Thursday, February 28, 2008

McCain and the Bimbo?

OK, so here's the deal.

The New York Times, which has long been considered the chief bastion of the Liberal Media Establishment, broke a story that McCain was probably hoping nobody would bring up. It seems that he was suspiciously close to a lobbyist named Vicki Iseman during his 2000 presidential bid. So close, in fact, that some of his advisors staged an intervention.
Convinced the relationship had become romantic, some of his top advisers intervened to protect the candidate from himself - instructing staff members to block the woman’s access, privately warning her away and repeatedly confronting him
Now, here's where it gets interesting. Although the story quotes other people, primarily former aides of McCain, who thought McCain might be bumping uglies with a woman thirty years younger than he is, the story never really pays attention to the fact that they might be having sex.

The story was really about the fact that McCain was the last survivor of the "Keating 5." See, back in the 80's, there was a millionaire financier named Charles Keating, who was blatantly stealing money from the Savings and Loan industry, which had been essentially deregulated by the Reagan administration. Keating went to jail for that little indiscretion, but not before spending well over a million dollars in gifts and donations to five senators (that's why they're called the "Keating 5," ya know).
After a lengthy investigation, the Senate Ethics Committee determined in 1991 that Alan Cranston, Dennis DeConcini, and Donald Riegle had substantially and improperly interfered with the FHLBB in its investigation of Lincoln Savings, while John Glenn and John McCain had been only minimally involved. The Committee recommended censure for Cranston and criticized the other four for "questionable conduct."

All five of the senators involved served out their terms, but only Glenn and McCain were subsequently re-elected.
So McCain tried to reform his image, pushing the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reforms, fighting against earmarks, and claiming to be free of the influence of any lobbyists. In the meantime, though, his campaign is run by lobbyists, and he had a relationship with one that was so close that his aides intervened.

(Oh, yeah. And those McCain-Feingold campaign finance rules? It seems that he can't manage to follow them, either.)

That was the story. It makes sense. It shows that McCain is surrounded by lobbyists, advised by lobbyists, and his campaign is infested by lobbyists, no matter what he says. But, ignoring the fact that this same story was covered last December by that stalwart liar of the right-wing press, Matt Drudge, the McCain campaign has insisted that this is just a puerile attempt by the left-wing media to smear the senator with a sex scandal, and that everything else was a complete fabrication. And the sex is barely part of the story at all.

McCain's campaign immediately threw up a spirited defense. Now, let's ignore the fact that Newsweek showed that McCain's denials were contradicted, in fact, by McCain himself. But this is a fascinating story for a number of reasons. First, consider the timing.

1. People are starting to notice that McCain would be, like, the oldest president ever. And suddenly, he's slipping the wrinkled lizard into some young(ish) blond bimbo. "Hey, maybe he isn't over the hill after all."

But that's a lesser argument.

2. Over on a blog called Blah3, they make an interesting point.
You have to look at the timing of this whole thing. By letting the legal teams hash out the release of the story for three months before acquiescing to its publication, we see the release of the story just as McCain seems poised to take the GOP nomination - but still pretty far out from Election Day. Given that many TV pundits have already decided that this story will only hang around for a couple of days, all McCain needs to do is deny, deny, deny until it dies down, and presto! - he's innoculated! Any revisiting of the story between now and November - whether or not there are new revelations — will be written off by the McCain campaign as 'old news.'

... But it doesn't stop there - not by a shot. Over at Politico, McCain advisor Charlie Black lets slip that after negotiating with the Times over the story for months, now they're going to cash in on it.
First, they fight to keep it under wraps. And now, when it can't hurt him in the primaries or the election, they get to gain conservative points by fighting the libelous smear from the Gray Lady and its evil leftist agenda. And he gets to play the victim card.

Cute, isn't it?

