Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Huckabee compares McCain to Dole

This is from Jonathan Martin at The

Mike Huckabee, speaking a bit more freely in his new capacity as a Fox News contributor, used a "Hannity & Colmes" appearance last night to offer a candid assessment of McCain's performance last week.

Huck used two words that dare not speak their name in McCainworld: "Dole" and "anger:"

ESTRICH: He went to a German restaurant that didn't go very well. He had the time at the cheese counter at the grocery store. I mean, I have to tell you, if I were John McCain I would be glad I didn't get a lot of press last week.

What is wrong with the McCain campaign?

HUCKABEE: Well, I think he missed an opportunity. Instead of having some fun with it and showing sort of a buoyant 'hey, do what you've got to do, let Obama go play basketball, I'm solving problems.' Do it with tongue and cheek.

Frankly, I thought he looked more like Bob Dole in the last days of the 1996 campaign saying 'look at the record, look at the record,' and there was some anger and sense of frustration there.

He shouldn't show that. He needs to show that nothing is getting to him, it's rolling off his back, and I think he missed an opportunity to do that last week.

Maybe Johnny-Boy should take Huck's advice and have a Viagra and a Pepsi with Britney Spears:

Friday, July 25, 2008

McCain out of touch, doesn't know the price of a gallon of milk

Well this is rather interesting. Republican presidential candidate John McCain doesn't have a clue as to what the price is for a gallon of milk. McCain decided to stage a photo op with a Pennsylvania family going grocery shopping in order to show American voters that he understands what the voters are feeling with the soaring food prices. And during his photo op, McCain had to look at his cue card to remember what the price is for a gallon of milk. From YouTube:

Here in San Jose, California, Safeway are selling two gallons of milk for $6.19--around $3.10 a gallon--and that is a special. The regular price for a gallon of milk at Safeway is $3.59. The price of a gallon of milk at Albertsons in the Los Angeles area is at $4.99. The price for a gallon of milk at a Wegman's store in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania is at $3.80 a gallon--and McCain was grocery shopping with a family in Pennsylvania!

What I am trying to say here is that you don't need to be a rocket scientist, and economist, or even a frickin' politician to even have a general knowledge of what the price of a gallon of milk is in this country. The problem I have here is that John McCain had to look at a cue card in order to tell us what the price of milk is. What this tells me is that John McCain doesn't have a frickin' clue as to what the basic prices of groceries are--I'm talking about the staples like milk, bread, eggs, cereal and such. I seriously wonder when was the last time McCain even stepped into a grocery store to purchase anything before his little PR-shopping trip in Pennsylvania.

John McCain is clueless. And McCain doesn't even get that he is clueless.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Obama to buy $5 million worth of ads on Olympics coverage

This is just wow! From AdAge Industry Events:

WASHINGTON ( -- It's official. Sen. Barack Obama's campaign will be among the TV sponsors of NBC Universal's Olympics coverage. In the first significant network-TV buy of any presidential candidate in at least 16 years, the Obama campaign has taken a $5 million package of Olympics spots that includes network TV as well as cable ads.

According to NBC's political file, the campaign had initially requested information about 500,000, $2 million and $4 million package of Olympics spots. The network also offered the candidate a $10 million package.

NBC Universal is airing 3,600 hours of Olympics coverage on its broadcast network and cable networks including NBC, CNBC, MSNBC, USA Network, Oxygen and Telemundo, and while some of the Obama campaign's spots will air on network TV, the breakdown of how many or exactly when they will air was not immediately available. It did encompass most dayparts.

The Obama campaign did not return several calls and messages seeking comment on the reasoning behind the buy.

AdAge reports that the last time a presidential candidate purchased a network TV spot was a single multi-minute ad by Bob Dole in 1996. Presidential candidates usually purchase television advertising to target battleground states, and have been turing to cheaper cable ads over ads broadcasting on a national scope.

NBC's 2004 Olympics coverage in Athens, Greece, was viewed by an average 24.6 million viewers. This is why Obama is spending $5 million in advertising during the Olympics--he can present his own vision and message on a nationwide scale to a major segment of American viewers. This is huge.

McCain surrogate: The truth of Iraq undermines the support of American troops

The McCain campaign is just going bonkers over all the flack on Republican presidential candidate John McCain's attempt to link the Anbar Awakening with the Bush troop surge. Here is McCain campaign spokeswoman Nancy Pfotenhauer saying that Obama supporters' attempts to "litigate" the truth of Iraq are actually undermining the troops. From YouTube:

Here is the transcript:

"Barack Obama and his supporters can try to litigate what came first or what was crucial, but that's really an attempt to undermine the significance and the impact of the American troops and their sacrifice and their effort."

I really don't know what to say about this comment. Is the McCain campaign either that stupid, or may think that the American people are that stupid, in order to make this insidious comment that the facts of Iraq are undermining our troops? Perhaps I'm going stupid by just trying to understand this crap coming out of the McCain campaign--it is just that awful!

Stupid is as stupid does.

McCain's "secret surge"

This is from Countdown with Keith Olbermann:

Obsidian Wings has the translation of McCain's "cheesy" statement on the surge:

McCain: First of all, a surge is really a counterinsurgency strategy, and it's made up of a number of components. And this counterinsurgency was initiated to some degree by Colonel McFarland in Anbar province relatively on his own. When I visited with him in December of 2006, he had already initiated that strategy in Ramadi by going in and clearing and holding in certain places. That is a counterinsurgency. And he told me at that time that he believed that that strategy, which is, quote, the surge, part of the surge, would be successful. So then, of course, it was very clear that we needed additional troops in order to carry out this counterinsurgency.

Prior to that, they had been going into places, killing people or not killing people, and then withdrawing. And the new counterinsurgency -- surge -- entailed clearing and holding, which Colonel McFarland had already started doing. And then of course later on there were additional troops, and General Petraeus has said that the surge would not have worked and the Anbar Awakening would not have taken place successfully if they hadn't had an increase in the number of troops. So I'm not sure, frankly, that people really understand that a surge is part of a counterinsurgency strategy, which means going in, clearing, holding, building a better life, providing services to the people, and then clearly a part of that, an important part of it, was additional troops to help ensure the safety of the sheikhs, to regain control of Ramadi, which was a very bloody fight, and then the surge continued to succeed, and that counterinsurgency.

Q: So when you say 'surge', then you're not referring just to the one that President Bush initiated; you're saying it goes back several months before that?

Yes, and again, because of my visits to Iraq, I was briefed by Colonel McFarland in December of 2006 where he outlined what was succeeding there in this counterinsurgency strategy which we all know of now as the surge.

So if I understand this correctly, the "surge" does not mean the Bush troop surge, which was announced in January 2007, but rather a full counterinsurgency strategy that includes both the Bush troop surge of 2007, and Colonel McFarland's meetings with the sheiks in creating the alliance between the Sunnis and the U.S. military. In other words, McCain is himself defining the meaning of "the surge," and demanding that everyone else must agree to his definition.

The real problem here is this linking by McCain of the Bush troop surge, and the counterinsurgency strategy. There was a counterinsurgency strategy where McFarland created an alliance between the U.S. military and the Sunni sheiks in the Anbar province. And this strategy was successful. What McCain is trying to do is to take credit of McFarland's work for himself through linking the Anbar Awakening with the Bush troop surge, and then calling this all a "surge." So McCain's definition of "the surge" is not just the Bush troop surge, but also the Anbar Awakening, and anything else that the McCain campaign wants to include in their definition. This contradicts what everyone else considers as the definition of "the surge," which is basically the Bush troop surge of 2007.

John McCain is trying to rewrite history in a rather disgusting fashion.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

McCain attacks Obama's visit to Holocaust Museum, calls Obama a flip-flopper on genocide

Well, Republican presidential candidate John McCain provides another example of the "respectful campaign" that he promised to give to the American people. For the past week, McCain has relentlessly attacked Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama over his character, over how Obama would lose the Iraq war, and how Obama would commit treason for political gain. Now McCain has decided to add genocide to his attacks, on the day that Obama visited the Israeli Holocaust Memorial Yad Vashem. From the Huffington Post:

The McCain campaign implied on Wednesday that Barack Obama's commitment to preventing a future genocide was not sincere, attacking the Democratic candidate during his appearance at the Israeli Holocaust Memorial Yad Vashem.

