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Thursday, May 15, 2008

Cindy McCain's Tax Returns Called For By Three Op-Eds


Cindy McCain's declaration that she would never produce her tax returns has struck a chord with a few editorial pages around the country. In the past two days, the Washington Post, Washington Times and the New York Observer have all penned demands that Cindy come clean on her fortune.

Yesterday, the Observer lamented the lack of scrutiny cast on the McCain brand, and called for journalists to call for fairness:

Double standards are endemic in American journalism. But Cindy McCain, wife of the Republican presidential candidate, displayed poor taste in flaunting her family's special immunity from press scrutiny. Declaring on NBC's Today that she would "never" release her income tax returns even if she becomes first lady, the Arizona beer heiress showed no concern that she and her husband will have to meet the same tests as other would-be White House occupants--ever.

Today, papers on both side of the aisle responded. The Post declared that the last thing America needs is a president with more secrecy:

For a candidate who puts a premium on transparency and ethics, John McCain has been slow and grudging in releasing tax information. He did not commit to doing so until after he had secured the nomination, and then he disclosed only two years of taxes, far less than his Democratic rivals. Mr. McCain's wife, the heir to a liquor and beer distributorship, declined to release her returns, citing -- as Ms. Heinz Kerry did -- her children's privacy. Releasing tax information entails intrusion, but, as we wrote four years ago, presidential candidates and their spouses "relinquish a significant measure of privacy. Meanwhile, tax returns provide information not contained in financial disclosure forms, such as charitable contributions and the use of tax shelters." For Mrs. McCain to say, as she did on NBC's "Today" show this week, that she would never release her tax returns, not even if she were to become first lady, is unacceptable.

The Times points out that Cindy McCain's privacy argument doesn't carry any weight, since she has used her fortune to benefit her husband's presidential bid:

Moreover, during a crucial period of the Republican nomination contest -- from last August (after Mr. McCain's campaign had collapsed financially) through February (when its remarkable political rebound effectively clinched the Republican nomination) -- Mrs. McCain used accoutrements of her wealth to keep her husband's campaign literally "in the air," traveling from one campaign stop to another.


Many of those photos you saw of Mr. McCain carrying his own luggage through airports during that seven-month period were snapped after he disembarked from the corporate jet owned by the company headed by his wife. According to an exhaustive analysis by the New York Times, Mr. McCain complied with federal law regarding the use of the plane. But he uncharacteristically exploited a massive loophole that the Federal Election Commission has been trying to close. That loophole allowed Mr. McCain to fly relatively inexpensively. The law, whose loophole specifically exempted aircraft owned by a candidate's family or by a company it controls, enabled the campaign to use that jet as a charter plane while paying much cheaper first-class fares and indulge in a subsidy.

Original here

Clinton: It'd be 'terrible mistake' to pick McCain over Obama

(CNN) -- Hillary Clinton on Wednesday reiterated her vow to stay in the Democratic presidential race, but she said it would be a "terrible mistake" for her supporters to vote for John McCain over Barack Obama.

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Sen. Hillary Clinton vowed to stay in the race, saying she's "not going anywhere."

"Anybody who has ever voted for me or voted for Barack has much more in common in terms of what we want to see happen in our country and in the world with the other than they do with John McCain," Clinton said on CNN's "The Situation Room."

"I'm going to work my heart out for whoever our nominee is. Obviously, I'm still hoping to be that nominee, but I'm going to do everything I can to make sure that anyone who supported me ... understands what a grave error it would be not to vote for Sen. Obama."

Clinton was responding to a question from a CNN iReporter who asked why she thought so many of her supporters would choose McCain over Obama. Watch the question

Exit polls out of West Virginia indicate that only 36 percent of Clinton's supporters would vote for Obama if he were the nominee. A bare majority of Obama's voters said they would vote for Clinton over McCain.

In response to Clinton's comments, Republican National Committee Spokesman Alex Conant issued a statement:

"Just as Sen. Clinton herself has questioned Obama's qualifications to be president and enact change, so do many of her supporters. The biggest mistake would be to raise taxes and prematurely withdraw from Iraq like Clinton and Obama have proposed," he said.

Clinton trounced Obama on Tuesday, carrying West Virginia by a 41-point margin. Because she trails him in pledged delegates, in superdelegates and in the popular vote, she's faced calls to drop out of the race.

Despite her campaign being more than $20 million in the red, Clinton confirmed that she plans to keep going.

"I'm not going anywhere except to Kentucky and Oregon and Montana and South Dakota and Puerto Rico," she said. Video Watch what Clinton says about the road ahead »

Those five contests round out the primary season, which ends June 3.

Kentucky and Oregon hold primaries Tuesday. Clinton expected to do well in Kentucky, but Obama is the favorite to carry Oregon.

Clinton has continued to do better than Obama with the white working-class voters, and Obama continues to get more than 90 percent of the black vote. The racial gap has become a key issue in the media, but Clinton said she regrets "people exploding an issue like that."

"It's offensive. I think people vote for me because they think I'd be the better president. I think people vote for him because they think he'd be the better president. ... That's the way it's supposed to be."

Clinton drew criticism last week for comments she made to USA Today about having a broader appeal to white voters.

"There was just an [Associated Press] article posted that found how Sen. Obama's support among among working, hard-working Americans, white Americans, is weakening again, and how whites in both states who had not completed college were supporting me," she told the paper.

"I have a much broader base to build a winning coalition on," she added.

New York Rep. Charlie Rangel, a Clinton supporter, said "that was the dumbest thing she could have said."

Clinton conceded Wednesday that "he's probably right."

"Obviously, I have worked very hard to get the votes of everyone, and I have campaigned hard. I understand that we've got to put together a broad coalition in order to win in the fall. ... I know Sen. Obama has worked hard to reach out to every community and constituency," she said.

Clinton said the Democrats will have a unified party once they have a nominee, but she shied away from the idea of a joint ticket, saying talks about it would be "premature."

Obama said the same thing while campaigning in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, on Tuesday.

"Sen. Clinton is still competing; we haven't resolved this nomination; I haven't won the nomination yet," he said. "I'm not going to talk about vice president this or vice president that until I've actually won. It would be presumptuous of me to pretend like I've already won and start talking about who my vice president's going to be."

Asked how she's able to keep campaigning each day, Clinton said that something always happens that lifts her spirits.

"A lot of the people who have worked their hearts out for me in this primary season, they're not quitters in their own lives," she said.

"It's been a privilege and an honor to have met so many Americans, been to so many of the beautiful places in this country, and I feel like I'm doing it for the right reasons."

Clinton teared up as she described what she called "one of the most incredibly gratifying experiences" of her life: having her 28-year-old daughter, Chelsea, campaigning for her.

"She is an exceptional person, and she's worked so hard, and she's done such a good job that I'm just filled with pride every time I look at her," she said.

"She's doing it because she's my daughter, but she's doing it because, as she says, she's a young American who cares about our future."
Original here

Edwards endorses Obama, praises Clinton

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Former Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards endorsed Sen. Barack Obama on Wednesday at a campaign event in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

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Sen. Barack Obama and Sen. John Edwards in a CNN sponsored debate in South Carolina in January.

"The reason I'm here tonight is because the Democratic voters have made their choice, and so have I," he told the boisterous crowd.

"There is one man who knows and understands that this is a time for bold leadership. There is one man that knows how to create the change, the lasting change, that you have to build from the ground up," Edwards said. "There is one man who knows in his heart there is time to create one America, not two ... and that man is Barack Obama."

Edwards also praised Sen. Hillary Clinton's candidacy.

"What she has shown ... is strength and character, and what drives her is something that every single one of us can and should appreciate," Edwards said. "She is a woman who, in my judgment, is made of steel, and she's a leader in this country not because of her husband but because of what she has done." Video Watch Edwards give his endorsement »

He said that when the nomination battle is over, "and it will be over soon, brothers and sisters ... we must come together as Democrats."

Obama later praised Edwards and his wife, Elizabeth, during the rally.

"I am so grateful ... for John Edwards to come to Michigan tonight. ... I'm grateful for his support ... but more importantly, I want to thank John for everything that he has already done to make us one America," Obama said. Video Watch an analysis of the endorsement »

After the announcement, Republican National Committee Chairman Robert Duncan released a statement asking, "Why didn't Edwards endorse sooner?"

"Edwards' endorsement of a candidate he previously blasted as inexperienced, hypocritical and lacking substance will not help Obama with voters looking for real change," he said.

Edwards dropped out of the Democratic race on January 30 after poor showings in the early contests.

He told NBC last week that Obama, the Democratic front-runner, is the party's likely nominee. Both Obama and Clinton had sought Edwards' blessing. Video Watch a report on the timing of the endorsement »

Clinton campaign Chairman Terry McAuliffe said Wednesday that "We respect John Edwards, but as the voters of West Virginia showed last night, this thing is far from over."

According to CNN's latest estimates, Obama has 1,884 total delegates (pledged: 1,600, superdelegates: 284). Clinton has 1,718 total delegates (pledged: 1,445, superdelegates: 273).

Edwards, meanwhile, has 19 total pledged delegates who may or may not pledge their support for Obama at the Democratic National Committee's August convention in Denver, Colorado.

Edwards, who is not a superdelegate, said last week that it was fine for Clinton to continue making her case but expressed concern that a continued campaign could damage the party's prospects in November.

Wednesday's endorsement could help Obama reach out to white blue-collar voters, a demographic that Obama has failed to capture, most notably in the recent Pennsylvania and West Virginia primaries.

Edwards had campaigned on the message that he was standing up for the little guy, the people who are not traditionally given a voice in Washington, and that he would do more to fight special interests.

After dropping out of the race, Edwards asked Clinton and Obama to make poverty a central issue in the general election and a future Democratic administration, something both agreed to do. Video Watch Edwards discuss Obama and Clinton on "Larry King Live" »

An endorsement from Edwards, who ran as vice president on Sen. John Kerry's ticket in the 2004 presidential election, would have a significant impact on the race, Democratic strategist Peter Fenn said after Edwards dropped out.

"You could make an argument that the change issue does benefit Barack Obama, that he picks up that support. You could also make the argument that there's a lot of support out there amongst people that will go to Hillary," he said.

Some political pundits predicted Edwards' supporters are more likely to lean in Obama's direction.

"The conventional wisdom is that Barack Obama will pick up maybe 60 percent of them, and in some places, that makes a huge difference," former presidential adviser David Gergen said in January.

Time magazine's Joe Klein said Clinton "represents a lot of the things that [Edwards] campaigned against, you know, the old Washington Democratic establishment that he believes got too close to the corporations in the '90s."

Edwards announced that he was dropping out in New Orleans, Louisiana, the same city where he declared his run for the 2008 Democratic presidential race.

