General Clark and America have a legitimate right to question McCain’s qualifications for commander in chief

Clark: Getting ‘shot down in plane’ doesn’t make McCain qualified

Retired U.S. Gen. Wesley Clark, a supporter of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama, on Sunday questioned whether Sen. John McCain’s military experience qualified him to be commander-in-chief.

The McCain campaign called for Obama to condemn the remarks.

The dust-up began with Clark’s appearance Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation,” where moderator Bob Schieffer asked him about his interview with the Huffington Post earlier this month.

In the interview, Clark said McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee, was “untested and untried.”

When Schieffer asked to explain the comment, Clark said he was referring to McCain’s experience, or lack thereof, in setting national security policies and understanding the risk involved in such matters.

“I certainly honor his service as a prisoner of war. He was a hero to me and to hundreds of thousands and millions of others in the armed forces, as a prisoner of war. And he has traveled all over the world. But he hasn’t held executive responsibility,” said Clark, a former NATO commander who campaigned for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004.

A Democratic blog That I read on occasion said this seemed like a personal attack. No the Swiftboaters who fabricated urban myths about John Kerry made egregious personal attacks. McCain keeps bringing up his record with the clear implication that said record qualifies him to be president. It is not a personal attack to point out the plain and simple truth as General Clark has done. McCain’s record in the military provides him with no special skills or knowledge to be the nation’s Commander-in-chief. Clark was happy to salute McCain’s service and express deep regret at McCain’s war experiences as we all are, but McCain is milking those experiences to give the impression that they give him some unique ability to lead the country. If the public wants an accurate impression, a real sense of the kind of CIC McCain would be just look at who look McCain supported with his Senate votes – McCain Voted With Bush 100 Percent Of The Time In 2008 – So Bush at an historic approval rating of a misly 23% is McCain’s idea of great leadership. Thus voters can expect more of the same old if McCain is elected. Sure the Right will, as is their thin skin dictates whine about how making a fact based case against McCain is an attack, but McCain who has as much experience in strategic command as George W. Bush (none) is the one that should be held to account for his exaggerated qualifications. Senator Obama has no military experience? Bush’s guard service, a device he used to duck out of Vietnam , from the seventies hardly counts and Dick Cheney had four deferments.You don’t hear the same right-wingers saying that Bush and Cheney were not/aren’t qualified to direct the military. This is the typical Republican back biting hypocrisy in which they want to have it both ways. When a Republican candidate has no military background then it doesn’t matter, but if they do, and that is rare in the party of chickenhawks then military experience of any kind is simply the end of the conversation, bring on the crown and anoint their new king. Within the same 24 hour news cycle where the McCain camp was practically in tears over General Clark’s really really hurtful words McCain decided to speak out using one of his many faces, McCain makes the race personal, attacks Obama’s integrity

Indeed, on Friday, McCain took credit for the passage of a veterans’ bill he opposed, and on Saturday, McCain vowed to a group of Latino voters that he’d support an immigration bill he’s vowed to oppose.

Does sounfing like a twelve year old year yard thug having a temper tantrum qualify as a presidential recommendation or more a comment about McCain’s true character. Several more examples of Saint McCain’s flip-floppery at the link. McCain has stood everywhere that a politician can stand on multiple issues. He could legitimately claim he was for or against any bill or issue under the sun depending on what he thinks will play will with a particular audience. Maybe the plan is that should he mange to become president, his polices will be a kind of national cracker jack surprise at the bottom of the box.

Where were these Republican bloggers when right-wing radio’s Rush Limbaugh Mocked McCain’s time as a prisoner of war. Its Ok for the Right to to raging hypocrites, to actually denigrate McCain’s treatment as a POW, but its not OK for Democrats, Independents and moderate Republicans to ask how that experience would make McCain a better president.

THE 2000 CAMPAIGN: THE ARIZONA SENATOR; McCain, in Further Attack, Calls Leaders of Christian Right ‘Evil’ Yet McCain has courted the same religious Right seeking endorsements from such rabid extremists as the Reverends Hagee and Parsley.

