewership of their debate, the second most-watched political matchup ever.
"I was a bit player in that debate," Biden concluded.
The 65-year-old Biden joked about his age, while poking at McCain, 72, who if elected would become the oldest first-term American president.
"The only guy older than me is John," he said.WATCH BIDEN ON LENO


RNC Mailer: What Does Obama Want From Islamic Terrorists?

In addition to launching a massive robocall campaign raising Obama's past association with Bill Ayers as a campaign issue, the Republican National Committee is out with a vicious attack mailer suggesting that the Democratic nominee is not just soft on terror, but willing to talk to terrorist leaders.
In a pamphlet forwarded to the Huffington Post by a Virginia reader, the RNC claims that Obama "thinks terrorists just need a good talking to." Obama has never said such a thing. Rather, he has discussed the need to open up diplomatic dialogues with heads of state, whether friends or foe.
The first page of the mailer contains a shot of a individuals standing at an airport window with a large plane outside -- obviously designed to evoke memories of the 9/11 hijackings.
"Terrorists Don't Care Who They Hurt," it reads.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Slipping Backwards: The Loss of Two Journalists of Color at the Chicago Sun-Times Reflects the Growing Whitewashing of the News

Teresa Puente's bad day started when she learned that Deborah Douglas, her colleague on the Chicago Sun-Times' editorial board, and the last African-American voice on the board, had been laid off. Her day got worse when she found out that Douglas wasn't the only one to get the boot; Puente herself was out too.
With that, the five-person board was down to three, all of them white, purporting to speak for a city of almost three million, 60 percent of them people of color.
Why the cuts? Because the Sun-Times has found itself caught in the slow and painful drip-drip-drip of a newspaper on life support. It laid off 20% of its newsroom in January. It got kicked off the New York Stock Exchange in June because its stock value had fallen below a dollar (that value is now less than a dime). In the name of "innovation" it has redesigned itself so many times it's hard to recognize one month to the next. Lately, the largest item on the cover has been for a promotional sweepstakes. It's become one of those papers.

Voting for Obama anyway

I just got an astounding e-mail from a Republican consultant I know well. He's a guy who's always thought Obama had a "glass jaw," and was always among those agitating for hitting Obama harder.
Recently, he conducted a focus group in an upper-Midwestern state, showing them the kind of ad he thought would work: A no-holds-barred attack, cut for an independent group, which hasn't aired.
I'm just going to reprint his amazed e-mail about the focus group:
Reagan Dems and Independents. Call them blue-collar plus. Slightly more Target than Walmart. Yes, the spot worked. Yes, they believed the charges against Obama. Yes, they actually think he's too liberal, consorts with bad people and WON'T BE A GOOD PRESIDENT...but they STILL don't give a f***. They said right out, "He won't do anything better than McCain" but they're STILL voting for Obama.The two most unreal moments of my professional life of watching focus groups:54 year-old white male, voted Kerry '04, Bush '00, Dole '96, hunter, NASCAR fan...hard for Obama said: "I'm gonna hate him the minute I vote for him. He's gonna be a bad president. But I won't ever vote for another god-damn Republican. I want the government to take over all of Wall Street and bankers and the car companies and Wal-Mart run this county like we used to when Reagan was President."The next was a woman, late 50s, Democrat but strongly pro-life. Loved B. and H. Clinton, loved Bush in 2000. "Well, I don't know much about this terrorist group Barack used to be in with that Weather guy but I'm sick of paying for health insurance at work and that's why I'm supporting Barack."I felt like I was taking crazy pills. I sat on the other side of the glass and realized...this really is the Apocalypse. The Seventh Seal is broken and its time for eight years of pure, delicious crazy....
By Ben Smith 11:51 AM

US-Iraq Withdrawal Plan Reached... Mirrors Obama's Plan

Obama's Iraq plans vindicated as US agrees to pull out by 2011
By Patrick Cockburn in Baghdad Thursday, 16 October 2008
Iraq and the United States have finally agreed on a security pact which would mean that US forces would withdraw from Iraq by 2011, American and Iraqi officials said yesterday.
The accord became a major test of strength between the Iraqi government and Washington since negotiations began in March with the Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki, pictured below, demanding US concessions on the date of the troop withdrawal and immunity for US troops. The pact replaces the UN Security Council resolution enacted after the American invasion of 2003.
The agreement still needs to be approved by the council of Iraqi leaders, the cabinet and the Iraqi parliament. Mr Maliki saw the highly influential Shia religious leader, the Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, last week and was assured that he would not stand in the way of the pact if approved by parliament.
The accord has been on the verge of being signed several times in the past only for fresh objections to be made by the Iraqi government, which has become increasingly confident of its own strength. A compromise has been reached on whether or not US troops can be tried by an Iraqi court if they commit crimes while not engaged in operations. US troops are to withdraw from Iraqi towns and villages by the middle of next year and from Iraq entirely by the middle of 2011 said the government's spokesman, Ali Dabbagh.
He said: "The withdrawal is to be achieved in three years. In 2011, the government at that time will determine whether it needs a new pact or not, and what type of pact will depend on the challenges it faces."
The US administration will present the pact as a sign of its success in Iraq but in fact the accord is very different from originally envisaged by Washington which would largely have continued the occupation as before.
President Bush was opposed to timelines or dates for an American withdrawal and the US is still stressing that this is conditional on improved security in Iraq. But it is unlikely that the Shia majority will want to share power with the US.
Iraqi politicians have always assumed that Washington's insistence on signing a new accord before the presidential election was motivated by the White House's hope that the accord would be seen as a sign that its Iraq policy had at last produced a success. The Republican contender, Senator John McCain, started off his campaign by saying that US troops might stay for 100 years and there should be no date for their withdrawal. The Democratic candidate, Senator Barack Obama, wants combat troops home by the middle of 2010, which was also the date originally proposed by Mr Maliki.
Iraq has faded as an issue in the presidential election as the financial crisis worsened. However, claims that the Republicans had won a victory in Iraq looked increasingly unreal as it became clear that a withdrawal date would be determined by Mr Maliki, and not by the US.
The US has given ground on crucial issues. On the legal immunity of American troops Mr Dabbagh said: "Inside their bases, they will be under American law. Iraqi judicial law will be implemented in case these forces commit a serious and deliberate felony outside their military bases and when off duty." Contractors, who have more men in Iraq than the US army, will no longer have immunity. LinkHere


