Obama-McCain – the pastor was in the saddle

So the pastors are still in the saddle. Are reports of the eclipse of the religious right in this Presidential campaign premature? The prequel to the Obama-McCain main bout has just been held in a “Megachurch forum” in Saddleback Church California, moderated by the pastor no less, Rick Warren. The BBC’s Justin Webb appears to deplore this but EJ Dionne jnr of the Washington Post invites us to think again.


“The notion that Christianity in general and evangelicalism in particular are by nature right-wing creeds has always been wrong. How can a faith built around a commitment to the poor and the vulnerable be seen as leading ineluctably to conservative political conclusions?
And when political commentators talk about “evangelicals,” they are almost always talking about white evangelicals, forgetting that millions of African Americans are devout evangelical Christians and are hardly part of the conservative base”.

The verdict on the debate was generally mixed, McCain having the edge for crispness but with a tie registering with Huffington’s young blogger. And there was a spat over whether McCain cheated by improperly overhearing the questions to MCain.

NY Times quote
“..It was McCain’s night. Obama made no big mistakes. But his tendency to somewhat windy generalities meant he wasn’t particularly compelling. McCain, who went second, was crisp by contrast, and his anecdotes colorful.”

Will Obama continue to trim or will he stake out firm new ground for a new era of secular politics in the US?

  • American politics seem to be increasingly theocratic.
    I cant imagine someone running for president who was an athiest.

    The founding fathers had written into the constitution that there was no religious qualification for office.

    Now I fear there is…………..

  • 6countyprod

    At least there is one realist at the HuffPost: Although Obama wins points for showing up, McCain was the clear winner

  • Harry Flashman

    I’m always intrigued by oh so sophisticated Europeans who sneer at the concept of political candidates discussing their religious beliefs or lack of them. I think it shows a profound maturity on behalf of US politicians who are prepared to answer frankly questions about their personal and moral beliefs and whether morality should have a place in politics and society.

    Instead Europeans snigger like schoolboys at such an embarrassing thought and restrict their poltical debate to how to administer a centrist left/centrist right economic policy whilst utterly ignoring the massive issues that actually affect voters but which the politicians have deemed from on high may not be discussed (national sovereignty, sexual morality, mass immigration etc).

    I find the US system much more open, honest and refreshing.

  • Harry there is a european who is clearly driven by faith.
    his name is Tony blair and there are a million dead Iraqis to prove his devotion to his imaginary friend jesus.
    The USA is becoming a theocracy-it is going to be a feature of America’s decline in this century

  • BfB

    After engaging as many Obamites as I can stand, I get the feeling that they are only the thin, elitist thinking, layer of our fine country. Their freedom is freedom from legal, financial, ethical, and social consequences. While the silent majority becomes more and more disgusted with this Democratic clown show. I thought early on, that Obama was a shoe in. Not any more. His circus is becoming truly exposed. The convention will be the final blow to his charade of the century. I’m not to familiar with mainstream religious beliefs of the EU, but, believe me, the VAST majority of Americans have a good moral, religious, belief system. The more these liberal fools bray their horrible little truths, the further away the majority slides.

  • BfB

    are a million dead Iraqis

    Turn in the tinfoil hat for industrial grade copper.
    Another useful idiot..
    Billions of your lot agree with you…

  • If Americans have good moral etc etc where does that leave all those dead Iraqis?

    And, of course, the innocentgs of Tehran soon to be bombed?

  • 6countyprod

    Phil Mac Giolla Bhain, you do talk a load of old drivel!

  • 6countyprod play the ball-even when the man is a lowly taig ;0)

  • Driftwood

    Rick Warren isn’t the worst of his kind, but he knows a gap in the spiritual/political marketplace when he sees it.

  • Harry Flashman

    For those who are for some obscure reason uncomfortable (ie the BBC correspondent mentioned above, quelle surprise) with the idea that the two men who are running for the highest office in their nation should have an upfront and frank discussion about their core moral values and the path they’d like to see for their country, they should at least recognise that the conversations provided a clearer and more honest picture of what sort of man Senator Obama is.

    Asked about his position on abortion he said straight out that he was “pro-choice”, fair enough that’s his political position and he wasn’t about to back away from it. Then when asked at what point he believed human life began he said such a question was ‘above his pay grade’, above his pay grade? The man is running for president of the United States! Surely he must have given some thought to such a fundamentally basic concept of humanity? Not once when coming around to his “pro-choice” position did he ever come to any conclusion about that matter? When he was mentored for twenty years by Jeremiah Wright his radical preacher did he ever ask him about this?

    He can parse and analyse the minuscule differences between his and Hillary’s health care programme, he can come up with solutions to the oil crisis by inflating car tyres he can even claim that his nomination would stop the seas rising (President Canute?) but on an absolutely rock solid core value he’s out to lunch.

    The man’s a clown, the Democrats have thrown away any chance of winning the White House in 2008.

  • Rory

    “the massive issues that actually affect voters… (national sovereignty, sexual morality, mass immigration etc).”

