Monday, July 28, 2008

John McCain Needs Equal Media Coverage? Sounds Good To Me...

That John McCain is the worst candidate in this election is an axiom. There’s no way else to say it. Everything is says and does is confusing, wrong or false (or some combination of the three). And, yet, he keeps hanging on. Why? Well, as we’ve been made painfully aware, the media is essentially keeping him in this race by preventing any substantive discussion.

Don’t believe me? Well, let’s look at Exhibit A: The study released by the Center for Media and Public Affairs at George Mason University. This study shows that in the first six weeks of the general election, the “liberal media” was actually harder on Obama. Yea, you read that right. So all you “liberal media” conspiracy theorists can just throw that crap out the window. In the evening news broadcasts, a mere 28% of stories about Obama were positive and the whopping 72% remaining were negative. As for McCain, he faired much better, with an essentially equal 43% positive and 57% negative showing. So, any claim that the media is simply presenting stories, and not specific viewpoints, is not true.

And, for Exhibit B, we’ll look at the fact that in a recent interview, CBS covered for McCain when he made a glaring mistake, especially considering that “the surge” is his area of expertise, so to speak. Instead of airing the mistake and letting the people discuss this fact, CBS edited in an answer to a previous question, an answer where McCain impugns Obama’s motives with more lies.

But, John McCain still whines that the media is unfair to him. He’s not satisfied with significantly more positive coverage, he wants equal time, too. Well, John, in case no one has mentioned this to you, you actually have to do something newsworthy to make the news. So, while you’re opponent is meeting with cheering crowds of hundreds of thousands around the world (at your urging, none the less), you’re knocking over applesauce and checking your notes for a price of milk in Pennsylvania. And then you're complaining about unfair coverage. C’mon John, you’re supposed to be the candidate of “experience” and “wisdom,” yet you’re stomping and pouting like a child. Is this how you’re going to handle the presidency?

And then you go and run “the ad.” You know what ad I’m talking about, the ad that completely goes against the “clean campaign” you promised to run. And, shit, John, you didn’t even have a 527 do it. You approved these falsehoods all on your own. Wow! It’s the one that only aired on national TV like four times, but has been on loop on all the news networks today. But, were the talking heads debunking the falsehood-laced ad? Not a chance. MSNBC made a feeble attempt during the day, but it wasn’t until Countdown that the whole truth came out. Shall we speak those truths? Yeah, I think so.

1) First, and most importantly, Obama never planned to make the Landstuhl trip a media fanfare. It was simply going to be a trip to visit the soldiers, just as similar trips in Afghanistan and Iraq were. However, the Pentagon labeled Obama’s trip a campaign event and did not allow advisors. Or specifically, one advisor: retired Air Force Major General Gration. But please, feel free to look further into who the Pentagon official responsible for the trip blunder is. It’s hilarious…you’ll never see it coming!
2) The full Senate Foreign Relations Committee has held three hearings on Afghanistan, and Obama did attend one of those. Let’s also bear in mind that he’s a member, not a chair (and, please, McCainiacs, bring up your candidate’s attendance record. We’ll compare).
3) And, let’s clarify what kind of years we’re talking about. Decades? No. Try two and a half years. And, thanks to the wonders of modern technology, like email and “the google,” we can all know what’s going on there every single day.

And, then of course, there are the lies that McCain tells about himself…in the same ad! McCain claims he's always supported the troops, but his actual voting record shows something different:
1) In mid-2007, McCain had only shown up for four of the previous 14 votes on Iraq.
2) In 2008, that number is zero. In fact, McCain hasn’t cast a vote in the Senate since April 8th. Not for FISA, not for Medicare, and not even for the GI Bill (which he and Bush opposed).
3) April 2003, McCain tabled a motion to provide over $1 billion in National Guard and Reserve equipment (brings a new meaning to BYO).
4) October 2003, McCain tabled a motion to provide an additional $233 million for safety equipment.
5) March 2004, McCain voted. He voted against closing tax loopholes that would have provided an additional $1.8 billion in veterans’ care.
6) March 2004, McCain voted against closing corporate tax loopholes that would have provided and additional $1.5 billion for veterans’ care.
7) April 2006, McCain voted against an extra $430 million for veteran outpatient care.

