BBC BLOGS - Justin Webb's America
« Previous | Main | Next »

Voter suppression?

Justin Webb | 17:03 UK time, Friday, 2 May 2008

This is fascinating - an effort by Clinton supporters, it is claimed, to suppress the vote in North Carolina.

I must say I have agreed in the past with those who say that if in November by some chance it is Clinton/McCain, most black people will turn out for their former favourite white family. But maybe not. It's yet another factor for the superdelegates to consider.

On the subject of Obama and Wright, possumpam raises the question of whether or not the Clinton tactics would be legal in the UK: surely they would be? They are using language that is perfectly legal.

Jaded Eagle wonders about Wright's motives - I do too. Would be fascinating to know. Looks to me to be a case of massive ego. A black friend points out - on the substance of his beliefs including the idea that AIDS was created by the US government - that millions of white Christians think that atheists are going to Hell: an equally cruel and divisive belief, and equally unsupported by scientific evidence.

I sympathise with Peacocj.

Adjonline raises the question of the truthiness of the whole Obama campaign: and the answer is of course that David Axelrod invented Matt Santos before he invented Barack Obama, or at least at the same time as he began his work on the (real life) candidate. Mike_D442 we did mention this before, but it's certainly worth repeating.

Finally the debate between Board Stupid and NoRashDecisions goes to the heart of our cultural divide! We (Brits) don't like politicians. You Americans want to like yours. The cynicism - as opposed to scepticism - of the British way is nothing to be proud of in my view.

On the subject of electability, secretRosa, I suppose the big question is whether the kids will actuallyvote. The oldies definitely will.

Noetus takes me to task for suggesting that Washington DC is peaceful. You make a reasonable point but I do think Brits tend to over-emphasise the violence of American society. Most of America - the middle bits as well! - is remarkably peaceful.


Comments

  • 1. At 6:46pm on 02 May 2008, pinners88 wrote:

    Justin, you were rightly taken to task about your anecdotal piece concerning Washington's safety. As a BBC correspondent I'm sure you live in a comfortable neighbourhood, and therefore I find it hard to believe your assertions concerning other areas to be correct. It would be like saying "London is incredibly peaceful" because you live in Kensington.

    Apart from that, thank you for a really interesting and well written blog. As a huge fan of Obama do you think it possible that Hillary would seek to destroy the man via Rove-esque tactics (robocalls, etc) in order to see McCain win the election and inevitably run the US into the ground? It would certainly make a 2012 election easier for her to win.

    Complain about this comment

  • 2. At 7:20pm on 02 May 2008, Mark Davidson wrote:

    "that millions of white Christians think that atheists are going to Hell: an equally cruel and divisive belief, and equally unsupported by scientific evidence."

    Scientific evidence?! What a ridiculous thing to say. The question of athiest's ultimate destination is a theological question, not a scientific one. To call upon science for that particular answer is as ridiculous as calling upon it to tell us what is what 'love' is.

    Also, I take issue with the fact Atheists care whether someone believes they are going to hell or not. If they don't believe such a place exists, why on earth would they care if someone thinks they are going there?

    Also to equate such a belief with that of Wright's views on AIDS is insensitive, and intellectually barren.
    The BBC is supposed to be an unbiased organization: not just politically but religiously as well. Your obvious skepticism of "millions of white Christians" and their beliefs seems to me to break that rule.

    Complain about this comment

  • 3. At 7:35pm on 02 May 2008, ajbrown141 wrote:

    "millions of white Christians think that atheists are going to Hell: an equally cruel and divisive belief, and equally unsupported by scientific evidence."

    I find your blog very interesting and informative Justin, but it's the occasional comments like this that reveal a disturbing anti-Christian sentiment.

    If your friends were in a house that was on fire would you be happy to watch them suffer? No, you would want to stop them from suffering, and try to help them. If (for whatever reason) your friends didn't believe the house was on fire, would your belief be cruel and divisive? No.

    Obviously that's not a perfect analogy, but that's the basic perspective of many christians. As the poster above notes, this is a theological belief, and not one that can be supported by scientific evidence. To equate Wright's rather bizarre and dangerous views on AIDS to this is upsetting and offensive.

    Also, it's not just white christians that believe this - it's christians of all colours, backgrounds and nationalities.

    Complain about this comment

  • 4. At 7:37pm on 02 May 2008, David Cunard wrote:

    The link to the supposed vote suppression in North Carolina has this self description: "Jack and Jill Politics is a blog that offers a Black Bourgeois perspective on American politics". Had the report come from any other source and its respondents, then there might be some credence to it, but in any case, it is not at the behest of the Clinton campaign.

    If Mrs Clinton should become the Nominee, as I believe she will, based on her sound policies and sounder judgement, and then in November a substantial number of African-Americans withhold their vote for her, it would not say much for their concerns about a future president but rather demonstrate that the race is about colour, not politics and policy. For them to assist, indeed, collude with her opponent, would be like the old saying, cutting their nose to spite their face. I would hope that all Democrats would support her rather than allowing racial prejudice to be the deciding factor. On the off-chance (as I see it) that Mr Obama is the nominee, then the same would apply.

    Complain about this comment

  • 5. At 7:46pm on 02 May 2008, bertipus wrote:

    Your suggestion that this is a case of voter suppression is worse than sloppy journalist -- it's divisive and destructive journalism. It has been amply documented that WVWV, the alleged perpetrator, is a long-standing and well-respected non-profit organization for getting out the vote, like the NAACP. Mike Lux, an Obama supporter, sits on its board. The group is registering voters for the general election, not the primary. Unfortunately, the timing of the mailing to voters means that it has been held up by rabid Obama supporters as a case of voter suppression. (You can research this on www.mydd.com) By amplifying these scurrilous charges, you are adding to the racial divisiveness of this race.

    Please, do your homework next time.

    Complain about this comment

  • 6. At 8:00pm on 02 May 2008, David Cunard wrote:

    bertipus #5 - Very nicely put! A more intriguing scenario about the candidates is the Washington Post article headed "McCain's Birth Abroad Stirs Legal Debate", see: http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/05/01/AR2008050103224.html?hpid=topnews

    Although it seems unlikely that this would alter the Republicans' presumptive nominee, this has been one of the oddest elections in recent times and anything can happen. Even if it appears improbable, it does seem that some people are determined that Mr McCain will not enter The White House under any circumstances. If it came about, who then would be the Republican candidate?

    Complain about this comment

  • 7. At 8:00pm on 02 May 2008, DougTexan wrote:

    "ajbrown141"

    Thank You so very much, though I may have said differently, I was writing to say just that, plus why just 'white' christians, has the Reverend Wright changed your mind about 'black' christians, how about 'other' christians.

    Clintons or Obamas, Obama is way, way to left to to be Presidential.

    Complain about this comment

  • 8. At 8:18pm on 02 May 2008, Reuben33g wrote:

    The idea that Hillary Clinton is a better candidate than Barrack Obama because: "Americans won't elect a black man" doesn't stand up to the light of reason.
    The very same voters who won't vote for Obama because he's black, won't vote for Clinton because she's a woman.
    However, The biggoted are too few to take an election away from Obama.
    Clinton on the other hand has an anti-contituency (to coin a phrase) that will come out to vote against her. They'll vote against her, not because she's a woman, or because she's in a different political party, but because they've already seen her policies at work during the 1990s, under her very own puppet president, William Jefferson Clinton.
    If Barrack gets the nomination, he will win because many Americans perceive McCain as Dubya's pet cannidate, and Barrack doesn't have nearly as big an anti-constituency as Hillary.
    If Hillary persuades the Superdelegates to give her the nomination, McCain will win.

    Complain about this comment

  • 9. At 8:25pm on 02 May 2008, bobmcpike wrote:

    One has to wonder about a BBC reporter who thinks "truthiness" is a word. Been too long in America perhaps?

    Complain about this comment

  • 10. At 8:27pm on 02 May 2008, digital_eye wrote:

    @#4

    I appreciate your enthusiasm for Mrs. Clinton, I would like to bring your attention to the fact that in the state of New York, Mrs. Clinton won in blackest of neighborhoods in the New York City. Back then, Mr and Mrs. Clinton were beloved figures to the black community, most people back then didn't vote based on color/race/ethnicity.

    The Clintons are strangers to losing and that too losing gracefully is not something they are not accustomed to. Once Obama started winning, as a ploy to bring him down, Mr. Clinton started playing the race card and blacks who have been so loyal to Clinton thus far, got angry that someone like Mr. Clinton would use race to win elections. Thats when they started moving away from the Clintons. This is a documented fact, just check the results and news stories and opinions from the last couple of months.

    So, please quit saying/assuming that people support or don't support based on race. For all her great judgement, Clinton and Obama are not far different policy-wise and either one of them elected president would do what the Democrats usually try to do. In this scenario, among two formidable opponents, if people pick the more likable one, why get mad?

    Complain about this comment

  • 11. At 8:28pm on 02 May 2008, peterm99 wrote:

    Note that there has not been a great deal of protest voiced by many soi-disant "Black leaders" regarding Rev. Wright's de facto torpedoing of the Obama campaign.

    It is incontrovertible that the perpetuation of a message of "victimhood" has led to a very comfortable lifestyle for generations of "Black leaders" such as Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Jeremiah Wright, and their ilk. They have a vested interest in ensuring that Obama does not succeed in his attempt to become President.

    It is likely that an Obama success would severely undercut their "victimhood" message, and thus their influence, while an Obama failure would provide them with more ammunition to continue to preach this message and to retain their influence.

    Complain about this comment

  • 12. At 8:37pm on 02 May 2008, splendidhumblebee wrote:

    Justin, I think your perspective is interesting and in a good way.

    As an American, I don't think I necessarily want to like politicians. I don't think my nationality has anything to really do with it. Venturing further, I think what would matter most to me is how my representative works for me and everyonelse. I actively participate in petitioning my representatives regarding my viewpoints on topics such as healthcare, net neutrality, etc.

    I am often disappointed with our government and its decision making.

    Frankly, I am disappointed with all of the presidential candidates. I tend to vote democratic though I really dislike the idea of political parties.

    I voted in the primary for Obama because between him and Hillary, he seemed to be more genuine but I am waiting to see more. He is a good orator and doesn't sound as scripted and pedantic as Hillary.

    I felt horrified by her remark that she would attack Iran. I am not supportive of Iran's political grandstanding, but she should really think more about what she says. I perceived that she mainly said it to come across important and strong. She has yet to prove to me the strengths I find necessary to be a president.

    I agree with some former commentary that she tries to hard to be something other than herself. Is it a gender role? I wonder.

    This whole affair has dragged on for so long. I am tired of it all.

    When I go to the voting booth, usually what runs through my mind is that it all seems to be a choice between the lesser of two evils because no matter who you put in the seat of President, they are bound to have successes and failures. Look at Bill Clinton, I really liked him (had to get past his personal issues) but NAFTA and especially the DMCA are examples of bad policymaking. I applaud him for inspiring people to dedicate themselves to civil service and help their communities. This was a great thing!

    I have only lived long enough to witness 4 presidents in power, but George W. Bush is epitome of a foolish choice in president. I don't care if people jump all over on me for saying it. The main has the most blighted track record for overturning so much good that was accomplished since the 60s. I could go and on and on but I won't. I am just ready for change. I want to have hope in a better tomorrow. Is Obama the one? I don't know.

    Complain about this comment

  • 13. At 8:39pm on 02 May 2008, Adrian_Evitts wrote:

    "I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today — my own government."

    This isn't Rev Wright in 2008 - it was Rev Dr Martin Luther King, Jr in 1967.

    I spent an hour watching Rev Wright - unedited - at the National Press Club via youtube a couple of nights ago. I did not recognise the descriptions given of his performance by the ill-informed, who have made up their minds via mischeviously edited, and perhaps necessarily abbreviated soundbites - a tactic which generally serves to bolster our prejudices, not hold them in the light.

    I speak as a white, middle-class Brit who is becoming increasingly disillusioned by the conduct of both Democratic camps. I believe that Rev Wright - although not infallible by any means - is a God-fearing man motivated by love for America, in the same black church tradition as Dr King. For a person just about to retire, he also has an astounding intellect, and marshalled very powerful arguments in his own defence, in the defence of a church he has served for more than 40 years.

    I'm surprised at you, Justin. And America, I fear you are going to get the President you deserve. I just hope that the world gets the US President it deserves - one a little more hesitant than some of the previous incumbents, who have appeared far too hell-bent on a ringside seat at Armageddon.

    Complain about this comment

  • 14. At 9:59pm on 02 May 2008, David Cunard wrote:

    bobmcpike #9 - let's not start that discussion again!

    digital_eye #10 "So, please quit saying/assuming that people support or don't support based on race." It has widely been reported that many (note, not all) African-Americans would feel robbed of "their" candidate and would be likely not to vote for Mrs Clinton. My comment was based on what I read in polls and the press. There is a concern that those caught up in the euphoria that has surrounded Mr Obama's campaign might not actually cast their vote if he is not the nominee or on the ticket. Logically the colour of the candidate should make no difference, after all, the voting booth is colour-blind, but there are those who feel that if they can't vote for their man, then they simply won't vote at all.

    Complain about this comment

  • 15. At 10:06pm on 02 May 2008, othellobloke wrote:

    I resent your all too frequent negative references to how British people are.

    It makes the Yanks think even worse of us, and makes Brits think of you as a wannabe-American.

    Cynicism of politicians is an absolutely admirable trait, and people who aren't need watching very closely. Politicians can't be trusted.

    And as for over-emphasising the violence in America. Been there, lived there... and as a Brit - it's NOT overemphasised.

    You mentioned most of America being remarkably peaceful. Maybe for the overprivilege white upper class rich folk... but for anyone else, peaceful is about 3 from the bottom of a list of about 200 words I'd used to describe America.

    Stop bashing us... remember where you came from.

    Complain about this comment

  • 16. At 10:31pm on 02 May 2008, JimKeith wrote:

    I would expect the backlash from women if Clinton loses to be worse than the backlash from blacks if Obama loses because... well, they're women.

    I'm kidding! Seriously though, one point I haven't seen made is that Florida and Michigan are a lot like the other states Clinton won. Why did Obama pull out of them, surely he knew Clinton was campaigning there and he would leave her with a symbolic victory if nothing else? Perhaps it's because he knew he would lose anyway--and by completely marginalizing those states, he now has achieved the nullification of some of Clinton's big-state success. In any other year Clinton might well be walking away with victory.

    Complain about this comment

  • 17. At 10:31pm on 02 May 2008, NoRashDecisions wrote:

    "an effort by Clinton supporters, it is claimed, to suppress the vote in North Carolina."

    Well that's just great!! I'm sad to say, not very "democratic" (note the small D) of those Clinton supporters!

    #9: Ok I give up-think what you will, our language and people suck!! And that's that!! If only we could be more like you!!

    Complain about this comment

  • 18. At 10:48pm on 02 May 2008, NoRashDecisions wrote:

    Adrian_Evitts (#13): I aagree with the majority of what you said-far too many people look at one or two completely justifyable angered things that Rev. Wright said, without taking the time to read/hear all of his speeches, or without knowing his history, or considering whether he had a right to be angry or express that anger. They immediately cast him/his thoughts aside and write him off as "crazy/hateful of America" etc!! However, I do understand, and agree with those who find discontent in his blatonly and obveiously untrue and outlandish statements, such as the US government invented HIV AIDS in order to kill African-Americans, or the US deserved what it got on 9/11, because it bombed Japan in 1945! As if we could've predicted what would happen in 60 years back then or something!!

    But you need not worry, though, this will soon (God willing) blow over, and we (God I hope) and the world will have a Democrat in the white house this time next year!!

