Tuesday, August 12, 2008

McCain Camp Lies About Nevada Nuclear Waste Dump

On Saturday, the Obama campaign released a new ad criticizing John McCain's support for turning southern Nevada's Yucca Mountain into the nation's nuclear waste dump.

This is a huge issue here in Nevada, and McCain is on the wrong side. His support for Yucca will almost certainly cost him the state in November.

So how is McCain responding to the new ad? Simple -- he's doing the only thing Bush Republicans know how to do: he's lying about Barack Obama's record.

Through the GOP, the McCain campaign is now claiming -- entirely falsely -- that Barack Obama actually supports dumping nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain. Their evidence? Two votes from 2005 which funded energy and water programs throughout the nation.

But even though these votes approved some funding for programs at Yucca Mountain, they were not votes in favor of the project.

Indeed, both Nevada senators -- each of whom strongly oppose Yucca -- voted for the legislation (roll calls #172 and #321 in 2005).

Ironically, McCain voted against one of the bills and for the other. So by his own logic, I guess that means John McCain was against dumping waste in Nevada before he was for it.

::: :::

Update - Here's the Obama ad criticizing McCain for supporting the nation's nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain:

YouTube link

And here's local coverage of McCain's June 25 visit to Nevada during which he was dogged by the Yucca issue:

Original here

BREAKING NEWS: The Footage Barack Obama Doesn't Want You to See - Do the Letters "RR" Mean Anything to You?

POSTED BY: CubbyChaser

Well, we all knew it was inevitable.

Eventually, video would emerge which would completely destroy all the Obamaniac's dreams of a Hopey America.

And here it is...

Looks like John McCain is a shoo-in to win the election now.

Otiginal here

The Media-Created Myth That Veterans Love McCain

Of all the over-blown media-created narratives in this presidential race, one of the most easily debunked is the notion that John McCain (R) is very popular among veterans, just as Barack Obama (D) is especially popular with young voters, or that Hillary Clinton (D) was with older female voters, or as Mike Huckabee (R) was with Evangelical voters.

First, anecdotally, check out yesterday's story in the Las Vegas Sun following McCain's event with disabled veterans in Las Vegas on Saturday. The title of the story is McCain’s Attacks On Rival Fall Flat With Vets Group.

Here's an excerpt:

Sen. John McCain, speaking to disabled veterans Saturday in Las Vegas, attacked his Democratic opponent, Sen. Barack Obama, for his foreign policy record, while also proposing a program that would allow veterans to acquire health care at private hospitals and not just through the Veterans Affairs Department.

The veterans, at Bally’s for their national convention, gave him a tepid reception, especially considering McCain’s life story. The Arizona senator was a Navy pilot shot down over Vietnam, tortured and held as a prisoner of war for 5 1/2 years.

Just one of 14 veterans interviewed by the Sun after his speech said he is a certain McCain voter, and the nonpartisan group’s legislative director expressed concerns about McCain’s proposed “Veterans’ Care Access Card.”

And what did the actual veterans have to say about Maverick?

Other veterans, such as James Jewett and Jay Johnson of Texas, expressed misgivings about McCain using the occasion to attack his opponent so fiercely.

Duke Hendershot, a double amputee retired Marine who served in Vietnam, supported McCain’s run for president in 2000 but is undecided this year.

“John just isn’t the same as he used to be. He’s not his own man,” said Hendershot, who lives in San Antonio, Texas. “A lot of that has to do with how he’s wanted this job so bad for so long that he’s tied himself to President Bush.”

He said McCain’s embrace of Bush, whom Hendershot called a “draft-dodging coward,” is even more perplexing because of the rivalry between the two candidates during the 2000 campaign.

Hendershot also criticized McCain for taking swipes at Obama in his speech. “He should have been talking about veterans issues, not his opponent,” he said.

By contrast, he praised Obama for keeping his remarks tightly focused on veterans. The Democrat gave taped remarks via video.

But there's actually nothing new about this, as a number of veterans groups have been very critical of McCain's record and have awarded him much lower scores than Barack Obama (D) on the issues most important to them. Vet Voice has been reporting about this growing chasm for a long time.

Last month, FactCheck.org took McCain to task for his recent assertion, "I have a perfect voting record from organizations like the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion and all the other veterans' service organizations," as being simply untrue:

He said that he had "a perfect voting record from organizations like the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the American Legion." But we called both of those groups, and they told us they don't even release congressional scorecards. In fact, the American Legion's constitution prohibits it.

...McCain doesn’t have a perfect score with DAV (Disabled American Veterans), a group of 1.3 million disabled veterans that supports more funding for veterans health care. McCain has a 20 percent record of voting the way DAV would like him to in 2006.

Apparently, these things haven't stopped the media from pushing the narrative that veterans are with McCain.

But much more egregious is that the media hasn't bothered assessing the exit polling from the primaries that they paid for to determine whether McCain was actually excelling with this group, just as Obama, Clinton and Huckabee had greatly over-performed with their groups.

