Archive for Huffington Post

Kyl & Bunning: Truth Hurts

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 2, 2010 by halmasonberg

I’ve been writing a lot lately about a certain mentality sweeping the country (or, more appropriately, coming into light), where facts and logic no longer count. For example, the internet is a great place to find a group of people who believe what you want to believe. So no matter how many facts are thrown your way contradicting that belief you so dearly want to hold onto, there are enough people out there fighting desperately to maintain that same belief that you can actually find a comfortable little home for yourself all nice and cuddled up with your new friends while completely disregarding facts and/or reality. I see the Tea Partiers and Sarah Palin followers doing this daily.

And in the past few days, we’ve watched Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona fight vigorously for his belief system, even in the face of facts showing that his statements are, plainly and simply, wrong. And the result? Well, it’s always the same. Innocent people get hurt.

Kyl insists:

“[unemployment insurance] doesn’t create new jobs. In fact, if anything, continuing to pay people unemployment compensation is a disincentive for them to seek new work… because people are being paid even though they’re not working.

I’m sure most of them would like work and probably have tried to seek it, but you can’t argue that it’s a job enhancer. If anything, as I said, it’s a disincentive. And the same thing with the COBRA extension and the other extensions here.”

In response, Sen. Max Baucus responded:

“The Senator from Arizona argues that unemployment insurance is a disincentive to jobs. Nothing could be further from the truth. I don’t know anybody who’s out of work and is receiving some unemployment insurance believes that that payment is sufficient not to find a job. The payments are so much lower than any salary or wage would be, it’s just ridiculous. I might add, there are five unemployed Americans today for every job opening in the economy. People are looking for work. They’re not unemployed because of choice.”

According to the Huffington Post:

[Baucus] added that Kyl’s economic argument was flawed, as well. Unemployment benefits do create jobs because the recipients cycle the money through the economy. He cited a Congressional Budget Office analysis that said the Gross Domestic Product grew $1.90 for every dollar the federal government paid out.

Baucus, ever the bipartisan, gave Kyl a chance to take his accusation back.

“I don’t know if the senator really meant this, but he certainly strongly implied, in fact, I took him to mean that unemployment insurance is a disincentive for people to look for work,” said Baucus.

Kyl’s response:

“My colleague quoted me correctly — almost correctly. I said, it’s not a job creator. If anything, it could be argued that it is a disincentive for work, because people are being paid even though they’re not working. I certainly did not say, and would never imply, that the reason people don’t have jobs is because they’re not looking for them. Now, it is true that a lot of Americans have gotten so tired of looking for jobs or — or believe that they’re not gong to find them, that they have stopped looking. What I said is true and if my colleague could find a source that says it’s not true, then please show me. But providing unemployment benefits does not create jobs.”

And there it is: “if my colleague could find a source that says it’s not true, then please show me. But providing unemployment benefits does not create jobs.”

This statement right on the heels of Baucus having just pointed him toward the CBO analysis.

Even when confronted with economist Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research’s comments:

“It puts money into people’s pockets and they spend almost all of it. That creates jobs.”

Kyl still remained firm on his stance regardless of the facts that spoke to the contrary. Yes, I agree with Kyl that there are some out there who may not be looking for jobs because they are receiving unemployment. That will ALWAYS happen in ANY system that offers help. There will always be a number of people who take advantage of the system. For whatever reason, good or not. But that is not the bulk of the people. It would be a miniscule percentage. And in the midst of this recession, with all the suffering and desperation going on in this country as a result, this man keeps this much needed money out of the hands of individuals and families who desperately need it. All because he insists on holding on to a belief that has been factually disproved.

Meanwhile, Kentucky Republican Sen. Jim Bunning continues his filibuster blocking the Senate from passing a 30-day extension of unemployment benefits and health insurance subsidies for the jobless. Even Bunning’s homestate paper slammed him:

As long as Republicans were in charge, Sen. Jim Bunning was OK with trading a surplus for a deficit. He voted to put two wars, tax cuts and a Medicare drug benefit on the nation’s credit card.

Now that Republicans are no longer in charge, Bunning is drawing the line on deficit spending. He’s doing it in a way that shows callous contempt for the more than one in 10 working Kentuckians whose jobs disappeared in the economic meltdown.

We’ve become accustomed to bizarre, egocentric behavior from Bunning. So it wasn’t all that surprising when he single-handedly blocked an unemployment benefits extension for a million people, including 119,230 in Kentucky, whose benefits run out this year. About 14,000 Kentuckians will exhaust their benefits in two weeks without the extension.

Bunning’s filibuster also denies newly laid-off workers help paying for health insurance. It halts road and bridge projects around the country by furloughing 2,000 federal transportation employees, stops reimbursements to state highway programs and cuts Medicare payments to doctors.

To those who know him, it’s not surprising that Bunning answered a Democratic colleague’s complaint with a crude profanity. Or that he joked about missing a basketball game while pushing some unemployed Kentuckians into homelessness or bankruptcy.

What is surprising is that Trey Grayson and Rand Paul, the leading Republicans to succeed Bunning, jumped on his one-man band wagon.

Bunning’s articulate and now-infamous response to the facts and pleas presented to him?

“Tough shit.”

Meanwhile, according to the Huff Post:

The National Flood Insurance Program expired Sunday night after Congress failed to pass a temporary extension of the program that is vital to protecting homes in the New Orleans area.

The lapse puts home sales at risk and could leave homeowners whose policies were scheduled to renew March 1 in jeopardy in the unlikely event that Monday’s rains turned out to be heavy enough to cause flooding.

So it seems facts and truth no longer have any meaning in today’s world for men like Bunning and Kyl. No matter the consequences. They believe what they want to believe. And they are representative of a growing mindset shared by a segment of Americans.

True or false?

Newsmax Columnist Suggests Obama Inviting Military Coup

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 30, 2009 by halmasonberg

Newsmax columnist

the_week_14954_27Newsmax columnist John Perry wrote on Tuesday:

Imagine a bloodless coup to restore and defend the Constitution through an interim administration that would do the serious business of governing and defending the nation. Skilled, military-trained, nation-builders would replace accountability-challenged, radical-left commissars.”

Newsmax has since taken the column down, stating:

“Newsmax strongly believes in the principles of Constitutional government and would never advocate or insinuate any suggestion of an activity that would undermine our democracy or democratic institutions.”

On that same day, conservative talk-radio host Jim Quinn told troops that Obama is “gonna get you killed.”

Sadly, this kind of rhetoric is not new or unique coming from today’s Conservative Right. Recently, according to the Huffington Post:

Chuck Norris has asked if people are ready for “a second American Revolution.” RedState’s Erick Erickson has asked, “At what point do the people … march down to their state legislator’s house, pull him outside, and beat him to a bloody pulp?” Radio host Michael Savage declared recently that “we’re going to have a revolution in this country.”


Author Frank Schaeffer on Obama

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on September 1, 2009 by halmasonberg

barak-obamaThe Right wish to discredit Barack Obama any way they can. And members of the Left have started squawking that they’re losing faith in Obama. All in the President’s first six months in office. I expect it from the Right, but I find it a sad impatience coming from once-strong Obama supporters. Are we really that shortsighted? Are we truly ready to fall victim to political naysayers and turn our backs on a man who has, for the first time in generations, offered Americans the opportunity to become the nation so many of us have dreamed about? And did we think that he would achieve this overnight? Or in Obama’s first six months of office? And do you think that whatever form of Health Care Reform gets passed this fall is the end of the conversation? That it won’t be amended and that a public option and single-payer plan won’t eventually be added if that doesn’t happen this fall?

President Obama is doing something no president in my lifetime has ever seriously attempted. He is trying to bring this country together. He is seeing the bigger picture, the long-term picture. It’s true, he may fail and that would be a sad thing indeed. But his chances of failure only increase when his own group of supporters start buying into the rhetoric and far-too-early judgments of the impatient and nearsighted.

headshotAnd with that said, I’ll hop off my soapbox and allow author Frank Schaeffer to get up on his. Schaeffer himself was a hard right, religious Republican. As the reality of the world and his party took hold, Schaeffer changed sides with a vengeance. He has since authored the books Crazy for God: How I Grew Up as One of the Elect, Helped Found the Religious Right, and Lived to Take All (or Almost All) of It Back and the upcoming Patience With God: Faith For People Who Don’t Like Religion (Or Atheism) among many others. Schaeffer’s opinion piece in the Huffington Post says much of what I’ve been feeling and thinking. And he does it better than I might have, so I’ll simply forward you to his article Obama Is Right, His Critics (Right And Left) Are Wrong as I found it to be insightful and expressed my personal feelings quite well.

And remember, there have been rumblings recently of Dick Cheney for President in 2012, as ludicrous and unlikely as that may be, from some serious Republican figures. So if you don’t want to give Obama a fair chance to prove his worth, we can always go backwards again.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/frank-schaeffer/obama-is-right-his-critic_b_273314.html

Jesus Was Not A Jew! Good Ol’ Fashioned American Common Sense

Posted in Politics, Religion with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 7, 2009 by halmasonberg

JesusUSAI can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to argue with acquaintances to convince them that Jesus was a Jew. “Jesus was not a Jew! He was a Christian!” is the answer I most often get. It takes me a full 3 to 4 seconds before I recompose myself, lift my jaw back into a closed-mouth position, and explain how all this actually works.

But no matter how often I find myself in this strange predicament, I’m always just as horrified and saddened by the lack of education and basic intelligence so often flaunted by some of my fellow Americans. And I’m no genius, mind you! Just some dude with a basic education who’s trying to keep up and always feeling one step behind. Sometimes two! But, man-o-man, the ignorance I’ve bumped up against on my own little journeys.

I remember taking a poll once on how many people believed in god and, if they did, what their personal definition of god was. I remember there was a significant number of responders who, when asked if they believed, answered unequivocally “Yes!”. When asked as to their definition, I was often repelled with the angry response, “I don’t know! Who the hell thinks about that kind of stuff?!”

So maybe it’s not stupidity, but a lack of thinking that so many suffer from. Maybe it’s just laziness. I don’t know. But whatever the cause, the symptoms terrify me. Especially when faced with life or death decisions like war and health care.

So when I question the intelligence of some Americans and get the occasional angry response, I simply have to shrug. If you want me to think more Americans are smart, stop acting so stupid. When people I know vote for McCain because they believe Obama’s gonna take away their guns even though they don’t have the proper medical coverage, barely earn enough to buy the food they need, own a home that is in a mortgage crisis, complain about their kids’ education, can’t afford private school, have two family members with disabilities, live just above the poverty level, and want the right to have an abortion if need be, I have to wonder if they have a clue what they’re actually voting for.

Then add the fact that Obama’s a Muslim, was born in Kenya, hates whites, is a Nazi, and eats babies for breakfast… I start praying (and I’m technically an atheist) that some of the smarter individuals I know start spreading some facts around. I’m not saying you have to believe what I believe, but at least understand what YOU claim to believe!

Perhaps this is why I enjoyed Bill Maher’s rant SMART PRESIDENT ≠ SMART COUNTRY in The Huffington Post today. Here’s an excerpt:

headshot…On the eve of the Iraq War, 69% of Americans thought Saddam Hussein was personally involved in 9/11. Four years later, 34% still did. Or take the health care debate we’re presently having: members of Congress have recessed now so they can go home and “listen to their constituents.” An urge they should resist because their constituents don’t know anything. At a recent town-hall meeting in South Carolina, a man stood up and told his Congressman to “keep your government hands off my Medicare,” which is kind of like driving cross country to protest highways.

I’m the bad guy for saying it’s a stupid country, yet polls show that a majority of Americans cannot name a single branch of government, or explain what the Bill of Rights is. 24% could not name the country America fought in the Revolutionary War. More than two-thirds of Americans don’t know what’s in Roe v. Wade. Two-thirds don’t know what the Food and Drug Administration does. Some of this stuff you should be able to pick up simply by being alive. You know, like the way the Slumdog kid knew about cricket.

Not here. Nearly half of Americans don’t know that states have two senators and more than half can’t name their congressman. And among Republican governors, only 30% got their wife’s name right on the first try.

Sarah Palin says she would never apologize for America. Even though a Gallup poll says 18% of Americans think the sun revolves around the earth. No, they’re not stupid. They’re interplanetary mavericks. A third of Republicans believe Obama is not a citizen, and a third of Democrats believe that George Bush had prior knowledge of the 9/11 attacks, which is an absurd sentence because it contains the words “Bush” and “knowledge.”

