Archive for the ‘McCain Hall of Shame’ Category

This Is Beginning to Get Scary

October 10th, 2008 1 comment

At the beginning of this campaign, John McCain solemnly and repeatedly vowed to run a “respectful” and “honorable” campaign, taking the high road and refusing to go negative on his opponent, instead leading with the issues.

John McCain pledged a “respectful campaign” Tuesday against either Barack Obama or Hillary Rodham Clinton, but said he is less confident about the influence of outside political groups.

I think we can safely call that promise broken. It’s gone way beyond being able to blame it on 527’s.

The thing is, McCain broke that promise long ago, maybe even before he started making up stuff like saying that Obama refused to visit wounded troops if no cameras were allowed, or that Obama would intentionally lose the Iraq War just to win an election.

Now, Obama is ahead in just about all of the polls. has Obama so far ahead it’s not even funny–McCain now has less than a 10% chance of winning. A lot can happen in a month, but you’d be asking for a hell of a lot for McCain to turn things around.


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Of course, that’s not the scary part. Nor is the idea that the polls may not be taking into account Obama’s full power in the upcoming election–that high turnouts by minority voters and vast numbers of new Democrats registering are not being fully factored into the numbers we’re seeing. More and more, it’s beginning to look like Obama is going to win this one.

Nor is the scary part the economy, though that’s plenty scary; Obama is not a miracle worker, and what he will be able to do may be limited, especially if when Republicans go into full-out obstructionist mode, blocking every scrap of legislation in sight and then calling Democrats “do-nothing” losers, the exact technique they have used to good effect (for them, not the country) for the past two years. It’s not quite so scary that Obama won’t be able to do much there because (a) presidents usually can’t do much good, but (b) they can do a lot of harm and McCain looks to do that harm and more.

No. None of that is so scary. So, what is they scary part?

The scary part is that the McCain campaign is starting to look less and less like a campaign and more and more like a lynch mob.

Think I exaggerate? Think again. The McCain campaign has gone almost 100% negative, doing nothing but attack, attack, and attack some more, and the attacks are not subtle; they are playing the “terrorist” angle to the hilt, running ads linking Obama to Ayers as if Ayers bombed D.C. and Obama was right there with him burning a flag. They echo this on the campaign trail. Mentions of Obama’s middle name have re-emerged, and crowds are shouting “Obama, Osama!”

This is made more significant not just by the disrespect, but the utter, complete lack of any respect whatsoever; referring to Obama as “that one,” making thinly veiled racial references, and painting Obama as “dangerous.” McCain and his people know who they are talking to. They know they have the fundie base energized, that they are more and more appealing to the extremist crowd. And they are playing it up.

The question is, how far will they play it up? The answer is, apparently, almost all the way. Maybe not to 11, but damned close. Now it is not uncommon for McCain to ask his crowds, “What kind of man is Obama?” and the audience members shout back, “terrorist!!” Recently, Sarah Palin was stoking the terrorism fire when an audience member shouted out, “Kill him!” In another Palin crowd, someone yelled, “Off with his head!”

In no instance did McCain or Palin rebuke such a response; they just kept on going.

These are not just wackos in the crowd that can be ignored; after all, how often have you ever heard of people in controlled political events shouting death threats against the opposing candidate? And if they did, would you not expect the campaign to go out of its way to disavow and condemn such things?

That’s the scary thing: that McCain and Palin are unabashedly whipping their supporters into angry mobs lacking only pitchforks and torches, though maybe not ropes to hang from trees. They know what they are doing and yet they keep on pressing forward with the attack.

This has gotten so bad that even people inside the McCain campaign are starting to publicly question the wisdom of stirring up such hostility.

In response, a McCain advisor simply said that they were “happy” with how the campaign is going.

I certainly hope that Obama’s secret service detail is beefed up and hypersensitive to all threats, because John McCain seems to be just one short step away from losing it and shouting to his supporters, “Go lynch him!”

Update: Saner opinions in the McCain campaign seem to have prevailed, as McCain has just suddenly hit the brakes on the “Obama is a terrorist” car. At a rally in Minnesota where the audience booed Obama, McCain called for “respect,” apparently thinking this would do the trick and erase the last several months of McCain issuing severe disrespect for Obama, repeatedly calling him in all but name a terrorist and a traitor.

But as is often true after one lathers up an angry mob, the mob has a momentum of its own and is not easy to slow down. Even after McCain’s appeals for respect, audience members “pushed back,” asking McCain to tell the “truth” about Obama (“you know, tell us all about his Muslim terrorist ways!”), and telling McCain that they feared an America led by Obama. McCain tried to reapply the “respectful” brakes, but again to little effect–a subsequent speaker from the audience started by announcing that she is scared of Obama because he is an “Arab terrorist.” McCain actually had to grab the microphone away from her and state that Obama is a “decent family man.”

McCain is suddenly discovering that lynch mobs are not quite as easy to reign in as he may have thought.

Later Update: Here’s a video of the aforementioned rally, which shows that TIME slightly misreported, but that clarification just makes it stranger:

The woman did not say that Obama was an “Arab terrorist”; she said he was an “Arab,” and then stopped–maybe she wanted to go on to say terrorist, but she didn’t. She just said “Arab.”

What is strange is that McCain took the mic back and said, “No ma’am. He’s a decent family man citizen that I just happen to have disagreements with on fundamental issues, and that’s what this campaign is all about. He’s not.”

Umm… “He’s not an Arab, he’s a decent family man citizen”? So, Arabs are not decent?

One can understand why the TIME blogger thought she said “terrorist”: because McCain answered as if she had. At least he’s in tune with his crowd that much.

Categories: Election 2008, McCain Hall of Shame Tags:

Um… Wha?