In an early morning press release, entitled "Obama on Genocide," McCain aide Tucker Bounds emailed reporters a quote from Obama's appearance in which the Illinois Democrat reiterated the cry "never again." He followed that quote with one taken a year ago from an interview that the Senator gave with the Associated Press in which he said that genocide or humanitarian crises were not a prerequisite for keeping U.S. troops in Iraq (a statement he has since walked back)

"Well, look, if that's the criteria by which we are making decisions on the deployment of U.S. forces," said Obama, "then by that argument you would have 300,000 troops in the Congo right now."

The message was fairly explicit: Obama's commitment to stopping future Holocausts is in doubt. Asked for clarification, McCain aide Michael Goldfarb responded:

"Today he says 'never again.' A year ago stopping genocide wasn't a good enough reason to keep U.S. forces in Iraq. Doesn't that strike you as inconsistent?"

It's a heavy charge to make, not least because Obama had just wrapped up his visit to the Holocaust memorial. In addition, there are, for better or worse, outstanding implications when discussing genocide when it comes to Jews -- and the insertion of the issue into the presidential campaign will border for some, on the taboo. Moreover, on the topic of Iraq, Obama has said he would leave a residual force to intervene in potential humanitarian crises and that he reserves the right to intervene militarily with international partners in order to "suppress potential genocidal violence within Iraq."

I don't know what else to say here, except that McCain campaign's attack was mean, nasty, and dirty. Florida Democratic Representative Robert Wexler, who was one of Obama's high-profile Jewish surrogates during the Democratic primary, called McCain's attack, "shameful and unconscionable."

Back in February 11, 2008, then McCain campaign manager Rick Davis sent a memo to reporters:

John McCain is now the presumptive nominee of the Republican Party. It is critical, as we prepare to face off with whomever the Democrats select as their nominee, that we all follow John's lead and run a respectful campaign focused on the issues and values that are important to the American people.

Throughout the primary election we saw John McCain reject the type of politics that degrade our civics, and this will not change as he prepares to run head-to-head against the Democratic nominee.

John McCain will continue to run on his principles and will focus on the future of our country. The stakes could not be higher in this election, and John will contrast his vision for America with that of Senators Clinton and Obama. He will draw sharp contrasts: victory versus surrender to Islamic extremism; lower taxes and spending versus more big government; free-market solutions to health care versus costly mandates; and the appointment of strict constructionist judges versus those who legislate from the bench.

Overheated rhetoric and personal attacks on our opponents distract from the big differences between John McCain's vision for the future of our nation and the Democrats'. This campaign is about John McCain: his vision, leadership, experience, courage, service to his country and ability to lead as commander in chief from day one.

John McCain has pretty much thrown the "respectful campaign" out the window. The problem for the McCain campaign is that they no longer have any issues to run on that the American people will support. John McCain decided to his campaign with the Bush administration's agenda on issues such as the economy, taxes, energy policy, and Iraq. John McCain is running for a third Bush term at a time when two-thirds of Americans disapprove of President Bush's job performance, and over three-quarters of Americans are saying that the direction of the country is on the wrong track. John McCain has not effectively expressed change to the American people on his political policies or his views on the issues. He has remained stubborn--hence his nickname of McSame as President Bush. And now that McCain's positions on the issues have been shredded, there is nothing left for the McCain campaign to do, except for lashing out, with one nasty attack ad after another, against Obama. That is what this McCain campaign has become.

And it is going to get even dirtier, as we get closer to the election.

McCain campaign defends the surge lie

This is from the Tribune's Washington Bureau, The Swamp:

Sen. John McCain, "staking his candidacy entirely on the surge in Iraq,'' has shown "that he does not understand one of the fundamental facts about the surge,'' MSNBC's Keith Olbermann was reporting of the Republican candidate for president last night - "getting the basic timeline and history of the surge entirely wrong.''

The McCain campaign objects to the characterization, and offers some background below on where the senator's critics are misguided.

The commentator's assertion stems from an interview that McCain conducted with CBS News, in which anchor Katie Couric pointed out that Sen. Barack Obama, who has just traveled through Iraq, has maintained that, while the increased deployment of troops there had contributed to security, a Sunni awakening and the Shiite government going after the militia also contributed - and that security might have improved even without the surge.

McCain replied: "I don't know how you respond to something that is such a false depiction of what actually happened.'' He noted that a Col. McFarland had been contacted by one of the Sunni sheikhs, and because of that the surge forces were able to go protect that sheikh and others. "And it began the Anbar awakening,'' McCain said. "That's just a matter of history.''


The Swamp reached out for McCain's reaction. Read on:

"Senator McCain is correct,'' McCain campaign spokesman Tucker Bounds said today. "As General Petraeus has made clear, the surge is the reason why the Anbar Awakening was so successful in tearing up al Qaeda.

"The surge strategy that was supported by John McCain and opposed by Barack Obama was responsible for the reduction in violence we have seen over the last year and a half. Democrats can debate whether the Awakening would have survived without the surge, or whether the Shiite militias would have unilaterally disarmed without US troops and our Iraqi allies disarming them by force, but that is nothing more than a transparent effort to minimize the role of our commanders and our troops in defeating the enemy, because to credit them would be to disparage the judgment of Barack Obama and praise the leadership of John McCain.

"If Barack Obama had had his way,'' Bounds said, "the Awakening would have been crushed at the hands of al Qaeda, and US forces would have already left Iraq in defeat."

Did you notice the shift? McCain spokesman Tucker Bounds first claimed that the Bush troop surge was the reason for the success in the Anbar Awakening, but then goes on to attack Obama saying that if the Democrats had withdrawn U.S. forces, the Anbar Awakening would have been crushed by al Qaeda. Even more, Bounds then makes the outrageous claim that the "Democrats can debate whether the Awakening would have survived without the surge...." This debate isn't about whether the Awakening could have survived with, or without, the surge. This debate isn't even about whether the surge was the reason for the success of the Anbar Awakening. What this debate is about is Senator John McCain's insistence that the surge took place before the Anbar Awakening. John McCain lied about the timeline between when the Anbar Awakening took place in September 2006, and when President Bush announced his troop surge in January, 2007. And the McCain campaign continues to present this lie.

And as for General Petraeus' remarks on the surge and the Anbar Awakening, the Swamp includes this comment:

And here are some earlier comments to consider from Petraeus and Fred Kagan, architect of the surge:

General Petraeus: The Awakening "Was Very Much Enabled By The Surge Because That Enabled Us To Clear Areas Over Time." GEN. PETRAEUS: "Well, sir, the Sons of Iraq are individuals that -- it really dates all the way back to Anbar province and the first awakening, which, to be fair, took place -- it started before the surge, but then was very much enabled by the surge because that enabled us to clear areas over time. But it started with a sheikh in Anbar province coming to a brigade commander in Ramadi and saying back in October, 2006, would you support us if we turned our weapons on al Qaeda instead of on you? And the brigade commander got that test question right. He pledged support. It took some time to build those forces, to get them going, to get it established. By mid-March, they were ready to clear Baqubah or, I'm sorry, Ramadi." (Gen. Petraeus, U.S. House Armed Services Committee, 4/9/08)

Surge Strategy Architect Fred Kagan: "When Colonel John Charlton's Brigade Relieved MacFarland's In Ramadi And Was Joined By Two Additional Marine Battalions (Part Of The Surge) Elsewhere In Anbar, The 'Awakening' Began To Accelerate Very Rapidly." "The tribal leaders in Anbar began to turn against al Qaeda in Iraq last year, largely due to unspeakable atrocities committed by the terrorists against their own hosts. Many analysts and observers have seized upon this fact to argue that the movement in Anbar had nothing to do with the surge, began before the surge did, and would continue even without the surge. This argument is invalid. Anbari tribal leaders did begin to turn against AQI in their areas last year before the surge began, but not before Colonel Sean MacFarland began to apply in Ramadi the tactics and techniques that are the basis of the current strategy in Baghdad. His soldiers and Marines fought tenaciously to establish a foothold in Anbar's capital, which was then a terrorist stronghold, and thereby demonstrated to the local leaders that they could count on American support as they began to fight their erstwhile allies. Even so, the movement proceeded slowly and fitfully for most of 2006 and, indeed, into 2007. But when Colonel John Charlton's brigade relieved MacFarland's in Ramadi and was joined by two additional Marine battalions (part of the surge) elsewhere in Anbar, the 'awakening' began to accelerate very rapidly." (Frederick W. Kagan, "The Gettysburg Of This War," National Review Online, 9/3/07)

Again, the argument is not whether the surge provided some success in the Anbar Awakening. The argument is about the timeline of the surge taking place before the Anbar Awakening, with the surge being the catalyst for creating the Anbar Awakening.