    I think that Harry Flashman may find that the Taliban in Afghanistan are pretty hot on this “sexual morality” business and quite prepared to fight to the death on the issue of national sovereignity while being none too pleased about the recent influx of unwelcome hostile immigrants from parts west. Can we take it, Harry that they thus enjoy your full unqualified support?

  • Nice on Rory.
    the Taleban are a “faith based organisation” LOL

  • Harry Flashman

    I made no judgement on the issues, merely on the fact that at least dumbass Americans get to hear their leaders discuss the issues and then vote according to their beliefs.

    We wonderfully suave and nuanced Europeans get Big Brother and Pop Idol.

    I know the system that I prefer.

    European leaders never really did like allowing the proles to think for themselves, so much better to leave it to the clever elites to decide don’t you think? Actually given Europe’s rather poor historical record in the last century not letting the proles get control might be the least worst option!

  • Steve

    harry you have some very weird ideas about the freedom and openess of American elections

  • 6countyprod

    PMGB: To imply that because of Tony Blair there are a million dead Iraqis is the biggest load of drivel, rubbish, claptrap, poppycock that anyone could say.

    I suppose you also think that the suffering caused by the Omagh bomb is TB’s responsibility, rather than Irish Republicans!

  • TB was very much the architecht of the Iraq war-he should be in the hague-sadly the Americans are not signed up to the ICC

  • BfB

    If Americans have good moral etc etc where does that leave all those dead Iraqis?

    At the feet of the murdering Islamic terrorist bastards responsible for their deaths. AKA your friends.

  • Driftwood

    Didn’t McCain say he was going to continue the Iraq war indefinitely, and pursue Osama to the gates of hell.
    Obama stonewalled some questions alright, but you’d expect that of any politician. Wont make much difference to us, and neither will David Cameron

  • BfB
    Abu Ghraib
    Dear oh dear…………….

  • Dev

    Harry, you seem to be saying that we are worse off in Europe because our politicians don’t, generally, openly discuss their religious beliefs during election campaigns like in America. I disagree.

    Firstly, I’d say appearing at evangelical events such as these has a lot more to do with trying to win over the christian fundamentalist vote than it does with the candidates fulfilling some buring desire to discuss their beliefs (or lack of belief). This isn’t political maturity it’s just good old-fashioned electioneering.

    Secondly, the idea that someone could appear at one of these events to discuss their lack of belief is laughable. Atheism in the USA is almosty akin to child moleatation in some people’s eyes, no candidate in their right mind would ever even imply that they had a lack of belief. No one would ever consider running for El Presidente in the US as an open atheist, so instead of the candidates being ‘prepared to answer frankly questions about their personal and moral beliefs and whether morality should have a place in politics and society’, they are more likely to have been forced to over-emphasise whatever religious beliefs they do have & of course conflate these beliefs with morality.

    Thirdly, it can’t be a comfortable experience for those voters who are not Christians to see the to candidates indulge is a ‘Jesus-off’. At least in Europe our mainstream politicians respect the plurality of the electorate & don’t ened up alienating people by harping on about how much they love the christian god. I don’t think those who enter poltiics here have conspiried to not mention relion in their public life becasue it makes things easier for them, I think it’s just a recognition of the fact that most people in Europe don’t want to hear about it becasue it is utterly irrelevant to your capacity to be a good elected representative.

    Clearly the USA is a much more religiously-minded society than any in Europe, I think that is why US political figures mention their religious beliefs more openly than we do here, not because we poor proles have been the victims of some continent-wide conspiracy by our politicians to hide their beliefs.

  • 6countyprod

    Driftwood: Didn’t McCain say he was going to continue the Iraq war indefinitely

    No, Driftwood, he didn’t. You need to get a little perspective on reality.

    Listen carefully to what he actually said:

  • 6countyprod

    Abu Ghraib

    add up to a million Iraqis?!?

  • Greenflag

    ‘believe me, the VAST majority of Americans have a good moral, religious, belief system. ‘

    That they do. That’s why there are 3 million behind bars , and prisons are used not only for convicted criminals, but also to house the mentally handicapped 🙁 This could be also why a huge number of American corporate executives are behind bars for having been convicted of stealing and embezzling everything from pension funds to using every con game in the financial services sector to defraud ordinary americans . The corporate crime wave , an unpopular war , two million foreclosures not to mention the biggest deficit in USA financial history and Americans could be forgiven for turning away from the politicians , and the Wall St purveyors of mass destruction , and turn instead to religion ?

    Surely God has an answer for his chosen special people ?

    But when they do what they find in too many cases is just another shower of thieves and con men disguised as Jesus people. And if the sight of often obscene and frequently insane money grabbing televangelists does’nt help , they can resort to the Catholic Church where they will be greeted with an institution so riddled with sexual predators of the young that they have lost any pretence for moral guidance that they might have held a generation ago .

    But despite the above the ‘vast majority’ of Americans do have a ‘good moral and religious belief system ‘

    The problem is that within that vast majority is a large minority some commentators estimate it at some 30 to 35 % of the population who are so caught up in their ‘religiosity’ that they have forsaken reason in favour of ‘rapture ‘ and salvation by grace and faith alone . Most of these people are located in Jesusland (the South ) but there are signifcant pockets everywhere from Utah and it’s Mormons to Florida and it’s ‘Scientologists ‘ .

    This is now the big divide in the USA along with the growing divide between the financial have lots and the financial not only having little but even having that little taken from then . Polls have shown that the Republicans have consistently won the vast majority of these 30% and to date they have delivered the election for Republicans . They won the 2004 and 2000 election for Bush . The mainly Mormon State of Utah gave Bush his biggest majority and they vote usually 85% plus republican – There are 5 million Mormons in the USA .

    It will be interesting to see whether the ‘ultra believers’ will be suckered again into voting against their economic interest . But then many of them now believe that with Jesus just about ready to drop down and save everybody from Satan and rapture the followers of the Rev ‘send me your donation ‘ from the local mega church, why should they be worried about the economy -after all they are going to enjoy an eternity in heaven soon enough with Jesus and his choir of angels and then they’ll no longer have to worry about losing the house , feeding the family, or borrowing money up to the eyeballs to pay for health care and college for the kids, while enjoying the shortest life expectancy of all the developed countries 🙁

    One other point for those who think that the 30% of ‘nutters’ will fade away – the birth rate amongst the ‘born againers’ is and has been a lot higher for this section of USA society than for the rest . And as we should know from NI politics – political opinions are formed in the womb and generally remain constant for most people from erection to resurrection or rapture for that matter .

    All declining empires and great states share some things in common yet they also differ The USA is no different from 17th century Spain , 18th century Holland or 20th century Britain as it loses it’s perch of world leadership .

    Bush has hastened that demise by a combination of fiscal and foreign policy errors on a scale that would have embarassed the Emperors Nero and Caligula 🙁

  • BfB

    Hadditha ?

    What about it?

  • Driftwood

    I stand corrected.
    Mccain still seems deluded though that Al Queda originated in Saddams Iraq. They didn’t. And Afhanistan appears to becoming the quagmire it always has been.
    The ‘morality’ here appears to be warped.

    Oh well, at least its not raining.

  • Steve


    This could be also why a huge number of American corporate executives are behind bars for having been convicted of stealing and embezzling everything from pension funds to using every con game in the financial services sector to defraud ordinary americans

    Don’t kid yourself GF the prisons these guys go to are more likely to have a wet bar then Iron bars on the windows. After all the same people that make the prisons are the same people who eventually end up in them

  • Harry Flashman

    Abu Ghraib
    Dear oh dear…………….”

    Phil, Falujah was a very hard urban battle fought house to house by US Marines against some extremely tough Al Qaeda fighters (many, if not most, of whom were not actually Iraqi) who gave every bit as good as they got in open warfare.

    Haditha is a very confused incident the initial wild claims about which have since turned out to be extremely exaggerated.

    Abu Gharaib was a case of some prisoners being treated in a somewhat humiliating way by a handful of badly trained and ill led prison guards.

    The debate about their significance will no doubt continue but we’re well short of that mythical million dead Iraqis you keep going on about, aren’t we?

    As regards the main issue, remind me again why it is bad that political candidates should wish to discuss their political and moral philosophies with interested members of the electorate during an election year?

  • Top stuff Green Flag. The USA is a declining empire that is becoming increasingly theocratic.

  • Harry
    My reference to Fallujah was the slaughter of unarmed civilians by US troops.
    This was before the killing of the four Black water contractors and,of course, before the battles in that city.

  • Dev

    ‘As regards the main issue, remind me again why it is bad that political candidates should wish to discuss their political and moral philosophies with interested members of the electorate during an election year?’

    No one said it was bad. You implied that Americans were in some sort of better position than Europeans to elect their leaders because they show up to these events to discuss their beliefs, I don’t think they are. As I said, this sort of campaigning conflates religion with morality & alienates anyone who doesn’t share the attendees’ entusiasm for Jesus.

    Polticians here also discuss their political & moral philosophies, they just choose to do so without trumpeting one set of religious beliefs over all others.

    Harry, do you believe Obama or McCain are actually as religiously-minded as they may profess to be at these events?

  • Greenflag


    ‘No one would ever consider running for El Presidente in the US as an open atheist’

    Nor in Iran. The difference being that in the USA being an atheist is not YET a capital crime .

    harry flash:

    ‘at least dumbass Americans get to hear their leaders discuss the issues ‘

    Such as

    When does life start ?

    How many angels on the point of a pin?

    Is the anti Christ on Earth an when will Jesus come again ?

    Would Abraham really have sacrificed his son ?

    Why did God talk out of a burning Bush to Moses ?

    Indeed the answers to all of the above should help the USA to recover from mass foreclosures – growing economic recession a depreicating dollar , a huge national deficit and the worst foreign policy pursued since King Canute addressed the ocean waves and pleaded with them to go away and not be annoyng him.

  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wedding_party_massacre

    Harry another “confused” happening

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Driftwood: “Mccain still seems deluded though that Al Queda originated in Saddams Iraq. They didn’t. ”

    Then by that standard, Obama seems deluded that there are 57 states and that Arkansas borders on Indiana. Democratic leadership speak of Obama in messianic tones, claiming he is a leader that God has blessed the US with, to paraphrase Nancy Pelosi — which proves that even the devil can get religion, if it suits her purposes.

