We are the 99%

June 30, 2008

A Few Notes On Senator McCain's Finances

He's got some credit card bills! According to TheHill.com:

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and his wife reported more than $100,000 of credit card liabilities, according to financial disclosure documents released Friday.

The presidential candidate and his wife Cindy reported piling up debt on a charge card between $10,000 and $15,000. His wife’s solo charge card has between $100,000 and $250,000 in debt to American Express.

McCain's wife also has a second American Express charge card listed on the senator's financial disclosure that was carrying $100,000 to $250,000 in debt.

Another charge card with American Express, this one for a “dependent child,” is carrying debt in the range of $15,000 and $50,000.

There's more from the Huffingtonpost. Keep in mind that this is the race where the Democrat is being portrayed as the arrogant elite while the Republican is being portrayed as the maverick independent. From Huffington:

But not all credit card debts are created equal. In fact, according to a prior disclosure form filed in May that was provided to The Huffington Post, a significant amount of the McCains' credit card debt is being held by American Express at an interest rate of zero percent -- making their debt a lot less like the costly credit card pitfalls facing many Americans and a lot more like the big sweetheart loans that can get national political figures in hot water. (Sen. Barack Obama's first choice to head up his vice presidential search committee resigned this week after a controversy emerged over a favorable mortgage he received from Countrywide, a key player in the current housing crisis.)

Zero-percent credit card interest rates are not exclusively for the rich or well-connected, of course. But the most common offers of that kind are often capped at a few-thousand dollars and shed their zero percent rate after six to nine months.

According to the May 15, 2008 disclosure form, though, during 2007 Cindy McCain originated an individual debt of between $250,000 and $500,000 with a zero-percent interest AmEx that was still not paid off by the time of the time of that filing.

According to the same article at the Hill.com:

Democratic candidate, Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), reported no liabilities in his annual financial disclosures.

Gee, I wish I could go hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt to American Express (at zero percent interest), wouldn't you?

The rules are just different for the wealthy. Take a look at this interesting tidbit from the weekend. Remember all the trouble George H.W. Bush got into years ago when he didn't know the price of a loaf of bread? He looked out of touch (and he was). Take a look at this:

MARTIN WISCKOL: I’d like to ask you a couple questions suggested by voters here. They’re not reporter-type questions.

JOHN MCCAIN: Sure. It’d be a pleasure.

MARTIN WISCKOL: When was the last time you pumped your own gas and how much did it cost?

JOHN MCCAIN: Oh, I don’t remember. Now there’s Secret Service protection. But I’ve done it for many, many years. I don’t recall and frankly, I don’t see how it matters.

I’ve had hundreds and hundreds of town hall meetings, many as short a time ago as yesterday. I communicate with the people and they communicate with me very effectively.

How much MORE out of touch could someone be? He's got tens of thousands of dollars in debt at zero interest and he can't remember the last time he pumped his own gas or how much it cost when he did.

Help Save HB 2200!

From PennFUTURE:

Urgent Alert - Help Save Energy Conservation

Your state senator is a key player in the effort to move crucial legislation that will help Pennsylvanians save about 20 percent on their electricity bills and cut global warming pollution. Politics is holding up HB 2200, the energy conservation bill. You can help get HB 2200 moving. Ask your state senator to request that Senator Dominic Pileggi, Senate Majority Leader, to support HB 2200 in the final budget agreement.

Just click here to take action. This legislation must pass before the General Assembly takes its summer vacation.

Please do this today!

.

Jack Kelly Sunday

Jack Kelly tackles the nation's energy problems this week - oil, coal and nuclear. All in one column.

In doing so he spins the data (as we have learned to expect from our friend Jack) most beneficial to his case - ignoring all the qualifiers necessary to see a bigger picture.

He begins:
The headline on an otherwise first rate story in the Post-Gazette Monday was: "Coal may hold solution to gas prices." The story was about technologies to convert coal to gasoline and diesel fuel. The Shenhua Group, a Chinese firm, will open this fall in Mongolia a plant that is expected to produce 50,000 barrels a day of low sulfur gasoline and diesel fuel by 2010. The Shenhua Group is using technology developed mostly in the United States, but we have no comparable projects here, even though coal can be converted to oil for between $60 and $70 a barrel. Oil is running about $140 a barrel.
Something to notice from the very first sentence. Jack Kelly thinks the story (by Daniel Molloy) is "otherwise first rate." Jack says the story is about technologies to convert coal to gasoline and diesel fuel. That's not exactly true (more about that in a minute). The next sentence mentions a Chinese firm "The Shenhua group" and so it's easy to assume that that firm is actually mentioned in Molloy's story.

It isn't.

The next sentence, when compared to where Jack is quoting from, shows how far he's willing to spin. First Jack's sentence again:
The Shenhua Group is using technology developed mostly in the United States, but we have no comparable projects here, even though coal can be converted to oil for between $60 and $70 a barrel. Oil is running about $140 a barrel.
And the sentence Jack's quoting:
Estimates vary widely, but Richard Bajura, director of the National Research Center for Coal and Energy at West Virginia University, said liquid coal could be produced for $60 to $70 a barrel. Last week, oil prices approached $140 a barrel.
I guess Jack just left out the "estimates vary widely" part.

He also left out a larger part of Daniel Molloy's article:
But a bigger hurdle than funding is the environmental lobby, which is vigorously attacking the technology for its greenhouse gas production. From the time it's hauled out of the mine until it leaves the tailpipe, coal-to-liquid produces about twice as much carbon dioxide as petroleum.
Remember, Jack said the article is first rate - presumably that means that Jack thinks all the facts are accurate. If that's the case, then wouldn't you think he should at least make a passing reference to "produce twice as much carbon dioxide"?

In any event, even though Jack seems enchanted by the whole idea, he says that even that won't be enough.

Just to keep things interesting, he does do a little dancing:
The American Public Transportation Association estimates Americans who ride buses, subways and trains "save" 1.4 billion gallons of gasoline a year, or about 70 million barrels of oil (about 19.5 gallons of gasoline can be produced from the typical barrel of oil). That's about 191,780 barrels per day. If public transit ridership doubled, that's the additional amount we could expect to save. It's nothing to sneeze at, but the savings would be equivalent only to what four Shenhua-style CTL plants could produce.

Environmentalists who tout savings from conservation tend to dismiss the contribution drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Reserve could make to our energy supplies. But the estimated production from ANWR (a million barrels a day for 30 years) is five times what we could expect to save from the unrealistic goal of doubling mass transit ridership.
See what he did there? If you don't, ask yourself who ever said that switching to riding the bus is the only way to conserve energy?

No, no. For Jack it's increased conservation AND production. Production in the form of more nuclear power plants and drilling (of course) in ANWR and off-shore.

We've done the ANWR/Off-shore drilling argument already.

June 28, 2008

Now THIS Is Funny!

A few days ago the Republicans introduced (yet again) a Constitutional Amendment "protecting" the institution of marriage. Here's the text:

Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of the United States relating to marriage.

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled (two-thirds of each House concurring therein), That the following article is proposed as an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which shall be valid to all intents and purposes as part of the Constitution when ratified by the legislatures of three-fourths of the several States within seven years after the date of its submission by the Congress:

`Article --

`Section 1. This article may be cited as the `Marriage Protection Amendment'.

`Section 2. Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman. Neither this Constitution, nor the constitution of any State, shall be construed to require that marriage or the legal incidents thereof be conferred upon any union other than the union of a man and a woman.'.

The amendment was sponsored by Roger Wicker, Senator from Mississippi. Wicker is the guy appointed to fill the vacant seat vacated by our ole pal Trent Lott.

Nothing particularly funny until you get to the cosponsors of the "Marriage Protection Amendment."

On the list: Senator David Vitter, big fan of the world's oldest profession, and Senator Larry Craig, big fan of anonymous airport same-sex fellatio.

Now that's funny!

(Via thinkprogress.org)

June 27, 2008

Kerry With A Tan

Remember when I asked (rhetorically) this?
When can we expect McCain to denounce the racists in his own party?
Today Grover Norquist had this to say about Senator Obama:
Norquist dropped by The Times' Washington bureau today and, as part of his negative critique of Obama's liberal stances on economic issues and other matters, he termed the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee "John Kerry with a tan."
For the record, this is John Kerry with a tan:

Winning The War On Terror

Who says?

Thanks to being bogged down with dubya's illegal bloody war, the Taliban have regrouped.

Who says?

