Saturday, April 19, 2008

Bush Presidency Less a Failure Than Historians Thought

The Presidency of George W. Bush has been declared a failure and George himself to be the worst President ever by 109 professional historians. History is fine for finding out what happened in the past (duh!), but there's nothing like current events for discovering what's happening now (another duh!).

Current events indicate that Dubya's not so bad as described by Investor's Business Daily.

Democrats have hammered the Bush administration for supposedly losing allies and global standing. But a look at U.S. ties shows Bush to be a master diplomat who is strengthening U.S. relations all over.

"The world owes President Bush a debt of gratitude in leading the world in our determination to root out terrorism," said British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, a man whose recent elevation to office was supposed to denote a "cooling" of relations with the U.S. and a tilt toward Europe.

But Europe isn't really "cooling," either.

France is now led by a man elected as "le Americain." Like Brown, President Nicolas Sarkozy had nothing but good things to say about Bush.

"We spent hours discussing important issues, commercial, economic and others, and I would say that we have done so in a spirit of openness and trust and that is something I have been particularly struck by," Sarkozy said last November. "And when I say that the French people love the American people, that is the truth and nothing but the truth."

Where exactly is the animosity Bush's critics keep talking about?

In Italy, all we can find is another enthusiastically pro-Bush prime minister, Silvio Berlusconi, who won high office this week in a landslide. "What I did counted in my relationship with Bush," he said this month in his campaign.

In Germany, led by conservative and U.S.-friendly Chancellor Angela Merkel, the sentiment has also gone pro-American, as it has in the Netherlands, Denmark, Belgium and Canada.

Outside of Western Europe, the reviews are even warmer because there's a focus not just on terror-fighting but standing up for democracy— as ties with Estonia, Poland, the Czech Republic, Romania, and Albania show.

"Albania enjoys friendly and cooperative bilateral relations with the U.S. Pro-U.S. sentiment is widespread among the population," the State Department's Web site reads.

In the case of the Czechs, it's about shared ideals: "Relations between the U.S. and the Czech Republic are excellent and reflect the common approach both have to the many challenges facing the world at present. The U.S. looks to the Czech Republic as a partner in issues ranging from Afghanistan to the Balkans, and seeks opportunities to continue to deepen this relationship," State says.

Across Africa, it's also about Bush's commitment to democracy and development. Tens of thousands of people greeted Bush in several countries this year, hailing him as their continent's great friend.

Meanwhile, IBD — along with nine Democratic Congress members — saw the same in Medellin, Colombia, where thousands of Colombians greeted Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in January.

That brings up another reason why Bush has succeeded: No president in U.S. history has signed as many free-trade deals as Bush, which has deepened our alliances well beyond trade.

Bush signed off on 10 free-trade agreements, many with Arab states vulnerable to terrorism such as Morocco, Jordan, and Persian Gulf state Bahrain — which is now a "major non-NATO ally."

Closer to home, check out what Bush's free-trade policy has done to regional ties: "Relations between the United States and Chile are better now than at any other time in history," State's site reads.

Bush has also boosted ties with strategic Asian countries such as Vietnam, Cambodia, Japan, Indonesia and Singapore, and broken new ground with some very big players globally, like Brazil and India, both of whose leaders have the most cordial of relations.

Who's left? Russia? China?

Even among them, Bush has shown surprising skill at keeping them talking, despite their backsliding on democracy.

So what was that again about Bush alienating the world?

Maybe the next time Democrats insist on their old canard about Bush being hated, they can get out a map and see who's left. Right now, they have no one, apart from a few anti-American dictators.

They might also ask themselves why. The answer is President Bush has done a terrific job bringing much of the world into our circle of friendship by fighting terror, building democracy and promoting free trade. Brown knows exactly what he's talking about.
I just hope the next American President is so bad.



The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Abortion Art Hoax: A Signpost to the Twight Zone

Well done! If the intent was to trivialize the killing of babies or get rare agreement from two opposing abortion groups. The entire abortion as art senior project was revealed to have been a hoax late today by Yale University. Otherwise, it was just plain rude.

The story of Yale University art student Aliza Shvarts who claimed multiple self-induced abortions and using the blood in her project swept the news outlets and the blogosphere. The story was picked up by the Drudge Report, The Washington Post, Fox News, Gateway Pundit, and Indigo Red.

