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Meet Joe, the Invisible Vice-Presidential Candidate

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The American public has been cheated by the media. Yeah, we get the full skinny every time Sarah Palin sneezes. And we’ve seen enough footage on Joe the so-called Plumber to inspire every McCain-Palin mob member in America to chime, “Commie!” every hour, on the hour. But Joe Biden? Unless he makes some ghastly gaffe, he’s invisible. And what a shame for American voters.

Not only is Joe Biden a man of great character and substance, who has much to contribute to the national dialogue, but his is also (uh, earth to media) running for vice-president. Fortunately, the youth of America have done their best to pick up where the media’s left off in covering one of the most qualified and promising vice-presidential candidates we’ve seen in the past 3 decades:  

ABOVE: Here’s a video of a Joe Biden speech, covered by 5th grade reporter, Damon Weaver, who also interviewed Biden (starting at 3:34 on the video). Herein, we get a taste of the human interest story, as Joe tells about the slumber party with Biden’s grandchildren and Obama’s girls. Biden also explains the duties of the Vice-President. The sound quality of the video is not the greatest, but the content is first class. I only wish the media would cover this stuff. Or, at the very least, cover some of Biden’s speeches (see below). Lacking that, I wish we had an army of Damon Weavers to get out there and tell America what the hell’s really going on. 

ABOVE: Here’s the quintessential Joe we’ve been missing on the evening news. In this video, he discusses what we *didn’t* hear during the Republican convention. Of course, if the media is indeed owned by the Bush-cheney-McCain corporate henchmen, that would explain Joe’s absence.

ABOVE: More classic Joe. Here, he discusees John McCain’s record on the economy — his policies, contradictions and conflicts of interest, past and present — explaining details we’re not likely to ever hear on the evening news. 

ABOVE: This interview (WFTV w/anchorscab Barbara West) is more typical of the treatment the Obama ticket has received from the evil, liberal elitist media. To watch any news whatsoever, besides the Keith – Rachel line-up, I honestly can’t imagine how Obama and Biden have drawn such a large support base. It goes to show that maybe Americans aren’t as dumb as Palin and McCain, nor as dumb as they think.

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McCain-Gramm Economics: Communism with a Capital “G”

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When I gave food to the poor, they called me a saint. When I asked why the poor were hungry, they called me a communist. — Dom Helder Camara

It’s All the Rage!

As the failed Bill Ayers smear slowly fades into the annals of campaign-smear history, its replacement — red-baiting — is proving to be one of the more effective scare-tactics du jour  to be pulled from the McCain-Palin campaign’s arsenal of sleazy tactics. Can the McCain-Palin ticket really and truly convince enough voters that Obama’s campaign is nothing but a secret plot to turn America into a communist state? It’s unlikely, although many voters will, indeed, take that red bait and run ‘scairt’ straight to the polls. 

I’m a proponent of the axiom that states, “You can never underestimate the stupidity of the American voters.” By the same token, it’s safe to say that an overwhelming majority of American voters have glimpsed the light at the end of tunnel, and — having discovered that it’s not daylight they’re seeing, but the headlight of a runaway train barreling toward them — they’ve come to their senses. Fear of imaginary bogeymen has been replaced by fear of real bogeymen — those political crooks who have spent the past 8 years not only raping the Constitution and Bill of Rights, but our economy — and, along with it, undermined the incomes, jobs, health care and/or security of some 95% of Americans. 

G is for Gramm & Greenspan

If David Addington is the architect of the Bush-Cheney assaults on the U.S. Constitution (and he is), then McCain’s long-time economic advisers/gurus, Phil Gramm and Alan Greenspan, are the architects of our collapsing economy. And John McCain, his finger ever on the pulse of what’s best for America, has approved — bill by bill, measure by measure — eight years worth of assaults on our economy.

The issue of economics is not something I’ve understood as well as I should. I’ve got Greenspan’s book. — John McCain, December 2007

The folks at the helm of this mess — most of them, coincidentally, filthy rich Republicans — would like the American people to believe the financial crisis is so complex as to be inscrutable, unknowable, when the only real unknowable is how bleak the future. Epidemic poverty? Mass homelessness? Food shortages? Worse? Much, much worse?

As such, they’d like us to climb on board with their we’re-all-in-this-together mantra: “Now is not the time to play the blame game!” — even as they, themselves, have systematically heaped the blame at the feet of minorities and the poor. Here, their hope is to stir racism into the mix, to seduce Americans into swallowing the lie that it’s the fault of poor folks and minorities, and that whites, middle-class and upper crust Americans were not alternately victimized and party to the corrupt lending practices. The folks at the helm are banking on the surety that, if they confuse us enough, we’ll just throw up our hands and hope that someone “up there” knows what they’re doing.

Covering Their Asses & Assets

If you trust in nothing else, trust in this: These crooks know exactly what they’ve done and what they’re doing. That’s why they want to avoid close scrutiny to the blame game. But if Americans don’t start playing the blame game — and fast — these crooks, who have benefitted to the tune of millions and billions of dollars over the past 8 years, will only continue to rake in millions and billions more from the so-called bailout. They’re already doing it. To not play the blame game is to invite a second Trojan horse into the city, having not learned our lesson after the first Trojan horse — a gift carved by none other than McCain’s financial gurus, Phil Gramm and Alan Greenspan.  