"It is time for me to step aside so that history can blaze its path," he said.

With his wife and children at his side, Edwards said he couldn't predict "who will take the final steps to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue," but he said it would be a Democrat.

Edwards trailed Clinton and Obama in the early contests. He came in third in key races in New Hampshire and South Carolina.

Klein said Edwards played a positive role in spurring his competitors during the early part of the campaign.

"On a lot of substantive issues like health insurance, he was the first one out of the box with a very ambitious universal plan, and I think he forced the others to become bolder in a lot of their policy prescriptions, energy dependence and so on," Klein said.

Edwards is a South Carolina native with an undergraduate degree from North Carolina State University and law degree from the University of North Carolina.

Before entering politics, winning a Senate seat from North Carolina in 1998, Edwards was a lawyer representing families "being victimized by powerful interests," according to his campaign Web site.
Original here

John Edwards Endorses Obama... GOP Prospects "Worst Since Watergate"


Democrat John Edwards endorsed former rival Barack Obama on Wednesday, a move designed to help solidify support for the party's likely presidential nominee even as Hillary Rodham Clinton refuses to give up her long-shot candidacy.

Edwards made a surprise appearance with Obama in Grand Rapids, Mich., as the Illinois senator campaigns in a critical general election battleground state.

The endorsement came a day after Clinton defeated Obama by more than 2-to-1 in the West Virginia primary. The loss highlighted Obama's challenge in winning over the "Hillary Democrats" _ white, working-class voters who also supported Edwards in significant numbers before he exited the race in late January.

Edwards, who received a thunderous ovation when Obama introduced him to a crowd of several thousand, said, "brothers and sisters, we must come together as Democrats" to defeat McCain. "We are here tonight because the Democratic voters have made their choice, and so have I."

He said Obama "stands with me" in a fight to cut poverty in half within 10 years.

Watch video of the rally.

GOP's Prospects Worst Since Watergate: While Obama's candidacy was flying high due to receiving Edwards' endorsement Wednesday, GOP leaders were still recovering from the aftershock of their Tuesday defeat in a special congressional contest in Mississippi. The New York Times reports that:

The level of distress was evident in remarks by senior party officials throughout the day.

"This was a real wake-up call for us," Robert M. Duncan, the chairman of the Republican National Committee, said in an interview. "We can't let the Democrats take our issues. We can't let them pretend to be conservatives and co-opt the middle and win these elections. We have to get the attention of our incumbents and candidates and make sure they understand this."

Representative Tom Davis, Republican of Virginia and former leader of his party's Congressional campaign committee, issued a dire warning that the Republican Party had been severely damaged, in no small part because of its identification with President Bush. Mr. Davis said that, unless Republican candidates changed course, they could lose 20 seats in the House and 6 in the Senate.

"They are canaries in the coal mine, warning of far greater losses in the fall, if steps are not taken to remedy the current climate," Mr. Davis said in a memorandum. "The political atmosphere facing House Republicans this November is the worst since Watergate and is far more toxic than it was in 2006."

***EARLIER***

ABC News confirms that John Edwards will endorse Barack Obama at an event tonight in Michigan:

Former Sen. John Edwards is endorsing Sen. Barack Obama's presidential candidate Wednesday evening, in a dramatic attempt by the Obama campaign to answer concerns regarding Obama's appeal to working-class voters, several senior Democratic sources tell ABC News.


Edwards, who ran for president on a platform of eradicating poverty, plans to appear alongside Obama in Grand Rapids, Mich., Wednesday evening. The event comes one day after Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton defeated Obama by 41 points in the West Virginia primary, and Edwards' endorsement will give Obama a key establishment stamp of approval as he attempts to close out the nominating process. ...

A source close to the Clinton campaign said the Edwards camp gave the Clinton folks a head's up.

"Clearly it's upsetting" the source tells ABC. "He brings the workers" to Obama.

The Michigan Monitor is live-blogging the Obama/Edwards rally here.

Time's Mark Halperin says a source reports that Edwards was on Obama's campaign plane today, and NBC News notes the impact this could have on the delegate count:

Edwards has 18 pledged delegates.


Even if all of those people voted for Obama, and there's no guarantee they would, it wouldn't quite give Obama a majority in pledged delegates, but it would get him close. Edwards' people are really loyal and might not vote for Obama or Hillary or whoever -- even if Edwards tells them to.

Original Post: The Obama campaign has announced a "major national endorsement" for a rally tonight at 7pm in Michigan, and the rumor mill is swirling that it is none other than Sen. John Edwards. Time's Mark Halperin is teasing as much at his Web site, with a photo of Edwards and the text, "Ready to choose? Ready to hope?"

Edwards has certainly dropped some hints in recent days. He's chided Hillary Clinton over her comments about race, said he can't figure out how Clinton could ever win the nomination, and even said he planned to endorse the person he voted for in North Carolina's primary, using (it seems) the word "him."

On the other hand, in an interview with People magazine, Edwards said of Obama, "Sometimes I want to see more substance under the rhetoric."

Original here

Bush: I Gave Up Golf For The Troops


NEW UPDATE BELOW

As violence in Iraq continues -- clashes today left 11 dead and 19 injured -- President Bush has for the first time revealed the great sacrifice he's made for the sake of our soldiers: he's given up golf.

From an interview with Politico and Yahoo News:

"I don't want some mom whose son may have recently died to see the commander in chief playing golf," he said. "I feel I owe it to the families to be in solidarity as best as I can with them. And I think playing golf during a war just sends the wrong signal."


Bush said he made that decision after the August 2003 bombing of the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad, which killed Sergio Vieira de Mello, the top U.N. official in Iraq and the organization's high commissioner for human rights.

"I remember when de Mello, who was at the U.N., got killed in Baghdad as a result of these murderers taking this good man's life," he said. "I was playing golf -- I think I was in central Texas -- and they pulled me off the golf course and I said, 'It's just not worth it anymore to do.'"

Now watch this drive...

UPDATE: Brandon Friedman at VetVoice pokes some holes in Bush's story, highlighting a piece from Warren Street at Blue Girl, Red State:

Actually, it is far more likely that Bush quit playing golf because he was suffering from knee problems throughout the latter half of 2003.

Street then links to a CBS News article published in December 2003:

Bush, 57, will have an MRI (magnetic resonance imaging) test on Thursday, Dec. 18. The body-scanning device enables doctors to see internal organs in 3D.


The MRI is being performed on the advice of the President's regular White House physician. Last summer, Bush suffered a minor muscle tear in his right calf and that injury, along with aching knees, forced him to abandon his running routine. The calf strain healed by August when he had his annual physical, but the president said in September that he suspected he had a meniscus tear.

... Bush actually played his last round of golf on October 13, 2003. This means that the reason he gave for quitting after the August 2003 U.N. bombing is dubious at best...

Original here

Countdown Special Comment to President Bush: “Shut the hell up.”

In an astoundingly ignorant interview with The Politico’s Mike Allen Tuesday, President Bush insinuated that electing a Democrat in November would lead to another attack on America, and revealed that he made the ultimate sacrifice by giving up golf shortly after the start of the Iraq War — the timing of which he lied about. Naturally, Keith ripped into him tonight — with all the anger and passion you’ve come to expect from a Special Comment — for continuing this despicable fear-mongering, and for failing to understand what true sacrifice is.

Do your part in telling President Bush to “shut the hell up”: Digg It!

“Mr. President,” he was asked, “you haven’t been golfing in recent years. Is that related to Iraq?
“Yes,” began perhaps the most startling reply of this nightmarish blight on our lives as Americans — on our history.
“It really is. I don’t want some mom whose son may have recently died to see the Commander-in-Chief playing golf. I feel I owe it to the families to be as — to be in solidarity as best as I can with them. And I think playing golf during a war just sends the wrong signal.”
Golf, Sir?
Golf sends the wrong signal to the grieving families of our men and women butchered in Iraq?
Do you think these families, Mr. Bush - their lives blighted forever — care about you playing golf?
Do you think, Sir, they care about you?
You, Mr. Bush, let their sons and daughters be killed.
Sir, to show your solidarity with them - you gave up golf?
Sir, to show your solidarity with them - you didn’t give up your pursuit of this insurance-scam, profiteering, morally and financially bankrupting war.
Sir, to show your solidarity with them - you didn’t even give up talking about Iraq - a subject about which you have incessantly proved without pause or backwards glance, that you may literally be the least informed person in the world?
Sir, to show your solidarity with them, you didn’t give up… your
4,000 dead Americans and your response… was to stop playing golf!
Golf.
Not “gulf” - golf.

Full transcripts below the fold:

Finally tonight, as promised, a Special Comment on two topics a lot of us had foolishly thought, had naively hoped, we would not again have to address… and a third topic nobody thought a president would ever seriously mention in public unless perhaps he’d just been hit in the head with something and was not in full possession of his faculties — how he expressed his “empathy” to the families of the dead in Iraq — by giving up golf.

The President has resorted anew to the sleaziest fear-mongering and mass manipulation of an administration — of a public life — dedicated to realizing the lowest of our expectations.

And he has now applied these poisons to the 2008 presidential election, on behalf of the party at whose center he and Mr. McCain lurk.

Mr. Bush has predicted that the election of a Democratic president could, “eventually lead to another attack on the United States.”

This ludicrous, infuriating, holier-than-thou and most importantly bone-headedly wrong statement came yesterday during an interview with Politico-dot-com and on-line users of Yahoo.

The question was phrased as follows: “If we were to pull out of Iraq next year, what’s the worst that could happen, what’s the doomsday scenario?”

The President replied: “Doomsday scenario, of course, is that extremists throughout the Middle East would be emboldened, which would eventually lead to another attack on the United States.

The biggest issue we face is — it’s bigger than Iraq — it’s this ideological struggle against cold-blooded killers who will kill people to achieve their political objectives.”

Mr. Bush, at long last, has it not dawned on you that the America you have now created, includes ‘cold-blooded killers who will kill people to achieve their political objectives’?’

They are those in, or formerly in, your employ, who may yet be charged some day with war crimes.

Through your haze of self-congratulation and self-pity, do you still have no earthly clue that this nation has laid waste to Iraq to achieve your political objectives?

This ideological struggle,’ Mr. Bush, is taking place within this country.

It is a struggle between Americans who cherish freedom — ours and everybody else’s — and Americans like you, sir, to whom freedom is just a brand name, just like “Patriot Act” is a brand name or “Protect America” is a brand name.

But wait, there’s more.

You also said “Iraq is the place where al Qaeda and other extremists have made their stand — and they will be defeated.”

They made no “stand” in Iraq, sir. You allowed them to assemble there!

As certainly as if that were the plan, the borders were left wide open by your government’s farcical post-invasion strategy of ‘they’ll greet us as liberators.’

And as certainly as if that were the plan, the inspiration for another generation of terrorists in another country was provided by your government’s farcical post-invasion strategy of letting the societal infra-structure of Iraq dissolve, to be replaced by an American Vice-Royalty enforced by merciless mercenaries who shoot unarmed Iraqis and then evade prosecution in any country, by hiding behind your skirts, sir.

Terrorism inside Iraq is your creation, Mr. Bush!

It was a Yahoo user who brought up the second topic upon whose introduction Mr. Bush should have passed, or punted, or gotten up and left the room claiming he heard Dick Cheney calling him.

“Do you feel,” asked an ordinary American, “that you were mis-led on Iraq?”

“I feel like — I felt like, there were weapons of mass destruction. You know, “mislead” is a strong word, it almost connotes some kind of intentional — I don’t think so, I think there was a — not only our intelligence community, but intelligence communities all across the world shared the same assessment. And so I was disappointed to see how flawed our intelligence was.”

Flawed.

You, Mr. Bush, and your tragically know-it-all minions, threw out every piece of intelligence that suggested there were no such weapons.

You, Mr. Bush, threw out every person who suggested that the sober, contradictory, reality-based intelligence needed to be listened to, fast.

You, Mr. Bush, are responsible for how “intelligence communities all across the world shared the same assessment.”

You and the sycophants you dredged up and put behind the most important steering wheel in the world propagated palpable nonsense and shoved it down the throat of every intelligence community across the world and punished anybody who didn’t agree it was really chicken salad.

And you, Mr. Bush, threw under the bus all of the subsequent critics who bravely stepped forward later to point out just how much of a self-fulfilling prophecy you had embraced, and adopted as this country’s policy — in lieu of, say, common sense.

The fiasco of pre-war intelligence, sir, is your fiasco.

You should build a great statue of yourself turning a deaf ear to the warnings of realists, while you are shown embracing the three-card monte dealers like Richard Perle and Donald Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney.

That would be a far more fitting tribute to your legacy, Mr. Bush, than this presidential library you are constructing as a giant fable about your presidency, an edifice you might as claim was built from Iraqi Weapons of Mass Destruction because there will be just as many of those inside your presidential library as there were inside Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.

Of course if there is one over-riding theme to this president’s administration it is the utter, always-failing, inability to know when to quit when it is behind.

And so Mr. Bush answered yet another question about this layered, nuanced, wheels-within-wheels garbage heap that constituted his excuse for war.

“And so you feel that you didn’t have all the information you should have or the right spin on that information?”

“No, no,” replied the President. “I was told by people, that they had weapons of mass destruction…”

People?

What people?

The insane informant “Curveball?”

The Iraqi snake-oil salesman Ahmed Chalabi?

The American snake-oil salesman Dick Cheney?

“I was told by people that they had weapons of mass destruction, as were members of Congress, who voted for the resolution to get rid of Saddam Hussein. And of course, the political heat gets on and they start to run and try to hide from their votes.”

Mr. Bush — you destroyed the evidence that contradicted the resolution you jammed down the Congress’s throat, the way you jammed it down the nation’s throat.

When required by law to verify that your evidence was accurate, you simply re-submitted it, with phrases amounting to “See, I done proved it,” virtually written in the margins in crayon.

You defied patriotic Americans to say “The Emperor has no clothes” — only with the stakes (as you and the mental dwarves in your employ put it) being a “mushroom cloud over an American city.”

And as a final crash of self-indulgent nonsense, when the incontrovertible truth of your panoramic and murderous deceit has even begun to cost your political party seemingly perpetual congressional seats in places like North Carolina and — last night — Mississippi, you can actually say with a straight face, sir, that for members of Congress “the political heat gets on and they start to run and try to hide from their votes” - while you greet the political heat and try to run and hide from your presidency — and your legacy — 4,000 of the Americans you were supposed to protect, dead in Iraq, with your only feeble, pathetic answer being, “I was told by people that they had weapons of mass destruction.”

Then came Mr. Bush’s final blow to our nation’s solar plexus, his last re-opening of our common wounds, his last remark that makes the rest of us question not merely his leadership or his judgment but his very suitably to remain in office.

“Mr. President,” he was asked, “you haven’t been golfing in recent years. Is that related to Iraq?

“Yes,” began perhaps the most startling reply of this nightmarish blight on our lives as Americans — on our history.

“It really is. I don’t want some mom whose son may have recently died, to see the Commander-in-Chief playing golf. I feel I owe it to the families to be as — to be in solidarity as best as I can with them. And I think playing golf during a war just sends the wrong signal.”

Golf, sir?

Golf sends the wrong signal to the grieving families of our men and women butchered in Iraq?

Do you think these families, Mr. Bush — their lives blighted forever — care about you playing golf?

Do you think, sir, they care about you?

You, Mr. Bush, let their sons and daughters be killed.

Sir, to show your solidarity with them - you gave up golf?

Sir, to show your solidarity with them — you didn’t give up your pursuit of this insurance-scam, profiteering, morally and financially bankrupting war.

Sir, to show your solidarity with them — you didn’t even give up talking about Iraq — a subject about which you have incessantly proved without pause or backwards glance, that you may literally be the least informed person in the world?

Sir, to show your solidarity with them, you didn’t give up your presidency?

