Friday, October 31, 2008

Jumping The Shark

Wow. The news coming from the fringes of Outter Wingnuttia took a sharp turn at East Wackadoodle and entered Crazyville today.

Via Salon’s War Room:
October surprise: Who's Obama's real father?

Brace yourselves, people: Barack Obama's real father isn't Barack Obama, Sr. His real father is -- wait for it -- Malcolm X.

No, I'm not being serious. But that is the claim being made on Atlas Shrugs, a pretty well-known right-wing blog. (How well-known? Its proprietor, Pamela Geller, has interviewed John Bolton, who served as, essentially, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations earlier in the Bush administration.)

So if you thought the paranoid theories about Obama couldn't get any crazier, clearly you were wrong. In fact, there are now so many floating around that no one can even seem to get their conspiracy theory straight. Andy Martin, the anti-Semite who was a source for one of Sean Hannity's specials about Obama, has retracted his earlier smear, when he said Obama was a Muslim; he now believes Frank Marshall Davis, a Communist, is Obama's real father.

Oh, snap! Andy Martin, you mean the kook who launched a million e-mails saying Obama-is-a-secret-Muslim by posting a “press release” on the Free Republic?

That guy?

Now he says he was wrong?

Please! I demand the immediate dispatch of thousands of e-mails proclaiming Obama isn’t a Muslim after all. Correct the record, sir!

Also, according to the right-wing “Association of American Physicians and Surgeons,” a group which opposes immunization, universal health care, birth control, Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security, Obama has mastered the magical voodoo mind control power known as “neurolinguistic programming (NLP), a covert form of hypnosis...” Somehow the nation has surrendured its free will and been programmed, Zombie-like, to vote for Obama.

Which is so hilarious because that was my precise theory as to why so many people voted for George W. Bush in 2004.

Clearly the wheels have come off the conservative movement. Please, more crazy talk. We need more erratic “He’s a Muslim! Slap! He’s a Communist! Slap! He’s a Muslim and a Communist!” messaging. It sorta proves it’s all been one huge lie from the get-go.

I only wish they’d started this two weeks ago.


Anti-choice group's mailer says Obama wouldn't save a baby from an oncoming train.

See the mailer here.

This is absolutely outrageous. I wonder how many House representatives supported by the Susan B. Anthony fund voted against the expansions of the State Children's Health Insurance Program (SCHIP)?

How about Jean Schmidt:
This plan makes no sense and does very little for those truly in need in Ohio and around the country.

How about Marsha Blackburn:

That legislation took the wrong approach to reauthorizing SCHIP, and the House of Representatives correctly upheld the President's veto on October 18th. Yet the House Democrat Leadership failed to learn from its mistakes.

How about Michelle Bachmann:

Michele Bachmann: Here's why we must resist SCHIP expansion

Shall I go on?

Face it. Babies are just stage props for these folks. You can say Obama wouldn't save a baby from an oncoming train all you want, but when it comes to the very real train wreck of America's healthcare system, these people not only did nothing, they threw the baby under the wheels.

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Always A Tennessee Connection

"Cut-nut" hoaxster Ashley Todd is apparently a Tennessee Vols fan. The above photo is from her "perp walk" last week.

She was to be released from jail this afternoon and was given a year's probation and mandatory mental treatment.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Country Joe McPlumber

Oh, no. It’s just like old times, when Nashville was a “back door” to the music biz for has-beens, wannabes, pop crossovers and people famous for no apparent reason:
Joe the Plumber pursued for record deal

Move over, Sanjaya, and tell William Hung the news: Joe the Plumber is being pursued for a major record deal and could come out with a country album as early as Inauguration Day.

“Joe” — aka Samuel Wurzelbacher, a Holland, Ohio, pipe-and-toilet man — just signed with a Nashville public relations and management firm to handle interview requests and media appearances, as well as create new career opportunities, including a shift out of the plumbing trade into stage and studio performances.

On Tuesday, Wurzelbacher joined country music artist and producer Aaron Tippin to form a new partnership that includes booking-management firm Bobby Roberts and publicity-management concern The Press Office to field the multiple media offers he’s received over the past few weeks.

Among the requests: a possible record deal with a major label, personal appearances and corporate sponsorships. A longtime country music fan, Wurzelbacher can sing and “knocks around on guitar” but is not an accomplished musician or songwriter, according to The Press Office’s Jim Della Croce.

Well, no one could have anticipated that. Nashville’s a cynical place--more cynical than Los Angeles, if you ask me. And you can always find folks here who won’t pass up a chance to make a buck, no matter how oddball or tacky.

I’ll never forget walking into Sunset Grill late one evening when it was in its music industry hey dey and seeing Maureen McCormick, aka “Marsha Brady,” enjoying late night cocktails. Apparently she was shopping a record deal here at the time.

So Joe The Plumber isn't the first. These folks usually come to town and leave about as fast. Country music people are funny, they don't like the idea of someone trying to buy their way into the business or trade on their celebrity to make some records. So unless Joe can really sing or play or write, I don't hold out much hope for his second career.

So, any suggestions on some song titles for Country Joe? "How Can I Miss You If You Won't Go Away?" comes to mind.

Consequence Shmonsequences

Things have gotten decidedly frosty over at the McCain-Palin campaign:
I’ve heard from one well-placed source that McCain has snubbed her on one long bus ride aboard the Straight Talk Express, to the embarrassment of those sitting nearby.

Good grief. God help us if these two actually win next week.
How do they expect to govern? They can’t even share a bus ride together.

You know, maybe if McCain had spent more than five minutes getting to know this person before picking her to be his Veep candidate ... awww, who am I kidding. Mavericks don’t make big important decisions like the rest of us! They’re fly-by-the-seat-of-the-pants kind of folks. You know, gut instinct, baby! No regrets! Fire away, and ask questions later!

Right. Something to keep in mind.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Condi’s Next Career Move

Watch out, California football fans! Condi Rice might be headed your way:
Rumors are flying that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, a passionate football fan who once hinted that she would rather be NFL commissioner than POTUS, is interested in becoming the San Francisco 49ers team president.

The NFL Network reported Sunday that a 49ers official expressed interest in hiring Rice as team president. "If she's interested in talking to us, I'm interested in talking to her," the official reportedly told the NFL Network's "GameDay Morning."

OK, everyone is denying it, from the State Department to the 49ers.

But if it does happen, let’s hope she does a better job than she’s done the past eight years.

And if Prop 8 fails, I wonder if Condi will marry partner Randy Bean?

Monday, October 27, 2008

Suffragette City

2008 edition:

Give It Up, Wingnuts

The far right’s cockamamie claim that Barack Obama is not eligible to be president because he was born in Kenya and his Hawaii birth certificate proves it (or something) has gone down in flames:
Judge tosses lawsuit challenging Obama citizenship

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit challenging Barack Obama's qualifications to be president.

U.S. District Judge R. Barclay Surrick on Friday night rejected the suit by attorney Philip J. Berg, who alleged that Obama was not a U.S. citizen and therefore ineligible for the presidency. Berg claimed that Obama is either a citizen of his father's native Kenya or became a citizen of Indonesia after he moved there as a boy.

Obama was born in Hawaii to an American mother and a Kenyan father. His parents divorced and his mother married an Indonesian man.

Internet-fueled conspiracy theories question whether Obama is a "natural-born citizen" as required by the Constitution for a presidential candidate and whether he lost his citizenship while living abroad.

Surrick ruled that Berg lacked standing to bring the case, saying any harm from an allegedly ineligible candidate was "too vague and its effects too attenuated to confer standing on any and all voters."

This whole storyline is so hilarious. Someone remind me, which state is Panama? The 51st? 52nd?

Comedy gold, I tell ya, comedy gold.

Holding Out For Some Royalties

Kudos to Nashville-based Sony/ATV Music Publishing for suing bigot cult leader Fred Phelps and his band of merry hate-mongers for their unlicensed use of the song “Holding Out For A Hero”:
TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - The Rev. Fred Phelps' group known for picketing soldiers' funerals around the country has been accused by a music company of violating copyright laws.

Sony/ATV Music Publishing wrote Phelps, telling him to stop what it called unauthorized use of the song "Holding Out for a Hero."

Phelps' Westboro Baptist Church produced a parody it calls "There Are No Heroes," which is on the Internet. Phelps responded Friday in a letter to the Sony saying the video is a parody and not covered by copyright laws.

Last year, another music company accused Phelps of infringing on the song "We Are the World" with a parody it called "God Hates the World."

I eagerly await the day when the Phelps clan are put out of business.