The Pentagon.

The AP has the story:

The Taliban has regrouped after its initial fall from power in Afghanistan and the pace of its attacks is likely to increase this year, according to a Pentagon report that offers a dim view of progress in the nearly seven-year-old war.

Noting that insurgent violence has climbed, the report said that despite U.S. and coalition efforts to capture and kill key leaders, the Taliban is likely to "maintain or even increase the scope and pace of its terrorist attacks and bombings in 2008."

The Taliban, it said, has "coalesced into a resilient insurgency."

Had the US not invaded a country that posed no threat, had we concentrated our efforts on capturing Osama bin Laden and on demolishing al-Qaeda maybe, just maybe, things in Afghanistan would be different.

Instead we got an illegal war, a administration that lied to the American people in order to get us into that war and (do I really need to end this sentence?) 4,000 American servicemen and women dead.

I didn't even get to mention the war crimes.

The Unitary Executive

Yesterday in Washington, Representative John Conyers tried to nail down some limits to the Executive's power with one of the administration's architects of it's torture policy, John Yoo.

If there's a better example of stonewalling, I haven't seen it.

Here's a transcript from TPMuckraker for that portion of the youtube clip (it's about 1:30 in):

Conyers: Could the President order a suspect buried alive?

Yoo: Uh, Mr. Chairman, I don't think I've ever given advice that the President could order someone buried alive. . .

Conyers: I didn't ask you if you ever gave him advice. I asked you thought the President could order a suspect buried alive.

Yoo: Well Chairman, my view right now is that I don't think a President . . . no American President would ever have to order that or feel it necessary to order that.

Conyers: I think we understand the games that are being played

Notice Yoo's non-answer answer. First he tries to say he's never given the President advice to bury someone alive (not an answer, not even a good deflection) and then he says that no President would have to order that or feel it necessary to order it.

Not that the President can't order someone to be buried alive.

It should have been a simple yes or no.

That Yoo failed to say "no" should give us all great pause.

June 25, 2008

Climate Change and The Trib

I can't believe these guys are still making this argument. From the Trib's editorial board:

There's yet more evidence that global warming alarmists are scared to death that the jig is up on their orchestrated efforts to foist entire landfills of junk science on a very gullible public.
Later on in the editorial:

But these days, even his agency's own data should be muzzling the beaks of the Chicken Littles free-ranging on the global warming barnyard. After all, GISS' own data show the Earth's temperature not only has been static over the last decade but actually has been falling. [italics in original]
It's that last part that caught my eye. No where in the editorial do they say where (other than "GISS' own data") they got that information. The part of the sentence that should have jumped out at you is this one:

...over the last decade...
As scientists track climate change over centuries I guess it is possible for a decade here and there to be static in comparison. But let's take a look at the actual real-life data from GISS and see if we can make some sense out of The Trib's editorial expertise.


First there's this:


Now here's the data from the last decade (as far as I can cut and paste):

Notice how the last decade's data (the black squares) are all in the same relative area? Notice how the first one and the last one are in basicall the same place?

That MUST prove that the temperature over the last decade has been static.

Never mind the near constant upward sweep from 1945 or so. Or the general upward sweep from 1910 or so.

No no. Because on this graph, the data from the last decade looks static, that proves that the science of climate change is, in the words of the meteroligical experts at the Trib's editorial page, "junk science."

Also, never mind that the GISS has also stated:

The year 2007 tied for second warmest in the period of instrumental data, behind the record warmth of 2005, in the Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS) analysis.

And what about 2005?

The year 2005 was the warmest year in over a century, according to NASA scientists studying temperature data from around the world.

But wait, I thought the earth was cooling! The experts at the Trib said so!

A New High, A New Low

Some new poll numbers from the LATimes/Bloomberg. When asked:
Do you approve or disapprove of the way George W. Bush is handling his job as president?
only 23% answered "approve" (a new low for that poll) and a striking 73% answered "disapprove" (a new high).

Worst. President. Ever.

June 24, 2008

Obama's Seal

Tony Norman's column today is about this:



The Seal.

Tony's column begins with this:

Some of my grumpier Republican friends are in a lather over the Obama campaign's hubris of late. Its tweaking of the official presidential seal was unveiled at a meeting of Democratic governors in Chicago last week.

The New York Daily News quotes Tucker Bounds, Senator McCain's spokesman, saying:

I think we can all agree that we need presidential candidates that are serious enough not to play make-believe on the campaign trail.

And:

It's laughable, ridiculous, preposterous and revealing all at the same time.
Remember those quotes - I wanna get back to them.

Via crooksandliars, I found this steaming pile of truth at the Weekly Standard. They're claiming it's illegal.

Since when are conservatives concerned about campaign illegalities? McCain's over his spending limit with nary a peep from these guardians of our public safety.

Whatever - so it's illegal to copy the presidential seal? Ok fine. Tell that to the Republicans

Take a look at what this blog found.

The Seal of the Republican Presidential Task Force:
The Replican Senatorial Inner Circle:
The Republican Presidential Roundtable: I mean, illegal IS illegal, right?

By the way, Obama has dropped his use of the seal. Will the Republicans follow suit and stop their illegal seal activities?

Yea, I doubt that, too.

June 22, 2008

Jack Kelly Sunday

While the AP is reporting that Senator John McCain's campaign has been "hampered by missteps," our own Jack Kelly points out the three signposts that point the way to a McCain landslide (yes, he used the word "landslide") in November. He quickly adds that it's an "unlikely event" that McCain will heed them.

No bother, let's take a look at these signposts.

One - the cost of energy. Kelly's solution, of course is to drill for more oil (off the coasts of Florida and California and in ANWR) and to build more nuclear power plants.

I do want to go on record saying that Jack Kelly calls John McCain a flip-flopper. Take a look:
Now that John McCain has flip- flopped on drilling off of our coasts, there is a substantial difference between him and Mr. Obama on the issue.
John McCain's a flip-flopper. Jack Kelly sez so.

Anyway back to the signpost:
Opinion polls indicate a large majority now supports drilling for oil off our coasts and in Alaska. That majority is likely to expand and harden as gas prices rise yet higher this summer. But Mr. McCain can't fully capitalize politically on this change in public attitude unless he completes his flip-flop and consents to drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Here's where Jack gets into some trouble. The opinion poll mentioned is probably Gallup. In answser to the question:

Please say whether you would favor or oppose taking each of the following steps to attempt to reduce the price of gasoline. How about: Allowing oil drilling in U.S. coastal and wilderness areas now off-limits to oil exploration.

57% favored, 41% opposed, and 2% had no opinion.

However (and this is the trouble for Jack) in the same press release, Gallup points out that last March when asked specifically about drilling in ANWR the numbers are a teensy bit different. In response to the question:
Do you think the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge in Alaska should or should not be opened up for oil exploration?
52% said no and 43% said yes.

See the problem? Gallup does point out a few things:
The differences in the responses to the broad May question and the earlier question focused specifically on ANWR could reflect the difference in the wording and could also reflect the difference in time frame. The May question asked about "coastal and wilderness areas now off-limits to oil exploration" while the March question was more specifically targeted to ANWR. Furthermore, there is a two-month difference in the timing of the questions. The price of gas has risen in a seemingly inexorable fashion even in this short time period, suggesting the possibility that attitudes may have changed concomitantly.
The point being, of course, that based on Gallup's numbers there's no way to tell whether at this point opinion polls show support for oil exploration in ANWR. And yet Jack Kelly writes that because a majority support exploration in previously off-limits areas, John McCain should push to open up ANWR.

Sneaky, our friend Jack is.

But let's say ANWR is opened up. What then? This is from the Energy Information Administration ("The Official Energy Statistics from the U.S. Government"):
The opening of the ANWR 1002 Area to oil and natural gas development is projected to increase domestic crude oil production starting in 2018. In the mean ANWR oil resource case, additional oil production resulting from the opening of ANWR reaches 780,000 barrels per day in 2027 and then declines to 710,000 barrels per day in 2030. In the low and high ANWR oil resource cases, additional oil production resulting from the opening of ANWR peaks in 2028 at 510,000 and 1.45 million barrels per day, respectively. Between 2018 and 2030, cumulative additional oil production is 2.6 billion barrels for the mean oil resource case, while the low and high resource cases project a cumulative additional oil production of 1.9 and 4.3 billion barrels, respectively.