  • 6countyprod

    Some folks seem to have a lot of faith in wikipedia. Anyone can start an article on Wiki and say whatever they want.

    I did so recently myself, although it was on something of a more factual nature than the slanders of the above mentioned wiki links relating to the Iraq war.

  • Harry Flashman

    Phil, sorry the idea that upwards of 6% of the population of Iraq were killed as the result of being murdered by psychotic Islamist terrorists in a low-level guerilla campaign fought largely in three provinces of that country in a two to three year period is quite simply absurd and no amount of quoting ludicrous Wiki links will change that fact. Just for reference sake about a million British men, women and children both in the armed services and civilians were killed in two world wars, now seriously Phil, do you still want to stick with the “million dead Iraqis” fallacy?

    GF, angels dancing on a pinhead is an entirely irrelevant concept and unless I missed it was not discussed in that debate. What defines humanity is surely the absolute and fundamental issue of all time? I believe you’re not fond of the death penalty (I’m not wildly keen on it meself), might that have something to do with recognising basic fundamental human rights?

    Are basic concepts of humanity not fit subjects for political and moral debate compared to say health insurance, polar bears or tyre pressure?

  • Rory

    ‘As regards the main issue, remind me again why it is bad that political candidates should wish to discuss their political and moral philosophies with interested members of the electorate during an election year?’ – Harry Flashman

    It is bad, Harry precisely because the political candidates most certainly do not “discuss their political and moral philosophies”. What they do instead is to pander to the lowest common denominator of prevailing prejudices.

    If ever I had a man in my home begin to preach on “sexual morality” I should feel decidedly uncomfortable unless my fingers could reach my shotgun and I could quietly slide the safety catch to “off”.

    “Show me a man with no damned vices”, said a contemporary of Lincoln “and I will show you a man with no damned virtues!”. All candidates deny having any vices and at least Bill Clinton was unable to disguise the bad boy twinkle in his eye while appearing to contrive sorrowful contrition. For which sin the hypocrites most condemned him and honest men simply shrugged.

    p.s. As far as I know US television is just as venal as European television but then you may not have watched it since the heydays of The O Henry Theatre and I Love Lucy and The Phil Silvers Show and Ed Sullivan, back in the day. Even then Ed Sullivan fell prey to modern decadence and had both The Beatles and Elvis Presley as guests. Disgraceful I know but thank God at least you don’t seem to have been exposed to it. Maybe you were at your John Birch lodge meetings on those nights.

  • http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/10/10/AR2006101001442.html

    Not from wiki Harry-the lancet study-best statistical practice-accepted emthodology for Kosovo & Darfur.

  • BfB

    enough said.

  • 6countyprod

    At this juncture, a quote from the WSJ seems appropriate:

    It’s been a week of bullets in Georgia and blather in the West. Why was our press so outraged over the mistreatment of a dozen prisoners in Abu Ghraib but indifferent to the massive suffering of the Georgian people – who weren’t just photographed in embarrassing positions, but murdered, raped, tortured and driven from homes that the Russian army and its local henchmen destroyed? Is love of freedom a crime to our media?

  • BfB

    You anti American, socialist, liars are useless vermin. IMHO, that is. Laftas, every one.
    Critical thinking….eh?
    TRUTH, try it some time.
    ‘The newest update to a study published in the British medical journal, the Lancet, claims that 655,000 Iraqis have been killed since the U.S. invaded Iraq. This absurd claim has been hailed around the world as evidence of the evil American empire’s murderous reign in the Mid East. But it turns out that the entire study is not only filled with lies, the creators of the study even tried to hide the fact that George Soros funded the thing.
    Lafta was the man in charge of the actual collection of numbers, while another Lancet author was in Iraq but holed up in a hotel. As National Journal notes, Lafta was also a high-ranking official in Saddam Hussein’s ministry of health and there authored some of the agit-prop papers about the vast number of small children dying from sanctions the U.N. imposed after the 1990 invasion of Kuwait… So Lafta doesn’t exactly fit the definition of a trustworthy researcher except in the sense of trusting him to come to the “proper” conclusions.’

  • Greenflag

    HF ,

    ‘What defines humanity is surely the absolute and fundamental issue of all time?

    And what defines an idiot is somebody who believes that by debating ‘God’ on TV or in the political arena will somehow provide solutions or enlightenment re extremely serious and pressing problems for a country which has more than a surfeit of same.

    When ‘politicians ‘ turn to God on the campaign trail or even worse in office then you can rest assured that they ,

    a) have no answers to proffer for the economic and social problems which are extant in their society

    b) believe its the only way to get the votes of a easy ‘mark ‘ i.e that section of society who will vote for somebody because of their ‘faith ‘ in the Lightning Giver rather than somebody who might have practical proposals for resolving major ‘real ‘ issues besetting US society.

    c) use ‘religion ‘ as an ersatz for defining the ‘enemy ‘ – i.e Muslims , pointy headed intellectuals , Atheists , Jews, Rocket Scientists or evolutionists who believe that Charles Darwin actually advanced our knowledge of ‘humanity’ and life itself.

