Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Message to Christian Voters: McCain is every bit as anti "life" as Obama

Message to Christian Voters: McCain is every bit as anti "life" as Obama
by Matthew J Bell | Originally Sent Via Email on the Eve of the Presidential Election, November 2008

"Vote for life". This is a slogan that is bandied about quite frequently in Christian circles during election times. The notion of being "for life" is not a little slippery. On one reading, for example, it may mean opposition to abortion, euthanasia, and the death penalty (which triumverate is sometimes given, in a gimmicky way, as being "for life from the womb to the tomb"). On another reading, being "for life" is really more narrowly used as a sort of synonym for opposition to abortion alone. In many cases, with either of the first two senses, there is often a (somewhat understandable) presumption of attention on domestic matters. And, additionally, with the first two senses, questions about "war" and "economics" are understood to be distinct questions. Hence, on the first two senses, one can be "for life" and, say, "for the Iraq war" at the same time. But, there is at least one other sense of being "for life". And, this third sense is broad enough to include war and economic considerations. Specifically, one cannot, on this third sense, be "for" an unjust war or be "for" oppressive economic policies, and still arrogate to themselves the title "pro-lifer". Thus, John McCain, who champions U.S. occupation of Iraq and had championed the unjust (according to Catholic just war theory) invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, and who is a shill for monopolistic "capitalism", is every bit as AGAINST life, as his (only media-acknowledged) rival, Barack Obama.

Let me first (try to) ensure that this criticism of John McCain is NOT misunderstood as an endorsement of Obama. If we take his slogan at face value - a dangerous proposition, to be sure - then Obama stands for "change" (whatever that means). Are there changes that a Christian should desire for this country? Without question, there are. Chief among them would be desiring a change in the abortion industry, putting an end to abortions-on-demand. But, this is hardly the sort of change that Obama is interested in. On the contrary, here, Obama seeks to preserve the status quo.

Christians must not rest with a status quo that includes the murder of millions of innocent and vulnerable human beings. Hence, Barack Obama is not someone that a Christian can or should endorse.

But, this IS part of the status quo. Lamentably, abortion is a "fact on the ground". Obama certainly aids and abets abortion, and, indeed, advances it; but, without minimizing that evil, we must say that this is not the equivalent of saying that Obama ushered in the practice or authored the policy.

But, how did abortion get to be a fact on the ground? Tracing out the policy on abortion, of course, must take us at least to the opinion in Roe v. Wade. Justice Harry Andrew Blackmun authored that particular majority opinion - an opinion which overturned the abortion laws throughout the nation. And Harry Blackmun had been nominated to the court by Republican President Richard Milhous Nixon, who, during his election bid in 1968 had cast himself as a social conservative who was totally opposed to the leftist "counterculture". The New York Times tells us just how conservative Nixon was: "On Jan. 22, 1973, when the Supreme Court struck down laws criminalizing abortion in Roe v. Wade, President Richard M. Nixon made no public statement. But privately, newly released tapes reveal, he expressed ambivalence. Nixon worried that greater access to abortions would foster 'permissiveness,' and said that 'it breaks the family.' But he also saw a need for abortion in some cases — like interracial pregnancies, he said.
'There are times when an abortion is necessary. I know that. When you have a black and a white,' he told an aide, before adding, 'Or a rape.' "[0]

Recently, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg made a backhanded reference to much the same thing, saying: "...I had thought that at the time Roe (v. Wade) was decided, there was concern about population growth and particularly growth in populations that we don’t want to have too many of. So that Roe was going to be then set up for Medicaid funding for abortion...".[0]

Author Will Bunch writes that "conservative revolutionary" Republican President Ronald Reagan "invested no real political capital...on the...right-to-life movement...". "In fact," Bunch goes on, "...Reagan ensured the long-term future of legalized abortion in America when he named Sandra Day O'Connor as his first nominee for the Supreme Court...". "...O'Connor would...uphold a woman's legal right to an abortion...over a twenty-four year career on the court." This should not, however, have surprised those who monitored Reagan's political career closely. "As California governor...Reagan...[signed] the bill on legalized abortion in the Golden State...".[0]

More recently, "social conservative" "Christian" Republican President George W. Bush was a "disappointment" to those credulous "pro-life" voters who had been (neo)conned into supporting Bush on the basis of his supposedly unwavering commitment to life - a "commitment" that was either a hollow Machiavellian gambit to begin with or else was simply outweighed in Bush's scales of deliberation by factors of political expediency.