And please don't call them a church; they're not. It's a family cult, no different from Warren Jeffs' polygamy cult, except this one is centered around hatred of gays. Phelps' "church" has 71 members, "60 of whom are related to Phelps through blood or marriage or both."

Sunday, October 26, 2008

I Get E-Mails


The pastor at my church informed me that not only did he get this e-mail, but last week he got a DVD from the same group. Called "Obsession" it supposedly links Barack Obama to terrorist groups.

E-mails are cheap and easy to send, but producing and mass-mailing a DVD to clergy all around the country takes a lot of money. I would LOVE to know who is financing these people.

This morning I received a particularly hateful and sick piece from Rabbi Yehuda Levin and Dr. O’Neal Dozier of “the Judeo-Christian View.” I won’t link to their site, it’s that bad, but you can Google them if you’re interested. You might need to hop in the shower afterwards, though.

The e-mail is full of the usual paranoid, hysterical fear-porn that we’ve come to expect from the far-right fringe: Obama wants to expand taxpayer-funded partial birth abortion (not true), he will force states to recognize gay marriages (not true), and favors “full integration of flagrant, practicing homosexuals into the U.S. armed forces and military barracks” (OK, I have no idea about Obama's position on gays in the military but anyone who doesn’t think “practicing homosexuals” are already in the U.S. armed forces and military barracks has their head up their ass).

It’s the usual litany of right wing fundiegelical crap. But what’s interesting is that after every “do you know that Obama...” lie comes an admonishment to my pastor or religious leader! Is your pastor telling you this? Has your Rabbi said anything to your congregation? Why in heaven’s name would your priest be silent about these abominations? They even--I shit you not--imply that if one’s religious leader has not attacked Barack Obama from the pulpit, they are being reverse-racists:
Has your pastor or bishop tacitly rejected Martin Luther King's plea to judge by the content of a man's character, rather than by the color of his skin?  Is "Reverse Racism" or "White Guilt" inspiring shameful pulpit silence on the Torah, Tanakh and New Testament issues of Same-Sex Unions and Child Sacrifice?

Child sacrifice??! Are they kidding?

This e-mail was apparently sent in response to a letter Americans United For Separation of Church & State sent to clergy last week reminding them of federal tax laws related to church politicking. I have no idea why I got it, or what bizarre fundie e-mail list my name is now attached to.

It's a new twist on the old divide-and-conquer meme: it not only spreads lies, but also attacks religious leaders “for remaining silent.” Used to be religious leaders were on the side of the wackadoodles. Something seems to have shifted this election season; these two wackjobs are trying to sow seeds of doubt in the minds of the faithful if their clergy have not spread lies about a presidential candidate.

This e-mail is especially insidious because instead of contacting clergy themselves, Rabbi Yehuda Levin and Dr. Dozier are trying to get the faithful to pressure their religious leaders. The hidden message is: the big bad religion-hating government is trying to silence the "faithful majority." Here's a presidential candidate who will force child sacrifice and gay marriage on the faithful and my pastor isn't even allowed to talk to me about it!

It's a revolution in an e-mail. And it's pretty abominable.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Snake On A Plane

Well, that didn’t take long. Politico reports things have become increasingly tense on Sarah Palin’s campaign plane, as she and her supporters blame former Bush aides traveling with her for the “botched rollout and a tarnished public image.” Meanwhile, the McCain camp blames Palin for their dwindling prospects in November:
"She's lost confidence in most of the people on the plane," said a senior Republican who speaks to Palin, referring to her campaign jet. He said Palin had begun to "go rogue" in some of her public pronouncements and decisions.

"I think she'd like to go more rogue," he said.

As soon as I read that I thought, whoa, that explains the revelations about a $150,000 clothing allowance and $900 spray-on tan. Someone from inside the McCain campaign is throwing this woman under the bus. Looks like I may be on to something:

"These people are going to try and shred her after the campaign to divert blame from themselves," a McCain insider said, referring to McCain's chief strategist, Steve Schmidt, and to Nicolle Wallace, a former Bush aide who has taken a lead role in Palin's campaign. Palin's partisans blame Wallace, in particular, for Palin's avoiding of the media for days and then giving a high-stakes interview to CBS News' Katie Couric, the sometimes painful content of which the campaign allowed to be parceled out over a week.

"A number of Gov. Palin's staff have not had her best interests at heart, and they have not had the campaign's best interests at heart," the McCain insider fumed, noting that Wallace left an executive job at CBS to join the campaign.

I certainly did not know that.

All of this begs the question: when are we going to see headlines about "Republicans in disarray!!!!" like we did during the Democratic primary? Just wondering.

I don't think we've seen the last of Sarah Palin. I think she appeals to a certain wing of the conservative movement that is worried its days in the sun are over and is looking for a new star to rally around. Personally, I think that wing is nutso and needs to let the grownups be in charge for a while, but what do I know.

(I cannot tell a lie: the headline is courtesy of A. Morphous at Eschaton comments ....)

Ricky Gervais & Thandie Newton Reenact Sarah Palin Porn Flick

From a recent appearance on the Graham Norton show. Best line: "Better get ready Santa, 'cause Mama’s about to melt the North Pole!"

British television is so much better than ours!

Friday, October 24, 2008



Hoax "attack" story was pushed by the McCain campaign.

This goes beyond desperation. It's pathetic.


Ashley Todd made it all up.
Police: Campaign Worker Admits Making Up Story

Police sources tell KDKA that a campaign worker has now confessed to making up a story that a mugger attacked her and cut the letter B in her face after seeing her McCain bumper sticker.

Stupid kids.

A Word From Opie, Andy, Richie & Fonzie

See more Ron Howard videos at Funny or Die

Fun Facts

Oh, my.

Three guesses who was the highest paid member of the McCain campaign during the first half of October:
Not Randy Scheunemann, Mr. McCain’s chief foreign policy adviser; not Nicolle Wallace, his senior communications staff member. It was Amy Strozzi, who was identified by the Washington Post this week as Gov. Sarah Palin’s traveling makeup artist, according to a new filing with the Federal Election Commission on Thursday night.

Ms. Strozzi, who was nominated for an Emmy award for her makeup work on the television show “So You Think You Can Dance?”, was paid $22,800 for the first two weeks of October alone, according to the records. The campaign categorized Ms. Strozzi’s payment as “PERSONNEL SVC/EQUIPMENT.”

The payment on Oct. 10 made Ms. Strozzi the single highest-paid individual in the campaign for that two-week period. (There were more than two dozen companies that got larger payments than Ms. Strozzi). She easily beat out Mr. Scheunemann, who received $12,500 in the first half of October, and Ms. Wallace, who got $12,000.

Gosh, remember when John Edwards’ $400 haircut got him labeled “Breck Girl” by everyone from Ann Coulter (remember her?) to the New York Times’ Adam Nagourney?

Good times, good times.

(h/t, Tristero)

Only In America

I loved Nicholas Kristof’s column yesterday.

In particular, I loved reading this:
The other day I had a conversation with a Beijing friend and I mentioned that Barack Obama was leading in the presidential race:

She: Obama? But he’s the black man, isn’t he?

Me: Yes, exactly.

She: But surely a black man couldn’t become president of the United States?

Me: It looks as if he’ll be elected.

She: But president? That’s such an important job! In America, I thought blacks were janitors and laborers.

Me: No, blacks have all kinds of jobs.

She: What do white people think about that, about getting a black president? Are they upset? Are they angry?

Me: No, of course not! If Obama is elected, it’ll be because white people voted for him.

[Long pause.]

She: Really? Unbelievable! What an amazing country!

What an amazing country, indeed. I’m not measuring any drapes here, but I love the message that an Obama presidency would send to the world, if we’re so fortunate as to win this election. It tells the world that we truly are the land of opportunity for everyone. It’s not just a slogan; it’s real.

America’s reputation around the world has taken a hit. As Kristof writes, we’re associated with some pretty bad stuff these days: Guantanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib, and extraordinary rendition, Hurricane Katrina and the collapse of the world economy.

Last time the Mister and I went to Italy, in 2005, I was shocked at the anti-Americanism I picked up, for the first time ever. Italy, remember, was an ally in Iraq. Silvio Berlusconi is a George W. Bush BFF. So I was shocked to witness Americans heckled and verbally harassed on three difference occasions. These were not “ugly Americans,” they were typical tourists enjoying a holiday. They did not deserve this treatment.