And John McCain continues to lie about the timeline.

Update: It turns out that the McCain campaign has canceled a press conference for today in the aftermath of McCain's "Anbar Awakening" lie. From

In an interview with CBS News on Tuesday, John McCain made a major mistake in recounting the history of the surge in Iraq. McCain credited it with the development of the "Anbar awakening," the movement of Sunnis in that province away from al-Qaida and toward working with the U.S. The problem? The awakening began before the surge was even announced.

The McCain campaign has -- deservedly -- been getting hammered on this, and it has struck back, somewhat angrily. "Democrats can debate whether the awakening would have survived without the surge ... but that is nothing more than a transparent effort to minimize the role of our commanders and our troops in defeating the enemy," spokesman Tucker Bounds said. (Of course, that's not what's being debated -- McCain said the surge "began" the awakening.)

Now, all of a sudden, the McCain campaign has canceled a press availability that was scheduled for Wednesday. Both the Atlantic's Marc Ambinder and Politico's Ben Smith rightly wonder about the McCain camp's reasons for doing so.

"My bet is that the campaign much prefers local and regional interviews. Us national press folks will ask qualitatively different questions -- McCain v. the press, McCain v. history, McCain v. Obamania ... The priority here in northern Pennsylvania's 10th Congressional district is on getting good local news coverage," Ambinder, who is traveling with McCain, wrote.

"McCain's avail today was the one with more promise to make news," Smith wrote, then cited a list of potentially uncomfortable things -- with the awakening first among them -- that McCain could expect to be asked about before noting, "And now he's canceled the avail."

I would say that McCain's handlers have decided not to bring McCain out to the national reporters, who would certainly start to question McCain on the timeline. Instead, we get the McCain campaign PR-spin of McCain traveling to Pennsylvania's 10th Congressional district, where the campaign is hoping to spoon-feed local reporters news coverage that will benefit McCain. The McCain campaign is hoping this latest John McCain gaffe will go away over the next couple of days.

Novak cited in hit-and-run against pedestrian

If I, or any regular people, had caused a hit-and-run accident with a pedestrian, we probably would have been arrested by the police, and charged. Not conservative columnist Robert Novak. From The

Syndicated columnist Robert D. Novak was cited by police after he hit a pedestrian with his black Corvette in downtown Washington, D.C., on Wednesday morning.

A Politico reporter saw Novak in the front of a police car with a citation in his hand; a WJLA-TV crew and reporter saw Novak as well. The pedestrian, a 66-year-old man who was not further identified by authorities, was treated at George Washington University Hospital for minor injuries, according to D.C. Fire and EMS. Novak was later released by police and drove away from the scene.

“I didn’t know I hit him. ... I feel terrible,” a shaken Novak told reporters from Politico and WJLA as he was returning to his car. "He's not dead, that's the main thing." Novak said he was a block away from 18th and K streets Northwest, where the accident occurred, when a bicyclist stopped him and said he had hit someone. He said he was cited for failing to yield the right of way.

The bicyclist was David Bono, a partner at Harkins Cunningham, who was on his usual bike commute to work at 1700 K St. N.W. when he witnessed the accident.

As he traveled east on K Street, crossing 18th, Bono said "a black Corvette convertible with top closed plows into the guy. The guy is sort of splayed into the windshield.”

Bono said that the pedestrian, who was crossing the street on a "Walk" signal and was in the crosswalk, rolled off the windshield and that Novak then made a right into the service lane of K Street. “This car is speeding away. What’s going through my mind is, you just can’t hit a pedestrian and drive away,” Bono said.

He said he chased Novak half a block down K Street, finally caught up with him and then put his bike in front of the car to block it and called 911. Traffic immediately backed up, horns blaring, until commuters behind Novak backed up so he could pull over.

Bono said that throughout, Novak "keeps trying to get away. He keeps trying to go.” He said he vaguely recognized the longtime political reporter and columnist as a news personality but could not precisely place him.

Finally, Bono said, Novak put his head out the window of his car and motioned him over. Bono said he told him that you can't hit a pedestrian and just drive away. He quoted Novak as responding: “I didn’t see him there.”

A concierge at 1700 K Street said that she saw a bicyclist yelling and walked outside to see what the commotion was about.

"This guy hit somebody and he won't stop so I'm going to stay here until the police come," Aleta Petty quoted Bono as saying, as he stood in K Street, blocking traffic.

D.C. police confirmed that there was an accident at 18th and K streets NW at approximately 10 a.m. involving a black Corvette convertible and that the driver was a white male.

The intersection is in the hub of Washington’s business district and is filled with pedestrians who work in the law firms and lobby shops that line the corridor.

Novak, 77, has earned a reputation around the capital as an aggressive driver, easily identified in his convertible sports car.

In 2001, he cursed at a pedestrian on the corner of Pennsylvania Avenue and 13th streets Northwest for allegedly jaywalking.

“’Learn to read the signs, [bodily orifice]!’ Novak snapped before speeding away,” according to an item in The Washington Post’s Reliable Source column.

Novak explained to the paper: "He was crossing on the red light. I really hate jaywalkers. I despise them. Since I don't run the country, all I can do is yell at 'em. The other option is to run 'em over, but as a compassionate conservative, I would never do that."

Two years later, the same column reported that Novak had gone to a racing school in Florida.

"I've wanted to be a racecar driver all my life, and anyone who has watched me drive can tell you that,” Novak said.

Compassionate conservativism at its best.

More McCain screw-ups

I am just amazed at how Republican presidential candidate John McCain continues to screw up in this election--McCain can't even open his mouth without screwing up by either lying, misstating facts, or just being completely confused. Let us start with some background news from Countdown with Keith Olbermann on McCain's latest gaffes:

First I want to talk about McCain's "confusion" on the historical timeline between the Anbar Awakening and the U.S. troop surge. Here is the CBS News transcript, with McCain's statement that the surge started the Anbar Awakening:

Couric: Senator McCain, Sen. Obama says, while the increased number of U.S. troops contributed to increased security in Iraq, he also credits the Sunni awakening and the Shiite government going after militias. And says that there might have been improved security even without the surge. What's your response to that?

McCain: I don't know how you respond to something that is such a false depiction of what actually happened. Colonel McFarlane (phonetic) was contacted by one of the major Sunni sheiks. Because of the surge we were able to go out and protect that sheik and others. And it began the Anbar awakening. I mean, that's just a matter of history. Thanks to General Petraeus, our leadership, and the sacrifice of brave young Americans. I mean, to deny that their sacrifice didn't make possible the success of the surge in Iraq, I think, does a great disservice to young men and women who are serving and have sacrificed.

They were out there. They were protecting these sheiks. We had the Anbar awakening. We now have a government that's effective. We have a legal system that's working, although poorly. And we have progress on all fronts, including an incredible measure of security for the people of Iraq. There will still be attacks. Al Qaeda's not defeated. But the progress has been immense. And to not recognize that, and why it happened, and how it happened, I think is really quite a commentary.

This is a complete, flat-out lie by McCain.

The Anbar Awakening movement started in 2005, when American military commanders approached Sunni sheiks with the proposal of an alliance between U.S. forces and Sunnis to provide security in the Anbar province against al Qaeda insurgents. Consider this March 25, 2007 San Diego Tribune story on the Anbar Awakening:

RAMADI, Iraq – Not long ago it would have been unthinkable: a Sunni sheik allying himself publicly with American forces in a xenophobic city at the epicenter of Iraq's Sunni insurgency.

Today, there is no mistaking whose side Sheik Abdul Sattar al-Rishawi is on. Outside his walled home, a U.S. tank is on permanent guard beside a clutch of towering date palms and a protective dirt berm.

The 36-year-old sheik is leading a growing movement of Sunni tribesmen who have turned against al-Qaeda-linked insurgents in Anbar province. The dramatic shift in alliances may have done more in a few months to ease daily street battles and undercut the insurgency here than American forces have achieved in years with arms.

The American commander responsible for Ramadi, Col. John W. Charlton, said the newly friendly sheiks, combined with an aggressive counterinsurgency strategy and the presence of thousands of new Sunni police on the streets, have helped cut attacks in the city by half in recent months.

In November 2005, American commanders held a breakthrough meeting with top Sunni chiefs in Ramadi, hoping to lure them away from the insurgents' fold. The sheiks responded positively, promising cooperation and men for a police force that was then virtually nonexistent.

But in January 2006 a suicide bomber attacked a police recruiting drive, killing 70 people. Insurgents killed at least four sheiks for cooperating with the Americans, and many others fled.