"The entire project is an art piece, a creative fiction designed to draw attention to the ambiguity surrounding form and function of a woman’s body," said Helaine Klasky, spokesperson for Yale. According to Klasky, Aliza Shvarts did not impregnate herself and did not induce abortions. The entire stunt was "performance art." Klasky said, "She is an artist and has the right to express herself through performance art. Had these acts been real, they would have violated basic ethical standards and raised serious mental and physical health concerns."

Shvarts defended her project saying the Yale statement was "ultimately inaccurate." She continued to claim "she repeatedly use a needleless syringe to insert semen into herself. At the end of her menstrual cycle, she took abortifacient herbs to induce bleeding, she said. She said she does not know whether or not she was ever pregnant," wrote The Yale Daily. Shvarts was quoted saying, "No one can say with 100-percent certainty that anything in the piece did or did not happen, because the nature of the piece is that it did not consist of certainties."

In rare agreement, the anti-abortion National Right to Life Committee and the pro-abortion NARAL released similar statements. NRLC said, "It's clearly depraved. I think the poor woman has got some major mental problems. She’s a serial killer. This is just a horrible thought." NARAL said, "This ‘project’ is offensive and insensitive to the women who have suffered the heartbreak of miscarriage."

No matter the intent, it was rude, foolish, and ultimately unoriginal. We saw, in 2003, Chinese performance artist Zhu Yu, "who displays photographs in which he washes a stillborn child in a sink and then consumes it." That, too, was a hoax.

J. Bottum wrote "Eating Babies" for the Jan 1, 2003 Weekly Standard. He wrote,

"We need a word for things that are so wrong, it is wrong even to report them--actions to which we somehow lend countenance just by entering into a discussion of why they are beyond all countenance. We saw some of this when Princeton University's Peter Singer proclaimed that a baby is less important than a pig and that we ought to have a twenty-eight-day trial period before we decide whether or not to let newborns continue living. The problem wasn't that we'd ever agree as a culture with Singer. The problem is that his position at Princeton made for a season the slaughter of the innocents a debatable moral question rather than an undebatable moral principle--the touchstone by which we are able to judge other moral propositions, like "eating the corpses of stillborn children is evil."

A few years ago, the London Daily Telegraph reported that "doctors at the state-run Shenzhen Health Centre for Women and Children hand out bottles of thumb-sized aborted babies to be made into meat cakes or soup with pork and ginger. Zou Qin, a doctor at the Luo Hu Clinic in Shenzhen, said the fetuses were 'nutritious' and that she had eaten one hundred herself in the last six months. 'We don't carry out abortions just to eat fetuses,' said Qin. '[But they would be] wasted if not eaten.'" And what--apart from vomiting--is the answer?

PRO-LIFE ACTIVISTS would certainly relate all this to abortion, and it's hard to say they're wrong. Once upon a time, we built hedge after hedge of protection around the deep things about life and death a culture must maintain. The hedges themselves are not all that important, but when they fall they weaken our defenses--however much those people who knock them down insist they are only clearing away a single hedge.

A prominent ethician once observed to me that back in the mid-1960s, when he first started in the field of what would come to be called bioethics, a standard discussion in medical ethics was about whether it was licit to terminate an ectopic pregnancy, in which the fetus was incapable of developing and its presence in a fallopian tube would quickly kill the mother. His point wasn't that we shouldn't allow the removal of an ectopic fallopian tube. It was, rather, that we used to assume even this life-saving procedure required a sophisticated and delicate argument before we permitted it. Hedge by hedge, that old sophistication and delicacy was bulldozed down until,
2008, when a Yale University female art student can make a bogus claim in a college rag of repeated pregnancies and abortions and no one can conceive that it's a hoax. Our first reaction is not horror and dis-belief. No. Our first impulse today is horror and immediate, unquestioning credence in the abhorrent claims of a secular, liberal art student. That is how low we have descended from the heights of academia into the pit of depravity. We don't trust our own children to know the bounds of propriety because there are no bounds.

I wonder, if the Marquis de Sade were alive today, would he be proud that our oh-so-modern licentious society has come so far in realizing his ideal of extreme liberty and pursuit of personal pleasure unrestrained by all legal, moral, and religious bonds? Or would he merely think the insane asylums to which he was often sentenced had simply lost their walls and become the common world?