So, do we care that McCain might be mixing Viagra with his Metamucil? Not so much... well, OK, there are probably a few people out there to whom it matters a lot. I'm not one of them. Personally, I like Matthew Yglesias' take on it in The Atlantic:
Obviously, I don't know whether or not McCain had sex with Iseman. I suppose by "what the meaning of the word 'is' is" standards, he didn't even deny having had sex with Iseman. Certainly it'd be a bit rich of McCain to get outraged that anyone would even suggest that he might engage in sexual improprieties. After all, it's well known that he repeatedly cheated on his first wife Carol, of a number of years, with a variety of women, before eventually dumping her for a much-younger heiress whose family fortune was able to help finance his political career. That's well known, I should say, except to the electorate, who would probably find that this sort of behavior detracts from McCain's "character" appeal.
Actually, most of the people to whom this whole "messing around on his wife" thing would matter aren't Democrats. You'll find them primarily on the Republican side of the fence. And that's where the reaction starts to reach the level of slapstick.

Noted Republican tool Bay Buchanan (sister of Pat) went on Anderson Cooper and actually managed to make the following statement without her large intestine, outraged by the inane and frankly ignorant content of her statement, rising out of her throat like an evil-smelling serpent and strangling her.
This is not the Democratic Party, this is a party of values. We assume our candidates have been loyal to their family.
You really don't know how to react to a statement like that. Except maybe to try and get a response from Larry Craig (if you can pull him out of the men's room) or David Vitter (hey, at least his hookers were female, even if he did have a diaper fetish). Or possibly a roundtable discussion between Rudy Giuliani and Newt Gingrich ("So, Rudy, one of your wives found out that your were divorcing her from a press conference. And Newt, you served your first wife with divorce papers while she was in the hospital, recovering from cancer surgery. Please explain how important loyalty to your family is to a Republican?")

Let's be honest, OK? The sex angle is secondary in the McCain story. It's the juicy, salacious part of the story, but it isn't the most important part. The important thing to remember is that, despite his big talk about being the only candidate "the special interests don’t give any money to," (and we'll ignore the big lie in the middle of that statement), despite claiming to be untouched by the lobbyists, every aspect of McCain's life right now is shaped by those same special interest groups.

So I guess that, one way or another, it's still about McCain being in bed with the lobbyists.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Torturous Logic

I've already pointed out that I have a problem with John McCain. I liked him earlier in his political career when he was still a moderate. But somewhere along the line, he realized that he wasn't getting younger, and probably didn't have a whole lot of elections left in him. I guess he didn't want to die as "Senator McCain" or something. But he's turned into a red, glowing caricature of a right-wing politician, and I don't see him becoming human again any time soon.

His latest outrage really annoys the crap out of me.
The Senate voted 51 to 45 on Wednesday afternoon to ban waterboarding and other harsh interrogation methods used by the Central Intelligence Agency against high-level terrorism suspects.

Senate Republicans generally opposed the bill, but several of them also did not want to cast a vote that could be construed as supporting torture, and so were relying on President Bush to make good on a threat to veto legislation limiting C.I.A. interrogation techniques.

The prohibition of harsh interrogation techniques is part of a wider intelligence authorization bill and would restrict all American interrogators to techniques allowed in the Army Field Manual, which bars the use of physical force.

The House approved the bill in December by a vote of 222 to 199, mostly along party lines. Wednesday's vote in the Senate was also along party lines. All the "no" votes were cast by Republicans, except for those of Senators Joseph I. Lieberman, an independent from Connecticut, and Ben Nelson, Democrat of Nebraska. Five Republicans and Senator Bernard Sanders, independent of Vermont, voted "yes."
Anybody want to guess how McCain voted?
Mr. McCain, a former prisoner of war, has consistently voiced opposition to waterboarding and other methods that critics say is a form torture. But the Republicans, confident of a White House veto, did not mount the challenge. Mr. McCain voted “no” on Wednesday afternoon.
OK, so, the man who was held captive in a Vietnamese prison camp is not opposed to the torture of prisoners? Can someone please tell me where this makes any kind of sense?

