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Johnny McCain’s Childhood: The Strangest Lie of All

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You’d think John McCain would feel a twinge of shame when he hears Sarah Palin gush patriotic over the “pro-American” areas of the country, as opposed to, say, Washington, D.C. – a sentiment she clarified with these words:

We believe that the best of America is not all in Washington, D.C. We believe – we believe that the best of America is in these small towns that we get to visit, and in these wonderful little pockets of what I call the real America, being here with all of you hard working very patriotic, um, very, um, pro-America areas of this great nation. This is where we find the kindness and the goodness and the courage of everyday Americans. (1)

Just a twinge. After all, John McCain spent nearly half of his childhood — ages nine through his early twenties — living in Washington D.C., (2) in that very hotbed of elitist anti-Americanism. Of course,  you’d never know it, since John McCain’s life histories skim over his entire childhood, as if he were born, then didn’t exist again until the age of fifteen.  

John McCain’s Boyhood Years: The Google Bio vs. A More Accurate Bio

I’m not the first to google McCain’s childhood bio and find only this, scattered with a few stories about his scrappy temperament: 

A more accurate bio looks like this, with two years unaccounted for, during which time his father completed three different submarine missions. Did McCain attend 20 different schools between 1949-1951?

A Lie is Born

McCain’s childhood resume wouldn’t really bear mentioning at all, had he not spent the past 25 years lying about it, and then spent the past two months lying about Barack Obama’s childhood resume. Did John McCain really go to 20 different schools? And was Hanoi really the longest he’d lived any one place up until the age of 46, as he’s asserted so many times over the years?

Listen, pal, I spent 22 years in the Navy. My father was in the Navy. My grandfather was in the Navy. We in the military service tend to move a lot. I wish I could have had the luxury, like you, of growing up and living and spending my entire life in a place like the First District of Arizona, but I was doing other things. As a matter of fact, when I think about it now, the place I lived longest in my life was Hanoi. — John McCain, 1982, defending himself against accusations that he was a big-moneyed, carpetbagger opportunist during his first political campaign, as a new Arizona resident, running for an open seat in Arizona’s 1st congressional district.

According to historian, Mary Hershberger, “After that dramatic claim, raising the carpetbagger issue seemed unpatriotic. It worked like magic and he said it showed him that his time as a POW was ‘a good first story to sell’ on the campaign trail. He’s been selling it ever since. The problem, of course, is that it’s far from the truth, at least if he lived with his parents while growing up. With the exception of two years, from the time that John was nine until he was in his twenties, they lived in Washington, D.C. They had a house on Capitol Hill where Congressional leaders regularly dropped by for meals. When he returned from Vietnam in 1973, he lived and worked in Washington, D.C, four more years. So, when he made his political claim in 1982 about living longest in Hanoi, he surely knew that it wasn’t true, but nobody checked it out and he kept saying it.” (2)

McCain most recently incanted the Hanoi claim in late Sept. 2008, in a 60 Mintues interview on CBS:

Pelley: You were born in the Panama Canal Zone because your father was stationed there. Where’d you live as a kid?

McCain: Well, we lived in San Diego, we lived in Norfolk, Virginia. We lived in the Washington D.C. area. We lived in New London, Connecticut. My dad was a submariner.

Pelley: Longest you’ve lived any one place?

McCain: Hanoi. Hanoi was the longest- I lived any place, five and a half years.

Pelley: When you were in prison?

McCain: Yup, yeah, I certainly don’t wanna call that my hometown. (3)

If John McCain lived in Norfolk outside of his Navy pilot days, as an adult, there’s no paper trail to prove it. There is mention of him staying with his aunt Rowena in Windsor Square, Ca, and briefly attending Third Street School during the time the family still lived in New London (time period unknown), but if young John ever even visited San Diego as a child, much less lived there, there’s no trail to prove that either since — unlike his campaign opponent, Barack Obama — John McCain’s life history has not been well-documented, and can only be gathered piecemeal by scrutinizing various documents and biographies (e.g. 4, 7). Which makes particularly odd his frequent attacks (spoken before jeering audiences, perhaps in the hope of reinforcing his campaign’s ploy to paint Obama as a Muslim terrorist) as McCain wages accusations that the details on Barack Obama’s life are unknown and unknowable: 

Even at this late hour in the campaign, there are essential things we don’t know about Senator Obama or the record that he brings to this campaign….For a guy who’s already authored two memoirs, he’s not exactly an open book. (5) 

You all, America knows me…. You know my story, my convictions. You need to know who you’re putting in the White House and where that candidate came from and what he or she believes in. …. In short, who is the real Barack Obama? My friends, you ask such questions and all you get is another angry barrage of insults. (link here)

The question is: Why would anyone need to ask Obama ‘where he came from and what he believes in,’ since Obama has already told us over and over and over? Obama has been an open book on this –both literally and figuratively –having published his life story, and having repeatedly stated these things outright while on the campaign trail. And, for anyone who missed hearing the details of Obama’s childhood, a simple google of the term, “Barack Obama’s childhood” will deliver his entire childhood resume to you at the touch of a button. It’s so simple, actually, that it can be condensed into one sentence: Barack Obama was born in Hawaii, where he spent his entire childhood, except through the ages of 6 through 10, when he lived in Indonesia with his sister, his mother, and her new husband. 