People bitch and moan about taxes and spending, but they have no idea what their government spends money on. The average voter thinks foreign aid consumes 24% of our federal budget. It’s actually less than 1%. And don’t even ask about cabinet members: seven in ten think Napolitano is a kind of three-flavored ice cream. And last election, a full one-third of voters forgot why they were in the booth, handed out their pants, and asked, “Do you have these in a relaxed-fit?”

And I haven’t even brought up America’s religious beliefs. But here’s one fun fact you can take away: did you know only about half of Americans are aware that Judaism is an older religion than Christianity? That’s right, half of America looks at books called the Old Testament and the New Testament and cannot figure out which one came first.

And these are the idiots we want to weigh in on the minutia of health care policy? Please, this country is like a college chick after two Long Island Iced Teas: we can be talked into anything, like wars, and we can be talked out of anything, like health care. We should forget town halls, and replace them with study halls. There’s a lot of populist anger directed towards Washington, but you know who concerned citizens should be most angry at? Their fellow citizens. “Inside the beltway” thinking may be wrong, but at least it’s thinking, which is more than you can say for what’s going on outside the beltway.

And if you want to call me an elitist for this, I say thank you. Yes, I want decisions made by an elite group of people who know what they’re talking about. That means Obama budget director Peter Orszag, not Sarah Palin.

And just to put the proper tag on all of this, Sarah Palin brought my point (and Mr. Maher’s) home beautifully today on her Facebook account by writing:

The America I know and love is not one in which my parents or my baby with Down Syndrome will have to stand in front of Obama’s “death panel” so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their “level of productivity in society,” whether they are worthy of health care. Such a system is downright evil.

Yes, Sarah, not only is the moon made of cheese, but so is the space between your ears. I’m not sure which is more terrifying, the notion that Sarah Palin, like her protege Joe The Plumber, really has no clue what she is talking about, or that she knows very well what she is talking about and is purposefully misleading her brand of “followers” and other Americans for reasons other than their own best interests.

Ignorance or greed? Both are extremely dangerous and can lead to the same destructive end. And when lives are lost, they are not brought back. Not even by Jesus.

Glenn Beck Blames Obama For Holocaust Museum Shooting

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 12, 2009 by halmasonberg

35831As always, I tend to report on what may seem like the lunatic fringe of the conservative party. Mostly because they’re pretty angry, pretty crazy, and quite often armed. A dangerous combination if recent white supremacist and Holocaust Museum shooter James Von Brunn is any indication. 

But what may be even worse than taking to the streets to shoot innocents, is the propaganda that may be found behind it. Conservative talk show host and Fox News regular, Glenn Beck has been stoking the flames once again:

“I feel like we’re living in 1932 again to where you know that there were people that knew in Germany. You know. And everyone was in denial. I mean, have you read Mein Kampf?… I’ve read it, and I read it because I wanted to know did the German people know. The answer is clear: Yes, they knew. They had to have known. And I never understood how they sat by, and I don’t understand today, taking this out of a Jewish thing and just looking at it as the direction this country is headed right now, we are headed with what’s happening with GM, with what’s on the front page of the Wall Street Journal today, Fed e mails bash Bank of America chief in tussle over deal. You have the secretary of the treasury saying the magnitude of losses at Merrill Lynch is breathtaking. They are saying now, the Bank of America chief is saying that he fears lawsuits from shareholders. I don’t think that’s very likely and I said so but Merrill is really scary and ugly. They lied and pushed Merrill Lynch or pushed Bank of America into this Merrill Lynch deal. They are strong arming every step of the way these businesses. We are headed towards a kind of government that is absolutely unrecognizable in America and yet the American people sit by and are like, well, I guess; I don’t know. You’ve got people who are doing tea parties, you have people who are speaking out, but you don’t have the mass population saying, “Wait a minute, don’t you see where we’re headed?” What is it going to take?”

According to Joseph Palermo at the Huffington Post:

Yesterday afternoon Glenn Beck and two of his guests argued that Adolph Hitler and the Nazi Party were “leftwing”; that “political correctness” led the committed white supremacist, James Von Brunn, to shoot a security guard at the Holocaust Museum in Washington, DC; and that ultimately President Barack Obama is the one responsible for the violence because his “bailouts” and “Socialistic” policies are engendering widespread anger.

I find all of this rather unsettling as I, a left-leaning American, always felt that the Bush Administration actually appeared similar in many ways to the early Hitler years in the use of public fear to support preemptive attacks and for giving the government more power over the people without the protection of the Constitution behind them. How many people have been arrested and “detained” without any rule of law to see that their rights were being met? And, as we now know, even the Geneva Convention was basically ignored as these “prisoners” were often tortured. 

Palermo continues:

In Beck’s world President Obama brings “identity politics” and “political correctness” to the White House, and it’s the “Left” that is “racist” because unlike conservatives, who judge people only on their individual merits and character (the three white men sitting at Beck’s table nodding in agreement), all liberals see is people of different races and classes and genders, which “divides” America. And Obama’s “socialistic” policies are leading people of dubious sanity to become unglued, and therefore the outbreak of right-wing violence is Obama’s fault. Talk about spin! Only through a conscious and disingenuous effort could anyone link the shooting at the Holocaust Museum to President Obama… No one should dismiss Beck as a hack or “entertainer.” He is a propagandist.

“It’s also clear that Beck and his fans just can’t get over the fact that a black man is now their president.”

Maybe comparing anyone to Hitler is extreme. But, then again, Hitler was a human being and this is not ancient history but recent history. And perhaps my fears of the Bush Administration were just as lunatic as Mr. Beck’s is about the Obama Administration. But at least I wasn’t on the airwaves trying to convince people that our president was the next Führer! Let’s keep our eyes and ears open here. When people pick up guns and start shooting innocent people, we need to look at what may be behind it.

According to Eric Boehlert at Media Matters:

We’re learning more and more about the killer who called cops to his apartment in order to execute them on Saturday morning. We’re learning that Richard Andrew Poplawski was a right-wing conspiracy nut who was convinced the new Democratic administration was going to take away the guns of Americans.

We’ve also learned, via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, that Poplawski was an avid fan of conspiracist and radical talk show host Alex Jones. A “freak” was how the conservative blog Little Green Footballs described Jones today…During his webcast on FoxNews.com, Alex Jones also notes with pride how FNC’s Glenn Beck has recently been warning about the emerging New World Order on the air, just like Jones.