So production will begin ten years from now and will peak ten years later. Depending on which estimate comes closest, it will add between 1.9 billion and 4.3 billion barrels of oil over those 12 years (and remember this is ten years from now). According (again) to the EIA, the US consumes 20 million barrels a day - now. Adding 800,000 barrels per day 10 years from now won't do much.

And as for off-shore drilling according to the same EIA:
The projections in the OCS access case indicate that access to the Pacific, Atlantic, and eastern Gulf regions would not have a significant impact on domestic crude oil and natural gas production or prices before 2030.
And:
Because oil prices are determined on the international market, however, any impact on average wellhead prices is expected to be insignificant.
It would be a HUGE boon to the oil companies' profit margins. Anyway to help those guys out, you know.

At this point the column really runs out of gas. My guess (and it's just a guess) is that he really wanted the entire column to be on the first signpost, but couldn't find enough material. So he had to add the follow (quite weak) arguments.

Sign post two - Foreign affairs. Jack writes:
The second sign post is Mr. Obama's clumsy embrace of a Sept. 10 attitude toward the war on terror. The law enforcement approach toward fighting it is precisely what led to Sept. 11, 2001. Fortunately, national security is the one issue Mr. McCain knows something about. The danger for him here is that he'll overemphasize it. The fact that we're winning the war on terror makes most Americans less interested in it, and more focused on economic concerns. Voter anxiety about Mr. Obama's fitness to be commander-in-chief is a strong subsidiary issue. But this election will be won or lost at the gas pump.
As for McCain's expertise on foreign affairs, I'll point you to The Nation this week:
Given this all but unchallenged media narrative, it can be an astounding experience to scrutinize McCain's record of judgment in the harsh light of history. For instance, before the Bush Administration embarked on its disastrous course in Iraq, McCain promised that a successful US invasion would "serve as a counterpoint to the state-directed Arab media's distortion of the Palestinian conflict." He told CNN viewers on September 12, 2002, that he was "very certain that this military engagement will not be very difficult" and, a month later, that "success will be fairly easy." When asked by Chris Matthews in March 2003 whether the Iraqis would treat Americans as liberators, McCain answered, "Absolutely, absolutely." In light of these and other such predictions, it is difficult to imagine just what the editors of the Washington Post were thinking when they instructed readers, "Whatever your position on the war, then or now, Mr. McCain deserves credit for foresight and consistency about how the war should have been waged."[emphasis added]
Some expertise. The Nation also points out some other mistakes by this foreign policy expert:
"As you know, there are Al Qaeda operatives that are taken back into Iran, given training as leaders, and they're moving back into Iraq." As media scholar Jay Rosen pointed out, McCain made this false claim four times, although Gen. David Petraeus had refuted it.
And:
McCain also recently misstated the number of US troops in Iraq, saying on May 29 that "we have drawn down to pre-surge levels." The military, in fact, is two full brigades above the pre-surge levels.
Again, some expertise.

Signpost three. Now this one is confusing. Jack writes:

The third sign post was illuminated by the flap over the receipt by the (now former) head of Mr. Obama's vice presidential selection committee and two prominent U.S. senators of below-market-rate loans from Countrywide Financial Corp., which Mr. Obama has charged is in large part responsible for the subprime mortgage crisis. One of those senators, Chris Dodd of Connecticut, is trying to push through Congress a bill that would, in effect, bail out Countrywide.

This glaring conflict of interest hasn't attracted much attention from the news media because for most journalists a scandal isn't really a scandal unless Republicans are involved.

Let's see. Johnson is already gone and Dodd isn't running for President. So the conflict of interest is...where? I truly love that last sentence. I guess Jack missed the media's coverage of Jeremiah Wright (while largely ignoring Reverend Hagee) and Michelle Obama's lack of pride in the country (while ignoring both Laura Bush's comments and John McCain's own lack of love for the nation until he became a POW.

Yea, the media only covers scandals when Republicans are involved.

What newspaper is Jack Kelly reading??

June 21, 2008

McCain Campaign Finance Scandal Explained

Again.

This time from Mediamatters.org. After pointing out how the media gave Senator McCain a pss while pouncing on Senator Obama, Jamison Foster writes:

John McCain said he would take public financing for the Republican primaries. Then he used the promise of that public financing to help secure a loan for his campaign. Then, after he wrapped up the Republican nomination, he abruptly decided he did not want to be bound by the limits on campaign fundraising and spending that accompany public financing, so he announced that he had changed his mind.

But Federal Election Commission chairman David Mason sent McCain a letter saying that he cannot unilaterally opt out of the public financing system without FEC approval -- a letter the McCain campaign ignored. If McCain cannot opt out of the system unilaterally, he has broken the law by raising and spending funds in excess of legal limits, and continues to do so each day. Even if McCain isn't breaking the law, he has already broken his word and "reversed himself" on the question of whether he would take public funding for the primaries.

The Washington Post explained McCain's sleight-of-hand trick last February:

But McCain's attempts to build up his campaign coffers before a general election contest appeared to be threatened by the stern warning yesterday from Federal Election Commission Chairman David M. Mason, a Republican. Mason notified McCain that the commission had not granted his Feb. 6 request to withdraw from the presidential public financing system.

The implications of that could be dramatic. Last year, when McCain's campaign was starved for cash, he applied to join the financing system to gain access to millions of dollars in federal matching money. He was also permitted to use his FEC certification to bypass the time-consuming process of gathering signatures to get his name on the ballot in several states, including Ohio.

By signing up for matching money, McCain agreed to adhere to strict state-by-state spending limits and an overall limit on spending of $54 million for the primary season, which lasts until the party's nominating convention in September. The general election has a separate public financing arrangement.

But after McCain won a series of early contests and the campaign found its financial footing, his lawyer wrote to the FEC requesting to back out of the program -- which is permitted for candidates who have not yet received any federal money and who have not used the promise of federal funding as collateral for borrowing money.

Mason's letter raises two issues as the basis for his position. One is that the six-member commission lacks a quorum, with four vacancies because of a Senate deadlock over President Bush's nominees for the seats. Mason said the FEC would need to vote on McCain's request to leave the system, which is not possible without a quorum. Until that can happen, the candidate will have to remain within the system, he said.

The second issue is more complicated. It involves a $1 million loan McCain obtained from a Bethesda bank in January. The bank was worried about his ability to repay the loan if he exited the federal financing program and started to lose in the primary race. McCain promised the bank that, if that happened, he would reapply for matching money and offer those as collateral for the loan. While McCain's aides have argued that the campaign was careful to make sure that they technically complied with the rules, Mason indicated that the question needs further FEC review.

If the FEC refuses McCain's request to leave the system, his campaign could be bound by a potentially debilitating spending limit until he formally accepts his party's nomination. His campaign has already spent $49 million, federal reports show.

Knowingly violating the spending limit is a criminal offense that could put McCain at risk of stiff fines and up to five years in prison.

If he'd already spent $49 million by last February, how much you wanna bet he's been over the $54 million limit by now?

June 20, 2008

15 points

From Newsweek:
Barack finally has his bounce. For weeks many political experts and pollsters have been wondering why the race between Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain had stayed so tight, even after the Illinois senator wrested the nomination from Hillary Clinton. With numbers consistently showing rock-bottom approval ratings for President Bush and a large majority of Americans unhappy with the country's direction, the opposing-party candidate should, in the normal course, have attracted more disaffected voters. Now it looks as if Obama is doing just that. A new NEWSWEEK Poll shows that he has a substantial double-digit lead, 51 percent to 36 percent, over McCain among registered voters nationwide.
51% to 36%.

That's a 15% difference.

McCain's Own Funding Scandal

Jim O'Toole has a rundown in yesterday's P-G of the news that Senator Obama opted out of public financing:

Illinois Sen. Barack Obama yesterday opened the way for the freest-spending general-election campaign in presidential history with a controversial but widely anticipated decision to opt out of the federal financing system.

The choice to rely on the fundraising juggernaut he built through the primaries all but assures the Democratic standard-bearer of a major financial advantage over Arizona Sen. John McCain, one that will give him the tactical freedom to expand the number of states he can realistically contest in the fall campaign.

In light of previous statements that he planned to participate in the taxpayer-funded system, however, Mr. Obama opened himself to criticism that he had allowed pragmatic political considerations to subvert a centerpiece of post-Watergate efforts to curb the influence of money in politics.

The winguts, of course, are crying foul. That paragon of truth and beauty, Newsmax:

Barack Obama chose winning over his word.