"'Mr. Bush has been disappointing since the election because he supported [Pennsylvania Republican Senator Arlen] Specter for the Judiciary chairmanship over the strong objections of pro-life Christians and because he nominated pro-choice candidates for both attorney general [Alberto Gonzales] and secretary of state [Condoleezza Rice],' says Rod Pennington, founder of Voices Heard, a new grass-roots Christian activist group."[1]

The Associated Press reported in November 2004 that the pro-Abortion Republican (at the time) Specter "bluntly warned newly re-elected President Bush ... against putting forth Supreme Court nominees who would seek to overturn abortion rights or are otherwise too conservative to win confirmation. ... 'When you talk about judges who would change the right of a woman to choose, overturn Roe v. Wade, I think that is unlikely,' Specter said, referring to the landmark 1973 Supreme Court decision legalizing abortion. 'The president is well aware of what happened, when a number of his nominees were sent up, with the filibuster,' Specter added, referring to Senate Democrats' success over the past four years in blocking the confirmation of many of Bush's conservative judicial picks. '... And I would expect the president to be mindful of the considerations which I am mentioning.'" [2]

And indeed, for example, Associate Justice Samuel Anthony Alito, Jr. is at best a question mark on the issue of Roe v. Wade ("it appears that Alito believes some restrictions on the procedure are constitutionally permitted, but has not signaled a willingness to overturn Roe v. Wade" [3]), while Chief Justice John Glover Roberts, Jr. "has indicated [that] he supports some abortion restrictions but has not committed to overturn Roe v. Wade." [4]

Hence, Bush's appointees can claim at once to be "pro life", but, yet, committed to "upholding the law". Catholics, at least, owing to the intellectual inheritance that they possess from persons like Saint Thomas Aquinas, whose view of law was such that an unjust code could never actually be LAW, ought to see that Bush's appointees, are, therefore, at best, opportunists. But, just perhaps, these appointees are merely token appointees, meant to appease the loud, but intellectually lazy, "pro life" crowd, but not meant to actually undermine the tissue of injustice that allows women to legally murder their own unwanted children.

Beyond this "disappointing" state of affairs with respect to abortion opposition, "pro-life" "Evangelical" George W. Bush has, in part through lies and deception [5], also mired the U.S. military in Afghanistan and Iraq causing upwards of 90,000 [6] (and, quite possibly, 1 million [7]) civilian deaths in Iraq alone as well as the deaths of around 4,000 American soldiers [8] - and all of this has transpired with the express approval of "pro life" "conservative" John McCain [9].

Again, their "pro life" credentials are only held intact by those who either lamentably compartmentalize their concern for life so that children murdered by surgery are somehow distinguished from children murdered by bombing; or who allow caricatured propaganda to dehumanize other human beings so that "enemy" civilians are somehow justifiably exterminated - women and children included - even as the murder of our own innocent civilians (9/11) prompts the country's own battle cry.

And, we must not neglect to mention the deaths of Iraqi civilians which have resulted from U.S. "war" and occupation efforts post-2003 must be added to the deaths of Iraqi civilians between 1991 and 2001, which resulted from the '91 "Gulf War" and the subsequent sanctions. Within six years of the Republican "Pro-Family" George H.W. Bush's attack on Iraq, and the subsequent sanctions of Bush and Clinton there were already estimates of upwards of one million civilian deaths: "The U.N. Children's Fund estimated in 1997 that more than 1.2 million people, including 750,000 under the age of 5, have died because of a lack of food and medicine in Iraq [as a result both of the initial US military actions and subsequent 'sanctions']. The World Health Organization reported in 1998 that 5,000 to 6,000 children die every month in the country as a result of economic sanctions. Human Rights Watch estimated that U.S. and allied bombs killed about 3,000 civilians during the 1991 Gulf War. A study by the Medical Educational Trust in London in late 1991 indicated that as many as 250,000 Iraqis died as a direct result of bombing, Loe said."[10]