David Neiwert at the site Crooks And Liars adds:

Poplawski was fueled by a toxic mix of white-supremacist/conspiracy-theorist paranoia and mainstream-media fearmongering, including from the likes of Glenn Beck and Fox News.

Maybe the media are collectively embarrassed by the way this case demonstrates how they play an important role in whipping up the far-right crazies out there – and they should be. Because not only did Richard Poplawski avidly participate in white-supremacist online forums and right-wing conspiracy-theory sites, he also avidly consumed mainstream conservative media, particularly Fox.

The classic instance of this: A few weeks ago, Poplawski posted a clip of Beck talking about FEMA concentration camps on the neo-Nazi Stormfront forum site.

Even Fox News’ Shepherd Smith reported the other day that his email was becoming “more and more frightening”:

“There are people now, who are way out there on a limb. And I think they’re just out there on a limb with the email they send us. Because I read it, and they are out there. I mean, out there in a scary place…I could read a hundred of them like this…I mean from today. People who are so amped up and so angry for reasons that are absolutely wrong, ridiculous, preposterous… This is, I promise, a representative sample of the kind of things that we get here.”

Now maybe I’m just stirring the pot of fear myself by even suggesting these connections. That’s why everyone should do their own homework, come to their own conclusions. And for god’s sake, leave guns out of the equation!

Here’s a clip of Beck talking up a storm on Fox News:

 

In Melissa Etheridge’s Own Words

Posted in Misc, Music, Politics, Religion with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 24, 2008 by halmasonberg

imagephpIn my continuing discussion about gay rights in America and my personal reactions to all that has taken place in the last several weeks, I wanted to post, in its entirety, a piece Melissa Etheridge wrote for the Huffington Post. For those who have been following my blog, you’ll know I wrote just the other day about Melissa Etheridge’s meeting with Pastor Rick Warren, Etheridge’s wife’s response, and my own personal feelings and attitude about what has been happening both in this country and around the world regarding the rights of gay men and women. 

Here is what Melissa had to say:

This is a message for my brothers and sisters who have fought so long and so hard for gay rights and liberty. We have spent a long time climbing up this mountain, looking at the impossible, changing a thousand year-old paradigm. We have asked for the right to love the human of our choice, and to be protected equally under the laws of this great country. The road at times has been so bloody, and so horrible, and so disheartening. From being blamed for 9/11 and Katrina, to hateful crimes committed against us, we are battle weary. We watched as our nation took a step in the right direction, against all odds and elected Barack Obama as our next leader. Then we were jerked back into the last century as we watched our rights taken away by prop 8 in California. Still sore and angry we felt another slap in the face as the man we helped get elected seemingly invited a gay-hater to address the world at his inauguration.

I hadn’t heard of Pastor Rick Warren before all of this. When I heard the news, in its neat little sound bite form that we are so accustomed to, it painted the picture for me. This Pastor Rick must surely be one hate spouting, money grabbing, bad hair televangelist like all the others. He probably has his own gay little secret bathroom stall somewhere, you know. One more hater working up his congregation to hate the gays, comparing us to pedophiles and those who commit incest, blah blah blah. Same ‘ole thing. Would I be boycotting the inauguration? Would we be marching again?

Well, I have to tell you my friends, the universe has a sense of humor and indeed works in mysterious ways. As I was winding down the promotion for my Christmas album I had one more stop last night. I’d agreed to play a song I’d written with my friend Salman Ahmed, a Sufi Muslim from Pakistan. The song is called “Ring The Bells,” and it’s a call for peace and unity in our world. We were going to perform our song for the Muslim Public Affairs Council, a group of Muslim Americans that tries to raise awareness in this country, and the world, about the majority of good, loving, Muslims. I was honored, considering some in the Muslim religion consider singing to be against God, while other Muslim countries have harsh penalties, even death for homosexuals. I felt it was a very brave gesture for them to make. I received a call the day before to inform me of the keynote speaker that night… Pastor Rick Warren. I was stunned. My fight or flight instinct took over, should I cancel? Then a calm voice inside me said, “Are you really about peace or not?”

I told my manager to reach out to Pastor Warren and say “In the spirit of unity I would like to talk to him.” They gave him my phone number. On the day of the conference I received a call from Pastor Rick, and before I could say anything, he told me what a fan he was. He had most of my albums from the very first one. What? This didn’t sound like a gay hater, much less a preacher. He explained in very thoughtful words that as a Christian he believed in equal rights for everyone. He believed every loving relationship should have equal protection. He struggled with proposition 8 because he didn’t want to see marriage redefined as anything other than between a man and a woman. He said he regretted his choice of words in his video message to his congregation about proposition 8 when he mentioned pedophiles and those who commit incest. He said that in no way, is that how he thought about gays. He invited me to his church, I invited him to my home to meet my wife and kids. He told me of his wife’s struggle with breast cancer just a year before mine.

When we met later that night, he entered the room with open arms and an open heart. We agreed to build bridges to the future.

Brothers and sisters the choice is ours now. We have the world’s attention. We have the capability to create change, awesome change in this world, but before we change minds we must change hearts. Sure, there are plenty of hateful people who will always hold on to their bigotry like a child to a blanket. But there are also good people out there, Christian and otherwise that are beginning to listen. They don’t hate us, they fear change. Maybe in our anger, as we consider marches and boycotts, perhaps we can consider stretching out our hands. Maybe instead of marching on his church, we can show up en mass and volunteer for one of the many organizations affiliated with his church that work for HIV/AIDS causes all around the world.

Maybe if they get to know us, they wont fear us.

I know, call me a dreamer, but I feel a new era is upon us.

I will be attending the inauguration with my family, and with hope in my heart. I know we are headed in the direction of marriage equality and equal protection for all families.

Happy Holidays my friends and a Happy New Year to you.

Peace on earth, goodwill toward all men and women… and everyone in-between.

Bush Finally Gets Long-Awaited Size 10 Iraqi Welcome

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , on December 15, 2008 by halmasonberg

The Iraqi journalist was Muthathar al Zaidi, who shouted, “This is a goodbye kiss, you dog!” as he hurled his shoes at President Bush’s head. 

According to the Huffington Post:

In Iraqi culture, throwing shoes at someone is a sign of contempt. Iraqis whacked a statue of Saddam Hussein with their shoes after U.S. marines toppled it to the ground after the 2003 invasion.

Bush brushed off the incident, comparing it political protests at home.

“So what if a guy threw his shoe at me?” he said.

So what, indeed…


Conservative Thoughts: Uncovering The Soul Of America

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 26, 2008 by halmasonberg

It’s so easy to forget that not all people who ascribe to any particular political party, ideal or belief all think alike. During these past 8 years of Bush/Cheney, it’s been hard to keep that in mind as so much of what I personally value about this country was threatened. Some would say Bush’s intentions were good, but his decisions were bad. Others would say he had a personal agenda and simply lied to get what he wanted. I have no way of knowing where the truth lies, but I do know that I felt increasingly like I had found myself in a country I no longer recognized. Sure, most of the people around me shared my beliefs and fears, but I live in Los Angeles, a liberal city, and work in the entertainment industry–as an artist, not a businessman. So my experience of what people think and what they believe based on my personal experience does not very likely reflect the majority of this country.

When President Bush got reelected in 2004, my heart sank and a tangible layer of hope and optimism was stripped away; I no longer had faith that Americans as a whole could recognize what was happening to them; that our ability as a nation to be self-aware, to learn from past mistakes, had eroded. Or never existed at all. 

But this election has given me a renewed sense of hope. And not just because I believe Barack Obama might move this nation toward a vision of America I personally share. I’ve seen too many politicians come and go, too many promises forgotten or pushed aside. I know that, even though Obama is unquestionably the most exciting candidate to come along in my politically aware lifetime, he could prove to be “just another politician.”

No, what’s renewed my hope and optimism is the McCain/Palin campaign. That’s right. McCain/Palin. To my mind, Sarah Palin was a supremely irresponsible choice for running mate on the part of John McCain. Though I understood the initial attraction so far as changing the political game by tossing in the unexpected and stealing some of your opponent’s thunder, I felt it would be a disaster for the country if she were to get elected. Initially, upon watching the Republican base embrace this woman, a familiar dread began to stir inside me. 

As I continued to watch John McCain toss aside many of his own beliefs throughout this campaign, as I watched his desire to be president take him down paths I thought quite disturbing, I feared I would once again be in the minority and that I would end up in that Twilight Zone where no one seems to see what’s going on. But as John McCain’s campaign became uglier, nastier… as he himself showed us a man straining and failing not to come across arrogant, condescending and angry… As Sarah Palin proved over and over again that she was nowhere near ready to represent the best America had to offer, people started speaking up. And not just people like me, not just liberal Democrats who knew without question which way they were voting early in this campaign, but conservatives, Republicans, military personnel, political advisors, on and on… They too saw what was happening and began speaking out, voicing their concerns, sharing their thoughts. And so they started coming out against the candidate who represented the party that most closely epitomized their ideals and vision of America. Not because they had lost faith in the party, but because they realized that the man and woman heading the call of that party no longer represented them; they had gone to a place that was so clearly damaging, so obviously rooted in something other than the best interests of this nation, that to deny that would be to allow this country to slip deeper down the dark chasm it has been sliding down for eight long years. Only this time, the world was in an even more dangerous, even more vulnerable place. And so was America. 

On October 20th, conservative diplomat, political writer, and policy analyst, Ken Adelman, came out for Barack Obama. Or, more precisely, against John McCain. Adelman was once an advisor to President Reagan and the Assistant to United States Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. He was initially a big supporter of the Iraq War. In the most recent edition of THE NEW YORKER, Adelman discusses his reasons for not supporting John McCain:

Ken Adelman

Ken Adelman

“When the economic crisis broke, I found John McCain bouncing all over the place. In those first few crisis days, he was impetuous, inconsistent, and imprudent; ending up just plain weird. Having worked with Ronald Reagan for seven years, and been with him in his critical three summits with Gorbachev, I’ve concluded that that’s no way a president can act under pressure. Second is judgment. The most important decision John McCain made in his long campaign was deciding on a running mate. That decision showed appalling lack of judgment. Not only is Sarah Palin not close to being acceptable in high office—I would not have hired her for even a mid-level post in the arms-control agency. But that selection contradicted McCain’s main two, and best two, themes for his campaign—Country First, and experience counts. Neither can he credibly claim, post-Palin pick.”

In his article today in the Huffington Post, Adelman stated:

“I’ve considered myself less of a partisan than an ideologue. I cared about conservative principles, and still do, instead of caring about the GOP.

“Granted, McCain’s views are closer to mine than Obama’s. But I’ve learned over this Bush era to value competence along with ideology. Otherwise, our ideology gets discredited, as it has so disastrously over the past eight years.

“McCain’s temperament — leading him to bizarre behavior during the week the economic crisis broke — and his judgment — leading him to Wasilla — depressed me into thinking that “our guy” would be a(nother) lousy conservative president. Been there, done that.

“I’d rather a competent moderate president. Even at a risk, since Obama lacks lots of executive experience displaying competence (though his presidential campaign has been spot-on). And since his Senate voting record is not moderate, but depressingly liberal. Looming in the background, Pelosi and Reid really scare me.

“Nonetheless, I concluded that McCain would not — could not — be a good president. Obama just might be.

“That’s become good enough for me — however much of a triumph (as Dr. Johnson said about second marriages) of hope over experience.”

In yesterday’s online edition of NEWSWEEK, ex-Bush official Nicholas Burns also came out against McCain and Palin. It should be noted that Mr. Burns, now retired, was the United States Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs within the Department of State, the highest-ranking American career diplomat. He was appointed to the U.S. Senate by President George W. Bush in 2005. Here is what he had to say:

Nicholas Burns

Nicholas Burns

“Are McCain and Palin correct that America should stonewall its foes? I lived this issue for 27 years as a career diplomat, serving both Republican and Democratic administrations. Maybe that’s why I’ve been struggling to find the real wisdom and logic in this Republican assault against Obama. I’ll bet that a poll of senior diplomats who have served presidents from Carter to Bush would reveal an overwhelming majority who agree with the following position: of course we should talk to difficult adversaries—when it is in our interest and at a time of our choosing.

