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The Post-Mortem Lesson from Sarah Palin’s Candidacy: Never Again

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“Wasilla hillbillies looting Neiman Marcus from coast to coast” — a McCain aide’s description of the Palin spending sprees

 

sarah-toddAccording to an upcoming Newsweek piece, titled, “Hackers and Spending Sprees” it appears that our fears about Sarah Palin were well-founded, so no one needs to shed any tears over the Republican Party’s arguments, sure to arise in the coming days, painting Palin as the poor little stifled VP candidate, victimized by the McCain campaign’s refusal to just “let Sarah be Sarah.” That she was lacking in the good judgment, ethics and decorum (the most basic qualities you’d expect from any applicant applying for a job as the most powerful leader in the world) becomes only more apparent, the more we learn. We can only imagine the horror of the McCain campaign staffers who, realizing they had a tiger by the tail, were doing well just to keep wraps on the unstoppable force that was “Sarah being Sarah,” as seen in the glimpses offered in this article, which was slated, by pre-arrangement, to be published only AFTER the election.   

At the GOP convention in St. Paul, Palin was completely unfazed by the boys’ club fraternity she had just joined. One night, Steve Schmidt and Mark Salter went to her hotel room to brief her. After a minute, Palin sailed into the room wearing nothing but a towel, with another on her wet hair. She told them to chat with her laconic husband, Todd. “I’ll be just a minute,” she said.

There was also the matter of that spending spree. Of course, those of us who weren’t blinded by stubborn loyalty to the McCain campaign already knew that the debate over Palin’s wardrobe had nothing to do with whether or not she needed the clothes, or whether women are held to different standards than men, or whether it was “sexist” to discuss her wardrobe. No, the debate was over the fact that it was illegal to use campaign funds for clothing purchases, no matter how worthy the cause may have seemed to her supporters. Having said that, it turns out that her wardrobe purchases were not only more extravagant than we knew, but were a source of anger and disgust by McCain campaign insiders, who were “fuming” over the whole ordeal, even as they kept McCain in the dark about her true extent of her purchases. According to Newsweek:

While publicly supporting Palin, McCain’s top advisers privately fumed at what they regarded as her outrageous profligacy. One senior aide said that Nicolle Wallace had told Palin to buy three suits for the convention and hire a stylist. But instead, the vice presidential nominee began buying for herself and her family-clothes and accessories from top stores such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus. According to two knowledgeable sources, a vast majority of the clothes were bought by a wealthy donor, who was shocked when he got the bill. Palin also used low-level staffers to buy some of the clothes on their credit cards. The McCain campaign found out last week when the aides sought reimbursement. One aide estimated that she spent “tens of thousands” more than the reported $150,000, and that $20,000 to $40,000 went to buy clothes for her husband. Some articles of clothing have apparently been lost. An angry aide characterized the shopping spree as “Wasilla hillbillies looting Neiman Marcus from coast to coast,” and said the truth will eventually come out when the Republican Party audits its books.

It bears mentioning that the Newsweek article includes “secrets” about both campaigns, gathered by reporters under the implicit agreement to not publish it until after election day. You’ll find no real shockers in Obama’s closet. This is likely due to the fact that the integrity of the Obama campaign mirrored the integrity of the candidate. Which makes it all the more sad and angering the following news item, reported in this same article:

palin-speechThe Obama campaign was provided with reports from the Secret Service showing a sharp and disturbing increase in threats to Obama in September and early October, at the same time that many crowds at Palin rallies became more frenzied. Michelle Obama was shaken by the vituperative crowds and the hot rhetoric from the GOP candidates. “Why would they try to make people hate us?” Michelle asked a top campaign aide.

We’ll likely hear more of the truths on Palin in the coming days. Much as we’d like to relegate Sarah Palin to the past, we would be wise to commit these lessons to memory — particularly those poisonous ones, delivered from the stump — as Sarah Palin and her handlers will no doubt be spending the coming days contemplating her political future, which could very well include aspirations for reprising her role on the national stage, come 2012. 