Does America want a president that can’t get a grip on his emotions and make rational decisions, John McCain’s temper is well documented. He’s called opponents and colleagues “shitheads,” “assholes” and in at least one case “a fucking jerk.”

grizzly bear cactus

Grizzly Bear Cactus wallpaper


Old School Baseball wallpaper II

Baseball wallpaper

Old School Baseball wallpaper two.

Balkinization on John Yoo Testimony,

John claims that the 2004 Levin torture memo, which superseded his 2002 OLC opinion, concluded that all interrogation methods OLC had previously approved as legal “were still legal.” We now know that that’s dead wrong.

Digby’s piece on David Addington and John Yoo the arrogant twit twins of torture,

It seems like both of them are being evasive but for completely different reasons. Addington ought to be held in contempt of Congress for just plain contemptuousness. As Scott Horton noted on Pacifica’s coverage, he clearly believes himself to be smarter than all the Representatives in the room, and he has no problem bullying them around the way he reportedly bullies everyone in the executive branch. He also doesn’t mind lying about his role in designing torture tactics after a personal trip to Guantanamo. He essentially said, according to Horton, that the world is very dangerous and the threat is not yet over. implying that Congress had better back down with all the questioning and recognize that absolutely anything can be done in the name of protecting the country.

The argument that Bush and his legal flacks have always make is that torture through some mystical properity it posesses somehow makes the U.S. safer. More rational people with some actual military and intelligence experience disagree, former army intelligence officer Stuart Herrington,

“If we use torture when we question prisoners, we forfeit the right to demand that anyone treat our soldiers decently if they are taken prisoner,”

Ken Robinson formerly with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and National Security Agency (NSA),

“Our place in the world has been eroded” by the use of torture in interrogations at “war-on-terror” prisons in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantanamo Bay.

Former FBI interrogator Jack Cloonan has said that torture enhances the reputation of those tortured if they are actual terrorists among other terrorists and serves to motivate others.

Brigadier General James Cullen (Ret) was among 12 retired Admirals and Generals who sent letters to former Attorney General Gonxales objecting to the Bush’s torture policy because torture “fostered greater animosity toward the United States, undermined our intelligence gathering efforts, and added to the risks facing our troops serving around the world.”

It Was Oil, All Along

Here’s a recent headline in The New York Times: “Deals with Iraq Are Set to Bring Oil Giants Back.” Read on: “Four western companies are in the final stages of negotiations this month on contracts that will return them to Iraq, 36 years after losing their oil concession to nationalization as Saddam Hussein rose to power.”

There you have it. After a long exile, Exxon Mobil, Shell, Total and BP are back in Iraq. And on the wings of no-bid contracts — that’s right, sweetheart deals like those given Halliburton, KBR, Blackwater. The kind of deals you get only if you have friends in high places. And these war profiteers have friends in very high places.

There’s a good reason to send your kid off to die, to protect Exxon’s bottom line.

John McCain a man of the people who keeps up with the issues that affect the average American,

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

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

Just because nobody complains doesn’t mean all parachutes are perfect

Federal Wildlife Report Censored Highly Redacted Inspector General Report Posted on Official Website

A large portion of an Inspector General evaluation of federal wildlife programs has been blacked out prior to publication, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). Even data tables have been excised from a report on Endangered Species Act implementation, with cutouts so extensive that the core section of the report is virtually unreadable.

[  ]…By contrast, the same IG website displays reports on seemingly far more sensitive subjects, such as an assessment of security on the National Mall and criminal wildlife enforcement, without a single redaction.

