Archive for the ‘McCain Hall of Shame’ Category

The Reluctant Braggart

September 5th, 2008 1 comment

Here’s McCain just a few months ago:

“I kind of reacted the way I did because I have a reluctance to talk about my experiences,” he said, noting that he has huge admiration for the “heroes” who served with him in the POW camp and said the experience taught him to love the U.S. because he missed it so much.

“I am always reluctant to talk about these things,” McCain said.

Today? Not so reluctant. His entire campaign is pretty much two things: “I’m a war hero” and “Obama is a traitor.” But the “I’m a war hero” is something he talks about far more than anything else.

Reluctantly, of course..

Categories: Election 2008, McCain Hall of Shame Tags:

Palin: Just Like Bush, She Believes She’s Above the Law

September 4th, 2008 3 comments

Wow, that didn’t take long. As McCain is hiring for her the same agent who ruthlessly smeared McCain in 2000, Palin uses Alaskan taxpayer money to hire a slick lawyer to defend her in the Troopergate scandal, and that lawyer is now using every Bush tactic in the book. First, she won’t testify, using the bogus “executive privilege” dodge–the Bush’s “screw the law, I’m not talking” tactic. Second, her lawyer wants the investigation handed over to a state review board–which is run by three appointees hand-picked by Palin herself–the Bush “we’re in charge of investigating ourselves, and we won’t” tactic.

In short, she’s trying to tell the American people, as well as the people of Alaska, that she’s better than they are–she’s above the law and doesn’t have to answer for her actions.

Meanwhile, the avalanche of scandals, lies, and generally sordid details around Palin continues. How about this one: just two weeks ago, Palin was in church listening to her pastor announce that Jews suffer terror attacks as part of god’s justice for not being Christians. Those silly Jews, they apparently don’t know that Jesus was Jewish! According to Palin’s pastor, anyway. Of course, the media isn’t reporting on this, probably because there’s no way they can verify it, I guess. Check out audio and transcripts of Palin’s church’s sermons here.

Also, it appears that Palin herself spoke at the church, calling the war in Iraq a “task that is from god,” and that in addition to Iraq being a holy war, the Alaskan pipeline is just as holy. But we all knew that.

And oh yeah, in my last post I mentioned that the McCain people who were insisting that they thoroughly vetted Palin relied on claiming to have used methods that cannot be checked out, like online searches–indicating that they were making it up. And indeed, they seem to have been doing just that. One of the methods they claimed to have used was an FBI background check. What they didn’t figure on was the FBI denying they did any such background check. Oops.

Do you think that the McCain people are keeping Palin locked up so no one asks her how well abstinence education works? Nah, that’d be too easy for Palin to take and make herself seem like a victim. Maybe they’re worried that they’ll pull a Campbell Brown and ask her to give an actual example of an executive accomplishment that isn’t embarrassingly trivial. Or perhaps they’re concerned that she’ll just say anything at all–let’s face it, not an hour goes by without some new, excruciatingly tawdry revelation about Palin coming to light (which reminds me, did you know that the ass-kicking redneck hockey-playing high schooler who knocked up Palin’s underage daughter is actually going to attend the Republican convention?) and they don’t want her to become unhinged on national teevee. Or, most likely, they’re just too busy attempting to encase Palin in a block of impenetrable plastic before anyone with an uncontrolled mic can get close to her.

Meanwhile: Obama’s Revenge. In return for McCain walking all over Obama’s speech to the nation by announcing Palin’s nomination just hours later, Obama has taken a rather daring risk himself–he has agreed to appear on O’Reilly’s show on Fox opposite McCain giving his speech. Though frankly, I’m having trouble believing this is not a hoax of some sort. While I believe Obama could argue O’Reilly into a smoking pile of cinders, I don’t trust O’Reilly to do something incredibly stupid. Which could have benefits for Obama just as easily. But then, the volatility itself is probably good for very high ratings, which could draw more people away from McCain and maybe even win some respect for Obama from conservatives.

Still, that’s just weird.

Update: Like I said, not an hour goes by. Now it appears that she fired the Wasilla police chief because (a) he made bars close at 2 am instead of 5 am so as to reduce drunk driving, and (b) the NRA didn’t like his stance on concealed weapons laws. This in addition to Palin trying to fire the city librarian after she refused to censor books Palin didn’t like.

I’ll see if I can stay up another hour and catch the next story about Palin.

Categories: Election 2008, McCain Hall of Shame Tags:

Playing All the Cards

September 3rd, 2008 3 comments

One thing that always puzzled me about Hillary supporters was their propensity to claim that “whenever” they criticized Obama in any way, they were subjected to cries of racism. The thing is, I never saw any of that. (If anyone knows of an example, please point me to it.) Now, if there was some kind of criticism from the Clinton camp that was racially charged, then sure–like when Bill Clinton suggested that Obama’s campaign in South carolina was just like Jesse Jackson’s, for example, or when a Clinton pushed a photo of Obama in Somali garb–items which emphasized race without any real substance backing them. Perhaps the Clinton supporters simply denied to themselves that the Clinton actions were racially charged, and so felt that the Obama camp accusations were an unjust playing of the race card.

So perhaps I am missing what the Obama camp is doing to deserve this criticism:

In a comment sent out by the Arizona Republican’s aides, adviser Carly Fiorina said she was “appalled by the Obama campaign’s attempts to belittle Governor Sarah Palin’s experience. The facts are that Sarah Palin has made more executive decisions as a Mayor and Governor than Barack Obama has made in his life. Because of Hillary Clinton’s historic run for the Presidency and the treatment she received, American women are more highly tuned than ever to recognize and decry sexism in all its forms. They will not tolerate sexist treatment of Governor Palin.”

Unless I’m mistaken, they are simply taking a charge of inexperience–well-deserved at that–and calling it sexist on the idea that of course Palin in eminently qualified to be vice president and therefore president–so the only explanation must be that Obama is denying her experience only because she’s a woman. Um, yeah, right, because nobody could possibly believe that Palin isn’t just oozing presidential authority.

I think we can pretty solidly say that the McCain camp is now officially playing the gender card–and are trying to use it as a shield against any criticism, despite there not being any sexism involved. Not a surprise, as the McCain campaign has tried the same thing–with a great deal of success–with McCain’s POW past. So now any criticism made against their VP choice will be given the “you can’t criticize her because she’s a woman” charge.

Is it my imagination, or is everyone in this election except Obama throwing up some sacred-cow personal attribute–gender, POW status–as a way to deflect genuine and deserved criticism?

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So Many Thoughts

September 3rd, 2008 1 comment

Obama widens his lead in the polls, breaking 50% in the dailies. Apparently, he had it all wrong: you become popular by letting the other guy get all the attention. McCain apparently knew this secret–else why was “Obama” the most-used word on McCain’s site?–but slipped up with the Palin nomination and inadvertently got the media to focus on his campaign. Big mistake.

So, Palin actually did have her fifth baby, not her daughter. Now we can talk about it. Not the fact that she decided to have a Down’s baby–good for her for going through with the pregnancy–but the fact that Palin apparently showed unimaginably horrendous judgment when the baby was born. When her water started leaking and contractions started when she was 7 1/2 months pregnant and on the road in Texas, she should have gone straight to the best hospital she could find, screw her political appointments–the baby first, right? Apparently not. She went on to give a speech at a political luncheon, and then inexplicably boarded a plane to Anchorage (not even non-stop, there was a layover in Seattle), and even after that, bypassed better hospitals in Anchorage to go to her smaller town to give birth. With a premature Down’s birth, such activity and delay are more than “spunk,” rather it demonstrates a bizarrely disastrous lack of judgment. Judgment flow chart here (h/t to Randy).

Palin’s ties to a secessionist “Alaska Independent Party” are coming more to light. Her husband was a member for about seven years, Palin addressed their convention, and at least the AIP is claiming Palin herself was a member, despite denials from the McCain campaign. At the very least, there are some ties, and this is a group that hates America and damns the flag. If someone finds video of the AIP guy saying that, will it get any air time? Probably not.

Reports come in from various sources of various reliability, but all seem to agree that she was somewhat ruthless, and governed poorly.

So much for being warm and fuzzy with the media. A CNN anchor has the utter gall to question a McCain campaign spokesman and press him to name one example of an executive decision by Palin that touches on foreign policy–and she doesn’t let him slide out with a BS non-answer, she actually presses him to deliver (link to fun but painful YouTube of the interview), which, of course, he can’t. Result: McCain pulls out of interview with Larry King; bonus: if CNN keeps this up, I might actually think about giving them a second chance and start watching some of their stuff again.

Is the media finally backlashing against McCain? Maybe. One can hope they’ll at least be objective, but the media does seem to have only two positions, “for” and “against.” If the media is turning on McCain, it’s probably because of the Palin thing. Before Palin, McCain was BS’ing Americans, acting like they were idiots, and the media was along for the ride, as well as for the barbecues and tire swings. But with the Palin thing, the McCain camp has shifted, and is now BS’ing the media, acting like the media are idiots, and maybe they don’t like it much.

So, McCain’s pick for veep is not going so smoothly, and supporters are straining to say anything good about her official qualifications, ludicrous as they may be. The thing is, they’ve got nothing–but that’s all they’ve got, and they have no choice but to run with it. You almost feel sorry for them. Almost, of course–it doesn’t help that they’re being dicks about it.

Talk is already flying about whether or not McCain will ditch Palin before the election. Some people seem to be talking about it as a “when,” not an “if.” If McCain does so, he either has to do it quickly–before she accepts the nomination at the convention–or painfully, with lots of paperwork involved.

Back to pregnancies: the irony about Bristol is that the liberals don’t mind the story. We know it’s something that happens all too often–young people make mistakes. We wish the best for her, and I myself feel badly for the poor kid, having her sex life shoved up in front of the whole world like that. Never mind that her boyfriend and looming husband seems to be a bit of a schmuck. No, the irony here is that Bristol, while currently lauded by the Christian right, is exactly the type they usually condemn–a teen who has sex outside of marriage and gets pregnant. Now they’re cheering her for having her baby, but if her mom were on the Democratic and not the Republican ticket, the same people would be reviling her as a whore and worse. Extra point: Mom’s abstinence-only policy didn’t work too well, it seems.

New story: Palin was the “Earmark Queen” of Wasilla, hiring a lobbying firm to win the town large amounts of pork.

McCain’s people are going on and on about Palin’s “executive experience,” hammering in the point that Palin has more “executive experience” than Obama and Biden combined, making the Democrats dangerously unprepared. They seem to miss the point that, by these standards McCain is dangerously unprepared. But they want to have it both ways: Palin is more qualified than a mere senator (like McCain) no matter how long his record, but she’ll have at least four years to learn at “the feet of the master,” that supposedly being McCain. Related news: the chicken is the egg, and McCain is his own grampaw.

McCain is trying to tell everyone that Palin was indeed vetted. They can point to a 40-page questionnaire and a lawyer talking to her. But every other claimed vetting point is non-confirmable–they did online searches and other background checks not involving talking to anyone. (One GOP strategist even says Palin wasn’t even on McCain’s short list, and was only vetted online.) No one in Alaska reports being spoken to, and McCain’s people were not on the ground checking things out. To me, it’s a simple matter: either McCain didn’t vet her, making him an idiot, or he did vet her–which also makes him an idiot. The only real difference is, was he a knowing idiot, or an irresponsible idiot? I report, you decide.

Categories: Election 2008, McCain Hall of Shame Tags:

Troopergate Deepens

September 1st, 2008 Comments off

Josh Marshall goes into a great deal of detail about Sarah Palin and the Troopergate story, and it really paints a new light on the story. If you haven’t read it, go and do so now. It’s pretty fascinating.

In the end, there are a few important impressions that come from this. The first is that Palin is vindictive, and not afraid to inappropriately use her power to carry out vendettas against people she doesn’t like. As I laid out yesterday, after being elected mayor of Wasilla, she fired the librarian and police chief, both of whom had supported her opponent. That may be legal, but it’s considered improper at best and corrupt at worst.

In the Troopergate story, that impression is only sharpened. Trooper Wooten was in a messy divorce with Palin’s sister, but more significantly, there was a custody battle. Those can get incredibly vicious, and accusations of wrongdoing are commonly manufactured in an attempt to paint the other party as an improper parent for the children. Before becoming governor, Palin and her family submitted a list of 14 accusations against, of which only 5 had any credence. The police acted on that, and suspended Wooten for 10 days, later reduced to 5. After being elected governor, Palin then exerted huge pressure on the Public Safety Commissioner (the state’s top police official, and popular at that) to fire Wooten–and when he didn’t, Palin fired the commissioner.

So Palin is pretty vindictive, willing to abuse her power to settle scores. That’s the first impression.

The second impression is that she’s a liar, and a pretty bad one. When confronted with the fact that she’d terminated the librarian and police chief in Wasilla, she flat-out lied, saying it hadn’t happened. Then the police chief produced a letter she had written and signed, saying she was terminating him. So she writes, signs, and delivers a letter then lies about not having sent it?

Similarly, in the Wooten story, Palin initially denied having put any pressure on the commissioner. When a recording was released showing one of her deputies had quite plainly done so, she lied again and said she hadn’t known about any such effort. Except now the former commissioner claims that not only Palin, but her husband as well contacted him on numerous occasions, pressuring him to fire Wooten–and he even has emails from Palin herself.

So she has lied at least three times about these matters, but more surprisingly, she has lied repeatedly when there is correspondence from Palin herself proving she’s lying. Either she has a bad memory, or she’s not very smart.

Altogether, you can see Marshall’s point: this is not just a woman protecting her sister, it’s a public official carrying out vendettas and lying repeatedly.

Maybe Democrats will still be nervous about attacking her, but let me point something out: had Obama nominated her as his VP pick, the Republicans would be tearing into her with unrepentant glee. Maybe they can get away with that better than the Democrats can, but in this case, it shouldn’t be hard for the Dems to construct a way of going after her. Simply start asking questions about her conduct in office, not about trying to fire Wooten, but about firing the commissioner–and the lies. Don’t say she lied, simply ask why her prior statements don’t jibe with new evidence. Don’t attack, just question, and if criticized, respond, “Hey, we’re only asking. The American people deserve to know everything about this candidate. If there’s nothing wrong here, then just prove it. We’ll stop asking questions when we hear a credible answer.”

When I first heard that Palin might not make it to election day, I was rather dubious. Now, I’m not so sure. It boggles the mind that McCain didn’t vet Palin–the commissioner claims that McCain’s people never contacted him, and others in Alaska who should have been contacted report that there was no vetting they heard about. McCain seems to have chosen Palin completely blindly–and it could wind up hurting him very badly. The question is, will either the Democrats or the media pick up on these stories?

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McCain: Let’s Bush This Hurricane!

August 31st, 2008 1 comment

Remember when our Fearless Leader Bush, wanting to show how He Really Cared after having killed so many people in Katrina’s wake, took some trips down there–and as a result, probably killed some more? Remember when people were still stuck on their rooftops and people were still drowning, but when Bush flew in to tell Brownie what a heckuva job he was doing, he caused several Coast Guard helicopters to be grounded for PR beauty shots (see right) when they should have been out rescuing people?

Well, McCain wants to be like George.

In the day or two before Gustav hits, millions are being evacuated. People are literally running for their lives. Not a single dollar, man-hour, or moment should be lost, lest somebody gets caught in this storm who cannot handle it, and they die.

So what is McCain doing? Getting in the way.

Likely GOP presidential nominee John McCain and his running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, are traveling to Mississippi to check on people getting prepared for Hurricane Gustav.

McKain aides say McCain and his wife Cindy will join Palin in traveling to Jackson, Miss., Sunday at the invitation of Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour. They said the McCains and Palins want to check on preparations because they are concerned about the people threatened by the storm, which is heading through the Gulf of Mexico and threatening the same area ravaged by Hurricane Katrina three years ago. The storm could hit the coast as early as Monday afternoon.

They will receive a briefing at the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency – a permanent operations center monitoring hurricane response.

Excuse me. They want to “check on preparations”? Who do they think they’re possibly kidding? As if they know the first thing about such things, better than people on the ground? What are they going to do, pull out their degrees in disaster management and start fixing all the problems down there?

Hell, no–they’re going to do the same thing they do when they go to Iraq: waste the valuable time of people with an urgent mission so they can look serious in front of cameras and win votes. And by doing so, they are slowing down and generally hampering efforts which people depend upon for their lives.

In choosing Palin, McCain showed that he took politics more seriously than the best interests of his country. By taking this little PR tour of a region bracing for disaster, he is showing that he takes politics more seriously than the lives of his country’s citizens.

Heckuva job, McSamey!

Update: Obama gets it right:

“The thing that I always am concerned about in the middle of a storm is whether we’re drawing resources away from folks on the ground because the Secret Service and various security requirements; sometimes it pulls police, fire and other departments away from concentrating on the job.”

Obama said he would stay clear of the area until things settled down and then decide how to help.

So there you have it: McCain wants PR even if it costs people their lives, while Obama understands that he really can’t contribute anything in person and so wisely hangs back and doesn’t distract people at a critical time.

Whose judgment do you prefer?

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A List Starts to Form

August 30th, 2008 4 comments

McCain met Palin once, and spoke to her over the phone once.

Palin is involved in a scandal in her office and is under investigation. Apparently she wanted a state trooper who messily divorced her sister fired; when the official in charge would respond to pressure from her and other family members, she fired him. Results of the investigation are due to be released just before the November elections. Video report. Update: she replaced the guy she fired with one who had just been sacked for sexual harassment, and the guy she put in lasted only two weeks. Palin gave him a $10,000 severance package. Way to save taxpayer money.

Palin wants creationism taught in public science classes.

As mayor of Wasilla, she shocked a librarian: “Palin asked her outright if she could live with censorship of library books.”

A few weeks ago, Palin voiced support for Obama’s energy plan, with the only variations being “more oil” and “don’t tax oil companies.” Hmm.

Just what we need: another VP in the pocket of big oil.

Palin one month ago: VP position “doesn’t seem productive,” she had no idea of what a VP does. (video)

Palin doesn’t know “what the plan is to ever end the war that we’re engaged in.”

Palin was a Buchanan supporter when he ran for president. (Irony: Buchanan was gushing so much about how great Obama’s speech was, they had to cut him off for time. Video.)

Palin doesn’t believe that global warming is man-made.

Palin, who portrays herself as a fiscal conservative, racked up nearly $20 million in long-term debt as mayor of the tiny town of Wasilla — that amounts to $3,000 per resident. She argues that the debt was needed to fund improvements.” Spiffy.

Her executive experience isn’t much to talk about. She signed into law Alaska’s biggest budget ever, while cutting construction jobs. So she’s a budget exploder and job cutter. Of course, Alaska’s $6.6 billion budget is about on par with some big American cities. It’s less the executive experience of a governor and more the executive experience of the Mayor of Chicago. For one and a half years.

Karl Rove agrees: picking someone who was mayor of a small town and then governor for only 3 years is a bad choice. Rove was talking about Tim Kaine, but everything he says applies much more to Sarah Palin.

She was for it before she was against it: Palin’s getting props for opposing the “bridge to nowhere,” but only took that stand after it was obvious it would never happen. Before then, she approved of the bridge, and even went as far as to say that porkbarrel money was coming to Alaska too slowly. Also in the false props department: she vetoed a ban on gay benefits–but only because it was unconstitutional.

McCain married a former rodeo beauty queen (whom he later suggested would make a great “Miss Buffalo Chip”), and now has nominated another former beauty queen as his VP pick. What’s with McCain and beauty queens?

Resentful-Also-Rans Update: Palin to Hillary supporters: Hillary’s a whiner. Suggestions of female Hillary supporters laughing at McCain for his choice. Some are even scared. Cafferty (one of CNN’s few remaining watchable commentators) suggests that opinion is weighted heavily against Palin. In fact, the choice of Palin may have backlash as supporters of Romney and Pawlenty “feel manipulated.”

Women may also not be impressed that she’s leaving her four-month-old Down’s baby for more than two months so she can campaign. Or that she is alternately dragging him across the country. But maybe not as turned off by that as they would be that Palin is not just pro-life, but opposes exceptions rape, incest, or for the life of the mother. So she thinks that if a 12-year-old girl is raped and impregnated by her father, and then her fetus turns out to be non-viable and will die upon delivery, the girl cannot get an abortion even if she could die in delivery as well. Nice!

Palin’s web site is scrubbed as a Ted Stevens ad is removed–and then her whole site ( is quickly changed to redirect to John McCain’s.

As governor, Palin vetoed wind power and clean coal projects, including a 50-megawatt wind farm on Fire Island and a clean coal facility in Healy that had been mired in a dispute between local and state governments.”

Opposed McCain on drilling in ANWR, and that may be why she didn’t support him in the primaries.

And finally, Republicans are scrambling to find out positive things to say about her. One of them is that Obama won’t be able to make fun of her because she’s a dedicated mom, and won’t be able to criticize her inexperience because of his own. Here’s what they don’t get: Obama doesn’t have to do any of that. Comedians will. And they already are.

This is just after a few hours of oppo research. Yikes.

Categories: Election 2008, McCain Hall of Shame Tags:

You’re Not Homeless If You Sleep Under a Bridge

August 29th, 2008 Comments off

Wouldn’t that be a cool way of seeing poverty? If you sleep under a bridge, then count that bridge as a home. Same with cardboard boxes, doorways, etc. They are all shelters, therefore homes. Voila! No more homeless people!

We could do the same with joblessness. So what if you got fired and can’t get re-employed? You’re always doing some work, right? You gotta find food–that’s gotta be hard work without a job. And hey, panhandling ain’t easy. So in reality, nobody is really unemployed. So just count it that way. Voila! No more unemployment!

Now, no one has suggested either of the above in earnestness (that I know of). But an advisor to John McCain and author of a health care provision McCain subscribes to has just made an equivalent claim: anyone without insurance can still go to an emergency room, which is in itself insurance. So just count it that way, and Voila! No more uninsured! Think I’m exaggerating? Then read the original:

But the numbers are misleading, said John Goodman, president of the National Center for Policy Analysis, a right-leaning Dallas-based think tank. Mr. Goodman, who helped craft Sen. John McCain’s health care policy, said anyone with access to an emergency room effectively has insurance, albeit the government acts as the payer of last resort. (Hospital emergency rooms by law cannot turn away a patient in need of immediate care.)

“So I have a solution. And it will cost not one thin dime,” Mr. Goodman said. “The next president of the United States should sign an executive order requiring the Census Bureau to cease and desist from describing any American – even illegal aliens – as uninsured. Instead, the bureau should categorize people according to the likely source of payment should they need care.

