Wednesday, December 31, 2008

The Over-Soul by Ralph Waldo Emerson

"But souls that of his own good life partake,
He loves as his own self; dear as his eye
They are to Him: He'll never them forsake:
When they shall die, then God himself shall die:
They live, they live in blest eternity."
Henry More

Space is ample, east and west,
But two cannot go abreast,
Cannot travel in it two:
Yonder masterful cuckoo
Crowds every egg out of the nest,
Quick or dead, except its own;
A spell is laid on sod and stone,
Night and Day 've been tampered with,
Every quality and pith
Surcharged and sultry with a power
That works its will on age and hour.

Rep. Barrett to give pay raise to charity

COLUMBIA, S.C. -- U.S. Rep. Gresham Barrett says he is donating his new congressional raise to an Anderson charity.

Barrett says he will donate the $4,700 salary increase that begins in 2009 to Anderson Interfaith Ministries - an organization of churches and individuals who provide assistance to the needy and helps them become self-sufficient.

Barrett says lawmakers should not be earning more during these poor economic times. He says he voted against the automatic pay raise and all increases should have to be voted on individually.

Barrett is beginning his fourth term in Congress. The Republican's district runs along the Savannah River in the northwestern corner of South Carolina.

Government aid could save U.S. newspapers, spark debate

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Connecticut lawmaker Frank Nicastro sees saving the local newspaper as his duty. But others think he and his colleagues are setting a worrisome precedent for government involvement in the U.S. press.

Nicastro represents Connecticut's 79th assembly district, which includes Bristol, a city of about 61,000 people outside Hartford, the state capital. Its paper, The Bristol Press, may fold within days, along with The Herald in nearby New Britain.

That is because publisher Journal Register, in danger of being crushed under hundreds of millions of dollars of debt, says it cannot afford to keep them open anymore.

Nicastro and fellow legislators want the papers to survive, and petitioned the state government to do something about it. "The media is a vitally important part of America," he said, particularly local papers that cover news ignored by big papers and television and radio stations.

To some experts, that sounds like a bailout, a word that resurfaced this year after the U.S. government agreed to give hundreds of billions of dollars to the automobile and financial sectors.

Relying on government help raises ethical questions for the press, whose traditional role has been to operate free from government influence as it tries to hold politicians accountable to the people who elected them. Even some publishers desperate for help are wary of this route.

Providing government support can muddy that mission, said Paul Janensch, a journalism professor at Quinnipiac University in Connecticut, and a former reporter and editor.

"You can't expect a watchdog to bite the hand that feeds it," he said....

The Charlotte Observer

It was the year the U.S. government pledged more than $8.5 trillion in loans and guarantees to bail out struggling companies.

Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson appeared on the cover of the New York Post more than Paris Hilton. Stockholders lost more than $30 trillion in market value. Here's a look at 2008 through the numbers, as of the end of Dec. 30:

$30: Amount, in trillions, erased from the value of stocks worldwide.

$8.6: Amount, in trillions, of taxpayer money the U.S. government has pledged to prop up cash-strapped financial companies as of Nov. 25, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

$61,871: Maximum amount the bailout could cost each taxpayer, based on 139 million tax returns filed in 2007.

$882: Amount, in billions, of U.S. currency in circulation, according to Bloomberg data.

$613: Amount, in billions, listed as liabilities when Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc. filed for the biggest bankruptcy in U.S. history.

$150: Amount, in billions, of taxpayer money pledged to help American International Group

$440,000: Cost of a resort retreat for AIG salespeople days after its September bailout.

$37: Amount, in billions, clients invested with Bernard Madoff, according to Bloomberg's latest tally of disclosures and news reports.

400: Number of U.S. nonprofit organizations directly affected by Madoff's alleged Ponzi scheme, according to data tallied by Bloomberg.

$742: Amount, in millions, raised by President-elect Barack Obama's campaign, as of Nov. 24, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. It was the first time a major-party candidate declined public financing since the system was started in 1976.

11.7: Number, in millions, of households that owe more on their mortgages than their homes are worth, according to

2.7: Increase, in millions, in the number of unemployed since last December, according to data released by the Labor Department in December.

$144,545: Cost of outfitting, accessorizing and styling Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin, according to

$57,884: Annual tuition for Malia and Sasha Obama to attend Sidwell Friends School, where they start studies in January.

$600: Maximum rebate check paid to individuals as part of President George W. Bush's economic stimulus program, according to the Internal Revenue Service.

$339: Cost of a guest room on the club level at Washington's Mayflower Hotel where former N.Y. Gov. Eliot Spitzer (aka Client 9) met Ashley Dupre.

77: Number of years since the Standard & Poor's 500 Index has fallen this much (1931).

76: Percent decline in the price of crude oil from a high of $146.93 on July 14 to a low of $35.35 on Dec. 24.

18: Number of times in 2008 the S&P 500 rose or fell at least 5 percent in a single day.

2, 1: Number of pictures, respectively, of Hank Paulson and Paris Hilton on the front page of the New York Post, according to a LexisNexis search and the Post's on-line archives.

0: Number of the five largest securities firms that aren't now banks or partly owned by the U.S. government.

Group protests Redford's stand against oil, gas drilling

Deseret News

A civil rights group says it is organizing protests against actor Robert Redford for what it says is his political role as the Grinch who is hurting low-income families by fighting oil and gas drilling in Utah.

"If Robert Redford succeeds in blocking natural gas production in Utah, it's going to hurt a lot of people on the other end of the pipeline — especially low-income families who are struggling to pay their heating bills," said Niger Innis, national chairman of the Congress of Racial Equality.

Redford appeared via satellite on Dec. 17 at a National Press Club briefing to lend his star power to fight a Bush administration auction in Utah of oil and gas leases, some near national parks. Redford said the sale had "morally criminal" intent. The auction occurred anyway on Dec. 19, but environmental groups and supporters have urged President-elect Barack Obama to overturn it when he takes office.

Innis said CORE and the High Impact Leadership Coalition are launching a "Don't Freeze Us Out" campaign that will seek to organize churches, civil rights groups, consumer groups and others "to fight Redford and self-styled environmental groups that are working to constrict supplies of natural gas and other energy resources," a press release said.

"We are not going to stand by as Robert Redford tries to slow the flow of home heating fuel from the Rockies and drive up home heating prices to millions of Americans in his lust for environmental headlines," Innis said. "There are literally people whose lives are at stake this winter because they can barely afford to heat their homes now."

Innis also recently appeared at a press conference in Washington of state legislators from around the country who rallied in support of the Americans for American Energy Act sponsored by Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah. It is designed to push for greater development of domestic oil, natural gas, coal, oil shale, nuclear, wind, solar and other energy sources in the "all of the above" approach pushed by Republicans.

Innis said at that rally, "Environmental extremists and their allies in the media act like the energy crisis is over because of the drop in gas prices. What they fail to recognize ... is that the radical increase (projected this winter) in home heating costs is going to create an economic tsunami for millions of poor and working-class Americans."

Innis added in his new press release, "The Hollywood crowd likes to pontificate in front of the cameras to show their love for the environment, but what they are actually doing is leading a 'war on the poor' by constricting energy supply and encouraging prices to go higher."

Innis said: "Hollywood may be insensitive to the needs of low-income Americans on affordable energy, but President-elect Obama is not. We are convinced that he will answer the call of our community, and poor families everywhere, who need access to affordable and reliable energy."

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Ex-US Army man admits spying for Israel

The Jerusalem Post

An 85-year-old former US Army mechanical engineer likely will get no prison sentence after admitting Tuesday he passed classified documents to the Israelis in the 1970s and '80s.

Ben-ami Kadish told US Magistrate Judge Theodore H. Katz he believes he was promised the government will not seek a prison term when he is sentenced Feb. 13.

Assistant US Attorney Iris Lan said prosecutors promised only that they would not oppose or challenge a sentence that included no prison time.

Kadish, a US citizen who lives in New Jersey, pleaded guilty only to one of the four charges of conspiracy he originally faced.

He was accused of taking home classified documents from 1979 to 1985, when he worked at the Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center at the Picatinny Arsenal in Dover, New Jersey. The government said he let an Israeli agent photograph documents, including information about nuclear weapons, a modified version of an F-15 fighter jet and the US Patriot missile air defense system.

Prosecutors said it appeared that Kadish, who was born in Connecticut but was raised in Palestine in an area the British government was trying to turn into a Jewish state, was motivated by a desire to help Israel.

The judge asked Kadish if he obtained the classified documents from the library of the Picatinny Arsenal and supplied them to Yossi Yagur, an Israeli government agent who had requested them.

Kadish, who worked there from 1963 to 1990, said he had.

The judge also asked if Kadish requested anything of value or received anything of value for the classified documents.

Kadish said he did not. He admitted that he provided the documents for the benefit of Israel.

Yagur, now retired and living in Tel Aviv, is the agent who obtained information from convicted Pentagon spy Jonathan Pollard, who is serving a life sentence for selling military secrets to Israel while working as an intelligence analyst for the Navy. Pollard's case damaged US-Israeli relations and remains a sore point between the countries.

US authorities say Kadish confessed to FBI agents that he had given Yagur between 50 and 100 classified documents and accepted no cash in return, only small gifts and occasional dinners for him and his family.

Kadish had told the FBI that he knew that one restricted document he provided to the agent included atomic-related information and that he did not have the required clearance to borrow it, according to a criminal complaint filed in the case.

Outside court on Tuesday, Kadish, asked if he was hopeful the spy case was over, said, "I hope so." His wife told him not to say any more.

Election judge is dumbfounded her ballot was rejected

DULUTH - Shirley Graham was astonished to learn that a lawyer from Norm Coleman's campaign on Tuesday blocked her absentee ballot from being added to the U.S. Senate recount.

"I'm an election judge," said Graham, of Duluth. "I expected to be the last person whose ballot wouldn't be counted."

Her sealed ballot was among 60 from St. Louis County that were blocked by representatives of Coleman and Al Franken during the first day of a statewide review of absentee ballots that may have been wrongly rejected in last month's election. Under a state Supreme Court ruling, local election officials and the two campaigns must all agree that a ballot was wrongly rejected for it to be sent along to St. Paul for inclusion in the recount.

Coleman's camp, which rejected 59 of the 60 ballots set aside Tuesday in St. Louis County, objected to Graham's ballot on the grounds that the date next to her signature did not match the date next to the signature of her witness, Jack Armstrong.

That's dumbfounding, Graham said. "Both of us are former educators, and he used to work in the secretary of state's office," she said. "As he sat across the table from me, he actually said, 'Shirley, this date has to be the same.' I don't understand how it could be different."

Graham said that because she works each Election Day in a neighboring precinct, she votes absentee. She didn't have any idea that her ballot had been rejected, reconsidered and rerejected until receiving a reporter's call.

"I want to see my ballot," said Graham, who added that she'd consider going to court, if she must, to get her vote counted.

A final irony: She voted for Coleman.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Sean Hannity: Media Matters' 2008 Misinformer of the Year

As Media Matters for America has demonstrated time and again, Fox News' Sean Hannity has been a prolific and influential purveyor of conservative misinformation. But never has he so enthusiastically applied his talents for spreading misinformation as he did to the 2008 presidential race, focusing his energies primarily on President-elect Barack Obama. Day after day, Hannity devoted his two Fox News shows and his three-hour ABC Radio Networks program to "demonizing" the Democratic presidential candidates, starkly explaining in August: "That's my job. ... I led the 'Stop Hillary Express.' By the way, now it's the 'Stop Obama Express.' " Hannity's "Stop Obama Express" promoted and embellished a vast array of misleading attacks and false claims about Obama. Along the way, he uncritically adopted and promoted countless Republican talking points and played host to numerous credibility-challenged smear artists who painted Obama as a dangerous radical. When he was not going after Obama, Hannity attacked members of Obama's family, as well as Sen. Hillary Clinton and other progressives, and denied all the while that he had unfairly attacked anyone.

Hannity's attacks may have also influenced mainstream media coverage. ABC News' George Stephanopoulos appeared on Hannity's radio program on April 15, during which Hannity suggested to Stephanopoulos that he ask Obama at the Democratic presidential debate the following evening about his "association with Bill Ayers, the unrepentant terrorist from the Weather Underground." Stephanopoulos assured Hannity that he was "taking notes right now." Stephanopoulos then did ask Obama at the debate to "explain that relationship for the voters, and explain to Democrats why it won't be a problem," though he later denied that Hannity had exerted any influence on his questioning.

Because of the unending stream of falsehoods and character attacks that fueled the "Stop Obama Express," and the countless other distortions he promoted throughout 2008, Sean Hannity is Media Matters for America's Misinformer of the Year.

Among the myriad falsehoods and attacks that Hannity promoted throughout 2008, several found their way into regular rotation:


Unrest caused by bad economy may require military action, report says

EL PASO -- A U.S. Army War College report warns an economic crisis in the United States could lead to massive civil unrest and the need to call on the military to restore order.
Retired Army Lt. Col. Nathan Freir wrote the report "Known Unknowns: Unconventional Strategic Shocks in Defense Strategy Development," which the Army think tank in Carlisle, Pa., recently released.

"Widespread civil violence inside the United States would force the defense establishment to reorient priorities ... to defend basic domestic order and human security," the report said, in case of "unforeseen economic collapse," "pervasive public health emergencies," and "catastrophic natural and human disasters," among other possible crises.

The report also suggests the new (Barack Obama) administration could face a "strategic shock" within the first eight months in office.

Fort Bliss spokeswoman Jean Offutt said the Army post is not involved in any recent talks about a potential military response to civil unrest.

The report become a hot Internet item after Phoenix police told the Phoenix Business Journal they're prepared to deal with such an event, and the International Monetary Fund's managing director, Dominique Strauss-Khan, said social unrest could spread to advanced countries if the global economic crisis worsens.

Javier Sambrano, spokes-man for the El Paso Police Department, said city police have trained for years so they can address any contingency, but not with the military.

"The police (department) trains on an ongoing basis as part of its Mobile Field Force Training," Sambrano said. "As a result, the police will be able to respond to emergency situations, such as looting or a big civil unrest. The police (department) does not train with soldiers."
Earlier this year, Pentagon officials said as many as 20,000 soldiers under the U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM) will be trained within the next three years to work with civilian law enforcement in homeland security.

Joint Task Force-North, a joint command at Biggs Army Airfield, which conducts surveillance and intelligence along the border, comes under NORTHCOM. No one was available at JTF-North to comment on the Army War College's report. NORTHCOM was created after the 9-11 attacks to coordinate homeland security efforts.

Soldiers under the former Joint Task Force-6 (now JTF-North) supported the Border Patrol in El Paso with its drug-interdiction operations.

In case civilian authorities request help or become overwhelmed, El Paso has several National Guard and military reserve units that can be called on. In 1992, National Guard and active Marine and Army units were deployed to help police control riots and looting in Los Angeles.

Charles Boehmer, political science professor at the University of Texas at El Paso, was skeptical about the Army War College report.

"The military was not called out during the Great Depression, and I don't think our economic problems are as bad as they were then," he said. "The military always has contingency plans. It's a think tank's job to come up with scenarios, but that doesn't mean it represents an active interest on the part of the (Pentagon)."

Diana Washington Valdez may be reached at; 546-6140.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Gingrich: RNC Ad is 'Destructive Distraction'

Atlantic Magazine

Dear Chairman Duncan,

I was saddened to learn that at a time of national trial, when a president-elect is preparing to take office in the midst of the worst financial crisis in over seventy years, that the Republican National Committee is engaged in the sort of negative, attack politics that the voters rejected in the 2006 and 2008 election cycles.

The recent web advertisement, "Questions Remain," is a destructive distraction. Clearly, we should insist that all taped communications regarding the Senate seat should be made public. However, that should be a matter of public policy, not an excuse for political attack.

In a time when America is facing real challenges, Republicans should be working to help the incoming President succeed in meeting them, regardless of his Party.

From now until the inaugural, Republicans should be offering to help the President-elect prepare to take office.

Furthermore, once President Obama takes office, Republicans should be eager to work with him when he is right, and, when he is wrong, offer a better solution, instead of just opposing him.

This is the only way the Republican Party will become known as the "better solutions" party, not just an opposition party. And this is the only way Republicans will ever regain the trust of the voters to return to the majority.

This ad is a terrible signal to be sending about both the goals of the Republican Party in the midst of the nation's troubled economic times and about whether we have actually learned anything from the defeats of 2006 and 2008.

The RNC should pull the ad down immediately.


Newt Gingrich

Chairman, American Solutions

Former Speaker of the House of Representatives

Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Obama Birth Certificate Kooks In Court

Jason Linkins

Mike Madden chronicles in Salon a day spent watching the people who believe President-Elect Barack Obama isn't a natural born citizen because of gamma rays emanating from internet porn. It's a story to be delighted in and savored. It's the incredibly true tale of "dentist-slash-lawyers" and manic-depression and multiple violations of Godwin's Law and the "press conference" they held at the National Press Club.

I mean, this is straight bonkers, y'all:

Throughout the press conference, the conspiracy theorists had trouble keeping things focused. Harlem minister James David Manning wandered off on a tangent about how Obama's election still means "there's never been a black womb" that produced a president. Manning might have seemed like he was making a case against Obama based on some theory of black nationalism, except that he admitted he had endorsed John McCain in the campaign. That was after he had called Obama "this usurper, this long-legged mack daddy."

Taitz -- the lead attorney in the case the Supreme Court declined to hear Monday morning -- kept making stranger and stranger assertions. At one point, she asked why the government had fined broadcasters for Janet Jackson's "wardrobe malfunction," but didn't intervene to force the media to report on Obama's allegedly phony birth certificate. She claimed Obama holds passports from at least four countries, compared him to Black Panther leader Eldridge Cleaver, equated the "controversy" about Obama to Watergate, and finished her tour-de-force presentation by saying that if Obama can claim he's a U.S. citizen and win an election, then so could just about anyone. "If a person can become a presidential candidate only based on his own statement," she said, "then somebody like Osama bin Laden, theoretically, can come and write a statement, 'I'm eligible,' and we should put him on the ballot, too?"

I also appreciate that Madden is kind enough to throw in a little News You Can Use about how the mentally ill are always using the National Press Club as a venue to validate their lunatic night terrors:

It was clear from the occasional applause that most of the people in the room agreed with Schultz, anyway. Although the event was at the National Press Club, that's no guarantee of mainstream media interest. Groups may appear legitimate because they hold a news conference at the club, but the dirty little secret is the club rents out its rooms to anybody who shows up with the money. Most of the people apparently came from the weirder corners of the media. One friendly questioner, Shelli Baker of Morning Song Radio, wound up taking the mike for about 10 minutes to tell a complicated story involving Saudi oil barons, John Ashcroft, sharia law, the World Bank and Mitt Romney, which left even Schultz confused.

If you recall, the National Press Club is where the unbalanced Larry Sinclair held his own "stupefying press conference." Anyway, Madden says the conspiracy twits have "another lawsuit up [their] sleeve," so, there's no reason that any of this ever has to end.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Mon ange d'en haut

Toutes les fois que je me sens seul
Ou peut-être se sentant bleu
Je pense à toutes les choses
Toutes les petites choses vous faites.

Toutes les fois que je me sens moche
Et semblez avoir un froncement des sourcils
Je me rappelle toutes les fois drôles
Et vous le tournez juste à l'envers.

Toutes les fois que je suis déprimé
Et ayez besoin de vous par mon côté
Je me rappelle toutes les choses douces que vous dites
Pour faire la tristesse partir.

Quand j'ai besoin d'une épaule pour pleurer dessus
Vous êtes toujours là
Emporter toutes mes craintes et solitude
quand ma vie est un désordre.

Quand j'ai besoin de meilleur ami et même de quelqu'un pour aimer
Vous êtes là pour moi, comme mon ange d'en haut.

Jacques Prévert - Sables mouvants

Démons et merveilles
Vents et marées
Au loin déjà la mer s'est retirée
Démons et merveilles
Vents et marées
Et toi
Comme une algue doucement carressée par le vent
Dans les sables du lit tu remues en rêvant
Démons et merveilles
Vents et marées
Au loin déjà la mer s'est retirée
Mais dans tes yeux entrouverts
Deux petites vagues sont restées
Démons et merveilles
Vents et marées
Deux petites vagues pour me noyer.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Obama has more threats than other presidents-elect

WASHINGTON - Threats against a new president historically spike right after an election, but from Maine to Idaho law enforcement officials are seeing more against Barack Obama than ever before. The Secret Service would not comment or provide the number of cases they are investigating. But since the Nov. 4 election, law enforcement officials have seen more potentially threatening writings, Internet postings and other activity directed at Obama than has been seen with any past president-elect, said officials aware of the situation who spoke on condition of anonymity because the issue of a president's security is so sensitive.

Earlier this week, the Secret Service looked into the case of a sign posted on a tree in Vay, Idaho, with Obama's name and the offer of a "free public hanging." In North Carolina, civil rights officials complained of threatening racist graffiti targeting Obama found in a tunnel near the North Carolina State University campus.

And in a Maine convenience store, an Associated Press reporter saw a sign inviting customers to join a betting pool on when Obama might fall victim to an assassin. The sign solicited $1 entries into "The Osama Obama Shotgun Pool," saying the money would go to the person picking the date closest to when Obama was attacked. "Let's hope we have a winner," said the sign, since taken down.

In the security world, anything "new" can trigger hostility, said Joseph Funk, a former Secret Service agent-turned security consultant who oversaw a private protection detail for Obama before the Secret Service began guarding the candidate in early 2007.

Obama, of course, will be the country's first black president, and Funk said that new element, not just race itself, is probably responsible for a spike in anti-Obama postings and activity. "Anytime you're going to have something that's new, you're going to have increased chatter," he said.

The Secret Service also has cautioned the public not to assume that any threats against Obama are due to racism.

The service investigates threats in a wide range. There are "stated threats" and equally dangerous or lesser incidents considered of "unusual interest" - such as people motivated by obsessions or infatuations or lower-level gestures such as effigies of a candidate or an elected president. The service has said it does not have the luxury of discounting anything until agents have investigated the potential danger.

Racially tinged graffiti - not necessarily directed at Obama - also has emerged in numerous reports across the nation since Election Day, prompting at least one news conference by a local chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People in Georgia.

A law enforcement official who also spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly said that during the campaign there was a spike in anti-Obama rhetoric on the Internet - "a lot of ranting and raving with no capability, credibility or specificity to it."

There were two threatening cases with racial overtones:

- In Denver, a group of men with guns and bulletproof vests made racist threats against Obama and sparked fears of an assassination plot during the Democratic National Convention in August.

- Just before the election, two skinheads in Tennessee were charged with plotting to behead blacks across the country and assassinate Obama while wearing white top hats and tuxedos.

In both cases, authorities determined the men were not capable of carrying out their plots.

In Milwaukee, police officials found a poster of Obama with a bullet going toward his head - discovered on a table in a police station.

Chatter among white supremacists on the Internet has increased throughout the campaign and since Election Day.

One of the most popular white supremacist Web sites got more than 2,000 new members the day after the election, compared with 91 new members on Election Day, according to an AP count. The site,, was temporarily off-line Nov. 5 because of the overwhelming amount of activity it received after Election Day. On Saturday, one Stormfront poster, identified as Dalderian Germanicus, of North Las Vegas, said, "I want the SOB laid out in a box to see how 'messiahs' come to rest. God has abandoned us, this country is doomed."

It is not surprising that a black president would galvanize the white supremacist movement, said Mark Potok, director of the Southern Poverty Law Center, who studies the white supremacy movement.

"The overwhelming flavor of the white supremacist world is a mix of desperation, confusion and hoping that this will somehow turn into a good thing for them," Potok said. He said hate groups have been on the rise in the past seven years because of a common concern about immigration.

Mission Honors Homeless Veterans; 150,000 Living on Streets After Serving Country

Michael Drost

For more than 150,000 veterans, their biggest ordeal may not be the Vietnam War and its aftermath, or dealing with Gulf War syndrome, or even years of discipline in their unit. For them, life's toughest challenge may be living on the streets.

In the District on Veterans Day, the Central Union Mission paid tribute to homeless and other veterans with a special luncheon to draw attention to the plight of the more than 150,000 veterans nationwide who are without a home on any given night. Leon Jones is one of those veterans.

"It's a terrific thing what the mission has done for me and for veterans; it's beautiful because this is a place of God," he said.

Mr. Jones, 57, was in the Army from 1969 to 1971, serving in a field artillery unit while stationed in Germany. He has been receiving assistance from the mission since 1995 and has been homeless since July.

He praised the efforts of the mission and the Department of Veterans Affairs, with one reservation.

"They need to make it easier and less complicated for veterans to get help. I mean, of course they do fantastic things, but for 150,000 veterans, including myself, to be homeless is a travesty," he said.

Retired Lt. Col. David Treadwell, executive director of the mission and a Vietnam veteran, echoed Mr. Jones' remarks.

"What I don't understand is why do [VA officials] feel that some veterans qualify for help and some don't. That's the big question I think this event addresses, because any person who serves should qualify," he said.

"As a former infantry soldier myself, I am devoted to honoring those who have dutifully served America," he said.

More than 308,000 veterans experience homelessness in any given year, according to the VA. About 2,400 homeless veterans live in the District.

About 25 veterans were among the special guests at the Central Union Mission's annual event. Also attending were more than 50 volunteers and clients of the mission, created more than 124 years ago to serve homeless veterans of the Civil War.

Mr. Treadwell presided over the festivities, which included prayers to recognize the service of veterans and a special meal of ham, mashed potatoes, green beans and gravy. Rep. Mike Pence, Indiana Republican, gave the keynote speech.

"The Bible says that for those who owe debts, repay debts; and America owes a debt to you," he said.

"Most of us live under the umbrella of protection that you have provided," said Mr. Pence, who did not serve in the military.

Charles "Chico" Jones, 73, served in the Army during the 1950-53 Korean War. He has been coming to the mission for several years, receiving food and clothing and housing assistance. This was his first time at the Veterans Day luncheon.

Although Mr. Jones did not speak at the ceremony, he later said he wished he had, so that he could relate the lessons he learned in combat.

"When I first shipped out, most of us didn't think it was an honorable idea to die for your country, but then I would see a man fall on a grenade to save his friends, and that's when I realized it is an honor to die for your comrades," he said.

At the Vietnam Veterans Memorial wall, another group of lesser-known veterans was honored. The service of women was the theme.

"Women carried the scars of Vietnam just as the men did," said Diane Carlson Evans, founder of the Vietnam Women's Memorial Foundation, who delivered the keynote speech at the observance. This year marks the 15th anniversary of the construction of the Vietnam Women's Memorial.

Eight U.S. servicewomen, all of whom were nurses, were killed in action during the conflict.

Sgt. Maj. Cynthia Pritchette, who served two years as the Army command sergeant major for the Combined Forces Command - Afghanistan, also spoke.

"The women who served during Vietnam are courageous role models and patriots for those of us who serve today," she said.

George Carlin Honored With Mark Twain Prize

Morning Edition · The late comedian George Carlin was honored Monday night with the Mark Twain Prize for American Humor. Carlin is famous for those "Seven Words You Can Never Say on TV." The Mark Twain Prize was the only comedy award Carlin believed was a legitimate comedy prize.

Israel lauds Saudi peace plan before King Abdullah

UNITED NATIONS (Nov 13, 2008) - Israeli President Shimon Peres seized the rare opportunity of being in the same hall as Saudi King Abdullah on Wednesday to praise a Saudi peace initiative that he said had brought hope to the Middle East.

Addressing a special high-level UN General Assembly meeting on dialogue between different religions, Peres termed some of the language in an Arab peace proposal based on the Saudi initiative "inspirational and promising -- a serious opening for real progress."

It was a rare moment -- an Israeli head of state speaking directly to the Saudi Arabian leader, whose country does not recognize Israel. Egypt and Jordan are the only Arab countries to have signed full peace accords with the Jewish state.

Israeli officials, including Peres, have previously said Israel was seriously reconsidering the 2002 Saudi peace initiative, which calls for full Arab recognition of Israel if it gives up lands occupied in a 1967 war and accepts a solution for Palestinian refugees.

But this was the first time a representative of Israel was able to address Abdullah directly.

"Your Majesty, the King of Saudi Arabia, I was listening to your message," Peres said from the podium after the king spoke of the need for religious tolerance and said terrorism was the enemy of religion.

"I wish that your voice will become the prevailing voice of the whole region, of all people," Peres told Abdullah.

"It's right, it's needed, it's promising," he said.

Unlike Peres, the king did not directly refer to the Saudi initiative when addressing the assembly.

"The initiative's portrayal of our region's future provides hope to the people and inspires confidence in the nations," Peres told the audience, which included US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and numerous Middle Eastern heads of state.

Peres, whose position is largely ceremonial, holds little power. But Tzipi Livni, Israel's foreign minister and chief negotiator in talks with the Palestinians, joined Peres in praising the Saudis.

"The Saudi initiative itself is something that sent a very good message," Livni said at a news conference with Peres. Unfortunately, she said, the Arab proposal based on the Saudi plan was not as good, particularly on the issue of refugees.

Livni, who could become prime minister after Israel's general election in February, added that Arab-Israeli peace needed to be hammered out in bilateral talks between Israel and the Palestinians and its Arab neighbors.

Despite Peres' and Livni's newfound praise, Israel has never officially endorsed the Saudi initiative, citing reservations about refugees and Jerusalem.

Peres said Israel was making progress in talks with the Palestinians and "exploring the possibility of real peace with the Syrians, the last in the list of historic conflicts."

"However, there are those in our region who sow hatred and try to widen the abyss and erect barriers, those who seek to wipe out other people and encourage killing," Peres said.