Turns out that McCain was barely overperforming with veterans in the contested Republican primaries (before Romney and Huckabee dropped-out), and often failed to crack 40 percent of their support. Here's what the exit polling told us:

State McCain %
Total Vote
McCain %
Among Vets
AZ 47% 50% +3%
CA 42% 46% +4%
CT 52% 53% +1%
FL 36% 42% +6%
GA 32% 37% +5%
LA 42% 47% +5%
MI 30% 41% +11%
MO 33% 39% +6%
TN 32% 36% +4%
SC 33% 36% +3%
VA 50% 51% +1%

So, only in Michigan did McCain overperform with veterans by more than six points, and be mindful that there wasn't another prominent Republican veteran in the race that would have pulled support away from McCain because of their own service.

Now compare how Mike Huckabee (R) overperformed with Evangelicals in those same primary states versus McCain's margins with veterans:

State McCain
AZ 3% 6%
CA 4% 12%
CT 1% 19%
FL 6% 17%
GA 5% 9%
LA 5% 15%
MI 11% 13%
MO 6% 10%
TN 4% 8%
SC 3% 13%
VA 1% 21%

Maybe most noteworthy is how only 50% of all Republican veterans in Arizona backed McCain in the presidential primary held in his own state.

But as you can, Huckabee clearly outperformed with Evangelicals, and is rightly regarded as being a favorite of that group. In contrast, veterans backed McCain by significantly smaller margins, despite the media narrative that this was his group.

So, given that McCain has not done well among veterans' groups that put out scores, that veterans at his own events have been publicly critical of him and his campaign, and the fact that McCain really didn't perform much better among veterans than with primary voters as a whole, why does the media continue to paint McCain as some beloved figure among veterans?

Mark Nickolas is the Managing Editor of Political Base, and this story was from his original post, "The Media-Created Myth That Veterans Love McCain"

Original here

Eisenhower's Granddaughter For Obama: Sign Of A GOP Shift?

"You'll have to forgive me for being an Eisenhower Republican," joked Susan Eisenhower, granddaughter of the former five-star general and two-term Republican president. The man who had helped lead America to victory over the forces of Axis darkness during World War II, then oversaw a period of unprecedented prosperity and suburban satisfaction during the 1950s.

Speaking on the telephone on Aug. 7 from her Washington office at The Eisenhower Institute, a think tank where she serves as president emeritus, the journalist-turned-foreign policy wonk explained her decision to publicly support Barack Obama after a lifetime in the Republican Party.

"I don't know how much you know about my grandfather's administration," Eisenhower said. "But that administration stood for multilateral engagement, balancing the budget. They were the party of civil rights, they were the party of environmental progress. That was the Republican Party of the 1950s. I think you can make the case that doesn't sound like the Republican Party we know today. If you look at the way Obama's run his campaign, to how Hillary Clinton ran her campaign, or even how John McCain's campaign is shaping up -- you can definitely say that Obama's running his campaign in a way an Eisenhower Republican would have run his campaign.

"He raises a lot of money," Eisenhower, 56, said, by way of explaining the similarities she sees between her grandfather and the likely Democratic nominee. "He has very little debt. I just love it. Anybody who wants to make him out as this wide-eyed liberal -- I just don't see any evidence for that, not in the way he runs his campaign. And this tells you a lot about how he can administer things, how he manages things, how he deals with situations.

Original here

Did McCain Plagiarize His Georgia Speech From Wikipedia?

A Wikipedia editor notices some similarities between Sen. John McCain's speech today on the crisis in Georgia and the Wikipedia article on the country Georgia. They appear similar enough that most people would consider parts of McCain's speech to be derived from Wikipedia.

Read the whole story here.

Original here

Obama's Celeb Ad Adopts McCain Line Of Attack

For good or for ill, the "celebrity" meme is here to stay in the presidential race.

After John McCain's campaign attacked Barack Obama on the grounds that he's too popular for his own good -- and compared his celebrity to that of Paris Hilton and Britney Spears -- Barack Obama's ad-makers have responded in kind. They had plenty of material to work with. As the Internet Movie Database shows, John McCain has guest-starred or lent cameos to four dozen different television programs, and not just those of the news variety: Saturday Night Live, WWF Raw and Entertainment Tonight have featured the Arizona Republican, as have all the major late-night comedians.

Thus, there existed a plentiful amount of celebrity b-roll for an Obama counter-attack, titled "Embrace":

With Barack Obama on vacation this week, perhaps it was the perfect time for Obama's campaign to release an attack ad that makes no mention of their candidate (a rarity, thus far). After all, he won't have to answer any process questions about the "tone" of the race. Or perhaps, just as former Sen. Tom Daschle said last week, Obama's advisers believe McCain's Paris Hilton ad did real damage.

Either way, the celebrity line of attack has become rather popular.

Original here

John McCain's Cell Phone Privileges Have Been Curtailed

He wants to be leader of the Free World. But he is not even allowed to use his own cell-phone whenever he wants to. Which BTW is Gold Colored.

We are not talking about some delusional teenager, living in his mom's basement. It is John McCain who lost his ability to chat up his buddies at will. Who has the power to do this to a grown man? NYTimes

Mr. Schmidt has sought to cut down on Mr. McCain’s use of his cellphone and limit the people who have regular access to Mr. McCain in an effort to keep him more focused, advisers said. He has been the impetus for an effort by Mr. McCain to limit sharply his engagements with reporters, the kind of freewheeling encounters that Mr. McCain enjoys — and that helped him charm the news media for years — but that often lead him to veer from his campaign’s message of the day.