And I thought: George Bush has ruined our vacation. Kristof writes:

In his endorsement, Mr. Powell added that an Obama election “will also not only electrify our country, I think it’ll electrify the world.” You can already see that. A 22-nation survey by the BBC found that voters abroad preferred Mr. Obama to Mr. McCain in every single country — by four to one over all. Nearly half of those in the BBC poll said that the election of Mr. Obama, an African-American, would “fundamentally change” their perceptions of the United States.

America has some fences to mend overseas. I don’t see a McCain presidency doing that. Sending Barack Obama to the White House will send a profound statement to the world that we're ready to change.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Say It Ain’t So, Joe


Here's the tape of the 911 calls by Joe McCain.....


It appears Joe McCain, John McCain’’s brother, called 911 because he was stuck in traffic this week:
The October 21 call went to the city of Alexandria, Virginia emergency operations. This is the transcript of the call:

Operator: 911 state your emergency

Caller: It's not an emergency but do you know why on one side at the damn drawbridge of 95 traffic is stopped for 15 minutes and yet traffic's coming the other way?

Operator: Sir, are you calling 911 to complain about traffic? (pause)

Caller: "(Expletive) you." (caller hangs up)

The 911 operator, apparently, unnerved by use of the 911 emergency number to complain about bad traffic, called back the phone number that placed the call.

The operator reached a voice mail message that said, "Hi this is Joe McCain I can't take this message now because I'm involved in a very (inaudible) important political project... I hope on Nov. 4th we have elected John."

The irony is that in an interview with the Boston Globe in May, Joe McCain said he would avoid campaigning out of fear that “he might say something that will cause his brother a problem.”


(h/t, Oxdown Gazette.)

Pop Fizzle


GWOC (Great War On Christmas) news, Kentucky edition:
“In the one-hour debate, the candidates, both 60, battled on issues including the economy, the Ohio River Bridges Project, health care, the Iraq war, energy and even how Yarmuth should have voted on a federal resolution. “He did not vote for a resolution honoring Christmas,” Northup said.

Oh, my. Stop him before he strikes again.
Jeepers, people, is it war on Christmas season already?

Town's parade draws fire for dropping 'Christmas'
PATCHOGUE, N.Y. (AP) — A famed fireworks company is pulling out of a holiday boat parade because "Christmas" was dropped from the event's name.

Fireworks by Grucci won't lend its sparkle to Patchogue's Nov. 23 parade — decorated yachts on the Patchogue River — because the organizers have renamed it the Patchogue Holiday Boat Parade. It was the Patchogue Christmas Boat Parade last year, when the Grucci company donated $5,000 worth of fireworks.

The company's vice president, Philip Butler, who has criticized the secularization of Christmas in the past, said parade organizers were "using all the themes of Christmas and plagiarizing all those themes."

Organizers in the Long Island town said the parade has had several names over its roughly 15-year existence. The name was changed again this year after complaints that the use of "Christmas" seemed to make the parade less inclusive.
"When I think about fireworks, I don't think about Christmas anyway," Mayor Paul Pontieri said. "I think about the Fourth of July."

This story surprised me because I actually am familiar with the Grucci fireworks company. Back in another lifetime I worked for an entertainment trade paper and had the opportunity to meet Mr. Butler as well as members of the Grucci family at trade shows and such. Grucci is also one of the world’s largest fireworks companies, producing pyrotechnic extravaganzas at some major national and international events, including the presidential inaugurations of Reagan, Clinton and both Bushes.

This is a big company. They never struck me as the kind of people that would pull out of an event just to make a political statement, but I guess the rancorous past eight years have changed all that. Yet another Bush-era legacy: we have to argue about every little thing these days.

I don’t know why anyone would get their panties in a wad over words like “Christmas” or “Holiday.” Either one works for me, I really don’t give a shit. I certainly wouldn’t trash my legendary company’s good name over it. And I find it really hilarious that folks complaining over the “secularization of Christmas” are the same people providing fireworks at a Christmas boat parade. I mean, dude, a boat parade? Like it's a holy event or something? If you don’t get the irony there then I’ve got nothing more for you.

Anyway, it’s a shame. The Gruccis are nice people. They’ve put on some amazing fireworks displays over the years, both big and small. It’s just too bad to see them get all involved in this “war on Christmas” crap, especially when there's so much more important stuff for us to be worrying about right now.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Unwelcome Endorsements

Not to put too much stock in this report, but it can't be good news for the McCain campaign:
John McCain 'endorsed by al-Qaeda supporters'

In a message broadcast on the password-protected al-Hesbah site, the group said they would also welcome a pre-election terror attack on the US because that would make a McCain win more likely.

In an endorsement that will not be welcomed by Mr McCain's flagging campaign, the group said that if al-Qaeda wants to exhaust the USmilitarily and economically, the "impetuous" Republican presidential candidate is the better choice.

"This requires presence of an impetuous American leader such as McCain, who pledged to continue the war till the last American soldier," the message said.

"Then, al-Qaeda will have to support McCain in the coming elections so that he continues the failing march of his predecessor, Bush."

"If al-Qaeda carries out a big operation against American interests," it said, "this act will be support of McCain because it will push the Americans deliberately to vote for McCain so that he takes revenge for them against al-Qaeda. Al-Qaeda then will succeed in exhausting America till its last year in it."

Mark Salter, a senior McCain adviser, had no immediate comment.

No comment? As Drudge would say, "developing ...."

Hacking The Vote In Nashville


Via Kleinheider, there are reports of Republican voters in Decatur County experiencing similar problems.

Can we please have a voting system that everyone, regardless of their political affiliation, can have confidence in? Is that asking so fucking much?


BradBlog reports on problems with the ES&S iVotronic In Nashville last week:
My wife, Patricia Earnhardt, had an early voting experience here in Nashville, Tennessee, where she saw her vote momentarily flip from Barack Obama to Green Party candidate Cynthia McKinney. She voted on a touch-screen paperless machine. Here is her story:
"A poll worker directed me to a touch screen voting machine & instructed me how to use it. I touched "Obama" for president & nothing lit up. I touched 2 or 3 more times & still nothing lit up. I called the poll worker back over to tell him I was having a problem. He said I just needed to touch it more lightly. I tried it 2 or 3 more times more lightly with the poll worker watching & still nothing lit up. The poll worker then touched it for me twice --- nothing lit up.

The third time he touched the Obama button, the Cynthia McKinney space lit up! The McKinney button was located five rows below the Obama button. The poll worker just kind of laughed and cancelled the vote. He hit the Obama button again & it finally lit up. I continued on to cast the rest of my votes.

After completing the process & reviewing my votes, I went to the VOTE page, hit the VOTE button & nothing happened. Again after several tries, I called the poll worker over & he finally got the machine to register my votes." Patricia Earnhardt - Friday, Oct. 17 - Howard School Building - Nashville, Tennessee

The Earnhardts are the people behind the election-integrity documentary “Uncounted: The New Math of American Elections.” It may sound a little too coincidental that this couple should experience problems with their vote, but there have been all sorts of reports of unlikely folks experiencing voting problems, such as Congresswoman Corrine Brown of Florida yesterday.

Nashville is not alone in having these problems, either. Vote switching has occurred with ES&S touch-screen machines in in West Virginia, Florida was plagued with a "brew of administrative bungling and mysterious technological failures ” one month before the election, and check out what happened in Arkansas during the primary:

Bruce Haggard, an election commissioner in Faulkner County, Arkansas, is baffled by a problem that occurred with two voting machines in this month's state primary elections. The machines allocated votes cast in one race to an entirely different race that wasn't even on the electronic ballot. The problem resulted in the wrong candidate being declared victor in a state House nomination race.

The machines used in this Arkansas county? The ES&S iVotronic -- the same ones we use here in Davidson County.

I thought Davidson County was supposed to get paper ballots. I guess it didn’t happen in time for the presidential election. The Davidson County Election Commission should never have approved spending taxpayer money on a verified, flawed system like the ES&S iVotronic, which has been plagued with issues for years and has been decertified in several states.

The Davidson County Election Commission’s Republican Commissioner Lynn Greer apparently said that

"paper ballots are the greatest fraud ever perpetrated on America."

Really? I thought that was an Acorn canvasser registering Mickey Mouse to vote.

I think as far as partisan players like Lynn Greer are concerned, the greatest fraud is when Democrats vote and their vote is actually counted.

Anyway, a warning to Nashville voters: the ES&S iVotronic is a problem-plagued machine. People using them in Davidson County are reporting the machines switching votes. So be very careful when voting that you check and double check that the screen did not switch your vote.

But as far as what happens when you push the “Vote” button? Well, it’s all a big mystery, isn't it? We’ll just have to trust that what the machine records is what we voters intended.

