April 27, 2008

Exhibit A

Just as a follow up to the post below, here's an example of how the "serious" press is treating the manufactured "outrage" over Rev. Jeremiah Wright and the sound bites of a couple of his sermons.

This is an excerpt from the Tim Russert show aired yesterday with guests Howard Fineman, editor of Newsweek Magazine, and Mike Allen of the political blog "Politico"

Fineman discusses his new book about the 13 ideas that shaped America and mentions one of them, the explicit desire to separate church and state, and that there be no state religion, etc. This was to get away from the top down power structure where the church and/or royalty ruled absolutely. Fineman noted that our country has always enjoyed a, "wonderful, colorful marketplace of faiths, a free market of faiths" and goes on directly,
FINEMAN: The challenge to politicians is to show their sensitivity to, if not their devotion to, their sensitivity to faith, without seeming to be intolerant of other people's faiths.

That's the line you have to walk. And the problem with somebody like Jeremiah Wright, however much good the Trinity United Church of Christ has done on the south side of Chicago, you play these videos of him and he can sound intolerant, it's not a message of tolerance, and therefore it runs counter to everything Obama is claiming to stand for in the campaign and it's that contrast that's caused problems for Obama and I think will pose problems down the road.

OK, let's take a look. First of all, can anyone tell me where or how anything Wright said from the pulpit, even the out of context sound bites, suggested ANY sort of religious "intolerance"? Can anyone point out for us just where he said or expressed anything which remotely suggests an intolerance of other religions?

So where is Fineman getting this idea from? Who knows? But he's just implanted in millions of voters minds that Rev. Wright preaches religious intolerance. Neat trick, eh?

I'd note that the pastor whose endorsement and support John McCain actively sought and still appreciates HAS made statements repeatedly which express BLATANT intolerance for other faiths, up to and including describing the Catholic church as, The Great Whore".

Yet Fineman and the rest apparently don't have a problem there, and it's not even discussed.

Fineman also gives a nod to reality but then casually brushes it aside, saying that it doesn't matter how much good Wright and his church have done for decades in helping those in prison and the poor and giving people work training and endless good works. That doesn't matter.

What does matter? "..you play those videos of him and he can sound intolerant..."

From sound bites of a few seconds, he can "sound" intolerant, according to Fineman, so that's all that matters. Does Fineman do anything to clarify the situation or suggest that it's dishonest and unfair to use such clips to characterize the guy? Hell no. He simply explains how the tactic is going to be played.

Next Russert asked,
RUSSERT: It is interesting, stories about Wright have been in print for some time, but it was that video, Mike Allen, that captured the attention of the media, but also the public.

He admits that rational stories, stories that didn't hyperventilate and inflate the story nor make the fantastic leap of trying to insinuate that Obama must think exactly the same as Wright, have been in print for quite a while, but it was only the little snippets of a few sermons that finally got the press to go along with the right wing smear campaign. He admits it clearly.

Allen responded:
So true! And to some degree we were caught napping on the Wright story because everybody knew about this crazy pastor, people knew about the problems, every time Wright would give a speech somewhere, the RNC would try and get us to link to a story about whatever latest crazy thing he'd said. But the videos made the difference, and Tim you're talking about faith being interwoven, faith is very much a proxy for how we feel about these candidates.

I know a lot of people, including evangelicals, home-schoolers, who said we should probably give him a chance. "Obamacans" [Republicans who support Obama] are very real, or were very real, but as soon as they have these questions about Rev. Wright, they said no, we're not gonna take a chance, and that was why these comments from San Francisco, including one that was taken as being, ahhh, disparaging of people of faith was so damaging. Because the very people who were antagonized by Wright, and then were maybe ready to give him the benefit of the doubt after the "race speech" said we don't trust him on this issue.

What a slice Allen's remarks are. Lot's of truth hidden in there.

First of all it's the utterance of a supposed reporter who's just been completely sucked into supporting and trying to legitimize Republican spin. He's practically reading off one of their scripts.

Here's the evidence: First, he comes up with the idea that the press was "caught napping" on this.

No, they weren't. As is noted, there were plenty of stories about Wright out there by responsible reporters. It was a small issue, because it was being treated rationally without right wing spin. The guy may have said some things people would consider controversial, but it wasn't that big a deal, after all, it was Obama's pastor, not Obama himself, and it would be dishonest to try to suggest that Obama must therefore support and believe exactly as Wright does on every word he utters.

So the story stayed in it's proper context, it's rational and sane proportion.

But then they issued the sound bites, the press went nuts because they don't care about reporting, but something you can SHOW on TV they absolutely love. (they won't bother reporting on a fire or wreck, etc. if there's no video.) So the clips were just what was needed to get the press to essentially run them on an endless loop for a week straight, guaranteeing that every rube with a tee-vee saw and heard the out of context and inflammatory remarks.

Gee, these top reporters say now, we missed the boat. How come we didn't realize just how inflammatory this story was? Well, because it WASN'T inflammatory, and still shouldn't be, were it not for selectively chosen snippets selected ONLY for the fact that they'd inflame people.

After non stop airing of these clips, now these knuckle-heads marvel that people are so upset about it and intone about what a problem it is for Obama. Do they acknowledge that any time you take clips out of context and broadcast them around the clock that it might tend to inflate the story? Nah... they don't notice that fact.

Then the truth comes out: Allen tells us all just what happened and why they're now "on the boat". It's because the Republican National Committee was harassing the hell out of them trying to get them to push the story of Wright as madman by getting them to link to stories that they'd planted themselves to distort and play on people's racial fears.

Allen describes Rev. Wright as a "crazy pastor" without blinking an eye, and refers to, "whatever the latest crazy thing he said" without the slightest attention to what "crazy thing" Wright said, much less what exactly made it "crazy". He just goes along with the RNC spin knowing that he'll never be called on it, certainly not other pundits.

Then to be more helpful to those from whom he's feeling so much heat, he offers his spin suggesting that those who were drawn to Obama are now turning away because ... well, just because the clips were played so often I guess.

Why would this be true? The clips themselves would certainly cause people to wonder. But I'm not sure the clips alone were enough.

That's why when they emerged, there was wall-to-wall right wingers out there to TELL these people what they should take it as, and to TELL them exactly what scary things Rev. Wright believes and stands for. Based on the absolute thinnest of evidence, they said that these clips showed a guy who was a radical black crazy person who thundered that blacks are superior to whites and ominously said he preached "black liberation theology", which to the ignorant obviously suggested that the blacks might somehow revolt, the deepest fear of all ignorant whites.

So now these lazy "journalists" sit on tv getting paid millions, and don't spend a second's time explaining any of this so that people might have a truer idea of what's being discussed. Nope. Not a second. Rather they sit there as if they themselves have fallen for it all and opine about just how much damage it's going to do to Obama.

Of course, if they'd do their jobs and provide more actual information and background about Wright and his statements, then people could actually base their opinions on FACT and reality rather than right wing spin.

But they're not about to do that, evidently. Too complicated, too much work. And besides, this keeps the pot boiling and provides the conflict they thrive on. Never mind that they're directly helping to ensure that the most important decision citizens make is going to be largely based on trivial non-sense and distorted appeals to people's irrational fears.

April 26, 2008

The outrage is the ignorance

I've been nauseated by the recent spate of pundit eruptions in full righteous indignation over the fact that Rev. Jerimiah Wright actually had the NERVE, the GALL to actually accept an interview request from one of the few "real" journalists left in existence.

Chris Matthews, Pat Buchannon, and Tucker Carlson were apoplectic with sputtering disbelief that someone such as Wright, who's had his words and his message utterly twisted beyond recognition by the likes of these people, would DARE to even remind us that he still exists.

They spluttered and fell over themselves in sheer amazement that Wright would do such a thing as answer questions in his own words. Why it was nearly fatal to Obama, was a horrible thing for him to do to Obama, really, really bad. How dare he? How dare someone that folks like Carlson have decreed to be a completely insane lunatic have the nerve to come on TV and actually show people what he's really like? Why who does he think he IS??!!!

These morons in the press, content to utter their condemnations and judgements based on absolutely ZERO knowledge about Wright, his life, his ministry, his church, or most importantly, without ANY context whatsoever, have taken 10 second sound bites of what the Republicans felt would be the most incendiary bits of sermons, and pronounced him to be some crazy radical or worse, certifiably insane and worthy of being shoved into obscurity forever branded as such.

Why are they now so furious at the good Reverend? Well, they didn't like the short SOUND BITES of the Moyer's interview. They listened for all of a few seconds, then Matthews pronounced that he was trying to blame Obama for the mess, blah, blah, blah.

They were outraged. Why? Because they'd buried Rev. Wright, tarred him as some boogie-man evil-doer, and Wright didn't have the decency to STAY BURIED. The NERVE!!

They'd all piled on to shame him, and the guy didn't stay shamed. This drives them nuts when someone doesn't play their game.

I watched the entire interview last night and if any of these boobs would have bothered to do so themselves, I'm not sure they could sit there and continually demean and dismiss this guy. (well, Carlson probably could. Facts or simple honesty has never been an impediment to him in the past.)

If you didn't see the interview, you owe yourself to watch it. Particularly those out there who are prone to try to pretend that Wright is a huge issue in the election.

Watch the interview, then judge whether Obama should be branded as some sort of dangerous radical because of his association with Wright.

The entire Wright episode is disgusting in it's attempt to ignore reality, it's blatant appeal to dumb racial fear, it's playing Americans as idiots, and the willingness of so many in the press to do their best to perpetuate it.

The outrage expended on trying to paint Wright as some radical loon is wasted when it should be more properly directed towards those on the right and those in the press who gleefully abandon any pretense of actually helping the public sort out the issue, and only help spread such non-sense. Once you really look into it, it's high school level stuff at best. But that's what the press does best.