So when is Schmidt going to ground McCain? Or take away his gameboy? Now we can see why McCain comes across as a teen bully lashing out at the successful kid in his class. His own people treat him as a juvenile.

Except once in a while McCain sneaks something past them. His own small effort at rebellion at his masters. They were ridiculing Obama for saying that proper tire pressure helps with gas mileage. Even distributing tire gauges (at 25 times the original price) marked "Obama's Energy Plan". And McCain went ahead and admitted publicly that Obama was right.

Senator Obama a couple of days ago said that we ought to all inflate our tires, and I don’t disagree with that. The American Automobile Association strongly recommends it.

And the campaign had to issue a `clarification'.

Someone in Mr. McCain’s entourage — typically Nicolle Wallace, a Schmidt ally and a veteran of Mr. Bush’s 2004 campaign and White House who recently joined the campaign as a traveling senior adviser — is given the responsibility of making sure Mr. McCain agrees to the message and tries to stick to it.

"Now there is a management structure," Ms. Wallace said. "It is formally headed by Steve and Rick. This is one of the things that has been improved."

She is talking about managing McCain. Usually the campaign managers work for the candidate. Here, instead, the campaign has a person whose responsibility is to make sure that the candidate agrees to the campaign's message. So this is the guy who wants to run the country?

There is more

Mr. McCain is known to sign off on big campaign decisions and then to march off his own reservation. Two weeks ago, he publicly disagreed with his own spokeswoman, Jill Hazelbaker, after she used a line of attack against Senator Barack Obama that he had approved after careful strategizing within his campaign. Ms. Hazelbaker raced out of the Virginia campaign headquarters and refused to take Mr. McCain’s calls of apology, aides said, and a plan to have Republican members of Congress use the same critical line about Mr. Obama’s foreign trip fell apart.

McCain does not speak for the McCain campaign. Precious.

UPDATE: Here is a diary that explains what exactly happened.

So, why is the McCain campaign releasing this kind of information in an otherwise complimentary article in the NYTimes? Are they trying to have it both ways? Let it be known that the negative ads are not really McCain's handiwork. That he just went along with Karl Rove/Steve Schmidt tactics.

Here is one thing I want from the next President. He should be managing his staff. Not have his staff manage him. How the hell is McCain supposed to run the country if he needs permission to make a phone call?

Remember Reagan during the Iran-Contra scandal? In hindsight it seems likely that the Alzheimer's had started to kick in. Reagan seemed genuinely baffled at the shenanigans that Lt. Col. North was pulling off in the White House basement. We don't want a repetition of that.

Original here

Obama Staffer Effectively Debunks McCain Ad

I don’t know if this is going to be a continued strategy of the Obama campaign, but if it is then this is a great strategy. Take a McCain ad and debunk it. This one is about McCain’s latest attack ad, the one portraying Obama as a celebrity, the one that doesn’t include Paris and Britney.

So, hopefully you bothered to actually watch the whole video and would like to learn more about Obama’s tax plan. Make sure you check out the sites and PDF files below to know more about the candidate’s tax and economic plans, because no one likes a low information voter

Original here

Why is McCain's staff cutting off media access?

Last week, McCain's campaign staff restricted the national press corps to 38 minutes of access to the candidate. Not 38 minutes per press conference, not 38 minutes per day, but 38 minutes for the entire week.

Moreover, most of the access consisted of McCain reading a prepared statements. The media was allowed to ask him questions on just one occasion all week, and that came on Friday afternoon -- hours before the Olympics were set to start.

Certainly part of the issue is that they would rather McCain talk with local reporters who are generally less combative. And they also feel that McCain's tendency to shoot from the hip hurts their ability to control campaign message.

But I also suspect they are afraid of a repeat performance of his peculiar "blanking" incident eight days ago in Panama City, Florida.

Original here

Pressure to Donate to Romney Alleged in Complaint

A former executive who says his boss pressured him to contribute to Republican Mitt Romney's presidential campaign has filed an employment-bias complaint that offers a rare glimpse behind the curtain of big-money corporate fund raising.

[Mitt Romney]

Richard Pimentel, a former executive of Huron Consulting Group Inc., contends he lost his job as a financial-management consultant partly in retaliation for refusing the chief executive's repeated calls to contribute to the former Massachusetts governor's bid for the Republican presidential nomination.

The company denies that charge. But officials confirm the authenticity of emails showing that the CEO of the Chicago-based corporate consulting firm, Gary E. Holdren, repeatedly linked his requests for donations to Huron's business prospects. The emails were provided to The Wall Street Journal by Mr. Pimentel.

"This is not about me trying to force a political candidate on you and trying to see how you vote," Mr. Holdren wrote in one email, dated Jan. 27, 2008, to Huron managing directors, the firm's senior executives. "This is just business and the way business works."

In another email, dated Sept. 21, 2007, Mr. Holdren wrote, "I wanted to thank all of you who contributed to Mitt Romney. You can't realize how much leverage this gives Huron going forward to ask various people for business."

Other emails from Mr. Holdren refer to conversations with Mr. Romney, deals Huron supposedly won from Romney supporters at other firms and promises to reward Huron executives with "business for your contributions."

Mr. Romney received at least $92,000 in contributions from Huron executives, Federal Election Commission records show. That compares with $27,000 in donations to Illinois Sen. Barack Obama's Democratic campaign for president; nearly $8,000 to his former rival, Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York; and less than $4,000 to John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee.

In a statement, Huron said that the emails represented a "personal request" for voluntary contributions and that no executives benefited from or were punished for their responses. The firm added that such requests "are common in companies and organizations across America." Mr. Holdren, also the firm's chairman and president, was unreachable for comment, an aide said Wednesday.

In a June 13 letter, an outside attorney for Huron said it was still investigating Mr. Pimentel's allegations. The attorney didn't return calls Wednesday asking for comment.

A spokesman for Mr. Romney said in an email that the campaign hadn't heard of the situation and wasn't a party to those emails. "If anyone at Huron Consulting felt pressured to contribute, we stand ready to refund the donations if requested," he wrote. Since ending his own presidential bid in February, Mr. Romney has campaigned extensively on behalf of Sen. McCain and is frequently mentioned as a possible vice-presidential candidate on the ticket.

In an election cycle in which presidential candidates have raised a record $1.2 billion so far, the emails underscore the corporate horse trading that can lie behind fund raising. Company executives may view political contributions as a way to build influence, strengthen business relationships and increase revenue.

Among the biggest reasons people give to campaigns is business reasons, or because a friend asked them to, says Stephen Weissman of the nonpartisan Campaign Finance Institute in Washington. He said his research suggests corporate executives frequently donate to help their businesses.

[fund flows]

Asking management colleagues for donations isn't illegal, as long as nobody is forced to contribute. Findings of coercion are rare. Executives may grumble, but some may see donations as the price to keep a boss happy, Mr. Weissman and others say.

Mr. Pimentel, 65 years old, raised his charges in an age-bias complaint filed last month with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. It claims Huron dismissed Mr. Pimentel because of his age, and as retaliation after he had informed his immediate boss that "I was not comfortable with Mr. Holdren's numerous requests" for Romney contributions.

In an interview Tuesday, Mr. Pimentel said he felt that requesting political donations "is not something a CEO of a public company should do." He claimed he was one of Huron's best-performing managing directors, earning about $600,000 a year at the time he lost his California job. He now works for a rival consultancy.

Mr. Holdren, 58, founded Huron in 2002 with other former partners of Arthur Andersen LLP, after the once-venerable audit firm collapsed amid accounting scandals. He took the firm public in 2004; it was named the fastest-growing company in America by Entrepreneur magazine in 2005.

In his emails soliciting donations, Mr. Holdren mentioned the importance of gaining attention and business for the young firm, writing in September that a Romney donation "is some of the best practice-development money Huron could spend."

One issue Mr. Holdren raised was Huron's dealings with Dan Dumezich, a tax lawyer at Mayer Brown in Chicago. "He has given Huron a large JP Morgan tax case and he is a young mover and shaker at Mayer Brown," Mr. Holdren wrote in a Jan. 27 email in which he asked Huron executives to attend a fund-raising event on Feb. 1 hosted by Mr. Dumezich's law firm.

Mr. Dumezich was one of Mr. Romney's top fund-raisers until the candidate dropped out of the presidential race in February.

"You often contribute based on which friend asked you to," said Mr. Dumezich, in response to queries about Mr. Holdren's email.

Mr. Dumezich said that he had known Mr. Holdren for 20 years, and that Mayer Brown had used Huron for litigation support and consulting services. Mr. Dumezich said the business dealings had nothing to do with the pair's support for Mr. Romney. "I don't think our business turns on anything but getting the best people to do the work," said Mr. Dumezich.

In his Jan. 27 email, Mr. Holdren also said that Mr. Romney had personally called to ask his help in raising money, and that "I soon received a third call from Muneer Satter at Goldman Sachs asking for my help in raising more funds" for Mr. Romney.

Mr. Satter is a managing director at the Wall Street firm.

"I again reminded Muneer that I couldn't make any promises, but business from Goldman Sachs would be well appreciated, and that I hope he knows that I am going to call him and his partners in the future asking for business from Goldman," Mr. Holdren wrote.

Goldman Sachs said: "Mr. Satter did not personally raise any money from Mr. Holdren nor does he have a business or personal relationship with him. Furthermore, he has never given any business to Huron Consulting."

--T.W. Farnam contributed to this article.

Write to Joann S. Lublin at joann.lublin@wsj.com and Mary Jacoby at mary.jacoby@wsj.com

Corrections & Amplifications

A former executive of Huron Consulting Group Inc. has filed an employment-bias complaint alleging pressure to donate to Republican Mitt Romney's presidential campaign. A Campaign '08 headline in a previous version of this article incorrectly referred to the filing as a lawsuit.

Original here

True or False: Everyone Looks 10 Pounds Guiltier on TV

ABC News

THE SITDOWN John Edwards makes his apologies in an interview with Bob Woodruff.

It’s not impossible to understand why John Edwards had an affair. It’s not so hard to imagine why he thought he could get away with it. What is baffling is why he thought talking about it on television would help. The answer was not in the solemn, carefully worded interview he gave on “Nightline” on Friday. It is buried in the campaign “Webisodes” taped in 2006 by his former mistress, Rielle Hunter, just before he formally declared his candidacy in the Democratic race for president.

Sprawled on a private jet in faded jeans and open-collar blue shirt, Mr. Edwards is glowing with confidence and self-regard, laughing and flirting a little, but earnestly convinced that it was necessary and wise to have the filmmaker and her crew recording his every movement and offstage thought.

“I have come to the personal conclusion that I actually want the country to see who I really am,” he says in the slow, emphatic tone of a man under the spell of his own centrality. Those Webisodes, which were removed from the Internet when rumors about the affair surfaced, are back up and also flashing furiously on television, another widening ripple in the scandal he stirred up by telling his version of the story to ABC News.

For politicians, television is the triumph of hope over experience; time after time, scandal after scandal, officials in disgrace agree to a television interview in the hope of quelling the fuss and restoring their reputations. (Television is so critical to starting a political career that it may well lead elected officials to believe it has the power to resurrect one.)

Senator Larry E. Craig of Idaho didn’t have to go on “Today” to defend himself; he chose to speak to Matt Lauer and, if anything, made matters worse.

Even if he acted to pre-empt another wave of reports, Mr. Edwards didn’t need to put himself in front of a camera. Silence, or a written statement followed by a tactical retreat from public life, would have sufficed. But apparently Mr. Edwards is not ready to leave the stage; he just wanted to have more control over the script.

“Nightline” was fascinating, but not because it showed a disgraced, humbled man self-immolating in front of the camera. Mr. Edwards, who repeatedly referred to the affair as “my mistake,” was poised, earnest and at times almost combative, alluding to other politicians, including John McCain, who he said had survived extramarital missteps. “I mean, I’m not the first person to do this,” he said. Mr. Edwards looked genuinely surprised, and almost indignant, when the ABC correspondent Bob Woodruff suggested that his career was coming to a close. “I don’t think anything has ended,” he said firmly. “My Lord and my wife have forgiven me, so I am going to move on.”

And he made a point of telling Mr. Woodruff that his wife’s cancer was in remission when he began the affair with Ms. Hunter. Elizabeth Edwards has since been told by doctors that she has had an incurable recurrence of the disease. Mr. Edwards’s performance was buttressed by Mrs. Edwards, who issued a statement after the interview praising her husband’s “courage.”

Like many a politician, Mr. Edwards was still trying to win over his audience. At times, his voice rang with the conviction of a trial lawyer who believes that all he has to do is get in front of a jury to prevail. At other times, he showed a lawyerly deftness, denying he had paid Ms. Hunter hush money, with caveats. “If someone was being paid,” he said, “it wasn’t being paid on my behalf.” (Later, Fred Baron, his former campaign finance chairman, told ABC News that he paid Ms. Hunter but did not tell Mr. Edwards about it.)

On Friday afternoon, the former senator from North Carolina ended a long written statement with a promise: “I have given a complete interview on this matter and having done so, will have nothing more to say.” He then promptly said more. Before ABC had a chance to show the “Nightline” exclusive, Mr. Edwards upstaged “Nightline” by contacting CBS.

At the top of the “CBS Evening News,” Bob Schieffer went on the air holding a yellow legal pad and told viewers that Mr. Edwards had called him shortly before the broadcast to explain himself further. Mr. Schieffer said he asked to speak to Mrs. Edwards, who came to the phone, as he put it, “obviously in tears.” Mr. Schieffer reported that when he asked Mrs. Edwards how she was holding up, she told Mr. Schieffer, “This is really, really tough.”

Mr. Edwards said he came forward to put an end to the incessant tabloid stalking. Instead, his revelation spurred every network, newspaper blog and cheesy entertainment program to new heights: he was the lead piece on “The Insider” on Friday, ahead of Clay Aiken’s new baby and the pop singer John Mayer, shirtless in a hot tub and far from his latest flame, Jennifer Aniston.

Cable news showed over and over the interview Ms. Hunter gave the show “Extra” in 2007, about her time on the Edwards campaign, lingering over one sound bite in particular: “He is so open and willing to try new things.”

Mr. Edwards, who dropped out of the presidential race in January, was well on his way to becoming a private citizen when he made his admission. He said the sin of hubris drove him to have an affair, telling Mr. Woodruff that he strayed because political campaigns “fed a self-focus, an egotism, a narcissism that leads you to believe that you can do whatever you want.”

Narcissism doesn’t lead politicians to believe that they can have an affair and get away with it. It leads them to believe that they can go on television and dispel it.

Original here

Media Disinformation: BBC distorts the News from the Georgia Region

As usual, the BBC is twisting and distorting the news coming out of the Georgia region. We keep being told that around 1500 have been killed in Georgia, the inference being that this has resulted from Russian bombing.

Not so, the casualties are in Ossetia.

While the Ossetians claimed over 1000 dead the BBC neither reported this or any newsreel coming out of Ossetia showing the destruction caused by the Georgian shelling of the breakaway republic.

All we are getting is one-sided reports of the destruction being caused by the Russians.

Unlike News 24 which is its international news carrier, the BBC website does make some mention of Ossetian casualties:

"We left our town because the situation there is worse than anything I've seen in 18 years of conflict. Houses are being hit by rockets and heavy artillery, aircraft are bombing the roads."

Since yesterday, Russia Today was reporting the complete destruction of Ossetia's capital by Georgian shelling. Again, the destruction of the Ossetian capital was never reported by the BBC.

Last Friday, RIA Novosti reported that Ossetia was claiming over 1000 dead:

"Over 1,000 civilians have been killed as the result of an attack by Georgia on the capital of its breakaway republic of South Ossetia, the North Ossetian nationalities minister said Friday.

According to the South Ossetian information and press committee, the number of fatalities is estimated, according to preliminary information, at over 1,000," Teimuraz Kasayev said."


Sometime after mid-day today I tried unsuccessfully to access the Russia Today website for further information. Whether this is because of heavy traffic or because the website is being blocked by someone it is difficult to tell. I experienced the very same problem trying to access the RIA Novosti website.

Meanwhile, a BBC News 24 reporter, Lyse Doucet, tried to suggest that Russia had attacked Abkhazia by sending troops into that breakaway republic! That was soon put into doubt by another BBC reporter from Moscow who speculated that the sending of Russian troops into Abkhazia was not an attack but intended to protect its citizens and holiday-makers there.

On Saturday, China's Xinhua news service reported, "Abkhazia launches operation to force Georgian troops out" and "Georgia defeats Abkhazia's attacks". And previous news from Russia Today had announced Abkhazia's attack on Georgia. So was the BBC's Doucet confused or deliberately confusing the facts?

What is clear, however, is that the BBC is giving carte blanche to the Georgian point-of-view to be aired on its services while nothing whatsoever is being heard from the Ossetian side. The BBC's repetitive playing of a statement by George Bush, given several days ago, without balancing these against statements from the Russian side indicates where the BBC is coming from.

The contrast between the brazenly pro-US, pro-Georgian views being put out on BBC News 24 and the BBC website is to be noted whilst a more balanced assessment has been published by Richard Seymour of Lenin's Tomb. He, like me, believes that the BBC is deliberately confusing the issue. I'm sure we'll get much more of that from the BBC:

"Incidentally, just so that this point isn't lost in the deliberately confusing reportage. Yes, Russian jets are attacking Georgian targets and killing civilians. Yes, the reported civilian casualties "on both sides" is reported to be over 2,000. What is quite often not stated or just gently skated over in the reporting, so laden with images of Georgian dead and wounded, is that the estimate of 2,000 civilian deaths comes from the Russian government and it applies overwhelmingly to the Georgian attacks on South Ossetia on Friday.

In fact, this is the basis for Vladimir Putin's claims of a "genocide" against South Osettians by the Georgians (is he deliberately referencing the ICTY judgment about Srebrenica here?). The Georgian side, by contrast, claims 129 deaths of both soldiers and civilians. So, if Russian figures are good enough to reference, why is the source of the figures and their context obscured? Why is being made to look as if Russian forces are behind most of those alleged deaths? Doesn't this just amount to a whitewash of the actions of the Georgian army in South Ossetia? And why not mention 30,000 refugees too?" http://leninology.blogspot.com/2008/08/putin-wins-probably.html

Original here

Racism and the Race

This is supposed to be the Democrats’ year of destiny. Bush is hobbling out of office, the economy is in the toilet, voters are sick of the war and the party’s wunderkind candidate is raking in money hand over fist.

So why is the presidential race a statistical dead heat? The pundits have offered a host of reasons, but one in particular deserves more exploration: racism.

Barack Obama’s candidacy has shed some light on the extremes of racism in America — how much has dissipated (especially among younger people) and how much remains.

According to a July New York Times/CBS News poll, when whites were asked whether they would be willing to vote for a black candidate, 5 percent confessed that they would not. That’s not so bad, right? But wait. The pollsters then rephrased the question to get a more accurate portrait of the sentiment. They asked the same whites if most of the people they knew would vote for a black candidate. Nineteen percent said that those they knew would not. Depending on how many people they know and how well they know them, this universe of voters could be substantial. That’s bad.

Welcome to the murky world of modern racism, where most of the open animus has been replaced by a shadowy bias that is difficult to measure. As Obama gently put it in his race speech, today’s racial “resentments aren’t always expressed in polite company.” However, they can be — and possibly will be — expressed in the privacy of the voting booth.

If the percentage of white voters who cannot bring themselves to vote for a black candidate were only 15 percent, that would be more than all black voters combined. (Coincidentally, it also would be more than all voters under 24 years old.) That amounts to a racial advantage for John McCain.

And this sentiment stretched across ideological lines. Just as many white independents as Republicans said that most of the people they knew would not vote for a black candidate, and white Democrats were not far behind. Also, remember that during the Democratic primaries, up to 20 percent of white voters in some states said that the race of the candidate was important to them. Few of those people voted for the black guy.

Some might say that turnabout is fair play, citing the fact that 89 percent of blacks say they plan to vote for Obama. That level of support represents a racial advantage for him, too, right? Not necessarily. Blacks overwhelmingly vote Democratic in the general election anyway. According to CNN exit polls John Kerry got 88 percent of the black vote in 2004.

Think racism isn’t a major factor in this election? Think again.

Charles Blow's column will appear on alternate Saturdays. E-mail: chblow@nytimes.com.

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* Comment is free Plucky little Georgia? No, the cold war reading won't wash

For many people the sight of Russian tanks streaming across a border in August has uncanny echoes of Prague 1968. That cold war reflex is natural enough, but after two decades of Russian retreat from those bastions it is misleading. Not every development in the former Soviet Union is a replay of Soviet history.