Ho-Ho-Ho and Merry Freaking Christmas

That first Trojan horse rolled onto Wall Street, via Capitol Hill, on Friday, December 15, 2000. With Christmas break only hours away, the U.S. Senate was rushing to pass an 11,000-page government-spending reauthorization bill. Tacked onto this bill — at the urging of Sen. Phil Gramm — was a 262 page amendment, called the Commodity Futures Modernization Act of 2000. The amendment Trojan horse passed, without debate, in both houses. With this, our lawmakers paved the way for a practice called “credit default swaps” — a legalized form of gambling, whereby financiers could place bets on whether people defaulted on their mortgages.

Being such crackerjack economists, Greenspan and Gramm surely knew the bitter lesson history had taught Wall Street 100 years earlier, when credit default swaps (called “bucket shops” in the day) led to the Wall Street Panic of 1907. Surely, Greenspan and Gramm knew that, for nearly 100 years, the bucket shop industry had been outlawed as a felony. It is no giant leap, then, to say that their crime was one of foreknowledge.  

But what of our lawmakers on Capitol Hill? Was it ignorance, haste, inattention or blind trust that prompted them to legalize a felony, turning Wall Street into a giant betting parlor? Perhaps we’ll never know. But what we do know, is that John McCain embraced then — as he still embraces today — the financial giants whose policies erected these betting parlors, the same as he has embraced the policies of the Bush Administration, which has spent the past 8 years protecting this betting parlor industry, threatening to veto any attempt to regulate the credit default swap market. 

G is for Gambling  

Warren Buffet has called credit default swaps, “financial weapons of mass destruction.” True enough. But why not call a spade a spade? This bucket shop industry has made billionaires of gamblers who placed bets on the demise of mortgage holders and, ultimately, Wall Street, itself. And just who are the bookies in this gambling racket? The “insurance” industry, to which our government is now poised to roll our a second (or is it third?) gargantuan bailout package. You read that right: Our government is poised to bail out the bookies who operate (past and present tense) the betting parlors that have made multi-billionaires out of people who made a living from betting on the failure of our economy.

Of course, the official advisers to these government bailouts — the leaders at the helm — have been, and continue to be some of the biggest benefactors to this casino-style capitalism. The blame game is long overdue. It’s futile trying to stop a crime spree when the crooks are policing themselves.

G is for Greed: The Wall Street Collapse, in a Nutshell  

Last night, 60 Minutes ran a long-overdue segment on Credit Default Swaps, which is an excellent primer for those still scratching their heads over the inscrutable and seemingly unknowable facts about the Wall Street collapse. Check out the 12-minute video of this 60 Minutes segment. It’s easy enough to comprehend, and you’ll emerge substantially enlightened about what the hell’s going on. And if you also emerge seeing red, don’t be alarmed. That’s the color of McCain’s hypocrisy. 

Let Them Eat Cake

See, it’s not communism when the government spreads $750 billion dollars (and counting) to bail out and richly compensate the ka-jillionaires who continue to make a killing off the failure and misery of the millions of Americans who fell prey to their sleazy casino capitalism. No, it’s only communism when Barack Obama proposes to give a tax break to those hardworking Americans suffering the trickle-down effects of the Wall Street orgy. It’s only communism when Barack Obama calls for a tax plan that is more fair to those millions of hardworking Americans who will spend the coming months doing well to simply keep a roof over the heads and food on the table. It’s only communism when the wealthiest 5% of Americans are asked to part with some of their ill-gotten loot to heal our wounds they’ve inflicted in the biggest scam that has ever been perpetuated on the American people. 

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For more reading:

Mother Jones: Foreclosure Phil – Years before Phil Gramm was a McCain campaign adviser and a lobbyist for a Swiss bank at the center of the housing credit crisis, he pulled a sly maneuver in the Senate that helped create today’s subprime meltdown. Who’s to blame for the biggest financial catastrophe of our time? There are plenty of culprits, but one candidate for lead perp is former Sen. Phil Gramm.

Mother Jones: McCain Blasts Wall Street Failure, Neglects To Mention His Adviser Helped Cause It — As the news broke of the Lehman Brothers meltdown and the rest of the latest financial crisis, John McCain, speaking at a campaign rally in Florida on Monday, angrily declared, “We will never put America in this position again. We will clean up Wall Street. This is a failure.” And in a statement released by his campaign, McCain called for greater “transparency and accountability” on Wall Street. If McCain wants to hold someone accountable for the failure in transparency and accountability that led to the current calamity, he should turn to his good friend and adviser, Phil Gramm.

The Texas Observer: John McCain’s Gramm Gamble – The GOP presidential nominee is relying on the ex-senator who helped bring you the mortgage crisis

Huffington Post: A Nation of Village Idiots – Don’t let them tell you this economic meltdown is a complicated mess. It’s not. Our national financial crisis is readily understood by anyone who has seen greed and hypocrisy. But we are now witnessing them on a profound, monumental scale.