”So, there you have it. Voila! Problem solved.“

By the way, that’s not John Goodman the actor, just in case you were in doubt. Though you might at first wonder if it was and that this was from an SNL skit on an episode he was hosting.

Even if you don’t find the emergency care part of it asinine for many reasons, it of course completely ignores every variety of non-emergency care. Plainly put, it’s not just asinine, it’s stunningly stupid. Aside from being incredibly unkind, and blind to the realities of being poor or even middle-class, it’s an expensive, wasteful, and harmful idea. This is the quality we see from the authors of McCain’s policy.

Naturally, the McCain campaign is scrambling to disavow any connection with this guy. But he was an advisor, and though they can make whatever retroactive claims of disassociation they want to, the most important fact is that the McCain campaign’s health care plan does contain policies authored by this guy. So whatever they claim now, their health care policies bear Goodman’s imprint, and just as significant–perhaps more–is that this shows the quality of advisor that John McCain seeks out, listens to, and follows the advice of.

While John McCain might not be overtly suggesting that millions of Americans should be happy with the emergency room serving as their primary health insurance coverage, the facts remain that (a) the policy advisor he sought out does think so, (b) that will be the effective result of McCain’s health care plan, and (c) the philosophy meshes nicely with other McCain health care proposals:

Remember, the McCain campaign would offer tax incentives that favor bare-bones coverage; it would also gut state regulations that mandate all insurers cover certain benefits. Most important, perhaps, it’s likely that the McCain health plan would lead many people with employer-sponsored insurance to give up or lose that coverage. While many people would also get new coverage on their own, through the individual market, the benefits would be skimpier–and they would be available only to relatively healthy people, since insurers screen for pre-existing medical conditions when they sell policies individually.

So, is the media covering this?

No. The LA Times has an article, and a few CBS blogs have covered it, but that’s just about it.

Would the media be covering it if it were an Obama advisor?

Hell, yes.

Someone remind me: when was the last time a political figure actually suggested we solve a problem by failing to count it? I know it has been done in practice a lot–the Bush administration avoids heat for killing Iraqi civilians by having there be no official body counts, for example, and in a longer trend, we stop counting the chronically unemployed. But politicians only do these things, they don’t talk about them. I do seem to recall someone making a stir by suggesting something similar to Goodman, but I may be confusing this with fictional situations, like a ”Ministry of Truth“ official on Babylon 5 announcing that homelessness was solved by simply not recognizing the homeless. Someone help out–is Goodman a ground-breaker, or a tradition-follower?

Elitist Irony

August 23rd, 2008 Comments off

Is this how rich people do irony?

A nine-car motorcade took him to a nearby Starbucks early in the morning, where he ordered a large cappuccino. McCain otherwise avoided reporters.

Forced into damage-control mode, his campaign aides counterattacked to reinforce their claim that Obama is an elitist.

So, McCain rides in a 9-car motorcade from his $1.65 million estate (where he’s roughing it by avoiding his $5 million condo at Camelback), disrupting local traffic so he could buy a cappuccino… and then went after Obama as an elitist because he vacationed in Hawaii–his home state, where his grandmother lives.

Hey, at least he didn’t get a latte!

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McCain Fakes Anthrax Scare, Media Plays Along

August 23rd, 2008 1 comment

The latest:

“At approximately 3 p.m. Mountain time, a McCain staff member in Denver opened an envelope that contained a threatening letter and an unknown white powder. As a precautionary measure, the campaign office was immediately closed and staff was sent to a local hospital for medical evaluation. Local authorities as well as the FBI and United States Secret Service have investigated the scene and determined that the substance poses no threat,” Communications Director Jill Hazelbaker said in a statement.

“Also yesterday afternoon, a similar letter was found in the campaign’s Manchester, New Hampshire office. After closing that office, the Manchester Police Department determined that there was no threat. Senator and Mrs. McCain thank the local and federal authorities for their swift response and will continue to monitor the situation closely.”

What the media, in general, is leaving out is the fact that the New Hampshire alert was a complete fake with nothing behind it, and the “powder” in the Denver office was, at best, a “few grains” and turned out not to be anything but dust, probably. But the media continues to play this story as if it were a legitimate scare, and not a hoax perpetrated by the McCain campaign, using law enforcement illegitimately and probably illegally in an attempt to control the news cycle.

They really went too far in faking this, creating major inconveniences not just to their staff, but to rescue personnel:

Four members of McCain’s staff admitted themselves to a nearby hospital, and seven other staff members and four emergency personnel were quarantined as a precaution, Wiley said. He added that those in quarantine were likely to be released later in the evening.

Wasting public resources, derailing lives, scaring people… all to score a few political points. And it’s gonna work, too, because the media is playing along and no way anyone calls them on this.

You thought the Bush administration was corrupt, dangerous, and beneath contempt? Hold on to your hats, boys and girls–we’re just getting warmed up.

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McCain: There Should Only Be Partisan Reporting Which Supports ME

August 19th, 2008 4 comments

The latest nugget from the McCain campaign, after NBC reporter Andrea Mitchell does nothing but report objective facts:

In a letter to NBC News president Steve Capus, Davis said that the network’s “level of objectivity … has fallen so low that reporters are now giving voice to unsubstantiated, partisan claims in order to undercut John McCain.” He requested a meeting with Capus to discuss news standards and objectivity.

“We are concerned that your news division is following MSNBC’s lead in abandoning nonpartisan coverage of the presidential race,” Davis wrote.

So, I suppose that the McCain campaign has held Fox News’ feet to the fire, then? No? Gee, I wonder why not.