The killings left the effort in limbo, until a turning point; insurgents killed a prominent sheik last year and refused to let family members bury the body for four days, enraging Sunni tribesmen, said U.S. Lt. Col. Miciotto Johnson, who heads the 1st Battalion, 77th Armored Regiment and visits al-Rishawi frequently in western Ramadi.

Al-Rishawi, whose father and three brothers were killed by al-Qaeda assassins, said insurgents were “killing innocent people, anyone suspected of opposing them. They brought us nothing but destruction and we finally said, enough is enough.”

Al-Rishawi founded the Anbar Salvation Council in September with dozens of Sunni tribes. Many of the new newly friendly leaders are believed to have at least tacitly supported the insurgency in the past, though al-Rishawi said he never did.


His movement, also known as the Anbar Awakening, now counts 41 tribes or sub-tribes from Anbar, though al-Rishawi acknowledges that some groups in the province have yet to join. It's unclear how many that is, or much support the movement really has.

In November 2005, American commanders proposed the alliance with Sunnis, and the Sunnis responded positively to the idea. In January, 2006, suicide bombers started attacking police recruiting drives, killing 70 people. Insurgents also killed four sheiks for cooperating with the Americans. Sheik Al-Rishawi founded the Anbar Salvation Council in September, 2006, with the cooperation of dozens of Sunni tribes. The Anbar Salvation Council then became known as the Anbar Awakening.

President Bush did not announce his troop surge until January 10, 2007--four months after the Anbar Awakening.

Even Colonel McFarlane [phonetic] stated that the Anbar Awakening took place before the Bush troop surge. According to the Huffington Post, then-Colonel Sean McFarlane described the Anbar Awakening on September 29, 2006:

With respect to the violence between the Sunnis and the al Qaeda -- actually, I would disagree with the assessment that the al Qaeda have the upper hand. That was true earlier this year when some of the sheikhs began to step forward and some of the insurgent groups began to fight against al Qaeda. The insurgent groups, the nationalist groups, were pretty well beaten by al Qaeda.

This is a different phenomena that's going on right now. I think that it's not so much the insurgent groups that are fighting al Qaeda, it's the -- well, it used to be the fence-sitters, the tribal leaders, are stepping forward and cooperating with the Iraqi security forces against al Qaeda, and it's had a very different result. I think al Qaeda has been pushed up against the ropes by this, and now they're finding themselves trapped between the coalition and ISF on the one side, and the people on the other.

McFarlane [phonetic] then states in this PDF report Anbar Awakens: The Tipping Point, that the Anbar Awakening took place, again, in September 2006. From Anbar Awakens:

On 9 September 2006 Sittar organized a tribal council, attended by over 50 sheiks and the brigade commander, at which he declared the “Anbar Awakening” officially underway. The Awakening Council that emerged from the meeting agreed to first drive AQIZ from Ramadi, and then reestablish rule of law and a local government to support the people. The creation of the Awakening Council, combined with the ongoing recruitment of local security forces, began a snowball effect that resulted in a growing number of tribes either openly supporting the Awakening or withdrawing their support from AQIZ.

Bottom line here is that the Anbar Awakening took place four months before President Bush announced his troop surge. In fact, the Anbar Awakening took place even before the first surge of American soldiers even set foot in Iraq. John McCain has lied to the American people. It is simple as that.

Now I want to go to the next McCain screw-up, which is even more outrageous than his Anbar Awakening lie. Americablog picked up this outrageous McCain attack on Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama's patriotism, saying that Obama "would rather lose a war in order to win a political campaign." From YouTube:

Here is the actual quote from The Carpetbagger Report:

“[T]his is a clear choice that the American people have. I had the courage and the judgment to say that I would rather lose a political campaign than lose a war. It seems to me that Obama would rather lose a war in order to win a political campaign.”

This is just incredible. Usually, the major political candidates stay above the fray, and let their campaign attack dogs, or the 527 committees fling the mud at their opponents. Just look at what the Swift Boaters did to John Kerry's presidential campaign.

But John McCain decided to forgo the mud, and start flinging crap from the toilet at Obama.

Time Magazine's Joe Klein responded to this latest McCain meltdown:

This is the ninth presidential campaign I've covered. I can't remember a more scurrilous statement by a major party candidate. It smacks of desperation. It renews questions about whether McCain has the right temperament for the presidency. How sad.

Scurrility Update: Readers should note that I said that I can't remember a more scurrilous statement by a major party candidate. Smart politicians leave the scurrilous stuff to their aides; in fact, a McCain spokesman expressed these words almost exactly on July 14. There is a reason why politicians who want to be President don't say these sort of things: It isn't presidential. A President exists in the straitjacket of literality. His words mean something. So John McCain has to literally believe that Barack Obama would "rather lose a war in order to win a political campaign." I can't imagine that he does. He popped off, out of frustration.

But it is more than just McCain popping off here in frustration. This is a concerted strategy by the McCain campaign to attack Obama's patriotism, to convict him in the political arena of treason. On July 17, 2008, McCain adviser Randy Scheunemann wrote a memo to reporters saying that Barack Obama:

[h]as determined that he would rather lose a war that we are winning than lose an election by alienating his base. This is the reason Obama did not have to wait until his trip to declare his strategy. Iraq is fundamentally a political decision for Barack Obama, not a national security decision.

John McCain has nothing left to campaign on. His economic policy is a continuation of the Bush economic policy of more tax cuts to the rich and more deregulation for Big Business. His chief economic adviser has called Americans a "bunch of whiners," who are suffering from a "mental recession." McCain has mentioned several times that the U.S. recession is "psychological," and that new oil drilling will provide a "psychological" affect on oil prices. McCain's gas tax holiday has been shredded by economists. And now John McCain's signature foreign policy issue, the one that he based his entire presidential campaign on, has been destroyed as Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki has endorsed Obama's 16-month troop withdrawal plan over McCain's plan to continue the U.S war in Iraq for another 100 years. In one sense, I should not be surprised at how McCain is lashing out like an angry, spoiled, rotten child.

Because John McCain is behaving like an angry, spoiled, rotten child.

Bush: Wall Street got drunk

When you are President of the United States, you should at least be careful of what you say at a public or private event. Because everything will be recorded and posted on YouTube. Unfortunately, President George W. Bush has never learned that lesson, and continues to show the world what a juvenile ass he still is.

ABC television station KTRK sent reporter Miya Shay to a Bush private fundraiser for Republican congressional candidate Pete Olson. And during that July 18th fundraiser, President Bush went about cracking some very bad jokes about how Wall Street got drunk over the excessive greed of the housing boom. You can watch the video through YouTube:

There is not much more to comment, except that Bush finds so much glee in the economic hardships that many Americans are facing due to this mortgage mess, and jokes about Wall Street got drunk with greed? Pity the poor peasants who have lost their homes to those same drunks on Wall Street. President Bush really shows just what an arrogant, insensitive, and stupid ass he is.

John McCain's never-ending war

This is just brilliant. If you want to know more about Republican presidential candidate John McCain's never-ending support for the U.S. war in Iraq, just listen to these video clips of McCain pushing his extreme pro-war stance, starting in October, 2002. From YouTube:

John McCain is a warmonger.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Iraqi government wants U.S. troops out by 2010

The events in Iraq are proceeding at such a furious pace, that even I can't keep up with them. First, Prime Minister Maliki threw his support for Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama's plan for withdrawing U.S. forces from Iraq in 16 months. Then the Bush administration strong-armed the Iraqi government, into saying that Maliki statement was "misunderstood and mistranslated." Now the Iraqi government has reversed itself, saying they want U.S. troops out of Iraq by 2010. From YouTube:

Talk about another monkey wrench being thrown into this mess. It seems like that the American people, the Iraqi people, the Iraqi government, the Iraqi prime minister, and the Democratic presidential candidate all want U.S. forces out of Iraq. The Pentagon has stated that U.S. troops will need to be removed from Iraq or the U.S. military will be broken. Only President George W. Bush and Republican presidential candidate John McCain are the only ones that want to continue this disastrous war, regardless of what anyone says.

McCain knows what is best for Iraq, rejects Maliki's timetable

Here we go again. On the July 21, 2008 Today Show program, Republican presidential candidate John McCain again rejected Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki's call for a 16-month timetable for withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq. Here is McCain speaking on the Today Show from YouTube:

Here is the transcript of McCain's statement:

Vieira: "Senator Obama's timetable of removing U.S. troops from Iraq within that 16-month period seemed to be getting a thumbs up by the Iraqi prime minister when he called it 'the right timeframe for a withdrawal.' He has backed off that somewhat, but the Iraqis have not stopped using the word timetable, so if the Iraqi government were to say -- if you were President -- we want a timetable for troops being to removed, would you agree with that?"