The McCain-Palin campaign and the Republican National Committee launched a massive robocall campaign on Thursday designed to alarm voters about Barack Obama's past association with former radical Bill Ayers. The committee may be violating state law in the process.
The call begins: "Hello. I'm calling for John McCain and the RNC," before telling recipients that they "need to know that Barack Obama has worked closely with domestic terrorist, Bill Ayers, whose organization bombed the U.S. Capitol, the Pentagon, a judge's home, and killed Americans."
More remarkable than the message (coming after a presidential debate in which John McCain said he didn't care about a "washed up terrorist") is the reach of the campaign itself. The Huffington Post received dozens of emails from voters who had either received the call or gotten a voice mail with a recording. Reports came from Ohio, Colorado, New Mexico, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Missouri, North Carolina, Florida, Texas and Maine.
Two readers in Minnesota also reported receiving the call, which could be a violation of that state's laws. Explains Shaun Dakin, CEO & Founder of the National Political Do Not Contact Registry:
"Most robocalls are supposed to have two things, "paid for by X" and a phone number of the group making the call. Most do that. Now, that being said, there are some states that have their own robocall laws and they are much stricter. Minnesota pretty much bans robocalls entirely unless they are introduced by a human voice. And that pretty much never happens because it defeats the point."
The RNC did not immediately return request for comment. Here's audio of the call:


McCain Mockingly Suggests That Concerns For A Mother's Health Are Extreme

McCain Mock Women's "HEALTH"

Cecile Richards, the president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, weighs in:
"Tonight, John McCain showed he doesn't care about women's health when he described protecting "the health of the woman" as "extreme." John McCain doesn't seem to understand that women's health matters. He blatantly showed that he doesn't trust women to decide what is in the best interest of their own health. Barack Obama, on the other hand, stood up for women's health."

Milbank: Secret Service Blocking Reporters At Palin Rallies

It was kind of strange, dintcha think, that John McCain came to the defense of his supporters last night after Barack Obama pointed out that people at McCain/Palin rallies were shouting out "terrorist" and "kill him!" in reference to Obama. Via Romenesko, the Washington Post's Dana Milbank reveals in an online chat that the Secret Service is stopping people reporters from interviewing people at Palin rallies:
Arlington, Va.: The Secret Service has now labeled the "kill him" report as unfounded. Why isn't The Post giving this report as much coverage as the original false report received?
Dana Milbank:
Glad you asked, because I saw this earlier. This is actually about the incident in Scranton, not the one in Clearwater, Fla, that I wrote about here.
I wasn't at the Scranton event, but I have to say the Secret Service is in dangerous territory here. In cooperation with the Palin campaign, they've started preventing reporters from leaving the press section to interview people in the crowd. This is a serious violation of their duty -- protecting the protectee -- and gets into assisting with the political aspirations of the candidate. It also often makes it impossible for reporters to get into the crowd to question the people who say vulgar things. So they prevent reporters from getting near the people doing the shouting, then claim it's unfounded because the reporters can't get close enough to identify the person.
Misconceptions of Obama fuel Republican campaign - 13 Oct 08

It was kind of strange, dintcha think, that John McCain came to the defense of his supporters last night after Barack Obama pointed out that people at McCain/Palin rallies were shouting out "terrorist" and "kill him!" in reference to Obama.
Now an Al Jazeera camera crew caught the honest sentiments of McCain/Palin supporters at an Ohio rally:

GOP Mailing Depicts Obama Surrounded By Watermelon And Bucket Of Fried Chicken

The latest newsletter by an Inland Republican women's group depicts Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama surrounded by a watermelon, ribs and a bucket of fried chicken, prompting outrage in political circles.
The October newsletter by the Chaffey Community Republican Women, Federated says if Obama is elected his image will appear on food stamps -- instead of dollar bills like other presidents. The statement is followed by an illustration of "Obama Bucks" -- a phony $10 bill featuring Obama's face on a donkey's body, labeled "United States Food Stamps."
Read the whole story here.
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