To believe that Wright is some dangerous kook, and that Obama must be suspect too by association, is to willfully agree to be an idiot.

Wright is by no means a radical. He's by no means that outside anyone's idea of conventional Christianity, unless by Christianity you mean the type practiced by most Republicans and others who go to church, think that makes them fine Christian types, and then go out and act like jackals for the rest of the week, supporting policies that kill innocent people and deny help to those in need.

Wright made the point that, to him, he believed that the church was divorced from reality in the sense that people go to church and it's a fantasy world where none of the unpleasant topics, the REAL world, in other words, every intrudes. You read the bulletin and it's all sweetness and light. Unpleasant topics are taboo.

He believes that the mission of a church is to bring the word of God and make it relevant to the people who attend, people who happen to live in the real world and deal with very unpleasant realities every day.

So yes he brings up topics that others find controversial. He doesn't think that holding our common government to task for past sins or attempting to prevent further sins is somehow worthy of condemnation. And neither do I.

He mentioned repeatedly that governments change, governments lie, and governments kill innocent people. He beleives that's why it's a very dangerous situation when people seem to think the government is infallable and that anyone who dares criticize them or speak the truth about them should be attacked and denigrated and destroyed.

Yet that's the entire premise of this campaign by the right to attempt to smear by association Barack Obama.

To fall for it means that you have to make your decisions and form your opinions out of near total ignorance and fear, period.

Ignorance of who Rev. Wright is and what he actually stands for and is attempting to accomplish, ignorance of what the black church is all about, where they come from and why they focus on black issues, and fear.... fear of black people in general, that allows people to somehow consider any black preacher a threat simply by hearing him raise his voice.

An absurdity illustrated when John Stewart on his show asked Obama a question revealing the irrational fear the right gleefully exploits, "If you're elected president Sen. Obama, are you planning to enslave the white race?"

Those Republicans trying to exploit the sound bites of Wright and from them spinning a tale worlds away from reality, and those who willfully pretend as if it's a valid issue, including those in the press who should know better, are all treating us, all of us, as if we are IDIOTS.

It's not worth their time apparently to bother to look into something that's been hyped beyond measure. Not worth any investigation. Reporters actually looked through Wright's church bulletin and called names from the list of ill and shut-ins, including a woman in a hospice, and harrassed them for stories. There have also been multiple death threats made against Wright, the current pastor of the church, and threats to fire-bomb the church. Nice people those Republicans.

All of this based on sheer ignorance and a few sound clips taken out of context.

And no one in the press apparently thinks it's worth looking further. The reason is that Wright talks about things that the major press have studiously avoided.

America never does any wrong. Never does anything for other than the purest of motives. Our leaders never lie, and we should never mention the slaughter of indians, interment of Japanese during WWII, slaughter of innocent Japanese, Germans, Koreans, Vietnamese, Philipinos, and innocents in Granada and Panama, and certainly not the hundreds of thousands of INNOCENT men, women, and children slaughtered in Iraq and Afghanistan.

And worse yet, more insane, is the fact that anyone such as Wright who actually speaks about these things is immediately smeared and condemened as some loon.

Why are we so terrified of facing up to what our government has done in our names, and with our money? Are we a nation in the throes of deep, pathological denial?

(The government recently prevented the press from covering a funeral at Arlington Cemetary of a decorated war hero, even when the family requested that the press be there, demanding that the press stay so far away from the services that it was impossible to hear anything. Of course it's also forbidden to photograph any flag-draped coffins arriving at Dover Air Force Base as well.)

All Wright is saying to his flock is that we should not ignore the immoral actions of our own government. Wright wants our government to act in a moral way in keeping with Christianity. Apparently this notion is far too "radical" and is clearly the dangerous agenda of a madman, as many in the press have openly called Wright.

But Wright speaks better for himself. Go watch the interview here. You'll actually be able to listen to the sermons from which the infamous tiny sound bites were taken, (out of context), and get to see what he was actually talking about, what his message actually WAS. (what a radical concept.) Go on, it won't take that long, and it won't kill you.

And it will make you better informed, (that is unless you're the type who really WANTS to stay ignorant for political purposes).

Maybe it won't change your impression of Wright, who knows? But at least you'll know more about what you're talking about. It might even make you realize that this entire right wing smear effort is nothing but an effort to fan a big nothing into a big something with a ju-jitsu move thrown in to the middle where you're supposed to somehow believe Wright and Obama are the same person, all designed to prey on ignorant people's fears. Don't be ignorant. Watch, and more importantly, listen.

April 23, 2008

John Ashcroft speaks in Galesburg

... last night at Knox College, and got a rather frosty reception.

April 22, 2008

In the interest of fairness....

I've highlighted dozens of instances of rock-ribbed "Godly" Republicans getting exposed as perverts, sexual predators, pedophiles, and generally just stunning hypocrites. It clearly shows that the party seems to attract more than its share of those outwardly supressing some decidedly kinky and unusual sexual proclivities.

There's so many of them popping up on a regular basis that of course, I haven't been able to mention them all, but in the interest of being "fair and balanced", I thought I'd highlight a case where a Republican figure, in this case a county commissioner in Pennsyvania, was obviously falsely accused and vindicated.

Watch the story here.

Drumroll please

Well, once again, it's game day for citizens and political junkies in America.

After enduring such an excruciatingly long build-up to this event, (actually not long at all, but when a presidential campaign being treated like a reality series, people don't know what to do if it's not on a regular schedule) today will be another round of 24 hour hype, hot air, and Pennsylvania Primary prognostication, prediction, punditry and palaver.

Drama will be manufactured, and some actual real drama may ensue.

The time for the expectations spin is nearly over (though it will no doubt go on until the returns are in and then crank up again in earnest after the results are known.)

The (rather dumb and unknowable) question on every pundits lips was, just how much of a margin of presumed victory will be enough to give Clinton a legitimate right to argue that she's actually a viable choice as Democratic nominee?

In other words, what's the cut off line below which everyone will demand she get the hell out of the way?

Of course, this is like trying to determine EXACTLY what the correct price to pay for, say, a 10 year old Porshe 911 or a used motor home.

It can't be done. It's whatever people say it is. It's in the eye of the beholder.

Which is why you're going to hear such a spin storm tomorrow night and Wednesday that it will make your head cave in.

Unless Hillary wins by about 15% or more, the frantic spinning begins.

The pundits seem to demand that some fixed percentage be chiseled in stone so that Hilary will have to drop out if she doesn't achieve it. This is typical of their rather pompous belief that it's they who set the rules and determine the outcome of races.

First Hilary had to win by at least 10 points. Then her camp started dialing back in the face of polls showing Obama narrowing the gap. Now some say if she wins by 8, it will be enough to make her legit and allow her to stay in the race. (like she'll ever drop out.)

Some of her surrogates were out dropping it to 5% yesterday.

But let's face it, Hillary isn't going to drop out unless Obama beats her by 30%, and maybe not even then. As John Stewart asked Obama during his appearance on The Daily Show last night, what does he intend to do if he wins the nomination, then goes on to win the presidency in November, and after his inauguration, Hillary is still campaigning?

But seriously folks. Tomorrow will be a turning point. But that turning point may turn out to be one that changes next to nothing.

The pundit corp and campaigns are chomping at the bit to try to determine what determines who wins and who loses. The press demands it. It simply can't result in another muddled essentially deadlocked result that changes nothing.

They're getting tired and cranky and damn it, they want this over with.

I'm with them. I'd like nothing better than if Obama actually wins the damn thing and essentially forces Clinton out of the race, if for no other reason than to get the thing over with and get on with the reconciliation and pivot to face the real opponent, John McCain.

I don't believe either Obama or Clinton are vastly superior than the other. I favor Obama, largely due to what I consider Clinton's pretty disgusting campaign in the last several weeks. It's as though she simply gave up on pretending to represent any real change and just came out and acted like what she is, a calculating politician who's absolutely steeped in, and therefore locked into, the "old", typical type of politicking and campaigning that people are beyond sick of.

The sleazy innuendos, the dishonest attempts to take every silly-ass tid-bit they can dig up and spin it into evidence of some dire and serious character flaw in Obama. In other words, the "kitchen sink" strategy is, for me, doing a terrific job of showing exactly why a vote for Clinton is a vote for someone who will continue to play the game, giving us the impression of change, but precious little of it.

Obama may or may not be able to institute real change. But it's clear that at least he's not a fraction as cynical and calculating as Clinton.

But I digress.

I want to invite you to share YOUR prediction for how this will come out.

First, who's going to win. (Odds on favorite of course is Clinton)

Secondly, just what margin of victory does Clinton need to be able to credibly argue that she still has a chance at the nomination... in other words, that the super-delegates should choose her in the end?

And bonus question. How much is there to the Clinton argument that the super-delegates should anoint her the nominee because she does better in crucial rust-belt states that the Dems must carry in the general? And would that rationale justify super-delegates selecting Clinton over Obama even if he emerged with more of the popular vote, more elected delegates, and more contests won?

And bonus bonus speculation......

What will happen if Clinton is chosen as nominee solely by super-delegates despite Obama having gotten more votes, more pledged delegates, and won more contests?

Will Dems revolt and simply refuse to vote for her, or vote for McCain? Or will sanity prevail and they'll pull the lever for Clinton realizing that the country couldn't endure another Republican administration?

I suppose I ought to throw out my prediction. Clinton by 6%

Argument that Clinton should be nominee due to her being stronger in general, despite losing popular vote? Too tough to call. Glad I'm not a super-delegate.

What will happen if Clinton looses most measures but is picked by super-delegates as nominee?