The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Mexican Bribery Inflation

The cost of bribery went up in Mexico. No, not the penalty, the actual money paid. Last year, Mexicans paid $2.58 BILLION in bribes, 42% more than 2 years earlier.

In December 2007, Transparency Mexico, a non-profit group, surveyed 16,000 people face-to-face who fessed up to paying 197 million bribes during the year compare with 115 million bribes in 2005. That's a whole bunch of bribes in a population of 105 million, almost two bribes per citizen. The total amounted to about 8% of a family's annual income.

The good news for Mexicans is that, though the number of bribes has grown, the per bribe average cost has gone down from $17 to $13. Bribery exists on a continuum from tipping the waiter to greasing the palms of police and judges, and about 10% of all government transactions involve bribes.

Officials say the problem is that people don't refuse to pay bribes. The government has run advertisements encouraging Mexicans to report bribery and corruption. The 6th most common bribe reported was paid to police investigators to ensure crime reports are filed.

At one time, working illegal jobs in the U.S. was the only way Mexicans could possibly afford paying the bribes. This year remittances from America to Mexico, the 2nd largest income source, have decreased 5.9% to $1.65 billion between March 2007 and March 2008 because of the law enforcement activities of Homeland Security and the anti-illegal immigrant employment laws in many States. Whatever Mexicans choose to do, it will not include cracking down on the expensive national crime spree.



The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.

Abortion as Art: Depravity on Display

Justice Potter Stewart famously said that hard-core pornography was difficult define, "but I know it when I see it." Defining what is and is not Art is hard to define, but we know it when we see it. I have a BA in Art. I have studied art in three universities on two continents. I have seen much bad and really bad art. I have also seen very good art that was controversial. Yale University doesn't even try, after all, making a choice would be judgmental and discriminatory. Can't have that, can we.

But this is not Art. It is depravity in full flower and it stinks.


For senior, abortion a medium for art, political discourse
Martine Powers
Staff Reporter
Published Thursday, April 17, 2008

Art major Aliza Shvarts '08 wants to make a statement.

Beginning next Tuesday, Shvarts will be displaying her senior art project, a documentation of a nine-month process during which she artificially inseminated herself "as often as possible" while periodically taking abortifacient drugs to induce miscarriages. Her exhibition will feature video recordings of these forced miscarriages as well as preserved collections of the blood from the process.

The goal in creating the art exhibition, Shvarts said, was to spark conversation and debate on the relationship between art and the human body. But her project has already provoked more than just debate, inciting, for instance, outcry at a forum for fellow senior art majors held last week. And when told about Shvarts' project, students on both ends of the abortion debate have expressed shock . saying the project does everything from violate moral code to trivialize abortion.

But Shvarts insists her concept was not designed for "shock value."

"I hope it inspires some sort of discourse," Shvarts said. "Sure, some people will be upset with the message and will not agree with it, but it's not the intention of the piece to scandalize anyone."

The "fabricators," or donors, of the sperm were not paid for their services, but Shvarts required them to periodically take tests for sexually transmitted diseases. She said she was not concerned about any medical effects the forced miscarriages may have had on her body. The abortifacient drugs she took were legal and herbal, she said, and she did not feel the need to consult a doctor about her repeated miscarriages.

Shvarts declined to specify the number of sperm donors she used, as well as the number of times she inseminated herself.

Art major Juan Castillo '08 said that although he was intrigued by the creativity and beauty of her senior project, not everyone was as thrilled as he was by the concept and the means by which she attained the result.

"I really loved the idea of this project, but a lot other people didn't," Castillo said. "I think that most people were very resistant to thinking about what the project was really about. [The senior-art-project forum] stopped being a conversation on the work itself."

Although Shvarts said she does not remember the class being quite as hostile as Castillo described, she said she believes it is the nature of her piece to "provoke inquiry."

"I believe strongly that art should be a medium for politics and ideologies, not just a commodity," Shvarts said. "I think that I'm creating a project that lives up to the standard of what art is supposed to be."

The display of Schvarts' project will feature a large cube suspended from the ceiling of a room in the gallery of Green Hall. Schvarts will wrap hundreds of feet of plastic sheeting around this cube; lined between layers of the sheeting will be the blood from Schvarts' self-induced miscarriages mixed with Vaseline in order to prevent the blood from drying and to extend the blood throughout the plastic sheeting.