I mean, let's look at what happened to the man.
McCain's A-4 Skyhawk had its wing blown off by a Soviet-made SA-2 anti-aircraft missile while pulling up after dropping its bombs. McCain fractured both arms and a leg in being hit and ejecting from his plane as it went into a vertical inverted spin. He nearly drowned after he parachuted into Truc Bach Lake in Hanoi. After he regained consciousness, a mob gathered around, spat on him, kicked him, and stripped him of his clothes. Others crushed his shoulder with the butt of a rifle and bayoneted him in his left foot and abdominal area; he was then transported to Hanoi's main Hoa Loa Prison, nicknamed the "Hanoi Hilton" by American POWs.

Although McCain was badly wounded, his captors refused to give him medical care unless he gave them military information; they beat and interrogated him, but McCain only offered his name, rank, serial number, and date of birth. Soon thinking he was near death, McCain said he would give them more information if taken to the hospital, hoping he could then put them off once he was treated. A prison doctor came and said it was too late, as McCain was about to die anyway. Only when the North Vietnamese discovered that his father was a top admiral did they give him medical care and announce his capture… Interrogation and beatings resumed in the hospital; McCain gave his ship's name, squadron's name, and the attack's intended target. Further coerced to give the names of his squadron members, he supplied the names of the Green Bay Packers' offensive line.

… Now having lost 50 pounds, in a chest cast, and with his hair turned white, McCain was sent to a prisoner-of-war camp on the outskirts of Hanoi… In March 1968, McCain was put into solitary confinement, where he would remain for two years…

In August of 1968, a program of vigorous torture methods began on McCain, using rope bindings into painful positions, and beatings every two hours, at the same time as he was suffering from dysentery. Teeth and bones were broken again, as was McCain's spirit; the beginning of a suicide attempt was stopped by guards. After four days of this, McCain signed and taped an anti-American propaganda "confession" that said he was a "black criminal" and an "air pirate", although he used stilted Communist jargon and ungrammatical language to signal that the statement was forced. He felt then and always that he had dishonored his country, his family, his comrades and himself by his statement, but as he would later write, "I had learned what we all learned over there: Every man has his breaking point. I had reached mine." His injuries to this day have left him incapable of raising his arms above his head.
And he just voted to allow Americans to torture their own prisoners? How much of his self-respect is John McCain willing to sacrifice to become president?

Some of the torture apologists try to tell us that waterboarding is no worse than swimming. Others unabashedly try to tell us that torture works, and we have to keep it around in case the terrorists try to blow up Los Angeles.

Here's the sad part: like John McCain, everybody has their limits. And when you reach your limit, you're going to say whatever you think your captors want you to say. Whether it's true or not.

That's why, in 1998, Qin Yanhong, a Chinese villager, confessed to the rape and murder of a woman he'd never met. Because he was tortured.

Where has America gone? So now we arrest people and lock them away without a trial, we spy on our citizens, and we torture prisoners? Isn't that one of the reasons Bush gave for invading Iraq? Because Saddam allowed torture?

Maybe it's time for America to invade itself.

Monday, February 11, 2008

Time To Put It Back On The Table

I'm not the biggest blog in the world (heh), but the more people who link to the website to promote this, the more it shows up on Google, and the more coverage it gets.
Conyers Says He's on Edge of Starting Impeachment
By David Swanson

On Thursday, Chairman John Conyers' House Judiciary Committee held a hearing at which Attorney General Michael Mukasey said that he would not investigate torture or warrantless spying, he would not enforce contempt citations, and he would treat Justice Department opinions as providing immunity for crimes.

None of this was new, but perhaps it touched something in Conyers that had not been touched before. Following the hearing, he and two staffers met for an hour and 15 minutes with two members of Code Pink to discuss impeachment.

Conyers expressed fear of what might happen following an impeachment, fear of installing a Bush replacement or losing an election. The "corporate power structure", he said, would not allow impeachment without unleashing "blowback." Conyers told Ellen Taylor and Manijeh Saba: "You need to be more than brave and courageous. You need to be smart."