Makes it VERY tough for Dems in November. Despite it being nearly insane, many Dems may sit it out or actually vote for McCain if this comes to pass, thus playing an active part in putting this country through four more years of Republican mis-rule and disasterous foreign and economic policy.

Pre-primary yuks

Caught a very funny comedian on the tube last night. I wanted to catch it because I very much like his work on "The Daily Show" where he's a contributing "correspondent" and consistently hilarious.

The guy's name is John Oliver, a British comic who has a great ability to take the horrors of the Bush era and make them hilarious, a not inconsiderably feat.

Some highlights of his "Terrifying Times" special on Comedy Central.

On watching Bush speak: He actually tries to watch Bush give speeches, but it once caused him to try to use the tuning slide from a trombone to shoot himself in the neck with a poison dart.

On Fox News: You get the impression that you could walk up to any reporter on Fox News, grab him by the shoulders and shake the hell out of him and demand that they perform their jobs worse, and they'd look at you and ask, "How?"

You could go to Fox News headquarters in whatever volcano it's currently located, walk up to the first person you saw and punch them in the face and know that they deserved it.

On international economics:

Yale economics grad students have only one question on their final exam:

Kenya has 3 apples.

The U.S. wants the apples.

How many apples does Kenya have?

The answer is multiple choice, but all of them are "No apples."

On Bush's contribution to Mid-east peace:

Bush actually could have a great positive effect on the Mid-east. He could go to the Israelis and Palestinians, suggest what they might do, and they'd look at each other and say, "Well, let's not do THAT.", and they'd be on a point of agreement already.

On efforts by "Creation Science" proponents to put stickers on science books saying that evolution might not be true:

That's a great idea. Nothing wrong with that. And while they're at it, why not put stickers on the Bible saying, "This might all be bullshit."?

On the effects of hyper-commercialization and consumerism in America:

The fact that you can actually buy Oreo pizza is a sign that the terrorists were too late.

On Bush's "strategery" in Iraq: I call it the "wasp's nest" theory. You get stung by a wasp, so you then track down it's hive, and stand there beating it with a stick and getting stung nearly to death expecting to be able to kill every last wasp.

April 21, 2008


Anyone see Sen. McCain with Snuffleupagus on "This Weak"?

McCain whined like a schoolgirl, feigning shock, shock, SHOCK I tell you! over Obama's tissue thin relationship with a guy who used to be a radical when Obama was 8 years old.

McCain nearly soiled his adult undergarments whining in manufactured outrage that Obama would dare associate in any way, shape, or form with a man, "terrorist", as McCain so hysterically labeled him on several occasions, who had once been a member of a student radical group in the turbulent '60s, a man, McCain railed, who was actually.... UNREPENTANT!!!!!.... in other words, he's never apologized adequately and was even quoted as saying he only wish he'd done more during the time.

McCain was about to bust a heart valve over this. He must have been practicing his fake outrage lately because he was chewing the scenery better than Jim Carrey.

But after sputtering and trying to remember the way they told him to describe it, and falling short, he finally got to a point where he got even MORE outraged. Something that apparently pissed grandpa off to the point where he was about ready to spit his teeth at someone.

What absolutely frosted McSame's hide was that Obama had DARED to bring up the fine Republican Senator (and OB/GYN) Dr. Tom Coburn, one of the most whacked out anti-abortion zealots in congress.

Obama, rightly, had said that he works with, likes, and admires Coburn, but Coburn has publicly stated in the past that perhaps we should institute the death penalty on anyone who performs an abortion.

Pretty damn extreme in anyone's book.

Obama's point then, was asking if he was supposed to condemn Coburn then, for having expressed such a radical view, advocating death to someone for performing a legal surgical procedure?

Obama's point was that these sort of idiotic attacks presume that people should spend their lives officially denouncing and renouncing and whatever sort of 'nouncing the right demands, ANYONE who has EVER, even decades previously, said ANYTHING, which might be considered offensive in any way.

In other words, a completely insane demand, but done with a straight face over in Republican land.

McCain was apoplectic that Obama would dare do something like this, and went on with his scripted lines, describing Coburn in near reverent hushed tones as a "doctor", and someone who regularly goes to his home state of Oklahoma to deliver "babies!", for God's sake. (as if that alone proves his sainthood.) and Obama was completely trashing this "good man" and on and on and on.

By the time he was done, he had Coburn healing lepers while Obama took a dump on his head.

One word describes McCain's performance, shameless, stark, shocking, utter, jaw-dropping, shamelessness.

The mummy went ballistic on this for several minutes as Boy George attempted to get a word in edgewise.

He finally let McCain sputter to something resembling composure and then asked McCain about his SEEKING and enthusiastically ACCEPTING the direct endorsement of Rev. John Hagee, discussed here previously, who descibes the Catholic Church as, "The Great Whore", among other lunatic pronouncements too numerous to list.

Did McCain denounce Hagee for these extreme views? Does he agree with them?

Oh, of course not, McCain went on, suddenly knocked ass over teakettle off his high horse, and with that famous seething tenseness immediately returning to his face and voice. He sputtered on and made a complete and utter ass out of himself after Stephanopolis forced him to casually admit that accepting Hagee's endorsement was "probably" a mistake. But then amazingly he went on to inartfully explain why he wasn't going to reject Hagee's endorsement just because he might disagree with him on some issues, that he admires Hagee for his apocalyptic weirdo support of Israel (so the Jews can help end the world so Hagee can get to heaven while the Jews burn in hell, in Hagee's version of events.)

After making an ass out of himself, McCain typically turned and bristled at Stephanopolis with his trademark threatening tone thinly disguised with a fake chuckle, saying pointedly, "Thanks for the question.", no doubt followed by a string of unvoiced profanity.

McCain within the span of a couple minutes:

-Went completely bat-shit on Obama for some ridiculously manufactured association with a guy even Richard Daley calls a great citizen of Chicago, who did something bad when Obama was 8 years old, calling him a "terrorist" repeatedly.

- Admitted his direct solicitation of the endorsement of someone far more offensive to far more people than Ayers ever was or will be,

- Then used EXACTLY the same arguments to justify it, exactly the same arguments as to why it's unfair to try to tie him to Hagees views, as Obama has with his pastor and Ayers, and

- After admitting it was "probably" a mistake to go after and accept Hagee's endorsement, and admitting that Hagee's statements were offensive, went on to say he was "glad" to have the endorsement and that he admired Hagee, and when asked, said that even though Hagee condemns the entire Catholic religion, he still accepts his endorsement.

It's enough to make a sane person's head spin.

THIS is the guy they think is a "maverick"???!!! THIS is Mr. "Straight talk"???!!!

Amazingly there's a group that thinks we're stupid enough to swallow that.

This time I don't think we'll prove them right again.

And throughout the entire show, McCain did his creepy little menacing half-chuckle, punctuating every attack he made. It's sincerely creepy and beyond off-putting. ("My friend, I'm going to stick a knife in your neck, heh heh heh." Like Joe Pesci in "Goodfellas" when he scares the bejesus out of a guy by acting as though he's about to go off on him, then suddenly breaks into maniacal laughter as if it were all a joke.)

Well, ABC (probably wisely) doesn't provide transcripts of "This Week", but they did post a little blurb on McCain's amazing hypocritical double-gainer back flip-flop.

The transcript would have been much better, but you can watch the show online.(after sitting through a commercial, natch. And of note is that the top rated video on ABC's website is something about teens finding a large rodent. (Maybe the Republicans are right in assuming we're all shallow twits.)

Watch the thing if you can. His diatribe on Ayers is around 14:30 on the little counter at the bottom if you want to cut to the chase.

He has the right idea in attempting to find billions by cutting military spending that's currently wasteful and unnecessary. I'm also glad to hear him say he'd address the ENORMOUSLY expensive subsidy programs for big corporate farmers that no one ever seems to address. These programs amount to literally billions and billions of dollars, paying corporate farmers to keep the price of their crops artificially low and their profits artificially high. (where are all the free-market ideologues on that?)

McCain is also putting forward the unique, insane, and too-long unchallenged argument that we need tax cuts for the wealthy because the economy is going fine, or unless it's not, in which case, tax cuts for the wealthy is the solution for that too.

When Boy George raised the fact that McCain has had government health care for his entire life as son of a Naval officer and so on, McCain decided to evade it by making a funny. He said that there was a time when he didn't have government health care, because it was from another government, heh, heh, heh. (but seriously folks.) The line fell like a lead balloon.

Overall, it was just embarrassing.

I have occasional moments where I worry that McCain and the right might actually make it a close race with Clinton or more likely Obama.

This appearance wiped away any trace of doubt in my mind. If THIS is the guy they want to put against Obama.... bring it on.

My only hope is that they have a debate every other day during the campaign. By the time election day rolled around, the pundits would be wondering if McCain could carry his own family.

April 20, 2008

The last word on the Rev. Wright issue

Have a big problem with Obama's former pastor?

Watch this, then shut up.

Some flying monkey emissary from Bill "Falafel" O'Reilly tries to bully a priest and runs into someone that doesn't play that game.


And are you the type that actually swallows the gutter tripe about Obama being associated with some hippy radical (and the ridiculous suggestion that therefore he must be one himself)?

Someone in a perfect position to know the score issued this statement:
There are a lot of reasons that Americans are angry about Washington politics. And one more example is the way Senator Obama's opponents are playing guilt-by-association, tarring him because he happens to know Bill Ayers.

I also know Bill Ayers. He worked with me in shaping our now nationally-renowned school reform program. He is a nationally-recognized distinguished professor of education at the University of Illinois/Chicago and a valued member of the Chicago community.