Schvarts will then project recorded videos onto the four sides of the cube. These videos, captured on a VHS camcorder, will show her experiencing miscarriages in her bathrooom tub, she said. Similar videos will be projected onto the walls of the room.

School of Art lecturer Pia Lindman, Schvarts' senior-project advisor, could not be reached for comment Wednesday night.

Few people outside of Yale's undergraduate art department have heard about Shvarts' exhibition. Members of two campus abortion-activist groups . Choose Life at Yale, a pro-life group, and the Reproductive Rights Action League of Yale, a pro-choice group . said they were not previously aware of Schvarts' project.

Alice Buttrick '10, an officer of RALY, said the group was in no way involved with the art exhibition and had no official opinion on the matter.

Sara Rahman '09 said, in her opinion, Shvarts is abusing her constitutional right to do what she chooses with her body.

"[Shvarts' exhibit] turns what is a serious decision for women into an absurdism," Rahman said. "It discounts the gravity of the situation that is abortion."

CLAY member Jonathan Serrato '09 said he does not think CLAY has an official response to Schvarts' exhibition. But personally, Serrato said he found the concept of the senior art project "surprising" and unethical.

"I feel that she's manipulating life for the benefit of her art, and I definitely don't support it," Serrato said. "I think it's morally wrong."

Shvarts emphasized that she is not ashamed of her exhibition, and she has become increasingly comfortable discussing her miscarriage experiences with her peers.

"It was a private and personal endeavor, but also a transparent one for the most part," Shvarts said. "This isn't something I've been hiding."

The official reception for the Undergraduate Senior Art Show will be from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on April 25. The exhibition will be on public display from April 22 to May 1. The art exhibition is set to premiere alongside the projects of other art seniors this Tuesday, April 22 at the gallery of Holcombe T. Green Jr. Hall on Chapel Street.




The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Al-Qaida Use Silencers for Daytime Killing

Al-Qaida are sneaky bastards. At one time they loved things that go "BOOM!" Now they want silence.

Al Qaida using silencers for stealth killing in Iraq

Al Qaida has acquired weapons with silencers to kill U.S. and Iraqi officers, according to a new report.

Operatives have been recruiting and training operatives to use silencers to kill police and soldiers at checkpoints around Baghdad and Diyala.

Al Qaida-aligned Internet sites have also provided guidelines to procuring silencers and their use, the April 16 edition of Geostrategy-Direct.com reported. The reason for silencers on pistols was for Al Qaida to kill quietly and then escape.

In one attack, two Al Qaida gunmen walked up to an Iraq Army barracks in the Saidia district of Baghdad.

Two soldiers were shot dead in broad daylight and no one noticed for hours.

Another Al Qaida cell in Diyala has been using only 9 mm pistols with silencers. Over the last year, the cell conducted 20 attacks on Iraqi police stations using pistols with silencers as well as daggers.

Some of the Al Qaida operatives, complaining of the large size of silencers, have designed their own equipment. Others have used U.S.-made silencers, available over the Internet or on the black market.




The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Bush Presidency a Failure - The Survey


In an article longer than the actual survey conducted by the History News Network, the New York Times blog, The Board (the bored?), says that 98% of historians believe the George W. Bush presidency has been a failure.

98% - that's alot of historians. 109 historians in a world population of 6,661,608,921 - that's not alot of historians. The NYT makes a special point of one point of the survey: The survey also made clear that James Buchanan has some work to do rehabilitating his whole catapulted-the-nation-into-Civil-War reputation. The problem with this is that it's not a question on the 2008 questionnaire; perhaps it was on the 2004 HNN survey. No fair conflating the two surveys and pretending it is one and the same, NYT. Shame, shame, I say!

You would think this would be one very long, in-depth, far reaching, probing survey. Right? Let's see.

Here, in it's unedited entirety, is the whole survey:


We will limit the survey to two questions, followed by an opportunity to give comments:

1. On balance, do you consider the presidency of George W. Bush to have been a success or failure?

Success ___

Failure ___


2. Forty-two people have been president of the United States. At this point, where would you rate the presidency of George W. Bush in comparison to those of the other men who have held the office?

Best Ever ___

2-10 ___

11-20 ___

21-30 ___

31-41 ___

Worst Ever ___

Whew! That wore me out just reading it, nevermind having to answer both questions.



The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.