 

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McCain, Palin, Media & Co. — The Death Knell of Democracy? Not If You Can Help It

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It’s hard to believe that in the greatest democracy in the world, we need legislation to prevent the government from writing and paying for the news. — Sen. John Kerry

It’s pretty pathetic that the Republican Party’s only campaign strategy is to make a mockery of democracy and the entire polical process by parading out caricatures like Sarah Palin and Joe the so-called-Plumber to slander their opponent with racism, xenophobia, McCarthism and a slew of outrageous lies. It’s also pretty pathetic that the Republican Party’s only real hope of winning this election is to systematically steal the votes from Democrats. It’s even more pathetic that our media aid and abet them by turning a blind eye. 

If you’re not outraged by the pathetic state of the U.S. media, you’re either a Republican or you never, ever, ever read, watch or listen to one iota of corporate-generated “news.” I’m not here to justify this statement. Either you get it, or you don’t. I’m here talk about what’s wrong and how we might hope to fix it. 

In this vein, I saw a glimmer of hope when I read on Huffington Post a piece titled, “Is America Still a Beacon for Press Freedom? ” Herein was mentioned the Reporters without Borders’ recently released “Press Freedom Index” for 2008, which is essentially a report card for 173 countries around the world. Iceland rated the highest, at #1, while the U.S. ranked at a disgraceful #36. Intrigued, I researched Reporters without Borders (hoping it’d be a worthy forum to protest the state of our media) but found instead that, despite their seemingly noble agenda, Reporters without Borders is, in fact, on the payroll of the U.S. State Department. According to SourceWatch, its budget is primarily funded by the Orwellian-named “National Endowment for Democracy,” which operates under the auspices of the CIA.

It is no coincidence, then, that Reporters without Borders’ ranking system coincides more closely with Washington’s black list, which explains the low ratings of Cuba & Venezuela that oddly bear no correlation to this organization’s stated criteria for ranking countries. (for more on this, see links at end of post).

One would naturally wonder, then, why Reporters without Borders gave the U.S. the somewhat unfavorable rating of #36? If you look closely, you’ll see that the U.S rating is actually much lower, but this truth has been cleverly disguised. If you look at the actual report, (available here at Wikipedia), you’ll see that the U.S. and Israel, alone, enjoy the priviledge of having two separate ratings: ‘national territory’ and ‘extra-territorial’. Look more closely, and you’ll see that the U.S. is actually ranked #36 (national territory) and #119 (extra-territorial), which not only waters-down the U.S.’s actual ranking on freedom of the press, but effectively exonerates the U.S. for violations committed in territories it occupies.

In Other Words, It’s Just Another Big Lie

Frustrated to scratch the surface of yet one more democratic cause, only to find a corrupt agenda, I researched other media watchdog organizations which claim to work toward the cause of fairness in the media and freedom of the press. Over and over, I found (with two notable exceptions) only a preponderance of navel-gazing. For instance, what is the value of an ‘analysis’ that divides news coverage into negative vs. neutral vs. positive reporting, when the same criteria used to evaluate the McCain-Palin ticket’s lies (categorized as ‘negative’) are used to evaluate the Obama-Biden ticket’s response (also categorized as ‘negative’) to said lies? It’s apples and oranges, folks: one is lies, one is truth. Since when is truth categorized as a negative? Ever since our media lost their bearings: ever since our media became deregulated and consolidated.  (see links below for more on this).

It’s funny, in an un-funny sort of way, that McCain & Palin spend so much time frothing at the mouth over socialism/communism, considering that — over the past 8 years — our media have fallen under the control of the government/corporate conglomerates (two heads, same monster), to the extent that our national media are essentially state-controlled, just a stone’s throw from the sort of media traditionally enjoyed by socialist/communist regimes. 

Democracy or Not: Your Choice 

It’s with some hope that I offer two worthy exceptions to the above-mentioned navel gazers: Free Press (see links, below) and FAIR (Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting). If we hope to restore the integrity of our media, these organizations are deserving of our time, attention and money. I’m particularly impressed with FAIR, which, first of all, takes no corporate funding, government grants or advertising of any kind. Secondly, they have a firm understanding of what’s wrong with the media and what needs to be done. Here is their stated perspective:

Independent, aggressive and critical media are essential to an informed democracy. But mainstream media are increasingly cozy with the economic and political powers they should be watchdogging. Mergers in the news industry have accelerated, further limiting the spectrum of viewpoints that have access to mass media. With U.S. media outlets overwhelmingly owned by for-profit conglomerates and supported by corporate advertisers, independent journalism is compromised.

Ultimately, FAIR believes that structural reform is needed to break up the dominant media conglomerates, establish independent public broadcasting, and promote strong, non-profit alternative sources of information.

Third, they have a powerful network of activist tools that encourage the public to become critically engaged with media. See something unfair in the media? A particular instance of media inaccuracy or bias? Their toolkit includes everything from tips for detecting bias in the media, to resources for contacting media outlets and journalists to demand more responsible reporting. Their activism gets results. They’ve forced rewrites of stories, propelled undercovered stories from the sidelines to the mainstream and succeeded in getting different perspectives into the news.

All the Kings Horses and All the Kings Men

Should our country survive this election (meaning, should Barack Obama be rightfully elected, despite the media’s 24-7 infomercial coverage of the McCain-Palin-Joe-the-so-called-Plumber ticket, and despite the epidemic of  voter fraud being committed by the Republican Party, aided and abettted by the media’s deplorable indifference toward their criminal engagement in these practices) then I would urge all Americans of good conscience to cast your energies toward restoring the integrity of our media.

Yes, I realize that there are myriad pressing issues in need of our attention — in between wars, a disintegrating planet, recessions, depressions, and attacking voter fraud. But until we have a truthful voice in the media, all other efforts toward restoring our democracy and healing the myriad wounds inflicted over the past 8 years will be rendered impotent. To repeat what has already been said: Independent, aggressive and critical media are essential to an informed democracy. And we’ve not seen hide nor hair of that for at least 8 years. And if we don’t do something about this — beginning now — you can be sure that, 4 years from now, there will be enough swiftboats, Joe the Plumbers, McCarthyism, evangelicals and vitriolic Sarah Palins to incite those rabidly ignorant mobs to finally put democracy out if its misery, once and for all. 

The media’s the most powerful entity on earth. They have the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent, and that’s power. Because they control the minds of the masses. — Malcolm X

 

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by Mantis Katz for the canarypapers

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For more reading (this is not a comprehensive list, just a starter):

Global Research: The Deceit of Reporters Without Borders

Counterpunch: Reporters Without Borders Unmasked

ZNet: The Reporters Without Borders Fraud

Links to Media Watchers & Activists (a mixed bag)

For background on MEDIA DEREGULATION/CONSOLIDATION:

New York Times (Oct. 2007) Plan Would Ease Limits on Media Owners

 Op-Ed News: Robert McChesney’s The Political Economy of Media – Part I

Op-Ed News: Robert McChesney’s The Political Economy of Media – Part II

FreePress: Media Consolidation (while this site is guilty of navel-gazing, they also have the right idea)

FreePress: Who Owns the Media? (The Big Six)

Salon: Justice: Propaganda is A-OK

canarypapers: The White house Propaganda Machine: When the Truth Just Won’t Do

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

Speaking of Teddy Roosevelt…. Quotes you WON’T hear McCain repeating

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McCain takes pride in his self-anointed similarities to his hero, Teddy Roosevelt, and even quoted him the other night, saying “Walk softly, talk softly but carry a big stick,” while chastising Obama for some perceived foreign policy faux paux. Teddy Roosevelt’s original quote read like this:

I have always been fond of the West African proverb: ‘Speak softly and carry a big stick; you will go far.’ TR, 1901

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Barack Obama’s response to McCain went like this:

In the spirit of Teddy Roosevelt-ness (much as I don’t share McCain’s romance** with Roosevelt’s “big stick” approach to interventionalism in Latin America, which has been used to justify covert wars, U.S.-installed puppet regimes, death squads, human rights abuses and to otherwise rape, pillage, swindle and rob the citizens of these countries) I thought I’d toss out a few more Teddy Roosevelt quotes. Only, you’re not likely to hear McCain repeat these on the campaign trail, although Obama could do so, in all honesty:

