Friday, September 19, 2008

The Delicate Subject of John McCain's Marbles

Chris Kelly in The Huffington Post, via

"Evil must be defeated!" -- John McCain 8/16/08

"Enough is enough! We're going to put an end to greed!" -- John McCain 9/17/08

It's inspiring to know that John McCain has a plan to end greed. I just hope it doesn't distract him from his mission to defeat evil. Either way, it has to kick the shit out of whatever Barack Obama's got on the docket, with his empty words and pie-in-the-sky promises.

America's choice is clear. Barack Obama, a messianic egomaniac who thinks he's, like, our savior or something, or John McCain, who will defeat evil and put an end to greed.

John McCain will not only take on special interests and Washington insiders, he'll fundamentally alter human nature. And without raising taxes, either. He'll lead us to a sort of martial nirvana where all other emotions are replaced with patriotism, and turn the United States into a shining, selfless, bipartisan cross between heaven and Sparta.

Or maybe he's just a desperate shell of a man, babbling glorp.

If Reverend Wright went around shouting stuff like "We're going to put an end to greed!" people would start thinking he was some kind of fruitcake.


You might think "I'll end greed" would be the most mortifying thing John McCain could say at one sitting. You'd be wrong. At Wednesday's town hall -- his first with Sarah Palin -- he topped himself with this explanation of her credentials:

"She has been commander in chief of the Alaska National Guard. Fact. On September 11 a contingent of the Guard deployed to Iraq and her son happened to be one of them so I think she understands national security challenges."

Which is fine except:

The governor of Alaska doesn't command the National Guard in combat overseas.

Sarah Palin didn't deploy anyone anywhere on September 11th. She was a guest speaker at an Army deployment ceremony.

Track Palin isn't in the National Guard; he's in the Army.

Sometimes it seems like it's more than John McCain can handle, just keeping all the lies about Sarah Palin straight in his head. Tomorrow he'll say she's in the Air Force herself, on a plane she bought on eBay, bombing the bridges at Toko-Ri.


It's all Shiites and Sunnis to John McCain. So what's your problem? We're told that Lord Raglan fought the entire Crimean War believing the Russians were the French. And that worked out okay because, uh, everyone under his command died.


"I know how to win wars! I know how to win wars!" -- John McCain 7/15/08

I know this is a sort of threadbare exercise -- the old switcheroo -- but imagine what would happen if Barack Obama got the Army and the National Guard mixed up.

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Wednesday, September 17, 2008

If McCain Had His Way...

A great post by John Neffinger in The Huffington Post today:

Hello? If McCain Had His Way, That'd Be Our Social Security Money Wall Street is Losing

What do we democrats have to say about the mess on Wall Street?

Today Obama said it proves that the Republican economic philosophy has failed, and I heard him mock McCain for calling for a commission because "we know how we got into this mess." Now some people think about things like "economic philosophy" a lot, and many have at least a general notion of how we got into this mess. But even though everybody cares how much money ends up in their pockets, most people are understandably a little fuzzy about all the policies and philosophies and market forces behind our very complex economy. To further confuse the issue, McCain is also saying something about reform, and taking on "fat cats," and accusing Obama of being just as cozy with these Wall Streeters as anyone else. And at this point, slightly more voters trust John McCain to handle the economy than trust Barack Obama.

As it happens, though, not that long ago we had a rare political moment in this country, a moment where the public sat up and took notice of economic policy -- and spoke out and made its voice heard too. When George W. Bush made it to term #2, he decided to try to privatize social security to reward his supporters on Wall Street with a new source of capital, customers, and fees. (Those would be the same people whose firms are now cratering under the weight of the bad debt they recklessly took on while Republican regulators looked the other way.) But as it turned out, we Americans were not about to let our elected representatives turn over our social security taxes to Wall Street financiers to gamble with if it meant losing the guaranteed income that has allowed millions upon millions of American seniors to live out their sunset years with at least a basic measure of dignity.

But while ordinary Americans spoke out, John McCain stood with Bush (hugged him awkwardly in public, even), against the American people. In fact, just six months ago, McCain again let slip his fondness for privatization.

I have been scratching my head why this has not been talked about more, especially since Obama has been having trouble winning votes among seniors. There may well be some good reason I'm missing why it hasn't been a top argument thus far.