For Catholics, especially (although not exclusively), it is worth recalling the Catholic Church's opinion of the 2003 "war" in Iraq - just as it is worth recalling the Catholic Church's teaching regarding abortion, for unjust wasting of life through war is as deplorable as through abortion: "The Roman Catholic Church, led by Pope John Paul II, opposed the U.S.-led war in Iraq." [11] A "top Vatican official" declared " "the war was useless, and served no purpose,". [12] As of April, 2007, "In an Easter litany of the world's suffering, Pope Benedict XVI lamented that 'nothing positive' is happening in Iraq and decried the unrest in Afghanistan and bloodshed in Africa and Asia. ..." [13].

In addition, this wasteful war has ruined the Iraqi water supply [14], ruined the mental health of untold U.S. veterans [15], and contributed to the ruination of the U.S. economy, along with the millions of people whose livelihoods are thereby affected. And the wasteful war only compounded the brutalizing effects of Bush's broader economic policies. "By running persistent budget deficits, the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) warns, leading countries, primarily the United States during the Bush years, "are 'sacrificing' their children."[16]

And, indeed, this closes the circle. For the oppressive economic policies of greedy buccaneer capitalists [17] (amongst which despicable crowd we number the Bush family [18], and John "Keating Five" McCain [19]), arguably foment the sort of hopelessness and disrespect for family that create demand for convenience abortions in the first place.

As a poet has said, regarding the effects of usury:

...Usura slayeth the child in the womb
It stayeth the young man's courting
It hath brought palsey to bed, lyeth
between the young bride and her bridegroom

It is not for nothing that Saint Paul warned Timothy that "the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil" (1 Timothy 6:10).

Why should the Christian Church's ire be raised for one evil and not another? Is economic oppression, which helps to create the market for abortion, not every bit as worthy of our condemnation as abortion itself? Or, do we content ourselves to pull off the aerial parts on the plant of evil and leave the root untouched?

In an earlier age, exponents of the ruinous plague of usury, like John McCain (and the Bush family before him), would have been the recipients of the Church's disapprobation, every bit as much as abortionists are the recipients of it now. It can be "inferred from the (Christian Church) Fathers and ecclesiastical writers... that it is contrary to mercy and humanity to demand interest from a poor and needy man." "[S]uch transactions..., under the pretence of rendering service to the borrower, really threw him into great distress." "The canonical laws of the Middle Ages absolutely forbade the practice" of lending money at interest.[21]

Why should Christians condemn mass murders in utero, while turning a blind eye towards mass murders in Iraq and Afghanistan? As one commentator has put it:

"With regard to abortion, show me where in the Gospel Jesus made one violation of God's law the sole litmus test? The single-issue anti-abortion campaign is a trap that ensures the election of presidential mass murderers. The reason 'conservative' Christians are not passionately opposed to the mass murders of children by Pres[ident] Bush is because these children have been derogated -- the humanity of Arabs (including Arab Christians) and Muslims has been diminished by Orthodox Judaism and its widespread influence over Churchianity.

"The pompous, self-righteous Phariseeism of Catholic and evangelical supporters of McCain and Bush is grotesquely sinful and nauseating. (I say the same about 'Christian' support for Obama and Biden). God will not bless America or any political movement implicated in the killing of the innocent, whether born or unborn, no matter what Catholic prelates who are complicit with or complacent toward the priestly molestation of children, proclaim or abjure." [22]

Yes, Obama is odious. Catholics should oppose him. Christians of any denomination should oppose him. But, what of "Country First" McCain? Should Christians be among those who put "country first"?[23] Maybe Catholics should help to reform the entire political landscape instead of rationalizing poor voting choices as being justified as a selection of the "lesser of two evils". A "lesser evil" is, after all, still evil. And I put it to the reader that in the case of McCain his evils only appear to be "lesser" because many of them are carried out on distant shores, and most of us have poor eyesight.

