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Hillary Has Played The Nuclear Option

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As predicted here — worst case — Hillary Clinton has exercised the nuclear option. In an act of supreme idiocy and divisiveness, she has put her own narrow interest ahead of party and country.

As I write the rules committee is voting an imperfect but just solution to Florida and Michigan.

The Clinton forces in the meeting are spazzing out, Obama forces would be doing the same if they lost.

Barack will get the nomination this week over the potentially discredited being of his opponent.

Will she exercise this option that her hit man Harold Ickes has shamefully threatened?

If she does, I devoutly hope it will lead to one of the most justifiable political humiliations ever.


SALIENT FOOTNOTE: HOW BARACK WON


Obama’s campaign mastered some of the most arcane rules in politics, and then used them to foil a front-runner who seemed to have every advantage — money, fame and a husband who had essentially run the Democratic Party for eight years as president.

“Without a doubt, their understanding of the nominating process was one of the keys to their success,” said Tad Devine, a Democratic strategist not aligned with either candidate. “They understood the nuances of it and approached it at a strategic level that the Clinton campaign did not.”

Careful planning is one reason why Obama is emerging as the nominee as the Democratic Party prepares for its final three primaries, Puerto Rico on Sunday and Montana and South Dakota on Tuesday. Attributing his success only to soaring speeches and prodigious fundraising ignores a critical part of contest.

Obama used the Democrats’ system of awarding delegates to limit his losses in states won by Clinton while maximizing gains in states he carried. Clinton, meanwhile, conserved her resources by essentially conceding states that favored Obama, including many states that held caucuses instead of primaries.

In a stark example, Obama’s victory in Kansas wiped out the gains made by Clinton for winning New Jersey, even though New Jersey had three times as many delegates at stake. Obama did it by winning big in Kansas while keeping the vote relatively close in New Jersey.

The research effort was headed by Jeffrey Berman, Obama’s press-shy national director of delegate operations. Berman, who also tracked delegates in former Rep. Dick Gephardt’s presidential bids, spent the better part of 2007 analyzing delegate opportunities for Obama.

And from across the pond.

Hillary Clinton will be offered a dignified exit from the presidential race and the prospect of a place in Barack Obama’s cabinet under plans for a “negotiated surrender” of her White House ambitions being drawn up by Senator Obama’s aides.

The former First Lady would get the chance to pilot Mr Obama’s reforms of the American healthcare system if she agrees to clear the path to his nomination as Democratic presidential candidate.

Senior figures in the Obama camp have told Democrat colleagues that the offer to Mrs Clinton of a cabinet post as health secretary or to steer new legislation through the Senate will be a central element of their peace overtures to the New York senator.

Mr Obama said on Thursday that he believed he would have secured the support of enough delegates to make him the standard bearer of his party in November’s presidential election by the end of this week.

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Obama Trinity Resignation Reported

UPDATE: The decision has been confirmed. This was being considered for some time. I do not regard church membership as essential to following the Way of Abba which Jesus announced. I see Barack as a pivotal figure theologically and feel that I anticipated the coming of the time we are now in in my book Abba’s Way, written three years ago. In a press conference explaining the decision, Barack made it clear he practices his Christian understanding daily and said it might be January before the Obamas found a new church.

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I say bravo. Not because Barack Obama has formally cut ties with his congregation. But because of what I take this to mean theologically. I see Barack as a Christian who believes first and foremost that being decent out in the world is the main job of a Christian.

People are ASSUMING this is the truth, as it has only been reported on a blog. Replying to my request, the blogger identified himself as a veteran journalist and his source as reliable. I assume the campaign will confirm this.

If he has resigned, fine.

If not, there would be no reason why he should not.

You will find why I think this in my book Beyond Creed: From Religion to Spirituality.

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DNC Rules Meeting Updating All Day

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I’ll be keeping this page open for comments and observations on the DNC Rules Committee meeting now beginning in DC.

Howard Dean spoke well but has given the word extraordinary the best workout it’s had in years.

It all comes down to whether Hillary is serious about closing this out and what the party will do if she is not.

Your civil comments on the topic of this meeting are welcome.

I’ve created an event — a Meeting of Obama Supporters next Saturday in Manhattan. Details.

As of noon Eastern, no actions. A likely willingness to seat Florida with half votes and with a delegate edge of 19 to Clinton.

Michigan is up to make a presentation before the committee breaks for lunch. I will be surprised if Michigan’s conduct is held in the same positive light as Florida’s.

The Obama position is a bargaining point making more likely a compromise between HC’s proposal and Obama’s. I think the Michigan proposal is too porous but it is possible the Obama folk will accept it to compel the Clinton side to accept it as well, which it may not do. As I have always felt, Michigan could be more than a problem.

The Obama checkmate would be to accept the HC position if she accepts the results of today with no further contest. Back to the underlying suspense.

Hillary has played the nuclear option in response to sensible resolution by the Rules Committee. Her troops were barely civil as the end came. Harold Ickes was unconvincing in the role of an authority on rules, but well cast as a thug.

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McCain Stumbles, Flip-Flops on Iraq

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Amazingly the public appears to believe John McCain is the better candidate on national security. What if he was unable to determine whether our troops in Iraq are now at pre-surge levels?

Since John McCain says they are at pre-surge levels and adds that Barack Obama is uninstructed on Iraq, we may conclude that the American public is giving McCain a most permissive pass.

