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McCain Takes the Lead?

John McCain has taken the lead for the first time in the RealClearPolitics Electoral College projection, with a 274 to 264 margin, when tossups are included.  (Barack Obama’s still up 228 to 178 in states with solid margins.)

McCain 274 Obama 264  RealClearPolitics 20 AUG 08

Now, this is one projection. Electoral-Vote.com still has Virginia tied and therefore has the race at Obama 264, McCain 261.  Even in the RCP calculation, McCain’s leads in several important battlegrounds are razor thin and quite possibly statistical anomalies.  Still, this is the first time he’s actually had the lead since he and Obama became their parties’ presumptive nominees.

Further, McCain is moving up in almost every national poll.  LAT/Bloomberg shows a statistical tie (Obama 45, McCain 43).  CNN has it Obama 46, McCain 43 – half the lead he enjoyed just days ago.  Gallup has it Obama 45, McCan 44.  Reuters/Zogby has it McCain 46, Obama 41 among likely voters, a twelve point swing in a month and McCain’s first lead in that survey.

Despite this post’s headline, I would still characterize the race as tied, if not one in which Obama has a very slight edge.  But it’s very interesting that, despite Obama having made no serious gaffes and having a country palpably ready to change direction, he’s losing ground.

Several possible explanations come to mind:

  • The Russia-Georgia crisis has brought national security to the forefront, to McCain’s advantage;
  • McCain’s strong showing at the Rick Warren Saddleback thing the other night helped him;
  • It’s summertime, nobody’s paying much attention, and this is some statistical fluke;
  • Negative advertising works

Perhaps all of those things are true.

In any event, as I wrote in some detail yesterday, the real campaign starts Monday with the kickoff of the convention season.  Barring a major crisis, Obama will get a significant, if short-lived, bounce from his vice presidential announcement and what I presume will be a well-orchestrated convention.  He’s a gifted speech maker and he’ll almost certain give a great acceptance speech.  Not as many people will watch as was the case in the days of three channels but he’ll make a lot of people who want to vote for him but are uneasy about him more comfortable.

It’ll then be up to McCain to counter that with a strong VP choice  — I do think that, unlike most years, it’ll really matter for him — and convention of his own.  After that, it’s game on for two months.

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About James Joyner
James Joyner is the publisher of Outside the Beltway, an associate professor of security studies at the Marine Corps Command and Staff College, and a nonresident senior fellow at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. He earned a PhD in political science from The University of Alabama. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter.

Comments

  1. Bithead says:

    As you will have noticed, James, I wrote to all of this last night, and the one thing I noted with interest is the amount of hand-wringing going on on the left. I didn’t say so in my peice but I found such on talkLeft the most interesting, and possibly the most ominous of signs for Obama. Ostensibly his strongest supporters seemingly have a serious case of buyer’s remorse.

    That said, I do agree that the race is tied at the moment. However, the biggest issue with the polling to my mind is the movement over the last few months. Obama had an overall 12 point lead. That’s gone. Obama had a 25 vote lead, in the electoral votes. Most of that is gone, too. The last I saw he was down to a 5 electroal vote cushion.

    I would suggest that Berlin rockstar thing hurt Obama more than it helped him. And yet, he’s planning on the same kind of show for his acceptnace speech, at Denver’s new stadium.
    Lemmings. The vacation bit ddn’t help him either.

    The Democrats were hoping to gain congressional seats in both houses? I don’t think so, Tim. Coat tails work both ways, and Obama isn’t moving up.

    The biggest deal, here though is the candidates themselves. This race isn’t being won or lost because Mccain is a strong candidate. As I’ve said here and at my own place, he’s decidedly not. All this is hinging on the massive weakness of Obama as a candidate. And perhaps most ominous of all for Obama, about half the commenters at Talk Left last night were saying exactly the same thing.

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  2. just me says:

    I agree that the race is probably tied and I still give the edge to Obama.

    I think there are two things at work-McCain has shown himself well the last couple of weeks for those who are paying attention-his response to Georgia seemed better than Obama’s and McCain’s showing at the Saddleback forum-while Obama didn’t do terribly, he didn’t really shine either.

    I think what we have essentially seen with Obama is he is proving that he is really nothing more than another politician, one who is unlikely to actually produce the hope and change he is promising.

    When you go from the savior of US politics to just another politician it is going to hurt you.

    My guess is he will have his convention, have a really nice flowery speech promising lots more hope and change and he will get a nice bounce.

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  3. You’re right, it’s closer to a statistical dead heat than either candidate having a comfortable overall margin. Individual polls have too many blips (noise), but when you average out the polls, Obama has managed to consistent 3-4 point advantage the last several months, not the large 8-10 point lead that some imagine.

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  4. Dave Schuler says:

    Other reasons include that Sen. Obama’s been on vacation and that he needs to start coming up with better answers to questions (even his friends are telling him that).

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  5. Triumph says:

    It’ll then be up to McCain to counter that with a strong VP choice — I do think that, unlike most years, it’ll really matter for him

    McCain gave a clue about this on Saturday when he cited the liberal Democrat John Lewis as one of the three wisest people who would be advisors in his administration.

    One would think that McCain wants someone wise as a VP–so if he chooses a radical liberal like Lewis he might take some of the crazy leftist votes away from Hussein.