“The more challenging and pertinent question, especially for the McCain-Palin ticket, is the reverse: Is it really smart to declare we will never talk to such leaders? Is it really in our long-term national interest to shut ourselves off from one of the most important and powerful states in the Middle East—Iran—or one of our major suppliers of oil, Venezuela?…

“The real truth Americans need to embrace is that nearly all of the most urgent global challenges—the quaking financial markets, climate change, terrorism—cannot be resolved by America’s acting alone in the world. Rather than retreat into isolationism, as we have often done in our history, or go it alone as the unilateralists advocated disastrously in the past decade, we need to commit ourselves to a national strategy of smart engagement with the rest of the world. Simply put, we need all the friends we can get. And we need to think more creatively about how to blunt the power of opponents through smart diplomacy, not just the force of arms.

“Talking to our adversaries is no one’s idea of fun, and it is not a sure prescription for success in every crisis. But it is crude, simplistic and wrong to charge that negotiations reflect weakness or appeasement. More often than not, they are evidence of a strong and self-confident country. One of America’s greatest but often neglected strengths is, in fact, our diplomatic power. Condoleezza Rice’s visit to Libya in September—the first by a U.S. secretary of state in five decades—was the culmination of years of careful, deliberate diplomacy to maneuver the Libyan leadership to give up its weapons of mass destruction and renounce terrorism. She would not have achieved that victory had she refused to talk to the Libyans…

“Rather than default to the idea of using U.S. military force against Iran, wouldn’t it make more sense for the next American president to offer to negotiate with the Iranian leadership?…

“The next U.S. president will have little chance of securing peace in the Middle East if he doesn’t determine Iran’s bottom line on the nuclear issue through talks. Similarly, there will be no peace treaty between Syria and Israel if we don’t support the talks underway between those countries…

“The next president needs to act more creatively and boldly to defend our interests by revalidating diplomacy as a key weapon in our national arsenal and rebuilding our understaffed and underfunded diplomatic corps. Of course he will need to reserve the right to use force against the most vicious and implacable of our foes. More often than not, however, he will find that dialogue and discussion, talking and listening, are the smarter ways to defend our country, end crises and sometimes even sow the seeds of an ultimate peace.”

We are still a young country. We are still trying to understand and define the soul of America. Who are we? As a nation? As a people? Are we destined for greatness, or are we to be yet another example of greatness gone awry, misled? Are these just growing pains, or is it a death rattle?

The process of that discovery is fraught with hardship and loss, with changes and growth both exciting and terrifying. It is a painful path, an uncertain path, a demanding path. But a path that if taken with eyes and hearts wide open, with a desire for self-awareness, self-criticism and self-respect, then America may just find its soul and learn to nurture it. And I believe the whole world would be a better place for it.

Someone once told me the closer you get to achieving your life’s goals, to becoming the things that you are most compelled to be, the more monsters and demons will rise up to stop you. And many of those monsters and demons will be of your own making. I have found this to be true. Both in my personal growth and in watching the growth of this country, both historically and presently. I hope we can face those monsters together and find ourselves, one day, on the other side.

McCain Comes Out Swinging, Never Connects: Final Debate

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 16, 2008 by halmasonberg

Everyone knew this was an important night for John McCain to make his stand. It’s certainly not his last chance (as the saying goes, “It’s not over till it’s over”), but this was a biggie. And McCain came out swinging. It was apparent from the get-go that McCain’s tactic here was to try and steamroll right over Barack Obama and bring home those talking points: “Barack Obama wants to spend more! Barack Obama wants to raise taxes!” His approach was filled with very little substance, but he tried to come across confident and full of righteous indignation. But two things happened. First, McCain lost steam nearly halfway through and never recovered again. Second, he didn’t come across confident or righteous, but desperate and condescending. This appears to be something McCain can’t shed. However hard he tries to appeal to the American public as one of them, as that down-to-earth “straight-talker” he believes himself to be, the more insincere and angry he appears. John McCain gave it his best shot. But Barack Obama kept his poise, spoke about the issues, took the high-road yet again and, as would appear from the early polls, won the third and final debate for 2008. 

John McCain’s introduction of “Joe the Plumber” into the American vernacular was an interesting one and one that won’t be quickly forgotten. And one can be reasonably assured that this Joe is gonna support McCain. I’m sure McCain’s people spoke with Joe beforehand. I mean, what would it look like if Joe came out in favor of Obama the next morning? Not likely to happen. But we may be referring to Joe in many future elections, but maybe not in the way McCain would like us to. 

I also can’t deny absolutely loving the moment when John McCain once again tried to claim that Obama was a disaster for small businesses and that “Joe The Plumber” would have to pay a fine. McCain has raised this issue at the other debates and, even though Obama has already answered numerous times, it seems tonight was the first time it actually sank in for Mr. McCain, as is suggested by his deer-in-the-headlights reaction to Obama’s answer, “Zero.” 

I was also mildly offended tonight by McCain’s insistence that Obama has been running a dirty campaign and McCain’s supposed “horror” that Obama did not repudiate comments made by Rep. John Lewis who “made allegations that Sen Palin and I were somehow associated with one of the worst chapters in American history.” 

Oddly, Sen. Obama HAD replied publicly. As had Lewis. But worse than that, it’s genuinely incredible to watch a man like John McCain, who has come under enormous public attack for running one of the most hate-filled campaigns in American history, actually try to turn the tables and make it look like Mr. Obama’s actions have been reprehensible and thoroughly unacceptable. McCain actually tried to suggest that he had repudiated every inappropriate remark made by a “fringe” McCain supporter at his rallies. However, it is clear to everyone–Democrats and Republicans alike–that McCain repudiated no one until he and Palin were publically slammed by the press for encouraging dangerous and violent comments at their rallies. It was a true absurdest moment. 

No one bought it. 

Obama quickly reminded McCain that he and Palin allowed supporters to call out “Terrorist” and “Kill him!” when referring to Obama. He also mentioned that Palin herself had said numerous times that Obama “palled around with terrorists.” McCain responded by suggesting that if Obama had accepted his invitation to do more Town Hall meetings, the campaign never would have gone down such an ugly path. Obama, as usual, responded by taking the high-road:

“I think the American people are less interested in our hurt feelings than they are in the issues. The notion that because we are not doing the meetings justifies some of the ads going on… I don’t mind being attacked for the next three weeks, what the American people can’t afford is four more years of failed economic policies.”

And after all this, instead of deciding to talk about these policies, McCain decided to launch into Obama’s connection to Bill Ayers. Obama quickly shot this down and McCain himself admitted that he really didn’t “care about an old, washed-up terrorist.”