Their response? They are asking people who care about justice to help them let Conyers know that the smart thing right now would be bravery and courage.

On Rosa Parks' birthday last week, Leslie Angeline began a fast for impeachment. Taylor and over 20 other activists have joined the fast. Conyers has agreed to meet with Angeline to discuss impeachment on Tuesday.

The Chairman told Taylor and Saba that he is listening to several advocates for impeachment, including Liz Holtzman and this author, and asked "So how would it look if I allowed two women to push me over the edge?" Conyers leaned out of his chair for dramatic effect.

A number of organizations will be sending their members this alert Monday morning:
Let's push Conyers over the edge by flooding his office with phone calls, faxes, and Emails on Monday and Tuesday. Let him know that only impeachment hearings
1-will make it on TV,
2-will force compliance with subpoenas by eliminating "executive privilege",
3-will hold brazen criminals accountable, and
4-will convince voters that Democrats care about the Constitution.
Call 202-225-5126
Fax 202-225-0072
Come on, Conyers! You need to be the one to go up to Nancy Pelosi, tell her to hitch up her big girl panties and do the right thing.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

I'm Taking My Ball And Bat And Going Home!

This is excerpted from a much longer rant by a member of the Group News Blog named Jesse Wendel. The whole thing is brilliant, and tells a very important message. I couldn't have said it better myself (although I might not have said "fuck" quite as much - but that's just me). Go read the whole thing.
"Do It My Way or Else"

"I won't vote for _____, and neither will (insert social, racial, special interest group or friends here.)"

An Open Letter to the Idiots of the
Democratic Party Circular Firing Squad.

There's been talk lately about how if Obama doesn't get the nomination, some of you will take your ball and your bat and go home. That some of you'll actively work against Clinton in November.

Those of you who are American citizens, that is certainly your right.

Just as it's my right to tell you what total and complete idiots you are. Crybabies. Cowards.

This isn't Little League. It's the Show.

Two campaigns are fighting to be President of the United States, and for all the power which goes with. Do you really think there isn't much either of them won't do to win? Really?

I'm not here to defend Bill Clinton, nor Hillary Clinton. I'm defending the Democratic Party.

If you feel you and people you know or whose blogs you read, want to walk away from the Democratic Party because it won't nominate your preferred candidate, well, with no respect at all, you're an idiot. The Republicans will eat your lunch. (They have since 1980 except when Clinton was president. Or didn't you notice? Oh... you loved him then. Sorry. It's that selective memory you fair-weather Democrats have. Infectious.)

The Republicans right now, are self-destructing over this precise issue. Two-thirds of them hate any given candidate. It is ripping their party apart. Ain't it great?

- snip -

They are, maybe, just maybe, some Republicans, who will be angry enough and thus stupid enough to stay home come November, because they don't like their candidate.

Wow, do I hope so.

Boy are we stupid if we do the same. That's a circular firing squad.

- snip -

If you don't know all the different things the Office of the President controls, I'm not going to take the time to educate you in full. But we don't elect a President just because of Supreme Court nominations, to control the military, veto appropriations bills, or to represent us to other countries. That's the glitz, the Paris Hilton of being President. Small cheese compared to every-day impacts the Presidency has on YOUR life through the Executive Branch. And I do mean, on your life, personally, no matter your ethnic group, your sexual preference, your economic class.

Let me pick a few examples, not at random.

Ronald Reagan is responsible for the death of easily 1 million gay men in the United States, simply for his refusal to allow the CDC to act. The CDC knew what needed to be done. Reagan, the fuck, didn't mention AIDS, refused to allow warning or action. It would have hurt him politically.

This is but one of hundreds of thousands of examples.

Oil prices, and thus, gasoline prices are almost at inflation-adjusted record highs under Bush 43, thanks to both peak-oil and the Iraq war. There have been times when digging into our strategic reserve could have lowered those costs significantly. In almost every case, that is precisely when Bush 43 decided to store more oil in the U.S. strategic reserve, thus decreasing supply, increasing demand, increasing rates. The exception, of course, when it was to his political advantage to do otherwise.

