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Friday, July 25, 2008

He ventured forth to bring light to the world

And it came to pass, in the eighth year of the reign of the evil Bush the Younger (The Ignorant), when the whole land from the Arabian desert to the shores of the Great Lakes had been laid barren, that a Child appeared in the wilderness.

The Child was blessed in looks and intellect. Scion of a simple family, offspring of a miraculous union, grandson of a typical white person and an African peasant. And yea, as he grew, the Child walked in the path of righteousness, with only the occasional detour into the odd weed and a little blow.

When he was twelve years old, they found him in the temple in the City of Chicago, arguing the finer points of community organisation with the Prophet Jeremiah and the Elders. And the Elders were astonished at what they heard and said among themselves: “Verily, who is this Child that he opens our hearts and minds to the audacity of hope?”

In the great Battles of Caucus and Primary he smote the conniving Hillary, wife of the deposed King Bill the Priapic and their barbarian hordes of Working Class Whites.

And so it was, in the fullness of time, before the harvest month of the appointed year, the Child ventured forth - for the first time - to bring the light unto all the world.

He travelled fleet of foot and light of camel, with a small retinue that consisted only of his loyal disciples from the tribe of the Media. He ventured first to the land of the Hindu Kush, where the

Taleban had harboured the viper of al-Qaeda in their bosom, raining terror on all the world.

And the Child spake and the tribes of Nato immediately loosed the Caveats that had previously bound them. And in the great battle that ensued the forces of the light were triumphant. For as long as the Child stood with his arms raised aloft, the enemy suffered great blows and the threat of terror was no more.

From there he went forth to Mesopotamia where he was received by the great ruler al-Maliki, and al-Maliki spake unto him and blessed his Sixteen Month Troop Withdrawal Plan even as the imperial warrior Petraeus tried to destroy it.

And lo, in Mesopotamia, a miracle occurred. Even though the Great Surge of Armour that the evil Bush had ordered had been a terrible mistake, a waste of vital military resources and doomed to end in disaster, the Child's very presence suddenly brought forth a great victory for the forces of the light.

And the Persians, who saw all this and were greatly fearful, longed to speak with the Child and saw that the Child was the bringer of peace. At the mention of his name they quickly laid aside their intrigues and beat their uranium swords into civil nuclear energy ploughshares.

From there the Child went up to the city of Jerusalem, and entered through the gate seated on an ass. The crowds of network anchors who had followed him from afar cheered “Hosanna” and waved great palm fronds and strewed them at his feet.

In Jerusalem and in surrounding Palestine, the Child spake to the Hebrews and the Arabs, as the Scripture had foretold. And in an instant, the lion lay down with the lamb, and the Israelites and Ishmaelites ended their long enmity and lived for ever after in peace.

As word spread throughout the land about the Child's wondrous works, peoples from all over flocked to hear him; Hittites and Abbasids; Obamacons and McCainiacs; Cameroonians and Blairites.

And they told of strange and wondrous things that greeted the news of the Child's journey. Around the world, global temperatures began to decline, and the ocean levels fell and the great warming was over.

The Great Prophet Algore of Nobel and Oscar, who many had believed was the anointed one, smiled and told his followers that the Child was the one generations had been waiting for.

And there were other wonderful signs. In the city of the Street at the Wall, spreads on interbank interest rates dropped like manna from Heaven and rates on credit default swaps fell to the ground as dead birds from the almond tree, and the people who had lived in foreclosure were able to borrow again.

Black gold gushed from the ground at prices well below $140 per barrel. In hospitals across the land the sick were cured even though they were uninsured. And all because the Child had pronounced it.

And this is the testimony of one who speaks the truth and bears witness to the truth so that you might believe. And he knows it is the truth for he saw it all on CNN and the BBC and in the pages of The New York Times.

Then the Child ventured forth from Israel and Palestine and stepped onto the shores of the Old Continent. In the land of Queen Angela of Merkel, vast multitudes gathered to hear his voice, and he preached to them at length.

But when he had finished speaking his disciples told him the crowd was hungry, for they had had nothing to eat all the hours they had waited for him.

And so the Child told his disciples to fetch some food but all they had was five loaves and a couple of frankfurters. So he took the bread and the frankfurters and blessed them and told his disciples to feed the multitudes. And when all had eaten their fill, the scraps filled twelve baskets.

Thence he travelled west to Mount Sarkozy. Even the beauteous Princess Carla of the tribe of the Bruni was struck by awe and she was great in love with the Child, but he was tempted not.

On the Seventh Day he walked across the Channel of the Angles to the ancient land of the hooligans. There he was welcomed with open arms by the once great prophet Blair and his successor, Gordon the Leper, and his successor, David the Golden One.

And suddenly, with the men appeared the archangel Gabriel and the whole host of the heavenly choir, ranks of cherubim and seraphim, all praising God and singing: “Yes, We Can.”

Original here

McCain's Top Seven Sexist Rants

In a year when the female vote is so important, it might have benefited John McCain if he'd built a little better of a relationship with them over the years. Hillary Clinton's withdrawal from the presidential race created a vacuum among women voters, a group that heavily favored Clinton's bid. While the vast majority of Clinton voters folded neatly in Barack Obama's camp, the adversarial relationship developed during the Democratic primary between the former First Lady and the Illinois Senator makes McCain a natural alternative. However, his history of insulting comments and inappropriate humor toward the demographic might make it difficult to capitalize at all on the scores of women voters marooned by Clinton's departure.

