Sunday, June 29, 2008

McCain makes the race personal, attacks Obama’s integrity

Steve Benen, The Carpetbagger Report: It was probably inevitable that John McCain would abandon his pledge to focus exclusively on the issues, and steer clear of personal attacks, I just didn’t expect it as early as June.

John McCain, in his sharpest attack yet against rival Barack Obama, said the Democratic presidential candidate’s word "cannot be trusted."
"This election is about trust — trust in people’s word," McCain, the presumptive Republican presidential nominee, told several hundred donors at a $2 million GOP fundraiser in Louisville, Kentucky yesterday. "And unfortunately, apparently on several items, Senator Obama’s word cannot be trusted."
McCain, a four-term Arizona senator, said Obama has gone back on his word by pledging to take public financing during the general election and then deciding not to do so. Obama on June 19 announced he won’t accept public financing for his presidential campaign, calculating that he can raise far more than the $84.1 million he would get in government funds. […]
[U]ntil yesterday McCain hadn’t accused Obama, 46, a first-term Illinois senator, of being untrustworthy. "I’ll keep my word to the American people. You can trust me," McCain said.
The irony, of course, is that McCain said Obama "cannot be trusted" to keep his word the exact same afternoon in which McCain broke his promise to voters on immigration policy, and abandoned his own “pledge” to the public.
If McCain wants to criticize Obama for bypassing the public-financing system, fine. It’s odd, of course, given McCain’s apparently illegal decision to play fast and loose with the public-financing system, but if he sees this as a key issue, it’s up to him to craft his own strategy.
But does John McCain really want to talk about which candidate “cannot be trusted”? Is this really an invitation to review the instances in which McCain has either lied to voters or broken his word?
We can make this campaign personal. It wouldn’t be pleasant, and it would make McCain look pretty bad, but if he wants to talk about honesty and character, we can go there.
I’m reminded of this recent Arianna Huffington item about McCain "issuing heartfelt denials of things that were actually true."
He denied ever talking with John Kerry about his leaving the GOP to be Kerry’s ‘04 running mate — then later admitted he had, insisting: "Everybody knows that I had a conversation."
He denied admitting that he didn’t know much about economics, even though he’d said exactly that to the Wall Street Journal. And the Boston Globe. And the Baltimore Sun.
He denied ever having asked for a budget earmark for Arizona, even though he had. On the record.
He denied that he’d ever had a meeting with comely lobbyist Vicki Iseman and her client Lowell Paxon, even though he had. And had admitted it in a legal deposition.
And those are just the outright denials. He’s also repeatedly tried to spin away statements he regretted making (see: 100-year war, Iraq was a war for oil, etc.).
Or for that matter, take a look at the Official McCain Flip-Flop List. Most of the 48 reversals include John McCain promising voters he wants to go in one direction, and then promising them soon after that he wants to go in a completely different direction. He has a habit of making one pledge, and soon after, making the opposite pledge.
Indeed, on Friday, McCain took credit for the passage of a veterans’ bill he opposed, and on Saturday, McCain vowed to a group of Latino voters that he’d support an immigration bill he’s vowed to oppose.
"On several items, Senator Obama’s word cannot be trusted"? I don’t have a background in psychology, but I’m pretty sure this is called "projection."

Possible McCain VP Pick Signs Anti-Evolution Bill Into Louisiana Law

Logan Murphy, Crooks and Liars. ARS Technica:
As we noted last month, a number of states have been considering laws that, under the guise of “academic freedom,” single out evolution for special criticism. Most of them haven’t made it out of the state legislatures, and one that did was promptly vetoed. But the last of these bills under consideration, the Louisiana Science Education Act (LSEA), was enacted by the signature of Governor Bobby Jindal yesterday. The bill would allow local school boards to approve supplemental classroom materials specifically for the critique of scientific theories, allowing poorly-informed board members to stick their communities with Dover-sized legal fees.
The text of the LSEA suggests that it’s intended to foster critical thinking, calling on the state Board of Education to “assist teachers, principals, and other school administrators to create and foster an environment within public elementary and secondary schools that promotes critical thinking skills, logical analysis, and open and objective discussion of scientific theories.” Unfortunately, it’s remarkably selective in its suggestion of topics that need critical thinking, as it cites scientific subjects “including, but not limited to, evolution, the origins of life, global warming, and human cloning.”
The bill has been opposed by every scientific society that has voiced a position on it, including the American Association for the Advancement of Science. AAAS CEO Alan Leshner warned that the bill would “unleash an assault against scientific integrity, leaving students confused about science and unprepared to excel in a modern workforce.” Read on…
Jindal is definitely vying for the far right base of the GOP and this move will score big points for him. The rabid right-wing base of the party can’t stand McCain, so Jindal might prove to be a good fit for them. As The Huffington Post reports, Jindal has joined the GOP’s bold march backwards.