But now that you can't look at a newspaper or TV screen without seeing the mayhem on Wall Street, it's time to remind Americans what the world would look like if John McCain was in charge of our economic policy. Plenty of people are losing plenty of their retirement savings as it is. But if we had let Bush and McCain privatize social security, some of those people would be losing a lot more. And a lot of other people with less retirement savings would be hurting even more, because they depend on social security to cover basic needs.

This is something Americans understand: social security is secure, and the stock market is anything but. There are few more personal or dramatic ways to illustrate McCain's terrible judgment than to imagine the nightmare scenario so many Americans would face if McCain and Bush had gotten their way on this -- or if McCain were to get his way as President.

When Wall Street's woes are the top story, this should be our top talking point.

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Tuesday, September 16, 2008

No More Mr. Nice Guy!

I try to be a decent fellow, I really do. Most of the time.

But sometimes people just drive a fellow over the brink.

Case in point: Someone who has a Yahoo e-mail address similar to mine but who stupidly keeps giving the wrong address (viz., mine). Or someone who has stupid friends who keep e-mailing me when they clearly mean to e-mail the other. Or both.

The Cliff Notes version: Not quite three years ago, I received several order confirmations from Yves Rocher ("The World Leader in Botanical Beauty Care," if you must know) addressed to a Mary Ann Reynolds at my address. Clearly an error. I notified customer service of this mistake; they sent their apologies; and I gave it not another thought.

Until a couple of days later, when I started getting all sorts of e-mail from various women who were trying to organize a lunch. So I helpfully e-mailed them and told the of the errors of their ways, and suggested that if they wanted Mary Ann to attend they'd best get her correct address. No reply. In fact, the erroneous mail continued ("the 15th won't work for me; how about the 19th?" and so on) for several days. Delete, delete, delete.

Over the past 35 months, the pattern has been the same. Nothing for a good long time, then a sudden rash of e-mail. From a travel agent. From a condominium manager. From the lunch group. Then nothing for a good long time. Then another rash of messages. And so on.

In every case, I helpfully e-mail the offender and suggest that they check for their friend's/customer's correct address and update their address books accordingly. And in every case I receive a courteous and apologetic reply from businesses, but never anything from "real people."

This past summer came another spate of e-mails intended for Mary Ann but sent to me. Less cheerful than in the early days--largely because these messages are coming from the same women whom I have alerted about the mistaken address--I persist in trying to do the right thing. Mary Ann is never going to see the pictures of your niece if you don't listen to what I've been trying to tell you these past three years and update your goddamn address book!

As before, no one possesses the courtesy necessary to e-mail back a simple thank-you.

Well, this past week I have received two copies of a travel itinerary for one of the individuals whom I have tried to set straight--indeed, the one with the niece, the one whom I notified in July that she still had the wrong address and who obviously can't be bothered to either update her address book or to acknowledge her annoying mistake.

And that was the last straw. Or, I guess, the last two straws.

I have tried. God knows I've tried. I have e-mailed every single woman on the let's-do-lunch list. I have e-mailed the woman who's coming out to visit Mary Ann next week. It doesn't do a bit of good. They don't acknowledge, they don't correct.

So the heck with them.

Every single message that I receive for Mary Ann will from now on go straight into the trash. And the woman who sent the itineraries, and the photos, and previous messages that I informed her were missing their mark, well, she's now on the block list.

Some people just won't let you help them. The best thing you can do for them is let them have their way.

And guess what? The old conscience is 100% clear and sunny.

In Case You Think it Can't Happen Here

Steven Rosenfeld at AlterNet:

GOP Voter Suppression Comes to Wisconsin

By Steven Rosenfeld, AlterNet
Posted on September 13, 2008

Partisan voter suppression efforts have many faces, but they all have one goal: suppressing your political opponent's voters.

In Wisconsin this past week, the Republican Attorney General, J.B. Van Hollen, filed a politically timed lawsuit that local election officials say will interfere with turnout for the presidential election on Nov. 4 and create a bureaucratic nightmare for election workers seeking to process a record number of new voter registrations before then. The AG's game plan is simple: create a bureaucratic nightmare to tie up the election machinery before Election Day and then create bottlenecks to confound voters on Election Day.

