Thursday, July 31, 2008

McCain still lying about his earmarks

One of the myths that John McCain has pawned off on the public most successfully is the one about his inveterate hostility to earmarks. For years McCain has been claiming that he never has put a single earmark in any bill.

"I have never asked for nor received a single earmark or pork barrel project for my state..."

Here he was praising himself last December as the NYT was about to break the Vicki Iseman lobbying story:

"I've never done any favors for anybody — lobbyist or special-interest group — that's a clear, 24-year record."

On July 29 in a speech to employees at the Wagner Equipment Co. in Aurora CO, McCain told the earmark lie again:

Next he moved on to talking about how he would never allow any "pork barrel" spending to be put into any bill he would sign. He made a claim that he has never (note the absolute here) put any kind of earmark in a bill in his time in the Congress or Senate.

You see McCain's assertion about earmarks parroted all over. The Myth has such a grip on the public that The Google doesn't know of anyone ever using the expression 'McCain inserted an earmark' - until now, that is.

However as BarbinMD has documented repeatedly, in his eagerness to shower federal money on constituents and cronies McCain does indeed resort to earmarks. For example, McCain slipped a $ 14.3 million earmark in the 2004 Defense authorization bill (from which it jumped into the appropriations bill) to purchase land near an Arizona Air Force base. The earmark had not been approved by the Senate Armed Services Committee nor requested by the President nor part of Pentagon planning. From Roll Call (subscription required):

"Even though this project is in clear violation of the McCain rule because it was not authorized nor requested, we are happy to provide the funds at his request and the request of other members of the Arizona delegation," said House Appropriations Committee spokesman John Scofield.

Scofield also noted that the provision may violate other tenets of McCain’s "pork" rules because the purpose of the funds — to acquire land to prevent the encroachment of residential development near the base’s live-fire range — is not included in Defense’s long-term strategic plans and may not be achievable within a five-year time frame.........................

PAUL KRUGMAN: Can This Planet Be Saved?


Recently the Web site The Politico asked Nancy Pelosi, the speaker of the House, why she was blocking attempts to tack offshore drilling amendments onto appropriations bills. “I’m trying to save the planet; I’m trying to save the planet,” she replied.

I’m glad to hear it. But I’m still worried about the planet’s prospects.

True, Ms. Pelosi’s remark was a happy reminder that environmental policy is no longer in the hands of crazy people. Remember, less than two years ago Senator James Inhofe — a conspiracy theorist who insists that global warming is a “gigantic hoax” perpetrated by the scientific community — was the chairman of the Senate’s Environment and Public Works Committee.

Beyond that, Ms. Pelosi’s response shows that she understands the deeper issues behind the current energy debate.

Most criticism of John McCain’s decision to follow the Bush administration’s lead and embrace offshore drilling as the answer to high gas prices has focused on the accusation that it’s junk economics — which it is.

A McCain campaign ad says that gas prices are high right now because “some in Washington are still saying no to drilling in America.” That’s just plain dishonest: the U.S. government’s own Energy Information Administration says that removing restrictions on offshore drilling wouldn’t lead to any additional domestic oil production until 2017, and that even at its peak the extra production would have an “insignificant” impact on oil prices.

What’s even more important than Mr. McCain’s bad economics, however, is what his reversal on this issue — he was against offshore drilling before he was for it — says about his priorities.

Back when he was cultivating a maverick image, Mr. McCain portrayed himself as more environmentally aware than the rest of his party. He even co-sponsored a bill calling for a cap-and-trade system to limit greenhouse gas emissions (although his remarks on several recent occasions suggest that he doesn’t understand his own proposal). But the lure of a bit of political gain, it turns out, was all it took to transform him back into a standard drill-and-burn Republican.

And the planet can’t afford that kind of cynicism.

In themselves, limits on offshore drilling are only a modest-sized issue. But the skirmish over drilling is the opening stage of a much bigger fight over environmental policy. What’s at stake in that fight, above all, is the question of whether we’ll take action against climate change before it’s utterly too late.

It’s true that scientists don’t know exactly how much world temperatures will rise if we persist with business as usual. But that uncertainty is actually what makes action so urgent. While there’s a chance that we’ll act against global warming only to find that the danger was overstated, there’s also a chance that we’ll fail to act only to find that the results of inaction were catastrophic. Which risk would you rather run?

Martin Weitzman, a Harvard economist who has been driving much of the recent high-level debate, offers some sobering numbers. Surveying a wide range of climate models, he argues that, over all, they suggest about a 5 percent chance that world temperatures will eventually rise by more than 10 degrees Celsius (that is, world temperatures will rise by 18 degrees Fahrenheit). As Mr. Weitzman points out, that’s enough to “effectively destroy planet Earth as we know it.” It’s sheer irresponsibility not to do whatever we can to eliminate that threat.

Now for the bad news: sheer irresponsibility may be a winning political strategy.

Mr. McCain’s claim that opponents of offshore drilling are responsible for high gas prices is ridiculous — and to their credit, major news organizations have pointed this out. Yet Mr. McCain’s gambit seems nonetheless to be working: public support for ending restrictions on drilling has risen sharply, with roughly half of voters saying that increased offshore drilling would reduce gas prices within a year.

Hence my concern: if a completely bogus claim that environmental protection is raising energy prices can get this much political traction, what are the chances of getting serious action against global warming? After all, a cap-and-trade system would in effect be a tax on carbon (though Mr. McCain apparently doesn’t know that), and really would raise energy prices.

The only way we’re going to get action, I’d suggest, is if those who stand in the way of action come to be perceived as not just wrong but immoral. Incidentally, that’s why I was disappointed with Barack Obama’s response to Mr. McCain’s energy posturing — that it was “the same old politics.” Mr. Obama was dismissive when he should have been outraged.

So as I said, I’m very glad to know that Nancy Pelosi is trying to save the planet. I just wish I had more confidence that she’s going to succeed.

Anthrax suspect dies in apparent suicide

Los Angeles Times via

One of the nation’s top biodefense researchers has died in Maryland from an apparent suicide, just as the Justice Department was to file criminal charges against him in the anthrax mailing assaults of 2001 that killed five, the Los Angeles Times has learned.

Bruce E. Ivins, 62, who for the past 18 years worked at the government’s elite biodefense research laboratories at Fort Detrick, Md., had been informed of the impending prosecution, people familiar with Ivins, his suspicious death and with the FBI investigation said.

Ivins’ name had not been disclosed publicly as a suspect in the case that disrupted mail service and Senate business three weeks after the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The Maryland scientist had for years played a pivotal role in research to improve anthrax vaccines, preparing anthrax formulations used in experiments on animals.

Regarded as a skilled microbiologist, Ivins also had helped the FBI analyze the powdery material recovered from one of the anthrax-tainted envelopes sent to a U.S. senator’s office in Washington, D.C.

Ivins died Tuesday at Frederick Memorial Hospital after having ingested a massive dose of prescription Tylenol mixed with codeine, said a friend and colleague who declined to be identified out of concern, he said, that he would be harassed by the FBI.

The death -- without any mention of suicide -- was announced to Ivins’ colleagues at the U.S. Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases, or USAMRIID, through a staffwide e-mail...........

Time to search Right Wingnut Sites and see if Bruce E. Ivins pops up.

Media Matters Daily Summary 07-31-08

First reported allegation in Corsi's Obama attack book is false
A article about author Jerome Corsi's forthcoming book, The Obama Nation, asserts that the book "points out" that "Barack Obama admitted using drugs in his autobiography but never revealed if or when he stopped." In fact, Obama wrote in his autobiography, Dreams from My Father, that he "stopped getting high" shortly after moving to New York City to attend Columbia University. Read More

After suggesting Obama was "running for Antichrist," KSFO's Sussman now says if Obama "were on trial for being a Christian ... I think [he] would walk"
While guest-hosting The Lee Rodgers Show, Brian Sussman said: "If Barack Obama were on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence for a jury of his peers to pronounce him guilty? I doubt it. I think Obama would walk." Sussman had previously said of Obama's speech in Berlin, "I could have sworn he was running for Antichrist." Read More

NY Times uncritically quoted McCain's false assertion that young people won't receive Social Security
On the New York Times political blog The Caucus, reporter Michael Cooper uncritically quoted Sen. John McCain saying: "But we have to work together to save Social Security. This young man standing right in front of me -- Social Security benefits won't be there for him when he retires." In fact, according to the Social Security and Medicare Boards of Trustees, if no legislative changes are made, "Tax income would cover 75 percent of scheduled benefits in the final year (2082) of the 75-year projection period." Read More

Front-page LA Times article presents McCain's troop snub charge as he-said-she-said, but McCain camp admitted it "seem[s]" to be false
A front-page Los Angeles Times article reported that Sen. John McCain "has attacked [Sen. Barack] Obama for canceling a visit to wounded U.S. soldiers at a military hospital because he couldn't bring reporters along. Obama's campaign has angrily disputed the charge as false and misleading." But in depicting the issue as a point of contention between the Obama and McCain campaigns, the article did not note that the McCain campaign has since acknowledged that the attack, which it had included in a campaign ad, "seem[s]" to be inaccurate. Nor did the article note that numerous reports, including a separate Times article that same day, have supported the Obama campaign's position that the attack is "false and misleading." Read More

MSNBC's Buchanan adopts "hubris" theme from Milbank's falsehood-laden column, says of Obama: "[W]ho ... the heck does this guy think he is"
Pat Buchanan criticized the McCain campaign attack ad that refers to Sen. Barack Obama's "celebrity," but said "there is a truth behind all this." Touting Dana Milbank's falsehood-laden Washington Post column as "credible," Buchanan said, "[W]ho is he and who ... the heck does this guy think he is, is becoming a real issue for Barack Obama." Read More

CNN quoted far-right blogger Steve Sailer on Obama, without noting background denigrating minorities
In a article accompanying the network's "Black in America" project, Steve Sailer, who was quoted in the article, was identified only as a "columnist for The American Conservative magazine." The article omitted any mention of Sailer's racially tinged views or his extremist associations, including his writing for, an "anti-immigrant" website that acknowledges publishing the work of "white nationalists." Read More

Dobbs cited Obama's "newly painted Boeing 757 aircraft" as an example of hubris, but McCain has a jet too
Lou Dobbs pointed to Sen. Barack Obama's "newly painted Boeing 757 aircraft, sprayed with, of course, the Obama campaign slogan" as an example of Obama's alleged "hubris." But Dobbs neglected to note that in June, Sen. John McCain unveiled his own Boeing 737 jet, with the words "" emblazoned on it. Read More

Kitty Pilgrim baselessly suggested that nearly all undocumented immigrants are uninsured, study found otherwise
On CNN's Lou Dobbs This Week, Kitty Pilgrim baselessly suggested that nearly all undocumented immigrants in the United States are uninsured, asserting that "there are an estimated 47 million people in this country who don't have health insurance," and that "illegal aliens likely make up 40 percent of the uninsured in this country." For Pilgrim's assertion to be true, 18.8 million undocumented immigrants would have to be uninsured, but the National Institute for Health Care Management has estimated that there are 5.6 million uninsured undocumented immigrants. Read More

Hannity repeated false allegation that Obama distributed Western Wall prayer to media
On his radio program, Sean Hannity repeated the already debunked allegation that Sen. Barack Obama leaked a written prayer he placed in the Western Wall during his visit to Jerusalem. While a spokesman for Ma'ariv reportedly told other Israeli publications that the Obama campaign approved the publication of the prayer and that Obama gave copies of it to the media before he went to the Western Wall, The New Republic's Zvika Krieger wrote in a blog post: "I finally heard back from the Ma'ariv spokesman, who denied that the Obama campaign leaked the memo to them or gave them approval to print it, and who disavowed the alleged spokesman who gave quotes to at least four Israeli publications." Read More

WSJ's Taranto falsely suggested that Obama gave "something of an endorsement" to cash payments as reparations for slavery
The Wall Street Journal's James Taranto wrote that remarks Sen Barack Obama made at the UNITY '08 Convention "seem[ed] to be something of an endorsement of the idea of 'reparations for slavery,' which is usually taken to mean cash payments." However, when specifically asked at the convention whether he supported "offering reparations to various groups," Obama replied that "the best reparations we can provide are good schools in the inner city and jobs for people who are unemployed." Read More

ABC baselessly suggested both campaigns are equally guilty of "negative attacks"
On World News, Charles Gibson and David Wright suggested that Sen. Barack Obama's and Sen. John McCain's presidential campaigns were equally guilty of "negative attacks." However, Wright provided no evidence that Obama had engaged in negative attacks, stating only that Obama is "constantly comparing McCain to President Bush." Read More

Michael Savage booted from Los Angeles station.


In the ongoing fallout from his screed against children with autism, right-wing radio host Michael Savage has been kicked off Los Angeles’ KGIL and will be replaced by conservative talker Lars Larson, according to a Larson press release.

LA is the second largest radio market in the country. Already, radio stations in Ohio, Mississippi, and Virginia have dropped Savage, and a host of advertisers have done the same.

GOP congressman hints at support for sending Rove to jail

Yesterday, the House Judiciary Committee voted to hold Karl Rove in contempt of Congress. On MSNBC yesterday, Rep. Walter Jones (R-NC), breaking with his party, said he believes Rove should be forced to testify. “Let him explain his involvement, if any, in this Don Siegelman case.” When pressed on whether he was suggesting sending Rove to jail, Jones signaled that he supports this option:

Q: Knowing that he’s not coming, should Congress use its inherent contempt power and haul him in, possibly put him into jail?

JONES: Whatever authority Congress has, we need to uphold the institution.

Q: So it sounds like you’re saying that you too think that that should be a real option here.

JONES: I think that we should uphold the institution and the integrity of the House of Representatives.


Say What? John McCain, Barack Obama, and the “Race Card”

The Editorial Board

We know that operatives in modern-day presidential campaigns are supposed to say things that everyone knows are ridiculous — and to do it with a straight face.

Still, there was something surreal, and offensive, about today’s soundbite from the campaign of Senator John McCain.

The presumptive Republican nominee has embarked on a bare-knuckled barrage of negative advertising aimed at belittling Mr. Obama. The most recent ad compares the presumptive Democratic nominee for president to Britney Spears and Paris Hilton — suggesting to voters that he’s nothing more than a bubble-headed, publicity-seeking celebrity.

The ad gave us an uneasy feeling that the McCain campaign was starting up the same sort of racially tinged attack on Mr. Obama that Republican operatives, some of whom work for Mr. McCain now, ran against Harold Ford, a black candidate for Senate in Tennessee in 2006. That assault, too, began with videos juxtaposing Mr. Ford with young, white women.

Mr. Obama called Mr. McCain on the ploy, saying, quite rightly, that the Republicans are trying to scare voters by pointing out that he “doesn’t look like all those other Presidents on those dollar bills.’’

But Rick Davis, Mr. McCain’s campaign manager, had a snappy answer. “Barack Obama has played the race card, and he played it from the bottom of the deck,” he said. “It’s divisive, negative, shameful and wrong.’’

The retort was, we must say, not only contemptible, but shrewd. It puts the sin for the racial attack not on those who made it, but on the victim of the attack.

It also — and we wish this were coincidence, but we doubt it — conjurs up another loaded racial image.

The phrase dealing the race card “from the bottom of the deck” entered the national lexicon during the O.J. Simpson saga. Robert Shapiro, one of Mr. Simpson’s lawyers, famously declared of himself, Johnny Cochran and the rest of the Simpson defense team, “Not only did we play the race card, we dealt it from the bottom of the deck.”

It’s ugly stuff. How about we leave Britney, Paris, and O.J. out of this — and have a presidential campaign?

Obama helps U.S. woman fight Palestinian husband for their daughters


An American woman fighting to get back four daughters living in the West Bank with their Palestinian father has gotten unusually high-powered help - from Barack Obama. The U.S. presidential hopeful raised the case of the Chicago-area woman in his meeting with Palestinian leaders last week, and won a promise from Prime Minister Salam Fayyad to look into the matter.

And that's how the private battle between Yasser and Colleen Barghouti, which spans continents and cultures, took a public turn. In separate interviews, the two offered conflicting explanations of what brought the family to Barghouti's home village of Kobar in June 2007. It's a village of several thousand people 10 minutes from the city of Ramallah, where Obama met with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Fayyad last week....................

U.S. says Pakistani spies forewarn al Qaeda allies

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - The United States has accused members of Pakistan's main spy agency of tipping off al Qaeda-linked militants before U.S. missile attacks on targets in Pakistani tribal lands, Pakistan's defense minister said.

defense Minister Ahmed Mukhtar openly acknowledged American mistrust of Pakistan's main military spy agency, the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), in remarks aired on Thursday on Pakistani television.

"They think that there are some elements in the ISI at some level that when the government of Pakistan is informed of targets, then leak it to them (militants) at some level," Mukhtar told Geo in Washington, having accompanied Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani on a maiden visit to the United States.

"This is an issue on which they were a bit annoyed."

The disclosure of American displeasure by a minister in the four-month-old civilian government of American could embarrass President Pervez Musharraf and the Pakistani military, and reawaken concern about the stability of the nuclear armed state.

Contractor: Losing immunity would hurt Iraq mission

(CNN) -- An American contractor said Thursday the U.S. mission in Iraq will be undermined if the Iraqi government succeeds in revoking blanket legal immunity for American security contractors.

Carter Andress reacted to a Wednesday government report that said the removal of legal immunity for American private security contractors could set off an "exodus" from war-ravaged Iraq and "impose significant limitations" on American reconstruction efforts.

The scenario is outlined in the quarterly report issued to Congress by the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction.

Andress, whose firm builds bases for the Iraqi army and police and supplies those places with water, food, fuel and maintenance services, said about 40 percent of his staff is involved in security.

"We would undermine the U.S. mission here because they are so reliant on contractors," said Andress, co-founder of the American-Iraqi Solutions Group. "For better or for worse, that's reality."

Rick Davis Gets Snippy With Andrea Mitchell On TeeVee


Here’s a lengthy segment from MSNBC today, where lovely anchor/reporter Andrea Mitchell talks on the telephone to McCain campaign manager Rick Davis, the adult retarded child responsible for that hilarious memo yesterday about Obama’s food choices, excercise regimen and overall popularity everywhere.

He’s a twit. He tells Andrea that the McCain campaign has always been positive and not Trivial; it is focused on Important Issues like offshore drilling. Andrea’s like, “you’re an idiot, you stupid idiot” and Rick’s like, “no Barry Obama is an idiot.” The best part is when they talk about peanut butter snacks 12 minutes in. Peanut butter snacks… [MSNBC]

Obama slams McCain over oil company tax breaks

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa - Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama seized on a record oil company profit to argue that rival John McCain offers only tax breaks for Big Oil and "short-term gimmicks" to consumers struggling with soaring gasoline prices.

The Illinois senator quickly incorporated news of Exxon Mobil's nearly $12 billion quarterly profit into his remarks at a town hall meeting here.

"No U.S. corporation ever made that much in a quarter," Obama said. "But while Big Oil is making record profits, you are paying record prices at the pump and our economy is leaving working people behind."

McCain's response, Obama said, is to propose a corporate tax plan that would give "$4 billion each year to the oil companies, including $1.2 billion for Exxon Mobil alone" and a gas tax holiday that Obama said would only "pad oil company profits and save you - at best - half a tank of gas" over an entire summer.

In recent days, Obama has complained that McCain is offering little of substance to voters and does little more than attack.

"All those negative ads he's running won't do a thing to lower your gas prices or lift up the debate in this country," Obama said.............

Britney, Paris Air Savage Anti-McCain Ad

Andy Borowitz

One day after Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz) broadcast an anti-Obama ad in which he compared the presumptive Democratic nominee to celebrities Paris Hilton and Britney Spears, the two tabloid mainstays fought back with an eviscerating anti-McCain spot of their own.

While Mses. Spears and Hilton said they had planned to remain on the sidelines during the 2008 presidential campaign, Sen. McCain's negative ad "left us no choice," the notorious party gals said today.

"We don't mind John McCain going after us if he sticks to the facts," Ms. Spears said at a New York press conference. "But we are sick of the distortions about our record."

Ms. Hilton said that the McCain ad appeared to link herself and Ms. Spears to Sen. Obama, leading the casual viewer to conclude that the three of them had "the same energy policy."

"Nothing could be further from the truth," said Ms. Spears. "Both of us strongly favor off-shore drilling to reduce our dependence on foreign oil."

Ms. Hilton said she was also "offended" by the implication that she and Ms. Spears favor a tax on electricity: "We have both been very clear on that issue."

In their anti-McCain spot, the two starlets fight fire with fire, comparing Sen. McCain to the Joker from the smash-hit film "The Dark Knight."

"It's perfectly fair," Ms. Spears said of the ad. "They both have pasty white faces and totally creepy smiles."

Elsewhere, Chinese Olympic officials confiscated the poles of the pole vaulting team to prevent athletes from going over the wall.

Oil Companies Get $33 billion in Taxpayer Handouts

Huffington Post

On news of the massive profits reported by ExxonMobil today, ABC News crunched the numbers and has found that the combined profits of the top 5 US oil companies was $1.5 trillion last year.

The news report points out that this staggering amount of profit is more that the total GDP of Canada, at $1.43 trillion last year.

As many have rightly pointed out that while these profits margins are staggering, they are not out of line relative to other companies like Microsoft. However, where these profits do become obscene is when you consider how much US oil companies receive in taxpayer subsidies.

Here's the breakdown of how your tax dollars will be spent on subsidizing Big Oil over the next 5 years:

Tax breaks = $23.2 billion

Royalty relief = $3.8 billion

Research and development subsidies = $1.6 billion

Accounting gimmicks = $4.3 billion

McCain's 1968 Heroism Can't Excuse His 2008 McCarthyism

Huffington Post - Mark Green

Pundits on the talks shows say that the '08 election is all about Barack Obama: Can he pass the commander-in-chief test and avoid gaffes and reassure white voters? The burden is always put on him.

But another question is whether John McCain can pass the character test. So far, he's failing.

What? A bona fide war hero and POW survivor is being questioned about character?

Well, yes. It's time that McCain's acolytes and the mainstream media stopped assuming that his
extraordinary military service nearly 40 years ago gives him immunity to questions about being President today in a different century.

First, there is the unpleasant fact that in the past week McCain has sounded more like McCarthy in his patriotism-baiting of Obama. When he repeatedly says that Obama for political reasons "would rather lose a war in order to win a political campaign," he's imputing a political motive than he can't know, doesn't know, and is contradicted by the available evidence.

Agree with Obama's Iraq policies or not, surely he's been consistently opposed to our invasion and occupation of a country that didn't attack us, dating from the speech he gave in 2002 -- of course before he was a U.S. Senator or presumptive Democratic nominee.