LaRouche Political Action Committee: In the Senate: Ban Derivatives “Bucket Shops” – Senate Agriculture Committee chairman Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) opened up his hearing on derivatives and the financial crisis today, with some promise of sane action, asking, “Shouldn’t we just outlaw these things? The collapse owes a great deal to the traffic in credit default swaps (CDS), collateralized debt obligations (CDOs), etc. Shouldn’t we just ban them?” As his hearing went on, Harkin backed off and wondered whether the U.S. Senate was allowed to outlaw financial derivatives!

 Baltimore Chronicle & Sentinel: McCain Defends Enron Loophole – Sen. John McCain says he opposes the $307 billion farm bill because it would dole out wasteful subsidies, but his chief economic adviser Phil Gramm also wants to stop its proposed regulation of energy futures trading, a market that was famously abused when Enron Corp. manipulated California’s electricity prices in 2001.

Newsday: State Federal Probe Investigating Credit Default Swaps – In an unusual move, the state attorney general and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Manhattan yesterday announced a joint investigation into credit-default swaps, those unregulated insurancelike contracts that have played a major role in the nation’s financial crisis.

Poor Ol’ Joe the Plumber: McCain’s New Poster Child

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At long last, John McCain has found a star upon which to hitch his wagon: Joe the plumber — poster child for the downtrodden wealthy. Joe couldn’t have arrived at a more opportune time. With McCain’s campaign wagon reduced to a wheel-less junkyard contraption, drawing little more than scorn and pity from the masses, the old maverick was in sore need of a lift. Through Joe the plumber, McCain hopes to scare us so bad, that we’ll forget, once and for all, that his campaign is little more than a shoddily repackaged version of the Bush Administration. 

To do this, McCain will need to simultaneously inspire and scare the bejeebers out of us, in a Berlin Wall-esque fashion, to help us realize that we — each and every one of us — are  Joe the plumber. It is our noble and heroic struggle for the American dream that is being squashed by the evil, socialist/commie terrorist Obama, who is secretly scheming to funnel the wealth of hard-working Americans straight into the pocketbooks of cadillac welfare queens. It’s a tall order, to be sure, but if ignorant greed prevails, McCain could soon see a bump in the polls.

The whole thing started when Joe the plumber ostensibly** approached Obama in Ohio and posed the question that has been plaguing so many middle-class Americans during these troubled times: “I’m getting ready to buy a company that makes $250,000 to $280,000 a year. Your new tax plan is going to tax me more, isn’t it?”

Obama acknowledged to Joe that, yes, that may very well be the case. Before the two men parted, Joe the plumber voiced his support for a flat tax. It is only natural that Joe the plumber would be in favor of a tax that — according to factcheck.org, benefits the wealthiest people in the country, while penalizing lower and middle income wage earners. According to Treasury Department figures (see table, left), Joe the plumber would see a 7.6% decrease in taxes, while those earning between $15, 000 and $200, 000 per year would see a .02% to 4.3% increase in their taxes.  

Alternately, under Obama’s tax plan, Joe the plumber would see a relatively modest tax increase. Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington, DC, punched the numbers and found that — assuming that Joe’s entire taxable income comes from his plumbing business — Joe would see an increase from 33% to 36%, for a tax rise between $0-$900 per year. This amount could hardly be blamed for thwarting Joe the plumber’s aspirations to buy a company that makes between $250,000 to $280,000 per year. But, if John McCain plays his cards right, he may be able to use Joe’s plight to “grow” his campaign’s numbers in the polls. 

In the coming weeks, we can expect to hear less about Ayers and terrorism, and more about Marxism. After all, it was Obama and his socialist lending practices that led to the Wall Street crisis. Heaven knows, it was not the reckless policies of the past 8 years, nor the Bush-McCain deregulation orgy.  So get used to words like: socialism, communism, spread the wealth, tax and spend liberals, hard-working Americans, class wars (huh?) and maybe even a welfare buck or two thrown in for good measure. McCain is depending on the fumes from these words to drive his defunct campaign to the finish line, come election day. 

Will the tear-jerking tale of Joe-the-plumber inspire very many of the 95% of Americans who make less than a quarter-million dollars per year (and who would receive some sorely needed fairness and relief under Obama’s tax plan) to vote against their own best interests? It’s entirely possible, if the past 8 years are any indication. But if the past two months are any indication, it’s also possible that Americans have wised up. Regardless, McCain is banking on the stupidity of the American people. From the looks of his campaign and his support base, it appears that’s all he has left to him.       

 

For more reading:

**Washington Post: Joe the Plumber: Not a Licensed Plumber — Joe the Plumber is not exactly a plumber, he’s “not even close” to making the kind of money that would result in higher taxes from Democrat Barack Obama’s proposals and has such an aversion to taxes that a lien was filed against him by the state of Ohio.

Wall Street Journal: Fair Tax, Flawed Tax: Does adding 30% to the price of every house sold sound like a good idea to you? by Bruce Bartlett, deputy assistant secretary of the Treasury for economic policy from 1988 to 1993.

It’s October, and I’m surprised. Should I also be scared?