    Complain about this comment

  • 19. At 11:24pm on 02 May 2008, Darrell wrote:

    Voter suppression has been a problem for a long time, one simple example of that is the suppression of former felons. We have found here in North Carolina people who are former felons having been told that they have lost the right to vote. This is NOT true in North Carolina, and the Obama Campaign team has been trying to set that record straight. Rights for former felons In NC, if you have served your time, and that includes parole and probation then you are free to vote again, but to do so you must re-register, it is not an automatic process. In Durham, NC where I live our local National Public Radio station had an article on this. Anyway, this is one simple example of voter suppression, there are others. As a British Citizen I can not vote, just pay US taxes. I dearly hope to see a Democrat in the White House come 20JAN2009 and I am hoping that it will be Obama. If Clinton is to win, she needs to do it with policy that Democrats will buy in to, she has been campaigning like a GOP candidate and many people I know that are Obama supporters are actually "against her being the nominee". I agree with other statements above that once the nominee is know we need to rally round and ensure McCain does not get to the White House; we can ill afford 4 more years of "Bush like" policy. It is time for change, time for hope. I support Barack Obama and will be taking part in GOTV events in Durham this weekend and I booked Tuesday off of work so I can canvass for Obama in Durham.. Darrell

    Complain about this comment

  • 20. At 11:53pm on 02 May 2008, madigaf wrote:

    Hi Justin. I'm an avid reader of this blog and it really has added to what has been so far an absolutely fascinating campaign. However, over the last few weeks I am really getting quite weary of the mudslinging and I particulalry blame Hilary Clinton. Some of the things she has been coming out with are simply ridiculous such as the inventive claims that she is ahead in the popular vote and the frankly, horrifying remarks about Iran. "We will obliterate them?" What planted is this person living on? I have gone from undecided to a staunch Obama supporter. I am not under the illusion that politicans can really implement all that they promise and at best only frame policy, but I think America and the world, is crying out for the breath of fresh air that Obama represents. At least we will get new voices and a new agenda. Clinton is, frankly, beginning to resemble Richard Milhaus Nixon with each passing day. Her "doggedness" that some people have been praising recently seem to be more of a delusional megalomania and a desire for power that would risk tearing the Democrats assunder. I would rather have an ideologue like Bush than an unpredictable power hog like Clinton. At least you know where you stand with the former.

    Complain about this comment

  • 21. At 00:09am on 03 May 2008, NoRashDecisions wrote:

    othellobloke (#15): I don't think Justin is intentionally trying to "bash" the British!! Rather I think he is merely expressing his opinions on what he sees in some British citizen's posts on his blog, which he is completely entitled to do!! "Yanks think worss of us?", now there's a laugh! You need not worry!! We so-called "yanks" (never did really like that nick name much) have far more negative steriotypes to fend off from foreigners than you!! Loud, arragant, ignorant, stupid, violent, gun-toteing, war mongering--take your pick!! No, if anything we must always be worring about what the British think of us!!!

    I must say, however, that I don't necessarily dissagree with all of Justin's asertions. Take violence for instance. First of all, if he wants to think that the majority of America isn't violent, let him!! You can disagree with him-its OK!! I don't honestly know who to believe. One person who says they haven't experienced much violence while living all over this country, while others dispute that opinion, and say that they have. I guess its all in the eye of the beholder. But I must say, I do find myself very, very depressed indeed, to learn that aside from him, the majority of the rest of the British (on this blog at least) think we're effectively just a bunch of savige warriors!!! My God!! You only need look at that person's comment that Justin refferenced to see what I'm talking about! Do you possibly think, just may be, that you could look in a merrior and admit that yes, just may be, Justin's observations may have an element of truth, that perhaps you are just a hair too judgementle about our violence problem? Its not a sign of weakness to admit a wrong, harsh, or dare I say border line racest in terms of nationality thought/statement, its a strength!! I tell you, comeing from an outsider looking upon a large portion of posts from British people on this blog, that a lot of what he says has a ring of truth to it!! A lot of the posts to me, seem to be hopeless, full of despair, and depressed. '"all of America is violent except for the privoliged few", "despiseing and not trusting politicions are wonderful atributes, and if one sees something good in one/trusts them in the smallest amount, they are effectively blindly following them and handing their individual liberty over to them on a silver platter", "everything sucks, and no matter what, it will never improve". Keep in mind I'm in no way attempting to bash you, I'm merely giving constructive criticism!! You know, sort of what you accuse Americans of not being able to take!! How ironic is that!! I tell you, if the majority of UK people think like this, how you all haven't made a 60 million strong mass suicide pact is beyond me!!

    splendidhumblebee (#12): I would urge you to read my comment on trusting politicions above, but again, likeing a quality in a politicion, is in my book, in no way not being suspicious/not furious with, and of them!! Board Stupid was in my opinion, effectivly damning Obama before he even got a chance to see him in action! I do encourage you to vote for the one whom you most agree with, but yes, all poloticions everywhere are flawed. There isn't a nation on earth where you'll find a perfect politicion-so choosing the one that you most sympathise with is all anyone can do!!

    Complain about this comment

  • 22. At 00:11am on 03 May 2008, Darrell wrote:

    In response to JimKeith's posting. An interesting point but the issue with Florida and Michigan was one of the state parties making and the Republican and Democrat National Campaign teams both penalized the states. The fact that the GOP did also take action is largely overlooked because they do not have a tight race for the nominee.

    How they penalized thee states is of course different, the GOP withdraw 50% of the delegates, the DNC all (100%). Not campaigning in the states was actually solidarity with the National Party and at the time Clinton agreed with it, but then showed up to celebrate victory in Florida on the evening on the Primary. Obama aligned with the National Party.

    I think it is hard to know what would have happened had the primaries run their natural course, I do not think with how the proportional representation goes that it would have made much difference to where we are now. Obama supporters did not go to the polls in Florida and Michigan in droves because of support of his position, and 40% of the Michigan vote was declared “uncommitted”, which means to me the people actually using the voice in a VERY POWERFUL WAY …. They went to the polls knowing that they would not help the delegate count but actually essentially said … “of my options on that ballot today, I want none of you”.

    Winning each state by margins of a few points means both Clinton and Obama net similar delegates (this has been seen in nearly every state). Several states have the situation where the delegates awarded have actually favoured the loser of the popular vote (e.g. Obama won more delegates from the Texas “two-step” than Clinton). He did not make the rules, nor did Clinton.... it is strange that can happen. The "two-step" has something to do with the situation in Texas but Nebraska was a straight Primary, Obama won 13 delegates to Clinton’s 12 but lost the state popular vote. Largely he won the urban areas that had more delegates.

    Complain about this comment

  • 23. At 00:50am on 03 May 2008, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    I'm with Adrian (13).

    Obama is the best of an imperfect lot. It's a pity he has felt it necessary to throw Dr Wright under the bus, and a far greater pity that the necessity of US politics requires him to refer to Israel as a "staunch ally", one that is costing US taxpayers millions to pay for the brutal oppression of the native folk of Palestine.

    Still, there is hope

    .xx
    ed

    Complain about this comment

  • 24. At 04:58am on 03 May 2008, ceannabhaigh wrote:

    I am keeping this short because it is quite simple.

    Hillary Clinton has dishonestly promised to bring back heavy steel industry to Indiana (I live 5 miles from the Illinois-Indiana border and work with folks from Gary and South Bend, so know people deceived by her promises), but my main point here is that Clinton, following behind McCain on this issue, yet again (remember the Iraq war by chance, sorry to be sarcastic about a major issue!), Clinton has supported McCain's idea about a government-sponsored gas tax relief over the summer! Exactly how much does she want to do the oil companies' jobs for them? Not to mention how such tax dollars could be better spent on construction/infrastructure, education, healthcare, and new technology.

    My simple question is how could Al Gore support Hillary Clinton after this??