I don't condone what he did 40 years ago but I remember that period well. It was a difficult time, but those days are long over. I believe we have too many challenges in Chicago and our country to keep re-fighting 40 year old battles.

Sounds like something a way out leftist radical might say?

Well, that depends on if you think a solid lunch bucket Democrat like Chicago Mayor Bill Daley fits that description.

Anyone still want to still defend this ridiculous "guilt by association" ploy?

Hat tip to a loyal reader for the links.

Sen. Loose Cannon

It was early 1992, and the occasion was an informal gathering of a select committee investigating lingering issues about Vietnam War prisoners and those missing in action, most notably whether any American servicemen were still being held by the Vietnamese. It is unclear precisely what issue set off McCain that day. But at some point, he mocked Grassley to his face and used a profanity to describe him. Grassley stood and, according to two participants at the meeting, told McCain, "I don't have to take this. I think you should apologize."

McCain refused and stood to face Grassley. "There was some shouting and shoving between them, but no punches," recalls a spectator, who said that Nebraska Democrat Bob Kerrey helped break up the altercation.

Grassley said recently that "it was a very long period of time" before he and McCain spoke to each other again, though he declined, through a spokesman, to discuss the specifics of the incident.
"Does he get angry? Yes," said Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman, a Connecticut chump who supports McCain's presidential bid. "But it's never been enough to blur his judgment. . . . If anything, his passion and occasional bursts of anger have made him more effective."

Former senator Bob Smith, a New Hampshire Republican, expresses worries about McCain: "His temper would place this country at risk in international affairs, and the world perhaps in danger. In my mind, it should disqualify him."

Hmmmm. Someone famously cool, thoughtful, and collected under stress vs. someone with a history of angry outbursts who often visibly seems to be struggling to contain seething and irrational anger boiling just beneath the surface. ("My friends" uttered between clenched teeth.)

Who would be best in the White House in this era of potential hair-trigger international crises with devastating and long-term consequences?

April 19, 2008

Suggested questions for McCain

In light of George Stephanopolis' performance at Wednesday's debate, and the fact that he asked at least one of his questions verbatim on behalf of Shaun Hannity, and due to his excuse that he was only asking questions that the right would ask anyway, Keith Olberman last night offered some suggestions for questions Stephanopolis might ask Sen. John McCain when he conducts an interview with him this coming Sunday.

In keeping with the tabloid tone of the debate, Olbermann, capturing the mind-set of the press with uncanny accuracy, suggested that Stephanopolis simply pretend that McCain's a Democrat and ask him some of these questions:

1. What's with the hookers?
In your book Senator, you mentioned visiting "burlesque houses" and you said that while in Rio, you indulged in, quote, "the vices sailors are infamous for".

Exactly how many times have you employed prostitutes? Or were you just referring to public drunkenness?

2. On your association with shady characters... As a member of the Keating Five, you helped delay regulators from going after a savings and loan that ripped off elderly investors of their life savings and cost taxpayers more than $2 billion dollars.

Senator, why do you hate the elderly? And taxpayers?

3. Your continuing association with radicals from the '70's.

A man who tried to destroy the two-party electoral system and subvert democracy and who to this day remains utterly unapologetic, saying only that he wishes he'd done more of it and better. As recently as Nov. 8th, 2007, you had a public conversation with this man, G. Gordon Liddy, not merely a criminal, but an unrepentant enemy of the constitution, who is now in radio.

Senator, why do you hate the constitution?

4. After first calling Jerry Falwell an "agent of intolerance", you took that back and began praising that man, despite the fact that he blamed America for 9-11.

Why in six years have you not repudiated Mr. Falwell's damning of this country? Why do you symbolically share the same pew with him?

5. You proudly sought and accepted the endorsement of Pastor John Hagee, who wants to start a nuclear war as part of the Apocalypse, who calls Catholicism "the Great Whore", and who said that Hurricane Katrina was God's punishment for holding "a homosexual parade".

Sen. McCain, does Pastor Hagee love Catholics, Muslims, New Orleans, gay people, parades, and life on earth as we know it, as much as you do?

6. Senator, why did you commit adultery?

No, not that lobbyist stuff, I mean with your wife back in the '70's while you were still married to the first wife.

7. Last year you admitted lying to voters when you said South Carolina's Confederate flag was strictly a state issue when you knew it wasn't, when you knew it was offensive to many Americans, presumably those who wanted America to win the Civil War.

Why sir, did you lie to protect a racist symbol of terrorists who wanted to destroy this country when you could have..... not.

8. Finally sir, a lot of Americans judge their politicians entirely by simple symbols; flag lapel pins, where your hands are during the pledge of allegiance. Wouldn't you agree Sen. McCain that perhaps the most potent symbol of loving America is whether or not you chose to be born in America?

Sen. McCain, why did you choose to be born in Panama?

How can voters be sure, that this kind of elitism doesn't mean that you will not owe your allegiance to Panama, and the Panamanian way?


Of course, we can expect Stephanopolis to ask McCain some of these questions this Sunday. After all, he does take questions from partisan commentators, and they're just stuff that the left will be asking eventually, right?

And though the last one is obviously tongue-in-cheek, the rest of the questions, sadly, you can actually imagine them asking of a candidate were he or she a Democrat.

I've seen other variations of this list which suggest bringing up McCain's wife Cindy McCain's past drug addiction and her theft of drugs from a non-profit organization she was involved with which provided medical care to disaster areas and needy children.

The family had to stage an intervention and McCain eventually entered treatment and was able to wean herself from her addiction to pain pills.

Needless to say, these facts are irrelevant to John McCain's character or his fitness to be president, and even more importantly, someone's struggle with addiction and recovery is not something to be used to ridicule or to cast negative aspertions.

It's properly out of bounds and should remain so.

Those bringing up these facts do so by way of asking whether, if this had been Michelle Obama, rather than Cindy McCain who was a former drug addict who'd stolen drugs from a children's charity, would the right wing and the press refuse to touch the topic, as they have for McCain?

Do you think for a split second that the right wing troglodytes of AM radio and Fox news wouldn't be sneering and bringing it up on a nearly daily basis? That there wouldn't be a blizzard of goofy chain e-mails making the rounds of right wing dupes telling the tale in chilling exagerated detail?

Yeah, right.

One hopes so, but I doubt it. There is literally nothing that is so sordid or cruel or unfair that the right won't gleefully exploit.

And on another note, do you think for one moment that if an ordinary person with a low income had been caught with illegal prescription drugs and caught stealing them from a children's charity, that they wouldn't have been slammed in jail so fast they didn't know what hit them?

Cindy McCain's punishment was.... absolutely nothing.

(but they say Obama's "elite")

The lapel pin question: The REST of the story

Interesting backstory about perhaps the most stupid and inane question of Wednesday's debate, the one where ABC decided to confront Obama with the video question of a woman with the action hero name Nash McCabe and her concern over whether Obama "respects the flag".

ABC's Gibson tried to distance himself from the stupidity of the question by having a "regular person" ask it, maintaining that this is just what people out there are discussing, and noting that it was "all over the internet".

First of all, so are theories that say LBJ murdered JFK, and that Bush blew up the World Trade Center and that the government have the carcasses of aliens from outer space locked away at a top secret base in Roswell, NM. Trying to maintain that a question is legit because it's on the internet is no sort of defense whatsoever.

So viewers were left thinking that this was indeed a big issue on the minds of, certainly, millions of people. Otherwise why would they squander such precious air-time on it, right? Gibson said it was a question they ran into all the time.
As I watched her question, what I wondered -- and I imagine many other viewers wondered as well -- was where on earth did ABC find this representative of my home state. As a journalist, I kind of assumed that ABC sent a film crew to western Pa., and then culled the most provocative questions from the people that they found. Silly me. In fact, ABC News found Nash McCabe the old-fashioned way -- they read about her, and her thing with the American flag, in the New York Times earlier this month.
So Nash McCabe wasn't located at random at all. Instead, someone at ABC News decided that they wanted to go after Obama on the patriotism issue, and they actively sought a Pennsylvanian who they knew wanted to bring it up. I assume they thought it would sound better if "a typical voter" asked the question instead of Charlie Gibson. "You see, we're only raising the issue the voters really care about," they can claim.

And McCabe's life story makes you wonder if Obama wasn't dead right about his assessment of small-town economically strapped voters and how they gravitate to issues that are so far down the list on what one would think their priorities should be that it boggles the mind.

From McClatchy Newspapers:
But to understand why Obama rubs McCabe wrong is to go beyond the question of what a flag pin has to do with patriotism — it's not really about the flag pin, she said in a telephone interview Thursday — and consider McCabe's life. It's no Hawaiian prep school and Ivy League story, unlike Obama's. It's a slice of working-class Pennsylvania, the core of Hillary Clinton's support there.

McCabe met her husband, Lloyd, in April 1983 at a dance. They married two months later. Six months after that, she says, he was injured in a coal mine accident. He hasn't worked since.

They never had children. He had back surgery. The muscle relaxers he took damaged his heart. He's had three bypasses, nine angioplasties, seven stents and a pacemaker. Three months ago doctors found a brain tumor. His choice: surgery that he may or may not survive, or life in a wheelchair.

Over 25 years of marriage, McCabe was the breadwinner. She said it took eight years to get her husband disability payments, during which time they racked up huge bills.

"I was a nurse's aide, a cashier," McCabe said. "From 1996 to 2000, I was a manager of a cleaning company. I started out as secretary and worked my way up to manager, and then the company decided to close. It took me almost two-and-a-half years to find a job that I got laid off from recently" as a clerk-typist. She has a high school diploma.

Sometimes the McCabes borrow money from her parents, who are in their 70s. She has a request in to the local food bank to see if she and her husband qualify.