- snip -

Now some fools say they will leave and go their own way if x. It's not fine. It's stupid. It hurts the Party. And just so we're clear, the Democratic Party is going to win this fall, one way or another, with these people or without them. And afterwards, just as the WGA will never forget the scabs, I promise you, the netroots and the Party will never forget or trust any crybabies who walk out now with their balls and bats in hand, because they weren't willing to support whomever the Democratic Party democratically elects as their candidate.

I promise you if Hillary Clinton loses the nomination, she will support Barack Obama. And I promise you if Barack Obama loses, he will support Hillary Clinton. Guaranteed.

- snip -

Either Clinton or Obama will win the Democratic nomination. If it's Obama, he is going to get massive support from everyone. If it's Clinton, she is going to get massive support from everyone. We are going to win the Presidency this fall. Too much is at stake to screw around.

And any Democrat who doesn't throw their full support behind the nominee, whoever he or she may be, is a fucking traitor to the Democratic Party, and can kiss my ass.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Why isn't this guy on Fox News?

So we have this guy named Jake Tapper on ABC's "news" blog who wrote a column that started like this:
Former President Bill Clinton was in Denver, Colorado, stumping for his wife yesterday.

In a long, and interesting speech, he characterized what the U.S. and other industrialized nations need to do to combat global warming this way: "We just have to slow down our economy and cut back our greenhouse gas emissions 'cause we have to save the planet for our grandchildren."

At a time that the nation is worried about a recession is that really the characterization his wife would want him making? "Slow down our economy"?
Unfortunately, he followed that up by actually showing the full quote, and when you put it in context, there's an entirely different message there.
"And maybe America, and Europe, and Japan, and Canada -- the rich counties -- would say, 'OK, we just have to slow down our economy and cut back our greenhouse gas emissions 'cause we have to save the planet for our grandchildren.' We could do that.

"But if we did that, you know as well as I do, China and India and Indonesia and Vietnam and Mexico and Brazil and the Ukraine, and all the other countries will never agree to stay poor to save the planet for our grandchildren. The only way we can do this is if we get back in the world's fight against global warming and prove it is good economics that we will create more jobs to build a sustainable economy that saves the planet for our children and grandchildren. It is the only way it will work.
Normally, when you take somebody out of context to that extent, it's a good idea to hide your blatant lie by not giving the full quote. You have to admire the cojones of the man, to so openly and blatantly expose his own lie right there in the middle of the column.

Then, at the end, he posted the following: "UPDATE 2: The original headline of this post was too definitive, while the larger blog post tried to express that I wasn't sure just what Clinton meant by his statement. So I changed the headline to reflect that. I understand after many, many emails that many folks think I misunderstood what the President was saying."

Unfortunately, the new headline, 'What Did Bill Clinton Mean By "We Just Have to Slow Down Our Economy" to Fight Global Warming?' still shows that he is either ignorant or a political hack.

And since I would presume that someone billed as "ABC News' Senior National Correspondent" would have taken a few journalism classes, "ignorance" probably isn't the answer in this case.

But in the off-chance that he's suffered some debilitating brain injury, let me answer the question his new headline poses, in words short enough that even he might understand. What Clinton meant was, other people might ask that question, but if we did that, countries that weren't trying to stop polluting might surpass us, and that would be a bad thing. Anyone who reads the whole quote could tell that.

Except, apparently, Jake Tapper.

And, to tell you the truth, I doubt that "many folks think I misunderstood what the President was saying." I would hope that most people are aware that Tapper deliberately mischaracterized Clinton's statement. Particularly with his follow-up "Which begs the question -- does (Hillary Clinton) want to slow down the economy?"

Sadly, judging by the reader comments that followed, there are far too many people out there willing to believe whatever they're spoon-fed, even when the lie is so obvious and blatant.

I'm surprised that ABC keeps this guy on staff. How many shoddy journalists with questionable ethics do they need?