Saturday, August 30, 2008


I can't vote for a guy who wears the wrong t-shirt. Give me the guy who will cost America hundreds of billions of dollars and thousands of lives in unnecessary wars.

QUESTION: Who would make the better president? The Republicans are putting up Arizona Senator John McCain, 72 years young. McCain got into the Naval Academy as the son of an admiral, came close to being expelled for his misconduct, graduated 894th in a class of 899, went on to become a naval aviator, was shot down in Vietnam, and spent over five years in captivity in North Vietnam, enduring harsh treatment, including torture (what Dick Cheney would describe as "enhanced interrogation techniques.")

But other than ditching his first wife, Carol Shepp, who had stood by him during his years in captivity, and their three kids (they refused to talk to him for years) and marrying a blonde, drug addicted beer distributorship heiress with millions of dollars (but who stole drugs from her charity!) with whom he had an affair while his wife was recovering in a hospital bed, what has John McCain actually accomplished in the last 35 years since he returned from North Vietnam? Well, for one, in 1987 he was one of the “Keating Five,” a bi-partisan group of senators whom Charles Keating, who owned Lincoln Savings and Loan, bribed in an attempt to block unfavorable legislation ($112,000 to McCain alone) and to get favorable treatment from bank inspectors while his industry was going down in flames in the S & L scandal. McCain managed to avoid getting booted out of the Senate, although he was rebuked for exercising "poor judgment."

Here is what William Black, Ronald Reagan's Deputy Director of the Federal Savings and Loan Insurance Corp., had to say about his meeting with McCain and four other Senators:

"The Senate is a really small club, like the cliche goes. And you really did have one-twentieth of the Senate in one room, called by one guy, who was the biggest crook in the S&L debacle."

The other choice is some guy from Illinois, via Kansas, Hawaii, and Harvard Law School, named Barack Hussein Obama. Hmmmm. Middle name is “Hussein.” That must mean he’s an Islamic terrorist who wants to secretly pretend to be a devout Christian so that he can subvert America and turn us all into Jihadists who revere the Prophet Mohammed and pray towards Mecca seven times a day. Harvard Law? The guy must be an intellectual who cares about elitist claptrap such as facts, logic, and rational thinking. No way I want a guy like that around the button that can send off a nuclear weapon. Nope, give me a George W. Bush clone who scorns rational thought and who likes mindless, stupid answers to complicated questions: gas prices too high? “Drill here, drill now” is Mr. McCain’s answer! Give me a guy whose first answer- only answer- to any foreign threat is to bomb, kill, or bludgeon. Iran wants to build nukes? Bomb them. North Korea wants nukes? Kill them. Russia invades Georgia? Send the Alabama National Guard into Atlanta and knock those suckers on their butts. Ohhhh, that Georgia. Never mind.

Obama? No way. For goodness sakes, his minister and his wife hate America. He won't wear a flag pin in his lapel (he said it was hypocritical pandering). He was given a Marine Corps t-shirt by a former Marine and he wore it to play basketball against Marines when he wasn't even in the Marine Corps, ever! What a slap in the face to Marines everywhere! No way I can vote for that guy. Far better to vote Republican and continue to let industry lobbyists run FEMA, the EPA, the FDA, the Mine Safety Administration, and the Energy Department (brought to you by ENRON and EXXON during the Cheney Administration) than to put up with a guy who wears the wrong t-shirt.

Nope. No way no how do I want an intelligent, rational, calm, compassionate human being in the White House. Give me a guy who has simple answers or no answers to every serious problem facing America. So, your wife’s got cancer, your kid is autistic, your mother in law just moved in with you because she’s too poor for the nursing home and too rich for Medicaid? John McCain has the answer: the current system is fine and dandy, with one exception: we need to give rich people more tax deductions in the form of “medical savings accounts.” (You know, those 401 K type plans that most minimum wage people working at McDonalds pour their thousands of dollars into when they’re not buying that second beach house down in Panama City).