"People who have sick spouses or children understand how hard it is," she said.

McCabe sympathizes with working-class people who got in over their heads during the housing boom. She opposes the Iraq war and thinks President Bush has hurt the country. She doesn't support Republican John McCain because he's too close to Bush.

On paper, her stances make her as likely to support Obama as Clinton.

But she sees a difference between the two. In Clinton, she sees someone who has struggled for years, just like her, and has earned the right to be president. In Obama, she sees someone who rose like a rocket, always has a smooth explanation for everything — whether it's about his former preacher or the flag pin — and who makes it all look too easy.

"That's what upsets me about Barack Obama," she says. "He takes everything so nonchalantly."

Yep, there ya go. Can't have that. Why if a guy is nonchalant...it's bad because... well... because.... well, ...... you know, why doesn't he wear a flag pin?

Is this just people who don't like Obama because of his race clawing for plausible reasons not to support him?

The reasons are so non-sensical that it makes you wonder. And it seems to confirm that on the substance, Obama's "bitter" comments that he's so routinely attacked for were absolutely true.

April 18, 2008

I felt the earth move under my feet

With apologies to Carol King, this wasn't any feeling due to a near terminal adolescent infatuation with someone.

A few minutes ago we had some sort of earth tremor. The entire Dope Manor was swaying back and forth as if it were being rocked by some unseen hand. And believe me, it was a VERY unsettling feeling.

Various things that are suspended in my room (Baccarat crystal chandeliers, etc.) were swaying back and forth. My first reaction was that the foundation of the house was caving in. But the next moment I realized that if it was the foundation, it wouldn't be rocking back and forth, it would be depositing me (and the house) in the basement.

After maybe three minutes, the motion stopped just as subtly as it had begun.

It was as if you were on a gently rocking boat, which isn't by itself unpleasant. But when it's your entire house that's doing the rocking.... it's a bit unnerving.

This happened at 4:37 a.m. today (Friday) according to my clock.

We sit relatively close to the New Madrid fault, named for a town in Missouri that must be on top of it or something, and it's a fairly major fault and has been active in the past. Geologists say that it is capable of producing some major shake, rattles, and rolls.

As a matter of fact, I learned here that it actually produced three major quakes in 1811 and 1812 near New Madrid (so THAT'S where it got the name.)
They are among the Great earthquakes of known history, affecting the topography more than any other earthquake on the North American continent. Judging from their effects, they were of a magnitude of 8.0 or higher on the Richter Scale. They were felt over the entire United States outside of the Pacific coast. Large areas sank into the earth, new lakes were formed, the course of the Mississippi River was changed, and forests were destroyed over an area of 150,000 acres. Many houses at New Madrid were thrown down. "Houses, gardens, and fields were swallowed up" one source notes. But fatalities and damage were low, because the area was sparsely settled then.

Sounds very intense, to say the least. New Madrid, MO is 350 miles as the crow flies from the Quad Cities.

Of course most sane people were probably sound asleep at the time and oblivious, but did anyone else happen to notice it?

Weird, wild stuff.


This just came out from the A.P. minutes ago:
5.4 earthquake rocks Illinois; also felt in Indiana
3 minutes ago

WEST SALEM, Ill. (AP) — A 5.4 earthquake in Illinois has rocked people awake as far away as Indiana, surprising residents unaccustomed to such a large temblor in the Midwest.

The quake just before 4:37 a.m. was centered 6 miles from West Salem, Ill., and 66 miles from Evansville, Ind.

There were no immediate reports of injuries.

West Salem, IL is 250 miles straight line distance from the Q.C.s.

April 17, 2008

A travesty


Luckily, someone who managed to control their disgust enough to write coherently expressed my views much better here.

(and HERE (shoddy, despicable), and HERE (embarrassing), and HERE (a "travesty" as well.)

I watched the rest of the debate, and though they managed to actually mention Iraq and some other important issues, Gibson also managed to positively obsess over an issue which I'm sure you and your friends discuss and complain about all the time. And of course, that would be capitol gains taxes on people making over $200,000 a year. (try to believe it.)

Soaring out of control gas and fuel prices? That was tossed in as an afterthought at the end during the lightning round.


Last night's ABC debate between Obama and Clinton was such an embarrassment on such a cosmic scale that I don't think I can write about it at the moment without running the risk of verbally pulling my hair out and beating my head against the wall.

Charlie Gibson is a pompous dufus, George Stephanopolis is a media hack, and they both seemed so lazy that they were capable of doing nothing but rehashing dubious crap put out by the Clinton campaign or the Republicans, and often both, Obama sometimes bloodless and his droning delivery appeared frighteningly reminiscent of Michael Dukakis at times, complete with the tiny nods of the head and the feeling that each sentence was a very painful birth. He seemed close to simply being speechless a few times.

Hillary Clinton is nothing short of detestable, and it's deeply sad to see just how ugly she's willing to be. It's not determination and grit and competitiveness. It's ugliness. There's no grace. No sign of class. No statesmanship. Just the same old ugly dishonest gutter politics that people flock to Obama to get away from.

A woman I greatly admired and respected and have long supported, Hillary's managed to bitterly disappoint me. I've even gotten angry the times that she's been unfairly attacked during this campaign. Yet every time I think she couldn't possible get more cynical and ugly, she does, and then some.

She's simply exhausted all the good will I had towards her, and it was considerable.

She brags about withstanding the loathsome and inexcusably slimy and dishonest Republican attacks of the past decades, then acts like she's been dying to try them out herself. And she looks and sounds utterly ridiculous doing so, perhaps because deep down she realizes just how low she's sinking.

During the debate her attempt to once again, for the 10,000th time, explain or dismiss the fact that she exaggerated the danger during a visit to Kosovo was painfully rambling and nearly incoherent. It was really painful to hear.

She, like many people put on the spot without a leg to stand on, just kept rambling and repeating herself until I was practically begging someone to get the hook. Her staff must have been nearly pulling their hair out. And when she tried to make light of it and pass it off as being due to lack of sleep (even though she'd repeated the tale several times at various times of day), it was simply pathetic.

The debate was not only painfully embarrassing from the candidates standpoint, but due to the fact that in perhaps the most crucial debate, prior to the most crucial primary state, in the most crucial primary campaign for perhaps the most crucial Presidential election in generations, that given that historic opportunity, Gibson and Snuffleupagus chose to spend a full FORTY-FIVE MINUTES or more on pure tabloid trivia, asking NOT ONE SINGLE SOLITARY QUESTION about ANY issue affecting anyone's life or well-being.

Not one. NO questions about the impending economic crisis. NO questions about Iraq or Iran, Afghanistan or Pakistan. No questions about global warming policy. No questions about torture policy. No questions about energy policies or where they stand or what they propose. No questions about trade policies, no question about how the already enormous gulf between rich and poor is getting wider at a faster and faster pace, not one single question regarding their proposals for addressing health care, an issue which affects literally every single person.

A FULL HOUR of globally televised debate, watched by tens of millions of people, with the supposed purpose to inform the electorate in order that they could more knowledgeably cast their votes, and these "top media personalities", (paid millions by the way) chose to spend a full hour endlessly rehashing stuff that amounted to the political equivalent of the National Enquirer... worse, actually.

Just like happened in the last debate.

Gibson obsessed on trying to suggest that Obama must have been lying when he said he didn't hear his pastor's offensive remarks that were broadcast every 3 seconds around the clock for weeks.

Obama explained, for about the 50th time, that he hadn't been in the church when those particular remarks, the ones broadcast in every conceivable way on TV and online, were made.

Well then, the suddenly moronic Gibson kept pressing, did you dis-invite Rev. Wright from your campaign announcement? You must have known he'd said them then.

Obama patiently explained once more that he'd been aware of some controversial things Wright had said which appeared in Rolling Stone, and that's why he suggested he not show up for the announcement.

Simple enough. But not simple enough for the preening Gibson. He just couldn't understand. Either an idiot or pretending to be, Gibson couldn't shake himself away from the Republican spin. Obama didn't invite Wright to Springfield for the announcement because of controversial things he'd said. So that must mean Obama was aware that Wright had said controversial things. Therefore when Obama said he hadn't been in church when Wright said those controversial things, then he must be ......LYING!!!!!!

And Gibson really thought he would nail Obama on this and make himself a hero.

But he was too damn stupid to realize that the two events were completely separate. Obama was aware of some controversial things which were published in Rolling Stone, which is why he suggested Wright not attend his announcement. Simple.

Obama also stated that he hadn't been in church to hear the more infamous remarks, the ones in the short little video clips that were shown hundreds of thousands of times. Also true.

But to Gibson, this didn't go along with the right wing spin, so he pretended that it didn't make sense.

Like right wingers, Gibson was trying mightily to suggest that if Obama knew of any statements that were controversial enough to not invite Wright to the announcement, then.... that must mean that Obama was aware of every single solitary word that Wright had EVER said from the pulpit in the span of 30 years.

Yet the oh-so-wise and weighty Charles Gibson was completely and willingly hung up on this bit of illogical clap-trap. But hey, ANYTHING for a chance to make a candidate look bad. That's their prime goal, NOT finding out the truth or questioning the candidates on where they stand or what they proposed to do about important issues which affect all Americans and indeed the entire world.

Nope. A story has been done to death, picked apart and investigated more than how 9-11 was allowed to happen, a story to which Obama has explained himself at least a dozen times. Let's just lead an endless fishing expedition. Who knows? Maybe Obama will lose his mind, and fall down and roll on the floor and confess that, yes, he should have stormed out and denounced his long-time pastor because he's EVIL EVIL EVIL for ever saying that the United States has ever done anything wrong, and that it's true, true, TRUE, he's a "secret Muslim" and he hates America and he hates white people and every lunatic charge put out against him by the right is TRUE, TRUE, TRUE so he's quitting the race.