    Complain about this comment

  • 25. At 08:55am on 03 May 2008, rupertornelius wrote:

    You seem puzzled by obvious things today, Justin.
    It's not that we don't like politicians per se - we don't have any likeable politicians - it's a subtle but important difference, I feel.
    Sinister elements seem drawn to the Cinton camp - who can blame her for trying it on? Nothing new.
    Wright's motives? He's a pastor, a preacher - he's trying to spread what he reckons is God's Word, right?
    Somebody wake Al Gore up!

    Complain about this comment

  • 26. At 11:39am on 03 May 2008, rupertornelius wrote:

    Why not mention the Guam caucuses today - or is it beneath you? This must be the first election to be covered better by comedians (Colbert and Stewart, especially) than by political journalists.

    Complain about this comment

  • 27. At 12:43pm on 03 May 2008, ronaine wrote:

    I'm not sure I agree with the assertion that Brits do not like politicians. It's true, we've become cynical with politics as a whole here in the UK. But it's a far more complex issue than some supposed inherent dislike of the characters involved.

    It is, I think, as much to do with our parliamentary system (which, as I mentioned somewhere here before, gives absolute rule to the few over the many, and enables large swathes of the population to be electorally insignificant).

    And it may be to do with the brutal 'reconfiguring' of our political landscape which began under Thatcher. Plenty here still remember vividly the scenes at Orgreave and Wapping. The police stopping the movement of traffic towards picket lines etc.

    However, for one example, I first moved to London when Ken Livingstone's GLC introduced the Fare's fair initiative. Livingstone was incredibly popular with most inner Londoners. So much so that it was a wave of nostalgia that carried him back into power as Mayor years later as an Independent. Londoners loved and voted for Ken.

    And that little write-up feels a little elegaic - given we've now sacked him and replaced him with an Etonian muppet!

    Complain about this comment

  • 28. At 12:57pm on 03 May 2008, bobgodwin wrote:

    Justin with all respect l do know that you have been a journalist for such a long time… but l beg not now .. and please don't join the train of this deceive politics…We might be a few persons writing on this blog but l strongly believe that we represent a large number of voters and so therefore l would like you to listen carefully to the grass root personalities and stop posting views based on super delegates ideas. We already have a big problem here which is racial prejudice and the whole campaign has become a racial issue because Barack Obama is half black!!! Stop for a second and think twice…. If Barack Obama was pure white with great grand fathers from England or so… do you think that the democrats will nominate Hillary Clinton???? Please find the answer for yourself …..:)

    Complain about this comment

  • 29. At 1:59pm on 03 May 2008, tiptoplisamich wrote:

    I'm with #21 (norashdecisions) and actually laughed out loud when I read post #15. What arrogance! It never fails to amaze me when Brits visit/stay in the US---which always means they've hit the East Coast or DisneyWorld---and proclaim the entire US so terribly violent. Hint: The US is a VERY large place
    Justin is highly accurate about the midwest part of the US. Different people, different values, and violence tends to be much lower than the Coasts; however, to defend the US Coasts, their populations are more dense. As a person who actually LIVES in the middle part of the US (the flyover parts where no foreigners dare to vacation), I support Justin's claim.
    As to how we "Yanks" think of you Brits, let me put a pin in that balloon of yours and say that no one I know gets up each day wondering about what British people think of us. By and large, we like the Brits, but seriously you don't drive the engine of our daily thoughts. Be at peace, friend, as #21 said there are much more negative, hateful comments made toward Americans than what the usual Brits lob---and I for one have a pretty thick skin about it all.

    Complain about this comment

  • 30. At 2:24pm on 03 May 2008, pinners88 wrote:

    To the comedian who posted a comment saying that trying to convert atheists is like "trying to save a friend from a burning building"; are you not familiar with building a decent analogy?

    In this analogy he/she makes the assumption that they would want to die in a burning building; which is not the same as a conscious decision to refuse to be brainwashed by religious fanatics. One thing I respect the US for, together with their separation of powers rather than the fusion we see here in the UK, is their avowedly secular democracy. I would be saddened to see it hijacked by such people.

    Complain about this comment

  • 31. At 2:28pm on 03 May 2008, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    The only thing that can suppress voting is voter apathy. You have to wonder if Clinton becomes the nominee, whether there will be rioting in the streets, even violence because she will have been seen to have stolen the nomination from Obama because he is black. It would surprise me if under these circumstances, black voters supported Clinton in the general election. They might feel the system had cheated them or even vote for McCain to teach the Democratic party a lesson.

    The fact that nearly 100% of black voters support Obama is reverse racism on the face of it but because race is a hot button topic, the closest journalists come to discussing it is to dance around the issue. Obama is liked by a segment of the white voters who are affluent and well educated, a kind of class elite. Black voters have hardly been seen demographically by and large as falling into this category.

    I saw Obama on television and frankly he is very hard not to like. He is obviously highly intelligent, articulate, and his manner when he is not speaking in his oratorial pontificating style is very affable, one most Americans easily identify with. If you didn't see his face, he could be any American, Joe average. The concern I have about him is that I don't know much about him, I don't think he's had nearly enough experience in government, and I suspect his views are too liberal for my liking. However, his concerns and many of his ideas are not far from the mainstream even if at time his choice of words have been poor and were used as a political weapon against him. I have to wonder if he wouldn't have been better off waiting 4 more years or if McCain wins 8. This would give him time to mature and gain experience in government. He's still young to be President by American standards. It would be a shame if this potential is wasted on a failed run for the White House this fall against McCain and he is no longer viable in the future because his adversaries within the Democratic party will claim he has proven himself unelectable.

    President Bush was asked at his press conference this week what his greatest concerns are for the future policies of the American government. His answer was isolationism and protectionism. It seems to me that is exactly what both Democratic candidates are suggesting to one degree or another. Those around the world, especially in Europe who think Obama would be a panacea for their difficulties with the US will likely be in for a big surprise if he is elected. Not only will he put America's interests first as any American President would, he will be especially forceful about it just to prove he is not a sellout to foreign interests has his critics charge he would be.

    Those who are concerned about Senator Clinton's threat to obliterate Iran should it strike Israel should realize that Obama is not a dove either. He has already threatened to bomb Pakistan. Clinton's threat is pure rhetoric. She knows full well that were Israel to be threatened with the prospect of nuclear attack by Iran or anyone else, it would strike first with a crushing nuclear blow, one the middle east would not recover from. What she should have said was that if it appears Iran is close to having a nuclear weapon, it would be an unacceptable threat directly to the United States and we would strike first. A President is elected to protect America's interests, not Israels or anyone elses. That makes me wonder about her too. Most likely, I will hold my nose and pull the lever for McCain.

    Truthiness? middle bits? Poetic license. Good thing we don't have language police here like the French do :-)

    To be a successful politician in America it helps to be liked. The stereotype of the American political campaigner is the guy or gal kissing babies. Generally we vote for people we like and agree with. We expect them to behave with dignity at least in public and respect the office we gave them the privilege of serving in. It is disgusting to see them as anything less. Perhaps the reason Brits don't respect their elected officials is that they see them on PMQT where they put on a most revolting and entertaining display. Maybe most of them also seem remote from their constituents once they are elected. And the best they can achieve is being in the "lower house." I think kecsmar is right when he said in another thread below that Europe is elitist and its governments do not ultimately have to respect or reflect the will of the people. Usually there is little they can do about it. Even though we may like our politicians, I don't think most of us fully trust them and I know most of us don't trust government. We wish it to stay out of our lives as much as possible and only appear when needed as a last resort. In Europe, it strikes me that people trust their government, and look to them as the first solution to their problems. It is their neighbors they don't like or trust.

    Complain about this comment

  • 32. At 2:54pm on 03 May 2008, Mike wrote:

    With the forthcoming primaries of Indiana and North Carolina we appear to have another situation in which Clinton can lose, but Obama cannot. Obama will win North Carolina, and should he also win Indiana, the race would effectively be over. Yet it seems more likely that it will be Clinton that takes Indiana, thus drawing out the race all the way to end of the primary season. Clinton, as she is now, will be left trying to persuade the superdelegates that she has the better chance of victory over John McCain.

