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HOW DID ABORTION RIGHTS COME TO THIS?  — Carol Hanisch charts how the right to an abortion began to erode shortly after the Roe v. Wade decision; Uber vs. the Cabbies: Ben Terrall reports on the threats posed by private car services; Remembering August 1914: Binoy Kampmark on the enduring legacy of World War I; Medical Marijuana: a Personal Odyssey: Doug Valentine goes in search of medicinal pot and a good vaporizer; Nostalgia for Socialism: Lee Ballinger surveys the longing in eastern Europe for the material guarantees of socialism. PLUS: Paul Krassner on his Six Dumbest Decisions; Kristin Kolb on the Cancer Ward; Jeffrey St. Clair on the Making of the First Un-War; Chris Floyd on the Children of Lies and Mike Whitney on why the war on ISIS is really a war on Syria.
McCain Cries "No Mas!"

Obama Dazzles Old Europe

by MIKE WHITNEY

Barack Obama proved yesterday why November’s presidential election will end in a 50-state sweep. John McCain has no chance. It’s like George Bush climbing into the ring with Mike Tyson; one thundering left hook and the Crawford Caligula would be sprawled across the canvas in a pool of his own blood. "No mas"! The same fate awaits the crabby senator from Arizona. The polls are skewed to look like there’s a political horse-race going on. There isn’t. It’s a complete rout. There’s one well-toned thoroughbred striding from venue to venue electrifying the ever-increasing throngs, and one doddering, old mare limping towards the glue-factory. Someone should put a stop to it before McCain gets hurt.

Yesterday, at the Victory Column in Berlin’s Tiergarten, Obama extracted Old Glory from the burn-pile and gave Brand America a desperately needed shot of adrenaline. 200,000 ecstatic Germans jammed the streets in what turned out to be the political shindig of the year. Many of them were waving American flags and chanting, "Obama, Obama, Obama". It was like Jack Kennedy had risen from his moldy sepulcher and made his way across the pond for one last rousing ovation. Obama has the very same affect on crowds. Its a gift and he knows how to use it to great advantage.

"People of Berlin, people of the world, this is our moment, this is our time," Obama boomed. "I know my country has not perfected itself, we’ve made our share of mistakes and there are times when our actions around the world have not lived up to our best intentions. But the greatest danger of all is to allow new walls to divide us from one another."

What can we say about Obama’s oratory skills that hasn’t already been said? He is one of those unique characters who knows how to tap into the collective psyche and put them under his spell. He is the closest thing to a Pied Piper we’ve seen in the last half century. Whatever one thinks of his politics, his speeches are a welcome reprieve from the simian blabbering of President Dimwit.

"I speak to you not as a candidate for president, but as a citizen; a proud citizen of the United States and a fellow citizen of the world." (Roaring applause)

JOHN McCAIN: Maverick or Freak?

Have you taken a look at the crowds at a McCain event, lately. Usually, there aren’t any. Typically, there are more journalists and cameramen then people; and even they look bored. It’s the truth. He generates no enthusiasm at all. None. He may be the most uninspiring, tedious, pure-vanilla candidate of all time; a complete dud. I challenge anyone to recite from memory anything John McCain has ever said in his 40 years in office. Time’s up! When McCain begins to talk, its a signal for women to pull out the nail-files and for men to figure out how they’re going to get out of cutting the lawn this week. Really. No one listens.

And the people that do manage to drag themselves to his speeches out of a sense of obligation are (you guessed it) scowling white guys with baseball caps pulled tightly over their ears or nearly-ambulatory Korea-era Vets who think the United Nations is a communist front-group that’s planning to air-drop blue-helmets into Duluth to take over the United States. Tin-foil hats anyone?

Popularity and charisma are greatly overrated, but how does one survive in politics with neither. That’s the question, and it may be the biggest mystery of McCain’s candidacy. He’s just not a likable guy. No one ever talks about hanging out and having a beer with John McCain, because they know that he might go "Jackie Chan" and start busting the place up. He’s nuts. And he’s utterly impossible to listen to. His high-pitched squeaky voice is about two octaves higher than a dog-whistle and twice as annoying. So how is he going to beat Obama. It’s a total mismatch.

McCain is the perfect candidate for a party that has completely collapsed. He’s like the "Jolly Roger" on the front of an iodine bottle; Brand X. In 2000, the Republican Party boasted it was the "party of ideas". What ideas? The Republican Party has never had ideas because the corporate mandarins and blue-blooded kleptocrats that run the party are suspicious of ideas, ideology, doctrine, philosophy or anything else that veers from their primary objectives of crushing the poor, despoiling the environment, carpet-bombing brown people wherever they may be, and enriching themselves. That’s all they care about. The task of the right-wing think-tanks is to treat "war and tax cuts" like they’re ideas. They’re not. But war and tax cuts ARE the two foundation blocks of the Republican Party. There’s nothing else; there never has been. Don’t look for ideas; there aren’t any.

I have no dog in this fight. I’m not voting for Obama because I don’t think he’ll withdraw the troops from Iraq or Afghanistan, repeal the Military Commissions Act, restore habeas corpus, negotiate a fair settlement between Israel and the Palestinians, or hold Bush and his gangster buddies accountable for the crimes they’ve committed during their time in office. But, just because I’m not voting for Obama, doesn’t mean I’ve lost my marbles. I can still see the affect he has on people. He’s not a candidate; he’s a phenomenon. Obama is an explosive, vital, charismatic politician. When he speaks people feel better about themselves and their country. And, they’re more hopeful about the future, too. That’s what makes him unbeatable.

McCain, on the other hand, is the perfect embodiment of his party; a rusty, broken-down hulk that’s been stripped of its engine, its fenders and all its moving parts. Even the steering wheel is gone. It’s a dead-loss; nothing is salvageable.

McCain is in way over his head. This election is going to be a real embarrassment for him. It’s too bad. He should be back at the Phoenix Rest Home shooing kids off the front lawn instead of waiting for the ax to fall in November. It’s a rotten way to end a career.

MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state and can be reached at           fergiewhitney@msn.com