October 9th, 2008 Comments off

Did McCain just say that we’re all prisoners? Hmmm…

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Levels of Responsibility

October 7th, 2008 3 comments

Right now, my college is undergoing an accreditation review. For those who don’t know what that is, it is essentially the licensing for the school. You can’t offer a degree worth more than the paper it’s printed on if you don’t continuously win and re-win accreditation from one of the major agencies.

Today we met with the consultant evaluators, and they asked some pointed questions. These are professionals, they’ve been in the business a long time, they’ve done this before and they know their stuff. And of course, it’s their job to know what you should be able to show them, namely that your institution is doing what it is supposed to be doing, that the students you teach are getting what they should be getting.

And it occurred to me in this process that if we did something like ignore a question and address something else we wanted to point out instead, it wouldn’t fly. We might get a long stare that asks us to change our minds and answer the question asked. That if they asked us what the institution could offer students, and we replied that we were real close to a city library, so we had access to lots of information we could give the students, we would probably have to sit there in silence while the evaluators worried about what fate our students would suffer at our inexperienced hands. Or that if we hired someone for a vital position who had no qualifications worth mentioning for the job, they would rightly question our ability to staff the school. And if we knew in advance that our answers would be inadequate and simply denied the evaluators access, it would be even worse.

In short, we could lose our accreditation, our jobs, our school.

Now, we’re just a small school which runs a basic general education program, small potatoes in the bigger world of higher education. It’s not like we want to become leaders of the most powerful nation on Earth.

And yet, it occurred to me in this process, that we are being held to a far higher level of accountability than is the McCain campaign. And it’s not like McCain and Palin are being evaluated by chimps; it’s not as if the entire field of journalists don’t know their jobs, their responsibilities, their duties. It’s not as if they don’t know how to ask the tough questions, how to report on what’s really happening. It’s not like they can’t tell that proximity to Russia has zero value, that McCain and Palin are lying through their teeth, that Sarah Palin is not qualified or appropriate for her position, or that denial of access is equal to an admission of fear and incompetence.

But if you want accountability, head down to your local community college. I can speak from experience that in order to stay in business, they have to answer to a far higher level of scrutiny, and live up to their promises, with no lies, evasions, or bull.

Don’t try to get that from the McCain campaign, though; they don’t even come close to living up to those lofty standards. In fact, they don’t even try.

They could not succeed in running a small junior college; how can they claim to be qualified to run the entire country?

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McCain & Republicans Further Trash the Economy

September 30th, 2008 1 comment

For the past eight years, George W. Bush and the Republicans have trashed the economy with massive giveaways to corporations and the wealthy, deregulation of critical industries, and encouragement for companies to move production overseas. They also starved the lower and middle classes–weakening unions, refusing to raise the minimum wage, allowing pensions to fail, attempting to sabotage medicare and social security, reducing federal services, and ballooning costs for education, medical care and insurance–an equation which drains the flow of the economy by making it difficult for people to spend money, which is what fuels the economy in the first place. The economy is an engine where money has to flow, but instead the right-wingers have succeeded in hoarding all the fuel into one part of the engine and have refused to allow it to cycle through. (This is one reason the Democrats don’t want to just flood the engine in the part where the fuel is currently amassed.)

Now we have a banking crisis based upon deregulation and predation on the poorest members of our society collapsing into a stinking, heaving mass of greed. All part of the problem, but distressingly, only one fetid corner of it–which may be why the markets are reacting the way they are, because they know full well that McCain’s claim of the economy being “fundamentally sound” is complete and utter horseshit. If the economy were sound, then the markets would have more confidence in the banking crisis being cushioned and contained. They don’t.

So, here we have McCain “suspending” his campaign (while not really stopping very much) for a few days, charging into D.C. to manage the crisis. A petty show of impotent grandstanding, but he made a huge deal out of it. “I’m doing something!” he cried, but when it came to action, he didn’t stand up. And when it came to a vote, he failed to get even his own party–much less Washington D.C. as a bipartisan whole–to toe the line. 60% of Democrats voted for the bill, but only 33% of Republicans did so–the major reason why the bill failed. So if McCain really was the leader here, he failed miserably, and stocks plummeted. I didn’t even want to look at Apple stock, but I did, and regretted it. Thanks a bunch, John.

But at least McCain was not partisan about it, right? Hell, of course he was. Despite saying “Now is not the time to fix the blame, it’s time to fix the problem,” blame from McCain and Republicans was effusive. Immediately before talking about not fixing the blame, McCain said that Obama “and his allies in Congress infused unnecessary partisanship into the process.” Har! McCain’s grandstanding was the partisan pillar of this entire mess, and probably was just as responsible, if not more, for the eventual failure than anything else. Republicans in Congress, meanwhile, are surging to blame Nancy Pelosi for the bill’s failure. McCain blames Obama for just “watching from the sidelines.”

News flash John: Leadership means actually leading, not failing pathetically and then blaming the opposition.

This failure is owned by John McCain; he claimed the mantle, he broke it, he bought it. Now he’s trying to palm it off while boasting that he’s not palming it off.


More Palin Fun, and a Caution

September 29th, 2008 1 comment

Tina Fey nailed Palin in the intro to last week’s SNL, in case you happened to miss it:

The amazing thing here is that it appears that segments of the script were lifted from transcripts of the real interview; the audience was laughing even before they got to the embellishments.

In real life, The Adventures of Sarah Palin continue to be revealed. A Wasilla native reports that Palin insisted that humans and dinosaurs lived together just a few thousand years ago, citing human footprints in dinosaur tracks as evidence. It needs to be said that the source is biased; however, it would be harder to believe if we didn’t have footage of Palin standing to be blessed by a pastor going on about witchcraft, a guy who started his career by accusing an innocent woman of causing traffic accidents with dark magic.