I guess that's why Gibson and the rest feel compelled to do this crap. Why else in your right mind, as a reporter moderating this crucial debate, would you spend more than a minute and a half on this? What's the point?
insisted on pretending he didn't understand Obama's explanation, injecting the matter again later when he thought he had a chance at a "gotcha", you knew he'd said some controversial things then, but you didn't do anything to condemn him, seeming not to be able to comprehend anything more complicated than 1 plus 1 equals 2.

It's the same idiocy all over again. Obama denounces the remarks of Wright. That's not good enough. He denounces AND renounces, if that'll make them happy. Nope, not good enough. He should have stood up and stomped out of the church, they demand. Never mind that he wasn't IN the church at the time, he still should have gotten up and left.

And apparently, they absolutely DEMAND that he should have gotten up and quit his long-time church and dropped his spiritual advisor like a hot rock the moment he heard that Wright had said anything the LEAST bit controversial. Then of course they would have ripped him for being so blatantly political that he'd stab a friend in the back simply for his own cynical political gain. You know they would have.

The press again functions as nothing but some sort of Orwellian police squad out to enforce what's acceptable and not acceptable to discuss or do or sound like or look like in a campaign.

You MUST condemn and rail against, no matter how phony it sounds or how wrong it may be, anyone who dares to question the actions of this government. You MUST be a mindless patriot and do little more than spout meaningless gibberish about how much you love and cherish the country, the flag, the heroes, the this and the that and toss in the words "freedom" "liberty" "cherished beliefs" "honor", and all the rest. (If you need an example, listen to any McCain speech. Then try to figure out what he just said. Lots of code words to anesthetize the rubes, no substance whatsoever.)

And if you don't. The press and the right will spend hours trying to convince people that there's some serious problem with you.

There is a really weird insistence from the elite press and others that candidates behave in almost a robotic way, and not stray from the nice, simple, story-line that they seem to demand.

I was so embarrassed for the candidates that I literally could not bring myself to even LOOK at the screen as they spoke. It was THAT bad.

And when after a solid hour of this utter bullshit, they then played a video question from some rube questioning whether Obama had any respect for the flag or whether he loved his country because he does not wear a flag lapel pin every waking moment.

I then had to witness, in the year 2008, the front-running presidential candidate Barack Obama stand there before the world, accused by implication of not caring about the country he's running to become the leader of. And yes, major national journalists and one of the three major networks treated this as if it was a serious and legitimate question.

It was as if the viewer had crossed over into the twilight zone. I literally couldn't believe what I was witnessing.

This actually happened.

A presidential candidate, based on nothing other than the manufactured and utterly false right wing "issue" based on whether Obama wears a cheap piece of jewelry on his lapel, forced to, with a straight face, stand there and explain at length that, yes, he loves America.

And though it was incredibly stupid and bizarre that the question was even allowed, in light of how many REAL questions there must have been, I couldn't help but wonder what the hell Obama was thinking in actually taking the bait and answering such a demeaning and insulting question seriously to begin with.

This sort of thing is not going to stop if the candidates continue to treat it as if it's perfectly legitimate.

After that, I simply couldn't bear to keep watching.

I have it recorded. Maybe I'll try again when I have the stomach.

It is sad. It's pathetic. It's tragic, and it's shameful.

But most of all, it's simply embarrassing. The way we go about choosing a president is so warped and twisted beyond anything rational or serious.

People from other countries must watch and think, "Wow. That country is doomed."

If I didn't know better, I'd think the media and the corporations which own them actually WANT people to remain ignorant, ignore the important issues, and fight amongst themselves over utterly ridiculous and trivial tabloid issues instead.


NOTE: It's now been revealed that George Stephanopolis was interviewed by a right wing AM radio hack in N.Y. as well as by fair and balanced blowhard Shawn Hannity who both demanded that he ask Obama about some obscure guy who once hosted a fund-raiser for Obama's senate campaign and once served on the board of a charity with him who happened to have been a member of the Weather Underground student group FOURTY years ago.

George obediently did their bidding last night and wasted all our time on this ridiculous attempt at guilt by barely any association, thus confirming my observation that the first hour was spent entirely on Republican attacks, with the flimsy defense from both the moderators AND Clinton that this is what the Republicans are going to say, so we might as well spent a full half of the last debate of the campaign on right wing attacks on Obama.

April 15, 2008

Careful congressman, your sheet is showing

Behold! The latest "bigot eruption" from the G.O.P., home party of those still fightin' mad over "the late unpleasantness" a mere 143 years later...
U.S. Rep. Geoff Davis, a Hebron (Kentucky) Republican, compared Obama and his message for change (as being)similar to a "snake oil salesman."

He said in his remarks at the GOP dinner that he also recently participated in a "highly classified, national security simulation" with Obama.

"I'm going to tell you something: That boy's finger does not need to be on the button," Davis said. "He could not make a decision in that simulation that related to a nuclear threat to this country."

As for Obama's Democratic rival, McConnell said U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York seems to be "teetering on the brink."

"I hear she hasn't been this worried since a new Hooters opened" near her home with former President Bill Clinton, McConnell said, prompting laughs from the 400 Northern Kentucky Republicans.

Har de har har har... gotta love what passes for Republican "humor".

That's a real gut buster there, for coming from a guy named after the president of the Confederacy.

Many "conservatives", clinging desperately to an idyllic time when white people could openly express their bigotry safe in the assumption that everyone else was racist too, are already defending Rep. Davis, saying that "boy" is a common term and only natural to use when an older man is describing a young man like Obama.

Fair enough I suppose.

Obama is 46 and Davis is 49, a whole three years older. Well, there ya go. Case closed, nothing to see here.

Davis, in a fit of necessity, wrote an apology to Obama, which is better than nothing.

This didn't sit well with the oh-so-Republican patriots over at that bastion of conservative thought, Free Republic.

What's the big deal about burning a cross in someone's yard? It's just meant to be festive.

So you see, there is a silver lining in enduring all the utter crap which we'll undoubtedly be inundated with during this over-long campaign season.

And that's sitting back and watching those in the Republican party who still harbor deep-seated racism crack up, melt down, and have public mental break-downs one by one as the prospect of a black man defeating their leader becomes increasingly inevitable.

Mark my word, there will be many instances of people doing and saying the most ugly and literally crazy things you can imagine as the dark underbelly of the racist wing of the Republican party begins to ooze to the surface.

In the event Obama becomes president, all we can hope is that perhaps this large segment of the Republican party might demonstrate their racist convictions by all moving the hell out of here, thus instantly increasing the average IQ of the country.

P.S. I'm certain there's a lot of Democrats who are racist to one degree or another. That's without question. But any self-respecting hard core racist of either the Confederate loon or brain damaged skin head variety finds themselves comfortable voting Republican, count on it.

Why? Gee, I wonder.

My friends, I'm still an insufferable ass

Hi, I'm Senator Joe Lieberman. You may remember me from such campaigns as Gore-Lieberman 2000.

I was a giant ass then, and I'm an even bigger ass now.

April 13, 2008


Remember when all the right wingers were telling us that we simply HAD to support Gen. Musharraf in Pakistan? Remember them solemnly promising that the reason we've purposely not made any effort to kill or capture the persons responsible for the attack on 9-11, remember, the thing that changed everything, was that we couldn't risk doing anything to cause Musharraf trouble?

Even my favorite wing-nut troll argued endlessly that we couldn't do anything in Pakistan because if we didn't support Musharraf, the country would collapse and within 24 hours Pakistan would be ruled by crazed al Queda types who would then have access to nuclear weapons. (and if that's not the ultimate scare, I don't know what is.)

Remember that?

And then the assassination of Behahir Bhutto and the instability that promised?

Well, Pakistan had elections a month or two ago. Musharraf was bounced out on his ass.

Have you heard any right wingers freaking out about terrorists with nuclear bombs in Pakistan lately?

Just curious.

What excuse will they use now for why we refuse to pursue or capture bin Laden? (besides the obvious fact that it would piss off Bush/Cheney's soul-mates, the Saudi royalty?)

Does anyone still think that if Bush actually wanted to kill or capture bin Laden that he'd still be sitting in Pakistan making videos?

Bush once famously said, after vowing to bring in bin Laden "dead or alive" that he really didn't think about bin Laden much. (except when he quotes him in attempts to justify his war.)

What's going on here? Why is bin Laden still alive and living in safety?

And why no mention of the fact that the very argument the right has relied on for years for not being able to get bin Laden has been evaporated?

I seem to recall consevatives having a cow and condemning Bill Clinton for years for failing to kill bin Laden in a rocket attack (from which bin Laden narrowly escaped.)

But at least Clinton tried.

Just curious. Any Republicans care to take a stab at a new excuse? Or are you helpless until you hear your right wing "authorities" on AM radio or Fox explain what that new excuse might be?

Really, who cares, right? The name of the game is run out the clock and dump it in the next administration's lap anyway. And Gen. Petraeus and Ambassador Crocker with their "we must wait several months to then begin to evaluate what to do after that" crock recently delivered during their congressional appearance conveniently accomplishes Bush's goal to make his magnificent blunder someone else's problem, just like he's walked away from all the previous failures in his life and left it to others to clean up.

The Clinton Strategy

Tom Tomorrow

(click to enlarge or click here).

Like numbers?

Here's some recent poll results giving a rough snapshot of where the Obama/Clinton race stands as of now.