Bluntly, what McCain is doing is a familiar trope -- from tail gunner Joe to Richard Nixon's "positive polarization" to Bush 41's campaigning in flag factories against a guy with a foreign-sounding last name to Bush 43's "with us or with the terrorists" rhetoric after 9/11. Divide and conquer.

This is especially unconvincing since Obama's policies are essentially the same as those held by Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Al Maliki, the bipartisan Baker-Hamilton Commission, nearly all Senate Democrats -- and McCain himself, who told Wolf Blitzer that Obama's 16-month withdrawl timeline might be acceptable.

Do Senators Clinton, Biden, Hagel, Kennedy etc. too want America to lose a war, or do they simply disagree with McCain's judgment?

Second, this line of personal attack is one of numerous examples of McCain's Zig-Zag Express. When it comes to flip-flopping, McCain recently has made John Kerry (falsely accused of this) look like the Rock of Gibraltar.

For years MCain impressively built up his popular "maverick" brand, attacking the far right on a variety of issues. But in frequent 180 degree turns, now he instead supports tax cuts for the rich, panders to the religious right, opposes affirmative action and votes against anti-torture rules for the CIA. Exactly who is shifting positions for political reasons?

McCain said two months ago that he wanted to run a "civil campaign" free of personal attacks. Now he all but accuses Obama of being unpatriotic, nearly treasonous. His recent ad asserting that Obama refused to visit troops because he couldn't bring cameras along and chose to go to the gym instead is, well, a lie., the Washington Post and the New York Times have analyzed the facts and said as much. But it plays into McCain's strategy that he's a "real American President," as one of his first ads unsubtly put it.

Normally, when a Republican presidential candidate wants to "swift boat" an opponent, he winks at third party groups to do it for him -- like the ads spotlighting Willie Horton in 1988 (which we now know that Bush 41's Lee Atwater helped coordinate) or those by veterans falsely attacking Kerry's war record, which McCain rightly and courageously condemned. Yet here it's McCain himself who is personally swift-boating Obama in a dishonorable and desperate attempt to trip up the leading candidate. He's engaging in the tactics that he deplored.

But as Ann Coulter knows, sometimes a narrative is too lucrative or compelling not to use even if it's untrue. So a campaign full of Karl Rove proteges will continue the story of McCain as patriotic and Obama as a combination of Lennon and Lenin. Until two things happen.

First, the national media needs to start covering McCain's sleazy tactics and repeated lies as often, say, as they covered Rev. Wright. That shouldn't take the courage of a Murrow, only reporters who won't let McCain continue to hide under his hero halo anymore.

And second, while Obama should and will stay calm in the face of personal, contrived assaults, he can't and won't accept Pat Buchanan's convenient suggestion to me in a Hardball debate and to others -- i.e., just ignore it. Democrats learned from Gore and Kerry, as Mark Twain informed us, that "a lie gets half way around the world before truth puts on her boots." So while Obama himself stays cool, his campaign and surrogates and ads have to bludgeon McCain not on personal attributes but on policy flaws -- on his unpopular plans on Iraq, social security, oil giveaways, global warming, tax fairness, mortgage fraud, on being George Bush's poodle. If McCain insists on telling lies about Obama, the Obama Team should respond by telling the truth about him.

Start with the truth that a maverick has morphed into a McCarthy -- and that the honorable McCain of 2000 wouldn't vote for the angry McCain of 2008.

McCain has a History: John McCain's racist remark very troubling

Seattle Post-Intelligencer

On his campaign bus recently, Sen. John McCain told reporters, "I hated the gooks. I will hate them as long as I live." Although McCain said he was referring only to his prison guards, there are many reasons why his use of the word "gook" is offensive and alarming.

It is offensive because by using a racial epithet that has historically been used to demean all Asians to describe his captors, McCain failed to make a distinction between his torturers and an entire racial group.

It is alarming because a major candidate for president publicly used a racial epithet, refused to apologize for doing so and remains a legitimate contender.

Contrary to McCain's attempt to narrowly define "gook" to mean only his "sadistic" captors, this term has historically been used to describe all Asians. McCain said that "gook" was the most "polite" term he could find to describe his captors, but because it is simply a pejorative term for Asians, he insulted his captors simply by calling them "Asians" -- a clearly disturbing message. To the Asian American community, the term is akin to the racist word "nigger." A friend of mine, a white male Vietnam veteran, pointed out that veterans, especially Vietnam veterans, know how spiteful the term "gook" is. It has everything to do with labeling someone as "other," the enemy and yellow. McCain sent the message that all Asians are foreigners and remain forever the "other" and the enemy.

The perception of Asians as "foreigners" or "the other" isn't new. This sentiment is what led to passage of the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 and the Japanese American internment during World War II. The internment of Japanese Americans is now recognized as one of the worst civil rights violations in our country's history and a powerful lesson in what can happen when race alone is used as a test for loyalty or who is defined as an American.

We've made tremendous progress as a nation in overcoming racism. That is why it is so disturbing that a major candidate for the U.S. president can perpetuate the stereotype of Asians as permanent foreigners, hurtling us backward to a time and a place where such racial epithets were an acceptable part of mainstream discourse.

What makes this incident even more disturbing is how neither the media nor the other presidential candidates have highlighted that his use of a racist term is unacceptable........

Ruling: White House Aides Not Immune From Congressional Subpoenas


A federal court ruled today that top White House aides are not immune from congressional subpoenas, a decision that is likely to reignite the investigation into politicization at the Justice Department.

In a 93-page ruling, U.S. District Judge John Bates wrote there was no legal basis for the Bush administration's claim that executive privilege protects former White House Counsel Harriet Miers and Chief of Staff Joshua Bolten from congressional oversight.

"Presidential autonomy, such as it is, cannot mean that the executive's actions are totally insulated from scrutiny by Congress," Bates wrote. "That would eviscerate Congress's historical oversight function."

For months, the White House has pushed back congressional efforts to force top aides to testify about who made the decision to abruptly fire nine U.S. Attorneys in 2006. But after months of public spats, subpoenas and a court battle, today's ruling ordered that Miers appear before Congress, though she can still refuse to answer questions on a case by case basis.

John McCain Had Attack Ad Ready in Case Barack Obama Did Visit Troops

Business Week - David Kiley

What the McCain campaign doesn’t want people to know, according to one GOP strategist I spoke with over the weekend, is that they had an ad script ready to go if Obama had visited the wounded troops saying that Obama was...wait for it...using wounded troops as campaign props. So, no matter which way Obama turned, McCain had an Obama bashing ad ready to launch.

I'm concerned about John McCain's money

I've been concerned that there are too many rumors going around about John McCain and I wanted to help set the facts straight. Please forward this email to everyone you know.

THE LIE: Combined, the McCain family has has a credit card balance that is more than $750,000 and their interest rate is 24.49%.

THE TRUTH: The McCains pay off their credit card bills on a monthly basis. The $750,000 figure is also wrong, though it is true that between January 2007 and May 2008, one of the credit cards did reach $500,000 and another reached $250,000.

Also, with a combined net worth over $100 million, most of the credit cards did not have any interest payments at all. Only their Visa, Mastercard, and Saks Fifth Avenue cards (monthly balances ranging between $15,000 and $50,000) charged interest.

::: :::

THE LIE: McCain purchased two separate $4.7 million dollar condos in San Diego for their own enjoyment.

THE TRUTH: The combined cost of the two condos was $4.7 millon, and one of them was for the kids.

::: :::

THE LIE: The McCains spent over $500,000 in 2007 on household staff, such as maids and butlers.

THE TRUTH: They increased their household staffing budget from $184,000 in 2006 to only $273,000 in 2007.

::: :::

THE LIE: The McCains spent $11 million between the summer of 2004 and February 2008 on 13 different residences.

THE TRUTH: They spent $11 million acquiring five residences.

::: :::

THE LIE: The McCains inherited a business worth $1,000,000,000 from relatives.

THE TRUTH: The McCains inherited assets worth more than $100,000,000 from relatives, but those assets are unlikely to be worth $1,000,000,000.

::: :::

THE LIE: John McCain gambles away hundreds of thousands of dollars at the craps tables in Las Vegas.

THE TRUTH: While John McCain does frequently play craps in Las Vegas in continuous 14-hour sessions, it is unlikely that he has ever gambled away $100,000 in a single session.


  1. The McCain family credit cards.
  1. The McCain family houses. (Also, check out an awesome google map of McCain's houses.)
  1. The McCain family staff budget.
  1. The McCain house purchases.
  1. The McCain family inheritance.
  1. McCain's 14 hour gambling stints.

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Here's why the Media Keeps this Farce(Election Polls)Close

Already,TV campaign ads exceed 100,000 McCain and Obama have spent nearly $50 million between them


If you're growing tired of seeing the two presidential candidates in 30-second snippets on your television, at this pace you'll be downright exhausted by Election Day, Nov. 4.

In just the first two months of the general election campaign, Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama already have aired more than 100,000 ads on broadcast TV, roughly 33,000 more than were aired during the same time period by the presidential candidates in 2004.

Between the end of the primary election season, June 3, and July 26, Obama has spent more than $27 million and McCain more than $21 million on TV ads. Throw in spots aired by the Republican National Committee and various interest groups and the total two-month spending so far on TV advertising exceeds $50 million........

Fired by MnDOT, now at Homeland Security (35W Bridge Collapse)


Sonia Pitt, the MnDOT emergency response executive fired for taking an unauthorized, state-paid trip to Washington during the Interstate 35W bridge disaster, is now working for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

Pitt, 44, of Red Wing, confirmed Wednesday that she is working for Homeland Security's Transportation Safety Administration (TSA) at its headquarters in Arlington, Va. Her job title is "Transportation Security Specialist.'' Pitt declined to discuss her job responsibilities, her length of employment with the federal agency or her salary.

"All inquiries go through my attorney, same as always,'' Pitt said.

TSA regional spokesperson Carrie Harmon would provide only Pitt's job title and say that she was hired in May. That was six months after she was fired from her Minnesota post for unprofessional conduct, travel improprieties and misuse of state resources.

After the bridge collapse Aug. 1, Pitt didn't return to Minnesota for nearly two weeks, even as emergency officials struggled to recover the bodies of 13 people killed in the disaster.........

Media Matters Daily Summary 07-30-08

CBS, NBC evening news broadcasts ignored IG report finding illegal actions in Justice Department hiring practices; ABC devoted less than 30 seconds
Evening news broadcasts on CBS and NBC failed to cover a new report finding that the actions of top aides in the Justice Department who used political considerations in hiring "violated federal law and Department policy, and also constituted misconduct." ABC's World News, meanwhile, devoted less than 30 seconds to the report. Despite the potential implications for U.S. counterterrorism efforts, all three networks ignored the finding that "an experienced career terrorism prosecutor" was denied a counterterrorism assignment while "a much more junior attorney who lacked any experience in counterterrorism issues and who officials believed was not qualified for the position" was hired instead. Read More

Harwood calls McCain's willingness to consider raising Social Security taxes -- contradicting "no new taxes" pledge -- "candor" and "truth-telling"
On MSNBC, John Harwood described Sen. John McCain's apparent willingness to consider raising Social Security taxes -- a reversal from his previously stated position that there would be "no new taxes" in a McCain administration -- as an example of McCain's engaging in "truth-telling" and "candor." Harwood added: "That's the Straight Talk Express, which people got to know so well about John McCain in 2000." Read More

Mike Gallagher pronounced Obamas "socialists," apparently because daughters get presents from Santa, not them
On Hannity & Colmes, Mike Gallagher falsely asserted that Sen. Barack Obama and his wife do not give Christmas and birthday presents to their daughters, saying it's "proof positive that this is a socialist family." Gallagher further claimed that as a result of what he falsely asserted was the Obamas' refusal to give their daughters birthday and Christmas presents, the Obamas' children "are going to have a lifetime of therapy" and are "going to wind up on a bell tower someday if we don't send them presents." Read More

In covering forthcoming anti-Obama books, will media repeat Swift Boat coverage mistakes?
Two books attacking Sen. Barack Obama are scheduled to be released in early August: The Obama Nation, by Jerome Corsi -- co-author of Unfit for Command, which contains false and baseless attacks on Sen. John Kerry's military service -- and The Case Against Barack Obama, by David Freddoso. Regnery, publisher of The Case Against Barack Obama, touts the book as having the same "goal" as Unfit for Command, which Regnery also published. The overt connections between the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth's scurrilous campaign against Kerry and the two forthcoming books raise the question for the media: Will they have absorbed the lessons of their highly flawed Swift Boat coverage and give more immediate and more thorough scrutiny to these forthcoming books? Read More

Fox News' Jarrett failed to challenge Energy Secretary's false claim that no "oil or gas [was] spilled" during Katrina, Rita
Fox news host Gregg Jarrett did not challenge the false assertion by U.S. Secretary of Energy Samuel Bodman that "[w]hen we had Katrina and Rita, the two worst hurricanes in at least in recent memory, in '05, some three years ago, there was not one case where we had a -- a situation with oil or gas being spilled in the environment." In fact, according to a 2007 report prepared for the U.S. Minerals Management Service, Hurricanes Katrina and Rita resulted in 124 spills from outer continental shelf structures with a total volume of more than 17,000 barrels of petroleum. Read More

Savage still claiming autism comments taken out of context, despite his prior reference to "a phony disease"
Referring to Media Matters' documentation of comments in which he called autism "[a] fraud, a racket," Michael Savage said: "They're very happy that they were able to use the poor parents of autistic children to attack me when I in fact have been more supportive of the most vulnerable children in our population than anybody else in the history of radio. That's correct, me, Michael Savage." Savage went on to falsely claim that his comments about autism were taken of context, stating: "So what they did was they took a sound bite out of context and they used the poor parents of autistic children to attack me. That's very clever." Read More

IBD repeated falsehood that Obama bill would levy "Global Tax" on U.S. taxpayers
In an editorial, Investor's Business Daily falsely claimed that the Global Poverty Act of 2007, sponsored by Sen. Barack Obama, "would force U.S. taxpayers to fork over 0.7% of our gross domestic product every year to fund a global war on poverty, spending well above the $16.3 billion in global poverty aid the U.S. already spends." In fact, the bill would establish no specific funding source and would not commit the United States to any targeted level of spending. Read More

Milbank accuses Obama of "hubris" while cropping quotes, making false insinuations, and neglecting basic reporting
In his Washington Post column, Dana Milbank claimed that Sen. Barack Obama "has long been his party's presumptive nominee. Now he's becoming its presumptuous nominee." As purported evidence, Milbank misrepresented quotes, neglected to do basic reporting, and advanced the baseless suggestion that actions Obama has reportedly taken are unprecedented for a presidential candidate. Read More

AP ignored McCain's shifting time frame for balancing budget, economists' reported skepticism of his plan to do so
The Associated Press uncritically quoted Sen. John McCain's statement that "[a]s president, I have committed to balancing the budget by the end of my first term." The AP did not note that McCain and an economic adviser each reportedly said in April that he would need "eight years" to balance the budget, after he had pledged in February to balance the budget by the end of his first term. Nor did the AP mention that many economists and nonpartisan analysts have reportedly expressed skepticism about McCain's plan to balance the budget in four years. Read More

Tracking a smear: Obama "snubbed" wounded soldiers because there were no media or "cameras"
The claim that Sen. Barack Obama's campaign canceled a visit to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center because Obama could not bring the media along continued to drive media coverage, even after NBC News' Andrea Mitchell and others declared the allegation to be "false" or without factual basis. Media Matters chronicles the immediate emergence of an echo chamber perpetuating this smear, involving talk radio, conservative blogs, the McCain campaign, and the national media. Read More

Hannity falsely claimed Obama "abandon[ed] the troop visit because the cameras weren't ... allowed"
Sean Hannity falsely asserted that Sen. Barack Obama canceled a visit with wounded soldiers at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center "because the cameras weren't ... allowed and the campaign wasn't allowed." But in discussing an ad by Sen. John McCain's campaign that makes the same claim, NBC's Andrea Mitchell stated, "The McCain commercial on this subject is completely wrong, factually wrong." Further, ABC's Jake Tapper and Time's Karen Tumulty both noted that McCain's campaign has provided "no evidence" to support the assertion that Obama canceled the visit because "the Pentagon wouldn't allow him to bring cameras." Read More

Is John McCain Stupid? (Yes He Is!)

Wall Street Journal - DANIEL HENNINGER

Is John McCain losing it?

On Sunday, he said on national television that to solve Social Security "everything's on the table," which of course means raising payroll taxes. On July 7 in Denver he said: "Senator Obama will raise your taxes. I won't."

This isn't a flip-flop. It's a sex-change operation.

He got back to the subject Tuesday in Reno, Nev. Reporters asked about the Sunday tax comments. Mr. McCain replied, "The worst thing you could do is raise people's payroll taxes, my God!" Then he was asked about working with Democrats to fix Social Security, and he repeated, "everything has to be on the table." But how can . . .? Oh never mind.

Yesterday he was in Aurora, Colo., to wit: "On Social Security, he [Sen. Obama] wants to raise Social Security taxes. I am opposed to raising taxes on Social Security. I want to fix the system without raising taxes."

What I'm asking is, does John McCain have the mental focus, the intellectual discipline, to avoid being out-slicked by Barack Obama, if he isn't abandoned by his own voters?

It's not just taxes. Recently the subject came up of Al Gore's assertion that the U.S. could get its energy solely from renewables in 10 years. Sen. McCain said: "If the vice president says it's doable, I believe it's doable." What!!?? In a later interview, Mr. McCain said he hadn't read "all the specifics" of the Gore plan and now, "I don't think it's doable without nuclear power." It just sounds loopy.

Then this week in San Francisco, in an interview with the Chronicle, Sen. McCain called Nancy Pelosi an "inspiration to millions of Americans." Notwithstanding his promises to "work with the other side," this is a politically obtuse thing to say in the middle of a campaign. Would Bill Clinton, running for president in 1996 after losing control of the House, have called Newt Gingrich an "inspiration"? House Minority Leader John Boehner, facing a 10-to-20 seat loss in November, must be gagging.

The one thing -- arguably the only thing -- the McCain candidacy has going for it is a sense among voters that they don't know what Barack Obama stands for or believes. Why then would Mr. McCain give voters reason to wonder the same thing about himself? You're supposed to sow doubt about the other guy, not do it to yourself.

Yes, Sen. McCain must somehow appeal to independents and blue-collar Hillary Democrats. A degree of pandering to the center is inevitable. But this stuff isn't pandering; it's simply stupid. Al Gore's own climate allies separated themselves from his preposterous free-of-oil-in-10-years whopper. Sen. McCain saying off-handedly that it's "doable" is, in a word, thoughtless.

Speaker Pelosi heads a House with a 9% approval. To let her off the hook before the election reflects similar loss of thought.

The forces arrayed against Sen. McCain's candidacy are formidable: an unpopular president, the near impossibility of extending Republican White House rule for three terms, the GOP trailing in races at every level, a listless fundraising base, doubtful sentiments about the war, a flailing economy.

The generic Democratic presidential candidate should win handily. Barack Obama, though vulnerable at the margin, is a very strong candidate. This will be a turnout election. To win, Mr. McCain needs every Republican vote he can hold.

Why make it harder than it has to be? Given such statements on Social Security taxes, Al Gore and the "inspirational" Speaker Pelosi, is there a reason why Rush Limbaugh should not spend August teeing off on Mr. McCain?

Why as well shouldn't the Obama camp exploit all of this? If Sen. Obama's "inexperience" is Mr. McCain's ace in the hole, why not trump that by asking, "Does Sen. McCain know his own mind?"
* * *

In this sports-crazed country, everyone has learned a lot about what it takes to win. They've heard and seen it proven repeatedly that to achieve greatness, to win the big one, an athlete has to be ready to "put in the work."

John McCain isn't doing that, yet. He's competing as if he expects the other side to lose it for him. Sen. McCain is a famously undisciplined politician. Someone in the McCain circle had better do some straight talking to the candidate. He's not some 19-year-old tennis player who's going to win the U.S. presidential Open on raw talent and the other guy's errors. He's not that good.

There is a reason the American people the past 100 years elevated only two sitting senators into the White House -- JFK and Warren Harding. It's because they believe most senators, adept at compulsive compromise, have no political compass and will sell them out. Now voters have to do what they prefer not to. Yes, Sen. McCain has honor and country. Another month of illogical, impolitic remarks and Sen. McCain will erase even that. Absent a coherent message for voters, he will be one-on-one with Barack Obama in the fall. He will lose.

Alaska's Palin Faces Probe - Star GOP Governor To Be Investigated For Abuse of Office

ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- When Sarah Palin was elected governor as a Republican outsider in 2006, she didn't just take on an incumbent from her own party. She took on Alaska's Republican establishment.

Ms. Palin vowed to clean up a long-cozy political system that had been sullied by an FBI corruption investigation. She endeared herself to Alaskans by making good on her reform promises and showing homey touches, like driving herself to work.

Now, one of the bright new stars in the Republican Party has suddenly become tarnished. The state legislature this week voted to hire an independent investigator to see whether Ms. Palin abused her office by trying to get her former brother-in-law fired from his job as an Alaska state trooper...........

John Bush McCain's Worst Nightmare: Barack Obama Fights Back

More from Obama's town hall speech in Springfield, Missouri on July 30.

Reid invites Republicans to stay in DC all summer

With a bitter fight raging over how to address high gasoline prices, some Republicans have intimated that the Senate should not leave for the August recess at the end of this week unless it can pass some sort of energy legislation. In fact, the Democrats have not officially "recessed" for more than a year because they do not want to give President Bush the chance to make appointments to vacant jobs that require Senate confirmation.

And Mr. Reid said he would be happy to have Republicans join the lone Democrat coming in to open the Senate during the break. "We don’t need the Republicans’ permission to adjourn," he said, scoffing at the question at a news conference on Tuesday. "We’re going to be in pro form session. This is because of President Bush not being fair on nominations. So we’re going to be here anyway."

But then, feeling feisty about the Democrats’ election prospects, he basically dared Republicans to stick around Washington. "We do not have a single Democratic incumbent — has any trouble at all. We’re in great shape," Mr. Reid said. "There are 11 Republicans that we have races that they should be worried about, and they are worried about them."

"So if they want to stay here and work during the August recess, it’s fine with us," he continued. "I’m not sure it’s fine with the Republican senators who have these challengers with them. But we’re here. I have no problem. If they — if they think that it’s going to hurt us in any way, I’m not concerned at all, because it won’t hurt us one bit."...... LINK

Obama: McCain thinks nation on the 'right track'

SPRINGFIELD, Mo (AP) - Democatic presidential contender Barack Obama said Wednesday his Republican rival "thinks we're on the right track," drawing a chorus of boos from a swing state audience vocal about the status quo.

"These anxieties seem to be growing with each passing day," Obama said on a campaign swing in this economically ailing battleground state. "We can either choose a new direction for our economy or we can keep doing what we've been doing. My opponent, John McCain, thinks we're on the right track."