Sensing a pattern here? Ok, well I’ll continue then.

8) May 2006, McCain voted against $20 million for veteran health care facilities.
9) March 2007, McCain did not show up to vote on a bill to redeploy troops from Iraq in 2008.
10) September 2007, McCain voted against an amendment for minimum rest time between deployments.

And that was pretty much the last time McCain showed up to vote on anything (scroll down for a post that discusses his attendance record in depth). Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America gave McCain a D on his voting record. Obama received an B+. Disabled American Veterans gave McCain a 20% rating on his voting record, while Obama received an 80% rating. There's a difference in being a veteran and actually supporting veterans.

So, John McCain wants more equal media coverage, and I think he deserves it. Let’s write to all the media outlets and demand that they cover McCain the same way they cover Obama. Let’s see the pundits hack apart McCain’s gaffes hour after endless hour. Let’s see them call for him to do something, and then when he does it, let’s see them call him presumptuous. Let’s see him handle the pressure of true political discourse. Actually, it’s hard enough watching him now, I don’t know if I could really stomach any more. But, I suppose I can, and gladly will, in the name of democracy.


The August issue of Vogue demands an end to the spandex leggings era of last season, favoring the rebirth of the high-waisted, wide-leg trouser. Thus, as soon as the weather turns cool, women throughout Manhattan will rush to the store fronts of Bloomingdales and Neiman Marcus in search of this fashion frenzy. And of course, the craze will pulse from New York to LA and back to Chicago – infiltrating the shopping malls of middle-America until our twelve year old daughters in North Dakota are wearing these new pants.

Why? Because Vogue says so.

America thrives on trendy – new habits and styles are adopted and discarded like dirty socks. And so it follows that this obsession with the cool and chic has transcended fashion and media into a medium once monopolized by old, wrinkled white men – American politics.

Political awareness has become the latest fad. Couples on first dates at trendy martini bars smile coyly at one other, softly questioning, “So…Obama or McCain?”

Life is full of casual choices:
Red or white wine?
Red Sox or Yankees?
Light or dark beer?
And so it follows that the Obama / McCain controversy has become the latest trendy social debate.

Today, political choice trumps religion, wealth, and status. It’s become a source of social identity. In fact, while on a first date last week, a nice Jewish man said to me, “Listen, I don’t care that you’re Catholic….I just care that you’re not voting for McCain.”

And although Anna Wintour hasn’t proclaimed Obama as the next big trend, many other media avenues have been fearless in their endorsement. Barack Obama has become the epitome of cool; he’s the human equivalent of the Toyota Hybrid Prius, fusion resturants, the Mac computer and the Blackberry.

Because Americans love what is cool, Americans love Obama. Let’s face it – the man is trendy. Not only is he young, hip, and charming, but his wife is a rockstar. The Barack-Michelle ‘fist-bump' has permeated social coolness: first on the political podium, then on the set of day-time television’s The View, and now on Wall Street’s trading floor. Just last week, USA Today ran an article entitled, “Can the Fist Bump Mix with Business?”

As Frank Rich (NY Times) claims, “Obama-branded change is snowballing, whether it’s change you happen to believe in or not.” McCain will either need to reinvent himself, or admit to being last year’s leggings. Either way, those wide-leg trousers are looking pretty appealing to me.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Objection! Leading the Voter: How the GOP Stifles American Political Debate

I know I’ve said it before, but I just can’t resist it: These people are scared S**tless. What people, you might ask? Well, the GOP, of course. And why are they scared? Because they lose on every issue that is important to Americans today.