Pledged Delegates:

Obama: 1,416
Clinton: 1,252

Lead: Obama by 164


Obama: 230
Clinton: 259

Lead: Clinton by 29

Total Delegates:

Obama: 1,646
Clinton: 1,511

Lead: Obama by 135

Contests won:

Obama: 28
Clinton: 14

Lead: Obama by 14

Total cummulative votes:

Obama: 13,405,271 or 49%
Clinton: 12,706,194 or 47%

Lead: Obama by 699,077 or 2%

Pennsyvania Poll - Time Magazine

Clinton 44%
Obama 38%

Indiana Poll - South Bend paper

Clinton 49%
Obama 46%

North Carolina Poll - local media

Obama 35%
Clinton 26%
Undecided 39%

Here it comes

Yes, it started some time ago, but it's beginning in earnest now. The elite pundit and press, after grappling during all these weeks of slow news, is finally beginning to obediently fall into line and agree on a story line for the Democratic primary candidates.

Yes, it's sad but true that the press doesn't like working too hard. They're under a lot of pressure. There's not a lot of real material to work with. If they stuck to strictly reporting just the facts, or were honest in their appraisals of the candidates, it would be deadly dull.

How do you get your writing quoted on say, "Meet the Press" or the cable news shows? Why, you invent some damning story line and write a piece where you take a pretty mild and understandable incident or utterance by a candidate and spin an elaborate story from it. Then in turn, it gets amplified and repeated in various ways by dozens of other journalists, and eventually becomes "The Story", the narrative which the media nearly always adheres to lemming like, for the entire campaign.

The players in this drama know this fact. They know it will happen. So their job is to try like hell to feed the media and spin them to get them to go along with the story line most favorable to their candidate or damaging to the opponent.

We've seen this so often and for so long that it's ridiculous to pretend it doesn't happen or to act like we can't see it coming or don't recognize it for what it is.

The Republicans have literally lived on this sort of thing for decades now. We saw it in the past couple presidential elections in which truth and reality were tossed aside like some burger wrapper and the press willingly went along with things that simply had no truth to them.

But the press is lazy. So Gore was a serial liar, constantly exaggerated, would say anything to get elected. (all untrue and proven untrue) Kerry was wishy-washy and rather than a patriotic and brave young man who voluntarily served in combat in Vietnam (that's REAL bullets whizzing by your head folks. Not sitting on your ass with multiple deferments or getting sloshed and skipping duty in the National Guard.) was turned into some girly-man coward and traitor. (Yes, try to believe it. But it actually happened, didn't it.)

How were these things accomplished? How, in this country, could the press participate in spreading thing that they knew were patently false and stories which were provably false?

The books have been written on that subject, and more undoubtedly will. But the driving force behind it was the literally massive and lavishly funded conservative effort to systematically upend the normal journalistic process. They'd invent some blatantly false spin, e-mail it to Drudge, who'd post it with a screaming headline. Believe it or not, despite repeatedly being shown to report blatantly false stories, Drudge is often the first site most journalists and pudits read.)

The utter crap, completely unverified or confirmed, mind you,would get picked up on and broadcast literally around the clock from hundreds of AM stations from coast to coast, and on their own cable network around the globe. All this within hours at times.

Then the army of right wing shills, including the zombie blondes, would be marched out onto the TV airwaves to further distort, spin, and spew mock outrage.

The next piece falls into place when major papers would then feel pressure to report it under the guise of reporting what someone ELSE was reporting, then...

The other cable channels would then rush to cover it so as to not be scooped, and now you have an utterly ridiculous story invented in the bowels of the Republican National Committee being sent straight to the top, reported and discussed as if it was completely legitimate and true by the entire national media.

And God help anyone who didn't play along. They were then scorchingly condemned as the lowest of the low, the "liberal media", who obviously weren't "fair and balanced" and were in the pocket of the liberals. (despite the fact that they were owned by enormous conservative corporations.) CNN and others completely freaked out and scrambled to replace execs and started hiring right wing loons left and right and cancelling even the few shows which featured ANY voice from the Dems or leaning left (Crossfire with Carville and Begalla, Phil Donahues highly rated and short-lived show) in response to these utterly false and ridiculous accusations.

It's referred to as the echo chamber, and it worked like a charm.

Did it work for the Democrats? Nah. They didn't make the effort to invent lies, or at least nothing like the Republicans, and they certainly weren't successful in getting any of them accepted as fact. Lord knows they had more than enough TRUE things to get out about Bush... but it never gained wide-spread coverage.

Remember Bush's getting into the guard by Dad pulling strings and then skipping out of service after he was asked to take a physical and then simply disappearing? There was a mountain of evidence that showed this to be true. But it was completely dismissed at the time. Then when someone tried to get the story out again and resorted to recreating the evidence, all true, mind you, but recreated, it resulted in Dan Rather getting fired and the story was deep-sixed forever.

Yes, a few documents had been faked, but the FACTS WERE ALL TRUE. No matter.

It was far more important to spend hours upon hours of airtime repeating the demonstrably false accusations of a bunch of paid-off right wing liars who hadn't even served with Kerry in Viet Nam.

Recently we've seen the "liar" narrative attempted to be nailed on Hillary Clinton's back. She didn't help things by lying. But nonetheless, now the effort to turn the Dems into cartoon simple characters begins.

Hillary is a liar who can't be trusted. She screwed up and that gave them all they needed. Now they'll try to pound that relentlessly.

Is she a liar? No. Not in any real sense in that she's more dishonest than the average politician. But no matter.

They've had a more difficult time trying to turn Obama into a cartoon.

He's more complex, there's less history to try to distort or mine for a narrative.

They've ran a few things up the flag pole, and they'll no doubt do some damage amongst the demographic which has always been absolutely crucial to any chance at Republican victory: clueless morons.

These folks couldn't spell Iraq let alone point it out on a map. These are the folks that are responsible for the WWF and monster truck racing being multi-million dollar industries. They don't know what they're talking about, and they're almost proud of it. But they know what they're scared off, because the right wing tells them. (actually, the right knows what they hate and fear, they just feed them crap that confirms and increases it to levels beyond anything resembling reality.)

These are the sort of gullible half-wits who both believe and forward around laughably false right wing e-mail spam which either purports to reveal some shocking "truth" about Obama or Clinton or Dems, or otherwise jacks up their ignorance and mindless support of right wing goals such as endless war. (See the post "When a Wingnut Wetdream Explodes" here for but one small example out of hundreds of the sort of thing these morons send around constantly. In a way, it's not their fault. They're fed so much false information, manipulated like mindless tools, no wonder they think like they do.)

So Obama has been a bit tougher. They tried the whisper campaign and that got a lot of the morons to believe Obama as a "secret Muslim", a concept laughable to anyone with even a flimsy grasp on reality or fact, but entirely sellable to the right wing demographic. Polls show that there are still a vast number of people who honestly believe that Obama is a Muslim.

Then there was the attempt to somehow paint him as a clone of his minister, a minister that they utterly distorted and mischaracterized through a few snippets of the most inflammatory few seconds of a few sermons. Never mind the hyperbole that's routinely employed from the pulpit, never mind all the other good works he's done, the thousands of needy people he's counseled and brought to believe in the same religion the right claims as their exclusive domain. Just excite the rubes. That's the name of the game.

Obama dealt with the issue in a remarkably honest and bold way, and largely put out the attempt to fan it into some mushroom cloud of irrational spin.

So now they're trying on a new label.

As usual for the right, this one's been used before. It's the "elitist" label we all recall from their effort, successfully, to pin it on the last two Democratic candidates.

Of course, this is code for the moron right and those who manipulate them.

"Elitist" to them means anyone who is clearly more intelligent, more educated, more aware of facts, more capable, more accomplished, and eminently qualified for president than you are, you being the average guy who might work for the city patching potholes or perhaps selling insurance or anything where you make less than $300,000 per year.

The "Elitist" label is the code word they use for a blatant and extensive effort to foster RESENTMENT and JEALOUSY towards a candidate who actually is accomplished and very intelligent.

Why, the right says, he thinks he's BETTER than you!

You may recognize this from the same boozy and bizarre tendency, often mocked in comedy, of those who are extremely drunk to suddenly turn on someone and accuse them of thinking they're "better than" the person who's completely sloshed.

Yes, millions of us harbor deep down a sense that we're failures and that it's US who should be sitting at their beach home or driving that nice car, not those Mexicans or Blacks or... it doesn't matter. Who drives those cars and owns those homes? Why PEOPLE LIKE GORE AND KERRY AND OBAMA, that's who!!!

You know, those egg-heads who actually graduated from college and made something out of themselves. Those guys who speak with authority and explain things in detail because they know what they're talking about. The guys who never seem like idiots. God I hate them.

So it doesn't take a genius to figure out that the right makes a major effort to try to tap into this simmering resentment among their moron demographic.

They don't have to be moron's per se, just too stupid to realize that they're acting out of an astoundingly selfish and irrational motive when they dislike someone for simply being intelligent.

The right wing actually gets millions of people to vote against someone PRECISELY BECAUSE they possess the rare qualities of intelligence, judgement, and demeanor that's necessary to be an effective leader.

The right has succeeded in getting people to think that someone they'd "like to have a beer with", in other words, someone as ignorant, inarticulate, and incurious as they are, is actually a better pick to be leader of the free world. And anyone that dares demonstrate superior intellect or the ability to process complex and nuanced situations is suspect and an..... elitist.

Again, you can be forgiven for wondering if we've all fallen through the Looking Glass. It's almost impossible to believe, but there it is. You've seen it happen with your own eyes.

So now comes this ridiculous attempt to completely distort what Obama said to some San Fransisco fat-cats in an attempt to explain why working people in middle-America have been persuaded to vote directly against their own interests for so long.

What he said was perfectly true, and perfectly rational. There's been books written by researchers that back up what he said exactly.