That elicited boos from some of the 1,500 people who filled a Springfield high school gymnasium. When an AP-Ipsos poll asked the "right track, wrong track" question this month, 77 percent said they thought the country was on the wrong track. The same poll set President Bush's approval rating at 28 percent. Both were records for the AP-Ipsos survey.

"It's true that change is hard, change isn't easy," Obama said. "Nobody here thinks that Bush or McCain has a real answer for the challenges we face so what they're going to try to do is make you scared about me."......

AP's Ron Fournier exposed as a McCain shill

On Tuesday Michael Calderone at Politico produced definitive evidence of Ron Fournier's bias in favor of John McCain. He did it by linking the Associated Press Washington Bureau chief directly to the McCain presidential campaign. Over a period of several months during 2006, Fournier discussed taking a high-level communications job with the McCain campaign. Apparently Fournier turned down the job offer in the end.

I say 'apparently' because often it is difficult to tell from the reporting produced by Fournier and his Bureau whether or not he views himself as a campaign operative.

The most striking thing about this story is what is absent. Although he oversees reporting on the presidential race for the purportedly unbiased and nonpartisan AP, Fournier has never disclosed to the public his close contacts with the McCain campaign. And though he doesn't deny the contacts, when asked about them Fournier declined to discuss the matter and referred Politico to an AP spokesman (who issued a bland statement). If Fournier has had nothing to hide, then why the secrecy and evasiveness? Who would argue that the public does not have a right to know that the AP Washington Bureau chief considered working for a presidential candidate?

Here are details from Politico:

In October 2006, the McCain team approached Fournier about joining the fledgling operation, according to a source with knowledge of the talks. In the months that followed, said a source, Fournier spoke about the job possibility with members of McCain’s inner circle, including political aides Mark Salter, John Weaver and Rick Davis.

Salter, who remains a top McCain adviser, said in an e-mail to Politico that Fournier was considered for "a senior advisory role" in communications.

"He did us the courtesy of considering the offer before politely declining it," Salter said..........


Obama "Low Road" TV Ad -- Now Running

Run Time: 00:31

John McCain: I Suck, Vote For Me


OK, so maybe the McCain campaign has done its private polling and thinks this stuff will work, but… couldn’t they try to be slightly more ridiculous? We speak of the memo that idiot campaign manager Rick Davis sent out today: “Only a celebrity of Barack Obama’s magnitude could attract 200,000 fans in Berlin who gathered for the mere opportunity to be in his presence. These are not supporters or even voters, but fans fawning over The One. Only celebrities like Barack Obama go to the gym three times a day, demand ‘MET-RX chocolate roasted-peanut protein bars and bottles of a hard-to-find organic brew — Black Forest Berry Honest Tea’ and worry about the price of arugula.” What is this saying, exactly?

Since the McCain campaign has been spending 100% of its time talking about Barack Obama, we can assume that the plan is to draw a contrast with John McCain. Right? So let’s translate Rick Davis’ memo to reveal its message about John McCain:

John McCain is not popular in Berlin. People in Berlin would choose poisoning themselves over being within a 10-mile radius of John McCain. He has literally zero supporters in Berlin, but who gives a rat’s ass, those Krauts don’t vote. They do not fawn over John McCain because he does not exude any sense of optimism. There is nothing John McCain can do to make people love him. Because no one loves him, he does not exercise. He drinks piss mixed with dirt when he’s thirsty. He worries about the price of nothing.

“I guess I’ll vote for John McCain now.”

Former McCain Adviser: "Celeb" Ad Is "Childish"

John Weaver, who had been one of John McCain's chief advisers up until last year, says that the candidate's "Celeb" ad against Barack Obama is "childish."

"John's been a celebrity ever since he was shot down," Weaver told The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder. "Whatever that means. And I recall Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush going overseas and all those waving American flags."

Political Play: Obama claims link to the Wild West

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. - Barack Obama is claiming a link to the Wild West - Wild Bill Hickok, to be precise.

The Democratic presidential candidate came to this town on the edge of the old West on Wednesday and laid down a challenge for his GOP rival.

"If Sen. McCain wants a debate on taxes in this campaign, I'm ready," Obama said, noting that Hickok is said to have fought a duel here. "I'm ready to duel John McCain on taxes right here, quick draw," Obama said before closing the loop with Hickok.

"The family legend is that he is a distant cousin of mine. I don't know if it's true but I'm going to research it."

It's not just legend, says Chris Child, a genealogist with the New England Historic Genealogical Society.

Hickok is sixth cousin to Obama's fourth great-grandfather, Jacob Dunham, Child said. Their common ancestor is Thomas Blossom, who arrived with the Pilgrims. The society earlier found other notable links to Obama, including Brad Pitt, of Springfield; and Vice President Dick Cheney.

Obama says McCain, not him, is the 'risky pick'.

SPRINGFIELD, MO -- Obama returned to the campaign trail today, guns blazing.

Responding to a barrage of attacks in recent weeks, he linked McCain to the Bush economic policies and claimed that it was the Republican nominee who was the “risky” choice in November.

“Nobody thinks that Bush or McCain have a real answer for the challenges we face, so what they are going to try to do is make you scared of me,” he told more than a thousand people at a high school here. "'He's risky' -- that's the argument... It's like, 'Well, we don't have very much to offer but he's risky.' And let me just say, it's true that change, change is hard. Change isn't easy. And the question you have to ask yourself is, 'What's more risky?’”

He added, "We are in a time right now where it is too risky no to change. It is risky to keep on doing what we are doing, to accept the tired status quo."

Obama focused almost exclusively on the economy during his half-hour opening remarks, including the high-energy costs. He challenged the notion that drilling was the answer to the crisis, saying the effort may not have an impact for 10 years, if at all.

“I know gas prices have gone down, it's grand bargain now $3.95,” he said. “Earlier George Bush was on TV talking about his energy plan. Now think about it -- where has Bush been over the last eight years? Where was John McCain over the last 25?”

Answering challenges that he is “Doctor No,” Obama countered that McCain has said no to higher fuel efficiency standards and investing in alternative energy.

“And now suddenly they've got the answer -- we're going to drill for more oil,” he said. “I know it’s tempting. The polls say a majority of Americans say that’s a way we’re going to solve this problem. But it’s not real... We don’t need the same old tired answers. What we need is something new.”

And one day after McCain promised not to raise taxes, Obama signaled he’s willing to have a vigorous debate. Maybe even a duel. “The family legend is that Wild Bill Hickok, he’s a distant cousin of mine,” Obama said, noting an 1865 duel that happened in this town. “We’re going to research that cause I’m ready to duel John McCain on taxes. Right now, right here. I’m a quick draw.”

The McCaskill strategy
Obama is returning to the campaign trail after a more than two-week hiatus, most of it spent on his overseas trip. He chose to come to this part of Missouri -- an area that voted heavily for Bush in 2004 and where he trailed Hillary Clinton in the primary -- as part of what one local report called a Claire McCaskill strategy, to fight for votes everywhere in hopes of cutting into Republican margins.

McCaskill, who won a tight Senate race here in 2006, introduced Obama today, and gave a vigorous defense of him, especially to GOP charges that he’s arrogant and unpatriotic

“They say that he’s arrogant, that he’s unpatriotic,” she said. “Let me tell you -- I know this man. He is humble. He is devoutly Christian. He loves his family more than anything else in the world. He cares about families. He reveres our men and women in uniform. And he is as red, white and blue as you could possibly get.”

Axelrod responds to McCain TV ad


Obama senior strategist David Axelrod called into the 1:00 pm MSNBC hour to respond to McCain's latest TV ad. Having watched McCain campaign policy adviser Nancy Pfotenhauer defend it, Axelrod called in and said the latest ad is both "sophomoric" and "negative."