If a man does not have an ideal and try to live up to it, then he becomes a mean, base and sordid creature, no matter how successful. — TR, 1915

An epidemic in indiscriminate assault upon character does not good, but very great harm. There should be relentless exposure of and attack upon every evil practice, whether in politics, in business, or in social life. — TR,  1906

I have a perfect horror of words that are not backed up by deeds. — TR, 1915

No man can lead a public career really worth leading, no man can act with rugged independence in serious crises, nor strike at great abuses, nor afford to make powerful and unscrupulous foes, if he is himself vulnerable in his private character. — TR, 1913

Let the watchwords of all our people be the old familiar watchwords of honesty, decency, fair-dealing, and commonsense. We must treat each man on his worth and merits as a man…..The welfare of each of us is dependent fundamentally upon the welfare of all of us. — TR, 1903

I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life; I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well. — TR, 1910

The object of government is the welfare of the people.  — TR, 1910

This country has nothing to fear from the crooked man who fails. We put him in jail. It is the crooked man who succeeds who is a threat to this country. — TR, 1905

It used to be that, even as I opposed Republicans, I could often find common ground in my respect for their intellect, their character, and the sincerity of their ideals. This has not been the case in recent years. John McCain’s character represents such an extreme departure from these traits, that he has become a shame to his party — past, present and future. That his campaign actively promotes and embraces ignorance, lies, bluster and sordid values — while ridiculing intelligence and higher ideals —  only shows his profound lack of qualifications to elevate the country he sought to lead. 

The national polls reflect this, as does this interesting internet survey, titled, IF THE WORLD COULD VOTE ?  Although only 157,194 votes have been cast (as of this hour’s updated numbers) these votes came from a total of 186 countries. So far, Obama wins by 100% in many of the countries, and is in the 90% range in most countries. Seems not all the world is as enchanted as John McCain is in the unilateral, big-stick, Bush Doctrine bullying we’ve all been subjected to over the past 8 years.

 

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by Mantis Katz, for the canarypapers

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** For more reading on McCain’s activities with the Monroe Doctrine and the Bush Doctrine (aka “palling around with terrorists” in Latin America and Afghanistan), these links are a good starting point. 

Huffington Post: McCain linked to private group in Iran-Contra case – GOP presidential nominee John McCain has past connections to a private group that supplied aid to guerrillas seeking to overthrow the leftist government of Nicaragua in the Iran-Contra affair. McCain’s ties are facing renewed scrutiny after his campaign criticized Barack Obama for his link to a former radical who engaged in violent acts 40 years ago. The U.S. Council for World Freedom was part of an international organization linked to former Nazi collaborators and ultra-right-wing death squads in Central America. The group was dedicated to stamping out communism around the globe.

Huffington Post: Why McCain’s time with the U.S. Council for World Freedom matters – The USCWF was founded in Phoenix, Arizona in November 1981 as an offshoot of the World Anti-Communist League. The group was, from the onset, saddled with the disreputable reputation of its parent group. The WACL had ties to ultra-right figures and Latin American death squads. Roger Pearson, the chairman of the WACL, was expelled from the group in 1980 under allegations that he was a member of a neo-Nazi organization.

Wynken, Blynken & Nod: A Lullaby for Palin, McCain & Bush

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Wynken, Blynken and Nod
(with deepest apologies to Eugene Field) 

Wynken and Blynken are four beady eyes,
And Nod is a wooden head.
Their crooked smiles feed such sweet lies, 
We’re left drowsy and overfed.    
So shut your eyes and hear their prayers
For wonderful things-to-be,
Of wars and wells and polar bears  
That sink in a melting sea.
Or open your eyes and boot these three: 
Wynken,
Blynken,
And Nod.