  • BfB
    Washington Post
    New Yorker (seymour Hersh)
    enough said

  • 6countyprod the torture of prisoners has occurred in various US controlled sites since 911.
    Like the invading Russian troops in georgia US troops in Iraq have killed the innocent and the unarmed with impunity

  • Greenflag

    ‘the Taleban are a “faith based organisation” LOL ‘

    As is the USA’s Republican Party . Birds of a feather ‘buzzard ‘ together 🙁

    Next up ? faith based welfare , faith based geography ? , faith based health care ? faith based economics ? faith based space program relying on russian rocketry 🙁

    Cogito ergo sum to be replaced by

    ‘I believe therefore it is ‘ ;(

  • The British polling agency ORB (Opinion Research Business) issued survey results January 28 that confirm its earlier estimate that more than one million Iraqi civilians have died as a result of the American-led invasion and occupation. The British agency carried out the work in association with its Iraqi research partner, the Independent Institute for Administration and Civil Society Studies (IIACSS).

    In September 2007 ORB made public its finding that an estimated 1.2 million violent deaths had taken place in Iraq since March 2003. The agency commented at the time that US-occupied Iraq had “a murder rate that now exceeds the Rwanda genocide from 1994 (800,000 murdered),” with another one million wounded and millions more driven from their homes into exile, either internal or foreign.

    This isnt from wiki either

    I am not surprised that some on here are unmoved by colonial slaughter…….

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Probably, Phil, b/c your sources are pulling their numbers out of their fourth point of contact…

    “The Lancet study authors initially told The Times that “there was no main street bias” and later amended their reply to “no evidence of a main street bias”.

    Professor Spagat says the Lancet paper contains misrepresentations of mortality figures suggested by other organisations, an inaccurate graph, the use of the word “casualties” to mean deaths rather than deaths plus injuries, and the perplexing finding that child deaths have fallen. Using the “three-to-one rule” – the idea that for every death, there are three injuries – there should be close to two million Iraqis seeking hospital treatment, which does not tally with hospital reports.

    “The authors ignore contrary evidence, cherry-pick and manipulate supporting evidence and evade inconvenient questions,” contends Professor Spagat, who believes the paper was poorly reviewed. “They published a sampling methodology that can overestimate deaths by a wide margin but respond to criticism by claiming that they did not actually follow the procedures that they stated.” The paper had “no scientific standing”. Did he rule out the possibility of fraud? “No.”


  • Steve

    The US even got around to killing some innocent Canadians due to their shoot first ask no questions later

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Greenflag: “faith based welfare , faith based geography ? , faith based health care ? faith based economics ? faith based space program relying on russian rocketry 🙁 ”

    Greenflag, you really are a piece of work. Your slander of the Republican party is par for the course — “hyperbole” doesn’t even begin to cover it. You’re trying to compare plums and plutonium.

    Besides, Obama has already endorsed at least faith based welfare, wanting to continue the Bush outreach program under a new name, and faith based geography, what with the 57 states and the Indiana-Arkansas border. Communism amounts to faith-based economics, since it doesn’t work in practice, yet the lemmings keep running towards it. No worries about the Russian rockets, unless Putin decides that he has more to gain from the world than he does with Russian imperialism.

  • Dread C-it is interesting that the Lancet study’s methodology was not questioned in Kosovo or darfur.
    In Iraq it is suddenly suspect?

    the ORB study-also suspect?

    These questions come from the same poltical elite that fooled many (not I) about the WMD threat of a ramshackle dictatorship.

  • 6countyprod

    Wow, the NYT, NBC, now even CNN’s senior political analyst is starting to panic, and is offering advice to Obama on how to win!

    It ain’t over, till it’s over! McCain, the dark house, looks like he might just be able to win the race of his life.

    Will Saddleback be the watershed?

    (This is related to the thread topic)

  • Dahr Jamail doesnt share your views Harry, but what would he know?

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Phil: “Dread C-it is interesting that the Lancet study’s methodology was not questioned in Kosovo or darfur. In Iraq it is suddenly suspect? ”

    It isn’t “suddenly suspect,” Phil. Statisticians have been poking holes in it almost since it came out. I simply prefer not to cite blogs or wikis. I’ll do it, in extremis, but it is not usually my preference.

    Likewise, it is a poor assumption that one methodology works in all circumstances. Different populations have different characteristics.

    Lastly, the results in Iraq of their study were irrational on their face — you have to believe that slightly less than 3% of the population died without the normally observed rate of injury to death.

  • Dread Cthulhu

    Phil: “These questions come from the same poltical elite that fooled many (not I) about the WMD threat of a ramshackle dictatorship. ”

    Phil, that is a tired canard. The whole of the world believed they were there — the anti-war crowd cited those weapons as a reason not to go to war during the 18 month “rush to judgement.” To claim that the WMD threat was universally empty is Monday morning quarter-backing, not prescience. For the record, given 18 monthes and a small crew and a couple of semi-trailer trucks, clearing out the WMD from Iraq would have been small beer.