It’s unfortunate that the GOP is so scared of true debate. Why must they always ignore the facts, spin the truth, and point fingers at their opponents? It’s tiring, and more importantly, it’s hurting America. The GOP’s smoke and mirrors act is hindering effective debate on important issues and keeps America from making true progress for all.

Maybe you were lucky enough to see the RNC 2008 Critical Issues Survey. If not, it’s definitely worth a peek. And, it shows exactly who has critical “issues” in this campaign (hint: the makes of this ridiculous poll). How ridiculous? Well, let’s preview some of these “fair and balanced” questions:

Shall we start with the economy?

1. Do you think Congress should respond to the economic slowdown with a plan of tax cuts to stimulate the economy?

Hahaha, yeah. OK. Since they sunk a robust and growing economy, I’m sure they’d do wonders for a recession.

2. Do you believe our economy will grow if we cut taxes and put more money in the hands of hardworking Americans who pay taxes?

Honestly, where to start with this one? Regardless of what one believes, supply-side economics don’t work.

4. Which of the following factors do you feel is most adversely affecting the economy in your area?
Burdensome Taxes
Severe Government Regulations
Unstable Real Estate Market
Growth of Government Spending
Threat of Terrorism
Unpredictable Fluctuating Fuel Prices

Oh geez! Terrorism? Yes, I’m afraid of being the victim of a suicide bomber at the market. Oh wait. I’m in America, not Iraq or Afghanistan. Gotta get that fear mongering in…

10. Should “pork-barrel” spending be completely eliminated?

Like the word “lobbyist,” “pork-barrel” and “ear marks” are getting a bad rap. And from the Republicans of all people. The most irresponsible party lampooning their own failures. Ugh. Let’s talk about the reality of ear-marked money and the abuses that the Republicans have committed.

Enough with that, let’s move to something cooler: (dun dun dun) National Security!

2. Should America surrender in Iraq regardless of the consequences in the Middle East?

Surrender? Who’s surrendering? Republicans are war-mongering, plain and simple. Nothing like stifling the debate over each candidate’s plan (well, Obama’s at least. McCain doesn’t have a coherent idea of what to do in Iraq…or Afghanistan).

3. Do you agree with Democrats who believe national defense spending should be slashed in order to fund domestic programs?

What Dems are doing this? As far as I can tell, they give Bush everything he wants on Defense spending…including no oversight. C’mon people, actions speak louder than words. Let’s talk about what people are actually doing.

5. Do you believe we should set a public date for withdrawing from Iraq even if it undermines our troops in the field?

“Even if it undermines our troops in the field?” Well, when you put it like that, I guess not. But, considering that Bush has done more to undermine our troops and our efforts, AND the Iraqis have asked for a withdrawl timeline, I would say, yes, I support the timeline.

These are some bad fucking questions. It makes me sad looking at them because it’s like watching a democracy die. But, we still have two more sections to conquer.

Now, on to Other Issues.

1. Should we appoint judges who will interpret the law instead of liberal activists who will make new laws from the bench?

“Liberal activists,” like who? You and me? We are talking about judges, right? Ok, just wanted to clear that up. Now, the SCOTUS isn’t my area of expertise, but I can see very clearly that the GOP only has intentions of politicizing the bench and not actually appointing people who are independent thinkers. Way to obfuscate the question, GOP! Gold star!!

2. Is it critical for the U.S. to develop alternative sources of energy and find new supplies of oil in order to slow inflation and keep fuel affordable?

Huh? How many questions are you trying to ask here? And, even if I say yes, it doesn’t mean I’ll agree with your plans. I think most people would say yes, but there’s nothing in here about “how.”

3. Do you think we should work to give parents with children trapped in failing schools more choices to help their children have a better future?

Trapped? Really?! No way of escaping? Wow, that does sound pretty serious. Well, I guess I agree, but one question, why not work to improve these schools? I think the last thing the GOP came up with was NCLB, so I’m going to say that their education “solutions” are nothing of the sort.

6. Do you think that forcing every American into a socialized national health care system is the best way to deal with uninsured patients?

