Monthly Archives: March 2008

John McCain and his kooky friends at the New York Sun

After initially admitting he was a blockhead who didn’t know what he was talking about and had to be corrected by Joe Lieberman, of all people, John McCain is pushing back on the ‘Iran supports Al Qaeda’ “gaffes”.

First, to recap: McCain does a phone-in interview with Hugh Hewitt on Monday, March 17 while he is on a mid-east tour. (Hugh Hewitt Aka Huge Nitwit–HA HA Ha–sorry, I crack myself up. Hewitt is supposed to be somewhat of an intellectual heavyweight among right-wingers, for whatever that’s worth.) In said interview, McCain first makes the claim that Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia are traveling to Iran from Iraq and back again for training and shelter. He repeated the Iran/Al Qaeda connection again while in Iraq w/ Senators Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC) the next day, adding this Iran/Al Qaeda connection was “common knowledge” that had been reported on in the media. Thirdly, on Wednesday March 19, the fifth anniversary of the start of the Iraq War, McCain declared in written remarks:

“Today in Iraq, America and our allies stand on the precipice of winning a major victory against radical Islamic extremism. The security gains over the past year have been dramatic and undeniable. Al Qaeda and Shia extremists — with support from external powers such as Iran — are on the run but not defeated.”

The phrase “Al Qaeda and Shia extremists” kind of covers his butt, as he can at least make a case that Iran is aiding Shia groups in Iraq, but still the linking of Al Qaeda to Iran is implied–and troubling. It is this same “fast and loose with the facts” rhetorical style that Bush, Cheney et al used in selling the Iraq War. Five-and-a-half years ago a large chunk of gullible Americans swallowed Bush’s claims that Saddam had links to Al-Qaeda and the terror attacks of 9/11/01: My favorite was the whopping lie that Saddam had fleet of UAV gliders capable of dropping chemical weapons on the eastern seaboard. (For anyone keeping score at home, the UAV “fleet” turned out to be a primitive wooden hobby glider that belonged one of Saddam’s sons.) With a grimace and a scowl, John McCain is now trying a similar ploy.

What’s worse are his enablers in the media, specifically the New York Sun. I almost fell over when I read the article McCain, Obama Clash Over Iran’s Al Qaeda Role by Eli Lake:

The Sun also reported in July that a senior leadership or management council for Al Qaeda meets regularly in eastern Iran, according to the classified portion of the latest national intelligence estimate on Al Qaeda. An intelligence briefer to the press for that estimate at the time claimed to have no recollection of the section, but the Sun maintains that it is there.

. . .

The report went on, “we now have evidence suggesting that 8 to 10 of the 14 Saudi ‘muscle’ operatives” who were perpetrated the September 11 attacks for Al Qaeda “traveled into or out of Iran between October 2000 and February 2001.”

Ok. The Sun reports something on the national intelligence estimate on Al Qaeda that the Bush administration’s briefer says isn’t true and doesn’t exist. The sun disagrees and “maintains it is there”. Ouch. Reminds me of the Richard Pryor joke about when his wife catches him in the act of cheating. He denies cheating and says “who’re you going to believe, me, or your lying eyes?” Let’s be really serious for a moment: If the briefer could throw a bone to a friendly publication like the Sun, he would. If he could point to a link between Iran and al Qaeda, he would. The fact that he didn’t means the Sun is drifting into fantasy land, a place they evidently spend much of their time.

In the next excerpt, the Sun states some of the goons who hijacked planes on 9/11 traveled to and from Iran one-year to six-months before 9/11. Connect the dots, America! That means Iran helped plan the attacks of 9/11/01! Or, some guys who later hijacked planes allegedly visited Iran before 9/11/01–before anyone, outside of our counter-terrorist agencies, had any reason to be suspicious an attack was coming. For the record, these guys also visited Canada before crossing the border into the U.S. They visited some strip clubs and casinos before the attacks, and supposedly one of the hijackers was rooming with an FBI agent in San Diego. Were Canada, the casinos, the strip clubs, and the FBI agent in San Diego all part of the conspiracy too? I mean, by New York Post logic they must be. The 9/11 hijackers traveled into and out of Canada, the casino, the strip club, and the apartment shared with the FBI agent in San Diego, just like they allegedly traveled to and from Iran. Guilty–off to Gitmo. Case closed.