Clinton’s $100+ billion surplus, which was projected to rise to the point that it would have paid off the national debt in about 15 years, has turned into annual deficits of $400 billion or more and the debt has gone up over $3 trillion since our last Democratic President. McCain thinks that’s ok, even though we have to borrow billions from China to pay to Saudi Arabia for oil, and that money is being funneled to terrorists who want to kill us. McCain’s answer to the enormous debt? Make those Bush tax cuts for billionaires permanent so we’ll never have to worry about paying down our debts.

Iraq is a quagmire and we’re wasting $100 billion a year while our most talented servicemen and women are coming home in body bags, mutilated, missing limbs, or with brain injuries or post traumatic stress disorder from bomb blasts? Don't think about it- because "the surge" worked! And by "worked" McCain means we have to stay there for decades, sacrificing blood, money, and international goodwill until we achieve "victory," which can't be defined because we're not actually fighting a war- it's a military occupation among people who are killing each other.

But the surge worked! Don't even think about the fact that had America listened to Barack Obama in 2002 (he opposed the war and said we’d be in a quagmire in Iraq) and not John McCain (war? hell yes!) , we’d never have been in Iraq, wouldn’t have needed a surge, and 4,150 American servicemen would be alive. America doesn’t need that kind of cool, detached rational judgment and intelligent prognostication in the White House. Nope, give us the dumb guy to whom every problem looks like a nail waiting for a sledgehammer. Give me the guy about whom Mississippi Republican Senator Thad Cochran said:

"He is erratic. He is hotheaded. He loses his temper and he worries me."

So heck yes, vote for John McCain. Because a 72 year old man who can’t remember the difference between Shia and Sunni, who says Al Qaida (they’re Sunni) trains in Iran (they’re Shia and mortal enemies) until Joe Lieberman leans over and corrects him, who talks about problems on the “Pakistan- Iraq border” (sorry, John but Iran and much of Afghanistan are in between), who says his staff will have to answer the question as to how many homes he owns, who was against torture and religious intolerance until he sniffed the presidency, who opposed giving increased veterans benefits to Iraq combat veterans because he wanted life to be so bad if they left the military that they would have to stay in, whose every answer to every question is more of the same policies we’ve had the last 8 years- yeah, that’s the guy to run the country. Not a guy who wants to use his brain, who wants to end the war and help its veterans, who wants people to be able to keep their jobs or get new jobs, who wants to extend health insurance coverage to millions of uninsured, who wants us to return to the rule of law and have justice dispensed to all equally and impartially, who wants America to be respected and liked abroad so they won’t want to kill us.

Naw. Not that guy.

Sunday, August 24, 2008


Thirty years ago SNL Weekend Update accurately forecast the modern cable insult fest. Yesterday's over the top satire, unfortunately, became today's reality...

In the early days of Saturday Night Live, Weekend Update anchors Dan Aykroyd and Jane Curtain satirized a 60 Minutes staple which ran at the end of each show featuring Shana Alexander and James Kilpatrick in a “point- counter-point” precursor to today’s shouting heads on cable news shows. One commentator would espouse a position on a controversial issue of the day (the title of this column came from Aykroyd’s famous insulting response to Curtain during a mock debate over the Michelle Triola “palimony” lawsuit against her former live in boyfriend, Lee Marvin), and the other would respond. The Liberal versus Conservative dialogue was set up by 60 Minutes producer Don Hewitt, and it ran for about 8 years in the 1970’s, featuring two print columnists, Shana Alexander- the “liberal”- and James Kilpatrick- the “conservative” who squared off against each other at the end of each show.

Providing more heat than light, the segment was extremely popular, and Albany Journal publisher Kevin Hogencamp has graciously invited Marvin Mixon and me to participate in a 21st century version of the point-counterpoint. This is my second adventure into this arena, the first occurring during the late 1990’s when Fox 31 invited Dylan Glenn, a perennial Republican political candidate, and your not so humble scribe (moi) to square off on a two minute taped segment once a week. Regardless of what you may assume by reading our disagreements on issues in print in upcoming weeks (some of the suggested topics include the death penalty, what to do about Iraq, and immigration), I have great affection for Marvin, a lawyer, Vietnam War veteran, and husband of the marvelous lady who helped co-found a terrific preschool attended by my son in the era before public pre-kindergarten programs. Careful readers will note that my disagreements with Marvin aren’t ad hominem (that’s fancy Latin meaning “no personal attacks”), unlike what we have come to expect from modern pundits on print, cable, and internet blogs. We lawyers are taught at an early stage that one may disagree with another’s position without being disagreeable.

