John McCain thinks that Iran has the power to be every bit as threatening to the United States as the Soviet Union in its prime. If I was Russian, I’d be pretty insulted.
At the time, the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. were competing for supremacy in mid-Europe, the Mideast, Central America, and Southeast Asia. Iran and the U.S. are fighting for supremacy in a couple of areas in Iraq. The Soviet Union had a nuclear arsenal larger than every other country on earth combined, including the United States. Iran doesn’t even have a nuclear power plant, let alone a nuclear weapon. The U.S.S.R. had the world’s second largest economy; Iran doesn’t have the second largest economy in its region. The United States was fearful of Soviet weapons in space. Iranian space travel requires the use of heavy psychedelics.
But where McCain’s statements turn from moronic to Iranic (get it?) is that he made them to illustrate the fact that negotiations with Iran should not be on the table, that the U.S. needs to take a hard line with the country and not engage in discussions which “would confer both international legitimacy on the Iranian president and could strengthen him domestically.” I tried to find some quote in which McCain explains how a country which is so powerless they need open negotiations with the U.S. in order to “confer international legitimacy” poses such a great threat to us.
More to the point, McCain seems to forget that when confronted with a foe as dangerous at the Soviet Union, intense discussions were necessary for thirty years in order to prevent war between the two states. If Iran poses such a great danger, shouldn’t similar policy be enacted to confront it? And wouldn’t the policy of “bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb, bomb Iran” be a little, um, crazy?
The truth is, McCain doesn’t really seem well prepared to deal with Iran at all. Forgetting for a moment that he seems to forget what side they fall on in the whole “shiite vs. sunni” thing, the primary focus of his fear-mongering against Iran seems to be the dangerous and unstable leader, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Funny thing about that is the President of Iran is largely a symbolic position, with no power over the country’s military capacities and no authority over its foreign affairs. That honor goes to Ayatollah Alie Khamanei. How can we expect McCain to appropriately deal with the leadership of Iran when he doesn’t even know whom the leadership is?
And in another showing of complete international idiocy, he chided Obama for claiming that dialog should be initiated between the U.S. and Cuba; on Cuba Day no less! He claims: “These steps would send the worst possible signal to Cuba’s dictators — there is no need to undertake fundamental reforms.” Instead, he says his Presidency will ensure that Cuba releases all political prisoners; legalizes all political parties, labor unions, and media; and holds internationally monitored elections. All very good ideas. Of course, since we’re not going to have dialog with the Cuban government, evidently he’s going to wish these reforms into existence. The United States policy in Cuba has not worked for fifty years; Fidel Castro was the world’s longest leader until he finally had to give up his position . . . to his brother. If the United States truly wants reform, we’re going to have to engage in open discussions with the leadership of Cuba. Otherwise all we’re doing is enabling the continuation of the dictatorship which McCain so despises.
By the way, one interesting little note about how much McCain values labor unions in Cuba. On the same day, the exact same day, he insulted Obama by claiming he was merely “a tool of organized labor.” So labor unions in Cuba good, labor unions in the U.S. bad. I’m sorry, but I’m missing the connection.
Obama is a big jerk, a “tool of organized labor,” if you will, because he has the audacity of being against free trade with such wonderful countries as Colombia. Evidently Colombia is a “beacon of hope” in the region and deserves the free trade agreement because they have illustrated such wonderful worker and human rights activities as the murder of thousands of union leaders, illegal child labor, arbitrary arrest and detainee mistreatment and torture, and, of course, the largest provider of narcotics to the United States. But, in showing his fanatical devotion to American labor unions, Obama seems to think that American jobs are more important. Tsk, tsk.
I learned some fun delegate math!!:
Right now the number of pledged and superdelegates required to win the Democractic nomination stands at 1026. If that number holds, Obama could actually have that wrapped up on June 3 with solid showings in the two remaining states and Puerto Rico. Probably not, but it will certainly be close enough that Clinton could concede that night. However, the Clinton camp argues the magic number should be 2209, which would include Michigan and Florida. That number doesn’t quite hold up, though, because if Michigan delegates were to be awarded based solely upon election results, some 58 delegates would be in limbo as they would be awarded to an “uncommitted” candidate. So the total would really be 2151. But Florida and Michigan won’t be awarded in full; Clinton’s own campaign manager (Terry McAuliffe) says the “rule is fifty percent” while Howard Dean and members of the DNC have made it very clear that Michigan and Florida need to be punished in some way. The specifics will be hashed out on May 31, when the DNC Rules Committee meets. Probably the most likely scenario is that Michigan and Florida are halved, and if the full amount of superdelegates are awarded (which should be in Clinton’s favor) the magic number will be 2131. If delegates are halved, I would expect the pledged delegate counts to be 35-29 in favor of Clinton in Michigan, and 62-31 in favor of Clinton in Florida (estimations are made using Slate’s handy-dandy delegate calculator). Obama will probably end up with about 1700 pledged delegates from the other states and providences, giving him 1760 total. Clinton will have about 1545, giving her a total of 1642. He already has 305 superdelegates to her 281 (per NBC’s count, which is the most pro-Clinton of the major news companies), meaning Obama will need to pick up 66 more superdelegates while Clinton would have to pick up 208. In other words, under the best conditions, Clinton would have to pick up over three times the amount of superdelegates Obama has to pick up to win the nomination. Just over 75%
Considering most of the remaining undeclared superdelegates in the Congress have said the winner should be the candidate with the most pledged delegates, and Obama will win the pledged delegate count under any scenario, it is certainly not unreasonable to see the total amount Obama would need to clinch the election less than two or three dozen within the next week after May 31. This could push the margin of victory required for Clnton to take over the nomination well over 85% going into June. And keep in mind that’s with things more or less working out for Clinton.
As it stands right now, there are 314 total delegates (counting both pledged and superdelegates) yet to be allotted. Obama needs 72, or a mere 23%. Clinton needs Florida and Michigan not to win, but to merely survive.
More fun with math: With Clinton’s big win in Kentucky and Obama’s large but not-so-big win in Oregon, two things have become clear in regards to the popular vote. It will be virtually impossible for Clinton to win the popular vote without counting Michigan, where Obama is not on the ballot, and virtually impossible for Obama to win it counting the Wolverine State. Of course, this is ignoring the caucus states. Still, an interesting little tidbit, albeit meaningless (is Michigan going to sway the superdelegates, who are more likely to decide upon the nuances and intricacies of the party rules than a candidate’s notion of fairness? Obviously not.)