The Democrat once made a conditional agreement to accept taxpayer money from the public financing system, and accompanying spending limits, if his Republican opponent did, too.

No more.

The thing the winguts are missing (and this is probably on purpose) is the fact that John McCain has been breaking campaign finance law for months.

Breaking.

Here's Josh Marshall, Talking Points Memo:

I mentioned earlier today that it was quite a thing to see John McCain denouncing Barack Obama for breaking his word on public financing when McCain himself is at this moment breaking the law in continuing to spend over the spending limits he promised to abide by through the primary season in exchange for public financing. (By the FEC's rules, we're still in the primary phase of the election and will be until the conventions.)

I want to return to this subject though because this is not hyperbole or some throw away line. He's really doing it. McCain opting into public financing, accepted the spending limits and then profited from that opt-in by securing a campaign saving loan. And then he used some clever, but not clever enough lawyering, to opt back out. And the person charged with saying what flies and what doesn't -- the Republican head of the FEC -- said he's not allowed to do that. He can't opt out unilaterally unless the FEC says he can.

The most generous interpretation of what happened is that McCain's lawyer came up with an ingenious legal two step that allowed him to double dip in the campaign finance system, eat his cake and spend it too. But even if you buy that line, successful gaming of the system doesn't really count as strict adherence. And the point is irrelevant since the head of the FEC -- a Republican -- says McCain cannot do this on his own.

O'Toole touches on this:

Renewing a long-standing criticism, the Obama campaign contended that Mr. McCain's hands were not clean on campaign spending issues, noting that he had once indicated that he would accept federal matching funds and spending limits during the primaries, only to back out of that stance later.

Mr. Potter responded that the McCain campaign had said all along that the possibility of participating in the federal public-funding system for the primaries was only an option, not a commitment by the campaign.

Democratic critics have pointed to the Federal Election Commission contention that Mr. McCain should have sought its permission to withdraw from the primary campaign public-funding system, a position Mr. McCain's lawyers have rejected.

Marshall explained it all last February:



John McCain. Maverick. Straight-shooter. Playing fast and loose with campaign finance law.

John McCain Context

This hit the news last night. In light of the right-wing noise machine squawking endlessly over Michelle Obama's comments on being proud of this country, Dan Abrams found a very interesting quote from Senator John McCain.

I didn't really love America until I was deprived of her company.
Flipped over, it says that he didn't love America until he was a POW. He was born in 1936 and became a POW in 1967.

So he didn't love America for the first 31 years of his life??

Dan Abrams dissects the right's noise machine on this. There's a context, he says, to McCain's sentence, one that he doesn't question. Dan Abrams doesn't think McCain ever hated America. However the noise machine, while putting McCain's sentence in context won't extend the same courtesy to Obama. There's really no difference between her utterance and McCain's.

Have a look:


It's fun to watch Jonathan Alter spank the wingnut radio host, by the way.

June 19, 2008

Fact Checking Lil Ricky

Lordy, lordy Rick Santorum's got another column out today!

Another opportunity for him to spin and mangle the historical record. Another opportunity for me to fact-check.

Ain't life grand?

It's good to see that Lil Ricky is trying to do something constructive with his time. I wonder how he fared with his interest-only mortgage? A half-mil was due this past November.

Back to his column. The general point of the column is Senator Obama's so-called "Israel problem." As evidence he cuts and pastes quotes from the record. Let's go take a look. The vote:
In Pennsylvania, Hillary Rodham Clinton defeated Obama by 10 points but won the Jewish vote by 24. It was as bad, if not worse, in other states with sizable Jewish populations. In November, polls indicate he will run 20 to 30 points behind the typical Democratic presidential candidate among Jewish voters.
He goes back to November (by my count more than 7 months ago) to bring up that last point. Perhaps he should have looked at some more recent data. Here's Gallup from April:
Barack Obama is faring better than might be expected among Jewish voters, beating John McCain in Gallup Poll Daily general-election matchups and trailing Hillary Clinton only slightly in Jewish Democrats' preferences for the Democratic nomination.
And:
In terms of the general election, Jewish voters nationwide are nearly as likely to say they would vote for Obama if he were the Democratic nominee running against the Republican McCain (61%), as to say they would vote for Clinton (66%).
And this is might be why Rick didn't want to reference this Gallup data:

Rather than declining between March and April, support for Obama versus McCain among Jewish voters has increased slightly, from a 23-point margin in favor of Obama (58% to 35%) to a 29-point margin (61% to 32%).

The results are similar for Clinton, who received 66% of the vote from Jewish Democrats in April, compared with 27% for McCain -- a 39-point lead. Clinton led McCain by 29 points in March, 61% to 32%.

Somehow I don't think that of the two of them Senator Obama should be as worried about the Jewish vote as Senator McCain.

Back to Rick:
In September, the U.S. Senate passed a resolution, by a vote of 76-22, that labeled the Iranian Revolutionary Guard a terrorist organization. Obama didn't make the vote, but he trashed the resolution and used Clinton's support of it to drive a wedge between her and the antiwar crowd. At the same time, Obama famously announced that he would meet Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad "without precondition" and declared that Iran was merely a "tiny threat."
This one will take a little work. Let's start at the end and move our way backward. Here's where the "tiny threat" line comes from:

And a transcript of the "tiny threat" part:
Strong countries and strong presidents talk to their adversaries. That's what Kennedy did with Khruschev. That's what Reagan did with Gorbachev. That's what Nixon did with Mao. I mean think about it. Iran, Cuba, Venezuela - these countries are tiny compared to the Soviet Union. They don't pose a serious threat to us the way the Soviets posed a serious threat to us. And yet we were willing to talk to the Soviet Union.
Please note the comparison. Iran is a tiny country compared to the former Soviet Union (true). It's military might is tiny in comparison to the former Soviet Union (also true). The Soviet Union was a serious threat to National Security (true, again) and so Iran doesn't pose as serious a threat the way the Soviets did (again and again true). And yet to Ricky, he spins it into saying that Senator Obama says that Iran is a "tiny threat."

Not true, Rick. Not even a good try.

I've written on the meeting without "without condition" stuff before (go look for it, it's not bad).

Now onto the first part of Lil Ricky's paragraph. Rick is using it, I suppose, to imply that Senator Obama doesn't think that the Revolutionary Guard should be designated as a terrorist organization.

From the Obama website:
Obama Cosponsored The Iran Counter-Proliferation Act, Which Would Designate The Iranian Revolutionary Guard As A Terrorist Organ, Prohibit Trade With Iran, Freeze Iranian Officials' Assets, Help Combat Terrorist Financing.
And about that resolution vote. Rick seems to be making hay about the fact that Senator Obama missed the vote. Actually there were TWO Senators who missed that vote. Obama was one.

Senator John McCain was the other.

Rick ties up the column with your standard guilt-by-association argument. He goes after Obama for his connections to Jeremiah Wright (already denounced by Obama) on account of Wright's associations. Staggering. Take a look:
Then there's the company Obama keeps. The Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr.'s anti-American sound bites are tame in comparison to his anti-Zionist diatribes. Everyone knows Wright honored the anti-Semitic Louis Farrakhan with an award. Less known is that the bulletin of Obama's former church once featured an open letter from Palestinian Ali Baghdadi. "I must tell you that Israel was the closest ally to the white supremacists of South Africa," he wrote. "Both worked on an ethnic bomb that kills Blacks and Arabs."
Rick doesn't say what, if anything, Obama had to do with any of that. Or what he could do about it - other than leaving the church. Hey, he has!

Hey, speaking of associations, did you know that Rick Santorum is scheduled to speak at Reverend Hagee's Christians United for Israel summit this July?

Lil Ricky will be speaking TWICE on Monday, July 21. The topic of discussion is "Radical Islam: In Their Own Words" and I hope Rick does a better job quoting there than he does here.

Rick's associated with the same Reverend Hagee who famously said the Catholic Church was the "whore of Babylon" (and backpedalled just as famously when it wasn't politically expedient), he's also said that the Anti-Christ is "partially Jewish, as was Adolph Hitler."

Oh, Hagee also said the Anti-Christ is gay. That must explain Rick's "man on dog" comment.

Or maybe it doesn't. Who knows when dealing with Lil Ricky Santorum?

FYI

A new job opportunity unexpectedly came my way on June 3rd and I started my new job on the 6th. I now leave for work EIGHT hours earlier than before and work more hours a week. I have not yet adjusted to the time change and figured out when exactly I can blog, but I'm working on it. Thanks, David, for keeping up 2pj in the meantime!