Now Clinton and others pretend that he was demeaning these people, that somehow he was trying to say that the ONLY reason people like guns and religion is because their local economy has tanked.

That's so willfully wrong it hurts. Yet there was good ol' Jimmy Carville spinning that like mad on today's "Meet the Press". And with a straight face.

It should be clear, as it is to anyone who has looked into politics and elections in the past few decades, that what Obama said is exactly true, though he obviously in trying to make the explanation wasn't as exact and precise as he may have been. But he wasn't there to deliver a socio-politico treatise on why middle-Americans have been conned into voting against their own interests, he was just trying to give an overview off-the-cuff.

But since he didn't expound at length, and with a professor's accuracy and precision, they're pouncing on him and distorting his words beyond recognition.

Clinton even thought it would be a great time to pay homage to the right wing machine that spent hundreds of millions trying to destroy her and her husband by hauling out their good old "elitist" trick and using it herself.

What a swell gal.

And to capitalize on the "elitist" attack, they even had a press availability in a bar showing Hillary downing a beer and a shot. Made nearly $20 million last year, but she's just like your average Joe. (see "have a beer with" above.)

Obama came from broken family and clawed his way to graduating with honors from Harvard, then went to work in neighborhoods you wouldn't dare be caught in even during the day. But psst...... he's "elitist".

A recent poll was cited a couple days back that I found of interest. I've talked to many people of the female persuasion who have been ardent Hillary supporters in the past. Now these same women seem to have no problem disguising their strong dislike of her.

This struck me as interesting, though I could see why they may have soured on Hillary. There's no shortage of reasons I suppose.

But the poll I saw was the first to actually identify and address this phenomena. It reported that somewhere around 27% of women now had a worse impression of Hillary Clinton than they had prior to her campaign. Based on what I'd heard, this was no surprise, and I actually thought it might be higher.

And it's exactly the sort of low tactic that Clinton is now trying on Obama that is moving them away in my opinion.

I myself have always held Hillary in high regard, and was completely outraged at the horrible efforts to spread outright lies and distortions about her. The blatant misogynistic streak of so many on the right that tried to dismiss her simply because she was a woman was outrageous as well.

But the more I see of her on the stump, the less I like her. And I too find that I've gone from liking her a lot and looking forward to her run, to thinking she's truly no better than the right wing which she fought for so long.

Perhaps I'm being sexist myself for finding her behavior so objectionable. After all, if a male candidate was getting as down and ugly as she is, would I feel the same way? I'd like to think the answer would be yes, but I can't say for certain.

What's true is that her sex definitely puts her in a special box. She looks bad if she plays the victim, yet she often is. She looks bad if she fights dirty, yet male candidates do so with impunity.

I think all one can say is that even in 2008, it is decidedly not an advantage to a candidate for president without a Y chromosome.

Keep your eye out for such examples of the press and/or the opposition attempting to create a false "identity" or label for a candidate. They're looking high and low for this elections nice, neat, and above all, overly simplistic story line.

Have any other examples?

PS. I made this post very long to ensure that my right wing troll wouldn't be able to read it.

April 9, 2008

Keep trying, you'll get it right eventually

It seems that the McCain campaign is having a bit of a problem working out the kinks.

First it was revealed that when FOX asked the three candidates to submit statements via video tape to play during their "American Idol Cares" or whatever their charity show deal is called, the McCain campaign submision was of such poor quality as to render it unusable, and FOX had to tell them so. Apparently they shot another one that was up to snuff.

Then this.

Ah well, no one's perfect. We can wait until the general election begins in earnest for them to really screw things up.

And let's face facts, a campaign is essentially selling a product, and when the "product" holds rigid positions that 80% of voters (and the world) strongly disagree with, it's an uphill fight.

It strikes me that McCain's fatal flaw is precisely the military background that he's chosen to make the centerpiece of his campaign.

A soldier's trained to adopt a mindset. To do whatever it takes to accomplish the mission.

A soldier doesn't stop to think about why he's doing something. That's not his or her job. A soldier salutes and heads off to do what they're ordered to do.

McCain's tragedy is that he sees Iraq and the incredibly complex and nuanced Mid-East debacle as simply some battle, and to him, there's simply no choice but to continue to fight and fight and fight and fight until we win or are wiped out trying.

Most sane people realize that way of thinking just MIGHT not be too sensible.

McCain is obsessed with going down with the ship. bin Laden must be mighty pleased to see this, as one of his stated goals was to simply bankrupt and exhaust the U.S. just like they did to Russia in Afghanistan. So far, Bush and McCain and the rest have performed beautifully, like trained monkey's, or more accurately, Pavlov's dogs, in Osama's master plan.

The traits that make a good soldier with a nearly mindless drive to do as they're ordered, and to never quit, never stop, and never back down, do not translate to making a good statesman, or leader.

Those traits are important, and even essential to instill in troops in the field and fighting men and women in the armed forces. But if a leader has that unthinking single-mindedness and unwillingness to consider all options, then they are simply doomed.

McCain may be an exemplary soldier.

But he'd be an utterly disasterous commander-in-chief.

April 8, 2008

The B.S. Express

Poor old John McCain, out there trying to convince people that this Iraq thing is really working out pretty well, that there's light at the end of the tunnel, and please, please, PLEASE give me a chance to run a war before I die! I've dreamed about it since I was little. I'll win (whatever that means), I promise!

Yesterday McCain continued his "Let's Pretend" tour by addressing a pro-military crowd at a WWI museum, perfect imagery for McCain. A guy mired in the past speaking at a museum for a war that ended 90 years ago. McCain, it's 1918 in America.

Just as he was extolling the wonderful "progress" in Iraq, he was interrupted on live TV by a news flash that four more rockets had exploded within the "Green Zone", the ultra-fortified hide-out in Bagdhad where all American bureaucrats, high level military, and the troops who protect them live. Ooops.

No one was injured in those attacks, thankfully. But a rocket attack on the Green Zone the day before McCain's "Everything's going well" speech left two American servicemen dead and another 17 wounded.

7 Americans lost their lives in Iraq the day of McCain's speech.

Keith Olbermann fact-checked McCain's remarks last night. It's worth taking a look at just how much "straight talk" you're getting from McCain. These are direct quotes from McCain's speech.

B.S.: "From June 2007 through my last recent trip last month, sectarian and ethnic violence in Iraq has been reduced by 90%. Civilian deaths by coalition forces fell by 70%."

Reality: Those numbers only reflect numbers through last February. McCain visited Iraq in March, a month in which civilian casualties increased by 30%, and even though violence in Iraq did decline precipitously in the first half of 2007, it's stopped declining and has remained steady around 2004 levels.

B.S.: "The dramatic reduction in violence has opened the way for something approaching normal political and economic life for the average Iraqi."

Reality: In February alone, 700 Iraqi citizens died violently. 30,000 more were newly displaced. There were 65 daily attacks by insurgents and militias and 21 multiple fatality bombings. Homes only got 2/3rds of the fuel they needed, and millions of Iraqis did not have access to clean water, sanitation, or health care.

B.S.: "The once silent and deserted markets have come back to life in many areas."

Reality: Except the market that McCain famously visited last year covered in body armor, accompanied by hundreds of armed troops, and with Apache gunships hovering overhead. The market is now under the control of a militia and considered too dangerous for him to re-visit this year, even with such massive military protection.

B.S.: "Critical reconciliation is occurring across Iraq at the local provincial grass-roots level. Sunni and Shi'a, chased from their homes by terrorists and sectarian violence are returning. (in a reverent tone) The sons of Iraq, and awakening movements where Sunni insurgents now join in the fight against al Queda continue to grow."

Reality: Sen. McCain is grossly out of date in his information. The Sunni organizations are continuing to grow because the American government (you and I) are continuing to pay them millions and millions of dollars to grow. Yet, despite the money, thousands of them stopped working last month in Diala to protest against the sectarian local police force. Thousands more are being excluded by the Shiite government supported Iraqi security forces.

B.S.: "Four out of the six laws cited by as benchmarks by the United States have been passed by the Iraqi legislature."

Reality: Four in six laws may have been passed, but the other 14 benchmarks have not. And the laws on de-Bathification and insurgent amnesty are so carefully worded that their actual impact will depend on how they're implemented.

B.S.: "Iraqi forces recently battled in Basra against radical Shi'a militias supported by Iran, a fight that showed both the progress made by the Iraqi Security Forces, a year ago today they could not have carried out such operations on their own, and the continuing need for coalition support."

Reality: It emphasizes the need for coalition support because the Iraqi Security Forces DIDN'T, as McCain suggests, carry out those Basra operations on their own. They had to call in U.S. air power for help, and even then, over 1,000 Iraqi soldiers and policemen refused to fight. They abandoned their posts during the battle, including two senior commanders.

B.S.: "There are those who today argue for a hasty withdrawal from Iraq. Our allies, Arab countries, and the U.N. and the Iraqis themselves will NOT step up to their responsibilities (lowers voice for dramatic effect) if we recklessly retreat."

Reality: Yet no one, no Democrat, no Republican, has called for a hasty withdrawal nor a reckless retreat from Iraq. But 61% of Iraqis polled by the BBC in February thought the U.S. presence was making the security situation worse. 46% thought it would get better if we left.

As to the American troops fighting their FIFTH year of war in Iraq...

B.S.: "We own them compassion, knowledge, and hands-on care in their transition to civilian life. We own them training, rehabilitation and education..."

Reality: "We owe them education.", yet Sen. McCain, aligning himself again with this White House, is refusing to support a new G.I. Bill that would give veterans full college funding. And he has voted FOUR times in the last four years AGAINST increasing funding for the Veteran's Administration.

So much for "straight talk".