In your own words — “solidarity as best as I can” — is to stop a game? That is the “best” you can?

4,000 Americans give up their lives and your sacrifice was to give up golf!

Golf.

Not “gulf” — golf.

And still it gets worse.

Because it proves that the President’s unendurable sacrifice, his unbearable pain, the suspension of getting to hit a stick with a ball, was not even his own damned idea.

“Mr. President, was there a particular moment or incident that brought you to that decision, or how did you come to that?”

“I remember when de Mello, who was at the U.N., got killed in Baghdad as a result of these murderers taking this good man’s life. And I was playing golf — I think I was in central Texas — and they pulled me off the golf course and I said, it’s just not worth it any more to do.”

Your one, tone-deaf, arrogant, pathetic, embarrassing gesture, and you didn’t even think of it yourself?

The great Bushian sacrifice — an Army private loses a leg, a Marine loses half his skull, four thousand of their brothers and sisters lose their lives, you lose golf… and they have to pull you off the golf course to get you to just do that?

If it’s even true…

Apart from your medical files, which dutifully record your torn calf muscle and the knee pain which forced you to give up running at the same time — coincidence, no doubt — the bombing in Baghdad which killed Sergio Vieira de Mello of the U-N… and interrupted your round of golf, was on August 19th, 2003.

Yet there is an Associated Press account of you playing golf as late as Columbus Day of that year — October 13th — nearly two months later.

Mr. Bush, I hate to break it to you, six-and-a-half years after you yoked this nation and your place in history to the wrong war, in the wrong place, against the wrong people but the war in Iraq is Not. About. You.

It is not, Mr. Bush, about your grief when American after American comes home in a box.

It is not, Mr. Bush, about what your addled brain has produced in the way of paranoid delusions of risks that do not exist, ready to be activated if some Democrat, and not your twin Mr. McCain succeeds you.

The war in Iraq — your war, Mr. Bush — is about how you accomplished the derangement of two nations, and how you helped funnel billions of taxpayer dollars to lascivious and perennially thirsty corporations like Halliburton and Blackwater, and how you sent 4,000 Americans to their deaths — for nothing.

It is not, Mr. Bush, about your golf game!

And, sir, if you have any hopes that next January 20th will not be celebrated as a day of soul-wrenching, heart-felt Thanksgiving, because your faithless stewardship of this presidency will have finally come to a merciful end, this last piece of advice:

When somebody asks you, sir, about Democrats who must now pull this country back from the abyss you have placed us at…

When somebody asks you, sir, about the cooked books and faked threats you foisted on a sincere and frightened nation…

When somebody asks you, sir, about your gallant, noble, self-abnegating sacrifice of your golf game so as to soothe the families of the war dead…

This advice, Mr. Bush…

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Ron Paul publicly names neoconservatives


A Picture Worth A Thousand Words

Some readers resented The Washington Post for publishing an Associated Press photograph of a critically wounded Iraqi child being lifted from the rubble of his home in Baghdad’s Sadr City “after a U.S. airstrike.”Two-year-old Ali Hussein later died in a hospital.As the saying goes, the picture was worth a thousand words because it showed the true horrors of this war.
Neither side is immune from the killing of Iraqi civilians. But Americans should be aware of their own responsibility for inflicting death and pain on the innocent.The Post’s ombudsman, Deborah Howell, said about 20 readers complained about the photo, while a few readers praised the Post for publishing the stark picture on page one.Some mothers said they were offended that their children might see the picture, though one wonders whether their youngsters watch television and play with violent videos in a pretend world.From the start of the unprovoked U.S. “shock and awe” invasion of Iraq on March 20, 2003, the government tried to bar the news media from photographing flag-draped coffins of American soldiers returning from Iraq. A Freedom of Information lawsuit forced the government to release pictures of returning coffins.Howell said some readers felt the photo of the Iraqi boy was “an anti-war statement; some thought it was in poor taste.” Well, so is war.Howell said her boss, Executive Editor Len Downie, “is cautious about such photos.”“We have seldom been able to show the human impact of the fighting on Iraqis,” Downie was quoted as saying. “We decided this was a rare instance in which we had a powerful image with which to do so.”It’s unclear to me why this was deemed to be “rare.” After five years of war, there is finally one photo that is supposed to say it all?Howell said she checked hundreds of U.S. front pages on the Internet but saw the AP photo nowhere else.This makes me wonder why the media have shied away from telling the story about Iraqi civilian casualties. News people and editors were more courageous during the Vietnam War. What are they afraid of now?Who can forget the shocking picture of the little Vietnamese girl running down a road, aflame from a napalm attack? And who can forget the picture of South Vietnamese police chief Nguyen Ngoc Loan putting a gun to the temple of a young member of the Viet Cong and executing him on a Saigon street?I don’t remember any American outcry against the press for showing the horror of war when these photographs were published. Were we braver then? Or maybe more conscience stricken?Of course, the Pentagon did not enjoy such images coming out of Saigon in that era. Most Americans found them appalling, as further evidence of our misbegotten venture in Vietnam. Americans rallied to the streets in protest and eventually persuaded President Lyndon Johnson to give up his dreams of reelection in 1968.Some Americans believe the media were to blame for the U.S. defeat in Vietnam. Nonsense.Johnson knew the war was unwinnable, especially after the 1968 Tet offensive and the request by Army Gen. William Westmoreland for 200,000 more troops, in addition to the 500,000 already in Vietnam.The Pentagon made a command decision after the Vietnam War to get better control of the dissemination of information in future wars.This led then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to create an office of disinformation at the start of the Iraqi war. It was later disbanded after howls from the media.More recently we have seen the Pentagon’s propaganda efforts take the form of carefully coaching retired generals about how to spin the Iraq war when they appear on television as alleged military experts. The New York Times’ revelations about these pet generals have cast a pall over their reputations.Too often in this war, the news media seem to have tried to shield the public from the suffering this war has brought to Americans and Iraqis.It’s not the job of the media to protect the nation from the reality of war. Rather, it is up to the media to tell the people the truth. They can handle it.Helen Thomas can be reached at hthomas@hearstdc.com