Disputes over Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, divisions among the Palestinians and Israel's recent political crisis have frustrated attempts by Washington to clinch an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal by the end of this year.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Tuesday that he did not expect an agreement by then.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Red State Update: Colin Powell Endorses Obama

Paul Krugman: The Real Plumbers of Ohio


Forty years ago, Richard Nixon made a remarkable marketing discovery. By exploiting America’s divisions — divisions over Vietnam, divisions over cultural change and, above all, racial divisions — he was able to reinvent the Republican brand. The party of plutocrats was repackaged as the party of the “silent majority,” the regular guys — white guys, it went without saying — who didn’t like the social changes taking place.

It was a winning formula. And the great thing was that the new packaging didn’t require any change in the product’s actual contents — in fact, the G.O.P. was able to keep winning elections even as its actual policies became more pro-plutocrat, and less favorable to working Americans, than ever.

John McCain’s strategy, in this final stretch, is based on the belief that the old formula still has life in it.

Thus we have Sarah Palin expressing her joy at visiting the “pro-America” parts of the country — yep, we’re all traitors here in central New Jersey. Meanwhile we’ve got Mr. McCain making Samuel J. Wurzelbacher, a k a Joe the Plumber — who had confronted Barack Obama on the campaign trail, alleging that the Democratic candidate would raise his taxes — the centerpiece of his attack on Mr. Obama’s economic proposals.

And when it turned out that the right’s new icon had a few issues, like not being licensed and comparing Mr. Obama to Sammy Davis Jr., conservatives played victim: see how much those snooty elitists hate the common man?

But what’s really happening to the plumbers of Ohio, and to working Americans in general?

First of all, they aren’t making a lot of money. You may recall that in one of the early Democratic debates Charles Gibson of ABC suggested that $200,000 a year was a middle-class income. Tell that to Ohio plumbers: according to the May 2007 occupational earnings report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average annual income of “plumbers, pipefitters and steamfitters” in Ohio was $47,930.

Second, their real incomes have stagnated or fallen, even in supposedly good years. The Bush administration assured us that the economy was booming in 2007 — but the average Ohio plumber’s income in that 2007 report was only 15.5 percent higher than in the 2000 report, not enough to keep up with the 17.7 percent rise in consumer prices in the Midwest. As Ohio plumbers went, so went the nation: median household income, adjusted for inflation, was lower in 2007 than it had been in 2000.

Third, Ohio plumbers have been having growing trouble getting health insurance, especially if, like many craftsmen, they work for small firms. According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, in 2007 only 45 percent of companies with fewer than 10 employees offered health benefits, down from 57 percent in 2000.

And bear in mind that all these data pertain to 2007 — which was as good as it got in recent years. Now that the “Bush boom,” such as it was, is over, we can see that it achieved a dismal distinction: for the first time on record, an economic expansion failed to raise most Americans’ incomes above their previous peak.

Since then, of course, things have gone rapidly downhill, as millions of working Americans have lost their jobs and their homes. And all indicators suggest that things will get much worse in the months and years ahead.

So what does all this say about the candidates? Who’s really standing up for Ohio’s plumbers?

Mr. McCain claims that Mr. Obama’s policies would lead to economic disaster. But President Bush’s policies have already led to disaster — and whatever he may say, Mr. McCain proposes continuing Mr. Bush’s policies in all essential respects, and he shares Mr. Bush’s anti-government, anti-regulation philosophy.

What about the claim, based on Joe the Plumber’s complaint, that ordinary working Americans would face higher taxes under Mr. Obama? Well, Mr. Obama proposes raising rates on only the top two income tax brackets — and the second-highest bracket for a head of household starts at an income, after deductions, of $182,400 a year.

Maybe there are plumbers out there who earn that much, or who would end up suffering from Mr. Obama’s proposed modest increases in taxes on dividends and capital gains — America is a big country, and there’s probably a high-income plumber with a huge stock market portfolio out there somewhere. But the typical plumber would pay lower, not higher, taxes under an Obama administration, and would have a much better chance of getting health insurance.

I don’t want to suggest that everyone would be better off under the Obama tax plan. Joe the plumber would almost certainly be better off, but Richie the hedge fund manager would take a serious hit.

But that’s the point. Whatever today’s G.O.P. is, it isn’t the party of working Americans.

Family Guy - McCain/Palin Scene

Iraq's majority Shiites: Get Out Entirely By 2011!

Andrew Sullivan

Iraq's majority Shiites draw a line in acquiescing to continued occupation by the US. They want a fixed timeline for an exit - what Palin wanted in 2006 - before agreeing to the new SOFA. They are now in direct opposition to John McCain. And they want more legal jurisdiction over US troops:

If the conditions are not met, "I cannot see that this agreement will see the light," said Sami al-Askeri, a Shiite parliamentarian and political adviser to Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki...

Askeri said the possibility of an extension raised concerns among members of the Shiite bloc, who met on Saturday night. "Some people say, what's going on?" he said. "This article opens the door to the next government" of Iraq to lengthen the U.S. troops' stay, he said.

Iraqis are as impatient as many Americans. If this is not an empire, why would we want to stay past the deadline the occupied country wants?

“Kristol Was Out There Shaking The Pom-Poms.”

Andrew Sullivan

The East Coast right-wing elite is the real reason Sarah Palin has been plaguing so many Americans' sleep these past six weeks. First up, Bill Kristol, Mike Gerson and Fred Barnes, had lunch with her during one of those Weekly Standard cruise ships from hell. The combination of a very long "grace" recited by Palin before lunch and two very large assets dangling in front of their faces seem to have sent little starbursts up the pundits' legs. First touted by blogger Adam Brickley, a follower of "Messianic Judaism", Palin went on to wow the beltway big spending neocons. Bill Kristol, however, as we all now know, is the real architect of the Palin fiasco, just as he was instrumental in the Iraq fiasco:

“She could be both an effective Vice-Presidential candidate and an effective President,” he said. “She’s young, energetic.” On a subsequent “Fox News Sunday,” Kristol again pushed Palin when asked whom McCain should pick: “Sarah Palin, whom I’ve only met once but I was awfully impressed by—a genuine reformer, defeated the establishment up there. It would be pretty wild to pick a young female Alaska governor, and I think, you know, McCain might as well go for it.” On July 22nd, again on Fox, Kristol referred to Palin as “my heartthrob.”

He declared, “I don’t know if I can make it through the next three months without her on the ticket.”

The National Review crowd who subsequently came to pay their respects included Rich "Little Starbursts" Lowry, John "Nuke Iran Now!" Bolton, Victor Davis Hanson, Dick Morris and Jay Nordlinger, whose own little starbursts keep popping out of his zipper:

In an online column, he described Palin as “a former beauty-pageant contestant, and a real honey, too. Am I allowed to say that? Probably not, but too bad... Her political career will probably take her beyond Alaska. Dick Morris is only one who thinks so.”

Morris, it appears, was also ga-ga. The only athentic thing about Palin are the thousand-dollar outfits she wears to appeal to the white working class.

GOP Voter Registration Fraud Case Leads To Arrest

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 late last night 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 signature gatherers be eligible to vote in California.

Jacoby's arrest by state investigators and the Ontario Police Department comes after dozens of voters said they were duped into registering as Republicans by his firm, Young Political Majors, or YPM. The voters said YPM tricked them by saying they were signing a petition to toughen penalties against child molesters. The firm was paid $7 to $12 for every Californian it registered as a member of the GOP.

Several agencies had launched investigations into Jacoby's activities, including the Los Angeles County district attorney's office, which issued the warrant for his arrest earlier this month on felony charges of voter registration fraud and perjury.

Efforts to reach Jacoby were unsuccessful.


Final Score: Pittsburgh 38, Cincinnati 10

Cincinnati, OH (Sports Network) - Mewelde Moore gained 120 yards on 20 carries with two rushing touchdowns and caught another as the Pittsburgh Steelers ripped the winless Cincinnati Bengals 38-10.