Christians must choose whether they want to be Christians first or political partisans first. One can utter "God and Country", like some sort of mantra. But, our God is a jealous God. And we will one day be brought to account for all sins - including, without limitation or exception, murdering through abortion, murdering through unjust war, and murdering through economic warfare (e.g., usury). So, let us be "pro life" in a thoroughgoing way. But, if we do, then we must judge McCain to be just as odious as Obama. Christians need to forge a third way.


The above message would not have been possible without the innumerable insights of Michael A. Hoffman II,


0. On Nixon: CHARLIE SAVAGE, "On Nixon Tapes, Ambivalence Over Abortion, Not Watergate," New York Times, June 24, 2009, On Ginsburg: EMILY BAZELON, "The Place of Women on the Court," New York Times, July 12, 2009, On Reagan: By Will Bunch, "Tear Down This Myth: How the Reagan Legacy Has Distorted Our Politics and Haunts Our Future," (New York: Free Press, 2009), pp. 100, 114-5, & 20.

1. Ralph Z. Hallow, "Bush 'disappointing' some pro-lifers," The Washington Times, December 8, 2004 Wednesday, SECTION: NATION; Pg. A04. Additionally, The supposedly Christian "Bush is Ariel Sharon's staunchest ally, knowing full well that Sharon authorized the assault on the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem in 2002, birthplace of Our Lord!" Michael A. Hoffman II, email.

2. LARA JAKES JORDAN, "Likely new Senate judiciary chairman warns Bush against nominating anti-abortion judges," The Associated Press, November 3, 2004, Wednesday, BC cycle.



5. "Study: False statements preceded war Hundreds of false statements on WMDs, al-Qaida used to justify Iraq war," The Associated Press, updated 1:30 a.m. CT, Wed., Jan. 23, 2008,; cf.: Rumsfeld Employs Churchill's 'Bodyguard of Lies': Erwin Chemerinsky, "Truth is vital for a democracy," Reprinted in: Deseret News (Salt Lake City) from the L.A. Times, October 13, 2001, Saturday, P. A09.; cf. Jon Dougherty, "Terror alerts manufactured? FBI agents say White House scripting 'hysterics' for political effect," World Net Daily, Posted: January 04, 2003, cf. ANNE FLAHERTY, "Ex-officials: Bush admin. ignored Iraq corruption," Associated Press,; cf. "And Now, the Counterfeit News," The New York Times, Late Edition – Final, March 16, 2005 Wednesday, Section A; Column 1; Editorial Desk; Pg. 22.; cf. Andrew Buncombe, "Bush 'planted fake news stories on American TV'" Independent, 29 May 2006,; cf. "Audit assails White House 'propaganda'," The Star-Ledger (Newark, New Jersey), FINAL EDITION, October 1, 2005 Saturday, NEWS; Pg. 4; cf. 'US Home Audience' Admitted Target of US Military Propaganda: Wire Report, "U.S. military stoking xenophobia in Iraq," UPI, UPI NewsTrack TopNews, April 10, 2006; cf. "The Pentagon...has begun deploying forces to mount psychological operations, or 'psy-ops'": Carla Anne Robbins, "Spin Control: U.S. Has Early Priority: Managing Its Message," Wall Street Journal, Eastern edition, New York, N.Y.: Oct 4, 2001, p. A.1.