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Let’s see….  

1. Our economy — that venerable house of cards — is collapsing, and the architects show no signs that they intend to do anything but stack more cards into the rafters (to hell with the foundation, to hell with the people below).

2. The news media essentially serve as a 24-7 infomercial for McCain-Palin, and yet Obama is still ahead — by double digits, according to some polls —  which means that people aren’t lining up anymore to buy the Bush-Cheney line of bullshit.

3. And, lastly, according to a Sept. 30 article in Army Times, George Bush has officially done the utterly unprecedented: He ordered a brigade of troops to to begin patrolling U.S soil, beginning on Oct. 1st, as part of the new NorthCom force. Bush dispatched the brigade in case our country needs help with “civil unrest and crowd control or to deal with potentially horrific scenarios such as massive poisoning and chaos in response to a chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high-yield explosive, or CBRNE attack.”

Should I be scared? I am.

But it’s a safe bet that — since this post isn’t about Sarah Palin — no one will read it, which means that, on the topic of fearful things, I can plant my tin foil hat firmly on my head and talk without fear of reprimand.

According to the Army Times article, the 3rd Infantry Division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team goes by the incredibly adorable name, “Sea Smurf” — which is the phonetically-correct moniker for it’s official name: CCMRF (the CBRNE Consequence Management Response Force). Their mission is slated to last for a year, during which time we can all take comfort in the words of Sea Smurf commander, Col Roger Clouter: “We’re going in to help American citizens on American soil, to save lives, provide critical life support, help clear debris, restore normalcy and support whatever local agencies need us to do, so it’s kind of a different role.”

Different, indeed. The brigade is equipped to use “the first ever nonlethal package that the Army has fielded,” which includes, “equipment to stand up a hasty road block; spike strips for slowing, stopping or controlling traffic; shields and batons; and, beanbag bullets.”

If the idea of soldiers patrolling your neighborhood with shields, batons and rubber bullets makes you nervous, take comfort in this: The Army Times article did issue a correction in early October, regarding the use of their non-lethal package. Accordingly, “A non-lethal crowd control package fielded to 1st Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division, described in the original version of this story, is intended for use on deployments to the war zone, not in the U.S., as previously stated.”

Rubber bullets aside, one strategic problem with the Sea Smurf’s NorthCom mission is that, according to an April 2008 GAO report, Northcom has not bothered to involve local and state officials and governments — much less the National Guard — in their emergency preparedness planning and coordination efforts. In other words, NorthCom appears set to go it alone, leaving legislators, governors, mayors, the National Guard and the media,  to — I don’t know — step in line? 

The unprecedented pre-emptive deployment of NorthCom military troops onto U.S. soil was paved in October 2006 when Bush signed the John Warner National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2007.  A few lawmakers, such as Sen. Patrick Leahy, protested — as did governors across the country, who saw blazing red flags in the bills provisions. The governors banded together and repeatedly petitioned leaders on Capitol Hill with letters of protest, which were met, one by one, with silence. One such letter, signed by every member of the National Governors Association, read, in part:

This provision was drafted without consultation or input from governors, and represents an unprecedented shift in authority from governors . . .to the federal government….. We urge you to drop provisions that would usurp governors’ authority over the National Guard during emergencies from the conference agreement on the National Defense Authorization Act

So much for democracy. The bill passed like a hot knife through butter.

The roles of traditional emergency preparedness team workers seem to have been usurped by Air Force engineer and medical units, the Marine Corps Chemical, Biological Initial Reaction Force, a Navy weather team and members of the Defense Logistics Agency and the Defense Threat Reduction Agency. Whatever that means.

On this topic, the bi-partisan group of legislators that released the aforementioned April 2008 GAO report had a few things to say:   

I remain convinced that almost seven years after 9/11, the U.S. Northern Command, as presently structured, serves no real purpose and is a waste of taxpayers’ money. The only hope to transform this sham command into a viable asset for the American people would require major changes.  — Gene Taylor, D-Mississippi 

The United States Northern Command is supposed to be out in front in the Pentagon’s efforts to support civil authorities in emergencies. It should be planning and identifying possible equipment shortfalls. Above all, it should be working closely with state and local communities. Instead, the command is doing very little of this core activity. — Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont

Clearly, a bias against playing a supporting role to civilian authorities has resulted in large gaps in NORTHCOM’s ability to fulfill its stated mission. The fact is, governors and their National Guard are and will continue to be our nation’s first domestic military responders. And until they and NORTHCOM can work together more seamlessly, NORTHCOM’s ability to be of assistance in homeland response will continue to face significant challenges. — Chris Shays, R-Connecticut

NORTHCOM’s duty is to provide military support to States and the Department of Homeland Security, but it hasn’t fully figured out this emergency support mission. Any crack in our emergency preparedness capability today will become a gaping hole in our catastrophic response tomorrow. — Bennie Thompson, D-Mississippi

Instead of working with the governors, the National Guard Bureau and the State Adjutants General, Northern Command has held the country’s historic first military responders at arm’s length. Northern Command needs to accept its supporting role or get out of the way. — Tom Davis, R-Virginia
 

It is a curiosity. I mean, For more than 100 years – since the end of the Civil War – deployment of the U.S. military inside the U.S. has been prohibited under The Posse Comitatus Act (the only exceptions being that the National Guard and Coast Guard are exempted, and use of the military on an emergency ad hoc basis is permitted, such as what happened after Hurricane Katrina). Unless I missed something, a major hurricane has not hit the mainland in recent days, nor has a spate of riots broken out  in our major cities. And there’s no imminent threat of an impending chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear or high explosive. Is there?  