So don’t expect to see the casual personal insults so common today on Faux News and the Olbermann attack hour which were anticipated 30 years ago in this skit:

Jane Curtin: Dan, times change and so does the nature of relationships. People are reluctant to get married these days and looking at divorce statistics, who can blame them. But the lack of a piece of paper does not neccessarily mean a lack of a total commitment. A woman is this modern-day relationship may well give up all her personal pursuits, as Michelle Marvin claims she did, to give her full support to her man's career. And Michelle Marvin is just asking that the courts recognize that reality. Dan, there's an old saying: "Behind every successful man there's a woman." A loving, giving, caring woman. But you wouldn't know about that, Dan, because there's no old saying about what's behind a miserable failure. [ gives a look of arrogance ]

Dan Aykroyd: Jane, you ignorant slut! Bagged-out, dried-up, slunken meat like you and Michelle Triola know the rules. If you want a contract, sign on the dotted line. Oh, but let's all shed a tear for poor Michelle Triola. There was only testimony that she had sexual intercourse over forty times with another man while living with actor Lee Marvin. But I suppose that sort of fashionable promiscuity means nothing to you, Jane, who hops from bed to bed with the frequency of a cheap ham radio. But hell hath no fury like a woman's scorn, and Michelle Triola, like a screeching, squealing, rapacious, swamp sow is after actor Lee Marvin's last three million dollars. I guess what you and Michelle are saying is that when you're on your backs, the meter is running. Well, please spare us, gals, and tell us the rates at the top. Then we can choose which two bit tarts and bargain basement sluts to shack up with.

Jane Curtin: That's the news. Good night, and have a pleasant tomorrow.”

(P.S. to my buddy Ted E., whom I saw at the wedding last Sunday and who admitted that he sometimes reads this blog: please send me your e-mail address to and I'll send you some wedding pics!)

Saturday, August 09, 2008


Why you are paying $4.00 a gallon for gasoline..

When George W. Bush and Dick Cheney took office in 2001, oil traded near $23 a barrel (it was as low as $11 a barrel in 1998) and gasoline cost about $1.40 a gallon in the U.S. In 2008, as oil zoomed over $140 a barrel and gasoline prices hit $4 a gallon, the pressure on presidential candidates to come out in favor of allowing oil companies to drill in environmentally sensitive areas increased exponentially. John McCain is now seen as the primary proponent of allowing unlimited drilling (“drill here; drill now” is his new mantra) even as he acknowledged that removing restrictions on drilling would have no impact on the cost of oil or gasoline other than a potential “psychological effect.”

The mounting anger of the general population over the high cost of energy has overwhelmed any rational discussion over the actual economic impact of drilling for new oil even though every analyst, including those working for the oil companies, concedes that there is no way that any new production would come online for several years. And energy experts predict that even when every spigot on potential new oil wells is turned wide open in 10 or 15 years, there will be little or no impact on gasoline prices as mounting demand keeps prices up.

While John McCain panders to consumers who want a magic bullet that will bring down gasoline prices by proffering unlimited drilling in environmentally sensitive areas as a panacea, Democrats in general and Barack Obama in particular have shown a disappointing lack of spine and a complete absence of creativity and imagination in dealing with the issue. My suggestion is simple: call the bluff of the oil companies, of Congressional Republicans, and of John McCain, all of whom suggest that drilling for oil is the answer to high energy costs.

Barack Obama should convene a Democratic energy summit like Dick Cheney did in 2001- but this time the consumers will be invited along with oil companies and representatives of alternative energy sources. Unlike Cheney’s secret meetings composed solely of Enron executives and other oil insiders, this one will be open to the public. At the energy summit, Obama should unveil his drilling proposal: every area in the United States will be available for drilling; no areas will be off limits. However, the permits will come with a price: every barrel of oil coming out of the new wells drilled in formerly protected areas will be sold for no more than $50 a barrel, which is still more than twice the price when Bush and Cheney took office. Coupled with that will be a requirement that every oil company which obtains a permit will sign a binding agreement that starting 12 months after the first permit is issued it can not charge more than $2.00 a gallon for gasoline at any company owned gas station for the next 10 years (taking a cue from Chrysler’s $2.99 a gallon limit on gasoline for its new cars), and it will have to enter into binding agreements with every retailer with whom it does business that none of their stations can charge more than $2.00 a gallon for gasoline for a ten year period.