In an Obama World



Lisa Benson Cartoon
Orange County Register



The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Earthquake Warnings, Not Scare Stories

In the last post, I told you of news informing us of an earthquake "sometime/somewhere" in California. Perhaps without intention, regular reader Anonymous, a bit more serious than I was on the point, reminded me that quakes are deadly serious. And that got me thinking again about how the story was presented by local media.

I was listening to local A.M. talk radio when the news reader informed us that earthquake experts said there will likely be a 6.7 or greater magnitude quake 'somewhere in California, sometime in the next 30 years.' That's what I heard; that's what thousands of other Southern Californians heard. It was factually correct, but so wrong on many levels.

I was in SoCal during the Oct. 1, 1987 Whittier Narrows 6.0 quake that left 8 dead; $358 million in property damage to 10,500 homes and businesses. The epicenter was only tens of miles away from me.

I was also here Jan 17, 1994 for the 6.7 Northridge quake that killed 57 people according to the California Geological Survey and 72 people according to the scare story, injured 9,000+, and caused $40 billion in damage on which we are still paying. The epicenter was only scores of miles away from me.

There have been many other temblors I have experienced, none pleasant. The probability of death or injury is very real.

What is not needed are stories such as the one bandied about today saying that somewhere in California, sometime in the next 30 years there is an "almost certain risk" of another big earthquake. That's a big "DUH!"

This kind of crap story only causes people to do one of two things: 1) panic; 2) dismiss this and all other warnings as so much hooey.

If the experts were trying to remind Californians about the danger of earthquakes and the need to be ever prepared, well ... they failed. Just remind us now and again that it's time to swap out our water and canned goods, review our escape and survival plans, and update our contact information. We are reminded once a year to replace the batteries in our smoke detectors, and twice a year to reset our clocks. How about the same for earthquake preparedness instead of scaring the bejesus out of the faint of heart and amusing the rest of us. This is serious stuff.

Scare tactics by quake experts and "sometime/somewhere" warnings ballyhooed by the media only serves to cheapen the warnings and undermine the believability of the experts.

Today's warning was all the more poorly planned because this quake news follows Sunday night's ABC episode of "Eli Stone". The hero and a crackpot earthquake expert predict a 6.7 temblor will hit San Francisco and knock down the Golden Gate Bridge. No one believed them because they had both cried Earthquake in the past and nothing happened.

Please, don't scare us. Just remind us, calmly and deliberately from time to time, that after a major quake we will be on our own for three days or more before outside help arrives.




Update:

Current time is 6:13 P.M. 4-14/o8. At 6:00:07, 4-14.08, 13 minutes ago, a 3.4 quake has struck 6 miles NE of Desert Hot Springs, 15 miles NNE of Palm Springs. USGS.



The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.

California to have Earthquake Somewhere Sometime in Next 30 Years - Maybe


NEWS FLASH! This just in 29 minutes ago: sometime in the next 30 years, a 6.7 or greater magnitude earthquake will hit somewhere in California. It's almost certain, think the experts at U.S. Geological Survey in Pasadena.

California faces an almost certain risk of being rocked by a strong earthquake by 2037, scientists said Monday in the first statewide temblor forecast.

New calculations reveal there is a 99.7 percent chance a magnitude 6.7 quake or larger will strike in the next 30 years. The odds of such an event are higher in Southern California than Northern California, 97 percent versus 93 percent.

The last time a jolt this size rattled California was the 1994 Northridge disaster, which killed 72 people, injured more than 9,000 and caused $25 billion in damage.

"It basically guarantees it's going to happen," said Ned Field, a geophysicist with the U.S. Geological Survey in Pasadena and lead author of the report.
Jeez! I guess that's why the experts get paid the really big bucks and I don't. As a simple resident of California working as a clerk for an electronics manufacturing company, I would never have thought California might possibly have an earthquake somewhere sometime in the next 30 years. I'm headed for the hills or somewhere ... when I get around to it sometime.



The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.

McCain and Clinton: Limned Difference

It's been said that a picture is worth a thousand words. But, that was way back when people read pictures. We're not so graphically literate today.

Here's a photo I snagged from a Drudge Report story.

It doesn't matter what the story was about, except to Matt Drudge and his mother maybe, but this picture of McCain and Clinton is instructive.

We see them sitting together, smiling, and leaning into one another. They are obviously mutually friendly. They wear similar attire which is apparently military issue flak jackets. Perhaps there were snipers out and about.

