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FrontPageMagazine.com | Monday, September 15, 2008


By Michael Ramirez

Political Cartoons by Michael Ramirez




By Ed Morrissey

As if the Barack Obama needed any more bad news, the St. Petersburg Times and Zogby both deliver cause for pessimism at Team O.   Florida polling shows that despite spending millions in advertising in the Sunshine State and a delay in advertising for McCain, Obama is in worse position that John Kerry at the same time in 2004.  Zogby has new polling that shows Obama now trails in Pennsylvania, a must-hold state for the Democrats.

First, the Florida breakdown:

Barack Obama could be on the verge of falling out of contention in Florida.

Despite spending an estimated $8-million on campaign ads in America’s biggest battleground state and putting in place the largest Democratic campaign organization ever in Florida, Obama has lost ground over the summer. Florida has moved from a toss-up state to one that clearly leans toward John McCain, fueling speculation about how much longer the Democratic nominee will continue investing so heavily in the state. …

He is farther behind in the state than John Kerry was at this point in 2004, even though McCain began buying Florida TV ads only last week. By this time in 2004, the Bush-Cheney campaign had spent $13-million on Florida TV. In the rolling average of Florida polls compiled by the Web site RealClearPolitics.com, Obama has never taken the lead over McCain in Florida, and the latest average shows him behind by 5 percentage points. They were tied in early August.

Four Florida polls came out this week, with one showing a tied race, the others showing McCain leading by 5 to 8 percentage points.

And Pennsylvania?  According to Zogby, Obama is down by five:

Updated: 9/13/2008

McCain - 49.1%
Obama - 44.3%
Not Sure/Other - 6.6%

“This is a classic case of polling as a snapshot in time. We’re turning Pennsylvania purple today, as McCain takes a small edge. But as in Ohio, we are watching this closely and things could change in this classically blue state.”

And in Ohio, Zogby now puts McCain ahead of Obama by six, a substantial enough margin to move the state from purple to red.  Zogby, of course, is one of the more volatile pollsters, so any results here should be taken with a grain of salt.  However, if McCain takes Pennsylvania and holds Ohio and Florida, it will be difficult for Obama to prevail in a national election.

Obama could hope to capture Virginia, which has eight less Electoral College votes than PA.  However, Zogby also shows McCain up by over six points there in its latest polling of likely voters.  He may do better in North Carolina than in Virginia, with two more EC votes, as Zogby has Obama slightly ahead by less than the margin of error.  McCain has moved out to a similar lead in Colorado now, and has taken a seven point lead in New Hampshire and Nevada.

Momentum appears to have definitely shifted towards McCain.  Expect the Obama campaign to focus like a laser on these battleground states and end any remaining pretense at a national effort.


By Ed Morrissey

How did that massive attempt to define Sarah Palin as dangerously unprepared to become the “standy President”, as one wag put it, work out for Barack Obama?  Decidedly mixed.  On the good side, he got 36% of the voters in the latest AP poll to agree with him.  On the bad side?  Well ….

The poll suggests that perceived inexperience is more of a problem at the top of the Democratic ticket than in the No. 2 spot for Republicans.

Eighty percent say McCain, with nearly three decades in Congress, has the right experience to be president. Just 46 percent say Obama, now in his fourth year in the Senate, is experienced enough.

Fully 47 percent say Obama lacks the proper experience — an even worse reading than the 36 percent who had the same criticism about McCain running mate Sarah Palin, serving her second year as Alaska governor after being a small-town mayor.

Hey, thanks for making experience an even bigger issue than before, Senator Obama!  After the first shrieks of “untested” went out about Palin, the Democratic offensive got everyone wondering about the credentials of the top of the Democratic ticket.  Result?  Epic fail.  More people believe Obama lacks enough experience for the job than believe him suitably prepared.

Overall, McCain takes the lead among likely voters by four, 48-44.  He has more base loyalty now than Obama, by eleven points.  And while Obama leads in younger voters, McCain’s lead is strongest among older voters — who show up more reliably to vote in elections.  He also has a large lead among white voters of all educational backgrounds, a sign that Obama may have the same problems he had in the later primaries once out of the urban areas.

The AP poll also confirms the Gallup findings that the generic Congressional ballot has narrowed considerably.  They have the Democrats with only a five-point lead, which bodes ill for any expansion of the Democratic majority.  Given the trends since the beginning of August, a Republican victory in the House appears a rational possibility instead of a pipe dream.