    And, for the record, those questioning the Lancet study are statisticians, not politicians. Any claim of bias is equally applicable to the study.

    Try again.

  • Greenflag

    Dread Chutlu

    ‘Your slander of the Republican party is par for the course—“hyperbole” doesn’t even begin to cover it. You’re trying to compare plums and plutonium.’

    Which part of the GOP is the plutonium and which the plums ? I’d guess the evangelicals could be the ‘plutonium ‘ and the ‘liberal North eastern wing the ‘plums ?

    ‘Besides Obama has already endorsed at least faith based welfare, wanting to continue the Bush outreach program under a new name’

    In Victorian Age Britain and even later (have a read of Geroge Orwell’s Down and out in Paris and London’ )it was customary to provide food and soup to the ‘deserving poor’ on the basis of their ability to gather in church and sing hymns lustily to the lord before serving them soup or bread . The purveyors of faith based welfare in that age knew that had they served the soup first, they’d have to sing their hymns alone !

    Faith based welfare is not a replacement for a properly based social security system so that there is a safety net for those at the bottom of American society . The fact that Obama has to endorse such outreach programs is just an indication of how far the USA has strayed down the path of handing over the ‘soup’ to religious organisations some of whom are no doubt genuine charitable foundations but amongst whom are no doubt those who will use the ‘outreach’ funding to enrich themselves at the expense of the poor .

    ‘Communism amounts to faith-based economics, since it doesn’t work in practice’

    Did I say it did ? What Americans are having to face up is whether faith based Republican policies which has ensured that 1% of Americans possess more wealth than the combined wealth of 100 million ordinary Americans, is working,? and how much longer the growing disparities between the haves and have nots can be allowed to widen before the system collapses from within .

  • Greenflag

    6 county prod ,

    ‘McCain, the dark horse, looks like he might just be able to win the race of his life.’

    Well if Obama does not pick Clinton as VP it could be very close . I still think Obama has the advantage and the economy is not doing McCain any favours .

  • BfB

    “The day the Democratic convention ended in San Francisco in 1984, the Newsweek poll showed Walter Mondale 18 points ahead of President Ronald Reagan. Mondale ended up getting clobbered, 49 states to one.”


  • DC-those of us who said there was no WMD threat from the Iraqi regime were proved correct.
    Totally and utterly correct.
    Please have the common decency to concede that the war-especially the UK’s involvement-was based on a false prospectus.
    Or do you believe that Blair was being truthful when he said that the Intel on Iraqi WMD was ” detailed,exhaustive and authoritative”.
    What do YOU think is the Iraq death toll since the illegal invasion in 2003?
    Illegal war based on lies-a war crime.

  • Scott Ritter
    Ex-weapons inspector
    hardly a peacenik

    he is very angry about the lies told about Iraq/WMD/911 reasons for the invasion.

    DC you listen to this man-and then try again

  • DC here is the “evidence” parsed by CNN.

    Curveball indeed……..


  • At least Powell has the decency to admit that his presentation to the Un was a complete fiction

  • a fair and decent man DC-learn from him

  • Harry Flashman

    Rory in hindsight I was too quick to slap the term “sexual morality” into the list of things worth discussing I should probably made it more generic at “social morality”.

  • http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2008/08/19/the-war-within-bob-woodwa_n_119788.html

    Harry this book should be worth a look when it hits the shelves

  • Richard Littlejohn

    Pity I was away last week. I must have missed the march through London against the Russian invasion of Georgia. What a magnificent sight it must have been – half a million protesters standing firm against tyranny and supporting freedom and democracy.
    I’d have loved to have heard Red Ken denouncing the bloodthirsty gangster regime in Moscow, George Galloway comparing Vladimir Putin to Hitler and Tony Benn declaring it was all about oil.
    What’s that you say? There was no such rally? I suppose they must all have been too busy demonstrating against Chinese oppression in Tibet and demanding a boycott of the Beijing Olympics.
    No-shows: Littlejohn wonders where the protesters are for the war in Georgia
    Or perhaps not. Funny how the Not In My Name crowd always overlooks aggression by Communist or ‘former’ Communist regimes.
    There’s no such reticence when it comes to portraying George W. Bush as the new Hitler or daubing swastikas on the Israeli flag. Look at the protests against the wars in Iraq and Lebanon.
    The same people who can’t wait to burn the American flag in Trafalgar Square are only too happy to ignore Russian, Chinese and Iraqi genocide.
    Where were all the marchers when the Russians were crushing Chechnya? Why so silent on Tibet? They must have been looking the other way when Saddam slaughtered the Kurds.
    It hasn’t been difficult to find apologists for the invasion of Georgia. We’re told that the ‘American-educated’ Mikhail Saakashvili provoked the Russians beyond all reason. What did we expect encouraging the spread of democracy in former Soviet satellite states?
    No wonder Moscow feels threatened when independent countries it once ruled by military might become members of the European Union and apply to join Nato.
    Putting a Western missile defence system in Poland is like waving a red rag at a bull, the sophisticates say. Putin has no option but to retaliate.
    I don’t remember them demanding the withdrawal of Soviet nukes pointing at Western capitals from East Germany. Back then, the Guardianistas were all for one-sided disarmament on our part.
    The Left has always been picky about their protests. While they rightly denounce white racism in South Africa, they stay silent on black racism in Zimbabwe.
    They bang on about American cultural imperialism, but have nothing to say about Russian or Chinese military imperialism.
    America is constantly denounced for its ‘yuman rites’ abuses, but you never hear a dicky bird about the denial of basic freedoms in China or throughout the Muslim world.
    Europe’s Leftists define themselves by their hatred of the U.S., yet cheerfully tolerate all kinds of tyranny elsewhere. They’re against ‘torture’ at Guantanamo Bay, but take a relaxed view of Chinese and Russian death squads.