The Edwards standard and John McCain

Jamison Foser, Media Matters: During John Edwards' campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination, media regularly treated his personal wealth as a key to assessing his policy proposals -- a standard that is not being applied to John McCain.
It often seemed as though the news media was incapable of running a story about Edwards' anti-poverty proposals without noting his own wealth. The Washington Post, for example, ran a 203-word blurb about Edwards' eight-state poverty tour, opening it with a 28-word reminder of the candidate's fortune: "John Edwards is battling back the 'three H's' that have dogged his campaign -- expensive haircuts, a lavish new house and a stint working for a hedge fund."
That was nothing new for the Post, which spent much of 2007 in an apparent bid to become the nation's leading source of haircut journalism (four separate articles in the paper's December 11, 2007, edition mentioned the Edwards haircut, many months after it first made "news.") A later article about the poverty tour reported in the fourth paragraph: "Edwards urged reporters to 'please stay focused on the stories we heard' from the workers, rather than the candidate." Paragraphs five, six, and seven then dwelled on "a series of controversies that cast doubt on the image he has cultivated as a millionaire lawyer who as the son of a millworker understands the plight of those with less than he has."
When Edwards exited the race, the Post noted "Edwards's focus on the poor was muddied by tales of his personal good fortune. News stories told of his $400 haircuts, of an ostentatious North Carolina home and of his work for a hedge fund."
The Post certainly wasn't alone. Journalists of all stripes agreed: it was important to discuss Edwards' personal wealth in reporting and assessing his policy proposals. Many explained this belief by claiming that Edwards' proposals to reduce poverty and help the middle class were hypocritical, given his own wealth. This was transparent nonsense; that simply isn't what it means to be hypocritical. But the transparency of the nonsense didn't make it any less common. Others conceded that it wasn't hypocritical to be wealthy while advocating policies to help the non-wealthy, but argued that it was poor "optics." Whatever the reason, there was broad consensus in the media that Edwards' personal wealth should be part of discussions of his policy positions.
But the media doesn't apply that standard to John McCain.
Last week, the Center for American Progress Action Fund released a new report by Michael Ettlinger estimating that under McCain's tax plan, he and his wife, Cindy, would save $373,429. That's nearly $400,000 -- per year, not over the course of their lifetimes. (Under Barack Obama's plan, the McCains would save less than $6,000. The Obamas would save nearly $50,000 under McCain's plan, and slightly more than $6,000 under Obama's plan own plan.)
By the standards the media applied to Edwards, the fact that McCain supports tax policies that would save him and his wife nearly $400,000 a year -- and require massive cuts to public services to pay for those tax breaks -- should surely be news. Unlike the media's focus on Edwards' wealth, which did nothing to help voters understand the substance of his proposals, McCain's potential savings under his tax plan actually would help illustrate how much the wealthy would benefit from the plan.
At the very least, McCain would seem to have the dreaded "optics" problem ascribed to Edwards. With voters jittery about the economy and a crushing budget deficit, what could be worse "optics" than a wealthy candidate proposing massive tax cuts for his wife and himself?
Surely, then, The Washington Post, having obsessed over Edwards' wealth, has noted Ettlinger's findings in its reports about McCain's tax plans, right?
On June 21, two days after the report's release, the Post ran a front-page article about the candidates' tax and budget policies: "Republican John McCain vows to double the exemption for dependents and slash the corporate income tax. ... McCain has proposed even bigger tax reductions [than Obama], including an extension of all the Bush tax cuts, permanent limits on the AMT and a 10 percent reduction in the corporate tax rate." The Post didn't mention how much the McCains would save under his tax proposals. It didn't so much as hint at their massive personal wealth. And in more than 1,300 words, the Post didn't include a single word about the income distribution of McCain's proposals.
On The Chris Matthews Show, Matthews aired a clip of McCain attacking Obama's tax plan -- but didn't point out that McCain and his wife would save more than $360,000 less under Obama's plan than under his own. Like The Washington Post, neither Matthews nor any of his guests made even passing mention of McCain's personal wealth. (Matthews on Edwards last year: "John Edwards, that dude with the hot-ticket haircuts, now wants the rest of us to cool it on expensive cars.")
Again, this isn't unique to the Post and Matthews. The Ettlinger estimate was completely ignored by the news media. Beyond that report, I don't remember ever seeing a major-media report about John McCain's tax policies noting that, due to his wealth, he would fare quite well under his own proposals. And in a couple hours of Nexis searches, I haven't been able to find one.
Perversely, it seems the conventional wisdom among the media is that it's more acceptable for a wealthy politician to propose policies that help the wealthy than policies that benefit the middle class and the poor.

McCain calls Carter "lousy"

Chris in Paris, It's predictable that the GOP is going down the Jimmy Carter path, as if they were somehow worse than what the country is experiencing today under the Bush years. Why not take a look at things Carter did not do and compare Carter to Bush, since McCain has been such a strong supporter. It's true, Carter failed terribly when it came to the S&L crisis by not having a catastrophic banking crisis during his term that could compare to today or The Keating Five scandal. John McCain could tell us more about how well he personally handled that. While he's at it, he can tell us how his co-chair kicked ass as he jammed through CFMA 2000 (aka, "the Enron Loophole") and the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act that set the stage for the 2008 Wall Street meltdown. Wall Street is currently enjoying one of its worst periods in decades courtesy of GOP leadership.
We should also note that the US dollar is celebrating lows not seen since the Nixon years, joining the record high gas prices not seen since that period as well. Carter was so bad, he failed to hit record lows with both. What a loser! Instead we have McCain hugging President Bush who ushered in this new period of economic misery. Now *that* is leadership. Overseas, Carter failed to get the US hostages in Iran and the US lost 8 soldiers in the failed rescue mission. Compare that to the illustrious Bush record of over 4110 soldiers lost in Iraq and 536 in Afghanistan. Carter failed again!
If McCain wants to talk about the Carter years, go ahead, let's talk about those times. Let's talk about how much worse the Bush years are and the let's take a look at what we are going to experience for the next few years as a result of GOP policy that McCain supported. Please talk more about this and see where it all goes.

McCains Defaulted On Home Taxes For Last Four Years, Newsweek Reports Newsweek is set to publish a highly embarrassing report on Sen. John McCain, revealing that the McCains have failed to pay taxes on their beach-front condo in La Jolla, California, for the last four years and are currently in default, The Huffington Post has learned.
Under California law, once a residential property is in default for five years, it can be sold at a tax sale to recover the unpaid taxes for the taxpayers.
The McCains own at least seven homes through a variety of trusts and corporations controlled by Cindy McCain.
UPDATE: Newsweek's story is now online. The report notes that the McCains paid the bulk of their back taxes yesterday, but continue to owe additional taxes:
When you're poor, it can be hard to pay the bills. When you're rich, it's hard to keep track of all the bills that need paying. It's a lesson Cindy McCain learned the hard way when NEWSWEEK raised questions about an overdue property-tax bill on a La Jolla, Calif., property owned by a trust that she oversees. Mrs. McCain is a beer heiress with an estimated $100 million fortune and, along with her husband, she owns at least seven properties, including condos in California and Arizona. [...]
Shortly after NEWSWEEK inquired about the matter, the McCain aide e-mailed a receipt dated Friday, June 27, confirming payment by the trust to San Diego County in the amount of $6,744.42. County officials say the trust still owes an additional $1,742 for this year, an amount that is overdue and will go into default July 1. Told of the outstanding $1,742, the aide said: "The trust has paid all bills shown owing as of today and will pay all other bills due."
Joe Sudbay (DC), McCain's friends in the traditional media will surely give him yet another pass on this. And, why not? McCain obviously has some great houses to which he can invite his media pals. But, just for a second, imagine the furor if Barack Obama didn't pay his property taxes.
Logan Murphy, Crooks and Liars: This situation has nothing to do with the ongoing mortgage foreclosure crisis brought on by 8 years of Republican rule and deregulation, this is about a real failure of personal responsibility on the part of the McCains. I realize that they live an elite life of luxury and privilege and have more money and assets than 99% of Americans will ever know in their lifetime, but this is ridiculous. They didn’t pay the taxes on this home for four years. Don’t they pay people to pay their bills for them? Is this representative of the way John McCain will run OUR budgets? No matter how much cash they have or how many vacation homes they have to keep track of, it pales in comparison to running the U.S. economy. What a huge embarrassment for the GOP candidate and his party.