But if you’d like to instead focus on her more secular side, read this article, which reveals that Palin was pretty corrupt as mayor of Wasilla, sailing past rather blatant conflicts of interest, helping friends get special breaks, and changing zoning rules so she could profit from the sale of her property which had zoning violations. This aside from receiving various gifts while in office.

Oh yeah, and CBS has two more Palin interview responses to Couric which are “embarrassing.” More than what we’ve seen already? That would be something. The source of that news, by the way, reports that the media is scaling back it’s criticisms of Palin for fear of looking like they were “piling on.” Sorry, but when you have a completely inappropriate candidate acting like a complete loon and lying her ass off like this, piling on is absolutely called for.

When Palin first appeared on the ticket, more than a dozen scandalous points just toppled out of what would become a cornucopia of shame, most of that initial stuff still unanswered in fact. But it just kept on coming, and it still keeps on coming. The more and more we learn about Palin, the more and more we realize the terrible depth of poor judgment John McCain demonstrated by choosing her.

All that said, we do now have to be careful regarding the upcoming debate: unlike McCain, Palin has become somewhat of a public laughingstock from her gaffes, and so stands to win from the expectations game. Biden is expected to do well, so it will be difficult for him to “win”; this debate is Palin’s to lose, as she’ll be seen as a victor if she can get through it without looking like a complete ass. The bar is set very, very low for her–so we have to watch out for relativity to hand her an ill-deserved victory.

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Campaign of Gimmicks: A Made-for-TV Movie

September 28th, 2008 3 comments

First there was the selection of a beauty queen-turned-governor as a vice-presidential running mate. Then we had the shutting down of the convention, if only for a day. Then Palin had to go silent while she saw off her son to Iraq. Then there was the “suspension” of the McCain campaign to become the supposed hero of the bailout. And now, there are rumors that the Bristol Palin quasi-shotgun wedding is going to become a central campaign event, possibly taking time away from Sarah Palin’s availability to the press. The McCain campaign has turned into a gimmick train, trying to win the public over with a series of outrageous PR stunts, each one outdoing the last.

The media, of course, loves this, and that’s probably a major reason why McCain is resorting to stunts like this. Manipulating the media, giving them razzle-dazzle to sell ads, that’s central to the McCain campaign. Which is why I am not totally discounting the whole wedding event thing–it sounds exactly like the kind of thing they’d do.

Interestingly, there are some parallels in fiction; in the movie The Birdcage, a right-wing politician tries to revitalize his campaign marred by scandal by using his daughter’s wedding as a centerpiece of his public relations.

I am also reminded of a book by Neal Stephenson called Interface, in which a politician given a microchip implant in his brain is swept into office via a campaign of surprise gimmicks slickly engineered by a power broker using the politician as a front. The coincidences in the book become creepy when you remember that the guy’s vice-presidential candidate, Eleanor Richmond, was a working-class mother swept into politics after showing down a corrupt politician, and she becomes president after the candidate wins the election and dies. The coincidences end there, however–in the book, the woman is a person of honor and conscience, not even close to Sarah Palin.

John McCain is slowly–no, make that quickly turning this campaign into a fictional melodrama. All we need now is product placement; everything else relevant to fictional storytelling and movie promotion & distribution is in place and running.

Update: The following mock movie trailer would be a hell of a lot funnier if it weren’t so potentially close to reality:

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Are You Freaking Kidding Me?

September 26th, 2008 5 comments

How can any conscious human being watch this and not conclude that Sarah Palin is an idiot?


Couric: You’ve cited Alaska’s proximity to Russia as part of your foreign policy experience. What did you mean by that?

Sarah Palin: That Alaska has a very narrow maritime border between a foreign country, Russia, and, on our other side, the land-boundary that we have with Canada. It’s funny that a comment like that was kinda made to … I don’t know, you know … reporters.

Couric: Mocked?

Palin: Yeah, mocked, I guess that’s the word, yeah.

Couric: Well, explain to me why that enhances your foreign-policy credentials.

Palin: Well, it certainly does, because our, our next-door neighbors are foreign countries, there in the state that I am the executive of. And there…

Couric: Have you ever been involved in any negotiations, for example, with the Russians?

Palin: We have trade missions back and forth, we do. It’s very important when you consider even national security issues with Russia. As Putin rears his head and comes into the air space of the United States of America, where do they go? It’s Alaska. It’s just right over the border. It is from Alaska that we send those out to make sure that an eye is being kept on this very powerful nation, Russia, because they are right there, they are right next to our state.

Yeah, it’s funny that reporters would be so exasperatingly stupid to suggest that Sarah Palin doesn’t have foreign policy experience because Putin flies several miles over her head once in a while. Those darn reporters, what lunkheads!

Even if Putin did fly over Alaska on his way to America (which I don’t think he does), that’s a remarkably stupid thing to say. What, she and her staff go on high alert and contact foreign leaders when Putin is in the air overhead?

And trade missions? Um, how many have you headed up, Sarah?

Even with Palin’s complete lack of foreign policy experience, it staggers the mind that the campaign could not engineer a better answer than that.

There is just no tiptoeing around this: Palin comes across in this interview as laughably stupid–as would anyone who would watch this and then state that Palin made some sense to them. Just no two ways about it. No wonder they want to cancel her debate.

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Hail Mary, Part II

September 25th, 2008 4 comments

Sarah Palin was McCain’s first big stunt. In a move that made no sense from a “country-first” standpoint, he hired someone supremely unsuited for the presidency or vice-presidency on the gamble that he could energize his base, capture women voters, and somehow turn things around without taking damage from Palin’s lack of ability and vetting. It was a high-stakes, Hail Mary gamble which was designed purely to help his campaign while not helping the country, indeed by putting the country itself at risk. And while initially it appeared to pay off, that gain has now melted away and McCain is back where he started–but now with a potential albatross around his neck.

Apparently McCain decided that it was time for another desperate gamble. Along the lines of the highly untraditional suspension of the GOP convention due to Hurricane Gustav, McCain is now using the bailout crisis to generate an even bigger publicity stunt, while running away from facing up for his past actions and current scandals. For McCain, the upcoming debate presents a huge risk: he faces a potential pasting as he would have to face questions about his history of deregulation in the banking industry and why his campaign manager has turned out to be a lobbyist for the biggest offenders in the crisis. Suddenly, McCain, who blasted Obama for not wanting to debate more, finds himself incredibly vulnerable to a forum where he cannot pack the audience with fawning loyalists.

So he decides that the only feasible thing for him to do is to cancel the debate–but he can’t just do that, he has to come up with a whopper that’ll make it seem like he’s actually doing something good or even necessary; ergo his decision to use the bailout crisis, saying that he has to rush to Washington to manage things. But even that would just look like posturing, so he adds the element of suspending his campaign to make it look like an act of self-sacrifice. While tactically a good move for his campaign (he gets more publicity without spending money), this again does not benefit the country, and in fact hurts it, in two ways: by suspending the debate, he robs the country of a chance to judge the candidates more on the issues and their merits (not a surprise–McCain’s entire campaign has been based upon the strategy of dodging the issues), and by injecting himself and the GOP’s election focus on the bailout, he risks upsetting balances and compromises with volatile political moves.

But more to the point, McCain’s act is really nothing more than self-serving aggrandizement; just like his PR trip down to the areas preparing for Gustav, there is really nothing he can contribute, and only stands to get in the way and muck things up (Obama responsibly steered clear of relief efforts so as not to interfere with their progress, offering only whatever help was possible from afar). But McCain cares less about getting things done than he does about grabbing the political advantage; ironically, his “Country First” posturing, while attractive for the cameras, only makes things worse for the country so McCain can benefit politically. Not to mention that the cancellation would deal a huge blow to the university that has spent so much money and effort to host the debates.

Potentially, this suspension tactic has great advantages for McCain: he could avoid the debate where his own hand in the crisis could be put in the forefront, he could come out looking like a self-sacrificing, dutiful reformer while putting Obama in the position of either following McCain’s example or risk being seen as less dutiful, and stands to grab a big chunk of credit for a bailout when all he is doing is getting in the way. Whatever happens, one can bet that McCain will either take credit for any success or blame Obama for any failure. Not to mention that his call to suspend fundraising would primarily hurt Obama, as McCain gets his funding from the state. Bonus: McCain’s people are trying to use this to cancel Palin’s VP debate, apparently white-knuckled over what she might come across looking like.

There is also a risk: if the public sees this for what it is–a self-serving publicity stunt and an attempt to run from the debate–then McCain could see his numbers fall even more. (Dave Letterman has reportedly hit at McCain, saying: “He can’t run the campaign because the economy is cratering? Fine, put in your second string quarterback, Sara Palin. Where is she? What are you going to do if you’re elected and things get tough? Suspend being president? We’ve got a guy like that now!”)

In the end, however, we come away with an even more enduring impression: John McCain is a long-shot gambler, prone to make lurching, desperate moves when he feels threatened politically, with more concern for his political career than for his country or the truth–a quality which speaks volumes about his character and his temperament.

This is not a man suited to be president.

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McCain Campaign Manager Huge Lobbyist for Fannie Mae & Freddie Mac

September 23rd, 2008 Comments off

What I wanted to head up my blog page for today: the reason why the McCain camp scrambled to accuse the media of being “in the tank” for the Obama campaign.

The NY Times reported that McCain campaign manager Rick Davis earned $2 million as a lobbyist for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. In this role, Davis fought for deregulation of the industry–exactly what was responsible for the whole debacle.

In other words, McCain’s campaign manager was one of the worst black hats responsible for the current mortgage crisis. The McCain camp’s explanation for this? Get ready: Davis didn’t lobby for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, he just ran the lobbying organization. Which, of course, makes it all good.

Frankly, this Davis news should be a major story that the media should focus on: if McCain is so fired up to kick SEC Chairman Christopher Cox’s ass out the door for being “responsible” for the crisis, then how come McCain’s own campaign is being run by a multi-million-dollar lobbyist for the two worst and biggest players in the crisis? When will McCain fire Rick Davis? Probably not until absolutely forced to, as such a move would be equivalent to confirming that McCain’s campaign has been directed by someone at least in part responsible for hundreds of thousands of Americans losing their homes and costing the taxpayers close to a trillion dollars in bad debt, driving the economy into the toilet.

At this time, none of the major news sites has this story on their front page. So much for being “in the tank” for Obama.

Meanwhile, Faux Noise is trying to distract viewers with accusations that Democrats are responsible for the current mortgage crisis because they supposedly encouraged ending money to minorities, euphemistically called “risky folks.” Already a controversial charge, it is hampered by the small fact that it was McCain campaign manager Rick Davis who was lobbying for more loans for minorities–and not to help minorities.

Financial news of the day: the market dives and oil prices spike.

Categories: Election 2008, McCain Hall of Shame Tags:

McCain Campaign’s Daily Media Distraction Call: To Prove We’re Not Liars, Here Are Some Lies

September 23rd, 2008 Comments off

Things must be falling apart at the McCain campaign. Usually they are very good at controlling media attention, but this time they just fell flat. Essentially, they held a conference call with reporters to complain about how often they’re being called “liars” and to deflect the main story of the day, which is that McCain campaign manager Rick Davis was a big-time lobbyist for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, at least in part responsible for the current crisis (more on that above). Apparently, the media embargo on coverage of unseemly McCain activity is starting to show cracks, and McCain’s people are getting nervous about it, with this big new story just out. Funny, how the media can start calling you liars after you have lied heavily and consistently for so long. And, as it turns out, the media reports following the conference call were pretty much all about the conference call and what a joke it was (except for Fox News, which of course covered it as favorably as they could).