Not that there’s a damned thing we can do about it. But I’m just saying….

Of course, it’s my prerogative to speculate on such things. After all, I am part of the tin-foil hat brigade, and have been since falling prey to tertiary Lyme Disease in 2002. Ever since, I’ve been on the vanguard with those who have long-believed in such unspeakable things as a Wall Street catastrophe, not to mention bizarre theories about bio-warfare pandemics, a second (and maybe a third) stolen election, 9-11 as a false flag operation, the Patriot Act, Dick Cheney’s oil imperialism agenda, the ascent of mercenary armies, martial law, internment camps, government-controlled media, geophysical warfare and so on — complete with all the legislative frills and scary, terrorist-bullying jargon necessary to making these newworldorder-ish things alternately possible, invisible, overt, covert and, ultimately, unstoppable.

 

Granted, a single brigade of Sea Smurfs dispatched to the blood red soils of Georgia, USA hardly seems like an overwhelming threat. But it is unprecedented, and it is also, um, un-American. So it’s only natural that I’d jump on board, in full-tin regalia, fully unsurprised — yet as surprised as the next person — by the house of cards, the McCain-Palin infomercials and the Sea Smurf Brigade. Only, unlike the steadfast tin soldier, I don’t feel so brave. And my heart’s not doing so well, either.    

 

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by Mantis Katz for the canarypapers

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Army Times: (Sept. 30, 2008)  Brigade Homeland Tour Starts October 1st

Salon.com: (Sept. 24, 2008) Why is a U.S. Army Brigade Being Assigned to the “Homeland”?

Patrick Leahy: (April 16, 2008) GAO: NORTHCOM Failing in Civil Support Mission

CQ.com: (Dec. 1, 2006)  Fine Print in Defense Bill Opens Door to Martial Law

Global Research: (October 9, 2008) FEMA Sources Confirm Coming Martial Law

The Progressive: (October 7, 2008)  Leahy Concerned About NorthCom’s New Army Unit

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Having created the conditions that produced history’s biggest bubble, America’s political leaders appear unable to grasp the magnitude of the dangers the country now faces. Mired in their rancorous culture wars and squabbling among themselves, they seem oblivious to the fact that American global leadership is fast ebbing away. A new world is coming into being almost unnoticed, where America is only one of several great powers, facing an uncertain future it can no longer shape. — From Asia Times  (October 10, 2008)  Wall Street: A New Iraq War

Sarah Palin Hurls William Ayers: A Molotov Cocktail with a Twist of Lies

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Trickery and treachery are the practices of fools that have not the wits enought to be honest. — Benjamin Franklin

In 1972 — back when Sarah Palin was in, like, 2nd grade, and Barack Obama was in 5th grade — William (Bill) Ayers was a militant Vietnam war protester, involved in those most notorious activities that are now being used to smear Barack Obama’s good name.

It was to be another 23 years before the two men’s paths would actually cross. By that time, Ayers had been married with two children for nearly two decades. The charges against him for the violent protests he waged while a member of the Weathermen had long ago been dropped. He’d since earned his Masters in Early Childhood Education, followed by a Doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction, in 1987.  Ayers is currently a professor in the College of Education at the University of Illinois at Chicago, holding the honor of Distinguished Professor.

By the time Barack Obama first met him in 1995, William Ayers had spent the previous two decades channeling his energies into early childhood education issues, with emphases on urban education reform and poverty & social justice. With both men actively working on the same issues, in the same town, it was only inevitable that their paths would cross. 

A CORRECTED HISTORY: Who, Why, When, Where, What & How

Barack Obama and William Ayers first crossed paths in 1995, as the two men served on the board of an educational organization, called The Chicago Anneberg Challenge, which has been described as “the largest public/private endeavor in U.S. history dedicated to improving public schools.” During this same year, Ayers and his wife held a “meet-and-greet” in their Hyde Park home, at which time State Senator Alice Palmer introduced Barack Obama as her chosen candidate for the 1996 Democratic primary. Obama’s and Ayer’s paths again crossed in 1999, as both served on the board of The Woods Fund, an anti-poverty grantwriting group in Chicago. According to Deborah Harrington, the president of the The Woods Fund, the two men were selected for the board because of their solid academic credentials and passion for social justice. In 2001, William Ayers contributed $200 to Barack Obama’s re-election campaign. Regarding any untoward motives involved with this donation, Harrington commented:

This whole connection is a stretch. Barack was very well known in Chicago, and a highly respected legislator. It would be difficult to find people round here who never volunteered or contributed money to one of his campaigns.