MSNBC, which features partisan shows on both sides of the spectrum, even at its worst still cannot compete with Fox in sheer depth and volume of partisan “reporting.” To claim NBC News is even close to either one in terms of being partisan, much less partisan against McCain, is pretty absurd. Mitchell just said that “McCain may not have been in the cone of silence and may have had some ability to overhear what the questions were to Obama,” a statement which was 100% correct, and deserved to be noted.

The McCain campaign is now demanding that NBC execs meet with them so McCain’s people can browbeat them in person and dictate how they report the news. Of course, this request has almost no chance of being honored and McCain’s people know this, just as they surely must know that their accusations are completely ludicrous. The entire idea behind this line of attack is purely a “working the refs” tactic, painting the media as being anti-McCain (when the opposite is true) so McCain looks better. If they can trick the public into believing this, then whenever people hear a story about McCain which is not good, they’ll believe it’s not true; when they hear a story which is good, they’ll believe that it’s actually better. This is nothing new, it’s the whole strategy behind the “liberal media” uber-lie. It would be laughable if only it were not working so well.

A Noun, a Verb, and John McCain Was a POW

August 19th, 2008 2 comments

This is just getting ridiculous. From the campaign of John “I’m Too Humble Ever to Mention My War Hero Status” McCain:

The New York Times’s Elizabeth Bumiller got a hold of McCain spokeswoman Nicolle Wallace who took umbrage at the charge. “The insinuation from the Obama campaign that John McCain, a former prisoner of war, cheated is outrageous,” Ms. Wallace said.

Yeah, because it would be physically impossible for a former prisoner of war to ever cheat. Just ask McCain’s first wife.

But really, how blatant can you be about injecting McCain’s military service into every single public statement? How much of a non-sequitur does it have to be before people start laughing?

What was being discussed was the fact that John McCain broke his word (I guess former prisoners of war can do that). The venue was an evangelical church where both candidates would be interviewed separately by a pastor. McCain and Obama were supposed to arrive before the event started, and the second to be interviewed would be put in a room where he could not hear the questions; John McCain promised to honor that deal–but he broke his word. McCain sauntered in well after Obama’s turn had started, and had the opportunity to listen to what at least some of the questions would be, and how Obama answered them.

That was a violation of honor right there; Obama went first in the debate and took the questions cold; McCain, who was supposed to be in a “cone of silence” (the “moderator” announced such on the air) was in his car at the time, where he could have easily been prepped–and even got dishonest credit on the air for doing so. When he arrived:

Warren told CNN Sunday evening, “we flat out asked him” if he heard any of the questions. The McCain campaign “confirmed that McCain did not hear or see any of the broadcast” in the motorcade or after he arrived.

Even if McCain wasn’t lying, the way the question was worded would have allowed his staff to hear the questions and prep him on how to answer without “telling” him what the questions were. There are just so many ways McCain could have been dishonorable in this situation. The fact that he was supposed to be sequestered was an expression of how he was supposed to prove that; he failed to do so.

But hey, McCain is just a guy who will lie his ass off, pander to voters, make racist innuendo, break promises, run a massively negative campaign (another one of those broken promises), break the law, flip-flop on any issue he thinks he’ll gain votes from, cheat on his wife… but he would never cheat in a debate because he was a prisoner of war.

You know, I think it’s getting close to the point where McCain is milking this P.O.W. thing so much that it’s time to stop being gentlemanly and start looking closely at the details of his military service and his actions while a prisoner of war; fair is fair–if McCain were to leave it in the background, then no matter how much anyone else brought it up, it would be honorable to leave it alone. But if McCain drags it out in every other utterance (he mentioned it several times himself during the event), then it’s no longer sacred ground, but fair game to question.

Categories: McCain Hall of Shame Tags:

If Only They Had Lockjaw

August 16th, 2008 Comments off

A recent McCain campaign quote:

In the Senate, Barack Obama has voted in lockstep with President George W. Bush nearly half the time.

That’s right! Every single vote by Barack Obama was with President Bush, except for most of them! While John McCain voted out of lockstep with President Bush a whopping 5% of the time!

I swear to god, you can’t make this crap up.

Now, THIS Is Swift-Boating

August 16th, 2008 1 comment

When Bob Schieffer hailed John McCain as a man of character because he was shot down over Vietnam, Wesley Clark (after having spent a few minutes praising McCain as a “hero”) said that that did not qualify McCain for president; that was without a doubt not swift-boating, no matter what the wingnuts want to claim.

The latest book by noted sleaze merchant James Corsi, however, is the epitome of swift-boating–not because it was by a former associate of Obama’s who claimed to know him. a usual key ingredient in the definition. It is swift-boating because the author of the book is the original swift-boater himself, and the book carries the signature quality of being jam-packed with errors, innuendo, and mostly bald-faced lies. This time, not even the media will give this book any credibility, but that won’t stop the Republicans from trying to float a “popular” campaign based on it.

The book will premier as #1 on the New York Times best-seller list (one can only assume the editors had to swallow hard when labeling it as “non-fiction”), but not because people are buying it–rather because right-wing organizations are buying it in bulk quantities likely for no better reason than to artificially put it on the “best-seller” list and so inflate the book’s cache with the mindlessly-inclined. McCain’s quip on the book: “You gotta keep your sense of humor.” Yeah, right–like he’d react better if a book of the same caliber on him came out. Maybe he’d like to comment on this YouTube commercial–slimy, even though factually accurate.

This is the essence of the conservative run for the presidency: don’t just lie, but lie about the lies. Yet another reason not to vote Republican–unless you would like this kind of thing to define your personal politics.

Obama’s So Presumptuous to Be Acting Like He’s President, When I’m the Real President Here!