They complained that the media was “completely, totally, 150 percent in the tank for Obama” (translation: you’re reporting about McCain a little bit more accurately and are no longer completely in the tank for us, so that means you’re shilling for Obama).

To set the media right, they insisted that the reporters focus on Obama dirt, and they just happened to have three stories they wanted the media to focus on this week instead of the Davis story, and instead of noting how incessantly the McCain camp is spewing lies. The unfortunate thing about their pitch: it was filled with more lies.

They wanted the media to report heavily on these stories:

  • One of Biden’s sons is a lobbyist for banks and credit card companies–except the isn’t, he was an executive for a bank and credit card company, but never lobbied for them.
  • Obama began his political career with fundraisers at Weather Underground member William Ayers–except he didn’t; he held a single campaign event at Ayers’ house in 1995, but it wasn’t a fundraiser, and Ayers never gave Obama any money.
  • Obama surrogate Robert Wexler called Sarah Palin a Nazi sympathizer–except he didn’t; he called Pat Buchanan a Nazi sympathizer, and noted that Sarah Palin supported him, remarks which he retracted and apologized for.

These were listed and debunked by The Politico, which noted that the stories are all unfavorable about Obama when only the truth is told, but the lies piled onto them just made the McCain camp seem even more the bunch of liars they protested the media was calling them. When these were pointed out, the McCain campaign replied back that they were “quibbling with ridiculously small details when the basic things are completely right.” Regard that as you may.

But the McCain campaign is really laying it on. One can assume either that they have informed the base of the talking points, or set up a woman attending an event to scold and shame the media back into McCain’s camp from the public’s angle:

Schmidt’s anger has apparently bubbled over to McCain supporters as well. At a town hall in Scranton today, instead of asking the candidate a question, a woman issued a diatribe against the media.

“I also want to take the opportunity to ask the media, where is your 30 investigators over in Chicago looking at Ayers? We want the media to start doing their job and stop picking on little children because of their age and their pregnancies. Shame on you! Shame on all of you’s!”

“That is a great question,” McCain responded.

Did I mistake that, or did McCain just morph into Bush? Remember Bush’s phony town halls where people just got up and praised him without asking anything, and Bush thanked them for the “question”? The student has become the master.

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Lies, Smears, and Editorials

September 20th, 2008 1 comment

John McCain ran an ad recently claiming that Obama is mired in the current mortgage crisis because a former CEO of Fannie Mae, Franklin Raines, advised Obama on economic matters, making Obama a despicably corrupt Fannie Mae insider. However, this is all based on a third-hand claim with no evidence that Raines played more than a minor side-role at best. The Washington Post debunked the claim:

The McCain campaign is clearly exaggerating wildly in attempting to depict Raines as a close adviser to Obama on “housing and mortgage policy.” If we are to believe Raines, he did have a couple of telephone conversations with someone in the Obama campaign. But that hardly makes him an adviser to the candidate himself — and certainly not in the way depicted in the McCain video release.

Then this tidbit came out about the McCain campaign, a letter written to the New York Times by a former Fannie Mae executive, published in The Politico:

To The Editor:

Yesterday, Senator John McCain released a television commercial attacking Barack Obama for allegedly receiving advice on the economy from former Fannie Mae CEO Franklin Raines. From the stump, he has recently tried tying Senator Obama to Fannie Mae, as if there is some guilt in the association with Fannie Mae’s former executives.

It is an interesting card for Senator McCain to play, given that his campaign manager, Rick Davis, was paid by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac several hundred thousand dollars early in this decade to head up an organization to lobby in their behalf called The Homeownership Alliance. …

I worked in government relations for Fannie Mae for more than 20 years, leading the group for most of those years. When I see photographs of Sen. McCain’s staff, it looks to me like the team of lobbyists who used to report to me. Senator McCain’s attack on Senator Obama is a cheap shot, and hypocritical.


William Maloni
Fannie Mae Senior Vice President for Government and Industry Relations (1983-2004)


Meanwhile, Sarah Palin is doing little better. She claimed that she fired Alaskan Public Safety Commissioner, Walt Monegan, because he insisted on making an “unauthorized lobbying trip to D.C.,” making it sound like Monegan was some sort of lobbyist seeking earmarks, and Sarah Palin, being the reformer and maverick that she is, just had to fire the schmuck. However, it turns out that the trip, to seek funds for “an aggressive anti-sexual-violence program” (a big problem in Alaska), was in fact, authorized by Palin’s chief of staff.

Double oops.

Another lie. And like so many others, she makes the lie despite leaving a paper trail behind her with proof that she’s lying. And most likely, like all the other lies, she’ll keep on telling this one even after it has been publicly proven to be a lie.

That’s just how the McCain campaign rolls. They don’t give a rat’s ass about the truth, they just make up their crap and sell it, in broad daylight, clearly hoping that people will believe them despite all the evidence.

It has caused articles like this one to start popping up:

Usually when a candidate tells something less than the truth, we mince words. We use euphemisms like mendacity and inaccuracy … or, as the Associated Press put it, “McCain’s claims skirt facts.” But increasing numbers of otherwise sober observers, even such august institutions as the New York Times editorial board, are calling John McCain a liar. …

McCain’s lies have ranged from the annoying to the sleazy, and the problem is in both degree and kind. His campaign has been a ceaseless assault on his opponent’s character and policies, featuring a consistent—and witting—disdain for the truth. Even after 38 million Americans heard Obama say in his speech at the Democratic National Convention that he was open to offshore oil-drilling and building new nuclear-power plants, McCain flatly said in his acceptance speech that Obama opposed both. Normal political practice would be for McCain to say, “Obama says he’s ‘open to’ offshore drilling, but he’s always opposed it. How can we believe him?” This persistence in repeating demonstrably false charges is something new in presidential politics.

Worse than the lies have been the smears. McCain ran a television ad claiming that Obama favored “comprehensive” sex education for kindergartners. (Obama favored a bill that would have warned kindergartners about sexual predators and improper touching.) The accusation that Obama was referring to Sarah Palin when he said McCain’s effort to remarket his economic policies was putting “lipstick on a pig” was another clearly misleading attack — an obnoxious attempt to divert attention from Palin’s lack of fitness for the job and the recklessness with which McCain chose her. McCain’s assault on the “élite media” for spreading rumors about Palin’s personal life — actually, the culprits were a few bloggers and the tabloid press — was more of the same. And that gets us close to the real problem here. The McCain camp has decided that its candidate can’t win honorably, on the issues, so it has resorted to transparent and phony diversions.

Wow. That from TIME Magazine. This is getting pretty intense. But amazingly, despite McCain’s repeated, blatant, brazen lies and shocking smears… still the media is not giving McCain that general description, as it did Al Gore in 2000 when Gore did stuff like claim rightful credit for shaping the Internet, or when he lots track of exactly which local politician he went to several fires with.

In any case, let’s end with a nice blast from the past: a photo of John McCain partying it up with Charles Keating, celebrating their birthdays with booze and a live band–not to mention an unfortunate hat. Because unlike today, McCain back then did not have close ties to financial scandals and lobbyists for big loan firms.

Keating was, what, a pet shop owner or something, right? No, a musician, or some kind of music agent. Yeah, that must be it. Or maybe just a friend from Cindy’s beer distributorship. But not some head honcho of a corrupt financial organization that cost taxpayers big-time in some bailout, no sirree! John McCain would never do that, because he was a POW.

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Trying to Have It Both Ways

September 19th, 2008 Comments off

Here’s McCain despairing at his negativity:

So, McCain lies about why Obama didn’t visit some troops, he lies about Obama wanting to tax the middle class, lied about Obama being the second term of Jimmy Carter and the third term of Dubya Bush, and blamed Obama for everything from high gas prices to the current economic downturn. McCain, immersed in a sea of lobbyists, accused Obama of being in the pockets of lobbyists. McCain claims that Obama’s a virtual traitor to his country, that he’s a snotty, elitist celebrity who’d probably like to get at white girls like Britney and Paris, and runs an ad that makes Obama look like a pedophile. He accused Obama of playing the race card, of insulting McCain’s age and of being sexist in regards to Sarah Palin.

And now, like before, he claims that he “regrets” the negativity of the campaign, that he really hates it, truly–as if he has nothing to do with it. Just another way to blame everything on Obama–in this case, the claim being that the negativity is Obama’s fault for not agreeing to structuring the debates around McCain’s home territory, accepting McCain’s offer to let Obama tag along on McCain’s town hall meetings.

McCain is trying to have it all ways, in fact–run so negative that it is jarring many of his former supporters into disowning him, and yet claiming that it’s Obama who is negative and/or responsible, while McCain stands by helplessly, regretting and tsk-tsking about how negative it’s all become.

Yawn… just more stunningly blatant hypocrisy from McCain. Nothing we haven’t seen time and time and time again from the hollow shell of the hollow shell he’d made everyone think was a maverick.

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Actually, We Should Focus on Palin

September 14th, 2008 2 comments

I’ve heard a lot of people suggest that we ignore Palin, either because of or despite her popularity, and focus on McCain. I have no trouble with focusing on McCain, but I think there is a great danger in ignoring Palin. The reason why is because she is not just a lightning rod to take attention away from McCain–she has, in fact, quickly become the heart and center of the McCain campaign. She’s the one drawing huge crowds, she’s the one who is revitalizing the base, she’s the one who is bringing his numbers up. Ignore her and you ignore McCain’s greatest new strength. I don’t think that’s wise.

Furthermore, she has maintained her popularity precisely because there has not yet been enough critical attention paid to her. Her lies go relatively unchallenged, her claims about reform and accomplishment pretty much non-fact-checked, her background allowed to mostly slide while America focuses on the trivial irrelevancies which she can use to her advantage.

This is beginning to change. The blush is off the media rose, the honeymoon is beginning to end, insert your metaphor here. Gibson’s interview started that process, and now we are seeing more and more about her finally begin to leak through to the media sources that most Americans pay attention to. And the McCain-Palin lead is beginning to erode and evaporate.

One thing beginning to come through is her lie about the Bridge to Nowhere. It has been noted that she stopped telling that particular whopper when she went to Alaska, but now that she’s back in the lower forty-eight, she’s right back at using the lie again–as if she were aware that Alaskans knew her too well to buy that particular line of horse manure.

But for those who are confused by the claims or don’t know the whole timeline, I have pieced it together here:

November 2005: Congress strips funding for the bridge project.

September 2006: Palin shows up in the town where the bridge is supposed to link, brandishes a “Nowhere, Alaska 99901” T-Shirt, and proclaims she “feels the pain” of the townspeople for their town being called “Nowhere.”

October, 2006: In a direct answer to whether or not she supported the bridge to nowhere, Palin wrote, “Yes. I would like to see Alaska’s infrastructure projects built sooner rather than later. The window is now — while our congressional delegation is in a strong position to assist.” Palin says publicly, “I support these infastructure projects,” “I’m going to fight hard with our federal delegation for the federal financial support of our infrastructure that Alaska deserves.”

November 2006: Palin says “I would not get in the way of progress of” the bridge to nowhere. She wins the election and becomes governor of Alaska.

August 2007: Congress allows Alaska to keep $233 million even though the bridge is long dead.

September 2007: Palin finally kills the project, saying: “Ketchikan desires a better way to reach the airport, but the $398-million bridge is not the answer. Despite the work of our congressional delegation, we are about $329-million short of full funding for the bridge project, and it’s clear that Congress has little interest in spending any more money on a bridge between Ketchikan and Gravina Island. … Much of the public’s attitude toward Alaska bridges is based on inaccurate portrayals of the projects here, but we need to focus on what we can do, rather than fight over what has happened.”