McCain is ignorant about the basic facts in Iraq.

If that is not the case, then he is being given false information on his teleprompter.

McCain also says in a disparaging tone that he is prepared to educate Barack on Iraq. And he then makes an issue of Barack not having been in Iraq for many moons.

John was there recently but proved unable to remember whether the commanding guy there needs protection when he goes out. Along with other things.

John is a flip flopper — a newly caught perch on concrete in the sun. Wrong about the surge. Wrong about Iraq. Wrong about his qualifications to lead.

Here is documentation of the surge facts and and of Obama’s actual position on Iraq.

Obama Response to McCain Understanding of “Pre-Surge”

The McCain campaign released the following statement in defense of Senator McCain’s comments that “we have drawn down to pre-surge levels” in Iraq:

Clearly John Kerry and Barack Obama have very little understanding of troop levels, but considering Barack Obama hasn’t been to Iraq in 873 days and has never had a one on one meeting with General Petraeus, it isn’t a surprise to anyone that he demonstrates weak leadership. What informed people understand, John McCain included, is that American troops are not even close to Surge levels. Three of the five Army ‘Surge’ brigades have been withdrawn and additional Marines that were initially deployed for the ‘Surge’ have come home as well – the remaining two brigades will be home in July. Talk about a political stunt, it’s sending out campaign surrogates to parse words about a topic Barack Obama has no experience with, and has shown zero interest in learning about.

In response Obama campaign spokesman Hari Sevugan released the following statement…

The McCain campaign still can’t explain why John McCain could be so clearly and factually wrong in stating that our troops are at ‘pre-surge’ levels. They are not, and anyone who wants to be Commander-in-Chief should know better before launching divisive political attacks. Once again, Senator McCain has shown that he is far more interested in stubbornly making the case for continuing a failed policy in Iraq than in getting the facts right.


Documentation of Barack Obama’s Statement:

Q General, coming back to Iraq and the troop numbers, so what you’re saying is by the time we get to the end of July, we’re going to be at 140,000, which looks to me like we’re still talking about significantly higher than pre-surge levels in Iraq. Am I reading that correctly?

GEN. HAM: Yes.

We started the surge at about 132 in January of 2007. So with the surge forces that went in, we’ve focused principally on the five brigade combat teams, but it was much more than that. There was an additional division headquarters, additional aviation, military police, logistics, the detention. The transfer of responsibility for detention operations has not progressed as rapidly as we would like to the Iraqis, so there’s a need to have that force sustained as well.

So, yes, it is bigger. It is, by the end of July, bigger than when we started this surge. That’s for sure.


Barack Refutes McCain on The Surge

Barack Obama’s Plan for Ending the War in Iraq

“But conventional thinking in Washington lined up for war. The pundits judged the political winds to be blowing in the direction of the President. Despite – or perhaps because of how much experience they had in Washington, too many politicians feared looking weak and failed to ask hard questions. Too many took the President at his word instead of reading the intelligence for themselves. Congress gave the President the authority to go to war. Our only opportunity to stop the war was lost.

“I made a different judgment. I thought our priority had to be finishing the fight in Afghanistan. I spoke out against what I called ‘a rash war’ in Iraq. I worried about, ‘an occupation of undetermined length, with undetermined costs, and undetermined consequences.’ The full accounting of those costs and consequences will only be known to history. But the picture is beginning to come into focus.”

—Barack Obama, Clinton, Iowa, September 12, 2007

The Problem

The Surge: The goal of the surge was to create space for Iraq’s political leaders to reach an agreement to end Iraq’s civil war. At great cost, our troops have helped reduce violence in some areas of Iraq, but even those reductions do not get us below the unsustainable levels of violence of mid-2006. Moreover, Iraq’s political leaders have made no progress in resolving the political differences at the heart of their civil war.

Military Strain:
The military is being severely strained by repeated and lengthy deployments. The Army and Marine Corps are facing a crisis as 40 percent of their equipment is either in Iraq or being repaired. This crisis has led many of our generals to conclude that current demands make our forces unable to rapidly respond to the contingencies we may face in the future.

Barack Obama’s Plan Judgment You Can Trust

As a candidate for the United States Senate in 2002, Obama put his political career on the line to oppose going to war in Iraq, and warned of “an occupation of undetermined length, with undetermined costs, and undetermined consequences.” Obama has been a consistent, principled and vocal opponent of the war in Iraq.

* In 2003 and 2004, he spoke out against the war on the campaign trail;
* In 2005, he called for a phased withdrawal of our troops;
* In 2006, he called for a timetable to remove our troops, a political solution within Iraq, and aggressive diplomacy with all of Iraq’s neighbors;
* In January 2007, he introduced legislation in the Senate to remove all of our combat troops from Iraq by March 2008.
* In September 2007, he laid out a detailed plan for how he will end the war as president.

Bringing Our Troops Home

Obama will immediately begin to remove our troops from Iraq. He will remove one to two combat brigades each month, and have all of our combat brigades out of Iraq within 16 months. Obama will make it clear that we will not build any permanent bases in Iraq. He will keep some troops in Iraq to protect our embassy and diplomats; if al Qaeda attempts to build a base within Iraq, he will keep troops in Iraq or elsewhere in the region to carry out targeted strikes on al Qaeda.

Press Iraq’s Leaders to Reconcile

The best way to press Iraq’s leaders to take responsibility for their future is to make it clear that we are leaving. As we remove our troops, Obama will engage representatives from all levels of Iraqi society – in and out of government – to seek a new accord on Iraq’s Constitution and governance. The United Nations will play a central role in this convention, which should not adjourn until a new national accord is reached addressing tough questions like federalism and oil revenue-sharing.

Regional Diplomacy

Obama will launch the most aggressive diplomatic effort in recent American history to reach a new compact on the stability of Iraq and the Middle East. This effort will include all of Iraq’s neighbors — including Iran and Syria. This compact will aim to secure Iraq’s borders; keep neighboring countries from meddling inside Iraq; isolate al Qaeda; support reconciliation among Iraq’s sectarian groups; and provide financial support for Iraq’s reconstruction.

Humanitarian Initiative

Obama believes that America has a moral and security responsibility to confront Iraq’s humanitarian crisis — two million Iraqis are refugees; two million more are displaced inside their own country. Obama will form an international working group to address this crisis. He will provide at least $2 billion to expand services to Iraqi refugees in neighboring countries, and ensure that Iraqis inside their own country can find a safe-haven.

Barack Obama’s Record

* Barack Obama opposed the war in Iraq from the beginning. In 2002, as the conventional thinking in Washington lined up for war, Obama had the judgment and courage to speak out against the war. He said the war would lead to “an occupation of undetermined length, with undetermined costs and undetermined consequences.” In January 2007, Obama introduced legislation to responsibly end the war in Iraq, with a phased withdrawal of troops engaged in combat operations.

* Obama has a plan to immediately begin withdrawing our troops engaged in combat operations at a pace of one or two brigades every month, to be completed by the end of next year. He would call for a new constitutional convention in Iraq, convened with the United Nations, which would not adjourn until Iraq’s leaders reach a new accord on reconciliation. He would use presidential leadership to surge our diplomacy with all of the nations of the region on behalf of a new regional security compact. And he would take immediate steps to confront the ongoing humanitarian disaster in Iraq.

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Obama Rightly Rejects Pfleger

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The quintessential immaturity of Father Pfleger has resulted in emails to me asking whether he is part of a plot to prejudice voters against Barack. My answer is that he is part of a movement which is increasingly irrelevant and whose hallmark in the 2000s is an immaturity that is unworthy of Pfleger, Wright and all others, Black, white, green or orange, who practice it.

The keyword for what is truly prophetic is universal. If there is a call to justice, it is a call to all.

Enemies of Pfleger and Wright and their mentors will simply take their immature rants as hateful attacks, boding all manner of real hostility. This interpretation has almost never been accurate.

In point of fact, Pfleger-Wright rants are cathartic evidences of profound pain that almost inevitably gets turned in upon the sayers and the community they address. A useless loop, unless a temporary amelioration of deep-seated rage is the object.

The only active evidence of playing out implicit rage threats are 40 year old efforts to alter our governance by violent means. Hardly an exclusively Black effort. Stupid then. Not likely to happen again.

Barack Obama is to be commended both for understanding the problem and rising above it and moving the nation beyond it.

No such commendation is due Father Pfleger and Reverend Wright. They are doing the dozens in liberation mode. It is shuck and jive. It has almost always been thus.

The serious argument of Black liberation theology is that it changes mindsets. Fine. I am all for that. But it has not changed mindsets enough to prevent a rising jail population and a rising educational scandal and the massive insult of placing a disproportionate number of the less privileged in harms way in Iraq.

Barack is changing mindsets more creatively than Black Liberation Theology and its continuing manifestation in cathartic rhetoric.

As I say, the cathartic rhetoric becomes fodder for the Sean Hannitys of the world. Even if there were substance to the dissing barrage, it is silly season stuff that anyone who seriously seeks change would smartly suppress. Immaturity is, unfortunately, not so easily repressed.

When Barack wins in November, if not before, he should join a congregation in DC.

Trinity took a huge hit at the hands of criminal-hate activity by FOX. I wish Wright had sued them for libel. Instead he chose the immaturity route. The Jonah route. Failing to see what the deity was actually up to.

Now Pfleger is being turned into a second Wright.

As if Pfleger is not smart enough to see this. Immaturity rampant. I know it. I have been there and done that.

The salient response of Pfleger and Wright should be to to shut up and get their heads straight and stop playing stupid and counterproductive games.

Prophetic is universal and the true prophet does not do cathartic rhetoric and side-taking.

I am not going to post Pfleger’s immature video here. I am going to post material about Barack’s unifying and truly prophetic campaign.

Reason. Truth. Change.

I saw Hamlet in Central Park last night. It has lost its power to be cathartic. In Aristotle’s terms, it is no longer a tragedy. It cannot elicit pity or fear.

What is truly cathartic now is a world beyond tragedy — one that is not built on coercive rhetoric from any quarter, but on the foundations of nonidolatry, helpfulness, democracy and tolerance.

The side-taking values manifested by Pfleger appeal to the lesser angels of our natures. It is time for Trinity and the UCC to have a minor backlash against this preemptive idiocy.

But regardless of what Trinity does, Barack will move on and his unity message will triumph and, instead of a hollow and guilt-tripping, 40-year-old liberation theology, we will have a contemporary theology which recognizes Abba within each person, which moves beyond war and which conciously values universalizing spirituality over proselytizing, divisive religion.

