Esoteric Dissertations from a One-Track Mind

July 28, 2008

McCain: Kick Russia Out of the G8

Filed under: politics — Tags: , , — codesmithy @ 8:11 am

McCain went on “This Week” with George Stephanopoulos and defended his position to kick Russia out of the G8.  Stephanopoulos notes that this is an unsupported position.  McCain compares it to Reagan declaring “tear down this wall.”  This really displays the utter dearth of comprehension in the Republican party.  They have really drifted toward complete incompetence.

The reason why “tear down this wall” worked was that it exposed a contradiction in the Soviet system.  One that Gorbachev tried to correct with glasnost.  Contrast this with McCain’s condemnation of Russia:

They cut back on their oil supplies to the Czechs, because the Czechs made an agreement with us. They have now thrown out the — or forced out — BP out of Russia. And by the way, I — a lot of us thought that might happen. They continue to put enormous pressures on Georgia in many ways. They’re putting pressure on Ukraine. They are blocking action in the United Nations Security Council on Iran.

Those are the big crimes: cut back oil supplies to the Czechs, forced out BP, “pressure” on Georgia and Ukraine, and a refusal to go along with the US on Iran.

It is clear that McCain has completely bought into the imperial mentality.  There is no reason to even disguise our ambition or reasons behind moral declarations as was done during the Cold War.  The US is the world’s only remaining superpower, we do as we please.  Go along with what we say, or else.

Maybe McCain didn’t notice, but we still have stockpiles of nuclear weapons.  After the Soviet Union collapsed, there was a definite moment there when we could have disarmed, and made some real headway against the potential of nuclear holocaust.  The course that was pursued was in fact, the opposite of this alternative.  There was a deliberate decision to escalate via SDI, despite the fact that SDI will not work.  It will just trigger a new arms race.

(h/t Pharyngula)

McCain may think antagonizing Russia in these petty ways is a good thing, but that is exactly what makes him so dangerous.  Let’s go down McCain lane.  Let’s say we manage to get Russia kicked out the G8.  Does this make them more or less likely to secretly give a nuclear weapon to Iran, like the US gave to Israel those many years ago?  How does this not cause more problems than it solves?

In McCain’s world, we threaten and they shape up.  History has shown that when we threaten, Russia responds in kind.  What does this belligerence buy us?  Do you want to die over BP?

June 13, 2008

Supreme Court Restores Habeas Corpus

Filed under: culture, politics — Tags: , , , — codesmithy @ 8:59 am

Glenn Greenwald, former constitutional lawyer, has a piece on the U.S. Supreme Court ruling that struck down part of the military commissions act and restores some semblance of Habeas Corpus.  The ruling was 5-4.  The four dissenters were Antonin Scalia, Clarence Thomas, John Roberts and Sam Alito. As happy as I am to see one of the major institutions uphold some of the basic values and principles of our government, however limited it may be, the score is also important 5-4.  That is how close we are: one justice.  We are one justice away from an unquestioned unitary executive.  One justice away from a president being able to throw a person in jail and throw away the key.

As Greenwald notes, McCain has promised to appoint justices in the mold of Roberts and Alito.  Despite McCain’s flip-flopping nature, along with his obvious stay in Iraq stance, and proclivity to start a war with Iran, I have no doubt this is one campaign promise he would keep.

In a sane world, this decision would used to impeach the four supreme justices who dissented.  We don’t live in a sane world, and we are standing at the brink of a much darker one.

Dahlia Lathwick has more at Slate.

May 24, 2008

Castro and McCain Trade Barbs

Filed under: politics — Tags: , — codesmithy @ 10:13 am

Fidel Castro wrote a column called “Martí’s inmortal ideas” in which Castro criticizes McCain and George W. Bush.