It’s not so easy for John McCain.

But, then — as John McCain will be the first to tell you — nothing has ever been so easy for John McCain, beginning with his boyhood school days, which he’s repeatedy described in detail. Here’s one such version, provided by the Hoover Institution:  

McCain calls the base schools “substandard.” Sometimes the schoolhouse was “nothing more than a converted aircraft hangar,” he writes. “The classes mixed children of varying ages. We might have one teacher on Monday and a different one on Tuesday. On other days, we lacked the services of any teacher at all.” Needless to say, he was “often required in a new school to study things I had already learned. Other times, the curriculum assumed knowledge I had not yet acquired.”

If the accommodations and scheduling were not idiosyncratic enough, the frequent moves, says McCain, were the “chief obstacle to a decent education…. As soon as I had begun to settle into a school, my father would be reassigned.” Though McCain says that such a “transient childhood” was simply a way of life, it was not a life lived by most Americans. “Seldom if ever did I see again the friends I left behind,” he says. (6)

Convincing stuff. Kinda tugs at your heartstrings, don’t it? Makes for good copy, too — much like his Hanoi claim, which is pure bunk. Given what is known about John McCain’s actual boyhood history, plus his propensity for, uh, stretching the truth, his 20-schools-in-2 years story is dubious — even if one is extremely generous, taking into account his visit(s) to his aunt Rowena in California. Again, McCain’s childhood resume wouldn’t bear mentioning,  had he not spent the past 25 years lying about it, and then spent the past two months lying about Barack Obama’s childhood resume. Here, a few questions beg answers: What’s true and what’s not? And why does McCain feel compelled to lie about any of his boyhood history? What’s to be gained? Did he simply get caught up in a small lie, that turned into a big lie, which he’s now doomed to forever repeat?

Answer: It Was Invented in Increments

I’m not the first to wonder about John McCain’s childhood history. The internet is riddled with unanswered questions about the most rudimentary aspects of his elementary years. One such inquiry turned humorous, when one googler attempted to locate childhood photos of McCain and — turning up nothing — decided to google, “When was the camera invented?” Interestingly, there are no childhood photos of John McCain on the internet — not that I could find, anyway — while there are a wealth of Barack Obama’s childhood photos, which easily substantiate Obama’s stated life story.

 

A similar body of McCain’s boyhood photos from infancy through age 15 would surely substantiate the stories he’s repeated throughout his political career, regarding his “transient childhood” and the geographical whereabouts of at least some of the 20 schools he attended. Or not.

Perhaps these photos simply don’t exist. Odd as this theory may seem, it is plausible, given that his mother, Roberta McCain, couldn’t produce a single photo of John from the dozens of family photos displayed on her dresser-top (see video, below, starting at 2:35) during a tour of her Washington, D.C. apartment, (although she did allow that there are boxes containing some of his childhood photos, which she’s been meaning to dig out). Perhaps one day we’ll see them. Or not. 

 

 

  1. Huffington Post: Palin Explains What Parts of Country Not “Pro-American”
  2. John Dean Interview: Reflections on Historian Mary Hershberger’s Piece on McCain’s War Record, and a Q&A with the Author
  3. CBS 60 Minutes Interview, Sept. 21, 2008
  4. John McCain: An American Odyssey, by Robert Timberg (p. 23): At Saint Stephen’s, an exclusive private school in the Washington, D.C. area, [McCain] had begun to display a defiant, unruly streak. But it was not until a few years later when he entered Episcopal High School, a boys’ boarding school in Alexandria, Virginia, that those qualities emerged with a vengeance. (pg. 29): During this period, [McCain’s dad] took on two jobs that some feel jump-started a career on the verge of stalling. As the Navy’s first chief of information, a public relations post, he cultivated influential Washington correspondents. A short time later he became the Navy’s senior congressional lobbyist. Soon many of the nation’s most powerful politicians were streaming to the spacious McCain town house at First and C., S.E., now the Capitol Hill Club, the GOP’s official watering hole. (pg. 87, on McCain’s conversations with his POW cellmate, Bud Day): Day was ten years older, but McCain was the more worldly, regaling his cellmate with tales of youthful carousing and womanizing. He was also more politically sophisticated, having kept an ear to the wall when his parents entertained senators, congressmen, and other big-wigs at their Capitol Hill home. Day said McCain helped him understand how Washington really worked, with emphasis on the human dimension.
  5. New York Times: McCain: ‘Who is the real Barack Obama?”
  6. Hoover Institution: The Early Education of Our Next President 
  7. Man of the People by Paul Alexander
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There must be a special place in hell for a politician who can’t even steal a quote off a Starbucks cup without lying