August 14th, 2008 2 comments

After complaining that Obama was “presumptuous” (read: “uppity”) simply to be giving a speech in Berlin, saying that Obama was acting like he was already president, McCain is now acting as if he’s president in terms of his claims and actions in the Georgia crisis, saying that he talks daily with Georgia’s leader, and sending his top surrogates over there to act like McCain White House officials handling the situation. But he’s not being presumptuous! No sirree. He’s just being massively hypocritical, that’s all.

Or maybe he’s just trying as hard as he can to divert attention away from the fact that a top McCain campaign (his chief foreign policy advisor) official is a paid lobbyist for the Georgian government. Tell me, is there any McCain campaign official who is not still currently a paid lobbyist for some party of interest in currently relevant affairs? And when exactly will the media start reporting on this? How many crises have to come up where McCain’s campaign officials are knee-deep in monied conflicts of interest before the press thinks it’s worthwhile reporting that John “Campaign Finance Reform” McCain is neck-deep in lobbyists? Or, for that matter, that McCain is channelling neocon foreign policy?

Sorry, for a second there I was under the impression that the U.S. media had some chance of covering the election with even a pretense of objectivity. My mistake.

The Surge: Why Not See It As It Is?

August 12th, 2008 1 comment

Kevin Drum quotes a general:

The surge did not create the first of the tribal “awakenings,” but it was the catalyst for their expansion and eventual success. The tribal revolt took off after the arrival of reinforcements and as U.S. and Iraqi units fought to make the Iraqi people secure.

Drum then ponders, “I’m not sure why surge supporters seem averse to making this argument directly.” I know why: if the surge were portrayed accurately, then McCain and Bush could not be given credit as smart, forward-thinking planners. That’s their entire angle on the surge: “we were right!”

Only they weren’t. At the time, the surge was a bad idea; had it not been for the fortuitous tribal awakenings and the Mahdi Army cease-fire, the surge would have resulted in very little gain, and maybe would have had a negative effect. But McCain and Bush lucked out–events on the ground which were totally beyond their control made the surge into something that brought a more positive outcome (the true depth and permanence of the positives are still far from a certainty).

This is not the image that McCain wants to project, however–he wants to be the able commander, not Homer Simpson. So the history gets re-written, where McCain takes credit for the awakening, even if he has to completely re-write the definition of what a “surge” is.

IOKIYAR, Yet Again

August 6th, 2008 Comments off

In case you were still not decided on who is getting better breaks from the media, well, aside from the fact that you should really be paying closer attention, all you have to do is look at this story. McCain, drawn in to the “Buffalo Chip’s annual Tribute to American Veterans and Active Duty Servicemen” without (presumably) knowing the activities they usually hold, volunteered his wife Cindy for their “beauty contest”:

I was looking at the Sturgis schedule, and noticed that you had a beauty pageant, so I encouraged Cindy to compete. I told her [that] with a little luck, she could be the only woman to serve as both the First Lady and Miss Buffalo Chip.

The problem: the “Miss Buffalo Chip” contest is topless, and occasionally, bottomless as well.

So far, according to Google News, this story has only been mentioned in a few news blogs, but not any main sites (though ABC is currently offering the link to its blog story on the contest on its front news page). The LA Times mentions the incident deep in a story, but did not pick up on the nature of the contest. As I and others have pointed out many times before, there is an obvious disparity here: if Obama had done this–offered up Michelle for a nude contest, no matter that it was unknowingly–we’d be seeing is slathered all over the media, 24/7, for quite some time, with questions of appropriateness sprayed at Michelle and no end to the jokes.

But if you think that’s too frivolous (hey, that’s mostly what the news media does nowadays, frivolous), then how about energy plans? The media has jumped all over Obama for “shifting” his energy policy, even though he clearly stated from the start that he maintained his policy but, with the emergence of a new plan offered in Congress, would accept compromises including drilling if it meant achieving the important goals. Which is what you’re supposed to do as a good politician and leader–accept compromises in order to get the job done.

Why is this an example of media bias? Well, the media had no such rush to judgment about John McCain when, in late June, he made offshore drilling a centerpiece of his campaign and a cudgel with which to beat Obama over the head. They should have, because just a month before, in late May, McCain was still fully opposed to offshore drilling (a stance he has held for many years), saying:

With [offshore drilling], which would take years to develop, you would only postpone or temporarily relieve our dependency on fossil fuels. We are going to have to go to alternative energy. [Audio here]

But today?

And I noticed that it’s confusing now the information from Senator Obama as to whether he actually supports offshore drilling or not. The fact is, we have to drill here, and we have to drill now, and we have to drill immediately. And it has to be done as quickly as possible. And I believe that it’s vital that we move forward with that, regardless of what we do on other energy issues.

So, we have McCain doing a complete, unabashed 180-degree turn within a month, and the media barely blinks; but Obama saying that his position is unchanged but he’d be willing to compromise to get the job done, and he’s “shifting.”

The topless contest and the oil drilling are just two examples of what has been a few months of non-stop examples of absolute bias in reporting–hell, more than just a few months. Remember when John McCain broke the law? Not a peep out of the media, even though he is still in constant violation of federal law with every dollar he spends. But when Obama made the completely legal move of opting out of public financing? There was a media storm over the issue.

Just browse the news from each week over the past several months, and you’ll see a multitude of other examples of bias in reporting, from the media’s failure to cover McCain’s dozens of outrageous and sometimes sudden flip-flops and flip-flop-flips and double-triple somersaults, while immediately jumping on Obama for even minor revisions in policy. Or examples like months of non-stop replaying of the “God Damn America” clip while ignoring statements made by preachers McCain desperately sought out to receive endorsements of–or how about the “liberal” CBS “accidentally” re-editing a McCain interview, cutting a massively embarrassing gaffe which they should have highlighted as a major “get,” and splicing in clips from two other answers to make it seem like McCain didn’t gaffe?