Former Rep. Pat Schroeder, a Colorado Democrat who became well-known and respected for her championing of women's rights during the 1970s and 80s, told the LA Times recently, "He has always had trouble dealing with women as equals." Based on the following collection of McCain incidents- from rape jokes to derogatory slurs- she just might be right.

Calling His Wife a C*nt - In his new book, The Real McCain, Cliff Schecter, a journalist and frequent contributor at the Huffington Post related perhaps the most disturbing of McCain's many well-publicized tirades. During his 1992 reelection bid, the Senator was joined on the campaign trail by his wife, Cindy, his aides, and three journalists who spoke to Schecter on condition of anonymity, but independently confirmed each other's accounts of the incident. Cindy McCain playfully ran her fingers through the Senator's hair and teased, "You're getting a little thin up there." McCain reddened and fired back, "At least I don't plaster on the makeup like a trollup, you cunt." After he'd cooled down, McCain apologized, saying he'd had a long day.

Calling a Young Girl Ugly and Disparaging the Attorney General - In 1998, McCain was speaking before a GOP fundraiser in Washington, D.C. when he asked, "Why is Chelsea Clinton so ugly? Because Janet Reno is her father." The joke was ill-received on many levels- for its offense to the Attorney General, for its offense to the president and his wife. But most of all, for its attack on an eighteen year old girl.

Anyone who has a daughter can tell you that those middle teenage years can be tough. Girls at school can be vicious as it is. But when a national figure makes a predatory attack on a defenseless girl to further his own political causes, it's downright disgusting.

Delegation of Female Air Force Pilots - Former editor of the Arizona Republic, Pat Murphy, wrote a detailed editorial that was carried by a number of different papers in December of 1999. Murphy pointed to an incident in which a delegation interested in expanding opportunities for female pilots visited McCain at his Senate office back in 1991. McCain greeted them by calling them "honey," and "sweetie," and then proceeded to disparage them, calling them "a bunch of Pat Schroeders."

Comparing a US Ally to an Ugly Woman - In an interview with Fox News, McCain aimed his ill-fated humor at our allies, the French. "You know," he began, "the French remind me a little bit of an aging actress of the 1940s who is still trying to dine out on her looks but doesn't have the face for it." This is a country that is heavily involved in the Afghan conflict- in particular, they're training Afghan soldiers to reduce the burden on the US military. McCain's questionable comments raised some a measured ruckus in both foreign and domestic circles, calling the Senator's diplomatic skills into question. But additionally, it was a comment that both objectified and demeaned women, clearly devaluing women by insulting those who don't "have the face," according to McCain's standards. By the way, let's be honest...John McCain isn't exactly an Adonis.

Rape Joke - Back in 1986, The Tuscon Citizen reported that McCain, running for his first term in the Senate, thought he'd try out some new material. Speaking before the National League of Cities and Towns in Washington, D.C. McCain cracked, "Did you hear the one about the woman who is attacked on the street by a gorilla, beaten senseless, raped repeatedly and left to die? When she finally regains consciousness and tries to speak, her doctor leans over to hear her sigh contently and to feebly ask, ‘Where is that marvelous ape?'"

That's not all. In 1990, one of McCain's top fundraisers, former Texas GOP Gubernatorial candidate Clayton Williams made a rape joke of his own. Likening the experience of being raped to bad weather, he said, "as long as it's inevitable, you might as well lie back and enjoy it."

Rape jokes tend not to go over well. But while McCain survived the initial scandal, the blowback seems to have survived the 22 year gap. The story was recently unearthed and reported by a variety of online and in-print publications.

Wife Beating Joke - In a June, 2008 interview with ABC News senior national correspondent Jake Tapper, McCain was asked why he had passed over Nevada's Republican Governor Jim Gibbons when choosing his state campaign chair (traditionally, the first choice if the governor and the presidential nominee are members of the same party). McCain explained that he had a longstanding relationship with the state's lieutenant governor, and that his choice was not a snub of any kind. Pressing the subject, Tapper asked whether McCain had passed over Gibbons as a result of the governor's relatively low approval ratings.

"And I stopped beating my wife just a couple of weeks ago," McCain laughed.

The reference is to what Tapper refers to as a "distasteful bit of DC yuckery so commonly quoted its hackneyed."

Despite the widespread news stories on it in Nevada, it's possible that McCain hadn't heard about Gibbons' recent high-profile divorce, stemming from multiple charges of infidelity. Moreover, a cocktail waitress accused Gibbons of grabbing and threatening her with sexual assault in a parking garage.

In Tapper's words: "Awkward."

Opposing Equal Roles for Women in the Military - Following the end of the Gulf War in 1991, a large contingent of women in the military were pushing for increased rolls. McCain bristled at the idea, and spoke out publicly against it. "The purpose of the military is first to defend this nation's vital security interests throughout the globe and only second to ensure equality."

Original here

Obama Cancels Military Base Visit: "Inappropriate"

"We learned from the Pentagon last night that the visit would be viewed instead as a campaign event," the adviser, retired Air Force Maj. Gen. Scott Gration, said in a statement.

"Senator Obama did not want to have a trip to see our wounded warriors perceived as a campaign event when his visit was to show his appreciation for our troops and decided instead not to go."

Reuters has more from the Pentagon:

The Pentagon in a statement cited longstanding Defense Department policy that prohibits military personnel or facilities from association with partisan political campaigns and elections.

"We told him he could visit Landstuhl (Regional Medical Center in western Germany) with his Senate staff, but not with his campaign staff," said Army Lt. Col. Elizabeth Hibner.

John McCain, whose spokesman said Obama was "wrong" to cancel the visit, knows about this policy. His campaign explicitly referred to it during his "Service to America" tour:

With Department of Defense rules prohibiting political campaigning on military bases, it was determined that in some cases McCain could visit the installations as a senator but could not engage in any political activity or have news media present.

McCain campaign officials said Thursday they intentionally did not campaign on military property.

"We follow the rules," said senior McCain adviser Steve Schmidt.

ABC News reports that Barack Obama was planning to visit two U.S. military bases in Germany, but decided it wasn't the right time:

The German magazine Der Spiegel is reporting on line that Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill. has "cancelled a planned short visit to the Rammstein and Landstuhl U.S. military bases in the southwest German state of Rhineland-Palatinate. The visits were planned for Friday."

"Barack Obama will not be coming to us," a spokesperson for the U.S. military hospital in Landstuhl told Der Spiegel. "I don't know why."

Obama senior adviser Robert Gibbs told us in a statement, "During his trip as part of the CODEL to Afghanistan and Iraq, Senator Obama visited the combat support hospital in the Green Zone in Baghdad and had a number of other visits with the troops. For the second part of his trip, the senator wanted to visit the men and women at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center to express his gratitude for their service and sacrifice. The senator decided out of respect for these servicemen and women that it would be inappropriate to make a stop to visit troops at a U.S. military facility as part of a trip funded by the campaign."

John McCain's campaign has been quick to call most of Obama's activity abroad inappropriate. Now that Obama has chosen not to do something, you might think they would be pleased. But you would be mistaken:

"Barack Obama is wrong. It is never 'inappropriate' to visit our men and women in the military," McCain spokesman Brian Rogers said in response to the news.

Original here

McCain Blows Off WSJ Reporter (VIDEO)

John McCain's famously cozy relationship with the press is getting a bit testy. Taking questions in Columbus, Ohio, on Thursday the Arizona Republican blew off Wall Street Journal reporter Elizabeth Holmes, right after she stated her name and affiliation.

"Who else has a question," McCain interjected, before calling on a journalist with CNN. (For some comedy, watch Sen. Lindsay Graham's face on the far right of the screen after McCain shoots down Holmes.)

Later in the press availability, McCain went back to Holmes for her question. But another reporter told the Huffington Post that the brush off was legitimate and the message was clear: "He was definitively dissing her."

Holmes did not return a request for comment, but it should be noted that the exchange occurred after her name appeared on two recent articles that the McCain campaign likely viewed as critical. On Wednesday, Holmes co-authored a piece titled "News Coverage Of Obama Irks McCain Team."

"John McCain used to jokingly call the media 'my base.' Now, he and his aides are becoming increasingly frustrated with what they see as a growing press infatuation with his rival, Barack Obama."

That same day, her byline was on an article titled: "Consensus May Be Nearing on Iraq Pullout," undoubtedly a foreign policy frame that the McCain campaign is loathe to acknowledge.

The relationship between McCain and the fourth estate has come under some strain during the past week. The Senator, who has a lengthy track record of respect for the press, has unleashed his aides to publicly air grievances with what they see as fawning coverage of Barack Obama. This past week, the campaign handed out JV Press Passes to reporters who didn't cover the Illinois Democrat's trip overseas.

At the same time, Obama - who is much more closed-off to the media than McCain - has, himself, begun to stir the ire of the press pool. The New Republic reported Thursday night that the Senator's staff had been stifling their inquiries and airing complaints about coverage.

Reporters are grumbling more and more that the campaign is acting like the Prom Queen. They gripe that it is "arrogant" and "control[ling]," and the campaign's own belief that Obama is poised to make history isn't endearing, either. The press certainly helped Obama get so far so fast; the question is, how far can he get if his campaign alienates them?

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War President McCain

Last weekend, when Iraq's prime minister supported Senator Obama's timetable for withdrawing American troops, John McCain's national security adviser, Randy Scheunemann, countered: "Timing is not as important as whether we leave with victory and honor, which is of no apparent concern to Barack Obama." Scheunemann also said: "The American people deserve a commander-in-chief who puts their country first ahead of party, politics and self-interest."

McCain is emulating Nixon's 1968 election strategy, which got him elected while successfully concealing his actual war plans. McCain is not as diabolical as Nixon, but he remains ideologically confined by the same faulty hawkish logic the U.S. used to lose the Vietnam War.
Senator McCain, to many Americans, seems trustworthy, particularly on war matters. In an ABC News/Washington Post poll this July, 72 percent of adults surveyed viewed the Vietnam War POW as a good supreme commander of the military, while only 48 percent thought the same about Obama.