Bill Clinton says Barack Obama must 'kiss my ass' for his support

Tim Shipman and Philip Sherwell, Bill Clinton is so bitter about Barack Obama's victory over his wife Hillary that he has told friends the Democratic nominee will have to beg for his wholehearted support.
Mr Obama is expected to speak to Mr Clinton for the first time since he won the nomination in the next few days, but campaign insiders say that the former president's future campaign role is a "sticking point" in peace talks with Mrs Clinton's aides.
The Telegraph has learned that the former president's rage is still so great that even loyal allies are shocked by his patronising attitude to Mr Obama, and believe that he risks damaging his own reputation by his intransigence.
A senior Democrat who worked for Mr Clinton has revealed that he recently told friends Mr Obama could "kiss my ass" in return for his support. ...
It has long been known that Mr Clinton is angry at the way his own reputation was tarnished during the primary battle when several of his comments were interpreted as racist.
But his lingering fury has shocked his friends. The Democrat told the Telegraph: "He's been angry for a while. But everyone thought he would get over it. He hasn't. I've spoken to a couple of people who he's been in contact with and he is mad as hell.
"He's saying he's not going to reach out, that Obama has to come to him. One person told me that Bill said Obama would have to quote kiss my ass close quote, if he wants his support. (more)
LSB: Bill Clinton can kiss my ass! He isn't the presumed Democratic candidate and Obama isn't some houseboy he can order around. Clinton was a good president (despite his sexual peccadilloes), but he needs to get over his giant ego and this childish behavior and wholeheartedly embrace Obama. His continued failure to join Obama threatens his legacy within the Democratic Party.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Telecoms Bought Democratic House Support

From the Left: House Democrats who flipped their votes to support retroactive immunity for telecom companies in last week’s FISA bill took thousands of dollars more from phone companies than Democrats who consistently voted against legislation with an immunity provision.
According to an analysis by, 94 Democrats who changed their positions received on average $8,359 in contributions from Verizon, AT&T and Sprint from January, 2005, to March, 2008.
Retroactive immunity could squash about 40 lawsuits pending against telecommunication companies that helped the government monitor the telecommunications traffic of Americans without warrants.
The top ten U.S. House recipients of telecom contributions include:
1. Rep. James Clyburn [SC-District 6], $29,500
2. Rep. Steny Hoyer [MD-District 5], $29,000
3. Rep. Rahm Emanuel [IL-District 5], $28,000
4. Rep. Frederick Boucher [VA-District 9], $27,500
5. Rep. Gregory Meeks [NY-District 6], $26,000
6. Rep. Joseph Crowley [NY-District 7], $24,500
7. Speaker Nancy Pelosi [CA-District 8], $24,500
8. Rep. Melissa Bean [IL-District 8], $24,000
9. Rep. Thomas Edwards [TX-District 17], $22,500
10. Rep. Joe Baca [CA-District 43], $22,100
The money provides special interests with a bigger megaphone.
LSB: A little more than 30 pieces of silver, but still they sold out our 4th amendment protections.


From the Left: The price of party unity is helping Hillary Clinton pay-off her $10 million dollar campaign debt.
Democratic presidential candidate, Barack Obama has asked his finance team to help his former opponent Hillary Clinton pay off a debt of at least $10 million dollars from her failed presidential campaign.
In a teleconference with his top fundraisers yesterday afternoon, Obama asked them to help the former first lady, a campaign spokesman confirmed.
Later at a star-studded fundraising gala in Los Angeles, the Illinois senator, who could become America’s first black president, appealed to those in the crowd who might have supported Clinton.
“I know I caused some heartburn and some frustration,” he said, adding that he and Clinton “were allies then and we’re allies now.”
My advice to Obama’s supporters is simple: DON’T PAY OFF HILLARY’S CAMPAIGN DEBT.
No one forced to Sen. Clinton to remain in the race after the May 6th, North Carolina Democratic primary, when Barack Obama carried the state by winning 56.30% of the vote. This date marked the end of Hillary Clinton’s campaign. Yet, thanks to Clinton’s Herculean ego, she remained in the race another month, racking up unnecessary debts and now she has the audacity to ask Obama’s supporters to help get her out of the hole?
Sorry, but asking Obama’s supporters to make Hillary Clinton finacially solvent again has nothing to do with party unity — it’s bribery.
LSB: Absolutely, 100% correct, couldn't agree more... still, the politically expedient thing to do is to relieve this debt so we can move her off the front page.

What does McCain mean by ‘we’?

Steve Benen, Crooks and Liars: There was a vote last night in the Senate on the war supplemental, which included the Webb/Hagel GI Bill. The spending bill, including the expanded education benefits for veterans, passed overwhelmingly (92 to 6), and will be added to the $165 billion that the House and Senate have already approved for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The roll-call is online; every Democrat, and most Republicans, voted for the bill. John McCain, as is now common, didn’t show up for work. Barack Obama was there, and he voted for the funding.
What’s especially interesting, though, is McCain’s response to last night’s vote.
Is that so. How can McCain be “happy” to promote a bill that “we” passed to help veterans with their education benefits, when McCain opposed the Webb/Hagel GI Bill from the beginning? He actively fought against it. Indeed, McCain’s opposition nearly scuttled the bill.
What’s more, when the Obama campaign began hitting McCain over this, he got pretty touchy about it.
And now he wants voters to think he supported the bill all along? That “we” — by implication, including himself — increased “educational benefits for our veterans”?
Even by McCain standards, this is pretty outrageous.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Tap your foot twice if you're for marriage

John Aravosis (DC), As you may recall, the Republicans in Congress want to amend the US Constitution with anti-gay language that would supposedly "ban gay marriage." In fact, the amendment would likely rescind state and local laws that outlaw job discrimination against gays and provide gay partners with health benefits, and it would likely rescind laws protecting unmarried women from things such as being beaten to a bloody pulp by their boyfriends (this actually happened in Ohio, where the state court found that the local anti-gay-marriage amendment invalidated state laws covering the domestic abuse of unmarried women). Anyway, who is on the very short list of Senators introducing the "Marriage Protection Amendment" in the Senate? Why none other than foot-tapping Senator Larry Craig (R-ID), and whore-mongering Senator David Vitter (R-LA). You'll recall that the very-married Larry Craig was caught tapping his foot alongside a really hot male cop in an airport bathroom. And the very-married and very-family-values-proclaiming David Vitter, we now know, has repeatedly frequented female hookers.
So there you have it. Two of the Republicans' biggest marriage hypocrites - Larry Craig, who was accused of trying to have sex with a man (who was not his wife) in a bathroom, and David Vitter who has been repeatedly accused of frequenting hookers (who also were not his wife) - want to amend the Constitution to "protect" marriage.
Perhaps you all should call Larry Craig's and David Vitter's offices and ask them the following:
  • Senator Larry Craig, PH: 202-224-2752. Message: Can a married guy give handjobs and blowjobs to other guys in bathrooms and still defend heterosexual marriage?
  • Senator David Vitter, PH: (202) 224-4623. Message: How many whores does a married guy have to sleep with before he's no longer defending marriage? And does the price of the whore matter?

Oh, and please do report back in the comments how your phone calls went with Craig's and Vitter's offices.