Well it is a fact that if terrorists find out about our bald eagle population we’re doomed. George has been in the habit of lying, distorting and exaggerating for so long he probably does it because it is an ingrained part of his character. When he was running for Congress in 1978 he didn’t tell the public he was in the Air National Guard he told them he was an Air Force veteran. He lied about gving up golf out of respect for those who died in Iraq. No one has been able to find those missing Department of Justice e-mails yet. He lied to a German reporter about soccer of all things. Deceive and distort about everything from WMD to silly questions about soccer – he seems to some some kind of bad programming, some kind of neural misfire when it comes to intergity.

Conyers issues subpoena to DOJ for Bush-Cheney interviews on Plame leak

House Judiciary Committee John Conyers has issed a subpoena to the Justice Dept. for the unredacted interviews with President Bush and Vice President Cheney on former CIA operative Valerie Plame, as well as numerous other documents sought unsuccessfully by Democrats for years.

Bush told the public that he would get to the bottom of the Plame scandal and fire those involved then gave Libby a de facto pardon.

Paging Monica Crowley You Forgot to Take Your Meds

On The Laura Ingraham Show, Monica Crowley claimed that Sen. Barack Obama “lifted his campaign line ‘Yes, we can’ from the recent presidential campaign of the Iranian president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.” Crowley claimed that Ahmadinejad used the slogan “We can.” In fact, Obama reportedly used the phrase “Yes, we can” during his 2004 Senate campaign — a full year before Ahmadinejad was elected in 2005.

Besides some suspected mental problems Crowley is just plain lazy. Rather then do some research on the issues and facts then make her arguments accordingly she seems to prefer babbling nonsense. This is Crowley’s second attempt in the last two weeks to try and link Senator Obama and Iran in the public’s mind.

Flaming Embers wall

Flaming Embers wallpaper

There probably are some women that are so mad that Senator Clinton didn’t win the primaries that they’ll vote for McBush. First there is Cynthia Ruccia and three or four others. The reason that McBush isn’t going to win over Clintonites is because his record doesn’t appeal to the majority of American women regardless of party affiliation, John McCain’s unique blend of adolescent gutter humor and periodic eruptions of misogyny

“Just because nobody complains doesn’t mean all parachutes are perfect.” – Benny Hill

McCains’s spin machine, guns and making Hemingway proud

Conservative Spin

Conservative Spinzine

Ari Berman over at The Nation takes a long look at John “Maverick” McCain and his smoke and mirrors ethics reform, John McCain’s Voodoo Reformism

In early April John McCain held a top-dollar fundraiser at Washington’s Willard Hotel, where President Ulysses S. Grant invented the term “lobbyist.” It was a fitting locale, as the election-reform group Public Campaign noted, since thirty-five of the forty-three hosts for the evening were registered lobbyists. The following week Rick Davis–on leave from his job as a lobbyist to work as McCain’s campaign manager–gave a strategy presentation to lobbyists from the oil, utility and nuclear power industries, soliciting campaign contributions.

That McCain is up to his neck in shady lobbyists isn’t particularly news. What’s new is that McCain’s Reform Institute isn’t much more then some Potemkin front where his crony buddies got cuts of the funding that ran from $145,000 to $395,000 while promoting the of the goal of less special interest influence and cleaner elections. McCain’s little institute could bypass some of the funding limitations placed on his Political Action Committee, how convenient. Like much of Republican astroturf the Reform Institute  did manage to con or convince some good people that they were actually trying to do something about campaign finance reform including George’ Soro’s Open Society and the Tide’s Foundation. The twists and turns that McCain and his good fellows took in promoting this fake reform agenda would make Tony Soprano blush. In a way I have to give McCain his due. I knew he could be as dirty as any of his Conservative cohorts, but didn’t realize that he could be as devious.

Saguaro Cactus

Saguaro Cactus wallpaper

It is possible to arrest, try and convict terrorists just like anyone else, Ex-Cop Linked To Aryan Nations Gets 52 Months For Bomb Making

The “Hapless neo-Nazi of the Month” award goes to Paul Anthony Palmer, Jr.. The former Pittsburgh police officer was [1] sentenced June 20 to 52 months in federal prison after pleading guilty to possessing an unregistered explosive device,,

[  ]…Sometime after the accidental detonation, Palmer had yet another Aryan Nations symbol tattooed over the amputee nub of his left forearm, making him a living testament to the group’s motto: “Violence solves everything.”