    Of course, the fact that McCain thinks a socialist like Lewis is one of the three wisest people in the country might turn off many mainstream voters.

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  6. Dave Schuler says:

    Wake me when the conventions are over.

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  7. Anderson says:

    Agreed that Obama needs to focus on (1) why Obama and (2) why not McCain. Josh Marshall had a good post yesterday about how Obama hasn’t really gotten a message out.

    August is early, but of course it’s better to be ahead than behind.

    Btw, that RCP average depends on McCain’s trending ahead in Ohio, which itself depends on a couple of Rasmussen polls that have shown outlying high margins for McCain. I think assigning Ohio to either side just yet is a coin-toss.

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  8. John Cole says:

    I will say it again- none of these polls or projections really means a thing until after the second convention. Once McCain has had his shot at the convention and they have both chosen their VP, then pay attention to the polls.

    Now, not so much.

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  9. […] said that, via James Joyner, RCP has McCain ahead of Obama in the electoral college vote for the first time, and James […]

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  10. […] Reuters/Zogby poll is consistent with the RealClearPolitics Electoral count, which puts McCain over Obama in Electoral College votes 274 to 264. Keep in mind that this includes the toss up states, but it’s excellent […]

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  11. Wizbang says:

    Reuters/Zogby: John McCain Opens Up a 5 Point Lead…

    I saw just this at Drudge. McCain has opened up a 5 point lead over Obama in the latest Reuters/Zogby poll: In a sharp turnaround, Republican John McCain has opened……

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  12. Moonage says:

    I would question the assumption Obama has made no serious gaffes. Every single week a semi-serious one occurs. Last week’s I would assume was the “above my pay grade” comment. Kiss the pro-life evangelical non-black vote good-bye. The Catholics immediately went to work because Obama re-assured them of their worst fears. McCain’s clear answer will never be perceived as a defining moment, or even remembered by next week. However, that’s probably the five percent change right there. Each small gaffe I think chips away at his popularity outside of his core. My link up there lists several that he made well before May, they all cost him a hand-full of votes here, a hand-full there.

    Everyone looks for the defining moment such as Al Gore stalking or John Kerry getting swift-boated, but I think with the extended campaigns, it’s more a case of slow burn. Obama’s gaffes in totality, have hurt him more than McCain’s. In Al Gore’s case, he was already losing key states before he stalked. With John Kerry, it was the perceived pressure of losing an obviously winnable race that made the Swift Boat attacks stick for no other reason than his over-reaction. So, the big gaffe was what is remembered, but both were already losing traction before they occurred.

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  13. WR says:

    I keep hearing that Obama “gaffed” by not defining the precise moment that a fetus deserves full human rights in front of a strongly anti-abortion crowd, while McCain triumphed by declaring it was at the moment of conception.

    And it’s true that if the entire election was restricted to members of Warren’s church, then McCain would have won in a walk.

    But McCain desperately needs to win over moderates and independents to win — the 28% of the country still in the W fan club won’t do it. And a vast amount of those people don’t want abortion outlawed. They don’t want Roe overturned. They don’t want the government to refuse them contraceptives because John McCain has decided that a fertilized egg has more rights than they do.

    It will be interesting to see if Obama pushes this — along with McCain’s statement that none (none!) of the slightly liberal members of the Supreme Court belong on the bench. Apparently McCain believes that even though his extreme anti-abortion views are shared by something like one third of the country, only those who agree with him should be allowed a voice on our laws.

    McCain has now aligned himself with the hardest of the hard right. The only thing that keeps him aloft in the polls is the press-created illusion that he’s a “maverick,” not a right wing hack. He may have just handed Obama the ammunition to blow that fantasy out of the water.

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  14. BPA,

    I would refer you to the RCP poll tracking. 6-24-08 Obama 48.3, McCain 40.6. From 6-08-08 to 7-29-08, the Obama lead was always at least 3 points. Since the end of July, it has be a 3 to 4 point race, not before that.

    James,
    Note that Saddleback was after the polls that put McCain ahead on the EV and several of the polls you mentioned.

    One of the things I find interesting is that the justification that Clinton gave for staying in the race (including staying in all the way to the convention) was that BO was a pretty boy who would fade down the stretch. Given that Obama is doing 37EV worse than Kerry at about the same point (and Kerry went on to lose), her electability argument makes good sense.

    Now the super delegates don’t have an organized Clinton campaign to be doing the arm twisting to move the super delegates over to her, but if she had stayed in, Obama had done his glide into mediocrity (be fair, he hasn’t crashed, his descent has been a controlled one), then wouldn’t she be in a strong place to win a brokered convention. But I think the democrats will continue a dead stick approach to November. The real question is if Obama can re-light his jets or if he will lose control and face a 300+ EV loss.

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  15. anjin-san says:

    Cook Political Report still shows Obama with a comfortable electoral lead, though he rates the overall election as a tossup at this point. (Which he has for a while now)

    Cherry picking polls and events to support your case may make one feel good, but it has little meaning in the real world. Obama was red hot for a long time, he had to cool off at some point. The question is, did he retain enough heat to carry him over the finish line? If not, he needs to retool a bit and regain momentum.

    McCain can not, in my view, win on his own merits. It is up to Obama to seal the deal, or not.

    We are still in the pre-season at this point.