According to a Sept. 12 report by Steven Elbow at, the Wisconsin AG filed suit this past Wednesday forcing election officials to use a tactic being employed by Republicans in other states -- notably Michigan, Kansas and Louisiana -- that involves removing people from voter rolls if the addresses on their voter registration forms does not match the address on their state driver's licenses. The rationale to purge would be based on the assumption that if the addresses did not match then the voter registration would be incorrect and therefore invalid.

Never mind that Wisconsin is among a handful of states where voters can register to vote on Election Day and ostensibly clear up or correct any registration information error at that time. The suit's goal is voter suppression, which would be accomplished by causing delays in voting when people show up on Election Day and are told they are not on voter rolls and then would have to go through the registration process, delaying them and holding up other voters in line behind them.

What's especially outrageous about this tactic in Wisconsin is that the very federal election law that makes this voter purging technique illegal in most states -- the National Voter Registration Act -- exempts Wisconsin from the NVRA's voter purging process because the state has Election Day Registration. In other words, because Wisconsin is among a handful of states with the most liberal, voter-friendly laws, its voters do not have the legal protections intended to stop voter suppression in other states.

Elbow's report on quotes that city's clerk about the impact of the AG's suit.

"It will disenfranchise voters. That's what we're concerned about," City Clerk Maribeth Witzel-Behl said. "We're working on plans to make sure we don't have long lines at the polls, make sure that the lines can move smoothly and quickly. If we throw this into the mix, then it is going to slow things down."

The report reveals the Wisconsin AG is reading from a long-established GOP playbook, justifying 'ballot security' concerns under the banner of preventing voter fraud.

"Van Hollen spokesman Kevin St. John said Van Hollen wants the GAB to verify voters who registered by mail since Jan. 1, 2006, because they didn't have to show an ID," reported.

Imposing stricter voter ID laws has been the Republican legislative response to so-called Democratic voter fraud in recent years. The GOP defines this phenomena as hordes of Democrats posing as other voters and voting more than once to pad the vote count. While there are pre-existing election laws that ban such activity, and handfuls of prosecutions in states when people attempt to vote more then once, the Bush administration Justice Department has only prosecuted two dozen such cases despite devoting significant manpower hours by federal prosecutors to ferret out such abuse -- and even firing U.S. Attorneys who did not pursue such cases. The GOP strategy is based on identifying a handful of errors in filing new registration forms, a retail-level problem, if you will, and imposing a statewide response, a wholesale solution.

Stripped of discussing it in polite terms, it is akin to institutional racism -- since many of likely Democratic voters targeted by such ID laws are people of color, students and other under-represented sectors of the public.

The report says the state's election director, Kevin Kennedy, told the AG that "the (state election) board is committed to preventing voter fraud, but (said) Van Hollen's demands are too much, too soon."

"The board believes it would be counter-productive to rush this effort and to create a significant risk, at best of unnecessary hardship and confusion at the polls, and at worst the disenfranchisement of Wisconsin citizens with a clear and legitimate right to vote," Kennedy said, in the report.

Thousands of voter registrations will likely be affected if a court approves the suit, the report said.

"As the election approaches, the phones at clerks' offices get busier, so people calling back to resolve discrepancies will be less likely to get through," the report said. "The closer we get to the election, the less time we have to clear things up," Witzel-Behl said.

The partisan nature of the AG's lawsuit was best expressed in a comment by Diane Hermann-Brown, Sun Prairie city clerk, who said the court needs to act quickly if it wants counties and municipalities to comply. "I don't think he's wrong on what he's doing," she said of Van Hollen. "It probably needs to get done. It just should have been done sooner."

Hermann-Brown's comment about the suit's timing underscores why this is a partisan action, not an exercise in good government.

Selective enforcement of voting rights laws is all about shaping election rules to one party's benefit. If the Wisconsin AG was so concerned about accurate voter registration rolls dating back to January 2006, one would think he would have acted sooner than 60 days before a presidential election. Something stinks in Wisconsin elections -- and it's not the cheese.

A court hearing is scheduled for later this week.

Steven Rosenfeld is a senior fellow at and co-author of What Happened in Ohio: A Documentary Record of Theft and Fraud in the 2004 Election, with Bob Fitrakis and Harvey Wasserman (The New Press, 2006).

© 2008 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
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McCain-Palin: Running on a Lie

Eugene Robinson in the Washington Post, via

What kind of person tells a self-aggrandizing lie, gets called on it, admits publicly that the truth is not at all what she originally claimed -- and then goes out and starts telling the original lie again without changing a word?