When asked about the ad's attempt to link Obama with Paris Hilton and Britney Spears, Axelrod replied, "I think the most important reference in the ad was Britney Spears, because as it said in the statement, she has that song in a paraphrase 'Oops, he did it again!' Sen. McCain has been criticized in papers all over the country -- -- for the tactics he has taken in the last several weeks, and the ads that he has run including one that blames Barack Obama for the energy crisis and so on."

He continued, "And in the words of USA Today yesterday, it's baloney! And the thing that is sad about it is that Sen. McCain entered this campaign as someone who was going to elevate the debate and talk about the future, and that is the reputation he had. And instead, we get some very familiar tactics. And it makes you wonder who is running the campaign, who is making the decisions, who is behind all of this. This isn't the John McCain we expect."

When told the McCain campaign's charge that it was the Obama camp who ran the first negative ad of the general election -- which was a response to an RNC TV ad hitting Obama -- Axelrod added: "The real point is we have got serious, serious challenges facing this country, including a genuine energy crisis. And we ought to have a real discussion about it. Instead, we get sophomoric, negative ads that are completely false. There are things in that ad that are fundamentally wrong in terms of what Sen. Obama's position is."

*** UPDATE *** Obama just responded outside of Bell's Restaurant in Lebanon, MO: "You know, I don’t pay attention to John McCain’s ads, although I do notice he doesn’t seem to have anything to say very positive about himself. He seems to only be talking about me... You need to ask John McCain what he’s for and not just what he’s against."

Video at link

John 'Not In My Back Yard' McCain Brings His Yucca Support to Nevada

Senator John McCain today will bring his promise of four more years of President Bush's failed energy policies back to Nevada. The last time he was in the Silver State, McCain gave a 3,000 word speech on energy that didn't mention Yucca Mountain or solar power once. Instead, McCain focused on his newfound support for offshore oil drilling, which even he and President Bush admit will have only a "psychological" impact on gas prices. McCain's support for offshore drilling may not provide economic relief for working families, but it did open a flood of new support for McCain's campaign from the oil and gas industry.

McCain may be reluctant to detail his record on Yucca Mountain, but the facts are clear. Except for some election-year hedging during his two presidential campaigns, McCain has repeatedly been a champion of Yucca Mountain. In fact, despite his admitted concern about shipping nuclear material through Arizona McCain wants to build at least 45 new nuclear power plants and says dealing with spent nuclear fuel is a "NIMBY" problem that we must have "guts and the courage" to address.

"NIMBY: Not In McCain's Back Yard"

"During his 25 years in Congress, Senator McCain has been a part of America's energy problem by repeatedly voting against the kind of policies that would create green jobs in Nevada and break our dependence on fossil fuels," said Democratic National Committee spokeswoman Karen Finney. "Now, McCain is promising more of the same by pandering to his new friends in the oil and gas industry and promising to store tons of spent fuel in Nevada, even though he's not comfortable shipping the material through Arizona on its way there. America's working families deserve new energy ideas, not more of the same failed policies that have cost us jobs, driven energy prices through the roof, and done nothing to make America less dependent on foreign oil."

The following is a fact sheet on McCain's support for Yucca Mountain:


McCain Has Consistently Voted to Approve Yucca Mountain As A Nuclear Waste Dump Site. In 2002, John McCain voted to approve a site at Yucca Mountain as a repository for nuclear and radioactive waste. After the vote, McCain said that storing nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain would answer "one of the most important environmental, health and public safety issues for the American people." In 2000, McCain voted to override the presidential veto of legislation that would establish a permanent nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain. In 1997, McCain similarly voted to establish a repository at the Mountain. McCain voted yes on a similar bill in 1996. [2002 Senate Vote #167, 7/9/2002; The Arizona Republic, 7/10/2002; 2000 Senate Vote #88, 5/2/2000; 1998 Senate Vote #148, 6/2/1998; 1997 Senate Vote #42, 4/15/1997; 1996 Senate Vote #259, 7/31/1996; 1996 Senate Vote #256, 7/31/1996]

McCain: "I Am For Yucca Mountain." The Las Vegas Sun reported that in 2007 McCain told the Deseret News, "I am for Yucca Mountain. I'm for storage facilities. It's a lot better than sitting outside power plants all over America." [Las Vegas Sun (Las Vegas, NV), 5/28/08]
McCain: "I Believe That Yucca Mountain Is A Suitable Place For Storage." At a campaign event in Springfield, Pennsylvania, McCain said, "I believe that Yucca Mountain is a suitable place for storage and I know that there's controversy about it and lawsuits and all that. But shouldn't America, a country as smart and as wise as we are, be able to find a place to store spent fuel?" [CNN Live Feed (Springfield, PA), 3/14/08]

McCain Senior Adviser Holtz-Eakin Called Political Opposition To Yucca Mountain "Harmful To the U.S. Interests." "McCain criticized both Democrats for their opposition to Yucca Mountain. 'The political opposition to the Yucca Mountain storage facility is harmful to the U.S. interest and the facility should be completed, opened and utilized,' McCain adviser Holtz-Eakin said." [Reuters, 5/6/08]

McCain: "We Will Build At Least 45 New Nuclear Plants." In a speech in Denver, Colorado, McCain said, "We will develop more clean energy. Nuclear power is the most dependable source of zero-emission energy we have. We will build at least 45 new nuclear plants that will create over 700,000 good jobs to construct and operate them." [CNN Live Feed, Speech (Denver, CO), 7/7/08]

2008: Campaigning In Nevada, McCain Said He Could Be Compelled To Reverse Support For Storage Of Nuclear Waste At Yucca Mountain. The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported that "On the nuclear dump site about 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas, which most Nevadans oppose, McCain stressed the importance to national security of finding somewhere to store spent nuclear fuel currently at power plants across the country. But he indicated he could be persuaded to end his support for Yucca as the site. 'I will respect scientific opinion,' he said. 'The scientific opinion that I had up until recently was that Yucca Mountain was a suitable storage place.'" [Las Vegas Review-Journal (Las Vegas, NV), 3/29/08]

1999: McCain Made Same Vague Promise To Consider Other Sites For Disposal To Nevadans Prior To His 2000 Run. On a trip to Nevada in February 1999, McCain met with key supporters in the gambling industry and the editorial board of the Las Vegas Review-Journal. The Associated Press reported that McCain's votes to store nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain could hurt him among Nevada voters. According to AP, "McCain said he is willing to hear arguments on the issue of whether Yucca Mountain, 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas, is suitable as the nation's nuclear waste repository, but he said the storage problem must be resolved." McCain also said, "I'm not expert enough to know if that's the place or not, but it's unconscionable to leave nuclear waste sitting around in facilities forever." [Associated Press, 2/17/1999]


MCCAIN 2008: Dealing With Spent Nuclear Fuel Is A "NIMBY" Problem, US Must Have The "Guts And The Courage." At an energy briefing in Santa Barbara, CA, McCain spoke about spent nuclear fuel and said, "But it's not a technological breakthrough that needs to be taken. It's a, it's a NIBMY problem. It's a NIMBY problem. We've gotta have the guts and the courage to go ahead and do what other countries are doing and they are reducing the pollution to our environment rather dramatically without any huge pain to anybody." [CNN Live Feed, Briefing (Santa Barbara, CA), 6/24/08]

MCCAIN 2007: Just Don't Ship it Through My Back Yard. "Interviewer: What about the transportation? Would you be comfortable with nuclear waste coming through Arizona on its way, you know going through Phoenix, on its way to uh Yucca Mountain? McCain (Shaking Head): No, I would not. No, I would not." [Nevada Newsmakers, May 2007)