By calling the bluff of Senator McCain and the oil companies, Barack Obama can easily expose the lie that opening up protected areas for oil exploration would impact energy prices. No company will want a permit when it won’t be able to reap the huge windfalls it receives under the current system which has allowed them to earn record profits from oil coming out of existing wells (Exxon’s profits are now over $44 billion a year, four times the $11 billion it earned the year before Bush took office, even though it is pumping less oil each year). No permits will be sold, the environment will be protected, and Democrats will have proved, by taking advantage of the inexorable forces of capitalism so beloved in theory by Republicans, that McCain’s no holds barred drilling proposal is a sham whose only real effect would be to increase gross profits for the oil companies.

Saturday, August 02, 2008


This man has been identified as an enemy combatant determined to cause the deaths of American servicemen- why hasn't he been detained at Guantanamo Bay and waterboarded until he revealed his nefarious plans to attack U.S. warships in the Straits of Hormuz?

Most Americans develop their view of the world from the mainstream mass media, whether it be television, newspapers, radio, or the internet (which contains both mainstream and alternative sources of information). Regardless of the source, the one thing we should all agree on is that we would rather know the truth than be subjected to exaggerations and outright lies from the sources that inform us.

Recently it came to light that the 2001 anthrax scare, in which five people died and others were injured, was most likely caused by a scientist who worked for the United States biological weapons laboratory. Here’s the Los Angeles Times August 1, 2008 report:

“One of the nation's top biodefense researchers has died in Maryland from an apparent suicide, just as the Justice Department was to file criminal charges against him in the anthrax mailing assaults of 2001 that killed five, the Los Angeles Times has learned.

Bruce E. Ivins, 62, who for the past 18 years worked at the government's elite biodefense research laboratories at Fort Detrick, Md., had been informed of the impending prosecution, people familiar with Ivins, his suspicious death and with the FBI investigation said.”

This isn’t exactly shocking news, because only a few places worldwide- including the U.S.’s own labs- had the technical capabilities and know how to develop what is known as “weaponized” anthrax, meaning that the particles of anthrax did not stick together but floated in the air once the letter or package was opened.

The problem is that when the anthrax attacks first occurred in October of 2001, numerous highly placed Bush Administration officials, including Paul Wolfowitz, then deputy secretary of Defense, Richard Perle, then Chairman of the Defense Policy Board Advisory Committee for the Department of Defense, Douglas Feith, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy, and Wayne Downing, National Director and Deputy National Security Adviser for combating terrorism, blamed Iraq and Saddam Hussein for the attacks. They used this as one more false justification for the invasion and occupation of Iraq- because these anthrax attacks showed how dangerous and deadly Saddam Hussein was and how in the interest of our national security we needed to take him out. Here’s the report, courtesy of This Modern World with quotes from CNN archives (

“At the Pentagon, Wolfowitz was an insistent force behind an invasion of Iraq, bringing it up at the first National Security Council meeting of the Bush administration, months before Sept. 11. For years he had been a firm believer in the crackpot theories of Laurie Mylroie, a neoconservative writer, who argued that Saddam was behind the 1993 World Trade Center bombing and even the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing.

“In October 2001, [Wayne] Downing, [Paul] Wolfowitz, and other proponents of a war with Iraq thought they had yet more ammunition for the case against Saddam. A series of deadly anthrax-laced letters had been sent to the Capitol Hill offices of Senator Daschle and Senator Patrick Leahy and to several newsrooms. Mylroie asserted that Saddam was behind the mailings. An early forensic test of the anthrax letters (which was later disputed) appeared to show that the anthrax spores were highly refined and “weaponized.” To the Iraq hawks, the news was electric. “This is definitely Saddam!” Downing shouted to several White House aides. One of these aides later recalled overhearing Downing excitedly sharing the news over the phone with Wolfowitz and Feith. “I had the feeling they were high-five-ing each other,” the White House official said.”