Democrats have to be dumbfounded at the state of the race with less than eight weeks to go before the election.   Their presidential ticket was supposed to usher in a new era of Democratic control.  I’d start watching for overt signs of buyer’s remorse in the next few days.  Sunday, September 14, 2008




By Charles Johnson

Sharia courts now have the power of law in Britain: Revealed: UK’s first official sharia courts.

ISLAMIC law has been officially adopted in Britain, with sharia courts given powers to rule on Muslim civil cases.

The government has quietly sanctioned the powers for sharia judges to rule on cases ranging from divorce and financial disputes to those involving domestic violence. Rulings issued by a network of five sharia courts are enforceable with the full power of the judicial system, through the county courts or High Court. Previously, the rulings of sharia courts in Britain could not be enforced, and depended on voluntary compliance among Muslims.

It has now emerged that sharia courts with these powers have been set up in London, Birmingham, Bradford and Manchester with the network’s headquarters in Nuneaton, Warwickshire. Two more courts are being planned for Glasgow and Edinburgh.

Sheikh Faiz-ul-Aqtab Siddiqi, whose Muslim Arbitration Tribunal runs the courts, said he had taken advantage of a clause in the Arbitration Act 1996.  Sunday, September 14, 2008




By Eric Allie

Political Cartoons by Eric Allie




By Paul Mirengoff

The Washington Post, in a report by the hopelessly biased Anne Kornblut, accuses John McCain of "not always [being] forthcoming with the public on the subject [of Iraq]." Specifically, Kornblut suggests that McCain was not forthcoming in his public assessment of the situation in Iraq during and after his visit to Iraq in April 2007.

During that visit, as readers may recall, he toured a market in Baghdad while being by protected U.S. soldiers. After the tour, he declared: "Things are getting better in Iraq and I am pleased with the progress that has been made."

When he returned to Washington, McCain met with Secretary of State Rice. According to Bob Woodward's new book, McCain complained to Rice that "we may be about to lose the second war in my lifetime." He proceeded to sharply criticize the State Department's effort in Iraq. After this meeting, McCain told reporters:

We're just getting the third of five brigades over to Baghdad. We are achieving some small successes already in the strategy being employed by General Petraeus and General Odierno.

There is, of course, no inconsistency between what Woodward says McCain told Rice and what he said thereafter. His statements to Rice reflected his view of the job the State Department was doing. His statement to the press reflected his view of our military effort. Moreover, his praise was quite limited; he characterized the military successes as "small."

Nor is the statement McCain had made earlier, after visiting the market, problematic. He said he was pleased with our progress (presumably military progress). He did not say that the danger of losing the war had passed. Moreover, it is not clear from Kornblut's report whether he had even assessed the State Department's efforts at this point in his trip.

At some point in his trip, McCain concluded that the personnel the State Department had sent to Iraq were too few and too junior. This view became the conventional wisdom and eventually was the subject of congressional hearings. Indeed, senior personnel at State famously balked at the prospect of being sent to Iraq. In warning Rice about this problem, McCain was performing another service to his country.

McCain could have gone public with his complaint about State, but the better course was probably to call the problem to Rice's attention and give her a chance to fix it. In any event, McCain was not misleading the American public when he noted the "small" military successes we had achieved as of April 2007.

It's also worth noting that throughout 2007, McCain sharply differentiated between the growing military success in Iraq and the political situation there. I heard him draw this contrast in more than half a dozen blogger calls in the second half of last year. McCain made it clear that he was disappointed by the lack of political progress in Iraq.

In sum, there is no merit to Kornblut's suggestion that McCain withheld or sugar-coated his assessment of the political situation in Iraq. It is Kornblut who is being less than forthcoming here.


By Scott Johnson

On the day after John McCain's acceptance speech concluding the Republican convention, Slate posted an item by Noreen Malone asking why McCain's North Vietnamese captors simply didn't repatriate him from the Hanoi Hilton without his consent rather than ask him if he would accept early release. Malone answers: "Because they wouldn't have gotten what they wanted out of his release."

In addition to addressing that question, the item also insinuates why McCain and his fellow prisoners of war did not accept their captors offers to repatriate them: "Many were older than the average U.S. soldier in Vietnam and had hopes of further promotion within the military—which would have been destroyed by the acceptance of early parole." Suggesting that POWs who were being tortured were worried about their military careers is preposterous, though perhaps understandable in light of one of the three sources consulted by Slate for the item: Rutgers University Professor Bruce Franklin, author of The Essential Stalin, who is himself a fan of Stalin.  Sunday, September 14, 2008




By Wayne Stayskal

Political Cartoon by Wayne Stayskal




By Charles Johnson

It isn’t getting much media coverage, but there was a major coordinated terror attack earlier today in the capital city of India: Explosions Kill 18 in Indian Capital.