 

I play to win. I do whatever it takes to win. If I have to fuck my opponent to win I’ll do it. If I have to destroy my opponent I won’t give it a second thought.John McCain, spoken before a gathering of GOP operatives at the National Republican Senatorial Committee where McCain outlined his campaign strategy in his Senate race

Senator Obama has always believed that the best antidote to smears and lies is the truth.Jen Psaki, Obama campaign spokeswoman

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The Truth vs. “Whatever it Takes”

Joe Biden was right when he said, “past is prologue.” Anyone who liked Bush’s campaign tactics in 2000 has surely liked the integrity with which the Bush-Cheney Administration has run our country over the past 8 years. Similarly, anyone who likes John McCain’s 2008 campaign tactics, and likes a governor who thumbs her nose at court orders during an ethics investigation, and likes a VP candidate with a deplorable First Amendment record, who forbids media access, also surely liked the past 8 years, and would surely like the the style of a McCain-Palin Administration.  By the same token, anyone who has appreciated the integrity with which Obama and Biden have run their campaign would surely like the integrity of an Obama-Biden Administration. Past is prologue. The challenge for Americans over the next 31 days will be to not fall for the bullshit, the lies and the fearmongering that got us into this predicament in the first place. Because, make no mistake: it’s about to get real ugly, real fast.

We could as easily hear that Obama bites the heads off kittens for breakfast, as we might hear that Obama runs with terrorists [EDITOR’S NOTE: believe it or not, I wrote this before hearing about Sarah Palin’s “Obama-palling-around-with-terrorist” smear, linked to below] , he is a terrorist, or that his children are terrorists. They’re gonna “ramp up” (to use Sarah’s idiom) the fearmongering and try to scare the hell out of us, the same way Bush-Cheney have been doing for the past 7 years. They’re gonna accuse Obama of things I can’t even guess or imagine, but you can be sure the smears will be peppered with words like Muslim, Islamic extremists, weakness, naiveté, appeasement, un-American, unpatriotic, socialism, terrorists, 9-11, jihad, black militant, mushroom clouds and WMDs, not to mention William Ayers, Tony Rezko and Rev. Wright. The McCain team is gonna say horrible, reprehensible things. 

And they’ll do reprehensible things, too, like trying to trick voters into screwing up their votes. The GOP and the McCain campaign are already doing this in some places (see links, below), targeting their efforts toward blacks, Hispanics and other other ethnicities, as well as the victims of home foreclosure. The ultimate irony is that they are now trying to paint Obama with the same brush, accusing him of their very tactics. Like McCain said: Whatever it takes. It’s only gonna get worse. And if world events go to hell someplace on the map, that’s gravy for McCain, because he can pull out his tough-on-terror persona. It’s gonna be a rough ride, folks. If you have any extra money, fight the smears by donating to the Obama campaign or the Democratic Party. If you hear a new smear, you can either report it or get the straight poop at Obama’s “Fight the Smears” page.  

Above all, remember: No matter how convincing the package, a hoodwink is still a hoodwink is a hoodwink….

 

 

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by Mantis Katz for the canarypapers

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Huffington Post: Why the Debates Won’t Matter (Hint: It’s a Felony)

Huffington Post: Can Obama’s Ground Game Beat GOP Vote Robbing?

The Michigan Messenger: Lose your house, lose your vote

Huffington Post: Dems Sue GOP for Voter Suppression; Republicans Answer with Claims of Lies and Fraud

Wisconsin State Journal: Meanwhile, in Wisconsin, “…eligible voters could be disenfranchised and the state could face a post-election ballot-counting frenzy similar to Florida’s after the 2000 presidential race.”

The Michigan Messenger: Wisconsin Hotly Contested — Allegations of Voter Fraud Surface

Progressive Future: Stop Voter Disenfranchisement Before it Starts

Huffington Post: Fox News, GOP Tag Team Obama with Voter Fraud Smear

Huffington Post: Goo-Goo America

Booman Tribune: McCain Campaign Enticing Voter Fraud?