Ben Roethlisberger completed 17-of-28 passes for 216 yards and two touchdowns for the Steelers (5-1), who won their third straight. Moore filled in aptly for Willie Parker, who missed his third straight game with a left knee injury.

Santonio Holmes gained 89 yards on five catches, Hines Ward had four catches for 60 yards and a score, and Nate Washington had a 50-yard touchdown grab for Pittsburgh, which outscored the Bengals 21-0 in the fourth quarter.

Ryan Fitzpatrick completed 21-of-35 passes for 164 yards and a touchdown for the Bengals, who are 0-7 for the first time since 2002. Fitzpatrick filled in for Carson Palmer, who missed his third start in four weeks because of an injured right elbow.

The Bengals are no strangers to woeful starts. Cincinnati has gone 0-8 to start a season four times since 1978, and will try to avoid the worst start in franchise history, an 0-10 beginning to the 1993 campaign.

Cedric Benson, inserted in the starting lineup over ineffective running back Chris Perry, gained 52 yards on 14 carries for Cincinnati. T.J. Houshmandzadeh gained 58 yards on eight catches, while Chad Johnson had eight grabs for 52 yards and a score.

Palin is a heckuva Parent ..... you betcha



McCain Receives Endorsement of The National Enquirer

National Enquirer Cover on Jamie Lynn


Breaking: McCain Suspends Campaign, Due to Colin-itis!


McCain responds to Powell endorsement

The Dangerous Panic On The Far Right

Andrew Sullivan

To some, a president Obama is simply unimaginable. From a McCain supporter in Wisconsin yesterday:

"We're all wondering why Obama is where he's at. How he got here. Everybody in this room is stunned we're in this position."

There was always going to be a point of revolt and panic for a core group of Americans who believe that Obama simply cannot be president - because he's black or liberal or young or relatively new. This is that point. As the polls suggest a strong victory, the Hannity-Limbaugh-Steyn-O'Reilly base are going into shock and extreme rage. McCain and Palin have decided to stoke this rage, to foment it, to encourage paranoid notions that somehow Obama is a "secret" terrorist or Islamist or foreigner. These are base emotions in both sense of the word.

But they are also very very dangerous. This is a moment of maximal physical danger for the young Democratic nominee. And McCain is playing with fire. If he really wants to put country first, he will attack Obama on his policies - not on these inflammatory, personal, creepy grounds. This is getting close to the atmosphere stoked by the Israeli far right before the assassination of Rabin.

For God's sake, McCain, stop it. For once in this campaign, put your country first.

Colin Powell endorses Obama

(CNN) -- Former Secretary of State Colin Powell announced Sunday that he will be voting for Sen. Barack Obama, citing the Democrat's "ability to inspire" and the "inclusive nature of his campaign." Former Secretary of State Colin Powell says he is voting for Barack Obama.

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell says he is voting for Barack Obama.

"He has both style and substance. I think he is a transformational figure," Powell said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

"Obama displayed a steadiness. Showed intellectual vigor. He has a definitive way of doing business that will do us well," Powell said.

Powell, a retired U.S. general and a Republican, was once seen as a possible presidential candidate himself.

Powell said he questioned Sen. John McCain's judgment in picking Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate because he doesn't think she is ready to be president.

He also said he was disappointed with some of McCain's campaign tactics, such as bringing up Obama's ties to former 1960s radical Bill Ayers.

Powell served as secretary of state under President Bush from 2001 to 2005.

The notion of a Powell endorsement has been rumored for several months.

On August 13, Powell's office denied a report on Fox by commentator Bill Kristol that Powell had decided to publicly back Obama at the Democratic National Convention.

Several sources said at the time that Powell had not made a decision about a possible endorsement.

"As always, he is holding his cards close and waiting for more information," one adviser told CNN's John King in August......"

Obama raises stunning $150 million in September

WASHINGTON - Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama raised more than $150 million in September, a stunning and unprecedented eruption of political giving that has given him a wide spending advantage over rival John McCain.

The campaign released the figure on Sunday, one day before it must file a detailed report of its monthly finances with the Federal Election Commission.

Obama's money is fueling a vast campaign operation in an expanding field of competitive states. It also has underwritten a wave of both national and targeted video advertising unseen before in a presidential contest.

Campaign manager David Plouffe, in an e-mail to supporters Sunday morning, said the campaign had added 632,000 new donors in September, for a total of 3.1 million contributors to the campaign. He said the average donation was $86.

The Democratic National Committee, moments later, announced that it raised $49.9 million and had $27.5 million in the bank at the start of October. The party has been raising money through joint fundraising events with Obama and can use the money to assist his candidacy.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

MAUREEN DOWD: After W., Le Deluge


It is the best of times, it is the worst of times.

The best of times because W.’s long Reign of Error is about to end.

The worst of times because, well, you know why.

In this season of darkness, as Charles Dickens described an earlier mob scene, I’m feeling as vengeful and bloodthirsty as Madame Defarge sharpening her knitting needles at the guillotine.

I even felt a little thrill go up my leg, as Chris Matthews would put it, when I heard that the Lehman Brothers C.E.O., Richard Fuld, got punched in the company gym after it was announced that the firm was going under.

I can’t wait to see the tumbrels rumble up and down Wall Street picking up the heedless and greedy financial aristocracy that plundered and sundered free-market capitalism.

Just when we thought executives of A.I.G., the insurance giant bailed out by taxpayers for $123 billion, had been shamed into stopping their post-bailout Marie Antoinette spa treatments, luxury sports suites, Vegas and California posh resort retreats, we were dumbfounded to learn that some A.I.G. execs were cavorting at a lavish shooting party at a British country manor.

London’s News of the World sent undercover reporters to hunt down the feckless financiers on their $86,000 partridge hunt as they tromped through the countryside in tweed knickers, and then later as they “slurped fine wine” and feasted on pigeon breast and halibut.

The paper reported that the A.I.G. revelers stayed at Plumber Manor — not the ancestral home of Joe the Plumber, a 17th-century country house in Dorset — and spent $17,500 for food and rooms. The private jet to get there cost another $17,500, and the limos added up to $8,000 more.

In an astonishing let-them-eat-cake moment, the A.I.G. big shot Sebastian Preil held court at the bar and told an undercover reporter, “The recession will go on until about 2011, but the shooting was great today and we are relaxing fine.”

There were at least three New Yorkers bagging birds — Jeffrey Malkovsky, a senior director at A.I.G.’s Manhattan office, Hilary James, the general manager of the Bristol Plaza Hotel, and her friend, John Roberts, an A.I.G. adviser.

Who are these looters of our loot? The New York Times should follow up the excellent Portraits of Grief it did after 9/11 with Portraits of Greed.

Payback doesn’t have to go as far as the French Revolution. The grifters shafting us don’t have to shed blood, but they do have to give the money back. As far as these self-serving corporate con men and short-selling traders are concerned, off with their headsets.

John McCain wasted his last-chance debate Wednesday by trying to stir up faux class rage against Barack Obama with Joe the Unvetted Plumber instead of tapping into the real class rage the country feels over bailing out ungrateful financiers who gambled away the life savings of working people.

’Tis a far, far better thing that New York’s attorney general, Andrew Cuomo, did when he demanded that A.I.G.’s former executives who were trying to abscond with many millions in severance payments, bonuses and golden parachutes surrender the swag. He set a good example for the feds, who slapped Mr. Fuld in the face with a subpoena.

