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Imagine the election this fall as a gigantic Democratic primary in which independents and Republicans can cross over.  I suspect this is how John McCain is looking at it. Sen. McCain is running for president de facto as an independent.  This gives conservatives heartburn, but considering the parlous state of the Republican brand these days, it's probably wise. The more swing voters view Sen. McCain as independent, the more likely they are to choose between him and Sen. Obama on the basis of the major differences between them on issues, or on their characters, or on their  experience, all of which work to Sen. McCain's advantage. And by stressing his independence, Sen. McCain undermines one of Sen. Obama's  campaign themes.  Sen. Obama has presented himself as a reformer who would reach across party lines.  But he's never actually done it.  Sen. McCain has.  In a "where's the beef?" contest, Sen. Obama is tofu.



I have known Senator John McCain for 33 years. I have known Senator John Kerry for the same length of time. Sen. McCain I met in person, in a prisoner of war camp. In the Spring of 1971, Senator McCain and I were in a camp the Communists told us was a punishment camp in which we had been placed because we were "reactionaries" with "bad attitudes." In the same camp, I came to know about Senator Kerry, but only by reputation. In the 2000 presidential election I supported John McCain because, from my personal knowledge of him gained in that camp, I knew that he was fit to serve as President. In the 2004 presidential election, again based upon my knowledge gained in that camp, I oppose the election of John Kerry because I believe that he is unfit to serve as President.



Few foreign leaders have received as favorable news coverage in the United States as has the Moqtada al Sadr, with less factual basis for it. Mookie, as our troops call him, is the nominal head of the Mahdi Army, a radical Shia militia, and of the Sadrist political movement, which holds 30 seats (of 275) in the Iraqi parliament.   His patron is Iran, which provides him with money, arms and military training. The last couple of months have been dreadful for Mookie everywhere except on the pages of American newspapers and magazines.



Media reports that the "insurgency" is gaining ground are no more genuine than Dan Rather's memos on President Bush's National Guard service. Contrary to vague news reports of a "widening conflict," an analysis of where casualties are being inflicted indicates the conflict is still restricted largely to the Sunni triangle areas where it has always been. Two thirds of the country and three quarters of the population are relatively peaceful."You may hear analysts and prognosticators on CNN, ABC and the like talking about how bleak the situation is here in Iraq, but from where I sit, it's looking significantly better now than when I got here," says a US Marine. "It is very demoralizing for us here in uniform to read and hear such negativity in our press. It is fodder for our enemies to use against us and against the vast majority of Iraqis who want their new government to succeed."Are you listening, Senator Kerry?



A message from Mississippi has interrupted the leisurely cruise Republicans in Congress have been taking up the river De Nile.  Democrat Travis Childers soundly defeated Republican Greg Davis in a special election in a House district that President Bush carried by 25 percentage points in 2004.   Mr. Childers' victory completes a trifecta for Democrats in once heavily Republican districts. You don't need a weatherman to tell which way the wind is blowing.  The Republican brand today is as popular as Tylenol's was during the cyanide poison scare. The bitter wind from Mississippi has replaced complacency with panic, but many Republicans don't know what to do about it.  Many blame President Bush, with good reason.  But the larger reason for the troubles of congressional Republicans is that they are viewed (alas, correctly) as being motivated by little else than self enrichment.



The following letter to all members of the United States Congress was written by legendary Chinese freedom advocate and Nobel Peace Prize nominee Harry Wu. Information on the struggle for human rights in China and how to help free political prisoners being held in China’s Gulag can be found at the website of Harry’s Laogai Research Foundation. ---JW ...Business expansion and economic reforms in China have caused many people around the world to hail China as a glittering land of golden opportunity and ignore the continuing brutality perpetrated by the Communist government of China. It is often said that today’s China is not the same China that existed during the 1989 crackdown on Tiananmen Square, and is no longer even a Communist society. Meanwhile, however, innumerable people are languishing in China’s vast Laogai system, where many have been sent without any trial taking place or any official documents being issued. Internet dissidents and religious believers are being rounded up and thrown into jail in increasing numbers in order to prevent dissent among the masses. Women and their families are being persecuted for violating the national one-child policy, and are subject to forced abortions and sterilization, detention and other punishments.


Has the Major Media Become Republican?

No, it hasn't.  Yet when both TIME and Newsweek feature George Bush's dream opponent -- Howie "Dizzy" Dean -- on their covers in the same week, when Dan Rather and Tom Brokaw and Peter Jennings gush over him and the editors of The New York Times do all they can to promote his candidacy, you've got to wonder.



In his victory speech after the North Carolina primary, Sen. Barack Hussein Obama said something that is all the more remarkable for how little it has been remarked upon.  In defending his stated intent to meet with America's enemies without preconditions, Sen. Obama said: "I trust the American people to understand that it is not weakness, but wisdom to talk not just to our friends, but to our enemies, like Roosevelt did, and Kennedy did, and Truman did." That he made this statement, and that it passed without comment by the journalists covering his speech, indicates either breathtaking ignorance of history on the part of both, or deceit on the part of both.



Gaylan King is Director of Security & Business Development for Gulfconsultec, Ltd., a business consulting firm based in Kuwait. I think you’ll his description of doing business in Iraq fascinating -JW...We drove on to reach Baghdad by dusk. In late afternoon we stopped at a regular truck stop to eat a late lunch; our Iraqi passengers recommended it. The single room was large, clean and filled with 100-150 young Iraqi truck drivers. I was the only obvious Western in the room (I doubt they see many of us at this place). The room quieted and then someone gave me the, "thumbs up", signal, which I returned. Then everyone started smiling and saying, "Welcome!" and so on. That is really a gratifying experience; no one was frowning in the corner and whispering. The food was delicious. Iraq has the best-tasting vegetables and fruit and meat; this is an accepted fact. The waiters immediately cover the whole table with every kind of salad, pasta, vegetable and fruit imaginable, plus several kinds of Arab bread, which is simply delicious! After enough time this is removed and the main course is served. Mine happened to be a large chicken leg on a bowl of really delicious rice. It was the perfect size for a perfect meal. Just then, our waiter, a good-looking 25 year-old man with crew cut hair, no beard or mustache, and a great smile, leaned down to me, gave the "thumbs up" sign and said, "George Bush good!" He then flipped the thumb to the down position and said, "Kerry bad!" We both laughed hysterically! All of his buddies were watching and agreeing it was a great moment. I shook every one of their hands before we left; it was great fun and this kind of humor is one of the reasons I enjoy the Iraqis so much; they are educated, intelligent people and their land is the probable location for the very beginning of everything human. They were never wandering nomadic herdsmen as were the Gulf Arabs.