In his book The Faith of My Fathers, McCain confessed that he was one of the five bottom students in his cohort at West Point. He is demonstrating that. At the end of his time in prison he was weak, and he acknowledges that as well. He launched innumerable bombs on the Vietnamese people. How many lives and how much money did that adventure cost? At that time gold was worth $35 and they squandered $500 billion in that war. The consequences are still being paid. A Troy ounce is now worth $1,000 and once again hundreds of billions are being squandered in wars. New and complex problems are compounding that.

What first got me interested in this story was to find out if Castro actually said “West Point.” As a point of historical accuracy, John McCain did not attend West Point; he attended the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis. Apparently, Castro got it wrong although the article itself is interesting in its own right.

McCain drew recent ire from Castro for repeating his claim that Cubans helped the North Vietnamese torture US POWs. A charge that Castro calls a lie.

Later, McCain expressed his hope that Castro would “ha[ve] the opportunity to meet Karl Marx very soon.”

I just find it interesting that Castro finds the time to read “The Faith of My Fathers” and “Bush on the Couch.”  The Gallup poll Castro is referencing can be found here.

I imagine McCain will take Castro’s condemnation as some sort of ringing endorsement without ever addressing the substance.  If McCain holds Castro to the standard that:

For me to respond to Fidel Castro who has oppressed and repressed his people and who is one of the most brutal dictators on Earth, for me to dignify any comments he might make is certainly beneath me

Then we must also examine Castro’s charges that:

Neither of the two speakers [Bush or McCain] on May 20 and 21st even mentioned the five Cuban anti-terrorist heroes, whose information made it possible to uncover the plots of Luis Posada Carriles and to prevent the sabotage of airplanes in full flight with foreign visitors on board, including U.S. citizens, in order to damage tourism. They pressured and bribed the president of Panama and helped to secure Posada’s release. Santiago Alvarez transported him to Florida. I publicly denounced that almost immediately. Everything has been proven. After that an enormous weapons arsenal was seized from Santiago Alvarez himself.

Or his charge that both McCain and Bush are ignoring the brutality of the U.S. imposed embargo.

As for the siege of hunger and blockade that has lasted for decades, not a word.

May 23, 2008

McCain News Redux Part Deux

Filed under: politics — Tags: , — codesmithy @ 9:15 am

The first item is that McCain got around to repudiating Pastor Hagee. Proving once again, nothing is more toxic in American politics than the ghost of Adolph Hitler. Hagee made it appear as if the dissolution was mutual. McCain also got around severing ties with Rod Parsley. The preacher who said it was the historical mission of the United States to destroy Islam.

The central point here is that it isn’t like these pastors views were unknown. The views of both these pastors were clear long before McCain specifically sought their endorsement. Either McCain is a horrible judge of character, he secretly holds the views of these pastors and welcomes their endorsement, or a complete shill and cynic running for president, completely willing to say anything or do anything to win. Regardless of the answer, this episode demonstrates further why McCain is completely unfit to be president.

The second item was McCain was on the Ellen DeGeneres show. Ms. DeGeneres challenged McCain on his stance towards California ruling which determined same-sex couples have the same rights as heterosexual couples, including the right to enter into civil unions or marriage. In the end, McCain pulled the we’ll-just-have-to-agree-to-disagree card. That is right, McCain said that he thought it was right to discriminate against same-sex couples, although he demonstrated he didn’t have the cojones to say it to her face. McCain’s history of opposing same-sex unions is documented on the Think Progress page.

The third item is that the new GI Bill was attached to the war funding bill. It passed by an overwhelming majority 77-22. McCain was opposed to the GI Bill and offered an alternative. Subsequently, he didn’t bother showing up for the vote. It really shows his commitment to supporting the troops.

The final item is that McCain is supposed to release 400 pages of medical records on Friday. Left off the list to see the records, the New York Times. Yup, McCain isn’t above the same access bull the White House currently employs.

Bonus item: McCain demonstrates his ignorance of Iranian government. The pure racket of it all is that he references the demonizing of Ahmadinejad as evidence of his rectitude.  Why are people seriously considering this man as a candidate to be president?