I can’t agree with the majority opinion on overturning the hangun laws in D.C., but my casual opinion is that the ruling is likely to have little effect on state and local restrictions on guns such as licensing and background checks. Most liberals I know own a gun and I highly recommend everyone buy one – no snark intended. You can usually get a good used one discounted at a pawn shop. Take a class in its use and safety. If I was running for office I wouldn’t spend a dime of political capital on the gun issue except for background checks – there’s little reason to be selling guns to anyone with a previous conviction for rape or felony battery. The Right would never admit it, but a mass buying spree of guns by liberals would just piss them off and rob them of a non-issue to whine about.

If Republican pundits had a pair of ruby slippers they’d surely waste their one wish on getting everyone to believe that Iraq is exactly like WW II. Its unlikely that Cons will ever get over their FDR envy.

Lara Logan, Best War Reporter Ever

In an age when most reporters for the American media are timid, pasty, milquetoast mumblers, Lara Logan stands head and balls above the rest. Sure, we’ve seen some stories about her romantical adventures in Iraq’s Green Zone and an exciting brawl in a safe house between two rival suitors — and our only question is, Just two?

Much of the rumors about her have been exaggerated. Still good for her. As Wonkette notes this is the kind of corespondent that Hemingway would admire – blood, guts, reports dashed off in between bomb blasts and the occasinal tryst in the supply tent. The rumors/stories about male correspodents are legend, the only reason this one seems to be turning heads is because its a female reporter.

A day in the secret life of John McCain

McCain spending ‘unlawfully’. McCain signs pledge on state election document swearing he’s going to take public financing. Then turns around with one his multiple faces and attacks Obama for opting out. No body cares that yet another layer of McCain’s supposed integrity has been stripped away so just move along.

McCain Now Supports GI Bill, War Funding Bill

When the Senate had considered its version of the war supplemental, McCain had argued, along with the White House and the Pentagon, that the new GI Bill, which got support from a veto-proof majority of Senators, would encourage service members to leave the military. He had offered a less generous counterproposal that would have given service members a much smaller credit for college and given better benefits to people who served longer.

McCain’s strategy in rgerads to public financing, the GI Bill and pretty much every other issue is to stake out every possible position. By proxy those Republicans that think McCain will be Conservatism’s savior are also taking a ir depends on which way the political winds are blowing stance on all issues. Conservatives seem to be switching from rigidly enforced party orodoxy to riifidly enforced pandering.

Brooklyn Bridge

Brooklyn Bridge wallpaper

Why wasn’t McCain’s meeting with an organization of gay conservatives called the Log Cabin Republicans on his public calendar. Vapid explanations from McCain’s spokespeople don’t count. It appears to be typically McCainish. LCR has money and John wants some, but doesn’t want the James Dobsons of the Right to slap him around in public for meeting with them.

One can imagine that being a gay or Black Republican requires a  some measure of constant denial, Limbaugh: ‘Democrats Will Bend Over, Grab The Ankles, Say Have Your Way With Me’ To Blacks And Gays. Limbaugh might know what he’s talking about on some crude level since he’s become a multi-millionaire giving America the shaft.

A McCain adviser recently claimed that another terror attack would give their campaign a boost. Not a shocker this is the level of public discourse that Bush/Cheney/Rove established as a winning strategy – vote for us or you’ll die. The problem with the McCain’s camp trying to play those recent statements as just a gaffe is that McCain has playing the national security daddy card before, McCain In 2004: “Bin Laden May Have Just Given Us A Little Boost”. It has become holy writ in the Conservative movement that terrorism is a good thing for Republicans. The mere possibility of terror attacks has become like communism used to be Republicans. Sometime that could whip up some unproductive derisive vitriol about, but at the same time love so they could use it as a political nine iron to beat their way to office.

The U.S. might achieve energy independence one day, but is the guy with lobbyist for Saudi Arabia on the payroll is not the one to listen to when he suddenly starts being a professor of energy policy,

McCain used today’s speech to call for energy independence “from Middle Eastern governments who support, or foment by their own inattention and inequities, the rise of terrorists.” What McCain won’t say is that his recently appointed campaign “consigliere” and general co-chairman in charge of fundraising is not only a lobbyist for Saudi Arabia, but has earned millions of dollars setting up meetings between the Bush White House and the Saudi government. [New York Times, 04/23/07; Washington Post, 4/3/07; Washington Post, 3/7/07; National Journal, 1/15/05]

What operated 19 hours a day, 286 days a year, used 23 miles of 2 foot gauge track and did not carry passengers.

Try not to become a man of success but rather try to become a man of value

Afghanistan attacks up 40% in east, Pentagon says

WASHINGTON — Insurgent activity is increasing sharply in Afghanistan and has spread into once stable areas, with attacks up almost 40% in the eastern provinces alone, according to new American military data that have prompted alarm among senior Pentagon officials.

Rising attacks against Afghan and NATO troops in the east represent the latest in a series of troubling developments that have led to markedly higher U.S. casualties and have prompted the military’s top leadership to order a review of its strategy in Afghanistan, including how to make do with limited numbers of American troops. Any significant troop increase in Afghanistan would be dependent on future force drawdowns in Iraq.

So in a strange round about way that was serious, because as we all know the Right is very serious, the Bush/McCain troop escalation in Iraq did work. It contributed to an increase in the violence and instability of Afghanistan. Meanwhile in Iraq three more U.S. soldiers were killed in Baghdad and a bomb blast killed another 11 people.

New Orleans Bridge

New Orleans Bridge

The Conservative Culture of Corruption and Inepitude Chapter 50 51 86, Army Awarded Contract, Unaware of Dealer’s Past

WASHINGTON — When the Army last year awarded a contract worth up to nearly $300 million to a tiny Miami Beach munitions dealer to supply ammunition to Afghanistan’s security forces, it overlooked a very checkered past.

A Congressional committee revealed Tuesday that by the time the Army awarded the bid, State and Defense Department officials had canceled or delayed at least six earlier contracts with the company, AEY Inc., for poor quality or late deliveries.

But that record, including a botched $5.6 million order for 10,000 Beretta pistols for Iraq’s security forces, was either ignored or omitted from databases that American military contracting officials have used to weed out companies suspected of involvement in suspect arms deals.

Congressional investigators also determined that the Afghanistan ammunition contract, which the company is also accused of mishandling, may have been unnecessary: Bosnia, Bulgaria, Hungary and Albania, the Eastern European countries from which AEY bought its ammunition, had offered to donate the type of Soviet-style rifle and machine-gun cartridges that the Afghan Army and police forces use.

Maybe one thing that would help in Afghanistan is alittle something called oversite with a dash of competence. A Melanie A. Johnson who is a contracting officer with the Army Sustainment Command stepped in at some point and set aside the concerns of a contracting team that were’t so sure about AEY’s expertise in handling such contracts. Like a million other things Democratic bull dog Henry Waxman is investigating. By the time Henry finishes every investigation of this administration he’ll be a hundred and seventy six years old. Newshoggers asks, “How high does the graft and corruption go?”

Sand Dune

Sand Dune

White House Bush Refused to Open Pollutants E-Mail

The White House in December refused to accept the Environmental Protection Agency’s conclusion that greenhouse gases are pollutants that must be controlled, telling agency officials that an e-mail message containing the document would not be opened, senior E.P.A. officials said last week.

The document, which ended up in e-mail limbo, without official status, was the E.P.A.’s answer to a 2007 Supreme Court ruling that required it to determine whether greenhouse gases represent a danger to health or the environment, the officials said.

This week, more than six months later, the E.P.A. is set to respond to that order by releasing a watered-down version of the original proposal that offers no conclusion. Instead, the document reviews the legal and economic issues presented by declaring greenhouse gases a pollutant.

Over the past five days, the officials said, the White House successfully put pressure on the E.P.A. to eliminate large sections of the original analysis that supported regulation, including a finding that tough regulation of motor vehicle emissions could produce $500 billion to $2 trillion in economic benefits over the next 32 years. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the matter.

Both documents, as prepared by the E.P.A., “showed that the Clean Air Act can work for certain sectors of the economy, to reduce greenhouse gases,” one of the senior E.P.A. officials said. “That’s not what the administration wants to show. They want to show that the Clean Air Act can’t work.”

This is exactly what the Founding Fathers had in mind the White House simply side stepping Supreme Court rulings by refusing to read mail that tells the Bushies something they don’t want to believe. Its not just bush and Cheney its seems that most Republicans have the emotional maturity and governing skills of a dead tree.

Try not to become a man of success but rather try to become a man of value ~ Albert Einstein

Winslow Homer: Breezing Up, Dressing for the Carnival, Eight Bells, Fog Warning, The Lifeline

Breezing Up

Breezing Up by Winslow Homer (1876). The great American novelist Henry James in his review of the work that Homer was exhibiting at the time which included Breezing Up wrote, “We frankly confess that we detest his subjects…he has chosen the least pictorial range of scenery and civilization; he has resolutely treated them as if they were pictorial…and, to reward his audacity, he has incontestably succeeded”. Despite James Breezing Up among other works went on to become iconic truly original American art. Homer captured a moment where the participants were really in it as they say.


Dressing for the Carnival (1877) currently in the permanent collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and also known as “Preparing for the Carnival”. It is not unusual for some of Homer’s works to have an official name and to also be known by a popular name bestowed on them by public years ago. This work is known in particular for its unsentimental quality, Homer presenting the everyday life of African Americans more in the spirit of a candid photo rather then staged for effect.

eight bells

Eight Bells (1887) Homer had a kind of sea scene period Eight Bells was one of that last of a series that he did of scenes of the sea. As sailors probably know eight bells ring at the hours of four, eight, and twelve a.m. and p.m

The Fog Warning

The Fog Warning (1885) Homer had tremendous respect for those that made their living on the sea. In 1885 there was obviously no weather radar. Much of the time fisherman took calculated risks, measuring the likelihood of getting caught in bad weather versus getting the day’s catch to make a living.

The Life Line

The Lifeline (1884). Currently in  Philadelphia Museum of Art. If you take a survey course in the history of American art when you get to Homer this is likely to be one of the examples. Plenty of drama in comparison to some of his other work, but considering it was 1884 and Homer lived on the east coast, ship wrecks and the hazrads of sea journeys would have been not just a staple of news headlines, but part of everyday conversation. Homer did not paint this based on a ship wreck rescue that he actually saw, but rather from his imagination based on a demonstration he had seen of how this lifeline technique would work.

Homer had a pretty incredible life. The boys in Breezing Up probably dreamed of a life filled with the kinds of experiences that Winslow Homer had. During the Civil War he was sent to the front as an official illustrator/correspondent. After the war he spent a couple of years in the English coastal town of Cullercoats. He put a premium on his privacy and may have been one of the reasons that unlike some other American artists of the time he never taught art.

The problem with communication … is the illusion that it has been accomplished

Bush bills U.S. taxpayers nearly $500 million

Bush bills U.S. taxpayers nearly $500 million to fund anti-American radio

Lost in Translation: Alhurra—America’s Troubled Effort to Win Middle East Hearts and Minds

An Arab-language television network and radio station, founded by the Bush administration to promote a positive image of the United States, has aired anti-American and anti-Israeli viewpoints, has showcased pro-Iranian policies and recently gave air time to a militant who called for the death of American soldiers in Iraq.