Panty Palooza


From Planned Parenthood Western Pennsylvania Action Fund:

PANTY PALOOZA

Planned Parenthood Western Pennsylvania Action Fund recognizes that politics can be an intimate subject — very intimate. Our signature fundraiser Panty Palooza honors that fact.

This is Planned Parenthood Western Pennsylvania Action Fund's (PPWPAF) eighth annual design-based fund- and friend-raiser. Stiff Competition, now Panty Palooza, was originally established to locally publicize the Planned Parenthood's reproductive rights and health messages in a new and humorous way, while appealing to a diverse target market. We've enjoyed all of the entries, and cheer all of our past winners, including the Rosie the Riverter condom: "We Can Do It If You Use It!" and our very first Award Winner, the still current PennDot Condom: "Make Sure your little Commuters can't get to the Golden Triangle" — just to name just a few.

On Thursday, June 19, 2008 from 6 to 9 p.m., PPWPAF's now (in)famous annual event will take place at Your Inner Vagabond. In celebration of this presidential election year artists, writers, and designers are encouraged to concoct political slogans for candidates that might not make it out of the focus group.

Stiff Competition accounts for 70% of PPWPAF's annual budget.


Panty Palooza
Date:
TODAY! 06/19/08 06:00 PM
Location:
Your Inner Vagabond
Address: 4130 Butler, Pittsburgh, PA 15201

RSVP
HERE.
.

June 18, 2008

Bush Committed War Crimes!

And that's not just me saying it.

It's Major General Antonio Taguba (US Army Ret). From McClatchy:

The Army general who led the investigation into prisoner abuse at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison accused the Bush administration Wednesday of committing "war crimes" and called for those responsible to be held to account.

The remarks by Maj. Gen. Antonio Taguba, who's now retired, came in a new report that found that U.S. personnel tortured and abused detainees in Iraq, Afghanistan and Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, using beatings, electrical shocks, sexual humiliation and other cruel practices.

"After years of disclosures by government investigations, media accounts and reports from human rights organizations, there is no longer any doubt as to whether the current administration has committed war crimes," Taguba wrote. "The only question that remains to be answered is whether those who ordered the use of torture will be held to account."

No longer any doubt.

Taguba writes in the Preface:
This report tells the largely untold human story of what happened to detainees in our custody when the Commander-in-Chief and those under him authorized a systematic regime of torture. This story is not only written in words: It is scrawled for the rest of these individuals’ lives on their bodies and minds. Our national honor is stained by the indignity and inhumane treatment these men received from their captors.
Can we impeach NOW?

Republican Iconography

Have you seen this yet?


According to the Dallas News, it's a button being sold by a company called Republicanmarketing.com at the GOP State Convention in dubya's home state of Texas.

Then there's this from another Redder than Red state known as Utah:



On the one hand, the "puppet" has been discontinued. The message on the website thesockobama.com reads:

We are very apologetic to all who were upset by our toy idea.

We will not be proceeding with the manufacturing of this toy.

Thank you.

On the other hand, this hit the news yesterday:

A Utah couple who earlier apologized for a Barack Obama sock monkey that was decried as racist say they may still sell the toy.

David and Elizabeth Lawson of West Jordan, owners of TheSockObama LLC, said after a swarm of bloggers decried their toy as racist that the sock monkey based on the Illinois senator and presumptive Democratic nominee for president would not be manufactured.

However, the Lawsons said Monday that "a few new opportunities have been presented" to produce the monkey.

From Senator McCain's website back in January:
If McCain does get the nod of his party, he has promised, he will wage a civil campaign.
When can we expect McCain to denounce the racists in his own party?
=====
UPDATE: Republicanmarket.com gets bounced from the GOP conventions:

The Texas Republican Party is distancing itself from a vendor who sold campaign buttons at last weekend's state convention that asked, "If Obama is president ... will we still call it The White House?"

The state GOP party said Wednesday that it will donate the $1,500 rent it collected from the vendor, Republicanmarket.com, to Midwestern flood victims.

Good for them.

Worried about Ohio, Florida, and Pennsylvania?

First the caveat. Poll numbers are snapshots. The reality they reflect changes. But at this point, Senator Obama's ahead in these three very important states.

From TPM Election Central:
Florida
Obama (D) 47%,
McCain (R) 43%
Margin of error: ±2.6%

Ohio
Obama (D) 48%,
McCain (R) 42%
Margin of error: ±2.6%

Pennsylvania
Obama (D) 52%,
McCain (R) 40%
Margin of error: ±2.5%
The numbers are from Quinnipiac.

Wow, Obama's up by 12 points in Pennsylvania. More from TPM:
According to our Election Central Poll Tracker, this is the first poll ever in which Obama has led McCain in Florida. Obama previously had a lot of trouble here thanks to the primary controversies that kept him out of the state, but this poll shows he's overcoming that difficulty rather quickly. Even if part of it is a post-primary boost, it would still seem to say that any ill will from the primaries is over with.
In case you were worried.

June 16, 2008

Reminder: Tuesday I'm ON THE AIR

I'll be sitting in for Lynn Cullen Tuesday between 9 and noon.

Go here and click the "listen live" icon to, uh, well, listen live.

Still hammering down the schedule but the Macyapper himself, John McIntire will be my guest for the whole last hour.

At some point during the three hours, we will be discussing impeachment.

UPDATE:

Here's the schedule.

9:15 - Doug Shields. We'll look at some local issues regarding the City Council.
10:30 - Elizabeth De La Vega. A few years ago she wrote "U.S. v Bush" a book on the Impeachment of George W Bush. We'll be discussing this article from "The Public Record."
11:00 - The Macyapper himself will be on for the entire last hour

John McCain, Friend of Women Everywhere

Anyone Remember Tex Antoine?

He was the weather-guy at WABC New York for many many years. Then one day in late 1976 he reportedly followed a story of a violent rape of a 5 year old girl with this:

With rape so predominant in the news lately, it is well to remember the words of Confucius: 'If rape is inevitable, lie back and enjoy it.'

As I recall, he was gone from the station a very short time later. Apologies all around.

I told you that story in order to better frame this one.

On June 13, ABC reported:

Sen. John McCain on Friday abruptly cancelled a Monday fundraiser that had been scheduled at the home of a Texas oilman, after ABC News contacted the campaign inquiring about a verbal blunder the Texan made during an unsuccessful 1990 campaign for governor.

Clayton Williams stirred controversy during his 1990 campaign for governor of Texas with a botched attempt at humor in which he compared rape to weather. Within earshot of a reporter, Williams said: “As long as it's inevitable, you might as well lie back and enjoy it.”

Cancelled. Good for them. Perhaps they should have vetted Mr Williams a little better, but good for them for cancelling the event.

Or did they?

June 14, the Houston Chronicle reported:

McCain's campaign late Friday said it had pulled the plug on a fundraising event scheduled for Monday at Williams' Midland home after reporters contacted the campaign asking about remarks made by the Texas Republican during his 1990 race against Democrat Ann Richards.

But Saturday afternoon, the McCain campaign told the Houston Chronicle that the Midland event had been postponed until this summer and would be held in a public venue.

Seems that there was a compromise:

Items posted Friday evening on the the Houston Chronicle's "Texas on the Potomac" blog, along with Web pieces by ABC News and the Washington Post, triggered nearly 24 hours of sometimes-tense communications between the McCain campaign and the Williams camp.

Late Saturday afternoon, a McCain aide confirmed to the Chronicle that the Midland event had been postponed but had not been taken off the calendar. The compromise allowed McCain to say he had not held a fundraiser at Williams' house; it gave Williams an opportunity to say that the event he organized had not been canceled.

I mean the man had already raised $300,000 for Mr Straight Talk. You don't let a little thing like an offensive rape joke get in the way of money like that, do you?

So remember, a Vote for McCain is...

Nah, I won't even bother.

June 15, 2008

Jack Kelly Sunday

This week's column is more proof that Jack Kelly's an active part of the right wing noise machine polluting our nation's political discourse.

I'll start, not with the column but with this article from the AP:

The Republican National Committee was quick and relentless in jumping on an article published Saturday in The Wall Street Journal, which questioned favorable mortgage loans obtained by Jim Johnson. A former chairman of mortgage lender Fannie Mae, Johnson was leading Obama's effort to select a running mate.

Obama largely ignored the criticism on Monday and Tuesday. But on Wednesday, Johnson stepped down.