May 22, 2008

McCain News Redux

Filed under: politics, religion — Tags: , , , , — codesmithy @ 8:30 am

Here are some of the ways John McCain is making news.

The first item is that news broke today that the Pastor John Hagee said Hitler was fulfilling God’s will by carrying out the Holocaust.

It should be noted that McCain explicitly sought Hagee’s endorsement. Add this to the other Hagee beliefs such as the Roman Catholic Church is the Whore of Babylon spoken of in the book of Revelations and that God sent hurricane Katrina to stop an gay-pride parade that was supposedly set to get out-of-hand. In case you don’t know this already, dispensationalists are wacky and dangerous.

The second point is that the McCain campaign is trying to reward commenters who push John McCain talking points on blogs. The three featured blogs that they currently have targeted are:

  • Red State
  • Jeff Emanuel
  • Daily Kos

I couldn’t find any direct reference on the sites in reference to the news that they have been targeted.  I guess they call it a noise machine for a reason.

The third is more of an around-this-date-in-history type of item.  Two years ago, John McCain went on a university commencement speaking tour.  He spoke at three “universities.”

  • Liberty “University”
  • Columbia University
  • The New School – A University

The New School was the last stop and apparently the most protested.  Jean Sara Rohe gave a stirring speech trashing McCain’s before he had a chance to repeat it.  The immaculate Amy Goodman covered the story for Democracy Now!

Here is a summary in the New York Times.  The row Ms. Goodman mentions is still available on Huffington Post.

Basically, Rohe wrote this piece on Huffington Post better explaining why she decided to speak outMark Slater, a McCain aide, responded with some harsh remarksFinally, Rohe responds to Slater.

The fourth item is that the EFF is reporting that John McCain wouldn’t give Telecos Immunity if he were president. This is in direct contradiction to his voting record on this issue.  He voted in favor of the bill that would grant the telecoms retroactive immunity and already voted against an amendment to strike telecom immunity from that bill (h/t yutt).  Given McCain’s close ties with lobbyists, Republican ideology, and already proven track-record of supporting telecom immunity with his votes and actions, I don’t really think we should give him the chance to demonstrate that this was just another one of his many campaign lies or flip-flops.

May 19, 2008

When Straight-Talk Goes Crooked

Filed under: politics — Tags: , — codesmithy @ 9:17 am

The above video paints McCain as a say-anything-do-anything politician (which he is). However, the most disconcerting thing about McCain is his policy towards war. He honestly believes Vietnam was “winnable” (what ever that means). He has indicated what his approach will be towards Iraq and the Middle East general: we stay and we bomb more. If Iraq doesn’t well, then he will expand the theater to Iran and we’ll bomb them. With McCain as president, the possibility of a conflagration that engulfs the entire region is very real. In the meantime, his expressed domestic policies are inline with what George W. Bush has been pursuing for the last 7 years. A vote for McCain is a vote for another term of George W. Bush’s disastrous policies with one significant difference: we can expect less restraint in terms of Iraqi civilian causalities.

May 9, 2008

John McCain Repeats “The Big Lie”

Filed under: media, politics — Tags: , , — codesmithy @ 9:56 am

McCain was on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. The first thing to know about McCain is that he is an affable guy. For many people, it will be hard to reconcile the likable person and the brutal policies that he advocates. However, any sense of justice or empathy must consider the point of view of the victims, not the perpetrators.

From the interview with McCain, it is clear he is a candidate of endless war. First, he misrepresents the criticism of the 100 years comment. For him, the argument was on narrow grounds. The 100 years was qualified with reductions of violence. If the violence towards our troops is more severe, than lets say Japan, Europe or South Korea, then McCain assures us that he will stay to finish the job, as long as it takes, for an amount of time he leaves unspecified. However, he certainly believes it will be less than 100, but he opposes any timetable.