Trust. Yeah. Sorry, but a faith-based election isn't really what our Democracy is all about , is it?

Not Ready To Be Vice President

No, ma’am, you will not be “in charge” of the Senate. Nor will you “really get in there with the senators and make a lot of good policy changes.”

Honestly, this woman does not belong in government. She has no fucking clue. Give her a talk show, put her on between Rachel Rae and Oprah. That’s what’s she’d be good at. Cripes.

You know what? I bet Joe Biden knows what the role of the Vice President is.

(h/t, ThinkProgress)

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Fun With Photoshop

Some people with way too much time on their hands had fun with this photo, from the end of the last debate:

You can see them all here. But a few of my favorites:

The Palin Effect

Sarah Palin is costing John McCain support among establishment conservatives, and today brings another one: Ken Adelman, Pentagon aide under Ronald Reagan, and a conservative who worked as a policy aide for the Ford, Nixon, and Bush administrations, has endorsed Obama:
Primarily for two reasons, those of temperament and of judgment.
When the economic crisis broke, I found John McCain bouncing all over the place. In those first few crisis days, he was impetuous, inconsistent, and imprudent; ending up just plain weird. Having worked with Ronald Reagan for seven years, and been with him in his critical three summits with Gorbachev, I’ve concluded that that’s no way a president can act under pressure.

Second is judgment. The most important decision John McCain made in his long campaign was deciding on a running mate.

That decision showed appalling lack of judgment. Not only is Sarah Palin not close to being acceptable in high office—I would not have hired her for even a mid-level post in the arms-control agency. But that selection contradicted McCain’s main two, and best two, themes for his campaign—Country First, and experience counts. Neither can he credibly claim, post-Palin pick.

But in addition to alienating the conservative punditry and policy makers, I think Sarah Palin scares the crap out of mainline conservatives.

According to the Washington Post:

In today's Post-ABC tracking poll, Obama is winning 22 percent of conservatives. That's his best showing yet among these voters, and if the percent holds on Election Day, it would be higher than conservative support for any Democratic nominee since 1980.

Obama also wins 12 percent support among Republicans in the tracking poll -- exactly double Kerry's 2004 Election Day haul.

Polls are funny things, but I’ve long believed that Sarah Palin was chosen because she appealed to the amygdala wing of the Republican Party. These are the people who vote on emotions--things like videos from Osama bin Laden, scare tactics about Democrats outlawing the Bible, the “threat” of gay marriage, etc.

But that’s not working so well this time, because people are even more frightened by something very real. The economic recession is not just a scary rumor of what might happen, it's a very real situation folks must face every day.

On top of all that, thinking people are rightfully alarmed at the strange and scary changes in John McCain over the past four years. There was a time when I considered him a less-evil alternative to Bush, I think most of us thought that. But this John McCain I see on TV now creeps me out. And his alliance to lobbyists like Charlie Black is more scary to me than some fake allegations about Bill Ayers.

He's Mad As Hell And He's Not Taking It

John McCain really lowered himself into the gutter by calling those phony Acorn allegations (which I railed against here) the “worst voter fraud perpetrated on the American public in 200 years” or some such.

Yes, registering Mickey Mouse to vote so someone can collect $2 is so much worse than denying an entire race of people the right to vote simply because of the color of their skin. And then orchestrating a violent intimidation campaign against those who tried to register Southern blacks to vote.

Anyway, the truth is now starting to sink in that these are all phony allegations started by the GOP in an attempt to throw as much mud as possible in the final weeks of the election. And I’m happy to see the Obama campaign isn’t going to take it:
Obama lawyer calls for investigation over ACORN charges

(CNN) – Obama campaign general counsel Bob Bauer called Monday for a government investigation into whether the White House is working with John McCain’s campaign to raise allegations of voter fraud, telling reporters attorney general Michael Mukasey needed to step in to ensure investigators are "not misused for partisan purposes."

A special prosecutor is investigating similar charges against the Justice Department over the controversial dismissals of several U.S. attorneys, including David Yglesias, who said he was fired for resisting pressure to prosecute ACORN, the embattled community group at the center of a sustained Republican campaign alleging voter fraud among supporters of Barack Obama.

I hope the Obama campaign broadcasts this loud and clear. There is nothing wrong with registering poor and minority citizens to vote. There have been plenty of problems with Republican-focused voter registration drives, too.

For example, this one:

Ontario police arrest man in voter fraud case

SACRAMENTO -- The owner of a firm that the California Republican Party hired to register tens of thousands of voters this year was arrested in Ontario over the weekend on suspicion of voter registration fraud.

State and local investigators allege that Mark Jacoby fraudulently registered himself to vote at a childhood California address where he no longer lives so he would appear to meet the legal requirement that all signature gatherers be eligible to vote in California. His firm, Young Political Majors, or YPM, collects petition signatures and registers voters in California and other states.

Anyone know how many ACORN folks have been arrested?


Pretty funny that the one guy arrested for voter registration fraud worked for the Republican Party!

Oh lookie, here’s another one from across the aisle:

Investigation into Trashed Voter Registrations

(Oct. 13) -- Federal, state, and local officials are gathering information about allegations of voter registration fraud that were first raised Channel 8 Eyewitness News.

An employee of a private voter registration firm alleges that his bosses trashed registration forms filled out by Democratic voters because they only wanted to sign up Republican voters.

The allegations have set off a political firestorm stretching from Las Vegas to Washington D.C., and beyond. 

As with everything else in this election year, it's now become a political football being tossed between the two parties, with charges and countercharges, but at its core, there still remains the matter of registration forms that were ripped up and tossed in the trash.

A similar thing happened right here in Nashville during the last presidential election.

This kind of voter registration fraud is a lot worse than what has happened to Acorn. Because while Mickey Mouse isn’t going to show up to vote on election day, the people whose registrations ended up in the trash were expecting to vote. And if their forms were never turned in, they would be unable to do so.

Since John McCain has chosen to get down in the gutter with his Rove acolyte and participate in the mud-slinging, I fully expect he will be forced to eat his words when this and every other smear is revealed for what it so obviously is: a partisan political attack.

Monday, October 20, 2008

American Morans, v.4

Let me qualify this by saying I don't know where this photo came from and can't verify its authenticity. One of my commenters posted a link downthread. The bib-overalls have me suspicious because as we all know, he's not a plumber unless there's a half moon rising over the workspace.

But, it's still funny!

Lost Another One

Last night someone came through my neighborhood and stole all of the Obama signs in everyone’s front yard. They also stole the ones in front of the Green Hills Library polling place.

Frankly I’m surprised it took them so long. My yard sign has been unmolested for months, whereas during the 2004 campaign, I went through nearly a dozen Kerry-Edwards signs in the course of four months. It got to the point of hilarity because what the thieves didn’t know is that I was the one responsible for bringing campaign signs to Music Row Democrats events. I had a couple hundred of them in my garage and if one disappeared, it was quickly replaced. Just as an act of defiance, I decided to replace every one stolen yard sign with two new ones. By election day I had them hanging from trees all over the yard.

The sign that lasted the longest was a carboard one we had attached to a wooden stake which was then set in Quikrete. I took great pleasure in imagining someone’s futile attempts to pull the stake out of the ground, getting a few splinters in the process. Alas, someone eventually figured out how to break the wooden stake, and even that yard sign disappeared.

I never understood the whole “steal the yard sign” tactic. It seems so juvenile. In fact, I always assumed it was kids perpetrating this petty act of vandalism until one morning I caught a man in his 50s pulling up my yard sign and chucking it in the back of a white pickup truck, which was filled with yard signs. He hopped in his car and drove off before I could accost him. So that’s when I realized it was probably campaign workers doing the evil deed.

I can’t speak for any other neighborhood in the city but at least on my street, no McCain Palin or Bush Cheney signs have been stolen in the past two elections. And that seems about right. I think we liberals are worried about more important stuff than trying to “control the message” by stealing someone’s yard sign.

I’m replacing my yard sign today. Like last election, I will probably replace every one sign stolen with two new ones. So a warning to the yard sign thieves: keep stealing them, and you will breed more. Remember: every yard sign represents a donation to the Obama campaign. So keep it up.

And I have another warning: I have three large dogs who leave very messy land mines all over the yard. And I’m not cleaning it up until after election day. So if you’re walking around my front yard in the dark, you’re likely to pay for it on the bottom of your shoes.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

The End Of Libertarianism

Yesterday Slate asked: did the financial collapse kill Libertarianism?

God, I hope so.