Print this out, along with the associated links. The next time anyone within earshot even questions who the media is favoring, just unpocket the printout and hand it to them, shaking your head slowly and sadly.

Bizarro Week

August 5th, 2008 2 comments

I have to admit, the latest public reactions to Obama and McCain are truly mystifying to me. Yes, I know, probably due to my clear bias, but nonetheless, there seems to be a lot more to it than just that.

A week ago, we had Obama make a truly impressive overseas trip, showing his foreign policy weight. The Iraqi president virtually endorsed Obama, saying his 16-month withdrawal program was what Iraq wanted. Obama pulled off all points of the trip virtually flawlessly, winding up (mostly) with a big rally in Berlin, a great speech setting the perfect tone, with Berliners waving U.S. flags, signaling a potential new wave of U.S. popularity and influence under an Obama administration. This should have helped Obama greatly due to foreign policy and Iraq supposedly being his weak points. It helped that during the same time, Bush, and then startlingly, McCain, adopted Obama policies for Afghanistan and Iraq.

At the same time, McCain performed pathetically. Stuck in supermarket aisles dealing with tin can collapses, speaking in front of lots of cheese or alternately at the Fudge Haus after a hurricane blew off his hopes for a helicopter landing on an oil platform (to demonstrate how hurricanes don’t affect oil platforms), McCain was tripping and stumbling throughout the week. And then he started a blisteringly negative string of ads, most of which were not only demonstrably false, but which the media surprisingly tagged as such.

So what are the polling results after that week or two? Obama pretty much steady, but McCain gained a few points. Polling aggregates from Real Clear and Pollster.

What the hell? Are Americans stupid? Sorry to be so blunt, but this should have been a week or two where the doubts about Obama started melting away while doubts about McCain intensified. Usually negative ad campaigns drag both candidates down. But instead, Americans ignored Obama’s impressive performance and rewarded McCain for being a nasty-mannered liar.

It’s gonna be a long three months….

Categories: Election 2008, McCain Hall of Shame Tags:

Going Rovian

August 1st, 2008 Comments off

Back when I was posting in public forums on social and political issues, a right-winger played a little trolling game. He started a new topic and made a declaration which, after all this time, I cannot even remember, but it was some rather lame right-wing assertion; he said that he wanted to see how long it would take for a liberal to come around and “whine” about it.

No question about it, I should have stayed away; taken by itself, the posting was obnoxious and should have been ignored. The poster in question, however, was someone we interacted with a lot–it was along the lines of someone you’d worked with for a while doing the same thing. You would not fall into the specific trap, but you might say, “hey, you’re being an ass, you know that?” Which is what I did; I posted saying that I would not comment on his assertion, but the “game” itself was inane.

That, of course, was enough, and the guy started doing a virtual-online victory dance. Within hours, the moderator deleted the offending posts and must have come down hard on the guy, as he emailed me privately and apologized–something he clearly would not have done on his own.

I mention this because I was reminded of the episode when reading about the McCain campaign’s latest attack tactic. He creates an ad in which Barack Obama is shown in sequence with two “sexually available white women” frequently perceived as vacuous attention-seekers. While this could just barely within the bounds of credibility be explained away as interposing Obama with “top celebrities,” almost no one missed the racial and sexual innuendo.

Obama replied, somewhat obliquely, that McCain was trying to scare voters, making fun of his name and that he “doesn’t look like all the presidents on the dollar bills.”

McCain’s campaign immediately accused Obama of “playing the race card.”

That’s right, all you have to do is make a poorly-concealed stab with racial and sexual innuendo just barely deniable enough, wait for your opponent to respond in any way whatsoever, then accuse him of bringing the whole thing up. Similar in nature to that wingnut on the public forum I frequented, but a lot slicker, of course–and the media is not as honest as the moderator of that forum was.

Anyone else here see the Hand of Rove at work?

So, if Obama played a commercial calling McCain a “kidder” showing McCain along with images of George Burns and Bob Hope (in photos where both were around 100 years old), and McCain inevitably made a reference to age, could Obama then accuse McCain of “playing the age card”? And how would conservatives respond to that?

Categories: Election 2008, McCain Hall of Shame Tags:

That Should have been Tiger, Oprah, and Obama

August 1st, 2008 1 comment

Via Andrew Sullivan, John Riley makes an excellent point:

We just got off a conference call with Camp McCain, defending their new ad comparing Barack Obama to Paris Hilton and Britney Spears.

They said they thought the ad was legitimate because Obama is a big celebrity (which happens to be what John McCain was, too, when he came home from Vietnam and started to build his political career), and Britney and Paris were Number 2 and 3.

The problem: Anyone with even a vague sense of pop culture knows that Britney and Paris are yesterday’s news. Here’s a link to Forbes’ Celebrity 100. Paris and Britney don’t even make the list any more.

Instead, the top 10, in order: Oprah Winfrey, Tiger Woods, Angelina Jolie, Beyonce Knowles, David Beckham, Johnny Depp, Jay-Z, The Police, JK Rowling, Brad Pitt.

So, they didn’t pick other big celebrities, who were either men, or black, or married.

What they picked was two sexually available white women.

But it must have been a coincidence, because we know John McCain wants to run an elevated campaign focusing on the serious issues that America faces.

The most charitable one could be would be to say that McCain’s people wanted to convey the idea that Obama was just as silly, simple, and vacuous as Britney and Paris. But it’s kind of hard to ignore the subtext–either these people were simply incompetent, or they fully realized that Britney and Paris don’t top the list and would contrast disturbingly to many “values-sensitive” Americans in a racial/sexual sense. But to point out Oprah and Tiger Woods along with Obama would have elevated him in public opinion, not slimed him. One can only guess that these clever attack dogs felt they could slip in a twofer.

Categories: Election 2008, McCain Hall of Shame Tags: