Sunday, May 18, 2008

Another loving look at John McCain

I'm not sure if you've noticed, but the mainstream press seems unwilling to look at Mr. McCain with anything but long, loving soulful expressions on their faces. Their love affair with him seems to be helped by the fact that he's essentially running unopposed, since, for much of the time, Clinton and Obama only have eyes for each other.

But it's odd, because there's just so much to work with there.

In the last few months, John decided to prove that he really had no idea what was going on in the Middle East. For example, he kept repeating a fascinating viewpoint he’d developed about the ceasefire in Iraq. See, Maliki (the Prime Minister of Iraq) went to Muqtada al Sadr (leader of the primary opposition army), and brokered a ceasefire. Mostly because Maliki and his boys were getting their butts kicked and all, but, you know, the basic point is that Maliki went to Sadr.

So, what does our boy Johnny have to say about this?
It was al-Sadr that declared the ceasefire, not Maliki. … With respect, I don’t think Sadr would have declared the ceasefire if he thought he was winning. Most times in history, military engagements, the winning side doesn’t declare the ceasefire. The second point is, overall, the Iraqi military performed pretty well. … The military is functioning very effectively.
Yeah, John. Very effective. Unless you count the thousand Iraqi soldiers who deserted or refused to fight.

He also tried to use the Middle East to attack Obama, saying that Hamas is rooting for a win by Obama. Well, let's consider that.

Obama's position is that Hamas is a terrorist organization, and "we should not talk to them unless they recognize Israel, renounce violence and are willing to abide by previous accords” that Israel has negotiated with its neighbors and with the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Because this is the most reasonable thing Hamas has heard from Washington recently, one of their political advisors, Ahmed Yousef, said "We like Mr. Obama., and we hope that he will win the election... I do believe that Mr. Obama is like John Kennedy, a great man with great principles. He has a vision to change America, to make it in a position to lead the world community, but not with domination and arrogance."

The McCain camp immediately started screaming about a Hamas endorsement of Obama, and implying that Obama is "soft on terrorism."

Of course, since McCain, just two years ago, said that Hamas was a democratically-elected government and we should negotiate with them, doesn't that make McCain look a little hypocritical? Just a little?

And, you know, if we really wanted to look into this situation, consider Pinochet or Idi Amin. For that matter, consider America's attitude toward Saddam Hussain during the Iran-Iraq war, when we were selling him weapons (including those very "Weapons of Mass Destruction" that we made so much noise about five years ago). America has a long tradition of negotiating with thugs and terrorists, when the terrorists also happen to be the legitimate government of a country.

On second thought, let's not get into that. It makes your head hurt.

Domestically, Ol’ Grandpa Johnny has also been busy proving one of two things: either somebody on his staff just wasn’t doing their research, or McCain was trying to singlehandedly wipe the phrase “compassionate conservative” from the playbook. He stood in front of a factory in Youngstown, Ohio, and told people to reject the “siren song of protectionism,” and embrace free trade.

He’d met all of the factory workers shortly before he spoke. It didn’t take long: there were only five of them. A few years ago, there were hundreds. Seems like he could have considered that before starting his remarks.
The hardships are all too real in Youngstown. The city has lost more than 40,000 jobs since its signature steel industry collapsed in the 1970s and '80s. Its population is less than half its peak of 170,000 in the 1950s. About 25 percent of those who remain live below the poverty line.
Because there’s nothing that the unemployed like better than to hear about American jobs being shipped overseas.

McCain’s people also didn’t always consider their remarks very carefully, either. McCain went to a place called Gee’s Bend, Alabama , trying to appeal to black voters. Which is great, but sometimes history conflicts oddly with the past. Like with the unintentional irony from the local RNC spokeperson.
A federal grant allowed the ferry to reopen in 2006 — 44 years after county leaders closed it to keep the black residents of Gee's Bend from crossing the river to the county seat to push for civil rights. Without the ferry, Camden was an 80-mile round trip.

"The ferry he will be riding is very important to that community. It's both a good and terrible symbol. It's good that it now exists, but it's terrible it took so long to build it," said Katie Wright, regional spokeswoman for the Republican National Committee.
Did you catch that problem? It's kind of subtle – you see, the ferry was built with congressional earmarks (that would be the "federal grant" they mentioned). And McCain has said that we need to do away with earmarks.