Let’s face it, most Libertarians these days are really just Republicans embarrassed by the social conservatives who have hijacked their party. At least, that describes most of the Libertarians I know. These are people who seem almost apologetic about their political views, qualifying their position with “I’m really more of a Libertarian”--in other words, a Republican who likes to screw, smoke pot, gamble and doesn’t need to be in church three days a week.

Slate’s Jacob Weisberg writes:
Utopians of the right, libertarians are just as convinced that their ideas have yet to be tried, and that they would work beautifully if we could only just have a do-over of human history. Like all true ideologues, they find a way to interpret mounting evidence of error as proof that they were right all along.

To which the rest of us can only respond, Haven't you people done enough harm already?

Amen to that. I find Libertarians especially tiresome in that regard. We really have never tried a truly market-driven economy, blabbedy blah. Yeah, well, there’s a reason for that. There’s simply no such thing, it’s a total fantasy. The free hand of the market is a myth because it will always be controlled by the system that created it: human greed.

Anyway, Weisberg concedes that there’s plenty of blame to go around, but he calls out former Fed chairman Alan Greenspan, former Senate banking committee chair (and McCain adivsor) Phil Gramm, and SEC chairman Christopher Cox for causing the global economy to spiral down the drain. And, says Weisberg, they’re all either actual Libertarians (as in Greenspan’s case) or enacted disastrous Libertarian policies which got us into this mess:

Blame Greenspan for making the case that the exploding trade in derivatives was a benign way of hedging against risk. Blame Gramm for making sure derivatives weren't covered by the Commodity Futures Modernization Act, a bill he shepherded through Congress in 2000. Blame Cox for championing Bush's policy of "voluntary" regulation of investment banks at the SEC.

Cox and Gramm, in particular, are often accused of being in the pocket of the securities industry. That's not entirely fair; these men took the hands-off positions they did because of their political philosophy, which holds that markets are always right and governments always wrong to interfere.

By the way, let me point my finger and hold my gut while laughing uproariously at Republicans now spouting mealy-mouthed “now is not the time to place blame” dodges, before they slouch off to a corner to suck their thumbs.

Ever notice how it’s never time for the blame game when it’s primarily their fault?

I do agree that Democrats could have been more forceful in demanding oversight and regulations. Flush with cash and greed, they were drugged by the “let the markets run free and unfettered across the land” opium the Libertarians were selling, too.

Hey, people, “Atlas Shrugged” is fiction. As a writer, let me tell you something I know about fiction: you can always make the story turn out the way you want.


Anyway, because of the failure of Libertarianism, we may be getting a nice little dose of Socialism in this country. But if we had to give some socialist ideas a try, I sure as hell wish it were socialized medicine, not nationalized banks. I don’t need a piece of a bank. I do need healthcare.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Pick One, Already

Last night Mr. Beale and I went to see essasyist David Sedaris read some of his work. Some of you may know Sedaris from his “Santaland Diaries,” which is a holiday staple on public radio and in community theater groups.

One of the pieces he read last night will appear in next week’s New Yorker and it’s about “undecided” voters. I won’t spoil the fun here but let me just say it was hilarious.

And I agree with Sedaris. If you’re still undecided at this point, you’re a moron and you don’t deserve to be mythologized by the mainstream media. You should be mocked.

This campaign has dragged on longer than any other. There have been debates and thousands of articles written; heck, both candidates have written autobiographies. If you still don’t know which way to go at this point, then you need to do some serious self-examination.

After the Nashville debate the Los Angeles Times wrote:
It's a bit odd that we give the Undecided Voter such a privileged place in American elections. Because from a civic standpoint, few creatures are as contemptible. This election has dominated every form of American news media for the better part of two years. Newspapers, magazines, networks, cable, radio, blogs, people on street corners with signs -- it's really been rather hard to miss. Further, it pits two extremely different candidates against each other. Whether your metric is age, ideology, temperament, race, funding sources, healthcare plans or Iraq strategies, it would be hard to imagine two men presenting a starker contrast.

But despite this, the Undecided Voter wakes up each morning and says, in effect, "I dunno." And the political system panders to him. Undecided voters are believed to be the decisive slice of the American electorate, so they get the debates and the ads and the focus groups (assuming, that is, that they live in a battleground state).

I’m tired of hearing from undecided voters, who at this point are the stupidest people in the American electorate. If you’re so clueless this close to election day, then I honestly wonder how you get up in the morning and find your way out the door with your pants zipped and your shoes tied.

Clearly, the mythic “undecided” is a person who has been too lazy to pay attention or simply doesn’t care that much to begin with. In this election, with so much at stake, that truly is a contemptible position. And frankly, I’m tired of hearing from the people who didn’t give enough of a shit to be following along with this stuff from the get-go anyway.

So, mainstream media, no more stories on the undecided voter. No more interviews or focus groups or panels. These people are morons who should be laughed at, not handed a microphone.

That is all.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Not Just Acorns In The Nuthouse

[UPDATE]: via Atrios:

Did someone mention nuts?
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.

It's time to call McCain-Palin on the hate speech they're spreading at their rallies and with their bogus robo-calls. Seriously, the nuts are getting out of control. Someone is going to get hurt, all because John McCain really wants to win an election.



There’s been a lot dishonest about this election season, but the McCain campaign’s attacks on Acorn have been pretty egregious. It’s obvious to anyone with a brain that the idea is to plant seeds of illegitimacy over Barack Obama’s campaign, in case the count is close on election day, or Obama pulls out a win. And what better way to do that than by attacking a group that registers poor and minority voters, who tend to vote Democratic?

It’s dishonest because it preys on stereotypes about Chicago Democrats (“where the dead always vote”) and the public’s ignorance about voter registration fraud versus vote fraud. It’s hypocritical because it attacks an organization McCain supported two years ago. And it’s clearly designed to prevent Acorn and similar groups from doing what they were created to do, which is to register low income and minority voters.

In other words, it’s just another Republican Party voter suppression tactic.

As the New York Times editorialized today:

Based on the information that has come to light so far, the charges appear to be wildly overblown — and intended to hobble Acorn’s efforts.

The group concedes that some of its hired canvassers have turned in tainted forms, although they say the ones with phony names constitute no more than 1 percent of the total turned in. The group also says it reviews all of the registration forms that come in. Before delivering the forms to elections offices, its supervisors flag any that appear to have problems.

According to Acorn, most of the forms that are now causing controversy are ones that it flagged and that unsympathetic election officials then publicized.

No one could have anticipated that! Because what the McCain campaign isn’t telling you is that in many states, those registering voters are not allowed to determine the legitimacy of a voter's name. Someone might have legally changed their name to Mickey Mouse--hey, it's possible. Did you know there’s a guy in Nashville who attends every Metro Council meeting whose legal name is Elvis Presley Jr.? It’s true; I've met him. I don’t know if he’s a Democrat or a Republican but I do know it would be illegal for me to register him to vote and then toss his registration in the trash because I decided Elvis Presley Jr. couldn’t possibly be his real name.

So Acorn separated out some questionable registration forms for election officials to review, and GOP operatives smeared the Obama campaign with it, when the organization was only doing what it was supposed to do.

Y’all should be ashamed of yourselves.

Furthermore, the fraud was perpetrated on Acorn. They paid a canvasser to register legitimate voters, and instead got handed garbage.

And then there’s this:

But for all of the McCain campaign’s manufactured fury about vote theft (and similar claims from the Republican Party over the years) there is virtually no evidence — anywhere in the country, going back many elections — of people showing up at the polls and voting when they are not entitled to.

In other words, Mickey Mouse and Snow White did not actually show up to vote.

Voter suppression is a tried-and-true Republican tactic. Every election the Republican Party tries to deny voters their right to cast a ballot. The Supreme Court just struck down the Ohio GOP’s latest attempt today.

Four years ago I witnessed some of the most outrageous attempts at voter suppression right here in Davidson County. Voting precincts in urban neighborhoods with only two working voting machines. Poll workers demanding voters declare their party affiliation, even though this was the general election, not a primary. Voters told to go home for wearing campaign buttons (they should have been asked to remove the gear instead).

As the New York Times noted today:

The real threats to the fabric of democracy are the unreasonable barriers that stand in the way of eligible voters casting ballots.

I couldn’t agree more.

TN Early Voting Hits Record

According to our daily fishwrap , Tennessee’s early voting set a record on Wednesday, with 108,573 people casting ballots statewide. Wednesday was the first day early voting was available here.

Here are some interesting tidbits:
About a third of those votes were cast in just two counties: Davidson and Shelby, according to the Tennessee Division of Elections.