Or, perhaps it's illustrative of the old saw, keep your friends close; keep your enemies closer.

What does the photo tell us about the two presidential candidates pictured here? Senator Hillary Clinton wears a kevlar combat helmet to protect her head from snipers. John McCain wears communications headphones allowing immediate access to swift and constant situational change.

In short -

John McCain (Republican) - ear to the situation, head tuned to news, knows what's going on.

Hillary Clinton (Democrat) - protect pretty little head and golden locks from snipers.



The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

John McCain and Pitard Hoisting Or Just Dem Shenanigans

Special interest lawyers for the Democrat Party are filing suit against John McCain. They say Johnny Mac's in violation of the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act of 2002, aka McCain-Feingold Act. "We believe he's breaking the law every day," said DNC Executive Director Tom McMahon. Oh, the irony!

The Democratic National Committee announced today it will file a lawsuit in U.S. District Court Monday to force Sen. John McCain to stay in the public financing system until he formally accepts the Republican presidential nomination in September.

The lawsuit asks the Court to compel the FEC to conduct an investigation into McCain's decision to unilaterally withdraw from the public financing system, and, should the FEC continue to fail to do so, to allow the DNC to sue McCain directly for disobeying campaign finance laws
.
McCain's lawyers say, Nuh-uh! They further claim, writes the Washington Post, that "public financing is voluntary, and McCain had every right to withdraw from the system when it became clear the campaign wouldn't need federal matching money.".

Read more.


The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.

Godfathers of Dems to Whack Clinton


Unless someone is blowin' a breeze up a Scotsman.com.'s kilt, this is just too precious. The Democrat demagogues are planning to rub out Hillary Clinton's presidential nominee run. Nobel Peace Prize weeners, Jimmy "Hamas" Carter and Al "Rev Al" Gore, are to be the hitmen because, according to the article, they have "gravitas."

H/T Sweetness and Light

It's Obama, stupid: Carter and Gore to end Clinton bid

By Chris Stephen in New York

DEMOCRAT grandees Jimmy Carter and Al Gore are being lined-up to deliver the coup de grĂ¢ce to Hillary Clinton and end her campaign to become president.

Falling poll numbers and a string of high-profile blunders have convinced party elders that she must now bow out of the primary race.

Former president Carter and former vice-president Gore have already held high-level discussions about delivering the message that she must stand down for the good of the Democrats.

"They're in discussions," a source close to Carter told Scotland on Sunday. "Carter has been talking to Gore. They will act, possibly together, or in sequence."

An appeal by both men for Democrats to unite behind Clinton's rival, Barack Obama, would have a powerful effect, and insiders say it is a question of when, rather than if, they act.

Obama has an almost unassailable lead in the battle for nomination delegates, and is closing the gap with Clinton in her last stronghold, Pennsylvania, which votes on April 22.

Clinton remains publicly defiant, insisting she will continue the battle with Obama all the way to the Democratic convention in August – when superdelegates, or party top brass, will have the chance to add their weight to primary votes.

But the party's top brass have concluded her further participation in the race can only harm the party as Republican nominee John McCain strives to take advantage of her increasingly bitter battle with Obama.

Both Carter and Gore occupy the rarefied position of elder statesmen – in addition to their White House past, both are winners of the Nobel Peace Prize, giving them additional gravitas to carry the party with them.

Neither of them is likely to object to the role of bringing down the curtain on Clinton. While neither man has formally endorsed either her or Obama, both have clashed in the past with the Clintons.

Gore blames his loss to George Bush in the 2000 presidential election on the impeachment of Clinton triggered by his White House affair with Monica Lewinsky.

Carter, who has carved out a successful career as an international mediator, is believed to detest the flashy style of the Clintons. He recently told an interviewer that his entire family are committed Obama supporters.

A number of options are being considered by the higher echelons of the Democrats, but they fall roughly into two categories. One is for Carter and Gore to go to Clinton privately and ask her to step down. The other is for both men to appear in public and endorse Obama – a move which would see a majority of superdelegates go with them.

The campaign to force Clinton to make an early exit is being masterminded in Congress, home to the most influential of the superdelegates. Senate Leader Harry Reid and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi have called on superdelegates to hold an unofficial congress in early June to anoint a winner, rather than waiting for the convention in Denver.