McCain: "I have been there too many times. I've met too many times with him, and I know what they want. They want it based on conditions and of course they would like to have us out, that's what happens when you win wars, you leave. We may have a residual presence there as even Senator Obama has admitted. But the fact is that it should be -- the agreement between Prime Minister Maliki, the Iraqi government and the United states is it will be based on conditions. This is a great success, but it's fragile, and could be reversed very easily. I think we should trust the word of General Petraeus who has orchestrated this dramatic turnaround. And by the way, we would have been out last march if Senator Obama's original wish would have been called for. Not 16 months from now, but last March. He was wrong on the surge, he was wrong today when he says it didn't succeed. And obviously we have challenges in Afghanistan which will require more troops and more NATO participation, but we can win. If we had lost in Iraq, we would have risked a much wider war that would have put enormous challenges and burdens on our military." [Emphasis added].

The arrogance of John McCain here is just incredible. John McCain is saying that we shouldn't listen to what either the Iraqi government, Prime Minister Maliki, or even the Iraqi people want on this war, or the withdrawal of U.S. troops, because John McCain said so. John McCain knows what the Iraqi government and the Iraqi people want--more war! Forget Maliki's withdrawal timetable. Forget that 71 percent of Iraqis want their government "to ask for US-led forces to be withdrawn from Iraq within a year or less." What is even more insane is that not only does John McCain know what the Iraqi people and government wants regarding this war, but McCain also claims that General Petraeus knows what the Iraqi government and people want from this war. So we should listen to General Petraeus. This is just absolute arrogance on John McCain's part in not just rejecting Maliki's timetable, but rejecting any say in what the Iraqi government, its leaders, and its people, in determining the outcome of this U.S. war in Iraq, and the eventual withdrawal of U.S. forces from Iraq.

Monday, July 21, 2008

McCain talks of "a very hard struggle" on the Iraq-Pakistan border

Today on Good Morning America, Republican presidential candidate John McCain, again, shows just how confused he is on foreign policy--only this time it is about geography. When asked by ABC's Diane Sawyer about whether the "situation in Afghanistan is precarious and urgent," McCain responded:

"I think it's serious. . . . It's a serious situation, but there's a lot of things we need to do. We have a lot of work to do and I'm afraid it's a very hard struggle, particularly given the situation on the Iraq/Pakistan border," said McCain, R-Ariz., said on "Good Morning America."

Iraq and Pakistan do not share a border. Afghanistan and Pakistan do.

You can view McCain's expertise on geography here on YouTube:

Now I can understand a candidate making a flub now and then, especially a long, strenuous campaign schedule. Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama talked about traveling through 57 states. So a flub now and then is perfectly understandable. The problem I have with McCain is that he has been consistently flubbing, consistently making misstatements, and consistently being confused on basic facts. The Carpetbagger Report's Steve Benen provided a long list showing McCain's confusion:

* McCain continues to believe Czechoslovakia is still a country.

* McCain has been confused about the difference between Sudan and Somalia.

* McCain has been confused about whether he wants more U.S. troops in Afghanistan, more NATO troops in Afghanistan, or both.

* McCain has been confused about how many U.S. troops are in Iraq.

* McCain has been confused about whether the U.S. can maintain a long-term presence in Iraq.

* McCain has been confused about the source of violence in Iraq.

* McCain has been confused about Iran’s relationship with al Qaeda.

* McCain has been confused about the difference between Sunni and Shi’ia.

* McCain has been confused about Gen. Petraeus’ responsibilities in Iraq.

* McCain has been confused about what transpired during the Maliki government’s recent offensive in Basra.

* McCain has been confused about Gen. Petraeus’ ability to travel around Baghdad “in a non-armed Humvee.”

* McCain has been so confused about Iraq, in November 2006, he couldn’t even do a live interview about the war without reading prepared notes on national television.

* McCain has been confused about his vote on the Kyl-Lieberman amendment on the Iranian Revolutionary Guard.

And this only covers McCain’s obvious incoherence on his signature issue.

Had Obama even gave one of these McCain flubs during this campaign, he would have been drummed out of the campaign from a combined attack by GOP partisans and the corporate media. Instead it is McCain that is expressing such confusion over the facts, even as McCain claims that he is supposed to be the expert on foreign affairs. And yet this supposed expert of foreign affairs can't even correctly read a map of the Middle East to realize that Iraq does not border Pakistan, or even to understand that Czechoslovakia no longer exists. These are simple geography questions--we haven't even gotten into the more complex political and military questions regarding Iraq that are confusing McCain.

I really didn't want to get into this issue until now, but I do believe that McCain's age is becoming a serious campaign issue. I can understand that the Iraq-Pakistan border is a complete gaffe, and I'm willing to accept a gaffe now and then. But McCain has presented a consistent pattern of gaffes and confused misstatements on foreign policy and Iraq. Is it because McCain cannot mentally and physically keep up with the strenuous campaigning due to his age? If the campaign schedule is making a 71-year-old John McCain a little confused, then perhaps he should not be elected president. I am not saying that a 71-year-old should not be elected president due to his age. What I am saying is that if John McCain does not have the mental capacity to understand the complex problems that a president must grasp in this world, and make the hard decisions based on these complex problems, then John McCain is not qualified to sit in the Oval Office. Because right now, John McCain is showing that consistent pattern of mental confusion regarding the issues of foreign policy and Iraq.

McCain is not mentally qualified to be elected into the White House.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Sunday Night Music--Don Henley with The Boys of Summer

Maybe it is time to post another music video. And since it is the middle of summer, how about Don Henley's tribute to the summers of the '60s, The Boys of Summer. From YouTube:

GOP strategist responding to Maliki endorsement of Obama withdrawal timetable: We're Fucked!

There is just no other way to say it. From the

This could be one of those unexpected events that forever changes the way the world perceives an issue. Iraq's Prime Minister agrees with Obama, and there's no wiggle room or fudge factor. This puts John McCain in an extremely precarious spot: what's left to argue? to argue against Maliki would be to predicate that Iraqi sovereignty at this point means nothing. Obviously, our national interests aren't equivalent to Iraq's, but... Malik isn't listening to the generals on the ground...but the "hasn't been to Iraq" line doesn't work here.

So how will the McCain campaign respond?

(Via e-mail, a prominent Republican strategist who occasionally provides advice to the McCain campaign said, simply, "We're fucked." No response yet from the McCain campaign, although here's what McCain said the last time Maliki mentioned withdrawal: "Since we are succeeding, then I am convinced, as I have said before, we can withdraw and withdraw with honor, not according to a set timetable. And I’m confident that is what Prime Minister Maliki is talking about, since he has told me that for many meetings we’'ve had."

Will Maliki retract his words?

I'd say that the GOP strategist is understating is understating his comment regarding the McCain campaigns' response--McCain is royally fucked here. There is just no response that McCain can give that will not contradict his previous 2004 statement of withdrawing U.S. troops if the Iraqi government requests such a withdrawal. Even the July 8, 2008 McCain statement on McCain sidestepping Maliki's general withdrawal timetable doesn't even take into context the political fallout of Maliki's endorsement of Obama's timetable. There is just no way McCain can respond to this story without causing even further damage to his already disastrous campaign.

John McCain is royally and completely fucked here.

(My apologies for the coarse language)

Iraq government claims Maliki's support for Obama timetable “misunderstood and mistranslated”

Well, the story of Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki's backing of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama's troop withdrawal timetable has now entered into the Twilight Zone. According to The New York Times Caucus blog:

Update: A spokesman for the Iraqi prime minister has issued a statement saying his remarks were “misunderstood and mistranslated,” but did not address a specific error. Full statement below.

The policies and whims of American leaders have played a major role in politics in Iraq and elsewhere. And now, Iraq’s prime minister, Nuri Kamal al-Maliki, dipped his toes in the United States’ race for the White House.

Mr. Maliki essentially endorsed Senator Barack Obama’s plan for withdrawing troops from Iraq in an interview with the German magazine Der Spiegel.