By guaranteeing victory with honor, McCain has boosted his standing and curtailed scrutiny of himself as a potential commander-in-chief. Richard Nixon received the same 'Don't-Question-Him' treatment in 1968 with a promise "to end the war and win the peace." A year into Nixon's presidency (halfway through the 3,630 covert B-52 bombings over Cambodia, codenamed "Operation Menu"), he enjoyed a 71% approval rating. In fact, McCain's entire war strategy relies upon Nixonian political logic: Americans will vote for the candidate who won't countenance defeat not because they're attached to the country we're liberating, but because they can't accept that many American lives may have been lost without purpose.

McCain's military outlook bears a striking resemblance to Nixon's via his advisers. McCain claims Henry Kissinger as his most important national security mentor. McCain's other main national security adviser, John Lehman, served on Kissinger's staff during the Nixon presidency. McCain and Lehman and the neo-con Schneuemann have embraced Nixon's belief that if public confidence can be maintained, American military power will compel surrender.

Like Kissinger today, McCain's top national security advisers have their personal economic interests mixed up with the America's. Scheunemann picked a bad week to talk about putting country ahead of self-interest, given his role in an unfolding war-profiteering scandal. As a member of Worldwide Strategic Partner's executive team, Scheunemann offered to sell his White House connections to the leaders of Kazakhstan, Georgia, etc. in exchange for oil leases in those countries. Scheunemann's early, successful lobbying for the U.S. to go to war with Iraq is cited in Worldwide Strategic Partner's sales brochure as proof that Scheunemann can deliver the political goods.

Finally, McCain's strategy for Iraq can be seen as an extension of his greatest and earliest mentor: his father, Admiral McCain. The elder McCain was both Nixon's and Kissinger's go-to briefer when each wanted to convince the other to up the military ante in Vietnam. Admiral McCain, an ardent advocate of the Cambodian carpet bombings, was included in Nixon's backdoor channel that circumvented the Pentagon hierarchy. He was the most hawkish among the most hawks, urging on Nixon's secret nuclear brinksmanship. *

Senator McCain is as optimistic about winning wars as his father was. In 1972, upon his retirement, Admiral McCain wrote an op-ed for The New York Times that claimed: "President Nixon's plan to reduce the total United States troop commitment in South Vietnam is a result of our confidence that the South Vietnamese can continue to improve their capability for their own defense. We are seeing a much-improved South Vietnamese fighting force. The South Vietnamese are doing sound military planning; the South Vietnamese Army has come of age; and the South Vietnamese Air Force is playing a steadily growing role in support of South Vietnamese Army ground forces. Vietnamization is successful."

If Admiral McCain believed this, he was the only top American official who did. By then the author of the Vietnamization strategy, General Creighton Abrams, was privately calling it "Slow Surrender." Nixon and Kissinger were cynically seeking "a decent interval" between the time American troops returned home "with honor" and the moment when the South Vietnamese military would be crushed.

Senator McCain patriotism has both old-fashioned and Born-again qualities. As he's written, he survived as a POW by rediscovering his love for his country. This faith in America seems to have come at the cost of comprehending the enemy. The military historian John Karaagac explains in his biography of McCain: "Captives cannot afford to sympathize with their captors, who are trying to win over the 'political prisoners' through calibrated game manipulation, payoff and punishment. Perhaps for this reason, discussion of politics surrounding the war was something of a taboo subject in the POW environment, as it was on the carriers: it damaged the larger, collective morale."

When McCain returned home, he asked to attend the National War College, but was told that his rank didn't qualify him. He went over his superior's head to the-then Secretary of the Navy, John Warner, who was his father's friend. Warner got him admitted. In his War College thesis, McCain wrote exclusively about his own POW experience and concluded that in the future, soldiers should be more politically educated about the cause for which they're fighting so they can be resolute if captured. But his thesis cites nothing -- no articles, no books, no one -- to indicate that McCain himself used his time at the college to reflect on why the U.S. fought in Vietnam and whether the country, including our military, were misled. In this sense Senator McCain, with all due respect for his great courage as a POW, remains a prisoner of the Vietnam War.

McCain's current guarantee of victory with honor appeals to magical thinking. He asserts: "Understand this: When I am commander-in-chief, there will be nowhere the terrorists can run, and nowhere they can hide." Put another way, McCain is promising that American forces will constantly scour the globe to annihilate terrorism for good. He wants to kick Russia out of the G8 (a much more hostile stance than George W. Bush's) and hold China at arm's length. Meanwhile we'll keep permanent bases in countries like Iraq, just as we did during the Cold War. McCain calls withdrawal from Iraq a "morally reprehensible abandonment of our responsibilities." His faith in America's transcendent moral destiny is a mirror image of the terrorists' paranoid nihilism, and hence a boon to their cause.

Like Nixon, McCain is a complicated man, but fundamentally pugnacious. If he's elected president, he'll surely find no shortage of wars he is dying to win. And no shortage of war profiteers eager to advise him.

Original here

Bush: ‘No regime should ignore the will of its own people.’»

In a statement regarding new sanctions against Zimbabwe today, President Bush declares that “no regime should ignore the will of its own people“:

The regime has also continued its ban against NGO activities that would provide assistance to the suffering and vulnerable people of Zimbabwe. No regime should ignore the will of its own people and calls from the international community without consequences.

TPM’s Eric Kleefeld notes the irony of the Bush administration, which proudly ignores public opinion in the United States, instructing other countries to listen to “the will of its own people.” Kleefeld suggests that the administration look at “the direction of polling data at home — not to mention international opinion — showing that people want a timetable to withdraw from Iraq.”