NEW DELHI (AP) — A series of bombs exploded at a park and crowded shopping areas across India’s capital Saturday evening, killing at least 18 people and wounding dozens. Muslim extremists claimed to be behind the latest in a recent wave of attacks that has killed more than 100.

The bombs were clearly timed for maximum bloodshed and panic. Placed in jammed shopping districts, the explosives began to go off just before sundown — prime time for weekend shoppers in crowded, chaotic New Delhi — sending thousands fleeing in fear.

Home Minister Shivraj Patil said at least 18 people died in five explosions, but some media reports put the death toll as high as 25. Mayor Arti Mehra said at least 61 more suffered wounds.

Just who the attackers are remains unclear.

Yes, it’s a real headscratcher. Who could it possibly have been?

Perhaps this is a clue:

A number of Indian media outlets received an e-mail sent just before the blasts warning that India was about to receive “the Message of Death.”

In the name of Allah, Indian Mujahideen strikes back once more. ... Do whatever you can. Stop us if you can,” said the message.  September 13, 2008





Hamed Dawood Mohammed Khalil al Zawi, who is better known as Abu Omar al Baghdadi. Image from Talisman's Gate via al Arabiya

The identity of Abu Omar al Baghdadi, the leader of al Qaeda's Islamic State in Iraq, has been called into question after the US military released letters written by senior al Qaeda leaders discussing the state of Iraq and the viability of the terror group's leadership.

The letters, found on the body of al Qaeda in Iraq's information minister after a shootout in Baghdad, clearly refer to Baghdadi, the pseudonym for the leader of al Qaeda's Islamic State of Iraq. Baghdadi is greeted in several of the letters, and Zawahiri wrote a letter to Baghdadi to provide advice and inquire on the state of the insurgency.

Baghdadi's true identity has been the source of controversy since the establishment of the Islamic State in 2006. The appointment of Baghdadi as the leader of the Islamic State caused rifts within the Sunni insurgency. Tribal leaders and Iraqi Salafist groups objected to the creation of the Islamic State and the appointment of an anonymous leader.

The US military dropped a bombshell in July 2007 when it stated Baghdadi was in fact a fictitious person created by Abu Ayyub al Masri, the leader of al Qaeda in Iraq. Baghdadi was played by an Iraqi actor named Abu Abdullah al Naima, the military stated. This was confirmed after the capture and interrogation of Khalid Abdul Fatah Da’ud Mahmud Al Mashadani, al Qaeda's media emir at the time.

"Abu Omar al Baghdadi" from an Islamic State of Iraq propaganda videotape .

The debate over Baghdadi's identity died down after the July 2007 announcement. Baghdadi continued to release video and audiotapes. But Baghdadi refused to show his face, and the voice continued to match Naima's, a senior US military intelligence official and a senior US military officer told The Long War Journal.

The US military's claim that Baghdadi is a fictitious character was challenged in May of this year after Haditha's police chief identified the man leading al Qaeda's Islamic State of Iraq.

The Haditha police chief said Baghdadi's real identity is Hamed Dawood Mohammed Khalil al Zawi. "He was an officer in the security services and was dismissed from the army because of his extremism," the police chief told al Arabiya television.

Zawi is "a retired police officer from the Haditha Police Department, who worked after retirement as a oil heater repairman in the Anbar town of Haqlaniyah," Nibras Kazimi, an Iraqi scholar at the Hudson Institute wrote in May on his website, Talisman's Gate. Zawi is able to use the "Baghdadi" pseudonym as he maintains a residence in the Ghazaliya neighborhood in Baghdad.

The US military believes al Qaeda quickly backfilled the position of Baghdadi after the Naima charade was disclosed last year.

"Al Qaeda in Iraq filled in the position with a real individual after Multinational Forces Iraq revealed that Abdullah al Naima was a hired actor," A senior US military intelligence source told The Long War Journal on the condition of anonymity. The sources confirmed that Zawi is now Baghdadi.

"Hamid al Zawi was one of the few senior al Qaeda in Iraq leaders who could meet the criteria of being descended from Hussein that was a key part of Baghdadi's biography," the military official said. Tracing lineage back to Hussein Ali, the grandson of Prophet Mohammad, is a requirement for leadership of the Islamic State.  Sunday, September 14, 2008


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