Lead GOP activist, Grover Norquist, calls Obama "Kerry with a tan"

John Aravosis (DC), That's ok. I like to think of Grover Norquist as "Liberace with a wife."
LSB: Snap! ROFLMAO, John - you are too funny! But are there really only two degrees of separation from Grover to Osama? From Wikipedia: "The Islamic Free Market Institute (also known simply as the Islamic Institute) is a Muslim outreach group founded by Grover Norquist and Khaled Suffuri in 1999. The Institute operated out of office space leased by Grover's flagship organization, Americans for Tax Reform,[1] with seed money coming largely from Middle Eastern sources.[2] Saffuri’s former boss at the American Muslim Council, Abdurahman Alamoudi, provided at least $35,000. An outspoken supporter of Hamas and Hezbollah, Alamoudi has been suspected of ties to Osama bin Laden and other Islamic radicals since at least 1994, and would later be sentenced to 23 years in prison. The Safa Trust donated at least $35,000, and the International Institute of Islamic Thought contributed $11,000. Both organizations were alleged to be part of the so-called SAAR Network of interrelated business and non-profit entities with ties to sources of terrorism financing, and were among the subjects of a March 20, 2002 raid conducted led the U.S. Custom Service under the auspices of Operation Green Quest."

Thursday, June 26, 2008

McCain in the Closet about Meeting with Gay Group Log Cabin President Patrick Sammon confirmed to the Gay Patriot blog that John McCain held a meeting with the group in "the past couple of weeks" that didn't ever appear on the Senator's schedule.
Said Sammon to Gay Patriot: "We’ve had a series of productive meetings with the campaign since Sen. McCain won the nomination—including a recent meeting with the Senator. We expect to have more conversations with the campaign as we head toward November."
Gay Patriot: "According to published news reports the Sammon-McCain meeting would be the first face-to-face dialogue between a Republican Presidential standardbearer and the President of the national Log Cabin Republicans organization since the check-refund controversy between LCR and the Dole Campaign in 1995."
One of the reasons it may be so hush-hush is that McCain doesn't want to upset the wingnut crowd, like Peter LaBarbera of Republicans for Family Values, who in April expressed dismay that Arnold Schwarzenegger spoke with the group at its convention, reportedly as "McCain's surrogate".
Pam has has some of the right-wing responses to the reported McCain meeting.
[Here's] a John McCain gay pride message, created by the Stonewall Democrats.

UPDATE: John Aravosis (DC), - McCain promises to be more anti-gay in public (seriously). Well that didn't take long. I'd just reported two days ago that McCain met recently with gay Republican leaders, and it only took 48 hours for the religious right to knee-cap McCain into submission. After meeting with an assemblage of anti-gay bigots, McCain has now announced that he's going to be more anti-gay in public in order to, I guess, win that all-important, and ever-shrinking, American Taliban vote. And he did just that today, by announcing his support for the effort to repeal marriage in California. So McCain is now going to fan the flames of anti-gay prejudice in order to win the presidency. I love it when mavericks sell their soul. How are you gay Republicans feeling about him now?

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Gays Say "No" To Nunn

Joe.My.God.: Noted gays are urging the Obama campaign to back away from any consideration of former Sen. Sam Nunn as a potential running mate, pointing to his "No" vote in the 1996 ENDA battle (which lost by only one vote) and his 1993 orchestration of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."Via MyDD:
Massachusetts Congressman Barney Frank told the Rothenberg Political Report, June 20th, that "he would have a hard time voting for the [Democratic] ticket" if Sen. Barack Obama picks former United States Sen. Sam Nunn as his vice-presidential running-mate".
Frank, who is the first openly gay member of Congress, pointed to Nunn's vote against the Employee Non-discrimination Act in 1996 as his main reason for opposing an Obama/Nunn ticket in November. Frank went on to say, "I would be virtually useless in trying to convince other gays and lesbians to support the ticket."
Would an Obama/Nunn ticket dampen Sen. Obama's support among gay and lesbian Americans? Or would they put aside their reservations of an Obama/Nunn ticket and fall in line with other Democrats who are desperate for a return to the White House after eight years of GOP control.
If the words of Congressman Barney Frank ring true, Sam Nunn as Obama's vice presidential running mate might result in the GLBT community sitting out the presidential race.
Gay activist David Mixner:

"Sam Nunn would be a disaster as a running mate and a total anathema to millions of Americans,” wrote gay rights advocate and Democratic Party fundraiser David Mixner on his blog. “His presence would totally diminish the power of the Obama campaign notion of change” and “would show that ‘politics as usual’ has supplanted the ‘change in politics’ mantra.”
Nunn has said recently that it might be time for "revisiting" the issue of DADT, but refused to call for its repeal.

States Reject Abstinence-Only Funding From Federal Government

Kevin Freking, Skeptical states are shoving aside millions of federal dollars for abstinence education, walking away from the program the Bush administration touts for slowing teen sexual activity. Barely half the states are still in, and two more say they are leaving.
Some $50 million has been budgeted for this year, and financially strapped states might be expected to want their share. But many have doubts that the program does much, if any good, and they're frustrated by chronic uncertainty that it will even be kept in existence. They also have to chip in state money in order to receive the federal grants. ...
A federal tally shows that participation in the program is down 40 percent over two years, with 28 states still in. Arizona and Iowa have announced their intention to forgo their share of the federal grant at the start of the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1. (more)

Bush To Filipino President: "I Am Reminded Of The Great Talent Of The -- Of Our Philippine-Americans When I Eat Dinner At The White House"

HuffingtonPost.Com: President Bush met with Filipino President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo today at the White House. Arroyo was in Washington while her country tries to recover from a typhoon that devastated coastal areas and flipped a ferry carrying over 800 passengers last week. Before discussing aide for the Philippines, Bush couldn't resist beginning the sober meeting with a quip about a Filipino member of his kitchen staff. Read part of the transcript from the meeting and click here to read more about one of the "Philippine-Americans" Bush is referring to. See the excerpt below:
PRESIDENT BUSH: Madam President, it is a pleasure to welcome you back to the Oval Office. We have just had a very constructive dialogue. First, I want to tell you how proud I am to be the President of a nation that -- in which there's a lot of Philippine-Americans. They love America and they love their heritage. And I reminded the President that I am reminded of the great talent of the -- of our Philippine-Americans when I eat dinner at the White House.
LSB: Is he reminded of the great talent of Mexican-Americans when he looks out at the White House Lawn? Is he reminded of the great talent of Chinese-Americans when he puts on a crisp white shirt? What an ass!