Here’s a clip from the debate of McCain not only bringing up the Ayers connection, but accusing both Obama and ACORN of voter fraud:

Here is the immediate reponse of Maude Hurd, of ACORN:

“We appreciate that Senator McCain’s effort to stir up the Republican base by attacking a community group that is trying to increase public participation in our democratic processes. However, these attacks reflect an increasingly panicky candidate; unfortunately the Senator McCain we saw tonight is very different than the Senator McCain who stood shoulder to shoulder with ACORN at a February 20, 2006 immigration reform event.

“It is clear for us to see that John McCain was for ACORN before he was against ACORN; he was for reform before he was against reform; and he was a maverick before he became erratic. What is really going here is that Senator McCain and his allies are part of a coordinated effort to engage in what appears to be an unprecedented effort to suppress voter turnout.”

I would also like to add that I thought Moderator Bob Schieffer of CBS did an excellent job, far better than his predecessors. The questions were stronger, the format better for allowing the two candidates to interact. 

Now let’s take a look at what others are saying. 

CBS News: Fifty-three percent of the uncommitted voters surveyed identified Democratic nominee Barack Obama as the winner of tonight’s debate. Twenty-two percent said Republican rival John McCain won. Twenty-five percent saw the debate as a draw. 

CNN: 58 percent for Obama to McCain’s 31 percent.

Perhaps more importantly, McCain’s favorable rating dropped 51 to 49 while his unfavorable rating increased from 45 percent to 49 percent. Obama ended up with 66 percent favorable rating. 

Asked who “expressed his views more clearly” 66 percent said Obama, 25 percent said McCain. “Who spent their time attacking his opponent:” 80 percent said McCain, seven percent said Obama. “Who seemed to be the stronger leader:” 56 percent for Obama, 39 percent for McCain. And who was “more likeable:” 70 percent for Obama to McCain’s 22 percent.

Democratic pollster Stan Greenberg’s poll:

Before the debate:

McCain: 54 favorable / 34 unfavorable

Obama: 42 favorable / 42 unfavorable

After the debate:

McCain: 50 favorable / 48 unfavorable

Obama: 72 favorable / 22 unfavorable

And as always, we take a look at republican Frank Luntz focus group on Fox News: Barack Obama won the debate. Luntz termed it a “clear majority,” but not one person raised their hand when asked if they thought McCain won.

What are individuals saying?

New York Times Editorial:

Wednesday night’s debate was another chance for Mr. McCain to prove that he is ready to lead this country out of its deep economic crisis. But he had one answer to almost every economic question: cut taxes and government spending. Unfortunately, what Mr. McCain means is to cut taxes for the richest Americans and, inevitably, to reduce the kinds of government services that working Americans need more than ever…

…It’s a shame that Mr. McCain hasn’t come up with policies that would actually help workers. Instead, he’s served up the same-old trickle-down theories and a government-is-wrong, markets-are-right fervor that helped create this economic disaster…

Mr. Obama has better ideas to respond to the financial crisis and to put the economy back on the right track. He supports a 90-day moratorium on foreclosures and more money for states and localities, both of which would quickly bring relief beyond Wall Street.

Mr. Obama wants to raise the minimum wage and tie it to inflation. Mr. McCain wants to make the Bush tax cuts permanent — a big break for the top 1 percent of society. Mr. Obama would cut taxes for low- and moderate-income families and raise them for richer Americans.

Newsweek’s Andrew Romano:

Over the course of 90 minutes–and I apologize if my count is not complete; my fingers can only type so fast–McCain accused Obama of being a) a craven wealth-spreader (at least eight times), b) an abject tax-raiser, especially on folks unfortunate enough to make $42,000 a year, c) a lily-livered coward who’s never once stood up to Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, d) a town-hall avoider, e) a public-financing flip-flopper, f) the most avid negative advertiser in American history, g) a befriender of “washed-up terrorist(s),” h) an enabler of “one of the greatest frauds in voter history” (which just so happens to be “destroying the fabric of American democracy”),  i) an “eloquent” dissembler, j) a support of infanticide and, finally, k) a guy who wants to do all kinds of unspeakable things to someone named Joe the Plumber, up to and including raising his taxes, redistributing his money and fining him for choosing the wrong kind of health care. (No word yet on whether Obama plans to spit in Joe’s beer when he’s looking in the other direction.) After all that, McCain’s claim that his “campaign is about getting this economy back on track, about creating jobs, about a brighter future for America” seemed like a punchline.

Alan Schroeder, Professor of Journalism, Northeastern University:

The format worked, the moderator asked his questions then got out of the way, and both debaters delivered solid performances. Although McCain came loaded for bear, as the debate progressed, he ran short of ammo and his tone went from aggressive to tetchy. Obama had the luxury of taking the high road, which afforded him a natural advantage, and he deflected many of his opponent’s sharpest barbs with a look of unconcerned amusement. However much McCain gnawed at his heels, Obama blithely shook him off, reinforcing an already established aura of unflappability.

Yves Smith, Writer of Naked Capitalism blog and management consultant:

McCain did better than in the earlier debates, less reliance on now- tired soundbites, more specific on his record, his programs, and a particularly good moment with his “I am not President Bush” retort. 

But he needed to hit this out of the park, and fell considerably short. There were plenty of negatives:. McCain came off as overeager, at points cranky and petty, and his attempt to rhapsodize on Palin was revealingly shallow. Obama still is less than credible on spending (but McCain did not do well here either), but Obama nevertheless sounded thoughtful, mature, and in command, and that is more than enough to keep him on track.

Roger Simon, Politico:

John McCain needed a miracle in his final debate with Barack Obama on Wednesday night, a miracle that would wipe away McCain’s deficit in the polls and re-energize his flagging campaign. 

He did not get one. The clouds did not part. Heavenly choirs were not heard. Instead, the American public heard angry attacks from McCain.

Sometimes McCain attacked directly, and sometimes he attacked sarcastically, but he never stopped attacking. And he never rattled Obama. Obama answered every attack and kept his cool.

Marty Kaplan, The Huffington Post:

Ninety minutes of John McCain making faces was more than enough for a lifetime. It’s hard to imagine anyone willingly inviting that antic lemon-sucking grinfest into their homes for the next four years.