When he did, the RNC increased its criticisms of another member of Obama's vice presidential vetting team, former Deputy Attorney General Eric Holder. Using e-mails, conference calls and other outlets, the committee challenged Holder's role in a pardon given to fugitive financier Marc Rich in the final days of Bill Clinton's presidency.

Do I even need to point out what Jack does this week?

Point one: Jim Johnson's mortgage baggage - check:
The Wall Street Journal reported Mr. Johnson received $1.9 million in loans at below market rates from Countrywide Financial, thanks to his friendship with Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo. This was embarrassing for Sen. Obama, because he has laid much of the blame for the subprime mortgage crisis on Countrywide.
And Jack really has to work on his clarity Far be it from me, a lowly blogger scribe, to give him a lesson in his writing skils but in some places he's just not clear enough. He writes:
In 2004, it was learned that Fannie Mae executives had concealed $10.6 billion in losses through questionable accounting practices. This was about 19 times the size of Enron's losses, but attracted much less media attention, perhaps because, as Slate's Daniel Gross put it in a 2004 article, Fannie Mae "has become something of a holding pen for key Democrats."
What this has to do with Johnson's Citywide mortgate, I have no idea. And you may think that Jack is quoting Gross that the reason Fannie Mae has attracted much less media attention is that it's "something of a holding pen" for Democrats. Well my friends, here's the Gross article. And here's the paragraph Jack quotes from:
Fannie Mae is taking a beating on the Hill and in the marketplace of public opinion. The stock is down, and the stock of CEO Raines is down even more. (One of the undiscussed subtexts here is that Fannie Mae, an equal opportunity political donor, has become something of a holding pen for key Democrats.) But while there may be calls to privatize the company or revoke some of its privileges, the smart money is betting no significant changes are in the offing.
So while Jack is quoting Gross in a sentence that says that Fannie Mae hasn't been getting much media attention, what he's quoting from states up front that "Fannie Mae is taking a beating on the Hill and in the marketplace of public opinion."

In any event, if you look very closely you'll see that Jack doesn't at all say what part Johnson had in the Fannie Mae scandal of 2004. And yet he included the it anyway.

Clarity, Jack. It'll help your argument if you clarify your positions. And if you can possibly avoid misrepresenting what you're quoting then that would go a long way as well.

Now back to Johnson. He's gone. He should have been checked out better. But I'm not finished with Jack.

Following the Republican talking points outlined by the AP, Jack jumps on Eric Holder:
We may see this pattern repeated soon. The more problematic appointment to his vice presidential search committee may be Eric Holder, deputy attorney general during the Clinton administration. Mr. Holder was a key figure in the last-minute pardon of fugitive financier Marc Rich, whose ex-wife, Denise, was a major contributor to Clinton campaigns and to the Clinton library fund.
Left out of that was of course the name of Marc Rich's attorney, Scooter Libby who, presumably was also a "key figure" in the pardon. In fact according to CNN Libby said:
Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff testified Thursday he believes prosecutors of billionaire financier Marc Rich "misconstrued the facts and the law" when they went after Rich on tax evasion charges.
We can go back and forth on the Rich pardon.

I'd like to take a look, though, at Senator McCain's Veep vetter. His name is Arthur Culvahouse and by Jack's own criteria of who's acceptable as Veep-vetter, he's got some issues.

He was Ronald Reagan's White House Counsel from 1987 to the end of the gipper's second administration. He advised Reagan on things like the Iran-Contra scandal (remember that one? the Reagan administration, in defiance of the law, sold arms to Iran in exchange for hostages and then diverted the profits to the Contras? Remember?).

That's the guy working for McCain on his Veep choice.

June 13, 2008

OffQ Terrorists?

If you can, watch a replay of tonight's OffQ.

If you look carefully enough during the ending credits, you'll be duly rewarded with an amazing sight.

What was it?

As the ending credits roll you'll see Heather Heidelbaugh do a "terrorist fist jab" with host Chris Moore. Moore then "fist jabs" Bill Green, John McIntire and finally Valerie McDonald Roberts.

A terrorist fist jab? Is OffQ a terrorist cell? Are they planning something nasty?

Are we safe in Luke Ravenstahl's city?

Cheney (Or At Least His Office) Admits He's Wrong!

Remember this? On Wednesday, Vice-President Cheney said that the Communist Chinese were drilling for oil 60 miles off the coast of Florida.

Senator Mel Martinez (R-Fl) called this an "urban legend."

McClatchy is reporting today:
Cheney's office has since backtracked, issuing a statement that says "It is our understanding that, although Cuba has leased out exploration blocks 60 miles off the coast of southern Florida, which is closer than American firms are allowed to operate in that area, no Chinese firm is drilling there."
Now if only we can get him to do the right thing and admit he was lying about the WMD in Iraq, Valerie Plame, Iraq's ties to al-Qaeda and so on.

If only...

Tim Russert, Dead at 58

From MSNBC:

Tim Russert, NBC News’ Washington bureau chief and the moderator of “Meet the Press,” died Friday after a sudden heart attack at the bureau, NBC News said Friday. He was 58.

Russert was recording voiceovers for Sunday’s “Meet the Press” program when he collapsed, the network said. He and his family had recently returned from Italy, where they celebrated the graduation of Russert’s son, Luke, from Boston College.

No further details were immediately available.

This is sad news.

So Good To Be A Republican These Days! (An Update)

Remember this?

There's an update of sorts in the news today (oh boy). Via TalkingPointsMemo, we find this:

Sen. John Ensign of Nevada has one of the least enviable jobs this year. As chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, he’s in charge of defending the 23 Senate Republican seats up for re-election (versus 12 for Democrats) in a chilly political environment for his party.

Democrats are poised to increase their majority in both chambers of Congress, but while House Republican leaders still make optimistic—but unlikely—claims to have a shot at winning back a majority, Ensign is more pragmatic. “The chances of [Republicans] getting back in to the majority, obviously, it would be fairly miraculous,” he told reporters Thursday during a lunch meeting hosted by the Christian Science Monitor.

Of the 10 most competitive Senate races this year, nine are for seats now held by Republicans. Only one Democrat, Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu, faces a serious challenge in November. Ensign said his best-case scenario would be a three-seat loss on Election Day. “That would be a terrific night for us, absolutely,” he said. “I don’t want to slip below the four-seat loss. That’s kind of where we’ve set our absolute worst goal is to be down to 45 seats.”

So a few days ago, they set their worst case scenario at 41 seats. Now it looks like they're shifting the expectations up to 45 seats. Later in the piece we find:
Ensign identified the 10 most competitive races in the states of Maine, New Hampshire, Minnesota, Alaska, Oregon, Colorado, New Mexico, Louisiana, North Carolina, and Virginia. Two — Virginia and New Mexico — are heavily favored at this point to flip to Democratic control. Asked if the NRSC was mulling walking away from these two races to focus resources elsewhere, Ensign was non-committal, but added, “You don’t waste money on races that don’t need it or you can’t win.”
So they're writing off two Senate seats and Ensign thinks it would be "terrific" if they only lost one more seat. Worst case for them would be to loose just one more after that.

In any event, if they lose only two (or even three) seats, the Democrats would FINALLY be able to cut whatever ties they have left to the odious Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT).

Bush Meets The Pope...

...and makes a fool out of himself right away.

From the New York Times:

The pope welcomed Mr. Bush — who had his first meeting with Benedict at the Vatican in June 2007 — and the first lady, Laura Bush, near St. John’s Tower in the Vatican Gardens.

“Your eminence, you’re looking good," Mr. Bush said, the A.P. reported.

Bush must've been channeling his inner Freddie Prinze (and not the one who married Buffy the Vampire Slayer).

BTW, if you get the reference you're old. Old. Like. Me.

Back to Bush. I wonder if they discussed how one of Bush's more fervent supporters used to refer to the Catholic Church as the "Whore of Babylon."

Wait wait, I know what you're gonna say. Isn't Hagee a Senator McCain story?