OK, so that’s now an historical footnote. One more lie, willingly repeated and spread by the mass media at the time, to justify an invasion which has been the greatest foreign policy disaster in our nation’s history. We now know, as we appear to be unable to extricate ourselves from Iraq’s briar patch, that every possible reason trotted out for the invasion (the smoking gun will be a mushroom cloud! Saddam collaborated with the 9-11 Al Qaida terrorists! Saddam is amassing biological weapons produced in trailers and secret weapons labs!) turned out to be bogus. To date over 4,124 dead Americans (and over 100,000 dead Iraqis), more than 30,324 maimed and wounded American servicemen and women, over five hundred forty billion dollars wasted, our military in near collapse, our image abroad its worst ever- all because of a war based on lies. Republicans in general and the McCain campaign in particular want Americans to think that it would be poor manners to bring up their inconvenient lies prior to the invasion- five years later they want the media and American voters to focus on an imminent “victory” in Iraq, based on the “surge,” even though that victory can’t be defined and won’t result in the return of American troops from that inferno 7,800 miles away because the “success” is so “fragile” (those are McCain’s words in quotes).

But now it comes to light that in January of 2008 Vice President Richard Cheney and his staff discussed dressing up Navy SEALs as Iranians and using them to stage attacks on American warships to create a false provocation for an attack and invasion of Iran. Here is Pulitzer Prize winner Seymour Hersh’s report on the proposal discussed in Vice President Cheney’s office shortly after the near incident involving Iranian speedboats and American warships in the Straits of Hormuz:

“HERSH: There was a dozen ideas proffered about how to trigger a war. The one that interested me the most was why don’t we build — we in our shipyard — build four or five boats that look like Iranian PT boats. Put Navy seals on them with a lot of arms. And next time one of our boats goes to the Straits of Hormuz, start a shoot-up.”

Putting it baldly: the Vice President of the United States is willing to consider killing Americans to start another war in the Middle East which will end up further devastating both America and that part of the world. An Austin Powers fantasy, you ask? Nope. Sad reality. A reality which, inexplicably, has not dominated the front pages of every American newspaper or the top of every American newscast. Why is this not the biggest story in the land? Why are we treated, instead, to news coverage of John McCain’s absurd television ad linking Brittany Spears and Paris Hilton to Barack Obama?

I guess reality doesn’t play as well in America as fantasy, even when that reality seems as far fetched - an American Vice President considering having American SEALS kill other American servicemen so that he can have the war he wants- as any comic book turned into a movie at the local multiplex. So WAKE UP mainstream American media. Write about this, broadcast it to the high heavens. Put some backbone into impeachment hearings against President Bush and Vice President Cheney. Have Cheney’s advisors hauled before Congress to testify about their insane boss’s plans to use Americans to kill Americans to enmesh America into another costly war on false pretenses. Give us a dose of truth- for a change we really can believe in.


These Iraqis aren't impressed with the imminent "victory" predicted by John McCain as a result of "the surge" in American troops to Iraq in 2007, as bombings of civilians continue to plague the country.

Apparently John McCain wants to make the election a referendum on which candidate has the better judgment as potential commander in chief, and his argument rests on his contention that the decision to send tens of thousands of troops into Baghdad last year- “the surge”- was the right one, and that Barack Obama’s opposition to the surge was the wrong one. This is an argument Senator McCain should not start, because he will lose, and badly. If judgment is the issue, then consider this: had Barack Obama’s counsel been followed in 2002 instead of John McCain’s, America would never have invaded Iraq, 4,124 American servicemen and women would be alive today, 30,324 wounded and maimed Americans would be whole, over 540 billion dollars would have been saved, hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis would be alive, millions more would have been able to stay in their homes and not be refugees in nearby countries, and the last 5 1/2 years of an American nightmare would have been avoided. John McCain voted for war in October of 2002, and he has voted to continue that war at every opportunity since. He has never admitted his mistake or apologized for the greatest foreign policy disaster in American history. Those choices mark him as unfit to be President or commander in chief.