7. Tina Susman, "Civilian toll in Iraq may top 1M," Los Angeles Times, September 14, 2007,,1,4491851.story?track=rss&ctrack=2&cset=true; cf. "Over 1 million Iraqi deaths since 2003," Mon, 13 Aug 2007 06:29:42 GMT,

8. BRADLEY BROOKS, "US nears 4,000 dead in Iraq," Associated Press, Sun Mar 16, 5:17 PM ET,

9. Mark Benjamin, "John McCain's real war record," January 17, 2008,; cf.; cf. Shmuel Rosner, "Why lovers of Israel should vote for McCain (according to Lieberman)," Haaretz, Last update - 18:36 29/01/2008, Note: McCain's credentials even as a political conservative are suspect: "...Now the party has an apparent candidate who is a friend of Sen. Russ Feingold - on campaign finance reform - [Congressman Ron] Paul said. And now the party has an apparent candidate who is a friend of Ted Kennedy - on immigration - Paul said. ... And then there is the war in Iraq, with Paul the only one of several Republican candidates for president this year who took a stance against the war."McCain says we should stay there for 100 years if necessary - I say there is no need," ...", Mark Silva, "Ron Paul: McCain friends with Feingold, Kennedy," Baltimore Sun, February 7, 2008,; cf. "Bill Clinton: John McCain and Hillary are 'very close'," CNN, Posted: 06:45 PM ET, January 25, 2008,

10. PARIS ACHEN, "Unveiling the casualties of war: Activist crafts newspaper to tell stories of those touched by conflict," The Houston Chronicle, 2 STAR EDITION, March 13, 2003, Thursday, THISWEEK; Pg. 1; cf. PATRICK COCKBURN, "Pentagon revises its Gulf war scorecard," The Independent (London), April 14, 1992, Tuesday, INTERNATIONAL NEWS PAGE; Page 12; cf. ANDREW STEPHEN, "The Gulf War: Saddam sends Bush 'ballistic with anger' - How Iraq's peace ploy may hasten the bloody land battle," The Observer (UK), February 17 1991, Pg. 9.

11.; cf. "...both the U.S. bishops and top Vatican officials sharply questioned the decision to invade Iraq in 2003", Alan Cooperman, "U.S. Catholic Bishops Call for 'Honest Dialogue' on Iraq," Washington Post, Tuesday, November 14, 2006; Page A15,

12. Saddam's capture may bring peace, doesn't excuse war, cardinal says, Catholic News Service,

13. FRANCES D'EMILIO, "Pope: 'Nothing positive' from Iraq," Associated Press, And, apparently, the Pope is not the only one with a low opinion of the Iraq "war": "Legal scholars work to build case for Bush war crimes prosecution," Press Release: Massachusetts School Of Law, 17/06/08,

14. SELCAN HACAOGLU, "Filthy Iraqi drinking water raises cholera fears," Associated Press, 2 August 2008,; cf. Hannah Allam, "5 years after Iraq's 'liberation,' there are worms in the water," McClatchy Newspapers, Sun Mar 16, 6:00 AM,; cf. PATRICK COCKBURN, "After five years of U.S. occupation, Iraq is destroyed as a country," THE INDEPENDENT, Last updated March 18, 2008 4:59 p.m. PT,; cf. STEVEN R. HURST, "Water taps run dry in Baghdad," Associated Press, Thu Aug 2, 2:19 PM ET,

15. PAULINE JELINEK, "Army: soldier suicide rate may set record again," Associated Press, Thu Sep 4, 5:33 PM ET,; cf. PAULINE JELINEK, "Army suicides reported up again -- at 108," Associated Press,; cf. Suicide rate high among US veterans, Wed, 14 Nov 2007 11:36:06,; cf. PAULINE JELINEK, "Wartime PTSD cases jumped roughly 50 pct. in 2007 Associated Press,"; cf. "1-in-10 US Iraq veterans have stress disorder: study," Reuters, February 28, 2006;"Report: 121 veterans linked to killings," Sunday Jan. 13, 2008; cf. DEBORAH SONTAG and LIZETTE ALVAREZ, "Across America, Deadly Echoes of Foreign Battles," New York Times, January 13, 2008