And as is typical of people who want their candidate to do better, but have nothing to hold on to so they repeat the same tired, old phrases with nothing to back them up, Roy Blunt, Rep. (R-Mo.) pathetically commented:

Senator McCain proved again tonight that he’ll never shy away from a fight – and that he’s the candidate ready to fight for the American people. The stakes are too high for our country to have untested leadership in the White House. The country needs a leader who will change Washington; the country needs John McCain.

So what are some other Conservative voices saying?

National Review senior editor Ramesh Ponnuru:

“A minute they spend on who’s being meaner or more dishonest in this campaign is a minute that helps Obama–not because he wins the issue, still less because he deserves to win it, but because it is not what is driving people’s votes–and they’ve spent way more than a minute on this stuff.”

Conservative Christian columnist, Rod Dreher

OK, that’s over. And so is the McCain campaign. He was more aggressive than he’s been so far, and he came close to landing some blows on Obama. But he never really connected, and for the most part this debate was as platitudinous as they all have been. McCain came off as sour, agitated and petulant. Obama — man, nothing rattles that guy. McCain was two tics away from a vein-popping “You can’t handle the truth!” Jack Nicholson moment, I felt. At one point, I thought: Which one of these men would I want in the White House when the 3 a.m. phone call comes in?

Jennifer Rubin at Pajamas Media:

At times McCain seemed to connect with a jab or a punch here or there, but his argument at times wavered and his delivery was far from crisp. As for Obama, he was at his calmest and smoothest. If McCain needed to knock Obama off his perch of serenity it didn’t happen.

Conservative Powerline Blog’s Paul Mirengoff:

Ultimately, it seems unlikely that McCain cut into Obama’s lead through this performance. And Obama may have taken another small step towards making Americans comfortable with the prospect of his presidency.

Last but not least, and simply because he is consistently both intelligent and funny, here’s John Stewart commenting on John McCain’s Brand New Stump Speech Tuesday night. Just another example of McCain’s “Change.”

McCain Campaign Smears Snap Back Again With William Timmons

Posted in Politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 14, 2008 by halmasonberg

It seems all the accusations McCain and his campaign cronies have been making against Barack Obama these past few weeks are turning out to be more and more a projection of their own campaign and its members. Earlier this week, I pointed out in my recent post, Obama, Ayers & The UnAmericanization Of Sarah Palin, what I felt were some very interesting facts about Sarah Palin and husband Todd and their connections to seemingly “unAmerican” organizations and people, that were ultimately far more worrisome than their thin accusations of opponent, Barack Obama.  

Let’s start with John McCain’s wife Cindy McCain who, in an act of ignorant and blind projection, accused Barack Obama earlier this week of running “the dirtiest campaign in American history.”  

Hmmm…

Just today, the Huffington Post’s Murray Waas reported:

William Timmons, the Washington lobbyist who John McCain has named to head his presidential transition team, aided an influence effort on behalf of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein to ease international sanctions against his regime.

The two lobbyists who Timmons worked closely with over a five year period on the lobbying campaign later either pleaded guilty to or were convicted of federal criminal charges that they had acted as unregistered agents of Saddam Hussein’s government.

During the same period beginning in 1992, Timmons worked closely with the two lobbyists, Samir Vincent and Tongsun Park, on a previously unreported prospective deal with the Iraqis in which they hoped to be awarded a contract to purchase and resell Iraqi oil. Timmons, Vincent, and Park stood to share at least $45 million if the business deal went through.

It seems that although Timmons told investigators that he did not know that either Vincent or Park were acting as unregistered agents of Iraq, Vincent’s own claim to a federal prosecutor suggests otherwise:

Q: And when you returned to the United States, did you tell anyone about your visit with Saddam Hussein?

A: I told Bill Timmons and Tongsun Park.

Q: Why did you tell Bill Timmons about your visit with Saddam?

A: To let him know that we were talking to the leader of Iraq, and in essence we have access and assure him that any messages we were relaying between Iraqi and Tariq Aziz and anyone else, it was being transmitted to the president, Saddam Hussein, in Iraq.

Time Magazine’s Michael Scherer describes Timmons as:

…a Washington institution, having worked in the Nixon and Ford administrations as an aide for congressional relations and having assisted the transition teams of both Ronald Reagan in 1980 and George W. Bush in 2000. He was also a senior adviser to both Vice President George Bush in 1988 and Senator Bob Dole in 1996.

Timmons is the chairman emeritus of Timmons and Company, a small but influential lobbying firm he founded in 1975 shortly after leaving the White House. According to Senate records, he registered to lobby in 2008 for a wide range of companies and trade groups, including the American Petroleum Institute, the American Medical Association, Chrysler, Freddie Mac, Visa USA and Anheuser-Busch.

His registrations include work on a number of issues that have become flashpoints in the presidential campaign. He has registered to work on bills that deal with the regulations of troubled mortgage lenders Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, a bill to provide farm subsidies and bills that regulate domestic oil-drilling.

Scherer goes on to suggest:

By tapping Timmons, McCain has turned to one of Washington’s steadiest and most senior inside players to guide him in the event of a victory — but also to someone who represents the antithesis of the kind of outside-of-Washington change he has recently been promising. One Republican familiar with the process said the decision to involve Timmons could become a political liability for the campaign’s reformist image, especially in the wake of the controversies over the lobbying backgrounds of other McCain staffers, including campaign manager Rick Davis. “It’s one more blind spot for Rick Davis and John McCain,” the person said.

Murray Waas, in his research into Timmons’ involvement, spoke to an investigator who worked on the U.N. investigation of the oil-for-food program, in which various individuals were found to have paid illegal kickbacks to Saddam Hussein. The investigator told him:

Timmons clearly should have or did understand that he was the possible recipient of oil contracts from the Iraqi government because of his lobbying and back channel diplomatic efforts on behalf of Saddam: “He would have to be the most naive person in the world to believe that was not the case,” the official told me. “I guess William Timmons is just a natural born oilman. He is either deceiving himself to rationalize what he has done or taking the rest of us for fools.”

Ironically, at the time, John McCain was one of the most outspoken critics of the oil-for-food program. 

It’s starting to seem like the tenuous links John McCain desperately tries to make between Barack Obama and his past “connections” can’t hold a candle to the reality of what lies just beneath the surface of McCain’s own campaign and the people he has not only chosen to be connected to, but has consciously made a decision to engage as his own advisors and right-hand men.

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