Archive for September 11th, 2008

EPIC FAIL

In the interests of journalistic balance, I have two Epic Fails today: A Democrat and a Republican.

First up, alleged Democrat James Carville, talking about a truly despicable McCain commercial which pretends that an Obama-supported initiative to protect kindergarteners from sexual predators is the same as sex-ed:

And John McCain, deep down inside my heart, you know, as you know, I’ve said before I admire McCain. I don’t believe he knew about it. I hope somebody asked him. But I refuse to believe that John McCain agreed to airing this spot. I know he says I’m John McCain, I paid for it but they have that in the can and they do it. It I don’t think he knew about it. I really don’t.

And again:

I can’t sit here. They’re run a completely false ad against Barack Obama and you say he’s out there talking about this. I mean, my point is, I really don’t think that senator McCain knows about this ad, and in my heart of hearts, I want to believe he’s an absolutely furious about this and somebody’s being called on the carpet because this ad is blatantly completely false.

Awesome.  Way to really lay the wood to McCain, Jimmy boy.  Show no mercy.

And then there’s McCain’s running mate, doing her best impression of an unprepared eighth-grader when asked to explain the Bush Doctrine:

Ouch.  Smacked down by Charlie Gibson.

It kinda reminds me of something, but I can’t quite put my finger on it…

September 11th, 2008 at 09:21pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Democrats,Elections,McCain,Obama,Palin,Politics,Republicans

B&W San Diego Star Trek Photoblogging

Yes, the San Diego Air & Space Museum has a Star Trek exhibit, and I am a huge geek.  So…
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Closeup of a Borg cube.

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Klingon captain’s chair. (I’m pretty sure Borg don’t have captains)

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Um… Well… I’m not entirely sure. Some kind of cross between an old-style Cylon and a Tusken Raider.

1 comment September 11th, 2008 at 07:16pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: La Jolla/San Diego,Photoblogging

Even Republicans Starting To Notice Bin Laden Still At Large Seven Years Later

Michael Smerconish is not exactly what you’d call a moderate Republican, but he’s apparently so obsessed with bin Laden and Zawahiri that he’s actually noticed that Dubya hasn’t done squat to catch either of them:

Where the hell are Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri? And why does virtually no one ask anymore? … And what happened to President Bush’s declaration to a joint session of Congress nine days after 9/11 that “any nation that continues to harbor or support terrorism will be regarded by the United States as a hostile regime.” Doesn’t that apply to Pakistan?

These are things that I wonder as I watch from my perch in Philadelphia, where I’m a talk show host, columnist and MSNBC talking head…. On the day after the Pennsylvania primary, I told Chris Matthews on “Hardball” that this was an issue that could help Barack Obama win support among white male voters; he recognized that it was “[my] issue,” before adding, “And I agree with you completely.”

I can’t help myself. So strong is my belief that we’ve failed in our responsibility to 3,000 dead Americans that I am contemplating voting for a Democratic presidential candidate for the first time in my life. It’s the chronology I find so compelling.

We’re at the seven-year anniversary of 9/11, lacking not only closure with regard to the two top al-Qaida leaders but also public discourse about any plan to bring them to justice. To me, that suggests a continuation of what I perceive to be the Bush administration’s outsourcing of this responsibility at great cost to a government with limited motivation to get the job done. Of course, I may be wrong; I have no inside information. And I’d love to be proven in error by breaking news of their capture or execution. But published accounts paint an intriguing and frustrating picture.

To begin, bin Laden is presumed to have been in Afghanistan on 9/11 and to have fled that nation during the battle at Tora Bora in December of 2001. Gary Berntsen, who was the CIA officer in charge on the ground, told me that his request for Army Rangers to prevent bin Laden’s escape into Pakistan was denied, and sure enough, that’s where bin Laden went. Then came a period when the Bush administration was supposed to be pressing the search through means it couldn’t share publicly. But as time went by with no capture, the signs became more troubling.

(…)

More than one [military] individual with whom I spoke… raised with me the question of what would happen to public support for the war against radical Islam if we were to find and kill bin Laden and al-Zawahiri. They wanted to know: Would the American people then expect the military to pack up and go home? No one ever told me that we’re not hunting bin Laden because killing him would cause Americans to want to close up shop in Iraq and Afghanistan, but it was absolutely on the minds of our warriors as support for the war in Iraq dissipated.

(…)

The Bush administration’s failure to orchestrate a successful counterterrorism plan — one topped off with justice for Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri — has left me embarrassed of my party and angry. The oft-repeated explanations of the search being nuanced or covering difficult terrain should have worn thin long ago.

(…)

Put quite simply, the support for this failed policy is driving me to the edge of my long Republican career. And despite never pulling a lever for a Democratic presidential candidate, I believe the election this November will present the chance to relieve this country of the conventional wisdom that President Bush has offered for seven years and Sen. McCain appears resigned to advance: that President Musharraf was a friend who did what he could to prevent Pakistan from defaulting toward further extremism; that the hunt for Osama bin Laden is nuanced and U.S. forces are doing everything they can to find him; and that the war in Iraq is a necessary one that hasn’t distracted from the fight against those who perpetrated and planned 9/11.

That wisdom has been proven unequivocally wrong.

The kicker? We, the taxpayers, are footing the bill for this negligence. According to a June 25, 2008, article in the Philadelphia Inquirer, a GAO report showed that nearly $2 billion given in aid to Pakistan was spent improperly. The article states:

“‘For a large number of claims, Defense did not obtain sufficient documentation from Pakistan to verify that claimed costs were incremental, actually incurred or correctly calculated,’ the report concluded. ‘It seems as though the Pakistani military went on a spending spree with American taxpayers’ wallets and no one bothered to investigate the charges,’ said Sen. Tom Harkin (D., Iowa), a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee. ‘How hard would it have been to confirm that a road we paid $15 million for was ever built?'”

(…)

While candidates talk, the dismaying story continues. A recent report from the New York Times in July 2008 suggested that the CIA might not even be receiving proper intelligence on the al-Qaida problem in Pakistan: “The C.I.A. has depended heavily on the ISI for information about militants in Pakistan, despite longstanding concerns about divided loyalties within the Pakistani spy service, which had close relations with the Taliban in Afghanistan before the Sept. 11 attacks. That ISI officers have maintained important ties to anti-American militants has been the subject of previous reports in The New York Times. But the C.I.A. and the Bush administration have generally sought to avoid criticism of Pakistan, which they regard as a crucial ally in the fight against terrorism.” It was reported two days later that officers from this same intelligence service played a role in the bombing of the Indian embassy in Kabul, Afghanistan, on July 7, 2008, which left 54 people dead.

(…)

Seven years after 9/11, the country is stoking what was supposed to be a complete and consuming “war on terror” with faint signs of a sustained operation in the country where the bad guys have been hiding for years.

How appalling. I doubt the families of the 3,000 innocents murdered on 9/11 — and of the 4,000 Americans killed in Iraq — are content with it. After all, it’s seven years, thousands of troops and billions of dollars later, and our country has failed to deliver on what we really owe them: justice.

Smerconish is primarily beating the drum for a more aggressive stance towards Pakistan, which he is correct in depicting as… less than helpful in the fight against al Qaeda and the Taliban.  Unlike Bush and McCain, Obama has recognized that an “ally” who cuts deals with your enemies and provides them sanctuary is part of the problem, not part of the solution.

Obama has actually advocated for a more aggressive and unilateral approach than Bush or McCain, who were both perfectly content to rely on the good faith of Musharraf and the ISI despite the abundant evidence of its nonexistence.  If anything, Obama’s approach is probably too aggressive, but I suspect that his worst instincts would be reined in by congressional Republicans with a newfound respect for sovereignty and multilateralism.  Maybe he could adopt my idea of threatening to take away all of Pakistan’s aid money… and redirect it to India.

Seven years and counting, and we’re no closer to catching bin Laden.  And it is for lack of trying.  My only question is whether it’s simple incompetence, or whether, as Smerconish suggests, that it’s because the Republicans don’t want to lose their boogeyman.