ABOVE: This 90-minute video from 2006, titled, “American Blackout” chronicles recurring patterns of voter disenfranchisement witnessed in the 2000 and 2004 elections, while following the story of Georgia Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, who not only took an active role in investigating these election debacles but also found herself in the middle of one after publicly questioning the Bush Administration about the 9-11 terrorist attacks. This history of voter disenfranchisement takes us back to the passage of the Voters Rights Act of 1965, which gives some perspective on how hard-fought are these rights that have been painfully robbed during the last two elections. An excellent, eye-opening film — pertinent to October 2008 — and well-worth the time spent watching it. Here, again, Joe Biden’s warning bears repeating: Past is prologue.

Note: If the above video malfunctions, it is available in 9 parts here on YouTube

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FOOTNOTE: 

A Brief History of the McCain-Palin Campaign:

Nothing from nothing leaves nothing

First, McCain tried to run on a thinly-disguised clone of the Bush-Cheney platform, which went largely unnoticed during the fracas of the Obama-Clinton primary season. By late summer, with the Republican Convention looming, the poll numbers showed that Americans were taking real notice of the Bush-Cheney McCain platform. The success of the Democratic Convention, plus Obama’s sage choice of a running mate only compounded McCain’s sinking numbers. In a desperate move to fill his platform with something/anything new, the McCain team hijacked Obama’s platform of hope, change and service. Simultaneously, and in a similar spirit of desperation, McCain threw Palin on the ticket, thinking beauty might trump brains. His choice of a running mate proved to be an utter failure in every possible regard, except one: she is, like McCain, a consummate liar. This was a good thing because, having lost the coattails of the Bush-Cheney legacy on which to ride, their platform was empty, save a few old war stories and tall fisherman’s tales about maverick feats. Between the two of them, there were enough lies to give the appearance of having legitimate records on which to pontificate during their speeches. But this, too, failed, as “the google” gave the public ready access to the facts. Having finally used every possible resource (except for the truth) the McCain-Palin campaign decided to abandon all pretense of running a presidential campaign and to, instead, spend the next 31 days destroying their opponent, in the hope (a funny word, in this context) of scaring the voters back into their camp.

More on this:

Washington Post and Huffington Post (October 4th) McCain Planning “Fiercely Negative” Campaign in Final Days

Huffington Post: (October 4th) Palin says Obama “palling around” with terrorists

Jewish Exponent: Don’t Fall for the Extremist, Anti-Obama Smear Campaign

Biden’s Missed Opportunity in the Debate: “Sarah Palin, you’re no Ronald Reagan.”

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It boils down to this:

Joe Biden was equally capable of delivering as knowledgeable, intelligent, insightful and nuanced a discussion of the issues facing our nation and the world 5 days ago, as he was 5 weeks, 5 years or even 25 years ago. Sarah Palin delivered a scripted, well-rehearsed performance last night, nothing more, and it was a performance she was not capable of giving just 5 days ago.

There’s really no more to it than that, except among those who simply *need* to believe that Sarah Palin owns more than an ability to memorize talking points. Have the past 5 weeks not offered enough compelling evidence that, off-script, she is dismally, dangerously unqualified for the job? Much as she tried to chide Joe Biden for referencing the so-called “past” mistakes of the Bush Administration, Sarah Palin’s scriptwriters nonetheless felt the need to validate her candidacy by latching onto the past — namely, the coattails of Ronald Reagan’s legacy.

I would like someone to ask Sarah Palin just what Ronald Reagan meant all those times, when he conjured the vision of that “shining city upon the hill.” And what did you mean, Governor Palin, when you coupled the word ‘exceptionalism’ with that ‘shining city’ last night, as in: “America is a nation of exceptionalism. And we are to be that shining city on a hill“? Do you even know what is meant by the word, ‘exceptionalism‘ in this context? Or would that be “gotcha” journalism to ask you such a question, as when Katie Couric asked, “What do you read?” on the heels of your statement, “The way that I have understood the world is through education, through books, through mediums that have provided me a lot of perspective on the world“?