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O’Reilly, Ingraham: Saying That U.S. Tortures Is ‘One Of The Most Hateful Stereotypes About America’»

Last night on the O’Reilly Factor, host Bill O’Reilly and guest Laura Ingraham slammed Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) for declaring in Berlin yesterday that the U.S. will “reject torture and stand for the rule of law.” “Enough is enough with this torture nonsense,” O’Reilly whined, declaring it “rank anti-American propaganda” to claim the U.S. has tortured people.

Ingraham agreed, calling the claim “ridiculous.” She was furious he mentioned torture while abroad:

INGRAHAM: He got up there in front of 200,000 people and he glommed on to one of the most ridiculous and one of the hateful stereotypes about America, which is that we torture. The fact that he did that on foreign soil I think is absolutely atrocious.

O’REILLY: I pointed it out and I feel the way you do. He should absolutely not mention — that’s ridiculous.

IGRAHAM: I mean, come on! That was torture, thank you very much.

Watch it:

It is ironic that O’Reilly and Ingraham dismissed claims of torture as a “ridiculous” “stereotype” and “rank anti-American propaganda” yesterday, when just hours before broadcast, the ACLU had released yet another White House legal memo that specifically authorized torture of detainees. The 2002 memo describes a “loophole” determining that torture is only illegal if the interrogator has a “specific intent” to cause severe pain.

In fact, the memo’s author, Jay Bybee, declared that as long as an interrogator acted with a “good faith belief” that his actions would not cause torturous pain and suffering, he has not violated the law. What’s more, Bybee wrote, “an honest belief need not be reasonable.”

O’Reilly’s own views on torture notwithstanding, it’s clear that torture constituted the express policy of the Bush administration — and whether Obama discusses it or not won’t change that fact.

Original here

McCain Praises Bush for Wrecking the Economy

McCain apparently isn't as tech ignorant as we think. Like most Republicans, he appears to be getting all his news from chain emails, because he's parroting the latest talking point that's been propagating down the pipe that brought previous bits of GOP misdirection.

Earlier, campaigning in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., McCain credited the recent $10-a-barrel drop in the price of oil to President Bush's lifting of a presidential ban on offshore drilling, an action he has been advocating in his presidential campaign.

See, we didn't even have to drill to lower the price of oil, we only had to talk about it. Which has to make you wonder why Bush didn't bother to remove the executive ban until after Republicans had decided to make oil the focus of their campaign. (Oh yeah, and how is it that Democrats kept oil companies from saving us when Bush left the executive ban in effect until now?)

What's the real reason oil prices are falling?

"The worries about demand erosion in the U.S. and an economic slowdown are really pulling prices down," said Victor Shum, an energy analyst with consulting firm Purvin & Gertz Inc. in Singapore.

The Energy Department's report also showed that U.S. gasoline stockpiles jumped 2.9 million barrels last week, far more than analysts surveyed by energy research firm Platts predicted. The decline in crude inventories was less than forecast.

So congratulations to McCain, Bush, and the Republicans! They've reduced oil prices by wrecking the economy to the point where demand is falling. I guess that's one way to satisfy the supply/demand equation.

Don't worry, none of this will make the email.

Original here

Poll: Americans would rather not live next to Limbaugh or O’Reilly.»

A new poll put out by U.S. News and World Report asked respondents, “You just rented a vacation home on Martha’s Vineyard where the political and media elite go. Who is the last person you want as a summer neighbor?” A majority (53 percent) said right wing talker Rush Limbaugh. Fox News blowhard Bill O’Reilly came in second at 20 percent while MSNBC’s Keith Olbermann (14 percent) and Chris Matthews (13 percent) rounded out the bottom half.

Original here

Fox’s Kilmeade confuses bin Laden and Obama twice in five seconds.»

On today’s Brian and the Judge radio show, Fox News host Brian Kilmeade twice confused Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) and Osama bin Laden — within five seconds. Even after catching himself, Kilmeade immediately makes the mistake again:

KILMEADE: Michael, first off, is Bin Laden — excuse me, uh, is Osama — uh, is Barack Obama right when he says the central location of the war on terror is in Afghanistan?

Listen here:

Original here

The Barbeque Media Wants Senator Obama To Win? That's Rich.

As we have observed throughout the last several years, the notion of fairness in journalism has been guided by a miscalculated rule that in order to report good news about a liberal or a liberal success, news reporting has to be counterbalanced either with unearned praise for conservatives or trumped up and parroted negative news about the aforementioned liberal or liberal success. Oh, and the reverse doesn't apply. That's the rule.

And so now that Senator Obama's Berlin address is in the can, get ready for the backlash from the very serious corporate media. Get ready for profuse around-the-clock praise of Senator McCain and/or unfair, invented criticism of Senator Obama. Because reporting the news, however accurate, about Senator Obama's successful trip to the Middle East and Europe isn't news. It's obviously biased reporting against the McCain campaign.

That's all we've heard from the McBush Republicans this week: griping about the press coverage of Senator Obama's trip, as if such an epic event isn't newsworthy. Although I'm sure the McBush camp would've been thrilled about such wall-to-wall coverage if Reverend Wright had been spazzing out on the wing of the Obama campaign jet, ripping it to shreds Twilight Zone style -- Rezko and Ayers running around in turbans spray-painting "clinging to guns" on the side of General Petraeus' helicopter.