Oklahoma freshman named town's mayor

MUSKOGEE, Oklahoma (AP) -- A 19-year-old freshman at the University of Oklahoma was elected mayor Tuesday of Muskogee, a city of 38,000 in the northeastern part of the state.

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John Tyler Hammons will be sworn in next week as mayor of Muskogee, Oklahoma.

With all precincts reporting, John Tyler Hammons won with 70 percent of the vote over former Mayor Hershel Ray McBride, said Muskogee County Election Board Secretary Bill Bull.

"The public placing their trust in me is the greatest, humbling and most awesome experience I've ever had in my life," said Hammons, who is from Muskogee but attends the university in Norman.

The two candidates squared off in a runoff election for the nonpartisan post after neither secured 50 percent of the vote in a six-person election April 1.

Hammons, who will be sworn in next week, said he plans to continue his college education but expects to transfer to a school closer to Muskogee.

"Being elected does not change my desire to continue my education," he said. "We will schedule our time in an appropriate fashion so that I can be mayor and stay in school."

Hammons replaces Wren Stratton, who decided not to seek re-election after one term.

The mayor leads the nine-member city council and serves as a voting member. Hammons said a key to his platform that resonated with voters was openness of government and keeping citizens better informed of city operations.

"I think that's been a detriment to the trust of the citizens of Muskogee," he said. "Once we have that trust, we can solve any other problem."
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Arlen Spector To Blow Taxpayer Dollars On Football

Ok, so you don't like how the investigation has gone with the Patriots and Spygate. Let me take some of the focus off of that for just a second, and bring some realization to the world here.

1) The economy has just about hit rock bottom.
2) We're spending $100 billion MORE dollars in defense than all the other countries combined, and no one is scared of us like they are North Korea who spend 0.5% of what we spend on defense.
3) We have more poverty than any other country on this planet.
4) We're spending 19 million on the drug wars annually.
5) Our government just sent rebate checks to all the taxpayers, I don't know, to gain their trust. At least the general population would spend the money better..

Apparently to Senator Arlen Spector, all this pales in comparison to the fact that the New England Patriots broke a rule of the NFL. I'm going to repeat. "Broke a rule in the NFL."

Arlen Spector wants to conduct an investigation of the New England Patriots now, and guess on who's tab? Yours! Mine! OURS! That's right, because he doesn't like how a football game ruling has turned out, he's going to conduct an investigation on our dime. Absolutely incredible. I could understand if it had something to do with what baseball just went through with steriods, where an illegal drug was used. This is football, this is a little broken rule. Get over it, and don't spend my money on it!

Senator, what are you thinking? Seriously.

Arlen Spector, you are a prime example of what's wrong with this country.

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Analysis: W.Va. win won't help Clinton much

Democratic presidential hopeful New York Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton(R) talks with her campaign chairman Terry McAuliffe as they board her charter plane in Washington, DC on her way to Charleston, West Virginia.(AFP/Robyn Beck)
AFP Photo: Democratic presidential hopeful New York Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton(R) talks with her campaign chairman Terry...

NEW YORK - Hillary Rodham Clinton's shellacking of Barack Obama in the West Virginia primary Tuesday may burnish her image as a champion of the economically disadvantaged and bolster her determination to campaign through the final contests. But it does little to alter the unforgiving political landscape she faces.

The former first lady's lopsided victory in West Virginia had long been expected, given the demographic makeup of the state: It is 95 percent white, has no urban core and counts among its residents some of the poorest and least educated of any state. It also had just 28 delegates at stake.

Clinton has performed strongly among white working-class voters throughout the campaign in states such as Ohio and Pennsylvania, while Obama has struggled to adapt his message of hope and change to address the economic anxieties those voters face. That, in turn, has allowed the former first lady to openly question Obama's chances in a general election against Republican John McCain.

In her speech Tuesday night, Clinton was expected to make a direct pitch to superdelegates on the electability argument, hoping they would reconsider the two candidacies.

The Associated Press made its West Virginia call based on surveys of voters as they left the polls. Not surprisingly, even before voting was done, the Clinton campaign seized on the expected outcome there to suggest Obama is having trouble winning primaries in important swing states.

"Hillary has predicted victory against Sen. McCain in West Virginia based on the strength of her economic message," the campaign said in a memo to reporters. "Given the attempts by our opponent and some in the media to declare this race over, any significant increase in voter turnout, coupled with a decisive Clinton victory, would send a strong message that Democrats remain excited and energized by Hillary's candidacy."

But none of that changes the central problem for Clinton: Since her loss in North Carolina and narrow victory in Indiana last Tuesday, the New York senator has been battling the growing realization that her once-formidable candidacy may have finally run out of steam.