My educated guess is that Sarah’s answer on the ‘shining city’ question would be the same as her answer to Couric’s question about her reading list: a pause — one beat too long — followed by a mish-mash of hollow words infused with insults against anyone smart enough to know the answer. Lest Sarah be at a loss for words, I’ve done her homework, the same as I did when she asked, “What is it exactly that the VP does every day?” The answer is printed, in entirety, at the bottom of this post.  I offer this, not because I’m a fan of Ronald Reagan — or of exceptionalism — but because, when he conjured the vision of the shining city upon the hill, it was not merely a stage prop. His words were fleshed from a personal belief, born from an established school of thought, about which he knew something. Ronald Reagan not only understood what he was saying. He meant it.    

Sarah proved last night (as she did at the convention) that she is capable of delivering her lines on cue with, alternately, pseudo conviction, curled-lip sarcasm, or a wink and a smile. There are small theatre groups across the country filled with similar talents. What does this have to do with being vice-president of the United States?

We’ve been duly warned: there will be no more unfettered media access (huh?) to Sarah Palin (even as we were told, just a few days ago, that the McCain campaign was going to “allow” Sarah Palin to “be herself” to America). There will be only scripted speeches, no more of that “gotcha” journalism. 

Here’s the thing. I’m sick and tired of living under a government that operates in secrecy, that censors media access, that denies Americans the right to a transparent government, that gives us, instead, a scripted version of the truth in the form of cooked intelligence, manufactured news, propaganda and lies. On that note, I’m also sick and tired of living under a government that believes the rules don’t apply to them. Censoring the media and making special exceptions to the law were the trademarks of the Bush-Cheney Administration. The McCain-Palin team have shown that they would be no different. 

In the past 5 weeks, alone, we have seen the media censored from covering Sarah Palin, we have seen more lies than we can count — so many, that it has become an embarrassment and a joke, even among the most statured conservatives — and we have seen Sarah Palin thumb her nose at a court order, when subpoenaed to testify in the ethics investigation for her alleged abuse of executive power. This is the foundation upon which dictatorships, not democracies, are built. Ronald Reagan at least understood this much, when he described the foundation of that “shining city upon a hill,” in his speech, below:

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The past few days when I’ve been at that window upstairs, I’ve thought a bit of the “shining city upon a hill.” The phrase comes from John Winthrop, who wrote it to describe the America he imagined. What he imagined was important because he was an early Pilgrim, an early freedom man. He journeyed here on what today we’d call a little wooden boat; and like the other Pilgrims, he was looking for a home that would be free.

I’ve spoken of the shining city all my political life, but I don’t know if I ever quite communicated what I saw when I said it. But in my mind it was a tall proud city built on rocks stronger than oceans, wind-swept, God-blessed, and teeming with people of all kinds living in harmony and peace, a city with free ports that hummed with commerce and creativity, and if there had to be city walls, the walls had doors and the doors were open to anyone with the will and the heart to get here. That’s how I saw it and see it still.

And how stands the city on this winter night? More prosperous, more secure, and happier than it was eight years ago. But more than that; after 200 years, two centuries, she still stands strong and true on the granite ridge, and her glow has held steady no matter what storm. And she’s still a beacon, still a magnet for all who must have freedom, for all the pilgrims from all the lost places who are hurtling through the darkness, toward home. 

Ronald Reagan, from his Farewell Address to the Nation, January 11, 1989 

It is a genuine source of sadness to many Americans that these words could not be spoken today, except by those blind to the fate which our country has suffered under the Bush Administration. We see, in Sarah Palin and John McCain, a stubborn blindness to this reality. Otherwise, their platform would not be nearly identical to the Bush-Cheney platform. Otherwise, her speechwriters would not have felt it necessary to have her chide Joe Biden for discussing the fatal flaws in the Bush Administration that have brought our country to this sad state. Joe Biden got it right last night when he said, “Past is prologue,” but he missed a golden opportunity to tell Sarah Palin, “Governor, you’re no Ronald Reagan.”

 

 

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by Mantis Katz for the canarypapers

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Two statues stand outside the National Archives on Pennsylvania Avenue. One is called “Study the Past,” and the other (left) explains why: “What is Past is Prologue.” On display in the National Archives are the  Declaration of Independence, Constitution, and Bill of Rights — the cornerstone documents of the United States. 

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The McCain-Palin Gag-O-Rama (If laughter’s the best medicine, how come I don’t feel so good?)

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