September 2008 (repeatedly): “I told Congress, ‘Thanks, but no thanks,’ on that bridge to nowhere!”

And McCain: “Yes, the pork barrel project, a $233 million bridge in Alaska to an island with 50 people on it,” McCain said. “She, as governor, stood up and said, we don’t need it, and if we need it, we’ll pay for it ourselves. Now, that’s guts. I saw that, and I said, this, this is what we need in Washington.”

So: Ted Stevens gets the money for the bridge, but then Congress and the public react in disgust, stripping the funding. For two full years, Sarah Palin maintains her support for the bridge project–starting her campaign for governor on it–telling the people of the town that she feels their pain, and the people of Alaska that she’ll fight for federal money. She repeatedly voices support for the bridge, specifying federal funding. Then Congress decides to allow Alaska to keep much of the money that had been set aside for the bridge. ONLY THEN did Palin kill the project, saying the feds were not going to give them enough money for the bridge to be built. But she kept the money they gave her.

“I told Congress, ‘Thanks, but no thanks,’ on that bridge to nowhere!”


To be honest, I was not aware of much of this timeline. I didn’t know that Palin supported the bridge for a full two years after funding had been cut, or that Palin killed the project right after Congress released the funds to Alaska. Let me tell you, making those claims about saying “no” to Congress, “thanks but no thanks” to the bridge, “We’ll pay for that bridge ourselves!”–that takes guts, lying so blatantly and outrageously!

That’s the kind of thing that needs to be told everywhere, made clear to everyone. Obama should make a commercial showing the timeline:

After Congress cut the wasteful spending on the bridge to nowhere, Sarah Palin fought for two years to get it back. She went to the town where the bridge was going to and began her campaign for governor telling them she’d fight for the bridge (show photo with the “Nowhere Alaska” T-shirt). She made the bridge a part of her campaign, repeatedly promising to get the federal funds. (Show video clip of Palin saying, ““I support these infastructure projects!”) But only after Congress cut her a check for 233 million in your taxpayer dollars (show graphic: “Palin accepts $233 million in federal pork”) did she finally kill the project–and she kept your money to boot. Then she said: (show clip after clip after clip) “I told Congress, ‘Thanks, but no thanks,’ on that bridge to nowhere!” And McCain was right behind her: (show clip) “She, as governor, stood up and said, we don’t need it, and if we need it, we’ll pay for it ourselves!” She demanded pork. She got it. Then they both lied.

Heavily cutting, and completely, 100% factually correct.

That’s a campaign commercial we can believe in.

Categories: Election 2008, McCain Hall of Shame Tags:

Update on the Pig’s Lipstick

September 11th, 2008 Comments off

The McCain campaign went ballistic with faked outrage after Obama, referring strictly to McCain’s continuation of Bush’s policies and making no reference whatsoever to Sarah Palin, called McCain’s claims about his policies “lipstick on a pig,” as well as “old fish in a newspaper.” Somehow this was supposed to be a slur against Palin, though there is literally zero connection to Palin in the statement, and the expression “lipstick on a pig” is a common one, especially in politics. But the idea is that lipstick must refer to a woman and therefore Obama called Palin a pig is somehow in order, and, we are forced to assume, Obama must from this point on refrain from using any metaphors which contain any reference to anything related to the female gender, even when talking about things completely unrelated to Sarah Palin.

However, a statement made by McCain late last year was found to include the same expression; when talking about Hillary Clinton’s health care plan, he said, “I think they put some lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig.” McCain repeated that expression this year in May. So by the McCain campaign’s own standards, McCain’s statement was offensive, disgraceful, and sexist, and he owes Hillary Clinton a sincere apology. It was worse than Obama’s, in fact, because McCain was referring to a woman’s policy, and so the expression was far more direct in its insult. Not to mention that McCain only laughed and sympathized when one of his supporters called Hillary a “bitch.” (Of course, McCain has called his own wife a “trollop” and something else I won’t print, so this should be nothing new.) So McCain really needs to apologize to Hillary and to women everywhere. By his own campaign’s standards.

Or we can recognize that the McCain campaign is dishonorable, disingenuous, and hypocritical, and just leave it at that.

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Media Check on the Bridge Lie

September 10th, 2008 2 comments

As both Palin and McCain continue to repeat, again and again, the baldfaced “Bridge to Nowhere” lie, I checked the major news outlets: only one, CBS, had a story on the bridge lie on their front pages. Everyone else had stories about McCain and Palin getting big crowds (I thought that was a “celebrity” thing) and enjoying their post-convention poll bounce. A few other major news sources–including, surprisingly, Fox–have stories in their databases fact-checking the claim (MSNCB and CNN don’t show such a story after a cursory search), but none feature the story–a story which should be a big one, because McCain and Palin continue to repeat it, often, even after it has been wholly discredited and shown up for an outright lie–and the McCain campaign is even basing their major theme–“a pair of mavericks”–on this claim.

They Ain’t Covering This One

September 10th, 2008 Comments off

Vet Voice has the story; go and read it. Short version: Alaskan National Guard Major General Craig Campbell makes several objective, factual statements which reveal Palin’s limited role as commander-in-chief of the Alaska National Guard. But then suddenly, he changes his colors and gushes about what a “great leader” she is. Just a few days later, Palin promotes Campbell to Lieutenant General, giving him a third star.

How blatant do you have to be?

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There They Go Again

September 10th, 2008 Comments off

I thought that this time there would be a chance of some light being cast: an article which promised a “fact check” on whether the charges against McCain and lobbyists were true. The piece started out OK, but quickly started making unnecessary equivocations.