And it appears as if the McCain campaign's Gripe Surge is working:

HANNITY: Scott Rasmussen has a poll, 49 percent of Americans think the media is trying to help Barack Obama win. Only 14 percent think they're trying to help you win.

MCCAIN: The American people are very wise.

When the press aired the Wright videos around the clock for approximately six weeks while continuing to refer to Senator Obama as "Osama bin Laden," they've clearly been employing some kind of magic or trickery -- some kind of scary reverse psychology. You know, to help Senator Obama. Thankfully the American people were "wise" to it.

The McCain campaign even turned their griping into a web video this week to prove that the corporate media loves Senator Obama more than they love Senator McCain. Setting aside the idea of a web video from the campaign of a man who is just now learning how to "get online," it's staggeringly desperate and ridiculous of them to produce such a thing. Reason the first: because the content of the video, apart from Chris Matthews "leg thrill" remark, is mostly just reporters saying things like, Is the media in love with Obama? which, of course, doesn't prove a damn thing one way or the other. And, reason the second: because this other web video exists:

But several days of crotchety griping from both far-right talk radio and the McCain campaign has begun to show results. Here's how.

On Tuesday's edition of Morning Joe, Mika Brzeznski, Andrea Mitchell and Very Serious Mark Halperin (who publicly encouraged Senator McCain to convince people that Senator Obama is a terrorist) agreed that after three days of reporting the actual news that Senator Obama's overseas visit was successful, they should deliberately attempt to "trip him up" -- to "hold him accountable." Oh yeah? For what? We're gonna hold him accountable for not screwing the pooch on this trip -- the rat bastard! We're very serious! Barack's a Muslim terrorist [Halperin only]!

Then CBS News, showing its obvious penchant for wanting Senator Obama to win, edited out Senator McCain's laughable error with regards to the Anbar Awakening -- another in an on-going syllabus of McCain ignorance, which further proves that he's really not the Mighty Old Man of Awesome Foreign Policy Experience and Balls. Suggesting that there's such a thing as an Iraq/Pakistan border in a Today Show interview on Monday didn't help either.

But as the rule goes, the only way the corporate press (Olbermann, Maddow and the like excluded) can make a beef about these things would be to find a similar gaffe or mistake by Senator Obama and report on that first. And since nothing recent exists... Pass! Next!

And today, the word of the day in the corporate press is... "presumptuous." Used in a sentence: Senator Obama is being presumptuous during his trip -- acting all presidential and dignified. How dare he be presidential while running for, you know, president. Presumptuous. During the live CNN web feed of the Berlin address, an anchor used it to describe the event. Joe Klein used it in a blog post today. Of course Joe attributed it to racist voters rather than very serious reporters -- racist because it's presumably a synonym for 'uppity' and we can't accuse the press of such awfulness. And Candy Crowley used it in her post-address analysis on CNN. That's a lot of coincidences. "Presumptuous" must really be a popular word. Odd that it's being used so often by people who want Senator Obama to win.

AP: "In a speech that risked being seen as presumptuous..."

TIME Magazine: "capable to become the Commander in Chief of a superpower -- without seeming presumptuous..."

The National Journal: "He is well aware voters here at home might see that as presumptuous..."

Washington Post: "Whether by the end of this week he will be seen as presumptuous or overly cocky..."

Chicago Tribune: "That means walking the fine line between looking presidential and appearing arrogant and presumptuous..."

Boston Globe: "plus the growing sense in some quarters that the presumptive Democratic nominee is getting a little presumptuous..."

Can you feel the wanting-Obama-to-win love radiating off your computer screen? No?

The reality is that positive coverage of any Democrat is limited and temporary for fear of networks and newspapers either being accused of liberal bias or being tossed out of the very serious barbeque loop. Regardless of whether the Democrat, in this case Senator Obama, is having a good day, it's somehow unethical to report on such good news for too long without deliberately concocting an antidote to appease the far-right. So rather than standing up as the only industry explicitly named in the Constitution and defending the very basic idea of journalistic integrity, the corporate media is all too quick to capitulate to these specious Republican attacks -- that is, when they're not tossing their ethics aside and taking bribes in the form of barbeque and McBusch beer from a candidate whom they're supposed to be covering objectively.

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Giuliani: ‘It’s Natural’ Troops Watch Fox News Because Fox Covers Iraq ‘In A More Balanced Way’»

While chatting with reporters on his press plane this week, Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL), noting that many of the televisions at army bases in Iraq and Afghanistan were tuned to Fox News, jokingly asked, “Is this the commander in chief’s choice?” Missing the joke, the Fox and Friends denounced Obama’s “implication” that the Bush administration was “brainwashing” the troops.

At the same time, the Fox hosts insisted that it made perfect sense that soldiers overseas would prefer Fox News because “they’re getting a fair and balanced approach” to the war. Guest Rudy Giuliani declared that if Obama “has any understanding of how American troops think,” he’d know they feel that they “get a better shake on Fox” than the other “anti-military” networks:

GIULIANI: I mean, if he has any understanding of how American troops think, it would be natural that a large percentage of them would watch Fox. There’s the sense that Fox covers the war in Iraq and the situation in Iraq in a more balanced way. … But if you talk to enough of the troops there or their offices, and not 100% but you are going to see a very large percentage of them believe they get a better shake on Fox than some of the other networks some of which I think they believe is anti-military.