3 comments September 11th, 2008 at 11:52am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Elections,McCain,Media,Obama,Politics,Republicans,Terrorism,War

More Abuse Of Power From The McCain-Palin Ticket

Yep, it’s not just Sarah Palin using her executive power to try to get her ex-brother-in-law fired, or hoovering up bogus “per-diem” reimbursements for the First Dude’s travel and her own staying at home; her sidekick has some skeletons of his own, and not just his membership in the Keating Five (y’all do remember that he was a member of the Keating Five, and that that’s not a good thing, right?):

[I]t appears that McCain used his Senate staff and resources to cover up Cindy’s drug use, and potentially to prevent the Drug Enforcement Agency from investigating his wife’s theft of illegal prescription drugs.  John McCain certainly used his political connections to begin a campaign of intimidation against [Tom] Gosinski, because at the time – this was after the Keating 5 scandal – another major scandal would have derailed his career.  Gosinski stayed quiet out of fear until today; a recent fight with cancer has strengthened his resolve.  As he told me today, if he can beat cancer, he can go on the record regarding how the McCain’s do business.

Gosinski was an employee of Cindy McCain who helped her run her charity, the American Voluntary Medical Team (AVMT) in the early to mid-1990s.  At the time Gosinski worked for her, Cindy McCain was addicted to prescription painkillers, taking between 30-50 pills a day of Vicatem and/or Percocet.  She had doctors writing out prescriptions in other peoples’ names, including Gosinski.  When Gosinski found one of the prescription slips, he got angry, and Cindy had him fired.  This part of the story is just kind of sad, but not damning; Cindy McCain was a lonely and bored wife who turned to drugs in place of what was a loveless marriage full of fundraisers and in all likelihood, various infidelities (or so were the rumors Gosinski heard at the time).

…[Gosinski] sued the McCain’s for wrongful termination, and went to the Drug Enforcement Agency to find out the legal repercussions of having prescriptions for painkillers written in his name.  To retaliate, McCain then had his political ally, Rick Romley, open an extortion investigation against Gosinksi….

McCain’s Senate staff and Senate resources were intimately involved in Cindy’s work with the charity.  John McCain procured her a diplomatic passport, which meant that her bags were not searched by customs, and Mark Salter and Torie Clarke were both coordinating with Gosinski on logistics for the trips abroad….

The charity was supposed to conduct medical missions abroad, but Cindy was also stealing from the charity’s supply of drugs for her own personal use.  In August of 1994, the story was going to come out, and so John McCain came out with his side of the story.  He claimed he didn’t know that Cindy McCain was using drugs until 1994, a clear lie.  Cindy McCain overdosed in 1991, and John McCain went to the hospital in Sedona and told the hospital staff not to make the information about Cindy public….

There are lots of unanswered questions, but the basic contours of the story are clear.  John McCain used his position as a Senator to help his wife abuse illegal drugs and avoid being searched by customs, and somehow his wife managed to avoid any charges by the DEA or the state (which has mandatory minimums in cases like this) on drug charges despite ample evidence.  Did the DEA or the state not file charges against her because of political pressure?  Did they keep this on the Federal level to avoid mandatory minimums for Cindy McCain because of political pressure from McCain?  Did John McCain and/or his Senate staff tamper with a criminal investigation of his wife and her conspiracy to fraudulently obtain illegal drugs?

Whether illegal or not, and an investigation by Congress should happen, this is clearly a massive and overreaching case of both corruption on a personal sordid level and an abuse of power.  And you might be seeing Gosinski on mainstream media soon.

We need an investigation into what happened here.  What did McCain know about the investigation of his wife and did he use his power as a Senator to help her abuse drugs or avoid prosecution?  When he was one of a hundred Senators, it was of minor importance.  And now?  Well it would be nice to know if the next President is engaged in behavior more characteristic of an influence peddling mob boss than an upright politician.

If, through some miracle, this does become a big story, I know what the McCain/GOP response will be: They will present it as a horrible unjust meanspirited attack on Cindy, on John McCain’s FAMILY.  Which is, of course, off-limits and bad.  But the real question isn’t what Cindy was doing, it’s what Senator John McCain was doing.

Does America really want another 4-8 years of Bush/Cheney-style corruption and unaccountability?

4 comments September 11th, 2008 at 07:14am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Corruption/Cronyism,Elections,McCain,Palin,Republicans


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