Confirmed: Bush Justice Department Illegally Hired Lawyers with Conservative Credentials

Lara Jakes Jordan, Ivy Leaguers and other top law students were rejected for plum Justice Department jobs two years ago because of their liberal leanings or objections to Bush administration politics, a government report concluded Tuesday.
In one case, a Harvard Law student was passed over after criticizing the nomination of Samuel Alito to the Supreme Court. In another, a Georgetown University student who had previously worked for a Democratic senator and congressman didn't make the cut.
Even senior Justice Department officials flinched at what appeared to be hiring decisions based _ improperly and illegally _ on politics, according to the internal report.
"Individuals at the department were rejecting any of our candidates who could be construed as left-wing or who were perceived, based on their appearances and resumes and so forth, as being more liberal," Kevin Ohlson, deputy director of the department's executive office of immigration review, complained to Justice investigators.
The report marked the culmination of a yearlong investigation by Justice's inspector general and Office of Professional Responsibility into whether Republican politics were driving hiring polices at the once fiercely independent department.
The investigation is one of several that examine accusations of White House political meddling within the Justice Department. Those accusations were initially driven by the firings of nine U.S. attorneys in late 2006 and culminated with the ouster of Alberto Gonzales as attorney general last September.
The report issued Tuesday concluded that politics and ideology disqualified a significant number of newly graduated lawyers and summer interns seeking coveted Justice jobs in 2006.
As early as 2002, career Justice employees complained to department officials that Bush administration political appointees had largely taken over the hiring process for summer interns and so-called Honors Program jobs for newly graduated law students. For years, job applicants had been judged on their grades, the quality of their law schools, their legal clerkships and other experiences.
But in 2002, many applicants who identified themselves as Democrats or were members of liberal-leaning organizations were rejected while GOP loyalists with fewer legal skills were hired, the report found. Of 911 students who applied for full-time Honors jobs that year, 100 were identified as liberal _ and 80 were rejected. By comparison, 46 were identified as conservative, and only four didn't get a job offer.
The political filtering of applicants ebbed for the three years between 2003 and 2005, the inquiry found, then resumed by 2006.
Of 602 Honors candidates that year, 150 were identified as liberal _ including 83 who were cut. Five of 28 self-described conservatives were rejected.
Investigators blamed two political appointees on a three-person screening committee for the preferential treatment. It also singled out one of them, former deputy attorney general staff chief Michael Elston, for failing to make sure the hirings were proper _ and giving evasive and misleading answers about why they were not.
An attorney for Elston, who is now in private practice, did not immediately return a message seeking comment.
Although federal law prohibits discriminating against government job applicants based on their politics, it's unlikely that any of those involved in the hiring process will be penalized since they no longer work at the department. A Justice official said the department is not considering pressing criminal charges or taking or civil actions against them.
Democrats quickly seized on the report to bludgeon the Bush administration for playing politics with a department sworn to uphold the law fairly.
"This is the first smoking gun," said Sen. Charles E. Schumer, D-N.Y., who sits on the Senate Judiciary Committee. "We believe there will be more to come. This report shows clearly that politics and ideology replaced merit as the hiring criteria at one of our most prized civil service departments."
Under Gonzales, the Justice Department last year moved to prevent politics from influencing the hiring screening process. His successor, Attorney General Michael Mukasey, said Tuesday he "will continue to make clear that the consideration of political affiliations in the hiring of career department employees is impermissible and unacceptable."

LA Times Throws McCain a “Curveball” on Iraq

Jon Perr, Crooks and Liars: John McCain’s campaign launched a new effort this week to whitewash his calamitous record of egregious errors and flawed forecasts when it comes to Iraq. As ThinkProgress reported, the McCain web site has unveiled a very elegant - and very selective - new timeline highlighting John McCain’s “judgment” on Iraq. Hoping that voters will forget his disastrous predictions throughout 2002 and 2003 in the run-up to the war, the McCain timeline unsurprisingly starts in August 2003. Unfortunately, a timely Los Angeles Times interview with the infamous “Curveball” will remind Americans just how wrong John McCain has been about Iraq from the very beginning.
As the LA Times recounts, Rafid Ahmed Alwan, aka Curveball, played an essential role in the Bush administration’s justification for war with Iraq. Despite warnings from CIA officials such as Tyler Drumheller that claims from Curveball were unreliable and unbelievable, the German intelligence asset’s tall tales became a foundation for the White House’s rationale for war:
President Bush declared in his State of the Union address in January 2003 that “we know” that Iraq built mobile germ factories. Then-Secretary of State Colin L. Powell highlighted Alwan’s supposed “eyewitness” account to the U.N. Security Council when he pressed the case for war.
Among those taken in was John McCain, who bought in to the WMD horror stories lock, stock and two-smoking barrels. In October 2002, McCain took to the Senate floor to sound the alarm about Saddam’s weapons:
“He has developed stocks of germs and toxins in sufficient quantities to kill the entire population of the Earth multiple times. He’s placed weapons laden with these poisons on alert to fire at his neighbors within minutes, not hours, and has devolved military authority to fire them to subordinates. He develops nuclear weapons, with which he would hold his neighbors and us hostage.”
On February 13, 2003, McCain again showed his “judgment” on Iraq, declaring:
“Proponents of containment claim that Iraq is in a ‘box.’ But it is a box with no lid, no bottom, and whose sides are falling out. Within this box are definitive footprints of germ, chemical and nuclear programs.”
McCain’s confidence was unshaken into June 2003, when he said, “I remain confident that we will find weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.” Alas, as the Los Angeles Times noted today:
In October 2004, more than a year after the invasion, a CIA-led investigation concluded that Baghdad had abandoned all chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs after the 1991 Persian Gulf War. The germ trucks never existed.
What the LA Times’ interview of and investigation into Alwan also reveals is just what a pathetically awful fabulist Curveball was:
He claimed, for example, that the son of his former boss, Basil Latif, secretly headed a vast weapons of mass destruction procurement and smuggling scheme from England. British investigators found, however, that Latif’s son was a 16-year-old exchange student, not a criminal mastermind.
His one-time supervisor Hilal Freah, a British-trained engineer and friend of Alwan’s mother, recounted Curveball’s duplicity:
“Rafid told five or 10 stories every day,” Freah said in an interview. “I’d ask, ‘Where have you been?’ And he’d say, ‘I had a problem with my car.’ Or, ‘My family was sick.’ But I knew he was lying.” He had a gift for it and “was not embarrassed when caught in a lie,” Freah said. At the Djerf al Nadaf warehouse, laborers treated seeds from local farmers with fungicides to prevent mold and rot. But Alwan convinced his BND [German intelligence] handlers that the site’s corn-filled sheds were part of Iraq’s secret germ weapons program. He worked there, he told them, until 1998, when an unreported biological accident occurred. In fact, Alwan had been dismissed three years earlier, in 1995, after inflating expenses and faking receipts for tools, supplies and lamb for a party. “I fired him,” Freah said. “He was corrupt and he was found stealing.”
For his part, Rafid Ahmed Alwan alias Curveball is unrepentant about his record when it comes to his role in enabling the war in Iraq. Rather than scorn, he claims, he deserves to rewarded and respected:
“Everything I said was true. And everything that’s been written about me is wrong. It’s all wrong. The main thing is, I’m an honest man.”
“For what I’ve done, I should be treated like a king.”
Which sounds a lot like John McCain.

Rep. Wexler: McCain “broke the law” on campaign finance

SilentPatriot, Crooks and Liars: Robert Wexler is a surrogate that Barack Obama should be grateful to have on his team. The Florida Congressman squared off against Republican Eric Cantor yesterday on “Late Edition” and did what every surrogate should do whenever the issue of campaign finance comes up; namely point out that John McCain is breaking his own campaign finance laws as we speak. (Click the pic for the vid.)
CNN: And one other thing — Senator McCain’s not in the osition to speak about this. He used his public financing as collateral to get a loan, and then, low and behold, he didn’t use it, and he broke the law.
I didn’t watch all the Sunday news shows last week, but I’m pretty sure Wexler was the only person — surrogate or otherwise — to make the observation that John McCain has absolutely no standing to lecture others on “failing to keep their word” on the issue of campaign finance reform. Why Democratic spokespeople aren’t on top of this talking point is beyond me.

James Dobson, who himself could use a lesson in Jesus, lectures Obama about God

John Aravosis (DC), Dobson's quotes are so self-referential, it's rather amazing.
"I think he's deliberately distorting the traditional understanding of the Bible to fit his own worldview, his own confused theology," Dobson said.
"... He is dragging biblical understanding through the gutter."
Pot meet Kettle. Now, what is truly interesting about all of this is that Dobson can't stand McCain. So it's rather interesting that Dobson is now attacking Obama, which in principle helps McCain. Obama has made no secret that he's wooing people of faith, as a fellow Christian. McCain's Christian bona fides aren't that strong - he recently got his faith wrong, and he certainly doesn't talk about God and Christ in the real way that Obama does, in the real way that a real Christian recognizes as, well, real. So Dobson appears to be worried that Obama is a real threat, not just to McCain, but to Dobson's own warped view of Christianity. Of course, the real threat to Dobson is that nobody appears to care what he and his ilk have to say anymore. At least not in politics, and that's Dobson's home turf. He may have loads of red-state followers who are still willing to at least sip his Kool-Aid, but in Washington, he's not exactly the cock of the walk he once was. And he knows it.
UPDATE from John Amato at Crooks and Liars: Our friends at Americans United for the Separation of Church and State wrote in to say Dobson’s “Alliance Defense Fund” is encouraging pastors to deliberately break the law and engage in politicking at church services during a pre-arranged “Pulpit Freedom Sunday” scheduled for September 28. [Memo to the IRS you’ll be working that weekend.]
UPDATE from Sara Kugler, Barack Obama said Tuesday that evangelical leader James Dobson was "making stuff up" when he accused the presumed Democratic presidential nominee of distorting the Bible. ...
Speaking to reporters on his campaign plane before landing in Los Angeles, Obama said the speech made the argument that people of faith, like himself, "try to translate some of our concerns in a universal language so that we can have an open and vigorous debate rather than having religion divide us."
Obama added, "I think you'll see that he was just making stuff up, maybe for his own purposes."

GAO Report Faults Post-'Surge' Planning

Karen DeYoung, Washington Post: The administration lacks an updated and comprehensive Iraq strategy to move beyond the "surge" of combat troops President Bush launched in January 2007 as an 18-month effort to curtail violence and build Iraqi democracy, government investigators said yesterday.
While agreeing with the administration that violence has decreased sharply, a report released yesterday by the Government Accountability Office concluded that many other goals Bush outlined a year and a half ago in the "New Way Forward" strategy remain unmet.
The report, after a bleak GAO assessment last summer, cited little improvement in the ability of the Iraqi security forces to act independently of the U.S. military, and noted that key legislation passed by the Iraqi parliament had not been implemented while other crucial laws had not been passed. The report also judged that key Iraqi ministries spent less of their allocated budgets last year than in previous years, and said that oil and electricity production had repeatedly not met U.S. targets.
Bush's strategy of January 2007, the GAO said, "defined the original goals and objectives that the Administration believed were achievable by the end of this phase in July 2008." Not meeting many of them changed circumstances on the ground and the pending withdrawal of the last of the additional U.S. forces mean that strategy is now outdated, the report said. The GAO recommends that the State and Defense departments work together to fashion a new approach. (more)
LSB: No plans/strategy beyond the surge... sound familiar? Is anyone really surprised?

Monday, June 23, 2008

Top McCain Adviser: Another terror attack would give McCain “big advantage”

SilentPatriot, Crooks and Liars: Well, since this guy’s job is to get John McCain elected at all costs, is it a stretch to wonder whether he’s actually hoping for one? It wouldn’t be the first time someone mused about that being a good idea.
On national security McCain wins. We saw how that might play out early in the campaign, when one good scare, one timely reminder of the chaos lurking in the world, probably saved McCain in New Hampshire, a state he had to win to save his candidacy - this according to McCain’s chief strategist, Charlie Black. The assassination of Benazir Bhutto in December was an “unfortunate event,” says Black. “But his knowledge and ability to talk about it reemphasized that this is the guy who’s ready to be Commander-in-Chief. And it helped us.” As would, Black concedes with startling candor after we raise the issue, another terrorist attack on U.S. soil. “Certainly it would be a big advantage to him,” says Black.
When it came out that Black lobbied for some of the worlds worst dictators, MoveOn put out this ad urging McCain to fire Black. I wonder if this is a fireable offense. I’m guessing not.
What’s even worse, just like Black exploits the tragic death of Benazir Bhutto for political gain, CNN’s Dana Bash is on the record saying that McCain echoed the same sentiment right after her death. Watch it here.
John Amato: Is Black hoping for an attack on US soil? He should be fired for saying this. Months ago he brought up the Bhutto assassination as an “unfortunate event.” Gee, what an awful way to phrase that tragedy. How about it was a horrific blow to Bhutto, her family and the country of Pakistan at a critical time in their history. Instead—it’s just an event, but a ” positive event” for McCain’s bid at the presidency. Let’s take a look at Black’s client list for a minute.
Charlie Black, McCain’s senior counsel and spokesman, began his lobbying career by representing numerous dictators and repressive regimes.
  1. Black’s firm represented the governor of Philippines dictator Ferdinand Marcos. According to a 1985 report, the firm Black, Manafort & Stone earned $950,000 plus expenses for its work to provide “advice and assistance on matters relating to the media, public relations and public affairs interests.”
  2. Black’s firm lobbied on behalf of Mobuto Sese Seko of Zaire, earning $1 million a year for his efforts.
  3. Black’s firm lobbied on behalf of Somali dictator Mohamed Siad Barre.
  4. Black’s firm represented Nigerian dictator Ibrahim Babangida, earning at least $1 million for his efforts.
  5. Black’s firm has represented Equatorial Guinea, an oil-rich state “best known for the outlandish brutality of its rulers.”
  6. Black represented Angolan rebel and “classical terrorist” Jonas Savimbi, a job that earned him $600,000.
  7. “We have to call him Africa’s classical terrorist,” Makau Mutua, a professor of law and Africa specialist told the New York Times. “In the history of the continent, I think he’s unique because of the degree of suffering he caused without showing any remorse.”
  8. In recent years his client list has also included the Iraqi National Congress,
  9. Friends of Blackwater,
  10. and the China National Off-Shore Oil Corp.
  11. Since 2005, BKSH has received more than $700,000 in fees from foreign entities.