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  16. Floyd says:

    “McCain believes that even though his extreme anti-abortion views are shared by something like one third of the country, only those who agree with him should be allowed a voice on our laws.”
    “”””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””
    WR;
    While in the Illinois Senate, Obama cast his vote to deny emergency medical care to babies who are “accidental live births” in abortion clinics, citing the absolute right of a woman to choose.
    If you would not characterize partial birth abortion as an extreme position, how about Infanticide?

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  17. anjin-san says:

    And perhaps most ominous of all for Obama, about half the commenters at Talk Left last night were saying exactly the same thing.

    Talk left has never been a hotbed of Obama support, I would not read much into that, unless you just want a feel good exercise…

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  18. Tlaloc says:

    Bithead:

    The Democrats were hoping to gain congressional seats in both houses? I don’t think so, Tim. Coat tails work both ways, and Obama isn’t moving up.

    You’re crazy if you don’t think the Dems are going to pick up seats this November (even if McCain wins). The GOP has far more vulnerable areas, far less cash, and has one hell of an image problem. Notice that John “My middle name is Maverick” McCain is the GOP presidential candidate this year. That right there tells you somethig about how the R brand is viewed.

    Moonage:

    I would question the assumption Obama has made no serious gaffes. Every single week a semi-serious one occurs. Last week’s I would assume was the “above my pay grade” comment. Kiss the pro-life evangelical non-black vote good-bye.

    Uh, there was never any chance that single issue prolife evangelicals were going to vote Dem, Moonage. You can’t lose something you never had.

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  19. Hal says:

    That right there tells you somethig about how the R brand is viewed.

    If he chooses the Joe “the last honest man” Lieberman as his running mate, you’ll then see the true worth of the brand.

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  20. Bithead says:

    You’re crazy if you don’t think the Dems are going to pick up seats this November (even if McCain wins). The GOP has far more vulnerable areas, far less cash, and has one hell of an image problem. Notice that John “My middle name is Maverick” McCain is the GOP presidential candidate this year. That right there tells you somethig about how the R brand is viewed.

    That’s not the real issue, here. The real issue … the number one issue by far…is high fuel prices. Let’s put this into perspective, shall we?

    The polls say it for me. The vast majority of people are tired of paying high prices at the pump and now see congressional Democrats as roadblocking efforts to get domestic production moving. I’ve said before… even just this week, that the issue is mobilizing even Democrats against the Congressional Democrats like we’ve not seen since Newt ran things. Pelosi going on vacation instead of getting serious abot Drilling hasn’t helped.

    Talk left has never been a hotbed of Obama support, I would not read much into that, unless you just want a feel good exercise…

    They’re hardly alone, or I’d not have mentioned it. DU for example.

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  21. WR says:

    Floyd,

    With no disrespect to you, “Obama wants to kill babies” is one of those right-wing nutjob talking points that will help to rile up the lowest of the low-information voters, but it’s just another case of cherry-picking the votes of a legislator to make him look bad. And in this case, it’s a deliberate setup by the fanatical anti-abortionists, who paired this bill with another one they knew would be unacceptable to anyone who supports abortion rights.

    I don’t expect the hardest right-wingers to stop saying that Obama wants to kill babies. And I suspect that the second iteration of this will be Obama wants to kill white babies. But it’s so ugly and so absurd it’s only going to speak to a tiny group of people — and since they’re the same ones who believe Obama is a Marxist, a Muslim Manchurian candidate, and the obediant slave of a radical Christian preacher, somehow I doubt this is going to affect the election much.

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  22. just me says:

    I keep hearing that Obama “gaffed” by not defining the precise moment that a fetus deserves full human rights in front of a strongly anti-abortion crowd, while McCain triumphed by declaring it was at the moment of conception.

    I don’t think the gaffe here was that he didn’t give a precise answer, but more in how he failed to give an answer.

    When you are running for POTUS you do not use the phrase “Above my pay grade” when it comes to taking positions on controversial or really any issue. The POTUS is the main figure head of our government, he owns the bully pull pit and advocates for and pushes certain legislation. He also has the power of the veto pen and the control of the military. Nothing is “above his pay grade.”

    I think he loses on the life issue no matter what when it comes to those dedicated to the pro life cause, but there is a mushy middle of people who aren’t opposed to abortion in the first trimester or in certain circumstances. Outside of the NARAL crowd though you are hard pressed to find anyone who thinks babies born a live shouldn’t receive medical attention. It is a line that for a lot of people is way out on the extreme. That is going to hurt him with the middle, especially since he lied about his position.

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  23. Hal says:

    Nothing is “above his pay grade.”

    Dude, it’s pretty clear that this was his way of saying “I believe that’s God’s determination, not mine to make”.

    I mean, really. The right can be so clueless.

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  24. Floyd says:

    WR;
    I didn’t, and wouldn’t, say that “Obama wants to kill babies”.
    In fact, I wonder sometimes if he is just intimidated by the thought that certain groups would exploit his voting record. I see that as lacking conviction or leadership.
    At any rate, below is the full text of the law in question.
    Judge for yourself…. I did.

    http://tinyurl.com/6ebq6n

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  25. just me says:

    Susan didn’t you make that same post here yesterday?

    [She did. I was busy and let it slide yesterday because she got comments but I’ve flagged this one as spam. – jhj]

    Dude, it’s pretty clear that this was his way of saying “I believe that’s God’s determination, not mine to make”.

    Except that we have laws about abortion, and trying to figure that question out may help inform the policy.

    And everyone has a personal opinion on the issue.

    It was a poor choice of words-and if his intent was to say that determination was up to God, then he needed to a little more to explain why he falls where he does-especially given his position on the whole infant born alive issue. He apparently doesn’t even think babies who are born are people.

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  26. […] A “Spirited” response to say the least — Adult language warning though…); Outside The Beltway (Insightful response from the Right — Forgets the “cellphone thing” though […]

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  27. Hal says:

    Except that we have laws about abortion, and trying to figure that question out may help inform the policy.

    Policy is already set. Public opinion is already set. There is, however, a very vocal minority which doesn’t agree with the way policy has been set for *decades* and they don’t agree with the majority of public opinion on the matter.

    So either you’re a part of this minority and you’re almost overwhelmingly christian and you knew exactly what he was saying, or you’re a part of the party that leverages this minority in election years and doesn’t understand what he said but you still want to make him answer the question to rile up your base.

    He answered it fine and since he was speaking to a religious audience, he used their language. Who cares if you don’t agree or understand. They did.

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  28. Floyd says:

    Hal;
    Your comment sounds as if it could have been taken directly from a mid-19th century commentary on the “underground railroad”.[lol]

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  29. Hal says:

    Floyd, I grew up in a very conservative, right wing evangelical christian family. Went to a private, non denominational christian school for all of junior high and much of high school (non-denominational is code word for the really whacked out variety of Christians). All this in the heart of modern christian country, namely Colorado Springs – ground zero for the ’08 elections.

    Laugh all you want, but I have deep intimacy with this subculture and know what they’re like, what they believe, what they think like, and how they talk.

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  30. mannning says:

    Lefties will find a way to excuse or cover up almost anything their favorite says or does, especially now when the public is not as fully engaged as it will become soon.

    Even so, Obama is actively helping his opposition on practically a daily basis with squishy replies designed to misdirect, misinform, or overwhelm the logical mind with twisted verbage. I do hope he keeps it up. It is a wonderful way to lose!

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  31. Floyd says:

    Hal;
    You say “they” I say “we”.
    I don’t doubt that you believe what you say, sometimes I feel as if I live in a nation in which a minority practices a really “whacked out” version of Baalism and are the subject of leverage by the other party in election years.
    Whatever “group” you belong to, be sure and test every word of doctrine![lol][I’m sure you do]

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  32. Hal says:

    Floyd,
    I left the evangelical fold long ago. I’ve been a SubGenius for decades now, pink boy… testing doctrine is a fundamental part of our doctrine. And we test that on a millisecond basis, thank you very much.

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  33. Floyd says:

    Hal;
    Way cool, I take it the “pipe” is an essential form of worship?
    May Bob be with you!
    Maybe, cut the rest of us a little “slack”when you can?[grinz]

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  34. mannning says:

    Now that is truly astounding! Testing doctrine on a millisecond basis! I suppose, Hal, you either run out of doctrines to test in a very short order, or else go into the business of creating doctrines to test.

    Here I thought that doctrines were time-tested by many, many people in many, many circumstances before being installed as The Word, yet you claim instant capability to make an assessment that these others mulled over for years. How very arrogant.

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  35. Hal says:

    Maybe, cut the rest of us a little “slack” when you can?

    As is well known, the slack which can be cut by man is not the true slack. You’re welcome to all the false slack you can carry, though.

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  36. Hal says:

    How very arrogant.

    Pull the wool over your own eyes, mannning. Some ways can be fun.

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  37. mannning says:

    Yeah, tell us all about that instant doctrine nonsense, Hal. That was the foot-in-mouth comment of the day, or was it the one before that? Did you make a practice of running from your parent’s beliefs, or were you simply unable to instantly see the light? My bet is the latter.

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  38. Hal says:

    You don’t have anything to add to the conversation so you simply attack me personally.

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  39. Bithead says:

    You don’t have anything to add to the conversation so you simply attack me personally.

    Comical. This from the man who was ‘just being amused’? Shoe, meet other foot.

    James: There’s a comment stuck in the trap for this thread. Mind letting it out?

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  40. Hal says:

    It’s rather sad that you really can’t think of your own insults and instead seem to vomit up a never ending stream of “I know you are but what am I”.

    It would amaze all of us to see you generate your own material for a change.

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  41. Bithead says:

    Hal,

    My but you ARE a bitter inDUHvidual, aren’t you?

    Insults, given the target you present, are easy… as I just demonstrated…and were I about that, that’s what I’d be doing. As it is, that’s clearly NOT what I’m about here.

    That the point I’m making gets right by you doesn’t suprise me at all. Well, perhaps more correctly, that you refuse to understand and admit what I’m saying here since that would require a change of attitude on your part and an admission you’ve been acting like a real idiot. Your carefully crafted ignorance on the point speaks volumes.

    Let me put it to you this way, Hal,so there’s no missing what I’m saying; After the levels of sewage you’ve been laying out here, you’ve got no legs whatever to stand on as regards personal atatcks, IMV. I suspect and suppose I’m not alone in my take.

    End.

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  42. Hal says:

    Bit, the difference is that I mock your arguments – or what passes for them. You? You simply show up and start attacking me. In any event, it’s really good to have affirmation that I really get under your skin so much that you have to start attacking me every chance you get. Every bizarro comment you keep making while you keep digging is a notch in the handle.