The clash between Russia and Georgia over South Ossetia, which escalated dramatically yesterday, in truth has more in common with the Falklands war of 1982 than it does with a cold war crisis. When the Argentine junta was basking in public approval for its bloodless recovery of Las Malvinas, Henry Kissinger anticipated Britain's widely unexpected military response with the comment: "No great power retreats for ever." Maybe today Russia has stopped the long retreat to Moscow which started under Gorbachev.

Back in the late 1980s, as the USSR waned, the red army withdrew from countries in eastern Europe which plainly resented its presence as the guarantor of unpopular communist regimes. That theme continued throughout the new republics of the deceased Soviet Union, and on into the premiership of Putin, under whom Russian forces were evacuated even from the country's bases in Georgia.

To many Russians this vast geopolitical retreat from places which were part of Russia long before the dawn of communist rule brought no bonus in relations with the west. The more Russia drew in its horns, the more Washington and its allies denounced the Kremlin for its imperial ambitions.

Unlike in eastern Europe, for instance, today in breakaway states such as South Ossetia or Abkhazia, Russian troops are popular. Vladimir Putin's picture is more widely displayed than that of the South Ossetian president, the former Soviet wrestling champion Eduard Kokoity. The Russians are seen as protectors against a repeat of ethnic cleansing by Georgians.

In 1992, the west backed Eduard Shevardnadze's attempts to reassert Georgia's control over these regions. The then Georgian president's war was a disaster for his nation. It left 300,000 or more refugees "cleansed" by the rebel regions, but for Ossetians and Abkhazians the brutal plundering of the Georgian troops is the most indelible memory.

Georgians have nursed their humiliation ever since. Although Mikheil Saakashvili has done little for the refugees since he came to power early in 2004 - apart from move them out of their hostels in central Tbilisi to make way for property development - he has spent 70% of the Georgian budget on his military. At the start of the week he decided to flex his muscles.

Devoted to achieving Nato entry for Georgia, Saakashvili has sent troops to Iraq and Afghanistan - and so clearly felt he had American backing. The streets of the Georgian capital are plastered with posters of George W Bush alongside his Georgian protege. George W Bush avenue leads to Tbilisi airport. But he has ignored Kissinger's dictum: "Great powers don't commit suicide for their allies." Perhaps his neoconservative allies in Washington have forgotten it, too. Let's hope not.

Like Galtieri in 1982, Saakashvili faces a domestic economic crisis and public disillusionment. In the years since the so-called Rose revolution, the cronyism and poverty that characterised the Shevardnadze era have not gone away. Allegations of corruption and favouritism towards his mother's clan, together with claims of election fraud, led to mass demonstrations against Saakashvili last November. His ruthless security forces - trained, equipped and subsidised by the west - thrashed the protesters. Lashing out at the Georgians' common enemy in South Ossetia would certainly rally them around the president, at least in the short term.

Last September, President Saakashvili suddenly turned on his closest ally in the Rose revolution, defence minister Irakli Okruashvili. Each man accused his former blood brother of mafia links and profiting from contraband. Whatever the truth, the fact that the men seen by the west as the heroes of a post-Shevardnadze clean-up accused each other of vile crimes should warn us against picking a local hero in Caucasian politics.

Western geopolitical commentators stick to cold war simplicities about Russia bullying plucky little Georgia. However, anyone familiar with the Caucasus knows that the state bleating about its victim status at the hands of a bigger neighbour can be just as nasty to its smaller subjects. Small nationalisms are rarely sweet-natured.

Worse still, western backing for "equip and train" programmes in Russia's backyard don't contribute to peace and stability if bombastic local leaders such as Saakashvili see them as a guarantee of support even in a crisis provoked by his own actions. He seems to have thought that the valuable oil pipeline passing through his territory, together with the Nato advisers intermingled with his troops, would prevent Russia reacting militarily to an incursion into South Ossetia. That calculation has proved disastrously wrong.

The question now is whether the conflict can be contained, or whether the west will be drawn in, raising the stakes to desperate levels. To date the west has operated radically different approaches to secession in the Balkans, where pro-western microstates get embassies, and the Caucasus, where the Caucasian boundaries drawn up by Stalin, are deemed sacrosanct.

In the Balkans, the west promoted the disintegration of multiethnic Yugoslavia, climaxing with their recognition of Kosovo's independence in February. If a mafia-dominated microstate like Montenegro can get western recognition, why shouldn't flawed, pro-Russian, unrecognised states aspire to independence, too?

Given its extraordinary ethnic complexity, Georgia is a post-Soviet Union in miniature. If westerners readily conceded non-Russian republics' right to secede from the USSR in 1991, what is the logic of insisting that non-Georgians must remain inside a microempire which happens to be pro-western?

Other people's nationalisms are like other people's love affairs, or, indeed, like dog fights. These are things wise people don't get involved in. A war in the Caucasus is never a straightforward moral crusade - but then, how many wars are?

· Mark Almond is a history lecturer at Oriel College, Oxford mpalmond@aol.com

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Neocons Call For U.S. To Launch War With Russia

billkristolweb2.jpgToday the New York Times reports that Russia is escalating its war with Georgia, “moving tanks and troops through the separatist enclave of South Ossetia and advancing toward the city of Gori in central Georgia” and even bombing parts of Tibilisi, the Georgian captial.