Regarding any untoward connections between the two men, Obama campaign spokesman, Bill Burton, said:

Senator Obama strongly condemns the violent actions of the Weathermen group, as he does all acts of violence. But he was an eight-year-old child when Ayers and the Weathermen were active, and any attempt to connect Obama with events of almost forty years ago is ridiculous.

[EDITOR’S NOTE: I’ve been involved in the arts and local theater in my own town. I wonder, were I to ever run for public office, would I be indicted for some notorious decades-old activities of a fellow thespian or artist? ]

Obama’s and Ayers’ paths crossed again, quite literally — and for the last time — in 2007, as described by an Obama campaign spokesman this past August: 

“The last time Obama saw Ayers was about a year ago when he crossed paths with him while biking in the neighborhood. The suggestion that Ayers was a political adviser to Obama or someone who shaped his political views is patently false.”

A fact that should be mentioned here is that the above-mentioned Chicago Annenberg Challenge, headed by the same William Ayers, would not have been possible without the generous support of Walter Annenberg, a staunchly conservative Nixon appointee, major GOP donor and longtime friend of Ronald Reagan.  In fact, Walter Annenberg was President Nixon’s Ambassador To Great Britain From 1969-1974, and, in 1986, President Ronald Reagan awarded him the nation’s highest civilian honor, The Presidential Medal of Freedom.

As if that weren’t endorsement enough, Walter Annenberg’s widow, Leonore Annenberg ( the current president of the Annenberg Foundation) is on John McCain’s recently released list of 100 former ambassadors endorsing McCain’s candidacy.

Hardly what you could call, “palling around with terrorists”

But, then, Sarah Palin is hardly what you’d call a politician who “pals around with the truth.” In her Ayers-smears against Obama, Sarah Palin is not only guilty of taking malicious liberties with the facts, but she is also guilty of a profound ignorance of these facts, particularly with respect to their historical context. This would be harmless enough, coming from an everyday hockey mom, but for a politician aspiring to be vice-president (and back-up president)  of the United States, her ignorance is also profoundly dangerous. It is one thing to own a rote memorization of the facts. It’s another thing, entirely, to own an  understanding of those facts.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I once had a friend whose parrot could say “shit.” While the bird had no idea what the word meant, it nonetheless spent its days repeating, “shit” (along with “open the door” and “what’s up?”) daylong, come rain or come shine. 

Sarah Palin has proven that she can deliver a script, a bumper-sticker slogan or a phrase, such as the zinger she hurled yesterday in her smear against Obama when she said: “Our opponent… is someone who sees America, it seems, as being so imperfect, imperfect enough, that he’s palling around with terrorists who would target their own country….This is not a man who sees America as you and I do.”

Just who are the “you and I” in this equation? They are, of course, the good guys and the bad guys. In Sarah-world, the good guys love America, and the bad guys hate America. It’s that simple. All we really need is a pep talk for the good guys, and a few stern warnings about the bad guys, and we’ll all be okay. Problem is, the world is an infinitely more complex place than that bean-brained vision inside Sarah Palin’s head. 

This is as true today as it was 232 years ago when our country was founded by a handful of dedicated people (John Hancock, Paul Revere, John Adams, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin…) who understood that imperfection is as much the nature of government as dissent is the means to perfecting that government. Perhaps this is what inspired Thomas Jefferson to pen the following words, which were immortalized in our Declaration of Independence:

Whenever any form of government becomes destructive of these ends life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, and to institute new government — Thomas Jefferson

Our American founders are surely roiling in their graves over the state of our union, in much the same spirit as the millions of living, breathing Americans who’ve spent the past 8 years watching helplessly as the Bush Administration systematically dismantled the very foundations or our country — playing reckless with our economy, cooking intelligence to take us to war, chipping away at our Constitution, staining our relationships with our allies and otherwise wrecking the integrity of our country. Barack Obama is not alone in his observation that we find ourselves in a less-than-perfect place.

 

But what does this have to do with William Ayers? Um. Nothing. 

But this surely won’t stop politicians like Sarah Palin and John McCain from playing these filthy, dirty political games for the next 29 days, even as our country is teetering on the brink of collapse. Apparently, this is the best hope they have to offer our country: throwing gasoline onto the fire in the hope of saving their campaign. Here, their methods aren’t so different than William Ayers’ methods.  Hopefully, the majority of Americans today are wiser than they were 8 years ago. Hopefully, enough of us have learned the difference between the real thing and a cheap imitation of a patriotic American.

John McCain in Crisis Mode: Throw Hot Potatoes, Hope Someone Else Gets Burned

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Perhaps you played this party game as a child? I did. A group of kids sits in a circle, throwing a hot potato to the accompaniment of some goofy song. The loser is the one left holding the potato when the music stops. In McCain’s hands, the hot potato game has been elevated to a political strategy, — a strategy that, in times of love, war, peace and crisis has come to define the life story of the man who would be president. 

Re-playing this history might seem a low blow, a cruel rubbing of salt in old wounds. But play it, we must, because should John McCain become president, our nation would inherit this history — past, present and future. It’s only fair that we know exactly what we’re getting. Below are his 5 most infamous hot potatoes, tossed from the life story of a man whose integrity could only be descibed as small potatoes. 