16. Iraq war 'caused slowdown in the US'," Peter Wilson, Europe correspondent | February 28, 2008,,25197,23286149-2703,00.html; cf. Jane Corbin, "BBC uncovers lost Iraq billions," BBC News, Tuesday, 10 June 2008 18:25 UK,; cf. DAVID M. HERSZENHORN, "Estimates of Iraq War Cost Were Not Close to Ballpark," March 19, 2008, By; cf. KIMBERLY HEFLING, "Veterans make up 1 in 4 homeless in US," Associated Press,; cf. Ralph Forbes, "151 Congressmen Derive Financial Profit From War:Blood money stains the hands of more than 25% of members of the U.S. House and Senate," May 28, 2008,; cf. JEANNINE AVERSA, "To fix economy, get out of Iraq," AP,; Noam Chomsky, "Failed States: The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy," (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2006), p. 226.

17. This is not to say that Obama is not beholden to the same financial interests. He surely is. Cf. Pam Martens, "Obama’s Money Cartel: How he’s fronted for the most vicious firms on Wall Street," CounterPunch, February 23, 2008,; Ralph Forbes (Posted by chris rice), "151 Congressmen Derive Financial Profit From War: Blood money stains the hands of more than 25% of members of the U.S. House and Senate,", May 28, 2008 at 09:20:59,

18. WHY WE FIGHT FOREIGN WARS: "Four Western oil companies are in talks with Iraq’s Oil Ministry for no-bid contracts to service the country’s largest fields. ...", ANDREW E. KRAMER, "Deals With Iraq Are Set to Bring Oil Giants Back," New York Times, 19 June 2008,; cf. BBC's Newsnight "said the younger George Bush made his first million with an oil company partly funded by the chief US representative of Salem bin Laden, Osama's brother, who took over as head of the family after his father Mohammed's death in a plane crash in 1968", "US agents told to back off bin Ladens," 7th November 2001,; cf. Ben Aris in Berlin and Duncan Campbell in Washington, "How Bush's grandfather helped Hitler's rise to power," The Guardian, Saturday September 25 2004,; cf.: "The coup was aimed at toppling President Franklin D Roosevelt with the help of half-a-million war veterans. The plotters, who were alleged to involve some of the most famous families in America, (owners of Heinz, Birds Eye, Goodtea, Maxwell Hse & George Bush’s Grandfather, Prescott) believed that their country should adopt the policies of Hitler and Mussolini to beat the great depression": Mike Thomson, "The Whitehouse Coup," BBC Radio 4, Monday 23 July 2007,

19. Keating Five scandal: "Mr. Keating, his associates, and his friends contributed $56,000 for Senator McCain's two House races in 1982 and 1984, and $54,000 for his 1986 Senate race. Mr. Keating also provided his corporate plane and/or arranged for payment for the use of commercial or private aircraft on several occasions for travel by Senator McCain and his family, for which Senator McCain ultimately provided reimbursement when called upon to do so. Mr. Keating also allowed Senator McCain and his family to vacation with Mr. Keating and his family, at a home provided by Mr. Keating in the Bahamas, in each of the calendar years 1983 through 1986." [F]rom 1984 to 1987, Senator McCain took actions on Mr. Keating's behalf or at his request. The Committee finds that Senator McCain had a basis for each of these actions independent of the contributions and benefits he received from Mr. Keating, his associates and friends. ..." Moreover, McCain is a hot-head who has nearly engaged in fisticuffs with a colleague in the Senate (see, e.g., Michael Leahy, "McCain: A Question of Temperament," Washington Post, Sunday, April 20, 2008; A01, and who - unless he is serious - thinks that it is funny to “joke” about being an “aspiring dictator” (see McCain's Interview with the editorial board of the "Des Moines Register" in Iowa, 30 September 2008) even as the United States Congress was threatened over the economic bailout with the prospect of "martial law" if the plan failed to pass (see: and even as the USA Patriot Act, and Patriot Act II, Total Information Awareness, Military Commissions Act, John Warner Defense Authorization Act, and Presidential Decision Directive 51 literally erect the scaffolding for a full-fledged police state. Plus, McCain apparently thinks that it is amusing to “joke” about mass-murdering the Iranian people: "Republican presidential candidate John McCain was asked about an Associated Press report that $158 million in cigarettes have been shipped to Iran during George W. Bush's presidency despite restrictions on U.S. exports to that country. 'Maybe that's a way of killing them,' McCain told reporters... ", AP, July 8, 2008; cf.: McCain sings "Bomb Iran" to tune of "Barbara Ann": Republican US presidential contender Senator John McCain's joke on how to deal with Iran is not making everybody laugh. He responded to a question from an audience in South Carolina on Wednesday by breaking into the melody of the Beach Boys song "Barbara Ann" but changing the lyrics to "Bomb Iran", "John McCain, you've done it again," AP/Sydney Morning Herald, April 20, 2007.