Wow, this is a pretty serious statement. Too bad that’s not what Obama is talking about. Of course, reality doesn’t matter to the GOP. But, I wonder how the uninsured would feel about this. My guess? They’d love to have some guaranteed insurance. Just a guess, though.

And now the final section (and the one question that reveals their fear): Campaign Strategy.

3. Are you concerned about the vast sums of campaign funds being stockpiled by the Democrats and their liberal allies?

Haha, yup. The GOP doesn’t know what to do now that they’re losing the money race. They all hate their candidate, so even his best month pales in comparison to the Democrats. And they are crapping their pants. McCain even has to compete in his home state. They are on the defensive and they know they’re going to face huge losses.

So, of course, why not stifle the debate and twist the facts? Honestly, I’m surprised there were no race questions in this poll. But, there are many more gems available, if you can stomach it.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

John McCain's Balance: Senate 0, Campaign 100%

I know, it’s almost a week after the 4th of July. I’ve missed the celebratory bandwagon and now it’s back to politics as usual. Well, maybe I just needed some extra time to reflect on our situation. Each of the presidential candidates was asked to submit an essay about what “patriotism” means to them. John McCain focused on sacrifice, and Obama focused on faith in each other and in the American way (but, of course, also had to pay homage to McCain’s military service). Interesting, but do either actually do as they say or do they just expect us to look the other way when their actions contradict their words? John McCain is certainly expecting the public and the media to turn a blind eye to his hypocrisy (and, lucky for him, he’s getting it).

McCain always has a lot to say about duty and about his lifetime of service, but it appears that John McCain is sacrificing his duty in order to further his own goals. Why else would he be the most absent Senator, missing 61.8% of the votes in the 110th Congress? And today, of all days, McCain was absent again, campaigning in (insert state he’s going to lose here). Today is the day that McCain had an opportunity to stand up for the Constitution and for senior citizens or continue to act as a puppet for the neocons and big business. Unfortunately, he chose to do nothing. He couldn’t even bother to take a day off from campaigning in order to vote on the FISA and Medicare bills. Frankly, I’m not going accept any excuse that he’s too busy campaigning to do his job. Maybe he shouldn’t campaign if he can’t also handle his sworn duty to the Constitution.

And, I think I need to point out that Senator Edward Kennedy managed to make it to the senate votes on FISA and Medicare today. He’s recovering from brain surgery and undergoing chemotherapy for brain cancer and he was there Brain Cancer! Chemotherapy! And he can still make it.

What does this say about John McCain?

It says he cares more about himself than America. Sure, he can talk about his service, which I’m convinced he would have never done if his father and grandfather hadn’t been Admirals, but that’s really neither here nor there. And, of course, we’re not permitted to discuss just what McCain’s military record says about his service (demerits, reprimands, plane crashes, etc). Even if we put all that aside, and I’m not quite willing to, John McCain’s Senate record says one thing: he doesn’t care about America. He has cared more about himself than his sworn duty, so much so that he hasn’t cast a vote since April 8, 2008.

Is this the type of person we need in the White House? Someone who can’t even take a stand, even an unpopular one? Someone who needs weekends and 250 days to get used to the rigors of office?

But, even more disturbing than the absenteeism, if you can imagine it, is the fact that John McCain has the nerve to accuse Obama of “flip-flopping” on many issues, but FISA in particular. Perhaps someone forgot to mention to Johnny that he can’t attack his opponent’s position if he doesn’t have one on the books. And, John McCain’s positions are, shall we say, less than clear. Since he’s absent more than he’s present, we can’t even turn to his votes for clarity. Well, that’s unfair. He does vote periodically. And when he does, he votes the party line.

John McCain isn’t the answer. He’s the problem. He’s a disgrace to the US Senate. He offers confused, messy policies and no spine. John McCain is a puppet of the neocon corporate interests. He’s a sickening hypocrite and I can’t take his lies any more!

John McCain's Patriotism

Barack Obama's Patriotism