Pelosi has drawn withering fire from the Clinton camp for saying that these superdelegates must follow the national vote, with Clinton insisting that they should "vote with their conscience".

Yet some in the Democratic elite are wary of moving too soon. Polls show that 30% of Clinton's supporters would vote for McCain if she fails to become the nominee. To close off Clinton's bid before millions have had the chance to vote risks causing the very split that officials are desperate to avoid.

But a loss to Obama, or even a single-digit victory, in Pennsylvania will seal Clinton's fate. Pennsylvania is the last big state left in the race, and the last chance for Clinton to claw back Obama's delegate lead. "If he (Obama) wins (Pennsylvania) flat out, I think the big foot will come down," a source said.

Anything less than a resounding victory by her will probably see the race choked off ahead of the final primaries on June 3.

In the 10 remaining primaries, only a catastrophic loss of support by Obama will see Clinton overcome his lead of 160 delegates.

She admits she has little chance of winning the public vote, and is basing her strategy on convincing party-appointed superdelegates that she is, in her own words, the more "electable" of the two candidates.

Clinton enjoys strong support among superdelegates, many from a party elite who worked for her husband Bill during his years in the White House. There are more than 350 superdelegates who have yet to show a preference, potentially enough to rub out Obama's lead and give the presidency to Clinton.

But historically, superdelegates have never gone against the public vote, and party insiders say they would face a revolt, or even riots, if they were to do so now.

Obama's campaign has been a phenomenon in American politics, bringing in record numbers of new voters and record funding, and few think the superdelegates would dare deny him victory if he wins the popular vote.

It would also invite the unedifying spectacle of a mostly white elite denying an African American candidate a chance for the presidency. "It would cause a scandal to do that," says one party official. "To turn around to the black community and say, 'You got the most votes, but no'? Unlikely."

Clinton insists she will see her campaign through to the final primaries in June, and then on to the national convention, where her supporters have powerful lobbies in the organising committees.

But a chain of events in the past two weeks has worked to undermine this strategy, pulling the rug from under her claim to be more experienced and better organised than Obama.

It began with her extraordinary suggestion that she braved sniper fire during a trip to Bosnia in 1996, a statement contradicted by TV footage showing the event was peaceful.

There are suggestions that the long list of wealthy benefactors may be expecting favours to be returned once Hillary is in the White House, suggestions sharpened by the Clinton's refusal to release the list of donors to the William J. Clinton Presidential Library.

Such conflict-of-interest issues came into the open last week when it emerged that Clinton's chief campaign strategist, Mark Penn, was lobbying for the Colombian government to secure a free trade agreement with America, despite Clinton's public opposition to such a deal. Penn stepped down, the second high-profile sacking of a campaign manager this year.

Together with reports that Clinton's money troubles have left her unable to pay event organisers and even the health insurance of her staff, the impression is of a campaign in trouble.

These issues have undermined Clinton's claim to be more "electable", with her own stormy campaign contrasting with the disciplined control of Obama's organisation.
Obama himself has refrained from criticism on these issues, his staff keen to portray their candidate as "presidential" and above the fray.

Conspiracy theorists among her opponents claim Clinton is prolonging the race not because she hopes to win, but to inflict such damage on the party that a weakened Obama loses to John McCain in November, allowing Clinton to have a second tilt at the nomination in four years' time.

For Clinton, defeat in the nomination process would mean consignment to the political wilderness.

Losing nominees rarely get a second chance to run, and although Clinton's seat as a New York senator seems safe, failure in the nomination process leaves her politically neutered.

Talk of a possible consolation prize, in awarding her the job of Senate Majority leader, has petered out with several more senior senators also coveting the job.

Meanwhile, Clinton's poll numbers continue to slide. Obama now leads her nationally by about 10 points, and a CNN poll in Pennsylvania showed him closing the once-yawning gap to just three points.

Should Clinton lose Pennsylvania, the defection of growing numbers of superdelegates from her to Obama could become a flood.
Isn't that special! The "Every Vote Counts , We Are All Equal" Democrat Party will now hold a conclave obscurum of superdelegates, whose only super powers seem to be super egos, to anoint the party boy from on high.

OMG, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi are leading the coup! Oh yeah, success is guaranteed now.



The life of Indigo Red is full of adventure. Tune in next time for the Further Adventures of Indigo Red.