    Whether this is true or not (and I'm not so sure it really is when the electoral math is considered) it does raise the question about the purposes of the primaries in the first place. In a country where such pride is taken in the notion of democracy, can it really be the case that a party should choose the candidate more likely to win over the one elected by the people?

    There has been talk of how a group consisting of mainly white-middle age men, overlooking the looking the black candidate would be a disaster for race relations, but I feel there is a more fundamental principle at stake. The people should decide elections, not the politicians. If, as it seems he inevitably will be, Barack Obama end up with the most pledged delegates and the largest share of the popular vote, the superdelegates must pick him on the basis of the democracy that the United States was founded upon.

    Complain about this comment

  • 33. At 3:00pm on 03 May 2008, JPPeterson wrote:

    Razzie and Jimkeith both mentioned Michigan and Florida. Razzie Texas.

    Texas had a primary (voter in a booth) and a caucus (mob in a room, "winner take all" mob in a room BTW). Clinton won he primary 51% to 47%. Obama won the caucus 56% to 44%. To caucus you had to have voted in the primary, held earlier the same day. Clinton supporters poll older, they must have gone home and went to bed.

    Michigan is a big mess, Obamas name was not on that ballot. Clinton, Kucinnich, Dodd, Gravel and "uncommitted" were. Obamas operation in the state did actively campaign as "uncommitted". Likely, some people voted that because they were, but many cast a vote of "uncommitted" as a vote for Obama. Clinton got 55% "uncommitted" got 40%.

    Neither candidate campaigned in Florida. Both names were on the ballot. Clinton soundly won 50% to 33%.

    As we listen to the Obama campaign go on about their delegate count and lead in the popular vote we have to remember they leave Mich. and Fla. out completely. That campaign goes on about super delegates following the will of the people, while leaving millions of voters out of their argument. The punishment the party doled out when these states moved their primaries was not to seat Mich. or Fla. delegates at the convention. How does that equate to super delegates having to ignore the will of these voters?

    With Mich. and Fla. Clinton has more popular votes. If the Democratic party counted votes the way the country does in a general election, as the Republicans do, "Winner takes all" where would we be?

    Clinton would be hundreds of pledged delegates ahead of Obama, .....without Mich. or Fla.

    Hillary Clinton should fight for the nomination if the current status is not insurmountably overturned by the remaining primaries.

    Complain about this comment

  • 34. At 5:18pm on 03 May 2008, watermanaquarius wrote:

    Justin,
    Hopefully this preliminary competition will come to a head in a few weeks so that a chosen one can begin the true battle for POTUS, the elephant finally taking on the donkey.
    Your piece today begins with suppression, cultural and language differences, a TV link, Wright with religion, colour questions and violence. Middle of the road stuff with a rehash of a rehash of earlier subjects, obviously meant to invigorate our comments and countercomments to the benefit of your ratings at BBC House where the big chiefs sit. Nothing really new while there is the weekend lull

    Complain about this comment

  • 35. At 5:52pm on 03 May 2008, NoRashDecisions wrote:

    Ronaine (#27): And as I've said before on here as well, I don't think that the parlamentary system gives, to use your phrase, "power to the few over the many"!! In fact, the opposition (the decision to invade Iraq again, was only allowed because the main opposition party supported it), if against any action by the ruling party/prime minister, can stop, or at least seriously hinder, it from being undertaken!!! Look at Blair's extendtion the terror detention limit to 90 days. The opposition parties voted against it, and he suffered an enormous defeat, and it wasn't long afterward that he resigned!! The Democrats in the country were accused of "not having the best interests of the nation at heart" when they opposed some legislation by the Republicans, and they instantly were cowed into following largely the Republican line for fear of being branded "unpatriotic"! A verbal supression like that would never work in the UK!! And also in the UK, the Liberal Democrats hav a fighting chance of winning the prime ministership, Independents don't here, due to each individual state's voteing rules!! It is funny, though, we all seem to want what we can't have!

    pinners88
    (#30): Thank you! That is very nice of you!! But if I may make a suggestion, I think it a bit predjidous of you to call people of a faith (it doesn't matter which) "religious finatics". This guy and few others being the exception, most people of faith just have a different set of beliefs than others. As long as people such him aren't in positions of power, I think its perfectly fine if anyone of any faith is in one, just so long as they don't let it cloud their judgement.

    Complain about this comment

  • 36. At 6:25pm on 03 May 2008, watermanaquarius wrote:

    Justin,
    Computer crashed- this is my full comment.

    Hopefully this preliminary competition will come to a head in a few weeks so that a chosen one can begin the true battle for POTUS, the elephant finally taking on the donkey.
    Your piece today begins with suppression, cultural and language differences, a TV link, Wright with religion, colour questions and violence. Middle of the road stuff with a rehash of a rehash of earlier subjects, obviously meant to invigorate our comments and countercomments to the benefit of your ratings at BBC House where the big chiefs sit. Nothing really new while there is the weekend lull in the campaigns. So with time on are hands I ask the question who are going to be the winners and losers in the near future?
    Whatever the result Obama and Clinton will feel themselves both a winner and loser, [or loser and winner] , both endings combined in a democratic DNC process that has all the built in failsafe features of a rubber safety net.
    The first obvious winner is the Republican who had only to sit back and watch his opponents attempt to tear each other and their party apart. Democrat insinuations from each candidate, followed by a counter claim and opposing comment, including wild accusations with little truth or half truths making the fore. The GOP having only to promote this dissaray, and pour more gasoline on the fire.
    I feel a winner because I have learned a lot from these pages but hate to say it, my increased knowledge coming from the comments and not from your copy.
    Perhaps other readers feel themselves as winners, many having surfed the web providing links to inform us all, they too being informed by the ripples that spread through internet comments on this and other blogs. But we the readers are also one of the greatest losers. As bertipus *5 writes it is divisive and destructive journalism and its you, who are doing your bit for both of the big machines politic in suppressing information and some truths that you already know, from our eyes. It is sad to see you big boys of the visual and printed media, toeing a particular line with your journalism, and recieving compliments from those powers for doing your duty!? But to whom? We trawl the internet and hope to divide the wheat from the chaff that often brings us to websites of dubious pedigree, where our hopes should lie with you.
    The biggest winner- Without doubt -You, and your colleagues, You have all done a wonderful job of doing your best to keep us in the dark and can quite correctly approach your bosses listing the increased attention to your individual ratings based upon reader comment and viewer figures.
    Most of us average citizens will be forced to tighten our belts and hope that the worldwide downturns or recessions in each country affected will not alter our lifestyles too much. You have informed us many times about the cost of living with a young family in America. Many will be forced to go cap in hand to explain their financial imbalances. I am sure you and your colleagues will not be on your knees visiting the top brass with an equal salary request or an Ít's the economy now Stupid' approach. At those meetings honesty?, diplomacy and the truth? could finally come into the light.
    Could the colour question in these elections be your and your colleagues 'black' hearts??

    Complain about this comment

  • 37. At 6:46pm on 03 May 2008, MagicKirin wrote:

    Justin:

    The only voter suppression of consequence is the Florida and Michigan delegates not being seated.

    Who is Howard Dean to tell elected govenors when to hold their primaries?

    Complain about this comment

  • 38. At 10:53pm on 03 May 2008, ronaine wrote:

    NoRashDecisions

    Please, don't be fooled by the system here. Any good, interesting politics has happened here, at least in my lifetime, in spite of, rather than because of the system.

    With the Iraq war. It has been well documented here, most recently on a Channel 4 series of short films, how the case for the Iraq war was 'whipped' through the civil service and then parliament. The Conservatives were always going to back the war - on matters of US military policy, the UK establishment is expedient and united. And it really didn't matter that most of the voting population were against the war. Electorally speaking it didn't count for much.

    As opposed to you in the US, we here, whether we like it or not, are subjects constitutionally. We have privileges not rights.

    I'm not saying you folks in the US have it completely right, but you took a good step forward all those years ago.