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  43. mannning says:

    Since your usual arguments are predictably leftist and boring, after a thousand repetitions, and a thousand refutations by much smarter men than you, Hal, there isn’t much left to do but pick out your latest attack nonsense–instant doctrine analysis, for instance–and bash you with it, esprecially when you leave it at that for all to read!

    What this achieves is to put other readers on notice that there is a recognized idiot called Hal in the house (that tends to use impolite language as often as possible–such as WTF), so just don’t pay him any attention.

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  44. Hal says:

    And yet you continue to pay attention and attack me personally. Proving, along with Dr. B, that you’re actually infuriated, can’t let go of the situation and really can’t stand toe to toe in the argument realm so you vent your frustration with silly personal attacks.

    Another notch!

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  45. mannning says:

    What argument, Hal? Whether you are an idiot? Whether you can analyze doctrine in an instant? Put one up, or just go play somewhere.

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  46. Hal says:

    Um, that’s precisely my point. You don’t have any argument, you’re only throwing out insults and casting about ultimatums.

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  47. mannning says:

    Let us take on the abortion argument then, that Obammmaaa has muddled up nicely over the years. It is over his pay grade to give a clear answer as to when a fetus is a person. That is an obfuscation of the first order. The answer, as any Christian knows, is at conception, where the genes merge to give the instructions to grow the person. Killing the embryo kills the instruction set and the cells generated to that prescription up to that point, and hence, the person being grown. End of story.

    Abortion, then, is killing, and there are laws against killing, except for the slippery leftist cum atheist redefinition of when a fetus is a person, more or less embodied in RvW. But this is beyond Mr. Bama’s pay grade to define, and I trust and hope it will remain so forever.

    It is virtually impossible to contemplate the 50 million abortions that have occurred since RvW was passed without shuddering; 50 million people killed, predominantly because the children were not wanted. If anyone can be comfortable with and supportive of this genocide of convenience in the US, I have absolutely no use for them. Do you support abortion, Hal? Tell the world what you believe.

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  48. WR says:

    Sorry, Manning, my Bible seems to be missing a few pages. Could you point out the passages where Jesus says that a fetus deserves human rights (which was the question at Saddleback) at the moment where the genes merge to give the instructions to grow the person, and thus killing the “instruction set” is murder? Or was that an Old Testament passage?

    Or when you say “as any Christian knows,” are you really saying “This is what I believe, and therefore everyone else who calls himself a Christian has to follow me”? Because I think that statement is reserved for, say, Jesus. Or, if you’re Catholic, the Pope.

    Who are you again? I mean, aside from the moral arbiter of the world?

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  49. Hal says:

    Do you support abortion, Hal? Tell the world what you believe.

    The whole fog machine, flowing robes and iPod blaring Ride o’ the Valkyries makes you only look like that kid who was playing light saber on YouTube.

    Yes, of course I support abortion. I fail to see the point of bringing in my position the matter, however.

    Obama, like a lot of people doesn’t have the immense sense of pride and presumption to think that he can determine when life begins. He acknowledges the deep moral issues involved and doesn’t try to cast those aside and believe there are trivial answers to these questions.

    You are, of course, welcome to your opinion on the matter. Apparently, you fall into the camp where there is no compromise on the issue and you come at it from a fact free assumption issue that cannot be argued against. I, personally, think that this belies an unjustifiable sense of certainty where there is none.

    There is no argument when you simply believe something to be true. You don’t want a discussion, you want a confession.

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  50. mannning says:

    Now the true issue is laid out for all to see. Those who support abortion, for no good reason, naturally support this paragon of virtue, Obama, when he says he can’t be definite about it either. So, they go hand in hand, so to speak, to kill or let kill. Your confession is noted, and my distain is vendicated.

    It is indeed a matter of faith and belief. I would not want such killing on my conscience, and I would not want people around me that do. There is little to compromise upon here, except the awful choices doctors face when it is the life of the baby or the mother that can be saved, but not both.

    Genocide for convenience written into the law! Where does it stop? Euthanasia anyone? Eugenics?

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  51. mannning says:

    Did Obama claim to be a Christian? Some Christian!

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  52. mannning says:

    WR: I am just a simple Christian that believes abortion is murder. I would say that Christians, not half-assed or quarter-assed ones, take the Ten Commandments seriously. My Bible clearly states that “Thou shalt not murder”, and abortion is indeed murder. If you want to adopt the idea that aborting a fetus is not murder, that is your right, but, in turn, it is my right to hold you in utter contempt for it.

    Since I used more modern terminology for what happens at conception, it is obvious that those words, per se, could not be found in the Bible. However, there is a huge collection of Bible quotes that show God does not distinguish between the unborn and born–they are both sons or daughters that must not be murdered.
    http://www.bible.ca/s-Abortion.htm

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  53. Bithead says:

    Could you point out the passages where Jesus says that a fetus deserves human rights

    No, it’s not missing any pages. You’ve just not read it, or understood it. In short, toss that handle away, Hal. One example of many;

    Luke 1:41, “And it came to pass, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, that the babe in her womb lept. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit.”

    Clearly the passage, if you understand the story that surrounds it, denotes consiousness and emotion to the unborn child. Rights are a natural extension of that.It also denotes by it’s wording the assumption of such.