Watch a compilation of Fox and Friends’ coverage of the story this morning:

The Fox anchors repeatedly declared that the military offers “all cable channels.” However, when Brian Kilmeade checked with a source in Gen. Petraeus’ office, he reported that the military televisions offer “AFN [American Forces Network] news, which cycles through the various news broadcasts, and you can also get CNN International, and then we have Fox.” In other words, Fox is the only stateside American network accessible around the clock.

Host Steve Doocy comically asserted, “The best coverage of the war was on Fox.” A Project for Excellence in Journalism report in March found that Fox spent the least time discussing the Iraq War in 2007 of all three cable networks, devoting just 10 percent of airtime to the subject. Similarly, in 2006 Fox spent the least time on the war — giving it hardly any more coverage than it gave to Anna Nicole Smith.

A 2003 study by the Program on International Policy found that 60 percent of Fox viewers erroneously believed at least one of the following misperceptions: that Iraq and al Qaeda were linked, that weapons of mass destruction had been found in Iraq, or that the world favored the U.S. invasion.

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Chuck Hagel: Quit Talking About The Surge, Focus On War's Future

OMAHA, Neb. — Republican Sen. Chuck Hagel, fresh from an Iraq trip with Democrat Barack Obama, said the presidential candidates should focus on the war's future and stop arguing over the success of last year's troop surge.

Hagel mentioned both candidates, but his comments seemed directed at Republican John McCain. McCain, while Obama traveled the Middle East, attacked Obama for opposing the military escalation last year that increased security in Iraq.

"Quit talking about, 'Did the surge work or not work,' or, 'Did you vote for this or support this,'" Hagel said Thursday on a conference call with reporters.

"Get out of that. We're done with that. How are we going to project forward?" the Nebraska senator said. "What are we going to do for the next four years to protect the interest of America and our allies and restructure a new order in the world. ... That's what America needs to hear from these two candidates. And that's where I am."

Hagel, too, opposed the troop increase strategy, though he acknowledged Thursday it brought about positive changes. "When you flood the zone with superior American military firepower, and you put 30,000 of the world's best troops in a country, there's going to be a result there," Hagel said.

Whether the surge worked, though, can't be measured, Hagel said, arguing the small gains came at a high price. He said President Bush's decision last year to dispatch an additional 30,000 troops to Iraq has cost more than 1,000 American lives and billions of dollars.

Though Hagel is a Republican, his name has been floated as a potential vice presidential running mate for Obama. Like McCain, he is a Vietnam war veteran, but Hagel is a fierce critic of the war in Iraq. He has said he would consider running with Obama on the Democratic ticket but that he doesn't expect to be asked. He is not running for reelection.

Hagel joined Democratic Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island in traveling with Obama to the Middle East. Reed said the trip was productive. "It wasn't just a photo op and social chit chat," Reed said in a telephone interview.

Reed said the group pressed Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki to have the Iraqi government do more.

"Unless the government of Iraq can start delivering _ delivering jobs, delivering funds, performing _ then the gains that have been made will be quickly erased," Reed said. "I think that is a point that we all stressed, particularly Senator Obama, with the prime minister."


Associated Press Writer Andrew Miga in Washington contributed to this report.

(This version CORRECTS that Hagel has said in the past, not Thursday, he would run.)

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Lawyer: In denying role in Siegelman case, Rove 'actually incriminated himself'

Although Karl Rove has repeatedly refused to testify under oath before the House Judiciary Committee about the prosecution of former Alabama Governor Don Siegelman, he has now sent a letter to a Republican member of the committee denying any involvement in the case.

In that letter, Rove writes, "I have never communicated, either directly or indirectly, with Justice Department or Alabama officials about the investigation, indictment, potential prosecution, prosecution, conviction, or sentencing of Governor Siegelman, or about any other matter related to his case, nor have I asked any other individual to communicate about these matters on my behalf. I have never attempted, either directly or indirectly, to influence these matters."

"Sounds like a firm denial," began MSNBC's Don Abrams in commenting on the letter. However, he immediately pointed out that "Rove did not address specifically the question of whether he contacted any non-government officials about the case -- and specifically, whether he ever spoke to his old friend Bill Canary ... an influential Republican in Alabama who just happens to be married to the US Attorney Leura Canary whose office brought the case against Siegelman."

Abrams then asked Siegelman himself about Rove's charge that he "has not offered a single piece of evidence that I played any role whatsoever in his case" and that "before giving credence to Siegelman's baseless allegations of impropriety, the committee should require Siegelman to substantiate his allegations."

"We know that this Department of Justice has been political," Siegelman replied. "David Iglesias ... was fired because he refused to file a case against a Democrat right before an election. And I know that my case was politically motivated."

"It's a fair question about selective prosecution," Abrams agreed. "But you haven't responded yet to the question specifically that Rove lays out ... that you have not offered a single piece of evidence with regard to your case that Karl Rove was involved."

"There has been sworn testimony before the United States Congress Judiciary Committee by a Republican lawyer," Siegelman answered, referring to whistleblower Dana Jill Simpson.

Abrams noted that Rove has raised questions about Simpson's credibility. "But does that change the fact that he hasn't testified in front of Congress?" he asked, turning for comment to former House Judiciary Committee counsel Julian Epstein.