So far, U.S. taxpayers have spent nearly $500 million to fund those broadcasts. The television station, called Alhurra, and the radio network, Sawa, were meant to provide an American perspective on world events and counter the wave of global criticism that had been building against the Bush administration since the invasion of Iraq in 2003.

We’re still in the age of crony conservatism. Brian Conniff  who was appointed president of Alhurra doesn’t speak Arabic and had no journalism experience.

George Carlin passed away today Brillant at Breakfast has a nice tribute post,

Carlin’s job was to expose the hypocrisy, the venality, the complete and utter horseshit of modern life. And he did so fearlessly.

Reporters Say Networks Put Wars on Back Burner

According to data compiled by Andrew Tyndall, a television consultant who monitors the three network evening newscasts, coverage of Iraq has been “massively scaled back this year.” Almost halfway into 2008, the three newscasts have shown 181 weekday minutes of Iraq coverage, compared with 1,157 minutes for all of 2007. The “CBS Evening News” has devoted the fewest minutes to Iraq, 51, versus 55 minutes on ABC’s “World News” and 74 minutes on “NBC Nightly News.” (The average evening newscast is 22 minutes long.)

CBS News no longer stations a single full-time correspondent in Iraq, where some 150,000 United States troops are deployed.

Much of the media bought and sold the war like a herd of snake oil salesmen. Now they’re trying to ignore the war in hopes the public will forget how they were Bush’s partner in for the most part wasn’t much more then a propaganda campaign.

The real McCain

Yet much of the dark side of John McCain lies behind the closed doors of K Street, a Washington DC boulevard lined with glitzy buildings and home to the capital’s booming lobbyist industry. A close examination of McCain’s campaign workers, political allies and backers reveals a dense world of dubious loyalties, uber-lobbyists and powerful corporate interests. McCain is very much at home with K Street’s sharp-suited denizens, their wealthy clients and their art of influence-peddling.

Take one of McCain’s closest aides and senior counsel, Charlie Black. For decades he worked as one of the most powerful lobbyists in Washington DC. His firm represented some of the most unpleasant dictators in modern history, among them the Philippines’ Ferdinand Marcos and Zaire’s kleptomaniac president Joseph Mobutu. Then there’s Rick Davis, McCain’s campaign manager, the man leading the effort to capture the White House. Davis, too, has been a top lobbyist. His firm’s clients ranged from Ukrainian billionaire Rinat Akhmetov to telecoms giants such as Comsat and Verizon.

But Black and Davis are far from alone. McCain’s staff was so riddled with lobbyists that at least four have resigned because of their contacts and businesses. They included Doug Goodyear, McCain’s convention chairman, whose company was paid to improve the image of Burma’s brutal dictatorship.

McCain might be over selling himself as the Uber Military leader. Much of the time in his public appearnces he seems like he’s acting out a Saturday Night Live charactertur of himself. A General, someone with actual command experience which McCain does not have has noticed – video at link, Gen. Wesley Clark on John McCain’s lack of policy-making and foreign policy leadership experience

Clark says McCain has always been for the use of force, and more force, when a president should view force as a last resort. He complains that when McCain talks about throwing Russia out of the G8 or makes up ditties about bombing Iran, he “betrays a disrespect for the office of the presidency.”

McCain is trying to get the extreme Right freeper/John Bolton vote. That’s fine except that is not where the majority of Americans are at. They’re fed up with being in Iraq and have no desire for a hundred years of being entangled in Middle-East conflicts.

Obama supporters would be wise not to get over confident he has his work cut out for him, Salon gets it (finally)

This is in today’s edition of Salon. It’s what I’ve been saying for months. Maybe this writer at Salon could talk to the reviewer of my book at Salon, who didn’t seem to get the dimensions of the problem we face with ignorant voters.

Barack Obama has been running for president for 16 months. He’s written two best-selling books, has already spent more money on TV ads in most states than any presidential candidate in history and employs about 1,000 paid staffers — and a legion of unpaid volunteers — working around the clock to spread the word about him.