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  54. Hal says:

    In short, toss that handle away, Hal.

    JHFCORFC, Bithead. For the zillionth time, would you PLEASE READ THE COMMENT BEFORE RESPONDING TO IT?

    I didn’t write that comment! It wasn’t me! It was written by someone using the handle WR.

    My God Bit, this is a *regular* occurrence with you. Please, for the love of Christ, please just READ before you RESPOND.

    Geebus.

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  55. WR says:

    Bithead — As amusing as it can be to take Bible passages out of context, I do hope you’ll notice that at the time this story takes place, Elizabeth was well into her seventh month of pregnancy. And her baby was leaping because Elizabeth was talking to Mary, who was carrying Jesus, and being that close to the Messiah filled her with Godly goodness.

    So if you want to make laws based on that, then I guess we can outlaw (already mostly illegal) third-trimester abortions of women who’ve met the unborn Son of God.

    Or we can acknowledge that the Bible, written in another language 2000 years ago and full of parables, lends itself to multiple interpretations, and therefore is not the ideal guide for passing laws and medical regulations. Unless you want a government like that of Saudi Arabia, that is.

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  56. WR says:

    Manning — Most Bibles in English actually say “Thou shalt not kill.” Recently, some particularly ugly Right-wing pseudo-Christians have retranslated the passage to “Thou shalt not murder,” because they realized that the original made many of their favorite pastimes — executing the mentally ill, retarded, and poor, lynching, assassinating abortion doctors, and invading countries with no provocation and exterminating hundreds of thousands of innocent civillians — run contrary to the commandments.

    So they changed the word to “murder,” and defined murder as “killing anyone I like.” So now according to these so-called Bibles, you can wipe out as many people as you want, as long as you can cobble together some feeble justification.

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  57. Hal says:

    Unless you want a government like that of Saudi Arabia

    Or the Taliban, or Al Qaeda for that matter. They all want to do the same thing: Put in place laws based on their religious beliefs and interpretations of revealed teachings.

    Again, you can believe anything you want, Mannning, G A Phillips and Dr. B. But you’re doing precisely the same thing that Bin Laden, et. al. are doing.

    I thought that here in the good old USA we had a separation between church and state and that we were not a theocracy like – oh, I don’t know – Afghanistan used to be.

    (okay, waiting for Dr. B. to lecture me that separation between church and state doesn’t exist in the constitution, Mannning to invoke fire and brimstone in a rant about punishing genocide)

    All you guys need are some turbans and a long beard and you’d fit right into even the most extreme Taliban society.

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  58. Bithead says:

    Bithead — As amusing as it can be to take Bible passages out of context, I do hope you’ll notice that at the time this story takes place, Elizabeth was well into her seventh month of pregnancy. And her baby was leaping because Elizabeth was talking to Mary, who was carrying Jesus, and being that close to the Messiah filled her with Godly goodness.

    Quite correct. So, how is that out of context?

    So if you want to make laws based on that

    No, no… not the point I was making. I’m suggesting those cultural values were already in force.

    okay, waiting for Dr. B. to lecture me that separation between church and state doesn’t exist in the constitution

    It doesn’t. But then again, you knew that.

    Manning — Most Bibles in English actually say “Thou shalt not kill.” Recently, some particularly ugly Right-wing pseudo-Christians have retranslated the passage to “Thou shalt not murder,” because they realized that the original made many of their favorite pastimes — executing the mentally ill, retarded, and poor, lynching, assassinating abortion doctors, and invading countries with no provocation and exterminating hundreds of thousands of innocent civillians — run contrary to the commandments.

    Nice try.
    How then to explain the killing that occurrs within the bible, except that the passage is misquoted? Read it in the original language, and the word is ‘murder’.

    All you guys need are some turbans and a long beard and you’d fit right into even the most extreme Taliban society.

    the founders didn’t have the seperation you claim is there, and yet had none of the problems you say you fear. How is that possible?

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  59. WR says:

    Bithead — First of all, that passage suggests nothing about “cultural values” about abortion. It says that the presence of the son of God awakened the spirit of a seven month-old fetus. It’s not about abortion; it’s about Jesus’ holiness.

    As for murder, well, you force me to choose between the interpretation of some of the greatest scholars and writers of the English language — the translators of the King James Bible — and some guy who calls himself “Bithead.” How many years have you studied Hebrew, anyway?

    Oh, and the reason the founders didn’t turn into the Taliban is that they were extremely skeptical of allowing the state and the church to become one — because the country they came from had seen decades of bloody civil war over religious issues.

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  60. mannning says:

    WR–That is a gross misinterpretation of the founder’s position on religion. They simply and clearly wanted to ensure that the federal government did not establish a national religion.

    The modern secularists, especially the Secular Humanists, want the interpretation to mean full separation of church and state, which, when you think about it, is well nigh impossible. You can take the man out of religion, but you cannot take religion out of the man. It is the atheist that wants to degrade religion.

    Bit is absolutely correct that the original meaning of the commandment was “thou shalt not murder’, which was elided to “kill” in later versions for whatever reasons at the time.

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  61. Bithead says:

    Bithead — First of all, that passage suggests nothing about “cultural values” about abortion.