 

HOT POTATO #5: McCain Suspends His Campaign, Throws a Wrench into the Economic Bailout Plan

 With his campaign going down in flames in the wake of his feeble, erratic, impulsive, irresponsible responses to the Wall Street crisis last week, followed by this week’s series of smear ads against Obama (which have been called some of the most vitriolic, slanderous political attacks in U.S. campaign history) McCain decided to suspend his campaign and postpone both this Friday’s debate with Obama, and the October 2nd debate between Biden and Palin. In his announcement, McCain said:

It is time for both parties to come together to solve this problem…. All we must do to achieve this is temporarily set politics aside…Americans across our country lament the fact that partisan divisions in Washington have prevented us from addressing our national challenges. — John McCain

These proclamations must have seemed odd to the many Democrats and Republicans on Capitol Hill, who have spent the past week doing just that: toiling together (with neither input, nor inquiry coming from McCain) as they worked to hammer this 3-page legislative proposal into a solution to this extremely complex economic crisis. It seems odder, still, when you consider McCain’s words from just one day earlier, regarding this 3-page document: “I have not had a chance to see it in writing. I have to examine it.”

Continuing his announcement yesterday, McCain invoked every patriotic hot-button sentiment he could bluster (people not being able to buy homes, life savings at stake, businesses not being able to meet payroll, devastating consequences for the economy, every corner of our country impacted and, of course, the spectre of September 11th), in an attempt to scare the hell out of Americans and rally support for his selfless gesture. He then challenged Obama to respond in kind, thereby tossing him a hot potato. All that remained was the wait, with baited breath, to see what political damage might befall the Obama campaign. McCain didn’t have to wait long. Here’s what America had to say:

It’s my belief that this is exactly the time when the American people need to hear from the person who will be the next president. It is going to be part of the president’s job to deal with more than one thing at once. It’s more important than ever to present ourselves to the American people. — Barack Obama

We haven’t heard hide nor hair of Sen. McCain in these negotiations. He has not been involved except for an occasional, unhelpful statement, sort of thrown from far away, and the last thing we need in these delicate negotiations is an injection of presidential politics. — Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-New York, chairman of the Senate Banking Committee

All of sudden, now that we are on the verge of making a deal, John McCain here drops himself in to help us make a deal…. We’re trying to rescue the economy, not the McCain campaign. — Barney Frank, chairman of the House of Representatives Financial Services Committee, expressing fear that McCain could end up slowing down work on the bill.

I’m delighted that John is expressing himself on this issue. I have heard from Obama numerous occasions these last couple days. I have never heard from John McCain on the issue… I’m just worried a little bit that sort of politicizing this problem, sort of flying in here, I’m beginning to think this is more of a rescue plan for John McCain and not a rescue plan for the economy. — Chris Dodd, chairman of the Senate Banking Committee

(On McCain’s attempt to postpone the debate) The plans for this forum have been underway for more than a year and a half. The [commission’s] mission is to provide a forum in which the American public has an opportunity to hear the leading candidates for the president of the United States debate the critical issues facing the nation. We believe the public will be well served by having all of the debates go forward as scheduled. — The Commission on Presidential Debates, the sponsors for Friday’s scheduled debate in Mississippi

Empirically, so far, the advantage is decidedly with Obama and the Dems generally. The news coverage to date suggests Obama is the ‘cooler’ under the recent pressures and seems to be more capable of handling risks without undue panic. — Ohio Wesleyan government professor and Hoover Institution fellow Carl Pinkele

Today, we see McCain grandstanding in Washington with his buddy, George Bush (who, at the behest of McCain, summoned Barack Obama off the campaign trail, to join their dog and pony show at the White House) as McCain assists Bush in his fearmongering campaign to cram this bailout plan through Congress, post haste. What a farce!

And what is McCain’s contribution to this economic crisis? Nothing more than furthering the agenda of his supposedly “suspended” campaign — all to the expense of the entire country – by schmoozing his fellow Republicans into making “Yeah Johnny!” statements to the press, in which his buddies praise McCain (while slamming Obama) for his magnanimous contributions toward solving this crisis. Is it any wonder that all of Washington, except for the staunchest of McCain sycophants, is outraged? This is the quintessential McCain, folks. This is the guy who’s been jackassing around Washington for decades now — his self-serving agenda pawned off as maverick politics. His actions today are downright treasonous.

HOT POTATO #4: McCain Throws America an Inferior Product
 

In the wake of a soaring, inspiring and substantive Democratic Convention — defined by great, issue-driven speeches by ordinary citizens and politicians of great stature, alike — McCain’s uninspired presidential campaign was floundering and in the dullest of doldrums. McCain decided to steal the fire from the Democrats.

She’s a partner and a soul-mate. — John McCain, Aug. 31, 2008, on his vice presidential pick, Sarah Palin, whom he had met only once before offering her the job.

