McCain Wins Florida; Giuliani & Edwards Drop Out

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There’s been quite a shift in the presidential field. John McCain won the GOP primary in Florida by the following margin:

  • McCain 36%
  • Romney 31%
  • Giuliani 15%
  • Huckabee 13%
  • Paul 3%
  • Thompson 1%

Rudy Giuliani (and the campaign that never was) has given up his run for the presidency and thrown his support behind John McCain. The Arizona Senator looks to be close to sealing up the nomination, as he is ahead in national polls leading up to Super Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton won the Florida Democratic contest, but the candidates were not supposed to campaign in the state and no delegates will be awarded for the victory. She is the front-runner in national polls, but we’ll have to see what happens on Super Tuesday.

John Edwards has dropped his bid for the presidency, stressing the problems of poverty during his exit speech:

Edwards did not endorse either Obama or Clinton in his departure, though that could change in the near future. He may not make an endorsement and hope to be chosen as a vice-presidential candidate by the party nominee.

The Obama campaign has released their fundraising figures for the month of January, topping the $32 million mark in just one month.  This shows each of these campaigns should be able to compete for months to come, if necessary.

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Obama Takes South Carolina

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This Saturday Barack Obama scored an overwhelming victory in the South Carolina Democratic primary.  The results:

  • Obama 55%
  • Clinton 27%
  • Edwards 18%

Obama received more than 291,000 votes, besting the combined totals of the top two vote-getters in the South Carolina Republican primary; McCain and Huckabee received 147,283 and 132,440 votes for a combined total of 279,723.

Dennis Kucinich has dropped his presidential bid and is shifting focus to his Congressional reelection campaign.

Up next in the primary contest is the state of Florida, where both parties are set to battle on Tuesday the 29th.  Florida is the second state in this primary contest to be stripped of its Democratic delegates, so there will be no delegates awarded in the Democratic contest.  But the Republicans will be fighting to win 57 delegates in the winner-take-all contest.

Mitt Romney and John McCain are in a statistical dead-heat in current Florida polls, while Clinton has a comfortable lead among Democrats.  Rudy Giuliani, who has based his entire campaign strategy on winning Florida, is currently polling nearly ten percentage points behind the front-runners in the contest.

One week after the Florida primary is the big day of the primary season: Super Tuesday, February 5th.  On that day, twenty-two different states from all over the country will cast their votes and we should begin to have a more concrete idea of which two candidates will proceed on to the general election.

Romney, Clinton Win Nevada; McCain takes SC

Both parties held their Nevada caucus and the Republican party had its South Carolina primary. The results are listed below.

Nevada Democratic results:

  • Clinton 50.7%
  • Obama 45.2%
  • Edwards 3.8%

Nevada Republican results:

  • Romney 51.1%
  • Paul 13.7%
  • McCain 12.7%
  • Huckabee 8.2%
  • Thompson 7.9%
  • Giuliani 4.3%

South Carolina Republican results:

  • McCain 33.2%
  • Huckabee 29.9%
  • Thompson 15.7%
  • Romney 15.1%
  • Paul 3.7%
  • Giuliani 2.1%

Fred Thompson has since dropped his bid for the presidency.

Though Clinton won the vote in Nevada, Obama actually won one more delegate than Clinton, so the state is being viewed as a split.  Since then, the feud between Clinton and Obama has reached new heights. Although the Obama campaign has received many complaints of voter suppression in Nevada, they have not challenged the results.

In the South Carolina debate following the Nevada caucus, Clinton and Obama exchanged a few heated words as John Edwards stood on the sidelines:

Obama is polling 12 percentage points ahead of Clinton in current South Carolina polls. The SC Democratic primary is set for Saturday the 26th. Meanwhile, the GOP candidates are setting their sites on Florida, whose primary is scheduled for the 29th.

Primary Bits

The Nevada Caucus is set for tomorrow night, as well as the South Carolina Republican primary. Polls are showing Clinton and Romney with a slight edge in Nevada, while Obama and McCain are polling ahead in South Carolina. To keep you up to date, here are a few primary news and video clips from the past several days:

Barack Obama picked up an endorsement from the 60,000-member Culinary Workers Union in Nevada. Days after the endorsement, the Nevada State Teachers Association and Hillary Clinton supporters filed a lawsuit against the Democratic party’s plans to use nine large Las Vegas casinos as caucus sites. But on Thursday a Nevada judge rejected the case and said the casino caucus sites can proceed as planned. The ruling is seen as a boost to the Obama campaign, as many of the caucus-attendees at casino sites will be members of the Culinary Workers Union. Here is Bill Clinton responding to an ABC reporter about the casino sites:

The Tonight Show with Jay Leno was interrupted during an interview with Bill Maher this week. There were two separate outbursts during the interview; the first was “Let Dennis debate! Stop the Censorship! Help save democracy!” and later with “GE, NBC, Put Impeachment on TV!” Here is the video:

During a Nevada flight with journalists on board, Hillary Clinton pretended to be a flight attendant in a spoof you can see here:

On the Republican side, John McCain is now leading in national polls while Giuliani’s campaign is still banking on the larger states to gain some momentum.