For my out of state readers, Shelby County is Memphis and Davidson County is Nashville. Both are Democratic strongholds in the state. But before we toss the confetti, there’s also this:

Williamson County more than doubled its first-day early voting turnout, with 4,509 casting ballots on Wednesday, and Rutherford's 3,298 was more than a 50 percent increase.

Williamson County is so conservative that some of us affectionately refer to it as “outter wingnuttia.” In fact, its conservatism and the fact that no one knows how to drive down there are the two distinguishing characteristics of Williamson County. I’d say those folks were fired up by the Republican ticket.

But, not all conservative counties have McCain-Palin fever:

Wilson and Sumner Counties had small decreases.


The two largest urban centers in eastern Tennessee, Knox County and Hamilton County, home to Chattanooga, saw falloffs.

I’ll go out on a limb here and make the case that the economic turndown has influenced turnout in less affluent counties like Wilson, Sumner, Knox and Hamilton. These are traditional conservative strongholds, but they don’t have the affluence of Williamson County, which a few years ago ranked the 15th richest in the nation.

It certainly does look like Republicans, at least here in Tennessee, are not as fired up for their tickets as Democrats are.

I still have no doubts about where Tennessee’s 11 electoral votes are going, but I have to wonder if this says anything about other states.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

He's Not A Plumber And His Name's Not Joe

I'm so disillusioned:
An official at Local 50 of the plumber’s union, based in Toledo, said Mr. Wurzelbacher does not hold a license. He also has never served an apprenticeship and does not belong to the union. (The national plumber’s union, the United Association of Plumbers, Steamfitters, and Service Mechanics, endorsed Mr. Obama, it should be noted.)


“He’s basically playing games with the world,” Thomas Joseph, the local’s business manager, said in a telephone interview Thursday morning.

“All contractors are licensed, and he does not have a license, either as a contractor or a plumber,” the union official said, citing a search of government records. “I can’t find that he’s ever even applied for any kind of apprenticeship, and he has never belonged to local 189 in Columbus, which is what he claims on his Facebook page.”

According to public records, Mr. Wurzelbacher has been subject to two liens, each over $1,000, one of which — a personal tax lien — is still outstanding.

And his question to Mr. Obama about paying taxes? According to some tax analysts, if Mr. Wurzelbacher’s gross receipts from his business is $250,000 — and not his taxable income — then he would not have to pay higher taxes under Mr. Obama’s plan, and probably would be eligible for a tax cut.


Mr. Wurzelbacher is registered to vote in Lucas County under the name Samuel Joseph Worzelbacher.

What will we tell the children!!!

How long before we find out that Joe/Sam was a GOP plant?

Right Where He Belongs

Glenn Back is finally going where he belongs: to Fox News.
“Beginning next spring, Beck will host FOX News Channel’s (FNC) 5 PM/ET weekday program as well as a weekend show on the network,” a Fox News statement says. Fox News’s Roger Ailes remarked, “As we embark on a new political landscape, Glenn’s thought provoking commentary will complement an already stellar line-up of stars at FOX News.”

The only question is what took so long. CNN made a huge judgment error in hiring Beck to begin with; guess that was back when they thought they could score a ratings winner by emulating Fox in the nutty conservative GOP hack category. Little did they know the mood of the country has been swinging left, not right, for the past two years. So MSNBC scores a ratings win with Rachel Maddow while Glenn Beck has been in the ratings toilet since he joined Headline News.

I was wondering how long it would take CNN to wake up.

What Happened Here?

Lefty bloggers have been all over this moment at the end of the debate:

Here's another angle on it:

I have to say, I missed this. As soon as the debate was over I ran to watch the Project Runway finale which we'd TiVo'd.

So, what happened here? Did he trip? Have a seizure? Pull a George H.W. Bush moment and puke?

I'll be watching the Tubes to see if anyone knows.

(h/t, The Impolitic.)


Yeesh. Via Sadly, No!, apparently McCain was checking his gag-reflex multiple times during the night.

Joe The Plumber?

I wonder if Joe the plumber knows Joe Six-Pack?

I wonder if Americans ever get tired of being stereotyped by political campaigns?

I've had to call a lot of plumbers in my day and I have to say I am not in the least bit surprised to learn that this guy's business earns more than $250,000 a year. Maybe the plumber is supposed to be shorthand for "average working guy" but I've never had a plumber leave my house for less than $200 bucks. And if the Joe the Plumbers of the country have a problem paying 3% more just on the earnings that exceed $250,000, then I think that's being petty, compared to the hysteria McCain is trying to drum up. I mean think about it. If a business earns $300,000, then you pay the current 36% rate on $250,000 of that, and 39% on the remaining $50,000.

Sure no one likes paying taxes but someone has to, it's how we pay for stuff that we need. Like, all of those defense contracts that John McCain wants to award to European companies.

Or how about lower healthcare costs for Joe's employees? I think if you look at more than the soundbite, paying that extra 3% on just a portion of his earnings will actually pay off better for Joe the Plumber.

Joe has pretty much said he's voting for McCain, though. So fine, pay 36% on all of your earnings, but now you're also going to have to pay taxes on the healthcare you provide your employees. Or maybe you'll be like so many other employers and just decide you don't want to offer healthcare at all.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

I Voted For Barack Obama Today!

Early voting opened in Nashville today! I voted for Barack Obama and it felt great to make a statement for change.

Let me add: turnout was huge on this first day. There were so many cars that it caused a traffic jam on the street in front of the polling place. It was almost like a regular election day. I could have waited until later in the early voting period but I didn’t. I wanted to get it over with. It’s that important to me.

Yes, Tennessee is a red state. I have no delusions about which way this state is going to swing. But if we are so blessed as to have an electoral vote victory for Obama (knock on wood!), then I want the popular vote to show a clear mandate for him, as well. And if we are so unfortunate as to have an electoral vote win for John McCain, then I want to eat into that popular vote “mandate” -- which, if Bush/Cheney’s reaction to the last election is any judge, stands at barely more than 3 million votes.

So those of you in safely red state states and safely blue states, be sure to cast your vote. Because it will still matter.

Very Cool, Nashville!

Nashville has climbed aboard the Project Homeless Connect bandwagon.

This is going to be a very, very cool event in December in which citizens, social services agencies, the business community, the faith community, Metro government and pretty much everyone you could ever think of come together for one day and one purpose: to help the city’s homeless.

The day will offer a “one-stop shopping” of services, job placement, housing assistance, medical care and everything else, with the hope being we can get more and more of our homeless citizens off the streets.

This is not a new thing--some cities have been doing this for years--but it’s new to Nashville. It’s part of a nationwide effort that has been enormously successful all around the country. I’m glad to see Nashville getting on board with this.

You will be hearing about this in the coming months, and you will be asked to help. There will be a tremendous need for volunteers, donations, and participation by the community at large.

I trust my Nashville readers, both those on the right and the left, will do the right thing. In the spirit of coming together to make our community a better place for everyone, please get involved.

And yes, I will be pestering you about this.

Follow the link for the details and mark your calendar for December 2.

John McCain’s Tanker Trouble

At tonight’s debate you may hear John McCain once again brag about how he went after government waste by blocking the Pentagon’s troubled Boeing tanker contract that ended with people going to jail. John McCain is very proud of this fact: he mentioned it at the last debate, and he keeps bringing up like it’s the crowning achievement of a mavericky taxpayer avenger.

Sure, when all was said and done, former Pentagon procurement officer Darleen Druyun was given nine months in prison, Boeing CFO Michael Sears went to prison for four months, Boeing’s CEO Phillip Condit was fired, and the Air Force cancelled the contract. But that's not the entire story.

I've blogged about this saga before, lots of folks have. But it's one of those things that seems to be fading from the collective memory. Because every time John McCain brings it up, you'd think someone would say, "hey, isn't that the deal where you ended up looking like a walking case of lobbyist intervention at the expense of American jobs?" The fact that no one does make me think it's time to send folks a little reminder about John McCain's real role in this whole thing.

So yes, McCain launched the Senate investigation that uncovered the fraud and shut the deal down, so kudos to him for that. But I’m not sure I’d be bragging about this when subsequent investigations have revealed a few disturbing facts.

Newsweek did an excellent story on this back in June. If you want to debunk the myth that John McCain single-handedly slayed the dragon of Pentagon waste by virtue of his mavericky-ness, give it a read. And you can start with the headline:
McCain’s Boeing Battle Boomerangs

Yes, it seems the Boeing tanker story did come back to bite McCain on the ankle, more than once. For one thing, when the Pentagon put the contract up for bid again, it got awarded to Boeing’s big rival, Northrop Grumman, and the European Aeronautic Defense and Space Co. (EADS).