"I think what the Republicans tried to do with this letter is to give Rove an excuse for not coming before the [Judiciary] Committee," Epstein replied. "'Let's send him a softball letter, he can send us evasive answers, and then we can pretend that he's actually responded to the Committee.'"

Epstein further pointed out that Rove "actually incriminated ... himself in the answer, because he distinctly refused to answer the question about whether he had contacted other individuals ... about this case. Did he contact the husband of the prosecutor? Did he contact the son of [Governor Bob Riley]?"

"Even Republicans off camera will agree that the case on Don Siegelman was a case that was fixed," Epstein continued. "I think what will happen with the Judiciary Committee now is they're going to proceed with this, they'll go in and file civil contempt in a federal court. I don't think this will get resolved in the next six months ... but I think this will get resolved at the end of the day."

"The Bill Canary thing, I think, is the key question here," Abrams emphasized in conclusion.

This video is from MSNBC's Verdict, broadcast July 24, 2008.

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Traders manipulated oil prices - U.S.

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NEW YORK ( -- The government charged an oil trading firm Thursday with manipulating oil prices in the first complaint to be announced since the regulators began a new investigation into wrongdoings in the energy markets.

The Commodity Futures Trading Commission accused Optiver Holding, two of its subsidiaries and three employees with manipulation and attempted manipulation of crude oil, heating oil and gasoline futures on the New York Mercantile Exchange.

"Optiver traders amassed large trading positions, then conducted trades in such a way to bully and hammer the markets," CFTC Acting Chairman Walt Lukken said at a press conference. "These charges go to the heart of the CFTC's core mission of detecting and rooting out illegal manipulation of the markets."

In May, under the backdrop of record oil prices and calls from legislators to crack down on speculative oil trading and market manipulation, the CFTC announced a wide-ranging probe into oil price manipulation. The agency says it has dozens of investigations ongoing.

The complaint filed Thursday names Bastiaan van Kempen, chief executive; Christopher Dowson, a head trader; and Randal Meijer, head of trading at an Optiver subsidiary.

The CFTC said the firm attempted to "bang the close" by amassing large positions just before markets closed - forcing prices up - then selling them quickly to drive prices down and pocketing the difference.

The alleged manipulation was attempted 19 times on 11 days in March 2007, the agency said. In at least five of those 19 times, traders succeeded in driving prices higher twice and lower three times, according to the CFTC.

Optiver issued a written statement saying the firm had received the complaint.

"We take the Commission's action very seriously, and are treating it with utmost attention and care," said the statement. "Obviously, we cannot comment further until we have had the opportunity to review the complaint."

CFTC stressed that the price changes were small and the manipulation was isolated, and that the investigation has nothing to do with the recent heat the agency has taken on Capitol Hill over rising oil prices.

Traders in the spotlight

CFTC has repeatedly said that speculators are not to blame for rising oil prices, and any cases of price manipulation - such as the one brought Thursday - have only a small, if any, effect on oil prices.

The CFTC is the government's main regulator of commodity markets. Its officials have been hauled before Congress and asked repeatedly whether manipulation or excessive speculation is playing a role in record oil prices.

Repeatedly, CFTC experts have said they have found no evidence that speculators - investors who do not ultimately use crude oil - are to blame for the rising prices. They say trading information shows no correlation between investment activity and price swings.

Others, such as the International Energy Agency, have also said speculators are not to blame. They've pointed to other non-traded commodities that have risen in price even faster than oil, and to the fact that there is no evidence of a bubble, such as excess oil sitting around in storage.

Still, the correlation of a four-fold increase of investment money into oil futures and a four-fold increase in oil prices since 2004 has not gone unnoticed. Many lawmakers, consumer rights advocates and even some oil industry analysts say speculation is at least partly to blame.

Against that backdrop, the CFTC has been ordered to investigate the matter more thoroughly and dozens of investigations are underway. The agency may soon be given a bigger staff and wider powers under bills being debated in Congress.

Over the years, the CFTC has found isolated incidents of price manipulation - when an oil producer controls products to influence prices - or other cases of wrongdoing. Since 2002, the agency has charged 66 defendants with energy market violations.

In a recent case, BP settled a suit that alleged the company tried to corner the propane market to inflate prices in 2003 and 2004. BP agreed to pay a $303 million settlement.

But overall, most experts say the incidents are so scattered, and the energy market so large, that it's unlikely a single trader or group of traders can have substantial sway over prices.

Correction: An earlier version of the story said indictments have been brought against the company and some of its employees. The charges are civil, not criminal.

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McCain Forgets Canada In Obama Attack

In an interview with NBC's Kelly O'Donnell airing tonight, John McCain questioned Barack Obama's decision to give a speech in Berlin while he's still a candidate. But MSNBC points out that he's forgetting a recent speech of his own:

"I would rather speak at a rally or a political gathering any place outside of the country after I am president of the United States," McCain told O'Donnell. "But that's a judgment that Sen. Obama and the American people will make."

However, on June 20, McCain himself gave a speech in Canada -- to the Economic Club of Canada -- in which he applauded NAFTA's successes. An implicit message behind that speech was that Obama had been critical of the trade accord. Also, McCain's trip to Canada was paid for by the campaign.

In fact, an ambassador's role in organizing McCain's speech led some Democrats to argue that he was violating the Hatch Act.

Watch the video:

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