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Strange ironies occur every time Sarah Palin repeats a famous quote. In last Thursday’s debate, it was Ronald Reagan’s exceptionalism…shining-city-upon-a-hill quote, a vision Sarah evoked in an attempt to ride on the ghost-coattails of Reagan’s legacy. No, the irony wasn’t in the conjuring of the Christian-Right’s code word for infusing Christianity into American government. The irony was hearing a candidate who — despite drawing repeated blanks just a few days earlier when asked such gotcha questions as, “What do you read?” –suddenly owned the miraculous wherewithal to let roll off her tongue this 6-syllable word drawn from some obscure 17th century school of political thought: exceptionalism. Sure, she pronounced it with perfect poise, the same way she did with all of her lines. I used to know a man whose parrot could say, “shit.” Of course, the bird had no idea what it was saying, but it said it anyway, come rain or come shine.  

Yesterday’s irony was Madeleine Albright’s famous quote that reads, in full: I think there’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women. No, the irony was not  Sarah’s, um, accidental “misquote” of Albright’squote (replacing the word “help” with “support,” which altered the meaning slightly, to give the impression that Abright was casting an indictment on women who don’t vote for other women).

No, the irony arose from the context in which Madeleine Albright originally made this statement. Specifically, Albright made this statement in the wake of her efforts to to have rape declared as a ‘weapon of war’,at which time she made her now-famous statement. See, Madeleine Albright was saying there must be a special place in hell for women who wouldn’t help these particular victims of rape. I shouldn’t have to point out why this is such a strange irony for a woman like Sarah Palin but, to be clear, I will.

The treatment of rape vicims is not a topic Sarah should be evoking at this time, as former Mayor of a unique Alaskan city that charged rape victims up to $1200 for rape kits used in emergency room exams used to prosecute their attackers. While this controversial law did not originate with Mayor Palin, she certainly endorsed it time every time she approved a city budget that relied on the revenue from these rape kits. And, for the record, John McCain’s voting record jibes with Wasilla’s policy. 

Yeah, yeah. Sarah predicted yesterday that the evil liberal elitist media filters would do something horrible today with her Starbucks quote. What she has yet to *get* is that, when the media is critical of her, it isn’t that they are being critical of women or of Republicans or even of Sarah Palin, per se. It’s the lies, you see. It’s the lies and the ineptitude that emerge every time Sarah Palin speaks. 

p.s. Earth to Sarah: Back when you were in, like, 6th grade, Madeleine Albright received her doctorate from one of those elitist East Coast universities and has since worked in Washington politics. Does that make her, like, um, too experienced?

Putting Lipstick on a Pig: McCain’s Pygmalion Complex with Sarah Palin

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Quick: What’s the difference between Joe Biden and a hockey mom running for vice-president? Answer: One of them is a pit bull-of-a-politician with a world of foreign-policy and lawmaking experience, while the other is, uh, Sarah Palin.

 Okay, so it’s not exactly a punch line, and it’s not exactly funny, unless you’re the sort who enjoys watching a slow-motion train wreck — a potential destination in our country’s itinerary, as the American public struggles with the weighty decision over whether to vote for a qualified politician of substance, education, experience and stature, or vote for Sarah Palin. One can only hope that John McCain has an awfully big tube of lipstick, because he’ll need it to put lipstick on that pig. To do this, he’ll need to accomplish three things. Here, the recently afflicted McCain’s pygmalion complex will come in handy.   

The Road to the White House in 3 Easy Steps

First, John McCain needs to keep convincing the American public that education, intelligence and experience are inherently bad things. This has been, so far, neatly accomplished by attaching the “elitist” label to those who speak with even a modicum of intelligence on matters of import, or, alternately, sticking the “elitist liberal” label to anyone who deigns to disagree with McCain’s kamikaze candidacy. The second step McCain needs to accomplish is a to give Sarah Palin a crash course in U.S. and world history, domestic and foreign policy, constitutional law, political science, presidential diplomacy, how to use a salad fork, and so on, while infusing her with the nuts-and-bolts nuances and the grasp of language necessary to speaking and acting authoritatively on such matters. The third step is to sequester his creation from the world — just like his predecessor, Professor Henry Higgins, did with Eliza Doolittle — while Sarah makes her Pygmalion transformation from Alaska’s shrill-voiced, caribou-killing, liar of a First Lady, to McCain’s Fair Lady.