20. Ezra Pound, Canto XLV -- "With Usura" (reference owed to Michael Hoffman)

21. Arthur Vermeersch, The Catholic Encyclopedia, 1912 ed., Volume XV, New York: Robert Appleton Company, p. 235 (references owed to Michael Hoffman).

22. Michael Hoffman, "Augustine, Abortion and the Democrats: The Talmud is the source of dissent and confusion within Christendom over abortion," 9/01/2008 08:53:00 AM,

23. And which country? From some of McCain's rhetoric and history, and from some of the rhetoric of his handlers (chiefly, Joe Lierberman), one might conclude that the country McCain puts first is, often enough, Israel. See, again: Shmuel Rosner, "Why lovers of Israel should vote for McCain (according to Lieberman)," Haaretz, Last update - 18:36 29/01/2008, But, then again, all of the "mainline" candidates are zionists of one stripe or other (tending, again from much of the rhetoric, towards the Likud end of the spectrum): "America's powerful Israel lobby, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), held a recent summit that featured moments described by one writer as "surreal," "energized" and even "circuslike." "AIPAC's three-day summit included fiery evangelical oratory, adoration for Dick Cheney -- and new plans for going after Iran," reports Gregory Levey for Salon. "Amid an energized and at times almost circuslike atmosphere," Levey writes, "just about everyone in attendance shared two main preoccupations: the 2008 U.S. presidential election and confronting Iran. ... Levey notes that a bipartisan spirit permeated the conference. "Even if Democrats and Republicans bicker on every other issue," he writes, "AIPAC leaders seemed constantly eager to stress that one thing on which the parties can come together is unswerving devotion to Israel." To that end, both House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) made appearances. ... Cheney's presence yielded a rousing, warm reaction, says Levey. "When Cheney first appeared on the stage on Monday morning," he writes, "the crowd immediately rose to its feet and filled the room with loud applause, which continued intermittently through his predictably hawkish speech." "It seemed a remarkable contrast to the currently dismal public opinion polls regarding Bush and Cheney," concludes Levy, who quoted a nearby AIPAC delegate among the cheering throng as saying, "This has got to be the last crowd that still greets him this way." Excerpts from the exclusive Salon article, available at , follow... # When the thousands of lobbyists descended on Capitol Hill, they were greeted by nearly every U.S. senator and more than half the members of the House of Representatives -- approximately 500 meetings were held between AIPAC representatives and members of Congress on Tuesday alone. In addition to pushing for the sanctions plan, the goal was to showcase the strength of AIPAC and establish more ties for future communication and lobbying. The AIPAC activists were aided in their mission by some members of Congress themselves, who advised them how to reach out to their colleagues. "Our commitment to Israel defines us as a nation," said Republican Norm Coleman of Minnesota, a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, adding that the AIPAC lobbyists "help make sure that we don't forget." ... Following the dinner, Clinton and Obama held competing dessert receptions in the conference center -- in rooms about 25 yards apart -- both eager to highlight their pro-Israel credentials. Debates ensued over which one to attend. "I can't decide," one AIPAC delegate said. "I'd really like to see Obama in person, but Hillary is better for Israel." # Mike Sheehan, "Israel lobby's summit included 'adoration for Cheney'," 03/16/2007,