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Filed under al qaeda, iran, Iraq, john mccain, new york sun

More Words on Obama’s Pastor "Problem"

On March 14, 2008, Obama wrote an article for the Huffington Post website entitled On My Faith and My Church in which he said the following:

Let me say at the outset that I vehemently disagree and strongly condemn the statements that have been the subject of this controversy. I categorically denounce any statement that disparages our great country or serves to divide us from our allies. I also believe that words that degrade individuals have no place in our public dialogue, whether it’s on the campaign stump or in the pulpit. In sum, I reject outright the statements by Rev. Wright that are at issue.

Barack Obama has a Pastor “problem” named Jeremiah Wright. At least, that’s what I’ve been told. Workaday Liberal Bhfrik talked about this a few days ago. So did everyone else in the blogosphere and punditocracy. Through the remainder of the campaign season, Pastor Wright’s “hate” sermons will definitely be replayed occasionally by the networks, msnbc and cnn, and much more often on Fox. If Obama wins the Democratic nomination, a cottage industry of Obama/Wright Hate America 527’s will appear during the general election campaign linking Obama to Wright’s fiery homilies (and calling him a radical Muslim who doesn’t wear a flag pin).

I don’t watch the news everyday, and this story slipped by me on Thursday, at least until I got to work. The 2 local dittoheads ambushed me at the time clock and demanded to know if I was still going to support Obama and vote for him. When I said yes they bombarded me with the talking points of the controversy du jour: Obama’s pastor’s a hatemonger. He hates whites. He hates america. He hates. Obama went to his church for 20 + years. Wright married him and baptized his kids.

Not knowing exactly how much was true and what was spin, I was nonetheless a little shocked by what they said but had a quick response: That I’d watch the speeches when I got home, and defer judgment until then. But I thought at that moment the Wright clap-trap sounded real bad for Barack’s chances in PA, and seems like perfect ammo for would-be Swift Boaters in the general election. I knew Obama would repudiate Wright’s comments like he had Farrakhan’s and fire Wright from any symbolic post he held in the campaign. I also mentioned to the ditto’s McCain’s relationship with Hagee, his ongoing courtship of Lehaye, and his disgusting about-face with Falwell and Robertson after rightly naming them “agents of intolerance” during his 2000 primary campaign. I outlined briefly those guys’ “greatest hits” of hate speech.

The more deeply indoctrinated dittohead (by this time the one with the short attention-span had dropped out of the conversation) ignored most of what I said and piled on with details–some true, some false, some embellished–of Wright’s sermons. “He called Hillary a nigga! He said the 9/11 victims deserved to die!!” Etc. etc. I saw red.

I’ll debate education. I’ll debate global warming. I’ll debate Iraq. I’ll debate the economy. I’ll debate FISA and warrant-less eavesdropping. I’ll debate torture. But I won’t debate how much or how little Barack Obama was affected by what his pastor said in a few sermons he may or may not have attended. Obama’s a grown man with his own ideas. He joined the Trinity United Church of Christ in the 1980’s because he liked some, many or all of the things that Wright was saying at the time and/or what the Church was doing for the community. It doesn’t mean he agrees with every word out of the Rev. Wright’s mouth. And it doesn’t make him responsible for those words.

I told the head ditto this. I barked at him about how all he ever wants to talk about is nonsense. Salacious, inconsequential nonsense. “Let’s talk about how we can’t sustain the surge in Iraq,” I yelled at him. “How, other than securing a few areas, it isn’t working because the Iraqi Government isn’t doing anything towards reconciliation or oil-revenue sharing. How the “Anbar Awakening” and the Madhi Army cease-fire are being bought by gobs of greenbacks–bribes–not democratic principles or lofty ideas of freedom and/or fighting a common enemy: Al Qaeda in Mesopotamia. How tax cuts during wartime are a bad idea and have never been done before in the history of the country. How not all deregulation is good for the economy, and that many markets NEED government regulation to exist. How NAFTA, GATT and the WTO are enriching the few while impoverishing the many. Let’s talk about stop-loss, Tramatic Brain Injury, the under-funded VA, Personality Disorders, Walter Reed, 15-month deployments, units on their 5th tour of duty in Iraq or Afghanistan, Osama bin Laden, The now-defunct “Coalition of the Willing”, Admiral Fallon’s “resignation”, The marketing campaign for another “rogue state roll-back”, this time in Iran. etc. etc.” All I got back was the same blank stare I’ve come to know so well and one stupid comment about how it was a good thing to pay for the Iraq War on the “credit card” (future generations of taxpayers will be paying off the war debt when ditto and me are dead and gone) because tax-breaks help “grow the economy”.