Dr. Ali al-Dabbagh, a spokesman for the Iraqi government, issued a statement saying Mr. Maliki’s statement had been “as not conveyed accurately regarding the vision of Senator Barack Obama, U.S. presidential candidate, on the timeframe for U.S. forces withdrawal from Iraq,” but it did not address a specific error. It did soften his support for Mr. Obama’s plan and implied a more tentative approach to withdrawing troops. More of the statement, which came from the U.S. military’s Central Command press office:

Al-Dabbagh explained that Mr. al-Maliki confirmed the existence of an Iraqi vision stems from the reality with regard to Iraq security needs, as the positive developments of the security situation and the improvement witnessed in Iraqi cities makes the subject of U.S. forces’ withdrawal within prospects, horizons and timetables agreed upon and in the light of the continuing positive developments on the ground, and security that came within the Strategic Plan for Cooperation which was laid and developed by Mr. Maliki and President George Bush. The Iraqi government appreciates and values the efforts of all the friends who continue to support and supporting Iraqi security forces.

Al-Dabbagh underscored that the statements made by the head of the ministerial council (Prime Minister al-Maliki) or any of the members of the Iraqi government should not be understood as support to any U.S. presidential candidates.

So now even though Maliki first claimed that he supports Obama's 16-month withdrawal timetable, the official Iraqi government's position is that Maliki statement was "not conveyed accurately regarding the vision" of Obama's vision, or a possible withdrawal timetable for U.S. troops in Iraq. Such a possible timetable would be set according to security conditions in Iraq and the Strategic Plan for Cooperation that was developed between Maliki and the Bush administration. Now Maliki no longer supports any U.S. presidential candidate.

And even Maliki has suddenly reversed himself in claiming he does not support any U.S. presidential candidate. According to the Caucus:

“U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama talks about 16 months,” Mr. Maliki said, according to the magazine’s online English edition. “That, we think, would be the right timeframe for a withdrawal, with the possibility of slight changes.”

Naturally, Mr. Maliki did not want to imply he was backing one candidate over another in a foreign election:

“Of course, this is by no means an election endorsement. Who they choose as their president is the Americans’ business,” he said. But then, apparently referring to Republican candidate John McCain’s more open-ended Iraq policy, Maliki said: “Those who operate on the premise of short time periods in Iraq today are being more realistic. Artificially prolonging the tenure of U.S. troops in Iraq would cause problems.”

So Maliki first claims that he supports Obama's 16-month troop withdrawal timeline, but then rejects that he is endorsing one candidate over the other. The simple fact here is that Maliki is endorsing Obama's candidacy because Obama will withdrawal U.S. troops from Iraq. It is a "realistic" premise that Maliki supports. Maliki has also rejected Republican presidential candidate John McCain's 100-year-war-in-Iraq policy by saying that "Artificially prolonging the tenure of U.S. troops in Iraq would cause problems. Maliki has inserted himself into the presidential election, irregardless of whatever the official Iraqi government statement is. Is this going to influence the result of the U.S. presidential elections? I don't think so. Of course American voters may consider Maliki's support for Obama's troop withdrawal plan as another political point of contention between the two political parties on the issue of Iraq, but that will be as far as it will go. I could care less about what any government in the world would say in choosing between the two candidates--this just becomes another public opinion poll between the candidates. I would be more concerned about foreign governments contributing money to either presidential campaigns as a means of influencing elections--that I will not support for either Obama or McCain's campaign. While Obama has banned lobbyists from raising money for his campaign, McCain has allowed lobbyists working for foreign governments to both contribute money to his campaign and have those lobbyists work for his campaign. According to this February 1, 2008 ABC News story:

On his quest for the White House, McCain has five fundraisers who lobby for foreign interests. His campaign co-chair and chief moneyman, Thomas Loeffler, has lobbied for Saudi Arabia for five years. Loeffler personally arranged a meeting between Sen. McCain and Prince Turki al-Faisal, then-Saudi ambassador to the United States, in May of 2006. Loeffler, a former congressman and longtime Republican fundraiser, chairs the firm that helped the Saudi kingdom join the World Trade Organization, fight anti-Saudi legislation and improve its image in the war on terrorism. The Saudi royals paid Loeffler's firm more than $11 million in two years for its efforts on their behalf.

Loeffler did not respond to repeated calls requesting comment, but when asked about his work for Saudi Arabia last April, Loeffler told the National Journal that he would handle "all of the work" of his firm while working on the McCain campaign. He also said, "I do not find a conflict of interest at this time," according to the magazine.

McCain's fundraisers also include lobbyists for Peru, the Kurdistan Regional Government in Iraq and Dubai.

One of them, Peter Madigan, works for the government of Colombia to promote a U.S.-Colombia free-trade agreement. His firm is also paid to "seek appropriations for the Government of Colombia," according to filings. The firm's lobbyists have distributed papers defending Colombian President Alvaro Uribe against allegations of ties to paramilitary groups, and promoting the controversial anti-drug program "Plan Colombia" as achieving "strengthening of human rights."

Madigan, who also lobbies on behalf of Dubai, serves with Sen. McCain on the board of the International Republican Institute, which seeks to advance freedom worldwide.

So not only is McCain in bed with the lobbyists, but he is also in bed with lobbyists working for foreign governments. Do you really want McCain in the White House?

Going back to the Maliki story, Der Speigel is still sticking to its story:

A number of media outlets likewise professed to being confused by the statement from Maliki's office. The New York Times pointed out that al-Dabbagh's statement "did not address a specific error." CBS likewise expressed disbelief pointing out that Maliki mentions a timeframe for withdrawal three times in the interview and then asks, "how likely is it that SPIEGEL mistranslated three separate comments? Matthew Yglesias, a blogger for the Atlantic Monthly, was astonished by "how little effort was made" to make the Baghdad denial convincing. And the influential blog IraqSlogger also pointed out the lack of specifics in the government statement.

SPIEGEL sticks to its version of the conversation.

Here is Spiegel's interview with Iraqi Prime Minister Maliki.

MSNBC's Chuck Todd: GOP panicked over Maliki's timetable

Here is MSNBC's political analyst Chuck Todd reporting that the Republican Party is panicked over Maliki's endorsement of Obama's timetable. Todd also states that, while Obama's Iraq trip has been a huge boom for the Obama campaign this weekend, the presidential race will still shift back towards the economy. From YouTube:

Todd is right--there is a serious panic taking place within the GOP. Not only has Maliki pulled the rug out of the GOP's argument for continuing the Iraq war, but the deteriorating economy under George W. Bush's administration certainly doesn't help John McCain's campaign to continue with a third Bush term, especially since McCain's economic policy is a continuation of Bush's economic policy. Right now, the McCain campaign and the Bush administration are pushing this spin that the coming U.S. recession is "psychological," even as Americans are being hurt by job losses, high energy and food prices, and falling home values due to the mortgage mess. It is the perfect storm of disaster after disaster falling on to the GOP, disasters created by their own outright greed and incompetence.

Is it no wonder that they are in a panic?

McCain and Gramm still chummy, even after Gramm resigned from McCain campaign

Conservative columnist Robert Novak reports that Republican presidential candidate John McCain and his close economic adviser, former senator Phil Gramm, have "patched up their relationship" after Gramm resigned from the McCain campaign due to Gramm's remarks that Americans are a "bunch of whiners" suffering from a "mental recession." From Real Clear Politics:

After Sen. John McCain publicly repudiated his close friend and adviser Phil Gramm's comments about a "nation of whiners" and a "mental recession," the two old political comrades patched up their relationship.

Gramm apologized to McCain for his remarks that gave Democrats an opening against the Republican presidential candidate and provided several days of ammunition for blogs, cable television and radio talk shows. McCain told Gramm not to worry about the expected pitfalls of a campaign surrogate. Gramm will continue as an adviser and surrogate.

Gramm remained a steadfast supporter last year when it appeared that McCain's campaign had collapsed. McCain was a loyal backer of Gramm's failed 1988 campaign for president and did not leave until the candidate dropped out of the race.

You can bet that Gramm will continue to be McCain's economic adviser, even in an unofficial way.

In related news, has provided this YouTube video showing McCain saying that Americans have "psychological" views on the recession and high energy prices--it is all in our heads. From YouTube:

So even as McCain has thrown Gramm under the Straight Talk Express bus, McCain is still repeating Gramm's own words on a "mental" recession. Only it is not mental.

It is just psychological.

White House accidentally emails story to reporters on Maliki supports Obama's troop withdrawal timetable

This is from ABC News:

The White House this afternoon accidentally sent to its extensive distribution list a Reuters story headlined "Iraqi PM backs Obama troop exit plan - magazine."