One final note.

Mainline Protestantism in the US was unable to change even when virtually all their leaders believed a true ecumenism that could unite the denominations was possible. We have witnessed the decline over 40 years. Trinity Church is part of this mainline. It is about as representative of the Black Church as Pastor Hagee is representative of all evangelical churches.

Cathartic Black liberation theology has been successfully addressed to the shrinking core of what is left of the liberal white mainline. There has been a ready audience for this.

But the audience is shrinking.

Barack is leading those of us who have longed for a way forward. We are going to win. And even if we should lose, there would be no going back to the false security of Father Pfleger’s scurrilious and immature catharsis rhetoric.

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Obama Challenges Foreign Meeting Smear

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The Republicans are in habitual smear mode. But this time around, they will always have to face a clarifying message from the Obama campaign. This season, the campaign has contended, the politics associated with the likes of Lee Atwater and Karl Rove will not fly. Witness the following clarity on Obama’s actual position on talking with foreign leaders.

Obama’s Consistent Position on Meeting with Foreign Leaders

May 29, 2008

RHETORIC: Obama hasn’t been clear about his policy regarding diplomacy with Iran.

REALITY: Obama has consistently said he is willing to meet, without preconditions but with preparation, the leaders of Iran. This could include, but is not limited to, Ahmadinejad. Ahmadinejad is not the most powerful person in Iran, and his status is uncertain as there will be Presidential elections in Iran in 2009.

OBAMA HAS SAID HE WOULD BE WILLING TO MEET WITH THE LEADERS OF IRAN

Obama Said He Would Be Willing To Meet Without Precondition With The Leaders Of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba, And North Korea.

Obama was asked “Would you be willing to meet separately, without precondition, during the first year of your administration, in Washington or anywhere else, with the leaders of Iran, Syria, Venezuela, Cuba and North Korea, in order to bridge the gap that divides our countries?” Obama responded, “I would. And the reason is this, that the notion that somehow not talking to countries is punishment to them — which has been the guiding diplomatic principle of this administration — is ridiculous.” [CNN, Youtube Debate, 7/24/07]

Obama Said He’d Be Willing To Meet Without Precondition The Leaders Of Iran.

Asked if he were still willing to meet without pre-condition during your first year with Fidel Castro, Kim Jung Il, Hugo Chavez, Obama said, “I do. Now, I did not say that I would be meeting with all of them. I said I’d be willing to. Obviously, there is a difference between pre-conditions and preparation. Pre-conditions, which was what the question was in that debate, means that we won’t meet with people unless they’ve already agreed to the very things that we expect to be meeting with them about. And obviously, when we say to Iran, ‘We won’t meet with you until you’ve agreed to all the terms that we’ve laid out,'” from their perspective that’s not a negotiation, that’s not a meeting.” [Meet the Press, 11/11/07]

Obama Said That He Would Be Willing To Meet With Iranian Leaders After Sufficient Preparation.

Obama said, “I would be willing to meet with Iranian leaders if we had done sufficient preparations for that meeting.” [CNN, 5/20/08]

Obama Said He’d Be Willing To Meet At Some Point With The Leaders Of Iran.

Obama said, “But what I have said is that at some point I would be willing to meet. And that is a position — I mean, what’s puzzling is that we view this as in any way controversial when this has been the history of U.S. diplomacy until very recently.” [Watertown, SD Press Avail, 5/16/08]

Obama Said The Approach He’s Suggesting Is Tough But Engaged Diplomacy Like What Was Carried Out By Kennedy, Nixon, And Reagan.

Obama said, “The approach I am suggesting, the tough but engaged diplomacy that I am suggesting is the kind that was carried out by John Kennedy, it was carried out by Richard Nixon, and it was carried out by Ronald Reagan. There is a strong bipartisan tradition of engaging in that kind of diplomacy. You mirror military strength with aggressive, effective, tough diplomacy. That’s what’s been lacking.” [Watertown, SD Press Avail, 5/16/08]

OBAMA IS WILLING TO MEET WITH AHMADINEJAD BUT AHMADINEJAD MAY NOT BE THE RIGHT PERSON SINCE HE’S NOT THE MOST POWERFUL PERSON IN IRAN AND MAY BE OUT OF POWER SHORTLY AFTER OBAMA TAKES OFFICE

Obama Said That He Would Be Willing To Meet With Iranian Leaders After Sufficient Preparation Had Been Done But Ahmadinejad Might Not Be The Right Person.

“Obama said Tuesday that ‘this obsession with Ahmadinejad is an example of us losing track of what’s important.’ ‘I would be willing to meet with Iranian leaders if we had done sufficient preparations for that meeting,’ Obama said. ‘Whether Ahmadinejad is the right person to meet with right now, we don’t even know how much power he is going to have a year from now. He is not the most powerful person in Iran.'” [CNN, 5/20/08]

Obama Said There Was No Reason Why He Would Necessarily Meet With Ahmadinejad Before We Know That He’s Actually In Power.

Obama said, “There’s no reason why we would necessarily meet with Ahmadinejad before we know that he was actually in power. He’s not the most powerful person in Iran.” [Reuters, 5/27/08]

Obama Said That Ahmadinejad Is Not The Most Powerful Leader In Iran So He Might Not Be The Person That We Would Meet With.

