Friday, October 31, 2008

Breakng news

This just in: John McCain pals around with terrorists.
Indeed, when the Clinton administration considered forging a stronger relationship with the KLA as a means of bringing all parties to the bargaining table, GOP officials questioned whether such a policy would be a tacit support for a "group with terror, drug ties."

"Such an effusive embrace by top Clinton Administration officials of an organization that only a year ago one of its own top officials labeled as 'terrorist' is, to say the least, a startling development," read a paper put together by the Senate Republican Policy Committee.

And yet, John McCain, the current Republican standard-bearer, was one of the KLA's most outspoken supporters. Back in May 1999, when it seemed as if NATO air raids would prove ineffective in stopping the violence, and calls were being made to send in ground troops, McCain suggested that the U.S. simply fund the KLA instead.

Sorry, Mac. Sauce for the goose, and all that...

Misery loves company

When I read this, I know I'm not alone.

While the economy sinks, oil giants soar

Surely you're aware of the recession. The stock market is down, consumer spending is down, banks are failing, home sales are in the toilet... but there's one business that's doing quite well, thank you very much.

Exxon announced yesterday that it broke its own record for most profitable quarter. The company earned $14.8 billion, a 15% gain over the previous record set last quarter and a 58% gain over the same quarter a year ago.

Shell also announced record earnings yesterday. Their current cost of supply (CCS) net profit was $10.9 billion, a 71% year-over-year increase for the third quarter.

Meanwhile, the oil industry is in line for $32.9 billion "in tax breaks, subsidies and other handouts" over the next 5 years, according to a study published in July by the nonprofit Friends Of the Earth.

The blood is on their hands

I'm concerned about the coming weeks and months. I worry that my country is headed for some serious internal strife.

A man who appears equipped to be a true uniter, a man who gives me more hope for the future than I have had in years, stands poised to win a solid majority of the popular vote and a veritable landslide in the Electoral College, yet I fear bitter violence between Americans. I fear riots in the streets, and worse.

There are two scenarios that trouble me. In the first, Barack Obama wins the landslide he deserves, and there is rejoicing in the streets. Confined perhaps at first to urban areas, there is raucous celebration into the night. But not everyone is happy. In particular, the right-wing militia groups and just plain everyday rednecks - the ones Sarah Palin has been busily whipping into a frenzy, those she has convinced that Obama is a racist, a terrorist, and a traitor, the ones who scream "kill him" at her rallies - are mightily pissed off. And they also take to the streets. Unlike the revelers, this bunch shows up armed and looking for a fight. The confrontations turn ugly, and mob-on-mob violence ensues. In normal times, this would not go very far, because cooler heads would prevail; only a small right-wing fringe would participate in the backlash. But the McCain-Palin campaign and their allies in the right-wing echo chamber have so demonized the left, and stirred up so much out-and-out hatred, there's all too good a chance this could escalate way out of control.

In the other scenario, John McCain - against all odds and in defiance of both advance polling and exit polls - pulls off the incredible upset. This time it's just too much to be swallowed even by the hitherto hypnotized public. People across the country take to the streets to protest the theft of yet another presidential election. Bolstered by evidence of electronic vote tampering, enraged by the voter-suppression tactics that prevented millions of Americans from voting at all, they march and chant and demonstrate - the vast majority of them peacefully - and the government response comes in the form of phalanxes of militarized police in full riot gear, rounding up the protesters and hauling them away for "rioting in furtherance of terrorism." This brings even more and angrier people into the streets in defiance of the government crackdown. Again, the well-armed and well-agitated right-wing loonies join the fray; and again, it escalates out of control.

This is the disaster that the right wing flirts with when they demonize the opposition. No matter the official results of the election, they have conditioned so may people on one side to hate those with whom they disagree that at least some of them are bound to bring that hatred to the surface in the form of violence against the evil liberals. Will it escalate to full-blown civil war? I hope not, but I don't rule it out. Will there be violence? Count on it.

It is very much to Barack Obama's credit that he spent thirty minutes on Wednesday night talking about the issues, about the problems Americans face and about what he plans to do about them, without ever once mentioning George W. Bush, John McCain, or Sarah Palin. It is vastly to his credit that he stops crowds at his rallies if they stoop to booing McCain or Palin, telling them "you don't have to boo, just vote." And it is to the eternal shame of the GOP and the McCain-Palin campaign, and their hate-mongering tools in the right-wing media, that their whole argument consists of telling people that liberals are anti-American, anti-freedom, pro-terrorism, and generally evil beings who want to destroy America. In so doing, they are fomenting hatred and inciting violence. And when that violence comes to pass, the blood will be on their hands.

Make History!

Here's a good idea:

Of course you can be even more involved in making history by volunteering a day or two of your time between now and the closing of the polls on Tuesday.

McCain to appear on SNL

John the Candidate is scheduled to appear on Saturday Night Live tomorrow night.

WIth any luck at all, his appearance will be memorable for the constant chants of "O-BA-MA" from the audience.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Can you say "bounce"?

My prediction: Obama will gain at least 5 points in the polls over the next couple of days. that was quite possibly the most moving political message I have heard in my life - and at my age, I've heard plenty.

On Fox, the infomercial was followed in short order by a McCain ad that tried to make Obama look unattractive while the voice-over said he was unprepared. It served only to make McCain look pathetic. He cannot compare, let alone compete.

But let's not get complacent. Volunteer this weekend. This is history in the making, people; you will want to be able to tell your grandchildren you were part of it.

"No World Series delays when I'm president" - McCain

What a joke.

"By the way, no one will delay the World Series game with an infomercial when I'm president," says John McCain. Apparently, he believes it's more important to see grown men making millions playing a child's game than to hear a candidate's plea for support of the changes he envisions for the direction of the country.

Presumably a President McCain would declare by executive order that TV networks are not allowed to sell blocks of time to advertisers that might conflict with coverage of a World Series game. (Well, actually, the TV networks can do what they want, but I guess the commissioner of baseball would be precluded from changing the start time of the game. He didn't say nobody could preempt coverage, only that nobody would delay the game. Either way, though, methinks the man doth slightly overstep the authority vested in the Chief Executive by the Constitution.)

But the funniest part of this comes up when you look at the facts. There are two of those I'd like to point out:

First, Obama's address - according to that pillar of the liberal media, the Fox Network - will not change the start time of the game. It will merely preempt pre-game talk - "you know, Joe Buck."

Second, McCain's acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention forced the NFL season opener to begin 90 minutes ahead of its planned prime-time start - providing a lead-in that was widely credited for helping McCain's acceptance speech get higher TV ratings (if lower approval ratings) than Obama's.

So it's OK to push sports around on TV if it gives the Republican candidate a bigger audience share than he could have gotten on his own, but it's not OK to preempt some pre-game commentary to let a Democrat speak his piece.

Hey, this isn't just a political blog. We also do humor here in the Canyon. Thanks for the laughs, John.

Obama leaves campaign to spend time with dying elderly opponent

I've gotta add this site to my blogroll.
Presidential candidate Barack Obama surprised political observers yesterday by suddenly withdrawing from the campaign trail to spend some time with his elderly rival John McCain. McCain who is 97 years old and very frail is said to be fading fast and Obama wanted to see him one last time before he was gone forever. ‘Barack knows that he could never have got this far if it hadn’t have been for old man McCain. He owes everything to him.’

Obama reportedly sat at the bedside of the dying Republican nominee trying to make sense of the confused ramblings coming from the old man’s mouth, according to an assistant to the Illinois senator. ‘Grandpa McCain’s mind had gone unfortunately, he just kept claiming everyone was a terrorist and then he’d go off on some incomprehensible rant about dividing up a pie or making a bigger pie or something. He’s completely lost it.’

Who's he kidding?

Thanks to DailyKos, here's John McCain's flip-flop on taxes. (Or is it simply flimflam?)

"Don't tell Matt Drudge or FOX News, but John McCain himself took the same basic approach to taxes as Barack Obama -- at least until the 2008 presidential campaign brought about some changes in his views."
In other words, he was for middle-class tax relief before we was against it.

McCain knows a middle-class tax cut is better than the Bush give-away to the wealthy that he voted against. Yet now he parrots the party line to keep the GOP's real base from revolting. This is a man who will say anything to get elected.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

McCain stranded on campaign bus

John McCain Accidentally Left On Campaign Bus Overnight

Is the bailout really about loosening credit?

So the $700B bailout (which actually weighs in at over $800B, with its added pork) is suposed to get credit flowing again, right? I mean, that's what it's all about, isn't it?

Well, maybe. It appears that a good portion of that money will be used to line the pockets of investment bankers and to fuel acquisitions.

TIME reports:
Uncle Sam has a new name on Wall Street — Sugar Daddy. Bonuses for investment bankers and traders are projected to fall by 40% this year. But analysts, compensation consultants and recruiters say the drop would be much more severe, perhaps as much as 70%, had it not been for the government's efforts to prop up the financial firms.

Bonuses? The economy is in the shitter, and the taxpayers are funding bankers' bonuses? What's wrong with this picture?

The Wall St. Journal says:
The Treasury's bailout plan is fueling a long-simmering war between financial institutions, prompting fears among small banks that big banks getting rescue money will be encouraged to buy smaller rivals.

Big banks say the purchase of smaller, ailing institutions by larger ones promotes the recovery of the sector. But representatives of some 8,000 community banks -- the bulk of which remain financially sound -- worry that a taxpayer-subsidized consolidation could sweep up healthy institutions that are too small to fight back.

And Bloomberg quotes an industry insider:
Government funds may be used to finance acquisitions, prompting a potential “wave” of deals, Colin Devine, an analyst with Citigroup Inc. said yesterday in a research note.

Just what we need: another round of megabanks buying up local and regional institutions. We wouldn't want want local dollars supporting local economies, would we?

And the New York Times (among others) points out that all of this is actually intended by the administration:
In point of fact, the dirty little secret of the banking industry is that it has no intention of using the money to make new loans...

Treasury wants banks to acquire each other and is using its power to inject capital to force a new and wrenching round of bank consolidation. As Mark Landler reported in The New York Times earlier this week, “the government wants not only to stabilize the industry, but also to reshape it.”

I'm suspicious whenever this administration wants to "reshape" an industry, because inevitably it means one thing: the rich get rich. Redistribution of wealth is nothing new; they've been redistributing it for years - from working stiffs to fat cats.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer has something to say about this. In an editorial published today, they say the "bailout is already off the beam."
The federally forced sale of Cleveland's National City Bank to a Pittsburgh rival Friday requires urgent congressional hearings to force federal regulators to reveal why they've veered so far from the intent of the $700 billion bailout. Instead of vacuuming up troubled assets, the bailout is being funneled into bank acquisitions.

Such bank sales might make sense if the banks being bought out genuinely were failing. But using the taxpayers' dime to sink wounded banks that might otherwise survive is a far more questionable and inefficient way to rid the system of bad debt. It also runs directly counter to how the Treasury promised to use the money.
I have to agree. The backbone of the economy is on Main Street, where the goods and services are produced, and not on Wall Street where they are commoditized and made the objects of speculation. I agree with the Plain Dealer that Congress needs "to force federal regulators to reveal why they've veered so far from the intent of the $700 billion bailout."

In fact, I'll go the Cleveland paper one better. Congress needs to re-enact Glass-Steagall and take additional steps to introduce some adult supervision into the out-of-control greedfest of casino capitalism that is the banking industry. And Justice should start enforcing anti-trust regulations in the finance sector and elsewhere. It's time to recognize that, as Bernie Sanders puts it, "too big to fail" is too big to exist.

The Sinking Ship

At, Gary Kamiya sums up "The Republican Shipwreck" pretty well:
There's something surreal about how fast the GOP has gone from arrogant triumphalism to its death throes. Just yesterday, the GOP's mighty Titanic was cruising along, its opulent decks lined with fat-cat financiers and neoconservative warmongers, all smoking cigars, drinking champagne and extolling the deathless virtues of their fearless captain. The compliant media issued glowing dispatches. Karl Rove cackled with glee as he plotted out a permanent Republican majority.

Then the luxury liner hit an iceberg known as reality. The biggest damage was done by the Wall Street crisis, which happened just in time to tilt a close race toward Obama. But the economic meltdown was only one of the disasters for which the GOP is largely responsible. The war that was going to establish American hegemony forever turned out to be one of the worst foreign-policy blunders in our nation's history. The GOP's free-market idolatry led to the gravest financial crisis since the Depression. Its ideological insistence on cutting taxes for the richest Americans ran up a record deficit. Its embrace of torture and denial of due process assaulted the Constitution and eroded America's moral standing. Its doctrine of the "unitary executive" concentrated unprecedented power in the hands of the executive branch. Its anti-scientific denial of global warming endangered the entire planet.
Of course it's more than a little premature to exult in the demise of the Grand Oil Party - they've stolen elections before and they could do it again - indeed, they're trying* - but it does seem that a clear majority of Americans now realize what a house of cards "movement conservatism" was and is. If we're lucky, we may see the Republican Party move backs towards the political center and away from its dual (laissez-faire and religious) fundamentalist base. That would be a step forward for America and the world.

* (For information on how you can stop them from stealing this one, see STEAL BACK YOUR VOTE!)

UPDATE: GOP uses trumped-up ACORN allegations to distract from their efforts to disenfranchise hundreds of thousands of legitimate voters... and the "liberal media" gives them a pass, as usual

Monday, October 27, 2008

Here's Your Sign

I finally understand what Bill Engvall has been talking about all this time. They really do hand out signs to certain people!

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Obama Flag - O Noes!

Over at DailyKos they've pointed out a column by Mark Levin at the National Review that decries, among other things, the existence of "special Obama flags."
Here's the flag they're talking about. Obama was seen speaking in Toledo with this flag behind him, and a number of right-wing loonies went nuts over it.

Hey Mark, in case you haven't heard: that flag has flown in those parts since 1902 and the O has nothing to do with Obama. It actually stands for Ohio. Not too surprising since it's their state flag! Obama had as much to do with that O being on the flag as he had to do with a backwards B ("for Barack," said the McCain campaign) scratched onto the face of Ashley Todd.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

In Defense of Bill Ayers - and of the '60s

I found this article at The Smirking Chimp, defending Bill Ayers from the "terrorist" label Sarah Palin likes to throw at him (while refusing to hang the same label on bombers of abortion clinics and family planning centers), and revealing the attacks on Ayers for what they are: an attempt to recast '60s dissenters as unpatriotic when in fact they helped usher in the Civil Rights movement and get the US out of an ill-advised war that was destroying our country and damaging our standing in the world.
People over 50 remember that period very well, and many much younger people view it with envy and fascination. After all, today's youth listen to the Beatles, Stones, Doors, Jefferson Airplane and Grateful Dead, considering them their own. (We in the '60s rarely listened to the music of the '20s, '30s and '40s.) College students flock to courses on the '60s, viewing that decade as one of turmoil, excitement, and progressive change. The verdict's in: the war was wrong, segregation and all racism was wrong, sexism and homophobia were wrong—and the limited social progress as we've seen since the '60s is largely rooted in the tireless efforts of the activists of that decade. The '60s were good!

But McCain doesn't see it that way. Nor does Sarah Palin. She of course is 44 years old, but obviously atypical of her generation. There's no reason you can't be the popular governor of a state of 676,987 while expressing contempt for such '60s fixtures as "community organizers," sexual liberation and the questioning of wars of aggression. Palin, the lipstick-painted pit-bull, has chosen to attack Ayers as a "terrorist" decades after the demise of the Weather Underground, after he's become a Distinguished Professor of Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and received a Citizen of the Year award (1997) from the city of Chicago for his work on education reform. Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley (son of the infamous Mayor Daley who ordered the police attack on antiwar protesters at the Democratic Convention in 1968), who regularly consults Ayers on school issues, says: "He's done a lot of good in this city and nationally." But for Palin, he's a terrorist, present-tense.
Like the attempts to smear Barack Obama as a Muslim or an ACORN supporter or a Socialist, the attempts to link him with Ayers presume there would be something wrong with that if it were true - and any attempt to deny the purported connection only reinforces the implied evil of the person or group they're trying to associate him with (as in "No, he's not an Arab, he's a decent family man...").

What to do? For the next ten days, we have to content ourselves with pointing out the absurdity of the allegations; but after that, we need to work to correct the implicit (an sometimes explicit) slander against ACORN, Arabs, Ayers, and Islam. We also need to expose the creeps behind this stuff for the hypocrites they are. Most of the people who fall for their bullshit really are decent family people, after all. Their only error has been to put their trust in scoundrels who have led them down the garden path.

We may get some help from moderate Republicans and real conservatives, as they attempt to rescue the party of Abraham Lincoln and Teddy Roosevelt from the ruins wrought by "movement" Republicans - but don't count on it. As Shakespeare had it, "we have scotch'd the snake, not killed it." America won't be safe until Coulter, Hannity, BillO, Rush, and their hate-mongering ilk are rejected even by the right. The message to decent people everywhere must be "America is better than that. You are better than that."

Friday, October 24, 2008

Who is this idiot?

This story would be hilarious if not for the fact that it ties up emergency lines that should be used only for... well, emergencies. A motorist calls 911 to complain about a traffic tie-up on the Wilson Bridge... hey, doesn't that voice sound eerily familiar?

[Update: the original post had an edited-for-TV condensation of the 911 calls involved. I have replaced it with a more complete version. Wouldn't want to quote the man out of context, after all...]

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Quote of the week: McCain on negative ads

"Sooner or later, people are going to figure out that if all you run is negative attack ads, you don't have much of a vision for the future, or you're not ready to articulate [it]."

John McCain
February, 2000

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Fear and Loathing in the Right Wing

Jay Bookman of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution makes a good point in his Oct. 18 blog entry: the GOP is indeed terrified of American voters.

The Republican Party thrives on fear. They want you afraid of Muslims and afraid of Arabs, afraid of immigrants and even Spanish-speaking Americans. They want you afraid of gays, afraid of the homeless, afraid of taxes, afraid of liberals, afraid of voter fraud. and afraid of Democrats. They especially want you afraid of Barack Obama.

But if there's one thing they're afraid of, it's American voters. Why else have they disenfranchised millions of legitimate voters? They know that if the people's will is expressed in 16 days, their reign of terror is over. Our national nightmare is, after all, their most cherished dream: permanent one-party rule.

So... what can I say? Piss off a Republican - vote!

Saturday, October 18, 2008

A ridiculous man

This sums things up rather well:
I sincerely believe that the biggest difference between Bush and McCain is that Bush has sociopathic tendencies. He either doesn’t know or doesn’t care about what cost his actions may bring to others. In the middle of the current financial crisis, he claimed that he was glad he was at the helm when it occurred; never once considering the fact that he and his minions were largely responsible for it. If Alfred E. Neuman found Jesus, he’d be re-christened “Bush.”

I believe McCain knows what he’s doing. Maybe, he even regrets it. That makes him the sadder of the two and, also, the more dangerous. He has built a career on lies and exaggerations and, now, he somewhat believes them. Like most spoiled kids, he has lived in a bubble. Today, he’s not only battling his own demons but the new and ugly presence of reality.

With his Cryptkeeper’s grin and his total lack of empathy for the “regular folks” he champions, McCain has resorted to the kind of campaign ethics Karl Rove made famous – only he’s screwed it up.

- Ed Naha

Friday, October 17, 2008

The GOP plan to "Block the Vote"

If this effort succeeds in stealing the White House again, by disenfranchising hundreds of thousands of voters, there will be rioting in the streets.

In this light, you can see the ACORN flap for what it is: just one piece of a scheme to do anything and everything - ethics and constitutionality be damned - to keep Democrats from voting. Pathetic? Pathological.

McCain campaign incites terrorism

The DoD defines terrorism as:
The calculated use of unlawful violence or threat of unlawful violence to inculcate fear; intended to coerce or to intimidate governments or societies in the pursuit of goals that are generally political, religious, or ideological.

The US code reads
the term “terrorism” means premeditated, politically motivated violence perpetrated against noncombatant targets by subnational groups or clandestine agents;

Either definition easily applies to what is going on right now, provoked at least in part by the scurrilous lies being bandied about by the right concerning ACORN:
An ACORN community organizer received a death threat and the liberal activist group's Boston and Seattle offices were vandalized Thursday, reflecting mounting tensions over its role in registering 1.3 million mostly poor and minority Americans to vote next month.

Attorneys for the Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now were notifying the FBI and the Justice Department's Civil Rights Division of the incidents, said Brian Kettenring, a Florida-based spokesman for the group.

Republicans, including presidential candidate John McCain, have verbally attacked the group repeatedly in recent days, alleging a widespread vote-fraud scheme, although they've provided little proof. It was disclosed Thursday that the FBI is examining whether thousands of fraudulent voter-registration applications submitted by some ACORN workers were part of a systematic effort or isolated incidents.

Kettenring said that a senior ACORN staffer in Cleveland, after appearing on television this week, got an e-mail that said she "is going to have her life ended."

A female staffer in Providence, R.I., got a threatening call from someone who said words to the effect of "We know you get off work at 9," then uttered racial epithets, he said.

When is the McCain campaign going to realize that the sick, irresponsible attacks they are making on Obama, ACORN, and their political opponents in general, are fomenting hatred and violence? There is a breakdown in the moral fiber of our country underway, and McCain and Palin have become the leading cheerleaders for it. It's time for Americans to say "enough is enough."

Quote of the week

"I didn't decide to run for president to start a national crusade for the political reforms I believed in or to run a campaign as if it were some grand act of patriotism. In truth, I wanted to be president because it had become my ambition to be president."
- Sen. John McCain

Two Minutes Hate

Was George Orwell a prophet, or is this really footage from a McCain-Palin rally?

Thursday, October 16, 2008