The story relayed how Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki told the German magazine Der Spiegel that "he supported prospective U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama's proposal that U.S. troops should leave Iraq within 16 months … ‘U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama talks about 16 months. That, we think, would be the right timeframe for a withdrawal, with the possibility of slight changes,'" the prime minister said.

The White House employee had intended to send the article to an internal distribution list, ABC News' Martha Raddatz reports, but hit the wrong button.

The misfire comes at an odd time for Bush foreign policy, at a time when Obama's campaign alleges the president is moving closer toward Obama's recommendations about international relations -- sending more U.S. troops to Afghanistan, discussing a "general time horizon" for U.S. troop withdrawal and launching talks with Iran.

Something tells me that the Bush administration just crapped a huge brick in its pants when they sent this email out. First this was a huge goof on part of the Bush White House, in that they wanted to send this story to their partisan pundits and bloggers so that they would use the story to attack the Obama campaign on the policy of a U.S. troop withdrawal time line. But more importantly, this story reveals something else about the Bush administration's pro-war policy in Iraq. It shows fear within the Bush administration and the Republican Party. Iraqi Prime Minister Malikis' support of Democratic candidate Barack Obama's troop withdrawal timetable provides a powerful opening to the American people on how to exit a war that almost two-thirds of the American people oppose. They may not have previously supported Obama's timetable, but with the Iraqi prime minister endorsing Obama's plan, then this is a powerful incentive for ending this failed Bush war that the American people are opposed to. It completely undercuts the entire pro-war positions of both the Bush administration and GOP presidential candidate John McCain. The Bush administration's plan was to send this story out to their partisan hacks and bloggers in order to both attack Obama and discredit Maliki in supporting a strategy that would cause both the U.S. and Iraq to surrender to the al Qaeda terrorists. Instead, the email was sent to reporters, magnifying this latest screw-up by the Bush White House.

Maliki backs Obama's troop withdrawal plan from Iraq

This is huge. From

BERLIN, July 19 (Reuters) - Iraqi Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki told a German magazine he supported prospective U.S. Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama's proposal that U.S. troops should leave Iraq within 16 months.

In an interview with Der Spiegel released on Saturday, Maliki said he wanted U.S. troops to withdraw from Iraq as soon as possible.

"U.S. presidential candidate Barack Obama talks about 16 months. That, we think, would be the right timeframe for a withdrawal, with the possibility of slight changes."

It is the first time he has backed the withdrawal timetable put forward by Obama, who is visiting Afghanistan and us set to go to Iraq as part of a tour of Europe and the Middle East.

Obama has called for a shift away from a "single-minded" focus on Iraq and wants to pull out troops within 16 months, instead adding U.S. soldiers to Afghanistan.

This is just huge. First, Maliki wants U.S. occupation troops out of Iraq. All the PR-spin that we've been hearing from the Bush administration and the GOP about how Iraq would descend into anarchy and ethnic civil war if the U.S. pulled out, all the talk of how the Bush administration are holding the strings of a puppet government in Iraq, and here is the U.S. handpicked puppet leader of Iraq saying he supports Democrat Barack Obama's approach for pulling U.S. troops out of Iraq in 16 months. This is just incredible.

What is Republican Senator John McCain's response to Maliki? According to The

In 2004 Mr McCain told the Council on Foreign Relations that if asked to leave, America would have to withdraw.

[I]f that scenario evolves then I think it's obvious that we would have to leave because -- if it was an elected government of Iraq, and we've been asked to leave other places in the world. If it were an extremist government then I think we would have other challenges, but I don't see how we could stay when our whole emphasis and policy has been based on turning the Iraqi government over to the Iraqi people.

But the McCain campaign's most recent statement was more non-committal. "Senator McCain has always said that conditions on the ground—including the security threats posed by extremists and terrorists, and the ability of Iraqi forces to meet those threats—would be key determinants in US force levels," said Randy Scheunemann, Mr McCain's foreign-policy adviser, avoiding the question.

Mr Maliki has sure put Mr McCain in a box. The candidate has prided himself on standing firm on Iraq—he has maintained his hawkish stance and criticised those who even utter the word "timetable". Moreover, his campaign has attacked Mr Obama's "constantly shifting positions" on Iraq. So it would be a difficult political manoeuvre for Mr McCain to respond at all positively to Mr Maliki's idea. Meanwhile, Mr Obama might begin to ask a receptive American electorate, "Who is it that wants America to stay in Iraq?"

In 2004, Senator McCain stated that if a legitimately elected Iraqi government asked for the U.S. to leave Iraq, then the U.S. should honor the Iraqi government's request. Now presidential candidate McCain has reversed himself, saying that the U.S. would withdrawal from Iraq only when the Iraqi forces are able to respond to terrorist threats to U.S. satisfaction, irregardless of the Iraqi government's position. This places John McCain in a very bad position, since McCain has staked a 100-year U.S. war in Iraq. And Maliki wants the U.S. out of Iraq in 16 months. What is worst, is that John McCain has focused his campaign on the Iraq war, saying that McCain himself has the greater foreign policy experience to confront the problems with Iraq, and that Barack Obama will surrender Iraq to the terrorists. McCain has said that the U.S. surge in Iraq has been a success, and that we should not leave Iraq before victory, or whatever "victory" is according to McCain. If the U.S. surge is a success, then it is time for the U.S. to leave Iraq. The McCain campaign has made the U.S. war in Iraq a single-focus issue to run on--every other issue has been a disaster for the McCain campaign. Now Maliki has pulled the Iraq rug out from under John McCain, sending McCain's pro-100-year-war Iraq policy into a shambles.

Update: I should point out that the McCain campaign has so far avoided directly responding to Maliki's endorsement of Obama's troop withdrawal timetable. Instead, McCain has been generally avoiding the question of Maliki's demands for a general timetable, saying that U.S. troops will leave Iraq only after they achieve "victory." So the McCain campaign has found themselves in a very bad situation, where McCain is, again, contradicting himself on Iraq.

Update 2: The McCain campaign has responded to Maliki's comment on supporting Barack Obama's troomp withdrawal. According to The Los Angeles Times:

John McCain's Republican presidential campaign was forced to respond this afternoon to initial press reports that in an interview with a German magazine Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki had essentially endorsed theRepublican presidential nominee to be Senator John McCain on one of his numerous visits to Iraq 16-month Iraq pullout timetable of Democrat Barack Obama.


The political fear for the McCain camp is that in its energetic focus on the Obama political field trip and the 16-month timetable, the media and voters will miss another similarity, Maliki's reference to taking into account actual military conditions on the ground.

That's a crucial difference between Obama, who emphasized the immediate withdrawal part to his party's left during the primary process, and McCain, who's stressed pulling out based on the military situation and commander's counsel.

So this afternoon the McCain campaign called attention to a new video documenting the shifts in Obama's Iraq withdrawal position and issued a statement by foreign policy advisor Randy Scheunemann that said in full:

"The difference between John McCain and Barack Obama is that Barack Obama advocates an unconditional withdrawal that ignores the facts on the ground and the advice of our top military commanders. John McCain believes withdrawal must be based on conditions on the ground.

"Prime Minister Maliki has repeatedly affirmed the same view, and did so again today. Timing is not as important as whether we leave with victory and honor, which is of no apparent concern to Barack Obama.

"The fundamental truth remains that Senator McCain was right about the surge and Senator Obama was wrong. We would not be in the position to discuss a responsible withdrawal today if Sen. Obama's (anti-surge) views had prevailed."

Again, McCain sidesteps the issue, saying that Obama's troop withdrawal plan is wrong, and McCain is right about the U.S. troop surge success, while completely avoiding Maliki's endorsement of Obama's withdrawal plan. It is the same old crap, different day response to a failed McCain campaign policy of continuing the 100-year war.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Zimbabwe introduces 100-billion-dollar note

A Zimbabwean man holds on May 16, 2008 a new five hundred million dollar note in Harare, May 2008. Zimbabwe, grappling with a record 2.2 million percent inflation, has introduced a new 100-billion-dollar bank note in a bid to tackle rampant cash shortages.
(AFP/File/Desmond Kwande)

I wonder if the U.S. will ever end up in the same situation as Zimbabwe? From Yahoo News:

HARARE (AFP) - Zimbabwe, grappling with a record 2.2 million percent inflation, has introduced a new 100-billion-dollar bank note in a bid to tackle rampant cash shortages, the central bank said Saturday.

The new note will go into circulation on Monday, the bank said in a statement cited by state media, joining about half a dozen new high denomination notes already issued this year.