MS. KELLY: Senator, do you assume too much about men like Ahmadinejad? In other words, that you could reason with someone as irrational as he is? SEN. OBAMA: First of all, he’s not the most powerful leader in Iran, so he might not be the person that we would need to meet with. But more importantly, the reason that you have discussions and diplomacy is not because you assume reason or good motives on the other side. That would be naive. What you assume is that if you are very clear about the need to stand down on nuclear weapons, that you are very clear about the need to stop funding Hezbollah and Hamas and to stop threatening Israel, and you have engaged in those direct talks, and you’re listening about what their interests are, number one, we get a better sense of what their true interests are, number two, you have sent a message to the world that we are not the impediment of making progress, that they’re the ones who are holding up progress, which allows us then to strengthen our alliances to impose the kinds of tough sanctions that may be necessary to change their behavior. [Fox News, 5/20/08]

Obama Said He Would Not Restrict Meetings To Ahmadinejad But Would Also Seek To Meet With Clerics Who Are The Ultimate Authority.

“Obama’s response: ‘I would include Ahmadinejad to the extent that he is part of an Iranian government, but I would not restrict my meetings to him. I don’t know where he will be a year or year and a half from now.’ (Ahmadinejad could lose in 2009.) Obama said he would also seek to meet ‘with negotiators who may have more power than (Ahmadinejad), including the clerics who are the ultimate authority.'” [Philadelphia Inquirer, 4/17/08]

Obama Said Iran’s President Is Kind Of “Nutty” But He’s Not The Most Powerful Person In Iran.

“Obama in response to a question from a Sioux City voter about how he would negotiate with extremists in the Mideast, said, ‘When I talk to Iran, the president is kinda nutty, but he’s not the most powerful person.’ If the clerics who run Iran were willing to work with the U.S. against terrorists, stop funding terrorist organizations and not seek nuclear weapons Obama said he would consider easing sanctions.” [Chicago Sun Times, 1/2/08]

THE IRAQ STUDY GROUP RECOMMENDED MEETING WITH THE IRAN WITHOUT PRECONDITIONS, AT THE LEVEL OF SECRETARY OF STATE OR PRESIDENT

The Bi-Partisan Iraq Study Group Report Recommended That The U.S. Engage In Direct Diplomacy With Iran And Syria Without Preconditions.

“Dealing with Iran and Syria is controversial. Nevertheless, it is our view that in diplomacy, a nation can and should engage its adversaries and enemies to try to resolve conflicts and differences consistent with its own interests. Accordingly, the Support Group should actively engage Iran and Syria in its diplomatic dialogue, without preconditions.” [(PDF)Iraq Study Group Report]

THERE IS A DIFFERENCE BETWEEN PRECONDITIONS AND PREPARATION

Obama Has Been Explicit About The Need For Low Level Talks With A Presidential Summit Coming Only If There Were Progress In Those Negotiations.

“Obama has also been explicit about the need to start with lower-level talks, a presidential summit coming only if there were progress in those negotiations.” [Time, 5/22/08]

Obama Said That He Would Not Refuse To Meet Iran Until They Have Agreed To Every Position That We Want But He Would Have Preparation Starting With Lower Level Diplomatic Contacts.

“Preconditions, as applies to a country like Iran, for example, was a term of art, because this administration has been very clear that it will not have direct negotiations with Iran until Iran has met preconditions that are essentially what Iran views and many other observers would view as the subject of the negotiations. For example, their nuclear program. The point is, is that I would not refuse to meet until they agreed to every position that we want, but that doesn’t mean that we would not have preparation. And the preparation would involve starting with lower-level diplomatic contacts, having our diplomat core work through with Iranian counterparts an agenda.” [Watertown, SD Press Avail, 5/16/08]

Obama Said There Was A Difference Between Preparation And Preconditions.

The Kansas City Star reported, “‘The argument was that I would invite Hugo Chavez over to my house, and we’d pop open a beer and we’d start talking…That’s the lack of preparation. There’s no one that would meet another head of state without preparation. Preconditions refer to something specific. We’ve refused to talk to Iran until they meet preconditions.’ Obama admitted that his willingness to try a new approach to foreign policy was his way of rocking the political boat. ‘I’ve been trying to challenge some conventional wisdom,’ Obama said. ‘And the purveyors of conventional wisdom have gotten uncomfortable. I don’t mind that discomfort. I think our foreign policy is all messed up.'” [Kansas City Star, 8/20/07]

Obama: Nobody Expects You Would Meet with Hostile Leaders Without Having Done the Appropriate Groundwork.

Obama said, “Nobody expects that you would suddenly just sit down with them for coffee without having done the appropriate groundwork,” he said. “But the question was: Would you meet them without preconditions? And part of the Bush doctrine has been to say no.” [Washington Post, 7/27/07]

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Facts On Vets for Freedom Smear Ad

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The Vets for Freedom has status as a non-profit but I have pointed out earlier today that its status is at least questionable. It is mainly involved in a partisan effort to crush Barack Obama. Here is the campaign’s response to the Vets for Freedom onslought.

Fact Check on Vets for Freedom Ad

May 28, 2008

VETS FOR FREEDOM LED BY TOP MCCAIN CAMPAIGN ALLIES

Top McCain Officials Senator Lindsey Graham and Senator Joe Lieberman Were on the Board of Vets For Freedom, In Violation of McCain Campaign Policy. “Two of Sen. John McCain’s top campaign chairmen were until recently serving on the board of an independent organization that is behind a new attack ad against Sen. Barack Obama, an apparent violation of the Arizona Republican’s new conflict of interest policy.