I think lobbying for brutal dictators and regimes has rubbed off on Charlie Black a little too much.

Republicans Whine About Legality of New Obama Logo. Their Use of Similar Logos Doesn’t Bother Them

Nicole Belle, Crooks and Liars. Political Base: It’s just so hard to take the buffoons on the far right seriously when it comes to their incessant hysteria regarding anything involving Barack Obama (D). Their latest rant is that Obama is breaking federal law by using the likeness of the presidential seal with his new seal (left).
Seriously. The whack jobs over at the Weekly Standard are pretty much hyperventilating over it, even quoting the explicit language of 18 USC Sec. 713 [...]
Well, it took me about 15 minutes on Google Images to discover that John McCain’s (R) own caucus — the National Republican Senatorial Committee — uses three different likenesses of the official seal…for fundraising purposes:

President Bush Uses Executive Privilege To Block Subpoena Of EPA Documents

Logan Murphy, Crooks and Liars. Think Progress:
With a contempt of Congress vote looming by Rep. Henry Waxman’s (D-CA) House Oversight Committee, President Bush asserted executive privilege this morning to block the committee’s subpoenas for documents relating to the Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to reject California’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to override scientific recommendations on ozone standards.
Waxman’s committee had scheduled the 10 am business meeting to hold contempt votes for EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson and White House Office of Management and Budget regulatory administrator Susan Dudley. On May 20, Johnson appeared before the committee, without the subpoenaed documents and evading questions about Bush’s involvement. Read on…
As you might imagine, Henry Waxman isn’t too happy. From TPM:
I don’t think we’ve had a situation like this since Richard Nixon was president. When the President of the United States, may have been involved in acting contrary to law and the evidence that would determine that question for Congress, in exercising our oversight, is being blocked by an assertion of executive privilege. I would hope and expect this administration would not be making this assertion without a valid basis for it, but to date I have not seen a valid instance of their executive privilege. Read on…
As the American people sit and watch the Democrats cave to George Bush and the GOP on issues like FISA and war funding without provisions for troop withdrawal, there is little hope that Congress will step up and do the right thing. Someone should be held accountable for these crimes, but so far, the Democratic leadership has shown no real stomach to fulfill their constitutional duties. With impeachment off the table, this, like so many other crimes, will go unpunished.

The Best of TV News Lip Slips We've shown you their ridiculous pratfalls, their insane and wonderful on-camera meltdowns, and now we bring you the best of television news folks' lip slips. You know those, they're the terrifically awkward moments when an anchor says "blow job" instead of "block party," or accidentally outs their station's weatherman. They're completely embarrassing, uncomfortable, and downright amazing. Above is our compilation of the breast. I mean best.
LSB: All three videos are hilarious! Check them out by clicking on the text links above.

Fox News’ Chris Wallace Blatantly Shills for Big Oil

Bill W, Crooks and Liars: In a segment ending with the disclosure that “Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace is brought to you by “The People of America’s Oil and Natural Gas Industry” and immediately followed by the American Petroleum Institute (API) front group’s misleading ad, the Fox News host seized on one of John McCain’s more recent flip-flops siding with President Bush’s recent call to rescind the ban on offshore oil drilling and asked over and over why McCain won’t cave all the way to big oil and also allow for oil exploration in the Alaskan Arctic Wildlife Refuge, ANWR. (Click the pic for the vid.)
In the process of spewing talking points on behalf of his show’s sponsor, Wallace brings Obama into the discussion by joining the growing list of conservative dittoheads in the media who have been repeating this same false claim made by McCain last Tues. about oil spills and Hurricane Katrina:
Wallace: Obama talks about environmental damage from drilling offshore but the fact is the moratorium was put into effect in 1981. There’s been a lot of technological advances since then. We had Hurricane Katrina go through the heart of the Gulf of Mexico and ravage these oil rigs and there were almost no oil spills, so what’s he talking about?”
As ThinkProgress points out, that’s not true at all.
The truth is that Hurricane Katrina caused oil spillage so significant it was clearly visible from space. It also wreaked environmental havoc near the scale of the 1989 Exxon Valdez disaster.
As Sen. Reid correctly pointed out, this recent push by George Bush & John McBush represents “nothing more than a cynical campaign ploy that will do nothing to lower energy prices, and represents another big giveaway to oil companies already making billions in profits.” And the NYT went further to note that "the only real beneficiaries will be the oil companies that are trying to lock up every last acre of public land before their friends in power — Mr. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney — exit the political stage."
In fact, the oil industry has yet drilled in just 19 percent of the more than 40 million acres they already can that are not covered by the current ban — 40 million acres that represent 79 percent of America’s technically recoverable offshore oil reserves. Using generous estimates from the latest analysis from Bush’s own Department of Energy, allowing for unlimited drilling both offshore and in ANWR "would lower the price at the pump by less than 6 cents by 2025."
How much do you reckon a gallon of gas will be in 2025, with or without the hypothetical $0.06 a gal. savings?

William Kristol is Insane

From the Left: On Fox News Sunday this morning, Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol said that President Bush is more likely to attack Iran if he believes Barack Obama is going to be elected.
WALLACE: So, you’re suggesting that he might in fact, if Obama’s going to win the election, either before or after the election, launch a military strike?
KRISTOL: I don’t know. I mean, I think he would worry about it. On the other hand, you can’t — it’s hard to make foreign policy based on guesses of election results. I think Israel is worried though. I mean, what is, what signal goes to Ahmadinejad if Obama wins on a platform of unconditional negotiations and with an obvious reluctance to even talk about using military force.
Kristol also suggested that Obama’s election would tempt Saudi Arabia and Egypt to think, "maybe we can use nuclear weapons."
Say again, why did the New York Times hire this lunatic?

White House Shoots Down Army’s Effort To Increase Oversight Of Defense Contractors Since 2002, the Army’s contracting budget has ballooned from $46 billion to $112 billion in 2007. However, as the AP reported last week, the number of investigators charged with hunting down fraudulent or wasteful contracts has stayed the same, at less than 100 agents.
Now the Army has proposed adding five active-duty generals who would oversee purchasing and monitor contractor performance — a move recommended by a blue-ribbon panel last fall. But the White House, through the Office of Management and Budget, “has shot down” the Army’s plan:
According to a May 28 report to Congress on the status of the recommendations, Army Secretary Pete Geren said a proposal for five extra generals was submitted in March to OMB for approval. The office’s role is to ensure proposed budgets and legislation are consistent with the administration’s policies.
On May 12, the Army learned its proposal had been rejected. The report does not say why. A week after the rejection, the Army appealed OMB’s decision.
The Army’s proposal of adding five oversight generals would cost a mere $1.2 million a year in personnel costs. By contrast, a Defense Contract Audit Agency found $4.9 billion “in overpricing and waste” in Iraq contracts since 2003, which doesn’t include the additional $5.1 billion “in expenses charged without documentation.” In other words, the White House opposes a contract oversight proposal that would cost a mere .012 percent of the $10 billion already lost to contract waste.
Last year, the White House tried to block legislation that would limit the use of no-bid contracts and require greater congressional oversight. Despite Bush’s opposition, the Senate passed the bill unanimously, and the House approved it with 347 votes.