Sarah Palin is beginning to seem like quite an unusual woman, and I'm not talking about her love of guns and "snow machines," her faith, her family or any of the presumably non-elite attributes that we in the "elite media" are accused of savaging. Wrongly accused, I should add; reporters are doing nothing more sinister than trying to find out who she is, how she thinks and what she has done in office.

One deeply troubling thing we're learning about Palin is that, as far as she's concerned, unambiguous fact doesn't appear to rise even to the level of inconvenience.

I'm sorry, but to explain my point I have to make another visit -- my last, I hope -- to the never-built, $398 million "Bridge to Nowhere" that was to join the town of Ketchikan, Alaska, with its airport on the other side of the Tongass Narrows.

You'll recall that in her Republican convention speech, Palin burnished her budget-hawk credentials by claiming she had said "thanks but no thanks" to a congressional earmark that would have paid most of the cost. A quick check of the public record showed that Palin supported the bridge when she was running for governor, continued to support it once she took office and dropped her backing only after the project -- by then widely ridiculed as an example of pork-barrel spending -- was effectively dead on Capitol Hill.

In her interview with ABC's Charles Gibson, Palin 'fessed up. It was "not inappropriate" for a mayor or a governor to work with members of Congress to obtain federal money for infrastructure projects, she argued. "What I supported," she said, "was the link between a community and its airport."

Case closed. Except that on Saturday, days after the interview, Palin said this to a crowd in Nevada: "I told Congress thanks but no thanks to that Bridge to Nowhere -- that if our state wanted to build that bridge, we would build it ourselves."

That's not just a lie, but an acknowledged lie. What she actually told Congress was more like, "Gimme the money for the bridge" -- and then later, after the whole thing had become an embarrassment, she didn't object to using the money for other projects.

I'm not shocked to learn that politicians sometimes lie. To cite an example that comes immediately to mind, John McCain's campaign ads attacking Barack Obama have taken such liberties that even Karl Rove says he wonders if they've gone too far. But it's weird for a politician -- or anyone else, really -- to maintain that an assertion is true after admitting that it isn't true.

Maybe Palin cynically believes she can keep using the "no thanks" line and manage to stay one step ahead of the truth police. Maybe she calculates that audiences would rather believe her than their lying eyes. Or maybe she really believes her own fantasy-based version of events. Maybe the Legend of Sarah Palin has become, on some level, more real to her than actual history.

And quite a legend it's turning out to be. The Post reported Sunday that as mayor of tiny Wasilla, Palin pressured the town librarian to remove controversial books from the shelves, cut funds for the town museum but somehow found the money for a new deputy administrator slot and told city employees not to talk to reporters.

And the New York Times reported Sunday that as governor, Palin appointed a high school classmate, Franci Havemeister, to a $95,000-a-year job as head of the State Division of Agriculture. Havemeister "cited her childhood love of cows as a qualification for running the roughly $2 million agency," the Times reported, noting her as one of at least five schoolmates to whom Palin has given high-paying jobs in state government.

Nothing against cows. Nothing against high-school BFFs and being true to your school. But a different picture of Sarah Palin is beginning to emerge. The McCain campaign would like us to see a straight-talking, gun-toting, moose-eviscerating, lipstick-wearing frontierswoman. Instead, we're beginning to discern an ambitious, opportunistic politician who makes no bones about rewarding friends and punishing those who stand in her way -- and who believes that truth is nothing more, and nothing less, than what she says it is.

The writer will answer questions at 1 p.m. today at His e-mail address is

Read more from Eugene Robinson at's new opinion blog, PostPartisan.

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Monday, September 15, 2008

Chris Kelly: Sarah Palin Isn't Not Not Dis-Un-Lying

Everything gets slick in Alaska, I guess. Even the past.

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Robert F. Kennedy Jr.: Governor Palin's Reading List

Fascist writer Westbrook Pegler, an avowed racist who Sarah Palin approvingly quoted in her acceptance speech for the moral superiority of small town values, expressed his fervent hope about my father, Robert F. Kennedy, as he contemplated his own run for the presidency in 1965, that "some white patriot of the Southern tier will spatter his spoonful of brains in pubic premises before the snow flies."It might be worth asking Governor Palin for a tally of the other favorites from her reading list.

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