Sens. Joseph Lieberman and Lindsey Graham both hold chairs for the McCain camp as well as positions on the board of advisers of Vets for Freedom, an advocacy group that supports the Iraq war. A week ago these titles may not have been a political issue. But under McCain’s newly-implemented ethics policy, Lieberman and Graham’s role with Vets for Freedom is now proving problematic. According to the policy: ‘No person with a McCain Campaign title or position may participate in a 527 or other independent entity that makes public communications that support or oppose any presidential candidate.'” [Huffington Post, 5/23/08]

McCain Advisors Also Linked to Vets For Freedom. McCain’s foreign policy adviser Max Boot also sits on the group’s board. Captain Wade Zirkle, who is a member of McCain’s Virginia Leadership Team, is listed on McCain’s website as both a member of the leadership team and Founder of Vets for Freedom. [Huffington Post, 5/23/08; http://www.exploremccain.com/Informing/News/PressReleases/4b329cfe-d02d-4ed1-91d6-9a0315c0dbbf.htm]

SCRIPT: “The last time Barack Obama visited Iraq was in January 2006. Since then, much has changed. Attacks throughout Iraq are down 70 percent.”

REALITY: Violence In Iraq Is Still At Unacceptably High Levels

2007 Was The Deadliest Yet For American Troops In Iraq. 901 Americans were killed in Iraq in 2007, the most of any year of the war. [Iraq Coalition Casualty Count]

National Intelligence Estimate: “The Level Of Overall Violence, Including Attacks On And Casualties Among Civilians, Remains High.” “The level of overall violence, including attacks on and casualties among civilians, remains high; Iraq’s sectarian groups remain unreconciled; AQI retains the ability to conduct high-profile attacks; and to date, Iraqi political leaders remain unable to govern effectively. There have been modest improvements in economic output, budget execution, and government finances but fundamental structural problems continue to prevent sustained progress in economic growth and living conditions.” [(PDF)National Intelligence Estimate, 8/23/07]

While Violence Has Dropped From Its Peak, The 2008 Level Is Still Unacceptable And Because Of Intra-Shi’a Violence Has Risen To Its Highest Level Since August 2007.

According to the Department of Defense, attacks have risen over the past few months, returning to mid-2005 levels of roughly 500 attacks per week. Meanwhile, according to Iraq’s interior, defense and health ministries, 923 civilians were killed in March 2008, making it the most violent month since August 2007. [(PDF)DOD, 3/7/08; Reuters, 4/1/08]

Civilian Casualties Appear To Be Well Over 200,000 – Roughly One Percent Of Iraq’s Population.

The World Health Organization (WHO) concludes that 150,000 Iraqi civilians were killed between April 2003 and the summer of 2006. Trend lines from other data suggest that today’s casualty figure is well over 200,000 people and more than one percent of Iraq’s total pre-war population. [New England Journal of Medicine, 1/31/08; Financial Times, 1/10/08; (PDF)Brookings Institution, 4/21/08]

SCRIPT: “The civil war in Iraq, over.”

REALITY: Civil War Is Not Over In Iraq

National Intelligence Estimate: Iraq Is Still Mired In Multiple Civil Wars.

“Political and security trajectories in Iraq continue to be driven primarily by Shi’a insecurity about retaining political dominance, widespread Sunni unwillingness to accept a diminished political status, factional rivalries within the sectarian communities resulting in armed conflict, and the actions of extremists such as AQI and elements of the Sadrist Jaysh al-Mahdi (JAM) militia that try to fuel sectarian violence.” [(PDF)National Intelligence Estimate, 8/23/07]

National Intelligence Estimate: The Shi’a Are Fighting Amongst Each Other In The South.

“Intra-Shi’a conflict involving factions competing for power and resources probably will intensify as Iraqis assume control of provincial security. In Basrah, violence has escalated with the drawdown of Coalition forces there. Local militias show few signs of reducing their competition for control of valuable oil resources and territory.” [(PDF)National Intelligence Estimate, 8/23/07]


SCRIPT: “The Iraqi government has come together to make political progress.”

REALITY: There Has Been Little Political Progress In Iraq

CAP: There Has Been Little Substantive Political Progress in Iraq.

“Iraq’s political transition remains stuck where it was in 2005, with no real advances on constitutional reform and worrisome unanswered questions on the implementation of three recently passed laws. The laws cited by supporters of keeping U.S. troops in Iraq indefinitely as remarkable legislative achievements—de-Baathification reform, a provincial powers law, and an amnesty law for detainees—do not by themselves represent a major step forward. As we know from the experience of our own country, the passage of legislation does not guarantee implementation.” [Center for American Progress, 4/08]

Provincial Elections Remain Mired in “Squabbling” In The Iraqi Parliament, Which Keeps Power From Being Shared More Equally.

“Iraqi politicians squabbled Monday over a provincial elections law and warned that differences over the bill are likely to delay for at least a month the crucial vote planned for this fall that could rearrange Iraq’s political map. The elections, which choose councils for Iraq’s 18 provinces, are seen as a key step in repairing the country’s sectarian rifts, particularly by opening the door for greater Sunni Arab political representation…The vote, which is supposed to be held by Oct. 1, could also shift the balance of power among Shiite factions. Followers of anti-U.S. cleric Muqtada al-Sadr are hoping to make large gains in southern provinces, where many of the councils are dominated by rival Shiite parties in the ruling government coalition. A delay in passing the law would mark a setback for U.S. efforts to get Iraqi politicians to overcome differences and hold the election… Iraq’s Independent Election Commission has said the law must be passed by June 1 for it to have time to organize the vote before the Oct. 1 deadline. A delay will mean parliament will have to pass a separate law pushing back the election to November or December. ‘We were promised that the law would finish on April 15, and that didn’t happen, then promised May 15, and that didn’t happen. Now we’re promised June 1. This is an embarrassing delay, and we hope it will be passed this week,’ said Qassim al-Aboudi, the commission’s executive director.” [AP, 5/27/08]

Baghdad Is Getting Only 9.7 Hours Of Electricity Per Day – A Fraction Of What It Was Getting Before The War.

Without a steady supply of power businesses have suffered. The original goal was to increase nationwide electrical output to 6,000 megawatts per day by mid-2004. Instead electricity is currently at 4,100. “Last July and August, massive blackouts stretched across parts of Baghdad. This summer could be worse because drought has cut in half power generated by hydroelectric plants. Add war, attacks on transmission lines, antiquated equipment, overdue maintenance and local corruption or bureaucracy and reliable electricity remains out of reach for most Iraqis.” [Brookings Institution, 4/21/08; USA Today, 4/27/08]

Iraq Is Experiencing A Windfall In Oil Revenue, But Iraq’s Leaders Fail To Spend On Reconstruction.

Special Inspector General for Iraq Stuart Bowen estimated that Iraqi oil revenues for 2007 would likely rise to about $60 billion, yet the Iraqi government has failed to draw on these soaring revenues for reconstruction. Meanwhile, the United States spent $8.6 billion on Iraq’s reconstruction in 2007. [AP, 3/11/08; NY Times, 1/16/08; (PDF)Congressional Research Service, 11/07/07]

NIE: The Iraqi Government Is Going In The Wrong Direction, But There Is No Viable Alternative To Prime Minister Maliki.

The IC assesses that the Iraqi Government will become more precarious over the next six to 12 months because of criticism by other members of the major Shi’a coalition (the Unified Iraqi Alliance, UIA), Grand Ayatollah Sistani, and other Sunni and Kurdish parties. Divisions between Maliki and the Sadrists have increased, and Shi’a factions have explored alternative coalitions aimed at constraining Maliki. The strains of the security situation and absence of key leaders have stalled internal political debates, slowed national decision-making, and increased Maliki’s vulnerability to alternative coalitions. We judge that Maliki will continue to benefit from recognition among Shi’a leaders that searching for a replacement could paralyze the government. [(PDF)National Intelligence Estimate, 8/23/07]

NIE: The Current Course Is Unlikely To Lead To Major Changes In Either The Political Or Security Situation.

“Broadly accepted political compromises required for sustained security, long-term political progress, and economic development are unlikely to emerge unless there is a fundamental shift in the factors driving Iraqi political and security developments.” [(PDF)National Intelligence Estimate, 8/23/07]

NIE: Sunnis Are Incapable Of Delivering On National Reconciliation.

The Sunni Arab community remains politically fragmented, and we see no prospective leaders that might engage in meaningful dialogue and deliver on national agreements. [(PDF)National Intelligence Estimate, 8/23/07]

Kurdish Actions May Make Agreement On An Oil Law Impossible, And The Administration Cannot Agree On Its Response.

The Kurdish Regional Government has signed a flurry of oil contracts without consulting Baghdad, and Iraqi Oil Minister Hussein Shahristani has responded by stating that, “[A]ny company that has signed contracts without the approval of the federal authority of Iraq will not have any chance of working with the government of Iraq.” The Kurdish Oil Minister retorted, “We don’t need his approval… Every time we hear the word ‘illegal,’ we sign two more contracts.” But among those signing oil contracts in Kurdistan, against the expressed wishes of the State Department, were Bush advisor Ray L. Hunt. [AFP, 11/15/07; Washington Post, 11/28/07]

The Constitutional Review Has Been Delayed For The Fourth Time And Is Now Running A Year Behind Schedule.

“Another major issue, the rewriting of Iraq’s constitution, is also unlikely to be completed by a Dec. 31 deadline. The head of the parliament’s constitutional review committee said yesterday he would request a three-month delay – the fourth time the target date for revision of the document, approved in a referendum in 2005, has been deferred as lawmakers haggle over such issues as provincial powers and religious and cultural freedoms. The constitutional revision delay could hinder progress on other issues the United States has cited as keys to Iraqi national reconciliation. Those include legislation to manage Iraq’s oil industry and scheduling of provincial elections to ensure better distribution of power among Shia Muslims and Sunnis. Both these are tied to constitutional revisions that would spell out the powers of regional governments and establish power of provinces to manage their own affairs.” [LA Times, 12/27/07]

SCRIPT: “Al Qaeda in Iraq has been decimated. And the Iraqi army is taking on rogue militias throughout the country.”

REALITY: Al Qaeda In Iraq Is Still A Tremendous Threat To American Forces

Annual Threat Assessment: Al Qaeda In Iraq “Probably Will Continue To Devote Some Effort Towards Honoring Bin Ladin’s Request In 2005 That AQI Attempt To Strike The United States.”