    Complain about this comment

  • 39. At 01:20am on 04 May 2008, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    ronaine;
    This is what I have been saying. The people of the UK like those all over Europe did not back the US in the invasion of Iraq. Their governments do not reflect the will of their people. They are not democracies. And that they will join what is clearly an undemocratic union ceding their sovereignty to a foreign entity without public debate, without a plebicite, possibly without even a vote in Parliament proves it. The last and only vote so far that the people of the UK had regarding the EU was to join a free trade zone. The rest has been complete abrogation of power.

    Some of the governments of Western Europe supported the US. Some that did fell as a result like Spain's and Italy's. But public sentiment was sharply against it in most places. Maybe it was 50-50 at best in the UK. Things were very different in the US. Public sentiment sharply favored the war. Hillary Clinton can say whatever she likes now but the fact is that the Congress had exactly the same intelligence reports available to it that the President had and her own husband's appointed director of the CIA George Tenet told President Bush that Saddam Hussein having WMDs was a slam dunk. The US felt threatened and both the Congress and the population were united with the President. Whether it seems fair on not, Europe was seen largely as a whole (isn' the idea of the EU that it wants to be seen that way?) and it was seen as a sellout, a betrayal of the US for the narrow profiteering of the friends of those in power in Germany, France, Russia, and China while the leaders of Germany and France found fertile ground for anti-Americanism. The problem with Iraq for Americans is that things didn't turn out the way we hoped and expected. They might have had Europe cooperated as a whole or at least stood out of the way. But Europe was seen as having given aid and comfort to the enemy, radical Islam and the forces of tyranny and destabalization in the Middle East. Having made huge sacrifices on Europe's behalf in World War I and II and then to have rebuilt it and protected it in the cold war for 46 years, this betrayal will never be forgotten. The damage is irreparable.

    As far as the step forward that the ex colonists in the new world took when they became the United States of America, that was a giant leap for mankind. I read American history as having happened in three parts. The part where the Declaration of Independence was written and signed, and the Constitution and the Bill of Rights were created, events leading up to those three founding documents, and events subsequent and consequent of them.

    The founding fathers of the United States thought that one day America would be an important country and take its place among the great nations of the world but I don't think that they ever dreamt that in less than 200 years, it would dwarf them all. The American experiment continues to show great promise. Despite repeated setbacks, the results so far are very encouraging. America does not need anyone from the outside. It did fine in isolation in the 19th century, it would do just fine again in the 21st. Its engagement with the outside world in the 20th has brought it a lot of trouble. Perhaps that will come to an end soon.

    Complain about this comment

  • 40. At 06:51am on 04 May 2008, NoRashDecisions wrote:

    Ronaine #37: I'm pretty sure-I may be wrong on this-but I'm pretty sure, that the title "subjects" refering to UK citizens is more or less just a term to describe someone-like a tradition, and nothing more. Its like the queen being "head of the nation"-she really isn't anymor, but she has been a part of your society for as long as its existance-and that being the case, it seemed more feasable back in the 19th century or there about-I don't know when exactly, to shift the real power to a modern democratic head of state, then disguard her. You have as many "rights" if not more than all of us in other western countries!! Don't believe me? Ask yourself if the police have arrested someone on false grounds or without telling the person why they were being arrested, poor people in that country get a less fair, and/or more rapid trile than rich, torture has taken place in any of your prisions. I ashaimidly admit to the second question, and most-likely the third having been done in the US-although Amnisty International does say that rather torture having been abolished, it has just been pushed under ground in 75% of the world's governments. You have all these safe guards against harsh treatments/injustices-especially when it comes to terror-related charges!! In 2007, a Democratic lead congress passed the '"defence authorisation" act, an act makeing it easier for a president to declair marcial law if need be. Does that sound like a good idea? I doubt such a bill would go very far in parlament indeed!

    As far as Iraq goes. Ok I understand part of the reason why the Conservitives backed the war. I always thought it was because they actually somehow thought it was a good, and the right thing to do-deposing Sadam. But if it was, as you say, due to the "UK establishment" is always supporting US millitary policy, I ask you, do you agree with that? I mean regardless of the "Iraq" war. Overall, do you agree with the apparent "UK establishment/parlament"'s position to more offen than not support US millitary policy around the world, or do you wish they weren't so so much? Also, I don't think, "electorally" speeking, that any nation's leader makes any decision based on what their nation's people think. So don't fret over that!! Yes 70% of Americans at the time supported the invasion, but that was mainly because Bush had 9/11 as a false spring board with which to make his case-claiming the Sadam and the 9/11 hijackers somehow colaborated together to conjer up the 9/11 tacticts etc. And however since the war's start, American support has dropped like a led balloon!! I don't know if British inicial support for the war is correct by your standards either-I read on the BBC somewhere, that inicially 60% of the British people supported it, which has obviously declined to around 20%, or there about-I may be wrong, though. But that's beside the point. My point is what the "public" thinks, generally doesn't feature into any leader's decision makeing!! Heck! Bush once described opinion poles as "a puf of air". So don't feel you got the short end of the stick, there!! I'm sure that this is the case in all countries!!

    Complain about this comment

  • 41. At 11:30am on 04 May 2008, Cyril_Croydon wrote:

    Andew Sullivan in the Sunday Times
    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/columnists/andrew_sullivan/article3866584.ece

    At least I'm not the only one who thinks it might be the only option now! Hillary's tactics and Rev. Wright have successfully racialised the contest so Obama will struggle to win over the white working class.

    However, I'm not sure whether Hillary will accept the job. Would she be willing to wait another 8 years?

    Looks like Obama will win N Carolina and Hillary will take Indiana. The delegate count will remain roughly the same, so the statemate will continue. She will win Kentucky, W Virgina and Puerto Rico and he'll win Oregon, S Dakota and Montana

    Complain about this comment

  • 42. At 12:06pm on 04 May 2008, ronaine wrote:

    NoRashDecisions

    I do understand your point of view, and a lot of what you say is difficult to disagree with. Although, for sure, we too have had our share of false arrests, deaths in custody, institutionalised racism etc. - however the police here have made efforts to clean up their act...

    But when it comes to our status as subjects, and the powers of the head of the state, these are significant issues. The Royal Prerogative is the Sovereign power vested in government - this allows, for example, a Prime Minister to go to war without parliamentary backing. Your recent Defence Authorization Act sounds a bit like it (sinister!) The Royal Family, for all their apparant harmlessness, are land owners on a vast scale. And some still get paid via the Civil List. The pomp and ceremony is the gloss on a system of patronage and deference.

    We did sign up to the European Convention of Human Rights after Blair won power - so we do have recourse to Europe. But our checks and balances are precarious - and rely on the wisdom and restraint of our leaders. We do not, like you in the US, have a defining document to which we can refer.

    With the Iraq parliamentary vote - it was actually defined as an "advisory" vote. If, as was almost impossible, Blair had lost the vote, he would still have exercised the Royal Prerogative and taken us into war.

    My recollection of the opinion polls at the time is that in the weeks before the war there was a majority against. But perhaps you are right, when war became inevitable I think a lot of opinion swung round in favour of action - probably to get behind our forces.

    And no, I don't think it was a good idea for the UK to follow George Bush's military strategy - the "Project for the New American Century." I think, for whatever good it's done Halliburton et al, the Iraq war has proved to be a disaster - the repercussions of which we'll have to live with for a long time after the last of the forces are withdrawn, I fear.

    Complain about this comment

  • 43. At 12:17pm on 04 May 2008, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    NoRashDecisions;

    You're wrong. "You have many rights if not more than all of us in western in other western countries!! Don't believe me? Ask yourself if the police have arrested somene on false grounds or telling the person why they were being arrested...."