Cuomo got A.I.G. to instantly reverse itself and cancel 160 conferences and other events that would have cost more than $8 million, as well as give up information on compensation, bonuses and other payments to determine whether they were fitting. (How could they be?)

“We stopped a $10 million severance payment to Stephen Bensinger, the chief financial officer,” Cuomo told me Friday. “Just look at the words chief financial officer. There’s a phenomenon when senior management sees the corporation deteriorating and they concoct a version of looting the company to take care of themselves.”

Even Cuomo, who has been locked in battle with A.I.G. for a long time, was stunned when he learned of the British hunting folly. At first he thought it could not be true.

“That was our partridge hunting trip,” he said. “The partridge paid the ultimate price, but the taxpayer came close.”

He is using a state “claw back” law, which he says allows him to recover contracts and rescind payments if there was unjust compensation.

Great. Now can he find the $123 billion lost by A.I.G. that we now have to plug with taxpayers’ money?

Let’s hope that if Barack Obama becomes president, the first thing he does is keep his promise to make the junketeers come to Washington (preferably by bus or carpooling) and write the U.S. Treasury a check, after which he will fire them on the spot.

Heads must roll.

Media Matters Daily Summary 10-18-08

CBS' Schieffer twice asserted McCain will try to convince voters Obama will raise taxes -- without noting the charge is false
On two successive nights, Bob Schieffer asserted that Sen. John McCain will tell voters that Sen. Barack Obama is going to raise their taxes without noting that the charge misrepresents Obama's tax plan. In fact, Obama has proposed cutting taxes for low- and middle-income taxpayers and raising taxes only on single people earning more than $200,000 per year and families earning more than $250,000 per year. Read More

Fox's Rosen falsely accused Obama of "go[ing] to work on ... working stiff" Joe the Plumber
On Special Report, James Rosen stated of Samuel "Joe" Wurzelbacher, "Even [Sen. Barack] Obama himself has gone to work on this working stiff," and aired a cropped quote of Obama saying, "How many plumbers you know making a quarter-million dollars a year?" In fact, the context of that remark makes clear that Obama was actually criticizing Sen. John McCain, not Wurzelbacher. Read More

Wash. Post reported that McCain campaign manager warned of "rampant voter fraud," but not that illegal votes are almost never cast
The Washington Post quoted McCain campaign manager Rick Davis' claim that reports of investigations into ACORN have suggested "rampant voter fraud as it relates to voter registration." But the Post did not point out that actual instances of illegal votes cast as a result of registration fraud, e.g., using false names, are extremely rare. Federal statistics show that between October 2002 and September 2005, the Justice Department charged 95 people with "election fraud" and convicted 55, of whom only 17 were convicted for casting fraudulent ballots.
Read More

MSNBC, CNN anchors baselessly suggested Obama is prematurely "measuring the drapes" for the White House
MSNBC's Alex Witt and CNN's T.J. Holmes each suggested that Sen. Barack Obama is prematurely "measuring the drapes" for the White House. In fact, Presidents George W. Bush, Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, and Jimmy Carter all planned for a White House transition months before the election, and Sen. John McCain has also reportedly made transition plans. Read More

McCain draws bipartisan criticism for 'robo calls'

LAS VEGAS - Senators in opposing political parties asked Republican presidential candidate John McCain to stop the automated phone calls that link Democratic candidate Barack Obama to a 1960s radical.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat, and Republicans Sen. Norm Coleman and Sen. Susan Collins made separate appeals to McCain on Friday. Collins faces a tough race for re-election in Maine and serves as a co-chairwoman of McCain's Maine campaign.

"These kind of tactics have no place in Maine politics," Collins spokesman Kevin Kelley said. "Sen. Collins urges the McCain campaign to stop these calls immediately."

Coleman, in a tight re-election campaign with author, radio host and comedian Al Franken in Minnesota, said he hoped all candidates and outside groups would stop their attacks.

Barack Obama lines up a cabinet of stars as John McCain struggles on

With the economy on the brink of recession and the country in the midst of two foreign wars, Barack Obama is considering appointing a cabinet of stars to steer America through potentially its worst crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s if he wins the presidency on November 4.

Obama has a well-regarded, close-knit team of domestic and foreign policy advisers who would follow him into the White House and key administration posts. But he is also being urged to make some high-profile appointments who would command the confidence of the country at such a troubled time.

“It’s important to send a signal,” an Obama adviser said. “With a comparatively new person in office and the awful mess we’re in, these appointments are going to resonate around the world.” Obama, 47, has been warning his supporters that the election is not over yet. “Don’t underestimate our ability to screw it up,” he said last week. But should Obama win, he will not be short of big names to choose for his administration.

A host of well-known figures, including some Republicans, have indicated they would be willing to serve in some capacity as Obama begins to acquire a winner’s glow. From Senator John Kerry, the 2004 presidential candidate with hopes of becoming secretary of state, to Larry Summers, a former US Treasury secretary under President Bill Clinton, and Chuck Hagel, the Republican senator who has been tipped as defence secretary, there are plenty who have signalled their availability.......

Frank Rich:He (McCain) Just Can’t Quit W


OLD Mr. Straight Talk has become so shaky a speaker that when he does talk straight, it’s startling. On Wednesday night, John McCain mustered exactly one such moment of clarity: “Senator Obama, I am not President Bush. If you wanted to run against President Bush, you should have run four years ago.”

Thanks largely to this line, McCain’s remaining base in the political press graded his last debate performance his best. The public, not so much. As with the previous debates, every poll found Barack Obama the winner, this time by as much as two-to-one ratios. Obama even swept the focus group convened by the G.O.P. pollster Frank Luntz in the once-impregnable McCain bunker of Fox News.

Perhaps voters were unimpressed by McCain’s big moment because they can figure out the obvious rejoinder: Why didn’t McCain run against President Bush four years ago — as he had four years before that? Instead McCain campaigned for Bush’s re-election, cheered for Bush policies he once opposed and helped lower himself and America into the pit where we find ourselves today.

The day after the debate, McCain put up a new ad trying yet again to shake the president. “The last eight years haven’t worked very well, have they?” he asks, as if he were an innocent bystander the entire time. But no matter what McCain says or does, he still can’t quit the guy. Heading from a Midtown hotel to a fund-raiser the night before facing Obama onstage on Long Island last week, the McCain motorcade lined up right next to the New York red-carpet premiere of Oliver Stone’s “W.” A black cat would have been a better omen.

The election isn’t over, but there remain only three discernible, if highly unlikely, paths to a McCain victory. A theoretically mammoth wave of racism, incessantly anticipated by the press, could materialize in voting booths on Nov. 4. Or newly registered young and black voters could fail to show up. Or McCain could at long last make good on his most persistent promise: follow Osama bin Laden to the gates of hell and, once there, strangle him with his own bare hands on “Hannity & Colmes.”

Even Republicans are rapidly bailing on a McCain resuscitation. It’s a metaphor for the party’s collapse that on the day of the final debate both Nancy Reagan and Dick Cheney checked into hospitals. Conservatives have already moved past denial to anger on the Kubler-Ross scale of grief. They are not waiting for votes to be counted before carrying out their first round of Stalinist purges. William F. Buckley’s son Christopher was banished from National Review for endorsing Obama. Next thing you know, there will be a fatwa on that McCain-bashing lefty, George Will.

As the G.O.P.’s long night of the long knives begins, myths are already setting in among the right’s storm troops and the punditocracy alike as to what went wrong. And chief among them are the twin curses of Bush and the “headwinds” of the economy. No Republican can win if the party’s incumbent president is less popular than dirt, we keep being told, or if a looming Great Depression 2 is Issue No. 1.