    No, since Abortion wasn’t practiced as such at the tme. Yet, it does have a lot to say about the child being human. from there, it’s not much a leap to suggest the child has rights.

    Oh, and the reason the founders didn’t turn into the Taliban is that they were extremely skeptical of allowing the state and the church to become one — because the country they came from had seen decades of bloody civil war over religious issues.

    At the same time, they dind’t go running off into the weeds at the mere mention of God, either.

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  62. Bithead says:

    How many years have you studied Hebrew, anyway?

    Back when I was confirmd, it was a requirement. The verb in question, the one that appears in the Torah’s prohibition is “ratsah”, which translates as “Murder“, not “Kill”.

    You mention the KJV, so you’ll doubtless be interested to know that two of the most eminent commentators of the time of the KJV being written, Rabbi Samuel ben Meir (Rashbam)(c.1085 – c.1158). and Rabbi Joseph Bekhor-Shor,(Don’t recall the dates, sorry) wrote extesivly on the point, from their homes in France. Indeed, both showed clearly the differences between the Hebrew root words meaning respectively, killing and murdering.

    An interesting quote from Rashbam on the point:

    And this is a refutation of the heretics, and they have conceded the point to me. Even though their own books state “I kill, and I make alive” (in Deuteronomy 32:39) –using the same Latin root as for “thou shalt not murder”–they are not being precise.

    As you’ll begin to suspect, the root of this error of “thou shalt not kill” translation first popped up in the Latin translation that was in use in the medieval Roman Catholic church, (not the Hebrew as you indicate). The Latin, of course, is the basis for the KJV.

    If that’s not enough, Rashbam’s study of the Vulgate on the matter, shows similar result, where for example in the New Testiment of that translation, the Latin verb occidere which has the sense of “kill” rather than “murder” is used in Deuteronomy, when the Almighty himself is speaking of his own power over the lives of his creatures–in a context where it cannot conceivably be rendered as “murder”.

    In case it’s not clear to you by now, you’re completely out of your depth, WR.

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  63. Hal says:

    No, since Abortion wasn’t practiced as such at the tme

    Bit, you are completely wrong on this. Abortion induced by herbs or manipulation was used as a form of birth control in ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome and probably earlier. In the Middle Ages in Western Europe it was generally accepted in the early months of pregnancy.

    It was *definitely* practice “as such” at the time. Are you forgetting where the term “cesarean section” comes from and what time period?

    Geebus

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  64. Bithead says:

    So, are we talking about Greece, then, or are we talking about the subject at hand? The context of the thing appears to have given you the slip again, Hal.

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  65. Hal says:

    Um, you do know that Palestine – you know, where all the new testament happened – was part of Rome, don’t you? Or are you going argue that somehow the Roman empire didn’t include Palestine?

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  66. Bithead says:

    Um, you do know that Palestine – you know, where all the new testament happened – was part of Rome, don’t you? Or are you going argue that somehow the Roman empire didn’t include Palestine?

    Again, Hal. the context seems to ahve given you the slip. Go back up and read where I spoke of the cultural values. THe Romans may have domintae dthe land, but not the culture in question.

    Do try to keep up.

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  67. Hal says:

    Wow. That’s quite amazing. So, let’s get this straight. You’re claiming that Judea – as a culture – didn’t practice abortion, even though they were ruled by Rome, part of Rome and Roman culture had permeated Judea.

    After all, you can simply read your new testament to find out how widespread the adoption of roman culture was.

    This line of reasoning is pure BS!

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  68. mannning says:

    Again, we need to confirm the actual belief systems of these wayward souls: WR and Hal. Suppose you each declare your religion, as we others have declared. That will set the proper backdrop for your piecemeal, vicious attacks on biblical interpretation and Christian values, and inform everyone as to the basis of your thought. Otherwise, this discussion is itself baseless and a mere (anti) religious harrange.

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  69. WR says:

    So what you’re saying, Manning, is that you are incapable of reading, analyzing, and judging a simple statement posted on a blog, and instead need to find out what kind of person is making it — and then you can decide whether or not it’s true based on your level of disapproval of my religion.

    What a wonderfully typical right-wing response. Can’t analyze an idea, you can only stereotype a speaker.

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  70. Bithead says:

    This line of reasoning is pure BS!

    I suppose asking you for proof of your assertion that the Romans over-ran Hebrew culture and it’s values, will be met by the same level if iding as we’ve seen fromm you in the past?

    Or was it rather, the reverse? I seem to recall there being this little chruch in Rome… then as now… and further, that they have somehting against Abortion.

    You’re over your head, Hal.

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  71. Hal says:

    I suppose asking you for proof of your assertion that the Romans over-ran Hebrew culture and it’s values, will be met by the same level if iding as we’ve seen fromm you in the past?

    You claimed that “abortion was not practice at the time”. This is demonstratively false as it was *known* to be practiced long before this time. You’re now claiming that there was a strong anti-abortion culture in Judea and that Roman culture had not permeated Judea at the time of Christ. Further, you’re even making the stronger – and completely unsupportable – claim that opposition to abortion by a movement that didn’t even exist at the time period under consideration somehow reaches back in time and sets the cultural standards for a different religion.

    Bravo! Pretzel logic in its purest form

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  72. Hal says:

    Suppose you each declare your religion, as we others have declared.

    Man, you are late to the party. I’ve already done so in a previous comment.