The McCain campaign began working on that third step during the RNC convention, as they lobbed pre-emptive strikes toward the media, calling them sexist (while being at a loss, when asked, to produce evidence of this) and by attaching the “elitist liberal” label to the media. So it came as no surprise, after all this foreshadowing, when the McCain campaign announced they’d put a gag order on Sarah Palin: for now, there will be no questions, no interviews; Sarah Palin will give only scripted speeches and choreographed interviews to the American public. 

If this sounds familiar, there’s a reason for that. McCain — following ever-steadfastly in Bush’s footsteps — has actually taken a page from Bush’s ‘pre-packaged news’ campaign. Remember? It’s not been that long, really, since the American public learned that our evening news was being manufactured by the Bush Administration — produced by various government agencies, such as the Dept. of Defense, and delivered by actors posing as journalists, who were paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to ask scripted questions of authorities, who were also being paid hundreds of thousands of dollars, to give scripted answers — all designed to tell the American people what to think about issues, such as the war in Iraq and Medicare reform. Perhaps McCain will also take a page from George Bernard Shaw’s script, and only allow Palin to talk about the weather and other people’s health, should she be pressed into giving unscripted comments.

“The rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain, and in Hertford, Hereford and Hampshire, hurricanes hardly ever happen”

Prof. Henry Higgins had an easier job of it — tasked with teaching only the linguistic facets of speaking on foreign places. Eliza had only to aspirate her h’s and draw her a’s into a long phoneme, while Sarah Palin will be expected to speak authoritatively on topics about which she currently commands next-to-nothing, in the way of knowledge or experience. Prof. Higgins also had more time — with a full six months to teach Eliza Doolittle to speak properly before her debut at the Embassy Ball (see photo, above /left).  McCain has a mere 26 days to teach Sarah Palin the fundamentals, beyond God’s plan, of war and peace before her second-coming in the vice-presidential debate on October 2nd. McCain’s hope is, of course, that once Sarah Palin has been refined with the proper tutoring, scripting and blocking, the American people will greet her encore performance with the sure belief that she always owned the knowledge, experience, temperament and good judgment to be vice-president of the United States.  

A tricky balancing act: How to give American women a voice, while telling them to shut up

The problem for the McCain campaign is the pesky media, not a factor in Higgins’ day. The media will likely continue hounding the McCain team, obsessing on highly personal details about Sarah’s life, such as her qualifications and experience, riddled as these are with discrepancies, controversy, scandals and lies. The media will no doubt question, too, the motives behind the McCain campaign’s decision to put a gag order on Sarah Palin. Feminists of good standing might also begin to question how the Republican Party — which is acting like they, themselves, invented the feminist cause and have simultaneously addressed the grievances of the suffragette movement in one fell swoop —  can also parade their poster child out with a gag across her mouth. But we trust the McCain campaign to do a good job with this. As we’ve learned over the past 8 years, if there’s one thing the Republicans do well, it’s putting on a good show: convincing the American people it’s raining, while they piss down our backs. On this note, we can hardly wait to see the unveiling of McCain’s pygmalion creation.

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by Mantis Katz, for the canarypapers

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Related links of interest:

salon.com: Sarah Palin and Mark Halperin’s complaints of “liberal media” 

….The very notion of the “Liberal Media” is one of the most inane myths in American politics — something spat out and repeated in the lowest right-wing sewers for so long that it has become conventional wisdom — but Halperin’s frequent vouching for that myth, in his role of “journalist,” illustrates all one needs to know about him. The media’s contempt for both John Kerry and Al Gore was matched only by their reverence for George Bush’s swagger. The first several months of media coverage this year was dominated by Jerimiah Wright, lapel pins, bowling scores, Bittergate and elitism. And it is highly unlikely that there has even been a time in American history when the media was as subservient to Government as they were during the Bush era. It’s literally hard to imagine a claim that ought to be more discredited in general than the notion of the “liberal media” and its “anti-Republican bias”….

TheModerateVoice: The Sarah Palin Cone of Silence 

Rumors are slowly crystallizing into confirmed reports when it comes to the dating phase of America’s relationship with Sarah Palin. Following our brief introductions, this particular shiddach will apparently be overseen by Team McCain adhering to ancient traditions – there will be no future dates without strict chaperones in attendance and the conversations will be passed through the mothers. Should we wish to know anything further about the Alaska Governor, the campign team will define what it is we should know and when we will find out about it….

Lastly…. Somewhere during the process of learning what exactly a vice-president does, Sarah will also need to take a crash course in what a vice-presidential candidate does — specifically, what a vice-presidential candidate on the McCain ticket does, to promote the McCain platform, about which she is also apparently clueless.