The best stuff that McCain gives us, like with most politicians, is when he contradicts himself. Like last month.
John McCain, on Tuesday:
"I propose that the federal government suspend all taxes on gasoline now paid by the American people -- from Memorial Day to Labor Day of this year. The effect will be an immediate economic stimulus.... [B]ecause the cost of gas affects the price of food, packaging, and just about everything else, these immediate steps will help to spread relief across the American economy."
John McCain, on Thursday:
"I think psychologically, a lot of our problems today are psychological -- confidence, trust, uncertainty about our economic future, ability to keep our own home. [A gas-tax holiday] might give 'em a little psychological boost. Let's have some straight talk: it's not a huge amount of money.... A little psychological boost. That's what I think [a gas-tax holiday] would help."
So, which is it, a seasonal tax cut that will serve as "an immediate economic stimulus," or a gimmick to alleviate our "psychological" problems?
Of course, McCain also says that the best way to keep Americans from getting their homes foreclosed on is by “working a second job, skipping a vacation, and managing their budgets.” (Easy to say when your outstanding bills are all paid by your millionaire beer-heiress wife. Not that I’m saying he’s elitist or anything…)

Weirdly enough, Hillary jumped on the gas-tax bandwagon, despite the fairly obvious long-term problems: less money to maintain an already-crumbling national infrastructure of roads and bridges; increased use of gas, leading to (guess what?) higher gas prices; you know, the simple stuff that any economist could point out in seconds. But I haven't been impressed with Hillary's behavior lately, anyway.

He also gets all cranky about Obama’s old pastor, the Reverend Wright. Of course, that doesn’t mean that McCain isn’t going to actively seek endorsement by catholic-hating gay bashers like John Hagee.

Of course, Hagee recently wrote a letter apologizing for his many decades of calling the Catholic Church "the Great Whore" and a "false cult system." So I guess that's all right now, right? On the other hand, as ThinkProgress points out,
But anti-Catholic comments are not the only reason Hagee has sparked controversy. Just last month, he reiterated his prior claim that Hurricane Katrina was punishment to New Orleans for hosting a gay pride parade. Though he appeared to back away from the claim after McCain called it "nonsense," he re-embraced it last week on a conference call with religious supporters.

Will Hagee issue a similar letter to the gay community pledging "a greater level of compassion and respect for my gay brothers and sisters in Christ?"

Update: Josh Marshall asks: "Can we now get him to explain the part about God using Muslim terrorists to create bloodbaths in our streets because the US supports a two-state solution in Israel-Palestine?"
Yeah, so an intelligent person might suggest that McCain should probably repudiate Hagee, much like Obama did when Wright proved unstable. But McCain doesn't seem to show any interest in that. Go figure.

Oh, and one more thing. I keep seeing things referring to John McCain as a "war hero." Well, you know something? It's weird, but let's look at the record.
Every two hours, one guard would hold McCain while two others beat him. They kept it up for four days.

Finally, McCain lay on the floor at "The Plantation," a bloody mess, unable to move. His right leg, injured when he was shot down, was horribly swollen. A guard yanked him to his feet and threw him down. His left arm smashed against a bucket and broke again.

"I reached the lowest point of my 5½ years in North Vietnam," McCain would write later. "I was at the point of suicide."

What happened next, in that August of 1968, nearly a year after he was captured, is chronicled in The Nightingale's Song by Robert Timberg:

"(McCain) looked at the louvered cell window high above his head, then at the small stool in the room. He took off his dark blue prison shirt, rolled it like a rope, draped one end over his shoulder near his neck, began feeding the other end through the louvers."

A guard burst into the cell and pulled McCain away from the window. For the next few days, he was on suicide watch.

McCain's will had finally wilted under the beatings. Unable to endure any more, he agreed to sign a confession.

McCain slowly wrote, "I am a black criminal and I have performed the deeds of an air pirate. I almost died and the Vietnamese people saved my life, thanks to the doctors."
Well, yeah, it's a horrible story. It's horrendous. It also shows two very important points.

First, it shows, very clearly, that a confession taken under torture should not be accepted as fact. With this one anecdote, John McCain has proven why George Bush's policies toward the terrorists should be resisted with every fiber in our being.

And it shows one other thing. One that nobody in the mainstream media seems to be willing to point out. (A few fringe fanatics have noticed it, but they're rarely taken seriously.) In making his statement, John McCain broke the military Code of Conduct. See, that's something that was established in 1955 by Dwight D. Eisenhower, and it states, in part, that "When questioned, should I become a prisoner of war, I am required to give only name, rank, service number, and date of birth. I will evade answering further questions to the utmost of my ability. I will make no oral or written statements disloyal to my country and its allies or harmful to their cause."

It's pretty simple. John McCain broke the Code of Conduct. And as soon as somebody can convince me that the Swiftboat Veterans for "Truth" would not eviscerate a Democrat who behaved in this manner, I'll be willing to give John McCain a break on this issue. Until then, I'm quite willing to say that, according to the standards set up by his very own Republican Party, John McCain is a coward and a traitor, and not suitable to be the President of the United States.

Personally, I don't believe this to be the truth. I think that it shows that John McCain is a flawed human being, just like the rest of us. But let me emphasize one important phrase in that last paragraph: "according to the standards set up by his very own Republican Party, John McCain is a coward and a traitor, and not suitable to be the President of the United States."

Can someone please explain to me why I might be wrong in this?

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