“Although the ongoing conflict in Iraq will likely absorb most of AQI’s resources over the next year, AQI has leveraged its broad external networks—including some reaching into Europe—in support of external operations. It probably will continue to devote some effort towards honoring Bin Ladin’s request in 2005 that AQI attempt to strike the United States, affirmed publicly by current AQI leader Abu Ayyub al-Masri in a November 2006 threat against the White House.” [Annual Threat Assessment of the Intelligence Community for the Senate Armed Services Committee,(PDF) 2/27/08]

Annual Threat Assessment: Al Qaeda In Iraq Capable of “Spectacular Attacks,” Remains “The Most Active And Capable Of The Sunni Extremist Groups Fighting Coalition And Iraqi Government Forces In Iraq.”

“AQI remains capable of conducting destabilizing operations and spectacular attacks despite disruptions of its networks. AQI remains a potent force and the most active and capable of the Sunni extremist groups fighting Coalition and Iraqi Government forces in Iraq.” [Annual Threat Assessment of the Intelligence Community for the Senate Armed Services Committee,(PDF) 2/27/08]

SCRIPT: “The surge worked. But Barack Obama wouldn’t know that. Because he hasn’t been there in over two years. Senator Obama, when will you go back to Iraq to see the progress firsthand.”

REALITY: Obama Has Said That While The Surge Could Help To Reduce Violence In Iraq, But Did Not Change The Political Dynamic In Iraq

Obama: Since the Surge “The Level Of Violence In Iraq Has Been Reduced…[Yet] The Iraqis Are Not Achieving The Political Progress Needed To End Their Civil War.”

Obama said in a speech, “In the year since President Bush announced the surge – the bloodiest year of the war for America – the level of violence in Iraq has been reduced. Our troops – including so many from Fort Bragg and Pope Air Force Base – have done a brilliant job under difficult circumstances. Yet while we have a General who has used improved tactics to reduce violence, we still have the wrong strategy. As General Petraeus has himself acknowledged, the Iraqis are not achieving the political progress needed to end their civil war. Beyond Iraq, our military is badly overstretched, and we have neither the strategy nor resources to deal with nearly every other national security challenge we face.” [Obama Speech, 3/19/08]

Obama: “The Stated Purpose Of The Surge Was To Enable Iraq’s Leaders To Reconcile…Violence Is Contained In Some Parts Of Baghdad. That’s No Surprise. Our Troops Have Cleared These Neighborhoods At Great Costs.”

Obama said in a speech, “The stated purpose of the surge was to enable Iraq’s leaders to reconcile. But as the recent report from the Government Accountability Office confirms, the Iraqis are not reconciling. Our troops fight and die in the 120 degree heat to give Iraq’s leaders space to agree, but they aren’t filling it. They are not moving beyond their centuries-old sectarian conflicts, they are falling further back into them. We hear a lot about how violence is down in parts of Anbar province. But this has little to do with the surge – it’s because Sunni tribal leaders made a political decision to turn against al Qaeda in Iraq. This only underscores the point – the solution in Iraq is political, it is not military. Violence is contained in some parts of Baghdad. That’s no surprise. Our troops have cleared these neighborhoods at great costs. But our troops cannot police Baghdad indefinitely – only Iraqis can. Rather than use our presence to make progress, the Iraqi government has put off taking responsibility – that’s the finding of a Commission headed by General Jim Jones. And our troop presence cannot be sustained without crippling our military’s ability to respond to other contingencies.” [Obama Speech, 9/12/07]

Obama Said That The Surge Was A “Tactical Victory Imposed Upon A Huge Strategic Blunder,” Said It Was a “Credit to Our Brave Men and Women in Uniform.”

Campbell Brown asked, “Senator Obama, in the same vein, you were also opposed to the surge from the beginning. Were you wrong?” Obama said, “Well, I think it is indisputable that we’ve seen violence reduced in Iraq. And that’s a credit to our brave men and women in uniform. In fact, you know, the 1st Cavalry, out of Fort Hood, played an enormous role in pushing back Al Qaida out of Baghdad. And, you know, we honor their service. But this is a tactical victory imposed upon a huge strategic blunder. And I think that, when we’re having a debate with John McCain, it is going to be much easier for the candidate who was opposed to the concept of invading Iraq in the first place to have a debate about the wisdom of that decision than having to argue about the tactics subsequent to the decision. [Debate, 2/21/08]

SCRIPT: “And when will you finally decide to meet one on one, unconditionally, with General Petraeus. This Iraqi veteran, along with thousands of others, would like to know. I am specialist Kate Norley and I served 16 months in Iraq as a combat medic.”

REALITY: Obama Has Questioned Petraeus On Iraq, Praised Petraeus

Obama Has Questioned Petraeus Twice; Obama Praised Petraeus For “Playing A Bad Hand As Well As He Can.”

Obama questioned Petraeus in September of 2007 and April of 2008 on Iraq. Obama said, “I probably, if they had asked me, would have suggested we focus attention on George Bush the commander-in-chief. My assessment is General Petraeus is playing a bad hand, as well as he can. The General came out with a reasonable plan given the constraints. I would give him a different mission, which is let’s begin getting our troops out of Iraq.” [Hearing, 9/11/07; Hearing, 4/8/08; NBC Nightly News, 9/18/07]

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