You’d think that would be enough to get some basic facts about the guy lodged in voters’ heads. But you’d be wrong. In recent focus groups in key battleground states, participants told Democratic pollsters matter-of-factly that Obama, if elected, would refuse to be sworn in on the Bible. In one group conducted on behalf of the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center, seven out of 12 independent Virginia voters taking part said they thought Obama was a Muslim (he isn’t), and some questioned his patriotism, saying he needs to prove he’s “for America.” That particular clump of “low information” voters was probably an outlier, but a survey in March found 13 percent of voters — up 5 points from the previous poll — shared their belief that Obama was Muslim. Another 44 percent weren’t sure what his faith was. And e-mails are flying around the Internet with winking implications that Obama isn’t really American (and, worse than that, he’s African, if you know what the writer means).

Politics and religion are like on/off buttons for rationalism. If you handed one of these people a two by four and said you believe it will fit they’d insist on measuring it, twice. Send them an e-mail with the wildest rumor and they swallow it without question.

The problem with communication … is the illusion that it has been accomplished ~ George Bernard Shaw

Why the Supreme Court is a major issue and McCain’s wacky tax policy

Dahlia Lithwick notes that the Supreme Court might be about to take a recess and thus be out of the spotlight, but The Supreme Court matters next election. Seriously. Of course she’s correct, but we live in a country where one third of students polled in 2005 think the First Amendment to the Constitution goes too far in granting rights and in another survey of the general population 55% of Americans erroneously believe that the Constitution provides Christianity as the nation’s religion. Figures like those are difficult to reconcile with having much optimism about the future of this democracy regardless of who becomes the nest president. These surveys might also account for the reason that a quarter of the population still thinks Bush is a pretty good president and hasn’t done anything wrong. They’re measuring Bush’s job performance against the way they imagine our government and the Constitution works rather then the way they actually do.

For eight years the Bush administration has treated the courts almost like an enemy: meddlers and elitists who cannot understand what it means to be at war. As a consequence, we find ourselves in a country where the rule of law is reduced to an occasional luxury, like heated seats. As you contemplate what you want your next Supreme Court to look like, ask yourself what happens when judges are sidelined—or when they’re chosen for their inclination to sideline themselves. If we really want to restore the rule of law in America, and the reputation of the United States as a land in which laws matter, we need to vote for a president who believes that we still call it a Supreme Court for a reason.

Old print of the original Star Spangled Banner. The flag still exists and is in the permanent collection of the Smithsonian National Museum of American History in Washington D.C. They even have a color photo.

Three Questions for McCain on his tax policy

To anyone who has been following the campaign closely, however, there were some strange things in the report’s summary. The alternative minimum tax? Mr. McCain apparently no longer wants to abolish it. The write-off for corporate equipment? It exists for a few years, but then it disappears. The simple new tax system? Gone.

[  ]…The Obama campaign claims it can pay for all this, and even reduce the deficit, through tax increases and spending cuts. I think a more skeptical look at its budget leaves you worried it may add something like $50 billion a year to the deficit. But applying the same arched brow to Mr. McCain’s stated plans leaves you worried that he will add $200 billion or $300 billion or, depending on his voluntary tax system, even more.

For those concerned about the nation carrying a nearly 10 trillion dollar debt that has been run up by borrow and spend Republicans. Its bad news and really really bad news. Obama’s plan slows the hemorrhage to a slow bleed, while McCain wants to continue to party on the national credit card.

Remember when Bush was in Europe and used the opportunity to make veiled childishly hypocritical remarks about Obama’s willingness to engage the international community in talks even as Ambassador Crocker has been holding talks with Iran. Turns out the hypocrisy piling up a little more, Bush’s chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Michael Mullen thinks we should engage Iran on the diplomatic front if they’re willing to do so.

Get Smart shoe phone. A dial phone in your shoe is so impractical in this day and age that it could be considered deviously clever because the bad guys wouldn’t think to check for one.