Yes, he was. But according to Scott McClellan, he was a big bush booster as well. According to the American Prospect:

When preparing to run for president, then-Texas Governor George W. Bush knew that the San Antonio televangelist had a large television audience, which Bush family evangelical adviser Doug Wead estimated at seven million strong. Wead had ghostwritten Hagee's 1997 conspiracy-theory book, Day of Deception, which claims to take "a probing look inside the United States government and expose blatant acts of deception designed to destroy democracy in America." Those "acts of deception," according to the book, were carried out by the Antichrist in his effort to install a "one-world order." Evidence of the one-world order, according to Hagee, includes "the Eastern Establishment," the United Nations, the National Education Association (NEA), the Council on Foreign Relations, and the Illuminati, the imaginary, shadowy group of international financiers that has long been fodder for conspiracy theorists. Hagee didn't mention that many Illuminati theorists believe in a connection between the Illuminati and the Yale secret society Skull and Bones, to which both Bushes belong. Nor did Hagee, who bills himself as a friend of the Jews, note that Illuminati conspiracies have often included anti-Semitic narratives about Jewish bankers.

In his 1988 campaign biography of Bush Sr., Wead sought to dispel conspiracies that the Bush family was behind the supposed one-world order. But as a ghostwriter, Wead blamed his old boss for trying to bring about what Hagee believes is a satanic, demonic "new world order." Just one year after penning Hagee's conspiracy-laden screed, Wead was pushing Governor Bush and Karl Rove to arrange meetings between the governor and the pastor, and the governor enlisted Hagee to recruit other pastors to sign on to the Bush campaign effort.

And after the "election" of 2000, Hagee had some special relationship with dubya and co. This is a partial transcript of McClellan's recent interview with Terry Gross at NPR:

GROSS: My guest is Scott McClellan. He was the White House press secretary from July '03 to May of '06. And his new memoir about those years is called "What Happened."

I've got a John Hagee question for you. You devote some of your memoir "What Happened" to social conservatives and their influence on policy in the Bush administration. And I know when John Hagee, who's been so much in the news lately, ever since his endorsement of McCain, which that's a bond that's been broken.

Mr. McCLELLAN: Yes.

GROSS: When he had his first summit for the Christian Zionist group that he founded, Christians United for Israel, President Bush sent a recorded greeting to Hagee and to the conference. Did Hagee have much sway within the Bush administration?

Mr. McCLELLAN: Well, he was one of a number of evangelical pastors, social conservative ones that were certainly part of our outreach at the White House. We had a person and a public liaison that was specifically tasked with reaching out to social conservative leaders. And so those leaders, yes, had a heavy influence on some of the White House policies. And I think that was one of the things that also hurt the president was that, at times it looked like his emphasis was on some of these issues that were important to social conservatives, like Terry Schiavo, like the constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage, and stem cell research. I think a lot of people were wondering, `Why are you spending so much time focusing on these issues when, you know, there are issues on energy and health care and the economy that need to be addressed?'

GROSS: So Pastor Hagee was influential within the Bush administration?

Mr. McCLELLAN: I'd say he was one of a number that certainly had some influence and was able to quickly get someone on the phone at the White House. So yes.

And Doug Wead? He recently recommended that McCain pick Joe Lieberman for VP.
Joe Lieberman.

Three reasons he gives:

First, the appointment would hasten the Jewish switch to the Republican Party. It is no secret that there is growing nervousness over Barack Obama within the Jewish community. The Lieberman appointment would add to their comfort level with John McCain.

Second, the appointment would clearly separate him from the sinking ship of George W. Bush. After all, Joe Lieberman was Al Gore’s running mate in 2000.

Third, the media would be absolutely floored. They would see that this election would guarantee history in the making. A Black, a Jew, and possibly a woman could be president or vice president.

Wead is one of those guys who call it the "Democrat Party" by the way.

Keith Olbermann Last Night


Crooks and Liars has a transcript.

June 12, 2008

Now, This is Interesting

I've heard this more than a few times in the right-wing noise machine (Pintek on PCNC, Miller on KDKA and so on).

It's the story that while the Congress refuses to open up ANWR to exploitation drilling, the Communist Chinese are drilling not 60 miles away from the Florida Coast - with the help of Castro's Cuba.

We got verification from the second highest office in the land:

Even Vice President Dick Cheney got into the mix Wednesday, telling the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that ``oil is being drilled right now 60 miles off the coast of Florida. We're not doing it. The Chinese are in cooperation with the Cuban government.

''Even the communists have figured out that a good answer to high prices is more supply,'' he added. ``Yet Congress has said . . . no to drilling off Florida.''

The dirty bastards!

Only, it looks like the story isn't true.

Today a Republican Senator from Florida, Mel Martinez had this to say on the floor of the World's Greatest Deliberative Body:
''Reports to the contrary are simply false,'' Martinez said, his remarks delivered just before Cheney spoke. ``They are akin to urban legends. China drilling off the coast of Cuba only 60 miles from the Keys, that is not taking place. . . Any talk of using some fabricated Cuba-China connection as an argument to change U.S. policy has no merit.''
Of course the GOP had a handy retort:

House Minority Leader John Boehner's office defended the GOP drilling claims, pointing to a 2006 New York Times story that noted Cuba had ``negotiated lease agreements with China and other energy-hungry countries to extract resources.''

''The fact is China can drill off the coast of the United States and Americans can't,'' said Boehner spokesman Michael Steel. ``At a time when the nationwide average price for a gallon of gas is over $4, that policy just doesn't make sense.''

Here's the Times article (I think).

But notice something. What did Boehner's spokesman say? "The fact is China can drill off the coast..." And what did Dick say? "...oil is being drilled right now 60 miles off the coast ..."

My friends, there's huge difference between "can" and "is" isn't there? The latter asserts the thing actually happening but the former asserts merely the possibility of it happening. Huge difference.

In any event, we learn from The Politico:
Democrats today pointed to a February 29, 2008 Congressional Research Service that found “[w]hile there has been some concern about China’s potential involvement in offshore deepwater oil projects, to date its involvement in Cuba’s oil sector has been focused on onshore oil extraction in Pinar del Rio province through its state-run China Petroleum and Chemical Corporation (Sinopec).”
And then there's this from McClatchy:

China's Sinopec oil company does have an agreement with the Cuban government, but it's to develop onshore resources west of Havana, Pinon said. The Chinese have done some seismic testing, he said, but no drilling, and nothing offshore.

Western diplomats in Havana tell McClatchy that to the best of their knowledge, there is no Chinese drilling in or around Cuba.

"I've never heard anything about this," said one diplomat from a country in the hemisphere.

And even if there was drilling (and it looks like there ain't) that wouldn't be doing much for the Cubans or the Chinese anyway:

Cuba's state oil company, Cupet, has issued exploration contracts to companies from India, Canada, Spain, Malaysia and Norway, according to diplomats.

But many oil companies from those countries have expressed reservations about how to turn potential crude oil into product. Cuba doesn't have the refinery capacity, and the Cuban embargo prohibits the oil from coming to U.S. refineries, [Jorge Pinon, an energy fellow with the Center for Hemispheric Policy at the University of Miami] said.

So that just about kills that.

"Not Too Important"

That's what the man said. That's what John McCain said.

Here's a transcript:

Q: If it’s working, senator, do you now have a better estimate of when American forces can come home from Iraq?

McCAIN: No, but that’s not too important. What’s important is the casualties in Iraq. Americans are in South Korea. Americans are in Japan. American troops are in Germany. That’s all fine. American casualties and the ability to withdraw. We will be able to withdraw. General Petraeus is going to tell us in July when he thinks we are. But the key to it is we don't want any more Americans in harms way. And that way they will be safe and serve our country and come home with honor in victory, not in defeat, which is what Senator Obama's proposal would have done.

And I'm proud of them and they're doing a great job and we are succeeding and it's fascinating that Senator Obama still doesn't realize that.

According to Talking Points Memo, the McCain campaign released a statement about the coverage of this quote yesterday. Here it is:

The Obama campaign is embarking on a false attack on John McCain to hide their own candidate's willingness to disregard facts on the ground in pursuit of withdrawal no matter what the costs. John McCain was asked if he had a 'better estimate' for a timeline for withdrawal. As John McCain has always said, that is not as important as conditions on the ground and the recommendations of commanders in the field. Any reasonable person who reads the full transcript would see this and reject the Obama campaign's attempt to manipulate, twist and distort the truth.
Right now I'm thinking that they've got it a wee bit wrong. Look closely at the question McCain was answering and then the answer. First the question:
...do you now have a better estimate of when American forces can come home from Iraq?
To which he answered:
No, but that’s not too important.
So it isn't really that McCain said it's "not too important" when the troops come home. What's "not too important" is that he doesn't have a better estimate for when they can come home, even though (in his words) the surge is working. I think his latest estimate was about 100 years or something.

