Saturday, January 20, 2007


At the end, a word of advice to Barak Obama

Pope concerned over construction near cathedral in Bucharest

Milošević 'invited to vote in election'

The guy must be a vampire. I've thought that was a possibility for some time now.

Carla del Ponte doesn't want the job anymore

Bomb like device discovered under Serbian politicians car

Lindh's killer faces uncertain future

Last night it was supposed to snow. I'm glad it didn't snow, and very glad there was no freezing rain. It's hard work shifthing it. It did however get really really cold last night. I was really grateful for the Hudson's Bay blanket.

Day before yesterday the story of Barak Obama's education as a Muslim broke. He has said in his autobiography that he wasn't raised in a religious atmosphere, an atmosphere of anyone's religion, just exposure. It looks like the Clinton team have uncovered different information.

I was very annoyed with all the igonorant callers to radio talk shows and the hosts who refered to him as 'Barak Osama' and all that sort of happy horse-shit. This however is a different matter. For what ever reason, Obama has concealed his religious education and affiliations. I personally do not have a problem with someone Muslim holding high office in the United States or anyplace else, provided they take care of the national interest, and don't expect others to follow their religion if they are in an area where the Muslim faith doesn't constitute the majority.

I can see why he might have downplayed his background, Muslims were even long before Sept 11, not well liked in the United States. This was the case before there was the issue of Israel and Palestine, non-Christians especially non-Protestants have always had a hard time in the United States. There is complete freedom to practice your religion here, the only constraints are not legal, but matters of the popular culture, which in my opinion make it as difficult for serious Christians and Jews as it is for Muslims. One's peers will try to pull one into aspects of the popular culture which are actually not good from the point of view of either Judaism, Christianity or Islam.

There are a lot of good ways to work around these difficulties in private life, but in politics, that is another matter.

Still I personally am acquainted with a Washington State rep who is a Democrat, he serves in the state legislature and he's Muslim, and he doesn't conceal this fact, there's the case of Congressman Ellison who hasn't concealed his faith, and who has really shown the way for defending his faith in the public forum, I do not believe the American people are so biggoted that a Muslim can't serve in public office and be open about his or her faith. Quite the contrary, I believe that it may be a point in the person's favor, because Americans tend to respect religious people on General Principle, again so long as they aren't extremist in their views.

Obama was educated for four years in a madrasa in Indonesia. He probably was exposed to extremist views. I doubt very much he holds such views at this point in his life. He also was in the care of his grand-parents who took him to Methodist church. He attends some sort of Protestant type church now.

Mostly what concerns me is that Obama didn't take advantage of the opportunity to control the discussion of his religious education.His book would have been an excellent place to do it. I personally would have done something like that if I were in his shoes.

There are ways he could handle this question that would make him a stronger candidate against the steamroller that Hillary Clinton is.

1. State the fact that he was a CHILD when he was sent to the madrasa by his step father in Indonesia. Children don't get to decide these things.

2. State what his beliefs are now, at this point in his life.

3. Point out that having this education is an ASSET! He can understand the point of view of very strict Muslims. Right now we need someone in office who can understand this worldview, not yet another mono-culturally mono-religiously raised person.

4. Point out that he has flexibility going for himself, or have someone in his immediate circle point this fact out. People raised with different worldviews are very flexible. They can't help thinking outside the box, they've never been IN the box.

During my English class last quarter I learned that I am what is called an 'Adult Third Culture Kid' What this means is I was raised outside the culture I was born into, and that is what happened to Barak Obama growing up, he was raised for part of his childhood in Indonesia, although he was born in the U.S. This trait is a good trait, America has to deal with the world, and since no President of the United States can be born abroad, we don't have another way to get the perspective of other kinds of people. Adult Third Culture Children have that perspective but are American.
In the times we are in this is a valuable perspective. Don't just throw it away.

My advice to Barak Obama would be to handle this issue directly, forthrightly and point out that he had his personal reasons to downplay his upbringing. Of course now that he's running for President of the United States of America, this has become everyone's business, not just the business of those Americans who choose to choose, but of the world.

Having read this, I am afraid he is going to have tough time, and lady Clinton will use it. Personally I do not think too well about Mrs. C.
Mrs. C. is who had him investigated, and dug up that not everything in his book about himself was totally accurate. I consider Mrs. C. to be cold and calculating, and a LOT of people here don't like her. A lot of people who know her say she's the nearest in personality to Nixon in the Democratic party.