    So the official line is that the war in Iraq was nothing to do with Saddam boasting that he had weapons of mass destruction and defying a whole slew of United Nations resolutions to which he agreed after the liberation of Kuwait. It was all about oil.
    Yet the invasion of Georgia was justified because Russia was ‘provoked’. So we can assume that Putin never gave a moment’s thought to Georgia’s pipeline to the West?
    What about the announcement last week by a Russian general that Poland was now a prime target for a nuclear strike because it had the audacity to agree to site a Nato defence shield within its borders?
    I must have missed the CND press release on that one.
    A new survey says that British attitudes towards the United States are governed by ignorance of the facts.
    For instance, most people here and in Europe believe America sold Saddam most of his arsenal. The truth is that just 0.46per cent of Iraq’s weapons came from the U.S. Russia supplied 57 per cent, China 12 per cent and the cheese-eating surrender monkeys across the Channel were responsible for 13 per cent.
    The U.S. is routinely portrayed as anti-Islamic. But in 11 out of 12 of the most recent conflicts between Muslims and non-Muslims, America has sided with the Muslims.
    Other widespread myths such as Americans being denied medical care if they don’t have health insurance are simply not true. Filthy, unregulated Russian and Chinese factories and power stations spew out poisonous gases, but America is branded the world’s biggest polluter, even though it has done more to cut carbon emissions since the year 2000 than any other country.
    The ‘liberal’ media has a vested interest in perpetuating such lies. The Left seems to be gripped with some kind of political penis envy of America, which can be assuaged only by sucking up to tyrants and dictators.
    If we are entering a new Cold War, you can guarantee that the Left will once again be on the wrong side.
    There’s nothing new in this. Forty years ago this summer, the big demonstrations in London were against America’s war against communist North Vietnam, not the Russian invasion of Czechoslovakia.
    So no change there, then.

  • Rory

    Ah, Harry “social morality”. Strange how these religious moralists yet all insist on social Darwinism as the basis for their “social morality” – “if the poor and sick suffer and die it’s all their own feckin’ fault for being so stupid as to let us rob them blind in the first place – it just proves that God made us superior”.

    Anyway, a little tale of Old Abe Lincoln from earlier times on the stump:

    When Mr. Lincoln was elected to Congress, his opponent was a Methodist preacher who kept accusing Mr. Lincoln of being an infidel. One night during the campaign the preacher was giving one of his hellfire sermons in a church when Mr. Lincoln walked in, and sat in the back. The preacher decided to trap Mr. Lincoln. So he shouted, “Those of you who expect to go to Heaven, rise!” Mr. Lincoln did not stir. So the preacher said to the congregation, ” Those of you who expect to go to hell, rise!”. Mr. Lincoln did not stir. So the preacher said to the congregation, “All those who think they are going to Heaven and all those who think they are going to hell have risen to their feet but Mr. Lincoln has not moved. So where, Mr. Lincoln, do you think you are going?” At that Mr. Lincoln got up and said, “Well, I expect to go to Congress,” and left the church.

    From Lincoln by Gore Vidal (1984)

  • Rory

    “Pity I was away last week”

    Some of us, Richard, are more inclined to think that the pity is that you bothered to come back.

    Has it never occurred to you that it might be for citizens of one’s own country to demonstrate against what it perceives as its own government’s misadventures and wrongdoings, including its alliances and within its spheres of influence, and for the citizens of other countries to similarly protest against their government’s misbehaviour? Or would you prefer that we all dutifully assemble in Trafalgar Square waving little Union Jacks and Old Glories and hold up placards saying, “Bomb the Shit outa them Baghdad Babies!” or “Nuke Teheran Now!”?

    Our government was for a long time complicit in upholding apartheid and had a responsibility towards South Africa and its citizens and it was therefore quite proper to make our displeasure at its inaction known. Our government was an ally of the US during the period of US war crimes in Vietnam and indeed provided covert logistical support and so Vietnam became within our sphere of influence as citizens outraged by our government’s role. We could also demonstrate on behalf of white landowners in Zimbabwe by demanding that our government fulfil its pledges under the Lancaster House agreements and release the agreed funding to compensate them for returning the land to its rightful owners. Would you join us?