So in other words, John McCain sent American jobs overseas and, as MarketWatch noted, gave a big wet kiss in the form of a $35 billion piece of America’s defense budget to a European firm.

This was back in June and even I remember the hullabaloo this created. Why would John McCain do such a thing? Doesn’t he love America and American workers? Funny thing:

The auditors' ruling has also cast light on an overlooked aspect of McCain's crusade: five of his campaign's top advisers and fund-raisers—including Tom Loeffler, who resigned last month as his finance co-chairman, and Susan Nelson, his finance director—were registered lobbyists for EADS.

Oh, say it ain’t so!

But it gets worse. John McCain personally intervened to ensure the bidding process was favorable to EADS:

Critics, including some at the Pentagon, cite in particular two tough letters McCain wrote to Deputy Secretary of Defense Gordon England in 2006 and another to Robert Gates, just prior to his confirmation as Defense secretary. In the first letter, dated Sept. 8, 2006, McCain wrote of hearing from "third parties" that the Air Force was about to redo the tanker competition by factoring in European government subsidies to EADS—a condition that could have seriously hurt the EADS bid. McCain urged that the Pentagon drop the subsidy factor and posed a series of technical questions about the Air Force's process.

"He was trying to jam us and bully us to make sure there was competition by giving EADS an advantage," said one senior Pentagon official, who asked for anonymity when discussing a politically sensitive matter. The assumption within the Pentagon, the official added, was that McCain's letters were drafted by EADS lobbyists.

"There was no one else that would have had that level of detail," the official said.

Of course, the uproar over awarding a defense contract to a European firm and the funny business with McCain’s advisors caused this deal to be cancelled, too. Back in September Defense Secetary Robert Gates passed the decision off to the next administration:

“We can no longer complete a competition that would be viewed as fair and objective in this highly charged environment,” Mr. Gates said in a statement. “The resulting ‘cooling off’ period will allow the next administration to review objectively the military requirements and craft a new acquisition strategy” for the tanker program.

If John McCain wins the election, three guesses as to who’s going to get that tanker contract.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

"Little Hussein"

There are no words.

Putting The “Nut” In Wingnut

Yes, I’m still embarrassed by my fellow Tennesseans:
Baby named Sarah McCain Palin

A new father has secretly named his baby girl Sarah McCain Palin after the Republican ticket for president and vice president.

Mark Ciptak of Elizabethton put that name on the documents for the girl's birth certificate, ignoring the name Ava Grace, which he and his wife had picked earlier.

"I don't think she believes me yet," he told the Kingsport Times-News for a story to be published Tuesday. "It's going to take some more convincing."

Ciptak, a blood bank employee for the American Red Cross, said he named his third child after John McCain and Sarah Palin "to get the word out" about the campaign.

"I took one for the cause," he said. "I can't give a lot of financial support for the (McCain/Palin) campaign. I do have a sign up in my yard, but I can do very little."

You, sir, are a moron.

And speaking of names, I know the wingnuts love to make fun of Barack “Hussein” Obama. But it’s amazing to me how few people are aware that “Barack” is a name from the Old Testament, the Book of Judges to be precise. The Biblical Barack (or “Barak”) and the prophetess Deborah defeated the Canaanites.

You’d think some of the conservative Christians mocking Obama’s name would know that.

Size Matters

Looks like the McCain-Palin campaign is still lying about the size of the crowds at their rallies:
The Virginia Beach Fire Marshal's office estimated the size of the crowd to be 12,000. A McCain campaign spokeswoman claimed the crowd size was 25,000, but the Convention Center's capacity is only 16,000.

This has been an ongoing issue with the campaign. Olbermann even did a piece on it.

That's just pathetic, but not surprising. McCain has even had trouble "fill[ing] the ballroom” for an upcoming fundraiser.

Monday, October 13, 2008

McCain Was For ACORN Before He Was Against It

In fact, he was so “for” it, he was the headliner at an ACORN event two years ago, where this photo was taken:

States ACORN's Bertha Lewis:
“It has deeply saddened us to see Senator McCain abandon his historic support for ACORN and our efforts to support the goals of low-income Americans."

"We are sure that the extremists he is trying to get into a froth will be even more excited to learn that John McCain stood shoulder to shoulder with ACORN, at an ACORN co-sponsored event, to promote immigration reform," she said.

(h/t, AmericaBlog.)

Easy Voter: Dennis Hopper An Obama Convert

Longtime Republican/Bush voter Dennis Hopper says he’s supporting Barack Obama:
PARIS (AFP) — Dennis Hopper, the US actor-director perhaps best known for the 1969 road-movie "Easy Rider", is praying for victory by Barack Obama in next month's elections, he said on Monday.

"I voted for Bush, father and son, but this time I'll vote for Obama," he told journalists at the opening of a show on his life and work at the Paris cinematheque.

Hopper is to be handed France's order of Commander of Arts and Letters by the culture minister later Monday.

"I was the first person in my family to have been Republican," he added. "For most of my life I wasn't on the left."

"I pray God, Barack Obama is elected," he said, criticising the current administration's many "lies."

I’m sure the last two weeks have been hard on the Ameriprise Financial pitchman.

Andy Martin: The Source Of The Smear

Today’s New York Times has a front-page, below the fold profile of Andy Martin, the right-wing wackadoodle who is now believed to have originated the “Obama is a secret Muslim” fabrication.

Martin started the story by posting a press release on the FreeRepublic in August 2004, just as Obama was coming to national attention for his keynote address at the Democratic National Convention. The story took on a life of its own, embellished telephone-tree style each step of the way with more lies (“he took the oath of office on a Koran,” etc. etc.) until the lie has become like a persistent, hacking cough that Obama can’t seem to shake.

It’s a fascinating piece which you can read here. When I say Martin is a right-wing wackadoodle, I’m not joking. The state of Illinois denied him admission to the bar for psychological reasons:
He is a law school graduate, but his admission to the Illinois bar was blocked in the 1970s after a psychiatric finding of “moderately severe character defect manifested by well-documented ideation with a paranoid flavor and a grandiose character.”

Though he is not a lawyer, Mr. Martin went on to become a prodigious filer of lawsuits, and he made unsuccessful attempts to win public office for both parties in three states, as well as for president at least twice, in 1988 and 2000.

So, persecution/martyr complex--sounds like the entire Republican Party.

What’s really fascinating to me is the amount of bigotry and entrenched hatred that pervades this group of folks who peddle in character smears. Martin is a notorious anti-Semite--ironic, since his “secret Muslim” lie has found traction among some Jewish voters:

A motion he filed in a 1983 bankruptcy case called the judge “a crooked, slimy Jew who has a history of lying and thieving common to members of his race.”

In another motion, filed in 1983, Mr. Martin wrote, “I am able to understand how the Holocaust took place, and with every passing day feel less and less sorry that it did.”

In an interview, Mr. Martin denied some statements against Jews attributed to him in court papers, blaming malicious judges for inserting them.

But in his “48 Hours” interview in 1993, he affirmed a different anti-Semitic part of the affidavit that included the line about the Holocaust, saying, “The record speaks for itself.”

When asked Friday about an assertion in his court papers that “Jews, historically and in daily living, act through clans and in wolf pack syndrome,” he said, “That one sort of rings a bell.”

Meanwhile, Martin’s kindred spirit Jerome Corsi, recently expelled from Kenya, is a notorious Muslim and Catholic-hater.

I find it amazing that the Republican Party will give a wink and a nod to these hateful crackpots and let them do their dirty work. Martin needs to see a psychiatrist, not be handed a microphone. Yet, Fox News featured him in their anti-Obama “documentary” last week where they

allowed Mr. Martin to assert falsely and without challenge that Mr. Obama had once trained to overthrow the government.

This is supposed to be a news program?

Regardless of what happens with this election, the day will come when the Republican Party will have to answer for its actions. By embracing bigots like Corsi and Martin, the GOP is sowing the seeds of its own destruction. We’re seeing it now in the vitriol unleashed at McCain-Palin rallies; the bigotry is out there, Martin, Corsi and their ilk are feeding it, and the Republican Party, because they see a political benefit, is encouraging it.

But no matter what happens in November, this kind of ugliness at the heart of the GOP will destroy the Republican Party. And guess what: they won’t be able to blame Bill Clinton or the Democrats this time.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Animal Lovers For Obama!