    Arrested? They blew a Brazilian electrician away in the subway because they thought he was a terrorist. They didn't confront him, they didn't even try to arrest him, they just blew him away, just like the guy they thought was a drug dealer in the Bronx. This right after 7-7. Police torture of those in custody? How about police murder of those in custody. Ever hear of Steven Lawrence? Here's BBC's take on it just so you can get an "unbiased" view.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/special_report/1999/02/99/stephen_lawrence/285357.stm

    And an excerpt from the government report cut and pasted from BBC's article;

    "The report into the murder of Stephen Lawrence labelled London's police force "institutionally racist" "

    By the way, has the law in the UK been changed allowing prisoners to be held without cause from 14 days to 42 days? Did the change pass Parliament?

    The UK and the US know that they are in a war for their very survival. All of the rules regarding suspected combatants in that war are not the same legally as those in ordinary criminal law in either country. But even in ordinary criminal law, the rules are very different in the UK that they are in the US. The do not have a written constitution with the kind of legal protections we have. They have different rules of evidence, different and IMO a far inferior system of checks and balances, and their courts and judges are clubby. As was said by kecsmar in another thread, their society is based on an elitist notion. But they do not have the death penalty.

    Complain about this comment

  • 44. At 12:31pm on 04 May 2008, DutchNemo wrote:

    MarcusAureliusII,

    'Having made huge sacrifices on Europe's behalf in World War I and II and then to have rebuilt it and protected it in the cold war for 46 years, this betrayal will never be forgotten. The damage is irreparable.' Sorry but the damage isn't irreparable. Recent opinion polls illustrate this: 91% of the Americans prefers closer ties with Europe and nearly 70% of the Europeans prefers closer ties with the USA. France is the only country which prefers looser ties with the USA (but Sarkozy prefers clooser ties). The UK and the Netherlands prefer strong American leadership in this world and the rest of Europe (with France as an exeption) is unsure. The wounds caused by the Iraq War have nearly healed.

    Europeans know the sacrifices the Americans made in WWII. We just don't like the arrogant way some Americans can say it. Let's not forget that the Europeans made huge sacrifices to: 50 million, including 30 million Russians.

    Complain about this comment

  • 45. At 12:34pm on 04 May 2008, DutchNemo wrote:

    Clinton will win Indiana with 51% of the vote, Obama will get 49%. Obama will win North Carolina with 50% of the vote. Clinton will get just 40%. I hope I'm wrong. I would like Obama to win both contests but I'm affraid the current stealmate will continue.

    Complain about this comment

  • 46. At 12:37pm on 04 May 2008, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    JP (33),

    "Clinton would be hundreds of pledged delegates ahead of Obama, .....without Mich. or Fla."

    And, but for gravity, pigs would be airborne.

    xx
    ed

    Complain about this comment

  • 47. At 12:54pm on 04 May 2008, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    DutchNemo
    While it is true Europeans suffered a lot in WWII, that was entirely of their own doing and among themselves. They set up all of the conditons which created WWII such as the murderous reparations in the Treaty of Versailles which were designed to keep Germany weak and bankrupt, blatant anti-semitism (it was worse in France and Poland than in Germany) and national hatreds, alliances against each other, tolerence for military dictatorships which grew into monsters, the self deception that you could negotiate with them and come to a workable peace settlement, failure to confront and defeat aggression while it was still manageable. The US spilled a lot of American blood and treasure becuse it saw the threat could become even greater and one day reach its own shores, not because of any love of Europeans. It rebuilt Europe because it saw the threat of yeat another bloodbath if the USSR invaded. But it has not fully learned or remembered its lesson. That is why the USSR was allowed to become a nuclear superpower. That is why it has not pre-emptively struck Iran or North Korea. It has OTOH struck Iraq. Real or imagined, whatever direct military threat Iraq posed to the US is long gone. Despite the mess in the aftermath, an unqualified success IMO. As for the aftermath, if the US pulls out the way Obama and Clinton want to, the entire world will have to deal with the consequences. Sounds good to me. In fact, hitting Iran even harder and creating a new mess for the world to deal with strikes me as another good idea. Europe wants the world to cut back on CO2 emissions by 80% to prevent global warming? Let's push oil to $500 a barrel and just sit back and see what happens.

    Complain about this comment

  • 48. At 1:46pm on 04 May 2008, DutchNemo wrote:

    MarcusAureliusII,

    True, the Europeans caused WWI and WWII. Our own pride and nationalism became letal for many. Complete generations were wiped out: just 10% of the generation 1896 survived. The huge loss of life in the World Wars also explains the dislike for war in Europe.

    I agree the USA should not pull out of Iraq. 2015 sounds good to me. In that time we (including Europe, to train the Iraqi Army) needs to rebuild the Iraqi Army. Arab nations should send troops to. If Iraq collapses then they will be the first to feal the consequences.

    Complain about this comment

  • 49. At 2:52pm on 04 May 2008, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    DutchNemo
    Some Europeans didn't like war in 1938. That's why Neville Chamberlain surrendered Czechoslovakia to Hitler in Munich. That's why Britain's government did not have or want a strong military, it feared that would be a provocation to Germany. That was the most disasterous mistake Europe could have made. In the end it did not prevent war, it made it inevitable. That is the lesson of WWII, you do not cower in the face of aggression. The idea that war is too terrible to contemplate as the worst possible outcome is the only thing that prevents it. The only reason the USSR didn't invade Western Europe after WWII to make it part of the Soviet slave empire is that it was certain that any move in that direction would cause the US to immediately obliterate it with 20,000 hydrogen bombs. But the lesson seems to have been forgotten. So far Iran has skated free paying no penalties for its nuclear weapons development program. War with Iran may not be avoidable but if there is any chance that it is, it is being thrown away right now by the world's timidity in dealing with the growing threat. Europe as usual is utterly impotent. All it knows how to do is squawk. It is up to the US or eventually if we don't act then Israel to make Iran pay the price. The longer we wait, the higher the eventual price will be. BTW, if Israel is destroyed by an N weapon, Europeans should not feel they would be immune to the consequences. In addition to the Middle East being blown away and all of the oil fields set ablaze, most European capitals are within range of Israeli nuclear missiles. They have not forgotten how their ancestors were treated by Europe, you can count on that. If they go down, so will everyone else in the world. A parting farewell so to speak.

    Complain about this comment

  • 50. At 3:15pm on 04 May 2008, Adrian_Evitts wrote:

    The full story behind Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s 9/11 sermon

    http://ac360.blogs.cnn.com/2008/03/21/the-
    full-story-behind-rev-jeremiah-wrights-911-
    sermon/

    Included in this analysis of the sermon by a CNN correspondent is a link to a full audio recording of it.

    Look and listen, America, before you judge old Jeremiah!

    Complain about this comment

  • 51. At 3:31pm on 04 May 2008, NoRashDecisions wrote:

    Ronaine: Please don't think that I was insinuateing that if Bush, too, had not recieved Democratic backing for the war, that he would've actually listened to them and respected them, and 100 million American's wishes by not going to war!!! He was just as hell-bent on it as Blair!!! The Democrats and moderate Republicans have had to fight him tooth and nale to keep him from consolidateing and controlling more power than he already has, and I know this sounds bad, but if they trusted him/the Republican extreme right, I doubt we would have very much to show for ourselves in terms of a "true" democracy! Its not as if being "constitutionally " bound to put a decision to go to war before congress is any different from being required to do it in parlament!! There are plenty of loop holes in our constitution with respect of that-believe me!! Granted, most other presidents weren't as power hungry, and haven't felt their positions on war so imparitive and necessary for the safety of the "American people" to stretch and bend the constitution nearly to its breaking point like Bush has done, but nevertheless, I think we have learned that if one does, he/she can find ways to use/missuse the constitution for their own personal gain. And didn't I hear from prime minister Brown shortly after he had asumed office that he would put a bill before parlament to create a law that demands a parlamentary vote on going to war in the future anyway? You know, Guantanamo Bey was set up because after congress had rejected it, Bush, along with help from a constitutional loyer at the Justice department, signed an executive order. In a time of war, the constitution gives significantly more power to the president, and it is this fact which has allowed congress to give so much power to Bush. And in a time of war, executive orders are the main way in which presidents, who don't want to listen to congress get what they want done. Bush doesn't like going to congress unless he absolutely has to, or he thinks he has a very slim chance of loosing the vote, and then when he gets something he doesn't lik, on the war on terror at least, he either manipulates th Justice department or signs an executive order. Yes I am obviously furvantly against the war as well!!! But hat I ment was, with your government haveing been accused of being our" lacky, poodle, 51st state" etc, do you agree with the UK government's position of largely being so closely alined with US millitary policy after Iraq? Do you think that because of the disasterous consiquences of Iraq, it best for your reputation not to support US millitary policy as much? Not necessarily in future illeagle, unwaronted, unnecessary, wars!!! And God willing we'll never want to start one again!!! But in general-Afghanistan, peace keeping, etc? I've always thought it pretty amaising, personally, that you don't have a written constitution, and yet have and keep the same basic rights as everyone else in the western world. People infringe on others rights all the time here, and we're always having to check the constitution to see if what one has done violates it, but you all are so selfless that you just know where the lines are, and not to cross them!!