I cooled down and Ditto and I switched gears and talked about the Red Sox for awhile. Mainly the young pitchers and how cool I think the name “Bartolo Colon” is. We mostly agree on baseball, so its our go-to topic if political talk gets too intense. After work Thursday night I watched the “greatest hits” collection of Wright’s sermons and read Obama’s apology/repudiation at Huffpo. At work Friday the head ditto talked more on this and he said he was content that Obama strongly disagreed with and strongly condemned Wright’s offending remarks. He still won’t vote for Obama, unless NewsMax can prove McCain was brainwashed by the Red Chinese while he was a prisoner of war in North Vietnam (this is, I know, a poor attempt at humor–John McCain suffered tremendously during his imprisonment at the “Hanoi Hilton”–but also an rumor that floats around emails in the nuttier circles of the lunatic right), but his righteous indignation over the Reverend Jeremiah Wright had been abated. Unfortunately, I’m madder than ever about this crap, especially after listening to Randi Rhodes forecast gloom and doom for Obama and condemn Wright repeatedly on Friday’s program.

Obama will take a hit, of course, and his chances of beating Hill in PA look bleak. But Obama’s base are young and educated new voters who won’t be swayed but this crap. Ardent Dems will vote for the Dem candidate, Ardent Repubs will hold their noses and vote McCain, and the “undecided” voters will vote on pocketbook issues and Iraq.

I know this will be a very unpopular position, but I agreed with a lot of Wright’s “fiery rhetoric”. And I would point those who jump to label him “un-American” and a traitor to Rev. Wright’s wikipedia entry: Rev. Wright is a veteran of the United States Marine Corps and the United States Navy and served from 1961-67, during the Vietnam War. In the Navy Jeremiah Wright served as a Cardio pulmonary Technician at Bethesda Naval Hospital, where the “un-American” Wright treated injured Sailors and Marines and most likely saved the lives of some of them.

Wright’s Military Career encapsulated, from the Corinthian Baptist Church website:

1964-67 Salutatorian Cardio pulmonary Technician National Naval Medical Center U.S. Naval Hospital, Bethesda, MD

1963 Valedictorian – Corpsman School Great Lakes Naval Training Center, Great Lakes Illinois Hospital

1961-63 U.S. Marine Corps, 2nd Marine Division

Those who are offended by his frank words on racism in America would do well to remember the turbulent era in which he grew up and how the assassinations and violence of the civil-rights era must’ve contributed to Rev. Wright’s personality and worldview. Below is a famous image of a Birmingham, Alabama Policeman siccing a police dog on a non-violent civil rights activist in 1963. The look on the face of the cop grabbing the protester chills my blood. Until a few years ago I thought these characters only existed in Ralph Steadman drawings.

I’m a white guy from rural western Massachusetts. Apart from 4 years in the US Navy, where I was stationed in Newport News and Norfolk, Virginia, I’ve lived in WMass all my life. In my 33 years on this earth, spent mainly in the so-called liberal, educated northeastern state of Massachusetts, I’ve heard the word nigger said (in real-life, not on TV, movies, or Dr. Dre videos) at least a thousand times. I’ve seen black men and women called niggers to their faces–and I’ve seen the pain and anger and violence the word provokes.

Many of the so-called hate-filled lines from sermons given by Wright, though “coarse” and un-PC, are true, inconvenient for “Main Street America”, and Barack Obama’s campaign battle, but true. Hillary Clinton has never been called a nigga. If Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were not famous senators but anonymous private citizens hailing cabs in NYC, odds are Mrs. Clinton would have an easier time getting a cab to stop than Barack would. America’s foreign policy and support of terrorist groups like the Mujahadeen in Afghanistan in the 80’s and 90’s and the stationing of US forces in Saudi Arabia during the first Gulf War did contribute to us getting hit on 9/11/2001. The truth is not pro-American or anti-American, it is simply the truth. Repeating the falsehoods that all people, regardless of skin color, are always treated equally; that racism is a thing of the past; that the U.S. of A is a shining city on a hill that never does harm or makes mistakes over and over doesn’t doesn’t transform those falsehoods into gospel truth–it just makes you an idiot for saying those things–or a politician trying to pander to idiots and thereby win an election.

We are all equal, but we don’t treat each other equally most of the time. We are all racists, some a teeny, tiny bit racially-biased and others full-tilt hatemongers, as well as all variants in-between. And America and Americans do many good things, many so-so things, and many bad things. That’s just the world as it exists, like it or lump it.