Therefore, McCain sees no relationship with military bases and foreign policy in the Middle East. He makes that clear by repeating “the big lie,” that the people we are fighting are some monolithic whole opposed to the concepts of a liberal democracy for inscrutable reasons. In McCain’s world, there is no relationship between the military bases built in the Middle East, America’s unconditional support for Israel’s expansionist policies, America’s heavy-handed and largely indiscriminate style of warfare, America’s use of torture, secret prisons and abject failure to respect even basic human rights, America’s continued backing of brutal regimes and historical interference in the few democratically elected government and movements in the region, America’s state of being a military occupier in Iraq, combined with the vast cultural and religious chasm that exists between our troops and the citizens in Iraq and the violence we face there. McCain knows Hamas doesn’t want him as president, because he is for more bombing, more bases, unconditional support for Israel, more “enhanced interrogation.” In McCain’s world, it is as simple as asserting “stop the bullshit.”

One of the things I would do if I were President would be to sit the Shiites and the Sunnis down and say, “Stop the bullshit.”

If they don’t, then we bomb them until they do.  Obama, on the other-hand, is who Hamas would vote for.

I have to ask: really, over Nader?  Over Róger Calero, who is from my understanding the Socialist Workers Party candidate?  Obama.  How much does Hamas know about our election?  Maybe Hamas is screwing with McCain’s head.  Maybe they want an American president who is just like George W. Bush to solidify their base and aid recruitment.  Of course, the whole line of reasoning is absurd.  Who cares what would or would not make Hamas happy?  Our interests are independent of theirs, and our policy should not be as petty as to pick the candidate that promises to beat them up the most.  It is frankly insulting for McCain to bring it up.  More importantly, how in the hell does he know in the first place?  Which is the exactly the point.  McCain comes out against negative campaigning.  Yet, he refuses to repudiate and in fact, tries to justify one of the most fact-free and stupidest smears against the leading contender.

Is there anything this man does that is capable of being independently evaluated by the mainstream media?  Or will mainstream journalists just dutifully salute what ever he sends up the flagpole?

Make no mistake, McCain would be a dangerous president and would guarantee at least four more years of war with a very real possibility of an expansion into Iran or Syria.  His supposed strong suit, foreign policy, is something he consistently demonstrates functional ignorance in.  Why hasn’t he been completely discredited yet?

April 30, 2008

Bush: The Multi-Generational Disaster

Filed under: politics — Tags: , , , — codesmithy @ 8:35 am

George W. Bush is trying hard to secure his crown as the worst president ever. At a recent press conference, he proposed his solution to high gas prices: open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to drilling. This is about par for the course for the Republican party, McCain proposed a summer gas-tax holiday.

The real question is how the Republican party taken seriously. We can start with the gas-tax holiday. Remove the tax, fine, how are you going to pay for the roads? In case one hasn’t noticed our road infrastructure isn’t doing so great. In fact, you could accurately say it is falling down. Since the tax is already on a per-gallon basis, it isn’t like the public coffers are overflowing. There hasn’t been a wonderful explanation of where that money is going. Although, if gas is at record prices and corporations are recording record profits, I don’t really see how it is really much of a mystery. Well, we have $16 billion accounted for, how much are we looking for again?  I expect another couple billion will show up in the next couple of days as other oil companies report their profits.

Bush said in his policy proposal that he was “hoping now people, when they say “ANWR,” means you don’t care about the gasoline prices that people are paying.”

Fine, I’ll take that incrimination.  I realize that $3.50 as opposed to $4.00 makes a difference to people’s lives today.  But I also realize that $.50 cents of cheaper gas comes at the cost of our environment, pumps more carbon dioxide into our atmosphere, and delays us from transitioning our infrastructure.  In the end game, it won’t make a lick of difference because oil has no future for another reason.  And that reason is China.  You know, our largest creditor.  See, they are going to start using that money we keep giving to them.  When they do, they are competing with us for oil on a dollar for dollar basis.  There is no brilliant strategy here.  There is no monetary option beyond inflation to counteract that massive credit they have over us, but inflation hardly helps us obtain foreign commodities (like oil).  In short, to spite China’s debt we’d end up destroying our own currency and we still wouldn’t get gas.  Cheap oil is at an end.  We’ve already given it away for cheap Chinese products.  It is time to move on.

But if I allow the president’s incrimination, then I feel I should be able to offer one in return.  If there is any justice in this world, or sense of proportion, then there is one thing I hope for: that the Republican party becomes synonymous with disaster.  The disaster of the 9/11 attacks which any competent administration would have done more to prevent.  The disaster of the government response to Hurricane Katrina.  The disaster of our crumbling infrastructure.  The disaster of our soaring debt.  The disaster of Enron.  The disaster of the credit crisis.  The disaster of our endless war in Iraq.  The disastrous decline of American standing and reputation around the world.  There will, no doubt, be countless others.

Although, what makes me laugh, what really tickles my fancy is that Bush thinks history will judge him kindly.  It is that extra-touch that makes him truly spectacular failure: certitude.  And this Republican party, with an extraordinarily small number of exceptions, goose-stepped down the path the Glorious Road the Fearless Leader hath blazed.  Lest we forget, one of those loyal followers was McCain.

Bush is the Chernobyl of presidents, a multi-generational disaster.  His embrace should render one politically radioactive.  His legacy should be toxic.  Electing another Republican as president should make as much sense as doubling-down a busted hand.  That is what I hope for, my pillaging president.

April 29, 2008

DNC’s Ad Attacking McCain

Filed under: economy, politics — Tags: , — codesmithy @ 8:15 am

The Democratic National Committee has a new ad attacking McCain’s stance on Iraq.

It is tough to say what grounds the RNC is crying foul on, maybe that staying in Iraq is only fine with him if only American causalities are acceptable.  However, historical evidence seems to indicate if things are going well, that means the strategy is working and we should stay the course.  If things get worse, then leaving will embolden the enemy.  It is a “heads I win, tails you lose” scenario.

The neo-conservative goal, which McCain has whole-hearted adopted, is to setup a pliable client-state in the heart of the Middle East.  There is no exit strategy.  The plan is to stay.  Iraq is indicative of imperial overreach that will end American prosperity.  Countless economists will be brought out to dissuade us commoners from believing that the state of the economy has anything to do with the war in Iraq.  There is no connection, or they can’t understand the connection.  They’ll argue, historically, wars have been good for the economy.

So where is the missing link?  The problem of course is that the “war analysis” is at best superficial.  War improve economies by improving the need for domestic goods, normally bombs and other munitions.  These facilities are then repurposed after the war ends for exportable goods.  This can lead to a great deal of prosperity, but the key to a good war economy is a concerted effort to invest in infrastructure.

The Iraq war is coming at the expense of infrastructure.  It is not an exaggeration to say that billions of dollars just literally disappear.  When you combine this with tax-cuts that feed a consumer class based on debt, what do you get?  That is right, inflation, lot’s of inflation.  Inflation is where we are at folks and it ain’t going away anytime soon.  We live in a borrowed prosperity.

So, when picking your next president, think of it terms of picking an interest rate that you’ll need to pay back.  The money is already borrowed, it just about how much we throw down the hole to chase it.  McCain’s interest rate is insanely high, Obama’s and Clinton’s are pretty low, although there is a one in ten chance that Hillary loses it and bombs Iran.  Although, to be fair with McCain it is virtually guaranteed America will attack Iran.  If you think the next president won’t make any difference, maybe that $4.00 you pay per gallon at the pump will make you reconsider your position.

April 23, 2008

The Right-Wing Smear Machine

Filed under: media, politics — Tags: , — codesmithy @ 8:00 am

I’m nearly finished reading “Great American Hypocrites: Toppling the Big Myths of Republican Politics” by Glenn Greenwald. In the book, Greenwald explores how the right-wing effectively markets their candidates and how in reality these candidates bear little to no resemblance to the myths that are propagated about them. On the flip-side, the right-wing is successfully able to smear Democratic candidates with seemingly reckless abandon. The criticism of Democratic candidates is hardly substantive, it involves the endless droning about the same misinformation which is endlessly repeated. Even in supposedly more “respectable” venues, what in more honest days would be called “political gossip,” pundits vapidly ask whether or not such controversies would hurt the candidate in the various election contests.