The first is limiting the attention only to “top advisors,” ignoring the fact that the campaign hires dozens of other lobbyists at all levels of the campaign.

The second comes when the article stresses McCain’s BS line about how none are “currently registered,” a distinction without a real difference, as the New York Times pointed out. For example, one lobbyist who is mentioned, Randy Scheunemann, received payments from Georgia just months earlier despite being currently “unregistered”; additionally, while Scheunemann is unregistered, the firm from which he is on a “leave of absence” is still highly active. In short, “none are currently registered” is a false front meaning that they made some changes on paper to make it look like they aren’t lobbying–but they obviously are.

However, the kicker comes in the end of the article, when the author makes the same old stupid argument of equivalency:

But the bottom line is, both sides have ties to lobbyists, meaning whomever wins will have a hard time backing up the rhetoric about change and shaking up Washington.

“Both sides”? True in a technical sense, but wildly inaccurate in a quantitative and qualitative sense. Saying that “both sides have ties to lobbyists” is like saying “both sides have candidates of advanced years.” In the case of one candidate, the statement is barely true; in the case of the other, it is far more strongly the case than is made to appear.

The Liberal Media™ at work again, remaining ever-vigilant.

Update: Steve Benen points out another example of CNN equivocating and refusing to do the most fundamental tasks of journalism, this time on the “bridge to nowhere” lying issue.

Respect is Earned

September 8th, 2008 Comments off

The McCain campaign’s utter gall is getting more and more impressive with each passing day. The latest:

Rick Davis, campaign manager for Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., just told Fox News Channel’s Chris Wallace that McCain running mate Gov. Sarah Palin won’t subject herself to any tough questions from reporters “until the point in time when she’ll be treated with respect and deference.”

I wanted to say that she’d better not go anywhere near Bill O’Reilly, but then I recalled that it’s only Democrats that Bill-O treats like scum.

All snarkiness aside, just exactly how snide and abusive does the McCain campaign have to get with the media before it all backfires? Pretty snide and abusive, is my guess, but you never know–the media can be fickle, but I think they know that if they start reporting straight, Obama will start running away with it and it won’t be the close race they’re hoping for. But I betcha there are a lot of reporters out there who are chafing at the bit, held back only by their editors and publishers.

Still, demanding “respect and deference” before granting a media interview? And they call Obama an “elitist”? What a ripsnorter that is!

Update: The McCain campaign announced that they would grant an interview to ABC (how magnanimous of them!). One can only guess at what level of “respect and deference” ABC had to scrape and bow to in order to get the interview. We won’t know until we see it. The McCain campaign claimed that there were “no ground rules on our end,” but the details took two days to work out–so we’re really buying that load of bull about no ground rules. And there may be significance in the fact that they specifically chose Charles Gibson for the interview–the same guy who tore into Obama during one of the debates, so viciously that the audience started booing him.

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It Comes Naturally Now

September 6th, 2008 1 comment

McCain just doesn’t care about the truth. He is lost in a fog of his own truthiness. It began with some pretty outrageous stuff–Obama canceled a visit to the troops because reporters with cameras wouldn’t be there, Obama wants to lose the war so he can win the election, and so forth. He lied about himself–that he doesn’t know how many houses he has, that he is reluctant to talk about his war record, that he’s a reformer, he’s not surrounded by lobbyists, he will bring change from the Bush campaign, etc.

And now, he has a whole new half of the ticket to lie about, and the lies come more smoothly and quickly, as if he has stopped trying to make the lies sound plausible in the light of any fact-checking, as if he can change any detail he wants to make it sound good. Palin was thoroughly vetted. Palin was against the “bridge to nowhere.” Palin fought against pork. Palin has executive experience because she lived in proximity to Russia. Palin is the best qualified person in the Republican Party to step up and be president should McCain pass away.

Now he seems to be starting a Two For One sale. He said:

You know what I enjoyed the most? She took the luxury jet that was acquired by her predecessor, and sold it on eBay — and made a profit!

Except that she didn’t sell it on eBay, and she sold it for a loss. Now, maybe somebody told him that story and he just bought it fully, showing him to be irresponsibly gullible and irresponsible with the facts. But frankly, I think that at this point, he’s just making things up. I think that he has gotten away with blatant lies so often, for so long, that he thinks he can just let them flow like a river and nobody in the media will call him on it.

After all, Gore, at most, lied about a few small things, like how many times he’d visited the scenes of forest fires and with whom–the kind of thing that is far more easily seen as a slip or something in the blur of PR appearances–and got branded a serial liar, a label which the media gleefully adopted. McCain has been lying outright for quite some time, and even now, with the eBay story, you get headlines like “The eBay Myth,” or “McCain version of Palin’s eBay story goes a bit far.” Myth? Goes a bit far? McCain was lying.

Gore told the truth when he said he took the initiative in creating the Internet and is still called a liar for that to this day; McCain makes crap up out of thin air and says the most preposterous untruths, and he “goes a bit far” in his “mythmaking”? As John Kerry said, you gotta be kidding me.

Just one more thing, not fully related. How can the Republicans all cheer when their candidates so snidely insult the act of community service, when half the people in the arena are waving “service” signs, and when the theme of the entire campaign is “country first”? As if being mayor of a small town, firing people because of personal vendettas, and running up a huge debt is far more noble and selfless than helping build housing for the poor and the needy? “Country First,” my ass. These people simply have no morals when it comes to winning elections, none at all.

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Earmark Queen

September 6th, 2008 9 comments

This really needs to be pushed. Palin has lied repeatedly about having “killed” the already-dead “bridge to nowhere,” when she was actually a big supporter. She’s being cast as an anti-Washington, cost-cutting, reformist earmark-killer, when, in actuality, she was a positive earmark shark, hiring lobbyists to bring more pork to wherever she was.

Per Capita Earmarks Palin Nowhere Shirt

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