  • Greenflag

    Little Dick ,

    ‘So the official line is that the war in Iraq was nothing to do with Saddam boasting’

    Tyrants or would be tyrants are prone to boasting . Look at the historical record from Stalin to Hitler to Saddam to Mugabe etc .
    However ‘boasting ‘ by itself is not regarded by the international community as a sufficient causus belli or for that matter in Russia’s case a Caucausus belli .

    ‘It was all about oil.’

    Yes it was. Even Dr Bubbles (Mr Greenspan ) has admitted as much . Nothing new in the region -it’s been ‘war for oil’ or the control of oil by Anglo American oil majors – by one means or another since the 1920’s and especially since the 1950’s .

    To quote yourself

    ‘There’s nothing new in this’

    Phill Mac Giolla Bhain above recommends Bob Woodwards detailed investigation of how the USA actually went to war with Iraq which will make it’s ‘timely ‘ publication in September 08 -I recommend you read it .It should do for what’s left of this Republican administration and it’s would be successors what Woodwards ‘ Watergate’ revelations did for Nixon and his Creeps .
    On the subject as to why neither the ‘leftists’ nor ‘rightists’ nor ‘centrists’ in Europe are not demonstrating against Russia’s NATO baiting in Georgia here’s a clue .

    WINTER . Another ‘positive’ spin off benefit of Dubya’s ‘idiot ‘ war in Iraq ,is that the Russians now have Europeans by the short and curlys as they ‘control’ the gas supplies which much of Europe needs to keep warm and to keep industry going .

    Unlike the USA which has/had the military might to invade Iraq and take control of the oil , Europeans are more reluctant to invade Russia not just because of previous failed attempts by France and Germany , but because the Russians actually have verifiable nuclear weapons of mass destruction . They don’t have to boast .

    Had the Iraqis had actual weapons of mass destruction the USA would not have invaded. Which is probably one reason why the Iranians see being a nuclear power as their only guarantee of not becoming another Iraq – Mark II .

  • Greenflag

    Rory ,

    Good one 🙂

    Did Lincoln defeat the Methodist Minister in that election or do you know ? IIRC it took Ole Abe a couple of attempts before he actually made it to Congress.

  • Harry Flashman

    Was that really Richard Littlejohn who just posted a comment on this site?

  • Driftwood

    Harry, either it was him, or someone who shares his views.
    Greenflag, correcto about Iraq and WMD.

  • Rory


    I am afraid that we are not told. The excerpt I quoted was of Vidal’s fictional account of a conversation between Mrs. Lincoln and her dressmaker where she recounts this episode, but not, alas, the outcome of that Congressional battle. The episode with the preacher though is one that has strong anecdotal currency and is used here to illustrate Lincoln’s quiet disdain for religion although he did of course “put in a show” at churches of various denominations when it was politically expedient much as minor royalty and on the make politicians today “go native” in dress when visiting countries abroad.

    The book is after all a novel not a biography although it outsrips most biographies in the wealth of historical detail that it weaves using a little imagination and some fictional characters to drive the narrative. Indeed the method that Vidal employs of never daring to attempt to guess at Lincoln’s unrecorded thoughts or feelings on any matter puts many a biographer to shame with their “We might suppose that Mr Lincoln could scarce forbear but to express displeasure at this news…” style of writing when we might suppose nothing of the sort unless the biographer can provide some source evidence to support his supposition.

    It really is masterly both as novel and as history. Allan Massie, no mean historical novelist himself, declares it the greatest historical novel ever. And it is available in a new pbk reprint from ABACUS at £12.99rrp with a new intoduction by the contrary, cantankerous, lovable old goat himself (Vidal that is, not Lincoln!).

  • Greenflag

    Rory ,

    Thanks for the info. Abraham Lincoln was not the only early days President to be somewhat disdainful of ‘religion’ . IIRC many of the Founding Fathers including Thomas Jefferson , George Washington and others were more than a little skeptical of denominational claims.

    Those were apparently more ‘enlightened ‘ days in that respect than today’s USA 🙁

    Taft was another USA President who was dismissive of those with politico -religious pretensions . In our own time Ronald Reagan oddly enough the ‘darling ‘ of the ‘moral majority’ avoided going to church whenever he could . One presumes that as someone whose ancestry was 75% Irish Catholic mixed with 25% Scottish Presbyterian – Reagan had enough ‘conflicting ‘ issues in his background to dismiss both as absolute . His wife took to astrology IIRC. 🙂

  • Phil: “These questions come from the same poltical elite that fooled many (not I) about the WMD threat of a ramshackle dictatorship. “

    Phil, that is a tired canard. The whole of the world believed they were there—

    DC the whole world did not believe that Saddam had WMD
    Scott Ritter, for one, stated that the Iraqi regime had no WMD stockpiles and posed no strategic WMD threat in the region.
    He was correct.
    Have the basic decency to concede that.
    So many of the pro-war faction in Ireland (eg Kevin Myers) have conceded the WMD argument several years ago.

  • In his new book, The Way of the World: A Story of Truth And Hope In An Age of Extremism, author Ron Suskind alleges that the Bush administration knew Iraq had no weapons of mass destruction and eventually fabricated intelligence assets to support its case for war. Both the White House and the CIA deny his claims.