One must ask: what purpose endlessly chirping and hand-wringing over manufactured issues serve? The discussion certainly isn’t enlightening. What it does aid is the repetition of the lie. Information transmission is not a perfect process. There are still people who believe Marie Antoinette said “let them eat cake” or Columbus proved the world was round. It is not because there is a lack of information to disprove these beliefs, it is the fact these untruths are endless repeated from a multitude of sources and go unquestioned. The power of the right-wing is in setting the agenda. They do this through the Internet (through sites like Drudge, etc.), Radio (Limbaugh, etc.), T.V. (Fox News) and subsequently disseminated through the “liberal” media, often wholesale. One can view how it works in the following video.

Brave New Films post.

There is no rising above this. If the Democrats are interested in winning this November they must insist on holding the Republican candidate to the same standard. This will be particularly challenging because of the way the establishment media is infatuated with John McCain. The only problem with the Democratic primary getting drawn out is that it gives more time for the right-wing smear machine to work without adequately responding as was evidenced in the ABC debate. Democrats need to pick a candidate who will win in November and this is becoming more difficult for either eventual nominee because the right-wing smears are being unmet.

At the end of the day, Democrats need to use their political will-power to put these issues on the table:

  1. McCain was fifth from the bottom in class rank, 894th out of 899.
  2. a sub-par flier, with limited patience for studying aviation manuals.
  3. Crashed his plane THREE times, before shot down and taken prisoner.
  4. Possible/alleged role in Forrestal fire?

The big one is number 4.

From the Daily Kos post:

McCain and the Forrestal’s skipper, Capt. John K. Beling, were warned about the danger of using M-65 1000-lb. bombs manufactured in 1935, which were deemed too dangerous to use during World War II and, later, on B-52 bombers. The fire from the Zuni misfire resulted in the heavy 1000 pounders being knocked loose from the pylons of McCain’s A-4, which were only designed to hold 500-pound bombs.’ WMR further reported, ‘The unstable bombs had a 60-second cook-off threshold in a fire situation and this warning was known to both Beling and McCain prior to the disaster.’

…crewmen aboard the Forrestal have provided additional information about the Forrestal incident. It is believed by many crewmen and those who have investigated the case that McCain deliberately ‘wet-started’ his A-4E to shake up the guy in the plane behind his A-4. ‘Wet-starts’, done either deliberately or accidentally, shoot a large flame from the tail of the aircraft.

In McCain’s case, the ‘wet-start’ apparently ‘cooked off’ and launched the Zuni rocket from the rear F-4 that touched off the explosions and massive fire. The F-4 pilot was reportedly killed in the conflagration.

‘Wet starting’ was apparently a common practice among young ‘hot-dog’ pilots. McCain was quickly transferred to the USS Oriskany (the only Forrestal crewman to be immediately transferred). After the disaster, McCain was shot down over North Vietnam on October 26, 1967.

…informed by knowledgeable sources, including an ex-Navy A-4 pilot, the ‘wet-start game’ was a common occurrence. However, it is between ‘very unlikely’ and ‘impossible’ for the Forrestal ‘wet start’ to have been accidental. ‘Wet starts’ were later rendered impossible by automated engine controls.”

None of this has any of the respectability necessary to make it a mainstream story (yet). However, we need to ask: what was McCain’s role in the Forrestal incident? Did McCain wet start his A-4? Let’s not forget that McCain’s dad was an Admiral in the Navy at this time either. Did he have a role in a cover-up? These are the types insinuations that Democrats are constantly responding too. It is time to throw some mud back. However, unlike the right-wing lies, these issues are actually substantive under any rubric of a “character issue,” but they are not going to become an issue until there is a concerted effort to make them one.

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