Sunday, August 17, 2008


You NEVER hear or read about it anymore, but there is STILL a war going on in IRAQ and a suicide bomber killed 15 in Baghdad and wounded another 30 in the most recent act of violence in the capitol city.

Baghdad suicide blast kills 15

BAGHDAD, Iraq (CNN) -- A suicide bombing killed 15 people, including a leader of a U.S.-backed militia, and wounded nearly 30 others Sunday in a Sunni Arab district of Baghdad, Iraqi authorities said.

Faruq al-Obaidi, the deputy leader of the Awakening Council in Adamiya, was among the dead, and two of his sons were among the 29 wounded in the blast, an Interior Ministry official told CNN.

The bombing took place about 8 p.m. outside a coffee shop in Adamiya, a Sunni stronghold in northeastern Baghdad. The bomber parked his bicycle near the shop and approached al-Obaidi, who was in a car at the time, the official said.

"While I was shopping just across the street, I heard a huge explosion," said Omar Qassim, a member of al-Obaidi's group, told The Associated Press. "Body parts were flying through the air. I immediately realized that Farooq's party was targeted and he was probably dead."

The attacker was a woman or a man who wore a black abaya robe to conceal the explosives, Iraqi officials told AP.

The Awakening Councils have been recruited by the U.S. military to fight against Islamic jihadists loyal to al Qaeda in Iraq and other militias. U.S. commanders credit the movement for much of the sharp reduction in violence there over the past year, but the jihadists have denounced its leaders as traitors and have frequently targeted them.

An al-Obaidi aide told AP, however, that a rival in the Awakening Council may be behind the attack.

"We had received information that we would be targeted by groups within Azamiyah and within the awakening movement itself," Khalil Ibrahim told AP.

A police official also told AP there was suspicion the attack was part of an Awakening Council power struggle.


LAKE FOREST, Calif. — Given the sharp words exchanged between their campaigns in recent weeks, John McCain and Barack Obama put on a good show of civility Saturday at their first joint appearance of the all but officially begun general election race. Midway through the forum at Saddleback Church, McCain joined Obama on stage.

By: Carrie Budoff Brown August 17, 2008 01:30 PM EST

The rivals, who have spent the summer quarreling as much over the definition of “celebrity” as the details of their policy proposals, exchanged a man hug, a handshake followed by a one-armed embrace. Smiling and tieless, they took their place on either side of the Rev. Rick Warren, the evangelical preacher who brought them together.For one night, at least, Warren may have achieved his desired goal of comity.

Neither candidate spoke critically of the other. And perhaps most tellingly, their campaign’s rapid response teams fell silent for the night.

It may well prove a brief respite before a critical three-week stretch in which McCain and Obama will announce their vice presidential picks and accept their party’s nomination. Obama mentioned a potential vice presidential nominee, former Sen. Sam Nunn, when asked by Warren to name three people he considers wise and would rely on for counsel as president. Nunn was listed after Obama's wife and his 85-year-old grandmother.McCain threw in a vice presidential possibility, as well: former Ebay CEO Meg Whitman, whom he described as someone he valued in economically difficult times. He also mentioned Gen. David Patraeus and, surprisingly, Rep. John Lewis (D-Ga.).

Warren sought introspection over confrontation, pressing the candidates in separate one-hour interviews to reflect on their most gut-wrenching decision, their biggest moral failing and their faith. Warren often asked blunt questions and, at one point, playfully warned Obama: “Don’t give me your stump speech on these.” Obama appeared at ease in the southern California megachurch, a setting that played to his comfort level with openly discussing his faith. He quoted a Biblical proverb and spoke at length about his faith as a “source of strength and sustenance on a daily basis.” “I know that I don’t walk alone, and I know that if I can get myself out of the way, that I can maybe carry out in some small way what he intends,” Obama said. The audience of several hundred inside the auditorium offered polite and occasionally enthusiastic applause throughout the forum. Yet Obama had trouble with the crowd when Warren asked, “At what point does a baby get human rights?” “Whether you are looking at it from a theological perspective or a scientific perspective, answering that question with specificity, you know, is above my pay grade,” Obama said in a response that elicited a low murmur from the audience. He went on to acknowledge that he supported abortion rights, a position that has proved an obstacle to Obama in increasing his share of evangelical voters.A few minutes later, however, the audience members thundered applause when Obama said he believes marriage is the union of a man and a woman. But the crowd also clapped when he said he would not support a constitutional amendment codifying that definition.As the candidate who often appears less at ease discussing his faith, McCain appeared comfortable as he wove bits of his religious views into his answers. He joked more often than Obama and told stories about the adoption of his 17-year-old daughter from Bangladesh and his captivity in Vietnam. Asked what his faith meant to him, McCain said it “means I’m saved and forgiven.” He referenced the works of his Southern Baptist church in Phoenix, and his reliance on prayer during his captivity in Vietnam.

McCain said his greatest personal moral failing was the “failure of my first marriage.”There was speculation as to whether Warren would press McCain on his divorce, which McCain addressed before Warren, who was critical of former Sen. John Edward’s ability to lead after he admitted he had an affair, had a chance to ask.

Obama cited his youthful experimentation with drugs as his greatest personal failure. “What I traced this to is a certain selfishness on my part,” Obama said. “I was so obsessed with me, and you know the reasons that I might be dissatisfied that I couldn’t focus on other people.”