For the first time ever, the Humane Society Legislative Fund has endorsed a presidential ticket:
I’m proud to announce today that the HSLF board of directors—which is comprised of both Democrats and Republicans—has voted unanimously to endorse Barack Obama for President. The Obama-Biden ticket is the better choice on animal protection, and we urge all voters who care about the humane treatment of animals, no matter what their party affiliation, to vote for them.

Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) has been a solid supporter of animal protection at both the state and federal levels. As an Illinois state senator, he backed at least a dozen animal protection laws, including those to strengthen the penalties for animal cruelty, to help animal shelters, to promote spaying and neutering, and to ban the slaughter of horses for human consumption.  In the U.S. Senate, he has consistently co-sponsored multiple bills to combat animal fighting and horse slaughter, and has supported efforts to increase funding for adequate enforcement of the Animal Welfare Act, Humane Methods of Slaughter Act, and federal laws to combat animal fighting and puppy mills.


While McCain’s positions on animal protection have been lukewarm, his choice of running mate cemented our decision to oppose his ticket. Gov. Sarah Palin’s (R-Alaska) retrograde policies on animal welfare and conservation have led to an all-out war on Alaska’s wolves and other creatures. Her record is so extreme that she has perhaps done more harm to animals than any other current governor in the United States.

Palin engineered a campaign of shooting predators from airplanes and helicopters, in order to artificially boost the populations of moose and caribou for trophy hunters. She offered a $150 bounty for the left foreleg of each dead wolf as an economic incentive for pilots and aerial gunners to kill more of the animals, even though Alaska voters had twice approved a ban on the practice. This year, the issue was up again for a vote of the people, and Palin led the fight against it—in fact, she helped to spend $400,000 of public funds to defeat the initiative.

If you love animals, then you will do your part to make sure Barack Obama is elected with the strongest electoral mandate we’ve seen in eight years.

And check this out: Bark Obama: A blog for cat and dog bloggers who support Obama!

Your Modern Republican Party

Attaturk called my attention to this item over at The Washington Monthly:
The McCain/Palin ticket is the first in American history in which both candidates were found to have violated ethics standards before a national election.

McCain, of course, was admonished by Senate Ethics Committee "for exercising 'poor judgment' for intervening" with federal regulators on behalf of Charles Keating, as part of the infamous Keating Five scandal.

And now McCain's running mate has also been found to have violated state ethics laws and abused the powers of her office, as part of the "Troopergate" scandal.

The nation has had 102 major-party tickets covering 51 presidential elections over more than two centuries. And we've never had a ticket in which both candidates on the same ticket were responsible for ethics violations before a national election. McCain/Palin is the first.

My, how the party of “accountability” and “moral values” has fallen. I do believe we’re seeing the beginning of the end of the Republican Party.

I think every person in my neighborhood with a McCain/Palin yard sign should be asked if they are aware they are supporting the first ticket in American history in which both candidates have violated ethics standards before the election.

It goes without saying that no Democrat with these kinds of ethics questions in his or her background could ever get out of the primary. The media would be vicious. But as always, the rule of American politics is IOKIYAR. There’s one (terribly high) standard for Democrats, one (much lower) standard for Republicans.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Buckley For Obama, Kooks For McCain

Christopher Buckley, son of conservative scion William F. Buckley, has endorsed Barack Obama.

Quietly. Apparently he doesn’t want to get attacked by the same “kooks” that went after conservative pundit Kathleen Parker when she described Sarah Palin as “an embarassment.”
As for Kathleen, she has to date received 12,000 (quite literally) foam-at-the-mouth hate-emails. One correspondent, if that’s quite the right word, suggested that Kathleen’s mother should have aborted her and tossed the fetus into a Dumpster. There’s Socratic dialogue for you. Dear Pup once said to me sighfully after a right-winger who fancied himself a WFB protégé had said something transcendently and provocatively cretinous, “You know, I’ve spent my entire life time separating the Right from the kooks.” Well, the dear man did his best. At any rate, I don’t have the kidney at the moment for 12,000 emails saying how good it is he’s no longer alive to see his Judas of a son endorse for the presidency a covert Muslim who pals around with the Weather Underground. So, you’re reading it here first.

Those “kooks” are the folks we now see crawling out from under the rocks McCain and Palin lift at their rallies:

LA CROSSE, Wis. (AP) — Some of the anger is getting raw at Republican rallies and John McCain is mostly letting it flare. A sense of grievance spilling into rage has gripped some GOP events as McCain supporters see his presidential campaign lag against Barack Obama. They're making it personal, against the Democrat. Shouts of "traitor," "terrorist," "treason," "liar," and even "off with his head" have rung from the crowd at McCain and Sarah Palin rallies, and gone unchallenged by them.

That’s not entirely true. McCain might be getting a little freaked out about what he’s unleashed, and called Obama “a decent person” at a recent event, a remark met with jeers by the crowd. Seems you can’t stuff the creepy crawlies back under the GOP rock once you’ve let them out, Senator McCain.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Palin Abused Her Power


For those who don't want to read the entire 263-page report (though I recommend you do), here are the highlights, via Salon's War Room:
Branchflower includes a list of findings in the report. The first reads:
Governor Sarah Palin abused her power by violating Alaska Statute 39.52.110(a) of the Alaska Executive Branch Ethics Act. Alaska Statute 39.52.110(a) provides

“The legislature reaffirms that each public officer holds office as a public trust, and any effort to benefit a personal or financial interest through official action is a violation of that trust.”

The second reads:

I find that, although Walt Monegan’s refusal to fire Trooper Michael Wooten was not the sole reason he was fired by Governor Sarah Palin, it was likely a contributing factor to his termination as Commissioner of Public Safety. In spite of that, Governor Palin’s firing of Commissioner Monegan was a proper and lawful exercise of her constitutional and statutory authority to hire and fire executive branch department heads.

One other finding not mentioned by War Room: Branchflower called out the Alaska Attorney General's office:

The Attorney General's office has failed to substantially comply with my August 6, 2008 written request to Governor Sarah Palin for information about the case in the form of e-mails.

There you have it.

Maybe now would be a good time to revisit the whole "vetting" issue and question John McCain's judgment in picking Sarah Palin to begin with. This Troopergate investigation has been a black cloud hanging over her head since July, a month before McCain picked her as his running mate. 


MSNBC reporting that the bipartisan Alaskan legislative committee investigating Sarah Palin in the "Troopergate" scandal has found she abused her authority in the firing of Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan.

You can read the report here.

Cue angry conservatives calling for the whaaaaahmbulance. Especially since Palin exonerated herself yesterday.

These things are always "politically motivated" when they are negative to the Republican candidate. Funny, huh?



New York Times: Panel Finds Palin Abused Authority in Firing State Official

Washington Post: Alaska Legislative Probe Finds Palin Misused Power

Victory For Al Qaeda?


There's a Central American version, too:
Nicaragua's Ortega says crisis is God punishing U.S.

"It's incredible that in the most powerful country in the world, which spends billions of dollars on brutal wars ... people do not have enough money to stay in their homes," former Marxist guerrilla Ortega said in a speech late on Thursday.

As the stock market tumbled to new lows this week, a commenter on one of the blogs--wish I could remember where/who--observed that destroying the American economy was Al Qaeda’s purpose behind both World Trade Center attacks. So as the American economy slides further into the danger zone, and the ripples reach far around the globe, I have to wonder if this isn’t Al Qaeda’s “Mission Accomplished” moment.

Remember this tidbit from the 2004 presdiential election?

Bin Laden, whose al Qaeda network carried out the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks, proved he's kept a close eye on U.S. politics as he detailed al Qaeda's strategy of bleeding America bankrupt, even as Americans weighed their presidential votes largely on the issues of terror and the economy.

He provided a financial analysis of al Qaeda's destruction in his latest 18-minute video, a full transcript of which was posted Monday on the Internet.

According to bin Laden's math, each $1 al Qaeda has spent on strikes has cost the United States $1 million in economic fallout and military spending, including emergency funding for Iraq and Afghanistan.

"As for the size of the economic deficit, it has reached record astronomical numbers," bin Laden said, estimating the deficit at more than $1 trillion.

In reality, spending in the war against terror and other factors have resulted in an expected $377 billion shortfall for 2003 — the highest deficit since World War II when inflation is factored out. The total U.S. national debt is near the $7.4 trillion statutory limit.

That was November 2004, of course. As I posted in yesterday’s “Memory Hole,” the National Debt Clock had to be reconfigured to accommodate the latest $10 trillion figure.

My fellow prisoners, this is something to think about, long and hard.