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  73. floyd says:

    “Man, you are late to the party. I’ve already done so in a previous comment.”
    “”””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””””

    Hal;
    Yes, you have, and so it is no longer your prerogative to comment on the Bible,since it is rightly divined only by the Holy Spirit…..
    So…Tell us what bob sez.

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  74. Hal says:

    so it is no longer your prerogative to comment on the Bible

    Really? Then I’ll just take it that y’all have no prerogative to comment on Biology since y’all aren’t trained in science and don’t believe in evolution.

    Man, who knew that all we had to do was leave respective areas to their own kind?

    If this *really* is your opinion on the subject and not just snark, then I think the above follows. Therefore, the abortion issue is solved. Y’all can think it’s murder, while secular law and science can say otherwise.

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  75. mannning says:

    So Hal is a SubGenius, whatever that is, sort of a sub-thinker, I guess, which fits. Atheist. Must be. That effectively stifles thought here, since atheists are rudderless and beneath transcendental experience. Might as well yell at the moon. No sense in discussing the Bible with
    an atheist.

    WR is even more narrow than Hal, if possible. He cannot see how his religion, or lack of same, affects this thread. First of all, I would expect an atheist to champion abortion, separation of church and state (divide and conquer), support Obama to the hilt no matter what his qualifications and sins, and reject any and every conservative argument virtually without exception. I would expect a challenge at every turn pivoting on disbelief.

    Thus, it becomes possible to terminate a totally useless discussion. I am so glad that there are so few atheists around.

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  76. Hal says:

    Dude, you can stop participating in the discusion at any time. Really. You keep saying this is a useless discussion and how much it pains and disgusts you.

    Or participating in this part of your Opus Dei regime of self flagellation?

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  77. floyd says:

    Hal;
    I am, of course, trained in science, at least to know who the authorities are on the subject(s)or how to find them.
    As for evolution,again, I at least recognize that Darwin,Wells,et al.were real.As you say, this does not grant me prerogative, nor does it deny me an opinion.
    With all due respect,I would not say that you had no right to an opinion, only prerogative.
    You, on the other hand, deny the existence of the only real authority on the Bible, leaving you stranded intellectually, on the subject of it’s meaning.
    The law can, in a limited way, define murder. Science,by definition I think, cannot do so.

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  78. mannning says:

    Why Ok Doodle, I have better things to do.

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  79. Hal says:

    You, on the other hand, deny the existence of the only real authority on the Bible, leaving you stranded intellectually, on the subject of it’s meaning.

    This assumes far more than I’m willing to grant. There is a *real* authority on the bible? Who may that have been. Considering what I know of the history of the assembly of what we understand of as the “bible”, I’d say that you’re on shaky ground in this assertion. Further, what about the Jews? The Mormons? The Muslims? They all root from the same branch and yet they all pretty much hate each other. Which is the authority that I will ahve to recognize? Would that be Mohamed? Jesus? Moses? Joseph Smith?

    And that’s just if I accept their various frames, which – as a scientist – I cannot because there is zero evidence leading me to that conclusion. I mean, if you’re just going to accept someone’s word on the “authority”, they you mine as well drink the same koolaid as the blokes in Heaven’s gate or any number of whacked out cults which all have the only revealed truth.

    In other words, where’s your criteria by which you make such a bold assertion that I have no right to prerogative?

    deny the existence of the only real authority on the Bible

    For someone acquainted with the lingo of the SubG, you really haven’t penetrated even the most banal of our beliefs. I’m speaking of course, of YHVH-1, who is central to the epidermis of our structure of wool gathering. And of course there’s the central tenet of the Fightin’ Jesus(tm) and the quite clear assertion that what pisses the institutionalized SubG off is that the bible has been misinterpreted.

    I mean, really. Get a pamphlet or two and learn a couple of things about the outer rituals and first order belief structures, dude. Spouting off stuff that is trivially falsified is just bad form.

    leaving you stranded intellectually, on the subject of it’s meaning.

    I’m sure that many deep scholars of religion would say that it is hardly an “intellectual” experience or phenomena and so “stranded intellectually” is literally an oxymoron when applied to religion and the super natural – just sayin’.

    The law can, in a limited way, define murder. Science,by definition I think, cannot do so.

    Why? Social science? Theory of law? Political science (the “master” science as one of James’ associates and sometimes substitute blogger would characterize it as).

    Seriously. Secular law is fundamentally based on scientific principles and I would wager few who aren’t whacked out on Peyote would argue otherwise. The entire interrogative nature of our court system and resolution of law is nothing but an animated revelation of the scientific method. Stating that “science” has nothing to say about murder is lunacy. Pull the other one, while you’re at it.

    Take some time and read Darwin’s Cathedral for just a taste of what non-Dawkins driven evolutionary theory is capable of encompassing. Or you can amuse yourself for a nice week or month (depending on your proclivaties) with the most excellent Freudian adventure told as a discussion between three intellectuals in Things Hidden Since the Foundation of the World. Which, besides one of the most rockin’ titles in the history of this planet, has a most plausible, yet entirely bogus, explanatory theory on much of what most would refer to as religion.

    I have no “prerogative”. Ha!

    The nerve 😉

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  80. Bithead says:

    Secular law is fundamentally based on scientific principles

    No.
    Law… of ALL variety… is based on the values of the culture that gave it life.

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