I’ll close with this, the concluding passages of Rev. Jeremiah Wright’s 1990 sermon that inspired the title and some of the content of Barack Obama’s book The Audacity of Hope. (I found the sermon at Andrew Sullivan’s blog)

III. Persistence of Hope

The real lesson Hannah gives us from this chapter—the most important word God would have us hear—is how to hope when the love of God is not plainly evident. It’s easy to hope when there are evidences all around of how good God is. But to have the audacity to hope when that love is not evident—you don’t know where that somewhere is that my grandmother sang about, or if there will ever be that brighter day—that is a true test of a Hannah-type faith. To take the one string you have left and to have the audacity to hope—make music and praise God on and with whatever it is you’ve got left, even though you can’t see what God is going to do—that’s the real word God will have us hear from this passage and from Watt’s painting.

There’s a true-life illustration that demonstrates the principles portrayed so powerfully in this periscope. And I close with it. My mom and my dad used to sing a song that I’ve not been able to find in any of the published hymnals. It’s an old song out of the black religious tradition called “Thank you, Jesus.” It’s a very simple song. Some of you have heard it. It’s simply goes, “Thank you Jesus. I thank you Jesus. I thank you Jesus. I thank you Lord.” To me they always sang that song at the strangest times—when the money got low, or when the food was running out. When I was getting in trouble, they would start singing that song. And I never understood it, because as a child it seemed to me they were thanking God that we didn’t have any money, or thanking God that we had no food, or thanking God that I was making a fool out of myself as a kid.

Conclusion: Hope is What Saves Us

But I was only looking at the horizontal level. I did not understand nor could I see back then the vertical hookup that my mother and my father had. I did not know then that they were thanking him in advance for all they dared to hope he would do one day to their son, in their son, and through their son. That’s why they prayed. That’s why they hoped. That’s why they kept on praying with no visible sign on the horizon. And I thank God I had praying parents, because now some thirty-five years later, when I look at what God has done in my life, I understand clearly why Hannah had the audacity to hope. Why my parents had the audacity to hope.

And that’s why I say to you, hope is what saves us. Keep on hoping; keep on praying. God does hear and answer prayer.


Frank Schaeffer’s take on the Wright “scandal” in a must read.

Fox News Reporter Ainsley Earhardt makes disturbing Rev. Wright/Adolf Hitler comparison here.

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Filed under barack obama, first amendment, hate speech, hillary clinton, jeremiah wright, racism, the audacity of hope, trinity church of christ

What I Learned This Week

What I Learned This Week is just me briefly riffing on all the stuff I heard on Air America, read in the Papers or the blogs, or heard talking to folks. I think I used to call it “Hitting To All Fields” which was a rip-off of Springfield Republican sports writer Gary Brown’s column. I like What I Learned This Week (henceforth: WILTW) better.

Admiral Fallon Resigns

Fallon resigned (or was given the choice of resigning or being fired) as head of CentCom (Military Commander of all US Forces in the Middle East) earlier this week. The blogger wisdom is that Fallon was the last guy standing between Bush and Cheney and War in Iran. Slightly less-conventional blogger wisdom is that Fallon had to go because he was an advocate of drawing-down forces in Iraq. Both of these positions are polar opposite the Bush/Cheney/NeoCon party line. So. . .bye bye Admiral Fallon. Hello WWIII?

McCain makes out publicly with more “agents of intolorance”

If you thought he was done when he travelled to Liberty University to kiss Falwell’s ring, you were sadly mistaken. This time Mr. McCain aggressively sought out, and received (who else are they gonna endorse?) to endorsement of John “You’re all gonna burn in hell!” Hagee and is currently courting Tim Lehaye (co-author of the “Left Behind” “books” and former (?) white supremacist militia group member).

All I can say to/about McCain at this point is: “Thanks for your heroic service to your country in Vietnam. Sorry you got shot down and tortured as a P.O.W. for 6 years. That was truly awful and I don’t wish it on ANYBODY (even folks with dark complexions we label terrorists). Sorry you missed Woodstock and all the drugs and free love. Sorry. Sorry. Sorry. But I’m also sorry to say that this country doesn’t need and in fact can’t afford you as our president. Please go back to Arizona with your junkie botox-ed beer heiress trophy wife and leave the country alone–we don’t want to go to the gates of hell with you. We don’t want to bomb Iran (at least, those of us with functioning brains don’t). We don’t want another four years of Bush. And we don’t want or need a man who, let’s face it, doesn’t seem all that stable or competent. Be honest with yourself, if John Kerry is a flip-flop you’re a Birkenstock warehouse. In 2000 you were running around with a toy lightsaber and saying you were Luke Skywalker–and we loved you for it because you were running against a complete nutter. But you ain’t Luke Skywalker–and you never were. If anything you’re Anakin Skywalker. One minute your a prince the next you flip out and slaughter a whole village of Sand People or cut off Mace Windu’s arm or use your force powers to beat up Queen Amidala.”