It's a tad different - not much different, of course, but a tad (how much is a "tad" anyway? More than an "jot" less than a "pinch" or the other way round?).

But take a look at the rest of it. That's the really confusing part. He's making the case for the troops to remain in Iraq. But then there's this:
But the key to it is we don't want any more Americans in harms way. And that way they will be safe...
Huh? So keeping the troops in Iraq is a way to keep them safe? If he truly doesn't want any more Americans in harms way, then he should be looking for ways to get them out of harms way - not keep them there! But it looks like this general plan is this:

  1. Make things safe for US Troops in Iraq and once they are safe,
  2. Keep them there forever.
All the more curious due to this recent quotation (one his campaign tried - and failed - to explain away as a question of "semantics" and "verb tenses"):

    I can tell you that it [the Surge] is succeeding. I can look you in the eye and tell you it's succeeding. We have drawn down to pre-surge levels. Basra, Mosul and now Sadr City are quiet.--John McCain, Town Hall meeting, May 28, 2008.

    As the Washington Post pointed out, there are about 35,000 more troops in Iraq now than from when the surge began, uh, surging. And Mosul was hardly quiet that day. On the very day McCain stuck his foot in his mouth three suicide bombers killed 30. Where?

    Mosul.

    Hey did you know that Vladimir Putin is the President of Germany? Senator McCain says so:

    Learn something new every day.

    A vote for McCain is a vote for the most solid gosh darn information around!

    The US Supreme Court: Friends of the Terrorists!

    From the AP:
    The Supreme Court ruled Thursday that foreign terrorism suspects held at Guantanamo Bay have rights under the Constitution to challenge their detention in U.S. civilian courts.
    But these are THE TERRORISTS! These are the EXACT SAME PEOPLE who attacked us on 9/11!

    Doesn't the Supreme Court KNOW that "Constitutional Rights" are only for US Citizens? LAW-ABIDING US Citizens? We all know that these terrorists are neither.

    There is one bright spot in all this:
    In dissent, Chief Justice John Roberts criticized his colleagues for striking down what he called "the most generous set of procedural protections ever afforded aliens detained by this country as enemy combatants."
    Good for him! Nice to see that the conservatives (read: the real Americans) on the Court know what's at stake here in our righteous war against Islamofascism.

    So what if a majority on the court says these people have rights! We've already been very generous with the "procedural protections" they already enjoy. In fact, we should be THANKED for our hospitality in taking care of these folks! Keeping them out of harms way and such. We fed them, right? Kept them out of the rain and snow, right? Only someone cowering behind the mother's skirt of "The Constitution" would think that that's NOT enough. THESE ARE THE TERRORISTS!!

    Luckily, since Senator McCain is looking to appoint MORE Justices like John Roberts we can all take comfort in knowing that a vote for McCain will be (indirectly) be a vote for the continued practices of interrogation and detention that have made us safer since 9/11.

    PS if you're not getting the joke by now, you're reading the wrong blog.

    June 11, 2008

    And Now...

    A message from John Cusack.


    Wanna see four more years of hideous Bush policies? Then vote McCain.

    Poll Numbers

    Saw this on the news this evening. Thought you'd want to get a gander at it.

    From MSNBC:
    Days after becoming his party’s presumptive nominee and receiving an endorsement from his chief rival, Hillary Clinton, Democrat Barack Obama has opened the general election campaign with a six-point edge over Republican John McCain, according to the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll.
    Obviously it's VERY early but there are signs that things will be very good for the Democrats:
    In the head-to-head matchup, Obama leads McCain among African Americans (83-7 percent), Hispanics (62-28), women (52-33), Catholics (47-40), independents (41-36) and even blue-collar workers (47-42). Obama is also ahead among those who said they voted for Clinton in the Democratic primaries (61-19).
    Wow! Senator Obama leads by 42 points among those who said they voted for Senator Clinton?

    Of course, Senator McCain has his spots of good news as well. He leads among white men, 55 to 35 percent and white suburban women 44 to 38.

    One of the 2PJs ON THE AIR

    I'm sitting in for Lynn Cullen this Tuesday (June 17). For the three or four people in the area who don't know it already, Lynn's show is on AMNewstalk1360.

    You can follow the "Listen Live" icon to listen in on-line.

    In Case You Missed It

    Representative Dennis Kucinich introduced Articles of Impeachment into the Congressional Record yesterday.

    While we firmly believe that someone has to be held accountable for this administration's high crimes and that it's the Congress' duty to impeach Bush for the sake of the integrity of the system, we don't think that anything will come of this.

    Especially since Nancy Pelosi declared back in mid-2006, months before the Democrats took over the House that impeachment was "off the table." She reiterated this the day after the Democrats won back the House.

    Congressman Doyle, in February 2007, felt that he did not want his legacy to be getting Dick Cheney into the Oval Office. As I wrote back then:
    Doyle feels that impeachment would be a diversion that would only serve to boost the president's approval ratings as his core would rally around him, taking with them, probably, a sizeable number of moderate republicans with them.

    The real damage to be done is through strict oversight (and on this we, of course, agree). Once all the corruption is uncovered (for example how much taxpayer money's been wasted in Iraq) those guilty will be leaving office humiliated. Impeachment would inevitably be spun as a political circus. Oversight hearings will prove the charges.
    There's probably not enough time to hold dubya accountable for his many impeachable acts. There're probably not enough Republicans willing to do the right thing either.

    And as of about 3:20 this afternoon. the resolution, H.Res 1258, was sent to the Judiciary Committee.

    June 10, 2008

    John McCain: Defender of Women's Health

    From Brave New Films:

    A vote for McCain is a vote against - well you know the rest.

    Some background. As far as I can tell, the amendment that McCain voted against was an amendment to S.Con.Res.18 of March 17 of 2005.

    And how about the irony here? It was sponsored by Senator Clinton. The stated purpose:
    To expand access to preventive health care services that reduce unintended pregnancy (including teen pregnancy), reduce the number of abortions, and improve access to women's health care.
    And Senator McCain voted against it.

    He's got a rating of 0 (aka "Zero," "Zilch," "Nada," and the ever-popular "Lowest Score Possible") from NARAL for the last six years running.

    It's Good To Be A Republican These Days (Part II)

    Scott McClellan has agreed to testify under oath to Conyers' committee.
    President Bush's former spokesman, Scott McClellan, will testify before a House committee next week about whether Vice President Dick Cheney ordered him to make misleading public statements about the leaking of CIA agent Valerie Plame's identity.

    McClellan will testify publicly and under oath before the House Judiciary Committee on June 20 about the White House's role in the leak and its response, his attorneys, Michael and Jane Tigar, said on Monday.

    In his new book, "What Happened: Inside the Bush White House and Washington's Culture of Deception," McClellan said he was misled by others, possibly including Cheney, about the role of I. Lewis "Scooter" Libby in the leak. McClellan has said publicly that Bush and Cheney "directed me to go out there and exonerate Scooter Libby."
    And according to Think Progress, the White House is worried:
    On NBC’s The Chris Matthews Show today, Time magazine assistant managing editor Michael Duffy said that the renewed attention to the scandal is causing White House lawyers to be “very concerned”:
    DUFFY: White House lawyers are concerned, very concerned, now that Scott McClellan’s book has led Henry Waxman and John Conyers to take another look at the Valerie Plame business. There may be hearings. Prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald may be called. Just another way in which a Democratic Congress might make a difference during the fall.
    Then there's the Abramoff scandal. From The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, we learn that:
    Chairman Waxman and Ranking Member Davis issued a proposed Committee report on White House contacts with Jack Abramoff that concludes that Mr. Abramoff had personal contact with President Bush, that high-level White House officials held Mr. Abramoff and his associates in high regard and solicited recommendations from them on policy matters, that Mr. Abramoff and his associates influenced some White House actions, and that Mr. Abramoff and his associates offered White House officials expensive tickets and meals.
    And ABC is reporting:
    The White House had stronger ties to disgraced superlobbyist Jack Abramoff than it has publicly admitted, according to a draft congressional report released Monday.

    President Bush met Abramoff on at least four occasions the White House has yet to acknowledge, according to the draft report by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.

    And White House officials appeared as comfortable going to Abramoff and his lobbyists seeking tickets to sporting and entertainment events, as they did seeking input on personnel picks for plum jobs, the report found.

    President Bush himself met Abramoff on at least six occasions, the report said, citing White House documents; the White House had previously acknowledged only two.
    Of course.