Appeals court rules against Bush administration in enemy combatant case. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit has “overturned the Pentagon’s classification of a Guantanamo detainee as an enemy combatant,” undermining “the basis for his more than six years in detention.” The court also rejected the argument that the President can “detain people who never took up arms against the U.S.,” dealing another setback to the Bush administration’s detention program.

Scalia, McCain and Yoo Push Discredited “Gitmo 30″ Talking Point

Jon Perr, Crooks and Liars: Earlier, I detailed how John McCain, John Yoo and Justice Antonin Scalia in the wake of the Court’s Boumediene decision all continued to peddle the discredited Republican talking point about “30 former Guantanamo detainees” who had “returned to the fight.” Now a devastating new report released Tuesday from Seton Hall professor Mark Denbeaux puts to rest the Scalia’s “urban legend.”
That figure of 30 terror recidivists unleashing a bloodbath had been debunked by earlier studies from Denbeaux’s team and recent investigations from the McClatchy papers. But Denbeaux’s updated analysis, including the revelations that the Defense Department itself backtracked from the infamous Gitmo 30 in July 2007 and May 2008, shows the extent to which Justice Scalia engaged in cherry-picking dubious data to bolster his blood-curdling Boumediene dissent last week. And it hasn’t stopped the exaggerated number of Gitmo repeat terrorists (like the cry of “worse than Dred Scott“) from becoming a standard Republican talking point since the Court’s restoration of habeas corpus last week. (Read the rest of this story…)

MoveOn to Obama: Keep Your Word, Filibuster Telecom Immunity

John Amato, Crooks and Liars: I know many readers were upset with Obama’s response to the newly passed Hoyer/FISA bill that granted the Telecoms retroactive immunity. If he brings up an amendment to strip the immunity provision in the Senate next week and it fails–then–what’s the point, right? Greg Sargent said “Why Obama’s Support For FISA Cave-In Is Such A Downer.”
MoveOn, who supported Obama during the primary fight has just issued a letter asking Obama to keep his word:
On Friday, House Democrats caved to the Bush administration and passed a bill giving a get-out-of-jail-free card to phone companies that helped Bush illegally spy on innocent Americans.
This Monday, the fight moves to the Senate. Senator Russ Feingold says the “deal is not a compromise; it is a capitulation.” Barack Obama announced his partial support for the bill, but said, “It does, however, grant retroactive immunity, and I will work in the Senate to remove this provision so that we can seek full accountability for past offenses.”
Last year, after phone calls from MoveOn members and others, Obama went so far as to vow to “support a filibuster of any bill that includes retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies.” We need him to honor that promise.
Can you call Senator Obama today and tell him you’re counting on him to keep his word? Ask him to block any compromise that includes immunity for phone companies that helped Bush break the law.
  • Obama’s presidential campaign: (866) 675-2008.
  • Then, help us track our progress by clicking here.
Blue America Pac remarkably has raised over 300K so far. Please continue to join in.
UPDATE. Obama: “I’ll Work To Strip Telecom Immunity From FISA”: Barack Obama clarified his statement in support of H.R. 6304, the so-called telecom immunity bill, and said he would try to strip a provision granting immunity to telecommunication companies when the bill comes to a vote in the Senate next week.
“[The bill] does, however, grant retroactive immunity, and I will work
in the Senate to remove this provision so that we can seek full accountability for past offenses.”
The House approved the legislation 293-129 and H.R. 6304 received the support of DINO House Speaker Nancy Pelosi.
From the Left calls on the presumptive Democratic nominee, Barack Obama, to join with Sen. Chris Dodd next week when the legislation comes before the Senate for a vote and uphold the Constitution and strip the retroactive immunity portion from the bill.

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Pressed Over And Over, Holtz-Eakin Unable To Explain How McCain Will Pay For Tax Cuts On MSNBC’s Morning Joe today, host Joe Scarborough pressed Sen. John McCain’s (R-AZ) top economic adviser, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, on McCain’s infamous flip-flop on the Bush tax cuts. Scarborough noted that McCain’s current position is “that we couldn’t afford tax cuts in 2001 because of deficits, but we can afford them now.” “Can we afford to extend George W. Bush’s tax cuts?” he asked.
Holtz-Eakin filibustered, claiming that “McCain has a plan to bring the budget into balance by 2013.” After Scarborough repeated his question five times, Holtz-Eakin finally relented, saying, “Yes.” Scarborough then pointed out the absurdity of McCain’s changing position from 2001 to 2008:

SCARBOROUGH: You’re saying we can afford, just a yes or no, we can afford to extend George W. Bush’s tax cuts?
SCARBOROUGH: Ok. But in 2001, when Sen. McCain voted against George Bush’s tax cuts, he said we couldn’t afford it because it would create a deficit. In 2001, we had a 155 billion dollar surplus. This year, in 2008, when he now supports the tax cuts, as you know, we are moving towards a 300 billion dollar deficit. How can we afford tax cuts in 2008 with 300 billion dollar deficit that John McCain said we couldn’t afford in 2001 when we had 155 billion dollar surplus?
Beyond a blanket promise to “control spending,” Holtz-Eakin could not explain how McCain’s budget could afford the tax cuts. Watch it:
The reason Holtz-Eakin refused to explain how McCain would “balance the budget” while extending and enhancing the Bush tax cuts is simple: He can’t do it.
McCain has claimed that he can pay for his massive tax cuts by either cutting $100 billion a year in earmarks or $100 billion in overall spending. But the Washington Post’s Fact Checker calls this “voodoo economics” ...
An analysis by the Center for American Progress Action Fund has determined that McCain’s fiscal proposals “would create deficits as deep as 5.7% of GDP by the end of a two term presidency — the highest federal budget deficit in 25 years.”
Transcript: Read the rest of this entry.

90 Percent Of Whites Comfortable With Black President The Washington Post reports "an overwhelming public openness to the idea of electing an African American to the presidency."

In a Post-ABC News poll last month, nearly nine in 10 whites said they would be comfortable with a black president. While fewer whites, about two-thirds, said they would be "entirely comfortable" with it, that was more than double the percentage of all adults who said they would be so at ease with someone entering office for the first time at age 72, which McCain (R-Ariz.) would do should he prevail in November.
But the good news may stop there. "As Sen. Barack Obama opens his campaign as the first African American on a major party presidential ticket, nearly half of all Americans say race relations in the country are in bad shape and three in 10 acknowledge feelings of racial prejudice," according to the same poll. ...
Moreover, the Post reports in a separate story that Obama's historic primary victory "has also sparked an increase in racist and white supremacist activity, mainly on the Internet, according to leaders of hate groups and the organizations that track them." (more)