    MarcusAureliusII: You didn't even bring up the electrition having been shot one day after a major terrorist atack as an example of an unnecessary death in the UK!! All the main parties are calling for the police cheaf's resignation because of that!!! If that had happened here, do you think there would be such an outcry from congress and so many people calling for a resignation? Or would they equit them and igve them the bennifit of the doubt? And just so you know, three people are being held as suspected terrorists without charge for at least two years here-yes here, as in on US soil!! We have no 28 day detention limit!! If someone is deamed a possible terror suspect, there is no limit to how long they can be held without charge!! Don't you think that's a little wrong?

    Complain about this comment

  • 52. At 5:09pm on 04 May 2008, emblogger wrote:

    Hi Justin, I saw that someone had a question of the validity of the robocall article, saying that it was from Jack and Jill politics. The robocall story is also available from National Public Radio (a more well known source), at this link: http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=90114863

    Complain about this comment

  • 53. At 10:08pm on 04 May 2008, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    NoRashDecisions;
    I did bring up the Brazilian electrician in #43. Would there be an outcry here for a similar event? Yes, there just was one in New York City about a guy who was killed the night before he was supposed to get married in a police raid outside a nightclub at 2 am. It was apparently a case of mistaken identity. The victim was black. So were some of the cops. There was a trial and a jury acquitted the cops. Then there was a protest. Shoud the police chief have been fired? It depends. Was there criminal intent? Did they follow procedures? Should the police chief have known about it? If the procedures were wrong they should be corrected. If they were followed and led to the death of an innocent victim, that is a tragedy for the family and friends but not a crime. If you are going to have effective police, there are times when mistakes will be made and innocent people will get hurt. The alternative is to have an ineffective police force or no police at all. That would be far worse.

    Do I think it is wrong for people to be held without charge if they are suspected of being terrorists? In the US not necessarily. It depends on the circumstances. Bringing charges might jeopardize the case, reveal secret sources, or tip off co-conspirators. Whatever the reason, it depends. In a war of survival, the Constitution can be and is suspended for the common security. As I wrote elsewhere, Justice Jackson said the Constitution is not a suicide pact. Lincoln felt the same way when he suspended Habaes Corpus. It is not unprecedented by a long shot. As for what is right in another country such as Britain, that is not for me to decide. It's up to them and their government. Frankly I don't care one way or another what happens to them. Why should I, at least 50% of them didn't care what would have happened to me had Saddam Hussein had WMDs and delivered them to terrorists wanting to strike the US.

    One of my postings, #49 appears to be under review by the moderator and may not get published because it broke the rules. It probably had more answers to your questions and others.

    Complain about this comment

  • 54. At 10:44pm on 05 May 2008, ynda20 wrote:

    i refer to www.blackboxvoting.org - in Indiana, it looks like voters likely to support Obama are being purged from the voter rolls. 25% of the voter rolls are being purged in an action reminiscent of Jed Bush's infamous cull of voters in 2000 (as exposed by the bbc) to secure GWB's precarious presidential win.

    Is democracy going to be undermined again?

    Complain about this comment

  • 55. At 4:37pm on 06 May 2008, DougTexan wrote:

    Justin, and 'noetus'

    I seemed to have Voter Suppression on my mind when I read this post but I couldn't find the meat of the title.

    I did find 'noetus's letter most intriguing. Violence is part of America. its past and present, peace in neighborhoods varies as 'noetus' states, by money but also by the people whom live there. I've grown up 'very poor', I mean pancakes and beans for dinner poor and I am not complaining. In New York City, till I was six, and in Milford Pennsylvania till fourteen (small country town of 1200 people in 1961-69) and then Westbury, Long Island N.Y. (NYC with a country feel) till I went in the Air Force at Eighteen.

    My point is my parents, neighbors and realitives would not allow the neighborhood to be degraded. An active stance, a clean house and yard, organised weekly street affairs where we knew everybody, every neighbor and subsequently every bad influence (person, drug dealer, thief). It helped keep the crime and those of us effected to a minimal. Though the violence of murder, rape and beatings didn't seem the norm until the 1990's, possibly it just wasn't so widely reported.

    I now live outside Dallas, fifty miles plus. I did this to raise my four children in a calm neighborhood far from from wealthy (I'm not} or the poor, (I'm not) just the working class (Carpenter I am) in mobile homes with acres of property and dreams. We as parents attended football games every Friday, paid for music lessons and tutors, celebrated the Forth of July with picnics and fireworks. Many neighbors raise livestock and we hunt and fish regularly, and have a guns we fire in our own yard for practice and fun.

    And we still are cautious of strangers, answer the door with guns loaded, are no less in fear than those of the city.

    I hear of more violence in Dallas than anytime in the past. The growing third world neighborhoods, decadence with drug use and crime, a larger uneducated youth (even though they graduate the public school system) with no saleable skills, trade skills, math skills or computer skills.

    Yes America is changing, I feel the change is that the "country that is America" is becoming to far away for the families of the city. The ability of a six thru sixteen year old to sleep in a tent, fish and shoot a gun, for fun and experience, is gone for many. And in that sentence is the difference of America of the twentyith and the twenty first century.

    Complain about this comment

  • 56. At 07:58am on 09 May 2008, ynda20 wrote:

    Yet again I have to get my news from somewhere other than the BBC: this time John Stewart's Daily Show on More4. They pointed out the slowness of the count in Lakeland County, Indiana while the media wanted (actually seem to demand) instant vote counts, the mayor was obviously still wrestling with "problems". Lakeland county was closest to Chicago and Obama support and this may explain while Clinton's win was so narrow at the end...

    Complain about this comment

  • 57. At 04:31am on 11 May 2008, MarcusAureliusII wrote:

    DougTexan #55;
    As one American to another, I salute you and thank you for your service and sacrifice to defending our country.

    "Violence is part of America. Its past and present..."

    True. We were born of violence. Violence has always been part of our history. The victims of violence in Europe came here and gave us the power to kill everyone. We are the most violent people who ever were. We are the only people who ever used a nuclear weapon on anyone and if we had to, there is no doubt we'd do it again even if we knew in the end we wound up killing ourselves at the same time. Having been in the Air Force, you know the truth of this.

    My problem with Barack Obama is that I don't know who he is. I don't know what he is about? Would he be too unwilling to use America's might to protect it...or too trigger happy at every perceived threat. I don't trust what I don't know. If he'd only had a few more years in Congress things might be different. I can't vote for him just because I like him, I might be wrong. I'll stick with the devils I do know. I don't like them... but at least I know who they are.

    Complain about this comment

View these comments in RSS

BBC iD

Sign in

BBC navigation

BBC © 2014 The BBC is not responsible for the content of external sites. Read more.

This page is best viewed in an up-to-date web browser with style sheets (CSS) enabled. While you will be able to view the content of this page in your current browser, you will not be able to get the full visual experience. Please consider upgrading your browser software or enabling style sheets (CSS) if you are able to do so.