John McCain’s AirBus connection

Three of McCain’s closest advisors are lobbyists for the parent corporation of Airbus, the European comglomerate that just received the contract for new Air Force refueling tankers over U.S. company Boeing. McCain exposed Boeing’s corrupt ways, specifically how they tried to bribe several top Air Force Commanders with high-paying jobs at Boeing after they retired if they steered the contract for the tankers to Boeing. Be that as it may, the America-first crowd and those concerned about American jobs are getting super-pissed at the thought of USAF tankers being built by a European company using mostly foreign labor.

I see this through a partisan lens, as I am fervently against John McCain becoming president. Obama and Clinton need to talk about this a lot. They need to appeal to the bubbas and bobos on this one. Play it similar to the Dubai ports deal. Stoke the fires of ugly nationalism a little. Ask the American People if they want US American Air Force planes being made by foreigners, or hard-working US American workers? Boeing is a US American company, and all the jobs assembling the US American planes will we done by true-blue, red-blooded US Americans. NorthropGrumman/Airbus is owned by foreign secular European dope-smoking, tree-hugging socialists. Airbus will get our tax dollars and employ mostly foreigners to built the tankers.

Sorry for the ugly nationalism. I’m being mostly sarcastic, especially with all the US American and dope-smoking socialist stuff. But I think Obama and Clinton can damage McCain on this one if they ask the public why Mr. Straight Talk wants to outsource the building of US American Air Force Planes to Europe.

I would prefer the planes were made by a US company, mainly because it will mean more americans will be employed and on a visceral level it seems wrong for USAF aircraft to be made by anyone but us. I’m old enough to realize a certain amount of graft and corruption is part of all or most military contracts; Boeing and Airbus are two peas in a pod. But this situation makes it crystal clear how much better off when their were many US Aerospace companies that could bid on these contracts–and thereby foster competition and reduce costs–but those days are gone. They’ve all merged, been gobbled up and/or went transnational.

Obama’s middle name

Sigh. All week I’ve heard my dittohead co-workers saying “We can’t criticize Barack Hussein Obama’s middle name. We can’t criticize him because he’s black and anything we say is un-PC and racist. We can’t say anything. Waaaw.” OK, obviously you CAN say Obama’s middle name because I’ve heard it said, written about or mentioned about three-thousand times in the last year. And didn’t/doesn’t Rush Limbaugh play a jingle entitled “Barack the Magic Negro”. Which, of course, wasn’t his phrase–he stole it from an LA Times columnist. But he talked about it ad naseaum and had his people write a jingle about it.

So, to sum up: All you small-minded bigots have the right of free speech. You can scream “Barack Hussein Obama” from the roof tops if you want. No one is censoring you. As always, you are trying to manufacture outrage and at the same time keep “Hussein” firmly in the minds of your racist, xenophobic followers. Have a blast with that.

I think Barack Obama should make a simple commercial with him sitting at a modest kitchen table eating dinner with his beautiful family. He looks into the camera and says: “My name is Barack Hussein Obama. I’m proud of my name–its a part of who I am. My father was a muslim from Kenya. He abandoned my mother and myself when I was two years old. I have little or no memory of him, but I wrote a book called “Dreams of My Father” about him. Because my father wasn’t there for me I strive to be the best father and husband I can be to my family.

Though my father was an African muslim, I am an American, and a Christian. I am not ashamed of my father’s faith, or his birthplace, but they are his faith, and his birthplace, not mine.

I love my country very much, I pledge allegiance to the flag of my country, I swore an oath on the Holy Bible to support and defend the constitution of the United States of America, and I believe Jesus Christ is the son of God and my savior and redeemer.

That is the truth and that is who I am. I am running for the office of President of the United States and I humbly ask for your vote this November. Thank you and God bless you.”

I am not a speech-writer, and I’m sure his team could do a lot better. In a sane world people would be able to cleave the truth from falsehood, and Obama wouldn’t need to make this commercial. But we’re 30 years into the up-is-down, down-is-up, good-is-evil, evil-is-good Republican revolution, and they have a finely-tuned slime machine that turned a decorated war heroes into a traitor in the last presidential election. These people would paint Barack Obama is a muslic fifth-columnist bound on imposing sharia law on America. Obama needs to make this commercial, and he needs to run it on Fox News and the religious networks often for several months. Lots of decent but easily-swayed voters are hearing/reading the lies that have been circulating, and the man hasn’t been nearly strong enough in countering them.

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