Russia’s increasing aggression is putting a spark into American neoconservatives. Today on the Times op-ed page, one of their leaders, William Kristol, claims the U.S. must “defend” Georgia’s sovereignty as a reward for its participation in Iraq, while the conservative Washington Times is calling for “maximum pressure” on Russia:

Bill Kristol: [Georgia] has had the third-largest military presence — about 2,000 troops — fighting along with U.S. soldiers and marines in Iraq. For this reason alone, we owe Georgia a serious effort to defend its sovereignty. Surely we cannot simply stand by as an autocratic aggressor gobbles up part of — and perhaps destabilizes all of — a friendly democratic nation.

Washington Times: It is in America’s interest to exert maximum pressure on Russia to withdraw its troops and halt the interference in Georgian territory. This latest act shows the need for greater resolve in establishing a European security system that can be an effective check on Russian power

Writing in the Washington Post today, Robert Kagan goes even further, suggesting that the Georgia-Russia conflict may be the start of World War III:

Do you recall the precise details of the Sudeten Crisis that led to Nazi Germany’s invasion of Czechoslovakia? Of course not, because that morally ambiguous dispute is rightly remembered as a minor part of a much bigger drama. […]

The mood is reminiscent of Germany after World War I, when Germans complained about the “shameful Versailles diktat” imposed on a prostrate Germany by the victorious powers and about the corrupt politicians who stabbed the nation in the back.

Like a good neoconservative, Kagan also links the Western response to the conflict and its wider policy towards Russia as “appeasement.”

Matthew Yglesias asks of Kagan’s World War II analogy: “If we launch a war with Russia — which would seem to be the point of busting out the analogy — then how are we going to find the time to launch wars with Iran and China?”

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New Obama Book On Policy Coming Out This Fall

NEW YORK — Whether they like him or oppose him, readers want to hear more about Barack Obama.

"The Obama Nation," an anti-Obama book written by Jerome V. Corsi, will debut at No. 1 come Sunday on The New York Times' hardcover nonfiction best-seller list. Corsi was co-author of "Unfit for Command," an influential 2004 best-seller that condemned the Vietnam War record of then Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry.

Obama, the Democrats' presumptive nominee in 2008, is himself the author of the million-selling "Dreams From My Father" and "The Audacity of Hope."

Interest in him is so strong that even an upcoming policy book, usually the toughest of sells, is catching on. A compilation of speeches and policy statements by Obama and his campaign staff, "Change We Can Believe In," had reached the top 75 on Amazon.com by Monday evening, less than a day after The Associated Press reported the book would come out in September.

"Change We Can Believe In" has an announced first printing of 300,000.

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Bush: ‘I don’t see America having problems.’

This evening, NBC interrupted its Olympics coverage of women’s gymnastics for an interview with President Bush. Last week, Bush gave a speech and expressed “deep concerns” with China’s “detention of political dissidents, human-rights advocates and religious activists.” Costas brought up this speech and asked about “America’s own problems.” Bush denied that America has any problems:

COSTAS: This past week, you restated America’s fundamental differences with China. But given China’s growing strength, and America’s own problems, realistically, how much leverage does the U.S. have here?

BUSH: First of all, I don’t see America having problems. I see America as a nation that is a world leader that has got great values.

Watch it:

Apparently, the indefinite detention of prisoners, a $490 billion deficit, and a credit crisis aren’t problems.

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President Bush Not So Good With American Flags

So, apparently, even after seven years, President George W. Bush still hasn't learned how to correctly display the American flag. Glorious. We still have to pay him a salary, out of our stimulus packages, apparently.

It's times like this that you just sort of have to say, "Know what? On second thought, Mr. President, please don't make an effort to resolve the crisis in Georgia, okay? I think we'll all be better off."

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Fox News Host Refuses To Talk About Russia-Georgia War, Insists On Covering Edwards’ Affair

Yesterday, Russia launched a major military offensive against Georgia, which Georgia has called “a state of war.” Nearly two thousand people have died and the conflict risks sparking a wider war. Also yesterday, former senator John Edwards admitted to having an extramarital affair in 2006.

Fox News has decided which story is worthy of more coverage. Today, host Gregg Jarrett interviewed PBS’s Bonnie Erbe. “We have these huge stories going on like the one you’re reporting in Georgia,” Erbe noted when asked about Edwards. Jarrett, however, completely ignored Erbe’s comment on Georgia and continued to talk about Edwards, offering praise for the National Enquirer:

JARRETT: You know, his excuse for lying is absolutely stunning. He claims he denied the affair because the reporting by the National Enquirer was “99 percent wrong.” Well, so far, they’ve been about 100 percent right.

Throughout the segment, Jarrett refused to talk about anything except for Edwards’s affair:

ERBE: The American public have told pollsters, this political season they want substance. Both these candidates have expressed support for allowing Georgia into NATO. … We could have been on the verge of nuclear war. Those are the kinds of the things that the American public wants to see discussed.

JARRETT: Right. You know, but getting back to Edwards, during the Monica Lewinsky affair, Edwards absolutely ripped into Bill Clinton.

Erbe called the Edwards story “water cooler talk,” noting again that Edwards’s affair is “not the stuff the American public wants to hear about in this election cycle.” Again, Jarrett wholly ignored her, responding with more Edwards talk:

JARRETT: Well it’s amazing, he thought could get away with it, and if he had become the Democratic nominee, my goodness.

Watch it:

Of course, this is nothing new for Fox, which has a history of covering tabloid issues more than wars.

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