Saddled with more than $20 million in debt and facing a near mathematical impossibility of catching Obama among pledged delegates and in the popular vote, Clinton has watched a steady stream of superdelegates migrate toward the Illinois senator despite his apparent problems winning key party constituencies.

Superdelegate Roy Romer, a former Colorado governor and Democratic National Committee chairman under President Clinton, announced his support for Obama on Tuesday.

While Romer acknowledged a "great personal friendship" with Hillary Clinton, he said he believed the time had come to move forward to the general election.

"As I watched the campaign unfold, I realized there was a different kind of winning possibility with Senator Obama," Romer said. "I became convinced Senator Obama is the most electable of the two."

Obama, flush with cash and running a robust campaign in the final primary states, has turned much of his focus to McCain and the general election contest. He was spending Tuesday night in Missouri, an important swing state, before flying to Michigan on Wednesday.

Clinton's advisers say she is well aware of the daunting task she faces but wants to carry on, believing she owes it to her supporters and to the voters eager to participate in the remaining contests.

Clinton is favored to win Kentucky's primary next Tuesday and Puerto Rico's on June 1. She also wants to see the stalemate over disputed results in Michigan and Florida resolved, hopefully at a meeting of the DNC Rules and Bylaws Committee May 31.

Steve Grossman, a former DNC chairman who is supporting Clinton, says she has more than earned the right to continue her fight to the finish.

"Hillary, who is absolutely mindful of the daunting nature of the math, feels an obligation to her supporters and a belief that her voters have to be major participants in the fall campaign for a Democrat to win," Grossman said. "She's determined not to break faith with those voters — not just women, but a lot of them are. It's about fairness and respect for Hillary and her army of activists, fairness and respect for the voters who've yet to be counted."

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85% of Americans Want a Presidential Debate on Science

A new poll (charts, pdf, 3.1mb) shows that 85% of U.S. adults agree that the presidential candidates should participate in a debate on how science can be used to tackle America's major challenges. The poll found no difference between Democrats and Republicans on this question. A majority (84%) also agree that scientific innovations are improving our standard of living.

The poll, commissioned by Research!America and ScienceDebate2008.com and conducted by Harris Interactive®, shows that 56% strongly agree and 29% somewhat agree that the presidential candidates should participate in a debate to discuss key problems facing the United States, such as health care, climate change and energy, and how science can help tackle them.

"This topic has been virtually ignored by the candidates, but this poll shows that Americans of all walks know how important science and technology are to our health and way of life," said Shawn Lawrence Otto, CEO of Science Debate 2008. "We've heard a lot about lapel pins and preachers. But tackling the big science challenges is critical to our children's future – to the future of the country and the future of the planet. Americans want to know that candidates take these issues seriously, and the candidates have a responsibility to let voters know what they think."

A majority of U.S. adults say that past scientific research has contributed "a great deal" or "a lot" to their quality of life today (67%) and that today's research will continue to do so in the future (72%). When asked in what areas of their life scientific research plays the biggest role, top responses were health care (44%) and communication (20%).

"Americans see the need to invest in science now and want to hear from presidential candidates where science would stand in their administration," said the Honorable John Edward Porter, former Congressman and chair of Research!America. "Our federal health research and science agencies have had five years of reduced spending power or modest increases. It's time that candidates for the White House step up to say how they will address this faltering investment in our future." Research!America and more than 30 partners have created Your Candidates—Your Health, a voter education initiative to present presidential and congressional candidates' views on health and research at www.yourcandidatesyourhealth.org.

Among the most serious long-term issues facing the country, 76% rate health care the most serious, followed by alternative energy sources (69%), education (67%) and national security (61%). Issues also considered serious by a majority of U.S. adults include global economic competition (55%), poverty (53%) and climate change (53%).

"This is not a niche debate," said Craig Barrett, Chairman of Intel and one of the supporters of the Science Debate initiative. "Without the best education system and aggressive investments in basic research and development we will become a second rate economic power. We expect the candidates for president to take this very seriously."

Other findings highlight a desire for public policy to be based on scientific evidence:
• 67% say that public policies should be influenced more by scientific evidence than by elected officials' personal beliefs.
• 83% of U.S. adults - 88% of Democrats and 80% of Republicans - say it is important that the candidates talk about how science and scientific research will affect their policy-making decisions if they are elected.
• Only 19% say it is acceptable for elected officials to hold back or alter scientific reports if they conflict with their own views – 16% of Republicans and 21% of Democrats.

Climate change had the widest partisan split among questions answered, with 66% of Democrats ranking it among the most serious, while only 33% of Republicans gave it a top ranking. Global poverty was the next widest split, with 63% of Democrats ranking it as a top issue while only 41% of Republicans saw it that way. Third on the list of widest divisions was education, with 59% of Republicans seeing it as a top issue, compared to 72% of Democrats.

This survey was conducted by telephone within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of Research!America and ScienceDebate2008.com between May 2 and May 5, 2008, among 1,003 adults ages 18+. This survey has a theoretical sampling error of ±3.1% For complete methodology and to learn more about the poll, visit www.researchamerica.org or www.sciencedebate2008.com.

About Research!America: Research!America (www.researchamerica.org) is the nation's largest not-for-profit public education and advocacy alliance working to make research to improve health a higher national priority.

About Science Debate 2008: Science Debate 2008 (www.sciencedebate2008.com) is a grassroots initiative spearheaded by a growing number of scientists and other concerned citizens to issue a call for a presidential debate on science and technology.
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