This is an excuse, not an explanation. It absolves McCain of much of the blame and denies Obama much of the credit for their campaigns. It arouses pity for McCain when he deserves none. It rewrites history.

Bush’s impact on the next Republican presidential candidate did not have to be so devastating. McCain isn’t, as he and his defenders keep protesting, a passive martyr to a catastrophic administration. He could have made separating himself from Bush the brave, central and even conservative focus of his campaign. Far from doing that, he embraced the Bush ethos — if not the incredible shrinking man himself — more tightly than ever. The candidate who believes in “country first” decided to put himself first and sell out his principles. That ignoble decision is what accounts for both the McCain campaign’s failures and its sleaze. It’s a decision McCain made on his own and for which he has yet to assume responsibility.

Though it seems a distant memory now, McCain was a maverick once. He did defy Bush on serious matters including torture, climate change and the over-the-top tax cuts that bankrupted a government at war and led to the largest income inequality in America since the 1930s. But it isn’t just his flip-flopping on some of these and other issues that turned him into a Bush acolyte. The full measure of McCain’s betrayal of his own integrity cannot even be found in that Senate voting record — 90 percent in lockstep with the president — that Obama keeps throwing in his face.

The Bushian ethos that McCain embraced, as codified by Karl Rove, is larger than any particular vote or policy. Indeed, by definition that ethos is opposed to the entire idea of policy. The whole point of the Bush-Rove way of doing business is that principles, coherent governance and even ideology must always be sacrificed for political expediency, no matter the cost to the public good.

Like McCain now, Bush campaigned in 2000 as a practical problem-solver who could “work across the partisan divide,” as he put it in his first debate with Al Gore. He had no strong views on any domestic or foreign issue, except taxes and education. Only after he entered the White House did we learn his sole passion: getting and keeping power. That imperative, not the country, would always come first.

One journalist who detected this modus operandi early was Ron Suskind, who, writing for Esquire in January 2003, induced John DiIulio, the disillusioned chief of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, to tell all. “There is no precedent in any modern White House for what is going on in this one: a complete lack of a policy apparatus,” DiIulio said. “What you’ve got is everything — and I mean everything — being run by the political arm. It’s the reign of the Mayberry Machiavellis.”

If politics strongarm everything, you end up with the rampant cronyism, nonexistent long-term planning and abrupt, partisan policy improvisations that fed the calamities of Iraq, Katrina and the economic meltdown. Incredibly, McCain has nakedly endorsed the Bush-Rove brand of governance in his own campaign by assembling his personal set of lobbyist cronies and Rove operatives to run it. They have not only entangled him in a welter of conflicts of interest, but they’ve furthered cynical political stunts like the elevation of Sarah Palin. At least Bush and Rove didn’t try to put an unqualified hack like, say, Alberto Gonzales half a heartbeat away from the presidency.

As if the Palin pick weren’t damning enough, McCain and his team responded to the financial panic by offering their own panicky simulation of the Bush style of crisis management in real time. Fire the S.E.C. chairman and replace him with Andrew Cuomo! Convene a 9/11 commission to save Wall Street! Don’t bail out A.I.G.! Do bail out A.I.G.! Reacting to polls and the short-term dictates of 24-hour news cycles, McCain offered as many economic-policy reboots in a month as Bush offered “Plans for Victory” during the first three years of the Iraq war.

Now McCain is trying to distract us from his humiliating managerial ineptitude by cranking up the politics of fear — another trademark Bush-Rove strategy. But the McCain camp’s quixotic effort to turn an “old washed-up terrorist” into a wedge issue as divisive as same-sex marriage is too little, too late and too tone-deaf at a time when Americans are suffering too much to indulge in 1960s culture wars. Voters want policies that might actually work rather than another pandering, cynical leader who operates mainly on the basis of his “gut” and political self-interest.

The former Bush speechwriter David Frum has facetiously written that McCain could be rescued by “a 5,000-point rise in the Dow and a 20 percent jump in home prices.” But the economy, stupid, can’t be blamed for McCain’s own failures, any more than Bush can be. Even before the housing bubble burst and Wall Street tumbled, voters could see that the seething, impulsive nominee isn’t temperamentally fit to be president.

That’s where the debates have come in. There may have been none of those knockout blows the press craves, but the accretional effect has been to teach the public that McCain isn’t steady enough to run the country even if the economy were sound, and that Obama just might be.

In Debate No. 1, you could put the volume on mute and see what has proved to be the lasting impressions of both candidates start to firm up. In Debate No. 2, McCain set the concrete: he re-enacted the troubling psychological cartography of his campaign “suspension” by wandering around the stage like a half-dotty uncle vainly trying to flee his caregiver. After the sneering and eye-rolling of McCain’s “best” debate on Wednesday, CNN’s poll found the ever-serene Obama swamping him on “likeability,” 70 to 22 percent.

At least McCain had half a point on Wednesday night when he said, “I am not President Bush.” What he has offered his country this year is an older, crankier, more unsteady version of Bush. Tragically, he can no sooner escape our despised president than he can escape himself.

Joe Klein of TIME: McCain Has His Own Radical Anti-War Friend


One of the ways I got to know John McCain a decade or so ago was through a mutual friend—a fellow by the name of David Ifshin. I knew David through Democratic Party politics. He was a stalwart moderate, a member of the Democratic Leadership Council and an occasional adviser to Bill Clinton. Our wives were, and are, close friends. But McCain’s relationship with David was far more interesting.

Ifshin, you see, had been a vehement anti-Vietnam radical. He had even gone to Hanoi at the height at the war and given a speech denouncing the American pilots dropping bombs on North Vietnamese civilians as “war criminals.” The speech was broadcast repeatedly in the Hanoi Hilton, where McCain was being held captive. More than a few people thought Ifshin was guilty of treason........

McCain aide says he's strong in 'real' Virginia

WOODBRIDGE, Va. - A top aide to John McCain said Saturday the Republican presidential nominee still has a strong chance of winning the state because of his support in "real Virginia," the downstate areas far removed in distance and political philosophy from the more liberal northern part of the state.

"As a proud resident of Oakton, Va., I can tell you that the Democrats have just come in from the District of Columbia and moved into northern Virginia," McCain senior adviser Nancy Pfotenhauer said on MSNBC. "And that's really what you see there. But the rest of the state, real Virginia, if you will, I think will be very responsive to Sen. McCain's message."

Program host Kevin Corke asked Pfotenhauer if she wanted to retract the comment, prompting her to reply, "I mean 'real Virginia' because northern Virginia is where I've always been, but 'real Virginia' I take to be the - this part of the state that is more Southern in nature, if you will. Northern Virginia is really metro D.C."

Earlier this month, McCain's brother, Joe, told those at an event for the Republican nominee that two Democratic-leaning areas in Northern Virginia, Arlington and Alexandria, were "communist country." He quickly apologized and called the remark a joke.

The senator's campaign headquarters is in Arlington, as is the home he uses while in Washington. McCain also attended high school in Alexandria.

Northern Virginia is the most populous in the state, so if McCain considers it enemy territory, he would have to run up large margins in the Hampton Roads and less populated areas of Virginia to win on Election Day. During a rally in the Washington suburb of Woodbridge, Va., on Saturday, McCain noted that his first posting in the Navy was in coastal Norfolk.

Democrats not only control the Virginia governor's office, but Democrat Jim Webb succeeded in 2006 in ousting Republican Sen. George Allen. Veteran Sen. John Warner, R-Va., is retiring this year and former Democratic Gov. Mark Warner is vying with former Republican Gov. Jim Gilmore to succeed him.

The popularity of Mark Warner has led some to suggest he may boost Democrat Barack Obama's chances, rather than the opposite.......