Mike Huckabee refused to say whether he finds it offensive that South Carolina displays the Confederate flag on its state Capitol grounds. Huckabee also responded to questions concerning his desire to amend the Constitution ‘in God’s standards’, replying that “The radical view is to say we’re going to change the definition of marriage so that it can mean two men, two women, one man and three women, a man and a child, a man and an animal.”

Mitt Romney got into a brief argument with an AP reporter concerning the role of lobbyists in his campaign:

And for a laugh, here are a couple comics:

rep-comic.jpg Rudy Campaign

I’ll be back again tomorrow with news from Nevada and the South Carolina Republican contest.

Death of a Dictator: Indonesia’s Suharto

Indonesia’s former president, General Suharto, has fallen ill and is not expected to survive. So I suppose now would be as good a time as any to reflect on the devastating effects of his more than 30 years of iron rule over the country of Indonesia.

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Indonesia is a country that should not be poor; it is rich in natural resources, including oil, gas, agriculture, tin, copper, gold, and rubber. It was colonized by the Dutch in the 16th century and exploited by the West for hundreds of years. In 1945, the nationalist leader Sukarno declared Indonesia’s independence from the Dutch and became the country’s first president. Sukarno opposed imperialism and capitalism because he felt both had taken a devastating toll on the lives of the Indonesian people.

However, in the mid-sixties, General Suharto seized power from Sukarno, aided by the US and Britain due to his anti-communist sentiments. Suharto then presided over army-led massacres that killed an estimated 1 million people and wiped out the country’s only mass-based political party (the communist PKI). Ethnic Chinese and communist sympathizers were all rounded up and killed. A CIA report refers to Suharto’s atrocities as “one of the worst mass murders of the 20th century,” comparable to those of Hitler, Stalin, and Mao.

Within the next few years, the economy of Indonesia was completely redesigned in the interests of foreign investors, giving the West access to vast mineral wealth, markets, and cheap labor…what President Nixon called “the greatest prize in Asia.” Suharto’s agents met with representatives of global capital (international banks, credit cards, big oil, tobacco, defense, technology, etc.) to design the legal infrastructure and conditions of their investment in Indonesia.

Suharto continued to maintain a “good investment climate” for foreign companies in Indonesia while compiling one of the world’s worst human rights records. His regime provided guarantees of cheap labor, the suppression of trade unions, torture, killings, limited environmental regulation, and privatization of resources to benefit Indonesian elites and foreign investors.

I’m not even going to get into his 1975 invasion of East Timor, which resulted in the slaughter of hundreds of thousands of civilians and is known to be the “worst atrocity relative to population since the Holocaust.”

Nevertheless, the World Bank praised Suharto’s economic transformation as “a dynamic economic success” and called Indonesia “the model pupil of the global economy,” while Bill Clinton referred to Suharto as “our kind of guy.”

During the whole process, Suharto was soliciting development loans from the World Bank and other international banks. As you might have guessed, there was a bit of corruption and embezzlement involved. Much of the loan money disappeared while his cronies and family members were awarded control of public utilities, TV stations, taxis, or tollways.

Suharto was forced to step down under threat of an Indonesian revolution in 1998. The World Bank estimates that up to a third of the loans made to Suharto during his reign went to the pockets of his cronies, estimated at around 8-10 billion dollars.

The saddest part is that this insurmountable debt (now approximately $130 billion) was created in part by just a few spineless, Indonesian elites. But it is the poor citizens of the country that will bear the terrible burden of lifelong payment and suffering, never once having known the vast wealth of their resources.

 

For a good documentary on globalization and the exploitation of Indonesia, here is John Pilger’s The New Rulers of the World:

Amend the Constitution “In God’s Standards”

Presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee has called for the US Constitution to be re-written “in God’s standards.”  Here is the video:

For those without audio, here is what Huckabee said: “I have opponents in this race who do not want to change the Constitution. But I believe it’s a lot easier to change the Constitution than it would be to change the word of the living God. And that’s what we need to do is amend the Constitution so it’s in God’s standards rather than trying to change God’s standards so it lines up with some contemporary view of how we treat each other and how we treat the family.

I guess this country can only be saved when we have completed the fusion of church and state.

Romney Wins Michigan; Uncommited Showing Strong

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Mitt Romney has won the third Republican primary contest, winning the thirty delegates from the state of Michigan. Here are the results:

  • Romney 39%
  • McCain 30%
  • Huckabee 16%
  • Paul 6%
  • Thompson 4%
  • Giuliani 3%
  • Uncommitted 2%

And Hillary Clinton has won the zero delegates awarded in Michigan’s Democratic contest. With only four names appearing on the ballot, the Democratic primary results were as follows:

  • Clinton 55%
  • Uncommitted 40%
  • Kucinich 4%
  • Dodd 1%
  • Gravel 0%

One might call it a Clinton victory if only her name wasn’t the most (if not the only) recognizable name on the ballot. It was expected to be an even larger landslide for Clinton in a primary contest that has no real value in the nominating process. There is a relatively strong showing of Kucinich supporters, though, considering he has to fight legal battles in order to appear in a televised debate.

On the Republican side, Ron Paul has once again received more than double the votes of Rudy Giuliani; perhaps they should consider barring Rudy from the next televised debate.

Next up in the series is the state of Nevada, set for Saturday the 19th. For those of you looking further ahead, here is a copy of the primary schedule.