 His ploy worked like a charm. Problem was, the desired publicity-fest proved to be a double-edge sword, as the media scrutiny quickly revealed the Achilles’ tendon in his new running mate: namely, that she is profoundly unqualified to even speak to the press, much less serve as vice-president or (gulp) president of the United States. John McCain’s choice to throw Sarah Palin into his floundering campaign continues to be viewed as a scorching indictment on his capacity for sound judgment. While the jury is still out on his choice of a running mate, it is widely agreed that tossing Sarah Palin onto the plates of Americans was, at best, a gamble that might pay off for his campaign and, at worst, the foisting onto Americans of the most dangerous candidate in the history of presidential politics.

 
HOT POTATO #3: McCain Throws His Keating Five Cohorts Under the Bus to Save His Own Ass
 
The Keating Five Scandal, in a nutshell

 

It was bad enough that McCain was involved in the the Keating Five scandal, but then he tried to pressure Congressional investigators into easing off the investigation. But, no, even that wasn’t enough. Feeling the heat from the investigation, McCain decided to save his own ass by ratting out his co-conspirators. He polished this off with a generous round of media appearances, in which he proclaimed his innocence. It worked. McCain got off with a mere slap on the wrist for his role in what’s been called, “the worst ethics scandal in the history of the Senate.” One journalist described it like this:

They say that if you put five lobsters into a pot and give them a chance to escape, none will be able to do so before you light the fire. Each time a lobster tries to climb over the top, his fellow lobsters will pull him back down. It is the way of lobsters and threatened United States senators…. Those who survive will be the sociopaths who can tell a lie with the most sincere, straight face. You [John McCain] are especially adept at this.

It would be difficult to say which is the worst indictment of John McCain’s character: that he was involved in the Keating Five, in the first place, or his reprehensible ass-saving behaviors in the wake of the scandal. It is generally agreed that the McCain campaign has gotten a free pass on Keating Five scandal, not to mention his other economic/banking faux pas . The level of disgust over this varies. As one blogger put it:

I really am amazed how one of the unspoken rules of this election has been NOT to mention John McCain’s involvement in the Keating Five scandal.

Let’s remember that this isn’t a scandal involving his home or his church. It’s a scandal involving John McCain abusing his federal office. It’s a scandal that cost the American taxpayer billions. It’s also a scandal that deals with failed banks – kind of relevant to today. How is it that John McCain’s entire record is relevant, going back to the 1960s no less, but somehow we’re supposed to skip the 1980s scandal years because that would be “rude”?

Seriously, I don’t get it. Only the Republicans could make something John McCain did in office, and was chastised for officially on the Senate floor, and turn it into something “personal’ and off-limits, like it’s his daughter or his mistress. No, it’s his job. And he screwed up, wilfully. And it’s relevant to the very economic crisis we’re discussing today. It’s also relevant to any discussion of his honor.

 

HOT POTATO #2: John McCain throws his own wife under the bus after she suffers a disfiguring accident

To his credit, John McCain has at least acknowledged sole blame for abandoning his first wife in the wake of her tragic auto accident that left the former swimsuit model disfigured and crippled. It goes without saying that this is a highly personal matter, the details of which are no one’s business but theirs. However, one can not divorce from John McCain’s candidacy the character of a man who showed such flimsy loyalty for the woman who stood by his side throughout his imprisonment in Hanoi — a man who would abandon the mother of his three children in the wake of her horrible accident, only so he could flit about with the beautiful people and cheat on his wife for several years before, ultimately, replacing her with a beautiful, young undamaged model. 

 
HOT POTATO #1: John McCain throws his fellow POWs as well as his country under the bus as he sings like a canary (and then some) for the enemy
 

Out of respect for others who have, unlike myself, experienced the unimaginable tortures suffered by prisoners of war, I won’t belabor this point. I will only offer a few examples of the documentswords, articles and videos of others, who feel that John McCain behaved dishonorably both during and after the war. During his captivity, McCain provided military information far beyond the Code of Conduct – and far beyond that which other POWs divulged, while undergoing extreme torture themselves. After the war, McCain has fought to keep this information from becoming public, by stonewalling efforts by families of MIAs to declassify documents. While these documents could help these families discover the whereabout of their loved ones, these documents also contain damning evidence about John McCain’s behavior during captivity.

As with McCain’s behavior with his wife (detailed in #2 above) it tells something of a man’s character that, having been through this experience, he would not only emerge less-than-truthful about the particulars of his history, but would use this falsified history to pander political points in his campaign. The real crime, however, is his disregard for the families of MIAs, as he fought their efforts to possibly discover the whereabouts of their loved ones (dead or alive?) who, unlike McCain, never returned home from war.

McCain’s disregard for veterans has been ongoing and continues today, in his lack of support on Capitol Hill for the for veterans’ issues and benefits, as seen in the clip from last spring’s film, “Why Won’t McCain Sign the GI Bill?”

 
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by Mantis Katz for the canarypapers

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postscript:
Various theories have been proposed on the origin of the game “hot potato.” One generally accepted theory is that the first “hot potato” was, in fact, the warm contents of a freshly soiled diaper. The concept of a game arose from the good-humored arguments over who happened to be holding the baby upon the arrival of said-poop. This person became, by default, the designated diaper changer: the “loser.” Enough said.