I remember when I was first in Sarajevo, the only thing in English to read was a copy of Newsweek. In my home, growing up, we used to call it 'Newspeak' and we called 'Time' 'Slime' magazine. We've always had kind of a Mad Magazine, Dr. Demento, Wierd Al take on things.
Anyway one day just to read something I could read without a dictionary, I picked it up, and my fiance wanted to know something, right then it was the middle of the whole Monica Lewinsky scandal. He had seen pictures of Monica, and didn't think she was anyone to write home about, and that Mrs. C. was way more attractive physically. So I said 'People say he's cold to her, and you tell me, a woman who isn't cold, who is nice to you, or a woman who throws things at you and is cold to you? After a certain point looks don't matter'.
He smiled and said that made sense to him.
My mom and step dad met the Clintons, my step dad met President Clinton twice, My mom met them both once. She was simply entranced by Mrs. C. I never was. I liked Mr. C. but not her.
Well, knowing everything about the war here you can guess we were all looking to Mr. C as if he were God almighty. And I do not think bad of him. But her, I do not like. Were I in your place at the moment I do not know for whom I would vote, but there is still time to think about that.
I need to edit, probably you knew what I meant that Mrs. C was cold to Mr. C.
I like Gov. Bill Richardson from New Mexico, he's someone I had the privelege of meeting early in his political career, when unfortunately I was too young to vote, but I would have totally voted for him then and he's done nothing to change my mind in the meantime. I think he won't pick up steam early and probably he shouldn't. I would love to see like a Richardson Edwards ticket, or an Edwards-Richardson ticket. Richardson has a lot of good foreign policy experience and he has presence, but he's so far as I know free of rattling skeletons in his closet. In short my idea of a strong candidate.
New Mexico btw is the most Balkans state in the U.S. Not ethnically speaking, Balkans people are a rarity there, but the parallel is there in terms of having a long standing cultural diversity, there's the Native American element, Spanish (not to be mistaken for Mexican) and the so called 'Anglos' meaning English speaking people of mostly English, or various Celtic ethnicities, and a small number of Black people.
An interesting feature of the state is that many of the Spanish who arrived when New Mexico was a Spanish colony, were forcibly converted Jews and Muslims, who had their own villages, and only saw a priest twice a year. They covertly maintained many of their customs, while outwardly being Catholic.
Then New Mexico recieved many refugees starting from 1910 or so from Lebanon and Syria, in this instance Christians fleeing disorder that had to do with the fall of the Ottoman Empire.
But Hillary and Bill both set out as politicians to achieve change and Bill blew it. Hillary doesn't come across as a warm character and she's not averse to trimming her sails to the wind but for a politican she seems to have a pretty firm commitment to change in the direction of justice and equality. From what I've heard of him Obama sounds rather like Blair, a man without ideology. I'd rather have a reasonably honest politican with ideas and determination than a cypher who will go where need and the pursuit of power takes them.

That's a very shallow impression. Am I off on completely the wrong track?
Obama is too new to judge anything and I think if he mis-handles how Hilary investigaged him, he's toast anyway so what he thinks won't matter. Maybe it's Hilary's coldness that's kept her out of some sorts of trouble, and you do raise a valid point, I remember my mother considered Hillary to be 'on the Shining Path' but then she'd say 'Being on the 'Shining Path' is probably better than the road straight to Hell!'
I think that if an election were held now and all that were on the ballot were Hillary and Obama, Hillary would win, because she is a known element, and Obama isn't and the fact he's not been forthcoming about being Muslim or not being Muslim isn't a good thing. I think it's the religious ambiguity that will come to increasingly bother people. Ellison, an out in the open Muslim probably has gotten some respect. I'd watch that young man in the future, he may be going places. Obama however probably has a long way to go, if he goes anywhere. It's for one thing too early in his career to be running for president.
I should point out that Hillary is also in pursuit of power and has in many ways gone where the chast takes her. She has a more clearly thought out world-view, and that is the main difference.

One really interesting thing is that it's Mike Savage who broke the story. I can't STAND Mike Savage, he makes me want to break people and kill things, however he breaks just enough stories of this kind that I continue to listen despite my dislike and strong disagreement with most of his views. He's been very shrewd though about things like the whole Obama story.

Obama can give a fantastic speech, but then so did the late President Ronald Reagan. I was never a supporter of Ronald Reagan, but I never missed his speeches if I could help it because he was a really good speaker.

Being a good speaker however isn't enough, it's only one small part of the job.

Mike Savage basically had a guest from the magazine that had the Obama story, and he actually said 'For once I have to thank Hillary for making this investigation and getting it out. America owes her a debt of gratitude for this.'

You are not completely off track.
The big thing about Hillary C seems to be that she's really nailed her flag to the mast about health care. I never forget the security we have of the National Health Service, however bad it gets and however hard Tony Blair wants to break it up.

As you say being a good speaker isn't enough. There are two great speakers who have made the hair on the back of my neck stand up - Martin Luther King and Louis Farrakhan. Since Farrakhan did that to me I've known to be wary of the powerful speaker.

Incidentally I've just been watching an interview with Anna Politkovskaya (part of a programme on Litvinenko). What an intelligent woman, and what a tragedy.
The health care issue is a big one for Hillary C. and yes she has nailed her colors to the mast there. The problem is that nearly all national health care plans out there fail in on major way, they still leave room for the private sector in health insurance. Way too much room! I think the only way to bring health insurance costs into line is to take the hundreds of private companies out of the business. There's over 400 companies in Washington State alone, and each cover different illnessess and procedures, there's a huge hassle for hospitals in billing the care of patients. meantime the most vulnerable part of our society, the elderly have a thoroughly confusing medical prescription plan that they have to check into every year. Don't even get me started on the pharmaceutical industry, they have been skinning people alive for years.
Hillary's plan failed because there was a failure to take these factors on directly. I would hope that she could take them on because the average American with or without insurance can't afford it if they get sick.
It is a stinking dirty shame about Anna Politkovskaya, her loss was terrible for Russia. Putin can say what he likes. He's wrong.
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