Friday, August 29, 2008

Who still practices slavery?

Thanks to the neocon agenda, it's done in your name for the enrichment of Bush cronies. Sound ludicrous? Then look at the facts.

Halliburton (you remember them, the folks that still have Dick Cheney on their payroll) subsidiary KBR hired 13 people from Nepal to work in a hotel in Jordan. But it was a ruse. KBR instead took them to the Iraqi war zone to work on a US air base, against their wills, where they had to work. While KBR was transporting 12 of them, they were kidnapped and killed. After the killings, the remaining man was held in Iraq, against his will, for another 15 months.

This is described in a US District Court suit in Los Angeles on Wednesday as an "illicit trafficking scheme", "engineer[ed] by KBR and its subcontractor".

That's right. Human trafficking done in the name of the USA, in order to increase Halliburton profits. Gotta love the Republican way to wage war. Even with this horrendous facet of the Bush Doctrine for destabilizing the Middle East, McCain still fully supports the Party's agenda.

What's wrong with the old method, where the US military had responsibility for taking care of the US military? I may not be a soldier, but I believe that if I were, I'd rather have fellow soldiers by my side, taking care of logistics and watching my back, instead of forced labor for somebody's profit.

Sure enough, "maverick" bows to the party

McCain's running mate has been selected, Sarah Palin. She was not one of McCain's top choices (Ridge, Lieberman, Pawlenty), but the Republican party bosses had parameters that had to be met.

First, the veep pick must be against women's choice (eliminates most of McCain's top choices) and in favor of drilling our way deeper into oil dependence, that was a given.

This year, there's another wrinkle - it's looking really bad for the GOP because Obama is such a strong candidate and McCain is rather weak, now that he's abandoned his pre-2000 "maverick" persona and become "candidate McCain" that fully embraces what party bosses demand (major flip-flopping to say the least). Therefore, something new is needed. The party feared losing almost all of the under-60 vote and really covets the momentum that Hillary had built up. The problem is, they had no young (compared to McCain) women in the party who were against women's choice that were ready to be on the ticket. So they had to keep looking lower and lower down on the experience chain till they found Palin.

Most curious of all has been the enormous amount of time, energy and money the McCain camp has spent to tell us that Obama is too young and without enough national political experience to be President. But now the party has selected that and more to accompany him. If that is their definition of required qualifications, how does a 44-year-old who has been a governor for only two years and was a small-town mayor before that qualify?
For anyone that doubts that the Party made the choice instead of the nominee, McCain even admits that he only had a single conversation with Palin. That's it.

Now, Palin might be a fine person, this is absolutely not disrespecting her as a person in any way. It just makes me nervous when a political party would select a Vice-Presidential candidate, not on the primary qualification of being ready to be President, but instead on their age, gender, and stance on a single hot-button issue. In contrast, Joe Biden would absolutely make a fine President, and has a wealth of relevant experience do draw upon.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

You want to reinstate what?

At one of the GOP’s staged town hall meetings, one of the question-askers deplored the condition of the VA hospital in Albuquerque as a lead-up to her statement: “If we don’t re-inact the draft, I don’t think we’ll have anyone to chase them on to the gates of hell.”

McCain’s quick and simple reply: “I don’t disagree with anything you’ve said, and thank you”.

Huh? Is McCain advocating the draft now? Either he is, or he couldn’t comprehend the question and answered anyway, or he was giving an automatic response to a staged question that came off wrong. No way to know for sure, but at face value, he indeed agreed that we should re-instate the draft. Wow.

Further, is he really knowledgeable about the problems in the big VA hospital in his state, but has not acted to correct it? While that sounds like a ludicrous position for a veteran like McCain to take, consider his political position on the VA. McCain advocated cutting costs by rationing medical care by the VA. His reasoning is that the problem with the VA is that too many vets are going to the hospitals for injuries and ailments that are not directly caused by war.

The VA exists to provide medical care to veterans of the US military. Medical care it is part of what the US owes our former soldiers, because it is what the US government promises them. If we want to cut corners in our budget, caring for US veterans is NOT the place to start cutting. I’m not a vet, and even I know that.

Help average Americans? That's a job killer

Obama Wants 95 Percent Of Americans To Get Tax Cut. Unlike McCain's plan to balance the budget in a year, Obama actually has a wise and realistic plan to achieve his goal.

Right after Obama unveiled exactly how he would achieve the 95% goal, the Republicans tasked potential VP pick Pawlenty to attack Obama’s plan. The party response was that Obama’s plan to actually cut taxes would be a “job killer” that would stifle small and medium sized businesses.

OK, so let me get this straight – SAYING that you’re going to cut taxes equally for everyone, but actually increasing middle class taxes while making MASSIVE high-upper class tax cuts, screwing future generations with huge debt and poisoning the current domestic economy is supposed to be good, but legitimately reducing the tax burden on the lower and middle classes by cutting government waste is a bad thing?

Even if you put aside social and moral issues, I’d still have to be a strong advocate for a liberal Democratic approach to governance over a conservative Republican approach just on the issue of fiscal responsibility. You simply cannot trust Republicans with the checkbook and cannot expect any honesty when discussing economics with them. Unless, of course you like huge and wasteful government that has no long-range planning for the good of the country.

Iraq seeking 2011 troop pullout

The Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki has spoken in detail about a deal to bring an end to the foreign combat troop presence in the country.

Ever since it was recognized that the Bush Administration lied about why we went to war against Iraq and imposed a military occupation, many people have spoken out about the absolute need to end the occupation and leave Iraq to the Iraqis. Any time someone did this, Bush, McCain, their minions and their media spinsters that said it was treasonous, defeatist, America-hating and terrorist-supporting to even discuss the possibility of ending the military occupation of Iraq. A few brave visionaries, like Russ Feingold and Barack Obama actually recognized the folly of invading and occupying Iraq before Bush declared war against them.

Now with the Republicans going all-out to save the Bush Administration legacy and having to face some of the consequences of their previous actions, they are doing just that - agreeing to a timeline to end the military occupation. This, despite McCain's previous pledge to keep us there for 100 years.

Somehow, they are no longer saying that it's treasonous to discuss ending the occupation.

Hopefully the American public is paying enough attention to appreciate the sad irony, and will make that part of their voting decision in November.

Obama must be ahead

You can tell by how much the Republicans are fanning the flames of global instability.

Russia is recognizing the independence of two breakaway provinces of Georgia. Rather than talking with Russia, Bush has sent two WARSHIPS to Georgia's ports. On top of that, Putin is blowing the lid on the Bush Administration's orchestration of the war in Georgia to boost McCain's candidacy. Whether or not it turns out to be true, it's certainly plausible considering the death and destruction leveled upon Iraq for money, and the manipulation of the US terror alert level during the 2004 election.

Meanwhile, North Korea is once again threatening to resume creation of more nuclear weapons because of broken promises from the Bush Administration.

Just what we need, more nuclear weapons on the global black market and a pissing contest with Russia. Thanks, George.

Simple Economics

John McCain has admitted he does not know very much about economics, and has rubber-stamped all of the Republican Party's economic plans throughout the Bush Administration. He does not see the US economy has having any problems, so has no plans to improve things. He promises more of the same, because he sees the current state of the economy as rosy.

Here's the actual effect of the GOP economic plan on US citizens

  • US personal income just had its largest drop in 3 years

  • Record borrowing by the government, unwilling to balance the budget leaving future administrations and generations to fix and pay for their crony giveaways

  • This year alone 1,000,000 more people have lost their health insurance

  • The poverty rate is up to 12.5%, which means we have over 37,000,000 citizens living in poverty, even with many of them working, some with multiple jobs

  • Bankruptcy filings rose almost 30% to 967,831 from just a year ago

  • Business bankruptcy filings jumped more than 40%

  • Increasing unemployment

  • Inflation increasing and ready to soar

  • Fuel costs through the roof

  • Massive foreclosure problems

  • Bank collapses and government bailouts

  • Tax breaks for the ultra-rich, and tax subsidies for big oil and corporations who ship American jobs overseas

I suppose the economy is pretty rosy when you dump your wife for a mistress that inherited a 9-figure fortune, and you have more houses than you can keep track of. Like other rubber-stamp Republicans, McCain would be BAD for the US economy.

Personally, I prefer Obama's plans of tax breaks for the working class and companies who keep jobs in America. I prefer working towards energy independence, off of oil as much as possible. I think the country overall is better off when poverty is reduced and everybody can get access to affordable healthcare. McCain's stubborn adherence to the party-line approach of trickle-down (aka voodoo) economics just doesn't make sense
for anyone but the ultra-rich.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Great VP picks

Long ago when there was a crowded field in the Democratic primary, it was impressive to see so many strong candidates, any of which would have made fantastic Presidents (in stark contrast to the weak field of Republican candidates). Since my opinion of the best candidate in that field was Joe Biden, I'm pretty happy that he is Obama's choice for VP. Honest, fighter for the working class, experienced, massive foreign relations experience, Biden is a great choice.

Meanwhile, Minnesota Governor Pawlenty is still campaigning hard to get picked as the Republican veep nominee. Obama was just in neighboring Wisconsin explaining his plan to cut taxes for 95% of Americans (and three times the tax cut for the middle class compared to McCain's "stay the course" plan). Pawlenty was tasked with attacking Obama's speech, but failed to listen to what he was attacking. In response to the plan of actually reducing taxes for Americans, Pawlenty said Obama's plan as a "job killer" that would stifle small and medium-size businesses. Uh, no. Cutting taxes on the ultra rich, increasing taxes on the middle class, then declaring that you cut middle class taxes is bad for Americans. Decreasing the tax burden on the working class would be a good thing. I'm afraid you're a bit out of touch with reality there, Tim. You'll fit in nicely to the McCain campaign.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Talk about out of touch

John McCain was asked a simple question: 'How many houses do you have?'
McCain's actual response: 'I'm not sure, I’ll have to check with my staff.'

Well John, points for being truthful, but that is really pathetic. To top it off, one of his inner-circle staffers came to the rescue: 'At least four.' Well, they made an attempt. Best independent estimate is ten.

It's no secret that the Republican leadership and direction comes from the ultra-rich and their policies are first meant to benefit the ultra-rich. Barack Obama summed up this latest billboard of just how out-of-touch GOP leadership is from the common citizens of the US:

“Now think about that — I guess if you think that being rich means you gotta make five million dollars, and if you don't know how many houses you have, then it's not surprising that you might think the economy is fundamentally strong. But if you're like me and you've got one house — or you were like the millions of people who are struggling right now to keep up with their mortgage so that they don't lose their home — you might have a different perspective.

He also said that there was a “fundamental gap of understanding” between McCain’s world and “what people are going through every single day here in

McCain's forgetfulness on homeownership is right in line with his view of how the economy has fared under dubya's "leadership": "we've had a pretty good prosperous time." (McCain from a January primary debate) I guess when you have so much money that you can't keep track of how many houses you own, then you wouldn't try to the economy because you don't think it's broken. Talk about out of touch.

Note: that "$5 million dollars" comment refers to John McCain's definition of what it means to be rich. In other words, anyone making a mere $4 million per year is middle-class from McCain's perspective. I wouldn't have thought it at the beginning of this campaign, but John McCain appears to be even more out-of-touch than either of the Bushes.

Another Note: According to last year’s tax returns, the McCains spend over a quarter of a million dollars per year on personal servants (far more than a US Senator’s salary). I guess you need to have that many servants when you have so many houses that you can’t keep track of them. Talk about out of touch with issues that are important to ordinary Americans.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Difference between the two major parties

First, for fun, here's an excellent article by Hillary

Once again, here’s a wonderful illustration of the difference between attitudes of the two major parties:

When Democrats cannot get their political agenda passed due to Republican blocking, they look for other ways to represent their constituents – like raising the minimum wage, balancing the budget, implementing the 9/11 Commission’s recommendations for real improvements to homeland security, ending tax haven loopholes, etc. They will also compromise, like being willing to discuss energy policy.

When Republicans cannot get their political agenda passed, they are willing to inflict harm on the United States populace until they get their way. This happened in the 90s when they caused a government shutdown, harming and inconveniencing millions of people, just so they could score political points with their big-money backers. Well, they’re threatening to do it again. Unless the US Government hands over massive amounts of government land, FOR FREE, to big oil companies so they can drill and take more oil, TAX FREE, the Republicans are threatening to band together to shut down all government function. To make money for their friends, they would stop paying wages to all governmental workers, halt Social Security checks, cancel infrastructure maintenance, put an end to Medicare payments – screwing over pretty much everything except military contractors and corporate welfare payments. Nice, huh. What the Republican party needs is a reincarnation of Abe Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt to remind them that they are supposed to work for the good of the country, not exclusively their rich friends.

Salt the earth

For anyone hoping Bush would be benign in the waning days of his lame duck period, current events bring bad news. Attending the opening ceremonies of the Olympics should have been benign, but he decided to take this opportunity of international cooperation to antagonize China in a speech about religion and human rights. Of course, he didn’t have the courage to do that in China – he stopped in Thailand to give his anti-China speech.

Of course, we’ve all heard the rhetoric about oil. The Republican plan is to keep America on oil by any means possible, and Bush is chief cheerleader for “drilling”. In their political double-speak, they talk about offshore drilling as an immediate boon to the US economy and instantaneous price relief at the gas pump. The reality is quite different. The Republican plan is to GIVE AWAY federal lands to big oil companies so they can take the oil from US lands and sell it on the GLOBAL market, not to subsidize the US oil market. This is the real plan they’re pushing for behind the sound bites, while also increasing the corporate welfare that the US government pays the oil companies. The net result to US citizens would be a 2-4% drop in gas prices in 7-12 years, and an increase in taxes to pay for the corporate welfare and inevitable environmental cleanup from spills.

The standard Republican plan of massive government spending increases has ballooned in dubya’s last term, of course. Not only will the next President inherit a massive budget shortfall, but he must deal with the record-setting debt that has accumulated over dubya’s tenure – forcing taxpayer money to be funneled to interest payments instead of improving the country.

Paying for Iraq. Starting in 2003, the US taxpayers have paid $48B for reconstruction projects in Iraq. The Iraqi government has paid almost nothing in comparison. From just 2005-2007, the Iraqi government took in $96B in oil revenues, and projects another $67-79B in oil revenues in 2008 alone. The Iraqi government is officially seeking “further outside investment” for more construction – a catchphrase for “the US must give us more money”. This is the continuing situation and legacy of the Bush doctrine in Iraq: destroy the country, have the US completely pay to rebuild it, create lots of chaos so it’s hard to track, and allow massive cash reserves to build up in US banks under the ownership of Iraqi government officials. The longer this continues, the more the US taxpayers get screwed over and the more billions go to the US-installed top government officials and sheiks.

At least he’s still strong on homeland security, right? Wrong again. Here in Wisconsin, like elsewhere, federal funding for homeland security was cut AGAIN, this time by 14%. This is the fourth year in a row that funding was cut. Coincidentally, shortchanging homeland security started right after Bush was “elected” the second time. It would be nice if he didn’t play politics with the nation’s security, but just like the terror alert level was raised and lowered according to Presidential election polls in 2004, now we’re ripening America for being attacked as soon as possible into the next administration.

Quick check of campaign ads

Obama is talking about his energy policy, and what it can and cannot achieve in the short and long term.

McCain is running his “The One” ad to suggest that Obama is the Antichrist.

John – do you really have nothing positive to say about your own plans for the country, so you must stoop to these bizarre Rovian schemes? Are you aware that this is very insulting to people of the Christian faith? Visceral, ludicrous attacking may be the standard tactic of the Republican Party, but Americans are more concerned about the economy, jobs, national security and foreign policy. Granted, you’re very weak compared to Obama on those issues, but stating your policies should be more important than continually launching ridiculous character attacks. Try it sometime.

Politicizing national security

Jim Moore has written three books, all critical of George Bush, and all considered factually correct. “Bush’s War for Reelection”, “Bush’s Brain”, and “The Architect” are the books, and they revealed facts about Carl Rove’s role in dubya’s ascension, dubya’s actual military service during Vietnam, what Bush knew about Iraq and much more. For this, the Bush Administration has labeled him as a terrorist, and his inclusion on the terror watch list makes flying nearly impossible.

Whether or not you would agree with Moore’s writing, one devastating consequence is unavoidable. When you have the Bush Administration manipulating legitimate anti-terrorism tools for political vengeance, the legitimacy and usefulness of such tools is greatly diminished. Since everybody knows that Bush’s political enemies will be on the terror watch list, and actual terrorist is much more likely to get by security by simply explaining that they got on the list by doing work for the Democratic party.

National security should not be politicized – yet one more reason we need to get this mentality out of Washington by voting for Obama over McCain. A lot of damage has been done to America by the Republican Party’s caustic politicizing mentality, and we need to return to the US Government acting above politics for the good of the people.

Breaking down lame duck decisions

After two terms of opposition, Bush just signed a bill banning lead from children’s toys, and restricting the marketing of tobacco to children – two atrocities that have flourished under his watch. While these are obviously good decisions, he could have done this in 2000, but instead wanted to maximize corporate profits, at the expense of our children, during his presidency. Now he’s coming around to some long-advocated liberal positions that are clearly common sense, as his “save the legacy” push is in full overdrive.

Better late than never, of course, but don’t forget to recognize this for what it is.

In a more sinister move, he’s also antagonizing Russia and hinting at US military involvement in Georgia, which would, of course, be a complete disaster to hand over to the next President. Hopefully during the time between the 2008 election and the 2009 inauguration of Barack Obama, he does not intentionally create global instability solely out of dirty politics.

Georgia on my mind

The mainstream media is spinning the Russia/Georgia conflict as showing the strength of John McCain and the weakness of Barack Obama. Let’s look at why. First of all, it’s quite obvious that we do not have all the facts as to what is going on in Georgia. It’s a complex scenario not dissimilar to Kosovo - they wanted to break away from Serbia, Serbia suppressed breakaway notions with military force, and NATO came to Kosovo’s aid with overwhelming military force. Here, South Ossetia has allegiance to Russia, Georgia suppressed breakaway notions with military force, and Russia came to South Ossetia’s aid with overwhelming military force.

So, while it appears that Russia is the aggressor, there are two sides to the story, and it is not a simple good vs. evil situation. Barack Obama recognizes this, and would not be forced into making a “Georgia good, Russia bad” statement. For taking a realistic approach, he’s being branded as weak.

John McCain, however, came out immediately as unconditionally backing Georgia, very eager to summarize the whole situation as “Georgia good, Russia bad”. Why would he make such statements before the facts are in, go along with Bush’s plan of antagonizing Russia, and foolishly miscategorizing a complex scenario as good-vs-evil? For the same reason he makes a great deal of his political decisions – for lobbyist money. Randy Scheunemann, McCain’s top foreign policy adviser, is part owner of Orion Strategies - a lobbying firm hired by the Georgian government on how to get their way in Washington DC politics. Big money is flowing from the Georgian government to the McCain machine, so of course McCain will unconditionally support any action they take. Typical old DC politics.

Follow-up on who started S. Ossetia:

Words don’t match actions in space either

The Republicans have touted their support of NASA and the space program, with the crown jewel of putting a man on Mars. Much like their rhetoric of actually going after Osama bin Laden, reality does not match their words.

NASA has been cut severely under the Republicans, and here’s the consequence: we will be entirely reliant and subservient to Russia for all missions to the International Space Station for a minimum of 5 years.

The Space Shuttle program has had maintenance cut so badly that the shuttles must be retired in 2010. NASA’s response was to come up with a replacement, the Orion. We could have gone from Shuttles to Orion if the program was funded, but Bush and company needed to funnel the money elsewhere. As a result, Orion was underfunded and will not be ready to launch until March of 2015 at the very earliest. Therefore, Russian Soyuz capsules will be used exclusively during the gap. Russia will be in complete control of who goes to the ISS, and could completely deny access to the US. The antagonizing of Russia by the Republicans in Poland and Georgia could be just the excuse Russia would need.

George Junior, just like his father before him, talked a good game about Mars, but set the goal beyond his term to hide the lack of actions matching the talk. In the meantime, our actual and current interests in space were shortchanged as money was funneled elsewhere. We simply must get the old Republicans, with their neocon mindset, out of power.

Human consequences

How many years since dubya ordered the US military to invade and occupy Iraq in retaliation for 9/11 (the reason has since changed many, many times)? The expert predictions, of course, came true and the utter lack of an occupation plan by the Bush Administration caused massive chaos, death and destruction. Six years later, we’re STILL seeing scenes like this:

and neocons like Bush and McCain still stand by the party line that destroying then occupying Iraq was a good idea. Sickening.

Social Security redux

We all know Social Security in trouble. After a lot of rhetoric, dubya made only one attempt at addressing the problem, but it would have been so disastrous for the American people, the Republican-controlled Congress (at the time) actually would not go along with the scheme. Dubya’s “solution” was going to be privatization where the US Government would have to somehow pay out benefits to current recipients with no income from current workers. That taxation would then go to private for-profit companies, and they would be trusted to do right by the American people, instead of their own profits. Like I said, it would have been disastrous for the American people.

John McCain and Barack Obama both recognize that there’s a problem, and both propose different solutions.

McCain was fully on board with Bush’s plan, where private for-profit companies would get a big slice of the pie, and benefits would be scaled down over time. McCain is not clear on whether that scaling down would be to decrease checks to Social Security recipients, increase the retirement age, have retirees pay income tax on their checks or some combination. Since that part of his plan is distasteful to discuss, he always avoids answering such questions about his plan, but instead emphasizes that the tax subsidies for the upper class would remain intact. Stick with the party line.

Obama has a different approach, starting with this simple fact: if you make less than $102,000 per year, you’re paying 12.4% in Social Security tax (your company can pay part or all of that). Money made above that is TAX FREE. That’s right, people making more than $102,000 per year are getting a tax subsidy paid by those making less. Eliminating this tax loophole entirely sounds like an obvious solution, and would even lower that 12.4% figure. Obama, however, knows that to pass the Senate, any plan must politically satisfy both sides, and the Republicans will filibuster any attempt to eliminate tax subsidies for the rich. Therefore he calculated just what would be needed to fix Social Security, while not brining the rich up to the taxation level of the poor and middle class, which makes the Republicans happy. That works out to a tax rate of between 2 and 4% on income over $250,000. Not just a mathematical solution, but a politically savvy one. Sounds wiser to me than “privatize and cut”.

Bow to the party, "maverick"

McCain has how made his indications that Tom Ridge will be his VP pick, edging out Joe Lieberman – but he still will not make a public statement about officially picking either one. Why? Because he has to play Republican politics, where his choice is not necessarily his choice to make.

The “leak” of Ridge as McCain’s VP pick is to test the party’s reaction and change his mind if he gets too much political feedback. Already the GOP has ordered its main mouth, Rush Limbaugh, to threaten McCain with defeat (i.e. pull out the unlimited corporate contributions) if he were to pick Ridge, or even his second choice of Lieberman. Their theory is that a lot of “the base” only cares about a single issue, and there can be no compromising or discussion. Ridge and Lieberman have both publicly stated they believe in a woman’s right to choose. The GOP platform is that women are not qualified to make decisions over their bodies, and legislation must enforce that. Rapists are to have their fathering rights preserved by the Word of God, and women must live with this – no discussion allowed - even if their life is in danger. (the far right calls this “pro-life” while supporting the death penalty and waging deadly wars for natural resources)

So, McCain likes to portray himself as a maverick, even though he has dutifully followed the party line throughout Bush’s tenure (caveat – just 95% of the time, not always). Now that the GOP is voicing its displeasure over his decision-making due to a political agenda, we’ll see if McCain stands by his decision, or caves to politics yet again.

It's just perspective
By now everybody knows that the justification for going to war against Iraq and occupying the country indefinitely was based on a pack of lies. For most of the US population, the big question since accepting this truth is "when can our troops come home?"

Your plan or opinion on that question will have received a wildly different response from the Republicans based on who you are. When anyone perceived as liberal or Democratic-leaning voiced support for letting Iraqis rule Iraq and redeploying our troops to fight terrorists, the GOP labeled them as un-American "cut and run" defeatists who want terrorists to destroy America instead of gloriously achieving victory.

Of course, now that the obvious path of ending the US occupation is underway, those same "you hate America" shouters are claiming victory by finally following that exact same path.

Yet one more reason we need change in Washington D.C.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Hiring some valuable skills

John McCain continues to surround himself with people that have experience in specific areas that he wants to be better at. One of the newer additions to Team McCain is Ralph Reed. If that name sounds familiar, that would be the guy from the Jack Abramoff scandal. That would be the scandal that McCain once claimed he led an investigation into. It seems that McCain’s investigation was really about scouting for dirty talent that was able to avoid prison (other Republican operatives in that scandal were imprisoned for their crimes). The Republican operative Reed brings lots of valuable experience to John: money laundering, fraud, tax evasion and conspiracy to bribe public officials. Just what the GOP needs – even more of their worst traits.

In the advertising department, Jackson Brown is suing John McCain’s campaign because neither McCain nor the RNC obtained the rights to use his song, “Running on Empty”, in their campaign ads. Apparently they feel they are above paying royalties when using copyrighted material for their gain. The suit also alleges that the commercial falsely suggests Browne endorsed McCain. I guess McCain’s jealousy over Obama’s popularity is causing him to manufacture celebrity endorsements to compensate.

Also on board the ironically-named “straight talk express”, Jerome Corsi. That would be the Republican operative who was listed as the author of the infamous “swift boat” book. That would be the Rovian slander against John Kerry. Corsi was completely discredited, as the book was riddled with errors and outright fabrications in its mission of venomously slandering the war record of a bona-fide American war hero. Now Corsi’s contribution to Team McCain is another book, this time slandering Barak Obama, and the initial reviews have been just what you’d expect:

"Jerome Corsi is a discredited liar who is peddling another piece of garbage in order to continue the Bush-Cheney politics he helped perpetuate four years ago"
"His is one of what will likely be many lie-filled books rushed to print this election cycle that are cobbled together from debunked internet sources to make money and advance a partisan agenda.”

Of course, McCain is delighted to inherit the GOP propaganda machine and the Republicans cannot shovel money fast enough to such a valuable operative like Corsi. Dirty politics as usual.

Stories to woo the religious right

McCain at Sandbag … er … Saddleback

Barack Obama knew the deck would be stacked against him. Perhaps he didn’t know the “cone of silence” ruse was in play - where John McCain got to hear all or part of the questions, along with Obama’s answers – but Barack knows what kind of dirty politics he’s fighting against. And he showed up anyway to give real and honest answers. That is courage. I don’t see McCain accepting invitations to discussions organized by Democratic Party supporting organizations. Instead McCain told the “cross in sand” story to tug at the Evangelical heartstrings of the audience. The problem is that he never told that story before campaigning for President (the first time), probably because it is from Alexander Solzenitzen’s memoir “The Gulag Archipelago”:

"Laying his shovel on the ground, he slowly walked to a crude work-site bench and sat down. He knew that at any moment a guard would order him to stand up, and when he failed to respond, the guard would beat him to death, probably with his own shovel. He had seen it happen to many other prisoners.

As he waited, head down, he felt a presence. Slowly, he lifted his eyes and saw a skinny, old prisoner squat down next to him. The man said nothing. Instead, he drew a stick through the ground at Solzhenitsyn’s feet, tracing the sign of the Cross. The man then got back up and returned to his work.

As Solzhenitsyn stared at the sign of the Cross, his entire perspective changed. He knew that he was only one man against the all-powerful Soviet empire. Yet in that moment, he knew that there was something greater than the evil that he saw in the prison, something greater than the Soviet Union. He knew that the hope of all mankind was represented in that simple Cross. And through the power of the Cross, anything was possible.

Solzhenitsyn slowly got up, picked up his shovel, and went back to work. Nothing outward had changed, but inside, he received hope."

In McCain’s 2005 book, he stated that he’s a big fan of Alexander Solzhenitsyn’s writings, which is fine. I just would not expect a serious candidate for President to pretend to be a fictional character from a novel when it suits him politically.

Shortly after John McCain came back from Vietnam in 1973, he wrote a detailed 12,000 word report of his experiences that was published in US News and World Report. Even though McCain goes into a lot of detail in that story and mentions religion a few times, there is no mention of the cross in the sand story, even though it would have fitted in well with the whole narrative. There are numerous mentions of Vietnamese guards in the reports, mostly bad ones but also good ones, but there is no indication at all that any of them would have been Christian.

McCain’s camp is scrambling to find a way to defend the story. Instead of coming up with any documentation that McCain ever told the story to anyone before his 2000 presidential run, they put out a complete non-sequitur. McCain campaign surrogate and former fellow POW Orson Swindle blames the controversy on “the pro-Obama Dungeons & Dragons crowd.”

Huh? Where in the world is the McCain camp getting Dungeons and Dragons from? Does it have to do with McCain taking the Solzhenitsyn story as his own? Is this some kind of reference to how McCain used to tell this story from the third person, rather than being about himself?

Same old politics

McCain is again slandering Obama, this time questioning his patriotism by saying he places political ambitions ahead of the country’s interests.

Obama’s response: “Let me be clear: I will let no one question my love of this country. I love America, so do you, and so does John McCain.”

At least one candidate is being an adult.