In January, a 10-million-dollar note was issued, then a 50-million-dollar note in April. In May, notes for 100 million and 250 million dollars were issued, swiftly followed by those for five billion, 25 billion and 50 billion.

The southern African nation, currently gripped by a post-election crisis, has been ravaged by hyperinflation which shot up from 165,000 percent in February to 2.2 million in June.

Independent economists however believe the official inflation figure is grossly understated, estimating it could be running between 10 million and 15 million percent.

Zimbabwe's chronic economic crisis has left at least 80 percent of the population living below the poverty threshold and mass shortages of basic goods in shops.

Gramm resigns from McCain campaign post

After calling Americans a "nation of whiners," and saying that we're all in a "mental recession," it appears that former Senator Phil Gramm is leaving Republican John McCain's presidential campaign. From MSNBC News:

NEW YORK - Former Texas Sen. Phil Gramm resigned Friday from his role as Republican presidential candidate John McCain's campaign co-chairman, hoping to quiet the uproar that followed his comments that Americans had become a "nation of whiners" whose constant complaints about the U.S. economy show they are in a "mental recession."

Gramm, a past presidential candidate, made the remarks more than a week ago. McCain immediately distanced himself from the comments, but they brought a steady stream of criticism just as McCain is trying to show he can help steer the country past its current financial troubles.

Gramm said in a statement late Friday that he is stepping down to "end this distraction."

"It is clear to me that Democrats want to attack me rather than debate Senator McCain on important economic issues facing the country," Gramm said. "That kind of distraction hurts not only Senator McCain's ability to present concrete programs to deal with the country's problems, it hurts the country. To end this distraction and get on with the real debate, I hereby step down as co-chair of the McCain campaign and join the growing number of rank-and-file McCain supporters."

Gramm made the comment to The Washington Times and later explained that he was talking about the nation's leaders not the American people. Democrats claimed at the time that the Gramm comments showed that McCain is out of touch with voters' concerns over high gas prices, the struggling housing industry and the shaky economy in general.

I find it rather humorous that Phil Gramm blames the Democrats for his own "mental recession" statement. Excuse me Senator--you screwed up in admitting your delusions that we are in a mental recession and are a bunch of whiners. Now the story is coming out that YOU hurt the country in tearing down the wall between banking and investment houses, causing this entire home mortgage meltdown. And then you lobby for a big financial company to roll back legislation during the mortgage crisis. From

Gramm’s role in the swift and dramatic recent restructuring of the nation’s investment houses and practices didn’t stop there.

A year after the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act repealed the old regulations, Swiss Bank UBS gobbled up brokerage house Paine Weber. Two years later, Gramm settled in as a vice chairman of UBS’s new investment banking arm.

Later, he became a major player in its government affairs operation. According to federal lobbying disclosure records, Gramm lobbied Congress, the Federal Reserve and the Treasury Department about banking and mortgage issues in 2005 and 2006.

During those years, the mortgage industry pressed Congress to roll back strong state rules that sought to stem the rise of predatory tactics used by lenders and brokers to place homeowners in high-cost mortgages.

For his work, Gramm and two other lobbyists collected $750,000 in fees from UBS’s American subsidiary. In the past year, UBS has written down more than $18 billion in exposure to subprime loans and other risky securities and is considering cutting as many as 8,000 jobs.

Gramm did not respond to an e-mail and was unavailable for comment, according to a UBS spokesman. The bank has no official position on the subprime crisis, the spokesman said, but is a member of the Financial Services Roundtable and other industry groups that are actively lobbying Congress on the issue.

Now, some housing experts and economists see Gramm’s thinking in the recent housing proposal from McCain, the Republican Party’s presumed presidential nominee. Gramm is often a surrogate for the Arizona senator, particularly in meetings focused on the economy. And McCain has hinted he’d consider the former Texas senator for Treasury secretary in a McCain administration.

Countdown with Keith Olbermann explains further Gramm's connection between his role as a lobbyist for UBS, and how Gramm killed reform legislation for the benefit of UBS and the financial industry. Countdown Part One:

And here is Countdown Part Two:

And John McCain wants to make Phil Gramm his Treasury Secretary in a McCain administration? We do not need either Phil Gramm or John McCain to continue sending this country down the toilet.

Saturday Morning Cartoons--Ain't She Tweet

For today's Saturday Morning Cartoons, let us go back to some real fun with Tweety and Sylvester in Ain't She Tweet! This 1952 cartoon, directed by Friz Freleng, has Sylvester drooling over Tweety as a tasty snack through the Pet Shop window. Only before Sylvester can even plan to snatch Tweety from the Pet Shop, Tweety sold and delivered to Granny, who has a yard filled with pet bulldogs. So the plot is that Sylvester has to get through a million barking bulldogs just to even get at Tweety. Priceless.

Here is Tweety, Sylvester, and a million bulldogs in Ain't She Tweet! From YouTube:

Friday, July 18, 2008

Friday Fun Stuff--Bee vs. Jumping Spider

I found this National Geographic segment of a Honeybee squaring off against the Jumping Spider. Take your bets as to who will win. From YouTube:

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Have a Coke, a smile, and shut up as we charge you even more after Labor Day

You better stock up on your Coke for this summer. Because after Labor Day, the price is going up. From MSNBC News:

ATLANTA - Coca-Cola can expect to pay more starting this fall after the company's biggest bottler said Thursday that it would raise prices.

The issues at the bottler also hurt Coca-Cola Co.'s bottom line, since it owns about 35 percent of that business. The world's biggest beverage company said its profit fell 23 percent in the second quarter as it took a charge because of the bottler's woes.

Coca-Cola Enterprises, which has about 80 percent of the U.S. market for Coke, said it would raise prices in September because of higher commodity costs and declining U.S. soda sales. Bottlers set prices for retailers like grocery stores.

At Coca-Cola Co., the results were again led by the international operations.

The company is facing declining soda sales in the U.S., and managed to keep U.S. sales volume steady in the second quarter thanks to a boost from Glaceau's Vitaminwater, which it bought for $4.1 billion last June. International sales rose 5 percent even as they were hurt by natural disasters in Asia and labor strikes in Europe.

The Atlanta-based drinks company earned $1.42 billion, or 61 cents per share, down from $1.85 billion, or 80 cents per share, in the year-ago quarter. The results included a charge of 40 cents per share related to Coca-Cola Enterprises. Excluding one-time items, the per share figure came to $1.01. Revenue rose 17 percent to $9.05 billion from $7.73 billion.

Analysts polled by Thomson Financial had expected a profit of 96 cents per share on revenue of $8.93 billion, on average. But the company's shares fell about 4 percent.

I would say that Coke is facing the same problems that a lot of other food manufacturers are also facing--higher commodity prices, such as corn syrup, and higher energy prices, such as gas. In fact, I'd say that Coke is getting hit with a double-whammy regarding energy prices. Coke uses corn syrup as a sweetener for its concentrate. However corn prices have jumped due to increased ethanol production, and higher gas and oil prices. Coke has been absorbing those higher costs due to the higher corn prices, but has refused to raise the price on their signature soda. The second energy whammy would be higher gas prices, also due to the spike in oil prices, as Coke transports its products from their manufacturing centers to retail outlets, such as grocery stores. Again Coke has absorbed these higher costs without passing them down to consumers. As for declining U.S. soda sales, I'm wondering if the same high food and energy prices are causing American consumers to cut back on sodas. According to this story:

Chief Executive Officer Muhtar Kent, who took over Atlanta- based Coca-Cola this month, said consumers had less money to spend on Diet Coke, Minute Maid juices and Dasani bottled water because of rising food and energy prices. The amount of Coca-Cola drinks sold worldwide rose 3 percent, less than the 4 percent increase some analysts estimated, an indication that slowing sales in North America may expand elsewhere.

``When the fuel price is sky high at the pump, you really don't want to go into the store and spend another couple of bucks on snacks and pop or soda,'' Mariann Montagne, an analyst with Thrivent Asset Management in Minneapolis, said in a interview on Bloomberg Television. Montagne's firm manages $70 billion in assets, including Coca-Cola shares.

What we may be looking at here is inflation's effect of rising commodity and energy prices squeezing profit margins on Coke, forcing Coke to pass on those same inflationary pressures on consumers. This is just one food manufacturer--consider the thought that all the food manufacturers may be raising prices on their food products to cover their own increased energy costs. Remember that producer prices have jumped 1.8 percent in June, mainly due to the rising energy costs. We're in a situation where, if energy costs are not stabilized, we could see inflation spiral out of control here for this year. And inflation will hit us all--especially as consumers.