The forum was an unusual setting for a first joint appearance, marking the first time that two general election candidates appeared together in a megachurch. But the event served the interests of both campaigns in their pursuit of evangelical Protestant voters, who overwhelmingly favor McCain, according to a June survey by the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life. That poll showed 61 percent of evangelical voters supporting the Republican senator, with 25 percent preferring Obama, figures that align roughly with June 2004, when 69 percent backed Bush and 26 percent Kerry. (Bush ultimately took 78 percent of this vote, up 10 percentage points from 2000.) The difference is that more than 11 percent of evangelicals are undecided this year, twice as many as in 2004, the survey found. Saddleback hosted 5,000 attendees Saturday on their sprawling college-like campus, with an amphitheater, caf├ęs and beach volleyball nets. The auditorium looked more like a soundstage than a hall of worship. The audience in the auditorium, which accommodated only a small slice of the people who made the trip here, sat quietly through the commercial breaks, although at one point someone shouted an approval — “We love you, John” — of the sort more often heard at Obama events (and, McCain might add, teenybopper concerts).

Asked which justice he wouldn’t have nominated to the Supreme Court, Barack named Justice Clarence Thomas, the court’s only African-American.“I don’t think that he was a strong enough jurist or legal thinker at the time, for that elevation, setting aside the fact that I profoundly disagree with his interpretations of a lot of the constitution,” Obama said.McCain said he wouldn’t have nominated the four most liberal justices: Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Stephen G. Breyer, David Souter and John Paul Stevens. "This nomination should be based on the criteria of [a] proven record of strictly adhering to the Constitution of the United States of America, and not legislating from the bench," McCain said. “Some of the worst damage has been done by legislating from the bench.” Warren asked Obama to define rich: “Give me a number.”Obama drew laughter when he briefly hesitated, then quipped: “You know, if you’ve got book sales of 25 million ...”Turning serious toward the end, Obama said: “I want people to know me well,” and added that if they do, “they’re going to make a good decision and we’re going to be able to solve the big problems that we face.”Asked his definition of "rich," McCain tossed off “$5 million,” then seemed to recognize this could join the list of comments he has tossed off in the past that have come back to him in attack ads.”I'm sure that comment will be distorted," McCain said. "The point is we want to keep people's taxes low. ... I don't want to raise anybody's taxes." Mike Allen contributed to this story.


The handwringing over Barack Obama’s modest lead in the polls is already rather tiresome — “Why isn’t Obama up by double digits?” the political world demands to know — and there’s no shortage of competing rationales to explain it. But the NYT’s Frank Rich offers one of the more compelling explanations I’ve seen: “[T]he public doesn’t know who on earth John McCain is.”
What is widely known is the skin-deep, out-of-date McCain image…. With the exception of McCain’s imprisonment in Vietnam, every aspect of this profile in courage is inaccurate or defunct.

Posted August 17th, 2008 at 10:30 am

McCain never called for Donald Rumsfeld to be fired and didn’t start criticizing the war plan until late August 2003, nearly four months after “Mission Accomplished.”

By then the growing insurgency was undeniable.

On the day Hurricane Katrina hit, McCain laughed it up with the oblivious president at a birthday photo-op in Arizona. McCain didn’t get to New Orleans for another six months and didn’t sharply express public criticism of the Bush response to the calamity until this April, when he traveled to the Gulf Coast in desperate search of election-year pageantry surrounding him with black extras.

McCain long ago embraced the right’s agents of intolerance, even spending months courting the Rev. John Hagee, whose fringe views about Roman Catholics and the Holocaust were known to anyone who can use the Internet. (Once the McCain campaign discovered YouTube, it ditched Hagee.) On Monday McCain is scheduled to appear at an Atlanta fund-raiser being promoted by Ralph Reed, who is not only the former aide de camp to one of the agents of intolerance McCain once vilified (Pat Robertson) but is also the former Abramoff acolyte showcased in McCain’s own Senate investigation of Indian casino lobbying.

Though the McCain campaign announced a new no-lobbyists policy three months after The Washington Post’s February report that lobbyists were “essentially running” the whole operation, the fact remains that McCain’s top officials and fund-raisers have past financial ties to nearly every domestic and foreign flashpoint, from Fannie Mae to Blackwater to Ahmad Chalabi to the government of Georgia. No sooner does McCain flip-flop on oil drilling than a bevy of Hess Oil family members and executives, not to mention a lowly Hess office manager and his wife, each give a maximum $28,500 to the Republican Party. […]

Most Americans still don’t know, as [TPM’s Josh] Marshall writes, that on the campaign trail “McCain frequently forgets key elements of policies, gets countries’ names wrong, forgets things he’s said only hours or days before and is frequently just confused.”

Most Americans still don’t know it is precisely for this reason that the McCain campaign has now shut down the press’s previously unfettered access to the candidate on the Straight Talk Express.

There’s a very good reason Republicans have worked so aggressively to make this election a referendum on Obama — because if the campaign is about McCain, the Republicans will lose. Badly.


This Live Leak video is from the Iraq War and portrays how an Army combat platoon reacts to a 500 pound bomb being dropped on a house in Iraq. WARNING: The language may not be suitable for young children.

Watch video here:

Click on diamond-shaped arrow in center of picture to activate video


CHICAGO (Reuters) - A significant number of U.S. veterans back from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan begin abusing alcohol after returning, perhaps to cope with traumatic memories of combat, military researchers said on Tuesday. Younger servicemen and women, those who were previously heavy drinkers, and call-ups from the National Guard and Reserves were the most likely to increase their drinking and to develop alcohol-related problems, according to the study. "Increased alcohol outcomes among...

Continue reading Reuters story here: