Saturday, August 30, 2008

Can we now talk about McCain's age and health?

On a few occasions over the past couple of weeks, I have mentioned an initiative with respect to going on the attack against John McCain. With that, I have created a Google Group called "Know Your McCain" and we are looking to gather information (old and new), create viral videos, write blog posts and use social networking to spread the message about how dangerous John McCain is.



You can look for diaries with the tag "Know Your McCain", and some diaries will have the "Know Your McCain" in the title as well. If you are interested in joining the Google Group or helping out with the Facebook group, please send me an email (address is in my profile).



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This has been something that seems to have been kept (relatively) in the background over the past year or so, even though it most certainly should not have been. But now, with a selection of someone that has a very light resume, is being investigated (and will likely be deposed) in an abuse of power scandal, a passing interest in Iraq, fundamentalist credentials and no clue as to what a VP does, it calls into question McCain’s age, health, judgment, and decision making process.



And it is all his own doing.



While there have been many themes to the campaign so far, a new one should now be emerging - one that supports all of the underlying questions that even fellow republicans have (and had) about McCain. There are questions as to whether he will make similar snap decisions without proper thought, input and debate when it comes to matters of national security or in a time of crisis. Make no mistake - he has failed his first big test, regardless of how anyone tries to spin this choice.



As part of this should be about Palin - it really should be more about McCain, as this is more indicative of the whole “putting country first” nonsense and sham that his campaign has been all along. Her shortcomings are now his. He is 72 years old, and certainly not a young 72. He was, as he will remind you at every turn, a POW for over 5 years, and was tortured. He is forgetful when it comes to basic foreign policy matters, and snaps at reporters even more than he has in the past. When challenged, he goes on the attack as opposed to thinking calmly under pressure. He likely suffers from some form of PTSD. He has survived cancer at least two times, and will not release his full medical records, let alone any mental fitness or psychiatric testing.



While it is not something that is comfortable to think about, he is a prime candidate to lose his mental capacity over the next few years - or at least slow down substantially. There is a greater likelihood that he could die in office than any other President, with the possible exception of Reagan. The stresses of the Presidency are well documented and can significantly age someone due to the rigorous schedule, the pressure and decision making, the crisis after crisis and even more so now with all that this country is facing.



Again, this is uncomfortable to think about and even less comfortable to talk about, but it is there. And it is real. He has slowed down significantly since January. He admitted to not thinking clearly after a few long days in a row. He takes Ambien to sleep better (not good for that “3AM phone call”).



McCain opened the door to question what happens if the unthinkable happens.



Can Palin stare down Putin or a dictator? Can she make an informed decision about the devolving political situation in Iraq? Does she have the ability to understand the complexity of the Georgia/Russia situation? Can she navigate through the Israel/Palestine situation with the respect that someone with years of experience and knowledge can? Will she be equipped to “reform” Washington when she is under investigation herself? How will she deal with the Taliban and al Qaeda? Is she less equipped to deal with a 9/11-type scenario than Bush was?



All of this has nothing to do with her being a woman - with the possible exception of the feeling that if she weren’t a woman, she would never have been the choice with a resume and background and inexperience on a major level that she has. oh, and before anyone calls that statement sexist, I will say that it is sexist that McCain passed up a good number of very qualified women to make this snap decision. Personally, I view this as no different from CBS hiring Katie Couric - an unqualified woman - over more qualified women.



This decision is being called “bold”, if nothing else. But “bold” also can mean stupid and rash. And in a situation where McCain’s age and health and past is what it is, coupled with the rigors and stress (both physical and mental) of being President, this is more about him than it is about Palin. This was not a “bold” or “maverick” choice. This was a pander to the fundies and a decision made with little to no vetting or thought.



It makes you question whether he has the mental capacity to have the good judgment and deliberate thought process to be President, and it puts the issue of his age and health front and center. And with those questions looming large now, it should, as Thad Cochran said, send a cold chill down everyone’s spine.



As Joe Biden said, this is the time for a “wise leader”. And this decision by McCain was not wise, nor was it indicative of what a leader would really do.

Palin is just more of the same

The time is now to frame this choice, and to define Palin for what she really stands for - before the republicans lie and do it themselves.



It is crucial now in the first few days to set the tone and the narrative with respect to what is really the latest major decision by the McCain campaign questioned by both the left and right. And once everyone gets past the surface, and once anyone looks beyond her inexperience, her personal story, how “desperate” this may or may not look, the fact that she is the first woman VP candidate on the republican side, her “not-being ready for prime time” when it comes to foreign policy matters, the comparisons to Quayle or Agnew (both of whom were on winning tickets, by the way) and whatever else is said about McCain’s choice (inappropriate or not), there is one thing that still shines through:



Palin is really just more of the same.



More of the same belief in the failed republican and conservative policies that got this country to were we are now. More of the flippant remarks about the importance of high level Administration positions. More of Bush. More of Dobson and the fundamentalists. More “out of touch with America”.



Her positions and views will come trickling out over the next few weeks. Some of them will likely be obscured, while others (both good and bad) will be covered more. This could very well turn out to be dismissed and ridiculed as the Harriet Miers debacle was, or it could be played up based on her family and background.



But all of this should be tied to one overarching theme - her choice as running mate may be unprecedented for the republicans, but she is a typical republican on most of the important issues.



This has to be about ISSUES and her extreme republican views.





There is already a desperate attempt by republicans to play up her “life experience” to offset the lack of any foreign policy or major executive experience (less than 2 years of a first term Governorship hardly qualifies). This is what the right will try to do in order to make up for her lack of a resume.



And with all that, the inexperience, the opportunity to define not just Palin but more importantly, McCain’s judgment and hypocrisy and shameless pandering is a short window. Her stances, positions and views will come out in time. And all of them should tie into one overall theme:



There is no difference between Palin and McCain and Bush and the failed republican policies. And what’s worse, Palin would be in way over her head if anything were to happen to the 72 year old man who is not in the best of health for his age at the top of the ticket.



More of the same. But with less experience.

"John McCain was wrong"

By now, most of us have seen, read or pored over Joe Biden’s excellent speech. And in hammering home the major differences between McSame and Obama when it comes to major decisions, Biden hit on a theme that could be absolutely devastating to McCain over the next few months.



John McCain was wrong.



The beauty of this is that (1) it is accurate, (2) it puts McCain on the defensive, (3) it is simple to repeat and (4) can be applied equally to domestic and foreign policy matters. There are a number of different frames to use with respect to McCain – and while many are good, they also haven’t stuck. This is partially due to the faux image that McCain has spent years building up virtually unchallenged by the corporate media (thankfully that is starting to change a bit recently). But it is also due to the fact that it isn’t always easy to find something that sticks well.



The “McSame” theme is probably one of the closest so far, but even that hasn’t been exploited as much as many of us would like – especially considering the fact that Bush has one of the worst approval ratings, the worst record of anyone I can remember and McCain has voted with Bush more than pretty much any Senator (that is, when he actually shows up to vote).



Biden mostly talked about McCain being wrong and Obama being right when it came to Iraq and other foreign policy matters, which sadly is necessary because of the major gap between reality and people’s perception of McCain’s “experience”. Take a look at how well it went over:

Should we trust John McCain's judgment when he said only three years ago, "Afghanistan--we don't read about it anymore because it's succeeded"? Or should we trust Barack Obama, who more than a year ago called for sending two additional combat brigades to Afghanistan?



The fact is, al-Qaida and the Taliban--the people who actually attacked us on 9/11--have regrouped in those mountains between Afghanistan and Pakistan and are plotting new attacks. And the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff echoed Barack's call for more troops.



John McCain was wrong. Barack Obama was right.



Should we trust John McCain's judgment when he rejected talking with Iran and then asked: What is there to talk about? Or Barack Obama, who said we must talk and make it clear to Iran that its conduct must change.



Now, after seven years of denial, even the Bush administration recognizes that we should talk to Iran, because that's the best way to advance our security.



Again, John McCain was wrong. Barack Obama was right.



Should we trust John McCain's judgment when he says there can be no timelines to draw down our troops from Iraq--that we must stay indefinitely? Or should we listen to Barack Obama, who says shift responsibility to the Iraqis and set a time to bring our combat troops home?



Now, after six long years, the Bush administration and the Iraqi government are on the verge of setting a date to bring our troops home.



John McCain was wrong. Barack Obama was right.



Again and again, on the most important national security issues of our time, John McCain was wrong, and Barack Obama was proven right.



But it doesn’t stop there – not by a long shot.



  • When it comes to the economy, the McCain campaign thinks it is all in people’s heads. John McCain is wrong;

  • When it came to the Gulf Coast and Hurricane Katrina, McCain said he would have done whatever he could. He could have boarded Air Force One with Bush after celebrating his birthday, but he didn’t. Regarding Katrina, John McCain was wrong;

  • When it came to supporting veterans and providing the troops with rest, armor and equipment, he consistently voted against the troops. When it came to really supporting our veterans and troops, John McCain is wrong;

  • When it comes to women’s issues – equal pay, respect, privacy, medical decisions, McCain has been and is wrong;

  • When it comes to the decisions on changing the course of this country – a course that the vast majority of people think we are on the “wrong path” - John McCain is wrong;

  • When it comes to understanding the plight of millions of Americans who have no healthcare coverage, his campaign says that it is not true since anyone can go to the emergency room (ignoring any preventative care, of course). On this too, John McCain is wrong;

  • When it comes to matters of diplomacy, McCain think that attacking foreign diplomats and threatening other countries is the best course of action. John McCain is wrong;

When it comes to understanding the difference between Sunnis and Shiites, when it comes to tax cuts for Big Oil vs. hard working middle class Americans, when it comes to offshore drilling having immediate benefits (or any tangible benefit for at least a decade), when it comes to energy independence, torture, or even owning up to his own words he may have said one day, one week, one month or one year ago, John McCain is and was wrong.



Wrong on policy matters. Wrong on factual matters. Wrong on diplomatic matters.



Wrong for this country.

KYM: McCain knows torture doesn't work. So why is he for it?

On a few occasions over the past couple of weeks, I have mentioned an initiative with respect to going on the attack against John McCain. With that, I have created a Google Group called "Know Your McCain" and we are looking to gather information (old and new), create viral videos, write blog posts and use social networking to spread the message about how dangerous John McCain is.



You can look for diaries with the tag "Know Your McCain", and some diaries will have the "Know Your McCain" in the title as well. If you are interested in joining the Google Group or helping out with the Facebook group, please send me an email (address is in my profile).



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There are some Vietnam veterans groups who are looking to attack McCain based on the “collaboration” that he gave his captors. While I am not going to give any opinion on whether McCain’s statements or “broadcasts” are off limits, or even relevant, I think there is a much deeper issue here that needs to be explored. And since things have to be boiled down to bite size pieces so that many people can understand it, I’ll just state the following:



  • John McCain was tortured (even though it wouldn’t count as torture under the Bush/Gonzales/Yoo definitions);

  • John McCain knowingly made false statements to his captors while in Vietnam, even though it was used as propaganda (i.e., he didn’t materially “help” them and therefore the word “treason” should not come into play here); and

  • John McCain knows that it is easy to provide information while being tortured that is unreliable.


So, with these very basic conclusions that I think pretty much anyone can agree with – the big question is why, knowing all of this, does John McCain still think that torture is ok?



This speaks directly to McCain’s character. He knows what torture can do to an individual. He knows that it is unreliable (forgetting everything that is out there about the unreliability of information provided under torture). And yet, he still voted for continuing torture of detainees.



More than once. Especially when he – of all people – was in a position to use his experience as a POW to do something for the good of the country, as opposed to using it for cynical and craven political reasons the way he has over the past few months.



There are really only two reasons why McCain, a man who himself was tortured and provided information that he knew wasn’t accurate or helpful to his captors, would approve of torture now, and neither of them speak very highly of McCain’s character:



  • Cynical political calculation; or

  • An underlying need to take revenge against and inflict severe long-term physical and mental pain on others and see them tortured.


Both of these traits are absolutely unacceptable for a President of the United States to have – whether in the role as Commander in Chief or in the role as diplomatic leader. It shows a total lack of morals, whether the lack of morals is based on compromising himself and cheapening his experiences for political and personal gain, or whether it is based on a sick twisted need to inflict pain on others (something that earned him the “McNasty” name and reputation).



If McCain really wanted to put “country first”, he could have done so by speaking out against torture and coming out against Cheney and Bush and Yoo and Gonzales when it mattered. That speaks to the “cynical political calculation” I note above.



If McCain knows full well that unreliable information is provided while being tortured (which I would assume he does based on his own experience), and STILL wants others to be tortured, then that is far worse – it shows a callous disregard for human life and should serve as a wake up call for anyone that gives any validation at all to his “I was a POW so everything I say or do now should be excused” line.



Either way, two things are true – McCain knows that torture doesn’t work, and he still approves of it.



That is a sign of a serious issue that makes him unfit for the office of the Presidency.

Monday, August 18, 2008

A partial list of violations of the law that no longer are crimes

t sickens me to think that Zoe Baird and Kimba Wood were disqualified as choices for Attorney General because of nanny taxes and yet we get Attorneys General who believed in stomping on the Constitution (Ashcroft), approve of voter suppression and torture as well as lie to Congress and reporters (Gonzales) and who think torture is only torture if it is done to him, won’t prosecute or investigate crimes committed by the Executive Branch and now thinks that not all violations of the law are crimes (Mukasey).



Thanks for that last one, Senators Schumer and Feinstein.



Whether you look at the “regular” definition of the word “crime” or even the legal definition, you will find the most basic “violation of law” as part of the definition.


But this isn’t just to point out that the current Attorney General is willing to say that not every crime is a crime in trying to stretch the boundaries of reality so far as to not prosecute...um....hmmm....what’s the word....oh yeah....crimes by members of his own Justice Department, it is to wonder just what other crimes, I mean “violations of the law” are just peachy keen according to the man who only holds the title and position of the nation’s top law enforcement official.





I’m sure that I missed more than a few, but I am glad that having a funny sounding name or names that sound similar to names that sound funny are worthy of indefinite detaining or “errors”. And living in a house that wasn’t even the house that SWAT teams were supposed to be looking for is their own fault when they are raided or wrongfully arrested.



Torture. Fabricate evidence to invade another country. Violate laws in hiring and firing practices. Suppress the vote illegally. Violate the fourth amendment. Blow the cover of a covert CIA operative and an entire network of people working on WMD issues. Break campaign finance laws. Ignore subpoenas.



Go ahead - those aren’t crimes and there certainly is a precedent for not being prosecuted.



Just don’t wear a shirt that has a cartoon robot on it while trying to fly or, even worse, wear a t shirt that says “Give Peace A Chance”. Because those are not only most certainly not in any way violations of the law, but are also crimes.

KYM: Unstable McCain should be medicated, not President

On a few occasions over the past couple of weeks, I have mentioned an initiative with respect to going on the attack against John McCain. With that, I have created a Google Group called “Know Your McCain” and we are looking to gather information (old and new), create viral videos, write blog posts and use social networking to spread the message about how dangerous John McCain is.



You can look for diaries with the tag “Know Your McCain”, and some diaries will have the “Know Your McCain” in the title as well. If you are interested in joining the Google Group or helping out with Facebook, please send me an email (address is in my profile).



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I’ll probably take some heat for this, but I am serious here, as the prospect of someone with anger issues, who holds grudges, doesn’t think about the implications of his words before he talks, is confrontational by nature and experience five years of torture (and the effects of it) being the President of the United States – especially now – is downright scary.


As recently as 2000, McCain stated “I hated the gooks. I’ll hate them as long as I live”. While this is disturbing in and of itself, regardless of the horrors that he had to endure, the fact that he was tortured for 5 years should be considered as far as both the dedication to his country that he showed then, and the far reaching impact on him, his psyche and how he views the world.



If this was an isolated incident, then that would be one thing – and even somewhat explainable (even if unacceptable to all Asians). But more recently, McCain did it again when Bud Day, a leading campaign surrogate said that ”the Muslims are going to kill us, and he refused to disavow the comments that painted only one billion people with the same broad brush – let alone in a most confrontational way.



But it still goes way deeper than that. We know the amount of stress that an individual who is at war endures. We have seen many many soldiers return with various levels of PTSD, and our own CIA declassified documents that were prepared in the 1960s that dealt with brainwashing and torture. Other than the fact that there are “interrogation techniques” referred to as “torture” in these documents that are way less extreme than some that our own administration and much of the republican party thinks is just peachy keen, there are some interesting notes.



For starters, note the passage in bold regarding isolation. John McCain spent approximately 2 years in solitary confinement. That’s a helluva long time. The CIA document referenced in the link above (the link in the diary is broken but if you play around with it, you can get to the entire document) has the following to say about isolation and the impact on a person subjected to it (emphasis mine):

A major aspect of his prison experience is isolation. Man is a social animal; he does not live alone. From birth to death, he lives in the company of his fellow man. His relations with other people and, especially with those closest to him, are almost as important to him as food or drink. When a man is totally isolated, he is removed from all of the interpersonal relations which are so important to him and taken out of the social role which sustains him. His internal as well as his external life is disrupted.



---snip---



After a few days it becomes apparent to the prisoner that his activity avails him nothing and that will he will be punished or reprimanded for even the smallest breaches of the routine. His requests have been listened to but never acted upon. He becomes docility of a trained animal. Indeed, the guards say that prisoners are “reduced to animals”. It is estimated that in the average case it takes from four to six weeks of rigid, total isolation to produce this phenomenon.



Four to six weeks in isolation will produce that. John McCain was in isolation for two entire years. And within those two years, he was also bound into painful positions with rope and beaten every two hours.



As I wrote in a diary a few months ago:

The long term effects of solitary confinement have been well documented, and there is little doubt that the torture that McCain endured had a profound effect on him, both short and long term.



[...]

Is there any doubt that McCain feels some level of anger, bitterness, holds a grudge or wants revenge for what was done to him? Hell, I know I would. I’d be permanently pissed off and looking for a fight - and I’m a pretty mild mannered guy. But, do we want to have a Commander in Chief who is even more hawkish on foreign policy than Bush is? On Iraq? On Russia? On China? Someone who talks openly about more wars, especially at a time when we are hated around the world for our confrontational and reckless foreign policy, not to mention with troops already stretched to the breaking point?



But even with that, it still goes deeper than the torture, the threats, the grudges, the sweeping comments and derogatory statements that offend multiple entire races. In a precarious global situation – one that the United States is already not looked favorably in, we see chest thumping about “100 years in Iraq”, we hear of excluding Russia from the G8 (not to mention his apparent desire to restart the Cold War), we hear talk of there being more wars, we have a Presidential candidate whose view of diplomacy is to physically assault foreign diplomats, just to name a few of the more major alarming issues.



If we want to look at how he treats those on the homefront, he blows off reporters when he isn’t berating them individually (this pattern goes back to 1982) or what he thinks of his wife or rape victims, there are plenty of examples of what is clearly an angry and disturbed man with little tolerance.



These issues are serious ones, and as much as some people want to ignore them or call them “quirks” or “gaffes” or part of his personality, they are scary and are not befitting of someone who aspires to be President or Commander in Chief.



“Shoot first” is what got the United States into the mess it is currently in – both domestically and internationally. Browbeating, chest thumping and insulting entire races or countries is not what is needed.



But when all of these traits, experiences and factors are considered together – if it was someone who wasn’t running for President (I’ll add “as the republican candidate”) – if it was your grandfather, your uncle, your neighbor or someone you worked with – this behavior would not be acceptable or tolerated. This individual’s mental stability would be called into question and would likely be referred for some sort of professional help.



So why is it ok if the person is only running for one of the most important positions in the world?

"Voter fraud" = "we will suppress the vote"

I’ve done a bit of writing over the past couple of years about election integrity issues, election fraud, voter suppression and the “gaming the system from the inside” that has been the republican party’s modus operandi since 2000 when it comes to stealing elections in various forms.



And right on cue - even since the anti-voter voter ID laws that were recently passed in Indiana (and almost passed in Missouri), we are seeing, as my good buddy dday is referring to as the “new battleground” - that big bad boogyman of “voter fraud”.


Never mind the fact that this is (1) a false argument and (2) false in the small issue of fact, as I wrote a few months back:

So, now that this is out of the way, I’ll refer to a 2006 DOJ memo that I discussed over the weekend:
The US Department of Justice put out a release regarding the “massive” voter fraud that they have uncovered and investigated. And there was lots to be “proud” of:
As a result of the Initiative, nationwide enforcement of election crimes has increased dramatically. At present, 195 investigations are pending throughout the country. Moreover, since the start of the Initiative in 2002 over 300 investigations of possible election crime have been opened, and over 125 election crime matters have been closed after investigation; 119 individuals have been charged with ballot fraud offenses and 86 individuals have been convicted of these crimes; and 48 individuals have been charged with campaign financing fraud and 42 individuals have been convicted of these offenses.


In over four years, only 42 individuals have been convicted, and under 50 have been charged with campaign finance fraud - now if we think of those who have been heavily lined to campaign finance fraud, one party comes to mind in a big way - and that isn’t the one who keeps pushing “voter fraud” laws. Only 86 people were convicted of “ballot fraud” (of course, Ann Coulter was cleared after calling in a favor from her well connected boyfriend), out of 300 investigations.


The issue of the voter going to the polling place in order to personally cast a vote that is fraudulent is, based on the DOJ’s own numbers - basically nonexistent. And the one high profile case was that of Ann Coulter, someone who conveniently wasn’t charged.



But the issue of voters without proper ID is one that is potential gold for the party that (1) wouldn’t likely get these votes anyway and (2) can eliminate a possible 10 million plus registered voter (or vote) advantage.



Still don’t believe me? OK, fine. Let’s just look at the tens of thousands of Floridians who were disenfranchised in 2000, or the hundreds of thousands of Ohio voters in 2004 who were disenfranchised for a contrast to the 150 or so individuals who the DOJ is touting.



The first and larger issue here is the way that this issue is being presented and argued - whether it be “voter ID” laws, whether it be voter roll purges, whether it be voter registrations or whatever else. The issue should be to make sure that people that have the right to vote can actually vote, not that people that are not eligible to vote should not be voting.



Yes, both are true, but the 2nd part - about people voting who shouldn’t vote, or people registering to vote illegally is a very minor issue - as noted by the DOJ report linked above. The flip side of these 50 people, or even 150 people who committed so called “voter fraud” or “registration fraud” is that hundreds of thousands of people in Florida were illegally disenfranchised, tens of thousands in Ohio and countless others in states that have enacted voter roll purges or ID laws.



And we are already seeing it again - as dday states in his post linked above:

With an uninspiring candidate, an enthusiasm gap and a host of fundamentals against them, obstruction and suppression is really all the Republicans have left. You can see exactly where they're worried from this story:
As Barack Obama tries to draw hundreds of thousands of new voters to the polls, Republicans are beginning to scrutinize registrants' eligibility as both sides draw a major battle line over voting rights.



Republicans are moving to examine surges in voter registrations in some states. A Republican lawyers group held a national training session on election law over the weekend that included campaign attorneys for Sen. John McCain and other Republican leaders. One session discussed how party operatives can identify and respond to instances of voter fraud.



Republicans said they are particularly worried about prospects for fraud in Virginia and Pennsylvania, and are beginning to comb thousands of new registrations in those states for ineligible applicants. In some cases the huge numbers threaten to swamp their efforts -- and those of state and local governments to verify and process applications.



Read: we're going to lose Virginia and Pennsylvania unless we invalidate hundreds of thousands of legal votes through bogus voter fraud claims. Both of the Secretaries of State in these commonwealths are Democrats, but of course the county boards of elections have more local control, as we've seen. And be prepared for this meme that the stress of all these new voters may break the system.


We have already seen three instances recently where this fear mongering has reared its ugly head.



The WaPo recently shot down the Virginia State republican Party Chair’s baseless allegations of “coordinated and widespread voter fraud....throughout Virginia, since there was no fact to back up these assertions. In Connecticut, the republican state party Chair made unsubstantiated allegations and calls for investigation into non-existent voter registration fraud, based on a video made by Election Journal, which is run by Mike Roman, a man who happens to be McCain’s Director of Election Day Operations and was the RNC’s Director of Election Day Registration in 2006.



Of course, the Connecticut allegations and hysteria has nothing to do with this:

Democratic voter registration is up sharply in southwestern Connecticut's 4th Congressional District, and political analysts said Friday that



In fact, if city Democrats in Bridgeport, Norwalk and Stamford show up on Election Day in a tide of anticipated statewide urban support for Sen. Barack Obama, Shays' narrow 5,747-vote margin of 2006 could evaporate into a forced political retirement.



[...]



Since Jan. 1, 11,329 new Democrats have registered in the 17-town district. Only 3,462 Republicans have signed up so far this year and only 8,299 unaffiliated voters.



And from the hysterical to the ridiculous, there are unsupported allegations (with “a report forthcoming”) in Alabama with respect to votes being sold for crack. This is very similar to the same story that was put out in 2004 in Ohio, and even if true, requires prosecution of the offending individual - not sweeping law changes that will suppress thousands of other voters rights.



It is happening again - actually, it has been happening all along. And as more and more new voters are registered, there will be more challenges and hurdles thrown up by the republican party to make sure that less people can vote, not more people.



If a few hundred thousand likely Democratic voters get caught in the crossfire and don’t get to vote, then the republicans will consider it “Mission Accomplished”.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Ignoring forged war documents is a dangerous precedent

How can impeachment be off the table if there is proof that documents that linked al Qaeda to Saddam or documents that made the case for invading Iraq were forged by the Office of Special Plans/Doug Feith/Dick Cheney/Scooter Libby or whoever else may have forged them?



How can impeachment be off the table if over 4,000 American troops were killed, tens of thousands more injured, not to mention all of the Iraqis who have been killed, displaced or had their lives ruined when intelligence officials spoke on the record about Bush knowing that Iraq had no WMDs, yet repeated this charge over and over and over and over?



Of course there were flat out denials of this by those close to the White House, as well as many rightist bloggers. But they have denied other lies and actions that have been proven to have occurred (or not occurred), or said (or not said) when it comes to this administration and its’ enablers in Congress.


But that isn’t the point. If even The American Conservative says that Dick Cheney is behind the forgery, and there is a tape and transcript that corroborates this assertion, then isn’t it Congress' duty to, at a minimum, initiate investigations and hold hearings to determine whether there was a deliberate attempt to lie this country into an invasion?



Didn’t Pelosi herself say that the most important thing about the Democrats regaining the majority control is the use of subpoena power? And while “drudging up things from the past” may not be what she or others in Congress want to do, if agents are willing to go on the record and indicate that the Office of the Vice President was directly involved in forging documents to make the case for invading Iraq, then Congress really doesn’t have a choice.



It is the duty and responsibility of them to “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States”, whether they want to or not.



smintheus did an excellent analysis of the claims last week, and I would be hard pressed to think that a good number of the most gung ho republicans and especially military personnel would not be appalled that the use of the United States military was used to further top Executive Branch officials’ political and personal goals – especially if it was based on forged documents.



This may or may not ultimately turn out to be true. It may or may not lead to other evidence being uncovered. Once one or two people talk on record – especially when there was such contempt towards the intelligence community (in their area of expertise, mind you) by the Executive Branch and Defense Department – more people may be inclined to come forward.



Even Joe Conason (a man who certainly has a very solid overall track record) says that, at a minimum, this should be the basis for investigations:

Setting aside the relative credibility of the author and the government, the relevant question is whether the available facts demand a full investigation by a congressional committee, with testimony under oath.



When we look back at the events surrounding the emergence of the faked letter that is at the center of this controversy, a strong circumstantial case certainly can be made in support of Suskind's story.



Now, the fact that Congress has allowed subpoenas to go ignored by so many administration officials with no consequence is already a horrible precedent to have set. That kind of negates the whole “subpoena power” thing that Pelosi was talking about a few years ago. But Congress has to make amends here or deem themselves irrelevant when it comes to that whole “checks and balances” thing. And if the OVP may have already done this once with Iraq (and already tried to levy false charges against Iran to make the case for bombing), then what is to stop them from doing it again - especially if McCain wins the Presidency?



If there is nothing to the charges, so be it. However, there are intelligence officials on tape and on the record that have already said that Cheney and his office were behind forgeries to sell the Iraq invasion as well as Bush knowing that Iraq had no WMDs. Put them under oath and if they are denying their comments now, they can clarify if they were lying before or if they want to lie under oath.



But this is a string that is hanging which needs to be pulled on. If it unravels a bigger picture and criminal acts, then that is only good for the Constitution, the rule of law and the future of this country. If it goes nowhere, then at least there were meaningful investigations.



Congress is out of session now, but this should be one of the first items on the agenda of the Judiciary Committees when it returns.



To pretend that the charges don’t exist and to not investigate by putting these intelligence officials under oath is a tacit approval of forging documents to make the case for invading a sovereign nation.



And both the forgeries themselves as well as the lack of meaningful investigations is nothing short of treason.

A partial list of violations of the law that no longer are crimes

It sickens me to think that Zoe Baird and Kimba Wood were disqualified as choices for Attorney General because of nanny taxes and yet we get Attorneys General who believed in stomping on the Constitution (Ashcroft), approve of voter suppression and torture as well as lie to Congress and reporters (Gonzales) and who think torture is only torture if it is done to him, won’t prosecute or investigate crimes committed by the Executive Branch and now thinks that not all violations of the law are crimes (Mukasey).



Thanks for that last one, Senators Schumer and Feinstein.



Whether you look at the “regular” definition of the word “crime” or even the legal definition, you will find the most basic “violation of law” as part of the definition.


But this isn’t just to point out that the current Attorney General is willing to say that not every crime is a crime in trying to stretch the boundaries of reality so far as to not prosecute...um....hmmm....what’s the word....oh yeah....crimes by members of his own Justice Department, it is to wonder just what other crimes, I mean “violations of the law” are just peachy keen according to the man who only holds the title and position of the nation’s top law enforcement official.





I’m sure that I missed more than a few, but I am glad that having a funny sounding name or names that sound similar to names that sound funny are worthy of indefinite detaining or “errors”. And living in a house that wasn’t even the house that SWAT teams were supposed to be looking for is their own fault when they are raided or wrongfully arrested.



Torture. Fabricate evidence to invade another country. Violate laws in hiring and firing practices. Suppress the vote illegally. Violate the fourth amendment. Blow the cover of a covert CIA operative and an entire network of people working on WMD issues. Break campaign finance laws. Ignore subpoenas.



Go ahead - those aren’t crimes and there certainly is a precedent for not being prosecuted.



Just don’t wear a shirt that has a cartoon robot on it while trying to fly or, even worse, wear a t shirt that says “Give Peace A Chance”. Because those are not only most certainly not in any way violations of the law, but are also crimes.

Monday, August 11, 2008

...and herein lies the problem

As John Edwards has become the issue du jour and too many people are salivating over whether his political career is over, we now have yet another hypocritical and needless diversion from what is really important. Just like the recent overexposure of Paris Hilton and McCain’s passing the buck on his increasingly nasty and spiteful campaign, none of this means a damn thing to, oh, 300 million or so Americans.



But since it is a Democrat and since it has to do with sex and since the real horrors of what has been impacting many people on a day to day basis is getting buried and ignored just to create yet another diversion for people to either say “HA” or to get on their moral high horse (all while probably keeping their own skeletons in their closet), that doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be called for the complete and utter crap that is really is.



Of course, if you want to talk about sex and politicians and the impact on their career, why not look at Larry Craig, David Vitter, Mark Foley and the years of covering up his actions, Newt Gingrich serving his wife divorce papers while she was in the hospital with cancer and of course McCain’s tossing his first wife to the curb and having an affair with Cindy the heiress?


But moving past the issue of sex, which is really only important to people who have so little in their own lives to be proud of that they have to obsess and point fingers at others to feel better about themselves, there are so many other reasons to be absolutely frustrated with the hypocritical moralists and smarmy narcissists that are once again rearing their ugly heads. Over the past week, we found out that the White House not only passed off forged documents to sell the Iraq invasion, but they forged their own documents to sell the Iraq invasion, and there is not a peep about it?



We found out that the US attorney scandal is now focusing on the White House inner circle, yet there is a collective yawn. The much ballyhooed military tribunal of Hamdan resulted in a 5 month sentence even after a kangaroo court trial - basically a repudiation of the entire administration view on military tribunals.



We just passed 500 military deaths in Afghanistan, and the Iraqi Congress adjourned without meeting one benchmark that was supposed to be the main result of the so-called “surge”, yet all we hear is the foregone conclusion that the surge worked.



Torture is still on the table. One Attorney General approved of torture memos, while also being part of voter suppression lawsuits while the latest Attorney General approves of waterboarding as long as it isn’t being done to him, and also is a chief obstructor of justice when it comes to the Executive Branch. Iraqi prisoners are being put in small wooden boxes, which of course is most certainly not torture.



Spying on Americans has been given the thumbs up by Congress, criminal defiance of subpoenas by Rove, Miers, Bolton are being allowed to set a dangerous precedent, there is more saber rattling about attacking Iran - with similar lies being trotted out by this administration, and the current republican nominee.



And speaking of that republican nominee, he has lied about just about everything, he can’t even get the difference between the Sunnis, the Shiites, Iran and al Qaeda right. He lies about his pork projects, he lies about his opponent, he lies about comments he made days earlier, weeks earlier, months earlier and years earlier. He breaks his own campaign finance rules and lies about it. He lies to the press about his top advisor/lobbyist connections and meetings he had on behalf of lobbyists.



And he gets a pass on all of it.



Private entities that made huge profits by taking tremendous risks are being bailed out by our tax dollars (in a unilateral move by the Executive Branch), but nothing substantial is being done for homeowners that are struggling and are facing foreclosure on their homes. So much for that “ownership society”. A smoke and mirrors “stimulus package” that basically used American taxpayers as conduit to send billions to the credit card, oil and gas companies and retail industries has proven to be the farce that I called it for a few months ago as the economy didn’t come close to growing in the way that we were told it would.



Gas prices are still near all time highs as the oil companies reported the highest profits in the history of the universe, and while offshore drilling won’t do squat in the short, medium or long term, McCain is pocketing handsomely from oil company contributions, yet none of this is being reported either.



But let’s focus on a two year old affair by someone who isn’t part of the Presidential campaign anymore, isn’t in Congress and is far from the first person in politics to have an affair. Because THAT is what is important to the people of this country.



Jeez.....

The temptation is too much for me to fight.

How can I NOT spread the word about how great John McCain's ass backward policies will be for ruining this country for years, nay, DECADES to come?



I mean, all I have to do is sell out my soul, er, astroturf because there are no real McCain supporters out there, er, troll progressive blog sites, er, (swallows hard) proudly support a man who has done nothing really of note since coming back from Vietman, I mean, is hawking cheap crap on his campaign website if I promise to copy and paste talking points into blogs in the hope that even brainless people won't notice that I am a new user with no diary or commenting history.



Talk about an opportunity that can't be passed up....


Maybe this can get me a PROSPERITY sign, a PEACE sign, a REFORM sign (because nothing spells reform like an old angry washed up insider who has sold out to everything that is status quo), or maybe I can hit the trifecta - the REFORM/PROSPERITY/PEACE sign!!!



Actually - come to think of it, the unintentional comedy factor in these signs is off the charts.



Even better, if I can troll enough sites, can I get enough points to get me one of the John McCain Filtered Water Bottles? It would be perfect to deliver hot bottled water to dehydrated babies.



But maybe I would have to sink a bit lower, and really REALLY sell myself out (or more accurately, be like McCain himself and pimp out Mrs. clammyc) in order to get her one of the spaghetti strap tank tops so I can enter her in the Miss North Jersey um..."pageant". Yeah, that would make me feel like a real part of the campaign.



Or....I can really go for the gold and try to accumulate enough troll points and get me one of the big and bad ass McCain Nation Party Packs - which I would only assume is complete with an ape suit (because nothing spells party like a good ape raping) and other assorted goodies that can be used to humiliate and denigrate excite the ladies on the block.



Well, all this excitement is getting to be too much. Let me see what today's talking points are so I can go regurgitate them and pretend that I actually care about an old phony who blows his top at the slightest challenge or questioning and has no clue about, well, anything that happened after 1985.



Oooooooooh.... "rising above partisanship" and jobs for all of the other rich white republicans and their children, er, America.



Gotta go get busy with some trolling. Otherwise, I may miss out on the McCain Courageous Service CD, which I would only assume is limited edition.

Know Your McCain: his electability problem

On a few occasions over the past couple of weeks, I have mentioned an initiative with respect to going on the attack against John McCain. With that, I have created a Google Group called “Know Your McCain” and we are looking to gather information (old and new), create viral videos, write blog posts and use social networking to spread the message about how dangerous John McCain is.



You can look for diaries with the tag “Know Your McCain”, and some diaries will have the “Know Your McCain” in the title as well. If you are interested in joining the Google Group or helping out with Facebook or MySpace, please send me an email (address is in my profile).



***************************



So much seems to always be made about Obama or Clinton or whoever else’s so-called “electability issues” – most of which turns out to be nothing more than a hunk of nonsense strung together from bits of polls, magnifying tiny segments of the population into a much larger group or whatever other themes that the Village wants to conjure up.



All the while, there has been no mention of the tremendous electability issue and problem that faces one John Sidney McCain.



Seriously.


Here is a man who is disliked by his own party. A man who, even though he clinched the republican primary on March 4, had an incredibly low amount of votes in the primaries, both before and (here is the kicker) AFTER he already clinched. For example, he only won one of the twelve caucuses, topped 55% of the primary vote only once (DC) before clinching the nomination and even after clinching the nomination only broke 80% of the vote two times in 10 primary contests.



Hardly a vote of confidence from his own party – a party that is as unpopular as any political party has been in my lifetime. But wait, there is more. Much more.



Here is a man who pissed off an entire hugely motivated section of the republican party – the fundies, only to finally flirt with an extremist pastor (Hagee) and then be forced to denounce him after pressure to do so, therefore alienating this portion of the base further.



Here is a man who has broken his own campaign finance laws - benefiting from them in the primaries when he had no support and no money yet denying that he ever “really” opted into the public financing. Some “straight talk: there.



Here is a man who is supposedly running on “foreign policy experience”, yet has made mistake after mistake after mistake when it comes to basic foreign policy matters.



Here is a man whose supposed “straight talk” has lied out of his ass so many times that even the WaPo, Joe Klein and Andrea Mitchell have called bullshit on his lies.



Here is a man who touts his military experience (which basically consisted of screwing around, losing 5 planes and being a POW close to 40 years ago), yet his voting record when it comes to the troops and veterans is nothing short of abysmal and thinks it isn’t too important when the troops will come home from Iraq. A man whose wife stole painkillers from a veteran’s charity that she headed up.



A man who is not only against a woman’s right to make personal private medical decisions, but would appoint SCOTUS Justices that would eliminate right to privacy, has made jokes about being raped and joked about Chelsea Clinton being ugly because Janet Reno was her father when Chelsea was just 18 years old , and left his first wife when she was disfigured in a horrific accident (after she waited for him for years to return from Vietnam).



And say what you will about his age being off limits, but over 40% of people polled last year would be hesitant to vote for a 72 year old for President. And that was before he bumbled and stumbled his way through a few weeks of campaigning - clearly looking like he is in way over his head.



Here is a man who is running one of the dirtiest and desperate campaigns – and still has the corporate media as his lapdog despite totally blowing off members of the press or asking the ever diplomatic question “what do you want, you little jerks? to other members of the press.



Here is a man whose idea of diplomacy is to sing about bomb bomb bomb bomb bomb Iran, to stay in Iraq for 100 years and to physically assault a foreign official in 1987.



Not only does he threaten to bomb bomb Iran (all while confusing Iran and al Qaeda), but one of his top aides lobbied for an Iran-linked firm, and McCain himself has deep ties to Ahmed Chalabi, who we know was a double agent for Iran (and continues to be linked to Iran), despite having McCain’s full support – either this is dangerously incompetent and na├»ve of McCain, or it is way more sinister than just being naive.



And finally (for now), here is a man whose running mate short list includes a former primary opponent who, on numerous occasions, was about to bait McCain into hitting him – in what was a very nasty and personal fight.



I think it is long past time where people start to look at the many major overriding issues with McCain and his campaign. Many of these should be fatal. And these should be spread far and wide.



John McCain is unelectable. The American public just doesn’t fully know it yet.

John McCain, fucking liar

It’s long past time for people to not only give McCain a total pass on his outright lies, smears, “McCain moments” and other absolute nonsense that comes from his mouth but also to actively call him on it. And if he isn’t lying, then he is goddamn near senile and shouldn’t be President for that reason alone, notwithstanding all of the other very valid reasons that he shouldn’t be President.



Over the past few weeks, he has really stooped to a new low – and just when you think that there can’t be a new low. But yes, every day comes another outright fabrication, nay, lie – about his positions, about Obama’s positions, hell – think back to the primary season when he lied about Romney or Huckabee or whoever else.



It’s too bad that only republicans know how to use the word “liar” when it comes to their opponents, even though they generally are using it for opponents that didn’t actually lie (and usually, they are the ones lying). But the fact remains that McCain is so power mad, so unhinged at the fact that he isn’t getting quite the fluffing that he feels he is due, his campaign has continued it’s collision course with the title of “most sleazy, dishonest and scummy campaign ever”.


The problem is that in an era where things can easily be verified, “I don’t remember” is sometimes passable and “I never said that” or “I never did that” is unacceptable and easily verifiable.





And that is just off the top of my head and a quick search.



So let’s start calling him what he is. A full on liar. Not only “forgetful”, not only “misinterpreted”, not only “misquoted”, not only mean-spirited and stretching the truth.



A liar. As in “pants on fire”. If he is going to get a pass from the media, it makes it that much harder for the rest of us to get past the smokescreen. Here are around 20 instances, not even counting the 3 straight days of “Iran helps al Qaeda” or “the surge resulted in the Anbar awakening” or whatever other crap he tries to throw at the wall.



We just had 8 years of outright dangerous lies on many major issues. Not only are many of the same people involved with McCain campaign, but they are lying about just as many major important issues.



And lying isn’t so “mavericky”, is it?



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Update [2008-7-28 19:15:7 by clammyc]:: I did create the google group "Know Your McCain" and we are just getting it off the ground. We need writers, researchers, video people and anyone else who is interested. Email is in my profile if you want to join.

We can't let America elect another unhinged raving lunatic

I’ll start by saying that this is a call to action continuation and follow up to my diary last week about starting to attack McCain. And I’ll also say that the events of this past week were nothing short of stunning in the contrast between what can be accomplished by Obama and the potential for repairing our image around the world - and what would happen in terms of 4 more years of the same tired failed McCain/Bush/Cheney/neoconservative ideas and policies.



It floored me so much that I donated my first $50 to Obama’s campaign earlier today - more than I donated to Dodd’s campaign during his too short candidacy.


To see stories like this about Obama and then things like this about McCain, it shows just how much more can be done when you don’t piss off everyone just because you feel like being an asshole.



Back in 2004, the entire world was rooting for Americans to do the right thing. And yet, we end up with this:





I said that I would start a series of diaries that would go on the attack against McCain. And based on the response I got from my diary last weekend, I started a GoogleGroup called “Know Your McCain”. Anyone that wants to contribute research, videos, diaries or help out otherwise is welcome to join and should send me an email (see my profile). Some have already been in touch, and have provided some very good links, information or videos. You can also get to any of the links from any of the many diaries in my signature, or go to McCain Source as well.



We are starting to see McCain completely lose his shit. He is blowing off reporters. He is becoming unhinged in a big time manner - lashing out at Obama on the most crazy of attacks, all while continuing to make mistake after mistake about basic foreign policy issues and trying to run a campaign based on two things:



  • Something that happened close to 40 years ago (his Vietnam service and POW status); and

  • Something that he credits himself with (the so called “surge”) which, at best, has only resulted in some decrease in violence - which is related to more than just “more troops” and has no bearing on what needs to be done now in Iraq, Afghanistan or Pakistan.



The problem here is that nothing that happened in Vietnam has any real bearing on what is going on now in Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan and we only know that McCain has no plan for anything other than “I told you the surge worked” when it comes to Iraq, forgot (or even worse, doesn’t think) that Afghanistan was the first major conflict since 9/11, and thinks that Pakistan shares a border with Iraq.



But it isn’t just that, even though “that” is more than enough to warrant an Obama win at all costs. It is the instant rise in credibility that the United States will get with an Obama Presidency - one that will enable us to be strong where we need to be and smart about diplomacy.



Too many Americans rejected Kerry in 2004 because he wasn’t enough of an asshole to the rest of the world, and we all know how great it was for our standing in the world with Captain Asshole in charge of pissing off everyone else just because he could. With McCain it is even worse - just like Bush but angrier, older, more unstable and with more of a temper and grudge against more people.



Which is a scary thought.



As I wrote the other day, your kids and grandchildren will fight McCain’s “more wars”. Our foreign policy will be unpopular, aggressive, conducted with haste and arrogance. And we will lose more ground both overseas and on the homefront.



Big time.



With Obama, things will be far from perfect. And they will be far from easy. And too many things that will get accomplished will likely be out of necessity, reaction and crisis, not out of foresight or planning. But that is the hand we have been dealt, and not even a President Obama and a very progressive Congress can do what needs to be done.



However, with an unhinged raving lunatic with a grudge against the world, many members of his own party and horrible domestic policies (because the issue of economics is too big for him to understand and he has trusted advisors like Phil Gramm) - the hole that this country has been dug into by Bush and the republican Congress will need to be around 6 feet deep.



Because we might as well be dead to the rest of the world at that point.